The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports. In the run-up to this summer’s federal election, television commentators couldn’t tell viewers often enough that the race was shaping up to be one of the most important in decades. As it turns out, they were right.  For the communications sector, there likely hasn’t been as much at stake in a federal race since Mulroney made free trade the cornerstone of his 1988 platform. Unfortunately, in 2004, we see a divided House, the triumph of regionalism, and stasis. Each of the parties now in Parliament will conduct themselves as rarely before with an eye to increasing their status in the next election, which is generally thought to be sooner than later in coming. When Network Letter speaks with executives about the issue of foreign ownership, we hear encouraging words. New Industry Canada minister David Emerson is seen to be generally favourable to a corporate agenda, as, of course, is prime minister Paul Martin. The open market Conservatives sit in Opposition, and legislation that they support will be easier to get through Parliament than bills that require increased spending such as for health care and education and supported by the NDP or Bloc Québecois. But, in politics, perception is everything. Canadian public opinion continues against lifting foreign ownership limits and it will be difficult to reconcile the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology’s conclusion with the flag-wrapped recommendations of its counterpart for heritage. Liza Frulla will continue the cultural policies of Sheila Copps, and the Liberal government will always have one eye on public opinion in Quebec where it will need to make continued gains in the next election if it hopes to retain its hold on power. There certainly will be horse-trading in the next session of Parliament as big spending bills are passed in return for private sector friendly measures. But, corporate Canada shouldn’t look to the government to see foreign ownership restrictions lifted - it is too great a public opinion landmine at a time when no party can afford to lose any of its current support.