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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by World Bank Photo Collection (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/worldbank/25613452631

What Comes Next for Canadian Digital Policy Under a Liberal Minority Government?

In the closing months of the last Liberal majority government mandate, I spoke to a government official about the lessons learned from the prior four years. Their response?  If we knew then what we know now, we would have moved much faster on policy. The four years moves very quickly and if you don’t manage to lay the groundwork and introduce proposed legislation within the first 12 – 24 months, it becomes very difficult to enact given competing policy priorities, demands on committee time, Senate review, and a myriad of other challenges.

As I think about what comes next for Canadian digital policy under the new Liberal minority government, those words strike me as more relevant than ever. Even if the government runs more like a majority than a minority (which certainly seems likely on digital policy as no one is forcing an election over privacy or wireless pricing), the same ministers return to their portfolios (which may or may not happen) and the same committee structures return largely unchanged (which will not happen since that INDU chair Dan Ruimy was not re-elected), picking up where the government left off in June will not be easy. Further, the Liberal platform provides the roadmap for future reforms, but moving rapidly on these issues – particularly given expectations that a minority government’s mandate may run shorter than a majority – suggests that quick wins will be preferred to extensive legislative reform.

So what are likely next steps on digital policy?

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October 23, 2019 0 comments News
CBC Lawsuit vs. Conservative Party

The CBC Lawsuit, Fair Dealing and Future Reform: The Unexpected Arrival of Copyright in Election 2019

As the 2019 federal election winds toward voting day next week, copyright has unexpectedly arrived on the scene. Cultural groups have lamented for weeks that none of the national political parties have discussed copyright, placed it in their platforms, or otherwise committed to reforms. The likely reason – neatly articulated by OpenMedia’s Laura Tribe in this week’s Lawbytes podcast – is that there are no sharp divisions between the parties on copyright that might provide an electoral advantage. Instead, the government conducted an extensive copyright review which led to the Industry Committee’s June 2019 report. That committee, which heard from hundreds of witnesses representing all perspectives, generated a report that received all-party support and provides a roadmap for future reforms (the notable exception being on crown copyright).

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October 17, 2019 2 comments News
Responsibility by Nathan Siemers (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/4KZiPv

Platforms or People?: The Liberals and Conservatives Outline Competing Visions of Internet Responsibility

In recent years, there has been growing concern worldwide with the privacy risks associated with mass data collection online, the potential for rapid dissemination of hate speech and other harmful content on the Internet, and the competitive challenges posed by technology companies – often labelled “web giants” – that are enormously popular with the public but which do not fit neatly into conventional cultural and economic policies. My Globe and Mail op-ed argues the Internet policy proposals contained in the Liberal and Conservative platforms offer dramatically different answers to the question that sits at the heart of these policy issues: who should bear responsibility for the potential risks that arise from the Internet?

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October 16, 2019 3 comments Columns
CBC Button by Rebecca Bollwitt https://flic.kr/p/9dwQhg (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

CBC vs. CPC: Why the CBC’s Attempt to Use Copyright to Stifle Expression Backfired Badly

The CBC’s copyright infringement lawsuit against the Conservative Party over the use of seven short video clips in a campaign ad and several Twitter postings sparked a torrent of criticism as even CBC supporters wondered what executives were thinking. My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that the public broadcaster claimed it was defending the independence of its journalists and journalism, yet the opposite predictably occurred, with many believing that the lawsuit itself demonstrated a political bias.

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October 14, 2019 8 comments Columns
CBC's Rosemary Barton by Ian Capstick https://flic.kr/p/9tt7Ju (CC BY-SA 2.0)

What Was the CBC Thinking?: A Closer Look at the Video Clips in its Copyright Lawsuit Against the Conservative Party

The CBC decision to sue the Conservative Party for copyright infringement over seven clips that were either used in a campaign ad or posted to Twitter has unsurprisingly garnered considerable attention. While the CBC claims that its lawsuit was designed to defend perceptions of independence of its journalists and journalism, the opposite has predictably occurred with many believing that the lawsuit itself (filed eleven days before the election after the content was removed) demonstrates bias against the Conservative party. Not only does the lawsuit fuel perceptions of bias, but it causes enormous damage to CBC journalists – Rosemary Barton and John Paul Tasker – who are both named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The CBC now says it will file an application to remove them from the suit, but it is hard to understand how anyone at the public broadcaster thought it was a good idea to have one of its lead news anchors and a parliamentary reporter sue a political party.

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October 12, 2019 19 comments News