Not in my name!

There are the beginnings of a growing grassroots movement underway in the blogosphere which I felt was necessary to add my voice to.

The nature of the growing controversy stems from a pro-life rally which was held in Ottawa this past week.  It’s not the ideological content of the march which stirred the controversy since it was pretty much what one would expect from this sort of rally:  anti-choice, super-philosophies seeking to authoritaritatively impose their morality on everyone else.

No, what was unexpected about this rally, however, was that the trademarked Government of Canada logo (so-called “wordmark” with the Canadian flag over the final “a” in the word “Canada”) would show up on the pro-life rally’s banners.

Take a look for yourself:

According to the Federal Identity Program (FIP) legal standards, the “Canada” wordmark can only be used by the Government of Canada or by non-governmental partnerships sponsored by the Government of Canada.  So the question is: did the Government of Canada sponsor an anti-abortion rally or did the rally plagerize and illegaly display Government of Canada property?

Here’s where the plot thickens.  I did some hunting around, and I found a Government of Canada website (here) which documents some specifics about how/when the “Canada” workmark ought to be used.  Interestingly, this Government of Canada page links to the specific section of the FIP Manual (Section 1.1) which details the legality of displaying the wordmark, however, when you attempt to click on the hyperlink pointed to by this governmental website, you see that the .pdf file has either been moved or deleted and you get an error message.

It could just be a coincidence, but the Conservatives have deleted websites in the past to avoid embarrassment, so it’s possible that it’s something more as well.

Either way, the grassroots movement is attempting to get the government either to admit that they funded an anti-abortion rally or to get them to state publicly that they did not support this anti-abortion rally.  The highest profile blogger to take up this cause is maverick MP Garth Turner (here), however JimBobby has a really good piece on this (here) as does the Unrepentant Old Hippie (here).

It seems to me more likely that the logo was used without permission.  However, even if it was the group which was at fault for illegally brandishing the legitimizing symbol of the collective,  the government must still be pressed to prosecute these usurpers to the fullest extent of the law.  Irrespective of whether the government funded this or not, the illegal attachment of a government logo — our logo — to this movement cannot be allowed to go unprosecuted.

Not in my name.

24 Responses to “Not in my name!”


  1. 2 SUZANNE 14 May, 2007 at 5:44 am

    There was no government funding. This is a made-up scandal. This is reminiscent of Cherniak kicking McLelland off of PB: just as it wasn’t about the anti-semitism, this isn’t about the trademark.

  2. 3 Rob W 14 May, 2007 at 8:22 am

    yeah, totally, there’s no funding, OK … and there’s tax leakage and Wajid Khan wrote a report and we won’t tax income trusts and my travel expenses are posted and …

    If no funding then the RCMP have to arrest someone for breaking the law … either way it’s a story that’s growing legs.

    -R

  3. 4 Scott 14 May, 2007 at 8:43 am

    If no funding then the RCMP have to arrest someone for breaking the law …

    So I’d like to see these anti-choice bigots get what’s coming to them as much as the next person, but as someone who has been in plenty of political events receiving the wrong end of police attention, I’m not sure we — by which I mean the left, broadly understood — are really doing ourselves any favours by creating greater support for cop interference in dissent based on technical violations of the law…you can be sure that any newly mobilized basis for such interference will be used more and worse and more arbitrarily against us than against right-wing grossness such as the above.

  4. 5 JimBobby 14 May, 2007 at 8:54 am

    Whooee! I reckon somebuddy’ll get what’s comin’ to ’em. Thing is, trademark infringin’ infractions get dealt with by lawyers an’ lawsuits an’ not by cops an’ clubs. I reckon somebuddy who’s somebuddy oughta be puttin’ out a statement dang soon and we’ll at least know if they used the TM with permission or not.

    JB

  5. 6 paulitics 14 May, 2007 at 9:01 am

    Suzanne – I read your blog post on the subject. I tend to agree with you that there was probably no government funding (and that’s why I wrote exactly that in my post), however forgive me if I don’t take the personal anecdote which you told as sufficient evidence.

    Scott – I think you raise a fair issue. I hadn’t actually considered that point. However, police already crack down on the left (broadly understood) with brutality and they don’t even need pretexts to do so. Plus, even if they did need pretexts, this issue of illegally reproducing a governmental trademark in order to lend legitimacy is so specific that I don’t think that we need to be worried.

    That said, your point about needing to protect the right of protest and resistance wasn’t emphasized in my post and I think it was the weaker for that.

  6. 7 jj 14 May, 2007 at 9:07 am

    Thanks for picking this up. It’s a civil offense more than criminal, the response would be a C&D order and that’s about it.

    The illegal usage of the logo isn’t what bothers me as much as what it misleadingly infers — that this march had, if not gov’t funding, at least gov’t endorsement. That is wrong — our government’s position is pro-choice. There also shouldn’t be government logos on pot rally banners or anti-war banners, but those movements are different in that they are not trying to create the illusion that government is on their side. The anti-abortion movement is.

    It might seem petty, but our rights require constant vigilance. Being asleep at the wheel is how people end up with authoritarian laws and wondering how they got them.

  7. 8 liberalcatnip 14 May, 2007 at 11:12 am

    I wrote a post about how the government was cracking down on copyright abuse back in April:

    To date, the coat-of-arms police have gone after websites (Sex Trade Workers of Canada), an immigration advice service, a shady online university, patriotic coffee mugs, someone selling model RCMP cars on eBay, the Transhuman Church of Enlightenment, a Canadian lawyer advertising in Korea, a fitness club, 40,000 baseball caps sold at Zellers, and Little Sister’s Book Store.

    Yes, Big Brother went after Little Sister. And many more.

    If the rally organizers abused the law, they should be dealt with similarly.

  8. 9 SUZANNE 14 May, 2007 at 11:17 am

    “The anti-abortion movement is.”

    While I do not speak for the pro-life movement, I can safely say that we are not trying to create the illusion that the government is sponsoring the banner. It’s kind of ridiculous to say the government support criminalizing abortion when abortion is absolutely legal.

    Really, you guys are reading waaaaaaay too much into this incident.

  9. 10 paulitics 14 May, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    Suzanne – I’ve noticed that you’ve posted comments on just about every blog that’s carried this subject claiming to have personal proof (unverifiable, but personal proof nonetheless) that this issue is a non-issue. You seem really determined to stop further discussion about this, but it seems to me like you’re not reading what people are writing.

    Have you read what I wrote? I agree with you that the government probably didn’t support this rally. Indeed I’ve written that explicitly. Moreover, I think most of the bloggers who have carried this issue don’t believe that the government is clandestinely supporting anti-abortion rallies. My argument stands over and above whether the government actually supported this rally or not.

    These protesters usurped the legitimizing symbol of the collective. By extension, they used your name and my name and everybody else’s on their banners when they had to right to. Either the government will crack down on this or, like the Bush administration in America, they will debase themselves in their refusal to prosecute certain crimes and in their selective application of the rule of law.

    But I must ask you, since you’re the ‘law and order’ type, why haven’t you called on the government to prosecute this obviously illegal activity since you have stated over and over again that you are certain that they didn’t receive government funding? Isn’t this just a little bit hypocritical, or ought the laws apply only to people you disagree with?

  10. 11 JimBobby 14 May, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    The law is for crooks.

  11. 12 SUZANNE 14 May, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    “But I must ask you, since you’re the ‘law and order’ type, why haven’t you called on the government to prosecute this obviously illegal activity since you have stated over and over again that you are certain that they didn’t receive government funding?”

    The same reason I don’t turn in speeders, jaywalkers, or people who copy music illegally, and so forth.

    Because I have a sense of proportionality. Law and order types normally focus on major crimes like murder, assault, theft, and the like– crimes where people are hurt, or where damage to property is truly significant.

    There aren’t too many “law and order” types complaining about jaywalkers.

    ” Isn’t this just a little bit hypocritical, or ought the laws apply only to people you disagree with?”

    This whole event is simply an exercise to pick on pro-lifers. Just as the episode of the woman caught in adultery was not about applying the law or clamping down on adultery, this episode is not about trademark violation or applying the law. It’s simply a dare to condemn someone or else look bad, just like Cherniak did to McLelland, just like you’re doing to pro-lifers in general. There is no government support, no government money, no intent to mislead the people about who sponsors the March. My guess is that it was simply a logo used because people liked it. It’s no more complicated than that, but there appears to be a need among among certain left-wing bloggers to make political capital out of it, even though there is none to be made. It’s massive tempest in a teapot.

    I am not trying to suppress discussion by saying that– I’m just calling it like I see.

  12. 13 georgine 14 May, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    I’m not so sure. Someone had to have the big signs printed up somewhere. So had to request that the wordmark be added at the time, or they added it afterwards themselves.

    It’s not like the flag which is what most folks use to simply state that they are Canadian. (Campaign Life marches in the US too) People just don’t have peel and stick Canada wordmark logos laying about. It had to come from somewhere.

    Has anyone in Ottawa picked up a phone and called Campaign Life and asked them? Suzanne, you said you went to their meetings. Why don’t you call and clear it up one way or the other? mmm…never mind, just read your conversation with Fern Hill. Listen hon, just because they don’t mention it at a meeting doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. And it was more than one sign.

    It would be interesting if someone (unbiased) in the Ottawa area gave them a call and asked. Or asked them who makes their big signs and then ask the sign makers.

    Or we can just wait and see what Olivia Chow learns, if she can learn anything once she can ask. It will take 45 days minimum, if they don’t lie. Like SH’s hairdresser/luggage carrier/door opener/soothsayer. Soon on that one anyway.

    My money is on one of the 10 cons. They paid for the signs and thru in the wordmark with it. Probably on the backbenchers being a bigshot.

  13. 14 georgine 14 May, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    If it were a mark or logo that I had designed on that banner (and it was being used without permission (read $$)), I certainly would not equate it with jaywalking or speeding or downloading music. I would be seriously pee oo’d and someone would be paying big time.

    Suzanne, you may take copyright infringement lightly. On Garth’s blog I think you wrote something to the effect that people to it all the time. To many of us you are the problem, you are infringing on our ability to make a living everytime to steal and image or copy/paste a few words…because what could it hurt. But those images and those words are not yours to take. You may or may not down load music or applications but everything else that isn’t nailed down you will. And you will call it your own.

    A final word of advice because I think you could use it. Spec work is bad. Always. Spec work is bad. Never ask for work on spec. Repeat after me. Never ask for work on spec.

    Good, now go and sin no more.

  14. 15 SUZANNE 14 May, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    “People just don’t have peel and stick Canada wordmark logos laying about. It had to come from somewhere. ”

    It’s pretty easy to reproduce.

    “Has anyone in Ottawa picked up a phone and called Campaign Life and asked them? Suzanne, you said you went to their meetings. Why don’t you call and clear it up one way or the other? ”

    It is under investigation. I do not feel at liberty to make any definitive legal statements on this particular matter.

    “Listen hon, just because they don’t mention it at a meeting doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. And it was more than one sign.”

    Well I spoke to Campaign Life and I was told that there was no government funding of the March for Life.

    “If it were a mark or logo that I had designed on that banner (and it was being used without permission (read $$)), I certainly would not equate it with jaywalking or speeding or downloading music. I would be seriously pee oo’d and someone would be paying big time. ”

    You wouldn’t, but most people don’t see using a trademark on a banner for a non-profit group to be a serious crime. I realize people who create do so, but many people don’t. They don’t mean any harm, they just don’t get it. That’s all I’m saying. I have had my copyright violated, too, it’s not pleasant, but most people do not see it that way.

    “On Garth’s blog I think you wrote something to the effect that people to it all the time. To many of us you are the problem, you are infringing on our ability to make a living everytime to steal and image or copy/paste a few words…because what could it hurt. ”

    Without being perfect, I make an effort to respect copyright. I *tend* not to reproduce whole articles on the net, I don’t download music illegally, and so on. I realize copyright is an issue– I’m just saying that many people do not see it that way, especially when there’s no money involved. I simply think that given public attitudes about copyright infringement, most people would not care about a pro-life group inadvertently using a government wordmark on its banner.

    “My money is on one of the 10 cons. They paid for the signs and thru in the wordmark with it. Probably on the backbenchers being a bigshot.”

    LOL.

  15. 16 SUZANNE 14 May, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Oh, and I don’t write for money. I have very rarely received payment for my work.

  16. 17 paulitics 14 May, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Suzanne – I wasn’t expecting such forthrightness from you, so I do apologize if this comment is a bit hasty, for your latest response truly has caught me off guard.

    I didn’t ask you why you hadn’t turned anybody in, I asked you why you did not speak out to have the rule of law upheld. You stated in your response that the reason you haven’t called for the rule of law to be universally upheld (which, by definition, if it is not universally upheld, then it is not upheld at all) is that:

    “The same reason I don’t turn in speeders, jaywalkers, or people who copy music illegally, and so forth. Because I have a sense of proportionality.”

    Wow. So you, Suzanne, blogger extraordinaire of Big Blue Wave have the jurisprudence and juridical experience to judge what is worth prosecuting and what is not worth prosecuting? I’m speechless. You have the cool, dispassionate even-mindedness to judge that these people are innocent without due process, I presume?

    Have you considered submitting your résumé to the Supreme Court of Canada? Because I’m sure they can use somebody to tell them which cases are and are not worth hearing as I’m sure that would free up some time for them.

    Finally, you go on to conclude that this entire issue is a “tempest in a teapot” designed to “pick on pro-lifers” and make them look bad. First of all, I can only speak for myself and not for other bloggers, but I haven’t done a single thing here to make these anti-abortionists look bad. They’ve done it all themselves. I’ve merely drawn attention to it.

    Second of all, no, this whole issue — at least as I have formulated it (again, I can only speak for myself) — is not designed to ‘pick on pro-lifers’, as you put it. I have neither the time nor the inclination to pick on pro-lifers. Read my post again. The reason I have raised this issue, as I hope is abundantly clear, was because these anti-abortionists usurped a legitimizing symbol of all Canadians, myself included. And this rally, as alluded to both in the title and at the close of my post, is not in my name.

  17. 18 paulitics 14 May, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Suzanne – just for clarification, I was replying to your earlier comment, not the two you left in response to georgine. You and I must have been writing at the same time.

  18. 19 SUZANNE 14 May, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    “Wow. So you, Suzanne, blogger extraordinaire of Big Blue Wave have the jurisprudence and juridical experience to judge what is worth prosecuting and what is not worth prosecuting? I’m speechless. You have the cool, dispassionate even-mindedness to judge that these people are innocent without due process, I presume?”

    Well, if I don’t have the sense to tell if speeders are worthy of prosecution, why should I turn in Campaign Life? Listen, I don’t go around turning in people on every perceived breach of the law. I don’t know anyone who does. I don’t get upset when people jaywalk, either.

    “Finally, you go on to conclude that this entire issue is a “tempest in a teapot” designed to “pick on pro-lifers” and make them look bad. First of all, I can only speak for myself and not for other bloggers, but I haven’t done a single thing here to make these anti-abortionists look bad. They’ve done it all themselves. I’ve merely drawn attention to it.”

    Yeah, and the Pharisees would have said the same thing Jesus and the woman caught in adultery: they weren’t trying to make anyone look bad, they’re just upholding the law.

    “The reason I have raised this issue, as I hope is abundantly clear, was because these anti-abortionists usurped a legitimizing symbol of all Canadians, myself included. ”

    If it belongs to all Canadians, then why can’t pro-lifers use it?

    The wordmark in question does not belong to all Canadians. It belongs to the government. If it belongs to all Canadians, then pro-lifers may use it. When something belongs to me, I feel entitled to use it.

    “And this rally, as alluded to both in the title and at the close of my post, is not in my name.”

    No one is making the claim that it is.

  19. 20 georgine 14 May, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    As we are all in agreement that the Canada wordmark is not for the Campaign Life Coalition to use, I’m sure they will not take it badly should I write them and inform them not to do it again. And point them to the correct offices/bodies/urls that could answer any questions they might have.

    That would be ok wouldn’t it?

    Suzanne, you know a couple of people there. You could do the same. No harm no foul and everyone learns a little bit about copyright law. You could use this as an opportunity to teach them.

    Knock yourself out with the flag but leave the wordmark alone (unless you want to be associated with the trailer park boys).

  20. 21 SUZANNE 15 May, 2007 at 9:01 am

    The issue is under investigation.

  21. 22 paulitics 15 May, 2007 at 9:41 am

    Suzanne – there seems little point in going around in circles all week, but having re-read your last couple of responses, it seems sufficed to say that you do not want the law applied evenly and equally in an objective and dispassionate manner as jurisprudence dictates. You would rather that the people you agree with aren’t prosecuted and, for this reason, let us all be thankful that you do not work in the court system or in any position of authority in the Ministry of Justice.

    I will conclude by drawing attention to your Biblical reference. It is always possible to selectively quote from the Bible (which, although I’m an atheist, I spent 13 years in a Catholic education system taking catechism classes and have read the Bible more or less cover to cover). There’s a reason for the phrase ‘Even the Devil can quote scripture to serve his purpose’. You’re using this passage to elicit sympathy for your cause — which, had this cause not usurped the Canada wordmark and, by extension, my name, I wouldn’t have a problem with.

    However, I could have just as easily drawn inspiration from some other sections of the Bible to animate a completely different position, which is why your analogy of me to the Pharisees is ultimately mercenary and self-serving. For instance, from my Catholic schooling I seem to remember some things in there about stealing and that pesky section in Deuteronomy about “Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike.(1:17)” Or that section in Matthew with “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.(5:19)”

    But, I suppose you’re right. It’s not problematic for the law to be applied only to those we disagree with.

  22. 23 christopher 16 May, 2007 at 10:56 am

    I’m certainly not supportive of what this group has done. However, I don’t really think that investigating this matter is as important as you’ve made it seem. There are far better ways for our government to spend time and money. Additionally, I’m willing to bet large sums of cash that this isn’t the only time something like this has occurred. It might be drawing the most publicity because it is so convenient for people to criticize.


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