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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Integrity Commissioner to TekSavvy: CRTC Chair may have breached Conflict of Interest Act

Conflict of Interest Commissioner to prepare report for Prime Minister on allegations against appointee

May 5, 2022. Chatham, Ontario. The Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada has referred TekSavvy’s request for an investigation of alleged wrongdoing by CRTC Chair Ian Scott to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner (CIEC). The CIEC is responsible for administering the Conflict of Interest Act, and oversees compliance of senior officials, including Governor in Council appointees such as Mr. Scott.

TekSavvy filed its disclosure to the Integrity Commissioner on March 1, 2022. A public version can be downloaded here. The filing contains evidence cited in TekSavvy’s Petition to the Liberal Government, which shows Mr. Scott held numerous ex parte meetings with telecom lobbyists during open regulatory proceedings concerning pricing of internet and mobile services.

In response, the Integrity Commissioner notified TekSavvy that “… since your allegation with regard to Mr. Scott’s ex parte meetings may concern a possible breach of the Conflict of Interest Act, I must refer your disclosure to the Office of the CIEC.” The CIEC has informed TekSavvy that “the Commissioner considers all matters referred by the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner in order to determine if there is reason to believe that the Act has been contravened.”

TekSavvy welcomed the escalation of its complaint against Mr. Scott. As a result of the referral, the CIEC must prepare a report for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, setting out the facts concerning allegations against his appointee as well as the CIEC’s analysis and conclusions. That report will be made public. In its petition to Cabinet, TekSavvy submitted that Mr. Scott is clearly offside the standards required by the Governor in Council for its appointees, as confirmed by Cabinet’s termination of one CRTC Commissioner’s appointment for far less egregious conduct in 2017.

Mr. Scott was photographed in a private meeting with Mirko Bibic, the chief executive of Bell, at an Ottawa bar on December 19, 2019. This meeting occurred just one week after the CRTC opened an active file to hear Bell’s application to reverse its 2019 decision to lower wholesale internet rates. Subsequently, the CRTC arbitrarily reversed its own decision, resulting in higher internet prices for millions of Canadians throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This reversal also effectively transferred hundreds of millions of dollars from smaller competitors to former monopolies such as Bell, while crushing their ability to compete moving forward. Bell later bought EBOX, the then-largest independent competitor in Quebec.

Mr. Scott’s private meeting with Mr. Bibic during a major proceeding to set federal utility prices has received much public attention. On February 1, 2022, the Toronto Star published an interview in which Mr. Scott claimed “no rule was ever broken” and explained he was having a drink with a friend he has known “for many years.”(1) The Conflict of Interest Act states that “a public office holder is in a conflict of interest when he or she exercises an official power, duty or function that provides an opportunity to further his or her private interests or those of his or her relatives or friends or to improperly further another person’s private interests.”

On February 8, 2022, Mr. Scott was questioned by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry and Technology, where he again insisted he did nothing wrong. TekSavvy contends that Mr. Scott misled the committee since he clearly broke key federal rules, including the CRTC’s internal ethics protocols, the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, and the rule of law (a regulator in a quasi-judicial role cannot avoid the appearance of bias while having one-on-one social engagements with a friend who has an active file before him).

TekSavvy also provided evidence suggesting Mr. Scott tried to conceal his own misconduct after the fact. The filing refers to records obtained from the CRTC under the Access to Information Act that further undermine his credibility. For example, in response to a request for Mr. Scott’s calendar entry about his meeting with Mr. Bibic, the CRTC redacted the location, start and end times, and parts of the subject line, and also refused to provide key data and details required to verify his testimony. The filing notes that the only records disclosed by the CRTC appear to have been created after Mr. Scott was photographed with Mr. Bibic.

The Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada has since repeatedly determined that the CRTC broke Canada’s access to information laws with delayed disclosure of records regarding Mr. Scott’s meetings with lobbyists and executives at Bell, Shaw and Telus (where he was formerly employed as a lobbyist). The Information Commissioner is continuing its investigation into other complaints by TekSavvy concerning the CRTC’s redacted and incomplete responses.

About TekSavvy
Based in Chatham, Ontario, TekSavvy is Canada’s largest independent telecom service company. TekSavvy has been proudly delivering award-winning services and fighting for consumers’ rights for more than 20 years. TekSavvy is committed to providing quality competitive choice and closing Canada’s digital divide.

For more information contact

Trevor Campbell,
The iPR Group 647-201-5409
John Settino,
The iPR Group 416-662-2955
media.relations@teksavvy.ca


(1) Tony Wong, The Toronto Star, “‘No rule was ever broken:’ CRTC chair Ian Scott says meeting with Bell executive was a drink with a friend” 1 February 2022, available online at https://www.thestar.com/business/2022/02/01/no-rule-was-ever-broken-crtc-chair-ian-scott-says-meeting-with-bell-executive-was-a-drink-with-a-friend.html?rf