Harassment complaint revealed a rift between CRTC’s Blais and commissioner Raj Shoan

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CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais delivers a statement in Gatineau, Que., Tuesday, May 5, 2015. Court filings connected to a harassment complaint revealed a rift between Blais and commissioner Raj Shoan.
(Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

 

Court case over harassment probe details deep rift between CRTC chairman, commissioner

CHRISTINE DOBBY – TELECOM REPORTER

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New details have emerged in a legal action over a workplace harassment investigation at Canada’s broadcast and telecom regulator, revealing claims that a commissioner created a “toxic work environment” as he repeatedly questioned the chairman’s control over the organization.

Court filings show that soon after his appointment in 2013, Raj Shoan, commissioner for Ontario for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, clashed with chairman Jean-Pierre Blais.

Mr. Shoan, 39, is one of eight CRTC commissioners, including Mr. Blais, all of whom were appointed by the federal cabinet. The commissioners vote on telecom and broadcast issues.

Mr. Shoan filed an application in April for a judicial review of Mr. Blais’s response to a third-party investigation that found Mr. Shoan had harassed a CRTC employee. On Tuesday, he filed an affidavit in support of his application with dozens of documents, including e-mails and the investigators’ preliminary and final reports.

The documents show that tensions grew over seemingly minor incidents, such as Mr. Shoan’s habit of tossing a stress ball around during video-conference meetings and Mr. Blais’s offer of an executive coach for the younger commissioner. (Mr. Shoan turned down the offer.)

In several of the documents, Mr. Shoan takes issue with what he viewed as interference by Mr. Blais or his staff with the independence of commissioners. He issued repeated and legalistic demands that they provide justifications for the chairman’s authority in various situations.

The investigators’ report indicates that the dispute reached a tipping point during the CRTC’s high-profile review of the future of television last September, when an e-mail from Mr. Shoan threatening to launch an official complaint left a senior staff member in tears in the hearing anteroom.

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