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 BQ

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.

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