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The Copyright MPs

Industry Minister Jim Prentice has understandably been the focal point of the Canadian DMCA given that it is his bill and his call as to whether the government will proceed with anti-education, anti-consumer, and anti-business copyright legislation.  While every MP should be paying close attention to copyright – anecdotal evidence suggests that the majority of MPs from all parties have heard from constituents about the issue – there is a subset that should be particularly concerned. 

The Copyright MPs are a group of 27 MPs (nine percent of all MPs) who share two key attributes – they won their riding by 10 percent or less in the last election and their riding is home to a university.  The combination is important since it is these MPs – not the very safe Jim Prentice – who will face the consequences of the Prentice bill that will harm a generation well versed in digital technologies, social networks, and the Internet.  In some ridings, less than 1,000 votes – roughly the size of some large first year courses – is needed to swing the entire riding.  In all, there are 10 Conservatives, 11 Liberals, 4 NDP, and 2 Bloc.  Who are the Copyright MPs?

The ten Conservative Copyright MPs who will be on the hotseat are:

MP Riding University Winning Percentage Runner Up Party
Rahim Jaffer (C) Edmonton-Strathcona U of Alberta 9.2 percent NDP
Dean Del Mastro (C) Peterborough Trent 3.6 percent Liberal
James Lunney (C) Nanaimo-Alberni Malaspina 9.1 percent NDP
Rod Bruinooge (C) Winnipeg South U of Manitoba 0.2 percent Liberal
David Sweet (C) Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough McMaster 4.6 percent Liberal
Norman Doyle (C) St. John's East Memorial 10.5 percent Liberal
Peter MacKay (C) Central Nova St. FX 7.8 percent NDP
Colin Carrie (C) Oshawa UOIT 5.2 percent NDP
Betty Hinton (C) Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Thompson Rivers 8.5 percent NDP
Joe Comuzzi (L) Thunder Bay-Superior North Lakehead 1.0 percent NDP

If I am Rod Bruinooge, who beat Reg Alcock by 111 votes in 2006, I might want to talk to Jim Prentice about his copyright plans given that the University of Manitoba has nearly 30,000 students.  So too for Dean Del Mastro, who won by 2200 votes in 2006 in a riding where Trent University has over 7,000 undergrad students.  Or how about Rahim Jaffer, a three-term Alberta Conservative MP who won by 9 percent in the last election but is in a riding where education is the major employer.  Then there is Joe Comuzzi, who was welcomed into the Conservative caucus last year after moving from the Liberals.  He won the last election by only 408 votes in a riding where Lakehead University is a major employer (over 2,200 staff) and home to nearly 8,000 students.  Don't forget about David Sweet, who swung his Hamilton-area riding away from the Liberals for the first time since 1993 by less than 3,000 votes.  The riding is home to McMaster University, the fifth largest employer in Hamilton (7,300 employees) and nearly 20,000 students.  Or fellow cabinet minister Peter MacKay, already facing a battle in which the Liberals have dropped out of the riding to strengthen Green party leader Elizabeth May, who won his seat by a mere 3,273 votes in the last election and has St. Francis Xavier University in his riding (home to 4200 students).  There is even Colin Carrie, Prentice's Parliamentary Secretary, who won his riding by 2752 votes, about half the number of students at the University of Ontario-IT. All of these MPs are Canada's Copyright MPs, representing ridings with sizable student bodies (and employees linked to education) who could play a major role in the next election. 

Of course, there are Copyright MPs in all parties.  The opposition party Copyright MPs include:

MP Riding University Winning Percentage Runner Up Party
John Maloney (L) Welland Brock 4.8 percent NDP
Brenda Chamberlain (L) Guelph Guelph 8.6 percent Conservative
Glen Pearson (L) London North Centre UWO 9.1 percent Green
Diane Marleau (L) Sudbury Sudbury 9.6 percent NDP
Andy Scott (L) Fredericton

UNB 7.2 percent Conservative
Paul Zed (L) Saint John UNB 3.6 percent Conservative
Lloyd St. Armand (L) Brant Nipissing (Brantford) 1.0 percent Conservative
Keith Martin (L) Esquimalt-Jun de Fuca Royal Roads 3.6 percent NDP
Robert Thibault (L) West Nova Universite Sainte-Anne 1.1 percent Conservative
Raymond Simard (L) Saint Boniface Saint Boniface (U of Manitoba) 3.6 percent Conservative
Bill Siksay (NDP) Burnaby-Douglas Simon Fraser 2.6 percent Liberal
Tony Martin (NDP) Sault Ste. Marie Algoma 4.7 percent Liberal
Paul Dewar (NDP) Ottawa Centre Carleton 7.7 percent Liberal
Olivia Chow (NDP) Trinity-Spadina U of Toronto, OCAD 5.9 percent Liberal
Thierry St.-Cyr (BQ) Jeanne-Le Ber Ecole de Technologie Superieure 6.1 percent Liberal
Robert Bouchard (BQ) Chicoutimi-Le Fjord U of Quebec – Chicoutimi 9.3 percent Liberal
Marcel Proulx (L) Hull-Aylmer U of Quebec – Outaouais 3.3 percent Bloc

There are several important ridings for the Conservatives here as well – Saint Boniface in Winnipeg, which was in striking distance in the last election (1524 votes) or Saint John, home to the University of New Brunswick-Saint John, which was a Progressive Conservative seat from 1984 to 2004 and which the Conservative candidate fell short by only 1449 votes in 2006. 

If you are Prime Minister Stephen Harper, how many ridings are you prepared to put at risk in order to push forward with copyright reform?  While there may be relatively few Canadians who will vote for a party because of copyright, a growing number might vote against a party because of it.  This places the Copyright MPs in the spotlight and presents a major political challenge (or opportunity) for the Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP.  It also places Jim Prentice in the uncomfortable position of having to answer to caucus colleagues whose re-election prospects could get considerably tougher if he forges ahead with his plans for a Canadian DMCA.

Update: A reader notes that several Copyright MPs have announced that they will not run in the next election.  This includes Joe Comuzzi, Andy Scott, Brenda Chamberlain, and Norman E. Doyle.  This arguably only increases the importance of these ridings as they are likely to very hotly contested. 

19 Comments

  1. Blaise Alleyne says:

    Count me in…
    “While there may be relatively few Canadians who will vote for a party because of copyright, a growing number might vote against a party because of it.”

    Count me in as one of them…

  2. Alex Krioutchkov says:

    What about my rights?
    Did we not elect you to represent our intrests? Besides there are more important things to worry about rather then the concerns of a few multi-nationals.

  3. Democracy?
    Lets hope some of these MPs are willing to sacrifice their principles for their electorate :)

  4. Let’s hope it is a free vote, so the MPs are free to vote in accordance with the wishes of their constituents rather than the wishes of the party.

  5. R. Bassett Jr. says:

    My NDP voe may count for something…
    My mom helped Ed Brodabent campaign quite some time ago and since then it would seem that our “house” has always voted NDP. Certainly, it’s not because they are infallible, but if you have watched CPAC you’d know who the hecklers are and who’s there to get some work done. It’s high time the NDP lead the country – they’d be too afraid to screw up to NOT do an amazing job! Realisticly, even if they did do a terrible job for four years, it wouldn’t be any worse then other parties have done in the past. It wouldn’t be the end of our country. So, maybe in the next election some of these “Copyright ridings” can go NDP. Call up your local NDP candidate and see for yourself: They are human and they do care! (if not, chalk that up to being human too – always vote for the right PERSON in your riding first, the right PARTY second).

  6. Free Vote
    Let’s hope it is a free vote so the MPs are free to vote in accordance with their job security rather than the wishes of their party. If we can’t keep them in line any other way, let’s put the fear of unemployment in them :)

  7. What a great idea. I’m sure everyone mentioned will see a copy, and it gets the point across very effectively. For a moment I thought I was reading Garth Turner’s blog, but then I remembered that the “C word” doesn’t get a lot of mention over there.

    Problem though, don’t most students remain registered in their home riding when they go away for school? I’d be happy to be corrected on that.

  8. Brant…
    As a note on the Brant riding… (being a constituent, and also having already writting Mr. St. Armand)

    Brant is home to Nipissing, but also Mowhawk College has a branch in Brant, as well as Laurier. I would say that a large percentage of Brantford students go to one of these 3 educational facilities, and could *easily* swing the vote in favor of another candidate because of copyright concerns.

    Its interesting to see this kind of Balance, because with the way the elections have been in Canada, a few ridings would be all it takes to swing the election in favour of a different party. The reality is, the Conservatives have had to tread lightly, and have a mind about who elects them into power.

    Will it be the lobby groups? Or the students, teachers, and professionals that get shafted by a law such as this? I’m willing to bet that it will be the latter.

  9. Idealistic Pragmatist says:

    Thanks for compiling this! It’s a great resource.

    Readers in Edmonton-Strathcona might be interested to learn that Linda Duncan, the NDP candidate who came closer to beating Rahim Jaffer than anyone has since he was elected in 1997, is running again this time, and has been campaigning hard since December 2006. Please visit her website and get involved with her campaign if you’re interested in helping us unseat him!

  10. Sandy Kemsley says:

    Like “300baud” said, I believe that most university students vote in the location of their permanent home, usually that of their parents, like they do with their income taxes. That being said, after talking to my nieces and their friends at the last election, I believe that most university students don’t vote at all, unfortunately.

  11. Am I the only one who has a huge discomfort level with where this is going? So, if I like the way an MP will vote on copyright, I support him/her even if, say, he/she is also strongly anti-abortion, or pro-death penalty. Sorry, but this is dangerous, and damaging to the message. It will not in any event be a free vote, and I think Harper will correctly conclude that ours is not a community that will ever vote for him anyway.

  12. Edward Palonek says:

    Liberals
    Vote for liberals in the future and you may as well say good bye to your privacy.
    [ link ]

  13. one issue election?
    “So, if I like the way an MP will vote on copyright, I support him/her even if, say, he/she is also strongly anti-abortion, or pro-death penalty. Sorry, but this is dangerous, and damaging to the message.”

    First off, anonymous poster, the people in Canada closest to the right wing of political spectrum in Canada you seem to be so afraid of are the ones proposing this bill. Bringing the Liberals back would not push us in the direction of extreme social conservatism. Second, even the grits would have introduced this bill- the amount of money the content industry’s lobbyists are dumping on our politicians is sickening. That would get a bill tabled from almost any party.

    Our ability to use this minority government to prevent the bill from being introduced is based on the fact that their options are limited: if they don’t introduce it, they’re no worse off than before and have to try to win the next election more thoroughly before they try to push American business interests ahead of Canadian voter interests. If they do introduce it, they will fare worse next election. It’s very simple.

  14. Free vote
    “Amending the Copyright Act” was part of the Throne speech. Doesn’t that make a free vote very unlikely ?

  15. Byron Wright says:

    Oddly, I email Rod Bruinooge about copyright policy concerns about a month ago and got no response.

  16. Rod
    Is this the same Rod Bruinooge who made his fortune with an online game called The Stone?

  17. Marc Dufour says:

    There are not only “Copyright MPs”, but also “non zone-1” MPs.

    All those MPs whose constituencies are full of immigrants from all over the world might want to examine the consequences of voting for a bill that will criminalize the possession or the distribution of DVD players that can play DVDs from outside zone 1… All those chinese, indians, filipinos, south-americans who, suddenly, cannot legally watch their legally-purchased DVDs from China, India, Philippines, South America anymore… They might get kinda miffed a bit, no?

    * * *

    About Copyright MPs, I recently met Thierry St-Cyr, listed above, and I slipped him a word about the possibility of outlawing region-free DVD players. His quick response is “we’re for compensating the artists, and we’re against things that favourize big corporations”.

  18. Lachance
    Please Note, MP for Ottawa is Paul dewAr, not Paul DewEr

  19. Hey what’s the University of Sudbury? You sure all the facts here are correct??