House of Commons Hansard #31 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ukraine.

Topics

Business of the House
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the House
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak on Bill C-11, a bill that I understand has a bit of a history in the chamber. I can appreciate that at times the government is frustrated because it does not necessarily get what it wants.

In previous minority governments, the Conservatives attempted to pass legislation of a similar nature, almost a word-for-word bill, but because of the frustrations of not being successful in getting it passed, we once again have Bill C-11 before us, the same bill with a different number.

I would suggest that many of the concerns that were expressed over the last number of months and beyond still exist today and I would encourage the government to open its mind as to what types of amendments would make the bill a healthier one. At the end of the day, even though Liberals have moved an amendment to deal with the bill, we recognize that there is value to ensuring that we have copyright laws that are fair and balanced.

We recognize the importance of the individuals who create our music and other aspects of our culture and we want to encourage the industry. As has been pointed out by many, our cultural community provides a huge economic benefit for all Canadians. We need to do what we can as legislators to protect and encourage that industry and to ensure that it is going to be able to not only continue but grow and prosper. When that industry grows and prospers, we will see more jobs being created and the overall lifestyle in Canada being improved on many different fronts.

We recognize the value of artists and others and recognize how important it is for us to be there in a very real and tangible way, but we also value the importance of the consumer. We want to ensure that consumers' rights are in fact protected. This provides me the opportunity to share with the House some of the concerns I have with regard to that particular issue.

My biggest concern is the whole concept of the digital lock provisions in the legislation. I must admit that I am somewhat dated, in the sense that I can still recall the good old eight-tracks and record players. People went to Kmart or Zellers and bought blank cassettes. They had music at home on the record player and they recorded the music that they, or maybe even their parents, had purchased from the store. They recorded it on cassette so they could continue to enjoy that music on a trip in the car, believing that they had acquired the song they wanted to listen to.

I recall hanging around with my buddies and talking about the fact that we had to buy records for x number of dollars just to get one or two songs that we liked. We ended up buying five or six records and put all our favourite songs on one cassette, and there was never any feeling that we were pirating anything or that it was an illegal act.

The vast majority of consumers want to do the right thing. Consumers are responsible individuals and contributors to our communities, and they recognize how important it is that we protect our artists.

Quite often when we think of artists, we think of big name artists, and there is a bit of resentment toward them. Some would look at the late Michael Jackson and ask themselves just much money this guy really needs and the type of royalties that one would pay. There might not be as much sympathy for big name artists, but we still have to protect artists through copyright laws.

A vast majority of the artists are not multi-millionaires. They are hard-working Canadians who have sacrificed their time, energy, thoughts and ideas. Maybe they rented a recording studio and put together a CD. Now they are hoping to make enough money from that CD to recover their costs, and if they can make a little extra, they are very grateful.

In Winnipeg we have a wonderful annual event known as Folklorama. I suspect a number of my colleagues in the House will be familiar with it, and I would recommend that all members visit Winnipeg during a Folklorama and become familiar with it. They would witness a litany of those types of artists who are so committed to making events like Folklorama work and who are so committed to what they do that they sacrifice a great portion of their energy and their time in order to produce that contribution to our culture.

One individual at the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre on Robinson Street in Winnipeg North--I believe his name was Lavallee--played the violin and performed a jig, which is a wonderful fancy dance I hope to be able to perform someday myself. This artist lives in a modest apartment in Tyndall Park. I did not ask him how much he was making or what the proceeds were on his CD, but he sure was proud of it. He felt it was right on, and good quality. At the end of the day, after the audience had been able to listen and hear this man playing live on stage and after the concert was over, he stood by the door selling his CDs.

I enjoyed the performance. I was pleased to meet him, shook his hadn, and said I would love to buy the CD. I did not purchase the CD because I wanted to go home and listen to the music right away, but because I wanted to support a young artist and saw the benefits of doing that.

I would argue that there are tens of thousands of Canadians who would do likewise, because we get an appreciation of the artists' efforts. In many ways we are talking about our sons or daughters who are in this line of work or engaged in this creativity, and I suspect we would find a great deal of support, but when I look at the legislation, I see that the government seems to be determined that it has it right and it does not really matter what the opposition has to say: it will go to committee, where it has a majority, and pass it the way it is.

I do not make that assertion lightly. I was listening to some of the speeches earlier, and we hear that there were literally hundreds of people, if not thousands, who provided feedback to the government with regard to the legislation. They provided ideas that could have made it a better piece of legislation, yet the government, for whatever reason I am not sure, has made a determination that what it has is as good as it is going to get and that they are really not open to any changes or amendments.

That is why I believe the responsible thing for the Liberal Party to do was to bring forward this recent amendment. We want to see balance when it comes to copyright rules and laws. It is important that it be balanced, and the government has not recognized or acknowledged that.

I will give an example. If my daughter were here, she would be able to tell us anything we wanted to know about iPods. It is amazing what young people can do with one hand with these little items. From pictures to music and videos, the technology is incredible. Should not my daughter or millions of other Canadians who purchase an item in digital format, such as a song, have the right to use that purchase in different ways, as long as it is for personal reasons?

I am not going to suggest that my daughter or anyone else should be able to buy a song and download it onto the computer and send it out to two million Canadians. That would not be appropriate.

What would be appropriate? She has a cell telephone. She has an iPod. She has one of these iMac computers. Should she be obligated to buy one copy for each? I'm not entirely convinced that should be the case.

I would look to members to tell me if I was wrong when, in those younger teenaged years, I acquired records that I enjoyed and would pick and choose songs from each record and record them onto a blank cassette so that I could listen to the cassette with all of my favourite songs on it. Was that wrong? I do not believe it was.

When we require such things as digital locks, there are impacts. I have DVDs. We all have DVD movies. I have some VHS movies that have digital locks. There are some movies that I really enjoy, and quite often I will put on such a movie in the background while I work on my laptop doing constituency work or whatever else it might be. The movie is playing in the background, but DVDs get scratched up and VHS tapes get worn. Should I not be able to back up the material that I purchased? Do I not have the right to do that?

These are very real question marks. They are there today with regard to the proposed legislation.

We have to ask if this is the type of legislation we should be moving forward. We have to keep in mind that because there is a majority government, no matter what we hear in committee, all indications are that the government is determined to pass the bill the way it is. The government is not really open to amendments.

If we are trying to address genuine, bona fide concerns in the second reading debate, one can understand why the Liberal Party is suggesting that we pass the reasoned amendment. If government members were to stand and say they are prepared to listen and act on some of the concerns being expressed by opposition members, there might be the will to pull the reasoned amendment. There would have to be a clear indication from government members that they would accept some amendments or amend the bill themselves. I have participated in majority governments in Manitoba. Many amendments that originated from the opposition were passed. If an amendment would make the legislation better, why would the government not at least approach it with an open mind?

One of the more appropriate ways to do that would be for a government minister to approach the critics. There should be briefings for the critics to explain what it is the government hopes to do with the legislation. The critics could take that information to members in their caucus. The issues could be debated to see if there could be some changes. We should invite stakeholders outside Parliament to voice their concerns and if, through that consultation process and through the work of the critics and ministerial staff, there are some amendments that would make a better piece of legislation, we should be prepared to accept them.

I have heard other concerns. I do not know how extreme it is, but will students be obligated to get rid of their homework after a certain amount of time? To be honest, I have not had the chance to read every detail in the bill, but a lot of red flags go up the pole when I hear a member of the opposition say that after a certain number of days a student might have to shred the notes that were taken in class. That is worthy of more discussion.

Let us see what sort of amendments might come up. I look forward to the bill going to committee. I look forward to seeing how the government will respond to amendments put forward by the New Democratic Party or the Liberal Party.

One of the benefits of allowing for debate on the bill is that individuals such as myself can get up and express their concerns. Some members are very specific in their concerns. The government has the responsibility to digest what is being said. The government itself can bring in amendments at committee stage. Imagine the goodwill that would be shown if the government were to identify some of those concerns.

I suspect that if we were to check with most Canadians, a number of the concerns that have been raised this afternoon on this bill are quite legitimate. They are definitely worth looking into to see if things can be done to make the bill better. If the government is not prepared to do that, the best thing we could do is go back to the drawing board. Let us look at the reasoned amendment that has been proposed by my colleague.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member was elected toward the end of the last Parliament and as such he may not have followed what went on at the committee. We were hearing from witnesses but unfortunately the time was restricted by the opposition parties. We wanted to meet as much as possible, get through the witness list as quickly as possible and get to the consideration of potential amendments, when opposition parties could have brought forward any amendments they had. We had some great suggestions from a number of the witnesses who brought forward some very specific technical amendments which I think should get some consideration at the committee. I hope to participate in the committee that undertakes the review of this bill, following the committee's consideration, when we get to final consideration of the bill.

There is something I want to ask the member very specifically on the bill. I think he understands the need to pass this bill. I think the Liberal Party largely understands the importance of passing this legislation. John Manley came before our committee. He is a former Liberal industry minister who actually worked on amendments to the bill. I have some sage advice for all members: there is no such thing as a perfect copyright bill; there are too many competing interests. John Manley said not to throw out the good in pursuit of the perfect.

Does the member agree with that?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comment. I assure the member that I could find Conservatives who believe in the Canadian Wheat Board. He points to an example and says that John Manley said that for the most part the legislation is good and we should pass the bill. At the end of the day, if we can make the bill better, why would we not make it better? The member agrees with me on that point.

The bill will go into committee. Unfortunately, I will not be on that committee. I will be around after the bill exits committee and it will be interesting to see to what degree the opposition parties were responsible in bringing forward amendments and to what degree the government was responsible in terms of approaching those amendments with an open mind or bringing forward amendments too.

I have never been a big fan of any form of closure, but I am an optimist and we will just have to wait and see what happens.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, copyright is an incredibly complicated topic. It is very difficult to craft the right balance between consumer access and protecting the rights of creators. However, there is a very real concern that digital locks as would be allowed through this bill would not allow consumers full access to content they have paid for. At the same time, artists who generate more than $1 billion of revenue to our economy and the average artists who make less than $13,000 a year would not be fully compensated for their creative work on which this content relies. This bill could wipe away millions of dollars in revenue that artists ought to be entitled to.

In spite of the fact that the Liberal Party supported digital locks in a previous version of this bill, is the member now saying that his party supports amending the bill and that the Liberals will not be supporting it unless these amendments are incorporated?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the concern that has been raised by the member. I spent a great deal of my time talking about how important it is that we support the industry. Ultimately we could talk about the consumer, but the biggest stakeholders are the local artists. I made reference to one who happened to live in my constituency.

I can assure the member that the Liberal Party supports the industry. We believe it is important that there be balance. That is something which we will fight for here on the floor of the House and in committee. We believe there is a need to improve this legislation. As it currently stands, it is not good enough.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I had the privilege of being on the legislative committee that looked at Bill C-32, the predecessor to Bill C-11. I met with the 132 witnesses and saw the hundreds of written submissions.

I would say that Bill C-11 has a lot of very good and very important things in it. I also feel there were some very good things that were presented by the witnesses representing all sides: the stakeholders, the industry, the artists, as well as the consumers.

What bothered me was that when Bill C-11 was brought forward very recently, it had absolutely no changes in it whatsoever. The Minister of Canadian Heritage said this morning that was done out of respect for the people who had spoken previously. I do not really understand what that means.

Does the member for Winnipeg North share my concern that perhaps we are going through a charade in terms of an exercise here? Nothing was changed between Bill C-32 and Bill C-11, so in the end we are going to end up going through a voting process that will make Bill C-11 the law with absolutely no changes, never mind how many witnesses came and spoke or how many written submissions were presented.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is a valid concern. That was a good part of the presentation that I was hoping to make.

All members in the House will talk about the importance of copyright laws. Within the Liberal Party we will talk about the importance of the industry. I suspect most parties might have a different slant on it, but at the end of the day members want to see balance. The best way to achieve that balance, we believe, is to have listened to some of those 132 presenters and the hundreds of individuals who provided advice on the issue. The government has not necessarily shown that it has done that.

Again, we will wait and see once the bill reaches committee stage. That will be a wonderful opportunity for members of the government to demonstrate to what degree they are listening, whether it was to those who presented before or hopefully to those who were not able to present but might get the chance to present when this bill goes to committee.

Hopefully the government not only will listen but will act on amendments. I look forward to the bill's ultimate return from committee. If the reasoned amendment does not pass, I do not want to predict what is going to take place in this chamber.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to address the issue of whether or not the government is listening. I want to speak about the genesis of this bill, the former Bill C-32.

The government undertook a process where we consulted broadly in major cities right across the country. We had a consultation in Peterborough, where folks came in from Toronto and other places throughout Ontario, but also in Toronto and major centres right across the country. We also received some 8,000 written submissions on the bill and considered them all.

I would hazard to say there is not a single group that has either appeared before the previous committee or in fact had interest in appearing that we did not consider its request and see some of what it was seeking to have addressed in the bill addressed.

Copyright Modernization Act
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4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, as much as I want to give the member the benefit of the doubt, we have to recognize that between the two bills not one change was made, not even a comma.

We will have to wait and see what happens.

Copyright Modernization Act
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4:55 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Shefford.

I stand to speak to Bill C-11, the copyright modernization act, an act that would bring long overdue changes in Canadian copyright law and help us catch up with technological changes and with changes in international standards.

On the face, this is not a riveting topic for most of the public, but, when we go below the surface, it gets even more complex and we find law that even copyright lawyers have trouble understanding. This is an act of great importance to my constituents and to consumers who worry that once they have paid for content they will be unable to do things that they regularly do now, such as back it up, time shift it, shift the content from iPhones to MP3 players or to laptops. They are worried that these things, which have become routine in their daily lives, will be subject to penalties under the law.

It is also important for the creative industries in my riding which play an enormous role in the economy of greater Victoria, both as a part of our culture and being able to know who we are as a community, but also as a part of our vibrant tourist industry and as a job creator.

A study done by the Capital Regional District in 2010 showed that the economic activity of the arts and cultural sector in greater Victoria was worth more than $170 million in net income and that it employed more than 5,400 people. This includes well-established groups like the Victoria Symphony, now in its 29th season and a relatively new kid on the block, and the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra, which was founded in 1997 in the rural part of my riding.

It includes companies like Ballet Victoria, which has been operating very successfully since 2002, and the Canadian Pacific Ballet, which was founded in 2008. It includes probably the longest running community theatre, certainly in British Columbia I think, the Langham Court Theatre, which has been operating since 1929, and the Belfry Theatre, which has been putting on plays since 1980, including premiering more than 158 Canadian productions. It also includes the small theatre company called Intrepid Theatre, which is the group that puts on what is called the Uno Fest for single performer productions and the Fringe Festival since 1986.

It also includes established visual artists, like Robert Bateman, who has just donated $11 million of his work to the Royal Roads University in my riding, and other well-known artists, like my own personal favourite and friend, Phyllis Serota.

In music, it includes national artists, like Nelly Furtado, who come from Victoria, and again, a personal favourite of mine, Children of Celebrities, who some have described as old guys playing enviro-cowboy lounge music. It also includes a lot of new young bands: the Racoons, the Rocky Mountain Rebel Music, Pocket Kings, the Mindil Beach Markets and We Are The City.

Why am I listing all those groups? Those are all groups that are very much concerned about the reform to the Copyright Act and who believe that this needs to take place soon. What they are looking for is a balanced act that will balance the rights of creators, like themselves, to have an income stream from their product, with the rights of consumers who want to be able to purchase that material.

It is also a concern for the very large number of students and faculty members in my riding and in greater Victoria where we have more than 36,000 post-secondary students attending the University of Victoria, Camosun College and Royal Roads University.

In addition, we have new industries in the software area. One particularly famous one is producing online gaming software. Others are working in video games and other software in the computer industry. They are all very much concerned about the same thing, that they will have a constant and secure revenue stream from their creative work, but also that consumers get a fair deal so they will want to purchase their materials.

There is no doubt that we have a need for this new copyright legislation, one that protects intellectual property and one that does so in a way that ensures an income stream for those producers. We also need to ensure that we do not disrupt existing income streams for those working in the creative industries. One of the fears that we have about this bill in its current form is that it may inadvertently threaten the incomes of artists and other creative industry workers. This is critical in a country where the average artist in 2009-10, as my colleague mentioned earlier, earned just under $13,000 a year.

We need to ensure that the revenues generated by new platforms actually flow to the creators of that material and not just to the big media companies, the big movie producers or the big record companies. Those who actually do the creative work need an income stream to continue to do so. We need a balance that ensures the right of creators to be compensated fairly for their work and the right of consumers to have access to the copyrighted material.

I do want the reform to go forward but not as the bill is currently drafted. Like other New Democrats, I will support moving this forward to committee to try to get the needed attention to the flaws in the bill.

A major concern we have on this side is with the digital lock provisions in the bill. As many have mentioned, if the bill goes forward in its present form, Canada will have the most stringent set of digital lock provisions in the entire world. These provisions would include punitive fines of up to $1 million and 5 years in jail for removing digital locks. If we are going to have penalties like this, I would like to see amendments to ensure they actually apply to the pirates who the members on the other side like to point to and not to the ordinary consumer or, particularly, those with disabilities who quite often must have material shifted from one platform to another in order to make use of it.

In amending the bill, we need to ensure that those penalties fall on those who are trying to steal the copyrighted material and not on those who are simply trying to use it in ways that we have all become accustomed in the new digital world.

We also need to ensure that we preserve the concept of fair dealing for journalist. I think that will take extensive amendments to the bill. As I mentioned, for those with disabilities, we need to ensure exemptions are provided for them, particularly for those with visual handicaps who will need an exception from some of the digital lock provisions in the bill.

We also need to ensure that we preserve exemptions for education. I spent 20 years teaching in a post-secondary institution. I am concerned when I see a provision that says that copies produced for educational use will have to self-destroy in five days. I spent 20 years trying to convince my students to start their projects earlier than five days before they were due. Five days is a timeframe that simply does not fit with the kind of work students need to do in their academic careers. We need to ensure, particularly for those who make use of distance education, that they can maintain and use those materials longer than 30 days. This is particularly important in more remote and rural areas where distance education is sometimes the only alternative people have.

Although I am from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca and I talk about greater Victoria, a lot of people at the end of my riding are two and a half hours from downtown. There are people who lack public transit to get into town or get to educational facilities, particularly those who live on reserves in the rural part of my riding. They need the distance education. They need the alternative delivery methods. We need to ensure there are exemptions in the act to protect their access to education.

The New Democrats do not stand alone in our concerns about the details of the act. Experts like Michael Geist and Howard Knopf are both critics of these very strong digital law provisions. We have had more than 80 arts and cultural organizations express their concern about fair compensation for artists. We have had concerns expressed by the Writers Guild of Canada and the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers.

When we come to consider the bill after second reading, I would ask all members to join us at the committee stage in standing up for artists to ensure their income stream continues, for students to ensure they have access to the materials they need for their education and for consumers to ensure they can use material they have already paid for in ways that are non-threatening to producers.

We need to ensure the benefits of the copyright reform flow to the actual creative artists, students and consumers, not just to the major U.S. media companies, the big movie studios and big recording companies. We need to ensure this is a copyright act that benefits ordinary Canadians and those who work hard in our creative industries every day to make this a brighter and better country where we understand each other better through the medium of arts and culture.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Marc-André Morin Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague whether he thinks that this bill will protect creators and artists the same way Bill C-13 will protect refugees by taking away their means of integrating into society and being productive.

Something like a tablet has no value without any content from creators. If people are not protected and compensated for their work, I do not see how our society will be able to advance.