OTTAWA—Canada’s digital strategy efforts should be spearheaded by players in the communications industry, not a slower-moving federal government, experts agreed at a panel discussion Thursday. Entitled “Looking at a National Digital Strategy with a Creative Eye,” the panel was part of the Canadian Film and Television Production Association’s (CFTPA) Prime Time in Ottawa conference. “Government looks to us to advise them and to provide guidance,” said Canada Digital Media Network (CDMN) managing director Kevin Tuer. “That’s a huge responsibility. We need to bring together, unify that strategy, and bring it to government. Then I think everyone will be happy. “If every year we say, ‘We need a national digital strategy’ and we don’t set milestones in between to gauge ourselves in terms of our progress, we are going to have this conversation over and over again every year,” he said. The consensus reached by the panel was that the government, whose leadership has changed every few years, does not provide a stable enough environment to rapidly forge a strong strategy for Canada’s digital economy. “If you build , they will come. The government won’t want to be outside the box, so they will have to come along,” said Canadian Interactive Alliance (CIAIC) president Ian Kelso. “But if we wait for the government to initiate or somehow enable that strategy, we will be here in 2017, asking if we’re going to get that strategy going this year or next year.” Panel members said Canada’s digital strategy should address a wide range of issues, including broadband access, security of Internet transactions, content creation, digital health care services, copyright reform, digital literacy and cloud computing. High on the panel’s priority list is inclusivity, given Canada’s multicultural population. “We need an inclusive approach in Canada … We need to think about cultural inclusion,” Diamond said. “We need to figure out ways so that inclusion is understood as an economic necessity, not just a kind of liberal ethos.” Stratford Institute strategic advisor Ian Wilson pointed out that the government needs to provide funding to help bring together various organizations, elements, and leaders. “We have the organization, we have the public sector support, and we have a variety of provinces that are interested … We need some leadership and support from the federal government … We need some funding,” he said. “We need a strategy that is not over simplistic, but is clear enough and can be implemented over time,” added Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) president Sara Diamond. “One of the challenges in Canada is to make sure the different sectors at the federal level … Industry Canada, Heritage Canada, Finance Canada, Human Resources Canada, Health Canada … are compelled to talk to each other.” To create a strategy, the panel said it is imperative that the government, the content creation sector and the technology sectors collaborate for maximum efficiency. “We have got to be careful so as to not develop our strategy in a vacuum,” Tuer said. “We need to bring the content providers together with the technology providers and with government.” Last month, The Wire Report reported that the federal government is working on a strategy. Sources say an announcement could be made in the March budget and it is likely to touch upon modern spectrum management; information and communications technology; telecom management; research and development; broadband access; electronic medical records; e-commerce; copyright reform; cyber-security; next generation networks (NGN); and foreign-ownership policy. “We should all get involved; we should make this part of our role as an industry,” added CFTPA president and CEO Norm Bolen. “We need a big choir that is building some harmony around this .” Canada needs to build its infrastructure and encourage the creation of Canadian content, panellists added. “One of the things we haven’t done very well in Canada is build infrastructure,” said moderator and Two Solitudes Consulting principal Alan Sawyer. “ Canadians are on Facebook. Well, that’s great, but Facebook is an American company. We really are vulnerable to other countries for so much of what is occurring on the Internet in Canada.” “If you want to be successful in the digital world … in content creation, you have got to make great content,” Bolen said. “The first step in doing that is becoming much more literate about what other people are doing, and how to do it better.” CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein said at a Prime Time Ottawa discussion Friday that the government should establish a Royal Commission or national panel to develop a national digital strategy. “We’ve got to address it conceptually, and then piece by piece do the underlying, necessary legislative changes,” von Finckenstein said. “It’s to move an issue out of partisanship and put it to a respected body which has representation from all interest groups. Let them come forward as a group and argue on the substance.” A CRTC report released this month, titled “Navigating Convergence: Charting Canadian Communications Change and Regulatory Implications,” said Canada’s digital economy is in need of a “holistic review” and a “comprehensive” digital strategy.