Former CRTC Boss Speaks Out

Francoise Bertrand, former chairwoman of the CRTC, is speaking out after Canada’s Conservatives demanded a reversal of the regulatory agency’s decision regarding usage-based billing.

Betrand told The Canadian Press that she found the reversal “disturbing.” She says she’s an advocate of the “independence” of the CRTC and, as such, felt “compelled to speak out.”

“The CRTC’s great advantage was it was giving the possibility for the government to have an institution at arm’s length,” she said. ”It was not a political decision. It wasn’t, ‘I like your face, I don’t like your face.’ It’s not based on an upcoming election. It was based on due process.”

Bertrand added that the government’s actions in this case have been motivated by that greatest of democratic evils: “pleasing voters.” Of course, we all know that we don’t elect government officials to do silly things like that. Pardon the sarcasm.


Bertrand repeated many of the common threats in the industry, noting that government interference in regulatory decisions would only serve to confuse and undermine the broadcasting and telecommunications industry. This would, of course, dampen the possibility of increased investment. “Now we have a minister, or I don’t know who, who have not heard all the facts, all the elements, and decides arbitrarily that it’s not a good decision and it should be the other way around,” said Bertrand.

Right. “Arbitrarily.” The decision to open the issue of usage-based billing up to greater scrutiny had been made on impulse. That pesky public outcry had nothing to do with it. There’s that sarcasm again.

Now’s probably as good a time as any to note that this champion of the CRTC’s “independence” sits on the board at Quebecor, owner of cable internet provider Vidéotron. She’s also president of the Federation of Quebec Chambers of Commerce.

And as if another log was needed on this roaring fire of contempt, Ms. Bertrand decided to up the ante. “But who doesn’t understand how this heavy usage brings the necessity for the infrastructure [telephone and cable] companies to invest more in speed … that it’s the infrastructure companies that pay, not the reseller (ISP) – the reseller doesn’t bring any innovation,” she said (emphasis added).

So what we have here is a former CRTC head upset that the government actually listened to the roars of the public for a change. With her lofty position within Quebecor and well-known support for big business in her front pocket, Bertrand’s disdain towards the Conservatives’ “disturbing” notion of acknowledging public outcry takes on special meaning. And on top of this, she has the unmitigated gall to suggest that “the reseller doesn’t bring any innovation.”

The CRTC’s loss of ethical ground in this country has been staggering and Bertrand’s comments crystallize the notion further. The “idea” is not for the government to have an “institution at arm’s length” but for corporations to have an institution in their pockets. The recent rash of “decisions” made by this regulatory body, from usage-based billing to creative rewording of the rules to allow for “false news,” has many Canadians again rightly questioning its validity. For more info check out digitcom’s web site at, or

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Written by: Jordan Richardson. >. Follow > by: RSS >, Twitter >, >, or Friendfeed >


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