Letter to welcome the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez

September 10, 2018

The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

RE: COMMUNITY MEDIA ADVOCACY CENTRE (CMAC)

Dear Minister Rodriguez,

The Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) extends its congratulations and warmest wishes to you as Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism. CMAC’s Board of Directors and consulting staff share our kindest regards as we take this opportunity to introduce CMAC’s mandate and areas of work.

CMAC is a non-profit organization formed in 2015 to offer advocacy and support for Indigenous and community organizations interested in licensing, funding, and launching non-profit broadcasting organizations. CMAC is uniquely comprised of academics, legal advisors, policy consultants and community media practitioners from across Canada, who prioritize the perspectives, voices and experiences of Indigenous, racialized and disAbled peoples. CMAC promotes community-access media by advocating for community-based, nonprofit and noncommercial broadcasting; Indigenous- and community-owned communications infrastructure; and media produced by volunteers and under-represented communities.

CMAC’s mandate is to support the self-determination of Indigenous, racialized, and disAbled peoples in the media through research, relationship-building, advocacy, and learning. To this end, CMAC:

  • Engages in CRTC proceedings affecting community and Indigenous media
  • Builds relationships with other non-profit organizations serving community and Indigenous media; and
  • Participates in research projects and conferences to advance practices, knowledge, and policy for Indigenous and community media in Canada and internationally.

This past year, CMAC was invited to share expertise by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa and the Federal Telecommunications Institute in Mexico.

CMAC has engaged in multiple CRTC proceedings over the past three years, submitting more than a dozen interventions and participating in four Commission hearings. Based on these experiences, as well as CMAC’s broader research and advocacy work, we have proposed several initiatives to foster a more equitable CRTC and broadcasting system. These proposals have been shared with the Chair of the CRTC, Mr. Ian Scott, and are outlined briefly below.

  1. Appointing Commissioners reflective of the diversity of Canada, including balanced representation of women, racialized peoples, Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities and those with experience in non-profit community media, is CMAC’s primary recommendation for fostering equity at the CRTC [1]. The Commission’s lack of diverse representation creates the perception of an echo-chamber, where only culturally dominant voices are reflected and amplified by decisions.
  2. In tandem with diversifying the Commission, we propose that the CRTC should adopt more inclusive and proactive public engagement strategies to connect with diverse communities. Accessible approaches might include community-based research, community media relations, online engagements and local consultations [2]. The expertise of community and Indigenous broadcasters and media scholars could also be engaged to inform CRTC deliberations and policy development. Increased communication and engagement would increase public awareness of and interest in CRTC proceedings, enhancing the vibrancy and accountability of this public service.
  3. Since 2016, CMAC has urged implementation of anti-racism education and training for CRTC commissioners and staff. The Commission has yet to formally respond to allegations of systemic and overt racism brought against it during judicial proceedings associated with the termination of Raj Shoan, one of only three racialized individuals ever appointed to the Commission [3]. A third-party process to investigate and address these and other allegations of racism at the Commission [4] would complement anti-racism training to ensure racialized peoples are equitably served by the CRTC. Such actions could also help to inform a much-needed review of the “Ethnic Broadcasting Policy” (CRTC 1999-117) and the upcoming review of the Cultural Diversity Policy [5].
  4. The CRTC has an opportunity to align its policies and practices with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) [6] and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action [7]. A committee of Indigenous radio, television and telecommunications producers and advocates could determine how CRTC policies and practices can support reconciliation and protect the rights of Indigenous people [8]. This type of review and consultation could also inform a long-overdue review of the “Native Broadcasting Policy” (CRTC 1990-89).
  5. As with UNDRIP, the CRTC has an opportunity to align its regulatory efforts with Canada’s obligations under other international declarations and conventions, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions [9] and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [10]. The alignment of policy with these declarations and conventions will enable Canada to unite with the values of sustainable development for communities, peoples and nations.
  6. Last but not least, there is an urgent need to reassert the vision and value of Canada as the “birthplace of community media” [11], recognizing the community sector as a complementary and essential pillar of the broadcasting system. To this end, the Commission could assess the impact of the “Policy Framework for Local and Community Television” (CRTC 2016-224) on the right to reflection within community media [12]; and of the “Campus and Community Radio Policy” (CRTC 2010-499) on the commercialization of non-profit radio station practices. Former Commissioner Morin’s dissenting opinion [13] on the latter policy predicted commercializing practices that have negatively impacted community access to community radio [14]. Guaranteeing an equitable place for nonprofit, noncommercial community, ethnic, Indigenous, and disAbility media will strengthen Canada’s media landscape and social fabric.

CMAC’s Board of Directors and consulting staff greatly value your consideration of this letter. We again share our warmest greetings and are optimistic that your stewardship of the Department of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism may create a unique opportunity to shape the future of a diverse and equitable CRTC. We look forward to your leadership on these matters and are readily available to discuss these issues further as desired.

Respectfully Yours,

Monique Manatch
President, CMAC

Kristiana Clemens
Vice-President, CMAC

FOOTNOTES

[1] Only once since 1968 has the CRTC Chairperson not been a white man: http://frpc.net/appointments-to-the-crtc/
[2] For example, in the 1970s “the CRTC established the Committee on Extension of Service to Northern and Remote Communities which included representatives from provincial governments and northern native associations. After holding extensive public hearings throughout the North and considering over 400 submissions, the Committee issued its report [know as the The Therrien Report] in July 1980” (emphasis added), quoted from: https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/1984/PB84-310.htm
[3] https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/heritage-minister-asked-about-the-recent-dismissal-of-a-crtc-commissioner-and-racism-at-the-crtc-593134551.html
[4] CMAC letter re CRTC 2017-1: https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/action-must-be-taken-to-ensure-the-crtc-supports-racial-equity-and-the-sovereignty-of-indigenous-peoples-620350933.html
[5] See CRTC Three-Year Plan 2017-2020: https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/backgrnd/plan2017/plan2017.htm
[6] http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf
[7] http://templatelab.com/truth-and-reconciliation-commission-calls-to-action/
[8] For example, see the report prepared by the Truth and Reconciliation Committee of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA-FCAB): https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/access-to-indigenous-knowledges-and-their-cultural-materials-depends-on-decolonizing-libraries–cultural-memory-institutions-and-their-services-report-620262853.html
[9] http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=31038&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
[10] https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities/ convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities-2.html
[11] https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2008/pb2008-4.htm
[12] The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage also recommends this priority, see Recommendation 9 (p. 44): http://www.ourcommons.ca/Content/Committee/421/CHPC/Reports/RP9045583/chpcrp06/chpcrp06-e.pdf
[13] Former Commissioner Morin wrote in 2010, “My concern, based on submissions made during this proceeding, is that community radio may gradually become something more akin to a commercial venture.” See CRTC 2010-499 for full dissenting opinion: https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2010/2010-499.htm
[14] http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/montreal-community-radio-station-cibl-fm-lays-off-all-its-employees, http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/radio-centre-ville-at-centre-of-power-struggle, and https://nowtoronto.com/music/goodbye-chry/

LETTER to Welcome Chair

February 20, 2018

Chairperson Ian Scott
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N2

RE: COMMUNITY MEDIA ADVOCACY CENTRE (CMAC)

Dear Mr. Scott,

1. The Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) extends a warm welcome to you as Chair of the CRTC. CMAC’s Board of Directors and consulting staff share their kindest regards as we take this opportunity to introduce our mandate and areas of work.

2. CMAC is a non-profit organization formed in 2015 to offer advocacy and support for Indigenous and community organizations interested in licensing, funding, and launching non-profit broadcasting organizations. CMAC is uniquely comprised of academics, legal advisors, policy consultants and community media practitioners from across Canada, who prioritize the perspectives, voices and experiences of Indigenous peoples, linguistic and ethnic minorities, and disAbility communities. CMAC promotes community-access media by advocating for community-based, nonprofit and noncommercial broadcasting; Indigenous- and community-owned communications infrastructure; and media produced by volunteers and/or under-represented communities.

3. CMAC’s mandate is to support self-determination in Indigenous and community media through research, relationship-building, advocacy, and learning. To this end, CMAC engages in CRTC proceedings affecting community and Indigenous media; builds relationships with other non-profit organizations serving community and Indigenous media; and participates in research projects and conferences to advance practices, knowledge, and policy for Indigenous and community media in Canada and internationally. This past year, CMAC was invited to share expertise by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa and the Federal Telecommunications Institute in Mexico.

4. CMAC has engaged in multiple CRTC proceedings over the past three years, submitting eleven interventions and participating in three Commission hearings. Based on these experiences, as well as CMAC’s broader research and advocacy work, we respectfully propose several initiatives to foster a more equitable CRTC and broadcasting system.

5. Appointing Commissioners reflective of the diversity of Canada, including balanced representation of women, racialized peoples, Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities and those with experience in non-profit community media, is CMAC’s primary recommendation for fostering equity at the CRTC.[1] The Commission’s lack of diverse representation creates the perception of an echo-chamber, where only culturally dominant voices are reflected and amplified by decisions.

6. In tandem with diversifying the Commission, the CRTC could adopt more inclusive and proactive public engagement strategies to connect with diverse communities. Accessible approaches might include community-based research, community media relations, online engagements and local consultations.[2] The expertise of community and Indigenous broadcasters and media scholars could also be engaged to inform CRTC deliberations and policy development. Increased communication and engagement would increase public awareness of and interest in CRTC proceedings, enhancing the vibrancy and accountability of this public service.

7. Since 2016, CMAC has urged implementation of anti-racism education and training for CRTC commissioners and staff. The Commission has yet to formally respond to allegations of systemic and overt racism brought against it during judicial proceedings associated with the termination of Raj Shoan, one of only three racialized individuals ever appointed to the Commission.[3] A third-party process to investigate and address these and other allegations of racism at the Commission[4] would complement anti-racism training to ensure racialized peoples are equitably served by the CRTC. Such actions could also help to inform a much-needed review of the “Ethnic Broadcasting Policy” (CRTC 1999-117).

8. The CRTC has an opportunity to align its policies and practices with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP)[5] and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.[6] A committee of Indigenous radio, television and telecommunications producers and advocates could determine how CRTC policies and practices can support reconciliation and protect the rights of Indigenous people.[7] This type of review and consultation could also inform a long-overdue review of the “Native Broadcasting Policy” (CRTC 1990-89).

9. As with UNDRIP, the CRTC has an opportunity to align its regulatory efforts with Canada’s obligations under other international declarations and conventions, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions [8] and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.[9]

10. Last but not least, there is an urgent need to reassert the vision and value of Canada as the “birthplace of community media,”[10] recognizing the community sector as a complementary and essential pillar of the broadcasting system. To this end, the Commission could assess the impact of the “Policy Framework for Local and Community Television” (CRTC 2016-224) on the right to reflection within community media;[11] and of the “Campus and Community Radio Policy” (CRTC 2010-499) on the commercialization of non-profit radio station practices. Former Commissioner Morin’s dissenting opinion[12] on the latter policy predicted commercializing practices that have negatively impacted community access to community radio.[13] Guaranteeing an equitable place for nonprofit, noncommercial community, ethnic, Indigenous, and disAbility media will strengthen Canada’s media landscape and social fabric.

11. CMAC’s Board of Directors and consulting staff value your consideration of these matters as your stewardship of the Commission creates an opportunity for a renewed and more equitable CRTC. We look forward to working with you, and are available to discuss these issues further upon request.

Respectfully Yours,
Kristiana Clemens, President, CMAC
Zoë Ludski, Vice-President, CMAC

Cc. The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage

Footnotes
[1] Only once since 1968 has the CRTC Chairperson not been a white man: http://frpc.net/appointments-to-the-crtc/
[2] For example, in the 1970s “the CRTC established the Committee on Extension of Service to Northern and Remote Communities which included representatives from provincial governments and northern native associations. After holding extensive public hearings throughout the North and considering over 400 submissions, the Committee issued its report [know as the The Therrien Report] in July 1980” (emphasis added), quoted from: https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/1984/PB84-310.htm
[3] https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/heritage-minister-asked-about-the-recent-dismissal-of-a-crtc-commissioner-and-racism-at-the-crtc-593134551.html
[4] CMAC letter re CRTC 2017-1: https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/action-must-be-taken-to-ensure-the-crtc- supports-racial-equity-and-the-sovereignty-of-indigenous-peoples-620350933.html
[5] http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf
[6] http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf
[7] For example, see the report prepared by the Truth and Reconciliation Committee of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA-FCAB): https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/access-to-indigenous-knowledges-and-their-cultural-materials-depends-on-decolonizing-libraries–cultural-memory-institutions-and-their-services-report-620262853.html
[8] http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=31038&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
[9] https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities/ convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities-2.html
[10] https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2008/pb2008-4.htm
[11] The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage also recommends this priority, see Recommendation 9 (p. 44): http://www.ourcommons.ca/Content/Committee/421/CHPC/Reports/RP9045583/chpcrp06/chpcrp06-e.pdf 
[12] Former Commissioner Morin wrote in 2010, “My concern, based on submissions made during this proceeding, is that community radio may gradually become something more akin to a commercial venture.” See CRTC 2010-499 for full dissenting opinion: https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2010/2010-499.htm
[13] http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/montreal-community-radio-station-cibl-fm-lays-off-all-its-employees, http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/radio-centre-ville-at-centre-of-power-struggle, and https://nowtoronto.com/music/goodbye-chry/
Letter sent by CMAC February 20, 2018, to welcome new CRTC Chair Ian Scott, appointed until September 4, 2022. [Image credit: CMAC, Image description: The CMAC letter appears on top of two large yellow envelopes, one addressed to CRTC Chairperson Ian Scott and the second addressed to the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage]

Link to download CMAC Letter to Welcome Chair: http://cmac.gwradio.koumbit.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/CMAC_Letter_to_Welcome_Chair.pdf

Link to share this post: http://cmacentre.ca/2018/02/20/letter-to-welcome-chair/

Image download link: http://cmac.gwradio.koumbit.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/CMAC_Letter_to_Chair.jpg

LETTER Re: Racial equity, Reconciliation and the CRTC

April 24, 2017

To: His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage

Re: Racial equity, Reconciliation and the CRTC

Dear Excellency, Prime Minister, and Minister,

1. The Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) writes to share concerns related to racism at the CRTC. We ask that the CRTC and Ministry take action to ensure the CRTC supports racial equity and the sovereignty of Indigenous peoples.

2. CMAC is a non­-profit organization comprised of academics, legal advisors, policy consultants and community media practitioners who prioritize the perspectives, voices and experiences of Indigenous peoples, people of colour, third language and disAbility communities. CMAC works toward equitable representation and access for underrepresented communities within the broadcasting system, including the CRTC.

3. In September 2016, CMAC and the Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR) wrote to your Excellency, the Minister, and CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais concerning Raj Shoan, former CRTC Commissioner for the Region of Ontario (1). In this letter, CMAC and UARR expressed concerns related to racism, including the lack of equitable representation of Indigenous and racialized people on the Commission, and the environment of overt racism within the Commission alleged in Shoan’s case.

4. In response, in November 2016 the Minister granted a meeting “to discuss systemic inequity in representation at the CRTC”. This resulted in a meeting with Dan Smith, Director General, Portfolio Affairs, Ministry of Canadian Heritage, in February 2017 (2). At this meeting, CMAC and UARR representatives asked what actions the CRTC was taking to address the lack of representation of Indigenous and racialized people on the Commission. In response, Mr. Smith invited CMAC and UARR to recruit Indigenous and racialized individuals among our personal and professional networks as applicants for these appointments. Given that this invitation was the extent of the strategy offered to address racial inequity on the Commission, CMAC and UARR were led to believe that no concrete actions were being taken to address this systemic imbalance.

5. In March, CMAC participated in a hearing for Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2017-1, regarding applications for radio licenses to serve urban Aboriginal communities in Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver (3). Regrettably, the behaviour of the Commission, and particularly the Chair, at this hearing deepened CMAC’s concerns with systemic and overt racism and a colonial mentality at the Commission.

6. Rather than heralding any of a number of historic Indigenous communicators and leaders, the Chair chose to open the hearing by praising Samuel de Champlain in a statement that failed to acknowledge Champlain’s historic actions as the murderer of Indigenous Haudenosaunee chiefs (5). He proceeded to express regret that there were no “qualified candidates from your community,” presumably referring to the diverse Indigenous nations across Canada, none of which were represented on the panel (6).

7. Later in the hearing, the Chair described Canada’s advertising market as a “pie” that “came over with Christopher Columbus and has never grown” (7), implying that Indigenous peoples have not contributed meaningfully to Canada’s economy. Such statements are not only offensive in the context of a hearing by and about Indigenous broadcasting, but undermine the Government of Canada’s public and repeated commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples (8).

8. After CMAC’s presentation at the hearing, delivered by two racialized representatives of the organization, the Chair proceeded along an aggressive line of questioning, asking CMAC’s representatives if they “represent all the Indigenous peoples of Canada through your board governance?” (9) This question reflected either inappropriate sarcasm or a homogenized stereotype of Indigenous peoples, who comprise hundreds of nations of First Peoples, Inuit and Métis. The Chair went on to imply that CMAC was speaking on behalf of Indigenous nations without having consulted them, when this was clearly not the case (10). The Chair further chastised CMAC representatives with the accusation “You didn’t even read the public notice correctly” (11), when CMAC representatives sought to argue that the licenses for Indigenous radio stations should comply with the CRTC’s own Native Broadcasting Policy. The Chair concluded, “the Commission can make exceptions to its policies. And, in fact, it would be a jurisdictional error to be bound by its policies” (12).

9. One can only be left with the impression that the hearing will be determined, not by the transparent policies the CRTC has set for broadcasters, but at the whims of a panel led by an individual who praises perpetrators of murder of Indigenous people, holds only the vaguest understanding of a homogenous “Aboriginal” stereotype, believes Indigenous people do not contribute to the Canadian economy and targets racialized community media advocates with sarcastic interrogations at a public proceeding.

10. Given these concerns, along with those documented in the CMAC and UARR letter of September 2016, expressed in the meeting of February 2017, and identified elsewhere by others (13), CMAC asks that immediate action be taken to address discrimination against Indigenous and racialized persons by the CRTC. To this end we request:

  • That Chairman Blais apologize for inappropriate statements made during the public hearing CRTC 2017-1;
  • That a transparent and accountable third-party process be initiated to investigate and address allegations of systemic and overt racism within the Commission, and Chairman Blais’ role therein;
  • That the CRTC implement comprehensive anti-racism education and training among its staff and appointees;
  • That an Indigenous or racialized person be appointed as Chair of the Commission; and
  • That the CRTC consult directly with Indigenous nations and associated representative organizations in its ongoing and upcoming reviews of the Broadcasting Act, Native Broadcasting Policy, and Cultural Diversity Policy (14).

11. We believe these actions may restore trust and affirm the legitimacy of the CRTC as a public authority regulating broadcasting and telecommunications in Canada in this time when increasing numbers call upon the Government to take action that will lead to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples (15).

Respectfully,
Kristiana Clemens, President, CMAC, and Zoe Ludski, Vice-President, CMAC

 

Footnotes

(1) http://cmac.gwradio.koumbit.org/2016/09/10/letter-re-dismissal-of-crtc-commissioner-raj-shoan/

(2) http://www.thewirereport.ca/news/2017/01/17/address-diversity-gaps-when-filling-crtc-roles-minister-told/31678

(3) http://www.crtc.gc.ca/broadcast/eng/hearings/2017/ag27_03.htm?_ga=1.208925266.1553568569.1485974792

(4) “Champlain was not one of the many European mercenaries that wanted to take Indigenous lands and exploit them. He was rather a humanist who was welcoming and inclusive.” See Transcript, 27 March 2017, Line 37: http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/transcripts/2017/tb0327.htm

(5) Recent public debates have also arisen, concerning Champlain and the controversial documentary series, Canada: The Story of Us. https://www.tv-eh.com/tag/hayden-king/

(6) Transcript, 27 March 2017, Line 46: http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/transcripts/2017/tb0327.htm

(7) Transcript, 27 March 2017, Line 1454: http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/transcripts/2017/tb0327.htm

(8) http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-indigenous-leaders-trc-1.3897902

(9) Transcript, 28 March 2017, Line 2219: http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/transcripts/2017/tb0328.htm

(10) “I’m just trying to get some facts about what you did because you claim to have done and speak about on behalf of people.” Transcript, 28 March 2017, Line 2245: http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/transcripts/2017/tb0328.htm

(11) Transcript, 28 March 2017, Line 2255: http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/transcripts/2017/tb0328.htm

(12) Transcript, 28 March 2017, Line 2261: http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/transcripts/2017/tb0328.htm

(13) “Three-quarters (74%) of the people appointed as CRTC Commissioners have been men, 98% have been white and three-quarters (77%) have had backgrounds in management, finance, government or law.” Forum for Research and Policy in Communications: http://frpc.net/appointments-to-the-crtc/

(14) http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/backgrnd/plan2017/plan2017.htm

(15) http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/public-opinion-of-indigenous-people-in-canada-improving-survey/article30346252/

 

Resources

CMAC (2017, April 24). Letter Re: Racial equity, Reconciliation and the CRTC. Retrieved from: https://archive.org/download/CRTC20170327/CMAC_2017-1_Letter.pdf

CMAC (2017). Audio archive of Oral Presentation to the Commission. Retrieved from: CMAC audio (LINK)

CMAC (2017). CMAC submissions under CRTC 2017-1 (Intervention & script of Oral Presentation). Retrieved from: https://services.crtc.gc.ca/Pub/ListeInterventionList/Documents.aspx?ID=238889&en=2017-1&dt=i&lang=e&S=C&PA=b&PT=nc&PST=a

CRTC (2017). Audio archives, CRTC BNC 2017-1 Public Hearing. Retrieved from: Day 1 (LINK), Day 2 (LINK), & Day 3 (LINK)

CRTC (2017). Full transcripts, CRTC BNC 2017-1 Public Hearing. Retrieved online:
http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/transcripts/2017/tb0327.htm
http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/transcripts/2017/tb0328.htm
http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/transcripts/2017/tb0329.htm

Photo from CRTC BNC 2017-1 Public Hearing:

Photo Published 8:47 AM – 29 Mar 2017 by L. Marouf on Twitter from the hearing for CRTC 2017-1 with John Gagnon (CEO-Wawatay) presenting Wawatay Communications Society’s final comments for licenses in Ottawa and Toronto.

LETTER: Re. Dismissal of CRTC Commissioner Raj Shoan

Urban Alliance on Race Relations: info@urbanalliance.ca
Community Media Advocacy Centre: cmac@riseup.net

September 6, 2016                  

To: The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage

Cc. His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada; CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais

Re. Dismissal of CRTC Commissioner Raj Shoan

Dear Honourable Minister Joly,

1. The Community Media Advocacy Centre and the Urban Alliance on Race Relations write to you concerning Raj Shoan, former CRTC Commissioner for the Region of Ontario, following his removal from the position in June by an Order of Council, for reasons which have not been publicly disclosed.

2. As organizations working to realize equitable representation and access for people of colour and Indigenous people within the media and all facets of Canadian society, we are alarmed by the allegations and implications of ongoing systemic and overt racism within the CRTC that have emerged through Shoan’s case. We ask that immediate action be taken to restore Shoan to the Commission and to investigate and address issues of systemic and overt racism within the Commission. We believe these actions are necessary to affirm the legitimacy of the CRTC as a public authority regulating broadcasting and telecommunications on behalf of all Canadians, including those impacted by systemic and overt racism.

3. The Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR) is a non-profit organization working primarily and proactively with the community, public and private sectors to provide educational programs and research critical to addressing racism in our society.  

 4. The Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) is a non-profit organization that engages with and supports communities to advocate for Indigenous media, non-­profit community broadcasting, and media created by and for communities traditionally underrepresented in Canada’s media landscape, including people of colour and third-language communities.

 5. Since the creation of the CRTC in 1968, only two of 103 first-time appointments to the Commission have been granted to visible minorities (1). No visible minority or Indigenous person has ever been appointed to serve as a CRTC Chairman or Vice-Chairman (2). This is despite the fact that the 2011 National Household Survey determined 19.1% of Canadians are visible minorities (3). Statistics Canada anticipates up to 23% of Canada’s population will belong to visible minorities by 2017 (4).

6. Appointments to the Commission thus suggest a serious problem of inequitable representation within the administration of the federal broadcast and telecommunications regulator, rooted in systemic racism, that can be observed without touching upon any of the disclosed information or allegations related to Shoan’s case.

 7. As the second person of colour ever to be appointed to the Commission in its 48-year history, Shoan came to the role with manifold qualifications and skill, having served as a Regulatory Affairs Director in both the public and private media sectors, and as a Senior Advisor to the Chairman and a Legal Counsel within the Commission itself. His appointment in 2013 to a 5-year term as the Regional Commissioner for Ontario served to strengthen the composition of the Commission not simply in terms of racial diversity but also in terms of legal expertise and regulatory experience.

8. It is further clear that Shoan took his role as Commissioner extremely seriously, actively seeking and acting upon consultation from stakeholders within the Ontario region, and eager to participate in proceedings and hearings on various broadcast and telecom matters affecting communities in his region. The CRTC states that Commissioners’ responsibilities include:

  • participating in processes to establish rules, policies and guidelines for licences and carriers
  • participating in public hearings and consultations; and
  • developing regulations and participation in making CRTC decisions (5)

Shoan evidently strove to fulfill these responsibilities.

9. It is apparent that Shoan’s interpretation of these responsibilities led to conflicts within the Commission which he sought to resolve through judicial arbitration. Notably, in April, 2015, Shoan applied for a judicial review of Chairman Blais’ decision to accept the results of a report that concluded Shoan’s behaviour towards a CRTC employee constituted harassment. Shoan’s dismissal came only days after the first public hearing in this judicial review, at which presiding Justice Russel Zinn commented it was “troubling” that Chairman Blais was both a witness in the harassment investigation and the individual who accepted the report’s findings (6). The final decision in this review recently determined that the report was the product of a “witch hunt” carried out against Shoan by Commission staff and appointees (7).

10. In two further pending cases, Shoan contests Chairman Blais’ legal authority to appoint panels of Commissioners to preside over hearings on telecom-related matters as an action which unduly restricts Commissioners’ ability to vote on various matters before the CRTC. These allegations suggest that the Chairman has taken discriminatory action to prevent certain Commissioners, such as Shoan, from fulfilling their responsibilities to Canadians (8).

11. Most recently and troublingly, documents filed in Shoan’s legal challenge to his dismissal allege an oppressive environment of overt racism within the Commission, enforced through a culture of fear and intimidation. Shoan argues that a racist double-standard was used in handling harassment allegations against him as compared to a white Commissioner who “referred to Shoan as a ‘spoiled rich brown kid who probably grew up with servants;’ requested to change hotels on commission-sanctioned travel because ‘there were too many black people;’ and complained that it ‘smelled like curry’ in her office after meeting with ethnic broadcasters” (9).

12. Within the broader context of the complete lack of equitable representation of people of colour on the Commission, and the historic and ongoing lack of equitable access for and representation of racialized communities within Canada’s media and telecommunications landscapes (10a & 10b), these recent allegations warrant urgent concern and immediate attention from the Minister and all Canadians.

13. Without any public disclosure of the causes for which Shoan has been dismissed, one is easily led to the conclusion that this dismissal is a direct result of his attempt to fulfill his responsibilities as a Commissioner for the region of Ontario: Canada’s most racially and culturally diverse province. If this is indeed the case, by attempting to sweep matters of systemic and overt racism under a rug through the dismissal of a “problem individual,” the CRTC, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Governor-in-Council have committed a grave disservice to all Canadians, particularly those impacted by racism.

14. CMAC and UARR wish to express deep sadness and disappointment about the lack of equitable representation at the Commission and the allegations of systemic and overt racism within the CRTC’s highest levels of governance. Our organizations are deeply concerned that Shoan’s dismissal represents a grave mishandling of justice and due process, raising serious concerns about the transparency of the CRTC and its purported mandate to make decisions on behalf of all Canadians.

15. CMAC and UARR urge the Minister and Governor-in-Council to reconsider the decision to dismiss Commissioner Shoan. To this end we request:

  • To meet with you to discuss the context of systemic inequity in representation at the CRTC
  • That no Commissioner for Ontario, other than Shoan, be appointed until the court proceedings related to Shoan’s cases are concluded;
  • That a transparent and accountable third-party process be initiated to investigate and address allegations of systemic and overt racism within the Commission;
  • That the CRTC implement comprehensive anti-racism education and training among its staff and appointees; and
  • That the Commission establish equitable representation through the appointment of Commissioners who are People of Colour, Indigenous people and people from the community broadcasting sector for the five further vacancies currently on the Commission.

Sincerely (11),

Kristiana Clemens                  Nigel Barriffe
President, CMAC                    President, UARR

NOTES
(1) http://frpc.net/appointments-to-the-crtc/ “Visible Minorities” is the term used by the Canadian Government to describe non-Indigenous people of colour, and thus we adopt it here despite having numerous critiques of this terminology.
(2) Ibid.
(3) https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/nhs-enm/2011/as-sa/99-010-x/99-010-x2011001-eng.cfm
(4) http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/050322/dq050322b-eng.htm
(5) http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/acrtc/commissioners.htm
(6) http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/crtc-rift-between-officials-gets-nasty-as-expense-fight-escalates-1.3118381
(7) http://cas-cdc-www02.cas-satj.gc.ca/rss/T-668-15%20Shoan%20v.%20AG%20%20decision%20-%20ENG%20(2016FC1003).pdf
(8) Ibid.
(9) http://business.financialpost.com/fp-tech-desk/crtc-faces-allegations-of-racism-at-highest-ranks-court-documents
(10) http://www.media-action-media.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/MAM_Diversity-Research-Report_FINAL.pdf; http://www.stopracism.ca/content/racism-and-media
(11) To view the signed letter, click here: LETTER_RAJSHOAN_06092016.

 

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CANADIAN MULTICULTURAL RADIO - CMR 101.3 FM
CRTC Commissioner Raj Shoan ceremonially inaugurating Canada’s first HD Radio Additional programing service (CNW Group/Canadian Multicultural Radio)