Ottawa once again has an extra seat to fill on Canada's broadcast and telecom regulator.
Just days after a court reinstated Raj Shoan as Ontario commissioner for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the federal cabinet has revoked his appointment for a second time.
The cabinet first dismissed Mr. Shoan 10 months ago in the midst of multiple legal actions he had filed regarding the CRTC, including one seeking judicial review of a finding that he harassed a commission employee through a series of e-mails.
Mr. Shoan sought a judicial review of his dismissal – a rare instance of the federal cabinet dismissing a political appointee – and last week, a federal court judge granted his application and quashed the cabinet decision, stating it lacked procedural fairness.
But Justice Cecily Y. Strickland indicated in her ruling that it was possible the federal cabinet would reach the same conclusion in reconsidering its original decision. She also noted concerns around Mr. Shoan's disregard of certain CRTC processes, warning they display "a lack of sound judgment."
"It is also apparent that the relationship between [Mr. Shoan] and the Chairperson [Jean-Pierre Blais] is fraught," she said, referring to long-simmering animosity between the two.
Nonetheless, Mr. Shoan went back to work on Monday and his photo and biography appeared on the CRTC website listing its commissioners. On Thursday evening, Mr. Blais sent out a memo informing commission staff that the federal cabinet "has again terminated Raj Shoan's appointment as regional commissioner for Ontario, effective May 5."
Mr. Blais called the events, which have attracted attention in the media and court system, a "challenging period in the CRTC's history." He lauded his staff for "your ability to rise above the noise in the public environment as you continue to carry out the important work we are doing on behalf of Canadians."
The CRTC referred a request for comment to the Department of Canadian Heritage, which is the government ministry responsible for the decision. Heritage spokesman Pierre-Olivier Herbert confirmed that Mr. Shoan's appointment was revoked by an order in council. He said the reasons for the order are found in the order itself. The order is not yet available on the Privy Council Office website.
Mr. Shoan said in a statement Friday that the latest ruling "was made without any prior discussion or consultation of any kind with me," adding, "I am deeply concerned about the manner in which I have been removed and that I have been further denied procedural fairness."
He said that over the coming weeks he also plans to challenge this dismissal in court.
Through his multiple legal fights with the CRTC, Mr. Shoan has had some wins, but is once again out of a job.
In September, a federal court tossed out the results of the workplace-harassment complaint, finding the third-party investigators approached the case with a "closed mind" and criticizing Mr. Blais for his "dual role" as both witness and decision maker.
The CRTC can have up to 13 commissioners, including the chair, but currently has only seven, including Judith LaRocque, who is filling in on an interim basis as vice-chair of broadcasting.
The government is in the midst of considering applicants for four CRTC commissioner jobs, including Mr. Shoan's former Ontario role as well as the post of chairman, as Mr. Blais's term expires in June.
The Liberal government put new rules in place for political appointments to encourage an "open, transparent, and merit-based selection processes." But it has faced criticism for its delay in filling a number of open posts at government agencies and tribunals. The cabinet has the authority to fill about 1,500 posts at various Crown corporations, agencies and regulatory bodies.