Free Advice For Our Prime Minister

Dear Mr. Martin

Many Canadians believe that parody has some protection from the stringent use of copyright laws. Unlike the malicious abuse of copyright, parody is political speech. It does not inherently bring the ownership of the copyright into dispute and, in my opinion, it should be covered under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Certainly, one should be aware that, unlike going after people who wontonly steal works of fiction or music and try to pass them off as their own, going after a political parody site has different connotations altogether. It suggests that the political statements, rather than the alleged copyright infringement, are the reasons why the action is taking place. While one is free to disagree with criticism and argue with it, trying to silence it makes one look like an arrogant, dictatorial boob.

As the leader of the party that installed the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, I’m sure you will appreciate the irony of appearing to try and silence a website because of its critical views of your leadership. I am sure you will appreciate that such actions give you the appearance of a thin-skinned individual who has no business being in politics, much less being the prime minister of Canada. And I am sure that, as a leader who has promised to address the democratic deficit in this country, you would not like to have that reputation damaged by appearing to be someone who silences dissent, curtails freedoms, and runs a country with an iron fist.

The people behind the website you are suing claim that all of their web pages have been created from scratch. I suggest that, if your legal experts feel that the Paul Martin Time spoof website has appropriated specific graphics or other files that belong to the Liberal Party of Canada, you specify those files and give the webmasters time to remove them from the website, rather than issuing a cease-and-desist order for the whole website. However, if you argue that the use of colour combinations and column widths in conjunction with material criticizing your leadership is sufficient grounds to move, then you are governing with too heavy a hand. Please respect freedom of speech and tread lightly as a prime minister of Canada should.

Sincerely,
James Bow


What’s with the above? Paul Martin Time, a left-leaning website criticizing the Prime Minister and spoofing the apperance of his website has been issued cease-and-desist orders from the Prime Minister’s Office and has been the target of other legal intimidation.

I wish to note that I don’t agree with everything that Paul Martin Time says (these guys are well to the left of me), but if the reports of the lawsuits are true, then Mr. Martin has made a blatantly stupid move. For all of his attempts to appear moderate, patient and prime ministerial, I would expected much better from our new Prime Minister (though, as Warren Kinsella points out (see the December 21st entry), Paul Martin and his supporters are showing their bull-headedness and their bitterness in other ways).

It’s a serious disappointment as well as a dangerous precedent, and one that I’m not going to forget when it comes time to vote.


Good News

The following came down the wire, thanks to Ed Drass:

McGuinty government provides $62.3 million to City of Toronto for TTC

Previous Government Promised Money But Never Delivered

TORONTO, Dec. 23 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government today confirmed that it has reached agreement with the City of Toronto to immediately provide $62.3 million to the TTC, said Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar. This $62.3 million was promised by the previous government, but was never actually paid.

“The McGuinty government is committed to helping Toronto and the TTC as demonstrated by the more than $126 million we’ve provided to the TTC in the very short time we’ve been in government,” said Takhar. “We recognize the key role that transit plays in maintaining strong and vibrant communities.”

The money announced today will fund the additional renewal of Toronto’s transit system, including new buses and streetcars, and will be used to upgrade transit infrastructure like subway stations. These funds are in addition to the $64 million delivered last month for the TTC’s subway safety improvements.

This is not a permanent solution; instead, it just rectifies an oversight from the previous government (nice shot at the departing Eves administration, there). It should go some way to solving the TTC’s short term problems, perhaps even avoiding serious fare increases and service cuts until such time as the promised transfer of the gas tax kicks in.

So, this redresses some of my disappointment with the McGuinty Administration. It is certainly a departure from the approach of the previous administration.

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