Ugh, Election

While I’m happy that a raft of shitty Conservative legislation dies on the floor today (copyright reform bill C-61 included), I’m not entirely thrilled at the prospect an election.

Rather than ranting, I thought it might be useful to outline my algorithm for choosing a candidate to vote for. It’s hand-tweaked, but it has served me well for a few elections now. It goes something like this:

def vote(Candidates):

    voteFor = nobody

    # If there are any super-awesome candidates,
    # vote for the best one.

    for candidate in Candidates:

        if isSuperAwesome(candidate):
            if candidate > voteFor:
                voteFor = candidate

    if voteFor != nobody:
        return voteFor

    # Otherwise, run through the list of parties in
    # order or personal preference, excluding
    # Conservatives.

    for party in ['Liberal', 'Green', 'NDP']:

        if not totallySucks(Candidates[party]):
            return Candidates[party]

    # Otherwise, stay home.
    # TODO: should I have a fall-back to vote for
    # a mediocre indepentant?  Not that it matters
    # at this point...

    return nobody

If you can’t read Python, I apologize. Just read the comments (the bits after the #s) and you should be okay.

I have reasons for all the decision points, but I think, if you’ve been following long enough, you may already have a decent idea what they are. I like to think I follow a healthy mix of strategic voting and ideology. And I won’t vote for a candidate that totally sucks on principle, no matter what their party affiliation is.

I’ll make myself go through the candidates and talk about them at some point in the next month and a bit.

I just sent my first-ever letter to my MP

You can read it too:

June 13, 2008

The Honourable Andrew Telegdi
House of Commons
Parliament Buildings
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Dear Sir,

I am a constituent who is concerned about copyright and intellectual property issues. As a member of Waterloo’s high tech community, I make my living from my intellectual property. I understand the need to balance the interests of all stakeholders.

I do not believe that Bill C-61, the amendment to the Copyright Act tabled by minister Prentice yesterday, strikes that balance.

As has been noted, copyright is complex and nuanced. Time and care are needed to make sure changes to this important piece of legislation do not result in consequences that are damaging to Canadian culture and industry, and that Canadian citizens (ie. “consumers”) are treated fairly and with respect.

I am concerned that the provisions to protect technological protection measures trump all hard-won protections for consumers and render illegal activities like device-shifting, time-shifting and back ups that are legal and common practice today.

I am concerned that the technological measures protections may have far-reaching consequences beyond the above, stifling Canada’s high-tech innovation. I also do not believe that these protections have rendered any real protection to artists in jurisdictions where they have been put in place. There may very little benefit for a change to law that comes at a very high cost.

I am concerned that the “making available” provision could open Canadian citizens to indiscriminate and extortionate lawsuits like those seen in the United States.

I am concerned that strengthened “moral rights” provisions could stifle Canadian culture, particularly a thriving remix culture and Canada’s long, but unprotected tradition of parody.

Most of all, I am very concerned that all of this will be enacted without due consultation with Canadian citizens: Canadian artists, Canadian consumers, Canadian industry and Canadian institutions. This is a complex matter that requires considerable deliberation. This is not a bill that can be railroaded through the House.

I sincerely hope you take the time to review these issues and vote against any bill that does not truly balance the needs and interests of Canadians ahead of powerful international lobbies.


Darcy Casselman

I’m sure there’s more, but this is about the best I can do at 6 in the morning running on about 3 hours’ sleep.

You might want to write too.

Edited to add: I’m now a supporting member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in support of Online Rights Canada.

Also, if you can’t bring yourself to do anything else, you should probably join the Fair Copyright for Canada group on Facebook if you’re on Facebook. I know, that’s not many of you, but maybe you could pass it along to your Facebook friends. The size of this group has been referenced on the floor of the House of Commons to demonstrate that Canadians actually care about intellectual property issues (bizarre, I know).

On Canada’s DMCA

As I’m writing this, I’m listening to a CD comprised entirely of bootleg Christmas remixes. Even under current copyright, this stuff shouldn’t exist. And while most of it’s kind of awful (but awful in a good way, I think), there are tiny bits of beautiful brilliance that should exist.

Today, Canadian Industry minister Jim Prentice was supposed to put forward a new Canadian copyright reform bill. The phrase “copyright reform bill” sends a chill down my spine. While Canadian copyright reform could use some reform, I’m pretty sure that the idea of “reform” in the minds of the authors of the bill will be quite a bit different than what I think would actually be useful or necessary.

As I was saying, there was supposed to be a new copyright reform bill today. But there isn’t. It’s been “delayed.”

Continue reading On Canada’s DMCA

Ontario Election: The Candidates

Before I start beating up on people, I want to take a minute to go over what’s going on here. I know, this is basic stuff, but it’ll become important later.

The way Canada’s national and provincial election systems work, you’re asked to vote for which of various candidates in your riding you want to represent you in parliament. The candidate with the most votes wins the seat and a vote in government. You’re picking your representative.

Candidates are generally affiliated with a political party. Parties are kind of a bundle of values and ideals and come with their own histories and internal politics. I get the impression that most people completely disregard who the people running are and vote for the party.

And in a way that makes sense. The party that gets the most seats forms the government and the party leader leads that government. The leader has a lot of power, even though they’re not directly elected.

That kinda rubs me the wrong way. I have to think about who’s going to represent me.

Liz Whitmer (Progressive Conservative)

Ms Whitmer is the incumbent in the riding. She’s held it for 17 years. I have the distinct feeling she’s going to hold it for another four.

Liz Whitmer really bothered me in previous election campaigns. Given my feelings about the Mike Harris government, that probably isn’t that much of a surprise, but she came across as really smug and slimy.

This time, though, I’m not getting that vibe as much. I suppose running as the opposition is easier than running for the governing party.

I’m still not going to vote for her. There was a time when I might have considered voting PC, but even though the Conservative platform is a far cry from what it was in the Mike Harris years, I’m pretty sure their values don’t align with mine. At all.

Louise Ervin (Liberal)

Disclaimer: I got involved in this election a little earlier than most. I am currently a card-carrying member of the Ontario Liberal party. Dalton McGuinty sends me email. I signed up because a friend of a friend of a friend was running for the Liberal candidacy. I actually thought he was pretty good, too. Better than Ms Ervin, anyway.

No sour grapes, though. I’m probably the biggest Liberal apologist in the world, and if they field a halfway-decent candidate, I’ll vote for them. One of the things that bugs me about the Liberal party, though, is they have a tendency of fielding less-than-decent candidates.

I’m not terribly impressed with the Dalton McGuinty government over the last four years. While they didn’t make things much worse, I was kinda hoping they’d do something to try to fix some of the damage Mike Harris did, including and especially start fixing the fiscal situation for municipalities. They haven’t. So colour me disappointed. They have promised things I like, like an impressive public transit program. I don’t particularly mind giving them another chance. I’d vote for the Liberal party if that was what I was asked. What I’m being asked, however, is who I want to represent me.

I don’t want Louise Ervin representing me. She’s pretty awful. From what I can tell she doesn’t have any ideas of her own. She’s a Liberal pit bull wannabe, and an incredibly ineffective one at that. What’s more, her main public service credential–trustee on the Catholic school board–makes her outrage over John Tory’s proposal to fund private religious schools hard to swallow.

So I’m not voting for her, either.

to be continued…