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for Canada's digital future

Report Card

Report Card

For the 2015 Federal Election, we assessed the main parties on the digital policy issues Canadians told us matter most. The grades below are a crowdsourced assessment by your OpenMedia team based on these criteria.

Although we don't endorse any party, we work on these issues every day and want to make sure you know where they stand on the open Internet. You can see how they did below.

Parties' overall grades:

CON
D
NDP
A-
LIB
C
GRN
A

Privacy

Every Canadian deserves to use the Internet without fear of being spied on by their own government.

Access

Every Canadian deserves affordable access to world-class, high-speed Internet.

Free Expression

Every Canadian deserves to be able to share, collaborate, and express themselves freely online.

Conservative Party of Canada

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Overall Grade D
PRIVACY
F
GET A WARRANT
The Conservatives have used their majority to greatly expand the capacity for government agencies to access law-abiding Canadians’ personal information, without a warrant. They have also continued to develop opaque information sharing relationships with international partners. From Bill C-30, to C-13, and finally Bill C-51, significant Conservative-introduced legislation directly undermines Canadians’ privacy and shows a blatant disregard for citizens’ rights.
F
END MASS SURVEILLANCE
Not only have the Conservatives failed to end mass surveillance, but through new legislation in Bills C-13, S-4, and C-51, they have continued to expand the government’s surveillance of innocent Canadian citizens. Their spy agency CSE has been the subject of a long series of scandals, exposing widespread mass surveillance of Canadians, including spying on airport travelers, and monitoring of Internet downloads.
F
EMBRACE ACCOUNTABILITY
The Conservatives’ Bill C-51 dramatically expands information sharing between 17 government agencies, without any independent oversight or accountability. The Conservatives also abolished a crucial CSIS oversight body and have resisted all calls for greater accountability of Canada’s spy agencies and their relationship with the U.S. NSA.
F
ACCESS
C+
BOOST CHOICE
The Conservative government, largely under the leadership of Industry Minister James Moore, took significant steps to implement our crowdsourced plan and ensure greater choice and affordability in Canada’s mobile phone market. Unfortunately, bold action is still required to improve wireless choice, as prices remain some of the highest in the industrialized world.
B
EXPAND ACCESS
While the Conservatives’ have released their Digital Canada 150 strategy and promised $200 million in rural broadband spending, this is widely recognized as insufficient to address Canada’s digital divide and growing digital deficit. The government’s weak speed and availability targets will leave Canada falling far behind our international counterparts.
D
PROMOTE INNOVATION
The Conservatives gave the CRTC new powers to fine telecom providers that violate the law, and they have spoken out against new taxes on digital providers like Netflix. Unfortunately, the government have been silent on issues related to Net Neutrality, despite companies like Bell and Videotron continuing to abuse loopholes in existing rules in order to tilt the net in their favour.
B
FREE EXPRESSION
D
RESPECT CREATORS
The Conservatives 2012 copyright notice reforms are broadly positive for artists and creators. However, the party chose to use their parliamentary majority to extend the copyright term for related sound recordings an additional 20 years, with no public consultation, hidden away in a federal budget. Experts say this move will harm artists and creators who will not see extra revenue from this change. The Conservatives are also enthusiastic supporters of the TPP, which threatens the ability of Canadian artists and innovators to create new works/products/services.
C
PRIORITIZE FREE EXPRESSION
The Conservatives are strong supporters of the TPP, which experts say threatens to overturn much of their previous work on Canada's ‘notice-and-notice’ copyright provisions and working to achieve the right balance between compensating artists and creators for their works, and ensuring Canadians have access to a rich public domain. However the implementation of the notice-and-notice system was deeply flawed, and has seen Canadians abused by copyright trolls. The government has also, through the Copyright Act, passed some of the most severe and restrictive rules on digital locks in the world. The Conservatives also pushed Bill C-51, which has far-reaching negative effects on free expression rights.
D
EMBRACE DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES
The Conservatives support the TPP, which overwrites Canadian copyright laws through an opaque and obscure process with no sincere attempt to engage Canadians. The government’s chief negotiator refused to uphold Canadian copyright law in the process. They have also repeatedly refused to answer questions about the TPP, and have kept Canadians in the dark about an agreement that would change the way Canadians use the Internet. They also recently extended copyright terms through a federal budget process with no public consultation.
F

New Democratic Party

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Overall Grade A-
PRIVACY
A
GET A WARRANT
The NDP voted against Bill C-51, and has consistently promised that it would repeal the legislation if elected. The Party has also stated that it does not support warrantless access to personal data, and that it would update Canada’s Privacy Act. They have also spoken out about the CSE’s spying on Canadians.
A
END MASS SURVEILLANCE
The NDP has clearly stated its opposition to mass surveillance, and to the warrantless collection of Canadians’ private information, including metadata. The NDP have also taken a strong stand against Bill C-51, which empowers the government to create a centralized database on law-abiding Canadians.
A
EMBRACE ACCOUNTABILITY
The NDP is committed to increasing accountability and oversight for surveillance in Canada, including much-needed stronger enforcement powers for the Privacy Commissioner. They have also called for stronger Parliamentary oversight mechanisms of the CSE and of CSIS, including the reinstatement of the CSIS Inspector General.
A
ACCESS
B+
BOOST CHOICE
In the mobile phone and Internet market, the NDP have supported many of the policies that have led to improved choice and access to a fourth national player. However, they recognize the limitations of current policies put forth and have called for additional support for new providers in Canada.
B
EXPAND ACCESS
The NDP have stated during the election that all Canadians should have affordable access to the Internet, and they have promised they will take action on the digital divide. Late in 2014, the NDP’s Northern Ontario Caucus also spoke out for faster, cheaper Internet in rural and remote locations.
A
PROMOTE INNOVATION
The NDP have supported Net Neutrality, and opposed the “Netflix Tax”. They also pledge to ensure democratic reform across all our institutions, which we hope will lead to greater citizen involvement in the governance of the CRTC.
B
FREE EXPRESSION
A-
RESPECT CREATORS
The NDP has been critical of the government’s decision to continue negotiating the TPP’s Internet censorship plan in complete secrecy. They have worked to open the process so that Canadians can make an informed choice about the deal. They also support the independent public media, committing to restoring funding cuts under the current government, and making sure public media remains independent of undue government influence.
A
PRIORITIZE FREE EXPRESSION
The NDP voted against Bill C-51 and its negative impact on free expression for millions of Canadians. They have vowed to repeal C-51 if they form the next government. The NDP have also criticized how the TPP would damage our right to access the open Internet. The NDP have also ruled out supporting the TPP if it includes Internet censorship policies. The party also spoke up for user rights against the government’s proposals on digital locks during the Copyright Modernization Act debate. On the downside, the NDP have yet to make a concrete commitment on the issue of copyright extension.
B
EMBRACE DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES
They NDP have been outspoken critics of the closed and undemocratic nature of the TPP talks process. They have assured Canadians that, if elected, no deal would be signed until the government had a chance to fully review the contents of the TPP. They have also spoken out against the way Canadians’ concerns about digital locks were ignored by the government.
A

Liberal Party of Canada

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Overall Grade C
PRIVACY
C+
GET A WARRANT
As with their Conservative counterparts, the Liberal Party voted in support of privacy-undermining Bills C-51 and C-13, which have greatly expanded government’s ability to collect information on Canadians without a warrant. Although they have promised modest reforms to C-51, and to require CSE to obtain a warrant to spy on Canadians, these steps are largely insufficient to address our serious privacy concerns with both Bill C-51 and Bill C-13.
C
END MASS SURVEILLANCE
The Liberals have promised that they would introduce greater oversight for CSE’s metadata collection. They have also promised to require CSE to obtain a warrant before spying on Canadians, and not to increase CSE’s powers any further. On the downside, the Liberals have not committed to ending CSE’s mass surveillance activities or even to reducing the amount of data collected by CSE in the course of its mass surveillance operations.
C
EMBRACE ACCOUNTABILITY
Despite their vote in favour of Bill C-51, the Liberals have spoken out about the lack of oversight or accountability mechanisms in the legislation. They have also promised to increase oversight mechanisms for surveillance agencies, including by establishing an all-party national security oversight committee. Last year the Liberals’ Joyce Murray also introduced a bill that, had it passed, would have significantly improved Canadians’ oversight of spy agencies.
B
ACCESS
C
BOOST CHOICE
While the Liberals supported greater choice in Canada’s mobile market, worrying comments from senior party members suggest that the Liberals may crush Canadian startups and innovation providing entrenched telecom incumbents with great access to foreign capital. Their platform failed to outline any measures to improve wireless choice.
C
EXPAND ACCESS
While Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has made promises to increase Internet access on the campaign trail, we have seen little in the way of concrete commitments. Mr. Trudeau has also stated that rural speed targets should be much higher. Sadly, their platform failed to outline any measures aimed at ensuring all Canadians have affordable Internet access.
C
PROMOTE INNOVATION
Mr. Trudeau has expressed opposition to the so-called “Netflix Tax” and has also spoken out in favour of the concept of Net Neutrality, without making concrete commitments. Unfortunately, his party has been largely silent on other important issues, such as CRTC governance and policy direction. The Liberals’ recently-released platform fails to even mention net neutrality.
C
FREE EXPRESSION
C
RESPECT CREATORS
Unfortunately, the Liberals support the broad goal of completing the TPP, without any criticism of its negative impact on artists, creators, and online innovators. The Liberals have raised concerns about restrictive digital locks regarding the Copyright Modernization Act. The Liberals have spoken out strongly in favour of investments in public media.
C
PRIORITIZE FREE EXPRESSION
The Liberals voted for Bill C-51, which would severely undermine our right to free expression online. To date, they have announced no other policies to address the right of Canadians to access knowledge and culture online in a way that respects free expression, nor do they have a record of opposing policies put in place that have damaged this right, such as the government’s recent 20-year extension on copyright terms. On the plus side, the Liberals spoke out against the government’s new rules on digital locks. They also support an ‘open-data policy’ that would allow anyone to freely access government data and research, including creators who want access to remix into new works.
C
EMBRACE DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES
The Liberal Party of Canada supports the TPP in principle. However they have spoken out about the excessive secrecy in the negotiations. They also have announced no policy on copyright terms and have made no commitment to consult with Canadians in order to ensure copyright and other digital policies are made with the input of citizens.
C

Green Party of Canada

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Overall Grade A
PRIVACY
A
GET A WARRANT
The first to stand up against Bill C-51, the Green Party has strongly opposed the bill from the start, and supports repealing it in its entirely. The party also endorses our full action plan, and has committed to standing up to warrantless surveillance.
A
END MASS SURVEILLANCE
In addition to opposing Bill C-51, the Green party has endorsed our action plan, and is committed to ending mass surveillance of law-abiding Canadians.
A
EMBRACE ACCOUNTABILITY
The Green party have endorsed our action plan, and is committed to increasing accountability and oversight for Canada’s surveillance agencies..
A
ACCESS
A
BOOST CHOICE
The Green Party have endorsed our action plan and are committed to creating greater choice and affordability in Canada’s mobile phone market. The Greens have also spoken up in support of Canadian innovators and businesses calling for greater wireless choice.
A
EXPAND ACCESS
The Green Party have endorsed our action plan and are committed to ensuring all Canadians have access to affordable, world-class Internet.
A
PROMOTE INNOVATION
Not only has the Green Party endorsed our crowdsourced action plan, their election platform is full of policies that embrace Net Neutrality and call for significant democratic renewal in how CRTC Commissioners are appointed.
A
FREE EXPRESSION
A
RESPECT CREATORS
Not only has the Green Party endorsed our crowdsourced action plan, they also support investments in public media. The Green Party has also been outspoken against the TPP’s impact on public media and other issues.
A
PRIORITIZE FREE EXPRESSION
Not only have the Greens endorsed our crowdsourced action plan, they have also been outspoken critics of how the TPP would damage our right to access the open Internet. The Green Party also voted against Bill C-51 and its negative impact on free expression for millions of Canadians. They have vowed to repeal C-51 if they form the next government. Finally, the Greens played a positive role in the Copyright Modernization Act debate, proposing multiple amendments, including on the issue of digital locks and better rules on Fair Dealing.
A
EMBRACE DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES
Not only have the Green Party endorsed our crowdsourced action plan, they have also consistently opposed the undemocratic and secretive manner in which TPP negotiations are taking place. We look forward to hearing more details from the Greens on how they plan to consult with Canadians in order to ensure copyright and other digital policies are made with the input of citizens.
A
SMALLER PARTIES:
We were impressed by the contribution of many of Canada's smaller parties to the debate about our digital future, including: