The Liberal Digital Economy Strategy: Extended Edition

The Liberals gave the digital economy a prominent place in their election platform, identifying eight principles that included access to broadband for all Canadians, balanced copyright, open government, and support for an open Internet. Yesterday the party expanded on the policy by releasing Digital Canada and holding an online chat forum with Marc Garneau. The Digital Canada release reiterated many of the platform’s positions with one notable addition – a commitment to issue an open Internet directive to the CRTC. According to the Liberals, a Liberal government would “issue an Open Internet Directive to the CRTC opposing anti-competitive usage-based billing and ensure a fair, effective wholesale regime to allow smaller Internet service providers to lease broadband infrastructure at fair prices.”

Far more detail came in the online chat that I participated in as a commentator together with Open Media’s Steve Anderson. The discussion touched on a number of issues, but provided considerable detail on telecom, copyright, and privacy policy.

On telecom policy, Garneau supported:

  • net neutrality
  • functional separation to address competition concerns
  • a set-aside for new entrants and emergency responders in the forthcoming spectrum auction
  • broadening CRTC composition to include consumers, more experts
  • reviewing the Broadcasting Act before the opening the door to lifting foreign ownership restrictions

On copyright, Garneau:

  • supported expanding fair dealing to include an education category, provided there is a definition for “fair” (which could include the Supreme Court of Canada’s six factor test) and “education”
  • “oppose the digital lock provisions as currently written in C-32” and “support an exception for people using the material they bought for non infringing purposes”
  • supported notice-and-notice for intermediary liability
  • did not like the secrecy of the ACTA negotiations
  • would exclude copyright for the Canada – EU Trade Agreement “if not in best interest of Canadians”

On privacy, Garneau confirmed:

  • the Liberals would not support lawful access provisions that requires personal information disclosure without court oversight (when asked, Garneau responded “Yes we agree that privacy of canadians must be protected”)
  • the Liberals would support stronger enforcement pressures as part of the reform of Canadian privacy law


  1. campaign promises and a quarter buy what?
    These all sound great. But this is campaigning. Campaign promises always sound good. But then the promising party gets office and there are always “unforeseen circumstances” that prevent them from actually keeping them.

    We’ll see if Marc can put his money where his mouth is. Well, that’s if his party gets office, which as I understand is not the safe bet this time around, again.

  2. A brief but pleasant encounter …
    The live chat was great, I applaud Marc for taking the time and effort to talk with real people on these important issues. With both the Liberals & NDP putting forward these progressive platforms it is at least highlighting what the public is desiring and raising the profile of this issues (although I wish more Canadians would be aware and concerned).

    Alas the time of one hour was too short for the depth of this type of conversation, and although there is much going on in the next few weeks for the Minister, I hope it may be possible to have another discussion before the election. A similar chat with Mr. Angus would be great as well.

    I had some questions that were posted but not answered in time and one that did not make the ticker. If Minister Garneasu does come by this forum here they are again:

    1) What is the “private copying compensation fund” mentioned in your platform? Is this support for some type of ‘iPod’ tax or something different? How will it be funded, how will it be managed, who will pay and who will be the recipients?

    2) Will the expansion of broadband to all Canadians take into account consumer costs and bandwidth allowances? For instance will a low bandwidth capped cellular ‘stick’ be considered good enough or will wired connections be the priority? [understanding that wired is not possible in all remote regions]

    Otherwise, a great conversation with mostly positive responses from Marc on access and transparency issues. Thanks again!

  3. I give him a C+. Net Neutrality is a meaningless buzz word. I could have answered the questions like he did. He didn’t explain how they came up with $500 million dollars are needed for a booming industry. Seems like it was pull out of thin air. Mark seems like a nice guy and smart

  4. @Crockett: “How will it be funded, how will it be managed, who will pay and who will be the recipients? ”

    [Sarcasm ON]

    Crockett, obviously it’s you that will pay, the fed will collect, SOCAN will manage and Luc and Robert will be the recipients.

    [Sarcasm OFF]


  5. Wow, the Liberal’s webpage that you link to on Digital Canada is really poorly written. It’s like someone with ADD wrote it. It frequently repeats itself and it goes off topic and talks about the long census forms and jet fighters. Maybe those are legitimate topics somewhere else, but not in something called Digital Canada.