The government’s response to digital strategy critics

15 Feb
Industry Minister Christian Paradis: "I care this much about a Digital Strategy."

Industry Minister Christian Paradis: “I care this much about a Digital Strategy.”

With all the lovey-dovey Valentine’s Day stuff out of the way, we can now resume our regularly scheduled programming. In other words, let’s get back to the hate! One thing I’m definitely not fond of is that, despite it being the middle of February, Canada still doesn’t have a digital strategy.

The Harper government has repeatedly promised to unveil a plan for the future that involves something more than Canadians being hewers of wood and drawers of water, with the latest coming last fall. They were supposed to unveil the strategy by the end of 2012, but we all know how that went.

I’m obviously not the only one who’s unhappy. Other Canadians are writing in to Industry Minister Christian Paradis to express their disappointment and anger, and it looks like the government is actually responding to them. One such individual emailed me the response he got. Here’s what Industry Canada is telling Canadians concerned about its lack of planning:

Dear Mr. XXXXX:

On behalf of the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture), thank you for your email … regarding the Digital Economy Strategy.

We are working to develop a coherent multifaceted strategy to make Canada a global leader in the creation, adoption and use of information and communications technologies (ICT) to improve the productivity of the Canadian economy. The Minister of Industry has made this his priority and has already taken steps to implement key aspects of the Digital Economy Strategy, including:

  • Providing $110 million per year starting in 2012-13 to the National Research Council (NRC) to double the Industrial Research Assistance Program. This builds on past investments to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) such as the $80 million Digital Technology Adoption Pilot (DTAP) Program launched in fall 2011. DTAP is designed to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies by SMEs.
  • Expanding the Industrial Research Development Internship Program by providing $14 million over two years which will give graduate students hands-on research experience working with innovative Canadian firms.
  • Laying the groundwork for a strong legislative framework which will instill confidence in the online marketplace through the passage of anti-spam legislation, the Copyright Modernization Act, and the introduction of amendments to Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).
  • Putting forward plans to make additional spectrum available to wireless providers to meet the needs of emerging broadband services and to fuel the growth of next-generation technologies by auctioning off 700 MHz spectrum and 2,500 MHz spectrum.
  • Increasing the level of competition in the wireless sector by eliminating foreign investment restrictions for new entrants and enacting mandatory roaming and tower sharing.
  • Supporting the Business Development Bank of Canada’s efforts in making ICT adoption among SMEs a strategic focus by introducing new consulting services that offer a diagnostic of SME operations and providing assistance in digital technology selection.

These, along with other activities will help ensure that Canada is on the path to economic prosperity.  The government is committed to the development of a Digital Economy Strategy and will proceed with targeted actions to boost Canada’s performance relative to its global competitors. However, for Canada to succeed, government efforts alone are insufficient. The private sector must also act to address many of the challenges Canada faces.

I encourage you to continue to follow the government’s progress on the Digital Economy Strategy. Once again, thank you for taking the time to write on this important matter, and please accept my best wishes.

Having read that, it almost seems like no response would have been better. If that’s all the government is working on, we’d better get our shovels, pick axes and buckets ready because we’re going to continue being the developed world’s resource bumpkins.


Posted by on February 15, 2013 in government


2 responses to “The government’s response to digital strategy critics

  1. Marc Venot

    February 15, 2013 at 12:28 am

    This has to be done probably but let look at the specifics of Canada, like the great big North, the oil sand and the 600+ Ameridians bands including their reserves. For those why they are not build like Fermont?

  2. Infostack

    February 15, 2013 at 11:48 am

    A little something I left on Tim Lee’s ArsTechnica post about the shenanigans going on in GA: Read my last paragraph; no need for hate or invective (except maybe my profanity in point 4):
    “Competitive forces have been getting their butts kicked for 17 years since the telecom Act, including special access deregulation in 2002 and abrogation of equal access in 2004. We need to recognize 4 things and then change tack and adopt a new approach and framework:
    1) we got here (low-cost voice, the internet and advanced wireless) because of Bill McGowan and the DoJ, regulators have been 90%+ reactive and ineffective over the past 30 years
    2) equal access is critical at all layers and in all contexts
    3) there never was and never will be a natural monopoly; it’s promoted by the vertically integrated carriers and competitive apologists
    4) our balkanized federal/state/local regulatory approach has resulted in the creation of a best in breed cadre of snake oil salesmen and payoff con artists (aka telecom lawyers) that have dominated our courts and legislatures over the past 15 years. Competitive lawyers never had a chance.
    So what to do?
    1) understand that we’ve been going “horizontal” since the 1960s with respect to our ICT networks
    2) vertically integrated carriers can’t and don’t scale rapidly obsoleting technology and investment over siloed and every changing and growing demand. our anti-trust thinking needs to understand metcalfe’s laws and scale of networks and the difference of arriving at marginal cost a priori versus average cost ex poste
    3) we need to go back to promoting a policy of equal/open access and have a framework that models this across all horizontal layers (lower, middle and upper), at each vertical boundary point (WAN/MAN/LAN) and for all demand contexts (commercial vs consumer, fixed vs mobile, subscription vs subsidized).
    This is not a good vs evil fight. This is simply getting everybody on the same page speaking the same language. Then we can see that competitive, open networks drive pricing to reflect marginal cost and in the process clear supply and demand ubiquitously and universally.”

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