Neither Michael Geist nor Barry Sookman seem to have a clue. Neither seem to have a clue why a ‘National Digital Agenda’ is a good idea, even though both seem in favor of Industry Minister Tony Clement bringing legislation forward.
That the two of them agree on something, is a first. Hey, this is fun. I get to toss bricks at twice as many targets!
Seriously though – why all the excitement? We have no idea what this Digital Strategy will be. In my earlier post about the Throne Speech, I quoted that part, but let’s look at it again:
To fuel the ingenuity of Canada’s best and brightest and bring innovative products to market, our Government will build on the unprecedented investments in Canada’s Economic Action Plan by bolstering its Science and Technology Strategy. It will launch a digital economy strategy to drive the adoption of new technology across the economy. To encourage new ideas and protect the rights of Canadians whose research, development and artistic creativity contribute to Canada’s prosperity, our Government will also strengthen laws governing intellectual property and copyright.
Pretty meaningless. A ‘Mom and Apple Pie’ style statement. But no meat at all.
Is Minister Clement is serious about modernizing the digital landscape in Canada? I don’t know. If he is however, he needs to look at some of the basics:
1) Is universal internet access important?
2) If universal access is important, how do you carry out it?
3) If universal access is important, how do you handle the costs?
4) Is our current system delivering the level of internet access that we need?
To a certain extent Internet Access is equal to Road Access in how it affects the citizens of Canada. Should we, as a country, treat the internet as equal to roads?
It’s an interesting question. We didn’t do this with the phone system. In fact we privatized parts of the phone system, allowing private corporations to compete with the original state-owned firm, Bell Canada. Did the citizens of Canada get benefits from the privatization of the phone system?
Another option would be a Co-Op type system. Or a variation on the Health Insurance system might work.
What Minister Clement should do, is start a national consultation. What do the people of Canada want? What ideas do they have? He might be pleasantly surprised at the responses.