Heritage Minister and Innovation Minister pen welcome letter to new CRTC chair

Joly and Bains welcome Ian Scott, affirming the federal government’s position on key telecom issues

CRTC website

While Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly publicly addressed the federal government’s vision for Canada’s “cultural and creative industries in a digital world” today, she and fellow Liberal cabinet member Navdeep Bains also took time to welcome the CRTC’s new chair, Ian Scott, in a public letter.

Released almost 45 minutes before Joly’s speech to the Economic Club of Canada, in Ottawa, the Ministry of Canadian Heritage’s welcome letter — co-written by Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Bains — offered hints at how the federal government hopes to interact with its new CRTC chairperson.

On its surface, the letter offers very little in terms of grand plans or governmental ambitions. Instead, what it outright states is a commitment to “a regulator that is independent and operates at arm’s-length,” while further expressing the belief “that we can work together on shared objects, such as the creation of quality Canadian content and improving broadband availability.”

The focus on improving Canadian’s access to broadband internet should come as no surprise. After all, it was less than a year ago that the CRTC ruled that broadband internet access should be a basic service.

Furthermore, through the federal government’s Connect to Innovate program, $500 million has been set aside for rural and remote communities in provinces like Nunavut and Quebec, to bolster Canadian telecommunications.

However, it’s difficult not to read Joly’s and Bains’s comments on Canadian content outside the lens of the recent announcement that Netflix will be investing $500 million CAD over the next five years to fund original Canadian content.

“The vitality of our democracy, as well as our culture and creativity, is the necessary starting point for considering its future.”

“Standing out requires Canadian content in both official language that can compete with the best of the world and distribution strategies ensuring that quality Canadian content, in both English and French, is discovered in our country as well as around the world,” reads an excerpt from the letter. “Global success will not be achieved without a diverse and strong domestic market that acts as a launch pad for homegrown talent.”

Additionally, while Canada’s public broadcaster — the CBC — didn’t specifically receive a mention, the welcome letter addressed the “crucial role” that Canada’s broadcasting system plays in the country.

“The vitality of our democracy, as well as our culture and creativity, is the necessary starting point for considering its future,” reads an excerpt. “Through its news and information programming on both radio and television, the Canadian broadcasting system plays a fundamental role in supporting Canadians as citizens.

Joly’s and Bains’s letter concluded by addressing the subject of net neutrality and the open internet. Furthermore, the letter briefly touched on the subject of user privacy.

“The government believes in an open internet, which respects the principle of net neutrality and enables cultural diversity, where Canadians have the power to freely innovate, communicate and create, and where their privacy is protected,” reads another excerpt.

Ian Scott officially started in the position of CRTC chairperson on September 5th, 2017.

Source: Canadian Heritage

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