August 25, 2008

Reply by Rona Ambrose

Dear Mr. Grajkowski,

Thank you for your recent correspondence to our office. If you are not satisfied with the response from Minister Ambrose, I urge you to contact the Minister of Industry directly to obtain more detailed explanations regarding your concerns. The contact information for Minister Prentice is as follows:

Minister of Industry
C.D. Howe Building, East Tower, 11th floor
235 Queen Street
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0H5
(613) 995-9001

Regarding your request for a meeting, we are unable to accommodate a meeting at this time.

This shall hopefully be the last time the name Rona Ambrose crosses my blog. I may never know where Rona Ambrose stands on Bill C-61. I do know where she stands when it comes to my vote.

August 24, 2008

Response to Rona Ambrose

Here is a couple quick notes. No, I do not actually own a Celine Dion CD although I am sure it is very good.

I do not expect to get any kinda of response from Rona Ambrose. If she really cared I would have got a proper response long ago.

I also do not expect a phone call from a scheduling manager. It is just one more "misunderstanding" from the office of The Honourable Rona Ambrose.

I really send this letter so I can exclaim "at least I tried". I also get the added benefit of having more cannon fodder against Rona Ambrose.

I do not claim to be above disliking MPs. Only Rona Ambrose managed to earn my loathing. Not even Jim Prentice earned that.

Without further ado, my letter.

Your response to my letter is very concerning. The response shows the lack of attention paid to my concerns and my fears in general. I would like to take a moment and explain why this response should be a embarrassment to your office. Hopefully, I can look forward to hearing a proper response as well as a phone call from the scheduling manager for a meeting (780) XXX-XXXX.

I would like to make a few quick points about the supposed clarifications. Your letter says Bill C-61 clarifies time shifting but it fails to clarify a key point. The bill fails to clarify how long I can keep my recordings.

Your letter says I can “copy legally acquired music onto other devices”. In the case of my 2002 Celine Dion CD, A New Day Has Come, your statement appears to be murky at best.

The fixed amount of $500 statutory damages appears to be a red herring. Most Canadians would fall under the $20,000 statutory damages per infringement because of the abusive digital lock provisions as well as the simple fact most programs that download files upload as well.

The educator copyright rules are complicated enough it takes copyright lawyers to figure it out. I very much doubt these rules will provide educators with a new way “to deliver course material and lessons” when considering the restrictions these new rules have.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a secretive treaty without public consultation. I fear the ACTA will be a bias treaty. I plead with you, in the name of democracy, that you help bring the ACTA treaty into the light instead of the cloak and dagger state it is currently in.

I agree that Amendments to Canada's Copyright Act are needed and are long overdue but that is no reason to rush though a bad bill. Time and care needs to be taken to make sure it is done right. I ask that you, Rona Ambrose, meet with me because I believe it is important that all MPs understand the effects Bill C-61 will have, both good and bad.

August 21, 2008

Rona Ambrose

Sometimes I question why I am so hard on Rona Ambrose.. then I remember I am her constituent. In theory she should at least try to see what her constituents think. This is a stark contrast to Laurie Hawn who has no reason to meet with me. I'm just some guy running around proclaiming himself to be Fair Copyright for Canada - Edmonton Chapter founder and yet he met with me as have others.

So, why have I gone off the "Boo Rona Ambrose" deep end again? Let me try to explain.

Here is a quote from James Rajotte's canned letter response to Bill C-61.

"For your information, Bill C-61 is at the second reading stage in the House of Commons. Debate at this level is over the principle of the bill rather than a specific examination of every clause contained in the bill...I support Bill C-61 in principle, but I am ready and willing to listen to your views."

I could go into detail and describe why I like this canned letter response to Bill C-61 but I think it speaks for its self. I have met with James Rajotte and I believe it when he says he is "ready and willing to listen".

Lets take a look at the canned letter Rona Ambrose sent out to me today.

"The bill clarifies that consumers will now be able to record television shows for later viewing (time shifting); copy legally acquired music onto other devices such as MP3 players or cellphones; and make backup copies of legally acquired books, newspapers, videocassettes and photographs onto devices they own (format shifting). Furthermore, the bill has set new limitations on statutory damages, so individuals would be liable for a fixed amount of $500 if they have infringed copyright for private use, provided that the material is not protected by a technological measure (TM or digital lock). Individuals may still be liable for other types of damages or remedies."

It reads like a freaking PR campaign. That letter is so filled with half truths it makes me rage. That is comming for a guy that almost never gets angry.

That quote is the reason why I meet MPs. I have to go around to make sure people understand the actual effects of Bill C-61 and shed full light on the supposed clarifications.

The Rona Ambrose scheduling manager has yet to contact me even though they say he/she would. I would still like a meeting just so she has the opportunity to see what I see in Bill C-61. I doubt it will ever happen though.

I am going to write a reply to that canned letter and post it here but I am unable to do so now due to my shear outrage.

Excuse me as I need to find a box of cute puppies stat.

August 17, 2008

Why do I blog?

So I blogged mainly to show that if you try to get your voice and your opinion herd it will surprise you what effect it will have. I know Kempton Lam was surprised when I decided to drive down to Calgary on a whim. I know I was surprised when it was suggest that I create a Edmonton Chapter for Fair Copyright for Canada.

Every action that people take does not exist in a void; it can inspire, it can motivate, it can change the world. I think that is what Margaret Mead is getting at with the following quote that Kempton Lam often uses.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Hedy Fry

Something was odd about this meeting from the get go. Why would a Vancouver MP have round tables in multiple cities on Bill C-61?

I knew it was not going to be a casual meeting so I decided to bring my A game. I bought a suit and got all my information as lined up as possible. I know I did my best.

At the round table we had song writers, record companies, art curators, independent radio, and more. Everyone agreed the bill was flawed. The core question was should the bill be amended or killed.

The discussion covered all areas I could think of. I think everyone in that room heard a different take on Bill C-61 that they did not know of before.

Time will tell if that meeting accomplished anything. My eyes are going to be on Hedy Fry to see what she does in the future.

Meetings Round 2

After a second Fair Copyright for Canada - Edmonton Chapter meeting we were off to a couple more meetings. Ian and David both joined me for the next couple meetings.

Laurie Hawn's meeting was first thing in the morning so I arrived early to grab a cup of coffee at the nearest coffee shop. Who else did I see there but Laurie Hawn himself having a cup of coffee. He greeted me and in a subtle manner showed he wanted to relax and enjoy his coffee.

I don't know.. I'm just a fan of those quite moments of understanding. No more explanation was required. I had my cup of coffee and read the paper untill it was time for the meeting.

Laurie Hawn once again listened to our concerns and taught us more on how the committee process worked.

The James Rajotte meeting also went well. It made me happy when I brought up a specific example and James Rajotte was able to say with the utmost honesty he was working on it and described how he was working on it.

The Rona Ambrose second meeting.... was still non-existent. They say the scheduling manager would get in touch with me. I have not seen it yet.

I figured that was it for this round of meetings. I would perhaps try and get a meeting with Rahim Jaffer if I felt motivated enough but otherwise done.

I then opened my inbox one day and saw this subject line 5 times in a row "URGENT!! Bill C-61 Assistance required"

Apparently, once again, I was not done.

August 16, 2008

Jim Prentice - 2008 Stampede Breakfast

So, it came to pass on Saturday, July 5, 2008 I would drive down to Calgary yet again to attempt to meet Jim Prentice during his stamped breakfast(1,2). I did that after a cup of coffee of course.

I noticed those who went to the last rally came to this rally more prepared. There were more signs, more hand outs, more CDs, more t-shirts, and more people. Kempton Lam once again organized it.

This marks the first time I ever met a plain clothes officer. He was friendly enough though.

It took me and my friends working as a cohesive team to position our selves in such a way that Jim Prentice had no choice but to accept the letter we worked on for him. Pam, Jim Prentice's handler, was scarily efficient at blocking all those who wished to speak with him.

To this date I have yet to ever hear of any kind of response to Bill C-61 from Jim Prentice that Canadians deserve. I never used to care about politics and I came out of the stamped breakfast still a activist quietly longing for my political apathy.

Ah Jim Prentice.. Why didn't you consult in the first place? Then we wouldn't be in this mess and I could go back to watching T.V.

Second Laurie Hawn's Town Hall

By this time I got used to town halls. That is not to say it isn't important to go town halls but I was less energetic this time around. Apparently, Bill C-51 and Natural Health Product Regulation is a hot issue. News to me.

A few good things came out of Laurie Hawn's Town Hall. First, we got another meeting with Laurie Hawn since we had an actual bill to poke holes in. Secondly, the idea for action papers was born. If a bill makes it to committee I hear action papers would be a useful layout not to mention it makes it easy to show people line by line how a bill is bad. The following is how a action paper is laid out. All it takes is a few of these papers and you have some great cannon fodder for meetings.

00.(0.0) Start out with a example by quoting a section of the bill you believe needs to be corrected or kept. This section will be the core of the action paper

(b) If you are quoting multiple subsections make sure to indent them to make it more readable to humans.

The first paragraph is the introduction. This is a broad statement about why this section either helps or hurts people. If the section of the quoted bill hurts a group of people specifically like librarians make sure to point it out.

The next paragraph I try and use a example of where the quoted section comes into play

The following paragraphs I explain why the quoted section of the bill needs to be kept, changed, or removed. I try and keep each action paper to a page which means sometimes it is necessary to do action papers based on one subsection.

00.(0.0) I try to end with a reworded quote from a section of the bill fixing the problem you just pointed out. The rewording doesn't have to be "lawyer quality". The main idea of this is to just to get a point across.

August 12, 2008

Bill C-61 - Release day

Before Bill C-61 was tabled everyone had a one day heads up. I contacted whatever media I could come up with to make sure they covered the story. At very least I tried. Apparently while I was at work Joel Gotlib tried to get in touch with me. "When sending e-mails and and making phone calls remember to leave your contact information". Lesson learned. At least Michael Edward picked up my dropped ball.
CFRN news coverage
Vue Weekly

Michael also created the first Fair Copyright for Canada - Edmonton Chapter meeting. A admit I was a bit hesitant about the meeting at first but it turned out great.

The Following is the introduction for my letter in response to Bill C-61:

Bill C-61, An Act to amend the Copyright Act had its first reading on June 12, 2008. Before the bill was released I did everything I could to get my voice heard. I sent e-mails, went to rallies, met with Members of Parliament, and sent in questions to the Minister of Industry, Jim Prentice. The results were less than acceptable. The questions I sent to Jim Prentice went unanswered and Bill C-61 with it's sections dealing with Technological Measures and Rights Management has what I feared despite my efforts to show the harm of such measures. In short, my voice and many others were not heard by those drafting the bill.

Now with the bills release I will do what I have done in the past, only more so which is why you are reading this letter. I will send more e-mails, go to more rallies, meet with more Members of Parliament, and send a new set of questions to Jim Prentice. I do this because the bill as it stands should not be passed. I don't believe it is a made in Canada solution and I don't believe it is fair and balanced. I would like to have a bill I can feel proud of as a Canadian citizen. Bill C-61 is not it.

August 10, 2008


I believe about 4 to 5 of us went to the Laurie Hawn meeting in his office. Laurie Hawn was the first to admit he did not understand the full depth of the technological issues but he was still willing to listen. If Laurie Hawn was my MP I would be happy. His Town Halls should be a example to other MPs.

I then scheduled and went to a meeting for James Rajotte - The Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Industry. One other joined me for this meeting. We talked about some of my specific fears for bill C-61 as well as other technological issues including Bell Canada which just started making waves. A meeting I was once again satisfied with.

Meeting with my own MP.. Rona Ambrose is apparently a multi-step process. I first had a meeting with Debra Bain the Constituency Office Manager. I guess I passed the screening and Debra said I would get a meeting with Rona Ambrose at some point in the future. After a couple phone calls my turn for a meeting came up.

The Rona Ambrose meeting I think lasted a total of 20min.. the shortest meeting to date. The meeting managed to be cut short on both the front and back end.

During the meeting I asked if they could print me off a copy of Bill C-61 when it is released. They said sure. After Bill C-61 was released I gave them a phone call. Turns out my tax money does not go to paper for constituents... only affords a link in a e-mail.

Also, during the meeting she said I could schedule another meeting. I thought it would be a meeting about C-61 when it gets released. Debra Bain thought it would be a meeting on another subject that needs attention. Either way it did not matter. I was not able to get a meeting with Rona Ambrose on that or any other issues even after some more phone calls.

I made sure all my family and friends knew the trouble I had with Rona Ambrose. I know Rona Ambrose is never going to receive a vote from me. I know she will not get a vote from my family and friends without heavy thought. I also encourage everyone reading this that you do not vote for Rona Ambrose without heavy thought. At least try and schedule a meeting with her first.. so you can find out first hand how hard it is to get her to hear her constituents. She is the kind of MP I feared when I started trying to meet MPs.

August 6, 2008

Laurie Hawn's Open House

I think most of us who went to Laurie Hawn's Open House did not know what to expect. At the very least I had no idea what to expect.

As the Edmonton Chapter patiently sat and waited for our questions to be answered during the moderated question period one lady turned around and remarked something along the lines of "Why haven't you tried to get your voice herd?" I felt the urge to make a massive speech about the kilometers I drove, the letters I wrote, and the group that begun. That one little remark irritated me more than I let on. I chose to instead reply "I assure you I have tried."

Another story of note is when a member of the Athabasca University stood up and made a passionate speech about security research unannounced. People applauded. I was surprised, the majority of the audience was surprised, and I think even Laurie Hawn was surprised. Passion for copyright law? Who knew?

Laurie Hawn gave us a invitation for a sit down meeting at the end of the town hall and we accepted. Luckily, my employer did not mind the unexpected time off. This occasion would mark the first time I ever had a meeting with a Member of Parliament.