Panel urges government to ease foreign ownership limits

23 Mar 2006

A government-appointed panel has recommended this week that Canada should ease its restrictions on foreign ownership of telecommunications companies. Canadian law restricts direct and indirect foreign ownership of telephony and cable companies to 46.7%. ‘Canada has maintained one of the most restrictive and inflexible set of rules limiting foreign investment in the telecoms sector,’ the panel said in a 400-page report, commissioned by the previous Liberal government. The new Conservative administration, elected on 23 January, has agreed to review the report, and Industry Minister Maxime Bernier said in an interview in Wednesday’s Globe and Mail newspaper that he would not close the door to changes in foreign ownership. This week’s report has already attracted criticism for not going far enough, as it recommends that no changes be made to the current limits on telecoms carriers that are also licensed broadcasters, and specifically named Bell Canada and Telus Communications.

Canada