Federal NDP courts tech companies like Hootsuite over C-51

Ryan Holmes takes to Twitter in the aftermath of Bill C-51 and Victoria gets a sunny economic forecast

A bill of concerns
Bill C-51 may have passed parliament, but it hasn’t passed the scrutiny of many in B.C.’s technology sector. And where the contentious piece of anti-terrorism legislation sowed ill will for the federal government, the NDP have stepped in. Cue a letter from Thomas Mulcair to Ryan Holmes, Hootsuite founder and CEO, that’s garnered hundreds of retweets.

Dozens of technology industry leaders endorsed a petition that argued that C-51 is bad for business, saying it leaves corporate data vulnerable to data breaches and cyber criminals once its under government control—and thus nulls Canada’s privacy advantage over the U.S. The letter argues that many clients of Canadian tech companies choose to do business north of the border because of privacy issues in the U.S., and that required data disclosures could incentivize clients to look to companies with servers on the other side of the Atlantic. Three of Vancouver’s federal representatives—Liberals Hedy Fry and Joyce Murray, and Conservative Wai Young—voted for C-51. 

(For what it’s worth, the B.C. NDP has courted the technology sector before, to little returns.)

Studio shutdown
Two Vancouver gaming studios have closed down in the last month, leaving dozens of designers, developers and support staff out of work. DeNA and GREE—both Canadian subsidiaries of Japanese gaming companies—announced the layoffs in early April and on Tuesday, respectively. Around fifty staff from both companies were let go.

Capital growth
Victoria’s economic growth rate has finally returned to pre-recession levels. Victoria’s real GDP is forecast to rise 2.1 per cent in 2015, its highest growth rate since 2007, according to the Conference Board of Canada’s spring outlook for cities. It’s forecast to edge up to 2.3 per cent in 2016. Those gains come thanks to increased public sector spending, new orders at the Victoria shipyard and a weak Canadian dollar. And Victoria’s tourism industry, still reeling from a series of hits that slashed American visitor numbers, is also happy. Hotel occupancy is up 7.7 per cent in the first three months of the year over the same period in 2014, while traffic on the ferries and through the airport are both up around 5 per cent (Times Colonist).