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Ottawa appoints Judith LaRocque as interim chair of CRTC

A CRTC logo is shown in this file photo.

Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Still on the hunt for a permanent candidate, the government has named career public servant Judith LaRocque interim chair of the federal broadcast and telecom regulator.

Ms. LaRocque will step in for Jean-Pierre Blais, whose five-year term as chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ended on Saturday.

The federal Department of Canadian Heritage, which is responsible for naming the CRTC chair, began its search for a candidate in January and extended the deadline for applications twice, but still has not found a permanent replacement.

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Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly's office issued a release Monday evening announcing Ms. LaRocque's appointment for a four-month period while the search continues.

The Liberal government introduced a new process for government appointments that is meant to be "open, transparent and merit-based." The process has led to delays in filling roles at a number of government agencies and commissions including several vacancies at the CRTC, which is also still in need of a vice-chair and two regional commissioners.

Ms. Joly's office said Monday the selection process for the CRTC roles is ongoing and that "appointments will be announced in due course."

Leading the CRTC "is a challenging task," Ms. Joly said in the statement, adding, "I would like to thank Ms. Larocque for agreeing to stay on the CRTC team as acting chair."

Ms. LaRocque previously filled in as vice-chair of broadcast for a six-month stint from November to mid-May. The CRTC has been without a permanent vice-chair in that role since November, 2015. Ms. LaRocque is also a francophone, and when she took that position temporarily it allowed the commission to conduct French-language hearings with the requisite number of French-speaking commissioners.

Throughout a long career in the civil service, Ms. LaRocque was deputy minister of Heritage, worked as secretary to the Governor-General and was most recently Canada's ambassador and permanent representative at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris. The CRTC is an arm's-length federal body that regulates the broadcast and telecom industries. Commissioners take part in public hearings and vote on policies and applications.

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