The Green Party of Canada Endorses Open Source Software

Green Party of Canada logoIt is generally understood that sometime in the next few months, our new Prime Minister will call a federal election here in Canada. We’ll have a bit of variation on our standard political fare this time around. The Liberal party is wrapped up in financial scandal, the Conservative party is a newly-formed hybrid of the PC and Alliance parties, and the NDP has a strong new leader.

As always, there will be a few other options on the fringes. Today, I received an email from bass-master (as in guitar, not fish) Matt McQuaid of the Rude Mechanicals (featured in session three of Acts of Volition Radio) pointing out an interestive section of the Green Party of Canada website.

Part of their Platform 2004, The Green Party of Canada site has a section about open source software which reads (bold added):

Open Source Software

In this era of increasing technology dependence, both in business and in daily life, software has become a vital economic resource. Software applications must be trustworthy, reliable and easy-to-use. The Open Source Movement is emerging as a competitive rival to privately developed and marketed software, producing programs of equal or better reliability and security.

The Green Party will:

  • Require federal agencies to initiate transitions to open source operating systems and productivity software.
  • Make technology that has been developed at public expense, a publicly owned resource. Software that has been developed at taxpayer expense will be released under an open source license, making it free for all Canadians to use.
  • Procure only software that stores, loads and transmits information in industry standard formats, for which full technical specifications are available. Procurement of systems that require closed licenses or use vendor-specific formats would be used only if no alternative is available.
  • Shorten the length of software patents to seven years. The software business cycle is so fast that longer patents only stifle innovation.

I wondered if they practice what they preach. I then noticed a note at the bottom of their site: “This Site is powered by phpWebSite licensed under the GNU LGPL”. How many political parties have a link to the GPL on their site? While the website is far from standards compliant, it is quite good otherwise.

They pretty much had my vote at this point, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to be voting for some yahoo locally (in Canada, we only vote for the local representative, and not directly for the national leader). An email to their local contact received a speedy and informative reply.

It turns out promising Charlottetown Mayoral candidate from last year, Will McFadden, will be running in my riding (the local website isn’t so good).

Mr. McFadden, you have my vote.


11 thoughts on “The Green Party of Canada Endorses Open Source Software

  1. Yes we do indeed practice what we preach. Pretty unusual for politicians eh! Our main website is built on phpWebSite, the platform/policy site is a different open source platform (I don’t remember which) and our policy development site (open to all) uses Tiki Wiki. After many years as a MacAddict and a couple in Windoze purgatory I have discovered Linux (Mandrake 9.2) and what a joy it is! The Open Source philosophy is fundamental to many Greens and is influencing much of what we do. Please excuse any deficiencies in our websites as we are growing very fast and are having a hard time keeping up, they are evolving continuously and we are fixing problems as they become apparent and resources allow (there are only so many hours in a day). Help is very welcome 😉

  2. I had to click the link to remind myself who the new NDP leader is…the more things change, the more they stay the same eh?

  3. If you’re one of the rare birds of our generation that is genuinely interested in poltics, avoid throwing your hat in with the first candidate that impresses you. Will McFadden’s character resume is impressive, but he isn’t running for something small. He wants to be our ambassador in Ottawa, the most important man in the province. What are his major policy positions? Does he know what Open Source is? Can the software of savvy social technologists get our Island off the ropes?

  4. I, perhaps naively, wonder wether having ‘non-traditional’ parties adopt policy & platform for & around the open-source movement, could hinder its acceptance into the mainstream? The non tech-savvy may perceive it as fringe.
    Dunno? What do you think?

  5. The full PEI slate for the Greens is pretty good according to today’s CBC PEI news item.

    Here in Kingston, the Greens polled 6.5% in the last provincial election and are pretty well respected as a legitimate vote. Here is the website for the local riding association.

    If I hink about it, I am pretty sure I have voted Green in the last three elections which is something the NDP should be worrying about. Right now, Canada votes 20 to 25% on the left but is it a split much as the Conservatives have suffered.

  6. Jeff,

    Having governments slowly understand Open Source as being a forward-looking policy idea is not something that is partisan. Parties without seats are less likely to be beholden to legacy interests so are going to be willing to move forward faster.

    The Canadian Government is moving forward. Whether you are a partisan party person or not, you can help us move things forward. We are looking to create chapters in every city with a government in it.

    We have some pretty influential people federally working with us in Ottawa such as Reg Alcock, President of the Treasury Board of Canada.

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