February 1997

Root Page of Article: Balancing the Global Through the Local, by Leslie Regan Shade

Canadian Community Networking

Doheny-Farina looks at the example of Canadian community networking, with particular attention paid to the the National Capital FreeNet in Ottawa.

In their recognition of the continuance of Canadian cultural protectionism, official policy-making bodies such as the Information Highway Advisory Council (IHAC), the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and public interest groups such as the Coalition for Public Information and the Alliance for a Connected Canada have recognized that local community-based networks can foster Canadian content, revitalize communities, contribute to network literacy, and reinforce tenets of universal access at the level of service. However, tensions exist between formulations of what Canadian community networking can and should achieve in a competitive and increasingly privatized market.

In a recent case Revenue Canada ruled that the Vancouver FreeNet Association be granted charitable status, and in its decision affirmed community computer networks as a social utility and a public good:

{para 18} The information highway is almost limitless in its scope and capacity but that is no reason for failing to recognize its vast potential for public benefit. The appellant's purpose in providing access to it is one of general public utility.

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