Archives for posts with tag: #elxn41

I made promises to win. Please hold me to them.


The election is over in Canada. Depending on where you stand, the results are a mixed bag. Personally, I think it was one of the more interesting (a real roller coaster ride) election nights I’ve experienced. Good on 61% of Canada for voting. It’s a slight improvement. But, we can do better.

During the Election, the CLA raised some issues that affect the LIS profession at the federal level, such as Internet access, net neutrality, and the digital economy. So, how does a Conservative victory affect these? The affable Michael Geist offers some insights.

A majority may pave the way for opening up the Canadian telecom market, which would be a welcome change. The Conservatives have focused consistently on improving Canadian competition and opening the market is the right place to start to address both Internet access (including UBB) and wireless services. The Conservatives have a chance to jump on some other issues such as following through on the digital economy strategy and ending the Election Act rules that resulted in the Twitter ban last night. They are also solidly against a number of really bad proposals – an iPod tax, new regulation of Internet video providers such as Netflix – and their majority government should put an end to those issues for the foreseeable future.

On copyright and privacy, it is more of a mixed bag.

The copyright bill is – as I described at its introduction last June – flawed but fixable. I realize that it may be reintroduced unchanged (the Wikileaks cables are not encouraging), but with the strength of a majority, there is also the strength to modify some of the provisions including the digital lock rules. Clement spoke regularly about the willingness to consider amendments and the Conservative MPs on the Bill C-32 committee were very strong. If the U.S. has exceptions for unlocking DVDs and a full fair use provision, surely Canada can too…

While there will undoubtedly be wins and losses, the majority offers the opportunity to move away from years of policies driven by politics where little actually becomes law to one driven by policy that results in true legal reform. Given the last seven years of minority Liberal and Conservative governments that achieved so little on digital policies, the chance to get something done probably represents the biggest change of all.[read the full post]

I have an intense desire to be cautiously optimistic (one should not give way to dismay), but that optimism will be fettered to our readiness as citizens and professionals to hold the new government accountable on the issues that matter to libraries and to the people that rely on us.

Canada’s 41st election started out sort of dull and predictable (c.f. the lack-lustre debates). But, the recent news about the NDP’s surge has made things pretty darn interesting. I’ve been glued to the polls and news reports.  (This is my way of saying:  I’m too distracted to keep up the pace I set on this site, right now. Regular posts will resume next week.)

I’ve been looking around for ways Canadian libraries have supported voter engagement and turnout. Libraries across the country have put up information tables, dug out history and contemporary politics books for displays,  and posted information and links online.

Is there more the library community can do than displays and links? What about cultivating the next generation of young voters? Are there election themed story-times out there? Are we engaging new Canadians in their new home’s politics?

The LIS community should be thinking of ways to help create and nurture engaged political communities. They’ll come in handy when libraries need protection from book banners and budget hawks. This will take more than just blog posts and Bristol board displays during election season. But, the results could be huge!

Libraries are political (but not necessarily partisan). History has shown how access to books and information (not to mention community space and communication tools) are powerful political tools. To ignore this is to ignore the important role libraries have had and can have in the direction of our nation and our world.

We have to play a role in shaping the future, if we want to have a role to play in the future.

Canada Votes May 2nd!!!

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Apathy is Boring

Stephen Harper & cat, Cheddar

I’ll state up front: the Conservative Party is not my favourite, not by a long shot. But in the interest of fairness, I’ll put up their platform points on the internet and copyright:

In spring 2011, the Conservatives will announce and begin implementing a Digital Economy Strategy, focused on the following five priorities:
* Building world-class digital infrastructure;
* Encouraging businesses to adopt digital technologies;
* Supporting digital skills development;
* Fostering the growth of Canadian companies supplying digital technologies to global markets; and
* Creating made-in-Canada content across all platforms, to bring Canada to the world.[source: CLA platform analysis]

This reads pretty much like the other parties. But, given the CPC’s six years in power, you can bet the primary beneficiaries will be large corporations. And, there will be a wanton lack of transparency, accessibility, and probably unrestrained rising costs that tax payers will have to pay (cf. the F-35 fiasco or the pork barrel spending around the G8/G20).

But wait, there’s more: “A Stephen Harper-led majority Government will also reintroduce and
pass the Copyright Modernization Act, a key pillar in our commitment to make Canada a leader in the global digital economy.”[source] That sounds nice. If this is anything like Bill C-32, it will not be a great boon for librarians already pinched by tight DRM rules and licence agreements.

In my opinion,  I can’t imagine a party whose attitude and behaviour are so far removed from those at the core of Librarianship: fairness, access, transparency, generally being nice and helpful, etc. etc.

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May at a whistle stop.

May and her Green Party have pluck, you have to give them that.  As a new party, there are a lot of issues about which they need to get the word out. Still, their platform has a few planks that relate to libraries and library related things:

*Ensure that copyright policy allows students to properly conduct and create research in a manner that is consistent with a thriving information commons, fair dealing principles, and moral rights.
* Ensure network neutrality by supporting the principles of fair use, consumer information privacy, communications market competition, and rationalization of the statutory damages provision.
* Recognize that access to high-speed internet connections is now a critical aspect of infrastructure and work to expand access to address the digital divide.[source: CLA platform analysis]

The Green Party is also a vocal supporter of Vote for the Internet and Open Media, an organization that strives to “make media and telecommunications more transparent, with broader and more representative public participation. Our job is to shine a spotlight on key media policy developments, and provide essential tools and information for citizen engagement.”[source]

May’s comment on the subject: “The internet is critical for modern day citizen engagement and an integral part of our economic competitiveness. The Greens pledge to adhere to OpenMedia’s Stop the Meter campaign on Internet access. We are committed to enhancing broadband access, competition, transparency and choice.”[source]

In this area, I think the Greens, bless their hearts, have more optimism than specifics. This comes with being a new voice on the national stage. But, they are a rising alternative.

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Dapper Jack Wants to Broaden the Bands

A week ago or so,  the Canadian Library Association put out a press release detailing the Liberal party’s platform as it relates to Libraryland in Canada.

In the interest of equal time, I have for you what the NDP has to say about the key issues affecting libraries this election.  (I’ll be posting the Greens and the CPC later this week – if I can find an English translation of the BQ platform, I’ll post it too).

5.14 Ensuring all Canadians Have Access to Broadband and a Robust Digital Economy

* We will apply the proceeds from the advanced wireless spectrum auction to ensure all Canadians, no matter where they live, will have quality high-speed broadband internet access;
* We will expect the major internet carriers to contribute financially to this goal;
* We will rescind the 2006 Conservative industry-oriented directive to the CRTC and direct the regulator to stand up for the public interest, not just the major telecommunications companies;
* We will enshrine “net neutrality” in law, end price gouging and “net throttling,” with clear rules for Internet Service Providers (ISPs), enforced by the CRTC;
* We will prohibit all forms of usage-based billing (UBB) by Internet Service Providers (ISPs);
* We will introduce a bill on copyright reform to ensure that Canada complies with its international treaty obligations, while balancing consumers’ and creators’ rights.[source]

Not bad, though a little vague on copyright.

Aside from the overall “hard on corporations” tone the NDP likes, I don’t see how this platform is substantially different than the Liberals.

Maybe the tone is the difference. Some issues the Libs touch on in their platform, like Open Government, aren’t in the NDP’s because I’m pretty sure they are part of the general way the NDP would run the show if they won.

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(a little graphic I made)

With the “Leaders” debates over, all the parties are gearing up for the march to the finish line.

Over these last few weeks of campaigning, among the many issues at hand, it’s important to consider what this election means for libraries and librarians. Helpfully, the CLA has released a tool-kit for librarians that focuses on some of the key issues:

1. Copyright
CLA appreciates the government’s intent to provide copyright legislation which is both balanced and technologically neutral.

Over 21 million library users are seriously concerned about the shape Canadian copyright legislation continues to take.

Library users are the Canadian public: they are not members of a “special interest group” when it comes to copyright.

Copyright laws must reflect the public interest…

2. Library Book Rate
The Library Book Rate is a Canada Post service that provides a reduced rate for mailing library books between libraries and from libraries to their users.

Members of the library community were disappointed to see Private Member’s Bill C-509 get as far as it did in the legislative process, only to have to start over from scratch due to the 2011 federal election call…

3. Initiative for Equitable Library Access (IELA)
CLA’s landmark report (2005), Opening the Book: A Strategy for a National Network for Equitable Library Service for Canadians with Print Disabilities, outlined how the current inadequate and fragmented resources serving Canadians with print disabilities could be organized into an efficient and equitable nationwide library network.

Leadership is needed at the federal government level to coordinate the various elements of the network, known as the Initiative for Equitable Library Access (IELA)…

4. Digital Economy
Canada’s libraries can and should play an important role in the development of a national digital economy…

Also, I’d add as a government librarian that issues of transparency, accountability, and open access to information are hugely important to the sustainability of a democratic government.

Funding information management projects that modernize information sharing and access are essential to keeping up with the speed of government and the needs of Canadians.

Issues of openness and fairness in government is a theme latched onto by all the opposition parties. Yet, only the Liberals’ platform seems to have identified some of the other issues, particularly the digital divide.Correction – Apr 19: The CLA has chosen to put out a release specifically on the Liberal’s platform as it relates to libraries and the digital divide. I will be posting more the other platforms this week. Update – Apr 19: CLA’s rundown on each platform is here.

But, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be on the case of all the parties. Email. Call. Write. Show-up. Ask questions of you local candidates. Demand answers. Most importantly, vote. Remember, the sidelines are for suckers.

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Apathy is Boring