Oda and the Copyright Pledge

Readers of this blog will recall the Sam Bulte controversy from earlier this year and my resulting call that politicians take the "copyright pledge" under which they would agree not to serve as Minister of Canadian Heritage, Parliamentary Secretary, or sit on the Canadian Heritage Parliamentary Committee if they accepted campaign contributions from the copyright lobby. 

Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda did not take the pledge.  According to data just released by Elections Canada, if she had, she would not hold her current position.  During the campaign, Oda received contributions from many in the copyright lobby including Universal Music (tied for her third largest external contributor), the Canadian Motion Pictures Distributors Association, the Entertainment Software Alliance, the Canadian Music Publishers Association, and CRIA's own Graham Henderson.  In addition, the broadcast lobby were also active supporters with Melinda Rogers (Ted's daughter), Gary Slaight, Phil Lind, Jay Switzer, and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters. 

In all, a significant portion of Oda's external funding during the campaign came from the very groups that now seek support from Minister Oda on key policy issues.  Further, it is striking that all the corporate and association donations came late in the campaign as the polls showed the Conservatives in the lead and after the Bulte story was generating public interest.

Update: Several people have written to note that the individual contributors also include employees from Warner Music, Universal Music, and CHUM.


  1. Austin Corbett says:

    This goes alot further than just copyright. I think it is almost a truism (unfortunately) that if a government committee or MP is appointed to look at a specific issue or portfolio, then a large portion of their campaign contributions will probably be from corporations most affected by that portfolio.

    Its a perversion of democracy, and we need to speak out against it in ALL areas.

  2. I voted for Bev Oda – and I’ll be sending her a letter (free of charge to send mail to her, by the way). In my letter I will write how displeased I am to see her receiving so much finiancial and political benefit from companies and groups that only have interests revolving around greed, profit and corruption.

    121 EAST BLOCK
    K1A 0A6

    613 992-2792 (Ottawa)
    905 697-1699 (Riding Office, Durham Region, ON)
    1 866 436-1141 (Riding Office, Durham Region, ON)

    “I am here for you” – Bev Oda (from her May 2006 News Update mailing)

  3. what can we do?
    Does anyone know who else we can contact to have this issue investigated? I thought the conservatives were all about accountability?

  4. I can only hope Melinda Rogers is more than 11 years old.

  5. CleverShark says:

    What was once just an expression…
    It used to be just a saying that Conservative politicians were in the pocket of large American corporations… sadly “the more we know” the more appropriate that saying seems to be.

  6. Oda’s list of legal heavyweights..
    Many individual names on Ms. Oda’s contributions list are the corporate in-house lawyers (or their spouses) of the major multinational music & entertainment companies… hmmmm

  7. Let’s wait and see
    I’ll reserve judgment on this until after the Conservatives table copyright legislation. Michael did report during the last election that CRIA was hedging electoral bets by funding Oda and Rajotte. This shouldn’t surprise anyone.

    But what does it mean that she “wouldn’t hold her current position?” She won her riding by a 17 percent margin, so it’s not credible to argue that she would have been defeated without entertainment industry funding. Do you mean that for some reason she wouldn’t be in cabinet without CRIA et al’s support?

    Besides, there is plenty of evidence that, past a certain threshold, electoral spending doesn’t do much good winning votes.

  8. reply to mange re: “wouldn’t hold her
    Mango: It means she couldn’t be Canadian Heritage Minister and accept the money.

  9. fair weather friends
    I seem to recall that when the whole Bulte thing was going down, how the entertainment industry contributors talked about their great friendship with Bulte, and how Bulte expressed disbelief that anyone would call her corrupt, just because she has friends who happen to be entertainers. She was going to parties and rubbing shoulders with artists, having her picture taken with Graham’s wife (to show just how close she was to the musicians)

    I wonder how that friendship is working now? I’ll bet that the last time she heard from an artist or industry exec was at the last fund raiser. When she calls, she likely gets the “love you babe, I’ll call soon” routine.

    Ask an artist who has ridden the entertainment roller coaster. When you are hot, you get the limos, private planes, vices satisfied galore (bimbos, drugs, booze, food, what ever turns you on). When you are not hot, you’re forgotten.

    At least Bulte did not have advances to payback. Most artists end up owning their record company money because guess what, the cars, 5 star hotels, private plane rides …. they are on your dime)

    I’m hoping that Bev Oda is smarter than that. The very fact that friends like Graham are doubling their bets, by giving Oda money while visibly supporting Bulte, should make her nervous. The recent enlightenment over the shady and misleading practices of CRIA and similar organizations should put her on high alert.

    At least Bulte had an excuse. Her friends seemed very nice when they were first dating. Oda at least knows she is dealing with the wolves. The ball is in her court to prove she has integrity by acting with integrity.

  10. Re: Politics
    Austin, I could not agree with you more! Maybe Michael will do us a favour and draft a more generic version of the pledge that we could try to hold our MPs to. Silly me, I thought the Ethics Commissioner would be doing that type of thing, but it would seem not.

  11. Elections Canada Link
    I wanted to check out that Elections Canada link, however it appeared to be ‘unavailable’. Am I just paranoid or could this be a cover up?

    Regardless good to keep notice of this, hopefully the records for this will be back up soon and in the same condition they were before.

  12. That is like saying a farmer can’t be Ag minister or a lawyer can’t be Justice minister or an accountant can’t be finance etc. Oda was with CBC, her friends are from that industry; she understands the industry; she has support from people who compete with each other in the industry which means she should have some respect from within which is helpful.

    I think you are going to find that the days are over when big corporate money can “buy” influence. if your mind works like that then you will most likely be very supportive of Harper’s Accountability Act which limits individual donations to $1,000 – down from the existing $5,400.

    And, I have a feeling that the big fat expence accounts or accepting gifts from the industry will also be a thing of the past.

    Something Sam Bulte unethically flaunted.

  13. REply to MAria
    “That is like saying a farmer can’t be Ag minister or a lawyer can’t be Justice minister or an accountant can’t be finance etc.”

    Actually you are way off base there. Actual comparisons would be that it’s like saying a Ag Minister shouldn’t ttake money from the large Ag companies, or the Justice Minister shouldn’t take money from wealthy criminals, or comapnies that want laws changed in their favour, the financial minister shouldn’t take money from the companies under its regulation, etc…. See where this is going yet?

    It’s about accountability to the people who you work for, us, the Candian citizens. It’s about politicians passing laws that match Canadians beliefs. What its not about is allowing large companies to purchase laws that benefit themselves only, or forcing Canadians into a technological black hole so corporations can force feed their version of our culture down our throats, souly purpose of making the holy $.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, companies have only one goal to make money. The only thing that they can be expected to do is whatever will make them more $ for their share holders. They can NOT be expected or even thought of doing what is in the best interest of Canadians (unless some how it makes them more $).

  14. Oh! Warner Music, Universal Music and CHUM – more places *Not* to support. I’ll quit buying Warner and Uni releases and turn the channel from CITY TV or any of its other entities. Effing corruptive companies. Makes me cry. And makes me ashamed to have been a chump all these years by “doing the right thing” and buying their products…