An Act to amend the Copyright Act

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.

Sponsor

Sheila Copps  Liberal

Status

Not active, as of June 18, 2002
(This bill did not become law.)

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2002 / 3:30 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, much has been said by the previous speakers to put into context the purpose of the legislation, namely, to amend the Copyright Act.

Bill C-48 would ensure that retransmitters who benefited from compulsory licensing regained the regime provided for in section 31 of the Copyright Act. It would ensure other retransmitters met the conditions prescribed by regulation. It would also ensure parity and fairness throughout the regulatory regime.

There were issues pertaining to fairness. There was concern that the bill include regulations to prevent loopholes and ensure that individuals could not make use of new technologies to rob those who provide the service. I am talking particularly of television stations; entities such as the NHL, CFL and other sporting organizations; and the movie industry.

The spirit of co-operation on the committee and the amount of input we received in a relatively short period was extraordinary. I give kudos to the parliamentary secretary, the chair of the committee, all members of the Bloc, and a particular member who put a great deal of extraordinary effort into ensuring the proper balance was met.

We in the Progressive Conservative Party support the amendments and the bill. Bill C-48 came about as a result of a great deal of co-operation and effort. Members united to do the right thing and put in place a proper regulatory regime to protect everyone and ensure all the industry interests were met.

If I may echo the sentiments of my hon. colleague from Nova Scotia, there is no doubt that we will be required to come back and re-examine some of the issues as technology and the industry evolve. However this is where we want to be at this point. We in our party support the effort. I again congratulate all fellow committee members.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2002 / 3:25 p.m.
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NDP

Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Or no hair at all. However the process is essential if we are to protect creators' rights.

In the legislation which continues to be changed and amended we must respect some of the central principles on which our broadcasting policy, our heritage policy and the pillars of the country are based. As we move along we must make sure the legislation would continue to respect Canadian content as new technologies came onstream and became new platforms for broadcasting. We must make sure there would be no loopholes and that the playing field would be level for all broadcasters in Canada. This must be done to ensure all creators in the country would continue to be covered by our copyright legislation and enjoy the same rights. We must make sure their work would be valued and compensated whether it appeared on the Internet, on the radio, in the print media or wherever.

With respect to the issue of putting money into Canadian content and such things as the Canadian broadcast fund, we must make sure environments such as the Internet or whatever follows the Internet would not somehow be exempt from the licensing fees used to nurture Canadian content.

These are important principles we in the New Democratic Party will be paying attention to as we continue to work through the copyright legislation. We will give our endorsement to Bill C-48 as a tiny step along the route of copyright protection. We will see where it goes from here.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2002 / 3:25 p.m.
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NDP

Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, I will speak briefly to Bill C-48. The NDP is in favour of the principle of the bill: Owners of copyright should be fairly compensated for their work.

Bill C-48 would be a start toward closing the loopholes in the copyright process that have been created by new technologies. It is the first in a series of copyright bills the departments of industry and heritage will be proposing to modernize our copyright laws as technology and globalization change the environment for creators of copyrighted products.

The list of issues to be tackled over the next few years is enormous. Bill C-48 is a small piece in the copyright puzzle. We must deal with: access issues; ownership of audio-visual works and photographs; database protection; digital issues; government ownership and use of copyrighted works; performers' rights; rights management in an online environment; site signal rights for broadcasters; technology enhancing learning; terms of protection; traditional knowledge and folklore; transitional periods for unpublished works; and Internet retransmission of broadcast programs which is what we are dealing with at present.

This will be an extremely complex and time consuming process. I can assure hon. members that we will all have grey hair if we are sitting in the heritage committee after having gone through each of these areas.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2002 / 3:05 p.m.
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Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to give some more context to Bill C-48, for those who are following and who want to understand the issue.

This bill that we are debating at third reading would establish supplementary regulatory powers so that new distribution systems, specifically the Internet, could retransmit programs if they respect the conditions and provisions of the Copyright Act.

The bill would also allow distribution systems that are already in place, such as satellite and cable companies, to continue to retransmit radio or television programs by paying royalties set by the Copyright Board and by respecting the conditions set out in the Copyright Act.

Are retransmitters subject to the Copyright Act? This was the question the committee worked very hard on.

First, allow me to say that the Bloc Quebecois supports the principle of this bill, knows as Bill C-48. We heard from a number of witnesses in committee who were very concerned about the current legal vacuum, which leaves the door wide open to various different uses of works, authors and artists, without royalties being paid to those who own the rights.

This situation, as it exists today, creates opportunities to abuse the work of artists. In Quebec and in other provinces, there have been protracted battles to protect the works of artists.

Previously, rights were purchased through negotiations between the parties. This situation was in effect until the arrival of iCrave TV, in December 1999, which began broadcasting programs on the Internet. This company gave Internet users direct access to nine Canadian television signals and eight American television signals.

These signals were captured in the Toronto area, converted to an Internet compatible format, then put on the Internet, where they were made available outside of Canada, including in the US.

This situation called into question the various agreements signed by Canada, including the Berne convention and NAFTA. It did not take long for opponents to speak up.

Alleging violation of copyright, numerous groups representing a variety of stakeholders, including the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, Disney Enterprises, Paramount Pictures, Time Warner and Universal Studios sued iCrave TV, or threatened to do so.

In February 2000, a U.S. court granted an interim injunction against iCrave TV, prohibiting it from sending signals to the United States. Unfortunately, no Canadian court has had an opportunity to rule on the matter because, in late February, the company gave in to legal pressure and ceased its activities. In return, all charges against it were dropped. It even withdrew its application to the Canadian Copyright Board for a interim retransmission tariff.

Next, a Montreal company, Jump TV, tried to launch a similar service but, unlike its predecessor, it obtained all the necessary legal approvals.

Why did it give up on its plans? Since its applications could not be approved as is, it hoped to pay the same obligatory licence fees as pay-per-view TV, i.e. pay them after broadcasting only, pay a lower percentage for copyright, not be subject to Canadian content, and not contribute to the Canadian Television Fund.

It was in this context that the company dropped its plans as presented in late 2001. It withdrew its application to the copyright board because it had understood that its business plan would not pass muster and that it could therefore not meet all the conditions required of other broadcasting copyright holders.

Apparently, these two cases woke the government up to the fact that it was becoming necessary to provide a framework for this kind of activity.

The basic purpose of the bill is to prevent a potential Internet retransmitter from being able to broadcast programs outside Canada or, if it is broadcasting within Canada, to make it subject to the same rules as broadcasters or cable companies.

We must remember that a large share of the revenues generated by the producers of broadcasts comes from the resale of broadcasting rights abroad. The threat of the Internet is therefore real and could have a considerable negative impact, not just on authors, but also on partners of the distribution network.

In Canada, the CRTC excluded the Internet highway from its jurisdiction in 1999, so that only the Copyright Board can set royalties.

If the law were not amended, authors or their representatives would have to engage in legal battles to get back their share of royalties. The only ones who would get rich on this would be the lawyers and the law firms, not the authors.

If the regime that applied had been compulsory licensing, what would the consequences have been for stakeholders? Bill C-48 set out a compulsory licensing system for retransmitters.

That said, section 31 did not include any definition. Instead, the conditions set out in the regulations would have been what established certain mechanisms for this compulsory licensing, which I could explain as follows: the communication was to consist in retransmission of a local or distant signal, which allowed Canadian broadcasters to charge a worthwhile rate for commercial rights to their programs, one that was beneficial for both themselves and the authors.

There was also the fact that retransmission had to be legal under the Broadcasting Act, for if it were excluded from the provisions adopted by the CRTC, how could they be asked to participate in the broadcasting system, if none of the regulations applied?

The signal was to be retransmitted simultaneously and in its entirety. If it is not, transmitters could, for example, end up with a broadcast sponsored by Yoplait yoghurt, that is suddenly replaced by messages from Danone.

In the case of retransmission of a distant signal—

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2002 / 3 p.m.
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Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely delighted to rise today to speak on the third reading of Bill C-48. This is a piece of legislation that went to committee, was amended at report stage and received unanimous support from all parties of the House. We are delighted to be here today at third reading. It also shows, as my dear colleague, the vice-chair, the hon. member for Toronto--Danforth, has always said, that we as parliamentarians need to have impact on public policy.

Very quickly I want to tell the House why some amendments were made, why they were the right amendments and why we are pleased to have them supported today by both the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Industry.

Section 31 of the Copyright Act is what Bill C-48 deals with. This is about a compulsory retransmission licence. Some people might wonder what that means and why it is important. It addresses whether or not Internet transmitters should be allowed to retransmit and rebroadcast over the air radio and television signals without properly compensating the rights holders.

The legislation that was proposed was originally enabling legislation which would lead the determination of whether there should be an exemption or whether the Internet provider should have a compulsory licence exemption as well. We as a committee decided that it was very important to put a new media exemption in the legislation. We agreed to that for many reasons. We think it is the right thing to do. It brings into balance all the rights holders and the broadcasters. It addresses those rights. It addresses concerns of the Americans. We feel that the committee as a whole has made good public policy by currently putting this media exemption into the act.

Having said that, let me say that both ministers also advised the committee that they would ask the CRTC to reconsider its 1999 new media exemption. The CRTC will continue to do that and will report back to the committee, at which time both ministers have agreed that should draft regulations and conditions be brought forward so that if Internet retransmitters such as Jump TV, or iCraveTV in the United States, want to qualify, we would be able to do so.

With this legislation today, I think we have shown how all the members of a committee can work together for the benefit of good public policy. I want to thank the chair, the vice-chair and all the members of the committee for their hard work. I want to thank the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Canadian Heritage for their support and for listening to the committee. I know that we will continue to work together as regulations go and as the CRTC reviews its exemption order. Should we one day find that we do allow Internet retransmitters to have the benefit of a licence, I look forward to doing so, but after we as a government have looked at those regulations.

Once again I am delighted to be able thank all members of the committee for their great work. We look forward to passing the legislation immediately.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2002 / 3 p.m.
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Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

moved that Bill C-48, an act to amend the Copyright Act, be read the third time and passed.

Business of the HousePoints of Order

June 18th, 2002 / 3 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there has been consultation among all parties in the House. I hope representatives of all parties are listening to this. I move:

That, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practice, Bill C-48, an act to amend the Copyright Act, be deemed to have been concurred in at report stage, and that the House shall proceed forthwith to consideration of the third reading stage of the said bill, which shall be disposed of after no more than one speaker from each recognized party has spoken in debate thereon.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 18th, 2002 / 10:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

Pursuant to its order of reference dated Friday, February 22, your committee has considered Bill C-48, an act to amend the Copyright Act, and agreed on Monday, June 17 to report it with amendment.

First Nations Governance ActGovernment Orders

June 17th, 2002 / 4 p.m.
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Liberal

Dennis Mills Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to be on the record on this bill for a few moments because in my parliamentary career some of the happiest moments I have had have been working with the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and working with my friends the Cree when the minister of the western Arctic and I spent time in 1990 in the northern part of James Bay. Recently we held our first summit on water at the Mohawk Reserve in Wahta the Parry Sound-Muskoka region. Also, my seatmate for many years from Kenora--Rainy River was elevated to the status of Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

When we are in the House for many years, we learn to know the members of parliaments, their ridings, backgrounds and passions. I have grown over the years to know that the minister responsible for the file has deep roots within the first nations community. As many members probably know, and the public and the media should know, there are over 60 different bands in the riding of Kenora--Rainy River. Therefore the minister brings to this file an extraordinary amount of knowledge and experience in dealing with first nations.

In fact, the Prime Minister has, as a major part of his legacy, a special relationship with first nations. I find the idea that legislation would come before this House that would be insensitive and not deal with first nations in a way that is proper strange. After what I had seen happen in the media over the last few days, I decided to speak to Chief Matthew Coon Come. Lo and behold some real genuine tension exists on this file.

Thank goodness in the last few days the Prime Minister said that this bill would go to committee and that there would be amendments to it before second reading. The minister said that earlier today. It is very important we understand, Canadians understand and all first nations people understand that the bill in its current form will not stay the same if everything we hear from first nations people is listened to when they appear before the committee.

Rather than creating an environment where a tension and a gap develops, it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that both parliamentarians and the leadership and friends in first nations understand that there is a real genuine opportunity here to ensure that this bill is put into a form that can work.

A member asked a very good question? Why do we not wait until the fall to deal with the bill? The reaction and the exercise we have experienced in the House in the last few days, where members of the opposition have been very constructive and creative in their ideas, will press the nerve of the entire system in a constructive way so that when we do go to committee before second reading I think there will be a much higher level of attentiveness. As well, I think the level of listening will be a lot greater.

This happens on many bills in this House, especially in the last few weeks. We all know that over the last few years there has been a pendulum toward devolving the governing of this country to unelected officials. Most of us are coming to a realization that our roles here are becoming diminished as every week passes. I believe that pendulum has hit the wall.

I have noticed in committees in the last few weeks that more and more parliamentarians from all sides have been creative and constructive, and major portions of bills have been altered. On Bill C-48, the copyright act, a few minutes ago a recommendation by the Canadian Alliance to have it carved out on Internet retransmission was unanimously accepted by all parties. That went against the entire will of the public service. I have seen that happen more and more. I think this bill will go through the same experience.

It is very important to understand that when legislation like this comes to the House, it does not come here to make things to be worse for people, its intent is to make the lives of first nations better.

When we read the title of the bill, the first nations governance act and the purposes of it are very noble and constructive. However the reality is that the process in getting to that point is not going to be supported by some of those leaders in first nations who we all respect. We also realize that there are many in the first nations community who do like the bill. However the exercise of examining the bill in a totally open, constructive way will happen and any attempts to create a situation where we will be closed minded is not really accurate. That is what I leave with the House.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

June 13th, 2002 / 3:05 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I understand that many members would have suggestions about the government business over the next few days. However, in the absence of hearing all that, I will inform the House of the following.

We will continue this afternoon tomorrow with the following: Bill C-53, the pesticide legislation, to be followed by Bill C-58, the Canada pension plan investment board bill and any time remaining on Bill C-55, the public safety bill.

On Monday we will begin with a motion by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to refer to committee before second reading the bill on first nations governance that he will introducing tomorrow, notice of which is already on the order paper. We would then turn to report stage and third reading of Bill C-54, respecting sports. We would then turn to the specific claims bill introduced earlier today and any business left from this week, that is the bills I named a moment ago.

We would also like to debate report stage and third reading hopefully of Bill C-48, the copyright legislation and, subject to some progress, I would also like to resume consideration at second reading of Bill C-57, the nuclear safety bill.

In addition, it would be the wish of the government to dispose of the motion to establish a special joint committee to review proposals made concerning the code of conduct for parliamentarians.

This is the list of legislation that I would like to see completed over the next several days.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 6:25 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will restate clearly and unequivocally that the Canadian Alliance is committed to protecting and preserving Canada's natural environment and endangered species.

As I have said in the House many times, my wife and I lived by a lake in the Rocky Mountains where we brought up a wonderful family of three children. We are completely committed to the natural environment. We are committed to endangered species at a personal level. That is also the position of our party.

However the process has been highly frustrating. This is the third incarnation of the species at risk act. In every process, this one included, we have heard legitimate and intelligent input from stakeholders and experts who are deeply concerned about the issues and have brought their concerns to committee. In every instance the environment minister of the day has turned back their common sense proposals. On May 2 the hon. member for Sarnia--Lambton was quoted in the London Free Press as saying:

Of course there is (frustration) with the system...Why do committees exist? It's to be a counterbalance, and it's fundamentally flawed, wrong and improper when the work of a committee can be undone by a minister at his own whim.

I agree with the Liberal member completely. Another Liberal, the hon. member for Thunder Bay--Superior North, is quoted in the same article. He stated:

We all go through the process at times at the committee level of getting the recommendation put in and the minister's department doesn't see fit to include them and, yeah, there's always that frustration.

There is a tad of frustration, and not just on this side of the House. A May 2 Ottawa Citizen article stated:

Environmental groups and certain MPs were focusing their efforts yesterday on winning one last concession from the government before the bill comes to a vote. They want the bill to guarantee the protection of the critical habitat of endangered species on federal land.

The Citizen article quoted the hon. member for York North who has been involved with these issues for a long time. She said:

I think it's important that we find a bill that protects habitat for species...I believe that we're moving towards a resolution of that issue and I'm looking forward to seeing that in the bill.

Interestingly, the same article quoted the environment minister who was asked if he would agree to such a change. He gave a two letter, one word answer: “No”, he would not change. What has changed between then and now? What has changed with the people involved in the issue such as the hon. members I mentioned, the hon. member for Davenport and others? Liberal backbenchers have succumbed to the pressure of the government and will permit this badly flawed piece of legislation to go through.

The Canadian Alliance is committed to protecting and preserving Canada's natural environment and endangered species. However Bill C-5 would not do that. It would not even come close. Why is that? There are many flaws in the bill but one primary flaw: It would not work without guaranteeing fair and reasonable compensation for property owners and resource users who suffer losses. Farmers, ranchers and other property owners want to protect endangered species but should not be forced to do so at the expense of their own livelihoods.

The government wants to amend Bill C-5 to reverse many of the positions taken by its own MPs on the environment committee. It is another example of top down control from the Prime Minister's office. It again shows the contempt in which the government holds members of parliament.

As I stated at the outset, in all instances there has been input by interested parties. One of the most interesting was the Species at Risk Working Group otherwise known by the acronym SARWG. The group issued a joint statement of principle. The statement was so good, profound and sound it could have been used as a foundation for any good species at risk act. Instead this diverse group had its interventions fundamentally ignored.

Landowners, land users and rural residents whom I represent would bear the brunt of the species at risk act. Motion No. 109 would eliminate the requirement to develop regulations for compensation. Compensation is not an extra. It is essential to the entire framework of protecting endangered species. For instruction on the issue we should look to countries with legislation that does provide adequate protection for landowners, which ensures that they and other land users are encouraged rather than penalized for looking after species at risk.

Compensation would not only ensure landowners and resource users did not single-handedly bear all the costs of protecting species. It would send an important symbolic message that the government understood their fears and recognized the need to take their interests into account.

The government will not even commit to developing a regulatory framework. Consistently in the House we are faced with skeleton laws made by the Liberal government, laws that have only the basic outline of what is expected. The regulations, the meat on the bones, are turned over to the bureaucracy and are completely out of the control of the people elected to this place to represent their constituents and the people of Canada.

The minister says he hopes to have draft general regulations ready for public review and comment soon after royal assent. That is not good enough by a long shot. How helpful is that? It should be available now for the House to debate. The minister acts as if providing a few regulatory scraps is evidence of his gracious benevolence. After all, it is not required. He can do it if he feels like it.

This is exactly like a bill we are considering in the heritage committee. Bill C-48 has to do with copyright. It too is nothing more than a skeleton law. We do not know what the regulations will be. The Minister of Industry and the Minister of Canadian Heritage wrote letters to the committee telling it to pass it as is. They told the committee to get the bill through so it could be enacted. They said once it was enacted the government would come back to committee sometime in the next year with the regulations. That is not good enough. Bill C-10, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act which has just passed the Senate, is exactly the same thing. It is also a skeleton bill.

We are charged not only by our constituents but by all the people of Canada with responsibility for bringing forward good laws and legislation that people understand and that we can vote for intelligently. However in Bill C-5 there are again no regulations. There is no meat on the bones. The way the Liberals consistently deal with legislation is unacceptable. It holds the entire institution of the House of Commons in contempt. Government Motion No. 109 would weaken the law. Subclause 64(2) of Bill C-5 currently reads:

The Governor in Council shall--

Shall is the important word.

--make regulations that the Governor in Council considers necessary for carrying out the purposes and provisions of subsection (1), including regulations--

What did the government do? Did it strengthen the wording? There is no way to strengthen the word shall so the government changed it to may. The government said it might get around to it. It does not care if it weakens the law.

I appeal to the hon. member for Davenport and the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis, for whom I have tremendously high personal regard, to take another look at the bill in good conscience. They should realize it would not protect endangered species, something I know they want as much as I do.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

June 6th, 2002 / 3:05 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I do not usually comment on the content of question period. We all have our own views of how good or bad they were. I will instead refer to the government's legislative program.

This afternoon and this evening we will consider the business of supply with the opposed motions and so on. That takes place as it does normally, with the later completion of the appropriations bill.

Tomorrow we will do the following business. I would like to first call Bill C-53, the pest control bill, at report stage. Once that is completed we will then call Bill C-55, the public safety legislation. I believe those two bills should complete the day tomorrow.

Next Monday it is my intention to call the report stage of Bill C-5 and third reading of Bill C-5 on Tuesday.

On Wednesday of next week and/or after the completion of Bill C-5, I would then call Bill S-41 respecting legislative language. We will consider at that point an address to Her Majesty concerning the jubilee.

Once that is completed, and in the event the House wants to continue with other business, the bills I would call next Tuesday, subject of course to consultation between House leaders, would probably be the following: Bill C-19, the environmental protection legislation; Bill C-48, the copyright bill; and possibly Bill C-54, the sports bill which I understand should be out of committee sometime within the next short while.

That is the business I propose to call after we complete the address to Her Majesty that I described.

I also intend to consult with opposition House leaders to see if it is still their wish to hold the take note debate next Wednesday on the future of Canada's health care system.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

May 23rd, 2002 / 3:05 p.m.
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Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, we shall continue this afternoon with the debate on the opposition motion. Tomorrow, we will return to Bill C-56, respecting reproductive technologies, followed by Bill C-55, the public safety bill, and Bill C-15B, the criminal code amendments. On Monday, we will continue consideration of these bills.

Tuesday will be an allotted day. In the evening on Tuesday, as the House already knows, we will sit in committee of the whole pursuant to Standing Order 81(4)(a) to consider the estimates of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

On Wednesday, if necessary, we will return to any of the bills I have previously mentioned that may not already been completed, subject to arrangements we may make to deal with the Senate amendments to Bill C-23, the competition legislation, Bill S-34, dealing with royal assent, and perhaps Bill C-5 concerning species at risk. We are also hopeful that Bill C-54, the sports bill, and Bill C-53, the pest control bill, will be reported from committee in the very near future, so that we may take up report stage and third reading of those particular items.

Finally, we are also looking forward to reports from committees of the House on two other bills that have been in committee for what would appear to be an inordinate length of time, namely, Bill C-48 dealing with copyright, which has been before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage for more than three months now, and Bill C-19, the amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which is fast approaching its first anniversary before the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. I am sure the House is anxiously awaiting the reports of those committees so that legislation can be proceeded with through its final stages.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

February 22nd, 2002 / 1:30 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Madam Speaker, I do not have a problem with wrapping up the debate on this issue.

As I was saying, we do have some concerns with the bill in terms of regulations. Time and time again we see the notion of regulations that will be developed after the fact and we do not always get a chance to see them at committee.

My colleague from Fundy--Royal pointed out to me that it is similar to the situation that has gone on with the species at risk bill and many other bills in this place. This actually came up in private members' business yesterday with the motion we debated in terms of parliamentary reform. We need to look at and streamline our procedures. One of them has to do with the whole area of regulations. The government takes this route to define after the fact through regulations what will actually be the intent of the legislation. I and, I believe, my colleagues in the coalition share those concerns as well.

The legislation continues to protect the interests of those who are currently defined as retransmitters under section 31, including cable and satellite providers in Canada and the United States. The bill will amend that definition so that new entrants, such as Internet based retransmitters and any other currently unforeseen technology based retransmitters, will be able to qualify for the compulsory redistribution licence. As I said earlier, the bill does not define the qualifying conditions that the Internet based distribution systems will need to meet in order to receive the compulsory licence. These conditions will be required in order to rebroadcast programs but will be defined at a later date through regulations which I addressed earlier.

I want to talk about some of the comments the minister made. I appreciate that the minister was here to deliver a speech. I did have some questions for her which I did not get a chance to ask openly in the House, but I think they are questions she would be more than willing to answer perhaps in another format. I will put them on the record for her.

One of them is that the bill has been designed to address a loophole in the Copyright Act. Another loophole currently exists in terms of broadcasting. It has to do with what is called the grey market and the black market in satellite transmissions that originate in the United States and which are received here in Canada by individuals, many of them living close to the United States. A vast number of our people live close to the Canada-U.S. border. Individuals are able to buy satellite technology here in Canada to receive the beams being sent from the United States.

The same bypassing that the bill addresses in terms of Internet rebroadcasting is happening with Canadian content over foreign signals received in Canada that are basically unauthorized. Our playwrights, our producers and the people who work in the industry, and as the minister outlined, I think she said that there are 130,000 or so, are not getting their due.

I would ask the minister if she would endeavour, in the same way that she has moved forward on the bill, to move forward quickly to close this other loophole as well. All the arguments that she made in her speech, and I agree with most of them, are arguments that can be made in terms of this other loophole having to do with the satellite transmissions that originate from the United States and which are received in an unauthorized manner here in Canada.

I might add that individuals in Canada who have this technology are mainly doing so under the assumption that it is legal and proper because of the way these products are being distributed. We need to address that and see if we can get a similar resolution to that as this bill attempts to address.

I asked the minister this question once in committee and she did respond to it. This has more to do with the Broadcasting Act and it is the issue of foreign ownership. I asked her whether the government would be willing to consider a review at least of our foreign ownership policy so that our Canadian broadcasters could compete, not only head to head with each other here in Canada but also internationally. I think we have seen more and more competition arising, but they are not only competing with broadcasters in Canada but with a very large market south of us in the United States. In order to compete globally they need access to capital. They need the ability to compete. It is certainly something that needs to be addressed.

The heritage committee has been studying the Broadcasting Act and many individuals have provided us with briefs and opinions. This has been a worthwhile process. All parties are working co-operatively in committee, as often happens. However, the disappointing part of working co-operatively in committee is that over and over again at the end when the report is finished, the government either changes the recommendations or puts them on the shelf. Members of the heritage committee hope that will not happen with the Broadcasting Act review which we are undertaking. We hope the government will seriously consider the proposals being made.

I have wavered a bit from Bill C-48, but we are generally supportive of the bill. We urge the minister to move forward in a similar fashion to address the grey market and black market areas of satellite broadcasting as well. We look forward to seeing the regulations. We look forward to dealing with the bill when it gets to committee and to solve the problem hopefully sooner rather than later.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

February 22nd, 2002 / 1:25 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to also join in the debate on this important bill. I want to commend my colleagues for their speeches as well.

We know that our colleague who just spoke is a well known playwright in Canada and we applaud her contributions in that area. She brings a unique perspective to the heritage committee and always has a lot of valuable comments to make on these topics.

In fact, Bill C-48, an act to amend the Copyright Act, in many ways would have applications to the producers and the writers of Canadian content. It is important that we close the loophole that allows rebroadcasting, through Internet technologies, of Canadian content in a way that was never designed to happen. That is why those of us in the coalition are generally supportive of Bill C-48 because it addresses a problem that has come about mainly because of the development of technology in this area.

We also share some of the concerns that have been addressed by colleagues from the Alliance and from the Bloc in terms of regulations. We see quite often that--