Election Platforms – Open Data – Open Government

Below you will find excerpts from the platforms of: 1) Liberals, 2) Greens 2) Bloc, and 4) NDP .  They are in order from best to very minimalist.  The Liberal platform is the most developed, the Greens include the key Open Data principles and many elements of open government throughout their vision document, the Bloc includes Access to information and copyright, the NDP only talks about copyright.  I did not include the Conservatives, since they said they would do all these things, with transparency being one of their most important platforms in past elections, and, well we all know what happened, opaqueness, cancellation of the census, decimation of science institutions, attacks on the CRTC, copyright nefariousness, and etc.

The Liberals and the Greens mention open data.  As for open government, the Liberals are the only party to include this in their platform and they hit all the right items: formats, no costs, access, census online, transparency, accountability and actions.  The Greens mention open government data, but not the organizational, culture and policy aspects of open government. The Greens do however include the principles of open data whereas the Liberals do not go into much detail.  In French, the concept of open government is called Gouvernement transparent, the Bloc discusses transparency quite a bit but not framed as open government.  Both the Liberals, Bloc and Greens address Access to Information, the Bloc is explicit about legal reform, Greens want more transparency and the Liberals offer actions.  The Liberals, Bloc and NDP address Copyright reform and the Greens mention copyright in the context of students and the ability to do research.  If you want more detailed analysis on that file I recommend Digital Copyright Canada as a resource. Only the Greens mention open data Licences and only the Greens discuss open sourceArchiving is also not included nor is there mention of the abolition of cost recovery although the Liberals discuss access to free data online.  I already created two earlier posts on the Census (Eng. and Fr.). There is much talk about science in all the platforms, and I want to go back and take a look at those areas as often data issues can be found there.  The NDP have missed the boat on all fronts on open data and open government.

1. The Liberal Platform:

Open Government.

Canada’s federal government must embrace information technology and open data in order to improve services to Canadians and make government more transparent and accountable for public spending. Putting Statistics Canada and other government data online wherever possible, after meeting all privacy and other legal requirements, will strengthen Canadian democracy, help create and disseminate knowledge and spur innovation.

A key element of the Liberal plan for democratic renewal is Open Government. Liberals will adopt a new approach to information, issuing government-wide direction that the default position for all departments and agencies will be to release information to the public, both proactively and responsively, after privacy and other legal requirements are met. This initiative will see as many government datasets as possible available to the public online, free of charge in an open and searchable format.

Furthermore, all Access to Information requests and responses will be posted online. This new presumption of openness will also drive a new level of accountability for public finances. We will establish a searchable, online database for grants, contributions and contracts.
All levels of government, civil society, researchers, business and the public must have access to independent and reliable statistics and demographic information to make informed decisions and develop sound public policy to benefit all Canadians. Therefore, a Liberal government will restore the mandatory long form census.

Fair balance Between Creators and Consumers. Digital technology offers many new opportunities, but enjoying content without compensating its creators shouldn’t be among them. At the same time, consumers should have freedom for personal use of digital content they rightfully possess. Liberals have worked to pass effective copyright legislation, including a private copying compensation fund instead of any new tax on consumers.

2. The Green Platform

6.7 Open Government Data

For all public data where there are no privacy, security or other legal concerns preventing the data from being shared, data will be reviewed by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada via Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document Act (PIPEDA) and made publicly available under the following conditions:

  • With the highest level of granularity and detail possible which still maintains the privacy of individual citizens.
  • In a timely fashion so that the value of the data is preserved.
  • Accessible to the widest range of users for the widest range of purposes in a nonproprietary format.
  • Machine processable and structured to allow automated processing, without having to mechanically harvest the data before using it.
  • Non-discriminatory and available to everyone without having to register or self-identify
    as being interested in the data.
  • With a license that does not encumber the user, and ideally without a license at all.

1.9 Open source computer software

As computer hardware improves, it is important that software programs are readily modifiable by the people who buy and use them. Developing alongside the proprietary software sector is Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS). This software is generally available at little or no cost, making it very popular in the developing world. It can be used, copied, studied, modified and redistributed with little or no restriction. Businesses can adapt the software to their specific needs.

Under the free software business model, vendors may charge a fee for distribution and offer paid support and customization services. Free software gives users the ability to work together enhancing and refining the programs they use. It is a pure public good rather than a private good.

The Green Party supports the goals and ideals of Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) and believes that Canada’s competitiveness in global information technology (IT) will be greatly enhanced by strongly supporting FLOSS. Green Party MPs will:

  • Ensure that all new software developed for or by government is based on open standards and encourage and support a nationwide transition to FLOSS in all critical government IT systems. This will make Canada’s IT infrastructure more secure and robust, lower administration and licensing costs, and develop IT skills.
  • Support the transition to FLOSS throughout the post-secondary educational system.

6.2 Increasing government accountability and ethical conduct

  • Update the Access to Information Act to permit greater transparency of government activities.

2. Bloc Québécois

2.3.2 Le Bloc Québécois s’assurera que la nouvelle Loi sur le droit d’auteur soit équitable et ne désavantage ni les créateurs ni les consommateurs, notamment en modernisant le système de copie privée en appliquant aux lecteurs MP3 et autres baladeurs numériques des redevances raisonnables en redistribution aux artistes, en abolissant l’exemption du monde de l’éducation quant aux paiements des droits d’auteur, et en reconnaissant le droit de suite pour les artistes en arts visuels.

Loi sur l’accès à l’information La commissaire à l’information est formelle. Le gouvernement Harper ne démontre pas une culture de transparence et cette attitude est dictée par le premier ministre. En effet, son ministère, le Bureau du Conseil privé, passe en revue les demandes d’accès à l’information sensibles adressées au gouvernement, puis les retient et les retarde.

Un employé du ministère des Travaux publics a même ordonné à des fonctionnaires de retarder indûment la publication de documents compromettants pour le gouvernement. La situation est telle que la commissaire à l’information a entrepris une enquête formelle sur trois ministres, dont Christian Paradis, de laquelle pourraient découler des peines de prison.

1.4.2 Le Bloc Québécois présentera au Parlement un projet de loi pour réformer complètement la Loi sur l’accès à l’information.Ce projet de loi, rendu public en juin 2008, est inspiré du projet de loi préparé par l’ancien commissaire à l’information, John Reid, et favorise un meilleur accès à l’information.

4. The NDP

We will introduce a bill on copyright reform to ensure that Canada complies with its international treaty obligations, while balancing consumers’ and creators’ rights.

I did not include an analysis of broadband, Internet metering, wireless, etc.  as I just do not have the expertise to do so.  All platforms had positions here.  Open data and an open government require pipes to move all that data, and these should also be considered.  Many of the platforms also included items on media concentration, associated to the idea of open government but beyond the scope for this post.