Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications

Issue 8 – Evidence, November 17, 2009

OTTAWA, Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications met this day at 6:37 p.m. to study emerging issues related to its communications mandate and to report on the wireless sector, including issues such as access to high-speed Internet, the supply of bandwidth, the nation-building role of wireless, the pace of the adoption of innovations, the financial aspects associated with possible changes to the sector, and Canada’s development of the sector in comparison to the performance in other countries.

Senator Jaffer: Do you think the situation would improve if we had a minister dedicated to digital matters?

Mr. Tremblay: We made that comment in the report. The mandate of Industry Canada is now very wide. I think it is fair to say — and it is not to send flowers to anyone — that the Canadian policy for spectrum management and the place Canada holds around the world through Industry Canada and the specialists that have been there working at it in the CRC has been high quality work. I have been to many places in many situations with the officials of Industry Canada dealing with this issue. It is hard for me to say that someone at Industry did not do his or her job or that there was a lack of focus.

The biggest lack we have is a lack of clarity in our policy, and especially a lack of clarity in this situation of foreign capital. It is a massive hole in our policy-making.

The other thing, and it is another recommendation, is we should not have two bodies ruling on the same matters. It is inconsistent. In many countries, you have the ministry making the policies and you have the regulator applying them. Here you have a situation where for many of these matters, you have two heads; and we have an appeal to cabinet. You can return to cabinet.

It is probably required in the context of what we have. However, I think we should clean house, rather than having three masters to look at the other two institutions, I would rather have a set of clear policies. If we do not want competition, maybe we can say it.
It has never been said in Canada that we do not want foreign access to capital in telecommunications. There have been many rules that were either clear or unclear. Do we want access to foreign capital in this country for telecom or not? It is very simple.
Right now, we do one day; we do not another day. It is not clear what is happening

 

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