Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New CRTC chair said to be appointed any day now

There has been some buzz on an imminent CRTC chair appointment in the past week.

The Globe had a report that the Harper government was leaning toward a relative unknown, a public servant by the name of Jean-Pierre Blais. This is how his appointment was characterized: "Unlike former chair Konrad von Finckenstein, telecom insiders predict Mr. Blais would be relatively compliant with Conservative government policy leanings and endeavour to keep the CRTC out of the headlines. Those who know Mr. Blais say he is more of a conciliation-minded type who would seek compromise on issues rather than strike out independently with bold initiatives." Said to have a working relationship with Heritage Minister James Moore. I.e., Blais doesn't seem as independent as you would want in a Chair of a body of such importance to Canadian telecommunications and broadcasting. They should get along professionally, fine. But that relationship element should not be a proper consideration for this position.

Also of interest, this item in the Hill Times yesterday that set out other possible candidates and some who have already applied. Tom Pentefountas, the Vice-Chair that the government appointed to that position in February 2011 has applied. Recall that Pentefountas was a heavily criticized appointment at the time due to a lack of industry experience and also because Senator Leo Housakos essentially applied for the job on Pentefountas' behalf, raising patronage criticisms. Nevertheless, Pentefountas has now, incredibly, applied for the top job.

Also named in that list, Luc Lavoie, "a senior executive at Quebecor and a former spokesperson for Brian Mulroney, who is seen as too partisan in the industry. But he also has an inside track." Would Harper dare? Do these two smiling chums, pictured below on May 9th at the Quebecor board meeting, know something? Probably not but it's a fun picture so I'm posting it anyway. It would be a great accompanying photo for any news report should Lavoie happen to get the appointment, so I offer it up for that reason too. I don't think Lavoie will get the appointment though, despite his having been rumoured to be in the mix since summer 2010. Way too out front on the partisan scale even for Harper. It would be an infamous appointment.

There are other names listed that will attract attention. John Manley? Nah, despite his former duty in taking on the Afghan commission report thing a few years back, he's likely not malleable enough. Which ultimately, is likely to be a consideration with this appointment. See floating of Blais, above.