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Published: November 27th, 2008

Last week, Chrysler Canada asked both the Ontario and federal governments for $1 billion in aid.

Thoughhe did not mention Chrysler specifically, Liberal leader Stepane Dion Tuesday called on the federal government to help, citing a report predicting Canada will lose 15,000 automotive jobs next year.

If the government does provide billions in temporary relief to auto makers, will there be any money left for broadband?

Duringhis reply to the Speech from the Throne, Prime Minister Stephen Harpercited the Building Canada program, which includes road, bridges, ports,airports and water treatment plants.

Meanwhile, theprovince of Saskatchewan plans to spend $90 million to bump up thespeed of rural broadband users from 1.5 to 5 Mbps.

It’s pretty difficult for people to live, work and play without roads, bridges and cars.

Butas Seaboard analyst Iain Grant told Network World Canada, “When we’relooking at infrastructure spend, there’s more to life than concrete.”

Hesaid: “More abstract investments such as in a national broadbandinitiative speaks to education, it speaks to training, it speaks torecreation and culture, it speaks to empowerment. And those, too, areworthy investments.”

Contrast his comments to a Canadian AutoWorkers press release. The union’s leader, Ken Lewenza stated: “TheCanadian government has provided $100 billion in support for banks, butit also needs to support the real economy.”

So, let me get thisstraight. If you make cars, that’s a real company doing real things. Ifyou’re helping enable commerce and communications, that’s not part ofthe “real economy.” Apparently, it’s part of the fake economy.

Whethera $1 billion investment in Chrysler will actually prevent the companyfrom going under eventually is anyone’s guess. If politicians answerthe call to shovel billions of dollars into auto makers andconstruction firms, this would benefit the economy as a whole bykeeping some workers off pogey for a while. But it would leave little(if any) money left for advanced communications infrastructure, whichwe need to make Canada truly competitive.



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