The slogan at the bottom of David Kahane's University of Alberta web page says it all: "Start Something."
Kahane certainly did. The associate professor of political science--specializing in democratic theory and practice--got an email Thursday from a friend, playwright Brad Fraser, outraged at something he'd read in the Globe and Mail. Attached was the story, "Tories plan to withhold funds from offensive productions."
Inspired by a Facebook group looking at new copyright legislation, Kahane--contacted by TV Feeds My Family through Facebook--decided to see if he could "help to make a difference around C-10 using such a group."
The result: within 24 hours, 5000 people had joined "Keep your censoring hands off of Canadian film and TV! No to Bill C-10!" Many were mobilized into action, following the links Kahane provided. They contacted senators and members of parliament and voiced their outrage over this sneaky, 11th hour amendment to a tax credit bill.
The Facebook campaign was part of a storm of protest over the perceived attempt to impose a moral rider onto future Canadian film and television production (see posting below). Talk radio stations were all over the issue throughout the day. The Writers Guild and the Directors Guild of Canada sent out releases calling for a public review of the tax credit guidelines, pointing out the potential production upheaval could cost millions. Letters, faxes, phone calls and emails poured into MP, senate and even the Governor General's offices.
The effect: by late Friday afternoon, as reported over at Dead Things ON Sticks (all over this from the beginning), Bill C-10 was suspended from Third Reading and being sent back to committee.
That doesn't mean this is over; don't stop sending those cards and letters. Find the links to the call to action here. Get in on the democratic rush.
And what a rush it is. Far from being "The death of hope," as Denis McGrath despaired yesterday, the Bill C-10 kerfuffle could restore faith in the democratic process. This electronic, effective grassroots uprising gives new hope to all of us who shudder at the lack of opposition from The Opposition as well as from a mainsteam media muzzled by conflicting corporate ownership interests. If it is left to the people to be adversarial, well, more power to the people.
Kahane is modest about lighting this fuse. "I'm actually an academic," he writes, "specializing in democratic deliberation; and so it's been fascinating both to witness the mobilizing power of Web 2.0 (4000 people in a day -- I mean really!), and how chaotic and sometimes infantile the conversations that you get going can be."
At least he won't have to mark any of them. Hats off, professor.