Steve Anderson of openmedia.ca on Usage Based Billing

I spoke with Steve Anderson of OpenMedia.ca this morning about the CRTC’s recent ruling that open’s the door for Usage Based Billing. OpenMedia.ca has really led the grassroots (digitalroots?) charge that has seen a massive number of people sign an online petition that has, at least in part, prompted political action. Or at least as much as the Liberal opposition and a promise for Ministerial review counts as “action.”

I’m a bit torn on all of this: on the one hand, I think that it is more-or-less reasonable that heavy users should have to pay for what they consume, and think that there are pricing plans out there that can readily accommodate the vast majority of home users. As an example, I get 90 gb/month with Rogers, and even with Netflix and torrents, rarely get much above 50 gb/month. On the other hand, Bell, Rogers, and the other main ISPs have built a massive infrastructure advantage in large part because they had protected utility monopolies for decades. Startups and smaller competitors really can’t build an alternate set of wiring to compete.

Anderson’s real beef seems to not be that there is metered billing, but that overage fees are too high and kick in too low. He concedes that former upper limits were reasonable, as people rarely hit them, and argues that there isn’t a connection between the cost of providing bandwith and what they charge.

Again, that might be the case, given the infrastructure advantage carried by the status quo companies. But I’m reluctant to tell any business how much their services are worth without great cause, and I have a hard time getting exercised about a $4.75 charge for $40 GB of bandwidth, as TekSavvy suggests is likely.

Two sides shooting symbols at each other: Brian Given on Gun Culture in Canada

Candice Hoeppner’s private members bill to do away with the long gun registry goes to vote today. I know everyone has been following with interest the vote counting on this over the past few weeks, watching as a dozen or so NDP MPs respect the wish of their constituents flip flop opt to change their original vote in favour of the bill. Tonight’s vote, as I’m sure others will say, is a bit strange, as voting for the motion is actually voting to keep the registry. I’m going to do the nerd thing and ask the bar to switch to CPAC to watch the action.

In any case, yesterday I had the opportunity to chat with Carleton anthropology professor Brian Given on the matter of Gun Culture in Canada. We avoided the particular strengths and weaknesses of the registry, as that’s been covered elsewhere, instead looking to bridge the gap about why there’s so much passion on either side of this, but especially on the gun owners side.

Brian expressed some reservation afterwards that he might have come off as too pro-gun (which I don’t think he did), but as a matter of perspective, his other interests include Tibetan culture and for a time he didn’t eat meat. Stereotypical gun-nut he is not, but I do think that he offered some good insight as a sort-of-outsider into the attitudes and perspectives of gun owners, something that people that don’t use guns (like myself) often don’t have and, even worse, don’t often consider.

Enjoy!

Larry O’Brien, on his Re-Election Campaign

This morning, I spoke with Mayor Larry O’Brien about his campaign for re-election. We talked about what’s he’s achieved over the past year, his financial plans, setting up a arms-length agency for OC Transpo, and E-governance. The mayor made a quick comment at the end about his ring-road proposal, which I wish I’d remember to ask about earlier.

To say that the Mayor has had a rocky term is a bit of an understatement, but he is certainly a lot more polished now than before, even when we go outside of  what I presume he would have prepared for. He laments “professional politicians” a couple of times during the interview, but in terms of the actual practice of politics he has gotten much better.

Do enjoy!

Jon Bartlett on the Annual Kelp Weekend

Yesterday, I chatted with Jon Bartlett of Kelp Records about the annual Kelp weekend/anniversary bash, which kicks off tomorrow with Jim Bryson and Chris Page at the Mayfair. You can catch all the details over at the Kelp website.

As always, there’s a good mix of events at a bunch of awesome spots to see music: I’m regretting once again missing out on pulled pork at the Carleton. Be sure to also check out the free Kelp sampler, which has a fun mix of Kelp artists, friends, and so forth. Plus, free is free.

Shawn Menard on “Our Ottawa”

Yesterday on CKCU I had a conversation with Shawn Menard on the “Our Ottawa” group. There’s been lot’s of hints over the past few months as to what exactly the organization is, much to the consternation of some. They’ve been pitching themselves as a “network of community organizations”, and their first real release was more than a little cagey, though it does position them of being generally in favour of centre-leftish (with an emphasis on the centre) urbanist ideas. You won’t find much disagreement in this corner with things like restricting the urban boundary, supporting services like Crime Prevention Ottawa, or a more general push to city-wide thinking.

I think the interview clears things up a little bit more, leaving a bit of a better scope of who is actually involved. It’s also pretty clear that there is some manner of organisation behind the group, and they aim to make it more than an umbrella title for a coalition of like-minded groups. While they aren’t going to run a slate of candidates, they are going to do some decidedly slate-like things and (I paraphrase here) endorse candidates that are willing to endorse their principles, and maybe even look out to find some people to carry the flag. It seemed pretty clear that endorsement will come with at least some organizational and volunteer support.

That’s a pretty big deal, especially if they are as organized as they make it sound. Unseating incumbent councillors is a daunting prospect, even if you have a group of dedicated and connected volunteers, but is certainly not impossible. The real advantage will probably be in open contests, of which there are at least three so far. Council candidates have a notoriously tough time trying to build profile, so being able to associate with a larger group of ideas can only help.

We’re still a ways off from the election, and it’s still a bit early to tell exactly what effect this will have at the ballot box. At this point, I think that its fair to say that they will be an important part of the campaign, and should make the council races a whole lot more interesting. Short of it being a spectacular failure,  I expect that we’re going to see more coordination like this in the future, and especially from those that disagree with what Our Ottawa ultimately advocates.

Our Ottawa is organizing a rally today at noon at City Hall to oppose the re-opening of the urban boundary, so if you are around you should go and check that out.

Chris Page, live on CKCU

On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of having Chris Page in studio to talk about his new album, “A Date with a Smoke Machine”. In a fit of absentmindedness, I forgot to record the first half of the conversation, so you missed out on him singing Summertime Out, which is a shame because it’s my favourite track from the album. Worry not, though, as you still get the second half of our conversation and another in-studio song.

The in studio performances sounded excellent, but the CD itself is even better: it’s catchy and personal and filled with the sort of songs that will get in your head and have you humming. Think of it as a sort of vaccine against the wretched CTV olympic theme.

The CD release show is next Saturday at Dom Polski SPK (Waverly near Bank), with Camp Radio and Year Zero opening.

Jill Zmud, live in studio

This morning, I had the pleasure of talking with Ottawa’s own Jill Zmud about her new album, coming to writing music past the “Britney years”, and the nature of musical collaboration in town. She had her guitar, and also treated us to live acoustic versions of “East of the Line” and “Wish”.

She plays in Memphis in the near future, for those heading to Tennessee. She plays Ottawa again later in March.

The Journal of Public Transit in Ottawa Launches

This morning, Adam had a chance to chat with Peter Raaymakers of Public Transit in Ottawa about their new Journal on, of all things, public transit it Ottawa. The journal is free, online, and has a neat community-reviewed structure, and deserves to be checked out.

Wide Mouth Mason on the Special Blend

Last week, Josh had the opportunity to talk with members of Wide Mouth Mason about life returning to the road, what they’ve been up to in the last few years, and revisiting past concerts to make a live album.

They played Maverick’s last week, so ignore the pushing of the show. At times the phone was a bit spotty, so I do apologize if their are audio hiccups.

George Dark on the Lansdowne Design Review Panel

This morning, I had the chance to chat with George Dark, who is heading up the Lansdowne Strategic Design Review and Advisory Panel. To bring people up to speed, as part of moving forward with the Lansdowne Live plan, the city opted to appoint a design panel to help sort out what the whole thing is actually going to look like.

I was already generally supportive of the Lansdowne Live plan, mostly because I was pretty sure that we were going to let hopes of the BEST PLAN EVER get in the way of something that we can all use and enjoy, but this makes me a lot more hopeful. Coming from this, I think its a lot clearer that much of what we’ve already seen is largely a first draft, that we sorta know what the pieces that are going to be used are, but not actually what exact form they’ll take. That’s a good sign.

There is also room for optimism in that it sounds like there is  going to be, or is at least an option for, public consultation in the early design phase. So, bidding companies will be encouraged to actually come and talk to the people that live here to help shape their proposal. That’s a good thing for a project that, rightly or wrongly, has left a nasty feeling of being imposed. We should all get uppity and make sure that happens.