5 Things You Probably Won’t See in the Next Canadian Government

With the Canadian election going to hit next Monday, we look at 5 things unlikely to become reality after.

It’s been a rather sleepy election. While the media tried to play up the overall popular vote, the seat projection (where the election counts more) has continually shown the Liberals ahead throughout. Remember, whichever party obtains the most seats gets to form government. From the beginning, we’ve been speculating that we are heading to another Liberal minority government. Unless something happens at the very last minute to change the elections trajectory (unlikely), we’ll be going into another Liberal minority government. Knowing the likely outcome does make things much more boring during an election.

Still, we did offer our analysis on the platforms. We also offered our analysis of the English and French leaders debates as well. At this point, we can safely conclude that our analysis of digital rights in this election is easily the best and most comprehensive you can ask for. No one else even came close to it.

So, with all of these promises flying around, we wanted to go over a list of 5 things you probably won’t see come to fruition. Here are our picks:

1. An Increase in Competition in the Wireless and Internet Carrier Industry

This cropped up in a couple of platforms. Indeed, this is probably the best chance of lowering cell phone and Internet bills: introducing real competition into the markets. Unfortunately, there are few ideas for solutions. Some think another wireless spectrum auction will do the trick – which was an utter failure during the Harper Conservative government. Some think that courting international competitors will help out with this. Unfortunately, extreme amounts of lobbying blocked Wind Mobile from ever getting a foothold in the country and the Canadian operations were ultimately sold off to the current oligopoly.

Of course, worth noting is a lack of any real comments surrounding the Rogers Shaw deal being proposed before the election hit. Not only would the deal thwart efforts to increase competition, but would ultimately decrease competition by one major player in the process. With so little attention focused on that during the election (which would be an easy way to showcase that your party is serious about this issue), chances are, this idea of increasing competition will not really see the light of day after the next government is formed. At best, there might be a half-hearted effort to pretend that the issue is getting dealt with before that effort ends in complete failure like the previous attempts.

2. Lowering the Bills for Cell Phones and Internet

This has been more widely promised. In the platforms, the NDP wanted to put a price cap in place. Conservatives think they can solve this with increased competition (which, as we covered, is not going to happen). In fact, it’s the one digital rights issue that was actually touched on during the debates. So, on the surface, you might think that this is going to be something that would actually get attention.

The problem is that this was widely promised during the last election. As you can tell, nothing ever became of these promises. For this election, an easy place to start is to challenge the CRTC decision to send cell phone and Internet bills further into the stratosphere. Unfortunately, this didn’t even get much, if any, attention at all. When you don’t address the biggest threat to this effort, it’s hard to treat these promises seriously. Chances are, this effort will quickly get shelved and rolled out in the next election to snag a few votes.

3. Real Privacy Reform

Generally speaking, privacy reform, when asked, will probably get universal acceptance among the parties. No one is going to object to these calls. So, you’d think it would be a no-brainer to put this call into actual action. During the last election, this idea got universal support. A lot of people thought that this badly needed reform will finally come to fruition. Things did look promising in 2020 when Bill C-11 was introduced. While there were plenty of delays, the wide expectations were that the ball was finally rolling on this.

The problem is that big business isn’t exactly a fan of accountability. So, they do what they do best: lobbied the government. It’s easy to see that this is probably what caused the initial delays in the first place. What’s more is that it’s also likely why privacy reform was ultimately shelved shortly after it was tabled. Of course, people noticed that the bill hasn’t been moved forward. In fact, Liberals didn’t even bother putting it into committee. When questions arose from this, the Liberals simply trotted out the blame Conservatives line. With corporations pushing to make Canada a no-accountability country, chances are, this idea will get shelved as well. Whether a bill gets introduced or not is up in the air. Still, it’s unlikely we’ll see real reform become the law of the land yet again.

Best case scenario for this is that privacy reform will be passed that falls far short of what is needed in Canada.

4. Increased Broadband Access to Rural and Indigenous Communities

This has been widely promised both during this campaign and last. It’s generally well received among the parties. In fact, during our roundup, the only party not promising anything like this is the far right PPC party.

Chances are, we won’t really see any movement, or much movement, on this file as well. The problem is that there are already a number of other problems facing some of these communities. A much bigger problem is providing clean drinking water to these communities. Justin Trudeau vowed that he would end all boil water advisories and allow these communities to get clean drinking water (which the United Nations considers a human right). In fact, the promise was that they would all end by 2021. That promise didn’t come to fruition, though progress has been made on this front.

As much as we think it’s important that communities get access to broadband, it’s hard to say that this is more important than something as basic and necessary as sanitation and clean drinking water. So, for that reason, chances are, the next government will simply focus on that instead. As a result, this idea will probably get shelved throughout the next government as well.

5. A Digital Charter

You might look at this with a puzzled look. This wasn’t really mentioned much during the election – or even mentioned much during the last government for that matter. The, at this stage, mythical Digital Charter was a proposal pushed by the Liberal government. The idea is to wrap several digital rights into one nice package and push it through government. It was part of the early days of the last government when they were still riding high on their “sunny ways” mantra.

The problem is that this was ultimately shelved when the Liberals ejected its digital agenda. This was replaced by the Liberals growing war on the Internet filled with link taxes, speech regulation, and even an online harms proposal that would kill online innovation. This three pronged war on the Internet turned the seemingly good intentions of a digital charter into a fig leaf to pretend that they care about people.

The Liberals did mention this charter in their platform, but also vowed to execute their war on the Internet within 100 days of assuming office (yes, all three prongs if you read both parts of our analysis). It’s unlikely we’ll see anything other than an eventual shelving of this sometime after the election is over and when the Liberals think that Canadian’s are no longer paying attention.

So, that is our picks for digital rights promises that probably won’t be fulfilled in the next government. It’s depressing, but that’s what we can see at this stage.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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