Madam Speaker, I thank the Minister of Industry for starting off this debate and I am very pleased to be a part of this as well as we take a historic step in this country.
We made a commitment as a government in the last election campaign, and also as part of our throne speech, that we would table new copyright legislation, and so we have. Bill C-32, the copyright modernization act, is our effort to get it right. The last time copyright legislation was dealt with in the House of Commons, there were some concerns raised by Canadians across the country and we have listened to those concerns. We have come forward with legislation that we think should have the support of enough members of Parliament in order to move Canada forward.
Canadians, more than ever before, are active consumers in digital media. We are increasingly purchasing our music online, as well as films and televisions shows. We are connecting with friends and colleagues via Facebook, Twitter and web interfaces in ways that were not imagined just a little over a year ago. As a country we have, by and large, fully embraced the Internet and how it has changed the way we innovate, create and live our lives.
Unfortunately, Canada's copyright regime has not kept up with the pace of change. The last time our copyright laws were updated, people were buying CDs and using pagers, not iPads and Netflix. The reality is that our copyright laws are older than most of the technologies that we enjoy today. That is why on June 2 of this year our government introduced Bill C-32 here in the House of the Commons.
We consulted Canadians before doing this. This bill reflects the diversity of opinions expressed during consultations held last summer. These consultations took the form of an interactive website, public meetings, round tables and written submissions from average Canadians. And because each region was included in these consultations, we received opinions from across Canada. Numerous Canadians spoke to the government, and it listened to them.
Copyright holders told us that their 21st-century business model depends on strong technological protection measures. And we listened: Bill C-32 contains protection measures such as digital locks to protect against piracy and to allow creators to choose how they wish to protect their works.
Artists and creators also told us that they deserve to be fairly compensated for their works, and we listened.
Likewise, consumers asked specifically for legislation that would reflect how content is delivered and stored in a myriad of devices. We listened, which is why this legislation, as the minister said, is technology neutral and clarifies for consumers the fact that they can now legally format shift and time shift the products they have purchased. Bill C-32 is forward-looking and flexible. It implements the WIPO treaties and brings Canada in line with international standards.
During our consultations last summer, Canadians were also clear with us on the issue of fair dealing. They wanted to see it expanded and improved. This bill accommodates that desire by adding education, parody and satire to the existing uses of what is called “fair dealing”. It recognizes legitimate rights of Canadian families, schools and libraries to make use of copyrighted materials for their purposes.
Canadians were also very clear that they do not want to pay unnecessary taxes or new levies on iPods, iPhones, laptops or computers, or even on automobile hard drives that CDs can be ripped directly into. We do not believe this is necessary. We do not think it is right. We think that is an old solution for an old problem and it does not embrace the fact of new media. Our government has been clear that we oppose any new tax or levy, which is why the levy issue has been left out of this legislation.
The government made a commitment to protect businesses, which are absolutely essential to Canada's economic success, and this commitment is at the centre of our copyright modernization bill.
I just want to let the House know about some of the support that this legislation has received. It has been broad based and quite substantial in terms of the number of people who have come on board to support this legislation.
The Entertainment Software Association of Canada, which represents Canada's video gaming industry, supports this legislation. It accounts for over 14,000 jobs across this country. In Montreal, Burnaby, Toronto and Charlottetown, P.E.I., in places all across this country, I met with video game and software developers who support this legislation. Here is what ESAC had to say. It believes this bill is “critical to the success of Canada’s digital economy”; it is good public policy and is essential to our economy. It said:
We applaud the government for showing leadership on this complex issue
The film and television industry also supports this legislation. Over 150,000 jobs are involved in this sector from coast to coast, representing $5.2 billion in the Canadian economy. The Canadian Film and Television Production Association said it applauds the government's copyright reform. The government is playing an important role “in ensuring that those jobs are maintained and that new jobs are added over time”.
Canada's recording industry is a multi-million dollar industry and producer of world-class musical acts in this country. It told us that it wants strong protection for artists to compete with the world's best. We agree and we listened. Let us hear what it has to say about our legislation. The CRIA applauds the government's copyright bill and says, “We thank the government for taking this step to protect the right of artists and other rights holders to earn a living from their work”. These changes are long overdue and welcomed by artists.
The artists themselves are supporting this legislation. Randy Bachman of BTO said the entertainment industry's ability to remain healthy is dependent upon a strong copyright framework. Bill C-32 is moving Canada into the digital and Internet age.
Juno Award winning artist Loreena McKennitt, who has sold over 13 million albums worldwide, said the changes proposed in the bill are “fair and reasonable”.
Independent recording artist Michelle McKibbon thanked the government for introducing Bill C-32, legislation “supporting...artists like myself”.
The Canadian Chambers of Commerce, representing approximately 300 of Canada's business associations and boards of trade, support the bill. They said they believe Bill C-32 “lays the foundation for future economic growth and job creation”.
The president of la Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec, Françoise Bertrand, believes that Bill C-32 is critical to ensuring a competitive and stable business environment in Canada.
The Canadian Council of Chief Executives, which represents over 150 executives across the country and companies representing $4.5 trillion in assets, supports this legislation. This is what the former Liberal deputy prime minister had to say about this bill. He said Bill C-32 “will provide badly needed protection to Canadians who create music, films, games and other digital works.” Business leaders say it will protect creators and consumers. The government has struck an appropriate balance with its legislation.
The Council of Ministers of Education, CMEC, which represents all of Canada's 13 provinces and territories and their ministers of education, supports this legislation. The chair of CMEC, the minister of education in Nova Scotia, a New Democrat, Marilyn More says:
This legislation provides the clarity we have been looking for.... It is excellent that the bill allows students and educators to use Internet materials in their learning and teaching activities without fear of copyright infringement.
Ministers of education across Canada have responded positively to this new copyright legislation.
We consulted Canadians and we listened to them. We took this course of action because our government and the members on this side of the House know that the contribution made to Canada's economy by Canadian digital industries cannot be downplayed.
Other people have come forward as well to support this legislation. We get the sense that support for this legislation is broad based and substantive, if we look at the folks who are supporting this bill: the television and film industry, the music industry, digital new media folks, the business community and individual artists.
The Canadian Association of Research Libraries said it applauds the government, which has responded to the copyright reform concerns expressed by the library and education community. It stated:
The government has clearly listened to what the library and education communities said
The Globe and Mail said the government's new copyright legislation should be passed.
The newspaper is right. We think this legislation should be passed.
I do not want to go much further into the substance of the legislation beyond what the Minister of Industry had to say, because I have limited time. However, there is one thing that he did not mention that is a critical element of this bill. I hope all members in the House who are interested in this legislation recognize this important element.
The bill mandates that Parliament, every five years, will be forced to revisit and continually modernize Canada's copyright regime. So whether people have concerns about specific elements of this bill and think we should do a little bit more here and a little less there, the reality is that this legislation is an tectonic shift in Canada's regime with regard to copyright reform. We are forcing Parliament, from now forward, to forever make sure that Canada's copyright regime stays up to date.
Canada has not elected a majority Parliament since November 2000. It has been 10 years. As a result of the realities of minority Parliaments, often it is politically challenging for governments to be willing to step forward and to engage in the copyright issue. This legislation forces Parliament, regardless of political pressures, to make sure that Canada's copyright regime stays on the cutting edge so that Canada can continue to create jobs, so that we maintain the reputation that we have around the world as being not only an innovator and a leader in new technology, but also one of those countries that protects the rights of creators to have their works protected by law.