“November 16 is a significant date for Métis people and all people in Ontario. On this date in 1885, Métis leader Louis Riel was executed for leading the Northwest Resistance in defence of Métis rights.
Today, Louis Riel is recognized as a statesman, having played a pivotal role in the history of Métis people, as well as the formation of Canada. We commemorate Louis Riel Day annually to honour and celebrate Riel’s contributions, as well as the wide-ranging contributions the Métis people continue to make in Ontario.
Acknowledging Louis Riel’s contributions helps recognize and build respect for the history, culture and identity of Métis people. We will continue working with Métis partners to uphold Riel’s legacy and create new opportunities for Métis people as we continue on the journey of reconciliation together.”
Louis Riel’s life was rather more interesting than that of the average Canadian statesmen. Today is the anniversary of his execution on 16 November, 1885.
Riel’s historical reputation has long been polarized between portrayals as a dangerous half-insane religious fanatic and rebel against the Canadian nation, or by contrast a heroic rebel who fought to protect his Francophone people from the unfair encroachments of an Anglophone national government. He is increasingly celebrated as a proponent of multiculturalism, although that downplays his primary commitment to Métis nationalism and political independence
— Louis Riel, Wikipedia
This is the third in the Whoa!Canada: Proportional Representation Series
Lets start with the basics.
Sometimes human beings are loners, hermits who shun other humans. But that is rare.
Most human beings are social in nature. We want to be together, to live in proximity to other humans. We want to play together and we learn to work together. In order for people to co-exist, human society requires some sort of boundaries. Rules.
Individual humans start out as part of a family unit. The family unit fits into human society as part of some kind of tribe. In the modern world collections of tribes have come together to form countries. Each nation establishes its character in the style and form of policy and the framework of rules— laws— set down by its government.
There are two basic paths human beings have taken in our approach government.
Autocracy, Oligarchy, Totalitarianism, Dictatorship, Monarchy, Empire, Fascism… there are many different systems in which the government is all powerful and citizens are powerless. Such governments might choose to treat citizens benevolently. Or not. The government decides and the citizens have no choice but to comply.
Citizens very often prefer to have a say in their own governance, and this can be achieved with a democratic system of government.
According to political scientist Larry Diamond, it consists of four key elements: (a) A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections; (b) The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life; (c) Protection of the human rights of all citizens, and (d) A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.
The term originates from the Greekδημοκρατία (dēmokratía) “rule of the people”, which was found from δῆμος (dêmos) “people” and κράτος (krátos) “power” or “rule”, in the 5th century BC to denote the political systems then existing in Greek city-states, notably Athens; the term is an antonym to ἀριστοκρατία (aristokratía) “rule of an elite”.
a direct vote of the qualified voters of a state in regard to some important public question.
the vote by which the people of a political unit determine autonomy or affiliation with another country.
In a country where qualified voters number in the millions, the closest we can get to direct democracy is through holding a special plebiscite in which all qualified citizens of a state can vote on an important issue. As digital technology progresses, there may come a time when all Canadian voters will be both qualified and able to vote electronically on every issue directly. But in today’s world, the closest we come to this is through the difficult and expensive mechanism known as a referendum.
Since it would be hard to fit millions of people into the Parliament Buildings, like most modern democracies, Canada uses a form of Representative Democracy. Instead of speaking for ourselves, all qualified citizens have the right to elect a representative we believe will best represent our interests in Parliament. Although some Canadians wish it were different, referendums are not a feature of the Canadian political system. In nearly a century and a half, our government has had only three referendums: on prohibition (in 1898), conscription (World War II) and whether to accept the Charlottetown Accord (Constitutional Amendments). Certainly our choice of voting system was not made through this mechanism.
The procedure by which qualified voters determine who our representative will be is called an electoral system. The different elements that go together to make up an electoral system determine:
the structure of the ballot
how votes are cast
the way votes are counted, and
the criteria needed to win
Although I have been breaking this down for simplicity, there are many ways to design electoral systems. Most (if not all) of the electoral systems in use around the world are hybrids, as ours here in Canada is. Our representative democracy is part of a constitutional monarchy; we share England’s monarch. In understanding our options, the most crucial distinction between types of electoral systems comes down to which family they are in.
Representative Democracy can be broken down into two main families: Winner-take-all or Proportional Representation.
Just as it sounds, a winner-take-all election is an “all or nothing” proposition. A election which can only have a single winner necessarily ends up with the single winner getting all the power.
And when elections can only produce a single winner, unless that winner achieved 100% of the votes, there will be losers, too. The candidate(s) who fails to win loses. Naturally, the citizens who didn’t vote for winner end up without any representation at all. They’re losers too.
A majority is defined as 50% + 1. If there are more than 2 candidates competing for a single seat, with First Past The Post the candidate doesn’t needs to win 50% + 1 ~ s/he just needs to win more votes than any of the others.
Because Canadians aren’t happy with only two political parties, very often we elect MPs with far fewer than 50% of the votes. In the 2015 Canadian Federal Election, 28.99% of the votes cast were enough to elect Bernard Généreux Member of Parliament for the Montmagny—L’Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup. That’s a long way from 50% + 1.
But even 50% + 1 can leave as many as 49.9% of voters without representation at all. That’s why I’ve become a fan of:
Proportional Representation isn’t the name of any single electoral system, it is a phrase that describes an electoral outcome where 39% of the vote can’t win 100% of the seats in Parliament. Proportional Representation ensures 39% of the votes wins 39% of the seats.
Instead of polarizing citizens into winners and losers, a proportional system seeks to elect a government that reflects all citizens, by providing representation to all eligible voters. More than 90 countries around the world (85% of OECD countries) use some form of Proportional Representation, so there is a great deal of information about how such systems work.
As this series progresses, I’ll look at the different electoral systems that have been or might reasonably be on offer for Canada. If you aren’t already overwhelmed, I’ve provided links throughout the article so you can find out more detail from the supporting on your own.
The great resource is the grass roots multi-partisan organization that advocates for meaningful Canadian electoral reform: Fair Vote Canada. You can check out their website, but you’ll also find chapters across Canada. My local is the very active Fair Vote Waterloo Region Chapter.
No one doubted that the majority of Canadians emphatically said NO. We did what we are supposed to: we changed the government to make our point. Yet it didn’t help. NAFTA is alive and well in Canada.
[And people wonder why so many Canadians don’t vote.]
It’s no wonder governments seek to negotiate trade agreements in secret; citizens might vote them out if we knew what they were doing. Even our protests might slow them down.
In spite of onerous non-disclosure agreements, information about the dreadful secret trade agreement ACTA (the so-called “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”) kept leaking out. I blogged extensively about ACTA in my interweb freedom blog. Enough was known about it to frighten Europeans into taking to the streets. The result was that ACTA was rejected emphatically after European citizens took to the streets to tell their governments “NO!”
The ACTA agreement crumbled, or so the world thought . . .
The agreement was signed in October 2011 by Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States. In 2012, Mexico, the European Union and 22 countries which are member states of the European Union signed as well. One signatory (Japan) has ratified (formally approved) the agreement, which would come into force in countries that ratified it after ratification by six countries.
Although many people believe the world rejected ACTA, Canada has not. Some of the worst of the laws that erode civil rights that are being forged by Canada’s “majority government” are in service of the ACTA trade agreement. ACTA is alive and well in Canada.
Governments and special interests pursue these treaties in secret because the terms are detrimental to citizen interests. They then use the existence of such “trade treaties” to justify draconian changes they then make to our domestic laws. We are told they “have to do it” because of the treaty commitment. Funny how the Harper Government doesn’t “have to” live up to Canada’s Kyoto commitment.
Make A Difference
The Inter-Continental Day of Action, 31 January 2013 is gearing up across Canada, the United States and Mexico to protest the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement (TPP), the latest in the dizzying proliferation of “trade agreements” that sacrifice the public good in the interests of servicing the objectives of corporations.
To make it easy for Canadians, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting set up an online form letter. I’m one of the 71,393 Canadians (so far) to use their form letter to tell Prime Minister Stephen Harper and my own MP, Harold Albrecht, not to threaten the CBC’s autonomy by passing Bill C-60.
I haven’t heard back from the Prime Minister’s Office, but today I heard from my own MP, Harold Albrecht.
Thank you for contacting my office to express your concerns regarding Bill C-60 and the CBC. I appreciate your input on this matter.
Crown Corporations, such as the CBC, receive appropriations from Parliament, and our Government would like to see consistency in wage and benefits among all Crown Corporations and the civil service. This means that any individual doing the same type of work at the CBC should be receiving the same amount of money if they were doing the same job in any other Crown Corporation or Federal Department.
This is what Bill C-60 is seeking to secure. This mandate will make certain that we have the correct instruments in place to protect taxpayer dollars at the bargaining table if it is necessary. We have a responsibility and commitment to spend taxpayer dollars wisely and will work closely with Crown corporations to ensure this happens.
I would like to ensure you that the measures in Bill C-60 do not affect the funding or the independent operation of the CBC, or any other Crown Corporations.
I thank you again for contacting my office to express your concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact my office with any future concerns or inquiries.
Harold Albrecht, MP
While I am sure Harold is sincere, his government has missed a couple of key points, so I decided to help matters along by writing him back to clear a few things up.
Harold Albrecht, MP
House of Commons
Thank you for your response. While I do understand your position, it fails to take into account two very important considerations.
The first is Canadian Culture. CBC simply is not the same as any other Crown Corporation because it is tasked with delivering Canadian culture to Canadians.
The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has no equivalent to Mr. Dressup.
Nor is a Camera Operator a Letter Carrier. A Letter Carrier follows a set of rules laid down from above, while a Camera Operator has achieved a level of technical expertise which is used in conjunction with a certain degree of creativity.
Although I have not myself worked at CBC, I have written television drama professionally, and I very much hope that there is no job like that at the Bank of Canada.
Canadian commitment to the CBC (and the NFB) has helped grow our cultural heritage. No one is suggesting that CBC is perfect, but direct government intervention to micromanage it is not the way to go.
The second crucial consideration is the other reason CBC was established, to ensure all Canadians have access to Canadian News — which does not simply mean a regional version of American News.
Public broadcasting is important to ensure Corporate agendas don’t trump the public good, which is why Canada is not the only nation in the world delivering public broadcasting to its citizens. Even the United States – the world leader in commercial broadcasting – has independent Public Broadcasting.
For the better part of the first two years I was writing the Stop Usage Based Billing blog, the only national mainstream media outlet in Canada that reported on our peculiarly Canadian UBB issue was CBC. Unlike its self interested commercial competitors (which worked to keep the issue away from Canadians), CBC’s mandate is not just the the bottom line, but to keep Canadians informed.
While it is appropriate for the Federal Government to disburse funds to CBC, if government dictates how the money will be spent, journalistic independence will be lost and news will become propaganda. If the news media is controlled by government, there can be no free press.
You must appreciate that while your government has a responsibility to spend taxpayer dollars wisely, this can be done without compromising press freedom. The Broadcasting Act gave CBC total autonomy in staffing decisions to ensure a free press, which is a necessary component of democracy.
Your assurance that the measures in Bill C-60 will not affect the funding or the independent operation of the CBC, or any other Crown Corporations, rings hollow in light of your government’s rejection of the Peggy Nash motion asking the finance committee to study the measure. If we are to have accountable democratic government, legislation requires sufficient scrutiny.
Bill C-60 will do remarkable damage both to Canadian culture and Press Freedom. For these reasons, as well as others echoed across the news media and the Internet, I ask you, as my duly elected Member of Parliament, to please vote “no” to Bill C-60.
Laurel L. Russwurm
I didn’t go into the inappropriateness of Omnibus Bills in a democracy ~ this one contains so much disparate material that Peggy Nash wanted it split into six parts.
Since I’m not an expert on Crown Corporations, I limited myself to addressing the CBC issues.
Maybe I should have suggested it would be wise to consider why these Crown Corporations were established as independent entities in the first place. The CBC is not a branch of the Civil Service, nor should it be.
Maybe it’s because of movies I’ve seen, or possibly because of my interest in history, or both, but Remembrance Day has always been important to me.
When I was a kid I borrowed the vinyl LP “Billy Bishop Goes To War” from the local public library. More than once.
This masterpiece of Canadian theatre has everything that a good war story ought to have. Humour. Drama. A valient hero. Politics. And tragedy. Later I bought my own copy, which I played for my child on Remembrance Day.
One of the most haunting songs I’ve ever heard is Chris DeBurgh’s “This Song For You.”
I very much doubt that a single Canadian politician anywhere in the world will be without a poppy today. Yet who, more than they, hold the responsibility for the continued sacrifice of a new crop of young Canadians soldiers engaged in a war because … ?
“Since 2001, 158 Canadians have died in Afghanistan and another 6,700 are collecting disability payments from Veterans Affairs, about 130 of them under the age of 25. ”
Canada has been involved in an almost invisible war for nearly a decade. It is barely spoken of, but young Canadians fight and die and I can’t tell you why. I suspect they can’t, either. Unlike the glamorous Great War, or the Second World War, the only citizens who are really involved and affected are the Canadians whose children are overseas, fighting and dying. Has a decade of this fixed anything? Has anything good come of this war? A war that Canada is supposed to be withdrawing from by the end of this year. Will we really withdraw?
I can’t begin to count the times in my life that I’ve heard it said that our soldiers fought for our freedom. But there is much less freedom now than there was when I was young.
The erosion of civil rights that the blood of our soldiers was to have bought for us was never more clear than in the events around last year’s G20 Summit in Toronto.
Today, Canadians across the country are organizing and participating in the “Occupy” movement.
And Byron Sonne is on trial in Toronto. He’s fighting for his freedom, and ours.
Where did our freedom go?
“Airfield to Salute” photograph by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Aramis X. Ramirez Wikipedia: KANDAHAR, Afghanistan–Troops deployed to International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Regional Command South gathered on the flightline of Kandahar Air Field to salute fallen Canadian servicemember Sapper Sean David Greenfield on February 1, 2009. Greenfield, who was deployed as part of the 24 Field Engineers Squadron out of Petawawa, Ontario, was killed in action in the Zhari District of Kandahar Province on Jan. 31, 2009 ISAF photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Aramis X. Ramirez (RELEASED). ~ This file is a work of a sailor or employee of the U.S. Navy, taken or made during the course of the person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.
Although M. Duceppe is quite correct in stating that he can not hope to be Prime Minister of Canada, it is because thus far his party exists only in La Province du Québec. Even winning every possible riding in La Belle Province can not garner enough seats to form a Canadian Federal Government. If Mr Duceppe wishes to be Prime Minister of Canada, he first needs to extend his base of support beyond Quebec’s borders.
The New Democratic Party of Canada has fielded Candidates across the country. This means that enough NDP MPs could be elected to form a federal government. Which would transform Jack Layton into the Prime Minster of Canada. Not impossible.
The same is true for Elizabeth May. The Green Party of Canada (GPC) has fielded candidates all across Canada. If enough Green Party candidates are elected, as the leader of the Green Party of Canada, Elizabeth may would become our Prime Minister.
This is why the televised Leadership Debate was such a travesty. The arbitrary rules set by the consortium are in fact meaningless. In a first-past-the-post democracy, it does not matter who formed the last government. That’s old news. Just because they have been elected in the past doesn’t mean they will be elected again. That’s history. All the leaders of all registered parties should have been included.
Every election is a fresh start, as Anne of Green Gables would say, “with no mistakes in it.”
Because no one has been elected, all the candidates are supposed to start on a level playing field.
Canadians have been under the apparently mistaken impression that the Elections Canada mandate was to ensure a fair election. To ensure as level a field as possible. Yet it seems Elections Canada was powerless over the televised Leadership Debates. The way the “debates” were conducted was left entirely in the hands of “the consortium.” This utterly unaccountable media consortium decided that the only leaders allowed on the televised debates would be the ones with elected representatives.
Previous governments have written laws allowing these unaccountable media corporations to define the terms of election broadcasts. This places the broadcast media in control of what the electorate is allowed to see.
More than ever before, this election is being held at a time when the unaccountable consortium of broadcasters is a special interest group.
Who is in charge of Canada’s mainstream media “consortium”?
Ahem. Bell Canada Enterprises just happens to own the CTV Network, The Globe And Mail, much of Canada’s land and cell phone networks, as well as a huge chunk of the Internet backbone. The supposedly arms length CRTC has failed Canadians by granting the gigantic Bell more and more control over the Canadian media when in fact a good regulator would be breaking it down into smaller parts to diminish the unhealthy stranglehold this corporation has over the Canadian digital economy. Usage Based Billing is just one of the perks that Bell has attempted with the assistance of the CRTC.
Suffice it to say that Elections Canada should be calling the shots, not media special interest groups.
The deliberate exclusion of Green Party candidates by the media in the supposedly non-partisan meetings seems the recurring theme for this election. The media supposedly “covering” these all candidates meetings and debates is actually controlling them.
Then there was the “Kitchener Centre Forum” put on by the Greater KW Chamber of Commerce at Kitchener City Hall on April 21st. This forum only invited four of the seven candidates registered to run in this riding. Stephen Woodworth (Conservative Party of Canada), Karen Redman (Liberal Party of Canada), Peter Thurley (New Democratic Party), and Byron Williston (Green Party of Canada) were allowed to attend while Mark Corbiere (Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada), Alan Rimmer (Independent), and Martin Suter (Communist Party of Canada) were excluded.
Canadian media coverage used to be equitable to all the candidates.
Instead of fair election coverage, Canadians are getting scripted debates and reality TV.
up close and personal: local level debates
I missed the first Kitchener-Conestoga all-candidates meeting in my riding since it conflicted with the televised leadership debate.
What I heard went on revealed it to have been something of a travesty. Albert Ashley, the Green Candidate was absent altogether (out of the country), making the “All Candidate” meeting short one candidate. Like the televised “Leadership Debate”, this local debate was rigidly controlled by the media companies, in this case, Rogers Cable and The Record newspaper. Apparently candidate answers were limited to 30 second sound bites, making the answers, for the most part, shorter than the questions.
The published Record story downplays the fact that the incumbent Albrecht’s ‘office’ had been caught out for registering his opponent’s domain name and putting spurious content online.
What would have been a major scandal back when we still had a watch-dog press, instead came out in the Record as a partisan whitewash. The characterized this breach of ethics (if not law ) as “website pranks.” In fact it is very close to Identity theft, and may well constitute libel or fraud in the business world.
Apparently Harold Albrecht laid off the responsibility for this attack on “an overzealous volunteer,” named by the Record as “his former chief of staff Jeff Chatterton.” Apparently Albrecht offered to sell the domain names to Liberal Candidate Bob Rosehart.
A closer look reveals Jeff Chatterton is no eager innocent, but rather a former journalist who hung out a public relations shingle and cut his teeth in damage control for the City of Walkerton during the Walkerton water crisis. Chatterton’s bio indicates he has made a career of characterizing scientific findings in opposition to his corporate client’s interests as “junk science.” According to Chatterton’s Facebook Page, the tag line for his company, Checkmate Public Affairs, is “Keeping clients OUT of the news – and doing it alarmingly well.”
Which makes me wonder what other improprieties are conducted in Mr. Albrecht’s office that can be blamed on underlings.
What ever happened to personal responsibility?
Possibly the most disturbing thing about the article is the Record implication that the Green Party candidate’s absence is spurious. Scheduling an all candidates meeting for a date when one of the four candidates is out of the country, and then blaming that candidate for the absence is masterful politicking.
But it is not what one would expect from an unbiased media.
The Elmira All Candidates Meeting
Put on by the “Greater KW Chamber of Commerce,” and again run by the media, this time the local 570 News Radio station. There were perhaps 200 to 300 seats, all filled, with an additional 50 or so standing room only attendees.
This indicates a far larger turnout than expected. (Interestingly, I also heard that Tuesday’s Kitchener-Waterloo All Candidates meeting was also standing room only, but their reported overages were in the hundreds.)
The format of the meeting was to pose a series of questions, which each candidate had the opportunity to answer. And at the end, “if time permits” they said they ‘might’ take questions from the audience. In other words, the corporate radio station decided the questions to be asked, while the citizens in attendance would only be allowed to pose questions on sufferance.
[They did, in fact, take audience questions at the end, and the moderator made a bee line to a young man in a suit whose first question exposed him as an embarrassingly blatant conservative shill.]
While it is may be reasonable to applaud a panel of candidates when introduced at the outset of such a meeting, it is wholly inappropriate to applaud each answer.
Since time was supposedly an issue, no applause should have been allowed. Interestingly, the applause was loudest and absurdly long for the only professional candidate, the Conservative incumbent, Harold Albrecht.
The applause reminded me of those talent programs where the loudest cheering section, not talent, decides the winner. It doesn’t matter how talented or not the participant is, the contest is won by how many friends they can bring. This bit of showmanship is important only as a demonstration of political power.
Which is, of course, precisely why applause should not be allowed at an ostensibly non-partisan political meeting held during an election. I wonder how much that influenced the trickle of attendees who walked out though out the show…
The theme of all answers given by both the Conservative Party incumbent and the Liberal Party challenger was to attack each other’s ruling party record. Of course the Conservative cheering section applauded Harold Albrecht’s Liberal attack-answers just as the Liberal cheering section applauded Bob Rosehart’s Conservative attack-answers.
The worst of it is, both cheering sections were right. Every bad Liberal deed that Albrecht pointed out was true, just as every bad Conservative deed Rosehart mentioned was. The problem is that the partisan cheering section doesn’t seem to care that the team they cheer … er their party … has done bad stuff, too.
Many who blindly pick a leader and a party will follow them no matter what bad deeds they have done or are going to continue to do. They have made a choice to allow someone else to decide what to think and who to vote for, and are not going to change. And that’s their right. Where it becomes a problem is when they pack a hall and engage in an “applause battle” in an attempt to exert peer pressure, itself a form of bullying, to pressure others to vote for your team… er, party.
Since the NDP and Green Party haven’t ever had the opportunity to rule, they weren’t included in the slagging match, and had no choice but to answer the questions. The Green Party’s Albert Ashley made it clear that his candidacy was last minute, so he was really just getting up to speed, and clearly not as conversant with his party’s platform as the other candidates. He did manage to crack up the audience with the observation that no one had hijacked his domain name. NDP candidate Lorne Bruce answered all the questions posed concisely and well, something not often seen in a campaign.
Ironically, one of the key topics was the decisions that lay ahead for the Region in regard to the expansion of public transit. The implication was that these decisions for the region would be made at rarefied stratas by the rich and powerful who do not have to actually use public transit. Which may explain why both Conservative Harold Albrecht and Liberal challenger Bob Rosehart champion the sexy LRT expansion option, rather than the more prosaic NDP intention to expand bus service to ensure citizen access before adding luxury bells and whistles.
But clearly, any citizens actually needing public transit have been excluded from the Kitchener-Conestoga all-candidates meetings.
As it turns out, a third All Candidates meeting was added for the Kitchener-Conestoga riding tonight. When I first heard, I thought it would provide an opportunity to allow citizens reliant to transit access to the electoral process. Silly me. This one was held in New Hamburg, and again without and public transit access. I didn’t attend this one.
Since all four candidates are on Facebook, yesterday I asked them all this question:
What are you doing to compensate for the fact that the only “All Candidates Meetings” held in Kitchener-Conestoga were held in venues inaccessible to Public Transit?
I do understand that time is short, and social networking is anything but universally adopted. It takes time to master, and there is an election to run. So I don’t hold it against the two candidates who have not yet responded. Still, the responses I did receive were interesting.
First, I need to mention that I included the link to my Voter Apathy article with the question, as I felt it provided background on the disenfranchisement of voters. And three of the four candidate facebook pages allowed the link to be posted.
The only one that didn’t was Harold Albrecht’s. His Facebook page is also the only one that does not allow visitors/fans to initiate content. So the only way to post my question was to attach it to an existing Harold Albrecht status as a comment. So I did.
Imagine my surprise when someone other than Harold Albrecht responded for Mr. Albrecht. This is the exchange:
What are you doing to compensate for the fact that the only “All Candidates Meetings” held in Kitchener-Conestoga were held in venues inaccessible to Public Transit?
Laurel – Harold is no more to blame for All-Candidates Meeting locations than you or I. He simply goes where the meeting is held, he doesn’t organize them.
I asked what he will do to compensate for the fact no “All Candidates Meetings” are being held in transit accessible venues. How is he reaching out to the citizens that rely on public transit?
Harold, your re-election office is less than 2km’s to my neighbourhood. Haven’t seen you or any or your team door-knocking.. how come?
@Laurel, I’m reaching out to citizens with or without access to public transit the same ways: advertising, doorknocking, a website, this facebook page, and participating in All-Candidates’ Meetings. As was noted above, I do not control w…ho invites me to attend ACM’s.
@ Greg, it may be that we’ve knocked on your door and missed you, or it may be that we haven’t reached your neighborhood yet. It’s physically impossible for me to meet in person at the doorstep with the 100,000+ citizens I’m privileged to represent, but as the thousands of people I’ve had the privilege to meet during this campaign will attest, I’m trying my best.
At the time I received the defensive answer from Jeff Chatterton I had no idea who he was. Possibly a zealous Albrecht booster, but more likely a staffer. Having discovered he was Harold Albrecht’s “former campaign manager,” the speed and firmness of his defensive response makes me seriously wonder how “former” his association with Harold Albrecht really is.
The other response I got was from the NDP candidate, Lorne Bruce.
What are you doing to compensate for the fact that the only “All Candidates Meetings” held in Kitchener-Conestoga were held in venues inaccessible to Public Transit?
Laurel, I understand how you feel about this issue. Many of my campaign staff use transit as well. Because we do not plan these all candidates meetings we have very little say in where they are held. The best we can and have been doing is organizing car pools for those who do not drive. There is one debate left in New Hamburg on Tuesday. If you would like us to try and arrange a carpool give us a call or email @ 519-569-4040 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best.
It was refreshing to hear someone wasn’t making excuses, but putting an effort into addressing the inequity.
All in all, I am left feeling quite disturbed about the way this election is being run.
Why are business associations and media special interests allowed to dictate the course of the election process?
It is disturbing that previous governments have granted so much unaccountable power to corporations. They have put in place election rules and legislation that allows this undemocratic manipulation. If these practices continue, we are likely to end up with some new form of corporate feudalism. Personally, I’d rather see a restoration of democracy.
The Conservatives and Liberals are more concerned with attacking each other than Canada’s problems.
Perhaps because they are responsible for many of them.
Four Canadian political parties have fielded enough candidates to form the 41st Federal Government. I think it is time for a change.
[note: Public figures and their staff are fair dealing to quote particularly during an election; private citizens, however, are not. I have included Greg McLean’s permission to include his question, which I thought particularly germane to the Voter Apathy issue.]
Once a nation honored for our commitment to peacekeeping, today Canada’s international reputation is in tatters thanks to Tom Flanagan.
EVERY Canadian needs to see this CBC interview video clip. You can watch it on YouTube:
Tom Flanagan, described by Wikipedia as a “political scientist”, a man who previously served as Canadian Prime Minister Harper’s Chief of Staff, characterized by the Walrus as The Man Behind Stephen Harper, is currently employed as a Professor by the University of Calgary. Far from being a media novice, Flanagan has run federal political campaigns.
“I think Assange should be assassinated, actually, [laughs], I think Obama should put out a contract or maybe use a drone or something.”
—Professor Tom Flanagan, CBC’s Power & Politics interview, November 30th, 2010
CBC Interviewer Evan Solomon tried very hard to give Professor Flanagan the opportunity to backpedal, but instead of retracting or making light of his statement, Flanagan reiterated it:
“I woudn’t be unhappy if Assange disappeared.”
—Professor Tom Flanagan, CBC’s Power & Politics interview, November 30th, 2010
It is one thing for ordinary citizens to discuss the pros and cons of the #Cablegate issue, or even to think this is a reasonable response to #WikiLeaks. It is quite something else for a man with such close connections to the Canadian Government to advocate assassination.
This from a man saying that WikiLeaks is irresponsible. But what Wikileaks does is bring government and corporate malfeasance under public scrutiny. Professor Flanagan advocated assassination as a valid method for government to handle opposition. Not a method I would connect with democratic government.
Flanagan is often described as a member of the “Calgary School,” which is a small group of conservatively inclined professors at the University of Calgary, including Barry Cooper, David Bercuson, F.L. (Ted) Morton, and Rainer Knopff. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Fraser Institute and a founder and former president of Civitas, a national conservative discussion society in Canada.
Terrorists assassinate people with opposing viewpoints.
WikiLeaks is a website that publishes “leaked” documents, making the “secret” information available to anyone who cares to read the information online.
Wikileaks makes information that governments want suppressed available to citizens. WikiLeaks publishes information that is “leaked” by concerned citizens with access to this information. Citizens concerned by paths and actions their governments are taking. Government Policies that are being undertaken in secret.
I believe that the reason for making these things known is to allow the public the opportunity to form an opinion. Perhaps I am naïve, but I think that is eminently reasonable in a democratic nation. Transparency and dissent must exist in a democracy. If they don’t, democracy hasn’t got a prayer.
Tom Flanagan is/was an unelected Canadian power broker who may or may not have the ear of the Canadian Government. As an ordinary Canadian I have no way of knowing. What I do know is that he is employed to impart his wisdom to some of Canada’s brightest young minds at the University of Calgary.
His statements are not only overwhelmingly arrogant, they embody “above the law” thinking.
I would think that someone who actually teaches political science at the university level would have at least a nodding acquaintance with the cautionary tale of Thomas Becket, and appreciate the danger of anyone in public life making such statements. That was, after all, one of the classic political gaffes in recorded history.
But because of Tom Flanagan’s strong ties with the Canadian government, his words and statements ring with far more authority than that of the average Canadian history professor. His words taint Canada’s international reputation.
At the very least, this calls for strong government censure. Perhaps even criminal charges. Does Canada actually support assassinating whistle blowers?
The WikiLeaks website has been suffering problems,possibly friom huge traffic, possibly from a DDoS attacks.
You can also attempt to access Cablegate cables directly, but of course that site is also having problems.
Here, for your information, is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting some of the bits both the American Government and the TSA need to remember:
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948
On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the full text of which appears in the following pages. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and “to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories.”
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,
The General Assembly
Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
Article 5 No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
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 all types of discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to any form of discrimination.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.
Article 12 No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
Credits: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is excerpted from an official document of the United Nations. The policy of this organization is to keep most of its documents in the public domain in order to disseminate “as widely as possible the ideas (contained) in the United Nations Publications”.
Activism is an incredibly broad term that can mean many things to many people.
Activism consists of intentional action to bring about social, political, economic, or environmental change.
This action is in support of, or opposition to, one side of an often controversial argument. In contemporary use, “activism” tends to be a word associated with the actions and ideologies of those on the political left.
The word “activism” is used synonymously with protest or dissent, but activism can take a wide range of forms from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political campaigning, economic activism such as boycotts or preferentially patronizing businesses, rallies, street marches, strikes, both sit-ins and hunger strikes, or even guerrilla tactics.”
Of course, you can’t always believe what you read. Just because something is in print does not necessarily mean it is true or accurate, whether in a book, a newspaper or a web page. Wikipedia is certainly in error in conflating “violent revolutionary activities” with Malcolm X, who was himself non-violent like the majority of activists. It was only after Malcolm X was assasinated that his followers turned to “violent revolutionary activities.”
I’ve never met Byron Sonne, and only heard about him recently. The publication ban means what I know about it is limited to what has already been published. Which may or may not be true. Still, there is enough there in the public record to cause me concern, which is why I’ve written a couple of blog posts about it.
If Mr. BelchSpeak is correct, that would certainly qualify Mr. Sonne’s actions as being political. Which would be an act of political activism. The objective of that type of activism is to challenge laws and the legal system.
When I attempted to point that out to Mr. BelchSpeak, he didn’t seem to understand what I was saying, which is why I’ve written this post to explain it a little better.
In itself, buying explosives is not activism.
Explosives may be bought to blow up the large stump and root system that makes half your field unusable. That’s farming, not activism.
Explosives might be bought to blow the door off a safe. (An excellent Parker story springs to mind…) That’s criminal activity, not activism.
Explosives were bought to drop out of Lancaster Bombers on Nazi Germany in the second world war. That was an act of war, not activism.
Explosives might be bought to create pyrotechnic special effects in Raiders of the Lost Arc. That’s special effects, not activism.
Explosives are sometimes bought to blow up symbolic buildings as a means of attempting to intimidate governments into doing things they otherwise would not do. That’s terrorism, not activism.
Explosives are bought to create community fireworks displays in communities across Canada on Victoria Day or Canada Day. That’s community spirit, not activism.
Explosives can also be bought to set off in back yards, although they are often used inappropriately and too often one hears stories of children harming themselves, sometimes even losing body parts or causing damage when using these fireworks without adequate supervision. That’s foolishness, not activisim.
But if explosives are bought for the express purpose of provoking the police, that would in fact be activism. Explosives purchased to expose flaws in G8/G20 Summit Security arrangements, with the intent of ridiculing the authorities, in the hope of encouraging them to not hold the G8/G20 Summit here now, or any in the future, would certainly qualify as activism, because it would be “intentional action to bring about social, political, economic, or environmental change”
Again, I have no way of knowing if it’s true or not, I’m simply basing this on what BelchSpeak said.
But if it is true, it would mean Byron Sonne is an unlikely flight risk. Because this type of activism is done in order to challenge, draw attention to and hopefully change societal and legal inequities.
Mr. Sonne had a well ordered and comfortable life. He owned a business, a beautiful home, had strong community ties. People aren’t often willing to jeopardize those things unless they fee very strongly about an issue. Usually that the risk is warranted if there is a chance that wrongs can be righted. The last thing that Byron Sonne would be is a flight risk, since because having a day in court would be the point.
People accused of murder are routinely released on bail. Bail is granted if they are not considered a danger to others or a flight risk. Accused people are allowed to resume their normal lives while preparing for a trial date which may be years in the future. An accusation is not a conviction, and in the eyes of the law, people accused of crimes are considered innocent until they are proven guilty. Even convicted felons are sometimes subject to serve a sentence of “House Arrest” or “Work Release.”
I do not pretend to have all the facts. I don’t know what Byron Sonne actually did. The point is that the charges brought against him could be very broadly interpreted.
The facts that I do have are that Byron Sonne has been charged, but not convicted of anything. Unless and until he is actually convicted of anything, he should not have to serve years in jail.
So if what Mr. BelchSpeak wrote is true, it would mean that Byron Sonne is neither dangerous or a flight risk, Byron Sonne’s denial of bail would itself be a serious miscarriage of justice.
Because it would mean that his bail was denied as a punishment.
The California Court ruling is that if ISOhunt doesn’t begin filtering and blocking all content matching a list of banned keywords it will have to stop operating in the US.
Canadian businessman Gary Fung has expressed his lack of faith in filters. I can certainly understand that.
My experience with computer filtering is with email and spam. When spam first became a problem, some ISPs instituted blacklist filtering.
Its a simple concept really, where the “blacklist” is the list of everything that is blocked.
My guess is the word blacklist comes from the McCarthy “witch hunt” from the 1950’s, when allegations of Communism resulted in Americans being put on a blacklist depriving them of the ability to work. Although communists were hunted out in other fields, Senator McCarthy most famously hunted them in the movie business.
You didn’t actually have to be a communist to be singled out, allegations were treated as fact, so almost anyone could be made to appear to be a communist, or a communist sympathizer. Sometimes just by knowing someone who is suspected of being a communist could result in your designation as a communist, the only evidence being guilt by association. At that time, although much of the movie Industry abhorred the undemocratic nature of the McCarthy hearings, most people quaked in fear of the government power being exercised against their freedoms. One of my favorite Hollywood movies was Spartacus, written by blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo under a pseudonym. (Trumbo won two Oscars pseudonymously… an interesting example of how well trying to suppress freedoms actually works). The decision to release the epic film using his real name is widely credited with breaking Hollywood’s blacklist.
The way a blacklist filter works with email is that the filter decides that since spam is coming from some of the email accounts from an ISP it will no longer accept any of the email being sent from that ISP. I first found out about this several years ago when some of my friends mysteriously stopped receiving my email. Of course my initial assumption was that I had maybe typed the email address wrong or made some other mistake. But as it turned out, their ISP had simply blacklisted all email from my ISP. This was in the early days of high speed Internet, and at the time, my ISP was Rogers Cable. Naturally, since Rogers had a very large chunk of the market, it stands to reason it would also have a proportionately greater number of clients sending spam. But my email was blocked, as was every Rogers email, even though I had sent no spam ever. And my friends did not know that email people were sending them was not getting through. Because my ISP, Rogers, was so big, the other ISP had to back down. There is even a website where you can check to see if your domain name is being blacklisted.
Blacklisting of this kind is particularly insidious when it is invisible. They say you can’t prove a negative; and if the ISP is simply blocking your email before you get it, you aren’t even aware that what you get is being censored. The fact that the sender is not notified makes it appear that the email dropped into a black hole. Some people are willing to take the risk that important email they might want could be blocked in exchange for the protection against spam. These are the kind of trade offs that people make, often without really thinking it through, that result in the erosion of freedoms. To my way of thinking, the worst part of this problem is that most people are unaware it is happening at all. You may know that your ISP is saving you from spam, but chances are you don’t realize that this means that your ISP does this by censoring your incoming email, using a mechanical process that can just as easily stop real email.
This is a Net Neutrality issue as well. Once you give anyone the power to censor what you are allowed to see, that power can be corrupted. The entity deciding what you are allowed to know can choose to favor its own agenda. Freedom of speech is a result.
We expect email to be able to go everywhere. We assume that email we send actually gets where we send it.
If we are limited to only being able to send email to other people with the same ISP it would be a very different system than the one we’ve come to expect. I know that this kind of blacklist still goes on, since email I send to my Florida friend gets blocked. Not because I’m with Rogers (not!), but because my email is now being sent through my personal website account domain name. This makes me think her ISP blocks domain names it doesn’t know. This was really annoying because we’d been corresponding for years, as well it was a long time before we realized that the email wasn’t getting through since her ISP didn’t bounce blocked email. So instead of being able to communicate using my real email address, my traceable and trackable email address, I can only send her email through my somewhat anonymous disposable Yahoo account. Like hotmail (now live), anyone can get any number of these accounts. I got mine when my real email account was down once, and I use it if I’m asked to leave an email address in a situation that may result in excessive amounts of spam. I consider it my disposable email address because if it ever gets really terribly inundated with spam, I can just walk away.
Filters are not always bad. After all I have a very good spam filter on my real email account. But the reason it works well is that I have had to train it by identifying spam piece by piece. That’s a lot of work. Which is one reason people are willing to allow others to decide what is spam for them.
But even though it is well trained indeed it still makes mistakes. If my sister sends me an email that mentions what she paid for her new car, my spam filter will probably block it since most of the spam I get is associated with money. So the filter would quarantine it, which means until I go check I won’t realize that I’m missing an email. But I can still use my ability to reason to decide to unspam it. That’s the thing; first, a filter is only as good as the parameters of the search.
People who have blogs hosted on WordPress have an awesome spam comment filter called Akismet (which you can also download and use free if yours is a personal blog. ) >This< blog has so far received 7,473 spam comments in nine months, compared with a total of 254 real comments. In all that time, I accidentally deleted one real comment (by clicking on the wrong bit) and Akismet has only blocked a couple, which actually turned out to be really good ones. If Akismet just trashed them without allowing me oversight, I’d have lost out on some excellent information.
p2p = peer to peer
Although I’ve been learning about the Internet at breakneck speeds, and I’ve learned about the importance of torrents for efficient online data transfer, I haven’t had time to learn how to actually download anything myself. I haven’t even had time to be able to volunteer as a Project Gutenberg proof reader either, since I believe my skills are better employed in blogging at present.
So in researching this article, today was the first time I’ve been to the isoHunt site. Looking around the site it hit me: isoHunt is a bitTorrent search engine.
With all that’s said about Internet “piracy” and the sites that make it possible, I never really connected the dots before. I’ve seen flea market stalls selling major motion pictures in slimline DVD cases with cheaply printed cover art which are clearly bootleg DVDs. So I always just assumed that the law was going after sites like isoHunt because they were committing piracy by storing bootleg movies on their server or something. Even though I learned about the mechanics of bitTorrent for a StopUBB article I just assumed that people would be putting the media they are sharing on the isoHunt servers. But that’s not how it works at all.
Any copyright infringement that might be happening is taking place on the peer computers, not isoHunt.
isoHunt is a specialty search engine. They allow you to find the right torrents you need to download a large file. I explain how BitTorrent works in the StopUBB blog, but looking at the isoHunt site is a real eye opener. One of the reasons that I think p2p is so important is that it makes good use of bandwidth for downloading large files (which will be really important for Canadians after Usage Based Billing is introduced).
If I didn’t already have an awesome Ubuntu limited edition picture CD I got at the Kwartzlab Ubuntu release party a few weeks back, I might need to download the new distribution of the Ubuntu operating system on the isoHunt site. As I understand it, torrents work faster the more people are working together. And right now, today, the isoHunt site will direct you to 2293 seeds of the new version. That means more than two thousand people, strangers to one another, are working together through this p2p network to share this with anyone who wants a copy.
downloading is legal
Like a great deal of material available for downloading online via p2p networks around the world, the Ubuntu operating system is legally offered for free. The corporate lobby groups that are working very hard to make it seem that p2p and torrents are synonymous with illegal downloading but that’s not true. Yet the other day the Globe and Mail article: Illegal downloading: How do you explain it to the kids? was most disturbing because although the article title refers to “illegal downloading”, the article itself assumes that all downloading is illegal.
Which just isn’t true. There’s plenty of perfectly legal material available to download out there. Besides Linux operating systems like Ubuntu (if you switch to this or one of the many other home versions of Linux like Fedora or Mint you’ll never have to pay Microsoft another cent), there is a steadily growing pool of music released by Independent artists like Allison Crowe have released under Creative Commons licenses, as Nina Paley has done with her incredible animated movie Sita Sings the Blues and Cory Doctorow routinely does with his books, like bestseller Little Brother. There is also a growing catalogue of public domain digital books available free from Project Gutenberg.
The Internet is very big. There is a great deal of content out there. Search engines help us find what we’re looking for on the Internet. Because there is so very very much out there. Each search engine works a little differently. But the crucial tool that every search engine needs are search terms.
When I learned how to make my web page I made sure to include “keywords” so that web pages would be able to find it. When posting blog articles on my WordPress blogs I make sure to fill in “categories” and “tags” which do the same thing.
Keywords are important. Without them, no one would be able to find anything on the Internet. It’s important to choose the right search words, and even then, if the words you put in the search bar are too vague it will give you too many possibilities.
filtering = censorship
If isoHunt is forced to use a pre-ordained filter search terms, like, say the titles of movies, their ability to do business will be compromised. Because their engine will will not be allowed to function properly.
On the website, isoHunt makes the point that
any requirement to keyword filter is a violation of freedom of speech and amounts to no less than censorship. There is much non-infringing uses of BitTorrent technology and we hope you will be able to continue to use isoHunt for these uses, free of constraints by large holes in the english dictionary because your search triggered a keyword in a title of one of the million movies that have been produced.”
Years ago I learned that you can’t copyright a title, so its possible that many different songs have the same title. Or books. Or movies. I remember digging through the cheap DVD bin at the Great Canadian Superstore and finding the title of a movie I’d been keeping my eye out for for years. This was a great Bill Forsyth film (about an ice cream truck war) called Comfort and Joy, Except that it wasn’t. It was another movie called Comfort and Joy.
An IMDB search for the title “The Three Musketeers” brings up 32 exact title matches. The oldest version of this film would be the black and white silent movie version of the The Three Musketeers made in France in 1903. This film is quite probably in the public domain. The underlying work, the excellent novel The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas is itself in the public domain. This is an excellent reason for film makers to make films of it. In the first place it’s a famous classic story, but even more important, they don’t have to purchase the rights to it.
But if Disney includes the movie title “The Three Musketeers” for the search terms blacklist, not only will it stop isoHunt from finding the 1993 Disney version but all of the other 31 versions as well.
This is a classic story. What if I decided to create my own feature film of Three Musketeers? As an independent film maker i wouldn’t have to buy the rights. Instead of the lions share of the film budget paying for film prints and physical transportation costs, my entire budget can go on the screen. I could probably pull it together quite easily as a low budget effort. It’s amazing what you can do with low or no budget. For the past hundred years or so the largest barrier to releasing a feature film has been distribution. But the current digital technology in combination with the Internet makes it possible to release a feature film to the world for almost nothing.
But if isoHunt has to include the title “The Three Musketeers” in their search term blacklist, my movie will NEVER be found by an isoHunt search. In this scenario, this blacklist will hinder my ability to distribute my movie. As the Electronic Freedom Foundation outlines in their excellent article Unintended Consequences: Twelve Years under the DMCA this California court ruling would directly hinder my legitimate competition. Although “The Three Musketeers” is part of the public domain internationally, with this kind of suppression, one powerful film company has the power to suppress competition.
The only thing that could possibly be worse would be for the blacklist to block the words of the title individually. This would block isoHunt’s ability to search out anything at all about Musketeers, or any other digital content with either “Three” or “The” in the title.
the real question
Why is isoHunt is being punished for copyright infringement? As a search engine they aren’t actually providing content that infringes copyright, they are only directing people to where the content they are searching for can be found.
I’m not an IP lawyer, but that sounds awfully extreme to me. Particularly since you can use any search engine to find the things that isoHunt is not going to be allowed to search for. It sounds rather like a serious breach of the free market to me. They won’t likely be as efficient, but all the other search engines will be able to find the exact same content that isoHunt is being prevented from finding. The only way a legal action like this could possibly be fair in a free market way would be if all the search engines had to block the same list of search terms.
Hey wait… I guess that’s what A.C.T.A. is for. Hmmm. I guess it will level the media playing field by eliminating all competition.
Which is well and truly scary from a freedom of speech point of view.
Although I’m not a lawyer, looking at the actual isoHunt Permanent Injunction, it seems that isoHunt has not been charged with copyright infringement but with “intent to induce infringement”. Because isoHunt is not actually infringing anyone’s copyright. At all. Period. If they were, they would be toast.
But United States DMCA law will allow them to toast isoHunt anyway, for the crime of telling the people who ask where they might find copyright infringing content. isoHunt is not making anyone infringe copyright.
Does this then mean that a newspaper that reports a particular city street is rife with drug dealers or prostitutes is then considered responsible for drug dealing or prostitution because telling people where it is “induces” drug dealing or prostitution? Under a law like the DMCA that seems frighteningly possible.
Especially if the newspaper’s editorial policy advocated the legalization of marijuana, say. There is a Canadian political party advocating the legalization of marijuana. Would that be illegal too?
will this court ruling stop any copyright infringement?
isoHunt does not infringe copyright, it is a search engine, like Google or altavistaAOLyahoo or bing. If I had a search engine website, this ruling would make me very nervous.
If the goal is to prevent people from finding copyright infringing software it won’t work. It may stop isoHunt from fulfilling their search function, but it won’t stop anyone from making the same search on Google or altavistaAOLyahoo or bing.
Rendering the use of words illegal is a suppression of free speech. The Permanent Injunction is designed to stop isoHunt’s use of words as search terms. So as well as suppressing free speech, this ruling impedes market competition.
If the intention is actually to stop copyright infringement since isoHunt apparently leads users directly to copyright infringing content, why aren’t the forces of law and order following these same links and actually stopping the infringement.
But then, that isn’t really the point. The point of all of these laws is not really to stop the type of copyright infringement they call “piracy”, because personal use copying, including sharing a movies via a p2p network appears to be one of the factors driving the movie industry’s increased revenues. They wouldn’t want to stop that. No. The point is to stop the growing competition from Independent media creators, by stopping the possibility of their distribution.
The United States spent much of the last century trumpeting the importance of free speech to the world. Now that much of the rest of the world has bought into the idea, what is truly sad thing is that the United States government is pandering to special interest groups making laws to suppress free speech.
The idea of Net Neutrality is that the Internet is neutral. The Internet should not be subject to the control of governments or corporations. If the Net is NOT neutral, rights like free speech are at risk. Laws like the DMCA stack the deck against Net Neutrality.
The problem is that the Pandora’s box is open, and free speech is just too big an idea to fit back inside.
If I wasn’t so busy with all this political stuff I’d love to take the time to browse through the rest of his photographs… I cut my teeth on Doc Savage! … and having just read through Roche’s “Double Indemnity” piece, one of these days I’ll be back to read the rest of his blog…