Earth Day in Montreal

According to Environment Canada, Earth Day in Montreal is likely to be wet and cold this year, which will be a shock after all the sunny warm days we’ve been enjoying lately. The extreme temperatures seem to be following the trend the organizations shows in the chart below (which doesn’t seem to have been updated this year).

Spring National Temperature Departures and Long-term Trend, 1948 – 2011

The national temperature departures table shows the full list of spring values in the order from warmest to coolest. It shows that 3 of the ten warmest springs occurred within the last decade, and 9 of the last 20 years are listed among the 20 warmest.

Source, Environment Canada,

It’ll be too bad if rain lessens the enthusiasm for the big April 22 March being planned for Sunday at 2p.m. The event is being organized by various citizens, including artists, environmentalists, and many public interest groups, including Alter Citoyens, Alternatives, Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique (AQLPA), Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), Commun, Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), Centre d’écologie urbaine de Montréal, Équiterre,, Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ), Fondation David Suzuki, Greenpeace, Jour de la Terre Québec, Maison du développement durable, Nature Québec and Piknic  Electronik.

The same group has a declaration asking the federal government to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and the Quebec Government to come up with a sustainable plan for the province. I joined 33,607 other people who have signed and plan on attending the walk as well. For more information about the public walk or to sign the declaration, visit

Today though, I can’t complain. Daffodils, magnolia, Forsythia and hyacinth are blooming together in my garden right now for a joy-bringing concert of colour and a pleasant break from the computer.

This glorious show appeared on its own with very little help from me. Three weeks ago, I spent an hour cutting down the grasses and raking some leaves off the carpet of purple crocus, and that’s it so far. Then again, it will probably rain all the time during the beginning of dandelion season, when I usually spend at least two hours collecting leaves for my annual spring salad, so I should keep my mouth shut.J

The wildlife in my region are also quite active, as you can see in Jean-Marc Lacoste’s superb video of his observations along LaSalle, Verdun and Nun’s Island waterfront and in Angrignon Park between April 1 and 17. Check it out at

Such a pleasant beginning to the summer makes me anxious to get out into the garden, but other than planting peas, kale and radish (which may have been a mistake), I’m holding back. I think I may be pleased to have the temptations limited by a bit of tough weather.

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Bill C-11 to Face Third Reading in the House Soon

Bill C-11, An Act to Amend Canada’s Copyright Act (la Loi modifiant la Loi sur le droit d’auteur) had its first reading in the House of Commons on September 29, 2011 and faces a third reading in the house very soon.

That means legislators will again have a chance to debate the merits of a bill that falls far short of what it needs to do. We have one more chance to make our points to our legislators.

Luckily, the latest bill gives photographers the same rights as other creators. That’s heading in the right direction. Now we have to give visual artists the same rights too.

In other ways, however, the concerns of creators like me remain largely ignored. Instead, this new bill amends the copyright act in a way that pleases businesses, educators, libraries, students and consumers in the futile aim to create a balance between all these interests.

That occurred in part because writers have been busy trying to adjust to enormous turmoil in the industry and fighting with those who use and commercialize our work and/or learning to commercialize it ourselves throughout the period since Canada signed the WIPO Treaty in 2005. Salaried commentators, including lawyers, professors, librarians and administrators got a virtual monopoly on the conversation.

Part of the turmoil occurred because writers launched four different class-action lawsuits against publishers beginning in 1999. They are: L’AJIQ contre Le Devoir; Robertson versus Thomson et al; Robertson versus Thomson et al II; and The Electronics Rights Defense Committee (ERDC) contre Southam Inc et al. The last of those lawsuits has just been settled.

Writers’ arguments against publishers became part of the conversation around copyright and that encouraged legislators to view themselves as moderators. This gave an opening for others trying to cut costs to make stronger cases.

The need to balance creation with use and commercialization shouldn’t be the goal of copyright.

Like patents, good copyright laws should provide incentive to create inventory. Creators need long gestation periods, flexible contract terms and the ability to share in the results of their labour, which often aren’t realized until decades after our works are produced.

We need to focus on those messages.

Failing that, we need to begin creating a new kind of conversation for the next round of amendments.


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