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House of Commons Hansard #134 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was heritage.

Topics

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

October 6th, 2003 / 3:15 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Liberal

Andy Mitchell Liberalfor the Minister of Canadian Heritage

moved that 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, be read the third time and passed.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Laval East Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to take part in this debate on Bill C-36, an act to establish the Library and Archives of Canada.

With this debate, this legislation will take an important step toward our ultimate goal of establishing the Library and Archives of Canada. This legislation was initiated four years ago with the tabling of the English report, and the appointment of Roch Carrier as National Librarian and Ian Wilson as National Archivist.

In 1999, the publication of the report entitled “The Role of the National Archives of Canada and the National Library of Canada” was a clear turning point for these two great institutions.

At the time, the Minister of Canadian Heritage asked Professor John English to consult the stakeholders on several key issues, notably the structure of these two institutions and how they could help Canada become a leader on information highway, which is constantly evolving.

At the same time, the professor was also asked to study ways to better preserve our country's collective memory and improve our access to it.

Extensive consultations were conducted to gather input from the staff of both organizations, as well as from archivists, librarians, academics, departmental representatives and many other stakeholders. Following these, Mr. English made recommendations to make these two institutions work better.

Several of these recommendations dealt with the management of Canadian documentary heritage in the digital age and how to make this heritage available to Canadians. The enormous potential of the Internet was another topic that pervaded the consultations.

In his report, Mr. English also identified several areas where the two institutions already share services. He recommended that this cooperation be expanded to include the management of internal documents, computer systems, cultural programming and other areas.

In their presentations before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, the national archivist and the national librarian told us they had both read the English report before being appointed and had discussed it. As Roch Carrier said, and I quote:

—we saw that there were many opportunities for us to work together.

For various historical reasons, there were some rather puzzling divisions. For instance, Ian is entrusted with cartoons, or caricatures in newspapers; but I am entrusted with newspapers. I am entrusted with voices; Ian is entrusted with the images that go with the voices, etc.

Mr. Carrier added that his counterpart and he agreed that the situation did not make sense and that it would make sense to gather together the great wealth with which they are entrusted.

This joint decision marks one more step toward a brighter future, through the establishment of a new knowledge institute in Canada, bringing together two major organizations and combining their strengths under a new mandate that reflects the new digital reality and provides them with the tools required to meet the needs of a country in this 21st century.

Thanks to the commitment of these two men and the efforts of the men and women who work at the National Library and at the National Archives, a synergy was created. These two institutions have worked together on various projects and reinforced the existing bond between them. They already share several administrative functions such as finance, human resources, some facilities, security and information and preservation services.

The directors did all they could in the current context. Nonetheless, they quickly realized that a merger was the logical next step.

Combining these two institutions could provide us with enormous potential. Following this initiative, Bill C-36 was presented in the House in May, 2003. Then, in June, just before the House adjourned for the summer, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage reviewed the bill.

The committee heard from a large number of witnesses, who talked about numerous elements of the bill, and an exhaustive discussion ensued, as could be expected. One of the most interesting things to note is that although every witness wanted to express an opinion, everyone was unanimous and enthusiastic about the idea of contributing to the merger and creation of Library and Archives Canada.

All the witnesses—library science or archival specialists, a large number of users and historians, and even potential contributors or authors—talked about how much Canadians, including themselves, would benefit from this new knowledge institute.

Together we have improved this bill nicely. We have introduced the necessary changes to allow Library and Archives Canada to rest on a solid and modern foundation.

What will this new cultural institute look like? Will it be a veritable treasure of Canadian knowledge and history; a new guardian of our cultural heritage?

I believe the answer is yes. In fact, we are currently witnessing something a lot greater than a simple merger. Our objective is not to save money by using the same letterhead, but rather to create a new agency that is more dynamic and effective, with a greater influence and the ability to respond to Canadians' new needs.

I will give a few examples. By combining the specialized skills of librarians and archivists, it will be possible to ensure integrated access to the collections.

By combining the collections, it will be possible to create seamless access to the holdings. For example, a person looking for information on the sinking of the Empress of Ireland would have access not only to published accounts in books and newspapers like we might get if we just went to the library, but also to photographs, manuscripts, and a host of other forms of documentary materials through a single point of access.

With the combined resources and expertise of nearly 1,000 employees of the National Library and the National Archives, the new institution will be better positioned to manage the millions of items in its collection, and meet the evolving and ever increasing information needs of Canadians.

The combined specialized skills of librarians and archivists will allow Canada to be at the forefront of information sciences through, for example, the development in the field of metadata and provide the Government of Canada with the centre of leadership and expertise of information management.

As you are no doubt aware, the collections of these two institutions are truly impressive. No one should be surprised by this, given the broad scope of their respective mandates.

The National Archives were founded in 1872. The mission of the institution, now well past its hundredth birthday, is to preserve the collective memory of the nation and the Canadian government, to help protect rights, and to enhance the sense of national identify.

The National Archives preserve millions of documents of all kinds: films, maps, diaries, treaties, works of art, government documents, photographs, and sound recordings.

As for the National Library, it was created in 1953. Its role is to acquire, conserve and promote documents comprising Canada's publishing heritage. I would like to quote Roch Carrier's excellent vision of these two entities. He said:

In the National Library and the National Archives of Canada, no documents are lost. We have a system for identifying documents and for retracing them. We also have a great responsibility to the nation to safeguard these documents, because if we lose documents today, then in 50 years or 300 years, no one will be able to access them.

By combining collections and personnel, Library and Archives Canada will be able to provide a whole wealth of information, thousands of items of information to millions of Canadians in every part of this country.

Technological progress will enable this new entity to work with institutions all over Canada and elsewhere. This new institution will reap the benefit of the partnerships already in place with other archives and a network of 21,000 public libraries across Canada.

Some of these partnerships may also be strengthened. The bill will assign to Library and Archives Canada the role of facilitating cooperation among the various intervenors involved in promoting and preserving Canada's documentary heritage.

One important objective of this new institution will be to work in conjunction with other library and archives services throughout Canada to put into place strategies to facilitate the identification and preservation of Canada's documentary heritage on a variety of supports. This documentary heritage will also have to reflect the Canadian reality in all its diversity and complexity.

Speaking of preservation, the government has also set aside $15 million in the 2003 budget for urgent short term storage requirements and for studies on the best way of preserving its collection in the long term. This solution is a key component of the preservation and promotion of the Canadian documentary heritage.

Bill C-36 also includes amendments to the Copyright Act. That subject was of interest to a number of witnesses who appeared before the committee. I would like to reiterate why these amendments are necessary. First of all, because Bill C-36 will create a new, modern institution, with the ability to play a leading role in the digital universe.

For example, the bill changes the requirement for legal deposit in the case of books, and clarifies that electronic publications are covered as well. In addition, the head of the new institution will have new powers to periodically sample Internet sites of importance to Canada.

This only refers to Internet sites accessible to the public without restriction and solely for the purpose of preservation for future generations of Canadians. Nevertheless, since electronic publications and Internet sites are ephemeral in nature, they can change rapidly and often. Library and Archives Canada will archive them on durable media, in one copy.

For greater legislative clarity, we therefore propose an exception to the Copyright Act similar to that which already exists for the archiving of broadcast works.

I would like to point out that this exception will apply only to the new institution, Library and Archives Canada, and that it will be used strictly for preservation purposes, with access to these works being limited to on-site consultation.

At the same time, Bill C-36 contains other amendments to the Copyright Act that would facilitate the work of this new cultural institution. The proposed bill will amend section 30.21 of the Copyright Act to remove the conditions that archival institutions must meet to make single copies of unpublished works. Such copies are used for the purpose of research and private study.

Section 30.21 currently states that a copy of an unpublished work deposited before September 1, 1999, can only be made if the archive is unable to locate the copyright owner. It also states that records must be kept of all copies made under this section. This adds quite a burden to our archival facilities and reduces the access that Canadians have to these documents. The archival community would like to see this condition lifted.

To achieve a balance between users and copyright holders, the bill also includes an extension of the term of protection accorded to unpublished works of Canadian authors who died before 1949 to be extended until 2017. This would allow the heirs of an author of such a work an opportunity to publish the previously unpublished work.

The solution proposed in the Library and Archives of Canada Act would be to eliminate these two conditions. These amendments represent another concrete example of the government's commitment to giving this new institution the mandate, the powers and the tools it needs to achieve its goals.

I want to share an anecdote told by Roch Carrier to illustrate the Internet's true potential. During his presentation to the committee, Mr. Carrier talked about the music department at the National Library of Canada which, in the past, has welcomed 300 researchers per year. Now available on line, this service is provided to more than 100,000 visitors per month. That is a huge difference, is it not?

This shows how truly important access to our documentary heritage is. Thanks to Bill C-36, this new institution will have the means necessary to provide on line services, like the Canadian Genealogy Centre and the future Virtual Reference Canada. This will allow Canadians to discover their rich documentary heritage.

In closing, I simply want to say that Bill C-36 is helping us to build something for present and future generations, who will benefit from it. The bill's preamble eloquently summarizes the noble purpose of this new institution as a source of knowledge. It also ensures that Canada's documentary heritage will be preserved for the benefit of present and future generations; that Canada be served by an institution thatis a source of enduring knowledgeaccessible to all; that this institution facilitate in Canadacooperation among the communities involvedin the acquisition, preservation anddiffusion of knowledge;and that this institution serve as the continuingmemory of the Government of Canada andits institutions. I have no doubt that the Library and Archives of Canada will be one of the most important institutions of our society.

For these reasons and many others, I encourage all the hon. members to join me in supporting Bill C-36.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would hope that the parliamentary secretary would recall that she and I had a conversation in June where she said that the heritage minister and she were in favour of dropping the so-called Mickey Mouse amendment which is clause 21 of Bill C-36. This amendment was put into the bill and has absolutely nothing to do with the archives or the library.

I recognize the distinction the parliamentary secretary has made in her speech today that in clause 26, section 30.5 of the Copyright Act is being amended and so on and so forth. I understand there was a requirement in Bill C-36 for there to be a revision or amendments to the Copyright Act. We understand that.

I would hope that she would confirm that at that time, she told me and she also told my colleague, the member for Fraser Valley, who is responsible for the bill, that the government was going to see that the offending clause, the problem clause, clause 21 was removed from the bill. What happened was the member for Parkdale—High Park and others came to the committee and made sure that the clause stayed in.

If the parliamentary secretary, the heritage minister and the heritage department were prepared to remove that from consideration in committee, and recognizing that she was not responsible for what happened in committee except that she was incapable of following through on the commitment that she made, why was the government unwilling to accept the amendment of my colleague from Fraser Valley at report stage to follow through on what she committed to me and to the member for Fraser Valley that the offending clause, clause 21, be removed from the bill?

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, I fully understand my colleague's comment and question.

As a parliamentarian in this House and member of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, he will certainly not be surprised that, when a standing committee of this House is sitting, it is sovereign in its decisions. Although as parliamentary secretary I can work out an agreement, the fact remains that when the committee reconvenes, it can very well change it and do what it wants.

When the decision was made that day, the committee, as a sovereign entity, decided to reinstate the provisions. Unfortunately, my colleague was not there. I explained to the committee members that my wish was to certainly not include them. Nonetheless, the committee being sovereign and not bound to the Department of Canadian Heritage, it can make any decision it wants when it is sitting.

My colleague will certainly understand that that is what happened that day. The members present decided to bring back the provisions. That is why, at report stage, we had to consider the bill as it had been adopted in committee.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely surprised by the answer from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Heritage.

I can imagine what happened. She promised her colleagues on the government side and the member for Verdun—Saint-Henri—Saint-Paul—Pointe Saint-Charles it would be withdrawn. Everyone agreed.

I do not know what happened. When I returned in September, I was very surprised to see that everything to do with copyright had been put back in the bill.

I do not know who she was representing when she made those promises, but the Bloc Quebecois was sure this was not included in the bill. That is why we did not move any amendments during the work of the committee to remove these clauses.

I would like her to be more clear. This happened after the byelection. The new members had never sat on the Standing Committee on Heritage. An entire group of Liberal members arrived and sat on the Standing Committee on Heritage. Are they the ones who decided to have these clauses put back in?

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has some nerve asking me that question, given that she was at committee that morning but she suddenly stormed out. Had she stayed, she would understand how things went during that meeting. I encourage her to read the transcript of that particular meeting.

Also, as a committed parliamentarian, she will no doubt understand that a parliamentary committee is free to make any decision it wants in a meeting.

Finally, I find it unfortunate that she stormed out that day because otherwise she would understand what happened.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, earlier I had an opportunity to discuss with the member for Ottawa—Vanier the matter being asked about. The member is quite concerned about the appearance of those two clauses in the bill after there apparently was an agreement that they would not be there. They are now in the bill.

The member was so upset and he was hoping that maybe there would be a motion for recommittal to have the bill sent right back to committee to reconsider exactly what happened. That motion is not being made because, as most members would understand, it would likely kill the bill, which I do not think is helpful to the legislative process.

I think it is incumbent upon the parliamentary secretary, who in her own speech said that she was in favour of removing those two clauses, to say how this can be resolved and what in fact is the essence of the disagreement.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question. He will no doubt understand that parliamentary committees are master of their own proceedings. They can make any decision they want.

The day in question, the committee sat and decided—contrary to my wishes, I humbly admit—to reinstate the clauses concerning the Copyright Act for the simple reason that, when we passed the Copyright Act in 1997, the transitional period provided for was too short.

At the time, it was decided that the people in the industry, all those concerned, would get together to try and find a solution to this problem of the transitional period being too short. That is why the clauses were reinstated.

I want to tell my hon. colleague, who is speaking on behalf of another member, that if he understands the role of the standing committees of this house, he will no doubt understand how colleagues came in that day with the firm intention of having the clauses in question approved. Being the master of its proceedings, the committee voted. Following the vote, the clauses were approved. I only abided by the wishes of the committee. That is how this situation came to be.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary, is it not true for example, on Bill C-13 which the House has been grappling with, that the minister came to this place and overturned the work of the committee? Is that not true?

If that is true and knowing that she and the parliamentary secretary on her behalf made that commitment to the official opposition and other members of the opposition and obviously other members of her party, why would the heritage minister and the parliamentary secretary not be prepared to follow through on the commitment that she made?

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The hon. parliamentary secretary has 40 seconds left for a reply.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is referring to another situation. I cannot comment on things I am not aware of. Thus, I will refrain from answering, because I do not know what happened during consideration of Bill C-13.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to state at the outset that the parliamentary secretary is an hon. member of this House and any of my comments should not be inferred as to suggest otherwise. That having been said, I find a tremendous difficulty in that the entire House of Commons, whether it is in this chamber or in committee, works on negotiation between members. When that negotiation happens, there is an assumption on the part of both parties I am sure that once the persons negotiating arrive at an agreement, the agreement will be fulfilled. Clearly that has not happened in this instance.

What has happened is that the committee was overtaken by the member for Parkdale—High Park and others who are concerned about seeing that this particular omnibus provision was included in the bill. This was totally outside any agreement that had been made by us at that time.

We should be focusing as well on when the committee hearings actually took place. The Speaker might not be aware that the committee hearings actually took place after the House rose for the summer recess. When those committee hearings took place, the understanding on the part of the Bloc member, on the part of the Conservatives and certainly on the part of the official opposition was that the agreement that had been entered into by the parliamentary secretary on behalf of the heritage member and on behalf of the department officials was that those clauses would be removed.

There is goodwill that exists around the body of this bill and what this bill is actually about. There is goodwill that exists on wanting to get on with modernizing the library and bringing forward a proper archival situation in Canada. Because of that goodwill and because of the value of this bill, we did not see any reason to be worried about what would be happening at committee.

As I said directly to the parliamentary secretary, I understand that the events at committee ended up overtaking her and overtaking the commitment that she had made. To be very generous, I might even suspect that the member for Parkdale—High Park might not have been aware that this commitment had been made. Let us make that assumption, but that does not absolve the parliamentary secretary or the Minister of Canadian Heritage from the fact that a commitment had been made to members of her party, to members of the official opposition, indeed to all members of the House who were concerned about this bill.

This is scandalous behaviour. It ends up undermining the ability of us to do business. It means that all the suspicions and the worry about what the real meaning is of ministers and all the paranoia that there frequently is around the parliamentary process end up coming into reality.

The reality is that the heritage minister and her spokesperson, the parliamentary secretary, have not been prepared to follow through on a solemn commitment that was made in this chamber. Let me be very clear and totally transparent. This means that there will be a question in the minds of all parliamentarians when they receive a commitment from a parliamentary secretary on behalf of a heritage minister as to whether they actually have the intent to follow through.

We were dealing with Bill C-13 earlier today in the House. The health minister came to this House and overturned the work of the committee on Bill C-13. This is very common. It is an unfortunate happenstance because parliamentary committees should be independent. Parliamentary committees should be able to make changes to government legislation. But it is very common that ministers will come to this place after those changes have been made by committee and will overturn the changes. That is the reason I raised the example of Bill C-13.

We could go down a whole list of legislation where this has happened. Therefore, with the greatest respect, I say to the hon. parliamentary secretary that it is simply not genuine to say that the committee is master of its own destiny and therefore she and the heritage minister are incapable of making the change. I am sorry but that does not fly. That is simply not a valid argument.

I suggest what has happened is the heritage minister with her own leadership aspirations has taken her eye off her legislation, which is in front of the House now, and has basically left the parliamentary secretary hanging out to dry. Once again, on the issue of copyright law, the heritage minister has walked away from her responsibility and we have bad law. This was an omnibus bill that should never have been an omnibus bill.

Clause 21 should never have been included in the bill, as I said in my question to the parliamentary secretary. I have the Copyright Act in my hand right now. I understand the copyright law. It was very clear that there had to be changes in the Copyright Act for Bill C-36 to go forward. That is simple and very straightforward. What was not needed was Clause 21. Clause 21 in this bill is the opening up of copyright legislation.

She will know, as a member of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, that starting next week the standing committee will be briefed by parliamentary officials on a review of the Copyright Act. We will be briefed on Tuesday and again Thursday.

There is a whole situation around copyright law that desperately needs changes and I will address couple of them in half a second. The parliamentary secretary knows that. I do not know what went on behind the scenes. I do not know how in the world we ended up with clause 21 being surreptitiously put into the bill. It basically takes a current issue, a vital and important issue to certain copyright holders and advances it ahead of other people who are very concerned about clauses and provisions in the Copyright Act.

I draw to the House's attention subsection 30.8(8) and subsection 30.9(6) of the Copyright Act. This is the basis of me saying once again that the heritage minister has done a bad, totally inadequate, flawed job of copyright revision. By allowing these changes in Bill C-36, by surreptitiously putting them into Bill C-36, by falling back behind the rubric that committees are masters of their own destiny, once again she has done a totally inadequate job. When the new Prime Minister takes over, it will be very surprising to see if she manages to maintain her position as Minister of Canadian Heritage because she has absolutely dropped the ball on this issue as with many others.

In the case of sections 30.8 and 30.9 of the Copyright Act, the relevance here is that the actual provisions that had to be changed in Bill C-36 are in proposed section 30.5. We are talking about things that also need changing and we are very close: 30.5 versus 30.8 and 30.9.

What desperately needs changing is what was inserted into the bill back when we were in committee work in 1997. At that time we were looking at ephemeral recordings. That is when a radio station ends up making a recording for absolutely no reason other than a technical ability to more easily bring programming to air. There are exceptions all the way through in sections 30.8 and 30.9 that would permit the radio stations to do a job in a very efficient way.

As a result of the inclusion in section 30.8 of subsection (8), tens if not hundreds of people are losing their jobs or have lost their jobs this year as a result of this clause. The reality is subsection (8) stops the radio stations from either doing things efficiently in a modern, technological way or by doing them efficiently in a modern, technological way and having an unfair compensation go to the creators.

What it is all about is very straightforward. Nowadays just about all music comes to the radio stations in a digital format. It can come to the radio stations in a digital format on a CD or it can come to the radio stations in a digital format on some form of broad band. When that digital format is actually at the radio station, then a decision has to be made.

For example, on a CD there might be 12, 15, 18, 20 cuts or songs. What the radio station would decide is whether it would play cut number two, number seven or number nine. It does not need the rest of the CD. When the station does its programming, it simply lifts selections two, seven and nine from the CD and puts them onto a hard drive. When a particular song is played on air, it is in a different format and, as a consequence, it is automatically on the air.

As I have explained many times to the House, my daughter is married to a musician. I understand copyright. He is a composer. I understand why copyright exists and my daughter and my four grandchildren are supported in no small part by virtue of the fact that copyright law exists. I am in favour of copyright law. When value is exchanged, when the music is played, then my son-in-law and all other composers and authors and artists should be properly compensated. That is fine.

What goes on with so-called ephemeral recordings is it simply changes the format technically behind the scenes, possibly at a totally different location, and when it changes the format as a result of clause (8), a copyright fee is payable. The artists, the composers, the authors are not entitled to be paid simply because of a technological change.

The heritage minister is prepared to change the copyright law in clause 21 for specific copyright owners and holders or people who could receive value because of copyright law. However she is not prepared to protect the hundreds of people in the radio and recording industries who have ended up losing their jobs in the last year to 18 months.

The parliamentary secretary knows that. I believe her predecessor was with us when we were on the tour to take a look at this, among many other issues. We were in a radio station in downtown Montreal. We went through and saw what actually transpired. Does anyone know what it was? It was the push of a button. With that push of button there was no sound, no music, no playing and no value exchanged. There was simply the transfer of digital information at light speed from one format to another format and, as a result of that, there was a copyright payable. There are other problems within the copyright law at which we desperately need to be look.

Why did we end up with subsection (8) and subsection (9)? In 1997 the then parliamentary secretary, Guy Arseneault was negotiating with the Bloc Quebecois and at that point there were no collectives that could actually collect any copyright fee. The Bloc Quebecois critic, in negotiating with Mr. Arseneault, the parliamentary secretary, had those clauses included.

I hollered in a loud voice at that time. The recording industry and broadcasters could see this train coming into the station and we tried to make as big a deal of it as we possibly could, and good on the Bloc Quebecois.

What happened was this. Gaston Leroux, who was the critic for the Bloc Quebecois, knew there was a collective coming in Quebec and because he knew that, he wanted to wipe out the ability of the ephemeral rights exclusion and he got his way. Why? Because the parliamentary secretary of the day, acting on behalf of the then heritage minister, the current heritage minister, was prepared to negotiate that into this law, and it is bad law. Why? Because the heritage minister had made up her mind that Bill C-32 would be through Parliament, out of committee by Christmas and there was a deadline. That was a roadblock by the Bloc Quebecois.

This is fine. That is part of parliamentary procedure but it does not mean that we have to live with bad law that was created by the heritage minister who was simply trying to get the bill through Parliament.

Once again, we have a situation where this heritage minister, in Bill C-36, has gone ahead and made changes yet once again to copyright law that really should not have been made. I am really not sure what her motivation is nor will I try to guess. The fact is the heritage committee is now seized with the responsibility under legislation, which came to us through Bill C-32, to come to the House with a report on the shortcomings and the strengths of the copyright law and from that point to come forward with laws on a new copyright bill. There is no excuse for the fact that we are in that process and for the fact that this, which I believe is an erroneous part of Bill C-32 to begin with, is now part of Bill C-36.

There are other parts of copyright law that also require changing. For example, the so-called blank tape levy, again one to which I absolutely was opposed, is proving to become even more of a problem than what I have just explained about ephemeral right. Under the guise of ensuring that the artists would end up being properly compensated, the heritage minister brought into Bill C-32 the so-called blank tape levy, which is to presume that everyone in Canada is guilty of recording illegally and therefore we will extract a levy on all blank tapes.

First, that goes against anything I understand about law in Canada. Every Canadian is innocent until proven guilty. Under the blank tape levy we are saying that everybody is guilty, whether they record a sermon in church, or a speech, or something in a classroom, and they must pay a levy on that.

The interpretation by the copyright board has been that it is on the amount of information recorded, not on the length of the tape. The original idea that was floated, and I did not believe it for a second, was it only would be 25¢ a tape and that was really no big deal. In fact it has been substantially more than 25¢ a tape. Now that we have new technology and new recordings like the MP3s and others that have a tremendous capacity to absorb music, the cost of that new technology has gone through the roof.

It will mean for Canadian retailers, for people with whom I am familiar, that some people will quickly go across from southwestern Ontario to Buffalo or to Niagara Falls, New York. I am familiar with people in British Columbia who will easily go across to Spokane.

What it basically means is that an MP3 or another recording device that is available in constant Canadian dollars down there for $200 will be retailing in Canada for $400 or $600 simply because of this so-called blank tape levy.

The problem with Bill C-36 is not its intent, but the fact that the heritage minister chose to make this an omnibus bill, thereby being caught in changing unnecessary parts of the Copyright Act and as a consequence acting in a totally unfair way with other copyright holders.

I say, shame on the minister for putting the parliamentary secretary into the position that she did, in asking the parliamentary secretary to give my colleague and I, and others a solemn undertaking that the clause would be removed. Shame on her for not removing it when it came back here at report stage.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Laval East Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, my eminent colleague, who is a member of the Standing Committee on Heritage Canada, has informed us that he was there in 1997 and therefore he participated in consideration and passage of the new Copyright Act. He will certainly be able to tell the House today what position he takes on the transition period.

What happened with the Copyright Act is that, previously, unpublished works were protected for an indefinite period. That was very frustrating for historians and researchers, who always had to ask for permission before using anything at all. That is the reason copyright on unpublished works was limited to 50 years.

We found ourselves with the situation that unpublished works by authors who died after 1948 were protected until December 31, 2048. In contrast, if the author died before 1948, protection for his or her unpublished works would expire on December 31, 2003.

The hon. member agrees, does he not, that action was needed to make this transition period more even-handed with regard to authors who died before 1948 and those who died after 1948? There was an urgent need for action. That is why we have included sections 20 and 21 in the act merging the National Archives and National Library.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, with greatest respect to the parliamentary secretary, if that were the case then why did she make the commitment to me and other members of the House that the clause would be removed? If it were that urgent, why did she, on behalf of the heritage minister and the heritage department, undertake that they would be removing the clause?

This clause, I will admit, is an essential clause to be looked at in its own way and its own right. Many of the issues relative to the 50 years were brought up in committee, but I know she will agree, and that the chair of the heritage committee will agree, that it was the most contentious part of any of the committee testimony we had.

I do not believe that there was a clear decision at that particular point. So therefore, if we were to do something on that legislation, it should be separate. If it were essential because of the 2003 deadline, a bill should be brought in, in a frontal and straightforward way, in an “in your face” way to Parliament and parliamentarians so that we could deal with the bill.

But, I ask the question again. She has said this was something that was essential to be there. If it was essential to be there, why did she agree to remove it in June?

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my hon. colleague from the Canadian Alliance. I was not in the House in 1997, when Gaston Leroux was the Bloc critic during the review of the Copyright Act.

However, I was there when the parliamentary secretary made a commitment to the opposition parties, resulting in an amicable agreement. We agreed to withdraw clauses 21, 22 and 23 from the bill, because we were told that witnesses would talk about copyright before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

I was there, and what my hon. colleague from the Canadian Alliance is saying is true. Consequently, I want to ask him the following question: since the minister, through the parliamentary secretary, did not respect her commitment, should this government not withdraw this legislation and send it back to committee for indepth consideration and the exclusion of clauses 21 to 23?

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4:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, in response to my colleague from the Bloc, it seems to me that would be the most honourable thing for the heritage minister to undertake at this particular point in time.

She did make a commitment, and we received that commitment in good faith from the parliamentary secretary for whom I have the utmost respect. She is an honourable member of Parliament, and I have the utmost respect for her, but that does not change the fact that the heritage minister was unwilling to follow through on the commitment that she asked the parliamentary secretary to make.

The honourable thing for the heritage minister to do would be to send the bill back now to the heritage committee so that clauses 21 and 22 could be handled in the most appropriate way. I understand that there is a time constraint; I understand December 2003. I understand those things.

The problem has been created by the heritage minister who has been distracted with her leadership campaign. She has no idea of what is going on in her own department.

Bill C-36 should go back to the heritage committee. Although we all have distinctly different points of view, there is goodwill on the committee. We work well together under the leadership of our chair. I am sure we could resolve this. Surely there must be an honourable way to do this rather than having this legislation forced through in a very shabby way.

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4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member referred to the committee as the master of its own work. He was quite correct in identifying that with regard to a bill such as Bill C-13 where, after 200 witnesses and 400 submissions, the committee came up with only three amendments to the bill, and each one of those was reversed at report stage by the government because it was not in agreement with them.

The parliamentary secretary's position is always tentative, and members have argued from time to time that parliamentary secretaries should not even be on committees because they are almost serving two masters.

Could the member advise the House whether the issue about the deal has resolved itself to the extent that there is a consensus within committee?

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4:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am limited in what I can say in terms of the consensus that may or may not be in committee. I cannot say nor would I want to commit other committee members to what might be the case.

For both the member for Fraser Valley and myself, this has been a bitter disappointment, not because of the clause, honestly, as much as the issue we are debating today.

It has been a bitter pill to swallow in terms of the fact that the heritage minister has left the parliamentary secretary hanging having made these commitments. It means that a bit of the goodwill that there has to be in Parliament has been chipped away by the incompetence and the lack of attention by the heritage minister.

We have enough of a time trying to get along when we have such distinct differences of opinion, and more is the shame of it when we are faced with a situation of receiving a commitment on behalf of the Minister of Canadian Heritage and then having her welsh on that commitment.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I want to inform the parliamentary secretary that she has one and a half minutes, so she will want to be brief.

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4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, I simply want to ask my colleague if he believes that the process we have undertaken to reform the Copyright Act gives us the latitude to review the provisions in question. Given that this process is just starting, does he not feel that he will have an opportunity to rectify this situation should there be a different outcome?

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4:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, because of the machinations of the federal Liberal Party and the fact that the member for LaSalle—Émard has not assumed his role that he has gained as the Prime Minister of Canada, we are in a situation where we will undoubtedly be going into an election commencing April 4.

We will be going through the entire summer without Parliament sitting. It will only be a year from now where we will be able to really get down to brass tacks and do something.

Again, more is the shame of it because there are so many people who are negatively impacted and have an interest in the Copyright Act, as just one of many things that the government is responsible for, who are being pushed off by the way that the federal Liberals are choosing to do their leadership in the way that they are doing it.

The member for LaSalle—Émard will select his own heritage minister. At that time we will have an idea of what changes may or may not be possible. Again, as I say, that is a year from now.

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4:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Before resuming debate, it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt, Fisheries; the hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, Gasoline Prices.

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4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this bill, which puts into concrete terms the government's idea to merge the National Library and the National Archives.

We in the Bloc Quebecois are opposed to this idea, because it is part of this government's centralist mind set and its propagandist obsession. The wider mandate of the new institution runs counter to the historical neutrality of the National Library and the National Archives.

The Bloc Quebecois demands that any reference to the interpretation of the history of Canada be removed from the mandate of the Library and Archives of Canada. This is part of a Trudeau-style nation-building effort and, as I said, seeks to instill a sense of belonging based on a single version of the history of Canada.

The purpose of Bill C-36 is not only to merge two totally different institutions—with two different missions—but also to transform the history of Canada into a veritable propaganda tool. For these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois opposes Bill C-36.

Speaking of propaganda, I would like to speak out against an initiative by the people in this government that happened a few weeks ago. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration provided all federal MPs with copies of a document prepared for CItizenship Week, which was October 13 to 19, 2003.

The document, entitled “Planting the Seeds Activity Kit”, was sent to teachers of human and social sciences for grades 4 to 6, ages 9 to 12. Another, made up of four course outlines and complementary activity kits for grades 7 to 10, is called “Cultivate Your Commitment to Canada” and is intended for students in social studies, history, civics and citizenship classes.

Notwithstanding the avowed motives of the minister and the pedagogical quality of the documents, it is of concern to us to see the federal Liberal government interfering directly and unashamedly in an area that belongs exclusively to Quebec and the provinces: primary and secondary education.

The federal government's determination to ignore Quebec's prerogatives in this area is of great concern to me, as a parliamentarian and also as a citizen. The contemporary history of many states is replete with examples of government strategies aimed at controlling education. It would be naive to think that this is not evidence of an obvious desire to minimize, if not totally deny, any desire for a Quebec identity.

That said, the federal government's idea of interpreting history as it sees fit creates fears for the worst.

Let us look at the scope of this bill more closely.

It creates one single entity: the Library and Archives of Canada, resulting from the merger of the National Library and the National Archives of Canada.

Consequently, the government is establishing a new agency whose head is called the Librarian and Archivist of Canada.

The most serious concern about the mandate this agency will have is this idea of interpreting Canadian history. This is the core, the key element of this bill. Let us not forget that interpreting Canadian history was one of the key messages of the government when the bill was tabled in the spring. Can the words library and archives be easily confused?

I consulted reference books to get a better feel for the meaning of these two words. According to the Petit Robert , library means a room or building containing a collection of books for consultation.

It also means an organization with various services, including a reading or consultation room.

The Petit Larousse states, under library: room or establishment, public or private, where a collection of books, printed material, manuscripts, is kept, consulted or loaned.

As for the word archives, the Petit Robert give the following definition: a collection of old documents, put together and filed for historical purposes.

According to the Petit Larousse , it is a collection of documents relating to history belonging to a corporation or administration. Reference is also made to hospital archives, which are described as all documents pertaining to patients. The word also means the place where such documents are stored.

Finally, the archivist is the person who maintains the archives, a specialist in the conservation, filing, and study of archives, historical documents.

When we are aware of the difference between archives and library, it is difficult to understand why the government would want to have everything in the same place.

My hon. colleague from Joliette gave an example of the kind of documents that could be kept in one place but not in the other. Documents pertaining to cadastre record properties with buildings on them or under cultivation, with the names of owners. Clearly this type of record has its place in archives, but not in a library.

Other countries have understood this distinction and maintain it. Among them are France, Germany, Belgium and our neighbour to the south, the United States. These countries make a distinction between the archives and a library network. The institutions each have their own existence and administration.

Can you tell me why there is a wish to merge the National Archives and National Library here, when many countries such as France and the United States are doing things the way we do right now, with two distinct institutions? There is some intent behind this that is not very admirable, in my opinion.

I warn the government against trying to merge these two bodies, because it will cause great confusion about the mission of each of them, and about the administration.

Until now, no one has answered our questions about why they want this merger. Is there one member who can answer the question? Perhaps the parliamentary secretary, during questions and comments, will be able to find the time to answer me and explain why they want to merge these two entities, when in other countries this is not being done? That includes countries with solid reputations, such as France, Germany, Belgium and the United States.

Is it a question of saving money? If so, I would like to know how much.

I am afraid, though, that there is some trickery, some propaganda strategy. The grand new mission for Library and Archives Canada will be nothing other than a way for the federal government to satisfy its appetite for more visibility. Its hidden agenda is to use this new organization to promote its vision of Canada, its own vision of Canadian culture and history.

For a good forty years, the federal government, led by the Liberals, has been trying to rewrite history in its own way. We are particularly sensitive to this.

My hon. colleague from Trois-Rivières recently wrote:

For the past 40 years, the federal government has been refining its vocabulary and clarifying concepts. For the past 40 years, the central issue in this debate is Quebec's current and future status. Some, such as myself, promote the idea of a sovereign Quebec in charge of its destiny. We are sovereignists. The other side promotes the idea of a Quebec with permanent status as a Canadian province, along with the other nine provinces and three territories.

Why not call these people provincialists instead of the more noble term federalists, a concept that has no place in this debate, since it implies the distribution of and respect for the powers of all members of a federation and a federal government, and for their power relationship.

Here, clearly, are two doctrines concerning the potential and scope of Quebec and its people.

On the one hand, the provincialists in both Ottawa and Quebec City want Quebec confined to provincial status and therefore diminished, and its government kept it under Ottawa's thumb and therefore inferior. The provincialists see Quebec merely as a Canadian province equal to all the other provinces, whose collective influence ends at the Canadian border.

On the other hand, the sovereignists see Quebec as master of its own destiny and a participant in important international debates, enriched by its francophone and Latin differences. They see a Quebec that is open to the world and contributing to it as a developed country.

But back to the debate, we in the Bloc Quebecois believe, along with the people in my riding, that there is indeed a Quebec nation, one with its own culture. We are far from the definition given by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, to whom Quebec culture is nothing more than a regional dimension of what is termed Canadian culture.

This is the context within which we must approach this bill. It is the vehicle of the famous concept of “nation building”. That is the reason behind the notion to integrate, by merging the two entities, a centre for the interpretation of history.

This government has its own way of rereading historical events and of deforming reality. The Minister of Canadian Heritage gave as her definition of the Fête nationale du Québec that it was the holiday of all French Canadians. Nothing could be more wrong. When we go back in history, French Canadian was the term applied to the residents of Lower Canada, the Quebec of today. From a religious feast day, we have moved on to a civic holiday, one that is more inclusive and reflects the contribution of all the cultural communities to the life of Quebec.

The minister's comments provoked anger and indignation on the part of Acadians. June 24 is the national holiday for Quebec and Quebeckers. Acadians have their own national holiday on August 15. It is this type of conclusion and distortion of history that may result from this bill as it stands.

When the bill was introduced in the spring, the Minister of Canadian Heritage indicated in a press release that “the purpose of the bill is to give Canadians greater access to their history and culture”.

There are a thousand and one ways to interpret the history of Canada. Based on what a nation such as Quebec experienced, perception of events may differ.

I believe that Library and Archives Canada is not entitled to use its own interpretation of the history of Canada in order to promote and try to convince the public of the historical value of this version. The mission of Library and Archives Canada is to make historical information available, not to create its own version and distribute it across Canada as propaganda.

Asking the newly formed Library and Archives Canada to interpret history so that it is better understood by Canadians shows a great deal of arrogance by the federal government.

In conclusion, the Bloc Quebecois believes that the broadened mission of the new institute only fuels the propaganda for Canadian unity. The new mission goes against the principle of neutrality that the Library and Archives Canada always sought. The government is trying to impose its own view of Canadian history. The Bloc Quebecois will do everything it can to maintain the exceptional reputation that Library and Archives Canada always had.

The Bloc Quebecois is against broadening the Library and Archives Canada mission and the interpretation of Canada's history as proposed by clause 6 or clause 8.1( e ) and ( i ). It is designed for nation building à la Trudeau and to foster a sense of belonging to a single version of the history of Canada; a version that would effectively deny the aspirations of the Quebec nation and its great ability for achievement. For these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois will vote against this bill.