Archive for April, 2016

Copyright Bill for the Blind Needs Fine Tuning

Appeared in the Toronto Star on April 18, 2016 as Copyright Law for the Blind Needs Fine-Tuning As the political world was focused on the Liberal government’s inaugural budget last month, Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, introduced his first bill as minister by quietly moving […]

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April 19, 2016 Comments are Disabled Columns Archive
Get Satisfaction: Tips for engaging citizens in gov 2.0 by opensource.com (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/9rjVhc

Intervening at the CRTC: Nothing Encourages Participation Like Background Checks and Legally Mandated Undertakings

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s hearing on basic telecommunications services launched earlier this week with the Commission continuing its effort to engage the public with an open discussion forum that will allow for comments to placed on the record (comments outside of the CRTC universe – op-eds, blog posts or social media comments do not count). While CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais has emphasized his interest in hearing from Canadians, the recent experience of Concordia University professor Fenwick McKelvey highlights how more work is needed to remove barriers that may inhibit independent experts from participating in the process.

McKelvey told me he was very happy to participate, yet consider the barriers faced by academics or other independent experts seeking to contribute to the CRTC process. First, McKelvey (along with other academic intervenors) faced questions from Telus about their background, expertise, and funding. Telus demanded that each answer the following questions:

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April 13, 2016 6 comments News
The CRTC listened intently to the CFRO presentation by Robin Puga (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/8XhHm1

Why Universal, Affordable Internet Access is a Job for Everyone

The future of Internet access in Canada takes centre stage this week at a major hearing focused on whether it’s time to update the rules associated with universal access to communications services. Canada has long had regulations in place that ensure that basic telephone service is available to everyone, using a funding model that subsidizes higher costs in rural communities.

My weekly technology column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that for most Canadians, however, basic telephone service no longer adequately addresses their needs. Today the Internet is widely recognized as the most indispensable communications tool, providing access to everything from electronic messaging to entertainment. While debates over broadband access have lingered for more than 15 years, there are still thousands of Canadians without service, owing to the lack of access or affordability.

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April 12, 2016 3 comments Columns

Affordable Internet Access is Everyone’s Business

Appeared in the Toronto Star on April 11, 2016 as Affordable Internet Access is Everyone’s Business The future of Internet access in Canada takes centre stage this week at a major hearing focused on whether it’s time to update the rules associated with universal access to communications services. Canada has […]

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April 12, 2016 1 comment Columns Archive
Ontario Music Fund Oversight Hits Sour Note: Gov Docs Discuss “Breach of Integrity”

Ontario Music Fund Oversight Hits Sour Note: Gov Docs Discuss “Breach of Integrity”

The Canadian music industry gathered in Calgary last weekend for the Juno Awards, the industry’s biggest awards gala that has grown into a week-long event. While the award show is the public face of the Junos, behind the scenes are years of negotiations with governments to provide millions in public funding.

With Ontario hosting the Junos twice in three years – Hamilton hosted in 2015 and Ottawa is slated to host in 2017 – the provincial Liberal government has committed to enormous taxpayer support. My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) reports that according to internal documents recently obtained under the provincial access to information laws, that funding has sparked concerns within government departments due to the mushrooming budgets, inflated claims about the economic impact of the awards, and what officials have described as a “breach [of] the integrity of the objective grant assessment process.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the problems associated with the Ontario Music Fund (OMF), the provincial government’s flagship funding program for the music industry. The fund, which is administered by the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), has doled out nearly $30 million in two years despite little public transparency on how the money has been spent and questionable claims about job creation.

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April 4, 2016 2 comments Columns