Guest Column: New vision for CRTC is dangerously radical


Peter Stockland is publisher of and senior writer at the think-tank Cardus.

February 12, 2020

Concern is growing over proposed changes to the federal approach to governing broadcasting in Canada.

After two days of almost baffling silence following the release of a report calling for sweeping changes to how – and over what – the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) exercises its regulatory powers, pundits and politicians are starting to sit up and spout about it.

Two former CRTC commissioners warn that the report’s vision is radical and far-reaching.

“It’s an enormous expansion of regulatory authority over speech,” said Timothy Denton, who specializes in technology law and was a national CRTC commissioner from 2008 to 2013. “Even if half or a quarter of (the report) is implemented with regards to the speech and licensing power, we’re in trouble.”

The critical shift would be to bring the Internet under the authority of the CRTC, which would be renamed the Canadian Communications Commission. Currently, the commission regulates TV and radio signals, as well as phones and phone lines.

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