Bill C-51, now known as the Anti-terrorism Act, allows Canada’s spy agency, CSIS, to disrupt real and perceived terrorist threats. It allows intelligence agencies to share Canadians’ personal information more widely. Authorities can detain someone for up to seven days if it’s believed a terrorist event may occur.
And the exercise of these new powers can take place without meaningful parliamentary oversight.
The idea was to separate the intelligence gathering and security operations into two discrete branches of the service. Giving CSIS the power to act on the intelligence it gathers, to make the sort of disruptions it was created to prevent the RCMP from undertaking makes no sense at all. From all reports, Canadian security ~ and Canadians ~ have suffered serious consequences because the two branches of the service don’t communicate with each other. Instead of rectifying such serious problems that have come to light through the Air India Inquiry (2010) and the Arar Inquiry (2006), C-51 compounds them by granting the security service unprecedented “lawful access” to the personal information of all Canadian citizens. What it does *not* do is compell CSIS to share information about imminent attacks. This does not make Canadians safer.
Although I am no lawyer, my understanding is that C-51 legalized a host of activities that were formerly illegal under Canadian law because they jeopardize or contravene the civil rights Canadians are supposed to be guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As near as I can tell, nothing at all is being done to end CSE’s bulk data collection — effectively spying on the digital activities of all Canadians 24/7.
Currently the only supervision of the activities of the security services are after-the-fact reviews, which means any and all improper Charter breaches will only come to light long after they have occurred, which is like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.
Perhaps the most chilling part of all of this is the incredible lack of oversight to the services that have been given these incredible powers over our lives. At least in the early part of the 21st Century the CSIS Inspector General provided actual supervision, to ensure Canadian spies don’t break the law.
I wrote about this all in March of last year, before C-51 became law, in Liberal Leader Gets Bill C-51 Wrong. Unfortunately it looks as though our Liberal Government has no intention of dismantling this dreadful law. It seems the best we can hope for is some sort of parliamentary oversight.
Unfortunately that is more likely to end up being a rubber stamp than anything else.
Today is the last day for Canadians to make submissions to the Federal Government’s National Security Consultation. Although there was a component of This is an online consultation, and they’ve provided plenty of reading material, which naturally supports the idea this legislation is a good thing. It’s not. At least not if you think the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is important.
The government has broken the consultation down into categories spread out over multiple web pages, asking for our input on any or all of the 10 topic areas for the consultation. Each page also asks us to identify ourselves, although, unlike the electoral reform consultation, it is not explicitly necessary.
I’ll say it again: Today ~ December 15th, 2016 ~ is the LAST DAY to participate in the consultation. Please do. Even if all you do is go to any or all of the Consultation web pages and comment “Repeal C-51” you will help. Anonymous comments won’t be taken as seriously as comments connected with our real names, so I strongly recommend filling in the contact info. The reality is that, so long as C-51 is in place, there is no way for Canadians to enjoy online anonymity. (Even encrypted activity is being recorded and stored against the day the security services can break the encryption.)
Even if you read this after the consultation deadline, you can still call your MP to account for this. Canadians used to have civil rights. We used to have privacy. Law enforcement agents were required to produce some evidence of probable cause that would convince a judge to issue a warrant before our Charter protections of our privacy could be legally breached. Privacy is the citizen’s only protection from potential over-reach of the powerful state. This is why the UHDR and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms seek to protect our privacy. Sacrificing citizen privacy does not make us safer, it puts us at risk.
C-51 ushered in a powers and laws that threaten Canadian privacy, freedom of speech and other Charter protections without actually substantively dealing with problems of prosecution of terrorism, and without any meaningful oversight of Canada’s booming national security industry.
After you make your submission, you can Sign the Petition:
We are at a disheartening moment in federal politics. Despite all the powerful and thoughtful critiques of the government’s anti-terrorism bill, it has now become law.”
– Ed Broadbent
I’ve been trying to put my thoughts about the Ottawa shootings down, and then I happened upon Russell Brand’s energetic assessment, not only of the situation, but how it is being spun. Yes, it is terrible that a soldier died. And that another soldier died in a completely unrelated incident earlier. But there is no question in my mind that the murders of these two men is being “spun.”
Security professional Byron Sonne was arrested before the G20 Summit, an event on which the Canadian government lavished a great deal of money on security. Byron was concerned about the implications of the introduction of an influx of a host of new CCTV cameras in downtown Toronto, so he took a look at the security being provided by his tax dollars (and yours). Apparently citizens were supposed to keep their eyes closed. Police violated Byron’s Charter rights; he was arrested and punitively denied bail for almost a year. When he was finally released into his parents’ custody for almost another year, the draconian bail conditions obliged his parents to waive their own Charter privacy rights.
Byron lost his home, his business and his wife; and yet he was finally exonerated because, as hard as the authorities looked, there was no credible evidence. At one of the court proceedings I attended, a law enforcement expert witness explained that their inability to break the encryption on one of Byron’s computers meant that even if acquitted, Byron would always be considered a person of interest.
Apparently these days, Canadians are guilty until proven innocent.
And the G20 Summit? Well, that event was marked by a great deal of violence… but not violence perpetrated by peaceful protesters, this was violence perpetrated by the “security forces” against citizens, as citizen journalists posted masses of video of such incidents to YouTube. There were so many unlawful arrests and Charter violations that a great many voices called for a proper inquiry… which never actually happened. The government didn’t want to be bothered investigating abuses it was responsible for. Funny that.
(I kind of think Byron was held for so long because they needed a “bad guy” in jail to justify the ridiculous amount of tax dollars spent, and hopefully distract from the civil rights abuses…)
Canadian tax dollars paid for a whole year of an undercover officer’s infiltration of poverty activist Julian Ichim‘s life.
Even after they were unable to prove any wrong doing against him, (Julian is, after all, an activist, not a criminal), absent evidence the undercover agent tried to convict Mr. Ichim with character assassination and innuendo. No matter what you think about Mr. Ichim and his methods, there is no question he is sincere. And yet, law enforcement agencies continue to harass and try to intimidate the young man.
In well over a decade of activism, working in the trenches to fight poverty and injustice in constructive ways, it seems the only “violent” act Mr. Ichim has ever performed was the act of throwing milk at politician Stockwell Day in his student days. And yet law enforcement considers him a threat.
Omar Khadr‘s rights are still being denied. As a child put in harm’s way by a parent, maybe he was a child soldier, or maybe he was an innocent bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time; but either way he was a victim who should have been treated better. This 15 year old child certainly should not have been abandoned by the Canadian authorities after being dug out of the rubble nearly dead; nor should he have been delivered to the infamous Bagram then tortured and left to languish at Guantanamo Bay for years where he was convicted in what can only be described as a travesty of “justice.” Even back in Canada this young man is still being victimized. What happened to his Charter rights?
The Canadian Government, our government, has been chipping away at our civil rights since 9-11. Since we are now apparently all guilty until proven innocent, our “security services” are investigating all of us all of the time… okay, our Charter Rights aren’t being chipped away, they are being steam rollered and dismantled.
The awesome powers of the state are being deployed, not against terrorists, but against activists trying to make Canada a better place, which often means disagreeing with government policy. But peaceful protest and dissent are considered to be crucial elements of democracy, which is why these activities are enshrined in the Charter.
“Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms forms the first part of the Constitution Act, 1982. Here are some protections that the Charter guarantees:
freedom of religion, of thought, of expression, of the press and of peaceful assembly
the right to participate in political activities and the right to a democratic government
the freedom to move around and live within Canada, and to leave Canada
legal rights such as the right to life, liberty and security
How many of our Charter Rights have been violated in my examples? I am not a civil rights lawyer, I’m a suburban mom who writes novels– how do I know about these things? The Internet has made “citizen journalism” possible, so we are no longer limited to knowing what the mainstream “news media” decides we should know. And the mainstream media has been so quiet about these issues that I’m inclined to agree with Glenn Greenwald’s assertion that our “news media” mostly functions as the propaganda arm of our government.
The examples I have cited do not exist in a vacuum; they are the result of government policy.
Civil Rights exist to protect citizens. Removing or suppressing them doesn’t make us safe, it makes us unsafe.
It used to be that agents of law enforcement agents were not given permission to wiretap citizens, or to search people’s homes, or seize their goods without a warrant. A judge had to be convinced of a reasonable probability — “probable cause” — that there was credible evidence to suggest the subject of the warrant was engaged in criminal activity. There had to be good reason to invade anyone’s privacy.
Certainly, there would be some judges more inclined to sympathize with law enforcement agents than others, but even they wouldn’t sign warrants that could be ruled unconstitutional by higher courts. This system wasn’t perfect, but it struck a reasonable balance between the needs of the state to be secure and the needs of the citizens to not be harassed. Because such laws were in place to protect citizens, when an abuse did happen, the citizen had legal grounds for redress against state harassment (or worse).
Lawful Access quashes our civil rights
Since 9-11 the Canadian Government has been trying to pass “Lawful Access” legislation. This would allow the government to spy on Canadian citizens all the time for no reason, with no judicial oversight.
This would be a huge blow to our Charter Rights that protect citizens from abuse by the power of the state.
Initially Canadians were protected from such legislation by a string of minority governments, which is about as close to democracy as we can get under our unfair electoral system. In a minority, no party can unilaterally impose laws; laws can be passed without achieving enough consensus. Back then I think the alarm was raised by lawyers who understood what was being proposed. The unease spread through the tech communities, because people who understood how computers and the Internet worked could better understand how this technology could be made to work against personal freedom. By the time Vic Toews tried to sell the idea that government spying was a good thing, enough ordinary citizens had twigged to the problem to mount the #tellviceverything Twitter campaign. There was too much bad publicity; the Minister, and indeed the government looked ridiculous. So they backed down.
But they didn’t stop trying, because the legal authority to spy on all the citizens all the time is very powerful indeed. The most recent attempt has been Bill C-13, in which lawful access (aka unfettered spying on citizens) was dressed up as an anti-bullying measure inspired by the Amanda Todd tragedy.
“We should not have to choose between our privacy and our safety. We should not have to sacrifice our children’s privacy rights to make them safe from cyberbullying, ‘sextortion’ and revenge pornography.”
And, of course, Bill C-13 does in no way limit its invasion of privacy to children, or cyber bullies. In the light of the Snowden revelations, the pressure on the Harper Government to get this law passed (to make all the illegal spying on citizens that CSIS and CSEC seem to engage in, alone and/or in conjunction with Five Eyes partner agencies) must have been enormous.
Something no one ever seems to consider is that, even in the unlikely event that our government would not abuse such powers, how do we know that faceless government agents with lawful access to the recordings they make of so many aspects of our intimate personal lives— how do we know that agents with the right to spy on us and our children are not themselves voyeurs, pornographers and pedophiles?
The University of Ottawa’s Michael Geist discussed inadequacies in Bill C13 before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, concluding that:
“This kind of privacy harm can victimize anyone. We know that information from at least 750,000 Canadian user accounts are voluntarily disclosed every year. It is why we need to ensure that the law has appropriate safeguards against misuse of our personal information and why C-13 should be amended. I’ll stop there and welcome your questions.”
But now, under cover of the alleged “terrorist acts” of the last few days, Mr. Harper’s government seems to have quietly passed this most controversial of laws, which shreds much of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that Canadians depend on. According to the government website it may still need one more Senate vote before getting the Assent that will make it the law of the land.
Will this make Canadians more safe?
Without consulting with Canadians, our government squandered vast sums of money to build and equip the most expensive Canadian building in history to spy on us all the time. In spite of this, our security forces were caught flat footed by the Ottawa shooting.
In the old days, when Canadian civil rights ensured law enforcement agents had to provide reasonable grounds before a court would issue a warrant to violate anyone’s rights– they did a better job of providing national security. Instead of catching terrorists, the Harper Government is busy watching the birdwatchers who dare speak against current environmental policy. This doesn’t make Canada safe.
Nor will misidentifying disturbed individuals who “go postal” as “terrorists” keep Canadians safe. Addressing the root causes– making the appropriate medical help available to disturbed individuals, for instance, would do much much more to keep Canadians safe.
SWAT teams shouldn’t break into the homes of law abiding families enjoying Sunday dinner. It was acceptable and legal in Nazi Germany, but should it really be legal in Canada?
Spying on citizens was legal and accepted in Russia when the Tsar’s security forces did it. Oddly enough, it didn’t keep the Tsar and his family safe.
Later, it was still legal in the Soviet Union when the KGB did it. Material collected by such surveillance could lead to an ominous knock on the door in the middle of the night. People who dared express concern or disagreement with State policy were often dragged from their beds and whisked away to the Gulag for “preventative detention.” Not because they had done anything illegal, but because somebody decided that they might. Citizens were guilty until proven innocent, rather like medieval laws that put accused witches on trial by being tied to a chair and dropped in the lake– if she floated, she was a witch (who could then be burned at the stake) but if she sank and drowned she was proven innocent. Do we really want laws like this? In Canada?
“It is always stunning when a country that has brought violence and military force to numerous countries acts shocked and bewildered when someone brings a tiny fraction of that violence back to that country. Regardless of one’s views on the justifiability of Canada’s lengthy military actions, it’s not the slightest bit surprising or difficult to understand why people who identify with those on the other end of Canadian bombs and bullets would decide to attack the military responsible for that violence.”
And now that the Lawful Access bill has been passed by the House of Commons, the Conservative dominated Senate is the only thing standing in its way. Will it legitimize the government’s ability to spy on us all, all the time? .
And you know how the story goes, if you give a mouse a cookie… Apparently it works the same way for governments. Lawful Access is the foundation, but even that is not enough.
Mr. Harper envisions curtailing our rights even more. He is considering laws of ‘preventative detention‘ in wake of Ottawa attack.
Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the Commons that laws and police powers would “need to be strengthened in the area of surveillance, detention and arrest.” He pledged to bring forward legislation in an expedited fashion.”
My maternal grandparents escaped from Russia before the Iron Curtain slammed down. I’d always been grateful for their foresight in relocating to a better place. Movies like Gorky Park, or The Lives of Others have made me appreciate how important this was. And now it seems it was all for nought.
Isn’t the purpose of terrorism is to spread terror? Although there seems to be international disagreement on what terrorism actually is, the United nations seems to agree with me:
“Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them.”
* All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Ordinary people may be able to make such comments as calling on Presidents to assassinate people as a “joke,” but people with strong ties to a sitting government should not be making such statements on news magazine programs that are being broadcast across Canadian’s national television broadcaster, CBC.
No doubt Mr. Flanagan was on the program in question because of his strong ties to the Canadian government.
For a political scientist employed at a Canadian University professor teaching young Canadians it was an unconscionable thing to say.
This reflects badly on all Canadians. I do not want my government either condoning (if serious) or trivializing (if not) something as heinous as assassination. If nothing is done about it, the implication left with the world is that this is how Canada is run. Not my Canada.
But it’s an unusual case, so no one really seems to know how to proceed with it. And it was couched as a “joke”, so some people don’t take it seriously.
Yet the man whose assassination Tom Flanagan has called for is under attack from all sides right now. Other threats to his life and liberty and his family have been leveled at him. I doubt he finds it a laughing matter. I am horrified at the thought that my country would condone such a thing.
Yet nothing is being done about it. No one seems to want to do anything about it.
464 Except where otherwise expressly provided by law, the following provisions apply in respect of persons who counsel other persons to commit offences, namely,
(a) every one who counsels another person to commit an indictable offence is, if the offence is not committed, guilty of an indictable offence and liable to the same punishment to which a person who attempts to commit that offence is liable; and
(b) every one who counsels another person to commit an offence punishable on summary conviction is, if the offence is not committed, guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
Gail Davidson has since learned that the Calgary Police Department (Tom Flanagan’s current location) has opened a file. From the RCMP, to the Vancouver Police Department to The Calgary Police Department, no one seems to want to do something. Is it because they don’t know how to proceed? Or is it that there is no law to cover it?
equal before the law
Yet the authorities managed to arrest and charge Canadian businessman Byron Sonne on the basis of Twitter remarks protesting the G20.
Byron Sonne is currently being held without bail, and may remain so incarcerated,
deprived of his liberty maybe for years pending trial.
Without having been convicted of anything.
The question then becomes: is it that there is no will to proceed because Mr. Flanagan has strong ties to our government? Charges are not even brought against one man, while another man without such ties is deprived of his liberty.
Maybe a court would find one or both guilty. Maybe not. I don’t know. The point is this issue is serious enough that a court must try.
How does it look to the world?
Canadians engaging in peaceful protest are arrested and brutalized during the G20. Citizens expressing dissent like Byron Sonne are punitively incarcerated.
While a University Professor calling for the assassination of Julian Assange – on National television – in an infamous clip seen around the world, is given a free pass.
Canada looks very very bad indeed.
Making it even worse:
According to this CTV article a Toronto woman received threatening email from Mr. Flanagan, but the police in Calgary will not do anything about it unless she makes a complaint in person:
I fell in love with Robert Redford in The Sting when he was young and I was younger. Redford is one of the cinema’s greatest undervalued comedians; his timing is flawless as showcased in early work like “Barefoot In The Park” or later “Legal Eagles”. He even brought humour to his portrayal of “the Sundance Kid,” for whom his film festival is named.
But Redford has put in some brilliant performances in political films over the years.
He turned in a brilliant performance in a cautionary tale called “The Candidate,” which demonstrates clearly how degraded democracies can become.
But there are two movies I was reminded of when I read about today’s WikiLeaks story.
At the end of the movie “Three Days of the Condor,” the inadvertent hero Redford plays achieves freedom the only possible way:
by releasing the classified information to the media.
Because we know that even though he is a whistle blower, once the world knows he will be safe.
And we know the news media will ensure that the story gets out.
We know that.
Robert Redford also played Bob Woodward in “All The President’s Men,” the film version of the true story of the “Watergate” scandal that brought down the Nixon administration.
There are countless stories of the bravery of reporters who risked, and in many cases lost– their lives in pursuit of a story that was important to them and the public. And it still happens.
But that doesn’t alter the fact that the world has changed a lot in the last few decades. In many cases, the News Media is not doing the job we believe it is. Citizens around the globe have NOT been told about the dangers of ACTA or the importance of Net Neutrality to free speech and democracy.
Part of it is, I am sure, that technological advances, in particular the Internet, has caused great upheavals in the Media business. As ownership has been increasingly centralized, downsizing, “dumbing down” and decimation of staff has left many newsrooms in very reduced and weakened states. The agendas of the corporate masters more often determines what is reported and how.
So we are very fortunate to have WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks was gifted with a heap of really important information. In order to ensure dissemination, they passed them around to five major news outlets located in 5 different countries. Each were aware the others had the story, so they ALL had no CHOICE but to publish, with or without corporate or government approval.
In this way, WikiLeaks guaranteed that the story broke and spread.
Canada’s government funded public broadcaster, the CBC, uses an American “Licensing” scheme which doesn’t allow even purely non-profit fair dealing reuse of their publications by Canadian citizens. So why would WikiLeaks even CONSIDER releasing this story to CBC?
Clearly, just like in “Three Days of the Condor,” WikiLeaks wants to spread the story as far and wide and as fast as possible. So that it can’t be stopped.
The Globe likes to call itself “Canada’s National Newspaper,” but like that other television broadcaster, the Globe is owned by Bell Canada Enterprises. I assume that this corporate connection would be the reason why the Globe has been first so quiet and about the fact Canadian Internet rates are shortly to go through the roof due to Usage Based Billing. It is only recently that it’s been possible to find UBB on their website at all. Now that they are, the bias is thick enough to cut with a knife.
As a blogger I prefer not to link to Globe articles because in the past they’ve broken links by placing articled behind a paywall.
So I can’t imagine the Globe standing up to government pressure to suppress the WikiLeaks story.
Having a Canadian Government in the process of pushing through Bill C-32 in the face of Universal opposition to appease the American Government, it’s easy to imagine our government buckling at the first sign of American disapproval.
So WikiLeaks released the Cables to 5 dispersed news outlets as a strategy to ensure that the story will break. Because that is the reason for the very existance of WikiLeaks: to get the story out. Even if it means the end of WikiLeaks.
Which is, of course, why WikiLeaks is so incredibly dangerous to governments who want to act without oversight or scrutiny. And why Wikileaks is the destination of choice for whistleblowers with politically sensitive leaks go. Because WikiLeaks is in it to get the story out. Period.
Even so, WikiLeaks has been down every time I’ve attempted to visit their site today.
I saw an unsubstantiated report that they were suffering a DDoS attack. And it isn’t hard to imagine where such an attack may have originated.
Of course, their servers may simply have gone down under the onslaught of un-official media outlets (like me).
Of course there have been tales of military personnel wishing for the demise of WikiLeaks. If they didn’t like WikiLeaks before this…
This story is out. It can’t be put back in the bottle. And that’s good.
If WikiLeaks is targeted, or taken down, what I worry about is the next story.
we are ALL in this together
Fortunately, I’m not alone in my concerns.
When Iceland’s Modern Media Initiative gets referendum approval, they are aiming to be good to go by 2012.
ICELAND TO BECOME INTERNATIONAL TRANSPARENCY HAVEN
“I am proud to advise the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative’s proposal to create a global safe haven for investigative journalism. I believe this proposal is a strong way of encouraging integrity and responsive government around the world, including in Iceland. In my work investigating corruption I have seen how important it is to have have robust mechanisms to get information out to the public. Iceland, with its fresh perspectives and courageous, independent people seems to be the perfect place to initiate such an effort towards global transparency and justice.”
—Eva Joly MEP – Icelandic Modern Media Initiative
That will be good for us all. Lets keep our fingers crossed that WikiLeaks can last that long.
I get most of my news online but the first I heard of it was in Michael Geist‘s blog last night. Since this is a Department of Heritage consultation, I assume the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages probably “tweeted” about this on Twitter, but I can’t say for sure since @mpjamesmoore has blocked me (and other Canadian citizens) from following his Twitter tweets.
Since I am working to Self Publish my debut novel “Inconstant Moon” as well as outlining my next (which I intend to write during NaNoWriMo) I don’t have time to even read all the consultation submissions right now. For that matter, I don’t have time to write this. But it was important so I’ve read some of them.
“Canadians are avid readers. Recent research shows that Canadians spend at least six hours per week reading books for leisure and interest, while 85% of Canadians link reading to improved quality of life.”
Because of the very low profile, there was very little response, unlike, say, the Copyright Consultation. In spite of the fact that Canada is clearly a nation of readers, only a single “reader” made a a submission. Running the numbers there were submissions from:
20 Publishers and/or Distributors
10 Industry Associations (I’ve included the Union des écrivaines et des écrivains québécois here since it is a submission made by a union of writers)
9 “Others”, organizations and individuals who may or may not fit in some of the listed categories
3 retailers including Amazon, Chapters/Indigo and Association des libraires du Québec
44 Submissions Total
I was surprised not to see any submissions from Independent retailers, either. Amazon.ca made some excellent points.
Consultation Question 7. Are there any new or emerging issues in the book industry, including those mentioned in the discussion paper, that are not sufficiently addressed by the current policy? If so, how should a modernized policy respond to these?
Amazon.ca answer: We agree with views expressed in the Discussion Paper that great change in the industry has come from the increased role of digital technology. As evidenced by our own operations, the emergence of digital technology has introduced significant new creative developments and improvements in the distribution and sale of books.
In particular, new and emerging digital technologies have enabled different models of book publishing and distribution, such as print-on-demand and electronic books. The print-on-demand publishing model allows publishers to reduce costs by printing only in response to demand, to keep low-volume titles in print and available virtually forever, with very little cost, and to publish a broader variety of titles with less financial risk.
Additionally, when combined with a self-publishing platform, print-on-demand enables the wide distribution of relatively unknown authors who may otherwise entirely lack distribution. The introduction and growth of digital content through such devices as Amazon’s own Kindle e-reader has created new opportunities for authors, publishers and distributors. In light of our experience, we believe revisions to the Policy must take into account the significant role such technology plays today and will play in the future of the Canadian book industry.
Digital technology has effectively eroded many of the problems that the current policy seeks to address. With the advances in technology, the choices available to Canadian authors, publishers and consumers are no longer local or national but global. As stated by the Competition Policy Review Panel in its Report, “a country’s competitiveness depends on governments welcoming, rather than seeking to control, the new freedom of choices brought by the Internet as an agent of change.” We believe that the Government should ensure that its policies remain responsive to changes in this industry. The growing presence of the Internet, the significance of electronic books and the new channels for publishing and distributing books are important changes that emerged after the Policy was last revised in 1992. We believe it is therefore necessary to update the Policy to account for these changes and remove the restrictions in the current Policy that seek to limit foreign investment in a digital age.
“Before the law was brought in to restrict retailers to sourcing books from Canadian sources, orders could be sourced from Ingram Distributing in the US within 3 days where an order in Canada takes multiple weeks in most cases.”
—Submission from: bookworm
The single Canadian writer to manage a submission was Wayne Kehl who addresses the P.O.D. issue and a few others in a submission I wholly agree with. Wayne Kelh makes a lot of sense. He also provides a bit of information that is actually pretty staggering:
The book-world has moved to Print on Demand publishing and even Canadian publishers have most of their books published in that format by Lightning Source Printing in the United States.”
Since I am working to self publish my debut novel “Inconstant Moon” (while outlining my next which I intend to write during NaNoWriMo) I don’t have time to even read all the consultation submissions right now. For that matter, I don’t have time to write this.
Aside from the fact that I’ve always been a reader, this issue holds particular interest for me as a writer as I’m about to self publish my debut novel, Inconstant Moon. Just now I’m at the point of making final corrections to the proof, and when it’s ready, I will be uploading it to CreateSpace. At that point I’ll be able to sell it as a Print On Demand (P.O.D.) book through Amazon.com.
It is rather irritating that although I am a Canadian writer, I will not be able to sell my novel through Amazon.ca as a P.O.D. book. As I understand it, Canadian Government policy dictates that before I can sell my Canadian novel through Amazon.ca I would first have to provide inventory. To my way of thinking that defeats the point of P.O.D.
This policy probably exists to “protect the Canadian Publishing Industry”, in this case specifically the printer/distributors. It doesn’t do much to encourage Canadians to self publish. Every Canadian grown option for self publishing P.O.D. requires a substantial cash outlay up front. This policy may also help Canadian publishers by suppressing the ability of writers choosing to self publish independently. This type of policy may have been effective in pre-Internet times, but today it negates the benefits to publishing that P.O.D. provides.
P.O.D. and digital distribution of literature are two new ways of publishing that the Canadian government must support if our book industry is to “remain current, effective, and responsive to a changing world.”
These are issues of grave importance to all Canadian authors and consumers, yet we have been seriously underrepresented in this public consultation.
p.s. Of utmost importance to Canadian publishing is the Copyright reform: Bill C-32
The most pressing issue in the Canadian book world is the tabled Bill C-32. Again, as a self publisher reliant on digital promotion and distribution methods, changes to Canadian copyright law like Bill C-32 pose an incredible danger to all types of digital production and distribution by making DRM circumvention illegal, when in fact it would be more reasonable for the government to make external DRM warning labels mandatory for any media or device encumbered with it. Making DRM “sacrosanct” in copyright law would undoubtedly lead to universal application of DRM on all devices and media sold in the Canadian Market.
This kind of control could very easily be used to prevent the Independent production of digital work. But that’s another issue for another day.
[I intend for this to be my last Oh! Canada post until December, as I plan to devote all of November to NaNoWriMo. Fingers crossed. 😀 —Laurel L. Russwurm]
I was shocked when I first learned that the biggest Canadian advertising clients were our government and political parties.
Why is that, I wonder.
How much time, energy and money do our political parties and governments spend on advertising?
Why do they do it?
Because it works.
Because a commercial advertisement is short fast and compelling. Its why corporations advertise. The more money spent on advertising, the more product you can sell. In this case, the greater the chance of being re-elected, or the more votes your party gets.
Part I: The Government and Advertising
Public Works and Government Services Canada handles advertising at the Federal level. Government advertising as a means of public notification is one thing. Advertising as a means of “selling” something to the electorate is something else again.
It offends me that my tax dollars are used by my government to “sell” their policies and ideas to me.
Governments should not HAVE to buy advertising… if any level of government has something to say, the media will cover it. That’s called “news”.
If it is a good and useful policy presented it in a reasonable way through the news media or on government websites or through mailings should be sufficient.
I don’t want my tax dollars squandered on glitzy commercials with sound bites or pretty print ads designed to gull me into thinking what they want me to think.
There are far better uses for this money.
Health Care for instance.
Think about it. If the Canadian government wasn’t squandering all those tax dollars trying to sell Canadians things we don’t want, they would save a ridiculous amount of money. They wouldn’t need PST/GST “Harmonization” to generate the extra income they are about to start wringing out of taxpayers, instead of adding yet more tax to beleaguered taxpayers during a recession the unspent advertising dollars could be used instead.
Using advertising to sell us policies we don’t want is bad enough (a practice often called “propaganda”) but the absolute worst is that that our government is using our tax dollars to sell us political parties.
The first egregious example of this I saw was the Ontario road construction signs during the Mike Harris government of the 1990’s. All the construction signs did double duty by advertising Mike Harris and the Conservative government. Adding his name to those signs turned information dissemination into partisan advertising – paid for by taxpayers.
That is down right wrong. Of course, Premier Mike Harris had a majority government af the time so there was no stopping it.
[One more reason I dislike majority government.]
Instead of censuring this bad policy, it seems that succeeding politicians have emulated and even “improved” on the model.
Just last year Prime Minister Stephen Harper had the Conservative Party Logo imprinted on Government of Canada grant disbursement cheques. Is this simply a case of misrepresentation? A Conservative party attempt to make the recipients think the finds disbursed were given thanks to Conservative Party largess? If so this is certainly False Advertising. The only legitimate way for the Conservative party logo to be on a cheque would be if the cheque was drawn from a Conservative Party bank account.
Or perhaps Prime Minister Stephen Harper is unable to distinguish between Conservative Party funds and Government of Canada funds. If the latter perhaps the RCMP ought to be considering investigating Conservative Party finances to ensure Canadian government funds have not been spent inappropriately.
It’s bad enough crediting a political party with government works, but it is even slimier to affix their partisan info to public works projects that predate their authority. They are not only advertising, but FALSE advertising — with our tax dollars! I discovered this example in the Hill Times: Sheila Copps: Optics of Conservative cheque scheme dodgy.
Conservative blogger Stephen Taylor counters by harking back to similar Liberal Party shenanigans perpetrated by the Liberal Party under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Taylor is only one of many to defend the policy by pointing out the Liberals did this as well. I link to Stephen Taylor‘s blog since he includes the National Post story no longer online.
I am horrified that none of these very smart people seem to get the point.
The point here is NOT that since the Liberals did it when they were in power it makes it OK for the Conservatives to do it when they form the government.
The real point is that it was never OK.
It doesn’t matter who does it.
It is ALWAYS wrong.
[An anti-party person like myself might point out this is just another example of Liberal and Conservative party similarity. They truly are interchangeable.]
The thing is, the government should not be selling Canadians political parties.
Tax dollars are non-partisan. Using them for partisan aggrandizement is at best a misuse of public funds.
If I ran the Zoo er Country…
I would slash the advertising budget. Because the only advertising our tax dollars should pay for is advertising to inform Canadians, not to “sell” us.
That’s what I would do if I ran the zoo country.
Write to your Member of Parliament and tell them what you think about premature prorogation or anything else! You can find your MP with this lovely link – it will also help you find out who your MP is if you don’t know. It’s time that Canadians started letting them know what we think about how they represent us. Find your Member of Parliament
The government gives more weight to postal mail: you can mail your comments without a stamp!!:
The Right Hon. Stephen Joseph Harper, P.C., B.A., M.A.
1600 90th Avenue Southwest, suite A-203
Canada badly needs electoral reform. Take a peek at the Non-Partisan Fair Vote Canada site to get information some ideas of electoral reform. All Canadians need to join in these non-partisan discussions.