By the end of the second day of the Canada 3.0 conference in Stratford, we were all channeling Buffalo Springfield —”there’s something happening here.” Ian Wilson, the freshly minted executive director of the Stratford Institute for Digital Media and Global Business observed, “This is so much more than just another conference.”
Conference moderator Ken Coates, Dean of Arts for Waterloo University tapped the emotional chord best by pointing out how at it’s conception, the conference expected to host 300 delegates and then ended up with over 1100 delegates from industry, academe and government — together, calling for a digital strategy for Canada and laying the foundation to get there.
“The important thing about this was who showed up,” Ken said. “We all came together to start something important … now lets get on with it!”
The “It” is a strategy for a digital nation that, as Tom Jenkins, the visionary behind the conference put it, “every citizen is connected, all content produced in our nation is available in a fair and transparent manner that respects the rights of the originators and where everything we do in real life can be as easily done online.”
“It” is a strategy based on two key pillars of ICT — digital content and mobile services.
“It” is an idea whose time has come if the congruence of opinion expressed is any indication.
Industry Minister Tony Clement came to Canada 3.0 and committed his government to developing a digital strategy. Premier McGuinty came and told us how important the economic growth of the digital sector is to creating the wealth essential to fund a caring and compassionate society.
Speaker after speaker — behind podiums, on panels, or in passionate hallway conversations committed tacitly or explicitly to this task.
Canada 3.0 was so much more than a conference, so much more than a chinwag. All of us seemed to move with a higher sense of purpose and energy than regular conference goers.
Digitizing the vast repository of Canadian content — the voice of our nation carried in millions of books, journals, photographs and sound and video recordings is at the heart of this strategy. So is a nationally expressed “moonshot,” a big idea that unites us all with a shared sense of purpose.
This amazing exercise in digital citizenship seems blessed by a convergence of commitments from industry academe and, most importantly, from government to get this job done.
The outcome of all this discussion will be synthesised into recommendations carefully enscribed and articulated in a report on the proceedings from PricewaterhouseCoopers. This report will anchor a major policy roundtable lead by Industry Canada on June 22 where the real work will begin as we collectively sift through recommendations for opportunities that are actionable and will have the impact of advancing Canada to the forefront of digital nations.
Bringing all this to fruition presents a great opportunity and challenge for the community of companies within ITAC. Tom Jenkins’ leadership has brought us this far and Tom is a classic irresistible force — but backed by 1100 of his closest friends (including Mike Lazaridis and Bernard Courtois) there is simply no limit to what can be achieved in public policy and the boot-strapped development of an industry. This is our task and as Bernard so eloquently put it in his summation for Canada 3.0 “we won’t let you down.”
Lynda Leonard, Senior Vice-President, ITAC