ISPs call for CRTC chair Ian Scott to be recused amid ongoing questions about personal bias

The CNOC is asking the chair to be recused on matters relating to internet competition

The Competitive Network Operators of Canada (CNOC) filed an application with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) asking chairperson Ian Scott to either remove himself or be removed from matters relating to ongoing decisions around internet competition.

The matter is in connection with the CRTC reversing a 2019 decision that internet rates were too high and had to be lowered after telecom companies filed appeals. The CRTC reversed its decision on May 27th, 2021.

Small internet service providers (ISPs) pay larger companies like Bell, Rogers, and Telus to access their network and distribute it to their own markets.

ISP TekSavvy filed a petition with the Federal Courts of Appeal in response. The case will be heard in the coming months.

TekSavvy and CNOC have pointed out Scott’s conduct and the fear of bias playing a role in his decisions.

The recent CNOC application points to an article from the Toronto Star. It details how the reversal of the decision came after Scott met with Bell Media CEO Mirko Bibic at an Ottawa pub in December 2019.

Scott spoke with The Star on the controversy for the first time in the article published February 2nd, more than two years after the meeting happened, stating “nothing inappropriate was done.”

“I went for a beer with someone I have known for years….And it ended up he chose to address a broadcasting issue a little of what Bell might be doing in the future,” he told the publication.

All matters were recorded publicly, Scott said. Speaking on the CRTC’s reversal, he said he was only one vote on a panel of nine, and he has no additional sway as chair.

“The apprehension of bias and breach of procedural fairness persists, to the point where, …Chairperson Scott felt the need to defend himself against these allegations in seeking an exclusive interview with The Toronto Star,” the CNOC application states.

The application states Scott also made public statements for his preference of “facilities-based competition” at the Canadian Club Toronto on May 20th, 2021.

For these reasons, the CNOC is asking for the recusal of Scott from internet-based decisions pending TekSavvy’s appeal.

Update 02/16/2022 3:10pm EST: The text has been updated to reflect Scott met with Bibic before the decision was reversed.

Image source: CRTC (screenshot)

Source: CNOC application