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House of Commons Hansard #170 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendments.

Topics

Devils Lake Diversion ProjectRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

June 13th, 2007 / 3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The Chair has received a request for an emergency debate from the hon. member for Winnipeg North. I will now hear the hon. member.

Devils Lake Diversion ProjectRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise under Standing Order 52 to ask you to agree to an emergency debate on the operations of the Devils Lake outlet in the state of North Dakota.

I believe we do not have a minute to lose. The situation is extremely serious, with the tap having been turned on and the gates opened at 2 p.m. this past Monday, June 11, so that water is now flowing through the Devils Lake outlet into the Sheyenne River and into the Red River, making its way into Canadian waters, meaning that a death sentence for the sixth Great Lake in this country in effect has been delivered.

We are talking about the largest inland fresh water fishery in Canada, with contaminated water moving our way containing foreign materials and at least three parasites not found in Canadian waters.

Two years ago this issue came before the House on a crisis basis. That crisis was averted through work by all levels of government on both sides of the border in seeking a cooperative arrangement and ended up with governments agreeing to an approach that involved the installation of an advanced filter system that was supposed to have been installed beginning in August 2005. That installation of a sophisticated filter system has not occurred and the crisis is now back.

We are dealing with the possibility of polluting an entire Canadian ecosystem, with very invasive species making their way into the Red River and Lake Winnipeg. We are talking about the possibility of serious contamination and pollution of our water systems and we are talking about a brewing international incident.

The premier of Manitoba has spoken out and indicated that he is very disappointed by the decision of North Dakota to operate this prior to the installation of permanent and effective treatment measures. He is talking now about retaliatory measures and we have a very serious situation brewing.

The premier of Manitoba has mentioned that this has been an issue raised by the Prime Minister of Canada with President Bush on two separate occasions. He mentioned that the Prime Minister of Canada raised this matter directly with Governor Hoeven of North Dakota last year in Gimli.

This is a matter with serious consequences for all in this country. It is a matter of great urgency. I beg of you, Mr. Speaker, to consider arranging for an emergency debate at the earliest opportunity.

Devils Lake Diversion ProjectRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. member for Winnipeg North for her submissions on this point. I am going to take the matter under advisement and I will return to the House in due course with a decision with respect to the debate.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs is rising on a point of order.

Alleged Conduct of Member for Calgary EastPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, last Friday the member for Brampton—Springdale raised what she called a question of privilege concerning a conversation at a meeting held last Thursday.

I leave the issue whether this is really a question of privilege in your wise judgment, Mr. Speaker, which I know will be fair based on my past experiences of your rulings.

I know the member for Brampton--Springdale was hurt that she was not successful in her attempt to become the president of the Canada-India Parliamentary Friendship Group. I know she blames me for that. However, the decision was for the members to make.

Mr. Speaker, I at no time acted or intended to act in any manner to intimidate the member for Brampton--Springdale. I believe we are here to work for our country.

I call on the member for Brampton--Springdale, and equally applying to me, to work together to support the new office bearers.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-59, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (unauthorized recording of a movie), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to open up the debate on Bill C-59, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (unauthorized recording of a movie).

Camcording is the most significant threat facing the motion picture industry. One good camcorder can trigger an avalanche of illegal downloads and result in bootleg copies in street markets around the world.

In recent months, there has been well-publicized criticism of Canada from some in the United States film industry claiming that Canada is a haven for illegal camcording. For example, in January of this year the Globe and Mail reported that the Hollywood-based president of domestic distribution for one of the major U.S. movie studies had sent a blistering letter to the chief executive of Cineplex Entertainment, Canada's biggest cinema chain.

The letter identified Canadian theatres as a source of illegal camcording and threatened to stop sending copies of all its films to 130 Cineplex movie houses or push back Canadian release dates.

It is also true that the United States trade representative and other American politicians have expressed concerns about Canadian camcording.

Last Thursday, after the government gave notice that it would be introducing anti-camcording legislation, an article entitled “Ottawa muscles in on video piracy ” appeared in the Globe and Mail. The article recalled that Canada was placed on a United States government watch list for a lack of intellectual property rights enforcement, along with the notorious film piracy hubs such as Lebanon, China, the Philippines and Russia.

It might be argued that we are responding to the United States motion picture industry to take action against camcorders, but I would like to emphasize that this issue is important to Canadians as well. The motion picture sector is an important component of Canada's cultural industries. Canada not only has a vital domestic film industry creating films by Canadians for distribution domestically and internationally, but it is also an important part of the U.S. film industry which locates much production in Canadian locales.

Canada is also part of the U.S. domestic market for film exhibition with Canadians enjoying the first release of major motion pictures at the same time that they are released in the United States.

Unfortunately, this makes Canada an attractive venue for camcording: the making of unauthorized copies of first release films that are in high demand around the world where these films have yet to be released.

Digital technology and the Internet have facilitated the illicit reproduction and distribution of films.

Canadian films are also subject to piracy as the notorious example provided by the pirated version of the Canadian blockbuster Bon Cop, Bad Cop available before its official release on DVD.

A decision by Warner Bros., announced on May 8, to cancel all preview screenings in the country out of concern over piracy further illustrates the impact that this problem is having, and the problem is growing.

I do not want to leave members with the impression that under present Canadian law it is open season for camcording in Canada. I have pointed out on a number of occasions that there are provisions within the Copyright Act of fines up to $1 million and imprisonment up to five years for anyone who copyrights material with intention to commercially use that.

However, we are responding to a growing problem, one that I believe has international repercussions since Canada is seen as a source for providing illicit copies of films for the worldwide market.

It is for this reason the government feels it is necessary to act. We are not in the business of facilitating this type of activity.

There is broad-based support from across the film production, distribution, and exhibition industry in Canada for an explicit legislative measure to stem the flow of illicit copies of films that are made and put into circulation. Accordingly, the government has taken decisive action that would make camcording movies in theatres illegal.

In doing so, Canada is joining in international efforts to protect the intellectual property interests of the film industry in Canada and abroad from those who would make unauthorized copies of newly-released movies either for their own use, with or without participation of others, for the purpose of selling, renting or other commercial distribution of pirated films.

In the time left to me today, I would like to say something about the proposed amendments to the Criminal Code contained in Bill C-59.

The proposed legislation is aimed at deterring unauthorized camcording activities in movie theatres in Canada. Our main purpose in amending the Criminal Code instead of the Copyright Act is to ensure that local police and not merely the RCMP are engaged in an effort to stop camcording.

At present local police forces are not accustomed to enforcing the Copyright Act and therefore are reluctant to respond to calls from theatre owners. They are also reluctant to respond because of the difficulty in obtaining the evidence to prove the intent of camcording for commercial gain, as I indicated. That is a deficiency in the current law.

Currently, the Copyright Act only provides offences against camcording when it can be linked to copyright infringement and that is not what happens in these cases. They get these individuals, slip them a couple of hundred dollars to do the job, and they are not in the business of commercial redistribution, so that is what the bill takes aim at.

It would amend the Criminal Code to create two new offences; first, which we can call simple camcording that would prohibit the recording of a movie in a movie theatre without the consent of the theatre manager; and second, we can refer to as camcording for the purpose. That would prohibit the recording of a movie in a movie theatre without the consent of the theatre manager for the purpose of selling, renting or other commercial distribution of a copy of the recorded movie.

Simple camcording would be a hybrid offence punishable on indictment by imprisonment for not more than two years or on summary conviction by six months imprisonment or a fine of $2,000, or both. It would establish a clear prohibition on conduct which is a precursor to the more blameworthy criminal activity of camcording for the purpose, or camcording as part of the DVD piracy operation under the Copyright Act.

Camcording for the purpose of sale, rental or other commercial distribution of a copy of the motion picture is a more serious offence. In addition to proof that the accused engaged in the unauthorized recording of a motion picture in a movie theatre, it requires proof that the individual did so for the purpose of selling, renting or other commercial distribution of copies of the film.

Camcording for the purpose would also be a hybrid offence but would be punishable on indictment for not more than five years imprisonment.

Bill C-59 would also provide the court with the authority to order the forfeiture of anything used in the commission of these offences such as the camcorder itself.

Camcording may constitute the first step for both copyright infringement and fraud, and in this context a person engaging in such activities could be found to be engaging in conduct that constitutes a criminal organization offence.

Criminalization of this activity in the Criminal Code could enhance the capability of Canadian law enforcement to combat transnational organized crime activities pertaining to the fabrication and trafficking of pirated videos. The enforcement of these new Criminal Code offences would primarily be the responsibility of the local police who are better positioned to respond to calls from local theatre owners and would be prosecuted by provincial prosecutors.

It is worth noting that on May 24 Japan's parliament passed legislation which criminalizes the camcording of motion pictures in theatres. Scheduled to go into effect in August of this year, the legislation prohibits the use of any recording device in cinemas and is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.

Mr. Speaker, I will end my remarks by thanking my colleagues, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Industry for their assistance, and of course the Minister of the Environment who was good enough to second this piece of legislation because I know of his concern in this particular area, as well as in many others. I know that all members of the House will want to support this piece of legislation.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see the bill presented. The motion picture industry in Canada is very important to our economy. Overall it brings just under $5 billion to the Canadian economy and employs a full time equivalence of almost 125,000 people.

The credibility of Canada, not only as a place to show films but as a place to make films, is important because we have Vancouver for example which is the third largest film production centre in North America after Los Angeles and New York.

In fact, in British Columbia the industry accounts for $1.2 billion in the economy and employs over 35,000 people. The motion picture industry employs approximately 5,000 people in my riding of North Vancouver and it adds $100 million just to the economy in my riding. It is very important to British Columbia and important to Canada.

This bill is to come into effect this fall. Has the minister had any estimate in preparing the bill as to how much piracy the producers believe is happening? More particularly I understand the bill is answering a very strong concern that has come from American film producers who we rely on very much in terms of our foreign production and that is just like tourist dollars coming in. I am pleased to see it happen and I wonder if he has had any particular estimate of figures.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is quite correct. This has gained considerable interest within the American film industry. That is an important component of the Canadian film production industry on a number of levels. In addition, as the hon. member pointed out, there is a very strong Canadian film industry. I indicated that one of the Canadian blockbusters released recently was a victim of piracy.

This is a multi-million dollar business. I am told that literally within hours of one of these movies being released there are pirated copies out on the streets. It is quite incredible.

It costs millions of dollars. It is a threat to the Canadian film industry and the United States film industry. It is the kind of activity that we cannot tolerate in this country. When we see gaps in the law, as I believe there are, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that our laws are up to date and they are meeting the challenges.

I indicated in my comments that this type of activity can be related to organized crime. This is another scourge on which we have to take action. It is not only going after that individual who has a camcorder sitting in a movie theatre. This person is the first step in a long line of individuals who are out stealing other people's property.

There are losses of millions of dollars, but it certainly is the kind of activity we cannot tolerate. I certainly hope this would have the support of all members of the House.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is important to my riding. That is why I am very supportive of it.

I have introduced Bill C-453, which would call for the creation of a film secretariat. It could be called an industry advisory board, a permanent board. The idea is to bring the different sectors of the motion picture industry in Canada together in a way to work with the government, so we can help address the problems that come up and become aware of them.

In this case it is a problem they have in dealing with the distribution side of film. There are other sides relating to tax credits and the taxing of actors. There is a whole range of ways between the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Department of Finance and National Revenue that we affect the motion picture industry.

Does the minister have any other plans for assistance to this very vital industry? Does he think the concept of having some form of a major industry advisory board or a secretariat would be useful?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the hon. member's private member's bill, I am sure it will be looked at very carefully by both of my colleagues, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Finance.

The hon. member touches upon one important aspect of the film industry. He elicited a number of concerns of that industry. This is something it is asking for specifically. It is something we can do as parliamentarians.

My concern, among others as justice minister, is to ensure that our Criminal Code is responsive to the type of activity that police confront. This is a specific response that can have a huge impact in a positive way on the motion picture industry, both the domestic and the foreign film industry. It is something that should commend itself to every member of the House of Commons. Then let us get it off to the Senate and have it passed there as well.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I very much welcome the bill coming forward. As chair of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, I know it has been a thorn in our side. We feel piracy is definitely theft, when one steals something and then sells it. It is no different than stealing a car, or stealing money or whatever.

It is in the right area now with the Minister of Justice. It is a justice issue, and I know the movie industry, both offshore and in Canada, will welcome this with open arms.

When will the bill come into effect? Could it be this fall?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

First, Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for Perth—Wellington and thank him for his encouragement to bring forward legislation like this. I also thank him for all the work he has done in the committee. It is much appreciated by all members of the House.

The member has pointed out that what we are talking about is theft. We are talking about individuals going into someone's establishment, sitting there and then beginning to steal the product that is being shown on the screen. It is theft just like any other kind of theft and it is just as wrong as any other kind of theft.

We are bringing forward this amendment. We are putting it into the Criminal Code and responding to the concerns of people in this industry. We are responding to the concerns the police have in trying to enforce this provision, which was up to this point just in the Copyright Act. As I pointed out, there were changes within this area that the individuals were stealing this work or many times not in the business of distributing it for commercial purposes.

Therefore, we are zeroing in on that. Again, my job is to get this passed as soon as possible.

I do not want to get ahead of myself. I hope the House of Commons will pass this today and get it over to the Senate. I hope it will be expedited there, but the message we will send to the Senate is that we would really like to see the bill in place in law in Canada as quickly as possible.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell you how happy I am about the tabling of Bill C-59. For those who do not know—in addition to what the Minister of Justice said in his speech—two parties worked hard to get the government to finally table such a bill: I worked on behalf of the Liberal Party in my role as official justice critic, and the member for Hochelaga worked on behalf of the Bloc Québécois.

On March 2, I sent instructions to legislative services for drafting a private member's bill to amend the Criminal Code to include criminal offences, as in the government's Bill C-59.

Moreover, my Bloc colleague filed a notice of motion on March 13, 2007, with the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights regarding movie piracy in Canada. The notice of motion asked the committee to devote a sitting to analysis of this problem and to invite representatives of the industry and of the Department of Justice to appear before the committee. It also asked that this sitting be held no later than the committee's last sitting in June.

The minister could have recognized the hard work of my colleague from Hochelaga and of the Liberals on this issue. But he did not, and I do not know why.

The issue of movie piracy is a serious issue for the Canadian industry, the film, movie production, movie distribution industry, as my colleague from North Vancouver mentioned.

I draw the attention of the Speaker to the fact that I will be splitting my time with the member for North Vancouver.

I can give just one example. In 2006 there was a camcording illegally made of a film in a Canadian theatre. That illegal pirated copy went to Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Fiji, the United States, elsewhere in Canada, Peru, Venezuela, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, the U.K., the Ukraine, Hungary and Russia. Copies of the DVDs are made, bootlegged and then sold. That is not all. It was also released on the Internet by 11 different pirate groups. There were streaming sites, new groups, auction sites and P2P networks.

It is a serious problem. The Canadian Motion Picture Distribution Association estimates that in 2005 its members lost $180 million U.S. due to movie piracy in Canada.

Unfortunately, while Quebec is the heart of Canada's cultural industries and has a vibrant film production industry, it has also, via Montreal, become the place for movie piracy.

I have had cinema theatre owners meet with me in Ottawa from Montreal and describe specific events where individuals were illegally camcording. The police were called and the police refused to come. As the Minister of Justice mentioned, the RCMP has experience in applying the Copyright Act, but not the local police.

Let me just give a couple of facts. The Canadian Movie Picture Distribution Association and some of its members has already estimated that the source of illegal camcording of certain blockbuster films, came primarily from Montreal. Those films were Borat, Eragon and Night at the Museum.

Mr. Snyder, who is Twentieth Century Fox's Hollywood based president of domestic distribution, said that at one point in 2006, Canadian theatres were the source for nearly 50% of illegal camcordings across the globe.

For the third year in a row, the U.S. government has placed Canada on its watch list for a lack of intellectual property rights enforcement. As the minister mentioned, that puts our country, Canada, in the same country as notorious film piracy hubs like China, Lebanon, the Philippines and Russia.

That is not all. In the United States the government acted in 2005. The U.S. President signed the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, which made camcording in a theatre, without the consent of the owner, a federal felony. Now 38 of 50 states have specific state laws that impose criminal sanctions against camcorder pirates with both fines and jail time.

Here in Canada we do have the Copyright Act and under the Copyright Act, exhibitors have the ability to lay a criminal complaint before the police and to have that person charged criminally. The problem is, in order to charge someone under the Copyright Act, we have to prove that the individual camcording in the theatre not only does not have consent of the owner but also is doing it for distribution purposes. That is virtually impossible.

In order for the RCMP and local police to be able to do that, they have to mount and invest serious human resources, serious financial resources, and sometimes those kinds of investigations can take several years in order to be able to make that kind of proof before a criminal court.

Let me give the House an example of one of the few film pirates that Canada actually arrested and prosecuted. Several months ago, the police in Richmond B.C. raided a small business in a strip mall, seizing thousands of counterfeit DVDs. The owner, 46 year old Chiu Lau, was arrested and fined for his third time in three years under the Copyright Act. Last Remembrance Day, Lau pleaded guilty to 83 counts under the Copyright Act. What was his sentence? He received a $5,000 fine and a 12 month conditional sentence. He was confined to his home from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. It is ridiculous.

The Liberals will be supporting Bill C-59. I am proud that by the actions of this Liberal Party, this Liberal caucus, by my actions as the justice critic for the Liberals, and by the actions of my colleague of the Bloc Québécois, the MP for Hochelaga, that we were able to bring pressure to bear on the government, which appeared to not be doing anything for some time, and finally did in fact decide to move forward on this.

I would like to congratulate the government for moving forward on this legislation. I would like to congratulate my colleague from the Bloc, the MP for Hochelaga. I would like to thank my Liberal colleagues, who will be supporting this bill.

We do wish to see this bill fast tracked. In fact, we had even offered not to have any speakers if the government would also have no speakers. The government decided, in its wisdom, that it did want the Minister of Justice to speak to it, and therefore Liberals will be speaking to it, and I assume the Bloc and the NDP.

Kudos to the movie industry here in Canada for bringing this to our attention. Kudos to the members of Parliament who will be supporting this bill.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this bill. I had not planned on that when I asked my question, but I certainly appreciate the opportunity because, as I said earlier in my comments, the motion picture industry is very important to Canada.

It is very important to the provinces, as well as cities, because when these productions occur in the cities and towns across Canada revenue comes in that would not otherwise. In the case of foreign films, it is almost like tourist dollars. In the case of domestic films, it helps build the base for a quality industry in which we have skilled technicians who are recognized, for example, the world over as being the equal of the best that there are in Hollywood. Canada is an attractive place for films to be made.

We have competition now from around the world. There is competition from Ireland, Europe, some of the former Soviet territories and the United States. Individual states are very aggressively pursuing the motion picture industry. We have competition from Mexico, Australia and now even from Asia. It is important that we look at the motion picture industry as a package and the areas where we are able to assist the industry in Canada. One of the areas, aside from that which I mentioned and will refer to again, is having confidence that we are going to take steps to protect the quality, quantity and pricing of these films once they are produced.

My colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, the Liberal justice critic, made reference to the costs involved. She mentioned the loss of annual revenue at $118 million U.S. to Canada while the annual consumer spending loss to the economy is estimated for 2005 at $225 million in total. Not only that, the tax revenues that were lost as a result of piracy in Canada in 2005 was estimated at $34 million. That is money directly out of the economy. It is not only hurting our image as a film producing and distributing nation, but it is hurting our economy directly.

I have some interesting quotes. For example, we have support for this bill, dealing with video piracy, from the Canadian Association of Film Distributors and Exporters, the Motion Picture Theatre Associations of Canada, ACTRA, IATSE, which is the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the Directors Guild of Canada. These are the businesses whose products and professionalism are being pirated and discounted by virtue of this.

Doug Frith, who is the president of the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association and provided some of these figures earlier, said:

Canada has a serious intellectual property crime problem, and clear action to strengthen Canada's IP enforcement system is long overdue.

In 2006 overall, Canadian camcorders were the source of approximately 20% to 25% of all illegally camcorded films from the major motion picture studios that appeared either online or as illegal DVDs around the world.

Despite the gravity of the problem, Canada has failed to enact specific legislation to effectively deter camcorder thieves...But we cannot be successful without laws that act as a deterrent and ensure authorities to take effective action to stop movie theft and send a message that criminal activity will not be tolerated in Canada.

As a further example, a movie that was produced and created in Canada entitled Bon Cop, Bad Cop. It was produced in Montreal by Kevin Tierney, the Montreal based producer. He said:

A man was caught last year selling illegal copies of Bon Cop Bad Cop door to door in Montreal, ahead of the date the movie was available on DVD...The man had 2,500 copies of the movie when police picked him up.

Those 2,500 copies are stolen. It means that money is not only stolen from me—it's stolen from the actors, writers and directors and rights holders for Bon Cop.

That is the kind of action that hurts the willingness of these companies to come to Canada and produce here. It also hurts their willingness to come and distribute their product here. We saw the potential that some of these movie chains were in fact not going to have the opportunity to release these films in Canada.

Certainly, I would again compliment the member for Perth—Wellington as the chair of the heritage committee, the action by the heritage committee, and the action by our justice critic. As I have mentioned, the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, and the member from the Bloc also shared an interest in this.

This is something that I believe is important to Canada. It is important to members of this House because the film and motion picture industry is important to Canada. I have already indicated the figures in my previous comments and how important it is to Canada, with $4.8 billion to our economy. Just under 125,000 full time equivalents are employed. I mentioned British Columbia and why it is important to me because it represents $1.2 billion to the B.C. economy. It represents $100 million alone to the economy in my riding.

I know how hard the industry has worked to build itself up in Canada to be credible, not only in the production end but in the distribution end as well.

I believe that this is a very good step in the right direction and I hope that we will see more steps taken, as I have suggested in my private member's bill, which is Bill C-453, which would see the creation of a Canadian motion picture industry secretariat. This would be an opportunity for the various sectors of the motion picture industry to come together to advise Parliament on a regular basis on what steps need to be taken legislatively or other means available to the Government of Canada to ensure that we have an internationally competitive film and motion picture industry in Canada, both in terms of domestic films and foreign films.

I should just clarify that domestic films are the kinds of films we produce here in Canada. They are creatively produced in Canada. The kinds of foreign films we talk about, and some people may think they are foreign language films, are actually films, for example, from Hollywood that are produced here. They could be any one of the blockbusters that we have seen. They are produced in motion picture studios across Canada.

We have had films produced in Alberta, such as, going back a few years, Little Big Man. There have been films produced all across the country and they bring opportunities for local actors, for even local citizens, to have bit parts in the movies and earn money. They certainly stimulate the local economy.

Overall, anything we can do to help the motion picture industry, I am supportive of as is our party. This bill is certainly a step in the right direction and we are pleased to support it.

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4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

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.

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4:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, that was a very popular speech. It was interesting and I would like to ask a brief question.

I had a conversation with my team today on this subject and one member of my team emphasized that a balance is necessary between the new forms of media that exist now—YouTube and the others—and protection of the rights of the companies and artists who produce these artistic materials.

My question deals with the balance in this bill between the older media forms—films, movies, etc—and the new media forms. For people like Erin, especially, there is a lot of concern about the limits on transmission and the limits on copying the new forms. That is necessary because there are a lot of restrictions on artistic expression. That is my question for my colleague.

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4:30 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

First, I believe the bill that we are now discussing deals only with the Criminal Code. There are some clauses that create two new infractions: the first being recording of a film without the consent of the theatre manager, and the second being, seeking to distribute that film for commercial purposes without consent. That is the objective of Bill C-59.

Obviously, I understand the question from my colleague. For example, the Bloc Québécois, through our spokesperson, the member for Saint-Lambert, has expressed concern over the disengagement at the start of the year by certain cablevision distributors who refused to make their contributions to the Canadian Television Fund. The balance that my colleague spoke about is certainly in the facility that we must afford to international distributors, but also in the encouragement that is necessary for Canadian internal, domestic production.

As I stated in my remarks, producing a film requires millions of dollars. Therefore, if we want to see cultural products that reflect Quebec and Canada, with domestic producers, it is obvious that some public funds have to be made available to producers. I must congratulate the Minister of Justice for his diligent work. However, I have very great concerns about the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Status of Women.

In all friendship, I must say that two ministers in this government make the opposition break into a cold sweat. First, there is the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Status of Women. I confess that she is rather hard to understand. In terms of policies, we have no idea where she wants to go and she has caused great concern over the whole question of festivals.

The Minister of the Environment is another case. He is a likeable person, but with regard to Kyoto and our international commitments, we also have grounds for concern.

So, I congratulate the Minister of Justice and I ask the two other ministers to come to their senses. I have a great deal of respect for the Minister of the Environment. I am told that he was one of the youngest ministers in the Mike Harris government. I invite him to come to his senses and become the champion of the environment. The member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie is available, at any time, under any circumstances, to meet with the Minister of the Environment. He will always find an informed member, moderate, balanced and knowledgeable of the issues, in the person of the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

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4:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I would tell my colleague from Montréal that the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie is five days younger than I. So I have five days more experience.

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4:35 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

How old are you?

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4:35 p.m.

Conservative

John Baird Conservative Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

I am 38.

So far as I know, the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie just had his birthday. If he is watching us on television, happy birthday, Bernard.

This is also the first time that I have heard the hon. member for Hochelaga give a good speech. It was the first time that he has supported an initiative of a federalist government, and this after a motion was passed recognizing Quebec as a nation within Canada. I hope that all the speeches of the hon. member for Hochelaga will be just as good and will not be too long in coming. That was one fine address.

This bill was very important. I was happy to see the support that the hon. members gave it, at least those in the Liberal Party and the Bloc. I hope that maybe the NDP members will follow their example.

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4:35 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague and friend, the Minister of the Environment. We learned today that he is one of the youngest members of Cabinet. We wondered where he got that baby face, but now we know it is because he is not 40 yet. I encourage him to always keep his cool.

The Bloc is actually very happy to support this bill on the unauthorized recording of movies. I would also like to encourage the Minister of the Environment to start championing the cause of the environment and to set objectives and fixed targets. He should also follow the advice he is getting.

It is true that the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie does not seem to get any older. He is someone who gives it everything he has got. That is how things often are in our caucuses: we work with people, we are right there beside them, we become friends, and they just do not seem to get any older. The philosophers say that man is only part of the flow of temporality, or something to that effect.

Nevertheless, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his fine words.

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4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

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 Gatineau, Official Languages; the hon. member for Churchill, Aboriginal Affairs.

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4:35 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I stand to speak in support of this bill which, by way of agreement of all parties, will go through the House today at all stages and will become law. This cooperation reflects a response from us demanding to deal with the piracy of movies.

The bill has basically three provisions of note. We are creating a new offence in the Criminal Code for videotaping a movie without the consent of a theatre manager. In clause 1 of the bill, no person is entitled to videotape the film that is on the screen.

I am being told by the member for Timmins—James Bay that I will be sharing my time with him. I did have a note of that, Mr. Speaker, but I think it might be a little Freudian that I buried it somewhere here in my papers. In all seriousness, I will be looking forward to the comments from the member for Timmins—James Bay who is our critic for heritage. I am sure he will have some very enlightened comments on the bill.

The second part of the bill would make it an offence, again without the consent of the theatre manager, to videotape the film for the purposes of sale or other commercial activity.

In the case of the first offence, which is simply videotaping without consent, there are certain penalties but they are of a lesser nature. If it is a situation where the person is intending to use the film for commercial purposes, which is the activity that we are most focused on preventing and, hopefully, stopping outright, the penalties would be more severe. If people are convicted of an indictable offence, they would be looking at a maximum of five years in jail.

The third provision in the bill, and it is an important provision given to the courts, is the right of forfeiture of the equipment that was used either for filming, copying or creating additional copies. This provision would give the courts the authority, on application from the crown prosecutor, to seize all those goods and forfeit them to the Crown. The one exception to the forfeiture is the situation where the property actually belongs to someone else. In those circumstances it would not be forfeited.

What we are doing here is responding to concerns that have been raised within the film industry here in Canada and within the film industry internationally, particularly in the United States, to this outright piracy of films. In that regard, the bill responds to that initial concern that we have had.

It also reflects on the current state of the laws, both under the Copyright Act and under the Criminal Code, which do not provide adequate response to this type of criminal activity, and, therefore, the need for it.

Members may have heard some of the other speakers mention a number of incidents but I want to mention one notorious incident that occurred in St. Jerome just north of Montreal. Two young men were in a theatre with a video camera, obviously intent on video copying the film on the screen, when they were accosted by the staff. The men told the staff that they had no right to demand they leave or that they not copy the movie because there were no laws in Canada requiring them to leave the theatre or to stop copying the film. At that point the staff persisted and one, who was a young woman, was actually grabbed around the throat and pushed. The police were subsequently called. When the police arrived they said that they had no basis on which to charge the men because there were no laws in Canada that would allow them to charge them, either under the Copyright Act or under the Criminal Code.

That incident in particular, but a number of other ones highlight the need for this bill and hence the support we have received from all parties in that regard.

I want to cover one other point and that is to perhaps express a bit of a concern over whether the bill would be as effective as we may have put out the image that it would be. I want to express some reservation about that and I do that in light of some of the background research I did in preparation for analyzing the bill and the need for it.

The United States addressed this problem at an earlier stage than we did. It does have a federal statute that is a little over two years old and there has only been one charge and one prosecution under it in the United States. A number of the state legislatures have also passed laws. California was the lead one. It passed it at the start of this year. Again, there have been no prosecutions whatsoever under that legislation. Illinois, one of the other earlier ones, has one a year or two old now with no prosecutions under that.

The point I would make from that experience in the United States is to perhaps caution how effectively we will be able to use this legislation. The notorious case that I described in St. Jerome will put a stop to that type of activity.

However, we know from information and research that we undertook in the public safety committee on counterfeit goods getting into Canada generally, but piracy of films as well, that a great deal of this activity is conducted by and paid for by organized crime and, in most occasions, at a very sophisticated level.

Although we would be stopping, fairly effectively with this legislation, the small operators, the success of it with regard to organized crime, to a great extent, remains uncertain. That may very well require additional efforts on the part of our governments, both at the federal and provincial level, and by our police forces right across the country to deal with the piracy of film and the use of counterfeit goods generally.

We are prepared to support this at all stages so we can put a stop to at least some of this piracy that is going on, to protect our film industry here in Canada and to protect our international reputation from this kind of conduct. We will be supporting it and we look forward to seeing what happens.

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4:45 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the bill in cooperation with my colleague, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh.

New Democrats are pleased the piracy bill is before the House. It seems to me that it took a visit from The Terminator and pulling of all Hollywood films out of Canada to get the government to finally move on this, but I am pleased it did move.

A number of elements need to be examined in the legislation. One is the message it sends and the other is the efficacy of the legislation.

In Canada we do not support the illegal proliferation of bootlegged products, which are sold and undermine the intellectual investments and the massive investments that are made to make good films in Canada and around the world.

In terms of the efficacy of the legislation, my colleague, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, raised the issue of how much this legislation will cover. I do not doubt that there has been piracy with camcorders, but I have questions about the numbers that are thrown around such as 20%, 40%, 70% of all bootlegged products go out of Canada. I do not think that will stand up to serious second scrutiny. Once the legislation is in place, it will give us a better chance to look at that.

Consumers do not want to watch something that was shot under a raincoat with a hand-held mic and a camera. They want quality. The quality of many of the bootlegged products out there is very high, which leads some to say that these movies are being cut much closer to source. Once this loophole in the legislation is filled, Canada will no longer be the whipping child for so-called piracy. The issue of where high quality bootlegged products are coming from will have to be addressed.

We also need to address copyright legislation for the 21st century. Piracy and bootlegging are different than the issue of remuneration of copyright, but there are overlaps. Sometimes the overlaps are confusing, but they are instructive.

Canada is in a position to come forward with copyright legislation for the 21st century. The biggest danger would be coming forward with legislation that was perfect for 1996, meaning that it would be all but irrelevant in the incredible changeover of digital technology that we see right now.

At this juncture in history, the movie industry is on the cusp of what happened to the recording industry back in the early part of this millennium. The band width now available on the Internet is almost at the point where people can start to stream movies quickly and efficiently. That will raise serious questions as to how we start to monetize this grey market exchange of intellectual goods on the Internet.

One model has been put out for us and that is the DMCA, the digital millennium copyright act, which was brought forward by Washington. Washington's trade representatives will do as much as they can to ensure that Canada signs on with a very similar restrictive copyright regime. However, there are a number of problems with that legislation.

Just a few months ago, I was in Montreal at an international conference on copyright and Bruce Lehman, who wrote the DMCA, was there. He was one of the key legislative planners who saw the legislation as a way of protecting the intellectual property of the United States. The message he gave in Montreal was that the legislation failed. His message to law students in Montreal was that Canada needed to learn from the U.S. mistakes and be ready to move forward. This is again talking about building 21st century copyright policy and not 20th century policy.

The fundamental issues that came forward came out of the 1996 WIPO treaty, which was supposed to deal with all the millennium issues. Unfortunately, the legislation was brought forward when the FAX machine was cutting edge, so a number of changes have happened along the way.

One of the fundamental principles of WIPO is the ability of the copyright holder to place a digital lock, the DRM, on top of the product, so it cannot be used without permission. The digital lock model is definitely a model to be considered, but what we have seen in many places is the locks have been broken. In fact, in many of the key areas in music, Apple for example, say that if it is to compete, it cannot put the digital locks on because nobody will even buy the legal product.

Therefore, there is a question of how to deal with this. In the United States, the issue was if people broke the digital lock, the company would sue them. Then we had the instance of a bunch of 13-year-old kids being sued for downloading songs. At the end of the day, has that changed anything about the massive trade of songs and other merchandise on the Internet? It does not change anything, yet it creates a black eye for the music industry, which is trying to protect its property.

In Canada we saw the rise of the Canadian Music Creators Coalition. It said that there had to be another way to do this.

We need to start looking at how we monetize. The traffic is out there. Some very interesting models have come forward. With the peer to peer mechanisms out there, there are companies that can actually track how often a song is traded. They do not necessarily have to decide to look at which door it goes from, from whose house to whose house, but they can get a general sense of how many times a song has been traded on the Internet. That technology exists now. If we know how much product and what artist's music is being traded, then it is possible at some point to monetize this in the same way for radio play and for any other use of songs.

Therefore, the question is this. How do we start moving forward in the 21st century to monetize the value? The biggest threat we could have is to have outmoded legislation that will not address the problem. Once the bandwidths on the telcos reach the point, and we are almost at the point, where movies can be streamed at any point to anybody without any remuneration, then we will be into a serious problem.

The movie industry must be commended because it has begun to anticipate this. We have seen video on demand take a number of steps. It has seen a number of the mistakes that were made by the record industry. I am not kicking the horse when it is down, but the it really believed it could ride this out and it would go back to business as usual. It lost the market and that market will not return. However, the movie industry is it is starting to anticipate how to learn from those mistakes.

I will conclude with this comment. We saw the recent partnership between Warner Bros. and BitTorrent, where it allows them to do massive peer to peer trading. When Hollywood is saying that it cannot fight these guys forever so it should start working with them, it raises again the question of how to monetize this into the 21st century.

The New Democrats support the bill as it stands. Let us deal with the issue of piracy and with the issue of bootlegging, but let us start an honest, open discussion on how we can copyright in the 21st century that works for everyone.

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4:55 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank both my colleagues for their eloquent interventions on this bill. I share their support for it, but share their view that it does not fully address the issue of copyright, nor even the issue of bootlegging film.

I come from Toronto and am pleased to represent a riding with so much artistic talent such as filmmakers, writers, musicians, painters and dancers. It is a very rich area and the whole issue of copyright is of great concern to my constituents.

Obviously we want to protect the rights of the creators of art and ensure that their rights, their work and their livelihoods are protected. However, we also want to adapt with the changing world of technology, and we do not want to be so restrictive that we are limiting educational institutions, universities and libraries in getting access to art.

Therefore, how does my colleague envision the changes with this technology affecting copyright and access by educational institutions while still protecting the rights of creators?

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4:55 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague hit the nail on the head. Copyright has always been an issue of balance. It is the balancing of competing interests and it is messy. It is not an easy way of going forward, but it is possible. From previous legislative attempts, we saw there were major concerns about access for universities and schools.

The principle we need to start with, and I will it put forward to the House, is a simple one. We have to get over our fear of the big, bad Internet. The Internet has provided possibilities for development for cultural expression, which were unimaginable 10 years ago.

When I first came into Parliament, we talked about the threat of the Internet, the threat of digital culture and how it would wipe out all our protected little Canadian industries like some big terrible cultural tsunami. We have to find out how we can start to use the digital culture so our immense cultural value that is being created can get out there. Again, I refer back to the Canadian Music Creators Coalition. It is starting to show some really interesting business models for success of Canadian artists internationally, based on the new music digital trading.

We have to look at where those successes are. We have to look at the issues of piracy. We have to deal with the issues of bootlegging. However, we need to start a serious discussion in order to ensure that our film, television and our audio visual content, which is very expensive, can be monetized at a value that can bring some return to our artists, but also ensure access for anyone, anytime, anywhere in the world.