moved that Bill C-48, an act to amend the Copyright Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Madam Speaker, in technical terms Bill C-48 is about setting modern rules for the retransmission of broadcast signals. In real terms however, the bill is much more than that.
It is about empowering our Canadian artists and children, and telling Canadian stories. It is about keeping Canada on the cutting edge of communications technology. It is about a strong Canadian economy and good Canadian jobs. The bill would strengthen our already vibrant broadcast system and protect the rights of Canadian content creators.
More than 640,000 Canadians make their living from culture. That sector contributes $22 billion to Canada's gross domestic product. We are very proud of 26,000 actors, 3,600 directors, and 2,000 screenwriters. There are more than 14,000 films and videos made in Canada each year. The film and television industry alone generates 134,000 jobs for Canadians: knowledge based jobs, high paying jobs, creative jobs, fun jobs, union jobs, and people jobs.
Canadian film and television production has grown at a staggering rate of 12% per year and represents $4.4 billion annually. The legislation is about ensuring that those jobs and production numbers keep growing. It is about ensuring that royalties are paid to creators whenever their films or song videos are broadcast, no matter what the medium.
For the most part Canadians rely upon television and radio for access to culture, information and entertainment. Thanks to recent developments Canadians are now able to communicate more easily with each other and with the world. We have high speed cable, direct to home satellite television, digital radio and multi-point wireless. Every year new communications technologies are breaking through the world, including my BlackBerry. That is Canadian technology at its finest of which we are very proud.
Of course there is the Internet. The Internet provides an ideal place to tell the world about our country, people and cultures. The Internet allows our children new opportunities to gain access to Canadian stories and voices. It opens up new worlds for Canadian talent and culture.
I am proud that Canada is the first country to have a virtual museums link that will include all of Canada's museums by 2005. During the virtual museum's first eight months, it had 20 million hits from visitors in more than 100 different countries. Thus, it is not only connecting Canadians; it is also our voice to the world.
We should relish those new technologies because they can help us to share our stories. They provide for the kind of cultural diversity and access to Canadian culture that has alluded too many minorities in the country for too long. They help connect Canadians to their heritage and their future.
What is important in this new environment is that we have rules to ensure our artists, singers, filmmakers, creators, playwrights and young video geniuses receive fair payment when their work is used. It is only fair that an Internet service that retransmits broadcast signals should be required to operate on the same basis as the cable provider.
This is an important public policy issue. If our filmmakers do not get paid for their work it is very hard for them to keep telling their stories. If our musicians are not paid for their creations, in the short term we would have cheap music and in the long term we would have few artists.
Royalties are exceptionally important in encouraging the creation and marketing of the widest possible range of Canadian voices. We need rules that are fair, clear and transparent. We need rules that encourage the creation of Canadian culture and access to that culture.
I am proud that Canada has always been on the cutting edge of new technologies. We need only think of the first great communicator of the 20th century, Marshall McLuhan, who predicted back in the 1960s that “the medium is the message”. Living as he did in a country spanning six time zones, with two official languages and over 100 languages from every corner of the globe, he understood that the ability to tell stories, to make connections, to truly respect cultural diversity in telling our stories, is what will put individuals and the country on the leading edge in the 21st century.
For generations we have put in place policies that maximize the benefits of technology to tell our stories.
We were one of the first to have a public broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation—Radio Canada, which started with radio some 60 years ago and added television some 50 years ago. Its creation truly filled a void for the telling of our stories.
We broke new ground with the CRTC and Canadian content rules that allowed artists to have a trampoline for the expression of their music.
From the days of Alexander Graham Bell Canadians have always been leaders in finding new ways to help people communicate with one another. In a country that passes six time zones we owe that to our citizens, not only for them to talk, grow and appreciate their own unique regions but that they can also interconnect with each other.
This legislation would be one more step along the path of support for the creation of stories and interconnection of those stories. It would be one more step in putting Canada at the forefront of the knowledge based economy, and would promote the work of our creators, artists, cultural professionals and technicians.
Another step forward has captivated all the human and economic potential of our culture. I would like to mention that the audiovisual field accounts for more than 134,000 direct jobs in Canada. This represents the largest growth in all employment fields over the last five years. These are jobs in Canada that get people to stay in Canada.
When I visited the riding of my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, he showed me what impact the movie Black Robe had on the local economy and how the kingdom of Saguenay was the jewel that allowed people in his region to express their culture. But is not only a matter of being able to be heard and to express ourselves, it also has economic benefits.
In the past few years we have doubled the annual number of Canadian television productions thanks to the Canada television fund and a government with a vision that does not create the stories but gives artists the means of expression.
We have undertaken the most important revision in copyright law of the last seven decades. I have to say to those members who will be joining us in Newfoundland for the Junos next April that there are hundreds of musicians across the country who are now receiving direct royalties because of a vision of a revised copyright law.
We have introduced new initiatives in support of book publishing, sound recording, multimedia, cultural exports, periodicals, cultural tourism, the performing arts and our training programs for young artists. We have just created the new Canada feature film fund which would reward success and encourage the creation of new Canadian films for mass audiences. Bill C-48 is one more piece in that puzzle.
The bill would provide clarity and predictability to the retransmission marketplace. It would remove the uncertainty that plagued rights holders and retransmitters over the last number of years. It would maintain and strengthen the protection afforded rights holders, protections which would be undermined without the legislation.
This forward looking law would modernize Canadian copyright law by ensuring that the licence could be rapidly and flexibly adapted to unforeseeable technological change. It would ensure that never again would a change in the method of transmission put rights holders at risk. That is the key to a sound public policy, not to create the art but to support the stories.
We must celebrate and promote the diversity of our cultures, our opinions and our perspectives, which make Canada a rich country on every front, a great country in which to live.
More than ever, Canadians must have a broadcasting system that is a true reflection of who they are and what they feel.
Now, more than ever, it is important to deepen connections between Canadians and each other, between Canadians and our communities and between Canadians and the world. We do that through our creative people and our culture, telling our stories, preserving our heritage, reminding us of our values and reflecting our hopes and aspirations.
I am very pro-Canadian. I underscore the fact that being pro-Canadian does not make me anti-American. I made a statement earlier this week which was interpreted by certain individuals to assume that I was speaking against our neighbour to the south. I was not speaking against our neighbour to the south. I was speaking in favour of a system where a country reflects its diversity in respect of differences.
We have a constitutional monarchy that is unique and cherished, linked to our past, and it is also a way of connecting with more than 40 countries around the globe.
We are part of the Francophonie. We have a direct connection with over 50 countries. That is what makes Canada's diversity. It is not that we want to be against anyone. We want to be in favour of a country that, right from the start—there were difficult periods and easier ones—was built on a revolutionary principle, the principle that two peoples, two languages and two religions can join together to create a nation.
Canada's strength is that we are not afraid of respecting diversity. We have confidence. We are pro-Canadian and proud of it.
What we are doing today is ensuring that this pride that comes from our history is maintained throughout the 21st century, with the technologies that allow our cultural sector to continue to grow.