Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate. I will start by saying that we are in favour of the motions by the Canadian Alliance concerning the removal of everything pertaining to copyright in Bill C-36.
The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is already looking at this issue. It is extremely complex, as we know, particularly when we want to be able to take into account both the rights of the heirs of the authors in question and those of researchers or members of the general public to have access to these works.
It is completely logical to remove any references to copyright from Bill C-36. Let us hope the heritage committee will succeed in striking a fair balance in this complex matter.
I believe that Canadian Alliance Motions Nos. 12 and 20 address this and therefore have our support. As for Motion No. 17, however, I believe we will vote against it.
That being said, this whole debate is extremely important. A number of my colleagues have taken the opportunity to point out how opposed to Bill C-36 the Bloc Quebecois is, particularly the issue of merging the Library and the Archives, which have two different missions.
The hon. member for Laval Centre has suggested I look up the dictionary definitions of “archives” and “library”. I think that reading those definitions will provide a clear understanding of the fact that their mandates are different and are not such that they can be combined, as Bill C-36 seeks to do.
The definitions are from Le Petit Larousse , which I am sure all will agree is a totally reliable source.
The definition of “archives” given by this dictionary is: “Body of documents relating to the history of a city, a family etc, or those of a corporation, administration and the like”. “Archives” is also defined as “a location in which such documents are stored”. We can clearly see that archives have to do with a certain type of document with a connection to a family or company, as well as certain historical documents.
The definition of “library” given in Le Petit Larousse is: “Location, room or institution, public or private, in which a collection of books, texts, manuscripts and the like are shelved and managed”. Hon. members can see that this is really connected with the printed word and not with documents that could be described as archival.
When we consider a land register, which records properties with buildings on them or under cultivation, with the names of owners, it is quite clear that this type of record has its place in an archive, but not at all in a library, according to the definitions in Le Petit Larousse .
Moreover, most of the industrialized nations have understood very well that these entities have two different mandates. In France, Germany, the United States and Belgium, these are separate entities, with their own administrations, which develop their own logics, since they are not the same.
I think that by merging the two, Bill C-36 creates a great deal of confusion, as much in terms of administration as of mandate. Whether it is the archivists or the librarians, one of these two professions will end up losing.
When I was general secretary of the CSN, I had the opportunity to manage staff. I have already been an employer. We had a records department and a library. When we hired a records clerk, an archivist if you will, we hired someone who was trained to be a records clerk, not a librarian. However, when we needed a librarian, we hired a technician in that speciality, or someone who had studied library science.
Two completely different kinds of training, work and mandate are involved, and Bill C-36 does not take this into account. If it is adopted—we hope it will not be—it will surely result in a loss, for one group or the other, of a fundamental mandate.
Why is the government seeking to combine the two mandates? This is a question that remains unanswered. It is no doubt for reasons having to do with what we could think of as economies of scale. But as far as the mandates of the National Archives and the National Library are concerned, are economies of scale really that important? Will the savings make up for the cost of losing one mandate or the other? I do not think it is appropriate to think in those terms.
Is the idea more to give the new institution a broad propaganda mandate, to promote the Canadian vision of history and culture? That is probably closer to the truth. We know full well that this is a debate that we had right here, during question period.
Like most Quebeckers, including the current Premier of Quebec, we in the Bloc Quebecois believe that Quebec is a nation with a culture of its own. But just recently the Minister of Canadian Heritage referred again to Canadian culture. For her, anything relating to Quebec's culture is in fact a regional aspect of the broader Canadian culture.
I think it is more in this perspective of building Canada according to the Canadian vision that Bill C-36 must be viewed. Especially since the bill expands the mandate of the new institution, Library and Archives of Canada, to include a reference to the interpretation of Canadian history.
There is great cause for concern there, because if there is one area in which diversity and complexity preclude any official interpretation or something of the sort it is that one. I would be curious to know how Canadian history would be interpreted under that mandate. Take Louis Riel for example.
I will tell members a story. I had opportunity to visit Charlottetown. They have a sort of Fathers of Confederation museum, where they outline how the Canadian Confederation came about. This kind of information is always interesting, but it was set in a clearly Canadian vision. For instance, I learned there that Louis Riel had played an important role in the creation of the province of Manitoba. But there was no mention anywhere of the fact that he was hanged for high treason. Is that the interpretation we will be given of this tragic chapter of our history?
There was also conscription, both in 1917 and during the second world war. Canadians and Quebeckers interpret this event completely differently. In this respect, which interpretation will be considered the right one? I can give another example, the War Measures Act of 1970. No matter how we try to look at this, surely our interpretation will be different.
This is extremely dangerous. One of our top sociologists, Guy Rocher, conducted a study with one of his colleagues, whose name I unfortunately forget, on the perspective found in the history books used by schools in Canada and Quebec. He was able to prove that this perspective was completely different, depending on whose it was, Quebec's or Canada's.
As a result, I think that this aspect should be totally eliminated from the mandates of the Library and Archives of Canada. This results in a reductionism that does not correspond to reality. History is constant evolving. Our interpretation of the past is constantly subject to change.
For example, our current view of the first nations is quite different from our view at turn of the century. We realized a number of things that might not have been so important back then. Values also change.
All this to say that this aspect must be totally eliminated. Overall, this legislation is not relevant. As a result, although we agree with some of the Canadian Alliance's motions, in the end, the Bloc Quebecois will vote against Bill C-36.