Industry Minister Tony Clement announced this morning that the Government has overturned the CRTC decision on Globalive, giving the go-ahead for the fourth national wireless carrier to enter the marketplace. Clement stated "Globalive is a Canadian company, and meets Canadian ownership and control requirements under the Telecommunications Act." While Clement was careful to say that the decision applies solely to these facts, the Order-in-Council seems to suggest that the door is open to greater foreign involvement in the Canadian wireless marketplace.
The key paragraphs focus on the need to interpret the Canadian control requirements with enhanced competition in mind and on the absence of foreign investment restrictions under the law:
Whereas the Governor in Council considers that, when possible, the Canadian ownership and control requirements should be applied in support of the Canadian telecommunications policy objectives set out in the Act, including enhancing competition in the telecommunications market;
Whereas the Canadian ownership and control requirements of the Act restrict the ownership of voting shares by non-Canadians, but the Act does not impose limits on foreign investment in telecommunication common carriers and should be interpreted in a way that ensures that access to foreign capital, technology and experience is encouraged in a manner that supports all of the Canadian telecommunication policy objectives;
These paragraphs signal the prioritization of enhanced competition in the marketplace. With support for foreign investment, the removal of foreign control limits may not be far behind.