An outspoken regional commissioner at Canada's telecom and broadcast regulator has been terminated with cause, the Privy Council Office confirmed on Friday.
According to an electronic copy of an order-in-council dated Thursday, federal cabinet has revoked the appointment of Raj Shoan, the commissioner for Ontario at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), as of June 24. This rare step, which was first reported by The Globe and Mail on Thursday night, was made based on the recommendation of Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly.
The CRTC, an arm's-length federal body, reports to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
The order states that Ms. Joly wrote to Mr. Shoan, 40, on Feb. 26 and told him that certain actions had been brought to her attention, calling "into question his capacity to continue serving as a commissioner." She invited him to respond to her concerns before a decision was made to terminate him for cause. Mr. Shoan replied on March 14 and the two submissions were considered in the end.
Mr. Shoan is no stranger to confrontation. He has clashed with Jean-Pierre Blais, the CRTC's chairman, on several occasions and their animosity has spilled into the courts, with Mr. Shoan filing three separate legal actions challenging the chairman's authority and the commission's processes.
His dismissal comes days after a public hearing was held on Tuesday in the Federal Court for Mr. Shoan's first case, which was initiated in April, 2015. In this case, he is seeking judicial review of Mr. Blais's decision to accept the results of a third-party inquiry that found Mr. Shoan harassed a CRTC employee through e-mail. Justice Russel Zinn said he intended to issue a decision before September.
The rules for federal appointments state that CRTC commissioners "may only be removed for cause" by an order from the federal cabinet. He had been appointed to the CRTC for a five-year term in July, 2013.
"The Governor in Council has concluded that Raj Shoan's actions are fundamentally incompatible with his position and that he no longer enjoys the confidence of the Governor in Council to be a commissioner of the CRTC," the order-in-council stated.
Pierre-Olivier Herbert, press secretary for Ms. Joly, declined to comment any further on the matter, citing privacy law.
Mr. Shoan said in a statement that he would be filing for a judicial review of the order and an interlocutory injunction pending Justice Zinn's decision. By removing him before the judge rendered a ruling, Mr. Shoan claims that principles of natural justice and procedural law have been violated.
"It is my hope that, in the interests of fairness, justice and due process, all parties will abide by and respect the time required for the Federal Court to issue a reasoned, thoughtful and considered judgment on the matter," he added. "I have and will vigorously defend any false accusations in this matter."