Thoughts on C-32 committee members from the NDP

Of the 12 members of the C-32 committee, only one of them was from the NDP (based on the percentage of NDP seats in the house). While Mr. John Rafferty (Thunder Bay—Rainy River, NDP) stood in for Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP) for part of one of the days, it was otherwise Mr. Angus at all meetings. He is the Heritage, Culture, and digital issues critic for the NDP.

I consider Mr. Angus to be a great ally for fellow creators, and have been saying this for many years. Anyone who reads past articles attached to the Timmins-James Bay riding will know that I have made numerous political donations to ensure he returns to parliament to help protect our rights.

I may not agree with him on every policy detail, but that is to be expected. I also don't agree with every policy detail expressed by Michael Geist and other allies at the University of Ottawa or CIPPIC. I don't disagree with everything said by John Degen or Barry Sookman, even though I believe that overall the policies they advocate are harmful to the interests of creators.

Mr. Angus was the most vocal in the committee against the harmful impacts of misunderstood and misapplied technical measures on creators. As I consider this to have been the most harmful aspect of Bill C-32, even if it wasn't the most vocally opposed, it was great to see Mr. Angus continuously reminding the committee while asking questions of witnesses.

Mr. Angus and I don't see eye-to-eye on the impact of the private copying regime for music. I believe that it has feed into misunderstandings of copyright, and has backfired in a way that it has resulted in less (not more) money to creators in the music industry. I believe it should be replaced with a different regime, not expanded to devices. Mr. Angus, on the other hand, was one of the more vocal proponents of expanding the regime, and tabled a private members bill (C-499) towards that goal.

Mr. Angus has to deal with the reality that many in the constituencies he is trying to serve, fellow creators, have been calling for this expansion. Politics sometimes trumps good policy, and whether he agrees the private copying regime decreases revenues to musicians or not, he has to support what creators have been telling him.

Members from the creator communities I most directly try to represent, technology creators and software authors, I don't have this specific conflict. While I am asked to put a greater priority on opposing the private copying regime (or "iPod tax"), I don't disagree with that view. My hope is that members of my community will understand the position that Mr. Angus is in, and not presume that anyone who supports the private copying regime or other inappropriate levies (See: Analyzing when copyright levies are a good idea, and when they are a very bad idea.) should be seen as opponents.

The Conservative government have put the "iPod tax" as a part of their campaign from before the election was called, and I expect it will continue to be a big part of their push. I hope that even if people agree with the Conservatives on this issue that they don't dismiss Charlie Angus or candidates like him that have taken a more nuanced approach to these complex policy issues.