There was an interesting interview with Green Party Elizabeth May about Canada forming its own Pirate Party. Right off the bat, she concluded that Canada doesn’t need a Pirate Party because Canada has the Green Party. Before you think that this is an attack on digital rights, she explains that Canada needs a 12 year copyright term and talks about “crazy copyright laws” that stifle innovation.
May also talked about how copyright law changes are already in the party platform. She said that the party is very concerned with how copyright laws and patent laws are used to restrict the flow of free speech, creativity and even the advances in the health sciences in favour of corporate interests who want a monopoly on such things. On patents, she suggested that patents are decreasing the likelihood that cures for cancer or AIDS because the steps to discovery are patented by pharmaceutical companies.
The whole interview can be found here.
“And on the subject of Copyright,” commented Reading 4 New Times, “neither Liberal nor Conservative governments have impressive resumes.”
There is also the note that Canada employs a first past the post electoral system and says that vote splitting prevents special issues from being part of law reforms. It is indeed true that, time and time again, the First Past the Post system has been a major contributing factor for keeping two major parties in power and keeping other parties with noble causes out – mainly interests that might very well serve Canadians.
While there is a notable tone of friction between the two parties already, that kind of friction is to be expected given the electoral system. However, the interests of the Green Party resembling that of the Pirate Party isn’t without international precedent. In Sweden, the Pirate Party opted to sit with the Green Party (Google Translation) in
the European Union because of similar interests.
What should also be noted is that copyright issues have only been an issue with the Green Party for the last 2 years. I’ve personally had a chance to talk to Green Party Candidates in both the 2008 election and the 2006 election. During the 2008 election, copyright issues were definitely ingrained into the Green Party platform and consistent with the stance seen in the interview with May. However, in 2006, when I personally brought up the issues of bad copyright laws, the Green Party candidate unfortunately said that she really didn’t know much about those issues. The NDP seemed to have knowledge on this area since 2006 – at least among some members such as the very notable Charlie Angus. One could draw the formation of the Pirate Party as an extra wake-up call for, at the very least, smaller parties to bring forth the issues that have been seemingly absent in the text of both Bill C-60 in the Liberal government and Bill C-61 in the previous Conservative government (this session, so far, hasn’t produced a copyright reform bill)
While the Pirate Party of Canada Manifesto hasn’t even been completed, the effects of their formation has already been felt by many including other parties.
[Hat Tip: Michael Geist]