Library Notes for Political Science

Teaching resources, news, and links to keep McGill’s Political Scientists informed

Canadian Open Data

Posted by Megan on March 21, 2011

Last week, the Government of Canada launched its Open Data Pilot Project:

The Open Data Pilot is part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to open government, which is being pursued along three streams: open data, open information and open dialogue, and aims to drive innovation and economic opportunities for all Canadians.

The Open Data Pilot seeks to improve the ability of the public to find, download and use Government of Canada data. You are invited to search the catalogue, download datasets and explore the possibilities of Open Data.

The website currently includes 781 “general” datasets and 260296 geospatial datasets. The advanced search function allows for searching by agency, topic category (e.g., labour, military, education), and keyword.

For further reading, David Eaves provides interesting commentary on the promising outlook of this initiative but notes concerns about the overly restrictive license attached to the data:

The launch of is an important first step. It gives those of us interested in open data and open government a vehicle by which to get more data open and improve the accountability, transparency as well as business and social innovation. That said, there is much work to be done still: getting more data up and, more importantly, addressing the significant concerns around the license. I have spoken to Treasury Board President Stockwell Day about these concerns and he is very interested and engaged by them. My hope is that with more Canadians expressing their concerns, and with better understanding by ministerial and political staff, we can land on the right license and help find ways to improve the website and program. That’s why we to beta launches in the tech world, hopefully it is something the government will be able to do here too.

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