E-Com Plan Will Help Make Canada World's Most Connected Nation

Article excerpt

JEAN CHRETIEN

Prime Minister

The prime minister announces Canada's Electronic Commerce Strategy -- a major step in making Canada the world's most connection nation by 2000. The E-com goal is to recreate in cyberspace the same expectations of trust, confidence and reliability that now exist in everyday commerce. Other elements in hooking Canada to the Internet include connecting all 16,500 public schools and 3,400 public libraries this year; 250,000 classroom computers; 10,000 public Internet sites, and the world's fastest network. Resources to make this possible include the greatest home computer, cable and telephone penetration, the lowest telephone rates, and the number one ranking in technology potential among the G7 nations, plus a highly-skilled workforce. Prepared text for a presentation to SoftWorld '98, St. John's, September 22, 1998. Edited for publication.

Nothing gives me greater pleasure as prime minister than having a chance to show Canada off to the world. Our people. Our know-how. And our potential.

That is what SoftWorld '98 is all about. Bringing the best of the best to Canada. To do what you do best. Find new business. Make new alliances. Build new opportunities. And the tremendous partnership that has made SoftWorld such a success is a fine example of our Team Canada spirit. Governments and the private sector working together to create an international showcase for Canada.

The spectacular growth of SoftWorld should tell the world just how serious we in Canada are about taking a commanding place in the new economy. That is also why I am here.

Like the light bulb, the car and air travel in their time, a virtual explosion of information technologies is transforming our world. Taking the notion of a global economy from dry economic theory to an everyday reality. Where harnessing knowledge and innovation will determine the wealth of nations. And their quality of life.

Nowhere is this more clear than in the rapid growth and development of the Internet. A few years ago, the Net was a quiet electronic playground for academics and researchers. Today, it is on the verge of turning the world economy into a 24-hour convenience store, whose shelves are lined with every product and service you can imagine...

* In the old days, sending a 42-page document by overnight delivery from Ottawa to Tokyo cost about $39.00. Today, we can send it in two minutes at a cost of 15 cents.

And if the information highway is where the future lies, then Electronic Commerce -- E-com -- is the express lane to get there. Tonight, I want to lay out Canada's E-com strategy for you. But first I want to give you a little online context.

We in Canada have long understood that our future prosperity depends on merging our economy with the information highway. That is why our government has set the ambitious goal of making Canada the most connected country in the world by the year 2000. We have a comprehensive strategy that we call: Connecting Canadians. And this is not an idle boast. We have already built a superb onramp.

* Canada is Number 1 in the G7 in home computer, cable and telephone penetration.

* We have been ranked Number 1 in the G7 in technology potential.

* Canada has the lowest telephone rates in the G7.

* Our workforce is highly skilled. And we enjoy one of the highest levels of post secondary education in the world.

To make sure that our strategy stays on track, governments and the private sector are hard at work meeting the Y2K challenge. Our government will shortly be responding to a report from a key House of Commons committee on this very issue. And I want to assure you, ladies and gentlemen, that Canada will remain a world leader in meeting that challenge.

Connecting Canadians is about global leadership. It's about making Canada a natural magnet for investment, research and development. …