Jim Prentice, Canada's new Industry Minister, has been on the job for less than a week, yet his appointment has already sent a buzz through the business community. With a member of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's inner circle now at the helm, promoting Canada's global economic competitiveness promises to become a core priority on the government's fall agenda. While some political commentators maintain that the issue rarely translates into voter support, my weekly Law Bytes column (Ottawa Citizen version, homepage version) argues that the good news for Prentice is that reforms focusing on digital issues represent both good policy and smart politics. By prioritizing three issues – communication, copyright, and consumer confidence – he has the opportunity to establish a forward-looking framework that can serve as a model for other countries and provide a payoff at the ballot box.
On the communication front, analysts are divided on whether recent deregulation will result in reduced prices for consumers; however, there is near-universal agreement that deregulation alone is not enough.