Harper failed to consider Canadian culture in Globalive decision

OTTAWA, April 1 /CNW Telbec/ - A coalition of leading cultural organizations announced this morning they are seeking intervenor status in an application to the Federal Court for judicial review of the federal government's decision to licence wireless telecom Globalive.

Following a CRTC determination that Globalive is controlled by an Egyptian company, the federal government overruled the Commission and granted Globalive a licence in December last year.

Their application is to be considered by the Federal Court in a hearing at 10:00 a.m. in Ottawa today.

"Canada's identity and culture will ultimately be undermined by the federal government's decision to grant a licence to an Egyptian owned and controlled company to operate a wireless service in Canada," said Stephen Waddell, ACTRA National Executive Director.

ACTRA, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP), and Friends of Canadian Broadcasting will seek leave to intervene in the case brought against the federal government by Public Mobile that is arguing that the federal government cannot excuse Globalive from the Canadian ownership requirements of the Telecommunications Act.

"The stakes in this appeal are much larger than fair treatment of telecommunications companies. This is about who controls the airways and consequently whose video content will overwhelm our culture," said Peter Murdoch, Media Vice President of the CEP.

The coalition's announcement comes as the House of Commons Industry committee holds hearings on Canada's telecom foreign ownership rules which were sparked by the Globalive issue and a reference to possible changes in Canada's telecom foreign ownership rules in the recent Throne Speech. Friends has already appeared before the committee and CEP and ACTRA appear today.

"Parliament cannot gut foreign ownership laws for telecom companies without their direct competitors in the cable industry demanding equal treatment. Like cascading dominos, the broadcasters will follow suit and soon, several generations of hard work to maintain our cultural sovereignty through Canadian ownership and control of broadcasting will go down the drain," said Ian Morrison, spokesperson for the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

According to the groups' application, the federal government acted unlawfully when it decided to licence Globalive by failing to consider the key purpose of the Telecommunications Act which is to ensure telecommunications plays a key role in maintaining "Canada's identity and sovereignty".

The Act also states that Canada's telecommunications system should "safeguard, enrich and strengthen the social and economic fabric of Canada and its regions".

"In our view, the Harper government's decision does not square with the requirements of the Telecommunications Act including the requirement that all communications companies be effectively owned and controlled by Canadians," said Stephen Waddell.

"The Globalive case is far too important for Canadian culture to be decided without considering its implications for Canada's cultural sovereignty," said Peter Murdoch.

SOURCE Friends of Canadian Broadcasting

For further information: For further information: Carol Taverner, ACTRA Public Relations Officer, (416) 644-1519, ctaverner@actra.ca, cell: (416) 768-3336; Peter Murdoch, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, (905) 516-5720; Ian Morrison, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, (416) 923-8201

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