Ms. Hedy Fry (MP, Canada) speaks October 4, 2014 (photo courtesy of the Swiss Parliament/Fabio Chironi) by OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Ms. Hedy Fry (MP, Canada) speaks October 4, 2014 (photo courtesy of the Swiss Parliament/Fabio Chironi) by OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Why the Government Was Right to Swiftly Ditch the Ill-Advised Internet Tax

Politicians are sometimes said to struggle with “developing policy at Internet speed,” but Thursday the government gave new meaning to the words. My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that as Liberal MPs were presenting the much-anticipated Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage report on media that included a recommendation for a 5-per-cent tax on broadband access, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly were assuring Canadians that the government had no intention of accepting the committee’s proposal.

Ms. Joly left the door open to an Internet tax last year through her national consultation on Canadian content in a digital world, steadfastly refusing to take a firm position on the issue. The committee report effectively ended the debate as the immediate criticism of the ill-advised policy measure means that an Internet tax has about as much future as a dial-up modem.

The prospect of an Internet tax should have never reached the recommendation stage, however, as the committee put it in the policy window without any meaningful analysis or effort to grapple with its repercussions.

Committee chair Hedy Fry oddly claimed that the committee had not recommended an Internet tax at all. While she was right about no Netflix tax (the media coverage unfortunately conflated Netflix and broadband taxes), the committee report leaves little doubt that there is a call for a broadband tax.  Recommendation 12 states:

The Committee recommends to expand the current 5% levy for Canadian content production on broadcasting distribution undertakings to broadband distribution.

There is not much ambiguity there and the Prime Minister rightly killed the proposal before it could get out of the news conference. That said, there is much in the committee report that is worthy of consideration including the application of sales taxes to digital services and the use of spectrum revenues to support Canadian content. I’ll take a look at the remaining proposals in a follow-up post next week.


  1. I still think the tech sucks. Breaking cells is only a first step.

    hooking up to the web means YOU are a web site

    TVs that watch you means everyone is a TV producer.

    cells are e-book readers. all texts can be put there.
    I know kids who claim they NEVER used anything else.)

    current items are walled ( until yesterday)
    dirty, leaky, and expensive.

    new apps that generate traffic? try work instead of entertainment.
    (full speed ahead + damn the establishment)
    e-textbooks, ie.
    data farming AI builds.
    (make your own assistant or how to bit-coin your cell into a farm)

    If i remember correctly, cells wee being treated as phones. land-lines.
    they are work stations.

    spontanous. occasional and habitual sensationism can wait, however profitable.

  2. I’m glad the internet tax is not going to happen. That is just a plain insult to users who provide content – and there are many of us. Frankly, the person who suggested that in the first place is either evil or completely unqualified to deal with these things. Perhaps just plain unintelligent – that’s been know to happen too.

    As for the discussion of applying sales tax, I understand the problem and the possible need for that, although I don’t particularly like it. That said, I can’t see how it can work without either the most draconian enforcement regime or a world government. Perhaps this is in the same category as the encryption back door dreams. Physically impossible but a persistent request of certain boneheads.

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