Chairman’s report May 2018

Monday, May 14, 2018

Good afternoon everyone, and thank you for coming.

In this our fourth? Fifth?  annual general meeting since our refounding in 2013, and we have much to be grateful for.

We have two major sources of help: our sponsors, who have made possible so much, and our volunteers, who have made the Canada Chapter a great organization.

Let’s start with the sponsors. The Canadian Internet Registration Authority and CANARIE generously contributed for a period of two years, starting at the beginning of 2018. This has allowed us to hire an executive director, Franca Palazzo, who has worked tirelessly on our behalf. Funding has also allowed us greatly to improve our website, and it has improved our capacity to deliberate and to act.

Accordingly, I want our sponsors to know that we appreciate what they have done. Thank you.

Secondly, our volunteers: you people. If you look at the quality and number of our interventions over the past several years, you will be impressed. We have had success in organizing events that are timely and relevant. Our President will speak more about the events that we are organizing this year. And I leave that topic to her.

I wish to thank especially those members of the Board of Directors who are leaving us this year: Nancy Carter, Evan Leibovitch, Janet Cloud, and Shelley Robinson. Your efforts to make the society a good organization, and to make the Internet in Canada as good as it can be, are deeply appreciated.

I should also mention our long-suffering secretary, Chris Copeland, who does excellent work recording our meetings and in keeping them reasonably effective. Our thanks also go to the law firm of Chris Tacit, who has kindly lent his time to the cause of the Internet Society.

For my part I hope the Society continues to advocate for an Internet which is affordable and free within the reasonable boundaries of law.

You will have seen the studies discussed by our worthy colleague Professor Geist, showing that Canada is either the worst or near the bottom in terms of what bandwidth you get for what you pay. The cynic might say that the incumbents are quite accepting of being publicly scolded as long as the government, whether CRTC or the relevant department, actually does nothing effective. To cite a line from a long-ago comedy sketch, Beyond the Fringe, one can imagine that, in response to public clamor for lower prices, one turns to the other and says: “we need a futile gesture at this stage”. The imagined conversation goes like this. “So let’s suck in some investors, give them some spectrum, let them put up cell towers until they go bankrupt, and then we will declare that we have a workably competitive cellular market.” We have had three or four rounds of this failed policy over the past twenty-five years, and Lord knows how many more we will have before we embark upon a policy of resale of underlying facilities.

I think we have much work to do to try to persuade governments that more physical facilities under different ownership does not amount to effective competition.

But enough of this policy wonkery. It is time to allow ourselves a moment or two of self-congratulation for a year of hard work, genuine accomplishment, marked progress, and the fact that we are all here to engage in another year of the same. My thanks to you all. You are a great bunch of volunteers and your contributions are the lifeblood of the Society. May they continue.

We have so much more to do. And with that, I turn over the  program to the President, Lynne Hamilton.