Globalive tries the Chewbacca defense?

By Peter Nowak, CBCNews.ca.

The CRTC kicked off a set of two-day hearings on Globalive's ownership today. The hearings will help the regulator determine whether or not Globalive will get to be Canada's fourth almost-national cellphone company. In its opening remarks, the company put forward a number of reasons why it passes muster as far as Canadian control rules are concerned, but one argument seems to sound like the Chewbacca defense.

The Chewbacca defense is, of course, the infamous defense used by a fictionalized Johnnie Cochrane on an episode of South Park. The cartoon lawyer asked jurors to question why Chewbacca, the eight-foot-tall Wookiee from the Star Wars movies, would choose to live on the forest moon of Endor with a bunch of two-foot-tall Ewoks. Not only did that not make sense, Cochrane said, neither did his bringing it up in court. Therefore, "if Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit."

Globalive's Chewbacca moment came Wednesday morning when its lawyer, Hank Intven, interpreted Canada's foreign control laws for telecommunications companies for the CRTC hearings. According to Intven's prepared statements:

The only question is whether Globalive complies with the requirement that a 'corporation is not otherwise controlled by persons who are not Canadians.' Note that the law does not say that it must be shown that a company is controlled by Canadians — but that it is not controlled by non-Canadians.

Hmm. So if the company isn't controlled by non-Canadians or Canadians, who's left to control it? Perhaps Globalive and Intven will clear this up as the hearings continue, but in the meantime it sure sounds like "If the company isn't controlled by Canadians or non-Canadians, you must acquit."