Nigel Wright + Copyright Reform = Conflict Of Interest?

With the exit of Guy Giorno from the PMO’s office, we are greeted with the arrival of Nigel Wright, who will become the Prime Minister’s new chief of staff, one of the most powerful unelected officials in Canada. Nigel Wright leaves Bay Street as the Managing Director of Onex, the biggest employer in Canada outside of the Government. As the Globe and Mail referenced:

…in the case of Onex, we’re talking about a gigantic, sprawling entity…Some 40 of its companies operate in almost all areas — from health to culture through aerospace and investments. And they generate billions of dollars in sales annually.

But what about Mr Wright’s multi-million dollars worth of holdings in the Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund, the Canadian-based fund engaged in the motion picture industry? Could this perhaps be viewed by some as a conflict of interest considering this Government’s current focus on copyright legislation? Liberal MP Marcel Proulx seems to have taken notice:

Nigel Wright has interests in Cineplex cinemas and in Indigo bookstores. When they talk about copyright next week, will he really plug his ears? Everyone knows the answer. No he will not. Why is the Prime Minister treating Canadians like a bunch of fools?

and the final word goes to the always affable Wayne Easter:

Why are the Conservatives letting Mr. Wright set one foot in the PMO while his other foot is firmly rooted in corporate boardrooms? Where was the Prime Minister’s judgment?

Canadian Government Commits To Tougher Copyright Laws

Yes Canada, it’s like déjà vu all over again. This Government has once again committed themselves to tackling this pesky copyright thingy. In today’s Speech from the Throne it took Governor General Michaëlle Jean just 14.5 minutes out of 60 some-odd minutes to mention copyright and the direction this Government will take to update Canada’s Copyright Act:

To fuel the ingenuity of Canada’s best and brightest and bring innovative products to market, our Government will build on the unprecedented investments in Canada’s Economic Action Plan by bolstering its Science and Technology Strategy. It will launch a digital economy strategy to drive the adoption of new technology across the economy. To encourage new ideas and protect the rights of Canadians whose research, development and artistic creativity contribute to Canada’s prosperity, our Government will also strengthen laws governing intellectual property and copyright.

In terms of copyright and its implications, this was essentially a carbon copy of the Speech from the Throne delivered by this same Government on Nov. 18, 2009.

With approximately 100 sitting days scheduled for the House of Commons to be in session before the summer recess, one gets the inkling that Canadians are going to see an Act to Amend the Copyright Act hit the Order Paper and most likely First Reading before the MP’s retreat to the summer BBQ circuit.

When it comes to copyright reform in Canada battle lines have been clearly drawn, on the one side we have the ‘blame Canada’ corporate lobbyists, shills and lawyers versus those of sound mind, i.e. consumers, esteemed members of academia, lawyers with sound reasoning and tech industry coalitions. Just who truly has the ear of Government will remain to be seen in the next 100 days and beyond. However, if Bill C-60 and Bill C-61 are any indications consumers are going to be in for a rough ride as distributors will continue to push for locked down content and legislation to protect their imposed locks.

Even if this government comes to its senses and crafts a truly balanced copyright bill, Canada, and the rest of the developed world for that matter, have the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) looming over their heads. This secretly negotiated trade agreement represents a particularly vile form of policy laundering that if enacted, threatens to override Canada’s domestic copyright policy, reformed or otherwise. ACTA seeks to provide an unprecedented level of control to ISP’s, pseudo-law enforcement and content distributors to dictate how, when and where consumers can access content and associated products in the high tech economy. Yes, folks be afraid, be very afraid.