Uptown Waterloo Receives Free WiFi

Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Waterloo Public Library, visitors to Uptown Waterloo will be able to pop open their laptops and hook up to the Internet through their WiFi connections. Free WiFi service started yesterday, covering a range of the uptown core two blocks wide (between roughly Caroline and Peppler Streets) and running north eleven blocks.

The service isn’t totally free. The business doing the installation is going to recoup its investment by charging the businesses that subscribe a top price of $29.95 per month. The Record article doesn’t make it clear whether the businesses offer the connections to their customers for free, or if they pass on the costs to the consumer, somehow. My impression is that businesses sign on to the program as a benefit to entice more customers into their stores and restaurants.

Either way, it’s an advance in the long march of opening up internet access to the masses, and kudos to the Waterloo Public Library and the City of Waterloo for getting behind this.

Also, people looking for free wireless (well, free along with a good cup of coffee) should check out the Second Cup at the University Plaza near the University of Waterloo. They installed free WiFi for their customers recently. I’ve been able to do some work there, and they’ve earned some of my hard-earned coffee cash as a result.

Geez, You Look Away From Federal Politics for One Minute And…

I hear there’s heavy election talk happening now that the Gomery revelations have closed the longstanding gap between the Liberals and the Conservatives. Warren Kinsella is positively giddy, expecting a Martin implosion.

But not so fast. Maybe it’s the haze of fatherhood, or maybe it’s the result of having my expectations high for so long by Conservative bloggers salivating at the damage the first Gomery report would do, but the Gomery tidal wave doesn’t seem to me to be too strong. A knock-out punch that some people seem to be expecting should have had the Conservatives up at 40%. Instead, they’re either behind the Liberals, 31-30, or ahead 31-28. The Liberals have been behind the Conservatives before, back in April when the Gomery revelations were more intense, and they came back in a matter of weeks.

And consider that last poll result. Of all Canadians who have said that they might vote, 41% picked somebody other than the two most popular parties in the nation. That’s unprecedented.

For me, I think I reached the tipping point of not caring much about the Gomery revelations when Justice Gomery appeared to take special pains to say that Paul Martin was “exonerated”. Why would he do that? It leads me to believe that much of this hearing is, as Warren argues, an anti-Chretien witchhunt and whitewash. Which is, ironically, bad for both the Martin Liberals and the Conservatives. It’s bad for the Martin Liberals because I have to ask: what else are they hiding that they’re so interested in pawning off the Adscam responsibility onto Chretien? And it’s bad for the Conservatives because they appeared to place so much credence in what is now a flawed report, not to get at the truth behind the scope of Liberal corruption, but for their own political gain. They’ve danced with the pig across the floor of Parliament since last February, and now they’ve come away dirty themselves. It is as Greg has said: a plague on both your houses.

Still, I have to credit Stephen Harper for the speeches he’s made on how best to clean up government. Unlike Greg, I have no problem with him saying “A Conservative government will…” and “when I’m prime minister…”. Canadians expect it; they want to know what Stephen Harper will do if and when he wins the election. It’s only when you start talking about transition teams that Canadians start to punish you for your presumptuousness.

If the Conservatives win the next election, it will not be because of Gomery. It will be because most Canadians have decided that it is time for a change of government (a decision I think most Canadians, even some Liberal supporters, have made), and that they believe that the Conservatives represent an acceptable level and type of change (a belief most Canadians haven’t reached yet).

Right now, Paul Martin is like Ernie Eves in the last days of the old Ontario Conservative government, and it’s an interesting coincidence that, like Paul, Ernie rose to public prominence through his longstanding position as finance minister.

The Canadian public are just waiting for Stephen Harper to rise to Dalton McGuinty’s level of electability.

P.S. My bet is that we won’t go to the polls before April, but I’ve been wrong before.

P.P.S. Harper could slam dunk the next election if he sat down with Layton and hammered out a parliamentary agenda that both parties could support, if only grudgingly. A Conservative-NDP informal coalition would be appreciated by many Canadians, and isn’t as far-fetched as you think. It’s working out hunky-fine in Nova Scotia.

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