|by:||Feb 5, 2007|
Former judge and Competition Bureau commissioner Konrad von Finckenstein is the new boss of the CRTC, following a Jan. 25 announcement by Heritage Minister Bev Oda.
"Mr. von Finckenstein's credentials will bring strong leadership to the CRTC," said Oda in a press release. "I am confident that his experience will greatly benefit the Commission."
Von Finckenstein takes over from Michel Arpin, who had been interim chairman since early January, taking over for Charles Dalfen.
The new boss has crossed swords with both arts and business leaders over the years. During his six years at the Competition Bureau, the federal watchdog was criticized by Bay Street for being inefficient and heavy-handed - likely because he stopped the attempt by four banks to merge into two in 1998, and oversaw Air Canada's eventual takeover of Canadian Airlines International in 2001. Von Finckenstein also made headlines for his ongoing fight with Air Canada over the carrier's allegedly predatory business practices.
In 2002, he was denounced by the arts community for telling the House of Commons Heritage committee that the CRTC should allow foreign investors to own radio and television companies in Canada.
That same year, Von Finckenstein told the Financial Post that he believed the free market needed regulation. "Capitalism works. The free market works. It is the best economic theory we have for generating wealth in this society and giving consumers choice. However, unbridled capitalism will destroy itself," he said.
After leaving the Competition Bureau in 2003, he was appointed a federal judge. His public service career began in 1973, when he joined the Department of Justice Canada. In 1986, he was appointed senior general counsel of the Trade Negotiations Office, and chair of the Canadian dispute settlement mechanism.
He comes to the CRTC at a particularly challenging time, where the regulator must deal with the proposed purchases of CHUM by CTVglobemedia and Alliance Atlantis by CanWest Global, as well as the decision by Shaw Communications and Videotron to withdraw their support from the Canadian Television Fund.