There has been much debate lately whether the government should scale back its innovation agenda and commitment to the roll out of broadband services. Some say it makes sense post Sept. 11, but others are equally adamant that Canada should move full steam ahead with these kinds of programs.  The following is an edited excerpt of a presentation given by Evert Anstey, chair/president of the Information Technology Association of Canada.  In 1993, we envisioned a bold and bright future for Canada in a A Knowledge-based Canada: The New National Dream. In that paper, we called upon government, industry, labour and the academic community to join in common cause to transform Canada into a society where knowledge and innovation drive the economy and enrich people’s lives.  For a while there we felt like prophets crying in the wilderness. In 1999, we heard a commitment to make Canada’s government the government most connected to its citizens by 2004. Last fall, the Industry Minister declared his vision of building a national broadband network.  This year, the Speech from the Throne declared "The government of Canada, for its part, will focus on building a world leading economy driven by innovation." There was no clear path given for how we would achieve that but we began to hear about an initiative to develop strategies to strengthen our national capacity for innovation. Our understanding was that a white paper would be released and a national dialogue on innovation would ensue, leading to a set of broad policy principles.  We have developed a white paper that includes our recommendations for public policy. It also contains five case studies of Canadian innovations in information technology and the factors that nurtured them from concept to successful global market leadership.  In the weeks since September 11, however, we’ve heard less and less about innovation as our national focus has shifted to matters of security and defence. We’re particularly concerned by the emergence of the notion that somehow our current conflict and domestic priorities such as innovation are mutually exclusive.  A lead editorial in the Star, for example, recently suggested that we should put the innovation initiative on hold for a year. We reflected on this suggestion for some time. But we have concluded that the innovation initiative was an urgent public policy matter before September 11 and, if anything, even more urgent today - for two reasons.  First, our current situation places new, urgent demands on our continuous capacity for innovation. In the coverage of this conflict so far we’ve seen analyst after analyst contend that overcoming our opponents will require advanced intelligence gathering and analysis capability, superior surveillance and communications technology. Abandoning the development of innovations in this technology would be as irresponsible as abandoning the ground war or the relief effort to others.  The second reason for persisting with the innovation agenda is that some day this conflict will end. We need to ensure that wealth creation continues to happen in order to pay for our role in this conflict. We owe it to the present to keep innovating and we owe it to the future to ensure a quality of life that makes the sacrifices of war meaningful.If we abandon the innovation agenda for a year, the consequences will be severe. When it is finally over, we’ll be lucky if we’ll be among the top twenty as other countries such as Israel and India demonstrate that it is possible to innovate during times of conflict. And the economic downturn that we are currently confronting will be even more severe and more costly to remedy. So we have decided to continue to stand for public policy initiatives that enhance Canada’s capacity for innovation...now more than ever. We eagerly anticipate the launch of a national innovation initiative and are prepared to greet it with a few ideas of our own. Anstey’s complete speaking notes and ITAC’s innovation paper can be found at http://www.itac.ca.