OTTAWA and GATINEAU, QC, July 26, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced that it has issued two notices of violation totalling $17,000 in penalties as part of a wide-ranging investigation into the use of robocalls by political parties, elected officials and telemarketers.
The CRTC received the cooperation of Mr. Paul Dewar, M.P., who entered into a settlement agreement and paid a $7000 administrative monetary penalty for violating the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules. In an unrelated investigation, Strategic Communications Inc. also cooperated, agreed to settle and paid a penalty of $10,000 for similar violations.
"We appreciate the cooperation we received during our investigations," said Andrea Rosen, the CRTC's Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer. "We expect candidates who are running political campaigns, and telemarketing service providers to put appropriate safeguards in place to ensure compliance with the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules."
In addition to paying monetary penalties, parties have agreed to cease violating the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules and implement comprehensive compliance programs that will include:
- an acknowledgement of all applicable Rules and a commitment to comply fully with them
- the appointment of a compliance officer to ensure ongoing adherence with the Rules
- an education and training program for volunteers and employees and appropriate compliance measures when making calls
- appropriate record keeping, and
- promotion of better awareness of the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules.
Automated calling devices are used to dial telephone numbers and automatically deliver a pre-recorded message. When these devices are used to make calls on behalf of candidates and political parties, the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules require that:
- Calls are to begin with a clear message identifying the person on whose behalf the call is made, including a mailing address and a local or toll-free number at which a representative of the originator of the message can be reached.
- Calls are to display the originating number or an alternate number where the originator of the call can be reached.
About the CRTC's enforcement measures
The CRTC enforces the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules in order to reduce unwanted calls to Canadians. Under its enforcement process, the CRTC can discuss corrective actions with individuals, firms or organizations engaged in telemarketing, which may lead to a settlement that includes a monetary penalty and other corrective measures. The CRTC can also issue warnings and citations, conduct inspections and issue notices of violation.
To date, the CRTC's efforts have yielded just over $3 million in penalties, which are remitted to the Receiver General for Canada, and over $740,000 in payments to post-secondary institutions.
The CRTC is an administrative tribunal that regulates and supervises broadcasting and telecommunications in Canada.
Additional information on the violations
Mr. Paul Dewar, M.P. was issued a notice of violation in relation to a robocall campaign that occurred on 8 and 9 February 2012. The campaign sought to gather an understanding from New Democratic Party (NDP) members regarding their preferred choice for leader of the NDP. The calls did not specify at the outset that they were being made on behalf of Mr. Dewar's campaign, nor did they include the call originator's mailing address or a call back number. Mr. Dewar cooperated fully with the CRTC's investigation, paid a monetary penalty of $7,000 and committed to establish a compliance program to ensure future adherence to the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules.
Strategic Communications Inc. was issued a notice of violation for a robocall campaign it carried out on behalf of the NDP between 11 January and 20 January 2012 in the electoral district of St-Maurice-Champlain, Québec. The calls in question did not specify that they were being made on behalf of the NDP, nor did they include the call originator's mailing address and contact telephone number. Strategic Communications Inc. cooperated with the CRTC's investigation, paid a monetary penalty of $10,000 and committed to establish a comprehensive compliance program to prevent future such occurrences.
Additional information on the CRTC's process
Under its enforcement process, the CRTC can discuss corrective actions with individuals, firms or organizations engaged in telemarketing, which may lead to a settlement that includes a monetary penalty and other corrective measures.
Parties that have not reached a settlement and have received a notice of violation may make written representations to the CRTC within 30 days of receipt to have it reviewed (further to paragraph 72.07(2)(b) of the Telecommunications Act). If they choose to make representations relating to the amount of the penalties set out in a notice, such representations must include the most recent audited financial statements of the entity named in a notice. If audited financial statements are unavailable, they are to provide unaudited financial statements signed by a senior officer of the entity named in the notice, attesting to the accuracy of the financial statements.
Further to paragraph 72.07(2)(c) and subsection 72.08(3) of the Act, if entities do not pay the penalty specified in a notice OR make representations in accordance with a notice, they will be deemed to have committed the violations outlined in a notice, and the CRTC may impose the penalty.
Further to subsection 72.08(1) of the Act, if full payment of the specified amount is received, entities will be deemed to have committed the violations. Payment will be accepted in complete satisfaction of the penalty and no further action will be taken.
Payment or representations must be actually received, not merely sent, by the date set out in the notice.
Where representations are not made, any penalty not paid by the due date will be assessed interest on the unpaid amount beginning on the due date and ending on the day before the day on which payment is received by the CRTC. The CRTC will charge interest calculated and compounded monthly at the average bank rate plus three percent (3%). The CRTC will pursue collection measures for any amounts owing after the due date, which may include setting-off such amounts against any refunds-owing to the debtor by the Canada Revenue Agency.
SOURCE Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission