The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports. Michael Hennessy argues this week in our Newsmakers column that it is not up to government to subsidize connectivity for low-income Canadians. During his tenure at Bell Mobility, he rallied against government-mandated subsidies that require long distance companies to subsidize the cost of local phone service. The argument? Subsidies are untenable in a competitive environment, and throttle economic growth. Subsidizing any type of narrowband or broadband technology to the home is a questionable proposition. Firstly, evidence is mounting that industry is well-equipped to pay for this without financial aid. But perhaps the more important question should be, what is it exactly that government is so anxious for Canadians to connect to? With the exception of several excellent Canadian news sources, the web continues to be a vast wasteland with little content of relevance to the majority of Canadians and the quality of their lives. What is it, exactly, that lower income Canadians are missing as consumers when the pipe doesn't extend as far as their PC for economic reasons? Internet porn? Chat rooms devoted to game shows? Flash-enabled weather forecasts? Millions of servers hosting Britney Spears' only CD in free MP3 format? Access providers, including cable operators, have little reason to care about the quality of the content they carry, as long as there's subscribers to pay for it. Of course, government should stay out of the business of subsidizing access — especially since it won't subsidize content. New media developers can't be faulted for pandering to the lowest common denominator when they are likely to lose significant sums on producing quality products which can teach and inform and genuinely improve Canadians' lives. No one should be talking about subsidies until we see the existence of worthwhile content, and access providers would do well to take the lead in creating it by helping developers. A digital divide between the haves and have-nots isn't a serious issue when the have-nots seem to be the lucky ones.