Say something, anything

Either they don’t know, or they don’t care. Whatever the case, it’s discouraging.

I’m referring to two of our major national political parties, and The Royal Bank. Both have demonstrated a serious lack of communication skills in recent weeks.

First, the government. We tried contacting all three major national parties to get a pre-election sense of what their plans are for the IT industry. It’s not the most important issue facing Canadians, granted. But an industry responsible for at least seven, and as much as 10 per cent, of our GDP and that employs hundreds of thousands of direct and indirect workers — including everyone reading this — is no small potatoes, either.

Then again, maybe it is. The results of our efforts surprised even our jaded staff. To its credit, the Conservative Party eventually responded. But the effort was mostly notable for numerous unreturned phone calls.

So, I’ve taken the liberty of listing here a few of the issues on which the Liberals and NDP won’t talk about, and which I could not find on their online platform documents:

Offshoring versus “nearshoring.” Depending on where our dollar goes, Canada can either be a net gainer of IT jobs in an outsourcing age, or big loser to low cost centres overseas.

Government On-Line — Canada has an impressive record when it comes to serving its citizens via the Internet, but many questions linger around the Secure Channel infrastructure (built, but not used, as one expert noted) and the fact that Auditor General Sheila Fraser warned that some GOL-related projects are stalled, or face inadequate funding.

Then there’s the IT investments that need to be poured into our airports and borders to increase security, and hospitals to improve health care, and the national efforts to combat spam, tentatively launched last month, and the new privacy legislation.

One item did manage to push the heated election campaign from our front burner, however — Royal Bank’s “glitch,” as it is now known. Glitch is a vague term that implies such problems are the result of fate.

But glitches are born of human miscalculations, as you well know. And as of this writing, almost two full weeks after the problem first appeared, the bank has only just confirmed that the account confusion was a result of a software upgrade gone wrong. Until now, RBC has spent most of its efforts dodging detailed questions and reassuring customers that everything is fine, even when it wasn’t.

With that kind of communication skill, RBC officials are almost fit to run for national public office.

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