Rick Anderson, a long-time CIRA director, appears this week on TVO's Search Engine to respond to recent criticisms of the dot-ca domain authority. Host Jesse Brown asked Anderson to address my recent column focused on CIRA's disappointing performance in the realm of its social mandate. Anderson responded:
"Doing things beyond operating the registry is actually not formally part of the mandate that was given to us by the Government of Canada ten years ago. We actually did get a mandate letter from Industry Canada when CIRA was set up delegating the dot-ca domain name to CIRA for the benefit of Canadians."
While it is true that the Government identified the dot-ca as a key public resource and that CIRA was tasked with administering it on behalf of Canadian users, in 2006, CIRA – with the support of the government – amended its corporate documentation to expand its mandate. The Supplementary Letters Patent added to the objects of the Corporation "to develop, carry out and/or support any other Internet-related activities in Canada." The debate at the 2006 Annual General Meeting which passed these amendments focused specifically on the role CIRA could play in fostering Internet activities in Canada with the excess revenues it generates. Yet years later, CIRA has not done enough to advance the potential social side of the mandate despite board resolutions that clearly set this in motion. Instead, the organization is seemingly more interested in bidding for new top-level domains and leaving it to its directors to question whether the social contributions found in leading country-code domains around the world are even part of CIRA's mandate. As Jacob Glick charitably notes, that is a "pretty unambitious vision of the dot-ca registry."