The Liberals released
their election platform
yesterday and for those anxious for digital issues to occupy part of the policy debate during the campaign (myself included), we got our wish. The document identifies the digital economy as one of its three key areas for economic growth and features eight principles that includes broadband for all, bridging the digital divide, copyright, and an Open Internet.
At the start of the campaign, I highlighted ten digital economy questions that need answers and the Liberals have taken a good step at answering many of them. There is still need for greater detail, but at least they’ve put forward something to debate. By contrast, Industry Minister Tony Clement quickly tweeted that the Liberal document “borrows” from his digital strategy, yet unless I missed a press release, no Conservative digital strategy has been made public. There has been a digital economy strategy consultation, the creation of a government department within Industry Canada, a speech on a strategy that provided preliminary views, and elements of what will likely form the strategy (ie. open government), but none of these are the strategy itself. If Clement believes it borrows from his unreleased strategy, that only emphasizes how the issue is non-partisan and should be prioritized by all parties.
With respect to the strategy itself, perhaps its most significant aspect was the promise to use the revenues from the forthcoming spectrum auction to facilitate broadband access in underserved areas. In fact, sources advise that the commitments to fund CBC/Radio-Canada and the Canada Council for digital content creation will also come from spectrum revenues. Given that the auction is expected to generate billions of dollars, this is very significant. The revenues from the last spectrum auction went to general revenues (critics argue it went to the automotive industry). A commitment to use the spectrum revenues for purposes directly related to connectivity, culture, and the digital economy is an important step forward and helps ensure that new initiatives need not come out of tax revenues. It will be interesting to see if the Conservatives and NDP make a similar commitment.
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Liberal Industry Critic Marc Garneau has submitted a five page brief to the CRTC that outlines his party’s position on UBB. Garneau sides with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre in calling for an expanded review of Internet services. It “fundamentally disagrees” with the CRTC’s claim that Internet service is analogous […]
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For months, Canadians have been pointing with envy to open data/open government initiatives in the U.S., U.K., and Australia as those countries push forward with strong commitments to open data and Canada sits quietly on the sidelines. While the federal government has been very slow to move, sources say that the opposition Liberal Party will be unveiling its commitment to open government today. [update: policy posted
] The four part commitment will include:
- A commitment to make as many government datasets as possible available to the public online free of charge at opendata.gc.ca in an open and searchable format, starting with Statistics Canada data, including data from the long-form census;
- A commitment to post all Access to Information requests, responses, and response times online at accesstoinformation.gc.ca
- A commitment to make information on all government grants, contributions and contracts available through a searchable, online database at accountablespending.gc.ca
- A commitment to immediately restore the long-form census
The open government/open data commitment is particularly noteworthy since it will apparently include a direction to all federal departments and agencies to adopt an open government principle where the default position is to provide information to the public. The plans for access to information would also be enormously helpful, including restoring the CAIRS database and following the recent UK lead by making all documents released under ATI available online.
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The SaveOurNet Coalition has released a new report on the three main political parties positions on net neutrality. It finds that both the Liberals and NDP support mandatory net neutrality audits by the CRTC to ensure that ISPs are compliant with the Commission’s traffic management guidelines.
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