26 June 2006

Accountabilty Means Never Having to Say You're Poor

It also seems to mean that those with government-funded budgets for lobbying will be doing the lobbying. As Michael Geist points out in today's Star, the Harper government is actually paying an industry lobby group nearly $400,000 over the next three years to lobby the government. Some accountability!
According to government documents, last fall the Ministry of Canadian Heritage entered into a multi-year agreement with the Creators' Rights Alliance, a national coalition of artists groups and copyright collectives with members both small (the League of Canadian Poets) and large (SOCAN and Access Copyright). The CRA has eight objectives, which notably include "to ensure that government policy and legislation recognize that copyright is fundamentally about the rights of creators" and "to ensure that international treaties and obligations to which Canada is signatory provide the strongest possible protection for the rights of creators."

Internal correspondence also reveals that the contract was designed to further the department's own policy objectives. A senior official outlined the rationale behind the proposed contract, stating in an email that once the CRA funding was complete, "we should have streamlined, stable funding to an organization whose structure, purpose and activities suit our own policy needs."
Imagine the future of hearings concerning copyright reform and network neutrality. Government-funded lobbyists, who have influenced the formation of policy in the first place that serves the special interests of those with considerable commercial power and influence and who want to preserve their de facto monopoly positions, will be the ones heard from over the voices of many other constituencies. (On the other hand, compared to the former Bulte Commission, what else is new?)

So while the Harper government touts their special brand of lobbying and campaign financing reform from one side of their mouth, from the other side, they provide money exclusively to one, already well-financed, side of an important and divisive issue so that the government can be lobbied effectively.

With respect to the Harper government, I'm getting tired of calling out, "for shame!"

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