Executive Director and general counsel, CIPPIC

A well-known public advocacy group has faulted Canada’s major political parties for disregarding key Internet issues in their election campaigns.

Matters of concern involving the Internet and individual privacy, free speech, and consumer rights have been largely ignored by all four main campaigns in the upcoming federal election, charged the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC). We received some clear and thoughtful responses from smaller parties, but very little from the major parties.Phillipa Lawson>Text

CIPPIC suggested that this indifference is completely unacceptable given that these issues will undoubtedly be on the legislative agenda in 2006.

Ottawa-based CIPPIC’s mandate is to ensure balance in policy and law-making processes on issues that arise as a result of new technologies.

“We are disappointed”, said Philippa Lawson, executive director and general counsel of CIPPIC at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law. “While we know this election was prompted by the sponsorship scandal, and that Canadians are concerned first and foremost with issues such as health care and employment, we expected that all major parties would at least answer our questions. The issues we raised are all ones that Parliament will be addressing this year or next.”

Last December, CIPPIC asked all registered parties for their positions on a number of issues including proposed reforms to copyright, privacy and telecommunications laws, as well as the need for legislated consumer protections against spam, spyware, and other harmful technologies.

“We received some clear and thoughtful responses from smaller parties, but very little from the major parties”, said Lawson. “Neither the Conservatives nor the Bloc bothered to respond, while the Liberals provided only vague responses, and the NDP didn’t answer the questions we posed. Of the parties that stand a chance of electing MPs, the Greens were the only ones to set out clear positions on most of these important issues.”

CIPPIC’s questions, along with responses received, can be viewed here.

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