Rajotte’s Response To C-61

I've posted NDP and Liberal responses to C-61 last week, but did not bother posting the standard response from Industry Minister Jim Prentice and Canadian Heritage Minister Josee Verner that has been widely circulated online (and is replicated by many other Conservative MPs).  A blog reader sent along the response received from Conservative MP and Industry Committee chair James Rajotte, which takes a more nuanced approach and is posted below with permission.

Thank you for your correspondence regarding Bill C-61, an Act to amend the Copyright Act.  As you know, this is a very complex and contentious issue that causes widely divergent views.

In this bill, the Minister of Industry, the Honourable Jim Prentice, has worked hard to forge a compromise between fairly compensating musicians, songwriters, artists, photographers, and film makers for their work and ensuring all Canadians may have access to and utilize the newest forms of digital technology.

For your information, Bill C-61 is at the second reading stage in the House of Commons.  Debate at this level is over the principle of the bill rather than a specific examination of every clause contained in the bill.  A clause-by-clause examination of the bill will be done at committee stage, if it passes second reading.  As Chair of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, where this bill will most likely be sent after second reading, I want to assure you that it will receive a full, fair and open hearing.

I support Bill C-61 in principle, but I am ready and willing to listen to your views.  If you have specific concerns or suggestions with respect to the wording of this legislation, please submit them to this office or to the Clerk of the committee and I will ensure that the entire committee deliberates on all of the recommendations.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your concerns with me.

Yours truly,

James Rajotte, MP
Chair, Standing Committee on Industry, Science & Technology


  1. Not towing the party line?
    Wow, a Conservative not completely towing the party line on this one? That has been one of my disappointments with this bill; the Conservatives ran on a platform stating that Liberal MPs were forced to tow to party line and that the Conservatives wouldn’t pull that. The introduction of this bill tells me the Conservatives are no better than the Liberals. James Rajotte’s letter gives me a little hope.

  2. James Rajotte is the MP from my former home in Edmonton – he’s been around for a while, and is one of the (few) Conservative MPs I’d call diligent and honest in his work. One of those people you can respect while disagreeing with. If he’s chair of the committee, that bodes well.

  3. Well, you must give credit where credit is due, and well I am impressed at Rajotte’s response. Obviously he has part allegiances to follow, but instead of the same generic letter that other Conservative’s send out, he showed he is willing to listen and attend to people’s concerns. It seems like a very honest and forthcoming letter, and for that I have a certain amount of respect for him.

  4. Honestly
    Read: ‘We will make like we’re listening to your concerns and then when you turn your attention elsewhere we’ll lift your wallet.’

    Honestly, nothing about this government is inspiring me to have blind faith in what they say. Actions speak louder than words, and so far their actions in regard to C-61 have not been honest. Until voting day the proof is in the proverbial pudding.

  5. Someone with self-respect maybe?
    Seems like at least someone has some knowledge of the subject, and is at least willing to listen to his constituents. I’ve received the Jim Prentice form letter no less than twice, and another similar form letter from my MP’s constituency office, though probably written their locally and simply sent out to anyone who mentions Bill C-61 or copyright reform. I’ve told them that they’ve lost my vote in the next federal election. It’s the only thing that will make them see the light: lost votes.

  6. Keith Rose says:

    Committee review
    Of course it is good that Mr. Rajotte takes his role as committee chair seriously. However, I don’t see how this can be characterized as a “nuanced approach”. All he appears to be saying is that he invites testimony to the committee, and that it would be considered in a post-second-reading review. By implication, he is rejecting the possibility of a pre-second-reading referral to committee, and therefore any substantive change to the legislation. “Honest” and maybe even “appropriate” (to his position) I can see, and all credit for that, but I don’t see “nuance”.

  7. imagine any product with a lock
    That’s what I don’t get about this bill.

    If you can imagine any consumer product with a lock (i.e a filling cabinet). The cabinet is used to secure items with information value (much like a DVD). Would you buy a cabinet from a company knowing full well that the Key to the cabinet had to be supplied by the manufacutrer? Perhaps you would, but what if the cabinet manufacturers key was no longer secure (much like a DVD), what if others could freely make copies of the keys to your supossedly locked cabinet? Would the government support a law that says you can’t force the lock on YOUR cabinet and change it to something more secure or perhaps remove the lock entirely because you know the lock is useless?

    The whole concept of someone else telling me what can be done with things that I purchased is fundamentally flawed.

    Why should a lock on digital goods be given a higer status in the eyes of the law to protect hollywood dribble?

  8. not so fast…
    I sent the letter from Online Rights Canada ([ link ]) to Mr. Rajotte recently. He replied with the letter shown above. I thought it was far of him to reply with a standard, pre-written letter as my initial letter (from ORC) was also pre-written. In his reply Mr. Rajotte asks for specific concerns to bill C61. I replied with a short but detailed letter outlining my concerns with the bill and received the same response letter again from Mr. Rajotte. I replied to him again letting him know my dissatisfaction with the fact that he had clearly not read my second, message (and possibly not even my first one). His Assistant (Debbie Healy) then replied (from Mr. Rajotte’s e-mail account) apologizing.

    It could be argued that Mr. Rajotte solicitation for public input is nothing more than a PR facade as appears he has no intention in actually reading his constituent’s letters and consider their concerns.

  9. At least it\s not propaganda
    Fact is, there\’s no way to be certain that this MP is going to be any different than any of his caucus colleagues, who are basically marionettes who merely repeat the talking/writing points they are given whenever anyone speaks to them.

    It is refreshing, but not quite reassuring, that Mr. Rajotte is not handing out the usual propaganda pieces, which are really disgraceful and patronizing wherever and by whomever they are used. It is telling that Prentice uses these idiotic talking points whenever he opens his mouth on this subject. So, in Rajotte\’s case, we obviously should NOT be sanguine that he will fix, or help fix, the gross excesses of this bill, but there is a prospect of meaningful interaction with him. That\’s progress with a government like this one.

    So, keep this issue on the front burner and keep writing to our (sometimes nominal) representatives. This bill can still be rewritten so as to resemble a proposed law you might find in a free country, rather than a police state, and Mr. Rajotte might actually be willing to listen to more than just corporate views. Might.


  10. Betting Man says:

    Any Bets?
    Want to bet that a letter worded substantially like this will soon be the ‘standard’ form letter reply from all Conservative MP’s on C-61?

  11. maupassant says:

    the Chretien method
    I see the conservatives have taken a leaf from Mr. Chretien’s manual. Whenever asked, any item is not up for discussion or comment. First it’s merely hypothetical, second it’s before the courts/in committee. And third, it’s merely history. At every one of these stages it was either unethical or pointless to discuss it *now*.

  12. referendum
    Too bad there isn’t here in Canada, like in some European country ,a tool called referendum with which the population could ultimately approve or discard a law when necessary. All is needed to trigger a referendum is to collect a certain number of signatures just like here with a petition.

  13. hmmm referendum

    That idea may be crazy enough to work… Could we call a referendum on a bill? I know they did for the Charlottetown Accord, but that’s a whole different story.

  14. Another Lier
    Remember they shoved second reading so that it COULD NOT GOTO A COMMITTEE so WE COULD GET FAIR

  15. How to kill it?
    Ok folks, we need to force C-61 into the toilet where it belongs. And flush twice.

    Bill C-61 must fail NOW “over the principle of the bill”, and not be allowed to progress. “61 reforms” are not enough, unless #1 is burn, dump, and flush.

    Fundamental questions of human rights and social priorities lie the true heart of copyright law. There are profound questions and difficult ballances to be solved. Most of us know this, and naturally begin our discussions with these basic ideas as natural starting points for honest debate. In this digital millenium, Canadians have a new and rapidly changing relationship with all forms of media and information. Whether we create, distribute, or consume information, digital technologies are radically and beneficially changing our activities. This calls into question our human rights and social priorities, and makes our old laws obsolete and unenforceable. Canadians must take a long, hard, and deep look at these issues. This is the true heart of copyright reform.

    Bill C-61 presupposes the answers to the real fundamental questions of human rights and social priorities. It was not based on public discussion or input, and is designed to avoid the possibility of these real issues ever being questioned or addressed. Even if the Conservatives did not expect this bill to go anywhere, it was their intention to frame the discussion, shifting the debate away from any reasonable middle ground, and far off into the extreme positions taken in the bill. Bill C-61 is an underhanded attempt to hijack and command the process of the copyright reform that Canada needs.

    Bill C-61 is based on obsolete legal principles, extended in ways that are deeply flawed, only to suite the special interests of certain industries. It is so fundamentally flawed in both its principles and detailed execution, that Canadians should not be forced to incur the very real costs of debating it, or even trying to understand it. Instead we need to take away this simple lesson: public consultations need to be undertaken BEFORE the basic principles and priorities of copyright reform can even be understood, and certainly well before any usefull attempts at drafting law can be ethically contemplated.

    Canada needs real copyright reform. Bill C-61 blocks real reform, and makes real debate impossible. Human rights and modern social priorities are the true starting point of the open public debates we need. If we do not kill C-61 immediately, then we will never get to publicly debate these first principals, and we will pay the price most dearly by having broken laws that guide us to very real disaster.


    So how can we do it folks? Where is this next vote that must fail, who votes, and how can we hold them to task on our behalf?

    I’m sorry to be ignorant of the political sequences and exact process (where’s the flow chart?), I have been focussing my efforts at clarifying numerous other aspects of the issues at hand, because the BS is flying thick and fast, and you nearly need X-ray vision to see clearly and keep a sound perspective.

  16. Chris Charabaruk says:

    Re: How to kill it?
    How many signatures on a petition does it take to recall Commons?

  17. response
    i got the same response from him.

  18. New to dealing with MPs?
    I take it most of you are pretty new to politics and dealing with MPs. Let me translate that letter for you. \”Get stuffed. We are carrying on with the Bill as it is\” He\’s towing the party line and isn\’t going to do anything but support the bill fully.

    Rajotte didn\’t write this letter, nor will he ever read 1 out of a 100 letters he\’ll get on this issue. The fact that his staff didn\’t even go to the trouble of firing out some of the party language goes to saw what a non-issue they see the opposition of this Bill.