Today during parliamentary hearings, Konrad von Finckenstein, chairman of the CRTC, said “The control of the communications sector should stay in Canadian hands. No foreign entity should own more than 49 per cent”. Relying on committee discussion of converging telecommunications and broadcasting sectors, Finckenstein said that it is “…impossible to talk of reducing foreign ownership restrictions in one sector without doing so in the other.” Currently, foreign ownership restrictions limit direct and indirect investment to 46.7 per cent.
Mr. Finckenstein’s comments disclose an inbuilt bias prevalent within the CRTC. That is, because other sectors of the economy are “protected” from foreign ownership, the Communications sector should be equally protected. The concept of reducing or eliminating foreign ownership restrictions, appears not to have crossed Mr. Finckenstein’s mind.
This position puts the CRTC Chair at odds with most opposition MPs and all government MPs, the later of whom are clearly committed to addressing the systemic impediments to productivity gains in the Canadian economy, to be achieved through enhanced competition and economic liberalization.