1. Cranky Liberals. Upstaged yet again by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who took to the stage Wednesday night at the Conservative caucus Christmas party, the Liberals were up early grumpily emailing reaction.
“Not even one song in French,” a senior Ignatieff official told The Globe and Mail on Thursday morning. “One week after Quebec’s artistic elite (over 100 songwriters and singers) came to Parliament Hill on C-32. It shows that he is clueless about Quebec culture.”
Bill C-32 would modernize copyright. It is contentious because musicians want to add an MP3 levy to the bill, which would put a fee on recording devices to compensate artists for private copying.
And just before Mr. Harper entertained his caucus – in English only – his senators were busy in the Red Chamber talking the life out of NDP MP Yvon Godin’s private member’s bill, which would require all Supreme Court of Canada justices to be fluently bilingual.
So can we expect Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff to belt out a French tune or two at the upcoming Liberal Christmas bash?
2. Copyright feud. Heritage Minister James Moore turned the tables on the opposition during Question Period Wednesday by invoking the name of John Manley, the former Liberal minister of everything.
Quebec MP Pablo Rodriguez had gone after the minister, charging the copyright bill was “skewed to the detriment of holders and creators.”
“In committee, artists and creators laid out the full extent of lost revenue,” he said. “They will suffer if the bill is adapted as is. The minister knows full well about these losses, about how this will punish creators. Is he ready to find a solution to compensate creators, or will he just wash his hands and say, ‘Too bad for you?’”
Mr. Moore replied that the legislation is in the “best interests of Canada” and then proceeded to quote Mr. Manley, who was industry minister the last time copyright reform was enacted and had testified on subject earlier Wednesday.
“‘The government has struck an appropriate balance between the rights of Canadian creators and the needs of consumers,’” Mr. Moore began. “Who said that? Former Liberal finance minister, John Manley.”
At that point, Liberal House Leader David McGuinty, a well-known heckler in the House, was heard by some Tories to say, “What would John Manley know?” Mr. Manley, of course, held Mr. McGuinty’s riding for a number of years before stepping down.
After Question Period, Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro – the parliamentary secretary to the Heritage Minister – rose on a point of order, calling on Mr. McGuinty to retract his “disrespectful” statement.
“Manley is rising above politics and dealing with a serious policy matter not trying to help the government,” Mr. Del Mastro said in an interview later. “I can’t believe though that McGuinty would offer that up as he threatens to split his own base by mocking Manley.”
Mr. McGuinty did not retract his comment.
3. Chinese dissident. Montreal Liberal MP and human-rights activist Irwin Cotler is on his way to Norway as part of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies for imprisoned Chinese scholar Liu Xiaobo.
The former justice minister is part of the writer’s international legal team. Before leaving, however, he was successful in having the House of Commons unanimously call for China to free the Nobel Peace Prize laureate so that he can receive his prize Friday.
“So we say from this parliamentary podium to the authorities of the Chinese government, to free Liu Xiaobo and his wife,” Mr. Cotler said in a statement in the House on Monday. “Permit them to attend the ceremony. Celebrate their contribution to the values of its great civilization. Take its place in the community of nations, not only as an economic superpower but one that is prepared to empower its people in the marketplace of ideas. Put itself on the right side of justice and not on the wrong side of history.”
On Wednesday, after speaking to all parties, Mr. Cotler rose in the Commons, telling the Speaker there was unanimous consent for this motion: “That, in the opinion of the House, Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and his wife, Liu Xia, should be permitted to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo on Friday December 10, 2010.”