Me and My MP: An Exercise in Ignorance

A number of weeks ago I wrote a letter to my member of parliament (Lynne Yelich, MP) in an effort to let her know about my concerns over the proposed Bill C-61 – which will, in effect, make almost everyone in Canada a criminal. Here is a complete copy of the letter I sent to Lynne:

June 24, 2008

Dear Lynne,
I’m a constituent who has been following recent developments in Canadian copyright law. I’m concerned that the Copyright bill (C-61) presented by the government on June 12th goes too far in outlawing the lawful use of copyrighted material, and does not take into account the needs of consumers and Canada’s creative community who are exploiting the potential of digital technology. I’m disappointed that this bill adopts an American approach to digital copyright laws, instead of crafting a Canadian approach.

Canada’s copyright laws need to advance Canada’s interests. This means copyright laws that respect ordinary consumer practices, such as unlocking cell phones and copying the contents of purchased DVDs for use in video iPods. The current bill outlaws these practices. This means copyright that facilitates the work of Canadian creators, such as documentary filmmakers, who instead find that this bill outlaws the use of DVDs as source materials for their films. This means we find made-in-Canada solutions to the challenges of file-sharing, such as consideration of the P2P proposal of the Songwriters Association of Canada. Instead, this bill paves the road to importing the consumer file-sharing lawsuit strategy that has failed so spectacularly in the United States. Canada deserves better.

Please ensure that C-61 really is made for Canadians by allowing all Canadian stakeholders a say in its final contents. That means meaningful consultation in the coming months, and opening up Canada’s copyright policy to more than just the special interests that lobbied behind the scenes for this law. As my MP, I urge you to represent my interests in the copyright debate.

I am sure you have received a number of letters similar to the one you have just read. It is a form-letter from, and I haven’t changed it because I agree with everything written therein. The only thing I can possibly add is how utterly shocked and disappointed I was to hear about Bill C-61. Who does Jim Prentice actually “work” for? Because after reading about the bill, I certainly don’t think he’s working for Canadians. I’ve always felt proud to be a citizen of Canada because of the “true, north, strong, and free” way we present ourselves to the world through our social practices and our forthright government. However, in recent years I have seen our government fail us and I have seen the world’s view of Canada change. If this bill comes to pass in its current form, I feel that it is more than just a striking blow to copyright law in Canada; I see it as a strike against what it means to be Canadian. It cheapens us in the eyes of the world, and I truly believe we can no longer afford to let the world down.

Mark O’Sullivan

I’m not sure what I was hoping for in response; maybe a letter assuring me that she was aware of the situation and would make my concerns heard in parliament. I am positive I can’t be the only person in her constituency that is worried about this issue, after all.

Well, today I got a response … in the form of propaganda:

I received an envelope from my MP, and therein was a poor photocopy of an eight page document explaining how I am incorrect. In essence, it says that all of my concerns are unfounded, and I should basically just shut up and take it. No words of consolation. No pat on the back. No, “I know, Mark. I’m on it. Don’t worry.” Instead I get this. It is a sad day to be Canadian … compliments of Lynne Yelich, MP.