Friday, October 15, 2010

Privy Council Office felt need to remind PM of CRTC independence

This is a story that I don't believe got much attention yesterday but deserves some. La Presse has obtained briefs classified as "secret" sent from the Privy Council Office to the Prime Minister. The briefs are informational on the Sun TV application to the CRTC, from the summer. The highlight of yesterday's story is the note added to the documents by the clerk of the Privy Council, Wayne Wouters. Here's the French:
«Tel que demandé par votre bureau, la raison de cette note est de vous fournir une mise à jour de l'état de la demande de licence pour une nouvelle chaîne spécialisée pour Sun TV News», dit le document, daté du 8 juillet et signé par le greffier du Conseil privé lui-même, Wayne G. Wouters. «Étant donné que le CRTC est un organe de réglementation public et indépendant, le ministre du Patrimoine et le gouverneur en conseil n'ont pas de rôle direct dans l'étude des demandes de licence de radiodiffusion», prend-on soin d'ajouter.
And the translation:
"As requested by your office, the reason for this note is to provide an update on the status of the license application for a new specialty channel for Sun TV News," says the document dated 8 July signed by the Clerk of the Privy Council itself, Wayne G. Wouters. Wouters. "Given that the CRTC is a regulatory body independent and public, the Heritage Minister and the Governor in Council has no direct role in assessing applications for a broadcasting license," we take care to add .
The upshot is that it appears as though Wouters felt the need to issue this reminder of the CRTC's independence to Harper. While it's not explicitly stated, the implicit message from Wouters seemed to be that the PM really didn't need to have the information, in light of that independence. 

Also of some note in the report, that it was not just Harper personally asking to be informed but additionally, the wider PMO. Which fact would suggest perhaps greater interest at the political level in this file than previously publicly disclosed.

Good reporting.