i-CANADA Summit State of the Union: Leadership of Intelligent Nation movement calls for ultra-broadband future for Canadians
October 30, 2012


Ottawa, October 30, 2012 - At its second national summit, held in Montréal this past Sunday, the i-CANADA Governors Council agreed that Canada urgently needs an ultra-broadband infrastructure. Also on Sunday, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) announced that Canada had dropped to 32nd place on the ITU Information and Communication Development Index, a measure of the Information Society. 

“Canada was in 20th place in 2010,” said i-CANADA Chair & CATA Director, Bill Hutchison. “We used to be among the first; in fact, in many ways, Canada invented the Communications Age.  Our job at i-CANADA now is to use collaboration to bring best practices to communities across Canada, so we can re-light that torch.”

i-CANADA is the only organization dedicated solely to the creation of an Intelligent Nation. A series of regional conferences were held leading up to summit, which brought together a Premier, Mayors from Intelligent Communities, CEOs and business and social leaders from across Canada.

The open welcome by Bill Hutchison, with John Reid, President and CEO, CATA; and Karna Gupta, President and CEO, ITAC, demonstrated the power of collaboration, with the leaders of three top technology organizations sharing the podium. 

Speakers Highlights from the Summit

Some interesting top-of-wave points made in the information-rich summit include:

    The first keynote on social media leadership by Peter Aceto, President and CEO, ING Direct Canada, stressed that in today’s world, good is just not good enough. Today’s CEOs need to embrace the power of social media personally, in order to help boost our economy. 

    Premier David Alward, New Brunswick, and Chair, i-CANADA Governors Council, noted that “Prosperity is not a right we can take for granted. New Brunswick has had the advantage of hardship, and of struggle. That is why we looked ahead, and became the first province in Canada to be fully wired with broadband. We believe that innovation is the ultimate renewable energy for Canada.” 

    Robin Winsor, President and CEO, Cybera, speaking about Alberta’s High-Speed Master Plan, stated that “We can have a lower cost of computing in Alberta than can be obtained in Bangalore.” He added that no province in Canada is offering utility computing to its province; utility computing could be used for big data analysis…its presence could start a virtuous cycle. 

    Mike Hrybyk, President and CEO, BCNET, describing The B.C. Super-Cluster, said that Metro Vancouver's vision is for every city to build out its fibre infrastructure and aggregate them to municipal interconnects. A key factor is to enlarge the number of Internet exchange points. 

    John Longbottom, Smarter Cities Executive, IBM Canada, led an award-winning panel with municipal leaders in a discussion about best practices. Mary Martin, Councillor, Surrey, British Columbia,  described how the city was taking the next steps to improve its health care services. Brad Woodside, Mayor, Fredericton, New Brunswick, derided Canada’s fall to 32nd place in the ITU rankings, and called for a national strategy, to connect all Canadians. Brenda Halloran, Mayor, Waterloo, Ontario, said that “We need to step up and support the RIMs of this world; Mike Lazaridis needs to be known by everyone as inventor of the smartphone!”  Her colleague Dan Mathieson, Mayor, Stratford, Ontario, noted that his city’s Wi-Fi network is now a living lab for digital experiments. 

    John Jung, Co-Founder, ICF, introducing the lunch keynote speaker, stated that “I remember when Canada was "on its game"... Now, we need to rebuild our infrastructure, so that we create a culture of use of knowledge work. This means adopting the ICF measures of digital inclusion, digital marketing that creates a community attitude, collaboration, and the clever use of risk capital.” 

    Mayor Ron Loveridge, Riverside, California, the community that is the 2012 ICF Most Intelligent Community, spoke of “a hyper-connected future, in which we have the power to seize our destiny."  He pointed out that access to talented people is the main resource for companies... that place matters, despite the fact that we live in a digital world.  “Edge Cities invent their future.” 

    In a Panel on The Need For Speed, Chair Kristina Verner, Director, Intelligent Communities, Waterfront Toronto, moderated a session with Jim Roche, President and CEO, CANARIE; Dr. Darin Graham, President and CEO, ORION; and David Weymouth, President and CEO, Optelian. Mr. Roche described the speed of CANARIE’s core network in terms of science outcomes, noting that it was fast enough to allow researchers to sequence a genome. CANARIE is now going to use cloud computing to stimulate MSEs. Dr. Graham stated that ORION’s network offered 110 gigabit per second speed; by way of example, this is fast enough to download three movies in one second. Mr. Weymouth described the role of the fibre network in developing Canada’s networking capacity. 

    Dr. Cindy Gordon, CEO, Helix Commerce International and Co-Founder, SalesChoice, led a panel discussion on The New Finance, Crowdfunding and PPPs.  Her colleagues were Sherwood Neiss, Principal, Crowdfund Capital Advisors, and Mark Romoff, President and CEO, the Canadian Council of Public-Private Partnerships.  Mr. Neiss spoke of the “Path of unreasonable destructiveness and hope,” in terms of the new Crowdfund investing role as an agent of sweeping change.  “We have no choice:  we must get capital flow into the job market,” he said. “This is a global problem.” Mr. Romoff characterized the Public-Private Partnership program as “an arrow in the quiver of politicians today.” 

    A First Responder panel on Building a National Public Safety Broadband  Network was chaired by Steve Palmer, Director, Science and Technology Transition, Defence R&D Canada. He described the new LTE Test-Bed pilot in the context of a trend towards a $2-billion investment in mobile communications in Canada.  Michael Sullivan, Division Chief Communications, Ottawa Fire Services, said that through the Test-Bed, they will be piloting projects in a real-world environment.  They will be able to interact with industry to find new ways to make advantageous choices. The LTE Test-Bed will reach the Ottawa core and the city of Gatineau, Québec, making it an interprovincial program. 

    The discussion about the Open Rush to Open Data, Open Systems was chaired by Fawn Annan, President and Group Publisher, IT World Canada, with assistance from Berry Vrbanovic, Past-Chair, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and Jury Konga, from the Open Data Research Advisory Council. “We are tapping one of the most important benefits of the digital age,” said Ms. Annan.  Mr. Konga added that municipalities are among the most agile forms of government, which explains why they are able to experiment so quickly with Open Data. He cautioned that “Most governments don't know what data they have.” Mr. Vrbanovic said that with the market for mobile applications reaching $35-billion by 2015, there would be even more pressure on governments to release data to citizens, who could integrate applications with their total lifestyle. 

    Pat Horgan, Vice President, Manufacturing, Development and Operations, IBM Canada, said that the summit showed that “leadership is required, and leadership is provided.”  He stated that Canada collaborates better than other countries, and that this is a tremendous strength. Mr. Horgan shared the findings of the IBM techno-Jam sessions, which polled the opinions of thousands of global leaders. Lessons learned included the advice that: all citizens had to have access to digital networks; the technology has to be easy to adapt; transportation is a key issue for municipalities; and that Open Data is one of the most powerful areas for involvement.  He noted: “You couldn’t add much more content that what we have seen today.  If our goal is to increase prosperity, then we have a confident and comprehensive foundation.”

    The speakers portion of the i-CANADA Summit closed on the human dimension of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). Brian Bronfman, President, Brian Bronfman Family Foundation, describing a program to create pragmatic peace.  He unveiled a new Web site that enabled the funding of social causes through donations from sponsors that are triggered by video views. Namir Anani, President, ICTC, described the applications economy and its impact on the GDP. Dr. Catherine Boivie, CEO and Chair, CanWIT, and Executive in Residence, Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University, described the importance of the role of women in providing the intellectual capital for the knowledge age, and the evolution of the role of the CIO.

Governors Council Meeting

The Governors Council of i-CANADA, who also met at the summit to review progress, approved the concept of the formation of a national coalition to support Canada’s “urgent return to the global leadership position we once enjoyed in the coverage and cost/performance of our communications infrastructure.”

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubiliee Awards

The i-CANADA Summit was followed by a presentation ceremony honouring winners of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Awards. These outstanding leaders were each selected because of the impact they have made on society and businesses through the application of technology.

Peter Aceto

Fawn Annan

Dr. Catherine Boivie

Brian Bronfman

John Campbell

Terry Dalton

Karen Dubeau

Dr. Cindy Gordon

Jim Gragtmans

Dr. Darin Graham

Huguette Guilhaumon

Bill Moore


Laurie Guthrie

Brenda Halloran

Michael Hrybyk

Rick Huijbregts

Bill Hutchison

David Jonah

Bengt Jörgen

John Kelly

John Longbottom

Dan Mathieson

Steve Palmer

Eldon Amoroso

Brenda Pastorek

John Reid

Jim Roche

Pascal Rodier

Monique Savoie

Gary Stairs

Michael Sullivan

James van Leeuwen

Kristina Verner

Michael Webb

Robin Winsor



Art meets Technology

As the day-long summit came to close, attendees were reminded that technology exists for a reason, and that it’s not just about the technology, as they witnessed a Montréal premier and a breathtaking display of Internet traffic, dance and music coming together on stage. 

For more information, please contact cathi.malette@cata.ca

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