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Paradis Shuns Canadians and Small ISPs, Meets Privately with Big Telecom

August 31, 2011 warns of regulatory capture

Newly-appointed Industry Minister Christian Paradis held closed-door meetings with executives from 13 big telecom companies this month, notably excluding independent service providers and public interest organizations. One of the groups that has thus far been denied a meeting with Paradis, public engagement group, is saying that this move positions the Industry Minister to create key digital policies in the the Big Telecom lobby's narrow commercial interests rather than those of Canadians. attempted to meet with Paradis after the release of its report on Internet openness, which included a series of recommendations for digital strategy in Canada. These recommendations would provide a unique contribution to the discussion on Internet governance, especially as Paradis gains his footing on the telecommunications file.

“Time and again the Big Telecom lobby has shown its neglect, and even disdain, for the Canadian public's communications interests,” says Executive Director Steve Anderson. “By meeting only with industry giants, and by failing to disclose the results of those meetings, Paradis is shutting Canadians out of decisions that will directly affect personal lives and family budgets.”

Anderson adds: “It’s time to get away from industry group-think; Paradis cannot properly govern if he insulates himself from the public sentiment. We hope that he will take steps to fix this problem by agreeing to meet with and other citizens’ organizations.”

Paradis, who was appointed Industry Minister in May, has to-date remained publicly silent on the issues he discussed with the likes of Bell, Shaw, and Rogers this month: the 700 MHz spectrum auction and other key digital policy areas. So far, there is no evidence that the Minister has sought input from citizens or consumer groups on any of these issues.

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