2015 Grafstein Lecture: Konrad von Finckenstein

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 - 16:00 to 18:00
73 Queen's Park Crescent, Toronto, Ontario M5S1K7 Canada

The Centre for Innovation Law and Policy and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law welcome Konrad von Finckenstein, former Chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission and Justice of the Federal Court to present the 2015 Grafstein Lecture in Communications, entitled:  “Thoughts on Redesigning Canada’s Regulatory System for Communications.

2015 Grafstein Lecture Flyer

This event is open to the public.  Reception to follow.

Abstract:  Current Canadian legislation and institutions to regulate communications all stem from the early 1990s. Since then we have seen a veritable revolution in communications technology such as cable TV, wireless phones, satellites, digitization, fibre cable, internet, social media etc. In addition we have seen unparalleled consolidation both vertical and horizontal among communications companies. Yet our legislation and institutions have remained virtually unchanged. A rethink, new legislation, and new institutional set up are clearly required. Key principles, considerations, process and reform of institutions will be discussed.

Konrad Von FinckensteinAbout Konrad Von Finckenstien:  Konrad von Finckenstein currently practices as an arbitrator with JAMS, The Resolution Experts, in Toronto and has had an extensive government and judicial career. 

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As the chief commercial counsel of the Canadian Government he led the legal team negotiating inter alia, the bail outs of Chrysler and Massey Ferguson, the establishment of a Bell Helicopter assembly plant for all its civilian copters in Canada, and the privatisation of Canadiar and DeHavilland.

Subsequently he became the chief counsel to the Canada US free trade negotiations. In this position he was responsible for negotiating the dispute settlement provisions, drafting, and implementing the agreement. He was also responsible for overseeing the drafting and implementing of all legislation, regulations and orders required to give effect to the provisions of NAFTA in Canada.

He was the Commissioner (CEO) of the Competition Bureau for seven years. During his tenure the Bureau examined the merger of four of Canada’s leading banks (ultimately blocking them) collected the largest fine in Canadian criminal history for price collusion.  He also reviewed and approved the merger between Air Canada and Canadian Airlines ensuring that the merger would not lead to a monopoly in the skies.  In addition to ensuring a competitive marketplace for Canadian businesses and consumers, he led the drive to create of the International Competition Network (an umbrella organization encompassing all the competition agencies of the world) to harmonize competition regimes worldwide and served as the Founding Chairman.

As a Justice of the Federal Court from 2003 to 2007, he heard cases involving immigration and refugee law, intellectual property and administrative law. In particular, von Finckenstein held that uploading music tracks over the Internet is not in itself a violation of Canadian copyright law.

In 2007, he was appointed Chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for a five-year term. He was instrumental in removing unnecessary regulations, allowing the industry to react more quickly to market changes and consumer preferences in an era of rapid technological change. Over ninety percent of telephone market was foreborne from regulation and exposed to competition. During his tenure the industry went through an unprecedented degree of consolidation. To meet these challenges he established frameworks for diversity of voices, vertical integration and net neutrality.

About the Grafstein Lecture:  The Grafstein Annual Lecture in Communications was established by Senator Jerry S. Grafstein, Q.C., Class of 1958, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his graduation from the Faculty of Law and the 10th anniversary of the graduation of his son, Laurence Grafstein and daughter-in-law, Rebecca Grafstein (nee Weatherhead), both from the Class of 1988. The inaugural lecture was delivered in the fall of 1999 by Charles Dalfen of Torys, a former professor at U of T’s Faculty of Law.

For more information please contact centre.ilp@utoronto.ca