House of Commons Hansard #131 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was copyright.


Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members


The House resumed from September 25 consideration of the motion that Bill C-34, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Ethics Commissioner and Senate Ethics Officer) and other acts in consequence, be read the third time and passed.

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3:30 p.m.

Bras D'Or—Cape Breton Nova Scotia


Rodger Cuzner LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That the question be now put.

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3:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, it says something when the only substantial debate that the Liberals can come up with on this particular bill is to make sure that other people cannot do anything about it, like amending it to make it better. That is atrocious. The Liberals on the other side ought to be hanging their heads in shame. They have come close to coming up with an ethics package that would be useful and workable but it has serious flaws and they will not fix them. I am very disappointed.

I want to talk a little about this whole ethics thing. As we all know it was a little more than a year ago that the Prime Minister came up with an ethics package. One might ask why he would do that. Is it because they were keeping an election promise after 10 years? I do not think so because if they were working on keeping that election promise, one would think they would have brought forward the legislation a long time ago.

The fact of the matter, which is inescapable, and I do not see any Liberal on the other side objecting to what I am saying, is that they brought this forward simply as damage control at a time when the wheels were coming off the Liberal ethical bus. As a matter of fact, I think they have had a tow truck dragging it for the last five or six years. It is a desperate action that they have taken in order to make it look as if they are fixing the problems.

We are in a difficult situation in our party and that is that we have to vote against this package because of its flaws. That produces for us, of course, an extraordinary communication package. I can just see them in the next election going around the country and saying “Here we are, the wonderful Liberal Party. We brought in an ethics package”. Of course they will want the people to believe that they are now becoming very highly ethical. Then they will say “The Canadian Alliance Party voted against it. They are not in favour of ethics”. That is what they will be saying.

Well, I sincerely hope that Canadians will see through that facade and will recognize it for what it is because the occurrences which brought us to this place will not be solved by the ethics package that the Prime Minister announced. I believe that what they are doing is building yet another series of steps that they can take when ethical problems occur so that they can deflect the media interest. I am very concerned about that.

All these breaches that we have heard about have had to do with the executive branch of government: the Prime Minister and the front row of the Liberal Party over there called the cabinet, which is the executive branch in our system of government. Whenever there have been problems, that is from where they have derived. It began, of course, with the Prime Minister himself. He alone has the power to determine whether or not there is an independent inquiry into the thing, and surprise, surprise, he declined. No, let us not find out the truth in this. There was more than ample evidence that he interfered but the results of that are still not in. The new ethics package, which the Liberals have introduced, will not address that problem. It will not require that there be an independent inquiry into such things. It will not require that the minister or the Prime Minister be held to account.

Then we had this dreadful situation with government services and the advertising contracts; contracts being given to advertisers in Quebec, where the only work they did to collect the money was to sign the cheque and take it to the bank. I cannot believe it. No wonder Canadian taxpayers are outraged. We have a government that just loosely gives away the hard-earned taxpayer money.

I regularly hear from constituents that they are having trouble making ends meet and yet their incomes are high enough that they are taxable. I hear particularly from seniors and widows who have a limited amount of income, say $15,000 to $18,000 a year. With that, they have to pay horrendous utility bills and property taxes. Yet the government thinks it is fine for them pay income taxes.

After that money goes to the federal government what does it do with it? It gives it to Liberal friends who presumably contribute to its party during election campaigns, but who do not do anything. They may copy a document that they wrote the year before, put a new date on it, print it again and get another $180,000, or whatever it is that they get for these contracts.

However that money is the hard-earned money of Canadian taxpayers, including those widows who come to my office or who phone me. They want to know what to do. They say that they have expenses but that they will run out of money. They tell me that they have skimped and saved to provide for their future but that after paying high utility bills and all the taxes they will not have enough. Then they read in the paper how some people are getting that money just because of political inbreeding and they are justifiably upset.

The government comes along and says that we will have an independent ethics commissioner because that is what was promised in 1993. That would be wonderful if it were accurate. Unfortunately, it is not. Unfortunately, under Bill C-34 the appointment of the ethics commissioner is, as always, made by the Prime Minister. That is our primary objection to the bill.

When it comes to dealing with ethical breaches on the part of the government, that is the cabinet, what we find is that the ethics commissioner will still be investigating and providing private information and advice to the Prime Minister.

Sure the bill states that the Prime Minister will consult with the leaders of the other parties on the appointment of the ethics commissioner but consultation is left undefined and there is no requirement in that consultation that the Prime Minister actually has to respond if they object.

I find it repulsive that the next time one of the Liberal boondoggles shows up, with a waste of thousands or millions or billions of dollars, the Liberals may haul up some petty little complaint against a backbench MP or an opposition MP and sic the ethics commissioner after them, an ethics commissioner who would have been appointed by the Prime Minister without the concurrence of the other parties.

Some have argued that the ethics commissioner should have the same status as other officers of Parliament. I would tend to agree with that but I would have a further proviso. Since the ethics commissioner would be making judgments that could affect the whole future of another member of Parliament, it should be absolutely mandatory that he receive, for all intents and purposes, the unanimous support of all members of Parliament, instead of just having the Prime Minister appoint him or her.

This is a very frustrating exercise. It is frustrating to the point where one just wants to ask what the point is of it all. What is the point of standing here and arguing, trying to get all those Liberals over there to change their position on this? They do not listen. If they agree with me, let them say so. If they disagree, let them say so. They will not say a thing because they are totally entrenched in their old ways. They will simply vote the way they are told.

The bill will come up for a vote later today and they will stand on command and say that, yes, they agree with the way the Prime Minister wants to do this stuff. That will be the end of the matter and we will have to live with it.

I pledge on behalf of my constituents and all Canadians that we will not rest until there is a procedure in place for a truly independent ethics commissioner, and a truly and transparent set of rules that guide our behaviour so that Canadians can once again put their trust and faith in their institution of government.

Without that, our democracy is at risk, our country is at risk, and our children's future is at risk. We can settle for nothing less.

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3:40 p.m.


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

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this bill. When I became an MP ten years ago, there was already talk of needing to take measures to toughen ethical standards in the government. In the meantime, it has become apparent that there was a serious need in this area and that it was important and urgent to take action.

We have before us a bill that sets out to improve the situation. Fortunately, this bill was sent to committee before second reading. This allowed us to have amendments that improve the bill and strengthen its provisions.

We are assured that the leaders of recognized parties in the House of Commons will be consulted on the appointment of the ethics commissioner, since this will be a statutory obligation henceforth. The Prime Minister had made a commitment to this effect, but it was not part of the draft legislation. It was immediately included during consideration by the committee.

When we look at what happened in the case of the former Privacy Commissioner, Mr. Radwanski, we realize that it is good for things to be clear and accurate vis-à-vis the Prime Minister. Yesterday, he said that when Mr. Radwanski was appointed, all the parties in the House voted in favour of his appointment. He then had to apologize because the Bloc had voted against it.

With a change like this comes an obligation for consultation and written records. As such, we can be assured that the appointment is made properly. So this is an improvement.

The other improvement that was accepted in committee is that the House will have a little more control over the ethics code. Initially, the bill said that the Prime Minister was to prepare an ethics code. Parliamentarians were never meant to see it.

With the proposed amendment, there will be an obligation to table the ethics code. We will then be able to judge its content and check that it is not full of holes, like those that allowed for Mr. Radwanski's appointment, and correct it in a definitive manner. It is important to ensure that a bill will improve the situation.

Nevertheless, other elements could have been added to the bill and were not. For example, the Liberal majority rejected the amendment whereby candidates could be proposed when an ethics commissioner is being appointed.

With it, the selection could have been made from among a number of candidates put forward by all parties as well as the general public. This would have made it possible to screen candidates, and thus right at the start to avoid selecting only the cronies of the regime. After the appointment of such people, they do things which put the government in an awkward position, as we have seen in the case of the Privacy Commissioner. This lands the President of the Treasury Board in dangerously hot water.

In this case, a partisan appointment gave us an administrator who was very lax, coupled with a President of Treasury Board incapable of keeping a close enough rein on his spending. The bottom line: all Quebeckers, all Canadians were the losers. In the end, we appointed someone who lacked some of the required qualifications, someone whose partisan behaviour was tolerated by the government. As a result, funds were wasted and those funds came from the tax dollars of all the people of this country.

In the case of the ethics commissioner, we will have a little more control over his appointment and his actions. There is still no provision that would make it possible to propose several candidates, in order for there to be a choice. Nevertheless, we can say that this is, overall, a bill that will improve the situation and be of some use.

Let us recall the whole history of the ups and downs since 1993, the situations we have seen over and over again. The present ethics counsellor was appointed by the Prime Minister, and was answerable to him. He was, therefore, in conflict of interest when he was required to provide an opinion on a consultation, whether for the Prime Minister or for someone in cabinet. We were left with a situation where the adviser was required to pass judgment on the person responsible for his appointment. That was a completely unacceptable arrangement.

This was a long, drawn out battle to ensure that in future the person appointed is verifiably qualified for the job.

In that sense, consulting all party leaders will ensure that the assessment does take place. Should a party leader disagree with a given appointment, we will be able to say so publicly. We will be able to show disapproval, thereby allowing the public to form a judgment about the merits of this appointment.

I think that we will see the results of these improvements in the next few months and years. They are contained in a bill nearing the end of third reading. We are hoping for a favourable outcome, which will at least remedy some of the rather inappropriate behaviour of the government. In the past decade, on a number of occasions, there has been an indication of the government's inconsistency with respect to messages from the Prime Minister's office, and the facts have borne this out.

It is true that, at the same time, the former minister of finance was in a conflict of interest because of his private holdings, which results in him paying his taxes abroad, and that the Prime Minister tolerated that because, after all, he was the one who had appointed him as the Minister of Finance. But that is no excuse for the behaviour of the former minister of finance. I do think changes are in order in that respect.

Then there was the whole series of consultations conducted by the ethics counsellor, which became something of a joke. The counsellor was asked to assess the merits of actions taken by Mr. Gagliano when he was the Minister of Public Works and Government Services. He found that there were major problems. However, because he reported directly to the Prime Minister, I would say he did not have the courage to condemn things he ought to have condemned.

Now, with this new bill, the person appointed will have all the independence necessary. He or she will be able to form judgments truly independent of government and get more reliable input that can be taken into account.

Let us remember that during the 2000 election campaign, that was one of the Prime Minister's arguments, when he pulled an opinion from the ethics counsellor out of his bag of tricks. He used this phenomenon, since the general population was unaware of every detail surrounding the appointment of this ethics counsellor, of all the consequences and of all the peculiar situations that had arisen.

During the 2000 election campaign, the Prime Minister, as leader of the Liberal Party, had an opinion published and it became the opinion of the ethics commissioner. A citizen who did not know all the facts might have thought, “Wow, that is extraordinary; it must really mean that the government's behaviour is pure as the driven snow”. Still, when we dig a little deeper into the issue, we find that this opinion had been issued by a subordinate and not by a person answerable to the House of Commons and the elected representatives. Thus, it was not a person who was independent of the government.

The amendments to this bill ought to make it possible, in the end, to make substantial improvements that should have an impact. As soon as the new ethics commissioner is named, it will be possible for us—I hope and believe—to obtain much more independent opinions.

There will also be a preventive aspect to this. When the ministers recognized the ethics counsellor—not the person, but his status and his dependent relationship to the Prime Minister—it was quite funny. Knowing that the ethics counsellor would not cause them any problems, thinking that “he is in our pocket and that is how it works”, that allowed them to behave in dubious ways.

From now on, ministers will have to look at things more closely and before taking actions that might place them in a conflict of interest position; they will have to think twice, because the ethics commissioner will be able to issue important public opinions that will have an impact on public opinion. I think that democracy will be much better served in this way.

In conclusion, the Bloc Quebecois is very pleased that a certain number of its amendments have made their way into the bill. We think this is an interesting turn of events, and we hope that the bill will be passed as soon as possible.

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3:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to add my voice to the debate regarding the government's ethics bill.

I find it difficult however to give the government much credit for this long overdue legislation when so many scandals have emerged and continue to emerge on a daily basis.

These ethical question marks take away from the work of government and tarnish the reputation of parliamentarians and Parliament. They draw attention away from key issues that remain to be resolved, such as the continuing difficulties resulting from softwood lumber, the BSE trade concerns with the U.S., and the timely provision of emergency aid in response to crises, such as the recent hurricane that hit Nova Scotia, as well as the VIP, of which I spoke about today.

Meanwhile, long standing concerns continue to be neglected, such as the reduction of our foreign diplomatic presence and reputation, our inability to protect our coastlines, and the shocking state of funding that exists for Canada's military. All these important issues are not given the attention they deserve because the Liberal government remains distracted by one scandal after another.

This is one last attempt to carve out a legacy for the Prime Minister in the final days of his 10 years in power. History books will reveal a different story on the legacy of the government. Beginning in the early 1990s, when the government took office, it campaigned on a theme of ethical government.

Canadians will remember that this is the government that promised, in its 1993 red book, to introduce change to revive parliamentary democracy by improving ethics, elections and introducing parliamentary reform. A decade later these promises have not yet been met and one wonders if the government ever intended to fulfill these promises.

The government was once quick to pounce on the former Conservative government on ethical questions, even though it pursued this path with only the slimmest shreds of evidence. The Liberals continued to follow this road, even after allegations were proven false and millions of dollars were spent, and official apologies had to be given to the individuals under suspicion. That was a disgrace and a great deal of lost money.

At the same time the government faced a long list of scandals and ethical debacles that forced the resignation of four ministers of the Crown.

Prime Minister number one, as I will call him, faces unresolved questions regarding the now infamous Shawinigate affair. Prime Minister number two faces unresolved questions regarding his blind trust and conflict of interest with his multimillion dollar shipping empire.

Canadians unfortunately are not provided the details of the secret meetings he enjoyed as finance minister. Instead, Canadians and Parliament are expected to trust the word of the Prime Minister and his loyal ethics counsellor.

How this situation gives the Liberals the mandate to introduce legislation on the ethical conduct of government is beyond me, but that is what is on the table today.

Canadians now sit and wait as Prime Minister number one sits on his throne long enough to cause Prime Minister number two as much grief as possible and prevent Parliament from doing its job.

The incoming Prime Minister has taken to saying absolutely nothing at all on any policy issue, including legislation that is still before the House and that will be in place only when the current Prime Minister is long gone.

Our new Prime Minister will be the man responsible for implementing an ethics bill, yet his Liberal government has failed to earn the public's trust to set ethical standards. We all know that as we voted a week ago on marriage and now it is talking about decriminalizing marijuana.

Let me tell the House that I have worked with children who were on marijuana and I worked to get them out of an alleyway. They have come to thank me for that. This is another big mistake for the government.

The Liberal government has also failed to hold to the principles of effective parliamentary democracy or accountability. In recent days one example after another of lavish spending practices has cast a deeper shadow on Liberal government fiscal accountability. This is a government however that, in spite of its long list of ethical problems, proposes to introduce ethical reform in Canada's Parliament. We can only shake our heads in amazement and look for a silver lining.

The PC Party supports the principles of improved ethics, parliamentary improvement and electoral reform. For the last decade, PCs have been by far the most effective party in holding this government to account in Parliament and our efforts are now forcing results.

Effective democracy in Canada will be well served by efforts to recognize the need for an appointed, independent ethics commissioner reporting to Parliament, not reporting to the Prime Minister.

The proposed ethics commissioner will have powers to investigate ethical issues, analyze facts and draw conclusions. That information will be released to the Prime Minister, to the person making the complaint, and to the minister under investigation.

I have to say that the Auditor General we have today does an independent job. She does not hold back. She does what she thinks is right. That is the type of ethics commissioner we should have as well.

The PC Party notes, however, that Bill C-34 discusses only the means to enforce ethics rather than the code of ethics itself. If this bill were to pass, what ethical code would the ethics commissioner enforce?

We note also that although the bill calls for information to be released simultaneously to the public, the commissioner will also provide the Prime Minister with confidential information that will not be included in the public report. That is not right.

In other words, the government is reserving the right to edit the public record and hold back any damaging or unethical findings. The PC Party urges the government to ensure that all relevant findings are made available to both Parliament and the public, all of them, not just part of them but all of them.

We have also raised concerns on the issue of the salary of the ethics commissioner. Currently the salary would be set by cabinet, despite the fact that this could have the negative effect of making the commissioner beholden to cabinet for raises in pay. I would like the government to explain how someone can conduct an unbiased investigation into individuals who buy their groceries and pay their rent.

The PC Party would prefer that the salary of the ethics commissioner be set as it is for the privacy and information commissioners. That is:

That the Ethics Commissioner should be paid a salary equal to the salary of a judge of the Federal Court, other than the Chief Justice or the Associate Chief Justice of that Court, and is entitled to be paid reasonable travel and living expenses incurred in the performance of duties under this or any other Act of Parliament.

My party also has serious concerns that the reports tabled in Parliament will not contain more than a simple statistical list of investigations conducted, dismissed or completed. We trust that they will be considerably more detailed.

Finally, the Progressive Conservative Party is pleased that after many years of appalling ethical conduct, prime minister number one's last gift to Canada will be to impose a stricter code of conduct on his successor. Canadians will wonder, however, whether the timing of this bill is for the good of the country or if it is one last joke at the expense of prime minister number two.

It is the hope of the Progressive Conservative Party that it will not be lame duck legislation and that it will be a first step in leading to improved ethical standards and parliamentary reform in Canada. Canada desperately needs the effective, ethical leadership that it has lacked for far too long.

We can only trust that prime minister number two chooses to improve the ethical standard rather than trample on it as it has been for the last 10 years. Rest assured that the Progressive Conservative Party will continue to hold every government to account and work toward genuine ethical standards and parliamentary reform in Canada.

We look forward to seeing this bill. We look forward to many changes that need to take place.

Parliament of Canada ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is the House ready for the question?

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4 p.m.

Some hon. members


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4 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The question is on the motion that the question be now put. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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Some hon. members


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Some hon. members


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4 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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4 p.m.

Some hon. members


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The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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Some hon. members


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4 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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4 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The division stands deferred until 5:29 p.m. today.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-36, an act to establish the Library and Archives of Canada, to amend the Copyright Act and to amend certain Acts in consequence, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

There are 23 motions in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of Bill C-36.

Motions Nos. 1, 3 to 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 19 and 22 will not be selected by the Chair because they could have been brought forward in committee.

Motions Nos. 2 and 15 will not be selected by the Chair because they were lost in committee.

All remaining motions have been examined and the Chair is satisfied that they meet the guidelines expressed in the note to Standing Order 76.1(5) regarding the selection of motions in amendment at the report stage.

Motions Nos. 12, 17, 20, 21 and 23 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table.

I will now put Motions Nos. 12, 17, 20, 21 and 23 to the House.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC


Motion No. 12

That Bill C-36, in Clause 8, be amended by replacing lines 23 to 25 on page 4 with the following:


(j) carry out such other functions as the Governor in Council may specify; and

(k) transfer Communication Canada's Depository Services Program to the Library and Archives of Canada.”

Motion No. 17

That Bill C-36, in Clause 13, be amended by adding after line 39 on page 7 the following:

“(5) The Librarian and Archivist may review any record that the Minister claims to be of a personal and political nature to verify that it is of such character.”

Motion No. 20

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 21.

Motion No. 21

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 22.

Motion No. 23

That Bill C-36, in Clause 57, be amended by replacing line 23 on page 21 with the following:

“sections 53 and 54, come into force on”

Madam Speaker, Bill C-36 may not be seizing the nation, but it is an important bill because it does bring together for the first time in an official way the Archives of Canada and the Library of Canada. The bill does this in a way that would allow them to organize their efforts to minimize duplication and also would allow them to organize themselves in a way that would allow one input for both library and archival material. That part of the bill is worthy of support and should be supported. I will talk more about that at the end of this debate.

There are only 10 minutes to debate all of these motions. That is barely enough time, but I will whistle through them, give an explanation, and hopefully make a case for why we have these motions before us today.

Motion No. 12 calls for the government to:

(k) transfer Communication Canada's Depository Services Program to the Library and Archives of Canada.

This may seem like a small technical problem, but it is a huge issue for librarians across the country. Over 790 public and academic libraries in Canada are concerned about the current management structure, which does not ensure that publications of the Government of Canada are properly handled by libraries and archives across the country.

We heard ample evidence in committee that this depository service should be moved under the Library and Archives of Canada. Right now, for example, only 46% of government documents are ever delivered to local public and academic libraries across the country, and that is because it is just not handled by librarians and archivists right now. Certainly librarians and people who deal with this material want to have access to it and they have suggested this as the best way to handle it.

I have received letters from people in my riding about this issue. Believe it or not, it is very important to librarians. I would like to thank Kim Isaac in my riding for bringing this to my attention initially and her other colleagues across the country who have made a very strong and convincing case that this is the way we should be handling it. I urge all members of Parliament to support Motion No. 12, which would officially put that depository service under the auspices of the new Library and Archives of Canada.

Motion No. 17 is primarily about the principles of accountability and transparency. As it is worded now, clause 13 would allow no objective oversight by the librarian and archivist to make sure they are receiving from the ministers of government all ministerial records that they feel have historical significance. This is done by law in the United States. As the secretary of state or for any position in the United States, that individual has to provide records to the archives. They have no choice. It is a legal requirement.

When the access to information commissioner gave testimony before our committee, he very strongly indicated his concern that, either through oversight or deliberate efforts by ministers, information that should be archived will not be. This amendment is brought forward in an effort to force all ministers to allow the archivists to have access to this material because it really belongs to the people of Canada and to the Government of Canada, not to individual ministers.

We also had testimony about what happens right now. Ministers get shuffled from one post to another or kicked out of cabinet, and who knows what may happen as time progresses, so they tell their staff to put tape on top of all the boxes in their offices or on the entire floor because they believe the information is theirs, that it is personal information and is therefore is not available to the archivists. That is simply not true. It may be useful if they decide to write books later in their life, or it may be useful memorabilia, but it actually belongs to the people of Canada and it should be available to the archivists. All kinds of information is simply lost. It is not done in a nasty way; it is just lost. Obviously material that belongs to the government should be available to the archivists. Motion No. 17 would allow the archivists to have that access and to make that determination.

One of the things mentioned in committee was document management. If I could quote from the May 12 Ottawa Citizen , it said about document management:

Today, government decisions are being made in oral briefings and over e-mail, voicemail, BlackBerry and faxes, with few or no records kept. Files are scattered on paper, diskettes and hard drives. Minutes of meetings are rarely kept and what is kept is usually hand-scribbled notes that bureaucrats squirrel away in their files which they take with them when they move or retire. To compound the problem, Mr. Reid has charged that bureaucrats are told right from the top to avoid keeping records at all.

That culture which is being created is one which we need to reverse to openness and accountability. It will be reversed if we pass Motion No. 17 which would make all information available to the archivist.

Finally, Motions Nos. 20, 21 and 23 delete copyright provisions that have been tacked on to the end of the bill almost willy-nilly and ad hoc. We heard from so many people who said that the way to revise copyright is to do it holistically. In fact, the Canadian heritage committee has been tasked with the statutory review of copyright. It must be done within a set period of time by statute. It is a requirement. It should be done holistically and all at the same time.

These clauses, which some people are calling the Lucy Maud Montgomery clauses, benefit only a very few people and are not the proper way to amend copyright legislation. It has made the bill difficult to handle in committee and it is going to make it difficult here again in the House. We are making the case today that the clauses should have been deleted.

In fact, there was broad agreement in committee to delete these clauses. Through some unfortunate shenanigans that went on in the committee, they were not deleted. They were kept in the bill and they are back here today. They should never have been in the bill and it is unfortunate that we are dealing with them today. They should be dealt with as part of a copyright debate and a proper change, an amendment to copyright legislation generally.

These amendments that are in the bill currently will have a negative impact on Canada's families, researchers and writers and Canadian culture. A copyright lawyer told the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, “Canadians will have to wait another 14 to 34 years to get access to historical material in various estates of public persons who may wish to suppress it”, to lock it up through publication effectively restricted by technological protection measures, “or to price it so high as to effectively limit access, using the powerful weapon of copyright law”. This would hardly help Canadians to tell their stories.

The copyright amendments located within the bill, if passed, would have a negative impact on Canadian families, on Canadian culture, and on historic researchers and writers generally. I just hope that today we are going to fix what should have been fixed in committee, that we are going to delete these clauses and we are going to deal with this properly in the review of the copyright legislation.

I think the members of the committee know that it was done poorly and improperly. It was not thought through well. Person after person testified before us that this should not go ahead.

It is not just the Lucy Maud Montgomery heirs who will benefit. It is funny that people are calling it the Lucy Maud Montgomery amendment because it so exclusively benefits such a small group of people, but historians have asked about the papers, letters and so on from R. B. Bennett, the Prime Minister of Canada during the Depression. They will not be able to publish from those letters because they will get caught up in this clause. What about Sir Robert Borden, the Prime Minister of Canada from 1911 to 1920? It is the same problem.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier was a legendary Prime Minister of Canada. Any of his unpublished works would now have protection until 2024 if they are published first before the end of this year. In other words, they have another long period of copyright protection, even though Sir Wilfrid Laurier of course has been dead and gone for almost a century. The same goes for Stephen Leacock, who is a well noted Canadian educator and humorist.

I urge people to support, first of all, my Motions Nos. 12 and 17 for the reasons I have already laid out. It would make the bill stronger. It would make it more palatable to many Canadians and give more direct instructions to our ministers. I also urge them to support Motions Nos. 20, 21 and 23 which will delete the copyright provisions.

It was the right thing to do in committee and we had a deal to do that in committee. The fact that it was not done there is unfortunate, but we can fix it here today by deleting those clauses and then doing a proper job of copyright review in committee. That is the way it should be done. That is the proper way to make legislation. To just throw it in an omnibus fashion at the end of the bill is a travesty for the archivists and librarians who just want to put their organization together. It has made it controversial when it should have been straightforward.

I urge all people to follow that course of action. I look forward to the debate. I hope the government will support these motions.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Laval East Québec


Carole-Marie Allard LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, I would like to answer my colleague who just put forward the motions. Motions Nos. 12, 17, 20 and 23 were selected by the Chair.

I will first speak to Motion No. 12. It says, and I quote:

(k) transfer Communication Canada's Depository Services Program to the Library and Archives of Canada.

Under the motion, the librarian and archivist would have the authority to transfer the program. However, I would add that it is the government's decision, not the librarian's and archivist's. It is certainly not the practice, in Canadian legislation, to identify programs of this nature. That is why I think Motion No. 12 should not be carried.

As for Motion No. 17, it proposes that:

(5) The Librarian and Archivist may review any record that the Minister claims to be of a personal and political nature to verify that it is of such character.

This motion deals with ministers' private or political records. The motion proposes that the deputy head be able to examine any document to verify that it is personal or political in nature, as the minister claims.

The framework of and the definitions contained in the legislation—such as the Access to Information Act, the Privacy Act, the National Archives of Canada Act—were all carefully formulated to reflect or supplement the substance of each statute, thereby ensuring their overall linguistic uniformity given that they must interact.

Any change to the legal order governing information created or used by government institutions must be made to all three statutes. A fragmented approach to such amendments, as my hon. colleague is proposing here today, would lead to legal confusion that would jeopardize the implementation of these three statutes and would probably lead to court challenges.

This is why I suggest that my hon. colleague's motion not be retained.

Motions Nos. 20 and 21 deal with amendments to copyright. The purpose of Motion No. 20 is to eliminate the proposed application of copyright to unpublished works.

Of course, there has been ample discussion of the proposed amendments to the Copyright Act, now being debated, and in relation to which my hon. colleague is moving a motion. This legislation was studied in great depth in committee. The committee heard witnesses of all political persuasions, some of whom supported these amendments while others did not.

This issue was discussed over the course of several meetings. The committee concluded that the numerous concrete advantages to this proposal, not only for the authors but also for archivists and users, outweighed the potential inconveniences, which have yet to be proven, for some unspecified groups.

The important thing is that section 7 of the Copyright Act will be amended to extend copyright protection to unpublished works by Canadian authors who died after 1929, but before 1949, until 2017. This would allow the author's heirs to publish this previously unpublished work. If the work remained unpublished at the end of this fourteen-year period, it would come into the public domain. If the work is published during that period, it would then receive copyright protection for twenty years following the date of publication.

The conditions for the protection of unpublished works of authors who died before 1929 are unchanged. Protection terminates on December 31, 2003. If the works in question were published before their protection expired, they would be protected for an additional 20 years from date of publication.

In 1997, section 7 of the Copyright Act was considerably amended by Bill C-32. Before that, unpublished works had perpetual copyright protection.

The amendments proposed in Bill C-32 proved to be highly controversial. Historians, archivists and genealogists lobbied vigorously to have the transitional periods shortened so that older archival material, a large part of which remains unpublished, would enter the public domain sooner.

Their arguments carried enough weight that the government decided to shorten the transitional period, and as a result copyright protection on unpublished works whose author had died before 1949 would expire at the end of 2003.

The people whose interests were being threatened by this therefore launched a campaign to extend the protection of unpublished works to allow heirs the time to publish the works in question.

After a number of meetings, a compromise was struck, and that is what was adopted and is found in clauses 20 and 21 of the bill.

Section 7 of the Copyright Act would be amended so that unpublished works by Canadian authors who died after 1929 but before 1949 would be protected. This protection would be extended beyond the end of 2003, until 2017.

This is a compromise that had already been negotiated. Section 30.21 of the Copyright Act would also be amended to remove the condition that archivists must keep a record of persons to whom single copies of unpublished works are provided for the purposes of research and private study, where copyright has not expired but for which the copyright owner cannot be located.

In light of the compromise agreed to by the stakeholders and given the need to amend section 30.21, on behalf of the Library and Archives of Canada, this amendment is put forward so that it can be approved by December 31, 2003.

This is an important date, because unpublished works would enter the public domain at that time and any subsequent change would have the effect of according protection again, retroactively, which could be a source of even greater confusion.

Allow me to note that the changes in question are consistent with the consensus achieved by all the stakeholders, who agree that the changes I mentioned a moment ago are necessary. That is why the motion put forward by the hon. member opposite must not be passed.

Motion No. 21 proposes to delete clause 22, the same way that Motion No. 20 proposes to delete clause 21. As indicated earlier, the amendments to the Copyright Act flow from the efforts of this government to promote greater access to unpublished works and are part of the agreement reached by all stakeholders regarding this change.

Bill C-36 will amend section 30.21 of the Copyright Act to remove certain conditions that archival institutions must meet in order to make single copies of unpublished works. Such copies are used for the purposes of research and private study.

I am sure members will agree with me that this bookkeeping is only adding to the administrative burden of our archival services and squandering our limited resources which could be better used serving the customers of the Library and Archives of Canada.

Finally, Motion No. 23 proposes to remove references to sections containing amendments to the Copyright Act. I think this motion should also be rejected for the reasons I have already given.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.


Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate on the motions by my hon. colleague from Fraser Valley, with regard to Bill C-36.

The aim of this bill is to create a new institution called the Library and Archives of Canada. I must inform the House that the Bloc Quebecois opposes this bill, but before I explain why, I want to briefly discuss the motions now before the House.

I want to talk about Motion No. 12, which deals with clause 8 in the bill, under the heading “Objects and Powers”. The Bloc Quebecois will vote in favour of this motion, because it will ensure impartiality. As a result of everything we witnessed today and everything that happened with the sponsorship program under Communication Canada, we discovered all the goings-on and the friends compensated with taxpayers' money.

The Bloc Quebecois believes that if this motion were defeated, it would mean that the current government has not learned from its mistakes with Communication Canada and the sponsorship program. Constituents and taxpayers would appreciate less partisanship when it comes to public funds. In fact, under the current Liberal government here in Canada, there is increasing partisanship and cronyism. I congratulate the hon. member for Fraser Valley for having introduced this amendment.

As for Motion No. 17, which would amend the bill by adding clause 13(5). Clause 13 is found in the part of the bill dealing with “government and ministerial records”.

I can tell the hon. member for Fraser Valley that the Bloc Quebecois will vote against this amendment, because if we add this paragraph and limit access to verification in such a bill, it would also limit transparency. I think that our constituents, all Canadians and Quebeckers, are asking their elected officials and the government to be increasingly transparent and, when supposedly impartial bodies are created, to allow them access to all documents. I am against the Alliance motion, which would restrict this access.

The other motions, numbers 20, 21 and 23, deal with copyright. I am very surprised that copyright is still included in this bill, since, when we discussed this bill in committee in June, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage agreed to withdraw all these clauses from the bill. We came to an agreement and here it is again in the bill.

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is currently studying copyright.

I do not understand how copyright can be included in this bill creating an institution. Matters of copyright are too important.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage mentioned just now that there would be copyright for people who died between 1929 and 1949. I do not understand this. It is totally confusing.

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage must look into this concept of copyright very seriously. The Bloc Quebecois agrees completely with the Canadian Alliance in its decision to propose these amendments.

It is important that people who have written books in the past be recognized. As for those who were not recognized and whom we now define as persons desiring recognition, can we really lump all that into a bill? I say no. It is too important. It would mean that the government did not accord as much importance to the country's authors as the public did.

The Bloc Quebecois agrees with the Canadian Alliance. We must do it. It is urgent. It is necessary. Everything having to do with copyright must be removed from this bill. That is the opinion of the Bloc Quebecois concerning the motions for amendment proposed by the Canadian Alliance.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Progressive Conservative Perth—Middlesex, ON

Madam Speaker, as the PC Party critic for Canadian heritage and culture it is with great pride that I rise to speak to Bill C-36.

During the early stages of the development of the bill, the Progressive Conservative Party was cautiously supportive of the legislation. We felt the joining of the National Library and National Archives was necessary to best preserve Canadian history.

Because of the confusion surrounding the effects clauses 21 and 22 may have on the future of research, academic scholarship and publishing in Canadian literature, I am inclined to remove that initial support for what is otherwise an appropriate bill.

I have a background in municipal politics and can appreciate the benefits that can occur when organizations are joined together and resources pooled to provide people with more effective services, better use of taxpayers' dollars and ease of use.

When first glancing over Bill C-36, I felt the government had actually drafted a good piece of legislation. It was about time. Then I read clauses 21 and 22 which have nothing to do whatsoever with the amalgamation of the National Library and National Archives. These clauses deal with copyright law of all things. These clauses do not belong in the bill. They stick out like sore thumbs.

Before my second committee meeting it was my understanding that there was an agreement among my colleagues on this committee that if clauses 21 and 22 were removed, then we could, for the most part, agree it was a good bill.

I felt good about the agreement because it struck me as if it was an example of parliamentarians working well with each other, bargaining in good faith, et cetera. I understood that clauses 21 and 22 were to be removed and I understood at that point that most of the committee members, if not all, would support the bill.

Lo and behold, as our second meeting progressed--a meeting which was a special meeting that was called after the House recessed and during which the committee examined the bill clause by clause--we eventually arrived at clauses 21 and 22. These clauses were introduced to be withdrawn as per the agreement. However, debate began on the merits of keeping the clauses in the legislation. Being the only opposition member present, I felt betrayed by this.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

You felt betrayed?

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Progressive Conservative Perth—Middlesex, ON

Madam Speaker, that is right. The member was not there. He had already gone home because it was after recess.

I know some of my more seasoned colleagues from the opposition and others may not be at all that surprised to see this type of shenanigans, however, I was shocked. I suppose I should have expected it. After all, this is the same gang of Grits who promised Canadians they would be ripping up the free trade agreement and scrapping the GST.

The meeting was one with very few hon. members in attendance. In fact, if I had left the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage there would not have been a quorum. I could have left in disgust, but I suppose I am of the opinion that more good can come from rolling up the sleeves and getting to work than simply taking my marbles and going home.

I have learned a lesson. I have always been of the opinion that we can attract far more bees with honey than with vinegar. But I sure hate when spreading the honey attracts a big bumblebee that stings. I feel stung by the government majority on the committee.

I know a shady deal when I see one. I do not want to say I was not told the truth by the committee, but I was certainly told one thing would happen. When it was time to cash in the chips, another thing entirely occurred. We can call that what we like I suppose, but it is enough from my standpoint to cloud the process sufficiently for me to vote against the bill. However, I will continue to debate.

If the Liberals want to change the Copyright Act, then they should table a bill, have meetings with hon. members and expert witnesses in order to deal strictly with the very complex issue of copyright, in accordance with proper parliamentary tradition. If they want to try to sneak through a couple of clauses to correct a Grit error from a few years ago, then they should be open and honest about it. Perhaps some of their opposition colleagues may actually help them to do so. However trying to slip through a part of a bill that does not belong there without explaining why, is not right.

When government members, who make a deal to remove these clauses, then learn from their political masters in the Prime Minister's office that they need to break their word and keep these clauses in, is very suspicious behaviour. It is very fishy indeed. They forgot they had a deal. They forgot they gave us their word. They told us not to worry and assured us that we could trust them. I found out about that in short order at my first ever committee. That is how long it took me.

Aside from the shady behaviour on the part of the government in trying to railroad through sections 21 and 22 of the bill, much of the work I have done on my own has done nothing to ease my concerns about amending these copyright laws without due diligence.

Through a publisher, the esteemed, maybe most highly esteemed and respected figure among Canadian historians, Dr. Jack Granatstein, informed my office that in his expert opinion:

This bill will interfere with scholarship, complicate the lives of researchers needlessly and cost everyone time and money. It is simply unnecessary.

That does not sound too good.

Don LePan, president of Broadview Press, is on record as saying that these copyright provisions in Bill C-36 represent, in his own words: of several significant threats in the current horizon to the public domain; copyright restrictions in Canada are already more stringent than they need be, and it is crucial that we resist further incursions on the public domain.

The following are points of concern surrounding sections 21 and 22 of Bill C-36.

With a review of copyright law in general about to get underway, there is no good reason to include as an add on to an unrelated bill these provisions regarding copyright.

Who would benefit from these provisions of Bill C-36? It is often claimed that authors as a whole benefit from extending copyright provisions. In practice, however, it is typically only a handful of the best known and most enduringly successful writers whose heirs benefits from such provisions in any significant financial way.

One thing I remember just from my life was a deal I made one time to buy a piece of property. It was owned by an estate. We could never get a clear deed on that estate because the descendants of those people lived all over the world. We could never get anyone to come in to sign the papers that were required. This is what I am talking about on the extended copyright. To try to find some of these people would be very hard.

Indeed, extensions of copyright restrictions can be directly contrary to the interests of many deceased authors, not least of all because publishers who might be interested in making certain works available will frequently be discouraged from doing so if the author's heirs are difficult or impossible to locate.

However I am of the opinion that the joining together of the Library of Parliament and the National Archives is of such importance as to require me to look deeply into the bill, and I will be taking advice from my colleagues.