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Canada Dashboard Digest | Notes from the IAPP Canada Managing Director, Dec. 6, 2019 Related reading: Privacy takeaways from new White House report on AI

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As many of you know, I live in Ottawa, the national capital (yes, Toronto, it is!). And in Ottawa, the Speech from the Throne is a pretty big deal. The prime minister decides what his government is going to prioritize, and the governor general reads this fancy speech, full of little (and not-so-little) hints at what’s to come.

Why is the throne speech important? It’s the high-level game plan. From there, we expect to see mandate letters to each minister with more specificity as to what they are actually expected to get done during their mandate. So if you didn’t see your issue covered fully in the speech, don’t worry — yet. 

“To ensure fairness for all in the new digital space, the government will review the rules currently in place.”

That’s the only line I could find in yesterday’s throne speech that spoke about advancing Canada’s ability to cope with the digital world.  

I don’t want to take away from all the other noble things the government said that it wants to work on, but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that modernizing Canada’s approach to difficult digital issues wasn’t a touch more prominent. Other issues definitely got more real estate, but I’m going to choose to interpret that line as pointed, focused and meaningful — because I’m an optimist.

I’ll be quite interested to see what the mandate letters say and about how all this is supposed to play out. There are many immediate concerns. What are we going to do in the next year or so when AI and machine learning really take off, when automatic decision making is going to exponentially increase? Or when we lose our adequacy standing with the European Union?

Let’s hope these are all part of the plan. 

The good news is that this week, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada Minister Navdeep Bains committed to moving forward with the consultation he launched last spring — the advancement of a digital charter. Short on details, high on hope. I feel like the minister’s commitment might have been more meaningful if the throne speech had reinforced it with more oomph, but I guess you can say there’s a glimmer of hope out there and that changes are afoot. 

What changes? We’ll see. 

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