Green Party of Canada Platform: 1.9 Open source computer software, 1.10 Small business loans and entrepreneurial incentives, 1.11 Co-operatives

A continuing review of  the Green Party of Canada’s Platform:

1.9 Open source computer software

As computer hardware improves, it is important that software programs are readily modifiable by the people who buy and use them. Developing alongside the proprietary software sector is Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS). This software is generally available at little or no cost, making it very popular in the developing world. It can be used, copied, studied, modified and redistributed with little or no restriction. Businesses can adapt the software to their specific needs.

Under the free software business model, vendors may charge a fee for distribution and offer paid support and customization services. Free software gives users the ability to work together enhancing and refining the programs they use. It is a pure public good rather than a private good.

The Green Party supports the goals and ideals of Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) and believes that Canada’s competitiveness in global information technology (IT) will be greatly enhanced by strongly supporting FLOSS.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Ensure that all new software developed for or by government is based on open standards and encourage and support a nationwide transition to FLOSS in all critical government IT systems. This will make Canada’s IT infrastructure more secure and robust, lower administration and licensing costs, and develop IT skills.

  • Support the transition to FLOSS throughout the post-secondary educational system.

1.10 Small business loans and entrepreneurial incentives

Raising venture capital has become a lot more difficult since the 2008 financial market meltdown, particularly for small businesses and new technologies. The shift to a smart, lower-carbon economy requires venture capital investment in a wide range of innovative firms across Canada, including smaller firms that historically have had a much more difficult time in raising capital.

An easily-accessible and integrated system for business development and growth must be made available in cities of all sizes in Canada to create the business climate that will entice home-grown entrepreneurs to stay. This model has been very successfully applied in Sweden in the form of Technology Centres or “Incubators for Mutual Support and Shared Services.” Most successful applied research and commercialization is done by small and medium-sized businesses, and these business “clusters” attract new businesses seeking the direct and indirect benefits of networking and collaboration.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Establish a federally-funded Green Venture Capital Fund to support viable small local green business start-ups

  • Set up a Green Venture Capital Funding Program providing matching federal funds for locally-raised venture capital up to a set limit per community.

  • Reduce the paperwork burden on small businesses by eliminating duplicative tax filings and red tape. Government agencies will operate using shared information from the same database

1.11 Co-operatives

The United Nations has declared 2012 the International Year of Co-operatives. Co-operatives have historically played an important role in Canadian economic activities.

The Green party believes that consumer and producer cooperatives should play a greater role in Canada’s economy and society.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Work to have the Government of Canada examine the laws, regulations and tax system of Canada to determine how they may be changed to enhance opportunities for co-operatives, including cooperative federations incorporating banks or credit unions such as the highly successful Mondragon and Valencia cooperative federations of Spain.
  • Launch a Federal Co-operative Investment Strategy with two components: a Canadian Co-operative Development Fund and a federal Co-operative Investment Plan.
  • Make the federal Co-operative Development Initiative permanent and expand it into the new area of conversions of existing business, that are contemplating winding up into worker co-operatives.
  • Re-establish funding for housing co-operatives through a newly mandated Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to help solve the growing problems of homelessness and shortage of affordable housing.

Comments and discussion are welcomed.  I am examining this as I go to gain a better grasp of their platform and invite all who are interested to do the same with comments and discussion.

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