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CRTC rejects CNOC request for Scott’s recusal

News | 02/16/2022 11:07 am EST
CRTC chairman Ian Scott appears alongside other commissioners at a public hearing into sales practices on Oct. 26, 2018. Photo by Andrew Meade.

The CRTC has decided that it will not consider a request from the Competitive Network Operators of Canada (CNOC) for commission chair Ian Scott to recuse himself from all matters before the regulator related to the relationship of wholesale-based internet service providers (ISPs) and incumbents.

In a Feb. 15 letter to CNOC, the CRTC wrote that the regulator will not consider the request, or post the request to the commission’s website, “as the decision of a Member of the Commission to recuse themselves in respect of a matter is a decision that only the Member can make and does not engage the Commission’s processes.”

“Accordingly, when a telecommunications matter involving service-based competition is next before the Commission for consideration, the Chairperson will consider whether to recuse himself or not, as he has consistently done in respect of all matters since his appointment,” the CRTC wrote, “and he will render a decision with respect to his participation in those telecommunications matters at that time.”

In a Wednesday statement emailed to the Wire Report, CNOC executive director Geoff White wrote that the refusal “is a disappointing, and disconcerting attempt to avoid accountability.”

“In refusing to publicly post our application and consider it, not only has the CRTC breached its own rules, but due process. Recall, a CRTC Commissioner was dismissed from his position by Cabinet (in part) because of a private meeting,” White wrote in the statement, referencing the 2016 dismissal of former commissioner Raj Shoan.

White also referenced wholesale-based ISP TekSavvy Solutions Inc.‘s ongoing court challenge to the regulator’s May 2021 reversal of its 2019 decision on wholesale rates, a challenge which cites Scott’s Dec. 2019 meeting with BCE Inc. CEO (and then-chief operating officer) Mirko Bibic in an Ottawa bar, as well as Scott’s remarks in a Canadian Club Toronto interview where the chair expressed a “personal” preference for facilities-based competition.

TekSavvy has also accused Scott of bias in a petition to the Liberal Government.

In the statement, White said that CNOC is considering its options.

Last week, Scott defended himself before a meeting of the House of Commons Industry committee, and told MPs that the barroom meeting with Bibic conformed to commission rules. “The approach the commission takes – I, fellow commissioners, staff – with respect to meetings is grounded in well established rules,” Scott told MPs last week, and added that “I meet with everyone pursuant to the rules.”

“I meet with consumer groups, with individual Canadians, with small broadcasters, with members of parliament. We meet as we must as a public body, and we follow the rules,” Scott said last week.

 

— Reporting by Michael Lee-Murphy at mleemurphy@thewirereport.ca and editing by Paul Park at ppark@thewirereport.ca

 

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