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Ottawa insider and veteran public servant Jean-Pierre Blais has been tapped to chair Canada’s telecom and broadcast regulator.
The Harper government’s announcement comes today after market close.
The appointment is effective June 18.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper praised his government’s choice in a statement.
“Mr. Blais ... brings a strong legal background and a comprehensive understanding of the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors and the role of the CRTC, having held high-level positions at the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Department of Canadian Heritage and the CRTC,” Harper said.
“I wish him all the best as he takes on the challenges of his new role.”
Blais’s record suggests he would be a relatively cautious hand at the helm of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, telecom industry sources say.
Unlike former chair Konrad von Finckenstein, telecom insiders have predicted Blais would be relatively compliant with Conservative government policy leanings and endeavour to keep the CRTC out of the headlines.
Those who know Blais say he is more of a conciliation-minded type who would seek compromise on issues rather than strike out independently with bold initiatives.
Blais has a working relationship with Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore, one of the two Conservative ministers who oversee the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
Now posted with the federal Treasury Board Secretariat, Blais previously served in senior roles at the Department of Canadian Heritage, including assistant deputy minister, cultural affairs, where he was responsible for files including copyright and cultural industries.
Blais is said to have ambitions to be a deputy minister one day and his appointment to Treasury Board last fall was seen as a stepping stone to that.
The CRTC chair is sometimes seed as an end-of-career post, and Blais is far from retirement. But he has experience inside the CRTC that would make his appointment as chair a defensible choice. Blais, a lawyer by training, has served as executive director of broadcasting at the CRTC as well as general counsel, broadcasting. Sources say he is nevertheless enforcement minded and would not hesitate to impose consequences for infractions of CRTC rules.