Wow. There are times you see or hear something you can’t believe. Today is one of those times for me. It came in the form of Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore’s talk about Bill C‑32. Speaking of those who object to the bill, he said:
When they speak, they need to be confronted. If it’s on Facebook, if it’s on Twitter, or if it’s on a talk show or if it is a newspaper, confront them and tell they are wrong. Canada, from the Hudson’s Bay Company through FTA and NAFTA to the G8 and G20, Canada always has been and always will be a trading nation. Our future and our past and our prosperity has always been dependent on investment into Canada, being in compliance with international standards, opening ourselves up to the world, welcoming investment and working with the world. Not being an outlier in the world, disregarding international treaties like WIPO that we’ve signed, disregarding our obligations to protect foreign investment into Canada, Canadian investment into Canadian businesses, we need to protect those investments and protect those jobs.
Make sure that those voices who try to find technical, non-sensical, fear-mongering reasons to oppose copyright reform are confronted every step of the way and they are defeated. When we do that this bill will pass and Canada will be better for it.
Two things really bother me about this. They’re related, but still deserve separate consideration.
The most obvious is that the speaker is an elected government official. People elected him to represent them. The public elected the government to represent them. The government stands only because the people allow it. They serve us. Do you hear this in what Moore says? The public consultation on copyright last year generated more public interest than any such consultation ever held. Comments were overwhelmingly against DRM in general, and making it an offence to bypass DRM in particular. After the government unveiled the bill, all of the opposition parties denounced the ‘digital locks’ provisions and organizations make up of consumers, students, universities and colleges, libraries, and documentary film makers lined up to express their disapproval.
Now the Heritage Minister has the nerve to stand up and say that these extremists (yes, he used that word) must be confronted and defeated, then Bill-32 will pass and everything will be lovely. Sorry James, it doesn’t work that way in a democracy. I know you’re a member of today’s Conservative party so you may not realize how democracy works.
The second thing that bothers me so much is what’s missing from what Moore said. It’s all about trade, NAFTA, international agreements, investments, and business. I recall no mention of the public. Even the artists themselves seem to be little more than an afterthought.
The sad thing is that most of the bill is good. Change the digital locks provisions to allow circumvention for lawful purposes and I’d be an enthusiastic supporter of the bill. But no, because I’m not in total agreement, I’m an extremest. I must be confronted and defeated, it seems.
It’s pretty clear who this bill is for, isn’t it? It’s not for you, it’s not for me, and it’s not for the artists.