Reading the article about various "Arts groups" reinterpreting Bev Oda's words different ways makes me think about how there can equally be spin on our issues with each of the parties.
I will post my own thoughts on the parties that had seats in the last parliament, with the hope that people will add their own comments over the next day and offer their own thoughts.
While the Green party has consistently had the most interesting platform, the Canadian candidates don't have a Canadian record to look at. I see no evidence that any other party without seats in the last parliament has a chance this time, so as interesting as their ideas may be they won't be part of the "chosen 308".
The Bloc Québécois has always consistently "supported the arts", but the issues for us are not a yes/no question, but a matter of how. Our community clearly supports the arts and other fellow creators, but with a need focus on the broad interests of the artists and not the special interests of the incumbent intermediaries.
The Bloc has consistently ignored us, not answering technology law questions or questions sent in from constituents.
The NDP was an abrupt reminder last election that the individual candidates that are elected are far more important than the party platform. Like the Bloc, the NDP has always had a strong support for Canadian creativity. Their past Heritage critic, Wendy Lill, was a playwrite who didn't have any Internet experience, and entirely bought the line from the incumbents claiming that giving them more control would help creators. Having the NDP buy into Ronald Reagan style trickle-down economics was interesting to watch, but is unfortunately an all too common misunderstanding of this sector.
Ms. Lill retired and did not run in the 2004 election. She was replace with newly elected independent writer, broadcaster and musician Charlie Angus. His support of Canadian creativity mapped quite well onto our support, which was as someone who recognized that the interests of the intermediaries were not the interests of Canada's creative communities.
The problem for us is that this could easily flip-flow backwards again depending on the make-up of the new NDP caucus. While Mr. Angus did what he could to educate his party on these issues, if he doesn't retain his seat, or his Heritage portfolio is given to someone else after the election, the support that actual creators have received from this party could disappear.
Canadian creators and those who support balanced copyright really need Mr. Angus to be in the next parliament, and given a mandate in this area of policy!
Ms. Smith came to our attention last parliament as she took the cause of copyright in Education forward in her party. She set up a meeting between representatives of teachers and her leader, Steven Harper. While I'm not a teacher, I attended these events.
Ms. Smith promoted the idea that educators should get an exception to copyright or the Conservatives should Kill Bill C-60.
On the other hand, Mr. Rajotte had a speech in parliament on April 21, 2005 in where he suggested that, "The University Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 considered intellectual property a fundamental right of all peoples. However, Canada has been less aggressive than most of its international competitors in linking innovation to intellectual property or in protecting or promoting intellectual property rights.".
This was not the first or last time that he suggests that PCT (Patents, Copyright, Trademarks) is natural to treat like traditional tangible property and to protect more aggressively (which suggests the "if some is good, more is better" ideology). I also think he misinterpreted the balance in the UN UDHR, and look forward to discuss this more with him.
Whenever people believe the political rhetoric of treating PCT as a form of property you very quickly come to conclusions like suggesting that Ms. Smith and the Conservative leader were promoting government expropriation without compensation something they considered "property", a direct violation of their own Motion No. 227 on property.
I have seen Mr. Rajotte a few times, including when I spoke to the Industry Committee. He has also replied to letters, further suggesting he has an unexamined belief in the tie between PCT and innovation (IE: that more PCT means more innovation, something that economic studies have never agreed with).
I consider him to be relatively open minded and willing to listen. I think it will be interesting to discuss more with him the conflicts between PCT and property rights, such as the attack on property rights (and many other areas of public policy) represented by "Paracopyright" (AKA: DRM, Technical Measures used by copyright holders, etc).
I had a chance to meet with Bev Oda in her parliamentary office. The fact she was interested to meet showed a willingness to listen to a diverse set of views, even if she has thus far believed the intermediaries when they promote the copyright "more is better" rhetoric. While she has accepted campaign contributions from broadcasters, I have to admit that as an old-media intermediary they aren't as dangerous as the major labels or studios that some Liberal incumbents are tied to. Her background is as a Broadcasting executive, communication consultant, and teacher, which is already a relatively diverse way of looking at this issue.
If given a choice between Bev Oda or Sam Bulte as Heritage Minister, I strongly believe that Canadian creativity would be better off with Ms. Oda.
I doubt the Conservatives have sat together as a caucus to discuss and think about these issues, or the consequences of various policy proposals. Requests to get clarification on policy and platform documents have met with silence.
Like what was said of the NDP, it really matters which individual MPs make up the next government, and what their experience is. If the conservatives form government they will have to sit down with each other and Canadians to debate these issues, something that they have not had to do as opposition. Where these conversations will go is anyone's guess as I don't think we have enough information to make any guess.
If I could give my own idea of the worst case scenario for an election outcome it would be a Liberal majority with Sarmite Sam Bulte retaining her seat and being offered the position of Heritage Minister.
Suggesting this is based entirely on the individual MP again, and not based on party platform or policies which yet again just mirror the legislative agenda pushed forward primarily by Heritage. Behind the scenes, whispering in peoples ears (Example of fellow Liberal MP Scott Simms), there was always the bought-and-paid-for past Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Heritage, Sam Bulte.
I've had people ask why we have not focused more on Liza Frulla, past Heritage Minister, considering how much we paid attention to Sheila Copps in the past. Unlike Ms. Copps, I never had the impression that Ms. Frulla was basing what she said on her own views, and more on the script she was handed. We also looked at her riding early in the election and predicted that it would be very unlikely that she would keep her seat. We may be wrong on both points, but with so little to base any opinion on it was hard to know. Unlike her counterparts in the NDP and Conservative critics for Heritage, she never demonstrated an interest to meet with a wider variety of constituencies.
There are individual Liberals which I would vote for. I have met with Reg Alcock many times over the years, and I really hope that Winnipeg South residents send him back to the house.
In my own riding of Ottawa South I have been left with a bit of dilemma. I believe that the incumbent MP, David McGuinty, was a very good local MP. He tabled petitions, met with me many times, and spoke out on this issue in caucus -- including on the critically important question of what committee should review Bill C-60.
I only received a very vague reply to any questions from the Conservative challenger Allan Cutler. I really have nothing to go on from his history. I know many government bureaucrats from my work in GOSLING, and consider being a whistle blower to be more a matter of doing ones job than something that elevates someone to a status of a "hero". This is a riding that has so much history with the Liberals and Conservatives that other candidates aren't given much chance, unlike other ridings where it is a multi-way race or a two-way race between different parties.
As scary to me as the possibility of Ms. Bulte becoming Heritage Minister is, I will likely be holding my nose and voting for David McGuinty despite his party affiliation.
The Liberals can be looked at in the same way as Bill C-60. Some say that we should concentrate on the fact that the bill could have could have been worse, with Bill C-60 not being as bad for independent creators and a full spectrum of methods of production, distribution and funding as the USA's DMCA has been.
There are members of our community that assume that if the Conservatives were in power, with their closer ties with the current US government, they would have passed a bill closer to the DMCA. These same people forget that it was the Democrats, not the republicans, that were the authors of this policy, and that this issue isn't as simple as left-right politics. The Conservatives also pride themselves at looking more closely to the economy, with adequate economic analysis of this policy pointing more towards the balanced approach that we promote than the ideological approach seen in the 1996 WIPO treaties or the USA's DMCA.
Spin or predictions? While I have some ridings which I have strong preferences on, the future really is unknown no matter what the make-up of the next parliament.
The main advise I can offer to people is to look very closely at your local candidate. While I realize the national campaign is what people can most often see, it is what happens in each individual riding that really matters. If you feel you want to "strategically vote", make sure you look at the statistics from past elections and look at how the polls are going in your own riding. The national polls really don't pertain to the dynamic of your local riding.