February 23, 1943 – May 26, 2009
Charles Marvin “Chuck” Dalfen was a prominent figure in the development of Canadian telecommunications. Born to Avrum and Fay Dalfen in Montreal, Que., Dalfen began his studies at McGill University in Montreal, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree, and at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England, where he earned a bachelor of philosophy degree. He then completed his law degree at the University of Ottawa in 1969 and was called to the Quebec bar in 1970.
Dalfen taught briefly at Carleton University in Ottawa before accepting an appointment as a legal adviser to the Department of Communications in 1970, where he would gain his first exposure to the world of broadcasting. In 1972, he moved to Toronto, Ont., where he taught law at the University of Toronto until 1974, when he moved to British Columbia to serve for two years as the province’s deputy minister of communications.
In 1976, Dalfen was appointed vice-chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). He left the role in 1980, when he was not invited to replace the departing chairman, and returned to private law. In 1999, after many years with his own firm, he became a senior partner with Torys LLP. In this position, he chaired the firm’s Communications Law Group, and had many major broadcasting industry companies as clients. In 2002, he returned to Ottawa upon his appointment as chairman of the CRTC, a position he held for six years.
During his time as chair, the commission had to deal with many crucial and often controversial matters, among them the decision to allow satellite radio into Canada in 2005 and the gradual opening up of the Canadian telephone industry to competition. During his tenure, Dalfen made every effort to increase the amount of Canadian drama aired by Canadian television broadcasters. He called the matter one of “national self-respect.” Dalfen was also respected for having maintained a hands-off position regarding the Internet.
Upon leaving the CRTC on Dec. 31, 2006, he rejoined Torys LLP, where he again offered legal advice to members of the broadcasting and communications industries. He was a senior adviser on legal and policy matters related to radio, cable, television, new media, satellite, wireless and wireline telecommunications, and provided guidance, advice and support to Canadian and foreign clients and members of the firm on licensing, financing, regulation, ownership and control, and mergers and acquisitions.
Throughout his career, Dalfen participated as a delegate in various international organizations, including the International Telecommunications Union, Intelsat and the United Nations Committee on Direct Broadcast Satellites. He served as director of the Institute of the Americas Board from 2006 to 2009. In November 2009, Dalfen was inducted posthumously into the C.A.B. Broadcast Hall of Fame for his services to the industry.
Featured Photo: Charles Dalfen, André Sima, 1984, Ottawa Jewish Archives, D-002
Clipping: Canadian Society for Weizmann Institute of Science is set up. (1981, October 9). Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, p. 11.