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Why I will be voting against Stephen Harper’s Conservatives when an election is called.

I had two calls from the Conservative Party yesterday — one from a fund raiser, and another from a pollster polling on behalf of my local MP Pierre Poilievre.  The fund raiser wanted money, and the pollster wanted to know how I was going to vote if an election were called.  I told them both the same thing, which is that I won’t contribute funds or votes to the party while their policy on copyright remains Bill C-61.  I’ve been delivering that message to party workers all summer long as they have repeatedly called looking for hand outs.

So what’s wrong with their approach?

As I’ve written previously, Bill C-61 would make most ordinary Canadian families into criminals.  Rip a CD to a PC and allow your spouse to play it on her iPod, she’s a criminal.  Keep a television program on your PVR too long, you’re a criminal. The list of offences goes on and on as the music and film industry have won a definitive victory in their battle to criminalize innocent and ordinary consumer behaviours. Not only that, but the industry holds the cards.  The mere allegation of theft entitles them to levy fines pre-emptively, without giving the accused a day in court, and without recourse.  We give murderers, drug smugglers, car thieves and shoplifters the right to a fair trial.  Why not music “thieves”?

I’m nail-spitting angry over the Conservative copyright reform bill.  I haven’t been this upset with the Conservative Party since voting Reform in the election of 1993.

I say get your hand outs from the music and film industry, Mr. Harper.  I’ll be more than happy to see you and your government tossed out on election day over this issue.

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{ 15 comments… add one }

  • Francis Moran August 31, 2008, 7:33 am

    Gee, Alec, I can think of a few hundred reasons not to vote for, or give money to, the Harper Tories and yours doesn't even make it to the edge of the radar screen.

    The reasons compound heavily when it comes that wind-up attack dog, Pierre Poilievre, He's the guy, you'll recall, who, on the day that every other Canadian was acknowledging the grievous harm done to so many First Nations people by the residential school system and joining in a national apology, went on air to slam the apology and settlement and to say that we needed to "engender the values of hard work and independence and self-reliance" in First Nations people. Utterly lost on him, of course, was the tragic irony that the residential school system was set up largely to eliminate exactly the values of independence and self-reliance from those forced to attend.

    However you have come to see the light, welcome to what I hope is a sufficiently large number of Canadians who look forward to tossing these bums out of office.

  • Alec August 31, 2008, 8:09 am

    Whatever works, I guess Francis. Poilievre apologized pretty quickly for his comments, so I give him the benefit of the doubt there. But in any case, this will be the second election in a row that I've withheld my vote from the Conservatives, despite having voted for them most of my life.

    Harper is presiding over the most massive erosion of personal liberty in Canadian society that I've ever seen. It's time to turn the clock back.

  • Mum September 1, 2008, 8:01 am

    I can't imagine why you ever voted for Poilievre! He is unbelievably ignorant in every sense of the word and then he is a conservative to boot! Congratulations, Alec! Now make your vote count to get the Harper government onto the manure pile of politics and give someone else the majority. MA

  • MOU September 1, 2008, 10:20 am

    Hi Alec, I guess people need targets for their anger and frustrations. Harper and Poilievre are good ones. Other members of the present Conservative Party are not much different from them.

    Bill C-61 is a reflection of the way in which politicians see the media; they want it to be beholden to them. When that has been achieved it can be expected to help in the manipulation of ordinary citizens to vote against their own interests.

    I would be happy if any party could beat the Conservatives, but It is unlikely that the they won't win the next election. Their opposition is divided, they have CanWest Global on their side, more money than other parties and are unscrupulous.

    The important thing is for us to try and keep them to a minority. If this can be done, the opposition may defeat C-61. I shall cast my vote to do as much damage to the Conservatives as a lone citizen can manage.

    Love, Dad

  • capj September 1, 2008, 10:27 am

    Hi Alec,
    I think you should rethink your position. Consistent Individual Creators' Property Rights make the core principle of libertarianism, from which almost all other conclusions of the philosophy result. Over-zealous penalites are merely a bit of misapplication. Please see http://capj.livejournal.com/111825.html . It's nice to see a bit of libertarianism making its way into application. Since it's the big political issue, next to which left and right are mere flavours, of course the forces of oppression are screaming blue murder. As Ghandi said, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." The Libertarian Party just gets ignored or laughed at. It's REALLY nice to see libertarianism make so much progress that it is now getting fought against viciously, with libertarianism having a bit of the upper hand currently.

  • Alec September 1, 2008, 10:36 am

    Jim, I disagree with you wholeheartedly on this issue. Recommend you read this piece I authored earlier this year: http://saunderslog.com/2008/06/03/introducing-can

    The bottom line is that the foundations of creativity, culture and the tradition of public discourse are under attack in this bill. Bill C-61 is perhaps the biggest single assault on personal liberty that we have witnessed in Canada in my life time, save for Pierre Trudeau's choice to invoke the War Measures Act in response to the FLQ.

  • Alec September 1, 2008, 10:38 am

    Dad – the propaganda around C-61 is astounding. I was bowled over when the pollster on the phone said "Oh – you mean the bill to protect artists".

  • MGU September 1, 2008, 11:08 am

    Bullseye!

  • O.S.I. September 1, 2008, 6:05 pm

    The matter is not a 'political party' issue, over the years as I've written
    to the parties on their stance, the underlying theme was that have an
    agenda to toughen copyright as a signatory to the 1997 WIPO treaties.
    They have absolutely no intention of listening to the electorate, it does
    not matter whether you vote Conservative, Liberal, NDP, or other.
    The only thing that forestalls the inevitable legislation is a minority government.

    Last election that became reality! as both MP Sarmite Bulte and Lisa Frulla
    were soundly skewered in the media for taking CRIA and Recording Industry America campaign funds , or involved in their fundraisers. So in
    some sense its better blogging to remove a Heritage Commitee member, rather than voting at all! I believe the following spring most of the
    major Canadian recording Labels left the CRIA, even popular mainstream
    Canadian artists know they will not be served well by copyright legislation.

    There really is no mechanism for the funds to get to a Canadian artist anyway, (unless they play live) , for example an IPod or blank CD levy sits in a fund, its anyones guess how these levies, taxes , penalties or proposed fees actually help an artist create anything!!!!

    In the 'philosophical' sense though, we are largely moving into a
    'determinist' era , any 'freewill' thought is not of concern to government.
    They will do what is best for themselves only, after all the Conservatives
    called me to ask how well Stephen Harper is doing (largely so they can
    ascertain how many riding they will win before an election is even called)
    I'm not sure why he needs a pat on the back from me?
    'Attaboy' Stevie! LOL

  • Steve September 1, 2008, 7:17 pm

    The Conservatives copyright bill is so egregiously bad that I think they want it to fail.

    Considering the groundswell of opposition to the current bill, which includes virtually everything corporate copyright interests have asked for, I can't imagine the CPC proceeding with it, whether they get a majority or a minority. Now that they have tried, they can say to the U.S. administration that it just wouldn't fly.

    I don't sense the same threat I once did about this bill. But if you think voting for Stéphane Dion will make it better, that's your right. It's a fee country, but if you are a conservative as you suggest, you will regret it if he ever gets into power.

  • Alec September 1, 2008, 7:33 pm

    Steve,

    I'm issues driven. There are two things I care passionately about. Government that spends wisely, and government that has a light regulatory hand. That makes me more of a libertarian than anything else, although I do not subscribe to many of the views that the more extreme libertarians hold.

    I've always voted conservatively believing that the Conservative Party was the best exemplar of those qualities. For two elections now, however, I have voted Green.

    In the past federal election, my own MP's stance on same sex marriage was so far outside my own world view that I could not in conscience vote for him.

    In the past provincial election, the number one issue was whether to fund religious schools. Again, my view is that the most efficient use of the tax payers money is to abolish state funding for all religious schools. So I voted against the provincial conservatives.

    What I am learning is that despite years and years of support for the CPC, I have some fundamental disagreements at a philosophical level.

    I'm not about second guessing the motives of politicians either. Whether the copyright bill is some game that is designed to provoke a response from the electorate is really irrelevant to me. The mere fact that my government might choose to table such a bill is enough to cause me to turn my back on the governing party.

    I say vote the bastards out. They haven't earned my trust, my vote, or my contributions.

  • Michael Dawson September 1, 2008, 7:57 pm

    “Oh – you mean the bill to protect artists” I laughed so hard when I read that quote in Alec's comment. I recieved a letter from my conservative MP which only proved that he had not read either my letter or the bill itself. I may not be a superstar, but I am still an artist, and this bill does not protect me, nor any other artist. Shoulda told the guy "No, the bill to enable fiscal warfare through american labels' attacks on canadians." For the four years of my voting carreer, I have voted Conservative. Until their attitude changed, I'm voting NDP, no matter how much it will raise taxes to support unnecessary social programs.

  • Lester September 1, 2008, 10:46 pm

    Harper wants to be dictator. We are in deep trouble with him in any sort of power. Basically, he has opened us up to the US and says, "come take everything and I'll let you control all the people too.
    The Security and Prosperity agreement eliminates the freedoms and comforts that Canadians use to enjoy and it will get worse. Bill C 61 is just one one the many things Harper is doing to give the Coorporations all the power and the individual none. Remember folks, he is a reformer. He is blowing money like nuts on war and weapons and gifts to coorporations and to the US too. He has stifled everyone who speaks up, especially the media and anyone within the government.
    If you always wanted to live in country with a Corporate Totalitarian regieme, Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada is the way to go…Goodbye Canada, hello North American Union (which is in the works too) then vote for these mobsters.
    According to recent polls, he is top of the chart…could it be the propoganda flyers he sent out payed by tax payers that did it… Are the majority of Canadians really so stupid and gullible. Why aren't people better informed? Most people dont even know about Bill C61. I am shocked by it all the time.
    Please, please, Canadians, I beg of you to vote against this NeoConservative Pig.

  • capj September 3, 2008, 9:30 am

    Hi Alec,

    Of course, if you took your vote away from the Conservatives and
    gave it to the Libertarians, that would send the right message —
    the Conservatives would have to take our policies in order to get
    the votes back. I think the Libertarians would strike the right
    balance between supporting CICPR (see http://capj.livejournal.com/111825.html ) and non-police-state
    tactics for enforcement. Giving your vote to any other Canadian
    political party today would constitute going massively the wrong
    way, due merely to a small bit of misapplication on the part of
    the Conservatives. Keep priorities straight! As the
    mathematicians would say, "don't abandon the first-order
    approximation in order to overwhelm it by focusing solely on the
    second."

    To get into details, I certainly think it's OK to copy a
    performance that you've purchased onto different media in order
    to play it on different devices for your personal use.

    A good thought I had: a long discussion about libertarianism is
    like a thick book on Zen — it shows that the point is being
    missed. One really needs only to understand CICPR – Consistent
    Individual Creators' Property Rights — a Lockean concept; see
    John Locke — the rest is mostly application.

    When you say you disagree with me, I suspect you're focusing
    solely on the second-order problem. You don't disagree with
    Consistent Individual Creators' Property Rights, after all, do
    you?

    I also disagree with over-zealous enforcement; people should be
    entitled to a presumption of honesty and not be subjected to
    surveillance in their homes or in general, just because they
    *might* commit a crime, as in the spirit of the USA's Bill of
    Rights — and the one in the Canadian Constitution, too, for that
    matter. But people should individually understand the concept of
    Consistent Individual Creators' Property Rights, which is rather
    a new one, historically, developing since the Renaissance, and is
    the foundation of Western society and indeed all first-world
    countries everywhere. It — Lockean concepts — are what we mean
    in these areas when we say "honesty". It's the only thing that's
    going to work.

  • Albert Jacobs September 4, 2008, 4:46 am

    I don't believe that artists had anything to do with the Conservative government creating Bill C-61. The real reason for it's drafting is so they can 'Big Brother' us into oblivion. Just think how any Canadian would feel if their ISP (Internet Service Provider) had people on their staff that did nothing but track what their customers were doing online, and then submitting the information to authorities. All of a sudden, not only would government know that somebody illegally downloaded a copy of "Life is a Highway," they would know that so-and-so may have looked at 'boobies' online, or likes to buy edible undies on e-Bay. What if so-and-so wants to run for public office someday against the Conservatives? If you live a 100% clean life concerning your online experience, and have visited zero websites that you wouldn't want anybody to know about, than you have nothing to fear. The rest of Canadians should oppose Bill C-61; it is totally invasive on so many levels. Remember, this bill will only lead to more 'interesting' developments in our ever-decreasingly private lives. Makes you feel sort of like Winston trying to hide from the Ministry of Truth. Harper et al will soon have us all smoking Victory tobacco and apologizing for expressing independent thought. As a society that cherishes civil liberties, we have to be aware that when you give up this much of your privacy, how do you get it back, or prevent losing more? It all starts somewhere.

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