Monthly Archives: November 2015

Information Policies Under the Harper Government Part 6: Spectrum Auctions and Giveaways to PKP

One Line Description: The Harper Government’s attempt to create a 4th national cellphone provider also includes giving away spectrum licenses for bargain basement prices to a company headed by the leader of the Parti Quebecois.

Short Description: In an effort to encourage more competition in the cellphone industry, the Harper Government designed a recent spectrum auction (AWS-3) to ensure that Bell, Rogers, and Telus would be prevented from getting access to spectrum. Unfortunately, it also resulted in Videotron, a subsidiary of Quebecor Inc., whose majority owner is Pierre Karl Peladeau, leader of the Parti Quebecois, getting spectrum to serve nearly 10 million Canadians for $31.8 million, just $1.4 million more than the minimum bid price.[1]

Details: Despite Industry Canada’s spectrum policy of relying on market forces to the maximum extent possible,[2] the 2015 AWS-3 spectrum auction was jerry rigged to ensure that Bell, Telus and Rogers would be prevented from acquiring large swaths of spectrum. While Bragg Communications (Eastlink) and Wind both benefited from this design, Videotron was another big winner. Videotron got 4 licenses (Eastern Quebec, Southern Quebec, Eastern Ontario and Outaouais, and Northern Ontario) for 30 MHz of spectrum in each of these regions.[3] While Videotron paid $31.8 million, the opening bid pricing for these four licenses totalled $30.4 billion, meaning the licenses were obtained at nearly the opening bid price. Most troublesome, Videotron is owned by Quebecor, whose primary owner is Pierre Karl Peladeau (better known as PKP) who also happens to lead the Parti Quebecois (PQ).[4] Strangely the drive to improve consumer choice also means handing over valuable spectrum to a company owned by a man who wants to break up the federation.

[1] Industry Canada. “AWS-3 Final Results.” http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf10954.html ; and Industry Canada. Technical, Policy and Licensing Framework for the Advanced Wireless Services in the Bands 1755-1780 MHz and 2155-2180 MHz (AWS-3). http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf10911.html

[2] Industry Canada. Spectrum Policy Framework for Canada. p. 9. https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/vwapj/spf2007e.pdf/$FILE/spf2007e.pdf

[3] Industry Canada. “AWS-3 Final Results.” http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf10954.html

[4] Industry Canada. “AWS-3 Final Results.” http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf10954.html ; and Industry Canada. Technical, Policy and Licensing Framework for the Advanced Wireless Services in the Bands 1755-1780 MHz and 2155-2180 MHz (AWS-3). http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf10911.html ; and CRTC “Quebecor Profile” http://www.crtc.gc.ca/ownership/eng/cht156.pdf

PLG Edmonton Annual General Meeting – December 15, 2015

Our Annual General Meeting will be held Tuesday December 15, 2015 at 7pm, on the second floor of the Strathcona Library. The main focus of the AGM is to elect officers for the coming year. Nominations are now open for the following positions:
Secretary   The duties of the Secretary are as follows: to prepare meeting agendas, to provide access to meeting minutes, to manage chapter records, and to act as the liaison with the main PLG.
Treasurer   The duties of the Treasurer are as follows: to manage the chapter’s bank account, to provide financial reports at each general meeting, to collect dues and arrange payment of national dues if necessary.
Communications Officer   The duties of the Communications position are as follows: to manage the chapter’s email and web presence, to manage the chapter’s listserv, and to act as the main contact for public inquiries.
Nominations will be open until the AGM, at which time we will hold the election. Current PLG members can nominate themselves or others for any of the positions. The current officers will also be presenting their annual reports. The AGM is a great opportunity for new members to get involved and get up to speed on what the group has done this past year!
We look forward to seeing you at the AGM!
If you have any comments, questions, or concerns about this email, please feel free to contact us at plg.edmonton@gmail.com

Free trade agreement poses threat to a free internet

“After years of secrecy, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement has finally been released to the public. The shadowy process and overreaching scope of the deal have sparked an international outcry; it’s been roundly condemned as an attack on worker’s rights, the environment, public health, small businesses and startups. But perhaps the biggest concern is over the impact that it will have on the internet….The final version of TPP confirms advocates’ worst fears. Thanks to, among other things, its dramatic expansion of copyright enforcement, the agreement poses a grave threat to our basic right to access information and express ourselves on the web, and could easily be abused to criminalize common online activities and enforce widespread internet censorship.”
The opinion piece “The clock is ticking on a time bomb that could blow up a free internet: the TPP” is available on The Guardian’s website:

Remembering Lives Lost and Uncounted

Remembrance Day is a time to reflect on the sacrifices made by serving members of the armed forces in duty to their Commonwealth countries. This includes dedicated careers, the deterioration of mental and emotional health, and loss of lives. While the stated reasons for these sacrifices have varied according to governing parties, November 11 is a time to recognize that individuals chose (and continue to choose) to make sacrifices for the sake of improving society as a whole. To this end, the League of Nations (LON) and United Nations (UN) were established to prevent the horrors and losses of the First and Second World Wars from happening again.

However, the LON and UN created more than an era of relative peace: they initiated a system of comparative international statistics. The 20th century marks our first opportunity to reliably compare indicators of health, finance, labour, education, and gender across nations. Over time, these statistics have shown us which programs alleviate poverty and which do not.

Naturally, this system is only as good as the statistical capacity of its member governments. For many years, Canada was considered a leader in this area, with our statisticians playing key roles in the development of programs that came to define organizations like the United Nations Development Programme. This standing and capacity has been all but destroyed over the past ten years under Harper’s Conservatives. For many, the death knell of Canada’s reputation for statistical capacity was marked by the cancellation of the long-form census in 2011.

Happily, the Liberals have announced the return of the long-form census. This is a common sense response to the deeply flawed and much more expensive National Household Survey that was introduced by the Conservatives.

We should be grateful for this reinstatement of sanity, but we should also remember what was lost. Thousands were uncounted in 2011, making it difficult and often impossible for organizations from all sectors to make informed decisions about their programs and services (this damage is well documented elsewhere: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/cities-footing-the-bill-for-data-gap-after-long-form-census-scrapped/article22695286/). Moving forward, these five years will remain a black hole for comparable statistics from and for Canada.

Perhaps more importantly, we should remember why the 2011 census was lost. The census was lost because Canadians elected a government that placed the needs of the individual, as well as an uninformed obsession with frugality, above the needs of society as a whole. It demonstrates a lack of respect for the social contract underlying governance in a liberal democracy. Serving members of the armed forces understand the need for individuals to make sacrifices for a greater good. Let’s make sure they have leaders that understand this too.

Never again.

For more commentary on the return of the long-form census in Canada, see:

Breaking news and analysis from the world of science policy
http://news.sciencemag.org/policy/2015/11/canada-expected-reinstate-mandatory-census

The Liberals Just Restored Canada’s Long-Form Census. Here’s Why That Matters
http://www.desmog.ca/2015/11/05/liberals-just-restored-canada-s-long-form-census-here-s-why-matters

 

Net neutrality: EU votes in favour of Internet fast lanes and slow lanes

The European parliament, voted in favour of a Internet “fast and slow lanes” in a highly flawed net neutrality text. While popular measures such as eliminating cellular roaming charges between EU countries is a positive change, the EU has voted against having a “level playing field” when it comes to Internet speeds and infrastructure – something that benefits telecom companies directly. 
On the few occasions that MEPs supporting the compromise text addressed the net neutrality rules directly, they simply parroted the claim by telecom companies that specialised services running over fast lanes were needed in order to encourage innovation in the EU. As those in favour of true net neutrality—including such luminaries as Sir Tim Berners-Lee—have emphasised, the opposite is true. For innovation to flourish as it has done so far, a level playing-field is needed. Allowing fast and slow lanes on the Internet plays into the hands of incumbents and companies with deep pockets.
For more information, see here.

Reminder: Proposals for PLG Edmonton Organize and Assemble Symposium Due November 11

ORGANIZE AND ASSEMBLE V: GENDER AND SEXUALITY IN THE INFORMATION PROFESSIONS

PLG Edmonton and PLG Calgary invite submissions for our fifth annual symposium, Organize and Assemble V, taking place on February 27, 2016. Practitioners, scholars, activists, students, and other members of the general public interested in library, archival, and allied information services are asked to speak on topics pertaining to this year’s theme: gender and sexuality and the information professions.

Gender and sexuality have dominated public discussion in both Canada and the US this past year, with devastating high profile rape and sexual harassment cases, heated battles over women’s reproductive health services and efforts to provide consent education and LGBT support groups in schools, the dubious rise of men’s rights activism, challenges to women’s safety online, and with transgender rights issues more visible than ever before – the list goes on. Looking within the information professions, it is clear that issues around providing gendered services and being gendered workers have also come to the fore. We see challenges to a public library boys-only robotics program, we hear public outcry against sexual harassment at professional conferences, and we find successful advocacy for gender neutral bathrooms at the 2015 ALA Annual conference.

PLG Edmonton and PLG Calgary are joining together for the first time to host a one-day refereed event in Edmonton that will focus on how issues of gender and sexuality are playing out across the information professions – in the services we provide, in our professional relationships and institutional structures.

In keeping with the theme, we request proposals for presentations on the following possible topics, which include but are not limited to:

  • Gendered labour (representation in unions/associations, negotiating shift work and parenting responsibilities, sexual harassment, representation in leadership, what are/should be the challenges and priorities of a feminist, pro-LGBTQ labour politics in the information professions?)
  • Sexual harassment in public service roles
  • Gender in the children’s library (gendered literacy : “getting boys to read,” programming for fathers)
  • Sex education in the library (programming, services, policies and/or outreach in school, public, academic, special libraries and government, LGBTQ and/or gender-based community archives)
  • Sex in libraries/archives (pornography, erotica, sex workers etc.)
  • Gender, sexuality and cataloguing (discovery and accessibility issues, sexual politics of subject headings, what is missing?)
  • Gender, sexuality and collections (what are we collecting? How and for who? What is missing? Readers advisory)
  • Intersections of gender, sexuality, race, class and/or colonialism in the information professions: spaces, services, collections, policies, advocacy, outreach, hiring practices
  • Gender politics in non-traditional/emerging information professions (the IT department, the tech industry, educational technology, knowledge management, digital humanities)
  • Online privacy and gender-based trolling
  • Professional conference codes of conduct
  • Gendered stereotypes and/or the sexualization of librarians and other information professionals
  • History of gendered labour in the information professions – where have we come from?What have we fought for? Where are we going? What has been limited by our history? What does our history make possible?

Please submit proposals (not to exceed 500 words) for individual and group contributions (e.g., papers, debates, round-tables, critiques, panels, posters, exhibits, manifestos, lightning talks and mini-workshops) via email to plg.edmonton [at] gmail [dot] com by midnight November 11th, 2015. Submitters will be notified of their acceptance by the end of November 2015.

The PLG supports progressive and democratic activities in the area of information services, and the Edmonton Chapter’s Program Committee will review all submissions that recognize (or challenge!) this stance and the PLG statement of purpose more broadly: http://www.progressivelibrariansguild.org/content/purpose.shtml

Renaming Federal Research Libraries after Harper a Fitting Tribute

Since the defeat of the Conservative government on Oct. 19, there has been extensive discussion around the government’s legacy, and particularly that of its leader, Stephen Harper. One early suggestion (facing significant opposition) is to rename the Calgary airport after Harper (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/renaming-calgary-airport-duelling-petitions-1.3291241).

While naming the airport after Harper would follow a tradition (e..g Pearson in Toronto or Trudeau in Montreal), there are far more fitting federal institutions that could and should bear Harper’s name. In particular, the remaining federal libraries would be an ideal set of institutions to name after Harper. Given the Harper government’s penchant for closing and consolidating federal libraries (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/research-library-s-closure-shows-harper-government-targets-science-at-every-turn-union-says-1.3199761) those that remain deserve a particular mark and moniker to demonstrate their ability to withstand the trend of federal library collections being moved from buildings to dumpsters. In addition, naming the federal libraries after Harper would likely serve as a means to ensure that future Conservative governments would carefully consider closing any more federal libraries as they bear the name of the former party leader. Perhaps the government could also restore the estimated 1.55 million government websites to be eliminated as part of the Treasury Board’s ROT plan (http://plgedmonton.ca/information-policies-under-the-harper-government-part-4-treasury-boards-reduce-redundant-outdated-and-trivial-rot-web-content/) under a special section of the Canada.ca website known as the “Clement Collection.”

Indeed there would seem to be no shortage of federal information services and institutions that could be renamed as fitting reminders to the dark decade.