The federal government is officially looking for applicants for the top job at Canada's telecom and broadcast regulator.
The job of chairperson of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is a high-profile and often thankless role that requires close attention to both consumer interests and the financial health of the communications industry.
The role is listed as a new posting on a website that details Governor in Council appointments, jobs that the federal cabinet is responsible for filling, and is one of four new postings for CRTC commissioner jobs.
However, the posting doesn't mean the current chairman, Jean-Pierre Blais – whose five-year term expires in June – could not be considered.
Pierre-Olivier Herbert, a spokesman for Heritage Minister Melanie Joly (the minister in charge of hiring for the CRTC), said Monday that under a new process the Liberal government put in place, everyone who wants to be considered must apply: "Even if they are in a position right now, they have to apply for that position.
"So it doesn't show any intention of who we want to have in the position," he said.
Mr. Blais, a veteran of the federal public service, has been vague about whether he would like another term or even a partial term of one or two years. When asked in a wide-ranging interview with The Globe and Mail last summer he said, "We'll see," and explained that he would like to remain in the public service for another five years. He is technically on leave from his previous role and said at the time, "At worst, I'll have an [assistant deputy minister] job somewhere in the government when I'm done."
During his tenure as chair, Mr. Blais has pivoted the commission to focus squarely on Canadians and has pursued a consumer-friendly agenda, targeting bulky cable-television packages and incomprehensible wireless bills and frequently lecturing the companies he regulates. He has also come to represent the face of the CRTC and regularly delivers sweeping speeches about its mission.
The new job description suggests the government is looking for a similar person to fill the role next, stating, "The Chairperson establishes the corporate vision and values, defines the strategic priorities and plans and sets up the organization structure and operational systems and processes to guide the work of members and staff."
It also outlines certain responsibilities that appeared at times to be contentious during Mr. Blais's term. For instance, the posting states that the role of chairperson includes "assigning members to panels and providing strong functional direction and advice to members."
Former commissioner Raj Shoan was often critical of Mr. Blais and questioned the chairman's authority to appoint members to certain panels as well as his general authority over the commission.
Mr. Shoan brought multiple complaints regarding the commission to court. The federal cabinet revoked Mr. Shoan's appointment in June, a decision he has also appealed to the courts.
The government is also seeking applications for Mr. Shoan's former job, regional commissioner for Ontario, as well as the regional commissioner for Manitoba/Saskatchewan and the role of vice-chair of broadcasting.
The latter role was filled temporarily in November when the government appointed Judith LaRocque to a six-month term that ends May 12.
The CRTC can have up to 13 commissioners, including the chair, but currently has only seven, including Ms. LaRocque.
Applications for all four of the CRTC jobs are due Feb. 20, and Mr. Herbert, the Heritage department spokesman, said he could not provide a firm timeline on the hiring process at this time.