Election Day: 41st Canadian Parliament – VOTE

My son tells me that the answer to any question about Canadian authors in Reach For The Top is always “Margaret Atwood.” Which means that Margaret Atwood is a famous writer. And it is no doubt that Ms. Atwood’s famous support has helped the Project Democracy website convince people to vote the way someone else tells them to. Perhaps Ms. Atwood should go read her own speculative fiction and think about root causes that lead to dystopias. Voting for what you don’t want certainly seems to me to be the first step along that slippery slope.

The only way to strategic vote is to not waste my vote by voting someone else’s strategy; and vote for my own choice in my riding.  I hope you do too.

vote like a pirate?

I wish Canada had proportional representation. If we did, I might be able to vote for everyone I wanted to.
[To find out about electoral reform. take a look at the non-partisan Fairvote Canada]

Pirate Party of Canada Leader, Edmonton Center MP Candidate Mikkel Paulson

Pirate Party of Canada
I might be able to vote for a Pirate Party Candidate. The Pirate Party is a newly registered Canadian Political Party, running on a platform of Copyright reform & Access to Culture, Privacy, Patent Law reform, Net Neutrality, Open Government and Open Access. The Pirate Party will not be able to form a government during this election because they have only fielded ten candidates.

Even so, if there was a Pirate Party candidate running in my riding, that is where my vote would be cast. Because digital issues including Canada’s digital economy, privacy and civil liberties need to be addressed by people who understand them. And it has become horribly clear that the entrenched parties’ understanding of these issues is faulty at best. It might not be such an important issue except that our recent governments have demonstrated their unwillingness to listen to or learn from citizen input on these subjects, but rather to create legislation favoring American Corporate interests.
StopUBB logo

I have spent a great deal of my time over the past two years writing about Usage Based Billing. The CRTC is not following its ostensible mandate to safeguard Canadian consumer interest. To some extent this is because Canadian Law doesn’t require it.

Kitchener-Waterloo Pirate Party MP Candidate Steven Bradley Scott

The former Conservative government’s response to unacceptable CRTC rulings was to intervene situationally, rather than to fix the problem by fixing the law. [Had it been a majority government, there might not have been any intervention.] Doing an end run around a bad law and leaving the bad law in place is not good governance. Dissolving or at least reforming the CRTC to include technically informed members as well as consumers instead of Bell Canada staffers would go a long way to achieving true net neutrality which would support Canada’s ability to compete well in the global economy.

The neighboring Riding of Kitchener-Waterloo is fortunate to have Steven Scott running as a Pirate Party candidate.  I would vote for him if I could.

deciding how to cast my vote

Personal privacy is important, so I was pleased to witness my child’s refusal to answer a party canvasser who demanded to know how he would vote. As bad as our system is, we do still have a secret ballot. No one has the right to know how anyone will vote.

In my riding, I have four candidates to choose from. Anyone who has read anything I have written about Canadian politics would be justified in thinking I will not be casting a vote for either the Liberal or Conservative candidate. Even so, for every election I make up my mind anew.

As seems to be the case in every riding for this 41st Canadian election, the Conservative and Liberal party are attacking each other more than actually offering any solutions. When one considers that the past actions of these two parties are responsible for many problems we face:

  • erosion of universal health care (in 30 years I’ve only ever seen health care cuts)
  • erosion of democracy (G20, Byron Sonne, premature prorogation, contempt of parliament)
  • taxation imbalance between corporate taxation (near non-existent) and citiizens (crushed by ever increasing burden)

I’m not voting for

My Conservative Party incumbent, who uses his past life as a Christian pastor as an badge of morality while allowing impropriety in his office, then compounds the problem by not taking responsibility.

My Liberal Party candidate who spent more time finger pointing than convincing me he would do a good job in office.

My Green Party candidate who is too new and shaky on his party’s platform. Being a self-confessed SUV driver did not help.

My NDP candidate is also new, but by way of contrast Lorne Bruce not only knows the party platform, he clearly believes in it. Instead of talking without substance, he stays on point.

I think that he will get things done and consider the wishes of constituents.   We need a responsive government that serves Canadian interests, not a sock-puppets that will ram through American dictated legislation like Bill C-32.  I think the NDP may be able to do that.  What I do know is that they can’t possibly do a worse job than our previous governments.  And they support electoral reform. Which is why the NDP’s Lorne Bruce will get my vote in this election.

That’s me, making my own choice.

In a democracy, we all do. Our system is broken, but it is important for Canadians to get involved so it can be fixed.

It’s interesting that citizens are beginning to realize that we don’t have to vote for candidates we don’t believe in.

Today is Election Day.

All Canadians should vote. 

And if you can, bring a friend.

Flag agaisnt the sky

Steven Scott photo released by the Pirate Party of Canada under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) License.

Mikkel Paulson photo released by the Pirate Party of Canada under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) License.


Politicians: Publicity Photos need a CC License

Copyright symbol with a Maple Leaf embeddedCitizen journalism is on the rise and playing a much larger role in the political arena.

As a blogger, I make use of images in all of my blogs. But when I can’t take my own, I look for photos online. But © copyright, all rights reserved means I can’t use an image.  And Canadian copyright law makes every photograph copyright © all rights reserved as the default.

Both Google and Flickr offer an Advanced Image Search option. When looking for images to use in my blog, I choose to search “labelled for reuse.” I can tell you right now that Google returned zero labeled for reuse image results for the incumbent in my riding.

[I would have screen captured the Google page to show you here, except that I can’t, because the page is “protected by copyright”. Isn’t copyright fun?]

Canadians can’t even use images included on Government of Canada web pages paid for with our tax dollars because they are protected by Crown Copyright. And if you haven’t heard, CBC does the same thing. They don’t allow citizens to reproduce anything from their website, even when it is of a non-profit public service nature.

blogger legality

That makes it copyright infringement to reproduce the photo without permission. As a blogger, I don’t have time to ask, so it is easier for me not to not use photos unless they are licensed for re-use, rather than risk legal ramifications (EFF calls that the chilling effect). So people who want to include your photo – and provide you with needed publicity – won’t.

The flip side is that when you are in public life, total strangers can legally take your photograph and publish it without your permission. So what is likely to happen is that unflattering images will appear on flickr or WikiMedia Commons that are licensed for reuse. Unflattering images make attack ads possible.


Privately granted permission can easily be withdrawn, disavowed or legally challenged. Most bloggers don’t have legal departments, nor pockets deep enough to risk spending the rest of our lives in court arguing this.


Wikipedia is not an advertising medium, which means that famous people or political parties can’t make their own (presumably biased) pages.

One photographer who takes photographs of politicians to include in Wikipedia explained how he was forced to include an incredibly unflattering photograph of a highly placed Canadian politician in Wikipedia page. He had never been able to get a good picture of the man, and an unflattering photograph is better than none.

Which is an excellent reason for famous people or political parties to license images they can live with for reuse. You can post licensed images anywhere online, on your website, blog, even as an Identi.ca avatar, or on a free Flickr page.

If you don’t, someone else will.

Creative commons double c enclosed in a circle, with black text at right reading Creative Commons and in red dot CA

Creative Commons

There are other ways of licensing to get around the over-stringent copyright law we have today, but the one I know about is Creative Commons on licenses. I’ve blogged a bit about it in CC is for Creator’s choice.

Creative Commons Zero or Public Domain logo

The photographer owns the © copyright, and can license a good image through on the Creative Commons license choosing page.

For the widest possible dissemination of any information, the best license is CC0.

Happy Earth Day

Moonscape in foreground, looking at planet earth rising
home sweet home

Between trying to get my debut novel, “Inconstant Moon,” ready to launch, computer technical difficulties, and the current federal election (I’ll be posting an #elxn41 piece to Oh! Canada later today) it would have been easy to forget all about Earth Day.

The weather is fairly miserable this year, but it is still an important day. One of the common themes in science fiction read in my youth was the caution that if we mess up the planet irreparably, without space travel humanity will be, ahem, screwed. Personally, although I am in favor of space travel, it is still important not to destroy this planet. Even if I could move to Mars or the Pleiades with Desdemona, I’d still want the option of coming home to visit.

a tiny chipmunk with eyes closed is held in child's hand while feeding from medicine syringe

Earth is my home.

As it is home to other forms of life.

One day a few years back I found a baby chipmunk stumbling around, wandering into the street.  A closer look showed that his eyes weren’t open yet.  A few days before I’d seen a dead chipmunk on the side of the road, so it was a very good guess that this little guy was an orphan.

So I brought him home.

Amazingly we managed to raise him.  I had been advised to start him on goat’s milk with acidophilus to help digest it, and that did the trick. As he got older, I fed him husked sunflower seeds and grass &tc. but his favorite was tender dandelion greens, which fortunately were not covered in pesticide in my yard. So Chippy Baby grew up.

chipmunk with eyes open, held in child's hand

I got him a large cage so he would be able to build muscle so that when released he’d be able to run away from predators and survive.
Chipmunk in cage about to enter clear plastic climbing tube

Chipmunks live underground, but ours was raised in a hamster cage with a climbing tube.  He could sit at the top of his cage and look around, secure from being picked up by human hands.

When he told us it was time to go, we released him.

Happily he survived, and can be seen checking on us from on high.

Chipmunk on the rooftop

Happy Earth Day.

Image Credits
“Earthrise” NASA image photographed by astronaut Bill Anderstaken on Apollo 8 mission. All NASA photos are released into the public domain.

All other photographs are by laurelrusswurm released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) License