This five-member panel is looking at a number of economic issues including current foreign ownership restrictions in the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors. At the present time, foreign ownership in these industries must not exceed 46.7%, which essentially means that control remains in Canadian hands.
The CEP, the largest union in Canada in both telecommunications and media, is not opposed to minority foreign interests in Canadian telecom companies. We are opposed to handing over control to non-Canadians, such as large American companies. There are serious concerns, including:
Loss of jobs by our members Lack of services in the future for smaller and remote areas Reduction of Canadian content and identity Loss of Canadian sovereignty Dangers concerning protection of privacy of information Negative impact on Canadian national security Who set up the Panel? The minority government in Ottawa created the panel in 2007. This was announced by Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry, and Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance. Both these high profile Conservative ministers are on record as supporting the idea of more foreign investment in Canada and eliminating foreign restrictions.
The five members of the Panel are all from the business world. Three of the members, including L.R. Wilson who leads the panel, have past or present close ties to the telecom industry (BCE). Not a single panel member represents labour or the public interest.
After reviewing submissions made by some 150 organizations and individuals, including the CEP, the panel is set to report back to the Minister of Industry by the end of June 2008.
The CEP submitted two in-depth submissions to the Policy Review Panel on telecom and broadcasting expressing our concerns. We also appeared at a meeting of the panel to present our point of view.