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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 04.21.08
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

Protect our Caninternet

STANSTEAD, QC | Dear Prime Minister Harper,

Congratulations on blocking the sale of one of Canada's aerospace companies to a US firm. No really, I mean it. I know we've had our differences in the past (admittedly, I went too far with my musical, Stephen Harper Hates Everyone, Even His Mother, and Has Stubby Fingers to Boot). But putting Canada's sovereignty ahead of global market pressures was fantastic, positively protectionist. Why, it was almost liberal of you!

It was also an eye-opener.

I didn't realize we had a space industry to protect. I always thought our space program consisted of two guys sitting in lawn chairs up in Thunder Bay staring at the stars and saying, "There's a flashy one. Ooo, that one's kind of blue!"

I know we sent some people up on space shuttle missions. And then there's that arm thing. Canadarm. Yup, nothing screams "insecure nation" louder than sticking your country's name on an invention. Canola. Candu reactor. Canamaple syrup.

But other than the arm and astronauts, I thought our role in the international space industry was relegated to hanging out with the scientists at NASA and asking, "Hey, what can I do? Want me to handle that asbestos for you? Can I push a button? I brought doughnuts."

But since you deep-sixed the sale, I now know that we have a vibrant aerospace industry. The Canadian company in question, for instance, developed the satellite that keeps an eye on Canada's Arctic. It's monitored by two guys in a silo in Lethbridge staring at a video screen and saying, "There's a big walrus. Ooo, that one's kind of blue!"

Bottom line is I agree with you that it's paramount (and possibly tantamount) that we protect Canadian industry and Canadian culture.

Which brings me at long last to the reason for this letter: the Harper government must take immediate steps to protect the Canadian Internet industry.

Did you know that every day American websites are streaming across our border into our homes, into our businesses and into our garages where we go to escape just for a few precious minutes of quiet?

Those American websites are promoting American ideals, American products, and that guy who told us to leave Britney alone. And Canadians are logging on at the expense of Canadian websites with Canadian values and the word "colour" spelled properly with a "U."

Take cheese, for instance. If I Google "cheese," I'm offered a selection of cheese-stuffed websites - none of them Canadian. Whereas I believe every patriotic cheese-loving Canadian should be whisked right away to cheese.ca, where they can read articles like, "Cheese: Nothing Binds Ya Better!"

And what about that Google?

Why are we letting an American search engine control our surfdom? Why not a Canadian search engine, a real Canadian search engine, none of this "click here for Canadian pages" nonsense. Who wouldn't support investing Canadian tax dollars in the creation of a national search engine program? We could call it "Canoogle."

The Canadian government should be supporting Canadian websites the way they do our musicians. Canadian Internet service providers should be required to ensure that forty percent of their traffic is Cancon, or in this case Cannet.

To do this, the ISPs would have to somehow block the flow of American web pages. And who better to do this than Bell Canada, which has proven itself quite adept at controlling the Internet by a method known as "throttling." Yeah, throttling. You like that, don't you, Mr. Harper. Imagine some state-sanctioned "throttling." That puts the conservative back in your blood, doesn't it?

Of course, Bell's Sympatico is also a sieve for spam so perhaps they're not the best candidate after all. (You know what I wouldn't mind getting spam for? Tinned luncheon meats. Spam spam.)

And now that I think about it, the precedent might encourage the Quebec government to block all non-French websites.

But, hey, if isolating ourselves from the rest of the world is the price to pay to protect our cultural identity, so be it.

And now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to download the latest episode of Survivor from Canada.com.

Yours in sovereignty,

Ross

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