Note - this section is under construction.
According to professor Matthew Fraser, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is totally captured by industry interests and cursed by institutionalized corruption (The Man Who Won't Do Lunch, National Post, 10 June 2000).
Following is a chronology of a long-term case of systemic corruption at the CRTC that started while Brian Mulroney was prime minister and which has cost citizens more than $1.2 billion.
Far more damning that the cost of this elaborate accounting scheme for cable television service is the fact that millions of citizens have been denied their statutory rights and subjected to a type of government-regulated fraud in order to unjustly enrich a few media tycoons (Keith Mahar, Canadian Television Fund: A Convenient Deception, Canada Free Press, 13 June 2008).
As documented below, I have notified successive governments of this same case, yet no action has been taken to address the well-documented case of corruption. Consequently, it is fair to state that prime ministers have also been captured by these same industry interests and the Canadian political system is cursed by institutionalized corruption.
September 3, 1992: The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission issues a public notice respecting a future hearing to commence on March 1, 1993. This notice does not state that CRTC is planning to consider adopting a scheme to require Canadians to subsidize shareholders of priivate companies (Notice of Publlic Hearing CRTC 1992-13).
February 5, 1993: Cable television companies offer to pay up to $100 million in subsidies for private production companies if the CRTC changes its rate regulations to permit the statutory monopolies to charge higher consumer rates than otherwise possible (Submission by Canadian Cable Television Association re Notice of Public Hearing 1992-13).
March 1-26, 1993: CRTC considers the conditional offer by the cable television industry during its “Structural Hearing”. Representatives from production companies support being subsidized but want more than $100 million in non-repayable grants. Ratepayers of the proposed scheme are effectively excluded from participating in the hearing due to the failure by the CRTC to inform the public that this issue was to be considered, thereby denying millions of Canadians their statutory right to represent their interests in the quasi-judicial process.
March 4, 1993: While discussing the cable industry proposal with Rogers Communications Inc., CRTC Chairman Keith Spicer addresses the fact the cable industry proposal would allow the cable television industry to overcharge basic cable subscribers in order to subsidize other business ventures that had nothing to do with broadcasting and that subscribers would probably not even notice this happening. However, the CRTC Chairman did not object to the industry's unorthodox proposal but wanted more than $100 million obtained from consumers under such a scheme to be diverted to subsidize private production companies.
"First we saw $100 million and then we found out very quickly it was over five years. It was only up to $100 million. We learned yesterday it's voluntary. I appreciate that your company made a firm commitment. ...
The 18(6.3) subordinate law had not been specifically discussed during the public hearing, it was orchestrated behind closed doors sometime after the public hearing ended. It is not known whether or not industry lobbyists were consulted off the record during its design.
In any event, CRTC commissioners David Coleville, Beverley Oda and Rob Gordon issue a strongly-worded dissenting opinion against the majority decision to add the 18(6.3) subordinate law based upon its numerous deficiencies, concluding by stating: “Cable rates should be justified on their own merits, not used as a lever to extract revenues for other purposes."
Critical analysis of this proposal identifies it to be a unique subordinate law in modern Western democracies. The $300 million production company subsidy program employs an elaborate accounting scheme designed to cost consumers approximately $600 million, plus provincial sales tax and GST, in order to permit cable companies to retain an estimated $300 million over the initial five-year-period for an unspecified purpose, and without the requirement of the statutory monopolies to do any work for the revenue. In addition, the cost of the CRTC scheme is grossly inequitable to consumers in different cable systems. Moreover, the scheme is also designed to facilitate cross subsidization from monopoly revenue and foster unfair competition. The 18(6.3) subordinate law is to perform the function of cable tax to redistribute wealth from millions of ordinary citizens to shareholders of private corporations, including media tycoons Ted Rogers and JR Shaw.
The CRTC has no legal jurisdiction to impose a tax on consumers or permit monopoly service providers to overcharge Canadians for basic cable service and cross-subsidize other business ventures.
Canadian media companies do not effectively report to citizens the dynamics of the 18(6.3) subordinate law; its cost; or its beneficiaries. Consequently, citizens are ignorant of the issue and unable to exercise their democratic rights and object to the outrageous and unprecendented corporate welfare scheme.
January 25, 1994: The 18(6.3) subordinate law enacted.
August 1994: I experience psychosis for the first time in my life while employed by broadcaster CHUM Limited for my specialist knowledge of the cable industry and its regulation by the CRTC as the company's national affiliaterelations manager. At the time I am negotiating distribution agreements with the cable industry and representing CHUM Limited on a joint industry task force to market new speciality services in Canada.
I experience delusions of grandeur and decide to try to change the Canadian broadcasting system as I have lost faith in the integrity and effectiveness of the CRTC.
September 6, 1994: I resign from my managerial position at CHUM Limited.
September 22, 1994: I appear at a CRTC public hearing as a private citizen and advocate that cable television subscribers should be made aware of the 18(6.3) subordinate law and its cost.
The CRTC does not subsequently require cable companies to notify their subscribers of 18(6.3); its cost; or its beneficiaries.
October 11, 1994: Governor in Council issues Order in Council P.C. 1994-1689. it is Government policy to foster fair competition and increase reliance on market forces in the provision of facilities, products and services related to communications. The 18(6.3) subordinate law is in violation of stated public policy.
January 1, 1995: Canadians start paying artificially inflated rates for basic cable television service due to the 18(6.3) subordinate law, without their knowledge. Cable television companies had notified several million Canadians that their surcharge, being paid to unjustly enrich cable company shareholders and pay for the production company subsidies, was for an entirely different purpose. Ratepayers were notified that the surcharge was being collected to permit the corporations to partially recover the cost of eligible capital expenditures required for basic service, a totally different purpose. This deceptive tactic was sanctioned by CRTC officials, amounting to government-regulated fraud.
March 17, 1995: The Toronto Star publishes my op-ed article in which I address the fact that consumers are being overcharged for basic cable television service. I describe the regulatory scheme as a “hidden tax”; identify that it results in a transfer of wealth from the public to privileged corporations; state that it amounts to taxation without representation; and encourage citizens to contact their MPs (CRTC forces public to pay for building information highway).
March 29, 1995: I participate in a non-partisan Parliament Hill press conference with my pro bono legal counsel (Christopher K. Leafloor and Neil Milton), NDP Heritage Critic Simon de Jong, Reform Party Heritage Critic Jan Brown, and Liberal MP Dan McTeague. We jointly call on federal government to review the 18(6.3) subordinate law.
In reply to the press conference, the CRTC issues a news release containing false and misleading to discredit facts presented by myself and others and denies any wrongdoing. Representatives from the able television industry and CRTC subsequently decline requests by CTV’s Canada AM to discuss the issue on-air.
March 30, 1995: MP McTeague issues a news release to address misleading nature of the CRTC’s news release made the prior day, and states that the establishment of a sub-committee is warranted to examine the 18(6.3) subordinate law (news release).
Questions relating to this CRTC issue are directed to Prime Minister Jean Chretien in the House of Commons by MP Brown. The Hon. Sheila Finestone falsely alleges that Parliament cannot interfere in the arm’s length agency (Hansard).
[For example, cabinet subsequently interferes in a CRTC decision that is unfavourable to Direct TV, a company operated by Prime Minister Chrétien’s son-in-law. Finestone does not object to cabinet's interference with the CRTC in this matter].
May 15, 1995: As a result of failure by the Chrétien government to act, I initiate a legal proceeding in Ontario Court (General Division), to try to establish right of consumers to notice of the 18(6.3) subordinate law and retroactive refund for amount overcharged to 1 January 1995. I sue Rogers Cablesystems Ltd. (Rogers) for amount I have been personally overcharged as a subscriber pursuant to the 18(6.3) subordinate law, $2.52 per month, plus taxes. The legal case is designed to try to evade the authority of CRTC in order to obtain an impartial ruling on this matter and timed a day before CRTC officials are scheduled to appear before elected representatives.
May 16, 1995: CRTC Chairman misleads Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage under questioning by Dan McTeague, Keith Spicer testifies that the CRTC notified Canadians of the 18(6.3) subordinate law. In fact, ratepayers of surcharge were not properly notified by CRTC or monopoly service providers of the purpose of 18(6.3) subordinate law and its monthly cost (Evidence, Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Meeting No. 84).
July 9, 1995: Mahar v. Rogers Cablesystems Ltd. is front-page lead story in the Toronto Star. Journalist Antonia Zerbisias notes the fact that Rogers is being permitted by the CRTC to retain revenue from consumers “without doing a thing for it” (Cable TV firms get $300m windfall).
The Chrétien government does not act.
August 25, 1995: Rogers files motion for court to dismiss my case without first ruling on its merit, on jurisdictional grounds, argues CRTC has exclusive jurisdiction to rule on legal issue.
October 4, 1995: Mr. Justice Sharpe makes precedent-setting decision on jurisdiction in favour of Rogers, concludes Parliament has assigned authority to rule on legal issue to CRTC, subject to review by Federal Court of Appeal. As a result case is dismissed by Mr. Justice Sharpe without decision on my legal right to refund by Rogers of $2.52 per month from 1 January 1995 (Mahar v Rogers Cablesystems Ltd. re jurisdiction).
October 30, 1995: My pro bono legal team (Christopher K. Leafloor, Neil Milton and J.Blair Drummie) win precedent-setting cost decision against Rogers, costing the corporation $55,485. According to Mr. Justice Sharpe, my legal case was in public interest, “brought on a bona fide basis [and] raised a genuine issue of law of significance to the public at large” (Mahar v Rogers Cablesystems Ltd. re jurisdiction).
Chrétien government does not act on precedent-setting ruling.
November 28, 1995: Liberal MP Dan McTeague and I hold a Parliament Hill press conference and announce an official complaint filed against CRTC and cable television industry (Cable Watch complaint of illegal activites). The complaint includes evidence CRTC has acted unlawfully to unjustly enrich corporations. Mr. McTeague issues a news release stating that the federal government has an obligation to investigate what has occurred between the CRTC and the cable television industry
Chrétien government does not act.
November 30, 1995: Public Interest Advocacy Centre requests the Hon. Michel Dupuy, Minister of Canadian Heritage, to “swiftly” initiate an independent review of my complaints against the CRTC (Request).
Minister Dupuy refuses to initiate an independent review as requested by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.
December 1, 1995: I request the Hon. Michel Dupuy, Minister of Canadian Heritage, and the Hon. John Manley, Minister of Industry, to initiate a review of the CRTC. The Ministers refuse.
December 5, 1995: I notify the Hon. Paul Martin, Minister of Finance, of the imposition of a type of hidden tax on cable subscribers and request a review of the CRTC issue.
Minister Martin refuses to review the issue as requested.
January 19, 1996: In response to my prior request for information, the CRTC's Access to Information and Privacy Co-ordinator confirms the exact cost of the 18(6.3) subordiate law scheme for that month to residents of Newmarket, Ontario. "The January 1996 cable rate for Newmarket, Ontario would be $22.65 if Rogers contributes to the Cable Production Fund and $17.61 if it doesn't" (Correspondence).
Under the unjust enrichment scheme, by Rogers simply donating $2.52 for each of its Newmarket subscribers, the statutory monopoly is permitted to overcharge its captive subscribers by $5.04 for that month for basic cable service, pocketing half of the premium for doing absolutely nothing, and is allowed by the federal regulator to use this revenue to cross subsidize other businesses in contravention of public policy and its own stated principles. At the same time, ratepayers were not aware of this scheme because they had been notified in writing by the corporation that the $5.04 premium was for an entirely different purpose. Ratepayers had been notified by the corporation that the $5.04 was being collected to help the statutory monopoly partially recover the cost of eligible capital expenditures that had been approved by the CRTC and were required to provide basic cable service. I consider this to be tantamount to government-regulated fraud.
March 25, 1996: I appear at a CRTC hearing in Vancouver and commissioner Gail Scott tries to restrict me from addressing the 18(6.3) subordinate law (Transcript).
On the same day, NDP Heritage Critic Simon de Jong issues a press release in support of my campaign and states that the Chrétien government is denying consumers their rights. “The matters Mahar has raised have serious implications for cable subscribers and carriers, consumer advocates and government” says de Jong. “By continuing to pretend the CRTC - as it exists – is meeting contemporary market needs, this government is denying consumers their rights.”
The Chrétien government does not act on this information.
May 20,1996: Cable Watch submits a comprehensive submission to CRTC addressing the facts of the case, includes legal arguments that the CRTC and corporations violated the law and that millions of citizens are legally entitled to retoactive rate refunds to 1 january 1995 (Cable Watch submission to the CRTC).
June 25, 1996: In response to my 28 November 1995 complaint (Cable Watch), the CRTC rules itself and the corporations benefiting from its corruption innocent after an unbalanced, closed door process by the quasi-judicial regulatory agency. The CRTC does not publish this regulatory decision affecting more than 6 million Canadians (unpublished CRTC decision).
The CRTC rules in its unpublished regulatory decision that the CRTC and cable companies are innocent of illegal activities and no public hearing is required into this issue.
Implicit in the regulatory decision is that the millions of Canadians being required to subsidize private shareholders through inflated basic cable rates are not entitled to direct notice of this regulatory scheme or its monthly cost. Furthermore, it is the implcit assertion of the CRTC that Parliament has granted the unelected bureaucrats at the Commission the legal authority to enrich corporations by hundreds of millions of dollars in this manner without the companies being required to do any work or perform any service.
The unpublished CRTC decision was not challenged in the Federal Court of Appeal as planned due to soley to my extremely poor mental health at that time. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in May 1996 while experiencing severe depression.
Consequently, all of the legal issues raised in the complaint remain outstanding.
October 15, 1996: MP Dan McTeague and I appear at CRTC hearing together to oppose the CRTC’s proposed changes to its regulations, cite them to be unlawful, inequitable and to permit cross subsidization (transcript).
CRTC ignores facts and subsequently adopts the changes to its regulations.
January 1, 1998: The Regulations repealed and the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations (hereinafter the existing Regulations) come into force. The 18(6.3) subordinate law eliminated in name but not in cost or effect. The modified accounting system in the existing Regulations facilitates an increase in cross subsidization for selected corporations, such as Rogers.
February 1998: I am commissioned by MP Dan McTeague to research how to reform the CRTC.
April 19, 1999: MP Dan McTeague and I file a joint submission to the Liberal Caucus Group on the CRTC. Submission includes information that the federal agency has permitted cable television companies to collect hundreds of millions of dollars from consumers under false pretence and the CRTC has misled the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on matter: (A View to Democratizing the CRTC).
No action taken by Liberal Government.
October 12, 2001: I immigrate to Australia.
September 2004: The Canadian Bar Review publishes an article by Chris Tollefson, Darlene Gilliland & Jerry DeMarco, ‘Towards a Costs Jurisprudence in Public Interest Litigation’ that specifically notes the costs decision in my favour by Sharpe J. in Mahar v Rogers Cablesystems Ltd. The authors recommend that the legal system would benefit if trial courts adopted a similar approach to assessing costs claims of private parties engaged in public interest litigation, stating, "we would argue that trial courts must now adopt an approach akin to that employed by Sharpe J. in Mahar v. Rogers Cablesystems" (p.511).
September 6, 2004: I submit evidence of ongoing corruption by CRTC to Prime Minister Paul Martin and request the establishment of a Parliamentary Sub-Committee to review the activities of the CRTC (request to Prime Minister Paul Martin).
September 16, 2004: Prime Minister Martin opts not to address the identified case of corruption and his office passes the matter on to three Ministers who subsequently ignore its existence (Office of the Prime Minister, B. Funes, Executive Correspondence Officer).
No subsequent action taken by Martin government to address the CRTC corruption.January 5, 2006: Lawyer Paul Armarego, on my behalf, notifies Stephen Harper, Gilles Duceppe, Jack Layton and Jim Harris of a long-term case of corruption at the CRTC; specificically identifies an unpublished CRTC decision of 25 June 1996 directly related to the case and the existence CRTC file 1000-121; and requests the politicians to address the matter (Request: Attachments A; B; C; D).
None of the elected representatives reply to Mr Armarego.
March 27, 2006: CRTC file 1000-121 and all of the documets stored in the file are destroyed by unidentified person at the quasi-judicial regulatory tribunal.
CRTC legal counsel Shari M. Fisher subsequently declines my request to identify who authorized the destruction of file 1000-121 and why the documents that had been stored for a decade were destroyed at that particular time.
February 6, 2007: Toronto Star publishes story by Antonia Zerbisias related to some elements of my campaign (TV fund money really belongs to us).
February 14, 2007: Mr Armarego notifies MP Gary Schellenberger and MP Maka Kotto of the case of corruption at the CRTC and requests permission for me to appear before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to address the issue (Request).
February 16, 2007: MP Schellenberger acknowledges receipt of the request for me to appear before the parliamentary committee to journalist Zerbisias (Your money funded CTF).
However, MP Schellenberger and Kotto never respond to Mr Armarego and I am not granted the opportunity permission to address the corruption as requested.
March 16, 2007: Mr Armarego notifies members of the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications of the case of CRTC corruption and requests standing for me to address the issue as part of its hearing into the Canadian Television Fund (Request).
May 9, 2007: Senator Lise Bacon, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications, acknowledges my allegations of corruption at the CRTC but states that the senate committee is not interested in addressing this issue and I am denied the opportunity to appear (Response from Senator Bacon).
July 20, 2007: I submit a research report to the CRTC related to the case of corruption (Profiteering in the Name of Culture).
Included as appendicies to my research report are copies of several of the documents formerly stored in file 1000-121 and destroyed by someone at the CRTC on 27 March 2006. As a result, copies of these destroyed documents are currently available on the CRTC public file (Documents).
August 24, 2007: In response to my prior request for information, CRTC legal counsel Shari M. Fisher declines to identify which commissioners voted in favour of originally creating the 18(6.3) subordinate more than 14 years earlier, stating that such information is not disclosed. However, the lawyer does confirm that the CRTC made its unpublished decision on 25 June 1996 and also specifically acknowledged that both published and unpublished decisions are made by the Commission.
February 7, 2008: I appear at a CRTC public hearing and address Canadians being overcharged for cable service; the unpublished CRTC decision of 25 June 1996; the destruction of file 1000-121 after my lawyer notified politicians of the existence of the CRTC file; and the evidence of potential illegal activities related to the scheme (presentation).
The CRTC totally changes its story respecting its unpublished decision. Despite the fact that I provided a copy of the unpublished CRTC decision of 25 June 1996 to the Commission as part of my submission, and addressed it directly in my submission, commissioner Rita Cugini alleges that the Commission has absolutely no idea about this issue and that no unpublished decision was ever made.
Early that evening, I issue a press release through CNW Group (Prime Minister Stephen Harper fails to take action on CRTC scandal).
February 8, 2008: MP Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP) raises the issue of Canadians being overcharged by more than $1.2 billion in the House of Commons. The Hon. Jim Abbott (Parliamentary Secretary for Canadian Heritage, CPC) falsely informs Parliament that the Harper government has already referred this issue to the CRTC (Hansard).
June 4, 2008: In response to my complaint, the CRTC totally changes its story for the third time respecting its unpublished decision in less than 10 months. CRTC senior legal counsel confirms that the Commission does indeed know significant information about this issue, contradicting commissioner Cugini's prior allegation. At the same time, the CRTC lawyer alleges that the CRTC's unpublished decision, one respecting the legal rights of Canadians, is not a decision simply because the Commission opted not to assign it a decision or public notice (Response).
October 10, 2008: I submit documents to NDP leader Jack Layton respecting CRTC corruption, request that he address the issue, and issue press release through CNW Group (NDP urged to address case of CRTC corruption).
The NDP leader never responds to my request.
November 20, 2009: I submit documented evidence of CRTC corruption to NDP leader Jack Layton, including copies of several documents destroyed by the CRTC, and request that his party address this issue in the pulic interest (Request).
December 10, 2009: I issue press release to Toronto market through CNW Group (NDP urged to address case of CRTC corruption).
Mr Layton never replies to my request of November 20, 2009.
May 31, 2010: Lawyer Paul Armarego addresses case of systemic corruption at the CRTC to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on my behalf, provides copies of several related documents destroyed by the CRTC on 27 March 2006, and requests the Prime Minister permit me to appear before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage (Request to Prime Minister Stephen Harper).
June 3, 2010: I issue press release to Toronto media market through CNW Group (Prime Minister Harper notified of billion-dollar scandal).
June 9, 2010: Prime Minister Harper opts not to grant me standing as requested; the issue is passed onto the Minister of Industry by the same bureaucrat who previously passed the issue along to three Ministers in the Martin government (Reply from the Office of the Prime Minister by B. Funes, Executive Correspondence Officer).
June 10, 2010: I issue press release to Toronto media market through CNW Group (Allegation CBC's Richard Stursberg aware of 'Mediascam').
June 14, 2010: I issue press release to Toronto media market through CNW Group (CRTC chairman notified of corruption in 2007 and 2008).
June 21, 2010: I issue press release to Toronto media market through CNW Group (Letter to PM alleging systemic corruption posted online).
June 24, 2010: I submitted a press release for distribution to CNW Group related to the same case of systemic government corruption, as well as the fact that this unjust corporate enrichment schemel started during Brian Mulroney's final month as Canadian prime minister, and CNW Group refuses to distribute the press release. Information on the company's refusal and a copy of the banned press release is subsequently made available on my blog (News companies block press release hours before start of G8).
July 16, 2010: I submit a complaint to CNW Group's CEO Carolyn McGill-Davidson respecting the decision by the company not to distribute my press release of 24 June 2010.
July 23, 2010: CNW Group reponds to my complaint (copy). As documented, CNW Group's Senior Vice President David Milliken alleges that my press release "contains inflammatory and potentially defamatory statements." Not only does Milliken state that CNW Group will not distribute a press release of a similar nature to my banned press release of June 24, 2010 in the future, the company official also states that the company will not distribute press releases in the future that are similar in content of the ones that I had previously submitted and which were distributed by CNW Group. Specifically, Milliken states, "Press releases submitted by you or on your behalf of the same nature or containing the same or similar content as the June 24, 2010 proposed press release or as previously submitted by you will not be accepted by CNW Group." As a result, CNW Group effectively bans me from distributing press releases on its service related to the well-documented case of systemic corruption implicating government officials and media executives.
August 25, 2010: The Honourable James Moore notifies my lawyer Paul Armarego that he was informed of my concerns , of government corruption at the CRTC, by the Honourable Tony Clemant, who had been informed of this same issue by B. Funes in the Prime Minister's Office (copy). Despite the fact that documents substantiating the existence of this particular case of systemic corruption were made avilable to the Harper Government by Mr Armarego, Mr Moore is not interested in addressing the issue in the public interest. Instead, Mr Moore suggests that Mr Armarego contact Richard Dupuis, an unelected bureacratwho is Clerk of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, to request an opportunity for me to appear before the parliamentary committee to address this issue. As addressed above, Mr Armarego notified members of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage of this same case of corruption on February 14, 2007, and requested standing for me to address this matter. Those members of Parliament have never responded to this request that was made more than three years ago.
According to Transparency International's 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index, Canada and Australia are tied for 8th place in the world for having the least corrupt public sector (TI 2009 Annual Report). Given the nature and history of Mediascam, I find it difficult to accept that Australia is no better than Canada in terms of public sector corruption. Maybe it would be a tie-breaker if media reported on Mediascam?