Nearly ten years ago, the Government of Canada wrote a letter to the chair of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) that set out the framework for the management of the dot-ca domain. The government articulated a vision of the dot-ca domain as a "key public resource" and called on CIRA to act in an open and transparent manner. CIRA has long sought to live up to those standards, but in recent months the organization has shown an unmistakable shift toward prioritizing commercial gain over the public interest along with a troubling move toward secret decision making.
The first sign of this shift came from the decision to effectively terminate plans to create an external, public interest body to address "excess" funds. Unlike most not-for-profits, CIRA (along with many country-code domain name registries) is a cash machine with millions flowing from the annual renewals of domain name registrations. Recognizing that CIRA would eventually generate too much money, the board set in motion the prospect of creating a body that could give back some of that money to the Canadian public by supporting Internet-related activities (similar initiatives have been launched by other ccTLDs). The process included a public consultation, changes to CIRA's by-laws, and board approvals. Yet two years later, that approach is now seemingly dead – delayed last year due to other fiscal priorities and now (according to board minutes) replaced by "CIRA Labs" of which little is unknown other than it won't surface for at least another year.