What does a Liberal government mean for Canada’s technology policy?

*Editor’s note: Story originally published Oct. 19, and is updated as one of our most popular posts of 2015.

Canadians went to the polls on Oct. 19 and many of them voted for change in Canada’s 42nd General Election, with the Liberals being vaulted from third-place party straight into a majority government.

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau taking the helm, what does the change in leadership at the federal level mean for Canada’s technology policies that might affect your business? We’re taking a look at the platform it put forward during the campaign for an indication of what to expect. Plus, some analysis from Ian Lee, an assistant professor at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business.

“Trudeau will have a honeymoon due to the euphoria over defeating the Harper government,” he says. “Winning a majority will give him far more freedom to impose his will.”

Anti-Terrorism Act to be revisited

When it comes to Bill C-51, passed as the Anti-Terrorism Act, which contains new information-sharing provisions that will give government institutions increased legal access to Canadian’s personal data, the Liberals voted in support of the bill to pass it with the Conservatives earlier this year. That was after putting forward several amendments to the bill that were not passed.

On the campaign trail, the Liberals have suggested they’d repeal select portions of the bill, but keep much of it in place. Also, they want to establish a multi-party parliamentary committee that would provide oversight to the new surveillance powers given police and security agencies.

However, if the Liberals manage to win enough seats to govern with a majority (minimum 170), they may opt instead to remake the bill in their own vision, according to Lee.

“Trudeau promised so many times to repeal part of it that they might, with a majority government, repeal it and start over from scratch,” he says. “The bill was deeply unpopular with Liberal supporters.”

Commitment for transparency through technology

The Liberals make, in their policy platform, several allusions to providing better access to government data and government services via streamlined websites.

One promise features an effort to “accelerate and expand open data initiatives, and will make government data available digitally so that Canadians can easily access and use it.” Another is to amend the Access to Information Act so that all government data and information is made open in digital formats.

It’s likely the Liberals will pursue an online platform, Lee says, but the details of what it would look like aren’t clear at this point. “Moving forward will allow Trudeau to say he’s delivering on his promise to make government more open and accountable at a small financial cost.”

Beyond open data, the Liberals seem interested in allowing Canadians to access their own data online. It promises to make a web portal for accessing data the government holds about you, with a service guarantee of 30 days or less. The party also said it would create a single point-of-contact for all government services on the federal level, and look for opportunities to work with provinces as well.

Eye on IT skills shortage

The Liberals have made some promises in general around addressing youth employment, such as a $50 million increase in the Youth Employment Strategy’s funding per year. It will also allow employers to waive premiums when hiring a permanent employee between the ages of 18-24.

To address the IT skills shortage, there’s $40 million per year for employers willing to create co-op placements for students in science, engineering, math, and business programs.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jacksonhttp://www.itbusiness.ca/
Former editorial director of IT World Canada. Current research director at Info-Tech

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