Tony Clement Canada 3.0 Speech Excerpts

Here are Excerpts from The Honourable Tony Clement, PC, MP – Minister of Industry Opening Remarks of:Canada 3.0: Defining Canada’s Digital Future. To read the entire speech click here.

Statford Rotary Complex Stratford, Ontario June 8, 2009

Let me begin by congratulating Open Text, the Canadian Digital Media Network and the University of Waterloo’s Stratford Institute for their vision in organizing this conference.

Canada 3.0 is a very appropriate title for this conference because it invites us all to look further ahead, to take the longer perspective. To imagine what the future could bring, and then begin to prepare for it — indeed, to create it.

This conference also has perfect timing! Just a few weeks ago Prime Minister Stephen Harper and I had the opportunity to meet with CEOs from some of Canada’s leading information and communication technology (ICT) companies to hear their ideas and understand their vision and hear their views in your industry. A couple of weeks from now, I will be co-chairing a forum on the digital economy that aims to identify the broad strokes of a digital action plan for Canada. Canada 3.0 is perfectly positioned to inform these discussions and help shape the agenda.

Let me just say, at the outset, that I believe that digital media is poised to transform our economy in ways we have not yet imagined. Indeed, to become a new engine of economic growth. As you know, the Council of Canadian Academies has recently highlighted new media as having tremendous future potential for growth in Canada. Worldwide, the digital media sector is expected to grow to US$2.2 trillion over the next five years.

So, enormous potential, and incredible opportunities for a country as rich in talent and technology as ours. Which is why our government is committed to developing — in consultation with you and other experts — an action plan on the digital economy. One that will secure Canada’s position at the leading edge, driving innovation and prosperity for decades to come.

Now, I know, as you do, that the future of digital media in Canada will be created by people like you whose effort and ingenuity on a daily basis are generating ideas, creating new applications and developing new markets. You have a unique opportunity: you are defining an industry.

Let me just say that one of the components of the participatory web that I find most interesting is how governments can interact more effectively with citizens. As interactive platforms emerge, I think we will see a fundamental change in how governments consult, how citizens participate in democracy and how services are delivered.

All government departments and agencies have a website, and many offer online services, but I think it’s still early days. I know that we can do more so certainly in a room like this I invite you to share with us your ideas on how government can use the web better — both to provide information and services and to encourage greater engagement among citizens.

Understanding the participatory web and moving to protect Canadians’ online transactions are important steps forward in developing the digital economy and encouraging the adoption of ICT, but our government understands that more is required.

That is why, even as we wrestled with the worst economic crisis in a generation, Budget 2009 — Canada’s Economic Action Plan — targeted a number of specific actions to energize the ICT sector. All told, nearly $1.5 billion was devoted to this effort.

We are investing in one of the key elements of 21st-century infrastructure: broadband access. As you know, broadband is a key component of a digital economy, enabling richer content, faster speeds and multiple applications. Believe it or not, there are still some Canadians with limited or no access to broadband — and this is particularly true of those living in rural and remote areas.

Canada’s Economic Action Plan provided $225 million over three years to extend broadband coverage to unserved and underserved communities. We hope that this money will leverage additional investment to expand access for many Canadians to important economic and social benefits, including online health services, business opportunities and distance learning. Expansion of internet access will encourage economic development, spur innovation and improve the quality of life in hundreds of communities across the country. This is certainly a goal we must aspire to.

In a digital economy driven by ideas, imagination and ingenuity our greatest natural resource is a highly educated work force. One way the government can help is by investing in research related to higher education. And that’s just what we’re doing by expanding the Canada Graduate Scholarships Program and increasing funding for the national granting councils.

Above all, we’re committed to working with — and listening to — those of you who know the digital economy best. Soliciting your input and your ideas, so that, as a country, Canada doesn’t simply participate in the digital economy, but leads it.

I thank you for your vision, your drive, and your inspiration. In your field literally whatever you dream can become a reality, and that reality can be good for your fellow Canadians, if not the whole world.