2008: Volume 1, Issue 1 (Inaugural Issue), pp. 107-121

Public Interest Activism in Canadian ICT Policy: Blowin’ in the Policy Winds

Leslie Regan Shade



In this paper the catalyzing influence of Bill C-61—a proposed amendment to the Canadian Copyright Act—and other recent ICT-related policy developments on activism in Canada is examined. The discussion expounds upon the role of academics and activists in fostering a broader public discourse about ICT policy, with attention being given to three key moments in Canadian communication policy: the development of the “information highway” in the mid-1990s and, in particular, the activities of the Information Highway Advisory Council (IHAC); the creation of the Telecommunications Policy Review Panel (TPRP) in 2005; and the current debates regarding the issue of net neutrality. The analysis demonstrates how “esoteric” digital policy issues are now seen by many Canadians as worthy of their energies. This suggests that politicians cannot afford to ignore their constituents’ concerns about such policy issues as traffic shaping, throttling, fair dealings, and anti-circumvention measures. And, likewise, that academics working in the realm of communication policy domain would do well not to overlook the role of citizens, grassroots groups and non-profit organizations in actively seeking a voice in the various structures of policymaking.



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