Copyright reform stokes the fires

By Peter Nowak, CBCNews.ca

The anger over the government's proposed copyright reform bill is palpable and it is astounding that it's something normally staid Canadians are getting worked up about.

Just take a look at the growth of a Facebook protest group (I'd link to it but you need to log in) started just over a week ago - when I checked this morning, it had just under 15,000 members. As of this writing, it's up past 16,000. In fact, 50 people have joined in the 15 minutes it took me to write this post. That's incredible and, if the group keeps growing at this pace, it's going to be very difficult for the government to introduce the bill it had planned.

Some group members are even planning to attend a protest outside Queen's Park in Toronto on December 18. So far the protest seems to be a very small grassroots movement with only about a dozen or so confirmed attendees, but you never know - if public anger is really as strong as it appears, the protest could easily snowball into something major.

Minister of Industry Jim Prentice took the bill off the table on Tuesday and there is still the possibility it could be introduced to the House of Commons on Wednesday or Thursday. Friday is seen as unlikely, as experts say prospective bills are rarely introduced at the end of the week.

That gives the government two more days to slap down the proposed bill before the house goes into recess for the holidays.

Word on the street is the Conservatives are "freaked out," as some insiders have told me, and are completely taken aback by all the opposition. The only question now is whether the government is contemplating serious changes to the bill to make it more balanced, or whether it is trying to think of new ways to spin it to the public to make it more palatable.

In the meantime, it looks like Facebook has become a force to reckon with in Canadian politics.

UPDATE: The minister's press secretary on Thursday morning confirmed that the bill will not be introduced before the holidays. The earliest it can now be introduced is Jan. 28.