Justin Trudeau at Canada 2020 by Canada 2020 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/uRp7J7

Justin Trudeau at Canada 2020 by Canada 2020 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/uRp7J7


Real Change on Digital Policy May Take Time Under New Liberal Government

A Liberal majority government will undoubtedly mean big things for digital policy in Canada.  At the start of a new mandate, many will hope that a new party will lead to a significant change on telecom, broadcast, copyright, and privacy. With a majority mandate, there is certainly time to tackle these issues. My guess, however, is that real change will take some time. The Liberal platform did not focus on digital issues and other than the promised reforms to Bill C-51 and much-needed open government and transparency initiatives, most will have to wait.

The real action – and perhaps real change – will take place in 2017. By that time, the U.S. election will have concluded and the future of the Trans Pacific Partnership will be much clearer. Canada will surely start studying the TPP once it is finally released, but any steps toward ratification would likely depend on the U.S. position on the agreement. With Hillary Clinton currently opposed to the deal, its ratification is far from certain.

Several laws are also slated for review in 2017, including the Copyright Act. There will be great lobbyist pressure to adjust the 2012 reforms alongside the mandated changes from the TPP (if Canada proceeds with the agreement) and the ratification of the Marrakesh treaty for the visually impaired. Publishers will ask the government to curtail fair dealing, the U.S. lobby groups will demand stronger anti-piracy measures, and consumers will focus on re-considering the restrictive digital lock rules.

Privacy, broadcast and telecom may also be up for review in 2017.  The next PIPEDA review is technically scheduled for 2016, but it would not be surprising if that slipped by a year. On the telecom and broadcast front, the Liberals will likely let the CRTC lead on issues such as broadcast reform and the review of telecom services. By 2017, however, the term of current chair Jean-Pierre Blais will conclude and there will be mounting pressure to consider issues such as net neutrality, wireless competition, and broadcast regulation as a political matter.

The new Liberal government has some excellent people to lead on these issues including Marc Garneau, who was a strong Industry critic during the copyright reform process, as well as the many Liberal MPs who worked on privacy issues as part of Bills C-13 and S-4. Further, the new government has one of Canada’s leading intellectual property experts as an MP as McGill law professor David Lametti was elected in a Montreal riding. Lametti has written extensively about the problems of copyright term extension and the importance of fair dealing, providing a strong voice for a public interest perspective on digital policy. All of this points to real change and the chance for a fresh start on Canadian digital policy in the years ahead.


  1. Devil's Advocate says:

    The phrase “real change” has been so abused these last few years, that it is now insulting as I keep hearing it used.

    Also insulting is this two-party theatre we’ve been forced to attend, complete with negative “trailers”. They both campaign on the left and government on the right. The only difference between the two of them is in the “style” each one exhibits in doing so.

    I wasn’t a big fan of Pierre Trudeau, but I will say Justin doesn’t seem to any of his father’s appeal, savvy, or integrity. And, he doesn’t appear to want to challenge the Status Quo – something that desperately needs “real change”, right now.

    As a Canadian voter, I’m sick and tired of all the negative campaigning and lack of open platform. None of these campaigns seem to include any real stance on any of the important issues. What’s the point in getting a vote, if your vote isn’t an informed one?

    And, what the point of having multiple parties to choose from, if two of them are indistinguishable, and people feel there’s no hope in trying the others?

  2. I don’t think you have to worry about Hillary killing the TPP. She will be in jail by the time of the election. She will not be the next POTUS.

    • I personally disgress on that; looking at their campaign donations, I can see that the lobbyist megacorps will want to ensure that their puppet Hillary be in the race as opposed to Bernie who fights for their people first and foremost and that wild card Donald Trump.

      All three of them are opposed to the TPP by the way, for completely different reasons. Bernie because it’s against his values of freedom, Trump because it directly menaces the middle-class businesses that make him a billionaire and Hillary… because she’s a flipflopper like Trudeau who just wants the popular vote.

  3. Harper has seen TPP; force him to tell us what’s in it. There we can get started shooting it down.

    • Have you reviewed what wikileaks has published? They’ve got a good chunk of it online.

      • I have, and it’s certainly enough to raise issues already, but there’s much more we’ve yet to see.

  4. SynapticFibrillation says:

    The coming months will be interesting to watch.
    I’m certain there are some hidden land mines in agreements or MOU’s between different governments that need to be handled.

    I’m looking forward to having laws pertaining to digital information and technology in general built around what is best for Canada and Canadians instead of special interest groups, if that actually happens.

    To those that posted before me:

    The election is over, bashing the winner before he even officially takes power is just showing how poor a loser you are.

    The Liberals won a MAJORITY. Just think what would’ve happened if Justin had actually been ready.

    • Shrek the Ogrelord says:

      Bashing those who are bashing the winner before he even officially takes power is just showing how poor a loser you are about other losers.

    • I disagree with the phrase “liberals won a majority.” From my understanding, 39 (roughly 40%) does not equal an objective majority, but reveals the flaws in our current FPTP system (a topic for another day).

      Likewise, I am tired of all this internal bickering about losers vs. winners. In my opinion, the public should be vigilant about pushing our government to follow through on their best interests. And there is enough ambiguity in the liberal platform and Trudeau’s past positions on topics such as C-51 and the TPP to raise concern.

      Regardless of whether you find someone’s rhetoric problematic, does not mean that their criticism isn’t valid.

      I am glad Harper is gone, I am ambivalent about a liberal majority. And now is the time to be pushing for the “change” we want to see rather than wait to see what is delivered to us.

  5. Mr. Geist,

    What do you think are the chances that Harper’s government will force TPP through in his final 1-1.5 weeks in office?

    • James Phillips says:

      I think the odds of that happening are nil.

      The conservatives used the argument that past parliaments can’t bind future parliaments to justify privatizing the wheat board.

      Also, I am fairly certain that parliament was disolved druing the election.

  6. “The Liberal platform did not focus on digital issues”

    This is actually quite troublesome. Why is that? Because the majority of voters are still early babyboomers of the Typewriter-generation a/k/a had their VCRs flashing “12:00:00” forever? Digital issues don’t matter? Maybe should call it the “Digital Environment” and “Digital Environmental Issues” as it might resonate a little better? Or is it actually in everyone’s best interest not to talk about these things, so they can be bargain chips like what happened in TPP? Remember, the first rule of TPP is don’t talk about TPP. Or TiSA. Or TTIP. Or the digital NWO for which these three are the foundation.

    Let’s hope Trudeau can withstand the lure of being “on board” so he’s allowed to play with the Big Kids, so to speak, and do what’s best for the average Canadian citizen.

    • “Let’s hope Trudeau can withstand the lure of being “on board” so he’s allowed to play with the Big Kids, so to speak, and do what’s best for the average Canadian citizen.”

      You’re stupid if you believe he’s not on-board with the american agenda, this is all about containing the rise of china, and getting rid of citizens rights because they fear political awakening.

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