Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the government for responding to the requests made by certain parliamentarians who, I acknowledge, are from all parties in this House. Congratulations for responding to the presentations by the film industry.
I am a member from Montreal. You know that Montreal, Old Montreal, Saint-Joseph's Oratory, the Olympic Park and the major tourist areas of Quebec are sites often used by producers for filming. For example, Château Dufresne is located in my riding. I do not know if some of you have visited this middle-class residence that is open to the public.
Maisonneuve was an independent city annexed by the City of Montreal in 1918. The Dufresnes were philanthropists to some extent. They held various positions, including that of city engineer. They played a very important role in the development of what was a working class city. Maisonneuve was deemed to be the Pittsburgh of Canada, as industry was very prosperous, particularly what we would call traditional industries such as footwear and clothing manufacturers and the Vickers shipyard.
Thus, given that Hochelaga-Maisonneuve is a popular location for filming, we had to respond to the industry's concerns, especially since movies first and foremost require financial arrangements. There is perhaps a tendency to overlook that fact. It costs millions of dollars to make a movie. Producers receive support from public organizations; however, private capital is also invested. Therefore, in cinematography, in the film industry, the issue of intellectual property is important.
I will digress briefly. Counterfeiting, not just of movies but of other products, is a reality that should concern us. I see my colleague from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, who was on the committee. Last night, I was rereading the Report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security tabled a few days ago. This committee carried out a brief but rather interesting review of the entire issue of counterfeiting, including the issue of movie pirating. I will read from page six of the report:
To date, Canada has no comprehensive independent study of the impact of counterfeiting and piracy. That being said, the Manufacturers and Exporters of Canada estimate the economic impact of these activities to be between $20 and $30 billion a year. Chief Superintendent Mike Cabana (Director General, Border Integrity, Federal and International Operations, RCMP) for his part said that “[w]hile the RCMP are not prepared to give exact figures […] I'm comfortable stating that the impact [of these activities in Canada] is easily in the billions of dollars, and it is growing.”
Why read this excerpt from the report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security that has roughly 14 recommendations? Because, of course, this may seem trivial, but everyone has a responsibility, as parliamentarians, citizens or consumers, to ensure that the products we consume are not counterfeit. We have to be careful not to encourage the counterfeiting phenomenon.
This reality applies to the film industry, for which Montreal is a major centre. Distributors come to shoot scenes at the St. Joseph Oratory, at the Château Dufresne, in Old Montreal or at Olympic Park. The industry has rallied together.
The Canadian Film and Television Production Association has made representations to the minister and all the opposition parties. It was these representations that prompted me to propose a motion in March in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
The motion received almost unanimous support. All the government members supported the motion, and I thank them for that. All the Liberal colleagues supported it as well, with the exception of the hon. member for Scarborough Centre, who felt there was duplication—which was not the case. Of course, the Bloc Québécois supported the motion, as did our NDP colleagues.
My motion was the following. I will read it to remind everyone of its importance and how it responds to a concern felt by a number of parliamentarians. I proposed that the committee consider the following:
Whereas since the discovery of the first case of camcorder piracy in Canada in 2003, more than 90 films have been copied in more than 40 different movie theatres in Canada;
Whereas in 2005, the counterfeiting attributable to copies made in Canadian movie theatres accounted for roughly 20% of all copies recorded in a theatre on a camcorder;—
According to the American Film Distributors' Association, Canada was responsible for 20% of international film pirating. It is even reported that Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Prime Minister discussed this when they met. Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie career is well known. Some people even joke that he is my double.
I will now read the second part of the motion:
It is moved:
That the Standing Committee on Justice devote a sitting to analysis of the problem of pirating of films in Canada, and that representatives of the industry and of the Department of Justice be invited to appear before the Committee;
That this sitting be held no later than the Committee’s last sitting in June.
I withdrew my motion because the government introduced its bill, which all the House leaders agreed to fast-track. This House could dispose of the bill today.
What was the issue? What was the problem? Unauthorized reproduction of movies or cinematographic works is prohibited. The Copyright Act provides for a fine of $1 million or up to five years in prison. The problem was this. According to the manager of the Star Cité movie theatre on Pierre-De Coubertin Avenue in Hochelaga, people would come into the theatre with miniature camcorders or similar equipment and, using the appropriate technology, would reproduce any popular movie that was in demand. When the manager called the local police, they refused to intervene, for two reasons. First, unauthorized recording violates the federal Copyright Act, which the RCMP is responsible for enforcing. Not all communities have a unit that is available to take action against movie pirating. Second, the police said that it was necessary not only to catch the counterfeiter in the act, but to prove he or she was reproducing the film for commercial distribution. Neither was easy to do.
This is why the industry has asked for an amendment to the Criminal Code. When a provision is included in the Criminal Code, local bodies responsible for upholding the law—the local precinct in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, for example—can intervene and arrest individuals who violate the Criminal Code.
Once again, I am very happy that the voice of the industry, to which the opposition had lent its support, has been heard by the government. I hope that this House will quickly dispose of Bill C-59, that we will send it to the other place and that our colleagues will act quickly, because there are billions of dollars at stake here.
It is important to send a clear message to the international community that we will not tolerate what is going on now. We are concerned about protecting intellectual property and we want large film distributors to keep seeing Quebec and Canada as places where movies can be filmed, where they can be screened and where they can be premiered.
An American production company has already refused to hold advance screenings in Canada. This situation had to be fixed, since this industry is important to the economy, and impacts a number of different ridings.
I will conclude by congratulating the government for having listened to the industry and the opposition parties.