The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) wears a number regulatory hats: it regulates telecommunications and broadcasting, and also has certain enforcement powers including under Canada's Anti-Spam Law (CASL) and the Elections Act. Current proposed legislation would expand these powers with new or expanded authority over online platforms and cybersecurity of Canadian telecommunications networks.

The CRTC has formal Rules of Practice and Procedure for most regulatory proceedings under the Telecommunications Act and Broadcasting Act. However, these rules do not apply to (and generally do not address) its enforcement powers. To date, the CRTC has not adopted formal rules for enforcement proceedings. It is now considering changing this.

On August 8, the CRTC initiated a Call for Comments on the codification of its practices in Compliance and Enforcement proceedings.

The Call for Comments sets out a description of the CRTC's current practices relating to its enforcement powers relating to the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules, CASL, and the Voter Contract Registry under the Elections Act, including some discussion of the steps it takes to separate investigative and adjudicative functions.

It then identifies a number of issues including "areas where administrative change or clarification may be considered", with the stated goal being to "seek stakeholder and public input on how to improve the transparency surrounding review proceedings for enforcement actions and the appropriateness of practices and procedures, as well as to address issues that have arisen in past reviews of enforcement actions."

The Call for Comments sets out 12 specific questions, which range from technical points about how deadlines should be determined, to more material issues such as:

  • how third-party or sensitive information uncovered during an investigation should be protected;
  • how to address procedural requests that may arise, either during the investigative process or during the review process;
  • whether there should be a standard timeframe for proceedings; and
  • whether the record of enforcement proceedings should be made public (which is currently not the case).

Anyone who wishes to comment on these issues, or more generally on the CRTC's enforcement practices as described in the Call for Comments, is invited to do so in writing, no later than September 19, 2022. Replies will be due by September 27, 2022. Procedural instructions including how to file submissions electronically, by mail or by fax, are included in the Call for Comments.

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