Alt Telecom Policy: citizens, consumers, and producers

I am at the Alternative Telecom Policy Forum in Ottawa, blogging away next to CuWin’s Sascha Meinrath, and Michael Lenczner.

Early in the morning: Sheila Copps. Wow. Sheila Copps, the former minister of Heritage, calling up our little CRACIN communitiy networking organization for not being bilingual enough (Stephane Couture pointed this out earlier this week — it’s a fair comment).

Sheila Copps, arguing that the public is defined by their status as consumers, not by their status as citizens, arguing that politicians respond to interest groups, who respond just as much to hockey moms as they do to telecom interest groups.

We make decisions based on ideology, not on theories. So the theoretical concept of the citizen does not resonate with politicians, nor with the think tanks who are lobbying for the bees in their bonnets – for example, the Western-based right-wing think tank the Fraser Institute does research to prove that the West – and private industry – is “getting screwed” -in Copps’ words.

So if we are to climb down from our ivory towers and try and get these “citizens” to engage, try to get our governments to make policy that IS based in public goods, how can we frame this? How can we move the perception of both regular people and government officials away from the sense that all issues come down to “how much it costs me”? Important food for thought.