In the wake of recent reports exposing the activities of former MP Rahim Jaffer, lobbying has been the talk of Ottawa for the past month. The incident has had an immediate impact on lobbying regulations, with the Conservatives and Liberals jostling over who can introduce tougher disclosure measures. The changes may plug a few loopholes, yet the reality is that lobbying efforts are not always the subject of secretive meetings with high-level officials.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) considers the intensive lobbying effort on promised intellectual property reform. In recent weeks, those efforts have escalated dramatically, with most activities taking place in plain view. Scarcely a week goes by without a major event occurring – last week it was a reception sponsored by the Canadian Private Copying Collective, the week before an event hosted by the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, and the week before that the Juno Awards attended by several cabinet ministers and MPs.
Even more open is the public campaign designed to persuade Canadians that their country is a piracy haven. Late last month, the IFPI, which represents the global recording industry, released its annual Recording Industry in Numbers report that tracks global record sales. The report targeted two countries – Canada and Spain – for declining sales and linked those declines to copyright law. Not coincidentally, both countries are currently working on legal reforms.