Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland released the government’s 2023 budget yesterday with a raft of new spending initiatives and subsidies for “clean tech” to match developments in the United States. Budgets have become policy mapping documents where the government identifies its priorities for the coming year, often accompanied by plans to incorporate them into the Budget Implementation Act, where they are virtually guaranteed to pass with limited Parliamentary overview and debate. I’ll identify some of the most notable developments below, but want to focus on a commitment to establish a standard charging port in Canada which I think is emblematic of a government that has increasingly lost the plot on digital policy.
Post Tagged with: "digital policy"
The Dongle Budget: What Prioritizing a Common Cell Phone Charging Port Says About Canadian Digital Policy
The U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Ottawa this week has begun to place the spotlight on the mounting tensions over digital policy. For months, Canadian officials have not only been dismissive of the issue, but – as this week’s fishing expedition into Google and Facebook demonstrates – have not shied away from making the issue front and centre. I have been posting about trade-related risks with Canadian digital policy for months, noting that the risks are real and could result in billions in retaliatory tariffs that hits some of Canada’s most sensitive sectors. Indeed, this issue has been raised at every major meeting between senior trade officials for the past year. Is retaliation likely to happen? Certainly not immediately, but the longer the issues fester, the greater the impediment to advancing Canadian trade priorities. As Scottie Greenwood notes, “these are top-of-mind issues. They are not a small obscure issue.”
U.S. concerns with Canadian digital policy continues to mount with both the U.S. Administration and Senators from both parties raising fears of discrimination. U.S. pressure seems likely to grow as the issue emerges as a major irritant in the bi-lateral trade relationship with Canada’s most important trading partner. With U.S. President Joe Biden scheduled to visit Ottawa later this winter, it seems likely that digital policy – particularly a proposed digital services tax, Bill C-11, and Bill C-18 – will be on the agenda at the meeting.
The latest signals came last week at a bilateral meeting between U.S. and Canadian trade officials. The U.S. readout of the meeting states:
The past year has been an incredibly active one for Canadian digital law and policy with legislative battles over Bill C-10, controversial consultations on online harms and copyright, important Supreme Court decisions, new digital taxes, and an emerging trade battle with the United States. For this final Law Bytes podcast of 2021, I go solo without a guest to talk about the most significant trends and developments in Canadian digital policy from the past year and to think a bit about what may lie ahead next year.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 105: NDP MP Charlie Angus on Canada’s Failed Digital Policy and His Hopes for the Next Parliamentary Session
NDP MP Charlie Angus has been a consistent – and persistent – voice on digital policies since his election to the House of Commons in 2004. He was one of the first MPs to seriously consider user rights within Canadian copyright law, a vocal supporter of net neutrality and more affordable wireless services, and a leading advocate for privacy protection and social media regulation.
Last week, Angus called a press conference to unveil his six point plan for digital policy, which emphasized accountability, privacy reform, and algorithmic transparency. Along the way, he derided the government’s Bill C-10 efforts as a political dumpster fire and voiced support for the creation of a new officer of parliament charged with responsibility for social media regulation. Charlie Angus joins the Law Bytes podcast this week to reflect on the failed bill C-10 and C-11, his concerns with the online harms consultation, and his hopes for the coming parliamentary session.