Thursday, May 25, 2006

Knopf v. Speaker of the House of Commons - the Hearing

My case against the Speaker of the House of Commons was heard yesterday in the Federal Court. Madam Justice Layden-Stevenson had clearly reviewed all of the important material and cases ahead of time. She patiently heard all arguments and had many good questions. We await her ruling.

There’s a good article about the case by Jack Aubry in today’s Ottawa Citizen and National Post.

Meanwhile, an interesting irony was unfolding. At the conclusion of my argument at about 12:20 I made the point that I wasn’t tilting at windmills, or “ tyring to knock over the Peace Tower or even to put a crack in the mortar, or heaven forbid the foundation.” For non-Canadians, the Peace Tower is the centre-piece of Parliament and perhaps the most important visual symbol of Canada.

Unbeknownst to me at the time of my submissions, it happened that at 7:28 AM earlier in the morning yesterday the modern clock mechanism on the Peace Tower stopped working for the first time since it was installed in 1980.

There are a some ironies and coincidences here.

The first is that the installation of this clock took place at about the same time (1980) as the establishment of Canada’s modern Constitution Act and the Charter of Rights in 1982 - which are the foundation of my case.

The second is that the clock can only be fixed by an American company. The thrust of my testimony and the documents I had tried to submit to the Heritage Committee concerned the 1996 WIPO treaties, the potential Canadian ratification of which is the subject of intense pressure from the American government and the American recording industry.

The third is that the American company in question happens to have its Canadian branch in Woodstock, Ontario, my lovely home town.

My case was about opening the doors on Parliament Hill below the Peace Tower a bit wider to the concept of dialogue between concerned citizens and informed Members of Parliament in a modern democracy.

What a strange coincidence that the clock on the Peace Tower would stop the same day as my hearing. Could it be fate?


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