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Canadian Government Unveils Its Celebrations-First Agenda

The government’s Speech from the Throne was billed in advance as a “consumers-first” agenda with Industry Minister James Moore talking up initiatives such as tackling wireless roaming fees and the unbundling of cable television packages over the weekend. Yet it turns out the consumers-first agenda is pretty thin: the roaming fee issue may be limited to domestic roaming (an issue that is invisible to many wireless customers), the unbundling will be useful for some though not all television subscribers, and promising enhanced broadband in rural communities is a far cry from committing to universal broadband access for all Canadians by 2015 (other issues such as the anti-digital economy measure of banning extra fees for paper bills is hardly worth mentioning and an airline passenger bill of rights wasn’t mentioned).

Perhaps the real intended focus is a celebration-first agenda as the speech emphasizes that “Canada’s Confederation is worth celebrating.” The government therefore commits to marking the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown and Quebec conferences, to celebrating the 200th birthdays of Sir George-Étienne Cartier and Sir John A. Macdonald, the centennial of the first world war, and the 75th anniversary of the second world war.

Of course, the real focus of the speech isn’t birthday celebrations or consumers. From a digital issues perspective, it is what the speech doesn’t say that is important:

  • It doesn’t say the government will advance long-overdue privacy reforms for both the private sector and the government.
  • It doesn’t say the government will address the myriad of shortcomings with the access-to-information system.
  • It doesn’t say Canada will sign and enact the Marrakesh Treaty on the Visually Impaired, the world’s first copyright user rights treaty.
  • It doesn’t say the government will fix the woeful oversight and review of Canada’s surveillance activities.
  • It doesn’t say that lawful access won’t return (in fact it hints that it might).
  • It doesn’t say that the remaining foreign investment restrictions for telecom and broadcast will be removed.
  • It doesn’t say that it plans to increase the term of patent protection, thereby adding billions to health care costs (even though that is precisely what it plans to do as part of the Canada – EU Trade Agreement).
  • It doesn’t say that it may undo the same copyright reforms it just finished enacting and promoting (which it may be required to do as part of the Trans Pacific Partnership)

The television bundling and roaming fee issues are good as far as they go, but to suggest that this legislative agenda puts consumers first is to ignore a myriad of crucial issues that are absent from one of the longest throne speeches in recent years.

5 Comments

  1. budget?
    shuffled money, recycled promises, and the NEW free-trade deal with quebec and europe.

    dandy. the crtc’s roaming intentions might get legislated, copyright further grid-locked,
    and the new police state enhanced.

    given an anti-duffy petition site was hacked, just how much do they intend to do?

    lock up chrontic-pain pot offenders?

    eww. shuffled money, repeated promises.

    pat

  2. Drivebycommentor says:

    If you don’t like the Thrown Speech then…
    If you don’t like the Thrown Speech then…
    1) Join an opposing political party and get active in making changes
    2) Give money to an opposing political party and help them get active in making changes
    3) Make noise. Email, fax, twitter, blog or write letters to all party leaders and your MP and tell them that you are unhappy and you want changes and not more spin doctoring.

  3. If you can’t give bread to the people, give them circuses.

  4. Highly disappointing.
    The things needed to actually impact consumers significantly, such as dealing with foreign ownership restrictions or tariffs, were never on the table.

    In country roaming fees (my plan has none) and untying bundles (I stream or direct purchase) has little effect on my life, and I think very few others.

    Meh … Big deal conservatives :(

  5. meaningless distractooh shiny
    Excerpts from the Speech:

    “Canada’s Confederation is worth celebrating.”

    “Consider this: we are inclusive.”

    “Consider this: we are honourable.”

    “Consider this: we are selfless.”

    “Consider this: we are smart.”

    “Consider this: we are caring.”

    This speech is nothing but simpleminded, jingoistic doublespeak that aims to create an amorphous sense of nationalistic pride. It addresses none of the critical issues, intranational turmoil, economic stagnation or a bipolar foreign policy that occupy Canadians’ minds today.

    we are given statements completely devoid of information, agenda, or firm promises, and instead are fed rhetorical pablum by the government. “This is Canada’s moment; together we will seize it.” is a wonderful thought, but completely meaningless for Canadians.

    “We are on the cusp of a moment that is uniquely Canada’s.” Wonderful, flowery, but meaningless in action. By feeding Canadians this drone of a speech the Harper government telegraphs the condescending attitude our federal government has for its own citizens.

    Canada may be “unique”, but this government-approved doublespeak is nothing for Canadians to be proud of.