Mark Goldberg


www.mhgoldberg.com





#CTS20

Minister’s new mandate

Prime Minister Trudeau published the mandate letters for each of the members of the new Cabinet.

Of particular interest to the telecommunications community is the mandate letter for Navdeep Bains, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

The letter includes a telecom specific section:

  • Use all available instruments, including the advancement of the 2019 Telecom Policy Directive, to reduce the average cost of cellular phone bills in Canada by 25 per cent. You will work with telecom companies and expand mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) in the market. If within two years this price target is not achieved, you can expand MVNO qualifying rules and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission mandate on affordable pricing.
  • Award spectrum access based on commitments towards consumer choice, affordability and broad access. You will also reserve space for new entrants.

Some concerns came to mind on my first read of the letter, as I wrote on my Twitter stream. While the preamble in the letter says “We are committed to evidence-based decision-making…”, one might have difficulty squaring this promise with what appears to be a pre-determination of issues being explored by the CRTC in Public Notice 2019-57: Review of Mobile Services.

Some additional points set out in Minister Bains’ mandate require coordination with other members of Cabinet:

  • With the support of the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance and the Minister of Seniors, create a new Canadian Consumer Advocate to ensure a single point of contact for people who need help with federally regulated banking, telecom or transportation-related complaints. Ensure that complaints are reviewed and, if founded, that appropriate remedies and penalties can be imposed.
  • Work with the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development and the Minister of Canadian Heritage to deliver high-speed internet to 100 per cent of Canadian homes and businesses by 2030.
  • Co-lead work with the Minister of Canadian Heritage to modernize the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act, examining how best to support Canadian content in English and French and ensure quality affordable internet, mobile and media access.
  • Work with the Minister of Canadian Heritage to introduce legislation by the end of 2020 that will take appropriate measures to ensure that all content providers, including internet giants, offer meaningful levels of Canadian content in their catalogues, contribute to the creation of Canadian content in both Official Languages, promote this content and make it easily accessible on their platforms. The legislation should also consider additional cultural and linguistic communities.
  • Work with the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the Minister of Canadian Heritage to advance Canada’s Digital Charter and enhanced powers for the Privacy Commissioner, in order to establish a new set of online rights, including: data portability; the ability to withdraw, remove and erase basic personal data from a platform; the knowledge of how personal data is being used, including with a national advertising registry and the ability to withdraw consent for the sharing or sale of data; the ability to review and challenge the amount of personal data that a company or government has collected; proactive data security requirements; the ability to be informed when personal data is breached with appropriate compensation; and the ability to be free from online discrimination including bias and harassment.
  • With the support of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, create new regulations for large digital companies to better protect people’s personal data and encourage greater competition in the digital marketplace. A newly created Data Commissioner will oversee those regulations.

Like last time, the mandate letter talks about broadband coverage, without addressing factors impacting adoption.

Over the coming months, we’ll be certain to be coming back to these issues.

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