The Professional Writers Association of Canada (formerly the Periodical Writers Association of Canada) represents professional freelance writers working in Canada's magazine, newspaper, corporate writing, government writing and book publishing industries. For more information about PWAC, including how to join, please visit To find a Canadian writer, please visit

Friday, September 30, 2005

CBC Lockout Update

How to Take Action

The CBC is now in its seventh week of management lockout. PWAC has heard that negotiations are at a critical stage. This labour dispute has already affected PWAC members. If you care about the future of the national broadcaster and the writing work it represents, please take the time to write to your MP asking that the government apply pressure toward an equitable settlement of the dispute. Do this as soon as you possibly can. Copy your message to the Prime Minister, the Heritage Minister and the Labour Minister. Here is the contact information.

Prime Minister
Paul Martin
Telephone:(613) 992-4211
Fax: (613) 941-6900

Heritage Minister
Liza Frulla
Minister of Canadian Heritage
Ministre du Patrimoine canadien
Telephone: (613) 995-6403
Fax: (613) 995-6404

Labour Minister
Joe Fontana
Telephone:(613) 992-0805
Fax: (613) 992-9613

A full listing of Members of Parliament can be found at this link:

Members of Parliament

As well, information about the negotiations in this dispute can be found at the following sources:

CMG "negotiations" website

CBC website

PWAC’s official position on this lockout is reflected in this motion passed earlier in the year by the PWAC National Executive:

"PWAC supports the aims of the Canadian Media Guild to gain better pay rates and working conditions for journalists at the CBC, both full-time and freelancers. PWAC will support the CMG if a strike becomes necessary in 2005 to fight for these demands."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Member Achievements

The full text of PWAC's September 2005 Member Achievement bulletin is now online.

Read it here:

September Achievements

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Word on the Street

PWAC Toronto President Nate Hendley sends along this note:

PWAC will have a booth at Toronto's 2005 Word On the Street (WOTS) festival, scheduled for Sunday, September 25. The event runs from 11 am - 6 pm at Queen's Park in Toronto (north of the Ontario legislature).

One of the largest festivals of its kind in Canada, WOTS typically attracts tens of thousands of people who spend the day browsing the booths of publishers, magazines, newspapers and writers organizations.

Volunteers at the PWAC booth will hand out literature about the association, as well as flyers advertising PWAC Toronto's upcoming 2005-2006 seminar series. We also might sell T-shirts and books.

We're looking for people who would like to volunteer an hour or so of their time to work the PWAC booth.

If you're interested, and will be in Toronto this weekend, contact PWAC Toronto president Nate Hendley, at 416-469-0400 or Please indicate whether you prefer a late or early shift.

See you at Queen's Park on the 25th.

American © Fight

According to a report in the online magazine PC Pro, a landmark copyright infringement suit has been launched in the United States against search engine giant Google, related to their plans to digitize the massive collections of certain world libraries. The class action is being brought by the US Author's Guild who insist Google's stated aim of digitizing and making available only those works in the public domain is not being adhered to, and works for which copyright is still held by their authors are being caught in the net, without any compensation to the legal owners of the works.

From the article:

The Guild says it can prove that Google is reproducing works still under the protection of copyright as well as public domain works from the collection of the University of Michigan's library.

Google insists there is an easy mechanism in place for copyright holders to opt their work out of Google's online collection.

Seems a good moment to remind everyone of PWAC's official stand on such digital copyright issues. We are in favour of the fantastic access to written information the Internet provides; we simply insist the copyright of that written information be respected.

Access good. Access with respect... better.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Planning Ahead

The PWAC National Executive held two days of meetings in Toronto this past weekend, moving forward on a number of ongoing association initiatives -- constitutional changes voted in during the last AGM, board governance, the copyright reform lobby, committee planning, our industry survey, professional development materials and initiatives, regional development, etc. -- and planning for the future.

As part of that planning, venues for the next three Annual General Meetings were officially accepted. As well, it was decided that we would refer to the AGMs as the PWAC National Conference from now on. The annual general meeting is still a crucial part of the conference, but is no longer the only focus. The PWAC National Conference will be planned by a national committee working closely with a chapter committee.


As previously announced -- The 2006 PWAC National Conference will be held in Ottawa, Ontario, from May 11 to May 14, 2006. We'll be staying at the downtown Delta Hotel.

Mark this date in your calendars and start making plans to visit the nation's capital during the Tulip Festival, meet old friends and new, and celebrate our 30th Anniversary.

The 2006 National Conference is being planned by a national committee chaired by our Ontario Regional Director, Tanya Gulliver.

Watch the blog and PWAC e-mail bulletins for more information on the 2006 National Conference.

Please contact Tanya Gulliver, with ideas, suggestions and offers.

The 2007 National Conference will be in Vancouver, British Columbia (no dates set).

The 2008 National Conference will be in Winnipeg, Manitoba (no dates set).

Friday, September 16, 2005

September Achievements

PWAC's regular member achievement bulletin will be sent to all members next week. Here's a sneak peek:

Gord Cope's new book, A Paris Moment, is being published by Fifth House of Calgary. The travel memoir recounts the year that Cope and his wife Linda spent in the Marais, an ancient neighbourhood on the Right Bank of Paris. Full of history, gossip and humour, this insightful memoir is sure to entertain both seasoned Paris travelers and anyone who ever wished they could spend a year in Paris.

Irene Gordon's latest book The Battle of Seven Oaks and the Violent Birth of the Red River Settlement is out. This book chronicles the struggle between the North West Company (including the Metis) and the Hudson's Bay Company (including the settlers), out of which the Red River Settlement was born.

The 20th anniversary edition of Barbara Florio Graham's popular little book, Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, contains a new section just for freelancers. It includes an extensive list of resources, information about copyright (both in the U.S. and Canada), her article on "disaster-proofing" assignments, and bonus material on creativity and self-publishing. The book will be launched October 26 at the National Library in Ottawa. This is the third book under the Simon Teakettle Ink imprint. Details at:

PWAC Toronto chapter President Nate Hendley appears in a documentary on the notorious Donnelly family of Lucan, ON, airing later this month on the "History Television" channel (September 18 - 8 pm, September 19 - 1 am, September 26 - 11 pm). Author of The Black Donnellys: The Outrageous Tale of Canada's Deadliest Feud (published in 2004 by Altitude), Hendley was interviewed earlier this year. He is one of several Donnelly authorities consulted for the show. These times could change! Check History television for details.

We'll post the full bulletin here once it has been sent to members.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

AGM planning fund

PWAC's Niagara Escarpment Chapter, who ran this past year's madly successful PWAC Annual General Meeting in Hamilton, Ontario has made a generous donation to help ensure the success of future AGMs across the country.

The Hamilton AGM Organizing Committee has decided to donate $1,000 (part of the proceeds from the Hamilton meeting) to a special fund designed to give future organizing committees a leg up in meeting planning. The $1,000 will be earmarked (along with an established $1,000 already in the AGM budget at the national level) as a loan against early expenses in the AGM planning process.

Said last year's planning committee chair Kim Arnott, ""PWAC members were very supportive of the Hamilton AGM, so we would like to see some of the profits from the event returned to the organization, to benefit everyone. We're looking forward to attending some fabulous events in Ottawa and Vancouver in the coming years!"

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Not so healthy magazines...

...mean not so healthy writing careers.

Two news items of note from the world of Canadian magazines. The Walrus, Toronto's much-written about writer-wage pioneer, which entered the market promising upwards of $2 a word, has officially instituted a policy of payment "30 to 60 days after publication." According to various reports, The Walrus is going through some financial growing pains related to its ongoing application for charitable status, an application PWAC supports.

On the other hand, we do not support the idea of professional writers having to chase down their paycheques for work already used by the publisher. Writers have financial schedules as well, and revenues trailing far behind expenses isn't a sustainable model for anyone in this business. We'd like to respectfully suggest to The Walrus that if they're not paying for the written content, there's little point in shelling out for the paper.

And disturbing news out of Ottawa. Last month, we reported on Magazines Canada's delight at restored funding for the Publications Assistance Program (PAP) a longstanding postal subsidy aimed at making the business of magazines sustainable in a huge country with a widespread reading public. It seems the delight was premature. This latest notice from Magazines Canada warns of severe cuts to the program now on the schedule at the Department of Canadian Heritage. Writers are encouraged to respond to the government on this as well, as it relates directly to our incomes:

September 13, 2005
Save the PAP

Take Action Now!
The Department of Canadian Heritage has slashed support for the Publications Assistance Program (PAP). On September 2, the department rolled back support levels resulting in cost increases of up to 35% for some titles, starting November 1, 2005. Almost two thirds of magazine copies in the program face 20% cost increases almost immediately. Unless the government adequately funds the program, there will be another, larger increase in costs on April 1, 2006 when the program's budget is cut by $4 million. Magazines Canada has called for an immediate suspension of the September 2 reduction and a $10 million increase in the PAP budget. You can help save PAP by taking action NOW:

Write to your Member of Parliament with a copy to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Prime Minister.

Call the office of your Member of Parliament to request action on PAP. Ask to speak directly to your MP. He or she may not be available then but will call back. Keep calling until you get an answer.

The attack on the PAP will continue unless we fight back. Take action NOW. Write your MP:

Click here for a generic letter with the key points that should be made

For the email address, mailing address and phone number of your MP, click here. You can search for your MP by postal code.

Copy the Minister: Email:
Fax: 819.994.1267
Address: The Honourable Liza Frulla
Minister of Canadian Heritage
25 Eddy Street
Gatineau, Quebec

K1A 0M5 Copy the Prime Minister: Email:
Fax: 613.941.6900
Address: Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
K1A 0A2

Call your MP Follow-up, demand action to save the PAP. Keep us informed:

Please copy us on your letters at
If you need any additional information or help, call us at 416.504.0274 x223
For background information on the PAP, click here.

More information about these cuts, and more names and addresses to send your opinion to, appear in Magazines Canada's web-release on this subject, to be found here.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

How to help NOLA

No doubt you've all been looking over the relief agency sites, wondering how best to help disaster victims in the wake of last week's horrific hurricane and flooding. Word is The Canadian Red Cross will send your money on to its American arm. Please use the Comments link below to offer other suggestions.

Writers Helping New Orleans:

Paul Wells, back page columnist for Maclean's magazine has organized a benefit dinner in Ottawa for tonight, with the aim of raising money for NOCCA, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. Details about the benefit and the cause at the Wells link above. If you are interested in giving, send cheques made out to "Ottawa Friends of New Orleans" care of Paul Wells at Maclean's, 150 Wellington St., Suite 403, Ottawa K1P 5A4.

And while you’re at it, read this week’s Wells column for some great N’Orleanian history.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

CBC Update

With news trickling in that the CBC and the Canadian Media Guild are at least a dozen articles into a negotiated agreement, the lock-out continues. Here's an update from the picket lines:


CBC workers -- members of the Canadian Media Guild -- invite you to stand with us in protest against the ongoing lockout by CBC management.

It's now Day 21, and you may be feeling locked out, too: as program contributors and interviewees; as listeners, viewers, and online users; as Canadian taxpayers. So this Friday, September 9th, come down to your local CBC building and join us for a national protest. Demand the return of public broadcasting, and support the rights of the people who make CBC programming.

WHEN: Friday 9 September, 1:15 p.m.

WHERE: Across the country, on the Canadian Media Guild picket lines at all locked-out CBC facilities. If possible, please RSVP and let us know that you're coming so that the CMG lockout coordinators can expect you, and we can furnish information and contacts, as needed. Write us at:

(In Toronto, the major site of protest, please gather at the CMG booth in Simcoe Park, on the north side of Front Street, a few steps east side of the CBC Broadcast Centre, between Simcoe and John Streets. Closest subway stations are St. Andrew or Union; closest streetcar stop is King St. W. at John.)

WHO: Writers and their friends from across Canada are invited. The Writers Union of Canada executive will be present in Toronto, and are inviting their members from throughout the country to participate locally.

WHAT: Make your own sign, join us on the picket line, or simply show support with your presence. If you can't attend this protest, please consider writing a letter: see for information. Please send a copy to us.

Contact regarding the writers' protest: Lisa Godfrey (CBC Radio producer, CMG member) at writersunplugged@gmailcom

More information on the Canadian Media Guild's position at:

A round-up of writing about the CBC situation can be found at:

The writersunplugged email address has no association with the cbcunplugged website.

Friday, September 02, 2005

More © Debate

Law professor and user-rights proponent, Michael Geist wrote in his regular column last week that the current copyright reform bill, Bill C-60 "represents a step backward when it comes to the use of the Internet in Canadian education." His arguments follow a now familiar path through the issues of access and availablility of information on the Internet "balanc[ing] the interests of creators and users" -- somewhat empty words when, beyond this nod to the existence of creators, Geist mentions creator rights exactly never in his column.

One paragraph in particular caught PWAC's attention:

Most importantly, Ottawa should prod Canada' s universities to adopt a more aggressive approach in the use of copyrighted works. Today Canadian universities spend millions in copyright licenses that are arguably unnecessary. This expenditure effectively represents a subsidy to Canadian publishers from taxpayers as well as from students who are facing escalating tuition fees at a time that they can scarcely cover their monthly rent.

We applaud Geist's concern for student finances burdened by high tuition, but wonder at his complete lack of concern for creator finances. Students and creators are, in fact, partners in education, with well-compensated teachers and professors joining in as intermediaries (and paid for by the aforementioned burdensome tuition fees). Shouldn't everyone in this relationship benefit from the public education system -- the student who (PWAC believes) deserves easy and inexpensive access to creator material, the creator who deserves to make a reasonable living from the work they have created and own under copyright law, and the professor who, arguably, adds value to the process? To argue that Access Copyright's licenses with educators are little more than a subsidy to Canadian publishers is grossly inaccurate, and ignores the fact that creators, the owners of the copyrighted material in question, are in the mix, and deserve payment for the use of their work in the education stream.

Geist's column is published in the Toronto Star, and it was followed by this response from Access Copyright Executive Director, Maureen Cavan:

I frequently take issue with Michael Geist's one-sided over-simplifications of complex copyright issues. But I am writing not to point out his errors of logic, but his errors of fact.

In his column, Geist describes Access Copyright as one of two "direct beneficiaries" of the photocopying licences held by Canadian colleges and universities, a statement that is not merely inaccurate, but misleading.
The truth of the matter is that there are two distinct beneficiaries of photocopy licensing, neither of which is Access Copyright. The copyright owners who founded, and continue to own, Access Copyright benefit from the royalties we collect on their behalf. And the users of copyright protected works benefit from the ability to photocopy from those works for a reasonable fee.

By controlling the costs of our operations, Access Copyright, which is a not-for-profit agency, is able to maximize the amount of money Canadian creators and publishers receive from photocopying licences, while minimizing the cost for users.

Creators and publishers are workers, and they deserve to be paid for their work. They support easy access to copyright- protected materials, but access cannot always be free. Photocopying licences provide a fast and affordable way for users to access copyright-protected materials while ensuring Canada's creators and publishers aren't being made to work for free when their works are photocopied instead of purchased.

Geist then responds to this letter on his own website, questioning Access Copyright's use of licensing revenues to lobby effectively for the rights of all its stakeholders, students included -- a bit of a silly response considering that advocating for a fair copyright system is key to AC's mandate. Geist would disagree that students are beneficiaries of a fair licensing system for copyrighted materials, and we're not sure why. Is it wrong to teach our students respect for property, even as we give them easy, inexpensive access to all the Internet can provide?

Thursday, September 01, 2005


PWAC's 30th Annniversary -- Save the date!

The 2006 PWAC AGM will be held in Ottawa, Ontario, from May 11 to May 14, 2006. We'll be staying at the downtown Delta Hotel.

Mark this date in your calendars and start making plans to visit the Nation's capital during the Tulip Festival, meet old friends and new, and celebrate our 30th Anniversary.

The 2006 AGM is being planned by a national committee chaired by our Ontario Regional Director, Tanya Gulliver.

Watch the blog and PWAC e-mail bulletins for more information on the 2006 AGM.

Please contact Tanya Gulliver, with ideas, suggestions and offers.