Here’s a nice bit of political coverage that doesn’t come the mainstream media. Michael Geist, the leading light on copyright issues in Canada, reports that a $250-a-plate fund-raiser for Liberal Sam Bulte will be hosted by Doug Frith (President of Canadian Motion Pictures Distributors Association), Graham Henderson (CRIA President), Jackie Hushion (Executive Director of the Canadian Publishers Council), Danielle LaBoisserre (Executive Director of the Entertainment Software Alliance) and Stephen Stohn (DeGrassi producer). The significance of that:
In May 2004, the Canadian Heritage Standing Committee released what is now widely described as the “Bulte Report”, a remarkably one-sided report on the future of Canadian copyright. The report addressed WIPO, ISP, and education issues, siding in every instance with the views of rights holders such as the Canadian Recording Industry Association. Soon after I wrote a column about the report, arguing that there was an unfortunate perception of bias given the fact that Ms. Bulte had accepted campaign contributions from various rights holder organizations. I recommended that “parliamentarians involved in the copyright reform process should refuse all such contributions to ensure that the perception of absolute impartiality is preserved.” Ms. Bulte was unhappy with the article, complaining about “allegations that my work in Parliament has in any way been influenced by donations that I have received.”
The fund-raising event is featured on Butle’s web site, where she is presented as the Honourable Sam Bulte. The honorific comes from Canadian parliamentary tradition but it seems, in this case, to be a little tarnished. Michael’s right. As pollyannish as it sounds, politicians who receive campaign funds from pressure groups should excuse themselves from driving those pressure groups’ pet projects.