Saturday, January 14, 2006

Sarmite Bulte confronted

Having been out of the loop for a day, I missed this development in the Sarmite Bulte saga which is now fizzing through the blogosphere.

At an all-candidates meeting, Sarmite Bulte was confronted by a gutsy constituent about her being bankrolled by the entertainment industry and pretty much blew her stack, calling Michael Geist a "zealot".

Accordion Guy has video, and it aint pretty!

Boing Boing is on the story again.

Michael Geist responds:

I would respond with only two points. First, the concern with the fundraiser, history of contributions, and past actions as chair of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is not with what Bulte says, but rather with what she hears. She is free to say whatever she wants. Those concerned with balanced copyright that addresses the concerns of all stakeholders are troubled that she may only be hearing one perpective (and one that does not even represent the artists that she thinks she represents). The fundraiser and fundraising activities amplify those concerns, which is why I proposed the Copyright Pledge (for the record, Ms. Bulte did not answer whether she would take the pledge, Nash and Klufas said they would, and more than 300 people have already called on all candidates to do so at the Online Rights petition).

Second, I think it is important to consider the reference to pro-user zealots. I suspect that Ms. Bulte thinks she is talking about little more than a few file sharers who want access to music that, depending on your perspective, is either free or paid for by the private copying levy. This is where she is simply wrong. I obviously don't think those concerned with balanced copyright are zealots, but I know that when she uses this characterization, she is calling the nine justices of the Supreme Court of Canada zealots. She is calling Canadian artists such as Jane Siberry, Matthew Good, Barenaked Ladies, Bob Wiseman (formerly of Blue Rodeo), Charlie Angus, and Neil Leyton zealots. She is calling the provincial ministers of education zealots. She is calling publishers such as Irwin Law and the 19 professors who contributed to In the Public Interest zealots. She is calling historians such as Jack Granatstein a zealot. She is calling the thousands of Canadians who have contributed to Creative Commons Canada zealots. She is calling the hundreds of bloggers and thousands of Internet users who have become engaged on this issue zealots. Indeed, judging by the video, she is calling many of her constituents zealots.
The gutsy guy who posed the questions gives his account.

Meanwhile, the has reached the pages of Eye Weekly (scroll down), and even as far as the UK with this article at ZDNet.

Rob Hyndman gives his view.

Finally, there are simply too many blog comments to list, so here's a link to the Technorati search page result.

Will this cost Bulte her seat? The margin in 2004 was around 3,500 votes. This kind of margin would be at risk anyway with the Liberals general decline of support. Bulte would be fighting for her seat even without the controversy surrounding her. Democratic Space has this seat being picked up by the NDP.

Previous posts about: Sarmite Bulte
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Sarmite Bulte: response and counter-response
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Sam Bulte influence peddling follow up
Sam Bulte, Liberal MP and entertainment industry lackey

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