Earlier this summer, I heard from Anne Lagacé Dowson, a 20-year veteran of CBC Radio who had quit her post to run for the New Democratic Party in a by-election in the Quebec riding of Westmount-Ville-Marie. I've known Anne all my life (literally — she was my babysitter when I was an infant) and so I was glad to hear that she was doing this amazing thing, but I was even more delighted when she said that her campaign and her party were both passionate about the digital freedoms issues that I campaign on and she asked if I'd be willing to offer her my endorsement.
I've just spent half an hour on the phone with Dowson and I'm happy to say that based on what she told me about her platform, I'm absolutely delighted to offer her my unqualified endorsement.
Dowson pointed out that the NDP is the only federal Canadian party with a dedicated digital affairs critic: the always-sharp Charlie Angus, a former punk musician late of the band L'Etranger, who I used to see headlining punk shows when I was a teenager. Angus and the NDP have led the political criticism of the Tory Bill 61, a Canadian version of America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a copyright bill that was drafted in secret, without input from Canadian stakeholders, including coalitions of Canadian creators and music labels.
The NDP has also led the pack on criticising the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, another secretly negotiated proposal, this time for a global treaty on copyright that would dramatically increase the search, seizure and surveillance obligations to Canada and other signatories, forcing them to spy on everyday individuals to protect the profits of a few giant record companies.
Dowson also endorsed the NDP's activism on net neutrality — Canada's major ISPs, Bell and Rogers, have led the world's Internet companies in a race to the bottom, imposing secret caps, spying on users, blocking protocols, and even blocking downstream ISPs' customers (so that ISPs that buy their backhaul from Bell are subject to the same filtering as Bell's own retail customers).
Dowson's riding is close to Outremont, where an NDP candidate upset the longstanding Liberal incumbent, and Dowson's bet her future on a similar result in Westmount-Ville-Marie. She tells me that she's already met people at their doors who told her that issues of digital freedom were key to them, and she points out that the current Liberal opposition has had dozens of opportunities to boot out the truly loathsome and autocratic Tory government and have instead voted with them on issues from Canada's war involvement to Canada's positions on network freedoms.
As mentioned, I've known Anne and her family all my life, and know her to be trustworthy, incisive and principled, an impression reinforced by her impressive reporting on CBC. I'm even more impressed, though, by her sophistication on digital issues. I talk to a lot of politicos in my routine, and it's rare to meet someone who really understands these issues as well as Dowson does. There are only 75,000 voters in Westmount-Ville-Marie; I don't know how many of them read Boing Boing, but if you're in that riding, I hope you'll go to the polls on September 8 and cast your vote for Anne Lagacé Dowson.