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Audio Podcast: Panel Discussion on Copyright and Bill C-61

Devin Johnston of the blog devinjohnston.ca had a  podcast on Saturday afternoon to discuss the concerns some of us have with Bill C-61, the proposed bill to update copyright legislation in Canada.  The  group included myself, Mike Park of Rational Reasons, John Klein, who runs Abandoned Stuff by Saskboy, and a special guest, Dr. Sam Trosow, Associate Professor at the University of Western Ontario, jointly appointed to the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Information and Media Studies,

We talked about our concerns of the impact of the Conservative government’s proposed Copyright legislation on creators and consumers of digital media. Devin’s blog has the podcast.

I’ll mention that we as guests sounds fine on the podcast,  but you may have to turn it up to listen to Devin’s questions, as he was having some problems on his end getting the audio to record his voice level. Hopefully with some better recording software for use with Skype, that problem should be rectified for his next podcast, which is probably next Saturday, and which I believe Devin will be attempting to hold once a week every Saturday afternoon.

If you’re interested in participating in a podcast, be it next weekend or whenever, give Devin an email at his address. He’s trying to fill the void left by Greg Staple’s departure from political blogging and podcasting, and it would be good for bloggers to show their support in his endeavour.

Vandalism done to Liberal supporters signs, properties, and cars in Guelph

There was a shocking display of election vandalism going on in Guelph last night. In this instance, homes with Liberal signs were targeted. Liberal supporters signs and houses were spray-painted with graffiti (it appears that at least 10 homes were vandalized), and at least 6 cars were keyed and their cars brake lines were tampered with and cut. This is more then just a prank – someone could have been killed if they hadn’t noticed and went driving off in their car.

Here are some pictures of the vandalism.

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There was a joint news release from all 4 campaigns. It reads as follows:

Bad (pre)election optics for Harper and the Conservatives.

Let’s list those bad optics as I see them:

– Two polls come out yesterday from Decima and the election guru, Nanos, showing the Liberals leading within the margin of error. Both breakdowns in regional vote would lead to a Liberal minority government if they were to translate to Election Day.

– You have the tainted meat scandal; “Deli-Gate”, as some are calling it. Up to 15 people possibly dead, with the Health Minister Tony Clement in Denver not bothering to return to address the crisis, all while cracking food jokes and meeting with American Big Oil over the Alberta tar-sands. Plus, a document revealed to show that the Conservatives […]

The Speech

Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. Wow.

I just finished watching Barack Obama’s acceptance speech as candidate for the Democrats as President Of the United States.

Wow.

This wasn’t just soaring rhetoric; he laid out some of the policies he wanted to do, and he was taking it to John McCain and the Republicans and going head-on against the attacks they’ve been levelling against him. He was also being pretty gutsy in laying out that he respected those who disagreed with him on gay marriage, guns, abortion, social security, etc. Talk about being bold for bringing up all those right-wing boogeymen topics.

Full text of speech here, but you really need to see it to capture […]

On destruction of parties, Listeriosis, and Tony Clement.

– Tom Flanagan came out yesterday and claimed that Harper really isn’t aiming for a majority, but a result that would weaken the Liberals further; part of what Flanagan called a war of attrition aimed at eventually destroying the Liberal Party of Canada and removing it from the political scene. Nice reason to spend 400 million $ for an election, eh? I’m not particularly surprised if that’s what he’s aiming to do. Quite honestly, the feeling is mutual; I’d love for this election to destroy Stephen Harper’s political career if he loses and send him scurrying back to the University of Calgary, where he and Flanagan and the rest of […]

Conservative priorities misplaced in the Arctic.

It’s rather fitting on the day that Harper is announcing plans to invest money into searching for oil and minerals in the Arctic that this report comes out:

Arctic Ocean sea ice has melted to the second lowest minimum since satellite observations began, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Sea ice melt recorded on Monday exceeded the low recorded in 2005, which had held second place. With several weeks left in the melt season, ice in summer 2008 has a chance to diminish below the record low set last year, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

So my theory is […]

What’s scared Harper into suddenly wanting an election?

Let’s recap how sudden a change this has been from Harper the last couple of weeks. Danielle Takacs had a blogpost on this, and she recalls the timeline:

So on August 13th he’s taunting Dion saying he doesn’t have the guts to bring him down – basically daring him to do so. Then Harper calls a by-election he didn’t need to in Don Valley West for September 22nd…Then just days later when absolutely nothing has changed, and after being so sure there would be no fall election, Harper decides to throw up his hands and say “Parliament is dysfunctional!” This is when he knows full well nothing has changed and any “dysfunction” is due to Harper and the 200 page Conservative chaos manual all his MPs have on how to disrupt Parliament themselves.

I will add that during the same time frame, we had a Hill Times article which quoted an anonymous Conservative strategist as predicting Dion would not take the government down, but even if he did want to, the Bloc wouldn’t, in this guys opinion. He predicted they’d still be governing into the spring. Again, quite a 360 from these folks who were expecting to govern into 2009.

So what is Harper afraid of all of a sudden? Is he afraid of heading back to Parliament to answer tough questions? Is he afraid the economy is going south and only getting worse, and perhaps his fiscal numbers are headed for red ink? Is he afraid of more embarrassing revelations of former conservative candidates opposed to the Conservatives “in and out” scheme at the Ethics Committee? Maybe the Bernier hearings? Is he afraid of the by-election results giving the Liberals some momentum headed into the fall session? Is he afraid that Dion’s Green Shift plan is resonating more then the Conservatives are willing to publicly concede – as evidenced by the overflow crowd that came to hear Dion in Halton last week?

My guesses:

1) Harper knows the economy is going to tank in a few months, or he’s going to be in the red with his next Budget, so he prefers to go now then later, when he and his government and Mr Flaherty would take more heat over mismanaging a Liberal surplus into a deficit situation in less then 3 years.

2) The Committees looking at the in-and out scandal will be highly embarrassing for him, as perhaps will the actual court case result against Elections Canada.

3) He knows he’s faring crappy in the 4 byelections, knows he wont win any of them, and doesn’t want Liberal momentum going into the House this Fall.

4) A combination of some or all of the above.

In short, this election call is based on fear and of him wanting to control the situation. Another example of the control freak Stephen Harper is, tinged with fear. A “quitter”, as Jack Layton has called him. As I have said however, I don’t mind going to an election, and I welcome it. In my opinion, the sooner we remove this right-wing Conservative government from power, the better. It’s now time to convince Canadians of that as well. I believe we will.

UPDATE: This is going to be one issue that Harper and company can’t run away from:

..the federal agency responsible for food safety this year began to let the industry conduct its own food testing, The Globe and Mail has learned. A leaked cabinet document that outlined plans for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to give the food industry a greater role in the inspection process raised the ire of opposition politicians last week. However, some of the plans have been in place since March 31, according to a CFIA manager and an official from the union that represents the federal inspectors.

My colleague Pogge is correct: Those of us in Ontario remember Walkerton all too well, and remember that a lot of the federal cabinet ministers in Harper’s cabinet from Ontario were in Mike Harris’s Ontario government at the time and responsible for that fiasco/tragedy. We should be all over them for attempting to implement “The Walkerton Model” (H/T Greg for that phrase) and transferring it to the food inspection agency, with tragically predictable results. They need to be hammered on this over and over. Public safety has been sacrificed either in the name of saving a few bucks due to the worsening budgetary numbers, or the Conservatives ideology, or both.

A little history lesson.

As Harper carries on with his threats and bluster about how Parliament isn’t working anymore and how a fixed date law won’t stop him from dissolving the House in order to force an election on his terms, shall we go back to Sept 2004 for a minute and look at how things were a tad different then? Back then, before there was a fixed date election law, then opposition leader Stephen Harper was writing a joint letter with Gilles Duceppe and Jack Layton to then Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson admonishing her not to let Prime Minister Paul Martin dissolve the Parliament on a whim:

The leaders have also written a letter […]

A rather obvious ploy

I don’t think it should be any big mystery why Harper all of a sudden wants immediate meetings with all opposition leaders. His actions suggest he knows he’s not going to do well in any of the 3 byelections taking place on Sept 8, and he wants to dissolve the House before that happens. That’s why I like the “what’s the rush, Steve?” strategy the Liberals are taking to the press:

Agreeing to Dion’s proposal to meet on Sept. 9 would preclude the Conservatives from forcing a general election call before three Sept. 8 by-elections in Ontario and Quebec – a timetable the Tories are believed to favour…the Liberals said they wouldn’t be pressured into the Tories’ timetable. “What’s the rush? The meeting is to be about the fall sitting of Parliament. (The) House doesn’t return till Sept. 15,” Dion spokesperson Mark Dunn said. “There is no crisis except the one being manufactured by Harper. We’ve never been told there was a time limit for this meeting, other than it was to happen before the House reconvened,” he said.

I believe Harper has no desire to allow the opposition parties – and the Liberals in particular – to have any momentum going into a Fall election. Otherwise, why would he and his spokespersons reject a meeting that Dion has proposed for Sept 9th as too late, when as the Liberals say the House isn’t even scheduled to resume until Sept 15? It’s very transparent on Harper and the Conservatives part. It also shows off Harper’s control freak tendencies of trying to get his way on this.

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