10 Months & 10 Steps to Facebook Democracy: Holding Minister Jim Prentice Accountable

Senator Laine Hanson:Principles only mean something when you stick to them when its inconvenient.” – from “The Contender” (movie clip)


In this blog entry, I am going to talk about my 10 months experience and 10 steps to “Facebook Democracy”. In this case, my using the social networking tool Facebook to try to hold Industry Minister Jim Prentice accountable for his ill-advised copyright amendment idea, later officially known as Bill C-61.

Facebook Democracy

In hindsight, I am a little amazed that, with the help of many other concerned Canadians, we achieved so much. Although there are still more to be done, in particular in tomorrow (Sept 30th, 2008) all-candidates debate, we have come a long way.

For the last 10 months since December 2007, I have organized 10 different Facebook events to shed light on copyright amendment, including the 10th event on tomorrow Tuesday, Sept 30th, 2008, the Calgary Centre-North all-candidates debate with Industry Minister Jim Prentice.

As a matter of public record, here are links to the 10 copyright Facebook events with full details (including notes and comments, and some has photos & video clips). I am including some brief comments here to give you some general ideas.

  1. Fair Copyright: Meeting Jim Prentice, the Minister of Industry (Sat, 8th Dec, 2007) – According to informed sources, the copyright bill was original slated to be tabled in Dec 2007. The massive turn out at Minister Prentice’s Christmas Party (in an orderly and respectful manner) was viewed by many people as part of the reason the copyright bill was withheld. (see my Dec comment on the delay and rally report 1 and report 2)
  2. The Honourable Jim Prentice Speaks (Fri, 8th, Feb, 2008) – We found that Prentice was coming to Calgary to give a speech, so a group of concerned Calgarians took time off to attend the speech and took the Q&A segment to ask the minister copyright questions. Here is my report with video clips.
  3. Meeting Michael Geist in Calgary (Wed, 2nd Apr, 2008) – Micheal Geist, University of Ottawa professor, the guiding light and trusted creator & adviser of the Fair Copyright for Canada, was coming to Calgary for a conference presentation. I organized a meetup for interested Calgarians to talk to and learn from Michael up close. Here is my blog entry that includes a multi-part interview with Michael.
  4. Get informed about the Canadian DMCA (Bill C-61) (Wed, 25th Jun, 2008) – This event was organized soon after Minister Prentice tabled Bill C-61 and for us to plan how to get our points across in Prentice’s Stampede Breakfast rally in early July.
  5. Jim Prentice – 2008 Stampede Breakfast (Sat 5th Jul, 2008) – We had a great turn out of concerned Canadians (many from Calgary, a few drove all the way from Edmonton) showing up at the Stampede Breakfast. Here is my reflection/detail report on the Bill C-61 Stampede breakfast rally (with pictures and videos).
  6. Meeting with Rob Anders, MP for Calgary West (Tue 19th Aug, 2008) – This ended up being our first meeting with an MP to talk about the Copyright amendment. Rob spent over 1 hour talking to us.
  7. Meeting with Scott Wenger, Ministers’ Regional Office, Industry Canada (Fri 22 Aug, 2008) – We (including voters in Minister Prentice’s own riding) were simply brushed off by Prentice and the best we could do was talking to Mr. Wenger instead of the voters’ elected MP, Mr. Jim Prentice.
  8. Meeting with Lee Richardson, MP for Calgary Centre (Mon 8th Sep, 2008) – Mr. Richardson was very willing to listen to our concerns and the issues we have with the copyright amendment framework and the way it was drafted. Richardson informed us that he has written a letter to Prentice but unfortunately nothing was done nor announced by Prentice re Fair Copyright.
  9. Fair Copyright 2008 Federal Election action plan meetup (Wed 17th Sep, 2008) – This event was organized to create and develop election strategy and action plans.
  10. Jim Prentice Calgary Centre-North Federal Election All Candidates Debate (Tue 30th Sep, 2008) – Prentice was unwilling to talk about what would be in the copyright bill BEFORE it was tabled. Mr. Prentice refused repeated requests to clarify and talk about the copyright bill AFTER it was tabled. Minister Prentice basically hung up on a radio host when the radio host was asking some tough copyright questions. This hosted all-candidates debate is an important event as it is the last chance for the voting public to ask the minister direct questions about copyright as he has been avoiding any questions about copyright.

After thought

This 10-months-and-10-Facebook-event journey was time consuming and sometimes exhausting. I would rather had spent more time in my own management consulting work, making films, reading books, etc. But I also think, as Canadians, it is our democratic rights and duties to hold our three levels of governments accountable. And the 10 bad years of US copyright reform experiences showed that clearly part of the US copyright paradigm has not been working.

Finally, I chose to use a movie quote to start this entry for the reason that political ideals seem to be in short supply in Canadian politics these days. I can only hope something good will come out of all the “Facebook Democracy” events and actions. I see no choices but to at least give it a try to make Canada a better place to live by seeing politicians drafting better laws.

At the end of “The Contender” (movie clip), the good people win. Unfortunately, in real life, good politicians don’t always win, and bad politicians don’t always have pay a price for their wrong-headed decisions, actions, and legislations.

Drop me an email if you wish some quick tips in how to hold your elected politicians and governments accountable using tools like Facebook, blogs, videos, etc. Good luck to us all.

2 Responses to 10 Months & 10 Steps to Facebook Democracy: Holding Minister Jim Prentice Accountable

  1. […] To understand a little more of my tortuous journey and how I came to the conclusion of voting ABC (Anything But Conservative). Please take a look of my report (with video links) documenting my 10 months in trying to hold minister Jim Prentice accountable. […]

  2. […] (as Lam told me) presented their concerns. Lam’s account of the party, and Facebook activism, here, is basically a how-to to use Facebook […]

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