I couldn't agree more with your comment that most of these channels approved will never see the light of day. Its a waste of time for the CRTC IMO to go through all these applications, when they could be devoting their time to more important things like perhaps enforcing the rules that they have put in place and not allow broadcasters to get away with showing crap for CDN content instead of actually spending money to produce quality programming.
I think they should only approve channels that are viable and will actually launch. A guarantee from the person/group submitting the app. that they will launch and an agreement from cable/satellite that the channel will be carried once launched. Otherwise they should just deny the whole lot of them. Take for example ethnic channels, they have approved over 100 applications, probably close to 200- over 98% of those will never launch, so what the heck is the point of approving them?!
As for the American channels, as Jayme mentioned, not all US channels are great just like some CDN ones are crap there are also (believe it or not) crappy American ones too. Why do people think that because its American its Golden?! There are similar situations that exist on both sides of the border, such as the fact that broadcasters here spread their programming over most of the channels they own (i.e. Global, Alliance Atlantis, CTV Globemedia, etc.). In the US you have the same thing happening with Discovery Communications, Viacom & Disney who all own many different channels.
What I would like to see happen is this:
CDN channels: All Local stations (English & French), Educational stations (English & French), Multicultural stations and a Canadian News channel, Business channel and Sports channel.
The specialty channel market should be opened up, meaning allow in channels from the U.S., Europe, Australia, whereever. You will have the above mentioned channels that will have CDN content and cater to local audiences but the specialty channels should not enjoy anymore protectionism. If that means most of the specialty channels currently on air go away, then so be it- time to let the consumer decide what they want to watch (no more force feeding us junk). If you are not going to produce qualtiy programming but instead show content from the US service along with CDN filler programming then no point keeping out the originals I say. Either put up or get out of the way and let the US service in.