Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday Vote-day!

Today is voting day here in Canada, and we're encouraging everyone to go to the polls. Go vote. Now!

Not yet registered? You can register at your local polling stating.
To find your local polling station, use this tool from Elections Canada. The tool will also give you a list of candidates in your riding.

To register at your polling station, you can do a couple things:
  • provide valid ID that shows your name and address

    • on one document, such as a driver's licence

    • on two documents, both with your name and at least one with your address, such as a health card AND a utility bill

  • swear an oath, and have a registered voter vouch for you also under oath

More information on registration can be found here.

Finally, of all the Edmonton-Strathcona candidates we contacted using the CLA's election widget, only Green Party candidate Jane Thrall got back to us in time for election day. She noted that the Greens do not have a specific library policy, but that she herself is library supporter. Ms. Thrall responded to many of those CLA questions, so the rest of her points are directly quoted below.
  • Libraries, along with Universities, are the keepers of public knowledge. Assuch, we have a duty to ensure that they remain open, public, and protected from the attacks of those interested only in maintaining a monopoly on knowledge (read: copyright lawsuits)

  • Libraries should be free to the public. Some jurisdictions in Canada now charge substantial annual fees to obtain library cards (e.g. in Edmonton, it is $12, which is a lot of money when you are on a shoestring). Libraries greatly benefit lower income Canadians, as they prevent knowledge from being the domain of the wealthy, and these are exactly the people least able to afford escalating fees.

  • The Green Party of Canada recognizes that the creators of knowledge need some form of legal protection to ensure that they can profit from their works, but at the same time, we must not allow the pendulum to swing entirely to their side, as this would decimate the library system, and no municipal government would want to take the legal risk of being responsible for such institutions.

  • The Green Party recognizes that many of society's problems can be solved through increased literacy and education, and libraries are crucial to this.

  • Libraries often are the only public places that offer free access to the internet, access that is becoming more and more essential in modern life.

  • Libraries are one of the few remaining "public meeting places" that are physically embodied, rather than some message board on an arbitrary website. As such, they take an essential role in the crossroads of our society.

  • Net Neutrality is an issue that will continue to increase in importance. The government of Canada must ensure that corporate interests to not interfere with the ability of Canadians to communicate over the Internet. The companies that have argued that they must "throttle" internet traffic (Bell, Rogers, Telus) base their arguments around the fact that internet traffic is increasing more rapidly that the Internet's ability to carry it. The Government of Canada has a critical role to play here, encouraging the development of more advanced network infrastructure (communication lines, etc). Canada was an early leader in early days of the net, but government lethargy and inaction has had a definite impact, with Canada's "connectivity" ranking steadily dropping relative to other nations in the developed world.

Thanks for your comments!

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