Canadians were outraged after the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) passed the decision to allow Bell Canada to charge usage-based billing fees. Several months later, when a bill was proposed to relax broadcast regulations, the situation intensified.
Amidst the flurry of online petitions and angry Internet service providers, the Canadian government has stepped in. Government officials are responding to both of these issues. Industry Minister Tony Clement has stated that if the CRTC fails to reconsider its decision and “go back to the drawing board,” the federal government will have to take the matter into its own hands. The CRTC responded to Clement by stating that they will delay the implementation of usage-based billing until May 1 pending a review of the issue, though it appears the CRTC was planning a review of the issue before Clement got involved. Supporters of the action claim it will create a more fair and balanced method of charging Canadians for their Internet use. Opponents think the move is just a ploy by large telecommunications companies to eliminate competition. The decision also threatens services such as Netflix that offer streaming media at a set monthly rate.
Government officials are also getting involved in the proposed bill to change Canadian broadcast standards. This bill calls for an alteration of the existing law, which would allow networks to broadcast false or misleading news as long as doing so would not place any individuals in danger. NDP MP Charlie Angus has been one of the most vocal about the issue stating that.
“It seems astounding that the CRTC would consider such a move at a time when we see the growing backlash in the United States to the poisoned levels of political discord in the American media,” said Angus. He also criticized Stephen Harper’s seeming involvement with the bill, and his former communications director, Kory Teneycke, who left his position to work for Quebecor media, owners of the new Sun TV network.
Public outcry against both of these rulings has been strong with over 400,000 Canadian citizens signing petitions objecting to the two cases. Criticism of the CRTC has become so strong that when asked if the CRTC is still a relevant organization Clement replied: “That’s a very good question.”