Copyright Modernization Act
An Act to amend the Copyright Act
Christian Paradis Conservative
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
- June 18, 2012 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
- May 15, 2012 Passed That Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, as amended, be concurred in at report stage with further amendments.
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11, in Clause 47, be amended by adding after line 15 on page 54 the following: “(3) The Board may, on application, make an order ( a) excluding from the application of section 41.1 a technological protection measure that protects a work, a performer’s performance fixed in a sound recording or a sound recording, or classes of them, or any class of such technological protection measures, having regard to the factors set out in paragraph (2)(a); or ( b) requiring the owner of the copyright in a work, a performer’s performance fixed in a sound recording or a sound recording that is protected by a technological protection measure to provide access to the work, performer’s performance fixed in a sound recording or sound recording to persons who are entitled to the benefit of any limitation on the application of paragraph 41.1(1)(a). (4) Any order made under subsection (3) shall remain in effect for a period of five years unless ( a) the Governor in Council makes regulations varying the term of the order; or ( b) the Board, on application, orders the renewal of the order for an additional five years.”
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11, in Clause 47, be amended by replacing line 11 on page 52 with the following: “(2) Paragraph 41.1(1)( b) does not”
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11, in Clause 47, be amended by replacing line 25 on page 51 with the following: “(2) Paragraph 41.1(1)( b) does not”
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11, in Clause 47, be amended by deleting lines 1 to 7 on page 51.
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11, in Clause 47, be amended by deleting lines 24 to 33 on page 50.
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11, in Clause 47, be amended by deleting line 37 on page 49 to line 3 on page 50.
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11, in Clause 47, be amended by deleting lines 17 to 29 on page 48.
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11, in Clause 47, be amended by deleting lines 38 to 44 on page 47.
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11, in Clause 47, be amended by adding after line 26 on page 47 the following: “(5) Paragraph (1)( a) does not apply to a qualified person who circumvents a technological protection measure on behalf of another person who is lawfully entitled to circumvent that technological protection measure. (6) Paragraphs (1)( b) and (c) do not apply to a person who provides a service to a qualified person or who manufactures, imports or provides a technology, device or component, for the purposes of enabling a qualified person to circumvent a technological protection measure in accordance with this Act. (7) A qualified person may only circumvent a technological protection measure under subsection (5) if ( a) the work or other subject-matter to which the technological protection measure is applied is not an infringing copy; and ( b) the qualified person informs the person on whose behalf the technological protection measure is circumvented that the work or other subject-matter is to be used solely for non-infringing purposes. (8) The Governor in Council may, for the purposes of this section, make regulations ( a) defining “qualified person”; ( b) prescribing the information to be recorded about any action taken under subsection (5) or (6) and the manner and form in which the information is to be kept; and ( c) prescribing the manner and form in which the conditions set out in subsection (7) are to be met.”
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11, in Clause 47, be amended by adding after line 26 on page 47 the following: “41.101 (1) No one shall apply, or cause to be applied, a technological protection measure to a work or other subject-matter that is intended to be offered for use by members of the public by sale, rental or otherwise unless the work or other subject-matter is accompanied by a clearly visible notice indicating ( a) that a technological protection measure has been applied to the work; and ( b) the capabilities, compatibilities and limitations imposed by the technological protection measure, including, where applicable, but without limitation (i) any requirement that particular software must be installed, either automatically or with the user's consent, in order to access or use the work or other subject-matter, (ii) any requirement for authentication or authorization via a network service in order to access or use the work or other subject-matter, (iii) any known incompatibility with ordinary consumer devices that would reasonably be expected to operate with the work or other subject-matter, and (iv) any limits imposed by the technological protection measure on the ability to make use of the rights granted under section 29, 29.1, 29.2, 29.21, 29.22, 29.23 or 29.24; and ( c) contact information for technical support or consumer inquiries in relation to the technological protection measure. (2) The Governor in Council may make regulations prescribing the form and content of the notice referred to in subsection (1).”
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11, in Clause 47, be amended by adding after line 26 on page 47 the following: “41.101 (1) Paragraph 41.1(1)( a) does not apply to a person who has lawful authority to care for or supervise a minor and who circumvents a technological protection measure for the purpose of protecting the minor if ( a) the copy of the work or other subject-matter with regard to which the technological protection measure is applied is not an infringing copy; and ( b) the person has lawfully obtained the work, the performer’s performance fixed in a sound recording or the sound recording that is protected by the technological protection measure. (2) Paragraphs 41.1(1)( b) and (c) do not apply to a person who provides a service to a person referred to in subsection (1) or who manufactures, imports or provides a technology, device or component, for the purposes of enabling anyone to circumvent a technological protection measure in accordance with subsection (1). (3) A person acting in the circumstances referred to in subsection (1) is not entitled to benefit from the exception under that subsection if the person does an act that constitutes an infringement of copyright or contravenes any Act of Parliament or of the legislature of a province.”
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11, in Clause 47, be amended by deleting lines 21 to 40 on page 46.
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11, in Clause 47, be amended by replacing line 25 on page 45 with the following: “measure for the purpose of an act that is an infringement of the copyright in the protected work.”
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11, in Clause 22, be amended by deleting lines 30 to 34 on page 20.
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11, in Clause 22, be amended by deleting lines 33 to 37 on page 19.
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11 be amended by deleting Clause 62.
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11 be amended by deleting Clause 49.
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11, in Clause 27, be amended by deleting line 42 on page 23 to line 3 on page 24.
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11, in Clause 27, be amended by replacing lines 23 to 29 on page 23 with the following: “paragraph (3)( a) to reproduce the lesson for non-infringing purposes.”
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11, in Clause 21, be amended by adding after line 13 on page 17 the following: “(2) The Governor in Council may make regulations defining “education” for the purposes of subsection (1).”
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11 be amended by deleting Clause 2.
- May 15, 2012 Failed That Bill C-11 be amended by deleting Clause 1.
- May 15, 2012 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
- Feb. 13, 2012 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to a legislative committee.
- Feb. 13, 2012 Passed That this question be now put.
- Feb. 8, 2012 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, not more than two further sitting days shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and that, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the second day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.
- Nov. 28, 2011 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, because it fails to: ( a) uphold the rights of consumers to choose how to enjoy the content that they purchase through overly-restrictive digital lock provisions; (b) include a clear and strict test for “fair dealing” for education purposes; and (c) provide any transitional funding to help artists adapt to the loss of revenue streams that the Bill would cause”.
Canadian Museum of History Act
June 17th, 2013 / 4:50 p.m.
Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL
Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned something about only a very small portion of the amendments dealing with the name change. In our case actually that represented less than 20% of the amendments that we put forward.
One of the amendments that I thought was a reasonable one was that a review process would be set up, similar to what was proposed in Bill C-11, the Copyright Act. I said every three years, but would have been open to five years. By doing that, we would get to review the mandates of each of the museums, not just this one. This was a golden opportunity to open up all these national museums, because we are now getting into an area where we are looking at these national museums, this one in particular, sharing their resources with the rest of the country.
I thought this was a good way to review how this process would be being played out for the sake of the institutions across the country that want to share in this. How does he feel about this review process?
Combating Counterfeit Products Act
June 12th, 2013 / 9:05 p.m.
Hélène LeBlanc LaSalle—Émard, QC
Mr. Speaker, as I was saying earlier, the clock is ticking, and while this government is unravelling, mired in scandal, we have before us a bill introduced by the Minister of Industry. It is a great honour for me to speak this evening as the official opposition industry critic.
The Conservatives boast about being good economic managers and supporters of industry and economic growth, but they dragged their feet on the only bill in recent memory that affects industry and seeks to tackle problems related to counterfeiting.
Now they want to rush the bill through. What is the urgency? What do they have to hide? What are the real reasons behind this sudden interest in Bill C-56? Are they trying to change the channel, divert attention from this government's mismanagement, or did pressure from trade partners finally get to the Minister of Industry?
Canadians and the people of LaSalle—Émard have lost all confidence in this government. They do not believe that this government is fit to govern.
More and more Canadians mistrust the government. They feel it has something to hide. They feel that the Conservatives are not fit to govern.
As the industry critic for the official opposition and the representative of the people of LaSalle—Émard, I rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-56, An Act to amend the Copyright Act and the Trade-marks Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, which is also known as the Combating Counterfeit Products Act.
As soon as this bill was introduced on March 1, 2013, the NDP got to work. We met with many stakeholders. All of them recognized the importance of effectively combatting counterfeiting, and they all said that Canada has to have the tools to do it. They also raised a number of questions about the enforcement of the bill and expressed doubts as to whether the government was really willing to wage an effective war on counterfeiting.
Once again, the Conservatives used this bill in a misleading way. The wording of the bill is not misleading; rather, the government's actions are inconsistent with an effective fight against counterfeiting.
That is the first point I wanted to make. In order to combat counterfeiting at our borders and in Canadian ports, we need human and financial resources. We therefore find it difficult to understand how we will be able to enforce this ambitious bill when the Canada Border Services Agency is facing $143 million in cuts, not only to front-line services but also to intelligence services that are crucial to fighting illegal activities such as counterfeiting.
What is more, 549 full-time jobs will be lost between now and 2015. We have also learned that the Minister of Canadian Heritage wants to interfere in customs officers' legitimate collective bargaining process, once again, without understanding how that undermines labour relations.
The RCMP's budget and resources have also melted away like snow on a warm day. The government needs to put its money where its mouth is, as we say. The Conservatives rarely do that.
The NDP recognizes the importance of combatting counterfeit products, particularly those that could jeopardize the health and safety of Canadians.
Despite the lack of conclusive data, we recognize that this is having an impact on Canadian industries.
We condemn the cuts to the Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP, which are our front-line defence against counterfeiting, as I mentioned.
The second point I want to talk about is the government's lack of action. Once again the Conservatives have dragged their feet. The cuts we condemn show that they are not serious about combatting counterfeiting.
The problem of counterfeiting has come up many times in recent decades. A report was tabled in 1998. The issue of counterfeiting has come up over the years, and we must acknowledge the impact this issue has had on Canadian industries and consumers.
I want to talk about what has been happening in recent years. In 2007, a report by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology entitled “Counterfeiting and Piracy are Theft” described the impact counterfeiting has on the Canadian economy. The report made 16 recommendations. In its supplementary opinion, the NDP made two recommendations. A number of these recommendations were ignored, even though industry stakeholders, trading partners and even Canadian consumers continued to raise the issue.
Furthermore, during the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology's study of intellectual property, which concluded in 2012-13, a number of stakeholders criticized the government's inaction.
Here is what Martin Lavoie, the director of policy for Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, said in committee:
We have been advocating since 2006 for more resources for customs agents to stop the transit of counterfeit products...
The Minister of Industry introduced this bill in the House on March 1, 2013, after which we heard absolutely nothing. Now here he is as we are on the verge of adjourning for the summer. I am sorry. On May 30, 2013, at 12:26 a.m., we had a rather pathetic speech from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. She kept breaking into fits of laughter, which shows how seriously the government takes counterfeiting.
The third point I want to talk about is the lack of conclusive data regarding counterfeiting in Canada. I cannot help but denounce the cuts made to Statistics Canada, which continue to have an adverse effect. I am not the only one who feels that way. The stakeholders we heard from at the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology did as well.
Canadian industries, exporters, manufacturers and small and medium-sized businesses need these statistics, which are snapshots of our economy. They are not the only ones who need them. We, as parliamentarians, use them to make informed decisions. If we do not have hard data that show the trends in recent decades, we cannot predict future trends. These data give us an accurate picture of Canada's economic situation, employment, prosperity, innovation and so on.
Conclusive data allow parliamentarians, legislators and public servants to establish policies that are not based on anecdotal evidence, but on solid data and recognized scientific methods. That is what is happening here with counterfeiting. We know that there is problem, that goods have been seized and that the issue has been raised everywhere in the world. However, unfortunately, it is very difficult to grasp the magnitude of the problem and the best way to address it.
A lot of data have been provided but, as I said earlier, it is difficult to evaluate the methods used to gather those data. In addition, data are not always collected using scientific methods that would help us understand the magnitude of the problem.
The data provided have been of more of an anecdotal nature, and they do not give us an idea of how widespread the problem is internationally. That is why it is important that Canada and the rest of the world have access to these data. This has been brought up many times.
I have some data here that I can share with those who are watching. In Canada, much of the information comes from statistics on actual seizures. For example, Industry Canada reports that:
The retail value of counterfeit goods seized by the RCMP increased from $7.6 million in 2005 to $38 million in 2012.
Still, more details would be useful. In 2009, the OECD estimated that international trade in counterfeit goods and pirated copies could be worth as much as $250 billion. In the same study, the OECD renewed calls for better access to information, saying once again that there are not enough data.
Moreover, anecdotal evidence suggests that counterfeit goods can threaten consumer health and safety. Counterfeit electrical components—I believe someone mentioned this already—and toxic stuffing in a goose-down jacket are two examples of that. I can confirm that because a Canada Goose company representative testified before the committee and I had the opportunity to see the jacket and the material inside it.
Again, the NDP will support Bill C-56 because counterfeit goods can threaten Canadians' health and safety and tarnish the name and reputation of Canadian companies like Canada Goose. A company with a name like that could not be more Canadian. We recognize how important it is to fight counterfeiting effectively.
In its 2007 report, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology called on the Government of Canada to establish an annual reporting system to provide statistics on the efficacy of the Canadian intellectual property enforcement system. The committee went on to list what it wanted to see in the report: the number of investigations, the number of charges laid against counterfeiters and pirates, the number of criminal sentences obtained, the number of counterfeit and pirated shipments seized by the Canada Border Services Agency and the country of origin and approximate value.
My question for my colleague is this: did the government act on that recommendation? That would give us some data to work with.
The lack of conclusive data makes things harder for everyone—the investigators, officers and legislators studying the issue—when the time comes to find ways to fight counterfeiting effectively. We believe that having good data and an accurate picture of what is going on would enable us to implement effective measures.
Bill C-56, the combating counterfeit products act, would amend both the Copyright Act and the Trademark Act. Its purpose is to strengthen enforcement of copyright and trademark rights and to curtail commercial activity involving infringing copies of counterfeit trademarked goods. This bill would add two new criminal offences under the Copyright Act for possession and exportation of infringing copies and would create offences for selling or offering counterfeit goods on a commercial scale. I want to stress that because it is an important point in the bill. It would create a prohibition against importing or exporting infringing copies and counterfeit goods, and would introduce some balance to that prohibition by creating two exceptions.
The first exception would be for personal use. If someone crosses the border with something in his or her possession or baggage, which the person bought and did not know was counterfeit, that would be for personal use. However, we want to ensure that we study that closely at committee to ensure the exception would be solid.
The second exception, and it is an important one, would be for items in transit control. That would be items that would be transiting in Canada but not passing the border. They are not necessarily in Canada, but in transit control.
Another point is that it would grant new ex officio powers to border officials to detain infringing copies or counterfeit goods. That would be a significant policy shift. Until now, border officials required the private rights holders to obtain a court order before seizing infringing copies or goods. Therefore, that would be an important change. It would grant new ex officio powers to the Minister of Public Safety and border officials to share information on detained goods with rights holders. Also, it would widen the scope of what can be trademarked to the features found in the broad definition of “sign”, including colour, shape, scent, taste, et cetera.
While the granting of ex officio powers to customs officials has been a recommendation of the counterfeit report of 2007 and reiterated by stakeholders, two main issues were raised with this provision in Bill C-56. First, the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network's first recommendation in one of its reports stated, “provide the RCMP and the Department of Justice [or border official]”, which it did not mention, but I think is what it meant, “with adequate financial and human resources to effectively address counterfeiting”. These were industry representatives who were stating that.
On the other hand, Dr. Michael Geist, from University of Ottawa, raised the issue of the complexity, and my colleagues from heritage and ethics, who studied Bill C-11 extensively, can attest to that. He discussed the complexity of detecting copyright infringement and also raised the question of changes in court oversight. Dr. Geist said, “While officials are not intellectual property experts, the assessment includes consideration of whether any of the Copyright Act's exceptions may be applied. These determinations are complex--courts often struggle with this issue...”, and so on.
While meeting with them in consultation with my NDP colleagues, Dr. Geist, industry, and stakeholders, raised a lot of issues regarding this bill.
In closing, I would like to reiterate that the NDP recognizes the importance of controlling counterfeit goods, especially those that could pose a risk to the health and safety of Canadians.
We recognize that counterfeiting hurts Canadian industries. We condemn the cuts that affect front-line workers who fight counterfeiting.
I sincerely hope that the government will appreciate the importance of studying this significant bill in committee and the resulting recommendations.
June 10th, 2013 / 4:15 p.m.
Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL
This is one of the first amendments I wanted to bring here. The inspiration came from Bill C-11, which was to set up a study every five years of Bill C-11. This one proposes every three years. I'd be open to five years, but what have you, I think three years is a pretty good period of time.
We are talking about curatorial independence. We're talking about the fact that these people are truly experts at what they do and they want to be independent. Sometimes we don't get it. For instance, we just voted to tell these people not to destroy things. Why didn't I vote against it? How can you say on the one hand that you want curatorial independence and then you're going to vote to tell them not to destroy something?
So here we are in a situation where I think this is the type of thing that this bill needs, a three-year review by a committee of the House so you don't have to go out and spend lots of money just to have an independent study of some sort. You can do a House study—it could be the Senate or a special committee to talk about our museums. You could even expand it to not just this museum, but the other museums including the Canadian War Museum as well.
I think this is a bold step, but it's one that could be used here in the Canadian Museum of History as a model to show that other museums can do this as well, to allow our committees to study for—and I didn't put curatorial independence by the way. I put “independent functioning of the Canadian Museum of History”.
June 5th, 2013 / 4:15 p.m.
June 5th, 2013 / 4:10 p.m.
June 3rd, 2013 / 4:20 p.m.
Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Welcome to our witnesses. I have a couple of questions.
Mr. Geist, I'm struggling a little bit with the position you've taken. You talked about Bill C-11, the ACTA legislation, and a couple of issues—the statutory damages cap, the digital lock, and the term of copyright.
I think most of us here are in agreement with your summary. What I'm struggling with is that you seem to think that somehow this is all on the table—yet the negotiations aren't complete.
You can believe that, but what makes you correct? Since there is no position on the table, since there is no open access to the negotiations.... And all the negotiations I've ever participated in have been in private, and I suspect your own personal negotiations are mostly in private.
So you can say that it could happen, but I can say that I don't expect it will happen. And who's right?
June 3rd, 2013 / 4:05 p.m.
Canada Research Chair, Internet and E-commerce Law, University of Ottawa, As an Individual
I highlighted four examples on the copyright side: the notice and notice approach that we have in the bill; term of copyright; digital locks; and statutory damages. Let me elaborate on the latter two you just raised in the context of statutory damages.
I think there was a recognition by your government, by Ministers Clement, Paradis, and Moore, that in the United States, which has seen lawsuits against individuals running into the millions of dollars in cases of non-commercial infringement.... They consistently on the public record have argued that it was not fair and not right to put an individual at risk over a non-commercial infringement.
The government, in an innovative approach that I, quite frankly, and many others were strongly supportive of, said that it was going to distinguish between commercial infringement— those who seek to profit from their infringement—for which we will have very strong statutory damages still in place, and non-commercial infringement. The non-commercial infringement under the law now creates a cap of a maximum of $5,000 for all infringements. So someone isn't at risk of losing their house, so to speak, on the basis of an allegation of non-commercial infringement.
I think that was a wise decision, and it is one that is now in effect under Canadian law due to your Bill C-11. However, based on the leaks of what's contained in the TPP, Canada would be required to drop that distinction and move back to the full statutory damages approach, so that individual Canadians would face the prospect of millions of dollars in liability.
On the issue of digital locks, I didn't agree with the government's position. But the one thing it did do within the law was specifically to identify how instances of new exceptions might come about so that the government could do that through regulation as opposed to having to fully amend the bill. Based again on the leaked texts of the intellectual property chapter, that flexibility would be removed. The government would be required to make changes to its digital lock rules, adopting a more restrictive approach than even it thought was appropriate just a few months ago when it passed Bill C-11.
June 3rd, 2013 / 3:30 p.m.
Dr. Michael Geist Canada Research Chair, Internet and E-commerce Law, University of Ottawa, As an Individual
Thank you very much. Good afternoon.
My name is Michael Geist. I'm a law professor at the University of Ottawa where I hold the Canada research chair in Internet and e-commerce law. I'm also a syndicated weekly columnist on law and technology issues for the Toronto Star and the Ottawa Citizen. I've edited several books on Canadian copyright and appeared many times before committees on copyright and trade policy, but I appear before this committee today in a personal capacity representing my own views only.
I greatly appreciate the invitation, as I have some very serious concerns about Canada's participation in the TPP. I should start by noting that I'm not anti-free trade. I support the government in its efforts to explore opportunities to expand markets for Canadian businesses.
That said the TPP raises some concerns. I would like to focus on some of the TPP's substance, particularly the copyright provisions in the draft agreement, as well as address some concerns related to process.
Let me start with the substance. Given the limited amount of time available, I'll focus primarily on the copyright provisions, though copyright is only part of the broader intellectual property issues raised by the TPP. You heard recently from Scott Sinclair on some of the patent issues, and if you're interested I'd be happy to discuss the implications of the TPP for governance of the domain name system in Canada.
As members of the committee know, Canada recently completed a long, difficult copyright reform process. Over a decade of debate ultimately resulted in Bill C-11. Virtually all stakeholders would say that the bill, which received royal assent last June, was imperfect. Yet it did reflect a genuine attempt at compromise, with many made-in-Canada provisions that are often cited as progressive, effective, and forward-looking digital copyright rules.
My single biggest concern is that the TPP will undermine the Canadian compromise that the government struck, and require radical changes to our national copyright law.
I should preface the analysis by noting that last year DFAIT conducted a public consultation on Canada's potential participation in the TPP, in which copyright was the top issue cited by individual respondents. No public report summarizing the responses was ever published, yet according to documents I obtained under the Access to Information Act, the government was overwhelmed with negative comments urging officials to resist entry into the TPP and the expected pressures for significant intellectual property reforms as part of the deal.
In addition to tens of thousands of form letters and e-mails criticizing the TPP, the government received hundreds of individual handcrafted responses that unanimously criticized the proposed agreement. In fact, a review of more than 400 individual submissions did not identify a single instance of support for the agreement; rather, those submissions focused specifically on copyright-related concerns.
Now based on a leak of the draft intellectual property chapter, let me provide four examples that lie at the heart of the public concern.
First, Canadian law now features a notice and notice approach on Internet provider liability, or ISP liability. This approach establishes the obligations for Internet providers and intermediaries when there are claims of copyright infringements, and grants copyright holders powers to raise allegations of infringement with the sites and their subscribers.
Moreover, it protects the privacy of subscribers and does not result in takedowns of content based on mere allegations. During the debates on Bill C-11, Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore repeatedly pointed to notice and notice as an example of a positive Canadian-specific approach. Yet according to leaked documents, the TPP would require that Canada drop its approach in favour of a more draconian takedown system that could stifle free speech and result in the removal of content without the need for any proof of infringement.
Secondly, the term of protection for Canadian copyright is presently the life of the author plus an additional 50 years after his or her death. This term meets the international requirement as established in the Berne Convention. The TPP would require Canada to add an additional 20 years to the copyright term. The extension in the term of copyright would mean that no new works would enter the public domain in Canada at least until 2034, assuming that the agreement takes effect in 2014. Many important authors would immediately be affected, since their works are scheduled to enter into the public domain in the period, let's say, between 2014 and 2034. These include Canadians such as Marshall McLuhan, Gabrielle Roy, Donald Creighton, and Glenn Gould, as well as non-Canadians such Robert Frost, C.S. Lewis, T.S. Eliot, John Steinbeck, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Ayn Rand. Given the potential to make those works more readily accessible to new generations once they enter the public domain, extending the term of copyright as potentially required by the TPP would have a dramatic negative effect on access to literature and history, particularly Canadian literature and history.
Thirdly, Canadian copyright law now features an important distinction with respect to statutory damages, as it contains a cap of $5,000 for all non-commercial infringements. While the reforms have been unsuccessful in stopping thousands of potential lawsuits against individuals, they do ensure that individual Canadians won't face the threat of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in liability for non-commercial infringement.
The government, I think quite rightly, consistently argued that the reform was the right thing to do, yet the TPP would require Canada to drop the non-commercial cap and restore statutory damages that could climb into the millions of dollars for individual Canadians.
Fourthly, the digital lock rules were the most contentious aspect of Bill C-11. The provisions were widely criticized, but the silver lining, in an approach that, I have to say, went far beyond international requirements, was that the government kept the door open in the legislation to future reforms and exceptions to the digital lock rules. The TPP would close that door, increasing the penalties for circumvention and restricting the ability of Canada to create new digital-lock exceptions.
The copyright provisions in the TPP threaten a Canadian compromise that took a decade to achieve and that was strongly defended by the current Conservative government. I think undoing that compromise would constitute an enormous setback for Canadian sovereignty and for our long-term digital cultural policy.
I would be remiss if I did not also raise process concerns involving the secrecy associated with the TPP and the creation of a two-tier approach that involves special access to TPP information for some insiders.
The TPP negotiations have been ongoing for years, yet there has still been no official release of the draft text. To conduct a hearing on the benefits of the TPP without public access to the draft text forces participants to rely on leaked information that has not been officially confirmed. Canada should be demanding that a draft text be made available for all to see. Instead, it is deeply troubling that DFAIT has established a secret insider group, with some companies and industries associations being granted access to consultations as well as opportunities to learn more about the agreement and Canada's negotiating position.
I realize that Minister Fast denied the existence of such a group when he appeared before you last month. However, the documents I obtained under the Access to Information Act indicate that the first secret industry consultation occurred weeks before Canada was formally included in the TPP negotiations, in a November 2012 consultation with telecommunications providers. All participants were required to sign confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements.
Soon after, the circle of insiders expanded with the formation of a TPP consultation group. Representatives from groups and companies such as Bombardier, the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, and Canadian Steel Producers Association all signed a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement that granted “access to certain sensitive information of the Department concerning or related to the TPP negotiations.”
I have copies of the signed NDAs right here that make specific reference to the TPP consultation group. The creation of a secret TPP insider group suggests an attempt to shy away from public consultation and scrutiny of an agreement that could have a transformative effect on dozens of sectors at a time when we should be increasing efforts to gain public confidence in the talks by adopting a more transparent and accountable approach.
I believe the TPP's highly secretive and non-transparent approach runs counter to Canadian values of openness and accountability. We should be actively encouraging participants to increase TPP transparency and should lead by example by ceasing the two-tier insider approach to trade agreement information.
I welcome your questions.
Standing Committee on Finance
Points of Order
May 30th, 2013 / 10:10 a.m.
Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC
Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to the hon. House Leader of the Official Oppositionfor raising this point of order yesterday, objecting to the unusual procedures that were accepted within the Standing Committee on Finance, in relation to the clause-by-clause treatment of Bill C-60, the 2013 omnibus budget bill.
Prior to his point of order, I was struggling with a dilemma: I was certain there was an effort to undermine my rights as an individual member of Parliament and yet there had been no formal challenge. I was not sure how to approach this, Mr. Speaker, and to put before you the ways in which I found that procedure unacceptable. I really very much appreciate that the official opposition saw fit to raise its concerns that those procedures and the procedures adopted--novel procedures, mind you--before the Standing Committee on Finance did not comport to parliamentary rules and practice and went beyond the mandate of the committee.
Before getting down to the particulars of the current situation, I wish to review some fundamental principles related to the matter before you, Mr. Speaker.
In essence, what you are asked to adjudicate here is an effort by a powerful government party with the majority of seats in this place to eliminate what few rights exist to influence legislation in the hands of only eight members of Parliament belonging to two recognized national parties, myself, on behalf of the Green Party, and members here for the Bloc Québécois, plus two members currently sitting as independents.
Within this group, the government party's efforts are aimed only at the Green Party and the Bloc Québécois. We are the only members to have submitted amendments at report stage in the 41st Parliament.
The appropriate balance between the majority and the minority in proceedings of the House is, as Speaker Milliken noted, a fundamental issue.
Mr. Speaker, I am going to be providing the written copy of this presentation to you so that I will not have to read out loud all the citations.
The following passage is very apt. Although Speaker Milliken was dealing with a situation with a minority Parliament, the issues before him of balancing the rights of the minority and the majority are the same. I quote from Speaker Milliken's ruling of March 29, 2007:
At the present time, the chair occupants, like our counterparts in House committees, daily face the challenge of dealing with the pressures of a minority government, but neither the political realities of the moment nor the sheer force of numbers should force us to set aside the values inherent in the parliamentary conventions and procedures by which we govern our deliberations.
Unlike the situation faced by committee chairs, a Speaker's decision is not subject to appeal. All the more reason then for the Chair to exercise its awesome responsibility carefully and to ensure that the House does not, in the heat of the moment, veer dangerously off course.
The Speaker must remain ever mindful of the first principles of our great parliamentary tradition, principles best described by John George Bourinot, Clerk of this House from 1890 to 1902, who described these principles thus:
To protect the minority and restrain the improvidence and tyranny of the majority, to secure the transaction of public business in a decent and orderly manner, to enable every member to express his opinions within those limits necessary to preserve decorum and prevent an unnecessary waste of time, to give full opportunity for the consideration of every measure, and to prevent any legislative action being taken heedlessly and upon sudden impulse.
As I noted yesterday, in particular, in your ruling related to the member for Langley's question of privilege, you said:
...[an] unquestionable duty of the Speaker [is] to act as the guardian of the rights and privileges of members and of the House as an institution.
And you cited, with approval, these words from former speaker Fraser:
...we are a parliamentary democracy, not a so-called executive democracy, nor a so-called administrative democracy.
The last quote is from your ruling of December 12, 2012, which bears directly on the matter at hand. In that ruling, Mr. Speaker, you dealt with an objection raised by the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons to, inter alia, my presentation of amendments at report stage. The hon. government House leader presented a proposal that all my amendments at report stage should be grouped and one motion selected as a “test motion”, and only if the test motion was adopted would any of the other amendments be put to the House.
Your ruling was clear, Mr. Speaker. You cited House of Commons Procedure and Practice at page 250, which states:
[I]t remains true that parliamentary procedure is intended to ensure that there is a balance between the government's need to get its business through the House, and the opposition's responsibility to debate that business without completely immobilizing the proceedings of the House.
And you added:
The underlying principles these citations express are the cornerstones of our parliamentary system. They enshrine the ancient democratic tradition of allowing the minority to voice its views and opinions in the public square and, in counterpoint, of allowing the majority to put its legislative program before Parliament and have it voted upon.
You ruled then, Mr. Speaker, that my amendments at report stage on Bill C-45 could stand and be put to a vote in the House. You also set out some circumstances that would provide a potential procedure to provide me and other members in my position with a fair and satisfactory alternative to amendments at report stage.
In my view, the government House leader is now attempting to do indirectly that which he could not do directly. It puts me in mind of the finding of Mr. Justice Dickson in that landmark Supreme Court case of Amax Potash, in which Mr. Dickson said:
To allow moneys collected under compulsion, pursuant to an ultra vires statute, to be retained would be tantamount to allowing the provincial Legislature to do indirectly what it could not do directly, and by covert means to impose illegal burdens.
I again underline that as the hon. House Leader of the Official Opposition has put before us, the actions of the finance committee were ultra vires, and the whole effort here is to do indirectly what it could not do directly. I am speaking of the Conservative Party's efforts to suppress the rights of minority members.
It offends principles of fairness to use the superior clout and power of a majority government to crush the few procedures found within our rules and traditions to which I, as an individual member, have a right to recourse. It is clear that the effort being made by the finance committee on Bill C-60 is a continuation of the strategy-by-stealth of the government House leader's to foreclose the democratic rights of members, which was attempted in November of last year.
For the remainder of my argument, I would like to canvass two areas of facts that are relevant to the specifics of the question before you, Mr. Speaker. First, was the procedure adopted by the finance committee in conformity with your ruling of December 12, 2012? Second, have the amendments I have put forward in the 41st Parliament offended the rules by failing the tests of “repetition, frivolity, vexatiousness and unnecessary prolongation of report stage”?
Dealing with the second point first, I have moved amendments at report stage on the following bills, and I will state how many amendments per bill: Bill C-10, 36 amendments; Bill C-11, 11 amendments; Bill C-13, one amendment; Bill C-18, three amendments; Bill C-19, three amendments; Bill C-31, 23 amendments; Bill C-316, five amendments; Bill C-38, 320 amendments; Bill C-37, one amendment; Bill C-43, 21 amendments; and Bill C-45, 82 amendments.
What is immediately obvious is that the number of my amendments was directly proportionate to the legislation proposed by the government. Only on the two omnibus budget bills, Bill C-45 and Bill C-38, and the omnibus crime bill, Bill C-10, did I propose a relatively large number of amendments. There were many amendments, because the omnibus bills involved changes to multiple laws in a dramatic and transformative fashion. The amendments I proposed were all serious; none were frivolous. They were not of the kind, for example, put forward by the opposition of the day on the Nisga'a treaty, in which multiple amendments were mere changes of punctuation with the goal being slowing passage of the Nisga'a treaty.
The amendments I have put forward have even gained favourable commentary from some government members. On Bill C-31, the hon. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism said, “I appreciate the member's evident concern”, speaking of me as the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, “and the fact that she takes the deliberative legislative process very seriously”.
On Bill C-11, the copyright modernization act, the hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages said, “I compliment her for her substantive approach to this legislation”.
On Bill C-43, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism stated:
I commend the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for her constant due diligence. I know it is a particular challenge to effectively be an independent member and yet participate in an informed way in debates on virtually all bills in the House. We all admire her for that even if I do not agree with the substance of her intervention here.
In summary, the amendments I have put forward in the 41st Parliament have never been frivolous. Were they designed to slow passage? Not at all. Even on the day we began the marathon session of votes on the amendments to Bill C-38, I approached the Prime Minister personally and asked if any compromise were possible. I told him I would be at his disposal, that if one or two amendments might pass, perhaps the rest could be withdrawn, and that I was open to suggestion.
My goal throughout was serious and grounded in principle. My constituents care about these issues and these bills. I am working tirelessly in their interest. I have never engaged in preparing and presenting amendments for the sake of, as the government House leader has suggested, political games or delay for the sake of delay.
Having worked in the Mulroney government and in public policy work in Ottawa dealing with federal governments, federal ministers and federal laws since 1978, I have personal experience with what used to be the normal approach to legislating in the Parliament of Canada. This particular administration is the only one in our history to enforce rigid discipline on its members in legislative committees. It is the first administration in Canadian history to resist any changes in its legislative proposals from first reading to royal assent. Even the errors that are discovered prior to passage are protected from amendment until subsequent bills correct earlier drafting errors.
Worsening this abuse of democratic process, virtually every bill in the 41st Parliament has been subject to time allocation. If time allocation were not applied, in the normal round of debates, eventually members in my situation, who are seen as independent for my rights and privileges, although I sit here as a Green Party member, would be recognized and would participate in the debates. However, due to time allocation, there is never an opportunity to speak at second reading, report stage or third reading. With time allocation, there is never an opportunity for members in my position to make a speech unless another party cedes a speaking slot.
As a matter of practical reality, the only way to have a speaking opportunity in such time-constrained circumstances is to have amendments tabled at report stage. This approach of the current Conservative administration of rejecting any and all amendments, while simultaneously abbreviating debate opportunities, is a perversion of Westminster parliamentary tradition. It is a new and hyper-partisan approach to the legislative process.
As a member of Parliament, I believe it is my duty to work to resist this new, contemptuous approach to legislating. The ability to table amendments at report stage and to offer the entire House an opportunity to improve bills before third reading is even more critical when the legislative committee process has ceased to function as it did in all the time of all the speakers before you.
Now I turn to the question, Mr. Speaker, of how the finance committee applied the suggestions contained in your ruling of December 12, 2012. I note that the chair of the finance committee is never anything but personally fair, and I mean nothing personal against all members of the finance committee. I assume that this entire stratagem emerged elsewhere than from the members of the finance committee themselves.
I note that you suggested, Mr. Speaker, that there are “opportunities and mechanisms that are at the House's disposal to resolve these issues to the satisfaction of all members” in a “manner that would balance the rights of all members” and that “...members need only to remember that there are several precedents where independent members were made members of standing committees”. Those are all quotes from your ruling in December.
Finally, you suggested this:
Were a satisfactory mechanism found that would afford independent members an opportunity to move motions to move bills in committee, the Chair has no doubt that its report stage selection process would adapt to the new reality.
From these comments it is clear that your direction suggests that an effort might be made to engage members with rights of independents to enter into a discussion about how arrangements could be reached that would be, in fact, satisfactory. To be “to the satisfaction of all members”, your ruling implicitly requires that the suggested opportunities and mechanisms be discussed and accepted by all concerned. Further, you suggested that temporary membership was possible and that members should be able to “move motions”.
None of that occurred. I am attaching a written copy of all the correspondence between me and the chair of the Standing Committee on Finance, which I will provide to the table. As you will see, there was no discussion or offer of co-operation. The “invitation” contained in a letter of May 7, 2013 left no room for discussion. The attached motion of the committee was supported only by the Conservative members of the finance committee but not by the official opposition or the Liberal Party members.
The letter, and particularly the motion itself, had the tone of a unilateral ultimatum. My response was to ask for temporary committee membership for the duration of clause-by-clause review. This request was rejected in the letter of May 24, 2013.
As the various sections of Bill C-60 had been distributed among several committees, I attempted to attend all the hearings relative to my amendments. However, committees were meeting at the same time in different locations throughout the parliamentary precinct making it impossible to get to each one of them. I did attend meetings of the industry, finance and the foreign affairs committees prior to clause-by-clause. I asked for permission to ask witnesses questions and was denied in the finance and foreign affairs committees. I was allowed a three-minute opportunity to pose questions in the industry committee. To be blunt, my opportunities were not close to equivalent to the members of those committees.
On Monday, May 27, 2013 as requested by the finance committee, I complied with the committee and attempted to co-operate. I submitted my amendments and attended clause-by-clause throughout the meeting of the committee on Tuesday, May 28. I asked for time to present my amendments. There were 11 in total. I was given half as much time as my colleague from the Bloc Québécois. I was allowed one minute per amendment. He was allowed two minutes per amendment. I have attached copies of the Hansard from all of these discussions to abbreviate the recitation of the facts.
I prefaced my presentation of amendments with a statement that I had not asked for this opportunity nor invitation and that while I was attempting to co-operate, it was without prejudice to my rights to submit amendments at report stage. Each time I was given the floor for 60 seconds, I repeated that my participation was without prejudice to my rights to present amendments at report stage, when I had the right to move my own amendments, speak to my own amendments, and answer questions about my amendments. At report stage, I have the right to vote on my amendments.
I also supported the point made by the hon. member for Parkdale—High Park that inviting independent members to committee, in her words, “does not conform with parliamentary procedure in that only the House of Commons can appoint committee members”.
I noted that I did not have an equal opportunity to present my amendments. This observation was compounded as we went through clause-by-clause.
On two occasions, members of the committee suggested amendments to my amendments. I was not allowed to comment on those suggestions. On one occasion, a member of the government benches disagreed with a point I made, but I was not allowed to reply. On another occasion, the NDP members misunderstood the impact of my amendment, but I was not allowed to explain. I was not allowed to move my amendments. The motions were deemed moved. I was not allowed to vote on my amendments. As noted, I was not allowed even the ability to participate in discussions about my amendments.
There is no way the word “satisfactory” can be so twisted of meaning as to apply to the set of circumstances to which I was required to submit. It is a principle of fairness and natural justice that an opportunity that cannot be used is no opportunity at all.
When one considers the circumstances in which speakers have ruled that members did not have an adequate opportunity to submit their amendments, it is clear that this imposed process before the Standing Committee on Finance falls far short of the mark.
For example, in 2001, Speaker Milliken ruled that where a member was on two committees and had difficulty getting to the meeting, he could move amendments at report stage. Speaker Milliken wrote that:
...because...the member maintains that he sits on two committees, both of which were seized with bills at the same time, and therefore had difficulty in moving his amendments, the Chair will give the benefit of the doubt to the member on this occasion.
In a situation where a member of a recognized parliamentary party attended the clause-by-clause consideration at the committee but was not an official member of the committee, Speaker Milliken allowed that member's amendments to be presented at report stage. He noted:
Of course, the Chair recognizes that our parliamentary system is party driven and the positions of the parties are brought forward to committees through its officially designated members. The Chair also recognizes that some members may want to act on their own.
Underscoring this, what an example: a member of a recognized party with rights to participate in standing committees chose to be in the meetings, in clause-by-clause, and could have handed that member's amendments to another member of his party and ask that they be submitted, but the Speaker of the House supported the right of that member to amendments at report stage because he was not a committee member. I was a long, long way from the rights of that member of a recognized political party sitting in that committee back in 2003 when Speaker Milliken allowed that member's amendments at report stage.
The right of a member to actually move the amendments at committee cannot be perverted through the expedient measure, imposed by a majority party, of demanding all amendments of an independent member be submitted, denying that member the right to move the amendment, speak to the amendment, other than in an inadequate perfunctory fashion, debate or defend the amendment, giving that member no opportunity to speak to other amendments and denying the member any chance to vote on his or her motion.
There may well be some way to accommodate members of Parliament in my position, but clearly, this experiment on Bill C-60 at clause-by-clause consideration in the finance committee was not acceptable. To accept it now, and disallow rights of members of Parliament in the position of independents to submit amendments at report stage, will be to create a precedent that fundamentally abuses our foundational principles of Westminster parliamentary democracy.
Mr. Speaker, I urge you to find in favour of the point of order put forward by the hon. House leader for the official opposition and to set aside the treatment of me and the member from the Bloc Québécois and allow us to submit amendments, move amendments, debate our amendments and vote on them on Bill C-60 at report stage.
May 2nd, 2013 / 4:15 p.m.
Christian Paradis Minister of Industry
Thank you, Chair.
Hello to all the members of the committee.
It is a pleasure to be here today.
I see that time is flying by. A lot of work was done this past year. I would like to bring you up to speed on that work and on the Department of Industry's priorities. We can obviously talk about the measures that will follow from economic action plan 2013.
The issues concern, first, strengthening the manufacturing sector; second, stimulating business innovation; third, promoting entrepreneurship and venture capital; fourth, improving market frameworks; and, fifth, supporting the digital economy. That has been adopted and it is ongoing. Work is under way. I will be pleased to give you more details on that.
I am here with my Deputy Minister John Knubley, Ms. Bincoletto, who is Chief Financial Officer at the Department of Industry, Ms. Thivièrge and Mr. Stewart. Feel free to ask us questions. We have the necessary people to answer them. We will do it to the best of our ability.
Mr. Chair, after several consecutive years of uneven economic growth, the entire world is still at a crossroads. As the government, we will continue our efforts to navigate this turbulent global situation and to promote job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity for Canada.
Our efforts have produced results. No fewer than 465,000 jobs have been created, exceeding the peak reached before the recession. That has been the strongest employment growth of the G7 countries during this crisis. In addition, Canada's real GDP is well above pre-recession levels. This is the best performance in the G7.
We will continue investing in growth drivers, job creation, innovation, investment and skills. We remain determined to keep taxes low—which will probably not displease my colleague here on my left—and return to a balanced budget.
In terms of today's meeting, Industry Canada will be allocated $1.16 billion through main estimates in 2013-14, which will directly support our jobs and growth agenda. In addition, subject to the will of Parliament, Industry Canada and the industry portfolio will implement measures put forward in economic action plan 2013 and associated priorities.
One of Industry Canada's priorities is to help manufacturers succeed in the global economy. Let's note that manufacturing accounts for 1.1 million jobs across Canada, generates 13% of the Canadian GDP, and conducts almost half of the R and D performed in Canada. Key areas I will highlight include the automotive, aerospace and space sectors, defence procurement, and advanced manufacturing.
As you remember, Prime Minister Harper announced last January an additional $250 million over five years for the automotive innovation fund.
In March, our economic action plan announced ongoing funding to sustain and improve the strategic aerospace and defence initiative, with $110 million over four years to create an aerospace technology demonstration program, and forthcoming consultations on the creation of a national aerospace research and technology network. These measures would strengthen Canada's position as a global leader in the production of aerospace and space goods and services.
Our economic action plan 2013 also committed to reform the current procurement process, develop key industrial capabilities, and consider ways to target industrial and regional benefits. These actions will promote export opportunities and help ensure that all major procurements include a plan for Canadian industry participation.
Industry Canada will also work with the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario in order to develop world-class manufacturing initiatives, supported through a five-year program beginning in 2014, for an amount of $200 million.
The government's venture capital action plan was announced in economic action plan 2013. It is a set of measures designed to enhance promotion of the Canadian venture capital system. Funding of $60 million over five years will be allocated to support business incubators and accelerators and to expand their services. In addition, $18 million over two years will be allocated to the Canadian Youth Business Foundation to support our young entrepreneurs. The Business Development Bank of Canada will also be making additional investments in firms graduating from business accelerators and will establish new entrepreneurship awards. Businesses, in many cases, suffer shortages when they start up. Some projects are squeezed. This form of funding will therefore be accessible to our businesses.
Innovation is an important factor that we continue to enhance in order to promote growth, improve productivity and raise our standard of living.
Last year, I told the committee that Minister of State Goodyear was directing work on our response to the recommendations made by Tom Jenkins's expert panel. We have acted on those recommendations. In budget 2012, we committed to paying $1.1 billion over five years to double support, for example, for the IRAP, the industrial research assistance program, to make the business-led networks of centres of excellence program permanent and to recentre the mandate of the National Research Council in order to focus it on demand and to make it more business-oriented.
In action plan 2013, we have also announced additional support in this field in the form of funding for our granting councils, such as the NRC and Genome Canada. I know that you have looked at that in greater detail with Minister Goodyear.
Another major priority, in addition to keeping taxes low, cutting red tape, and promoting fair tariff trade, is strengthening our marketplace framework policies, which set the conditions for companies to compete, innovate, and invest. We also introduced changes to our investment review process, including guidelines for state-owned enterprises, timelines for national security reviews, and the threshold reviews under the Investment Canada Act.
Following the passage of the Copyright Modernization Act last year, we are continuing to improve our intellectual property protections. We recently introduced, as you know, the combatting counterfeit products act.
It is still important to promote a world-class digital economy. In the next stages, we want our future innovation to be driven by digital technologies in order to support this digital economy and make Canada a digital leader. We have taken several essential measures such as adding a digital component to the NRC and refocusing the mandate of the Business Development Bank of Canada. A digital technology adoption program is now offered through BDC. The 700 MHz spectrum auction, which will be held by the end of the year, will stimulate a lot of activity in the digital economy.
I am determined to move forward with these measures and issues, to examine ways to strengthen the digital economy, support digital skills, encourage technology adoption by business and promote access for Canadians. I know the committee is currently examining this question, and I will be delighted to review the work it does.
Mr. Chair, I believe that, by focusing on the priorities I have outlined here today, Industry Canada and the government will help enhance competitiveness and support our government's goal, which is to create jobs and stimulate growth for all Canadians.