The release of Budget 2019 yesterday again placed the government’s innovation strategy in the spotlight as the government emphasized its significant spending record, including $950 million for the superclusters, $4 billion for science research, $795 million in 31 strategic innovation fund agreements and $2.3 billion for clean technology support. The investments were highlighted in a recently released an innovation scorecard, Building a Nation of Innovators, which takes stock of the government’s efforts over the past three years. My new CIGI policy brief argues that while the benefits from this spending will take years to realize, increased investments in strategic sectors are the easy part of innovation policy.
Flawed Arguments and Inappropriate Analogies: Why Netflix Taxes and Cancon Requirements Should be Rejected
CBC President Catherine Tait recently sparked a firestorm with comments to an industry conference that likened Netflix, the popular online video service, to the British Raj in India and French in Africa, warning about “imperialism and the damage that it can do to local communities.” The comments were rightly criticized as shockingly inappropriate, as if any video service can be reasonably compared to the subjugation of millions.
My Hill Times op-ed notes that some in the Canadian creator community rushed to defend Tait, however, viewing the comments as a strong assertion for Netflix regulation, the creation of a “level playing field”, and the need for all stakeholders to contribute to the broadcast system. Supporters of Netflix taxes and content requirements – who were joined in the Hill Times last week by Sheila Copps – present a vision of Canadian content at risk without regulatory intervention, leading to the loss of Canada’s “authorial voice” from film and television production.
Building a Digital Wall: What Lies Behind The Emerging Battle Over New Taxes to Support Canadian Content
The battle over the future of Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications is quickly emerging as a hot-button policy issue, with a government-mandated review of the law recently garnering thousands of public responses. My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that while recommendations from an expert panel are not expected for months, Canada’s broadcast regulator, the CBC, and several high-profile cultural groups are lining up behind a view that Canadian culture is facing an existential crisis. Among the ideas being proposed are new taxes on internet and wireless services, mandated Cancon requirements for Netflix and the prioritization of Canadian content in search results from online services to enhance its “discoverability.”
There are unquestionably real communications policy issues in Canada for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains and Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez to grapple with: Some of the world’s highest wireless prices hamper adoption and usage, privacy safeguards have failed to keep pace with online threats and public-interest voices say they don’t feel heard at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) under chair Ian Scott.
Canadian Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien renewed his call for an overhaul of Canada’s private-sector privacy legislation this week. Responding to a national data consultation launched by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains, Therrien recommended enacting a new law that would include stronger enforcement powers, meaningful consent standards and the extension of privacy regulations to political parties. My Globe and Mail op-ed argues that while the need for a modernized privacy statute has been evident for some time, Canada’s privacy shortcomings are not limited to a decades-old legal framework struggling to keep pace with technological change.
Internet free speech is not typically an issue associated with trade agreements, but a somewhat overlooked provision in the newly-minted U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) promises to safeguard freedom of expression by encouraging Internet companies to resist pressure to remove content. My Policy Options op-ed notes the USMCA’s Internet safe harbour rule – modelled on U.S. law – remedies a longstanding problem in Canada that left large Internet platforms reluctant to leave third party content such as product reviews, blog posts, and social media commentary online in the face of unsubstantiated complaints.