The Liberals have released their election platform and included within the section on the economy is the outline of a digital economy strategy. The platform focuses on three key areas for the global economy, identifying the digital environment as one of the three. While the digital economy platform still requires greater detail, the party has identified eight key principles:
- Access to broadband for all Canadians. The Liberals say they will invest $500 million to ensure all Canadians have access to at least 1.5 Mbps broadband within three years and set a more ambitious speed target for 2020. It plans to use revenues from the wireless spectrum to auction to fund this initiative.
- Closing the digital divide. The Liberals focus on digital literacy and skills with this principle.
- Fair balance between creators and consumers. The Liberal copyright position is consistent with its comments during the Bill C-32 hearings and reaffirms the view that Canadian consumers should have the freedom to use their content for personal purposes. This reference targets the digital lock provision and the view that it should be changed.
- Canadian content in a digital world. The Liberals promise increased funding for Canadian culture in the digital environment as well as support for the CBC.
- Competition and Innovation. The Liberals are proposing a new tax credit designed to encourage investment in digital startups.
- Support for an Open Internet. This principle reaffirms the party’s position net neutrality and support for review of the usage based billing issue.
- Open Government. The Liberals focused on open government in 2010. That position returns here with a promise to make all government data freely available online and a commitment to post the results of Access to Information requests on the Internet.
- Protection from digital threats. The Liberals promise action on digital threats, which presumably could include privacy reform.
The eight principles focus on many of the right issues and it is great to see digital policy make its way into the election campaign. The platform will still raise some questions: does the party support foreign investment in telecoms? What policy does it have on the upcoming spectrum auction with respect to new entrants and set-asides? It focused on education with its very first announcement of the campaign but doesn’t address education and copyright here – why not? Those answers are important, but give the Liberals credit for being first out of the gate on the digital economy. Over to you, Conservatives and NDP…