Toronto City Council defies mayor, demands open, neutral municipal broadband

After years of fumbling, deference and mismanagement, Canada's telcoms regulator, the CRTC, laid down a landmark net neutrality rule and demanded that Bell, the nationally founded telcoms giant, would have to share its infrastructure with new entrants to the market.

Bell wasn't out of allies, though: the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa sent letters in support of Bell's right to operate without competition to the CRTC, in a way that implied that they were writing on behalf of their cities.

It turns out that the mayors were writing in their personal capacities, and now Toronto City Council has overruled Mayor John Tory and passed a motion introduced by Councillor Mike Layton in direct opposition to the mayor, on behalf of Torontonians, defending competition and open, fast broadband for the city.

It turns out that the Toronto and Ottawa filings were not submitted on behalf of the cities, but rather reflect personal letters from the mayors of those cities. In Toronto, the letter raised the ire of city council, which yesterday debated a motion introduced by Councillor Mike Layton to express support for a more competitive approach and the CRTC decision. The motion stated:

1. City Council support competitive and affordable internet prices for its residents and support the CRTC decision of July, 2015 for large telecom companies to make their fibre-optic networks available to small competitors at wholesale prices.

2. City Council forward a copy of this decision to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Minister of Finance, and the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

3. City Council request, similar to the City of Calgary, an opportunity to consult with the Minister relating to the Minister's recommendation to the Governor-in-Council on Bell's Petition against the CRTC decision.

The motion was passed 28-5, representing a significant rebuke to Mayor Tory, and making Toronto the second major Canadian city to have its council consider the issue and express support for the CRTC decision.

Toronto City Council Sides With CRTC in Rejecting Mayor Tory's Support of Bell Appeal
[Michael Geist]

(Image: The inaugural meeting of the newly elected Toronto City Council in January 1911.