In May 2004, the Canadian Heritage Standing Committee released what is now widely described as the "Bulte Report", a remarkably one-sided report on the future of Canadian copyright. The report addressed WIPO, ISP, and education issues, siding in every instance with the views of rights holders such as the Canadian Recording Industry Association. Soon after I wrote a column about the report, arguing that there was an unfortunate perception of bias given the fact that Ms. Bulte had accepted campaign contributions from various rights holder organizations. I recommended that "parliamentarians involved in the copyright reform process should refuse all such contributions to ensure that the perception of absolute impartiality is preserved." Ms. Bulte was unhappy with the article, complaining about "allegations that my work in Parliament has in any way been influenced by donations that I have received."
Fast forward to the current election campaign and it is clear that Ms. Bulte remains closely aligned with those same rights holder organizations. Her website lists a number of campaign events, the most interesting of which is a $250.00 per person fundraiser on January 19th featuring Cowboy Junkies singer (and CRIA President Graham Henderson partner) Margo Timmins.
The sponsors of this event, to be held four days before the election?
- Doug Frith (President of Canadian Motion Pictures Distributors Association)
- Graham Henderson (CRIA President)
- Jackie Hushion (Executive Director of the Canadian Publishers Council)
- Danielle LaBoisserre (Executive Director of the Entertainment Software Alliance) and
- Stephen Stohn (DeGrassi producer).
Within the boundaries of the Election Act, MPs are of course free to fundraise any way they like and individual Canadians are free to contribute to those same MPs. However, with the public's cynicism about elected officials at an all-time high and Canadians increasingly frustrated by a copyright policy process that is seemingly solely about satisfying rights holder demands, is it possible to send a worse signal about the impartiality of the copyright reform process? At $250.00 a person, I have my doubts that many of the artists that Ms. Bulte claims to represent will be present. Instead, it will lobbyists and lobby groups, eagerly handing over their money with the expectation that the real value of the evening will come long after Margo Timmins has finished her set.