This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #34 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was artists.

Topics

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Madam Speaker, thank you for giving me the floor.

I have the honour of rising today in the House to debate Bill C-11. As we all know, the purpose of this bill is to update the Copyright Act, which has not been changed in a number of years, in order to take the new digital technologies into account. We commend the fact that the government has finally decided to address this matter and we support the efforts to update the Copyright Act if they are geared toward justice and fairness.

The government could have taken this opportunity to resolve copyright-related problems, but instead it has once again demonstrated its narrow ideology by introducing a bill that satisfies American interests more than Canadian interests.

Last year, during the study of former Bill C-32, more than 200 submissions and proposals were made in committee, and each party offered criticism to improve this bill. These submissions and proposals gave us a better idea of the needs of our authors, creators and consumers. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have once again ignored Canadians. They are so arrogant as to brag about not having made any changes, since they prefer to get their orders from Washington.

I could ask why the Conservatives are ignoring these many in-depth consultations that were held in Parliament, but we already know the answer: for the Conservatives there is no room for reason, facts and evidence. This government insists on introducing these bills despite the many voices that speak out against them every time. This bill has a significant number of deficiencies that fail to serve either users or the authors.

Let us begin with the new rights and new exceptions with regard to fair dealing, especially for the purpose of education. A number of writers and publishers are strongly opposed to these exemptions, as they fear their works will be reproduced and distributed freely to students, which will result in lost income for them and constitutes, to some extent, an expropriation of their rights.

This is particularly problematic in Quebec and various francophone communities in Canada, given that, because of demographics, there is only a small pool of potential buyers.

Of course, a number of academic institutions support education exemptions because it will mean considerable savings and they will be able to use audiovisual products more often to facilitate student learning.

Creators live off their works and should be compensated when these works are used. A balanced bill would take the needs of creators and educational institutions into account, but this bill is not balanced and in no way compensates for the losses that certain authors will face. We are also asking the government to help artists adjust to the new digital reality and for transitional funding to help artists compensate for lost revenue resulting from the abolition of ephemeral recording rights, for example.

Another provision that we find extremely worrisome concerns digital locks. Bill C-11 introduces new rules for reproducing copyright-protected works for personal use but negates those rights by making it illegal to bypass a digital lock.

Someone who buys a DVD and wants to transfer its contents to a digital tablet, such as the Canadian PlayBook or the American iPad, will not be able to do so if the DVD has a digital lock. As we all know, various electronic media are making increased use of these locks to fight piracy and theft.

Therefore, the use of purchased works will be limited and buyers will be considered criminals if they break the lock in order to copy the work for personal use. This government will punish people who have legally obtained a work by limiting the ways they can use it and making criminals of those who want to use their legitimate purchase as they wish.

However, pirates have full use of the works they obtain illegally and will be considered just as guilty as someone who breaks a digital lock. Knowing how easy it is today for Internet users to illegally download works, pirated copies may appeal more to young Canadians than copies limited by a digital lock.

For example, why would a young person want to purchase a DVD if he cannot legally use the content on other platforms, whereas he could use a pirated copy, which is easy to obtain, as he sees fit? Bill C-11 is contradictory because, on the one hand, it allows copying of copyrighted material for personal use and, on the other, it prevents users from breaking locks that prohibit copying.

The provisions of this bill concerning digital locks are among the most restrictive in the world and cancel out the new personal use rights. This will ensure that, once again, Canadian users will be the losers. We must allow digital locks to be circumvented as long as it is for lawful and personal use.

It is not just political parties who are opposed to this bill. The Union des écrivaines et des écrivains québécois, the National Assembly of Quebec, the Fédération des commissions scolaires du Québec, the Association des libraires du Québec and many other groups have all publicly raised their concerns about this bill. As usual, this government is stubbornly ignoring Canadian interests. It prefers to address American interests under the pretext that it can do as it sees fit because it has a majority.

In fact, diplomatic cables clearly show that the Conservatives want to impose these restrictive measures as a result of pressure from the Americans. Once again, the Conservatives have decided to kowtow to the United States, which may try to impose its will on Canada more and more frequently, knowing that Canada will do what it asks without any opposition. It is high time that this government understood that it was elected by Canadians, not Americans, and high time that it started standing up for our people's rights rather than for the interests of American industries.

Many artists also spoke of their desire to have a resale right added to the bill to allow them to claim the revenue that they are currently losing. The government did not take this request into account, demonstrating once again that it does not care about the real and legitimate needs of creators, unless perhaps those creators are American.

Yes, the Liberal Party supports the modernization of the Copyright Act, but not in the form in which it has been presented to us today by this government. The bill is not balanced and does not pay enough attention to the needs of creators and consumers. The Conservative Party should have taken into account the many consultations pertaining to Bill C-32, which were held during the previous Parliament, rather than reintroducing an old bill that has not been changed despite the many amendments proposed. This government must stop ignoring the interests of Canadians and start standing up for them. It must stop doing nothing and amend this bill in order to address its many shortcomings.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from across the way for his presentation. I listened intently to what he said and I do have to question him though.

There are many groups across the country that support this legislation because it does get tough on IP crimes. That ensures that people who produce work, the creators, are protected.

For example, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada supports the bill. It said:

By deterring those who profit and benefit from stealing creator’s work, this legislation will help provide a framework for the digital marketplace and allow creators and companies to distribute their works in the manner that best suits them.

A further quote:

We strongly support the principles underlying this bill and look forward to working with Members of Parliament to adopt any technical changes needed to ensure the bill fully reflects those principles and avoid unintended consequences.

In addition, the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network said:

We're pleased that the government is committed to getting tough on IP crimes. Piracy is a massive problem in Canada which has a tangible economic impact on government revenue, legitimate retailers, rights holders and consumers. It's extremely difficult for legitimate retailers to compete with those who abandon all ethics as they steal and rip,

This is supported by creators across the country. I ask the member of the opposition to get behind the bill as well.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Madam Speaker, the member just read a quote that one of the associations is in favour of the bill, except it would like to see amendments. That is what we are doing. The Liberal Party is making amendments. We are ready to put the amendments forward now. If the government accepts our amendments, the bill is done and it is passed.

What does it take for the government to listen? What part of the quotes does he not understand? That is what I do not understand. It is in the quote. We are ready to work with the government, to make amendments. The Liberal Party is making amendments. They are ready, let us go, let us pass this bill. Make the amendments. It is not complicated.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Madam Speaker, I am always stunned by the Conservatives' comments.

They say that Canadians all over the country support this bill.

They have a talent for always referring to the only doughnut that everyone wants from the dozen, and passing over the 11 doughnuts that no one wants. That is always the Conservative way.

I would like to ask my Liberal colleague if he has any idea of the number of signatories from the Canada Council—which has nearly 80 organizations that are against this bill.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question. He is a new member, so perhaps he is not aware that, during the previous session, there were over 200 people. This bill has been before us for about two weeks and everyone thought it would be amended. Everyone was a little reluctant. To date, there are perhaps 80 signatories, but I am sure there will be over 200, for we continue to receive emails every day from people who want to modernize the bill, but on the condition that the current bill is amended.

As I said to my Conservative colleague, I do not know what it will take to convince the government. Maybe if we were American they would listen to us. I do not know how this is going to work out. On our side, we are ready. We have proposed amendments. If the bill were amended, we could pass it right away.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville may ask a brief question.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, I will be brief. We know that the average income of artists in Canada is quite low—less than $13,000 a year. It seems to me we should be helping these artists, encouraging them and trying to increase their income a bit.

I would like the hon. member to say a few words about this bill to explain how it is contrary to what we should be doing and how we can help these artists.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. The hon. member talked about a sum of $13,000 a year, but that was just the average. There is an artist named Céline Dion who earns more than $1 billion. It is her salary that raises the average because 80% of artists earn less than $10,000 a year. That is the problem.

How can we help them? We can create a separate fund. There are a number of ways to do so. We can work together. We have already held a number of meetings during the last Parliament. We can help bring the new parliamentarians up to speed. There are a great number of ways to help artists. They do enough lobbying. We all know artists. We are here for them.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, as we know, copyright is a complicated issue and features competing demands from different stakeholders. We have artistic, academic, business, technology and consumer rights that we need to balance.

I am pleased to speak to this bill because just a few years ago I did not actually know very much about copyright. I was invited to participate in a panel discussion and a movie viewing. I was invited by some Dalhousie law students and some Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, or NSCAD, students, law students and art students working together to shed some light on the issue of copyright.

They had a screening of RiP, a remix manifesto, which is a great Canadian documentary featuring the artist Girl Talk. Girl Talk does a lot of work doing mash-ups, putting different songs together to create a completely new song. There is a big question around whether Girl Talk actually violates copyright law. I threatened to do a mash-up in the House today but I will leave that to Girl Talk.

However, I thank the students at Dalhousie and NSCAD for holding that panel because it enlightened me on the issue of copyright and made me realize how important an issue it is to the riding of Halifax, as well as across Canada.

This bill, as we know, was brought forward in the last Parliament as Bill C-32. Despite a lot of feedback from stakeholders and community organizations that the bill did not strike the right balance, it has been reintroduced and it is exactly the same bill as before. The NDP believes that copyright legislation needs to be modernized and that it is long overdue, but this bill has a lot of errors, some glaring omissions and, in certain cases, it actually creates problems where none existed before. The NDP will work to try to amend this bill to ensure it reflects the best interests of Canadians.

The NDP believes that copyright laws in Canada can balance the rights of creators and their right to be fairly compensated for their work, and the right of consumers to have reasonable access to copyrighted materials. We will look for all possible amendments. This is what committee is for. It is to bring people forward, talk about what the solutions are and to look at amendments. We will look at all possible amendments to the bill that will create a fair royalty system for creators because, as it stands, this bill would wipe away millions of dollars in revenues for artists.

As I mentioned, the constituents of Halifax have a lot at stake with this bill. First, there is a very high student population in Halifax. Students are the creators and owners of copyrighted material in their articles, essays and works of art, but, at the same time, they are also consumers. In order to study and learn, students need access to the copyrighted works of others.

I met with the Canadian Federation of Students and it pointed out that this three part perspective of use, creation and ownership of copyright gives students special credibility when it comes to the struggle for fair and balanced copyright law. I met with CFS representatives and they have reinforced to me how much any copyright reform needs to strike that balance. It needs to be fair and balanced.

With so many students in my riding, it follows that we have libraries. We have law libraries, medical libraries, archives, university and college libraries and public libraries. I have met with many librarians and they have told me that they need balance. If we are looking at this issue, no matter where in Nova Scotia or Canada we are, balance is needed. Most of the librarians I have spoken to have pointed out the fact that this legislation does not get the balance right, especially when it comes to digital locks.

As we have heard in the House, the bill would create powerful new anti-circumvention rights for content owners. I want to take a second to point out that I said “content owners”. That does not necessarily mean creators or artists. It means owners. Often the owners are not the creators or the artists themselves.

The rights for owners prevent access to copyrighted works and they can be backed with fines of up to $1 million and five years in jail. That would create a situation where digital locks could actually supersede all other rights, including charter rights. If we look at people being able to modify the way they can see material because they have a visual impairment, that penalty would impact someone who has an actual charter right to view this material, which is not what anyone would intend to happen.

What does this mean? It means there is a very real danger for consumers that they could be prohibited from using content that they have already paid for. Sometimes the format just needs to be changed. It has already been paid for. There should not be anything wrong with that.

The legislation is really important to people in Halifax because my community is rich with artists and creators. We are home to movie and television studios. We have video game developers, song writers and playwrights, authors, designers, sculptors and dancers. It is really incredible to think that there could be that much talent in one small city, but we are a hub of creativity and innovation.

In being elected by those people, I have been sent to the House to protect their rights, to protect their ownership interests in their creations and to stand up for fair compensation for their work. We will bring forward all possible amendments to the bill to create a fair royalty system for artists because, as the bill stands now, it would wipe away millions of dollars in potential revenue for artists.

The bill would grant a range of new access privileges but it would not increase opportunities for remuneration for artists. This new playing field would profoundly affect the ability of artists to survive, something that all of us have seen first-hand in our ridings. Artists and creators make our communities worth living in. They deserve access to fair compensation opportunities for their work. Without those opportunities, we risk destroying our creative communities altogether.

In the bill, there is a long and complicated list of exceptions, and I do not think it adequately recognizes creators' rights. In fact, it would create new ways for consumers to access copyrighted content. We talk about balance and we are creating new ways but at the same time we are not providing new avenues to remunerate creators for their work.

The no compromise provisions in the bill would provide sweeping powers to rights holders that would supersede all other rights. If enacted, the bill would ensure that artists could not access their work despite the fact that they own it. In the example that has been shared with me, if people are studying abroad or doing long distance education they cannot keep those materials. I would go so far as to say that it is draconian and inappropriate to ask people to destroy class notes within 30 days of the course ending. This is knowledge they have learned. They have paid for this material. It seems absurd that they would need to destroy them at the end of the course.

What are the propositions? We really need to come together at committee and hear from people who are impacted by this legislation. There is a lot of opportunity to do some very good work and modernize the bill while balancing the rights of creators and the public.

I look forward to the bill getting to committee to see what happens. I am very hopeful that the Conservatives are listening and that they will take feedback into account and work with the NDP to bring forward good, solid amendments that will benefit everyone.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, the hon. member is right, and, hopefully, once we defeat the Liberal motion, we will have an opportunity to bring the bill before committee to hear some more witness testimony. As I said in earlier comments, we have heard testimony from a vast array of people.

Graham Henderson of Music Canada said, we are “pleased to see long overdue copyright reform legislation back on the...agenda and a strong commitment to get it passed”.

The Canadian Publishers' Council said that the government was demonstrating “a clear understanding of the need to amend the current Copyright Act to bring it more in line with our times”. It strikes me that much of this bill would do just that. It would bring our legislation in line with copyright legislation around the world.

Jurisdictions around the world talk a lot about digital locks, or technical protection measures. However, in jurisdictions around the world where TPMs are protected there is actually more content available. That can protect artists but they need to ensure that consumers have access to a vast array of products.

It is frustrating to hear yet again another NDP speaker talk about the only solution for Canadian artists and Canadians is to tax them more and that will solve all the problems.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, my colleague pointed out that committee provides the opportunity to hear from stakeholders and from people in the community about the pluses and minuses, the good points and bad points. He also pointed out that, the last time the bill came around, the committee heard from all types of people from around Canada who gave feedback about this legislation. So, why is the bill exactly the same as last time?

If we really care about feedback from Canadians, if we really are listening to them, why would the bill be exactly the same as last time? I hope that this time the Conservatives actually listen.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I fail to understand why we, as legislators, are constantly pitting consumers against creators.

As a consumer of music or any other art form, I would like to be able to buy a work and know for sure that the creator who produced it was compensated.

From what I understand of the current bill—and I would like clarification from the hon. member on this—if we pass it in its current form, the coming weeks will have to be spent creating fair trade music and fair trade art, like the fair trade coffee and chocolate we get from developing countries. It does not seem to me that we are going completely in the right direction.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his observation that so often the government is not actually looking out for creators.

If we look critically at this legislation, we can see that it would protect owners. As I said in my speech, owners are not necessarily creators, owners are not necessarily artists and owners are not necessarily users. They are publishers. They are music companies. They are industry.

This is one-sided legislation where the rights of owners would be protected but everybody else would be left out in the cold.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Madam Speaker, I can tell the member who we are looking out for. This party will always stand up and look out for consumers across this country.

One of the opposition amendments is to place an iPod tax on MP3 players, on telephones and on other pieces of technology that actually play some of the music that is downloaded illegally.

I would first congratulate the member for Halifax and all Nova Scotians for the Halifax Irving Shipyard's winning bid this week. It is a tremendous opportunity, of course.

What will the member do for consumers in her riding, particularly single parents trying to buy Christmas presents for their children?

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his congratulations and extend them to him because a lot of the shipbuilders live in his riding.

With respect to representing consumers, I will not send them to jail for five years and I will not fine them $1 million because they may have made a mistake or tried to bust a digital lock on something that they actually already own.

Public Safety and National SecurityCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

October 21st, 2011 / 1:25 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of State and Chief Government Whip

Madam Speaker, there have been consultations on this travel motion and if you seek it, I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That in relation to its study of drugs and alcohol in prison, 12 members of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security be authorized to travel to Kingston, Ontario, and environs on Tuesday, October 25, 2011, and that the necessary staff accompany the committee.

Public Safety and National SecurityCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Does the chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Public Safety and National SecurityCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Public Safety and National SecurityCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Public Safety and National SecurityCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Public Safety and National SecurityCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Paulina Ayala NDP Honoré-Mercier, QC

Madam Speaker, no one is against the modernization of the act, which has not been updated since 1988 and is considered obsolete because of the advent of the Internet and digital technologies. Many Quebec and Canadian creators have been waiting a long time for the legislation to be overhauled. Their expectations have been shattered and now they realize that the government has responded to institutional and, above all, corporate needs, and definitely not to the basic need of supporting creation.

If there is to be no creation, no support for the creative instinct that inspires any material that could be subject to the principles of copyright, why are we wasting our time setting copyright guidelines? This bill has drawn a great deal of criticism from all stakeholders affected by Bill C-11, be they academics, whom the bill is trying to please, or artists, who provide a revenue stream on which the government has always counted. There are also the members of the general public, who will be criminalized for the personal use of artistic material that they purchase. Pierre-Paul Noreau, of the newspaper Le Soleil had this to say:

What is astounding about the government's approach is that Bill C-11 is the exact replica of Bill C-32, which died on the order paper when the federal election was called.

But there was a long series of consultations between the two bills. Experts, artists and spokespeople from groups concerned with copyright testified during 20 meetings of a hard-working legislative committee. But since the government had already made up its mind, nothing that was said changed the original bill. The government did not even listen to constructive criticism of its approach. Cabinet reacts to such criticism by saying that amendments are still possible.

In its current form, Bill C-11 is a catastrophe for authors, since it directly undermines copyright, which is how authors earn their meagre incomes. The proposal reduces the potential to earn real dollars and does not offer any alternatives. For example, the education system will now have much more freedom to use works in class, whereas it currently pays tens of millions of dollars to authors every year. Similarly, the logical principle of a levy on blank cassettes and CDs that had existed until now, but that has been bringing in less and less money, will not apply to digital audio recorders such as iPods, which have replaced these formats for storing copied music and images. This means that artists will see their revenue sources dry up in the interest of more freedom for users.

The answer is sad, yet clear. Since the government has said that it is open only to technical amendments, creators will have to cling to the hope of the mandatory review that will be conducted in five years, if they are able to hold out that long. This long-awaited update contains several well-targeted elements. Unfortunately, it has one major weakness. The reform fails to consider the minor creators. Some creators and participants in the cultural industry have criticized the government for failing to extend the royalties they receive on blank CDs to new technologies, such as the iPod, in order to compensate them for the reproduction of their works.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. It being 1:30 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the hon. member. The hon. member will have six minutes left the next time this bill is called for debate.

The House will now proceed to consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding ActPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

moved that Bill C-308, An Act respecting a Commission of Inquiry into the development and implementation of a national fishery rebuilding strategy for fish stocks off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, my private member's bill, Bill C-308, is an act respecting a commission of inquiry into the development and implementation of a national fishery rebuilding strategy for fish stocks off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The short title of my bill, the title that cuts to the chase, is the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery rebuilding act. The key word is “rebuilding”. We must rebuild. We must rebuild what was once one of the world's greatest protein resources, the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. We must rebuild what has been lost to us. We must rebuild the fish stocks and use them as a foundation for life after oil, as a foundation for the future of Newfoundland and Labrador. Let “rebuild” be the one word that resonates with every member of the House.

It is almost 20 years after the fall of the Newfoundland and Labrador cod fisheries and there has been practically no rebuilding, none. Why? This is the key question that an inquiry would answer. Why have stocks not rejuvenated? Why have stocks not been rebuilt? Why has the moratorium stretched almost 20 years when John Crosbie said, in 1992, that it would last only two years? Commercial fish stocks are in desperate shape, about as desperate as they were when the fisheries were first closed. Why?

Soon after Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949, she handed over responsibility of her fisheries to the Government of Canada to manage. The fisheries were our offshore oil of today, an incredible resource and wealth, only, unlike oil, the fisheries were an incredible renewable resource, a renewable wealth.

Sixty-two years after Confederation and our commercial fisheries for species such as cod, what was once known as Newfoundland currency, are on their knees. How far have we fallen? For most of the year, it is illegal to jig a cod, to jig a fish from the vastness of the north Atlantic.

What was once seen as a Newfoundland birthright is now a crime. However, the real crime is the fact that nothing has been done, that the fish resource has not been rebuilt, that we have not acted. The real crime is that a generation later and the stocks are still in the same desperate shape.

The Grand Banks of Newfoundland were fished out. It is plain and simple.

In the year 1968, the northern cod catch was officially recorded at 810,000 tonnes, three times the estimated maximum sustainable catch. Unofficially, more than one million tonnes of northern cod were taken from the sea that year. It has been downhill ever since.

To be clear, this is not about blame. There is blame to be shared by everyone, by the Government of Canada, by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, by foreign trawlers, by our own domestic fleet, by viewing the fishery as an occupation of last resort, by international organizations that are powerless, that are toothless to manage migratory stocks, by the use of fish stocks as international bargaining chips, by greed, by apathy everywhere. The apathy must end.

To quote Newfoundlander Rex Murphy from a National Post column earlier this month:

Newfoundland is in silent crisis...Increasingly, St. John’s highly concentrated economy resembles a sort of miniature Hong Kong amidst an increasingly deserted province. Out-migration is stealing a whole generation of Newfoundlanders. The outports are becoming just places “where the parents live,” and the larger centres outside St. John’s have become dominated by old-age homes.

To quote another Newfoundlander, Zita Cobb of Fogo Island, who is renowned as an entrepreneur and a visionary and who is behind one of the largest projects every attempted to preserve even a small portion of rural Newfoundland. She says, “If something isn't done now, we are going to be disconnected from our sense of community and our sense of past. The most tragic thing that could happen and it is happening now, is for a son not to understand his father's life”.

Our Newfoundland and Labrador culture, a culture steeped in the fishery, is slowly dying. Let Me Fish Off Cape Saint Mary's is one of the most powerful Newfoundland and Labrador songs ever written. Will there come a day when we will not relate to that song, or a day when we are forced to change the words to, “Let me drill off Fort McMurray”? We must rebuild, or that will happen.

The ultimate tragedy is not so much that the stocks collapsed, but that there is no plan to rebuild them. That is Confederation's greatest failure. That is our national embarrassment. That is our national shame. That is Newfoundland and Labrador's silent crisis.

Canada once bore the reputation as a great steward of the sea. Our reputation today is worth as much as an empty net. An inquiry would investigate federal and provincial fisheries management. Is the management working? The ultimate measure of that management is the state of the stocks, the state of the industry. The management, obviously, is not working. Stock after stock has failed.

One of the last reports on northern cod was carried out in 2005 by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. The report was entitled, “Northern Cod: A Failure of Canadian Fisheries Management”. The title says it all.

Ask me what was done with that report. Nothing, even though the report took DFO to task for failing to recognize mismanagement as one of the reasons for the stock collapse. That report also questioned why a recovery plan had not been drawn up describing DFO's lack of long-term vision as astonishing.

The federal Conservative government called an inquiry in 2009 into the decline of sockeye salmon on British Columbia's Fraser River. How can the federal government investigate management policy on one end of the country and not the other, when it has so clearly failed everywhere?

Newfoundland and Labrador's commercial salmon fishery was shut down in 1991, 20 years ago this week. There has been no recovery. Do hon. members see a trend? Because there is a trend.

An inquiry would also investigate the state of fishery science. Science has and is being gutted. Instead of rebuilding for the future, we are taking away our opportunity for a future.

An inquiry would also investigate fisheries enforcement and quotas. Who rules the rights to the fish in the sea and who exactly is fishing the quotas? Who is benefiting from the quotas? An inquiry would investigate the effectiveness of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization in managing migratory stocks outside the 200 mile limit. Has it been effective? Absolutely not.

At NAFO's recent general meeting in Halifax the quotas for most groundfish stocks were cut across the board. All stocks are in trouble.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, which I sit on, tabled a report in the House last week on the snow crab resource. The study was triggered by concerns expressed after DFO cut the snow crab harvest in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence by 63%. DFO had been warned to cut the quota but the minister ignored the advice. Again, this is not about blame. I purposely avoid laying blame. That is not what this is about.

Recommendation three of the snow crab report advises that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans strike a task force to review the snow crab assessment process and the management of the fishery. However, the problem is not just with the management of the snow crab resource but also with the management of all the fish that swim off Newfoundland and Labrador shores. Today in my province, pan-size fish are being exported to places such as China and the U.S. for processing while the plants we have left are closing permanently and our aging plant workers are protesting in the streets. We are scraping the bottom of the barrel and the bottom of the sea. We must rebuild.

Experts have said that a healthy groundfish stock could provide an annual harvest of 400,000 tonnes. The total groundfish harvest last year for all of Newfoundland and Labrador amounted to less than 20,000 tonnes. We could have a healthy harvest of 400,000 tonnes. Last year, it was less than 20,000 tonnes, which is a shadow or skeleton of our once great fisheries of the great Grand Banks of Newfoundland. The time to rebuild is now.

The Prime Minister once described the east coast as having a culture of defeat. I stand before the members to say that is not the case. It is far from it. We are fighting for our culture and our rural way of life in Newfoundland and Labrador. We want to ensure that we can provide for ourselves rather than revert to what we have been labelled in the past, a label which I am sure everyone in the House has heard and one that is absolutely incorrect, that being that we are a drain on Canadian Confederation. That is not the case.

If the fisheries and the Grand Banks of Newfoundland had been banks that were mismanaged into bankruptcy there would have been demands for accountability, for reform and for an overhaul to ensure that never happened again. The Grand Banks of Newfoundland and Labrador in my home province deserve no less.

I urge all hon. members to support my private member's bill. It is not just the fish stocks that need rebuilding but also our faith in this country to help individual provinces stand on their own.