Friday, February 04, 2011

Friday news dump, part II

A new Vice-Chair was appointed to the CRTC today and questions are being raised about the appropriateness of the appointment and partisan ties to the Prime Minister's spokesman. This report outrightly frames Pentefountas as an ally of the government, a remarkable characterization given the need for CRTC independence and one that appears to be founded given the appointee's credentials:
The government appeared to gain an ally in its brewing battle with regulators on Friday, when it announced the appointment of Athanasios Pentefountas as vice-chairman of broadcasting at the CRTC. Pentefountas is the former president of the Action Democratique du Quebec, a provincial party with strong ties to several senior federal Conservatives.

Pentefountas, who also ran as a candidate for the ADP in a failed bid for a provincial seat, is a partner with Montreal law firm Silver Sandiford.

A summary of his accomplishments released by the government does not mention any broadcast-industry experience.
Coming on the same day that Maxime Bernier is musing about opening the doors to more foreign ownership in Canadian telecommunications, the appointment can't help but be magnified.

On the appointment itself, apparently James Moore's office is justifying it partially by saying that the commission should be made up of people from a host of backgrounds. That's nonsense, of course. The CRTC is a highly specialized, technical body. It warrants appointments of persons with competences in the industry or some professional background that makes their appointment relevant to the body. There doesn't seem to be any evidence of that here and it's fair game to critique it as one more poor governance decision by this government. See the preceding post on the Elliott departure.

A Friday in Washington makes for a whole host of opportune personnel changes for the Harper government.

Here's some of Pentefountas' political involvement, for what it's worth, from early 2008 at an ADQ convention: