Better know a Canadian functionary: the Chair of the CRTC

In the early days of Canadian TV, as it had been in the days of radio, the only national network was the CBC, and so the CBC was also entrusted with regulating broadcasting. More and more private TV licenses were soon being issued, however, and soon the Diefenbaker government passed the Broadcasting Act of 1958, which removed the CBC’s regulatory powers and gave them to the new Board of Broadcast Governors. Under the terms of the Broadcasting Act of 1968, the BBG was dissolved and replaced by the CRTC, the Canadian Radio and Television Commission. In addition to the BBG’s old mandates, the CRTC was also responsible for enforcing the new rules obliging broadcasters to air a certain amount of Canadian-produced content. Responsibility for regulating the telecommunications industry was transferred  to the CRTC in 1976; since then, CRTC stands for the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission.

The chairs of the BBG and CRTC have been:

Dr. Andrew Stewart, 1958-68. Dr. Stewart, a Scottish immigrant, had been a professor of political science and the president of the University of Alberta. To his dying day, he had no idea why he was appointed to the BBG.

The Hon. Pierre Juneau PC OC, 1968-75. This is the same Pierre Juneau who commanded, at various times, the Canada Council, the National Capital Commission, the federal Department of Communications and the CBC.

Harry Joseph Boyle OC, 1975-77. Boyle was the farming commentator for the CBC for over 20 years.

Dr. Pierre Camu OC, 1977-79. Dr. Camu had been a geography professor at the Université de Laval and president of the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority before serving as the president of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters from 1973 to 1977.

Dr. John Meisel CC, 1980-83. Born in Austria, Dr. Meisel joined the faculty of Queen’s University in 1949 and has continuously held a professorship in the political sciences there for the past 65 years.

André Bureau OC, 1983-89. Bureau was a lawyer and off-and-on communications executive.

Keith Spicer, 1990-96. Spicer was the Commissioner of Official Languages from 1970 to 1977. He also chaired the Citizens’ Forum on National Unity, a.k.a the Spicer Commission, which examined the failures of the Meech Lake Accord and made recommendations that were incorporated into the Charlottetown Accord.

Françoise Bertrand, 1996-2001. Bertrand, the first woman chair of the CRTC, was a senior administrator of the Université de Montréal, and CEO of Télé-Québec.

David Colville (acting), 2001-02.

Charles Marvin Dalfen, 2002-06. A lawyer and law professor, Dalfen sometimes dabbled in jobs for the CRTC.

Konrad Winrich von Finckenstein, 2007-12. A German native, von Finckenstein was a legal advisor to the NAFTA negotiations and also served as head of the Competition Bureau.

Leonard Katz (acting), 2012.

Jean-Pierre Blais, 2012-now. Blais earned a BCL from McGill and held positions in the Treasury Board and the Department of Canadian Heritage.


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