Text: Small Text  Normal Text  Large Text  Larger Text

    Blog Archive

    PrevPrevApril 2014NextNext
    SMTWTFS
      12345
    6789101112
    13141516171819
    20212223242526
    27282930

    Telecom Giants Lure Ex-Cabinet Ministers to their Boardrooms

    PDF  | Print |  E-mail
    Tuesday August 16, 2011
    Telecom policies, particularly Internet and wireless issues, have generated enormous public interest over the past year. Politicians have evidently taken note with all political parties expressing concern over Internet data caps, net neutrality, and the competitiveness of Canadian wireless services.

    The political shift toward consumer-focused telecom concerns has unsurprisingly attracted the attention of the large incumbent telecom providers such as Bell and Telus, who have found their regulatory plans stymied by political intervention and the admission by some Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission commissioners that the current policy environment has failed to foster sufficient competition.

    My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the incumbent telecom providers recently served notice that they are gearing up to fight back, with Bell adding former Industry Minister Jim Prentice to its board of directors and Telus doing the same with former Public Safety Minister and Treasury Board President Stockwell Day. The addition of two prominent, recently departed Conservative cabinet ministers makes it clear that Bell and Telus recognize the increasing politicization of telecom policy.


    Tags:
    , , , , ,
    Share: Slashdot, Digg, Del.icio.us, Newsfeeder, Reddit, StumbleUpon, TwitterTagsShare
    View
     

    Telecom Giants Lure Ex-Cabinet Ministers to their Boardrooms

    PDF  | Print |  E-mail
    Tuesday August 16, 2011
    Appeared in the Toronto Star on August 14, 2011 as Telecoms Lure Ex-Ministers in Boardrooms

    Telecom policies, particularly Internet and wireless issues, have generated enormous public interest over the past year. Politicians have evidently taken note with all political parties expressing concern over Internet data caps, net neutrality, and the competitiveness of Canadian wireless services.

    The political shift toward consumer-focused telecom concerns has unsurprisingly attracted the attention of the large incumbent telecom providers such as Bell and Telus, who have found their regulatory plans stymied by political intervention and the admission by some Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission commissioners that the current policy environment has failed to foster sufficient competition.

    The incumbent telecom providers recently served notice that they are gearing up to fight back, with Bell adding former Industry Minister Jim Prentice to its board of directors and Telus doing the same with former Public Safety Minister and Treasury Board President Stockwell Day. The addition of two prominent, recently departed Conservative cabinet ministers makes it clear that Bell and Telus recognize the increasing politicization of telecom policy.

    The addition of former politicians to telecom boards is nothing new. As Carleton professor Dwayne Winseck recently chronicled, the path between politics and telecom boardrooms is well trodden, with the likes of Brian Mulroney (Quebecor), former Liberal cabinet minister Ed Lumley (Bell), former BC Finance Minister Carole Taylor (Bell), and former Ontario premier David Peterson (Rogers) all making the jump. Moreover, former New Brunswick premier Bernard Lord heads the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.

    The mix between politics and telecom policy is nothing new either. Since its very beginnings as an industry, telecom and competition regulators have played a crucial role in establishing the limits of companies that have frequently enjoyed near-monopolistic market power.

    While politics and telecom have been frequent bedfellows, this round of appointments signals an important shift. The companies were at pains to emphasize that the addition of Prentice and Day is not about lobbying per se since both face five year "cooling off" periods under the Lobbying Act before they can formally lobby their former colleagues.

    Yet there is no need for Prentice or Day to engage in formal lobbying. Bell alone has registered over 30 meetings with politicians and government officials since the start of 2011. Given its ability to garner weekly government meetings, access is clearly not a concern.

    Rather, it is the emergence of consumer-oriented voices at the very time that government is preparing to establish the broadband and wireless rules that will govern the sector for years to come. The CRTC was long viewed as the most important regulatory channel (hence the revolving door between Commission staff and telecom companies), but the government has left little doubt it is prepared to intervene early and often if it disagrees with Commission policy.

    Given the sheer number of policies on the agenda - spectrum allocation, data caps, net neutrality, foreign investment, copyright, Internet provider liability, lawful access, digital economy strategy, and the appointment of next CRTC chair among them - telecom policy has moved across the river from the CRTC's Gatineau offices to Parliament Hill.  

    This represents a big shift and garnering inside information into the backroom mechanics of the current government's decision makers provides an enormous advantage for Bell and Telus since Prentice and Day held ministerial responsibility for all these issues during their time in government.

    Michael Geist holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. He can reached at mgeist@uottawa.ca or online at www.michaelgeist.ca.


    Tags:
    , , , , ,
    Share: Slashdot, Digg, Del.icio.us, Newsfeeder, Reddit, StumbleUpon, TwitterTagsShare
     

    Wikileaks Cable Confirms Public Pressure Forced Delay of Canadian Copyright Bill in 2008

    PDF  | Print |  E-mail
    Thursday April 28, 2011
    A new Wikileaks cable confirms that the Conservative government delayed introducing copyright legislation in early 2008 due to public opposition.  The delay - which followed the decision in December 2007 to hold off introducing a bill after it was placed on the order paper (and the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group took off) - lasted until June 2008.  The U.S. cable notes confirmation came directly from then-Industry Minister Jim Prentice, who told U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins that cabinet colleagues and Conservative MPs were worried about the electoral implications of copyright reform:

    From December 2007 to mid-February, senior GOC officials and well-informed private sector contacts assured the Embassy that legislative calendar concerns were delaying the copyright bill's introduction into Parliament.  Our contacts downplayed the small - but increasingly vocal - public opposition to copyright reform led by University of Ottawa law professor Dr. Michael Geist.  On February 25, however, Industry Minister Prentice (please protect) admitted to the Ambassador that some Cabinet members and Conservative Members of Parliament - including MPs who won their ridings by slim margins - opposed tabling the copyright bill now because it might be used against them in the next federal election.  Prentice said the copyright bill had become a "political" issue.  He also indicated that elevating Canada to the Special 301 Priority Watch List would make the issue more difficult and would not be received well.


    Tags:
    , , , , ,
    Share: Slashdot, Digg, Del.icio.us, Newsfeeder, Reddit, StumbleUpon, TwitterTagsShare
    View
     

    Copyright Consultation Launches: Time For Canadians To Speak Out

    PDF  | Print |  E-mail
    Monday July 20, 2009
    The Canadian copyright consultation has launched with a site that offers Canadians several ways to ensure that their voices are heard.  As expected, there is a direct submission process, an online discussion forum, and a calendar that includes information on roundtables (by invitation only) and public town halls (the public can register for the town halls to be held in Montreal and Toronto).  The site features an RSS feed, there will be audio/video transcripts of the roundtables, and there is even an official twitter feed.

    The consultation features five key questions:
    1. How do Canada’s copyright laws affect you? How should existing laws be modernized?
    2. Based on Canadian values and interests, how should copyright changes be made in order to withstand the test of time?
    3. What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster innovation and creativity in Canada?
    4. What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster competition and investment in Canada?
    5. What kinds of changes would best position Canada as a leader in the global, digital economy?
    In a nutshell, the government is asking Canadians to describe why copyright matters, how to ensure that reforms remain relevant, and what reforms would best foster innovation, creativity, and competition.

    There has been some criticism over the past week about perceived "A" lists for those invited to roundtables and those excluded.  My view is that the only list that really matters is the list of people who take the time to make a public submission.  That process is open to everyone and this is the ideal opportunity to ensure that Canadians voices are heard.  The government has not consulted on copyright since 2001 and this consultation represents both a crucial opportunity and a potential threat.  While Canadians can ensure that the government understands that copyright matters and that a balance is needed, some groups will undoubtedly use the consultation to push for a return of Bill C-61.  Indeed, the recording industry has already said that that bill did not go far enough. That means we could see pressure for a Canadian DMCA, a three-strikes and you're out process, and the extension of the term of copyright to eat into the public domain.

    Countering those calls will require broad participation. To help foster that participation, tomorrow I will be launching a new website geared specifically to the copyright consultation along with my short form response to these questions.  I plan to blog a long form response throughout the summer.
    Tags:
    , , , ,
    Share: Slashdot, Digg, Del.icio.us, Newsfeeder, Reddit, StumbleUpon, TwitterTagsShare
     
    << Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

    Results 1 - 4 of 374