Target constituencies for election campaign

While we would like to see all candidates in the 308 electoral districts educated on copyright reform and the Internet during this election, there are districts that may be strategic. For reasons that are hard to understand, members of parliament who participate in the Standing
Committee on Canadian Heritage
or serve as Heritage
seem to become unaware of critical issues.

The recent report from the Heritage Committee, the Interim Report on Copyright Reform is an example of just how off-the-mark some members of parliament can get. This report has many recommendations, most of which show a lack of understanding of the Internet and new collaborative forms of creativity represented by the Internet and licensing schemes such as Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) or Creative Commons (see: iCommons Canada project).

I recently attended a conference called Rethinking Copyright. One of the speakers was University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist. Mr Geist spoke about how there are two conversations going on at conferences such as that one: legacy content industries talking about how to sell their existing products on this new media, and creators talking about new ways of creating using the new media. He spoke about the first as the Heritage conversation, noting that Heritage (both the department and the parliamentary committee) seem to operate oblivious to the fact that this critical second conversation about new forms of creativity exists.

I grew up using electronic communications media, and in previous submissions to government went so far as to introduce myself as a Cyber Citizen.

Heritage refuses to acknowledge the existence of my community and contributions to Canada, and continues to push forward regulations which will harm this community. I do not consider what they are promoting to be a case of protecting the rights of the special interests they recognize and represent, but almost a case of colonialism where they wish to superimpose the inappropriate requests of these special interests on top of our existing community.

There are those in our community who agree with John Gilmore that "The Internet treats censorship as damage, and routes around it." The problem with this belief is that we also live within nation states with domestic laws that can regulate and tax our activities. These policies are important to the survival of our Internet culture. What we are doing is highly creative and innovative, and we should live in a world where our governments protect our rights as well. We should not need to live in a world where protecting our rights needs to be done underground against the government rather than in the mainstream with the help of the government.

There are those who say that this election is about health care, taxes, education and other such priorities. The policy areas we wish to discuss on such as Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks (PCTs) touch very deeply on these areas important to Canadians. You can't talk about health care without talking about pharmaceutical patents and research grants, and our alternative collaborative methods of innovation. You can't talk about taxes without talking about levies being applied to various media (such as blank CDs, and possibly the Internet itself in the future) being used to tax new creativity to fund the legacy content industries. You can't talk about education without talking about the worldwide collaborative creation of educational materials, and the importance of the royalty-free Internet to students able to research topics to a depth previously not possible.

The following are the members of the Heritage Committee. If you live in these constituencies, or a neighboring constituency, please ensure that you make your voice heard. Write letters to candidates asking them questions. Go to all candidates debates, meet the candidates, and ask questions. It is time we as Internet supporters and Cyber-citizens stand up and be counted.

* Past Heritage Minister Honourable Hélène Chalifour Scherrer – Liberal candidate for: Louis-Hébert

* Previous Heritage Minister Honourable Sheila Copps – not running

MEMBERS of Heritage Committee

* Jim Abbott - Conservative candidate for: Kootenay--Columbia
* Carole-Marie Allard -Liberal candidate for: Alfred-Pellan

* Mark Assad – not running
* Paul Bonwick - Liberal candidate for: Simcoe--Grey
* Sarmite Bulte (Chair, should be a focus of our work) – Liberal candidate for: Parkdale--Hig Park
* Jeannot Castonguay – not running
* Christiane Gagnon - Bloc candidate for: Québec
* Gurmant Grewal - Conservative candidate for: Newton--North Delta
* John Harvard - appointed Lieutenant-Governor in Manitoba
* Nancy Karetak-Lindell – Liberal candidate for: Nunavut
* Wendy Lill – not running
* Clifford Lincoln – not running
* James Lunney – Conservative candidate for: Nanaimo--Alberni
* Dennis Mills – Liberal candidate for: Toronto–Danforth
* Gary Schellenberger – Conservative candidate for: Perth--Wellington
* Caroline St-Hilaire – Bloc candidate for: Longueuil