Internet Access as a Basic Service: Inspiration from our Canadian Neighbors
featuring Mr. Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
This event is being sponsored by the HLS Canadian Law Student Association and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.
Deemed the modern equivalent of building roads or railways, connecting every person and business to high-speed internet is on the minds of policymakers, advocates, and industry players. Under the leadership of Mr. Jean-Pierre Blais, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (“CRTC”) ruled in December 2016 that broadband internet access is a basic and vital service, thus ensuring that broadband internet joins the ranks of local phone service. The CRTC’s announced reforms will impact over 2 million Canadian households, especially those in remote and isolated areas. The policy aims to ensure that internet download speeds of 50mbps and upload speeds of 10mbps are available to 90% of Canadian homes and business by 2021.
Join the Berkman Klein Center and the HLS Canadian Law Student Association as Mr. Blais speaks about broadband, internet, and the future of connectivity in Canada and around the world.
About Jean-Pierre Blais
Before joining the CRTC, Mr. Blais was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Government Operations Sector. In this capacity, he provided advice on the management oversight and corporate governance of various federal departments, agencies and crown corporations.
From 2004 to 2011, he was Assistant Deputy Minister of Cultural Affairs at the Department of Canadian Heritage. While there, he created the Task Force on New Technologies to study the impact of the Internet and digital technologies on Canada’s cultural policies. In addition, he served as Director of the Canadian Television Fund. His responsibilities also included cultural trade policy and international policies and treaties, such as the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression. As the Director of Investment from 2004 to 2011, he reviewed transactions in the cultural sector under the Investment Canada Act and provided advice to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
Mr. Blais also served as Assistant Deputy Minister of International and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Canadian Heritage. He played a pivotal role in the rapid adoption of the UNESCO Anti-Doping Convention and in garnering international support for the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Anti-Doping Code. Moreover, he represented the Government of Canada on the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games Bid Corporation.
As the CRTC’s Executive Director of Broadcasting from 1999 to 2002, he notably oversaw the development of a licensing framework for new digital pay and specialty services and led reviews of major ownership transactions. He previously was a member of the Legal Directorate, serving as General Counsel, Broadcasting and Senior Counsel. From 1985 to 1991, Mr. Blais was an attorney with the Montreal-based firm Martineau Walker.
Mr. Blais holds a Master of Laws from the University of Melbourne in Australia, as well as a Bachelor of Civil Law and a Bachelor of Common Law from McGill University. He is a member of the Barreau du Québec and the Law Society of Upper Canada.
His term ends on June 17, 2017.
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