An Act to amend the Radiocommunication Act

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in May 2004.

Sponsor

Status

Not active, as of Feb. 17, 2004
(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.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

May 5th, 2004 / 3:05 p.m.
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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 81(14), to inform the House that the motion to be considered tomorrow during consideration of the business of supply is as follows:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should propose, before the dissolution of the House, an employment insurance reform along the lines of the 17 recommendations contained in the unanimous report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, entitled “Beyond Bill C-2: A Review of Other Proposals to Reform Employment Insurance”.

This motion, standing in the name of the hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, is not votable. Copies of the motion are available at the table.

I have received notice from the hon. member for Saskatoon—Wanuskewin that he is unable to move his motion during private members' hour on Thursday, May 6, 2004. It has not been possible to arrange an exchange of positions in the order of precedence. Accordingly, I am directing the table officers to drop that item of business to the bottom of the order of precedence. Private members' hour will thus be cancelled and the House will continue with the business before it prior to private members' hour.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

April 30th, 2004 / 12:05 p.m.
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Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to have the following motion passed:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should bring forward, before the dissolution of the House, a reform of the employment insurance plan to implement the 17 recommendations contained in the unanimous report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, entitled “Beyond Bill C-2: a Review of Other Proposals to Reform Employment Insurance”.

Do I have unanimous consent?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

April 28th, 2004 / 2:45 p.m.
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NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, in 2001 all political parties unanimously adopted the report entitled “Beyond Bill C-2”, which proposed 17 recommendations to reform employment insurance. For three years the government has been ignoring this report and has done nothing to help the unemployed. Now, on the eve of an election, the government claims it is worried about this problem and suggests that it will be making changes to employment insurance.

After three years of arrogantly ignoring the people in need, what changes does the government intend to make to the employment insurance system and when will it make them?

Radiocommunication ActGovernment Orders

February 17th, 2004 / 5:45 p.m.
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The Speaker

Pursuant to order made on Friday, February 13, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the referral to committee before second reading of Bill C-2.

Act to amend the Radiocommunication ActGovernment Orders

February 13th, 2004 / 10:10 a.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for that. I was reading off my notes and made an honest mistake. I took offence because I was being shouted down by another member of the House. I apologize for naming an individual. I should have said the former minister of finance, the member for LaSalle--Émard. I apologize for that.

To wrap up, I do want to impress upon members that before Bill C-2 moves forward we need to clear up the issue of access to grey market products. That is very important. That should be the very first step because it is important to build Canada through our cultural diversity. That is what connects many people to information abroad, whether it is English language programming, whether it is Christian programming, or whether it is Middle Eastern programming like Al Jazeera. All these things have been asked for at the CRTC but there has been no response.

The government needs to solve that first as opposed to further criminalizing people for making sure that they have those elements that are so important to their lifestyles. Quite frankly, it could be accessed through other mediums we already have, such as the Internet or as in other communities by putting up regular airwaves. This needs to be resolved right away before the government moves forward. Nothing else will do.

Act to amend the Radiocommunication ActGovernment Orders

February 13th, 2004 / 10:05 a.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today to address Bill C-2, an act to amend the Radiocommunication Act.

I had an opportunity to review some of the debate in which I took part earlier in the week and I want to make a few points.

First, I want to focus on and at least highlight the bill in terms of what it does for consumers and the telecommunications industry. The government rationale behind the bill is to protect investments made by the broadcasting industry and the integrity of the broadcasting system as a whole by fighting satellite piracy. To do so, the bill will target unauthorized dealers and the pirating of signals.

In particular, the government wants current changes it deems necessary to stop the sale and distribution of devices used to decode encrypted direct to home satellite signals without authorization. It is an excellent example of the government not taking the proper steps on an issue that is going to lead to confrontation in Canadian society and is the reason I do not support the bill being moved to committee at this time.

To be specific, the problem is that the bill is coming forward without dealing with the issue of satellite access to many cultural and other programs that are currently available abroad to different communities out there, providing those opportunities for people to purchase into the systems. They will now be further criminalized by the bill if they are accessing products and services that are not available legally in this country. I think the government should have been honest and should have actually worked on producing those access points for Canadians, be it for cultural or other types of programming for which people have been clamouring and which keeps them in connection with the community.

A report that came out of the Canadian heritage committee identified this issue. It was a report about the black and grey satellite market: “Maintaining a Single System”. In chapter 16 the committee recommended:

--that the CRTC permit Canadian broadcasting distribution undertakings to offer a wider range of international programming, while being respectful of Canadian content regulations.

Now the government has come forward with this bill, which will further criminalize people for keeping in touch with their cultural communities.

I noticed in Hansard that previous supporters of the bill seem to be falling back on the whole issue of protecting artists and broadcasting integrity in Canada to ensure that those individuals receive funds and the proper recognition they deserve for their products, and to encourage our Canadian culture to flourish. That is very suspect, with the government's past.

I want to be very clear about this. If a person is in the black market system and is stealing a signal that is legally available in Canada, we should stop that. We should have punishment for those individuals. Whether it is Bell ExpressVu, Shaw or whatever is currently available in Canada, it should not be an option for people to steal the signal and they should be punished accordingly for that. The problem is in that grey market where the services are not available. This also provides a good connection for individuals and communities to reach back to their former homelands, to have education and entertainment and that connection. Those individuals will now be further criminalized into that black market. I cannot support the bill for that reason.

The government is falling back on the whole notion that the bill will improve the access for artists to be able to receive funds and to make sure Canadian content prospers, but it is not really an improvement on its past practices. We recently had a motion put forward by the member for Dartmouth from our party which called for a tax deduction for artists. That would have been far better for those artists. The government voted against that and stopped the motion from going forward.

One of the main issues that we have to identify is how to provide people with the actual access to those cultural programs. In my community of Windsor, we have many people accessing programs which they would access in a legal way if they were provided the opportunity to do so. They could do so and pay into a system that supports Canadian culture. They would all be happy to do that and would support it.

We have to wonder where this issue is going. We look at the fact that Bell ExpressVu Canada and Shaw Communications have contributed over $320,000 to the Liberal Party and Paul Martin's leadership campaign--

Act to amend the Radiocommunication ActGovernment Orders

February 13th, 2004 / 10:05 a.m.
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Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalDeputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank all my colleagues for their cooperation today. As expected, the House leaders of all parties came to an agreement on Tuesday.

Discussions have taken place between the parties concerning the taking of the division on the motion to refer Bill C-2 to committee before second reading, which is scheduled for right now. I believe that if you were to seek it you would find unanimous consent for the following:

That at the conclusion of today's debate on Bill C-2, if a recorded division is requested on the motion of referral to committee before second reading, the said vote shall be deferred until 5:30 p.m on Tuesday, February 17, 2004.

Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

February 9th, 2004 / 5:35 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-2 is part of the government's overall agenda. Perhaps the hon. member would understand the linkage I am making, if he would came out from hiding behind the gargantuan podium that he seems to be squirrelling behind back there.

Bill C-2 and my conversation of what I am saying about the bill is entirely appropriate. The motion we are talking about is the reinstatement of government bills. Bill C-2 was a government bill that was reinstated in a different format this morning, I will grant the member that. However, I am having a conversation here and putting on the record my thoughts about Bill C-2 and the overall government agenda, which is entirely appropriate.

If the member wishes me to address it more broadly, I would be more than prepared to do that. The Prime Minister was the choice of the member for Etobicoke North who stood up on a point of order. As was saying the beginning, this Prime Minister ran for Prime Minister of Canada stabbing the former prime minister in the back, saying that there were three reasons why he--

Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

February 9th, 2004 / 5:35 p.m.
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

As a matter of fact, the member spoke on Bill C-2 this morning. I still have to warn the member that we are still awaiting anxiously for him to tie up the previous remarks to government business Motion No. 2, and that is under the principle of reinstating bills.

Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

February 9th, 2004 / 5:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I thought we were debating the reinstatement of bills, not Bill C-2. I thought we debated Bill C-2 earlier on in the day, and now we are on to the motion on the reinstatement of bills. I thought the member might be off topic. Perhaps he was not here this morning and he realized he should be debating this main motion.

Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

February 9th, 2004 / 5:25 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will not be splitting my time, as I think might have been indicated to you earlier.

It is a pleasure to stand and speak on this, but unfortunately we are not dealing with new substantive policy questions or even, frankly, some substantive policy questions that are of real and predominant concern to my constituents or to the entire province of British Columbia.

In fact, the whole idea of bringing back old government legislation and not bringing forward anything new is probably awkward for a lot of Canadians who are watching this debate here today and who will be paying attention in the coming months as we head into an election campaign. They look to this House to get a sense of what the parties are about, of what makes us different and of how the current and new Prime Minister, the member for LaSalle—Émard and the former finance minister, is really any different from the former prime minister, whom he pushed out of office in what a political science professor described to me two days ago as a civilized coup d'état.

If we ask the average everyday Canadian for the three reasons why the current Prime Minister replaced the old prime minister at the Liberal convention in Toronto just a few months ago, I think most people would say the current Prime Minister pushed out the old prime minister for three broad reasons, number one being that the old prime minister had been around too long, that he was too old and it was time for him to go. In point of fact, the current Prime Minister is about the same age as the former.

The second reason given for why we had to get rid of the old prime minister is that there is a democratic deficit in the country and it has to be addressed. That was reason number two why we had to get the current Prime Minister into that chair as soon as we possibly could. The reality is that the current Prime Minister is engaged in his own dramatic democratic deficit by not allowing for the free sale of memberships in the Liberal Party of Canada, by not respecting the votes that we have had in the House in the past, by invoking closure in his first couple weeks in the House as the current prime minister, by not allowing provinces to elect their own senators, by not allowing free votes on gun legislation and a whole host of things.

Therefore, these were three arguments about why he should have been prime minister. First, the old prime minister was too old; he is the same age. The second reason is that the democratic deficit needs to be addressed; he has failed on that count already. The third reason he said that he had to be prime minister was that we had to have this new deal for cities, a new agenda, a new grand, big vision idea for cities. The reality is what we saw in the throne speech: he does not have a new deal for cities. There is no new grand vision for cities and municipalities in the country. What he proposed and in fact delivered in the throne speech, eventually through order in council, is that municipalities in the country will be allowed to get their GST rebated back to them effective February 1, 2004.

This is what that means, for example, for a city like the city of Port Coquitlam, which will be the largest city in the new riding of Port Moody--North Coquitlam. If it bought some new sand and salting trucks and spent $50,000 on those trucks, it would pay about 4% GST, normally, because municipalities do not pay the full freight. The government is now going to rebate the city the full GST. And that is it for the average mayor who was promised a big new deal.

Again, when we hear the words “new deal” a lot of people hearken back to FDR. We think of a grand vision, a new deal, a Marshall plan type of macro economic approach or a really dramatic central piece of legislation that dramatically changes the way the government functions or the economy is shifting or the government's relation to its citizens. But in fact, the new deal for cities that this Prime Minister put forward is really nothing. All it is, is a further GST rebate that further complicates the tax code, makes the GST less efficient than it was before and does not give to municipalities the steady stream of financing that they were expecting when the Prime Minister promised them a new deal for cities.

Also, the fake new deal for cities, and in fact, the new deal for suckers, as I have been calling it, is merely a GST rebate that allows the current Prime Minister to cut cheques to mayors across the country just in time for a general election, certainly with political IOUs inferred. That very deal of the GST rebate scheme that he has set up violates the very democratic deficit that he said he was coming into power to get rid of.

When he came into power, he said, “Got to get rid of the democratic deficit”. On October 7, 2003, the House voted--and the Standing Committee on Transport concurred--202 in favour of and 31 against, I believe it was, the federal government starting immediate negotiations with provinces to transfer gas tax points immediately to provinces and municipalities so they could get immediate cash going in. There is something about the vocabulary of this Prime Minister such that he apparently does not understand what the word “immediately” means, because he has completely failed to keep the promise of the House. He has betrayed the confidence of the House.

His own vote in the House, the vote of the current finance minister and all members of the House except the Bloc Québécois showed they believed that the real new deal should happen and gas tax dollars should be flowing to municipalities. This Prime Minister has again failed municipalities and instead is giving them a GST rebate. In fact, all it will do is allow him to cut a whole bunch of cheques--$48 million a month to the treasury--to cities and mayors so that he will look good just in time for a general election campaign.

It is cynical. It is bad tax policy and it makes the GST less efficient and opens it up for complications. It will require negotiations with provinces anyway because of the harmonized sales tax in Atlantic Canada. Also in some ways it may even be perceived by the people of Quebec, who are certainly rightly sensitive about these things, as yet again the federal government coming into an area of provincial jurisdiction, which is entirely inappropriate and has been done far too often by Liberal governments in the country.

I have some prepared remarks that I do want to read into the record about a bill that has been reinstated by the government, Bill C-2, which was put forward this morning in the House.

Bill C-2 is very troubling legislation. Again, as someone who is a passionate believer in personal liberty, free speech, openness and free markets, I think Bill C-2 betrays the very essence of what small “l” John Stewart Liberals of the federal Liberal Party were about at one time.

Bill C-2 would make it illegal for new immigrants to watch programming from the Middle East, Latin America or southeast Asia, simply because the station would not be distributed by a Canadian company. We have to wonder if the government even understands what the word “free” means.

For my generation, one of the basic rights is the right to channel surf, to watch what we want to watch, to have choice and to do it all as long as we are willing to pay and do it according to the law.

When this Prime Minister was my age, shortwave radio was the window to different cultures in far off lands. Freedom was the ability to tune into Radio Moscow or the BBC World Service and to get news that was unavailable elsewhere. It was also the grim feeling one got realizing that people in places such as Cuba, North Korea and the former Soviet Union were risking their lives by listening to the Voice of America or Radio Free Berlin.

In the 1960s freedom was based on radio signals. Over the past 40 years we have added pictures and gone digital. Today satellite television in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq is the primary symbol of liberty and openness and the images that they represent allow viewers to feel as though they are as free as a bird in the sky.

That the Prime Minister's very first bill in the House would target this technology with Bill C-2 tells me he fundamentally does not understand what freedom is about. Perhaps the Prime Minister thinks that freedom is really only distributed by the government, rather than sanctioned and prevented by the government. It is sad that the Prime Minister commonly mentions in his speeches people who he believes in profoundly in terms of ideological reasoning, people such as Pierre Trudeau, and people intellectually he believes are believers in freedom. He mentions Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, who is a hero of mine, as passionate believers in free speech.

Yet his very first bill in the House of Commons, Bill C-2, would prevent freedom of speech and prevent ethnic and minority communities from having free access to people to speak their own language because cable companies do not happen to provide that kind of programming.

In fact, so out of step is the Prime Minister's first new bill with the priorities of ordinary Canadians that, when this issue was raised in the 2002 Windsor West byelection, the NDP won the seat that had been held by the Liberals for 39 years. It was a profoundly important issue in that election campaign.

It gets worse. Not only is the Prime Minister's first new bill out of step with the priorities of Canadians and potentially oppressive to minorities, it is actually useless in achieving the goals he has in mind. Anyone who has been paying attention to this issue knows that there is a high likelihood that Bill C-2 will become the object of a lengthy court battle.

By the time the courts settle the question, technology will have advanced to the point that Canadians will be watching TV via the Internet and laws such as Bill C-2 will simply be unenforceable.

One has to wonder why Bill C-2 would be the government's first priority. After all, on November 14, 2003, in accepting the Liberal leadership, he told Canadians, “We need a new approach to politics, to what we do and how we do it”.

Reinstatement of Government BillsGovernment Orders

February 9th, 2004 / 4:35 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is indeed a very interesting debate. It is particularly interesting because of the apparent hypocrisy of the position that the current Prime Minister is taking.

I used the word hypocrisy once in deference to the Chair. I used that word because on one side of the coin our current Prime Minister would like us to believe that this is a brand new government. He is a brand new Prime Minister with a brand new cabinet and a brand new approach to politics in Canada. Everything is completely brand new.

We are supposed to forget that under Jean Chrétien we had 10 years of an oppressive government that rammed things through the House and consistently whipped votes. For people who are not familiar with parliamentary language, that simply means that backbenchers were treated like trained seals. They were told how to vote. We are told to forget that.

We are told that the 10 years that we had under Jean Chrétien, which had very questionable parts to them, belong to the old Liberals. The new Prime Minister is brand new; everything is new. Everything is fresh such as new Tide or new Ultra or whatever the soap of the day is. Yet the Prime Minister turns around and says that he wants to recycle all of the bills or have the opportunity to recycle all of the bills that were passed in the previous two sessions.

In the previous two sessions these bills that went through the House of Commons were whipped bills. Backbenchers were told how to vote and they voted obligingly and obediently, notwithstanding the views, wishes, desires or direction of their constituents. Their constituents did not matter. It was because the Prime Minister at the time, the former House leader, who spoke a few minutes ago, the finance minister and now the Prime Minister, as one of the senior members of the government, told them how to vote and to heck with the constituents. The bills were just forced through.

The government wants to turn around and use this reinstatement legislation to pick and choose which of the bills from the old regime it wants to bring into this new regime. The government cannot have it both ways. Either he is a new Prime Minister, and he has a new cabinet and a new agenda, or he is a retread. He is simply digging back into the past into what he himself has said is a discredited past. The government cannot have it both ways. I find this absolutely astounding.

We have learned, and certainly I have learned in the 10 years that I have had the privilege of representing the people of Kootenay—Columbia, that the Liberals are masters at managing the news.

The government has a fairly heavy day coming at it tomorrow. The Auditor General will be reporting how much taxpayers' money was actually slid through to the supporters of the Liberal Party. We know that the national news media is in something of a frenzy at this point. I can pretty well guarantee, whether it is Global, CTV, CBC or the A-Channel or any other network, that the lead item on the 6 o'clock, the 10 and 11 o'clock news will be the Auditor General's report.

Why then would the government not take advantage of the fact that it will be the big issue tomorrow, as indeed it should be--certainly with the kind of abject waste and mismanagement, and in some cases criminal activity that occurred under the previous administration--and not just slide this closure through at that point? It is a very neat trick. The Prime Minister knows that the Liberals will be paying a dear price tomorrow, as they darn well should, and so he says “Why do we not just get this through?”

Is it not hypocritical on one side of the coin to say that he is new, that his cabinet is new--almost as though we had gone through an election for people who consider themselves to be the naturally governing party in a general election--and then turn around and say that he is going to take some of these old bills that have been passed?

We noted that the government under Jean Chrétien made use of time allocation 75 times and closure 10 times. That is a parliamentary record, as my colleague from Surrey pointed out. The Liberals used it 85 times to stifle debate in the House of debate, where I and the rest of the members have an opportunity to represent the views, wishes, desires and direction that we get from our constituents when we are home.

However, in spite of that, I point out that the former Prime Minister at least had the decency, such as it was, to wait a year and a half before he moved his first closure motion. I should point out, Mr. Speaker, and you may possibly have noted, that when Prime Minister Mulroney moved closure and time allocation, there were many opposition Liberal members who raised an awful howl and it was the worst thing in the world. Well, the former Prime Minister and the former House leader who just finished speaking eclipsed anything that Mr. Mulroney did.

The current Prime Minister has waited one week. We recall that in this chamber, exactly seven days ago following the Speech from the Throne, following this all new detergent that had occurred in this chamber, this all new Prime Minister and this all new party was starting afresh. And one week later, not a year and a half, he is bringing in closure.

The Prime Minister, in bringing this motion--and it does come fully with the approval of the current Prime Minister, let us be clear--has basically done more to drive the democratic deficit problem, to which he keeps on referring, deeper down and embed it further in this place than anyone in the history of the House of Commons.

The fact is that, as I believe my colleague was just pointing out with respect to the gun registry, on one side of the coin the Prime Minister says that he will empower all the backbenchers. What a revolutionary idea. My goodness, he must have come across the same thing that I did, and that was an advertisement showing Preston Manning, the then leader of the Reform Party, saying “Who does this seat in the House of Commons belong to?”

Our whole campaign, as the Reform Party in 1997, was around the issue that I, my party, all of my colleagues, and the leader of the day--and subsequently our party policy--would represent the views, wishes, desires and directions of the people of Canada from our seats. He must have seen the same advertisement and thought to himself, “My, what a great, revolutionary idea”. It took him seven years to find it, but he trots it out and says that he will allow free votes in the House of Commons.

The next day he was asked by my very competent colleague from Yorkton what he would do about the gun registry, the gun registry that has blown away $1 billion when it was only to cost $2 million, the gun registry which the government actually has ended up penalizing and registering law-abiding citizens, but on the other hand it will not register sex offenders. He was asked what he would do about that. Clearly we know there are people who are representing the views, the wishes, the desires and the direction of their constituents; there are people on the backbenches who want to do the right thing and abolish this crazy boondoggle gun registry, so the member asked the question.

It did not take the government a week to flip flop on that one as it has on closure. No, it took the government a bit less than 24 hours to flip flop on that one. Now when people come around and say that the member for Kootenay—Columbia and the member for Brandon—Souris have been around for 10 years, and would it not be nice if there were a government member on their side, then at least they would be getting proper representation, they should not believe it, because the Liberal backbenchers will continue to be whipped into shape.

I believe it was the House leader I just saw in news reports saying, “Actually, probably what the Prime Minister was referring to was that we could have free votes on private members' business”. How shallow is that? Unless the government decides that it will cherry-pick from private members' business, as my friend from Surrey has pointed out, and actually extract pieces of private members' business and put them into its own legislation and claim them for its own--and gee, that is something I have never heard of the Liberals doing before--unless we are talking about that, private members' business basically is nothing more than the ability for private members to give the government a bit of a push.

This is revolutionary. We will now have free votes in the House of Commons on private members' business. Guess what. We have had that for the last two sessions. What is new? Nothing is new, except in the Prime Minister's mind. He is talking about being new.

Let us take a look at some of the pieces of legislation that we have passed and which he does want to bring in. The one I am thinking of in particular, because I have some familiarity with it, is what is now called Bill C-2. It is a bill that will penalize people who are involved in bringing electronic equipment into Canada for the purpose of getting under the CRTC rules and by getting under the CRTC rules they can then make a profit by literally stealing signal from the providers of the satellite signal that is beaming down on earth.

As we debated earlier in the day, the Liberal approach is to say “Let us penalize. Let us go after them. Let us control it”. What a tremendous idea: let us control electronic innovation; let us control technology. I do not know what planet the Liberals come from. Certainly it does not have anything to do with this century or with the revolutions that are occurring electronically with computers, with satellites, with our ability to communicate. It borders on being impossible even to keep up with what is going on.

The Liberals are bringing in rules to try to control something that is uncontrollable, but it makes them feel better. We need a fresh approach on that bill. The legislation as it is presently written, technologically is simply not feasible.

Let us take a look at another one, the legislation on human reproduction. There was a bill that if there was ever any whipping going on, it would have gone on with that bill.

I recognize that the member is the former House leader and does not speak for the current government. He has raised that bill as an example of bills where the votes of the House of Commons have been done and therefore we should not be turning our backs on those votes. Clearly he has chosen to forget how he, as the government House leader giving direction to the whip of the day, had people quaking in their boots.

I do not know what kind of pressure the Liberals can put on their backbenchers to make some of them certainly appear to me to be voting against their most closely held personal values. I do not know what kind of pressure that is, but it is that pressure that has given us the raft of legislation that we presently have at various stages in the House or at stages in the other place. That legislation was all brought about as a result of a regime that the current Prime Minister claims to reject. He claims to reject it. How shallow is that? It is amazingly shallow.

In taking a look at the procedures that the House has at its disposal, I recognize that the former House leader, the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, is probably a master of those procedures. Certainly he used all of his background and knowledge, his trips around the world and his time at Westminster to put pressure on his backbenchers and to use that kind of pressure within the House to push those bills through.

I therefore wonder how genuine it is for him to say that these bills have been passed and therefore we should be making sure they have the opportunity to be handled. He did not answer the question of my friend from Surrey. When my friend put it to him that this is the first time in British parliamentary history that a new prime minister has simply reached back into an old prime minister's grab bag of bills, he did not answer that question. I am sure my friend noticed that.

With the amount of background, understanding and knowledge that the former House leader has of the historic British parliamentary system around the world, it becomes very clear to me that we have probably hit on something. The new Prime Minister is actually creating history not only in Canada but in the British parliamentary system.

It is absolutely unconscionable that the Prime Minister and the government would bring this notice of closure to the House. It is unconscionable in itself. I am going through the dictionary in my brain and I am not capable of coming up with a word that would be creative enough perhaps to get past the Speaker's excellent chairing of this session. Let me just say I find it unbelievably amazing that the Prime Minister has the chutzpah to turn around and say that he is dealing with the democratic deficit in this way. He is saying that he is new. How can he say that with a straight face? The democratic deficit is real and its dain belongs to the Prime Minister.

Radiocommunication ActGovernment Orders

February 9th, 2004 / 1:50 p.m.
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Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to speak to Bill C-2, an act to amend the Radiocommunication Act.

I would like to begin by saying that the Bloc Quebecois agrees with the principle behind this legislation. I think everyone would agree that we must find more ways to fight satellite piracy. Satellite signal piracy takes millions of dollars away from companies and is a threat to jobs that are extremely important both to the economy and to technology.

For many weeks, if not months, particularly through our member for Québec, the Bloc Quebecois has been working to have the Canadian Television Fund increased to $100 million, the amount it initially was intended to be, to ensure quality programming production in Canada and Quebec.

The Bloc Quebecois certainly does not condone piracy, a practice that is often misinterpreted by some people and that takes money away from extremely important broadcasting production.

As I said, we agree in principle. However, it is clear that we find some of the provisions in this bill, in particular the housekeeping measures, somewhat dangerous. We believe the amendments put forward in Bill C-2 go way too far, would invade privacy and could lead to abuses that go against the charter.

We agree in principle but we realize that a lot of work needs to be done on some of the provisions in Bill C-2. That work will have to be done in committee. Only then will we take a final stand on this issue. Obviously, if the amendments we expect to see are not made in committee, the Bloc Quebecois will not be supporting the bill at third reading.

However, as I said earlier, at this point, we wholeheartedly agree with the principle of the bill. We support the idea of implementing import control measures and providing for an import certificate to ban the importation of devices used for decoding satellite programming signals, unless the importer has previously acquired an import certificate issued by the industry minister.

As set out in the bill, we will have to ensure that, in accordance with the import certificate, the imported devices will not be used for purposes that would violate the Radiocommunication Act. This is extremely important.

Once again, although we support the bill in principle, the Bloc Quebecois will wait to see what amendments are made in committee. At that point--

Radiocommunication ActGovernment Orders

February 9th, 2004 / 1:40 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, first, I agree with the concerns expressed by my colleague from the Bloc Quebecois with respect to Bill C-2.

Bill C-2 would amend the Radiocommunication Act and substantially increase penalties for those who import, attempt to import, or operate equipment that receives unauthorized, non-licensed satellite signals.

I and my colleagues in the official opposition agree that it ought to be a criminal offence to illicitly intercept private satellite signals. These are copyrighted signals. For us to allow people to pirate them, disturbs the proper economic exchange between producers and owners of these signals. I agree that we ought to deal with the black market in satellite signal reception very seriously, and I support the elements of the bill which seek to do so.

I am concerned about the provisions which would permit police to enter the homes of Canadians and search through their possessions and the contents of their computer hard drives, et cetera, to discover evidence of satellite piracy. This is a draconian measure which is not a balanced approach to maintaining historic civil rights while at the same time prosecuting the law against piracy.

I am most concerned with the provisions in the bill as they relate to the so-called grey market satellite reception technology. Several hundred thousand Canadians purchased, in good faith, technology from dealers operating in Canada over the course of several years so they could receive satellite signals broadcast out of the United States. They did so in large part because those signals were offering a product which was unavailable in Canada thanks to the over-regulation of the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission.

The CRTC over the course of several years has effectively banned the broadcast of hundreds of channels and video services. One area that I am particularly aware of is with respect to religious broadcasting.

Until quite recently, the CRTC had an outrageous policy which completely violated our tradition of freedoms of expression and religion, which prohibited so-called single faith broadcasters from being licensed in Canada. There are several single faith satellite broadcast services which are broadcast out of the United States. I know of a constituent who acquired a so-called grey market satellite service from the United States, with the bill being sent to her son's address in Montana, in order to receive a 24 hour Roman Catholic network out of the United States called EWTN. Essentially this is a harmless broadcast that offers programming related to the Catholic faith for Roman Catholics. It does not attempt to diminish other religions. It is simply an expression of religion.

The CRTC ruled repeatedly, after various applications through the 1990s, that EWTN could not receive a licence in Canada to broadcast either on cable or through satellite. Ironically, many of those who were advocates of freedom of expression and religion pointed out that on the same day the CRTC granted a licence to the 24 hour Playboy channel, it denied one to the Catholic EWTN network. Many people found it difficult to understand that the CRTC was maintaining Canadian values by licensing pornography but prohibiting religious broadcasting. If we believe in freedom of expression, then both applicants should have been given the same consideration.

For several years there is one example of an American satellite service which thousands of Canadians would have liked to subscribe to, but have effectively been prohibited in law from doing so by the mandarins at the CRTC. That is why these honest, law-abiding taxpaying Canadians in good faith contracted with Canadian dealers to receive an American signal. By so doing, they in no way jeopardized the economic position of licensed Canadian satellite broadcasters who were unable to provide the same service. Therefore, they were not put at any kind of competitive disadvantage.

We need to recognize the reality of modern communications technology. The advances in the Internet will mean that it is inevitable within a few years that people will be able to receive anything broadcast in real time over Internet signals. This raises several problems pertaining to copyright law which producers and broadcasters are experiencing in the music field right now. They will have to find solutions to deal, perhaps with civil remedies as the music industry has attempted to employ, with piracy of copyrighted materials on the Internet.

However, for us to believe that the CRTC can somehow seal off Canada from the reception of satellite signals broadcast from abroad is, I think, grossly naive.

Another aspect of the bill which I find troublesome is that it would actually assign the enforcement of the bill to police agencies. We know that many police agencies are understaffed and underfunded, that the RCMP has suffered cuts and that we simply do not even have enough mounted police officers to properly staff the intelligence and counterterrorism divisions. They are not even able to operate their coastal patrol vessels or aircraft. The budget for training at the Regina training depot has been diminished significantly. Yet the government wants to assign the task of inspecting black and grey market satellite technology in people's private homes to the RCMP and other police services.

I do not understand the government's skewed priorities. Why do we not give the resources to our police services to fight real crime, to make our streets and communities safer, rather than chase after honest law-abiding taxpaying Canadians who are simply contracting a service to receive a legal satellite signal broadcast, say from the United States. It makes no sense. It is reminiscent of the government's policy of employing hundreds of police officers and thousands of bureaucrats to maintain the long arm firearm registry which will not reduce crime, which will not prosecute a single criminal, but which merely criminalizes otherwise law-abiding Canadian duck hunters.

I believe the bill places the wrong emphasis with respect to law enforcement.

In closing, we would support certain provisions of the bill as they relate to cracking down on the black market, as long as there is adequate protection for civil rights, which is not clear in the bill, and as long as important police resources are not diverted from fighting real crime.

I believe that the CRTC itself should be restructured to reduce the outrageous power this agency has, and which it has so often abused, to violate the fundamental rights of Canadians to receive information which the CRTC designates arbitrarily to be somehow un-Canadian. The bill ought to give us an opportunity to consider that.

Radiocommunication ActGovernment Orders

February 9th, 2004 / 1:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak on Bill C-2, an act to amend the Radiocommunication Act to better combat illegal decoding of direct-to-home satellite television signals. The bill deals with the growing problem of piracy of signals for direct-to-home satellite television, or DTH. It aims to strengthen our ability to protect one of our important cultural industries.

I am reminded of a television ad that is quite poignant on this topic. It depicts a young boy who I think shoplifts something. At home his father lectures him about the fact that he has been caught stealing and that this clearly is something which cannot be tolerated. The young boy turns to his father and says “Well, Dad, you steal”. The father says “What do you mean? Of course I do not steal”. The young chap says “Well you do, with the satellite signal that you are picking up illegally”.

The word piracy itself of course means stealing. Pirates used to sail the seas and when they would come across a ship that was carrying goods, they would board the ship, perhaps kill everybody on board, and steal all the goods. Even today we have piracy. We have piracy off the coast of Asia. We have piracy off the coast of Africa. We may have piracy off the coast of North America, I do not know. However, this is a different type of piracy where people take telecommunication signals that do not belong to them and make a profit from it.

Our government does not want to target individual Canadian viewers, but rather the men and women who make piracy a lucrative business.

The bill is not targeted at individual Canadian viewers, but rather on those individuals who make piracy a business. The theft of satellite signals denies legitimate Canadian broadcasters, content producers and programmers millions of dollars a year. It robs money from an industry that supports thousands of jobs.

Like a lot of our legislation, the current legislation has not kept pace with our rapidly changing world, a world of telecommunications that has changed geometrically in the last few decades. We continually have to update our legislation to ensure that it reflects these new realities. What we have on the books today is simply inadequate to deal with the growing problems we are currently seeing. Law enforcement officials and industry lack the tools they need to deter the criminals who are importing, manufacturing and selling illegal signals.

How much of this is going on? The industry estimates that there could be up to 500,000 to 700,000 users of unauthorized DTH, or direct-to-home, services in Canada. These activities result in a loss of subscription revenues of about $400 million annually for the Canadian industry. The bill is about creating a fair marketplace for these companies to recoup the considerable investments they make.

I should note also that there is a public safety component to the bill before us. The use of pirated-receiver cards has been found to create signal interference with communications systems used by search and rescue services and by the police. The bill would reinforce existing laws in Canada. It has received widespread support from all actors and the Canadian Broadcasting System as well as law enforcement and customs officials.

Bill C-2 will also create a level playing field for Canada's cultural industries and ensure sustainable competition in broadcasting, for the benefit of Canadian consumers.

The bill, basically, is about creating a level playing field for Canada's cultural industries and ensuring sustainable competition in broadcast programming to the benefit of Canadian consumers.

Let me describe the ways in which the bill deals with satellite piracy. First, the government wants to make it more difficult to obtain the hardware required to steal a satellite signal. I know many of us go around to friends' homes where they sometimes have satellite dishes. Frankly, I never know what is legal and what is illegal. They are everywhere. Some of the satellite signals are legal and some are not. I think we need to make sure we know what is and what is not legal.

The bill would provide for better control at the border by requiring an import certificate issued by the Minister of Industry for anyone wishing to bring satellite signal decoding equipment into Canada.

Second, the bill would increase the penalties prescribed in the act to a level that would provide a meaningful deterrent to direct to home piracy.

Third, the bill would strengthen the existing right of civil action. It is difficult to prove a direct causal link between illegal conduct and the extent of the losses that they actually suffer. The bill would provide an option to seek statutory damages rather than being forced to prove actual damages.

The issue here is to prevent the erosion of the Canadian broadcasting system by preventing blatantly illegal activities.

The bill is much needed. It is about protecting those companies that have invested large amounts of money in legal programming. It protects actors, producers and those involved in this very important industry in Canada. It says that it is not acceptable to steal these goods, and these signals are goods. Even though they happen to be going through the sky, they are goods and they cannot be stolen. We need to be clear that whether someone robs something in a store or one robs a signal, these acts are equally not acceptable. We need to protect those who are making a living from the legal activities of this type of work.

I encourage all members to support this important bill, Bill C-2. It is a bill to amend the Radiocommunication Act to better combat illegal decoding of direct to home satellite television signals. It is much needed because our legislation is out of date and has not kept pace with the changes in this sector.

I urge all members of the House to support the bill when it comes to a vote.