The Canadian Telecom Complaints Commission

The major Canadian telecommunications companies announced yesterday that they have created a new Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services.  They indicated that the interim Commissioner – David McKendry – was now ready to take complaints and that the new commission would seek approval from the CRTC and complete its organizational structure over the next six months.

I find this development simply stunning.  Following the recommendation of the Telecom Review Panel to create a new complaints agency, Industry Minister Maxime Bernier announced in April that he was calling on the telecom industry to work with the CRTC to establish an independent telecommunications consumer agency.  This is not working with the CRTC, however.  This is creating a new corporation, handpicking an interim Commissioner, placing the incorporating lawyer along with lawyers from Telus and Bell on the board, and presenting the Commission as a done deal to the public.

There are ample substantive grounds for the CRTC to reject this new Commission (the board structure provides too much weight to the telcos as compared with other similar bodies such as the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments; the penalty powers are too low; the body is voluntary rather than mandatory as recommended by the Telcom Policy Review panel), however, it the process that compels it to do so.  Reports indicate that the CRTC will ask for public comment on the new Commission before granting approval, yet the Commission should have been prohibited from launching before such approvals.  This form of private lawmaking is wrong and yesterday's launch does little more than mislead the public and fuel the perception that there are no limits to Canadian telecom deregulation.

Update:  The Minister of Industry has just issued a press release applauding the industry for the creation of the Commission. 


  1. Makes sense. Get out in front of it, keep the pressure off. The industry is now in the spotlight about mow much it costs to have real plans and competition with all the publicity with the iPhone. They know they are in trouble, they need to delay it as long as possible. Keep putting the articles out there Michael, eventually there will be change. I’ll keep posting them to my blog for sure.

  2. Thanks for writing about the Telecom industry’s sneaky effort to try to get their preemptive toothless complaints commission passed us. How can we effectively let “Canada’s New Government” know our collective displeasure?


    P.S. I will also blog about it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The Commission had to get started this week. Tomorrow, the CRTC will be announcing the first forbearance approvals, so something needed to be put in place. That may explain the Minister’s quick endorsement.

    I suspect this is all carefully being choreographed behind the scenes by the CRTC, Industry Canada and the carriers. Notice the endorsement of the Consumers’ Association as well.

    I wouldn’t make too much of the current board members… they needed names for the incorporation. This would all be interim.

  4. grahamcharles says:

    This is priceless. The inmates are running the asylum, the game is officially rigged.

    This isn’t delay tactic, this is ball gag for the 10% (or whatever) of the Canadian “radical nerd fringe” who even get the issue. To the rest of the country this will make for the perfect sound bite on how reasonable the oligopoly really is.

  5. I just tried to use the “commission” for a complaint about Pathway Communications terms and conditions of ISP service. Unfortunately, they only handle complaints about their members – about a dozen larger providers – cogeco, telus etc. So there is no real recourse yet for the wild west of ISPs. Be warned, stay away from the little guys, or read very carefully before you sign anything.

  6. Dale Sellers says:

    Purchasing/Accounts Receivable Agent
    What if one does not agree with an assessment and/or decision by the CCTS? Last time I checked, they do not appear to have an appeals process in place. Can one appeal with someone else federally? If so, whom?