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House of Commons Hansard #144 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was copyright.

Topics

Dubbing IndustryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, the dubbing industry in Quebec is in trouble.

This industry, which is a source of income for 450 workers, generates about $20 million in the Canadian cultural sector. The Union des artistes and l'Association québécoise des industries techniques du cinéma et de la télévision sounded of the alarm this week, sending a message to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

My question is directed to the Minister of Canadian Heritage. What kind of measures is the minister now considering to support the dubbing industry in Quebec?

Dubbing IndustryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member raised a very important issue which concerns market access. In fact, the French government's current policy on dubbing is costing Canada jobs because it will not accept films dubbed by a country other than France, claiming that the accent is wrong, in fact rather rustic.

We are working together with Ms. Beaudoin, the Quebec Minister of Culture, to ensure that following representations made by Ms. Beaudoin and the Union des artistes, we can have a joint policy to counter a catastrophic dubbing policy like the one supported by France today.

Dubbing IndustryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, considering that the Minister of Canadian Heritage says she is working together with the Quebec minister, I may remind her that broadcasting is under federal jurisdiction, that Telefilm Canada is under federal jurisdiction, and that in both cases, the minister has the authority to inform the Canadian film production and television production industry that it is important to have their dubbing done in Quebec.

Will the minister promise to use every means at her disposal to deal with this matter?

Dubbing IndustryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I was at

Telefilm Canada in Montreal, where I met executives of Telefilm to discuss various issues, including the problem facing the Canadian dubbing industry.

Before taking any action, we want to be able to co-operate closely with the Quebec Minister of Culture, Ms. Beaudoin, who has already indicated that she wants to adopt a joint policy on the subject. I believe the French minister, Mr. Douste-Blazy, will be in Quebec City on April 6 and 7. We hope that the persuasiveMs. Beaudoin will be able to infuse some logic into the French cultural policy on dubbing.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister of defence.

On March 16, 1993, while in custody, Somali teenager Shidane Arone was beaten to death by Canadian soldiers. How is it possible that the Somalia inquiry will end before it investigates the event that led to the investigation into the inquiry in the first place?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I have said many times, I do not wish to comment and I do not think it is appropriate for me to comment on how the commission that began its works two years set itself up to pursue the objectives within its mandate.

There have been other initiatives and other procedures taken to deal with the beating death of the Somali citizen the hon. gentleman refers to. I am sure anyone who is really interested in that incident is thoroughly familiar with the facts surrounding it and how it was dealt with through the military justice system.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we are talking about and that is exactly why we have a Somalia inquiry in the first place.

I have one question for the minister of defence. If a Canadian had been beaten to death on March 16 instead of a Somali, would the minister of defence be shutting down the inquiry?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

That is a rhetorical question.

BurmaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs and it has to do with the regime in Burma.

Perhaps the minister is aware that there was a group demonstrating its concern earlier this day on Parliament Hill. The regime in Burma is truly one of the most despicable regimes on the face of the planet right now. The government has shown leadership in other areas, Nigeria very recently.

I wonder if the minister could tell us whether the government is contemplating, would consider or would act soon to sanction the Government of Burma and to encourage other nations to do the same vis-à-vis trade sanctions and other pressures that could be brought to bear on the Burmese government to finally bring democracy to that besieged area of the world.

BurmaOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Northumberland Ontario

Liberal

Christine Stewart LiberalSecretary of State (Latin America and Africa)

Mr. Speaker, along with my colleague, the Government of Canada is very concerned with the situation of human rights and governance in Burma. In whatever form we can, we do raise those issues.

Canada alone cannot act to bring effective sanctions against a country like Burma but we do act with other nations, particularly those in the region of Burma. We talk to them about our concerns on this front. We hope to be able to encourage them successfully to take some collective action with us to try to influence the government in Burma to change its ways, to promote good governance, democracy and respect for human rights.

BurmaOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Before I proceed to our final question, I said it was a rhetorical question. My colleague, you will forgive me, it was a hypothetical question.

FisheriesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

The Fisheries Resource Conservation Council has recommended that the cod fishery on the Gulf of St. Lawrence and south of the coast of Newfoundland could be reopened in a minor way this year. Is the minister prepared to reopen these cod fisheries in a minor way?

FisheriesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Fred Mifflin LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is correct. The Fisheries Resource Conservation Council did recommend that the cod fishery on the south coast of Newfoundland and the northern and southern gulf could be opened in a very minor and precautionary way.

When I announced the groundfish management plan in December, I stated that providing there was reasonable consensus among the fishermen in those areas and if they could come up with a conservation plan and a reasonable harvesting plan, then I would consider opening that fishery.

I have to report to the House that I have met with the fishermen's association and many fishermen. They are working very hard to put together, with my officials, a consensus and a plan that respects the sustainability of the fisheries. If their progress continues, I expect to be able to make a decision in the not too distant future on the

basis of an amber light as opposed to a green light for the reopening of these fisheries on a test basis.

I expect I will be able to make a decision in the not too distant future.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, here is my question of the week for the leader or deputy leader of the government in the House: what is on the legislative menu for the coming days?

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Saint-Léonard Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano LiberalMinister of Labour and Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, first of all, the House will not be sitting tomorrow because of the Bloc Quebecois convention. I would, on this occasion, like to wish my colleague, the member for Laurier-Sainte-Marie, good luck and to congratulate him in advance.

The precise configuration of the business for next week depends on the receipt of a message from the other place with regard to Bill C-70, the harmonized sales tax legislation. If the message is received before the end of the day, I propose that the House deal with it first thing on Monday.

I can definitely inform the House that we will commence consideration of Bill C-82 with respect to financial institutions on Monday. This will be no later than 3 p.m. but it could be earlier if events so transpire. The back-up to this bill on Monday will be Bill C-81.

Our tentative plans are to call the budget debate on Tuesday and Thursday and to do legislation on Wednesday and Friday. This legislation will include the bills that I have already mentioned as well as matters that have been on the agenda this week.

If the message from the Senate does not arrive in a timely manner, I will have to revise these plans and will advise members accordingly.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Question? Does the hon. member for Richmond-Wolfe have a question?

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC

I do not have a question.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

There is no question.

If there are no points of order, this is a happy day for me.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-32, an act to amend the Copyright Act as reported (with amendment) from the committee and Motions Nos. 6, 44 and 60.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak on the Group No. 4 motions. I mentioned earlier today the problems caused for book distributors by this bill and the problems it would cause for consumers of book products as a result.

At this point I would like to cover some objections to the bill that have been raised by the Canadian Association of Student Associations. With some information that they sent earlier today, they have calculated that the average spent on books by students during a university degree is around $4,800, which is a significant amount of money.

All of us who have been through university in the past know that it is always a struggle to pull together enough money to buy the textbooks for the year and $4,800 is not an insignificant amount of money. This figure is based on 10 courses per year with an average figure of about $75 per book. As those of us who have been to university know, many courses require more than one book but this calculation is based on one book per course.

The amount that students are able to save on the trade of used books, according to an average worked out by the Canadian Association of Student Associations, is about $1,600 or one-third of the total they spend. That is enough to pay for an entire semester of tuition and fees.

Students run into problems where professors choose to change the edition of a text from one year to another, which happens fairly often. I see some nods of assent from the other side from members opposite. I know they have experienced the harrowing experience of having professors change the edition of a text.

Students are unable to pass their texts to another student following behind. Therefore, there has been quite an export trade in books which enables the students to make between 40 and 50 per cent of the original cover price as they trade those books back across the border on export.

If the import trade is stopped, then obviously the export trade will end. That will be a direct result of this bill, which maybe the government side did not anticipate. Certainly those who are directly affected can see it quite clearly and they have not hesitated in pointing it out.

That was not something that came from the member for North Vancouver in isolation. It came directly from the Canadian Association of Student Associations. There are many unintended effects. As a result of this part of the bill we will end up with poorer service and higher prices for a Canadian used textbook system.

Ernst & Young did a study which concluded that book publishers were much slower at fulfilling orders than the used textbook distributors. Another unintended effect would be that the supply of Canadian used textbooks will be reduced by perhaps 50 per cent. Blocking reimports will prevent the very recycling of Canadian used textbooks that the publishers say they support.

This really is a badly thought out bill. Unintended effects make it obvious that its drafters should have consulted in a more meaningful manner with those who would be affected, in this case, university students.

The basic facts are that used textbooks are a small percentage of the overall textbook sales at Canadian universities and colleges. That is true. There is about $18 million or about 8 per cent based on the Ernst & Young study for the Canadian Publishers Council.

Canada has a net balance of trade in used textbooks. The Follett's Canadian operations, for example, actually buy and export more textbooks from Canada than are later re-imported for resale across Canada. The export trade is very important. If we start playing around, blocking the incentives for re-importation, then we are going to create a major problem for the export industry, which is very large.

In 1995-96, for example, 42 per cent more textbooks were exported than re-imported. That is a major trade imbalance in Canada's favour. In 1995-96, 29 per cent of Canadian used textbooks which were exported and re-imported were actually Canadian material. As I mentioned a few minutes ago, if this bill is implemented, it will interfere with the re-importation of Canadian material. That will actually interfere with the trade which the bill is supposed to assist.

The conclusion reached is that Canada is not being overrun by foreign used textbooks. In fact it is recycling its own used textbooks through export and re-importation.

The figures of the Association of Students Association, which I mentioned earlier, suggest that the average student is spending about $4,800 on 10 courses per year. Universities and students will lose to the tune of at least $5.4 million each year as a result of the implementation of this bill.

Students will lose about $2 million in revenue from the sale of their used textbooks, which are currently being recycled through the U.S. If the sale of imported used textbooks turns into new book sales, students will end up paying an extra $3 million for the same textbooks they could have obtained through the recycling system.

These figures come directly from the Ernst & Young study. These are not figures which are being pulled out of the air. They come from legitimate studies done by very reliable sources.

Canadian universities and colleges, through their bookstores, are estimated to lose at least $375,000 in gross profits and will face higher inventory costs and greater risks.

These are very serious problems. As I pointed out earlier in the day when I was talking about my constituent who is a book wholesaler, representing a United States company, there will be major impacts on the free market with this system. At the moment the free market has adjusted itself to the point where there are really good values in books available directly through importation from the United States. When these additional layers of protectionism are introduced, which will supposedly protect Canadian culture, in fact it will interfere with the availability of books and cause problems with pricing at the consumer level, as indicated in the concerns raised by the students.

This is a very ill-informed set of clauses. Frankly, they need attention. As has been indicated in a number of speeches made by my colleagues, the bill should be withdrawn. The best solution right now would be to withdraw the bill and take another look at it. We should start again from scratch and investigate whether we need to be using these sorts of tactics to try to protect Canadian culture when in fact we will be interfering with the consumer marketplace.

I am pleased I had the opportunity to bring the concerns of the students' association to the attention of the House. I join with my colleagues in opposing the bill.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to cover a few points which have been raised on used textbooks. Hon. members are shortchanging the ability of Canadians to take care of business.

I refer to my experience a few years back when I was at the University of Ottawa. We had the problem of not being able to access used books. We set up our own used bookstore. Nothing in this bill prevents Canadians, be they students, be they entrepreneurs, be they book publishers, from doing that. Nothing prevents people from putting in place organizations and mechanisms to recycle books.

To make the argument that somehow, some way, this bill would banish the recycling of textbooks is erroneous. I believe it is appropriate to highlight that point.

Be they campus driven books, used book stores, Canadian publishers and so forth, nothing in this legislation will prevent that from happening. The intent of the legislation is to prohibit those who would circumvent the legislation from doing that by selling

into Canada books which have not initially been sold according to exclusive distributorship agreements. That is what is intended and nothing else.

I would hope that the members speaking to this point would understand that and not create a false sense of alarm.

That is essentially what I wanted to point out on this particular amendment.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to once again address Bill C-32 and in particular the issue that has been discussed over the last several speeches.

I am concerned that not necessarily through malice but through neglect the government is placing an inordinate burden on young people today in many different respects. It is not limited to what we are discussing today. There seems to be a theme developing here.

We have 17 per cent youth unemployment in the country today. We have a situation where the government has just announced that it is going to drive CPP premiums through the roof. It will be young people who bear the great burden of that. They will be paying more and more to get less and less. We have a situation where the government reneged on its promise on the GST on reading materials.

I am going to mention it one more time for people who have not heard me raise this in the past. The government did promise before the last election to get rid of the GST on reading materials. It promised in policy conventions to do that. It has not happened, so students have to pay the GST on textbooks that they purchase.

We have tuitions that have gone through the roof as a result of cuts to transfers to the provinces. The government has cut $7 billion plus in transfers to the provinces. The result has been that tuitions have been raised for young people.

I would point out that my party would reverse that trend by putting $4 billion back in.

Now we have a situation where the government has snuck a clause into Bill C-42. In fact, it is a clause that a lot of its own members were not even aware of and there is a good reason for that. A lot of the changes that happened occurred this morning, so there was not adequate time for reflection on what was done. Nevertheless, it is in there. Now we have to contend with it. It is onerous. It is quite painful for students.

As the member for Vancouver North has pointed out, students, young people, in addition to all the other burdens they have to face because of what the government has done or has failed to do, are now going to be in a situation where they cannot resell their textbooks. They cannot get the money back that they would like to get and will be paying $3 million in extra costs because they will not be able to purchase used textbooks.

A $5 million hit for university and college students is unacceptable. The government has already nailed them on the GST. It has nailed them with tuition costs. It has nailed them with higher premiums on CPP. They have a 17 per cent youth unemployment rate. What does the government do? It turns around and gives it to them again. It is giving them one more shot.

Let me say as forcefully as I can that the government should rethink this provision of Bill C-32. It is completely wrong for students today.

A lot of my colleagues have talked about pages in this place. They work very hard both here and in university. Now they are going to be facing this additional burden. I would say that young people are our future. It is said by all political parties that we should cut them some slack, that we should find ways to make it easier for them, not hit them harder.

I want to urge hon. members across the way, including the parliamentary secretary and all other people who have shown an interest in this bill, that the government should truly rethink this section of the bill. It has demonstrated in a way that really deserves our attention that perhaps in particular case it has not thought out the implications for all Canadians.

That is unfortunate. This bill has been coming to the House for nine years. For nine years we have been dealing with this legislation. One would think that they would not have to force through pieces of legislation like this at the last moment with obviously little or no forethought. As a result young people are going to face very high prices.

I will conclude simply by saying that there have been a number of changes to the legislation which have penalized people who do not deserve to be penalized. Young people, in particular, seem to be picked on by the government.

As I pointed out previously, we do have an extremely high unemployment rate for young people, 17 per cent as the national average. It is much higher in other places. We have seen the big CPP premium increases that will impact young Canadians and hurt them the most. The government reneged on its promise of removing the GST from reading materials, textbooks et cetera. They already pay a much higher price than they would have if the government had kept its promise.

We have seen the cuts in the transfers that the government has enacted, driving up tuitions across the country. Now this amend-

ment which is part of Bill C-32 is going to cost students $5.4 million more a year for books.

I would urge all fair minded members of the House to vote against this amendment or, ultimately if it is not removed, to vote against Bill C-32.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Reform

John Duncan Reform North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, with regard to Motion No. 44, the Reform amendment to the bill deleting the section which would prevent textbooks of a scientific, technical or scholarly nature from use within an education institution in a course of instruction to be imported in the used book category.

I did hear the intervention by the member for Ottawa-Vanier. I do not think it clarified anything. It certainly did not clarify anything to me. I find it to be a very cute clause that has the effect of preventing reimportation of Canadian textbooks.

When there is a government that whispers the concerns of the three r s, reduce, reuse, recycle, this certainly flies in the face of that. I also listened to the intervention from the Bloc member, who seemed quite concerned that we would not support the bill as it is. The Bloc has also put forth amendments. This is part of the democratic process, so I think it is quite in order for us to be talking about these clauses.

I listened closely to what the member for Prince George-Peace River had to say about used books. His intervention was very timely. I do know something about textbook publishing. My family has an educational background. My father has authored portions of textbooks. My brother is an academic and writes for internationally published journals. I know that the textbook industry is a very special industry. It is a very profitable industry and we all know that the setting of curriculum determines very often which textbooks are going to be used.

There is a lot of attention paid by the publishers in trying to bring curriculum setters on board and influence decisions as to which textbooks become the preferred textbooks of the day and so on.

I do not think we need to add another layer of exemption or special circumstance through this clause dealing with importation exemptions to this piece of business. I left university 25 years ago but during my time in that institution I certainly did use used textbooks. There was a thriving trade in used textbooks. Students, of all people, are very aware of the value from the day they purchase their books to the day they take them back and try to get reimbursement. They try very hard to keep the value up. A used book in good condition is obviously worth more than a used book in poor condition.

I had many advantages when I went to university from the standpoint that I was able to work my way through. I left university without indebtedness. That is very difficult to do these days. It is much more difficult for a student to obtain employment that will pay enough for them to pay all of their expenses for the year as well as for their education.

Therefore I recognize that any advantage we can bring to the student body is important, particularly on this financial end. If we restrict the supply of used textbooks in any way, what that will do is drive up the price of the remaining used textbooks. That will hurt the pocketbooks of our students.

I do not see anything redeeming about this clause. Our amendment would delete that exemption and I believe that is the way to go. The clause, as it currently reads, is counterproductive. The textbook publishing industry is already profitable.

The environmental concerns, reducing, reusing, recycling, are met by any encouragement we can have to keep those textbooks reusable and in free flow position.

Those are the points I wanted to make on that clause. I will be quite happy to speak to some further clauses when we arrive there.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.