The Liberal Party of Canada announces “Digital Canada”
For Immediate Release
April 11, 2011
ONLINE – Later today in a live online town hall, Liberal candidate Marc Garneau will announce “Digital Canada,” a Liberal government’s strategy to make Canada a world leader in digital technology by invigorating our democracy, our economy, and our culture – and putting the full power of information and action into citizens’ hands.
“Stephen Harper’s slow, old-fashioned approach has left Canada to fall behind more ambitious competitors who’ve adopted policies and programs in tune with the digital age,” said Marc Garneau, Liberal candidate for Westmount-Ville-Marie. “A Liberal government will turn the page and make Canada into a leading digital society with Digital Canada, a strategy to unleash the next wave of innovation, creativity and economic growth.”
Mr. Garneau will announce Digital Canada in an online discussion at 2:00 PM EDT today, where he will be joined by guest commentators Dr. Michael Geist, an internationally-recognized expert in digital technology issues, and Steve Anderson, the National Coordinator of OpenMedia.ca.
Through Digital Canada, a Liberal government will set ambitious goals to achieve:
- Open Internet, to ensure Internet traffic management remains neutral with open sharing of legitimate technologies, ideas and applications. A Liberal government will issue an Open Internet Directive to the CRTC opposing anti-competitive usage-based billing and ensure a fair, effective wholesale regime to allow smaller Internet service providers to lease broadband infrastructure at fair prices;
- Open Government, by restoring the mandatory long-form census, putting government data online free of charge wherever possible, and implementing a “People’s Question Period” where the prime minister and ministers will respond directly to unscripted, user-generated questions online;
- Access to Broadband for all Canadians, with a $500-million investment to achieve 100% high-speed Internet access for all Canadian households within three years; and
- A Healthy Business Environment that Rewards Innovation, by introducing a new Innovation and Productivity Tax Credit to give a 15% tax credit for investment in small, early-stage digital start-ups and extending the “Flow-Through Shares” tax model to digital start-ups.
A Liberal government will also make Canada a leader in new media by investing $100 million per year in the Canada Media Fund, doubling the annual budget of the Canada Council for the Arts to $360 million over the next four years and restore the PromArt and Trade Routes international cultural promotion programs.
“Only the Liberal Party can put an end to the Harper Conservative’s era of secrecy and control,” said Mr. Garneau. “Our Digital Canada plan will heighten government accountability, put information in the public’s hands to create innovative new applications, and invest in Canada’s digital entrepreneurs.
“We can make Canada a world leader in digital technology – without hiking personal income taxes, the small business tax rate, or sales taxes – if we stop corporate giveaways, control wasteful spending like $30-billion fighter jets, and focus on what really matters: giving every Canadian the tools to succeed in the years ahead,” Mr. Garneau concluded.
Ongoing rapid leaps in computing capacity, data storage and wireless innovation has given digital technology and the Internet the potential to invigorate our democracy, our economy, and our culture – putting the full power of information and action into citizens’ hands.
But in the last five years, Canada has fallen behind more ambitious competitors. The United Kingdom, France, Australia and the United States have developed far-reaching plans for the digital society of the future, and are introducing comprehensive digital policies and programs to achieve them.
To become a world leader in digital technology, a Liberal government will develop and implement Digital Canada, focusing on the following objectives:
The Internet is today’s principal conduit for the free flow of ideas. To ensure it fosters the uninhibited exchange that innovation requires, Canada’s Internet environment must remain open. Internet traffic management must remain neutral, and maintain the open sharing of legitimate technologies, ideas and applications. A fair and effective wholesale regime is also essential to allow smaller Internet service providers to lease broadband infrastructure at fair prices.
A Liberal government will issue an Open Internet Directive to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), requiring that the CRTC promote the following principles when making any decisions that affect the Internet:
- The Internet must remain a public and open domain, allowing Canadians to access lawful applications, content, and entertainment residing anywhere online, using any lawful device of their choosing;
- Canadians cannot be subjected to Internet traffic management practices that stifle competition, reduce consumer choice and innovation, or unfairly discriminate or restrict user access to lawful Internet content; and
- Management of internet traffic must be transparent and ensure Canadians understand and have choice in how internet traffic is managed.
A Liberal government will oppose anti-competitive usage-based billing, support net neutrality and foster an open, competitive and innovative Internet environment.
A Liberal government will launch the single largest effort of government openness and transparency in Canadian history and put an end to the culture of secrecy and control under the Harper Conservatives.
Liberals will adopt a new approach to information, issuing a government-wide direction that the default position for all departments and agencies will be to release information to the public, both proactively and responsively, after privacy and other legal requirements are met. This initiative will see as many government datasets as possible available to the public online, free of charge in an open and searchable format.
The Liberal Open Government Initiative will:
- Immediately restore the mandatory long-form census;
- Make as many government datasets as possible available to the public online free of charge at opendata.gc.ca in an open and searchable format, starting with Statistics Canada data, including data from the long-form census;
- Post all Access to Information requests, responses, and response times online at accesstoinformation.gc.ca; and
- Make information on government grants, contributions and contracts available through a searchable, online database at accountablespending.gc.ca.
Even further innovation is possible by deploying Internet technology to involve Canadians directly in our democracy. Under a Liberal government, all Canadians will be able to participate in a ”People’s Question Period”, where the prime minister and ministers will respond directly to unscripted, user-generated questions online. Ministers’ participation in the weekly online question-and-answer session will be rotated and, as prime minister, Michael Ignatieff would participate at least monthly in the online People’s Question Period to answer citizens’ questions unfiltered by political parties or the media.
Liberals consider access to a high-speed broadband Internet connection essential infrastructure, just as the electricity grid and the telephone network were a century ago. A Liberal government will publicly tender contracts for private companies to install broadband capacity for the hundreds of thousands of Canadians in rural, remote or northern areas who do not currently have access.
To make those contracts economical for private investment, we will provide $500 million in support, allowing Canada to achieve basic high-speed Internet access for all Canadian households within three years. Funds for that investment will come from the next spectrum auction for wireless licensing rights.
A Healthy Business Environment that Rewards Innovation
The information and communications technology sector has played an important role in our economy and in Canadian society. Today, it generates over $155 billion in revenues annually, employs more than half a million Canadians and contributes almost 40% of total private sector research and development in Canada – a measure that must continue growing if we are to keep pace with competitors. We’re already home to world-leading companies such as Research in Motion, Open Text, Ubisoft and Electronic Arts.
A Liberal government will introduce two new measures to support Canada’s digital entrepreneurs, including:
- A new Innovation and Productivity Tax Credit that would grant Canadian investors a 15% tax credit for investments in small, early-stage digital start-ups that don’t yet have the track record to seek financing from more traditional sources such as banks and the stock market; and
- An extension of the popular “Flow-Through Shares” tax model to digital start-ups. This tax incentive would allow venture companies with little or no revenue to pass on tax deductions to investors, creating a significant incentive to invest in Canadian digital entrepreneurs.
Flourishing Canadian Content, Culture and Identity in Digital Media
Canadians should continue to enjoy more Canadian stories and Canadian content in the Digital Canada of the future. New media should provide vibrant and rewarding new avenues for expression by Canadian artists. The public broadcasters, Radio Canada and the CBC, have crucial roles to play in achieving these objectives.
On top of existing investments of $100 million per year for the Canada Media Fund, a Liberal government will support more creation of Canadian content by doubling the annual budget of the Canada Council for the Arts, from $180 million to $360 million over the next four years, and restore the PromArt and Trade Routes international cultural promotion programs, increasing their funding to $25 million per year.
Closing the Digital Divide
Research shows that Internet skills lead to real economic benefits, including lower prices for consumers and more competitive small business. A Liberal government will work with all partners to promote digital life skills and training, in particular for older Canadians and lower income families.
Protecting Canadians from Digital Threats
Just as openness and transparency are the sources of boundless innovation and creativity on the Internet, these same features are too often exploited for criminal purposes causing significant personal and economic disruption, harm to children, and even threats to national security. A Liberal government will make security a priority in Digital Canada, working to advance it with the private sector and other governments at home and abroad.
Fair Balance Between Creators and Consumers
Digital technology offers many new opportunities, but enjoying content without compensating its creators shouldn’t be among them. At the same time, consumers should have freedom for personal use of digital content they rightfully possess. Liberals have worked to pass effective copyright legislation, including a private copying compensation fund instead of any new tax on consumers.
Liberal Party of Canada
Marc Garneau campaign
Penny is a frequent public policy commentator on national television. During the 2011 federal election, Penny was a commentator for Global TV. Penny tweets @penottawa.
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