Reflecting on the Digital Economy Conference

Ottawa has played host to many digital economy-type conferences over the years.  Many have the same feel with pretty much the same people saying pretty much the same thing.  Yesterday's conference titled Canada's Digital Economy: Moving Forward was different. The primary reason was leadership (the noteworthy impact of Twitter on the proceedings and Terry Matthews' warning against mimicking the U.S. on copyright which he said "has become so extreme that it inhibits creativity and innovation" rank a close behind).  Both Industry Minister Tony Clement and Canadian Heritage James Moore left no doubt that they get it and are determined to craft laws and policies that look ahead rather than behind.

Clement closed the conference by noting how much has changed in the year since Bill C-61 was introduced. Clement said that it was "at least a somewhat different" public policy environment and committed to a copyright consultation this summer:

Moore was even more forceful with remarks that I doubt that we have ever heard from a Canadian Heritage Minister, who provided an inspirational talk on the potential of new technologies.  He closes with:

The old way of doing things is over.  These things are all now one. And it's great.  And it's never been better.  And we need to be enthusiastic and embrace these things. I point out the average age of a member of parliament because don't assume that those who are making the decisions and who are driving the debate understand all the dynamics that are at play here.  Don't assume that everybody understands the opportunities that are at play here and how great this can be for Canada.  Tony is doing his job and I'm going to do my job and be a cheerleader and push this and to fight for the right balance as we go forward.  The opportunities are unbelievable and unparalleled in human history.

Last year's experience with Bill C-61 left thousands of Canadians deeply disappointed with government on copyright policy.  Yesterday's remarks signal an important shift with both Clement and Moore clearly committed to more open consultation and to the development of a balanced copyright bill that better reflects the real-world realities of new technologies, innovation, new creators, and the reasonable expectations of Canadian consumers.


  1. Winds of change?
    Wow, I never thought I’d see the day. Now lets see if they follow through.

  2. Bruce Campbell says:

    Great news!
    Wow, thanks for posting, Michael. Love it in the first video where we get a shot of Moore browsing his PDA for recent posts!

  3. Let the lobbying begin
    The lobbying from media cos has been – and will get even more – intense…

  4. Talk is cheap
    And in Moore’s case, very vague. He’s going to push for what, exactly? So far, instead of acting like elected representatives, the Canadian government has acted like entertainment industry stooges.

    Moore says he will fight for “the right balance”. This indicates that they are still in the grip of a fundamentally flawed understanding of their essential role as government – to represent the citizens of Canada. The government’s position on the copyright debate should not be balanced. It should favor the best interests of citizens, which means that the giant, international copyright cartels should not have a seat at the table.

  5. Paroles, encore des paroles que tu sèmes au vent…
    Here is your chance to actually do the consulation, and act in the interests of those who elected you.

  6. Doubleplus good
    Moore’s talent as a politician shines through on this — he is for the new new shiny, against the tiresome status quo, and strongly supportive of doubleplus goodness. What I want, when I want, where I want! The future is now! And the Iran bit was classic. Thanks, James.

  7. refreshing.
    There is way too much trying to hold onto the past in this area.
    It is nice to hear the excitement in his voice about the future of media.

  8. Political Prisoner says:

    RE: Talk is cheap
    I agree with Brent.

    I don’t see anything in Clemets comments that make me change my mind about anything. It actually show me they didn’t have a clue with C-61. And they think everything has changed in a year?

    How can he say things have changed in a year?

    Nothing changed except maybe their eyes opened? Other than that nothing changed. It’s still the “funders” polluting everything/anyone they can.

    I don’t see what he see’s. Nothing changed. We are still here fighting for whats right, as we were last year.

    Was Clement one of the people behind that buffoon Prentice yelling C-61 was “made in Canada”?

    Clement has a long way to go before he earns my trust & respect in anything he says.


    Talks a lot about opportunities that can be had by selling and creating stuff not only for Canada for to the world.

    BUT, Mr. Moore, what if Bell locks out certain parts of their phone? What if someone can’t use google apps? What if they Throttle google apps (like they tried/did do last year), what if they lock it down for Bell approved apps only? Will unlocking a cell phone land you in jail or with enough fines to have someone lose their house again?

    Mr. Moore, you do realize that Bell/Rogers wants all their smart-phone’s locked down so that they can control if you even get to use FREE G-Mail as apposed to the Paid for MSN-Email right?

    Opportunity? I hope his eyes are open to the Canadian service providers and what they have done and what they are doing.

    I also think Moore doesn’t have a clue, and that’s my belief. (though he sounded ok saying it).

    Then he points out the age difference between those who have been fighting for years and the average age of the politician, 55, (and lets not forget the member of parliament how said facebook is a scary concept).

    He says the old way of doing things is over, yet here we have an infiltration at the CBoC by the Funders and who are crying to cabinet to not allow equal speed to other ISP’s to match Bell’s., which again is supported by the “funders”.

    The old way will not die as long as the ministers open the door to the corrupt trying to corrupt the ministers and influence their work.

    The only thing that made sense was when he said, “don’t assume those making the decisions understand all that is at play here” (something like that). Well, this is obvious.

    Sorry, but unless he declares the internet a human right like the EU did, and unless he really shows that he will fight back at the “funders” (ie. the cartels), and unless he opens the competition bureau up to take the challenges on, and unless the Consumer Act in all prov’s are updated that is in benefit for the customer and not the telco’s, then I’ll think he is just another mouth piece.

    Call me a sour grape. But we’ve been around this block a couple of times already.

    I don’t trust either of them. All talk and no walk.

    I wonder what “made in Canada” rhetoric they will come up with now. Will it be a Prentice repeat? (BTW why is Prentice still around?)

  9. Tony the Taker
    Yes, Minister of Industry: we look forward to your upcoming consultation. But what about that Liberal MP in QP last week, who asked why you chose to override the local residents and the city council in Charlottetown when they opposed the construction of a cellphone tower in their neighbourhood? You went over their heads and approved it for the cable/telecom company.

  10. Political Prisoner, you are being silly! Regulation is the past. Abundance is the future. It’s a post-scarcity world, baby!

  11. Chris Bruner says:

    I think that what we are seeing here is a balloon being sent up to see who shoots it down. The fact that the balloon is being sent up at all is great, and a tribute to all the work that Michael Geist has been doing. I’m hoping that what we are seeing is a wave of sorts.

    Consider that Obama seems to be tech friendly and seems to understand concepts like net neutrality, open source, etc. Perhaps the pressure on our politicians from the states has been lowered and they can start representing Canadians.

    Consider the embarrassment of the plagiarizing Conference Board of Canada, which actually has to go back and redo it’s report, possibly looking at the actual data. (And where did the money to research the first report go Hmm?)

    Looking at the comments on this page, it appears that Canadians are cynical, or pragmatic. I wonder why that would be.

  12. Political Prisoner says:

    RE: Talk is cheap

    “Regulation is the past”?

    Are you blind or insane (or a Mark golberg follower)?

    Like you the shill goldberg is saying there is no need to regulate.

    Yet this same nut supports Bell proposal to regulate HOW you can port a number. No need to regulate. But when Bell files with then CRTC to regulate what you can and can’t do, its ok.

    This is the same nut who says regulation needs to be in place to prevent wholesalers (ie. competition that the CRTC created and wanted) from offering equal speeds.

    Either you are playing here or you’re out to lunch.

    Regulation is the past?

    Regulation needs to be tough and prevent the likes of these monopolies (and the shills/nuts) from telling you what you can and can’t do.

    Iran and the EU set the example.

    Its a right! Freedom of expression is a right! Freedom to express yourself via unthrottled mediums and not being tossed in the slow lane is a right! And regulation needs to adapt to accept this.

    People won’t forget who fought against your rights (like the CBoC “funder”, Bell, Rogers, Telus, goldberg, prentice et al.)

    There is a very big need for regulation to allow freedom of choice and medium.

  13. Dave Pyke says:

    Maybe he doesn’t have to go that way anymore
    Once the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement goes into affect, they can say “it wasn’t us, we didn’t pass a bill that took away your freedoms!”

    With the treaty in place, they have an international agreement that gives the US what they want.

  14. I don’t trust minister James Moore any further than I can throw him.

    Consultations with this party is a fallacy.

  15. Arthur Klassen says:

    Maybe, just maybe, they get it. Maybe, just maybe, they can see a chance to get votes that the Liberals passed by.

    Even better, maybe this is a chance to see what’s behind the ACTA agreements, even if only indirectly. There’s so much stonewalling on this in other markets, e.g. the US, that any little bit of information, even by inference, is better than nothing.

    A year ago, when I complained to Heritage and Industry Minister and critics alike, the only rational response (as a BCer!) I got was from the Bloc critic. Perhaps sanity is infectious.

    hoping but not holding my breath…ank

  16. still refreshing
    I’m as cynical as the next guy/gal, but obviously they at least believe there is enough interest in the electorate in the non corporate side of copyright law to justify talking about it. Even if it’s just talk, I still think that is a big step forward from what we have seen in the past in these discussions.

  17. I’m an immigrant from an European country and I was amazed by the way Canada is handling its tech development. It’s good to see things moving in the right direction, and I’m looking forward to the moment when I can finally see a mobile market driven by the rules of competition, not one ruled by a giant like Rogers.

  18. Its the results that matter
    I’m encouraged to hear that they at least are aware of the fact that Canadians care about these issues. Prentice seemed to have been caught with his pants down over the opposition to C-61. Even if both Moore and Clement are just playing to the crowd for more votes. Being aware that going in the wrong direction may be hazardous to their political careers might lead them to a more balanced approach. Either way, the end the result will likely be better than C-61, it couldn’t get much worse.

  19. Cow Pasture Consultations?
    Cow pasture consultations! Is he serious!?

    Canadians deserve properly scheduled and promoted PUBLIC consultations not this bloody cow pasture tour Clement and company are trying to pass off as a “Public” consultation.

  20. Programmer/Musician
    I think Prentice and his Ilk believed that nobody cared about copyright, so they could do whatever would benefit them the most. Hopefully this is now a legitimate issue that can’t just be swept under the rug.

  21. Icon sucks
    sorry i’m writing this it must be random for you but i have to tell everyone the company i-con rips you off. all products mine and my friend’s don’t work. Just to warn everyone!

  22. where’s the un-“translated” version
    did he really say those things about quebec in the translation? is there a clean copy of this video somewhere?

  23. I’ll believe it when I see it
    And I think thats the approach everyone else should take too

    While the comments by these ministers are promising in that they recognize that something (no matter how vague they are in saying just exactly what that is) has changed, they really fall short of saying anything you wouldn’t expect them to say after a failure such as C-61 was.

    To top it off, what these two guys say doesn’t really matter anyway. I’m not going to dive into a lesson in the structures and institutions in Canadian politics. But suffice it to say, unless we see the Prime Minister up on a podium being vague about copyright reform we won’t really know the extent to which any new directions have made it onto the governments agenda.

    That being said, I don’t think the Conservative party is the party which is going to give us fair copyright reform. Their nature and place in Canadian politics is not one of embracing change and being proactive about the future. They are in themselves the “Made in Canada” solution which we know is in actuality a veiled “Made in America” solution.