Liberals First Out With Their Digital Economy Strategy

The Liberals have released their election platform and included within the section on the economy is the outline of a digital economy strategy. The platform focuses on three key areas for the global economy, identifying the digital environment as one of the three. While the digital economy platform still requires greater detail, the party has identified eight key principles:

  1. Access to broadband for all Canadians.  The Liberals say they will invest $500 million to ensure all Canadians have access to at least 1.5 Mbps broadband within three years and set a more ambitious speed target for 2020. It plans to use revenues from the wireless spectrum to auction to fund this initiative.
  2. Closing the digital divide. The Liberals focus on digital literacy and skills with this principle.
  3. Fair balance between creators and consumers. The Liberal copyright position is consistent with its comments during the Bill C-32 hearings and reaffirms the view that Canadian consumers should have the freedom to use their content for personal purposes. This reference targets the digital lock provision and the view that it should be changed.
  4. Canadian content in a digital world. The Liberals promise increased funding for Canadian culture in the digital environment as well as support for the CBC.
  5. Competition and Innovation.  The Liberals are proposing a new tax credit designed to encourage investment in digital startups.
  6. Support for an Open Internet. This principle reaffirms the party’s position net neutrality and support for review of the usage based billing issue.
  7. Open Government. The Liberals focused on open government in 2010.  That position returns here with a promise to make all government data freely available online and a commitment to post the results of Access to Information requests on the Internet.
  8. Protection from digital threats. The Liberals promise action on digital threats, which presumably could include privacy reform.

The eight principles focus on many of the right issues and it is great to see digital policy make its way into the election campaign. The platform will still raise some questions: does the party support foreign investment in telecoms? What policy does it have on the upcoming spectrum auction with respect to new entrants and set-asides? It focused on education with its very first announcement of the campaign but doesn’t address education and copyright here – why not?  Those answers are important, but give the Liberals credit for being first out of the gate on the digital economy. Over to you, Conservatives and NDP…  


  1. CBC digital
    “…increased funding for Canadian culture in the digital environment as well as support for the CBC.”

    I wonder if that includes more the than 27 over-the-air transmitters on the current CBC plan. People in London, Saskatoon, Lethbridge, Moncton, Saint John waiting for an answer.

  2. Rights to consumer don’t mesh with proposed iPod tax
    Let me get this right: Liberals want to reaffirm that as consumers we have the right to personal use of our media, but not to long ago they were proposing an outrageous iPod tax that essentially is saying we are all considered criminals to start with?

    Can’t believe a word they say, anything to get elected.

  3. Unimpressed says:

    1.5 MB/second broadband? Hey, this is 2011, not 2001,

    C-32 – If “The Liberal copyright position is consistent with its comments during the Bill C-32 hearings” – does this mean that the incoherent rants from Rodriques and lapdog loyalty to CRIA from McTeague are part of the Liberal platform?

  4. “ensure all Canadians have access to at least 1.5 MB/second broadband within three years ”

    Sounds good except they have to ensure that there is a minimum level of service defined and observed by the carriers. If it turns out to be an “up to 1.5 MBps” (which in reality is averaging 0.1 MBps), generously throttled on random ports and protocols, and with a latency of 1000ms and 10% packet loss, it would be perfectly useless. Been there, seen that on a major carrier’s 6 MBps ADSL service.


  5. Common Sense says:

    >at least 1.5 MB/second broadband

    Might want to use proper upper and lower cases or spell it out completely unless you really mean 1.5 Mega Bytes/second (i.e. 12Mb/s)

  6. AlphaMatrix says:

    Wonder if the speed measurement unit is correct in #2…
    1.5 MBps = 12 Mbps. Mbps being what most ISPs use in advertising and MBps (or KBps, 1024 KBps = 1 MBps) is what most software reports using.

  7. AlphaMatrix says:

    Above, I meant #1…
    Damn no editing.

  8. AlphaMatrix says:

    Speaking of confusing speed measurement units…
    Nalpam above has mentioned 6 MBps ADSL, which I imagine he really means 6 Mbps service which would translate to 0.75 MBps.

  9. @AlphaMatrix:

    I stand corrected. I meant 6 Mbps. I guess the Liberals are also meaning 1.5 Mbps. If this is about the minimal level available & guaranteed for everyone everywhere, it’s not that bad as “Unimpressed” says. I do remember the 1 Mbps ADSL Nortel modem I had for a couple of years and it was perfectly usable. Remember that we do have people not having Internet access at all in their area. 1.5 Mpbs would be a gift from heaven.


  10. Hey Scott – the Liberals *never* supported the iPod “tax”
    The idea came from Charlie Angus (NDP) and the Conservatives neatly attached it to the Liberals as part of their big “coalition” lie. Looks like you bought it, hook, line and sinker. I dare you to find any attributed statement to any Liberal claiming support for this – because you can’t.

  11. The so-called “i-pod tax” was never going to be more than about $25. Harper government blew it way out of proportion as part of their scare-mongering. And to the best of my knowledge, it was never more than an NDP idea.

  12. Looks good!
    A good contemporary strategy. maybe we can catch up with the rest of the world!

    p.s iPod tax was a CPC myth
    From Dec 16th:
    Marc Garneau,“The Liberal Party does not support the iPod levy. It is not sustainable in a world of changing technology, and is unpopular with consumers. Canadians are already using multipurpose media devices to listen to music, like Blackberries, iPhones, iPads and computer livestreaming, on which the levy would not apply.”

  13. @NoHarpo: “The so-called “i-pod tax” was never going to be more than about $25″

    It doesn’t matter if it’s $1, $25 or $125. It’s the principle. You can’t explain to my why an iPod user that downloads his stuff from iTunes should pay extra $$$ beyond the price of the download.

    Add to this that most likely the money would go in the pockets of people like Luc Plamondon and the whole scheme starts to smell really bad.


  14. Everyone talking about the iPod tax, It was an NDP suggestion, and its really not out of the ordinary. Look at the levy we have on recordable media. This levy alone stops IP owners from suing Canadians for crazy amounts of money. Not only that, but they are looking to change the way digital locks work, so its no longer possible to go and buy a Movie and not be able to play it on your computer, or any other device. Also, the Liberals are trying to get every Canadian connected to the internet. This is huge in some area where the only way of connecting it to buy a satellite connection, which is not guaranteed and extremely expensive, or to lock yourself into a cell phone type contract.

  15. @Truth: “This levy alone stops IP owners from suing Canadians for crazy amounts of money.”

    Prohibiting copying and format shifting for personal use then applying a levy to allow it back looks pretty disingenuous to me.

    How about “you’re not allowed to smoke in public places; however we now apply an extra levy to cigarettes so now you can smoke in public places again”.


  16. 1Mbps? why not 1Gbps?
    If Australia can do it, why exactly can’t we…?

  17. “If Australia can do it, why exactly can’t we…?

    Starts with “B-” and rhymes with Hell.

    By the way, we really shouldn’t give Apple free advertising by calling it an Ipod Tax.

  18. Let’s put it back straight and see Marc Garneau statement in the above comment: the LPC was not in favor of the “iPod tax”. It was just one of the other Conservative spins.

    On the other hand, both NDP and BQ supports it. And for the BQ, it is lobbied by “artist” that actually left Canada to not pay their taxes there… (see comment by Napalm)

    As for the 1.5Mbps or MBps. While it is understandable to seek clarification you should all know that a lot of remote communities don’t even have broadband internet access. In eastern Canada, Bell promised to invest and in exchange of keeping the landline rate steady and NEVER did. Just pocketed the profits.

  19. Over to you, Conservatives …
    @Stephen Harper “Just make sure the Americans are happy” ***

    *** Actual reported quote from former PMO office aid.

  20. @Hub:

    I don’t know where you live, but bell is rolling out 170 Mbps fiber connections in Sydney, to any home that will take it. Now, I dislike Bell for a number of reasons, but having access to that kind of speed, well, it’s a nice choice. INSANELY expensive, though, at $250/mth with a contract.

  21. betty boop says:

    I barely can keep up with technology.
    over a billion jobs lost to technology.
    goodbye christmas goodbye easter egg hunts goodbye craft, sales lemonade stands, bake sales hello frenzy and chaos and fear and more #^&7w toys for boys!!!!!!!
    sorry little spirits born into this world we have turned the joy of life into a life of misery hatred and hell for your generation and all to follow:(

  22. I kind of like my toys 😉

  23. @Chris ” INSANELY expensive, though, at $250/mth with a contract.”

    Do you know what the bandwidth cap is?

  24. @Crockett said: Do you know what the bandwidth cap is?

    Why are you one of those line hogs that expects to use the line as advertised? 😛

  25. Sean Buckwell says:

    1.5Mb/s what a joke, that nowadays dial up, also review of ubb…… we don’t want ubb, we want unlimited bandwidth.

  26. Sean Buckwell says:

    Rogers has 50mb/s internet but only 175gb caps whats the point of that speed without any bandwidth?

  27. Anonymous says:

    I can see a difference, can you see a difference?
    —The Liberals promise action on digital threats, which presumably could include privacy reform.

    I don’t know what this means, more or less privacy?

  28. Anonymous says:

    I hate to have “stolen” this from Crokett but it bears repeating right now, I think.
    Over to you, Conservatives …
    @Stephen Harper “Just make sure the Americans are happy” ***

    *** Actual reported quote from former PMO office aid.

    Can anyone give us a source for this quote.

  29. There’s way too much wiggle room with this Liberal position on copyright legislation. I don’t believe that they would re-introduce the recent C-32 Bill minus the digital lock section. I think the Liberals would scrap everything we’ve learned in the last five years of copyright discussion and take us “back-to-the-future” by re-introducing their own ill-fated legislation from years ago – championed by Mauril Belanger and the likes.

  30. Need to see what the others say before I make a decision on if this is a good thing or not.

  31. Co-Founder, i-CANADA
    Just FYI, Finland’s Minister of Communications has vowed to connect everyone to 100Mbps by 2015, and has said that access to at least 1Mbps is a legal right for all citizens (starting July 1). We need to be at least equal to the Fins…

  32. @Barry: “has said that access to at least 1Mbps is a legal right for all citizens (starting July 1).”

    Looks pretty much similar to a Canadian province. Next time I’ll hear the argument about Canada’s “special” geography and population density I’ll call it BS.


  33. 1.5mbit is a joke
    Australia is spending something like 37 Billion. They get it. We need to pull fibre to every house and give them gigabit speed. This is Tofflers 3rd wave and we had better be on board.

  34. fibre
    Also the last mile should be owned by a non-profit local utility in every region such as veridian and then rented to whatever telco the customer wanted. That way we stop these stupid pissing matches/money grabs about controlling the last mile.

    Also the wireless internet plays such as Eastlink, Xplornet etc are doomed to failure because they just can’t deliver the bandwidth required. It must be done via fibre, at least for 95% of people.

  35. We need to be at least equal to the Finish …
    Yes, if we stop being so politely Canadian and let our voices, and more importantly votes, be heard.

    If you care enough to be reading these forums then let the parties digital platform be a significant factor as you vote next month.

  36. What the Ignatieff Liberals are offering is a beachhead of Nanny State — big spending on the other end of that optic string. This whole field should be left to consumer demand. It drives the market, and the market will accommodate us — its whole raison d’etre. Let the private sector lead here.

  37. Trevor Heisler says:

    Weak, but a starting point, I guess. Some countries in Asia are pushing to have 100 Mb/s as the standard and we are striving for 1.5 Mb/s. Wow! And to think we Canadians pay amongst the highest rates in the developed world for our internet access.

  38. How about some bold moves for this day and age?!
    I am actually disgusted with the so-called Liberal plan. Admittedly, it’s for the “digital economy” i.e. business i.e. the almighty dollar. What about the average Canadian consumer? I have read page 19 of the platform. What “freedom” consumers have is intentionally vague. The digital lock? Excuse me, but if you stand in the middle of town square proclaiming that I have the right to copy a CD I own, and then go to a corner and whisper “except if the table-of-contents is messed up, so it’s an effective copy protection, so you right to copy is out the door” then I have no respect for you. Why isn’t there talk of ‘format shift’ or ‘time shift’? How about ‘fair use’? Why is it that some companies sit on a portfolio of Intellectual Property that’s worth billions, but don’t pay a penny in (intellectual) property tax?

    I would have applauded some more forward-looking approach. Explicitly grant format-shift and time-shift. Explicitly grant allowing to move content you own (own and not license!) from one device to the other, by any means necessary. Explicitly start discussion whether copyright terms that seemed reasonable in the middle of the last century should still apply today. Explicitly broaden “fair use”. Explicitly talk about content (specifically, books) that somehow nobody knows who currently holds the copyright (and no, it’s not automatically some industry association).

    Don’t think that the almighty U.S. of A can tell Canada what to do. The Europeans are already fighting back.

    It’s just a matter of time. Slowly but surely, the “typewriter generation” is on its way to the grave. The “computer generation” will not stand by having their videos pulled from youtube because there’s 30 seconds of some copyrighted song in the background.

  39. Mike, we’ve seen how Sarmite Bulte took care of copyright ‘reform’.

    Why would we believe you this round?

    Nap. 🙂