Sarmite Bulte

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Sarmite Bulte
Member of Parliament
for Parkdale—High Park
In office
Preceded by Jesse Flis
Succeeded by Peggy Nash
Personal details
Born (1953-09-27) September 27, 1953 (age 64)
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Political party Liberal Party of Canada
Residence Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Profession Lawyer

Sarmite Drosma "Sam" Bulte, PC (born September 27, 1953) is a Canadian lawyer, advocate and politician. A member of the Liberal Party, she represented the Toronto riding of Parkdale-High Park in the House of Commons of Canada through three successive parliaments from June 2, 1997 to January 22, 2006. Bulte was the first Canadian of Latvian heritage to take a seat in Parliament.

Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Bulte received an Honours Bachelor of Arts from University College, University of Toronto, Specialist Certificate in English in 1975. In 1978, she received an Bachelor of Laws from the University of Windsor. In 1980 she was called to the Law Society of Upper Canada. In July 2004, she was appointed to the Privy Council.

Political career[edit]

Bulte was considered as one of the more left-wing members of the Liberal Party of Canada on social issues. She was known in Parliament for her special report of women's entrepreneurship. She was also a member of the Prime Minister's Task Force on Youth Entrepreneurs as well as the member of the Liberal Caucus Task Force on Financial Institutions and the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. She served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for the Status of Women and the Minister of Industry with special emphasis on Women Entrepreneurs.

Bulte chaired the Ontario caucus, travelled extensively to advocate for Canada's seat on the UN Security Council and was frequently called upon to deal directly with foreign parliaments in her capacity as Canadian head of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Bulte took the position that downloading music, films, novels and other works of art without permission robbed the creators of their right to profit from their creativity. Her critics argued that protecting those rights should not result in individuals being prosecuted.

During the 2006 federal election, Bulte was criticized by law professor Michael Geist,[1] historian Jack Granatstein[2] and blogger Cory Doctorow[3] among others. The criticism centred on the perception of a conflict of interest relating to her position as "one of the leading people on copyright policy, possibly even the future Canadian heritage minister"[4] and her stance in favour of stricter digital copyright laws in the face of campaign contributions to her riding association from Canadian and American entertainment industries, artists, musicians and others with interests in copyright ownership. All of the contributions were well within the legal limits set by Elections Canada and Bulte stated the total donations by companies, trade unions and individuals with interest in stricter digital domain copyright rules represented approximately 10% of donations to her riding association. Adding to the controversy, in January, 2006 a $250-a-plate fund raiser was hosted for her by lobbyists from the film, music and video game industries.[5]

In the January 23, 2006 election, she was defeated by New Democratic Party candidate Peggy Nash.

After politics[edit]

Since her departure from Federal politics she has remained an active and prominent supporter of the Liberal Party. She appeared as the Liberal voice on a Toronto Talk Show, Goldhawk Live! and was most recently alongside Peter Mansbridge and Don Newman on CBC's 2008 election night coverage.

Since leaving politics Bulte worked as a consultant to the Ontario government on women entrepreneurship issues, and has worked in Kosovo for the National Democratic Institute as Senior Legislative Consultant to the Assembly of Kosovo. She helped Kosavar parliamentarians understand how their party caucuses could fulfil their roles as forums for debate and coordination of party strategies, advised the all-party women's caucus on how they could become a more active, better organized body within the assembly, and to assist in standardizing legislative oversight and expand oversight of new committees. She sits on the Board of the Actors' Fund of Canada, Runnymede Healthcare Centre, the St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation Board, the Artscape Foundation Board, and the Toronto Museum Project.

Attempted return[edit]

In December 2007, Bulte announced her intention to seek the federal Liberal nomination for the riding of Don Valley West to replace John Godfrey who had earlier announced that he would be resigning his seat in the House of Commons in July in order to accept a position as headmaster of Toronto French School.[6] Constitutional lawyer Deborah Coyne also sought the nomination[7] along with United Church Minister Rob Oliphant, local businessman Mohammad Ijaz, former NDP candidate Ian Cameron, and Jonathan Mousley, a former legislative assistant to former Liberal Cabinet minister David Collenette.[8] The March 2, 2008 nomination meeting was won by Oliphant on the fourth round of voting.[9]


She is married with three children, David, Lara and Boris (Alex).

Electoral record (incomplete)[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2000: Parkdale—High Park
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
Liberal Sarmite Bulte 20,676 49.41 $58,030
New Democratic Paul Schmidt 7,947 18.99 $22,078
     Progressive Conservative David Strycharz 5,681 13.58 $14,911
Alliance Vicki Vancas 4,882 11.67 $7,470
Green Neil Spiegel 1,161 2.77 $2,942
Marijuana Terry Parker 775 1.85 none listed
Canadian Action Greg Robertson 317 0.76 $1,107
Communist Wilfred Szczesny 155 0.37 $202
     N/A (Communist League) Michel Dugré 132 0.32 $149
Marxist–Leninist Lorne Gershuny 122 0.29 $8
Total valid votes 41,848 100.00
Total rejected ballots 227
Turnout 42,075 58.22
Electors on the lists 72,274
Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.


  1. ^ Michael Geist report about her fundraisers with the entertainment industry
  2. ^ Historian calls Liberal MP's fundraiser a worry. CTV News. January 5, 2006. [1]
  3. ^ Bulte (Canadian MP) gets big entertainment bucks, promises new copyrights
  4. ^ Fundraiser a rare glimpse into party power politics, Toronto Star by Jim Rankin, January 6, 2006
  5. ^ Liberal MP takes flak for fundraiser by copyright lobbyists. CBC News. January 6, 2006. [2]
  6. ^ "Former MP seeks Liberal nomination in riding being vacated by Godfrey: Bulte first to enter race in Don Valley West", by Susan Delacourt, Toronto Star, January 7, 2008
  7. ^ "Orchard knew Liberals wanted an aboriginal woman in Sask. byelection: Goodale", Canadian Press, June 9, 2008
  8. ^ "Don Valley West Liberal nomination getting crowded, Bulte and Mousley interested", Hill Times, January 14, 2008
  9. ^ Queen, Lisa, "Oliphant wins tough federal Liberal race", The (East York-Rivedale) Mirror, March 3, 2008, accessed March 4, 2008

External links[edit]