Friday, March 31, 2017

CRTC: Indigenous peoples underrepresented on Commission

CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais this week launched a set of hearings regarding applications to operate radio stations serving Indigenous Canadians in five major Canadian cities.  However, the panel for the hearing, Blais noted, "does not include Indigenous members."  Governments past and present, Blais noted, have failed to appoint CRTC Commissioners "for almost 20 years."

After calling on Elder Monique Renaud, M├ętis of Algonquin and Huron-Wendat descent, to open the hearings, Blais noted, referring to the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission:
The Canadian broadcasting system plays an important role in the reconciliation of Indigenous peoples with Canadian society. The Commission also raised the immediate need to serve the Indigenous community as a whole since vital questions of importance to Indigenous Canadians are not completely covered, or not covered at all, by non-Indigenous media.
The National Post noted, earlier this week:
This isn't the first time Blais has criticized the lack of diversity.  He previously chastised telecoms for not including a representative number of women at the public hearings. 
Currently, only seven of a possible 13 commissioner spots are occupied. Two are women.Two more seats will be vacant by June, leaving five commissioners unless the government speeds up its hiring process.
 In 2015, the CRTC had revoked the licences of Aboriginal Voices Radio in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa for licence non-compliance and called for new applications, of which twelve have been received.

Along with the current set of licencing hearings, the CRTC has promised a review of its policies on Indigenous Radio. A conference in Ottawa is planned to set stage for this review, to take place June 15-17 2017.

The review of the Canadian Broadcasting Act, promised in the Liberal's 2017 Budget, should work to  correct the inadequacy with which the Act addresses Aboriginal media.  The Government should also address the inadequacy of representation of indigenous peoples among the CRTC's Commissioners.