Sign The Petition
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on May 11, 2010
It is really easy to get disheartened when the politicians who are supposed to represent us behave in an undemocratically and ignore the wishes of the Canadian public by making laws and policies Canadians clearly don’t want. This is one reason for the widespread Canadian electoral malaise; too many Canadians have given up, and stopped even voting because it seems that the politicians ignore us anyway. This happens over and over again.
But we can’t afford to give this one up. The Internet has become far too important to Canada and the Canadian economy.
In the case of usage based billing, more than 4.000 Canadians told the CRTC emphatically that it would be bad but the CRTC went ahead and gave Bell Canada provisional approval anyway. In the case of the copyright consultation more than 8,000 Canadians made submissions against DMCA type copyright reform and it sounds as though DMCA copyright reform is exactly what our Minister of Heritage James Moore plans to introduce in June. Ironically this type of copyright “reform” would be the worst thing possible for Canadian heritage because it will suppress creation of new cultural expression.
When the Dissolve the CRTC petition and website was begun, the idea was to get 10,000 signatures and then present the petition to the Canadian Parliament. The ten thousand signatures were reached at around the same time the petition was to be presented Prime Minster Harper prematurely prorogued Canadian Parliament to avoid answering questions about Canadian complicity in war crimes/torture. As near as I can tell, the petition was never presented, or if it was I didn’t hear about it.
Now Parliament is back, and the CRTC has approved UBB. The Dissolve the CRTC petition could still be presented to the Canadian Parliament.
But whether it is or not doesn’t matter to me.
When Dissolve the CRTC was first put online, I thought it was a good publicity tool. Since most of the mainstream news media is not covering UBB it could have been something that would make them acknowledge the existence of the issue.
When Bell Canada first floated the idea of Usage Based Billing, the only people in the world who knew about it were people involved in the industry because then, as now, the mainstream news media wasn’t covering it. Even so, in a near vacuum with no publicity, 4,000 Canadians made official complaints to the CRTC. The CRTC barely acknowledged that input, then dismissed it out of hand and granted provisional approval.
When the Dissolve the CRTC website went online with it’s online petition one thing I watched in the beginning was to see if more people signed it than had complained to the CRTC. I suspect many people who made those initial complaints to the CRTC got frustrated and gave up and didn’t even sign the petition– after all, they had evidence that their input would be ignored, so why should they waste their time? But once the petition had more signatures than the CRTC had complaint submissions, I’ve followed the numbers carefully. I consider the signatures om this petition to be a good indication of how many people outside the tech community are learning about Usage Based Billing.
Because that’s important. The more ordinary people — people outside the tech community — know about Usage Based Billing and understand it enough to be angry about it, there is less chance of the this passing unnoticed outside of the “computer people special interest group”.
Canada is supposed to be a democracy. Currently Canadians are blessed with the latest in a series of minority governments. The only reason I think no one has called an election is that the polls say that an election will probably lead to another minority government. In the absence of electoral reform, minority government is the next best thing to electoral reform for citizens because it means that the government has to at least give the appearance of listening to the electorate.
So I don’t think it matters if the Dissolve the CRTC petition is presented to the Canadian Parliament just so long as the numbers keep going up. Because every new signature belongs to someone who feels strongly enough about the issue to go sign it. It gives Canadians who are angry and frustrated with the CRTC and UBB a simple and constructive way to show our displeasure.
The petition isn’t just for computer savvy folks, its for all Canadians. Because UBB will damage Canadian participation in a global digital economy.
So long as the Dissolve the CRTC site is there and the petition is accepting signatures, it is a valuable advocacy tool.
Every signature counts.
Particularly since I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one with my eye on the numbers.