Invoking Cabinet Confidentiality; using a sledge hammer on an ant

di Ynot del October 11, 2019

TORONTO - On September 16, the lawyers for CORRCAN Media Group filed a Notice of Application in the Federal Court citing as Respondents the Governor in Council (Gov C), the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Attorney General of Canada and her Majesty the Queen.

CORRCAN is an affiliate of the Corriere Canadese. The Gov C needed to respond within 10 days, unless the Court were to provide an extension upon request. The Application is for a Judicial Review following a Cabinet decision made pursuant to a statutory decision under s.28 of the Broadcasting Act. It says, essentially, there is something wrong and we ask the Court to help us correct it. Some readers will know that CORRCAN, along with seven other applicants, made an application for a station to provide Multilingual National News and Current Affairs, from a Canadian Perspective, and other ethnic specific programming.

The request for proposals Il ministro dell’Heritage Pablo Rodriguez for such a license was issued by the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC), an agency of government reporting to Parliament through the Ministers of Canadian Heritage (Pablo Rodrigues) and for Innovation and Industry (Navdeep Bains). The CRTC had identified an urgent need for these programmes, which it said were essential for integration of newer Canadians and for the democratic process.

Seven million Canadians self-identified in the latest census as speaking a language other than English or French at home. Just as an example, in this federal election campaign, there have been no debates addressing their issues.

The CRTC had heavily criticized Rogers/Omni for their inability to provide these services. Rogers had, in fact, shut down whatever news services it was providing (as a condition of licence) in 2015.

CORRCAN and six others were denied by the CRTC in a decision rendered on May 23, 2019. That decision “restored” the license to Rogers/OMNI Regional. It provided no reasons for turning any of the others down. Moreover, it loosened the conditions of licence for Rogers/OMNI.

One applicant went immediately to Federal Court. They and three others (CORRCAN included) petitioned Cabinet to refer the decision back. In August, Cabinet said no. Again, no reasons.

On average, the applicants spent $1,000,000.00 each over a two-year period developing, presenting and defending their applications.

CORRCAN, upon receiving the notice of denial, engaged Constitutional expert, Rocco Galati, to apply to the Court to seek a Judicial Review. In brief, CORRCAN views the Cabinet’s decision as, among other issues, a “… disdainful of the concept of Multiculturalism as a reflection of the Canadian reality, and defiant of the procedural fairness Canadians might expect in the mechanisms outlined in calls for proposals, and runs contrary to the Act and the Charter.”

CORRCAN has asked for a quashing of the decision and ordering the CRTC to issue a licence to the company in accordance with the reasons and directions of the Court.

The Government’s initial response is that everything is covered by Cabinet Confidentiality. It is lame at best.

We have asked Mr. Galati to provide a vigorous defense of our position.

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