My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

Game Over: Would you like to play again? How Conservatives and copyright broke my spirit

Last summer, the government of Canada held an open consultation on the issue of copyright reform. The result: over 8,300 submissions, over 6,000 of which expressed opposition to another copyright reform bill similar to Bill C-61. You can read my submission here.

It turns out that I and anyone else who submitted to the consultation, wrote a letter to his or her MP, showed up for a meeting or rally, or participated in the Facebook groups or online discourse, have done this all for nothing. We've been wasting our time. Because we're about to do this all over again.

What's sad is that it didn't have to be this way. Tony Clement is the Industry Minister now, and his attitude toward copyright reform is more sensible than Jim Prentice's. Apparently he was open to a different approach than the one Bill C-61 took--and considering how unacceptable Bill C-61 was, I'll take that. Alas, it looks like Mr. Clement and his fellow cabinet minister, James Moore have differing opinions. So Grandfather Harper intervened.

The result will apparently be a "Canadian DMCA" that is, as Cory Doctorow puts it, a "goddamned disaster." While I don't know if the new bill will truly live up to such rhetoric, I'm certain that a repeat of Bill C-61 is something Canadians neither want nor need. Not only does it mean that the copyright consultation was a huge waste of government time and taxpayer money, but it means the government refuses to listen to the people who elected it. Again.

I don't know about you, but I'm starting to see a trend: proguing Parliament, denying access to the Afghan detainee documents, ignoring the results of a national copyright consultation . . . time and again, the Harper government had demonstrated that it is unwilling to listen to the public and prefers secrecy over transparency.

Michael Geist calls on us to "write a paper letter to your Member of Parliament" to express our dissatisfaction with this turn of events. I might have done that last year, but now my idealism is beginning to crack and peel. My MP is a member of the NDP! What change will he be able to effect? Even if the NDP hadn't expressed support for fair copyright reform, they'd probably oppose the Conservatives out of political need anyway. But as long as the Harper government remains in power, the opposition parties will always be on the defensive.

Despite their sabre-rattling, do any of our opposition leaders really want an election? I don't blame them for wanting to wait and see--none of our leaders impress me right now; my strategy at this point is pretty much, "don't vote Conservative." It's not that I'm gung ho to see another Liberal regime . . . we just don't really have many other options. Michael Ignatieff was in Thunder Bay yesterday to announce universal broadband access to all Canadians--especially rural Canadians--as part of the Liberal platform. Don't get me wrong; I think it's a wonderful idea and fully support it--but it's just an idea right now. They've been talking about improving broadband access for years. I'll believe it when I see it happen.

What I do believe is that a "Canadian DMCA" of any kind is a bad idea. However, it looks like as long as Harper is in the driver's seat--with Moore riding shotgun--that will be the only option on the table. And to that I say: I'm done.

You win, Mr. Harper. Please, do continue to prorogue Parliament and bully your MPs. Please, do continue to flout the democratic principles upon which our country was founded and reshape Canada into your perfect little principality. I will meekly go back to my books, stick my head in the sand, and exude the level of apathy stereotypical of my demographic.

Wake me up when there's an election.