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Information Technology Association of Canada Questions 2004

Information Technology Association of Canada asked these Questions in 2004. They framed the questions with a long blurb which has been omitted in favour of our answers:

What are the most appropriate economic measures to foster a competitive innovation-intensive economy?

1. Monetary reform that actually treats the natural capital that innovation in energy and materials conserves, as if it were worth something, thus rewarding directly the conservation of energy and materials as near-automatic creation of money, and making all energy and materials conservation efforts self-funding.

1a. Direct research funding in areas of great ecological potential, e.g. to very drastically reduce use of wood, water, fuel.

2. Value reporting regimes in the public and private sector that reflect the real creation of value, and treat intangible elements of human capital (social, instructional, and the individually unique talents) as objectives of public policy. At present, infrastructural and financial capital are over-valued with respect to these.

2a. Ensuring the Auditor-General has the mandate and tools to investigate and report on value created, or not created, by public sector investments. We seek to prevent future scandals by transparency, and future waste by clear audit criteria.

2b. Making government operations transparent by exploiting open content, free software, open source and standards from broadly based industrial consortia, not a few proprietary vendors. (Candidates: see also CIPPIC_Questions_2004 )

3. Education treated as investment in these "intangible" capital assets, not as a cost center.

4. Eradicating "corporate welfare" to industries that have had their time, while cutting taxes and paperwork to those that are rising.

5. Decentralizing regional development as first-class investment banking, so that ACOA for instance would evolve into something more like Quebec's Caisse Depot. Tying these investments to "quality of life" and "well being" and "genuine progress" and "ecological health" indicators, and to international standards like ISO 14000 and ISO 19011 and SA 8000, would ensure that funds are not abused.

6. Putting major cities, especially Toronto, in charge of their own destiny. Urban guru Jane Jacobs advocates province-style powers for the major cities, and this is in accord with the Green principle of decentralization.

Can we deploy Canada's core competency in information and communications technology to solve pressing public policy concerns?

Democracy is built upon open communication, and one of the primary roles of information technology is to enable communication. At the risk of sounding trite, information technology enables democracy.

Yes. In fact, the Green Party of Canada is already doing it. We have the only web based facility to allow ordinary citizens to tell us what they think of each plank of our platform (you can see it at http://greenparty.ca/platform2004(external link) - "rank a plank"), and 57,000 people have so far participated. Furthermore, we have the only wiki-based facility to debate the platform, and it was used to answer this set of questions, so that candidates could review generic answers before getting back to you individually, as we urge them to do.

Nor is this an isolated initiative. Ralph Nader's Concord Principles for instance advocated the use of media to combine citizens into powerful collective decision and action networks. The mobilization of many Greens in the anti-globalization movement was another example of successful application of this principle. While we reject the idea that "more information" or "better technology" are objectives in themselves, we embrace the capacity to create wiser mobs of citizens in the street, and we intend to employ that capacity to back Kyoto and oppose reductions in women's rights. There is no doubt in our minds that we will succeed in defending gains made on the Green agenda so far, and that this competency in interactive media can be spread to other countries that have a weak civil society. Greens strongly support women's community radio in Afghanistan or the use of radio stations in Mali to answer ordinary citizens' questions, and other initiatives to remove the monopoly control on information too often held by developing world elites. When ignorance is removed, change follows. However, it is not technology but civic awareness and genuine education in ecology and health matters that is of most value to the world: technology is merely one tool by which to achieve that.


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