Last Friday, Rogers announced three new appointments to its executive team, including former industry minister Navdeep Bains as chief corporate affairs officer.
As the head of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), Bains was responsible for the telecom sector on behalf of the Liberal government from 2015 to Jan. 2021.
With this appointment, critics are worried that Rogers would have an easy route to lobby the government, especially after the closing of its C$26 billion merger deal with Shaw, green-lit by current industry minister, François-Philippe Champagne.
Bains will, in fact, lead the public policy and environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts for the company as part of his new role, Rogers said.
But Bains reportedly got clearance from the ethics and lobbying commissioners to join Rogers, a spokesperson told The Financial Post, as he would not be communicating with the federal government on behalf of Rogers; he is bound by the Lobbying Act, which prevents former members of the government from lobbying Cabinet for five years.
However, Bains’ role will still cover government affairs, including stakeholder relations and lobbying with various levels of government, the spokesperson confirmed.
NDP MP Brian Masse critiqued the new appointment in an emailed statement to the National Post: “It certainly looks like the Liberals are in the pockets of telecom giants, getting gravy jobs as their executives, instead of defending Canadians who are already paying a fortune for cell and internet bills.”
The now rescinded telecom policy direction to the CRTC that centred around market forces was introduced by Bains, and remained in place until it was replaced in February of this year in favour of increased focus on affordability and consumer rights.
Masse added that Bains is the “architect of Canada’s current telecom policy which allows telecom providers to charge some of the highest cell phone costs in the world.”
Rogers maintained that Bains’ role will focus on Canada’s digital economy, improve connectivity in rural and remote Indigenous communities across Canada and provide access for low-income families.
Rogers’ shakeup also came with two other appointments:
- Zoran Stakic as chief transformation officer. He served as chief operations officer and chief technology officer at Shaw for the past 5 years. Stakic will be responsible for bringing Rogers and Shaw’s products together, to allow a seamless transition for customers, Rogers said.
- Terrie Tweddle as chief brand and communications officer, to advance the company’s brand and reputation.
Rogers also announced that its chief regulatory and government affairs officer, Ted Woodhead, will be leaving the company, and that Shaw’s executive team, including former CEO Brad Shaw, have joined the Rogers Board of Directors.