Doesn’t anyone want the Geek Vote?

A massive number of Canadians are angry over consumer tech issues, and their votes are up for grabs


CPC candidate James Moore in a candid shot

Amid the usual hand-wringing over the apathy of the politically disenchanted youth, a simple question pops to mind: what party will stand for Canada’s geeks?

Yes, I know: the NDP has spoken up for Net Neutrality, the Liberals have their Digital Economy Strategy, and Tony Clement is good at Twitter. Seeing digital issues included in party platforms may gratify tech policy geeks like me, but we’re not where the real numbers are at. Only some geeks care about net neutrality and rural broadband. All geeks care about download speeds, cell phone bills, and bandwidth caps. And these geeks are legion.

Let’s consider their numbers: at its height, almost 100,000 Canadians were members of Michael Geist’s Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook Group. Over 482,000 Canadians have signed SaveOrNet.ca’s Stop The Meter petition. These efforts aren’t just the most popular Canadian political causes on the Internet- they’re among the most popular Canadian political causes anywhere. A massive number of Canadians are angry over consumer tech issues, and their votes are up for grabs.

Having spent years in dialogue with the geeks who care passionately about this stuff, I can tell you this: they pledge fealty to no party. Are they apolitical? Many are, in the sense that on the spectrum of left to right, they’d rather play Quake. Those who do affiliate play for all sides: you’ll find crypto-anarchists, neo–libertarians, Pirate Partiers, and all manner of random among their kind. Despite the size of this technographic, they have yet to make a mark on the political map, because generally speaking- they don’t vote. But they would.

The first party to promise the geeks of Canada an absolute end to Usage Based Billing of any kind, a crackdown on unfair billing practices in the mobile industry, accountability on advertised download speeds, and amnesty for non-commercial filesharing stands to take every college-town riding in the country.


Doesn’t anyone want the Geek Vote?

  1. The Greens should push this… a platform with sane energy, environmental, and digital strategies FTW.

    • Wouldn't promoting the use of gadgets (increasing electricity consumption) basically fly in the face of the core Green environmental platform? It would be kind of tough to promote energy-saving policy while at the same time encouraging Joe Six-Pack to spend more time on his computer or in front of his plasma.

  2. Well it won't be the Cons…Harper still uses a landline, and has never even carried a Blackberry….something the US president does.

    • You're US envy is showing.

      • LOL everyone here will tell you I'm an 'America hater'.

  3. The picture is surely of John Baird not James Moore.

    • I stand corrected.

      • You should also avoid conflating geeks and nerds.

  4. So log onto Facebook, and invite everyone you know to join Geist's group. Send an election time message to the parties. Geeks exist, and we will protect our interests.

    I've already done it.


  5. The Pirate Party was founded basically exactly to stand for this (and other very important) stuff. It may have an unfortunate name, but the party platform is excellent and the local candidate in at least my riding is also excellent.

  6. While I might have thought differently in my more partisan past, I don't think the parties are where we should be looking for tech-aware policy people. We should be looking for them in the individual candidates. Spending time on the hill I've come to believe there are good and bad MPs from each of the parties, and we need to get rid of the bad and help bring in the good — regardless of what party they run under.

    That may be more work — rather than researching between less than 10 parties nationally (some only bothering with those who had seats in past parliaments) and sharing your views with all your Canadian friends, it means getting involved in your local electoral district. You need to find out what people are there and what the dynamic is. I happen to believe that the national campaign is a distraction from what should really matter to us: who represents us locally, are they open to having active dialog with us, and what kind of head they have on their shoulders.

    I wrote up my thoughts about my district at http://BillC32.ca/5309 . The top two candidates are two people who seemed worthy. One had more tech cred, but that can be a mixed blessing given most of the main political opposition to the interests of the tech community comes from within (IE: BSA/ESA on digital locks/paracopyright, telco/broadcasting on Net Neutrality/UBB, etc). The other is the incumbent MP who has demonstrated his willingness to work with constituents like myself on whatever areas of policy we wanted to push — and has been very helpful.

    We geeks need to stop watching the circuses that are the national campaigns, given our issues aren't partisan. We really need to get strong people from every party into parliament, and that requires we focus on the districts.

    Note: at http://digital-copyright.ca/edid we have per-district blogs, so you can look up what has been written in the past. Or you can sign up to publish what is happening in your district.

  7. I'm not so sure you want the geek vote, either.

  8. Back when I was a partisan person, I was involved with the Greens — along with most of the most technically advanced people I was friends with. My impression remains that they are more technologically advanced in their thinking than the mainstream parties. I just now vote based on the person rather than the party.

  9. “they pledge fealty to no party.”

    “The first party to promise the geeks of Canada an absolute end to Usage Based Billing of any kind, a crackdown on unfair billing practices in the mobile industry, accountability on advertised download speeds, and amnesty for non-commercial filesharing stands to take every college-town riding in the country.”

    Yep. you got it. There are a lot of issues to consider for the election… we have been voting on them time and time again.. and well i can’t say it has really made a difference.. This election, I have only one type of concern and that’s quoted above. You want my vote, say no to “UBB (of ANY KIND), crackdown on unfair billing practices in the mobile industry and give amnesty for non-commercial filesharing”. Oh and forget spying on my life through the internet (sorry democrats. you’re out this election with no hope to redeem yourself… your true colours have already shown.. bye). Nothing but these issues will affect my vote in this particular election. good luck candidates.

    • Pretty well said what I thought in a nutshell. Also to those that think this is just a young peoples issue you could not be more wrong. The petition which 500 000 have signed was started by openmedia.ca. There is every age range involved. It can be considered far from being young only. Most are middle aged working class that are tired of being stiffed by the big telecoms. Well so much for only getting the college-town vote on this issue.

  10. You have a typo in that URL: it's SaveOurNet.ca not SaveOrNet.ca.

  11. Where did you get the idea that geeks don't vote?

  12. Alas… those old souls on the hill cannot understand the entire scope of the technological future. It is like presenting the steam boat to Napoleon.

  13. Quoth the NDP:

    "* We will prohibit all forms of usage-based billing (UBB) by Internet Service Providers (ISPs);"

    Et voilà.

  14. UBB does far far beyond ISPs. Yes we're up in arms about the internet UBB but we are still being raked over the coals for UBB for every part of cell phone use.
    Day time minutes – $20
    Long distance – $35
    Text – $15
    Data – $xx
    etc etc
    Why does long distance within Canada or even North America cost more? Have you see how the local calling areas are laid out? It is all done free of anyone doing anything. There is no operator who has to physically connect you. A call within a town requires the same amount of effort as a call that crosses the country or even the continent. And why is an incoming call free but an outgoing one drains your pool? Why are BTR allowed to sit on bandwidth and restrict competition?
    Oh and Mr CRTC how does connecting rural areas help me or Canada for that matter? Most people live in the boonies to get away from the buzz of the city. Do they even want this? It seems like the answer to a question nobody asked which inturn ends up being a waste. But then I see the CBC burning One billion tax dollars/year and it all makes sense. Or at least I think it does to someone who is apparently smarter than me?

  15. Partisanship is dying, Pragmatism is replacing it. :)
    Youth are stepping it up, it'll be okay!

    Harper wants to introduce sweeping internet surveillance within 100 days of term.. I think we need to strategically vote him out. Blue has an unfathomable hold on Canada so the people who actually know what's going on will need to inform the ones who don't. Please check out "

    • hitharperdid.ca" for some information, and "projectdemocracy.ca" for an awesome strategic voting tool to block a Conservative! "whyharpersucks.ca" and "catch22campaign.ca" are also good resources!

      Youth create and use tools that are built for maximum efficiency. ;)

    • I guess I don't see it as pragmatic to be focused on the national campaign and parties. We should be spending more time focused on our local electoral districts and ensuring strong people get in locally. What party they are under shouldn't matter, although if it does matter (IE: they are just a pawn for party) then you should avoid them regardless of what party they are from.

      I agree with you that Lawful Access is a bad bill, but it is also not a uniquely Conservative bill — the Liberals proposed the same thing. What is needed is people who recognize that omnibus bills that can't have reasonable debate are a bad idea, regardless of what party (including their own) are tabling them. We need people in every caucus fighting against this type of stupidity.

      Of course, outright lies like we see with the Conservative "iPod tax" campaign website makes it harder to avoid partisanship. Facts on that issue at http://creform.ca

Sign in to comment.