Writers see danger in copyright bill


Former Toronto Star columnist David Lewis Stein made an impassioned plea against the federal government’s new copyright act in Sunday’s edition of the paper.

As now written, he says, the new copyright act would severely harm Canadian writers, musicians and performers, while at the same time diminishing the cultural sense of ourselves that we have spent so many years building.

Stein outlines some of the potentially harmful aspects of Bill C-11, which is now undergoing clause-by-clause review from a legislative committee. He points to the digital revolution as the driving force behind those proposed changes to the act.

“Artists have good reason to love this revolution. It offers us so many new ways to get our work out to people,” he says. “The difficulty comes in getting paid for what we do. The ‘fair dealing’ section of this new copyright act will actually reduce the rights to their own work that writers now have. They ought to call it ‘unfair dealing’.”

Stein says Greg Hollingshead, chair of the Writers Union of Canada, went to Ottawa last week to warn the committee that this bill “is likely to launch an unintended assault on the intellectual property of Canadian writers.” He was part of a coalition of 68 concerned arts organizations.

Stein hopes committee members were listening to that warning, because if the bill passes as it is now written, “it could be exceedingly harmful to people who have given so much of their time and passion to furthering the arts in this country.”

The legislative committee studying C-11 is chaired by Glenn Thibeault (NDP – Sudbury). Members are Charlie Angus, Scott Armstrong, Tyrone Benskin, Peter Braid, Paul Calandra, Dean Del Mastro, Pierre Dionne Labelle, Chungsen Leung, Phil McColeman, Rob Moore, Pierre Nantel and Geoff Regan.

Comments can be directed to committee clerk Christine Holke David at CC11@parl.gc.ca or 613-947-6729.


Pit Pony author reflected Nova Scotia life


CBC News reports that Nova Scotia children’s author Joyce Barkhouse has died following a heart attack. She was 98.

The author of eight books and many children’s stories, she was probably best known for Pit Pony, the story of a boy and his horse working in the Cape Breton coal mines, which was published in 1990. The book was made into a Gemini-winning film in 1997 and spun off into a 44-episode series in 1999.

Barkhouse came late to professional writing. Her first published book, George Dawson: The Little Giant, came out in 1974 when she was a 61-year-old grandmother.

Many of her works reflected Nova Scotia life. Long-time friend Janet Lunn, a children’s author herself, told the CBC that Barkhouse was “Nova Scotia through and through.”

“She loved Nova Scotia like no other place all her life,”

In 2007, Barkhouse received the Order of Nova Scotia and in 2009 she became a member of the Order of Canada. She was also an honorary life member of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia and of the Writers’ Union of Canada.

Union needs a short, snappy postcard


The Writers’ Union of Canada has launched its 13th annual Postcard Story Competition, inviting writers to say something memorable in 250 words or fewer for a shot at the $750 prize.

The winning entry will be published in postcard format and distributed in Write, the Writers’ Union magazine.

Deadline for entries is February 14, 2012. The winner will be announced in May.

The contest is open to any Canadian citizen or landed immigrant, published or unpublished, who can pen original English-language fiction or non-fiction, render it in double-spaced, 12-point type on white paper, slip it into an envelope with a $7.50 cheque or money order and mail it to the Writers’ Union office.

Don’t staple anything. And no electronic submissions, please.

Writers Clayton Bailey, John Lent and Nerys Parry will decide whose postcard is the snappiest.

Send entries to The Writers’ Union of Canada, 90 Richmond Street East, Suite 200, Toronto, Ontario, M5C 1P1. Rules and regulations are available at: www.writersunion.ca/cn_postcard.asp