Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 98

Thursday, March 24, 2011
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Senate Online

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Mitchell calling the attention of the Senate to the online presence and website of the Senate.

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Senator Mitchell’s inquiry that draws attention to the importance of having an online presence.

Canadians are fundamentally unaware of the tremendously valuable work that is conducted within the upper chamber and committees we all operate within. The lack of effective, intelligent online integration and the synergistic development of a robust digital online presence for the Senate of Canada can only be viewed as a tremendous detriment to the important work we conduct on behalf of Canadians.

Honourable senators, we live in a rapidly changing world, one in which time is no longer measured in years and months, but minutes and seconds. The age of this establishment’s traditional industrial media’s highly editorialized content publication and controlled syndication has arguably run its course. The traditional push messaging model of one-to-many has changed dramatically to a widely adopted individualistic pull model, in which anyone with access to an Internet connection can decide for themselves what content they choose to consume and when to consume it.

In addition to this fundamental shift in human behaviour, each individual now has the ability to be location- and time-independent, as compared with being bound to a television to view a specific broadcast at a specific time, which seems somewhat archaic.

For clarification, “push” often refers to messaging that is splashed to people, whether or not the person wants to receive the information now, such as television commercials. A “pull” is when people actively seek out information or content. For example, searching for something on Google is pull marketing. Push marketing is television commercials and far less targeted or efficient.

The shift from desktop computing has transcended quickly to a more quickly adopted mobile computing platform, for our mobile phones are no longer simply viewed as a telephone in the same way that our BlackBerry devices are no longer for simple email alone. These devices have become a fundamental part of the vast majority of everyday Canadian lives, for they truly are personal communication devices, devices that enable an individual instant access to an endless amount of information on demand and without limitations.

It is critically important to acknowledge this is certainly not only a Canadian phenomenon, for in less than half a decade, a substantial proportion of the world’s population has gained relatively inexpensive and reliable access to information and communication technology.

While barely scratching the most basic of surfaces, I am sure the importance and acceptance of my previous statements are undeniably obvious, and so I enter an issue that affects all 105 senators of this upper chamber.

It is absolutely unacceptable that an institution as important as the Senate of Canada has an arguably antiquated online presence. The value of directly engaging with Canadians, while in the constructs of a less intimidating social online ecosystem, will only help Canadians to understand the work we all conduct. To some degree, these matters have been discussed previously, but what has always been missing is true organic long-tail integration.

What I mean is the ability to create and foster issues that truly matter. Issue-based optimization is a more advanced aspect of true online integration and digital development, but a profoundly imperative one. It is the ability to target issues and map them to actual user data, such as keyword evaluation and query string GeoIP. The IP stands for “Internet protocol,” which every device that connects to the Internet has. It is like a phone number for computers so they can talk to each other. IP analysis provides actionable real-time information to those to whom our work will matter the most. GeoIP is the location of a personal computer by its IP address and geographic location. It can be thought of as an area code for a phone number.

The Social Web 2.0 phase of the Internet and online generation is quickly coming to a close and manifesting into a much more efficient and systematically integrated Semantic Web, which many industry professionals have referred to as Web 3.0. Web 3.0 is called the fully interconnected or Semantic Web. This is like the next stage of the Internet and it is starting to take shape.

The importance of developing and allowing Canadians to appreciate the value of our work has perhaps never been so important.


In a time of information overwhelm, the clarity of a well-planned and strategic online presence should be at the forefront of what we offer to Canadians. The utilization of powerful tools, analytical data sets and user metrics can provide tremendous value to the work of this chamber.

The effective development of a powerful online presence for the Senate, in a rapidly evolving digital space, allows for substantial opportunity with the utilization of highly targeted search engine optimization, social media optimization and community-driven interaction and development.

Honourable senators, we have a lot to share with Canadians. Let us get the information to them through a medium to which they are now accustomed.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Further debate?

(On motion of Senator Banks, debate adjourned.)