Copy of CP Wire Story filed 05/01/2005.

Film, record industry fundraiser for Liberal MP a `worry': Granatstein
By Angela Pacienza

TORONTO (CP) _ An upcoming fundraiser by film, video game and music executives for Liberal MP Sarmite Bulte has drawn the ire of a prominent Canadian historian.

Jack Granatstein says the $250-a-plate bash is inappropriate for a politician who could spearhead key changes to copyright law if she is re-elected on Jan. 23.

``I worry when any politician, at any time but particularly in an election time, is given a fundraiser by a lobby group,'' said the noted author of more than a dozen books on Canadian politics.

``Politicians should be somewhat more careful than to be seen to be in the pocket of a particular collection of lobbyists on a matter of public importance.''

Bulte's fundraiser, to be held Jan. 19 at the Drake, a trendy downtown hotel, is being held by a consortium of film, book, software and music leaders who've been vigorously lobbying the government to tighten copyright rules to curb downloading and CD burning.

As well, the groups want the legal power to go after file-sharers through the courts.

In her role as parliamentary secretary to the heritage minister, Bulte played a key role within the Liberal government in advancing copyright reform.

She also chaired a Heritage committee which tabled a 2004 report calling for industry-supported reforms to Canada's Copyright Act.

``(She) has a responsibility to be seen to be fair,'' said Granatstein.

The report, which at the time received all-party support, was used to draft Bill C-60, which offered the music and film industries strong protection from Internet piracy. In the end, the bill died on the order paper when the election was called.

While film, book and music groups have also donated money to candidates in other parties, Granatstein said the Bulte fundraiser is particularly troublesome because ``MPs simply need to be very, very careful how they handle themselves on these things.''

For her part, Bulte defended the event, which is being put on by industry heavyweights like Doug Frith, president of the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association and Graham Henderson, president of the Canadian Recording Industry Association.

``People raise money all the time. I'm being absolutely transparent,'' she said Thursday in an interview. `

`Nobody influences me. Nobody can buy me.''

Henderson also dismissed the criticism, saying the event was no big deal and a common occurrence in the political world.

``We're fundraising for a person who has notably stood up for copyright reform and for artists,'' he said.

``We've raised money for other people during this campaign period just like the truckers association, I'm sure, is doing. This is part of the political process. This goes on in every democracy in every country of the world.''

The fundraiser also came up at an all-candidates meeting in Bulte's Parkdale-High Park riding Wednesday night with opponents questioning Bulte's ethics.

``If this was the big banks doing this for the finance minister, people would question that,'' said Peggy Nash, the NDP candidate.

Source: CP [The Canadian Press]