Unfair promotion of vendor products by the CRTC

Mathieu Allard, Saint Boniface constituent and NDP candidate in recent election, wrote the following to the Heritage Minister and his MP. I have also written about this important issue, and hope others will write letters to their elected representatives.


The Honourable Beverley J. Oda
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women

CC The Honourable Raymond Simard

Dear Minister,

I am bringing this issue to your attention as the CRTC reports to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

On page : http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/help.htm

There is a reference to .doc and to .xls files and links to office.microsoft.com for help on how to view these files.

While I understand that these are popular file formats, I also understand that these file formats are owned and controlled by a single vendor, in this case Microsoft Corporation.

In advertising specific brands on the website, the CRTC is giving this specific vendor an unfair competitive advantage over other firms that provide spreadsheet and word processing systems.

The larger office productivity industry has come together to create international standards for these file formats under the name of OpenDocument. OpenDocument is not only a standard via OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), but was submitted by OASIS to the ISO/IEC JTC1 (International Organization for Standardization International Electrotechnical Commission's Joint Technical Committee).

More information on OpenDoucument can be found at: http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/office

Refer to the March 7 press release: http://www.oasis-open.org/news/oasis-news-2006-03-07.php

I have written to the CRTC on this matter and they have responded that "Some of the documents on our site have originated outside the Commission and are in a format other than HTML and are made available in the file format sent to us (we do not manipulate or convert third party documents". However, if these documents are available for public download on the website, it is understood that these documents should be viewable to the public. It would be reasonable to convert these documents to an open file format or require third parties to submit their files in open file formats so that no one is excluded from the discussion.

Why does the CRTC not assure that documents be made available for download in .pdf format or in the OpenDocument Format, formats that are published vendor neutral file formats?

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my comments and I would appreciate an email response as to your position on the issues that I have raised in this email.

Sincerely,

Mathieu Allard
Mail Address:
232 Aubert St.
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R2H 0B3

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: Unfair Promotion of Microsoft Products
Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2006 14:00:02 -0500
From: WEBMASTER
To: Mathieu Allard

Mathieu,

Thank you for writing to the CRTC. I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. Some of the documents on our site have originated outside the Commission and are in a format other than HTML and are made available in the file format sent to us (we do not manipulate or convert third party documents). These documents may require the use of a special reader and that is why we make the information available in our help file. All CRTC documents are published in HTML format and many are also available in PDF.

I hope this information is helpful.

Lorraine Séguin
Webmestre | Webmaster

(819) 997-4272 | lorraine.seguin@crtc.gc.ca | Télécopieur/Fax: (819) 994-0218
Conseil de la radiodiffusion et des télécommunications canadiennes, Ottawa (Ontario) K1A 0N2 Canada
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N2 Canada
Gouvernement du Canada | Government of Canada

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To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to bring attention to the fact that on page : http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/help.htm

There is a reference to .doc and to .xls files and links to office.microsoft.com for help on how to view these files.

While I understand that these are popular file formats, I also understand that these file formats are owned by Microsoft Corporation.

In advertising the products on the website, I feel that you are promoting specific non-standard Information and Communications Technology brands on your website you are giving Microsoft an unfair advantage over other firms that provide spreadsheet and word processing systems.

If documents are something that are part of the CRTC's website, I would personally recommend that these documents be made available for download in .pdf format, a format that is a published vendor neutral file format.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my comments and I would appreciate a response as to the CRTC's position on the issues that I have raised in this email.

Sincerely,

Mathieu Allard
--
Mathieu Allard
Mail Address:
232 Aubert St.
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R2H 0B3