“A victory for culture, a victory for Canadian ownership”
February 4th, 2011 – OTTAWA – The Federal Court has effectively restored the foreign ownership restrictions of Canada’s Telecommunications Act by quashing the federal government’s decision to licence foreign-owned wireless telecom Globalive.
“The Federal Court has said that Cabinet is not above the law,” says the President of Canada’s largest telecommunications union, Dave Coles.
“If Stephen Harper and his Cabinet want to change the Telecommunication Act, they have to have the guts to go before Parliament,” he said, noting that “the decision says ‘Cabinet mis-drected itself in law’.”
The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP), ACTRA, and Friends of Canadian Broadcasting were intervenors in the case.
In December 2009, the federal government granted a wireless license to Globalive, a company backed by Egypt’s Orascom, overturning an earlier decision to block the permit by Canada’s broadcast regulator. The Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission had rejected the application on the grounds it violated rules banning foreign control of the sector.
“Overturning the Cabinet decision is a victory for Canadian ownership rules and a victory for Canadian culture,” said Stephen Waddell, ACTRA’s National Executive Director. “Globalive was potentially the beginning of the end of our foreign ownership laws, we’re ecstatic that the courts have stopped the train in its tracks.”
The cultural coalition had intervened on the same side as Telus and Public Mobile in opposing the government’s decision. However, they were the only ones to bring cultural concerns to the table, asserting that telecommunication companies have a responsibility under the Telecommunications Act to strengthen and safeguard Canadian cultural sovereignty.
Increasing convergence between telecom and broadcasting has made the need to maintain Canadian-ownership of both even more acute. In the few months since the cultural groups were granted standing in this case two major telecommunications companies have converged with broadcasters – Shaw with CanWest, and BCE with CTVglobemedia.
“Foreign ownership was a looming threat to our entire communications industry, our ability to control our media and to protect our culture,” added Ian Morrison, spokesperson for the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. “The federal court’s assertion that our foreign ownership rules matter has brought a sigh of relief across our entire industry.”
For more information;
ACTRA Public Relations Officer
416-644-1519, firstname.lastname@example.org, cell: (416)768-3336