Minister questioned over need for more telecom oversight as MPs probe Rogers outage

OTTAWA — Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne faced questions about further government oversight for telecom companies during a committee meeting today about Rogers Communications Inc.

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OTTAWA — Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne faced questions about further government oversight for telecom companies during a committee meeting today about Rogers Communications Inc.'s massive system outage earlier this month

New Democrat MP Brian Masse pressed Champagne about passing legislation to make the internet a public utility, saying COVID-19 had shown the internet to be an essential service.

Without more government power, Masse told the House of Commons industry committee hearing, “we have to rely on any minister being buddy-buddy with a bunch of CEOs.”

Champagne defended his meeting with the telecom CEOs, and while he did not say whether he would support legislation to make the internet a public utility, he said he was open to working across party lines and taking in the committee's recommendations.

Champagne said that on the day of the outage, he contacted Rogers CEO Tony Staffieri to inquire about the situation but the conversation was not between a CEO and a cabinet minister, rather Champagne was speaking on behalf of Canadians.

The July 8 outage crippled the Rogers network and affected millions of customers across Canada, including people trying to contact emergency services.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2022.

The Canadian Press