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House of Commons Hansard #53 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was artists.

Topics

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my artist colleague.

The best example I can think of to illustrate my point is the pride we feel when an Olympic athlete returns with a gold medal. These athletes are supported and receive financial assistance. They do not train full-time and also work full-time. No, athletes who perform are well taken care of and supported by sponsors, the government and others.

We are also proud of our artists who perform abroad and of the prizes won by movies, for example. But there are others. There are also all those who make music that may not be aired abroad, who write interesting and current school books for our youth, and so forth. Many artists are affected by this bill and they deserve consideration and a little more support to ensure that they continue to produce material that people will enjoy and be proud of.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for my colleague and it has to do with education and copyright.

Right now, we are witnessing a negative effect of this legislation. In theory, the bill should promote knowledge and culture, but we find ourselves with something that will prevent students, particularly those who live in remote regions, from having access to inter-library loans, which are the electronic transfer of information between libraries.

This means that the whole long distance learning component is jeopardized. This affects all those students who not only take a course but who also use the information provided in that course to learn, to write a thesis or an essay, and so on.

I wonder if the hon. member could tell us about the major problem for a student who lives in a remote region and who wants to write a thesis.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I did say a few words about it earlier in my speech.

As a former student and teaching assistant at university, I find it very disturbing that Bill C-11 creates problems for students. Again, I do not think the government is using the right approach and targeting the right people. Several changes are required in this regard. Whether it is students in remote regions or students in large urban centres, the important thing is the same: access to Internet and loans between universities.

In order to produce intellectual material, master's students must, as the hon. member pointed out, have access to information and to documents, and for more than a few days or weeks. They also need that access to produce new material and new documents on their research. It is very important to support them in their endeavour and to ensure that the authors get their due, but also that students have access to the information.

Statements by MembersPrivilegeGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to raise this question of privilege because earlier today members on the government side raised issues of decorum in the House, the need for respect and the history of the House. However, during statements by members today, on behalf of my constituents of Scarborough—Rouge River, I raised the very important issue of the need for affordable housing across the country.

Safe, affordable housing is a major issue in my constituency and sadly it is something that too many Canadians go without. Many on this side of the House feel the government does not pay enough attention to this issue. Safe and affordable housing in communities like mine is a huge problem. I was trying to make a statement about this in the House because that is what my constituents asked me to do.

I am seeing almost 3,000 of my constituents lose their homes—

Statements by MembersPrivilegeGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order, please. The hon. member has risen on a question of privilege and I would hope she would get to it. I appreciate her reference to her statement today, but if she could quickly move to the question of privilege, that would be appreciated.

Statements by MembersPrivilegeGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

My apologies, Mr. Speaker. Clearly it is a very important issue for me and my constituents.

My question of privilege is that when I was making my statement, there was an excessive amount of noise. I was very disappointed that members opposite felt it appropriate to be excessively noisy. It is very disrespectful of the fact that I am here, as are all of us, to speak on issues on which our constituents want us to speak. However, what I was trying to say could not even be heard by members in the House let alone maybe even caught by the recording devices.

I feel my privilege was lost. I was unable to do the job that I was sent here to do, which is to speak on behalf of my constituents, because the members opposite were so loud.

I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to rule that this is a prima facie case of privilege in the House.

Statements by MembersPrivilegeGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The Chair will take that under consideration and will return to the House on that if and when appropriate.

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

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Resuming debate. Is the House ready for the question?

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I would like to request that the vote be deferred to Monday night at the end of government orders.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The vote is deferred until Monday at the end of government orders.

Improving Trade Within Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Maxime Bernier Conservative Beauce, QC

Improving Trade Within Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the important amendments contained in Bill C-14 and to how its provisions help promote a vibrant economic union in Canada.

The bill seeks to implement improvements to the Agreement on Internal Trade, as agreed upon by the Government of Canada and all of the provinces and territories. These proposed amendments aim at strengthening the enforcement of this important agreement and ensuring governments are accountable in meeting their obligations toward this agreement.

One element I would like to highlight today is that the bill demonstrates the commitment of the Government of Canada to continuously strengthen our economic union by working in co-operation with provincial and territorial governments. However, it represents other significant developments as well and I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to cover some of them.

First, I would briefly remind the hon. members of what the Agreement on Internal Trade is all about and of the recent improvements to that agreement that go beyond how it is enforced. I think this will help to set out the reasons for the legislation that is before the House today. I will begin by taking a step back to touch on the importance of internal trade to our economy.

From the global perspective, the times continue to be challenging economically. Yet Canada has, through its sound economic and regulatory practices, weathered the storm better than almost any other nation. However, because the global challenges remain, it is more important than ever to ensure that our own house remains economically sound. The government has always taken the position that strengthening trade is not just something we seek to do internationally, but nationally as well. Internal trade strengthens competition which increases choice for businesses and consumers and drives productivity and innovation. To that end, we remain committed to encouraging, facilitating and playing a prominent role in implementing efficient internal trade practices within and across Canada.

The primary vehicle for strengthening the country's internal trade ties is the Agreement on Internal Trade. A bit of the history of the agreement is in order here since, in part, that history sets the stage for our discussions today.

The Agreement on Internal Trade is Canada's only national agreement governing the free movement of persons, goods, services and investments within Canada. On July 1, 1995, the Agreement on Internal Trade came into effect after being signed in 1994 by the Government of Canada and 12 provincial and territorial governments. Among other things, the agreement provides for general rules which prevent governments from erecting new trade barriers and which require the reduction of existing ones in areas covered under the agreement, as well as specific obligations in key economic sectors such as transportation, natural resources and communications, which cover a significant amount of economic activity in Canada. In addition, the agreement deals with cross-sectoral issues such as consumer protection and the streamlining and harmonization of regulations and standards.

To ensure each government lives up to its obligations under the Agreement on Internal Trade, governments and individuals can dispute the conduct of any government party to the agreement. In fact, the agreement contains specific provisions governing the administration and resolution of internal trade complaints. This process is key to ensuring the effectiveness of the Agreement on Internal Trade in committing governments to open and integrated internal markets and a stronger economic union.

One of the most important things to note about the Agreement on Internal Trade is that it is not a static agreement with rules that never change. Rather the agreement is in a constant state of evolution to meet the demands of our ever-changing economic landscape. For its part, the Government of Canada has remained committed to continuously working with the provinces and territories to improve the provisions of the agreement and expand its scope of coverage across the Canadian economy.

Indeed, the AIT has evolved to meet the changing needs of commerce and labour markets. In recent years, for example, the Government of Canada with the provinces and territories have incorporated an agriculture chapter that fosters freer trade of agricultural products. The chapter covering government procurement practices was also expanded to cover additional entities and the labour mobility chapter was also amended.

On the issue of labour mobility, I would like to take a moment to highlight the new AIT obligations to which the Government of Canada and the provinces and territories agreed to ensure better pools of available and skilled labour across the country.

As hon. members know, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to freer internal trade practices has been the matter of labour mobility. Over the decades, it has been a very difficult and contentious issue on which to come to agreement. That is why in January 2009 the Prime Minister and other first ministers were pleased to announce their agreement on amendments to the AIT that would enhance labour mobility in Canada.

In August 2009 a revised labour mobility chapter came into force. The new provisions ensure that a worker certified by regulatory authority in any one province or territory shall be recognized as qualified by all other provinces and territories. Certified workers are no longer required to undergo additional material training, testing or reassessment, resulting in seamless recognition across provinces and territories. The net result is improved employment opportunities and better access to a larger and richer pool of human resources for Canada's employers.

As we see, internal trade is a key to our economy and the AIT has allowed the Government of Canada, with the provinces and territories, to get things done toward building a better and stronger Canada. Our collective efforts are ongoing.

Bill C-14 is the next step toward improving trade within Canada. The bill would improve the dispute resolution process and the enforcement mechanism of the agreement on internal trade.

Let me say why this is important in today's context. A commonly-recognized challenge within the agreement has been the effectiveness of its dispute resolution mechanism. The lack of strong enforcement tools has made the agreement less effective than it could be in ensuring freer and open internal markets. Without credible penalties, panel rulings could be ignored without consequence, and this issue has been raised by a number of private sector stakeholder groups, think tanks and even international organizations.

The Government of Canada understands and shares in the view that the agreements on internal trade need stronger enforcement. For this reason, all parties agreed in October 2009 to changes that would improve the dispute resolution process and strengthen the enforcement tools under the AIT. These changes apply to disputes between Canadian governments party to the AIT and not to disputes raised by or against a private citizen, business or association.

Key to the changes that were approved is the integration of monetary penalties that can be applied against a government for its continued failure to comply with the agreement. Simply put, an administrative monetary penalty is like a fine that is imposed on a government because it has not lived up to its end of the bargain in keeping our internal boundaries open for a more integrated economy with a multitude of choices for Canadians. With these fines now built into the process, they provide governments with an additional incentive to ensure they comply with the agreement and that they do their part in contributing to the sustainability of our economy.

How much are these penalties? The size of the monetary penalty varies by the population of the jurisdictions in question to take into consideration the budgetary constraints of some of the smaller governments. Maximum amounts range from $250,000 for the smaller provinces and territories like P.E.I. and up to $5 million can be applied against the Government of Canada and the larger provinces like Ontario and Quebec.

Furthermore, these amounts take into consideration the severity of the conduct in question. The new changes to the dispute resolution process permit a body called a compliance panel, that deals with disputes against governments for non-compliance with the agreement on internal trade, to determine an amount that corresponds to the negative impact of the measure in question. It also takes into consideration whether a government has made good faith efforts to remedy its situation so as to ensure that it is in compliance with the agreement.

Hon. members should also know that a government can lose its privilege to raise a dispute against another government if it fails to do its part in rectifying its non-compliant conduct. The application of these measures would encourage all parties to comply with their obligations and, over time, help to create a free and open market with better choices for businesses and consumers. In addition, the new process allows for appeals and for new qualification criteria for panel members.

In brief, those are some of the agreements on internal trade amendments agreed to by the federal government and provincial and territorial governments on the enforcement side. To back up our agreement, the 13 governments have either completed or are in the process of taking the necessary steps to implement these changes in their jurisdictions, including introducing new or amended legislation.

This is where we now come to Bill C-14, which is the Government of Canada's proposal to implement the new enforcement requirements under the agreement on internal trade. Bill C-14 is a very short bill, so there are not many specifics to account for, but it is what is in these provisions that makes for some powerful messaging.

Bill C-14 seeks to fulfill federal commitments made when it joined the provincial and territorial governments to provide for a stronger enforcement mechanism for government-to-government disputes under the agreement on internal trade. It is the legislation required for the Government of Canada to ensure that the new dispute resolution process under the agreement can be implemented for the federal government.

Under the new changes, governments have agreed to include monetary penalties. With Bill C-14, the Government of Canada will ensure that any monetary penalties awarded against it can be enforced in the same manner as an order of the Federal Court of Canada.

This is the important point. With the passage of this bill, it means that monetary penalties against the Government of Canada may be triggered for payment through the legal system and from the federal consolidated revenue fund if the government ever failed to make a payment.

I am not saying that should ever happen, but as this government is committed to act responsibly with respect to its commitments for a stronger economic union, it is also important to back that up with real accountability for that commitment. It is about being accountable for our actions as assessed by a qualified panel focused on Canada's internal markets.

This is not all that Bill C-14 does. It also provides for governor-in-council appointments of panel members to follow new qualification criteria to improve the decision-making process. It takes care of some other housekeeping amendments to the AIT implementation act and Crown Liability and Proceedings Act so that the supporting legislation is clear and up to date.

At the end of the day, Bill C-14 is a demonstration of the federal commitment to improving the agreement on internal trade and to continue strengthening the economic union. As provinces and territories are also taking similar steps in their jurisdictions to implement the new changes to the dispute resolution process, the bill is also a symbol and a reminder of our collaborative efforts in working with the provinces and territories to make the agreement more enforceable.

I believe in these efforts. Together, as each government ensures the changes are effective across the country, Canadians will have a stronger national agreement that will collectively address some of the concerns and recommendations raised by stakeholder groups and hold its governments more accountable.

The clock is ticking. As Bill C-14 covers implementation of the changes for only the Government of Canada, provincial and territorial ministers of the committee on internal trade, with the agreement of their premiers, have completed or are in the process of passing similar legislation, or taking other steps necessary to ensure that accountability for compliance with the agreement on internal trade is widespread across the country.

I have spoken of the importance of internal trade for the economy, the role of the national agreement on internal trade, recent improvements to that agreement, and about the specifics of Bill C-14. Before I conclude, I will reiterate a few points on the importance of internal trade for the economy.

Internal trade for our multi-jurisdictional federation is a critical issue. This is a priority for the Government of Canada, which remains committed to working with the provinces and territories for a stronger economic union.

I mentioned already that Canada's governments have ensured greater labour mobility, introduced an agriculture chapter to the agreement on internal trade, and improved the coverage of government procurement rules. Something I did not mention is the success that we have made in removing barriers to interprovincial trucking. These efforts are all consistent with the ingredients necessary to build a stronger economic union that takes into consideration the need to work with provinces and territories to remove barriers that restrict businesses from growing, competing and producing. They are all critical elements for Canada to sustain its economic standing during these tough economic times.

I say to my hon. colleagues that at first glance Bill C-14 may seem to be a short and fairly technical bill pertaining to the administration of monetary penalties under the dispute resolution chapter of the agreement on internal trade and that, in the scheme of things, the changes may seem relatively minor. From a technical point of view that may be so, but from a principled point of view, they have real importance.

As we in the federal jurisdiction pass Bill C-14, we join our colleagues from other governments. Together, we show that the Government of Canada, with the provinces and territories, is committed to making national progress in removing economic barriers to more competitive markets with greater choices for Canadians. In that broader sense, we all triumph from the co-operation of governments working together for the greater good of Canada and the economic union that we are all proud of and part of.

The effective administration and evolution of the agreement on internal trade will continue to depend on co-operation. As the Government of Canada, we need to uphold our part of the relationship and pass Bill C-14. I now urge all members of the House to pass this important piece of economic legislation, so that we can do exactly that.

Improving Trade Within Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague who presented the government's proposal. The Agreement on Internal Trade has been around for 17 years and allows for the free movement of persons, goods and services. The NDP is in favour of increased co-operation among the provinces with respect to internal trade.

Where we have some concerns is with the agreement itself. I am not necessarily talking about the bill, but about the agreement that the bill would amend. In terms of structure, it is rather similar to NAFTA, in the sense that it allows people or businesses, for example, to take a province to court if they deem it necessary. The problem with NAFTA, as we have seen in the past, is that a company can use this provision, not necessarily to win a legitimate case, but to create what we call a chilling effect on a province that might use its legislative power for environmental causes, for example.

What does my colleague think about the Agreement on International Trade with respect to the possibility of creating a chilling effect by giving investors the opportunity to take a province to court?

Improving Trade Within Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the hon. member to the industry committee where he has just joined us. I look forward to working with him on this and other things that we study at the industry committee.

With regard to the question, the bill is fairly straightforward. It does not deal with many of the things that he talked about in the question. It is following through on an agreement made by the federal government and agreed to by the provinces and territories that are part of the agreement, the provinces that have members of the legislative assemblies from all parties, and governments representing all parties.

It is a bill that is widely seen as being very important by all parties across the country, simply dealing with the enforcement mechanisms mainly to ensure that there are actual teeth behind the agreement and ensuring, again, we have that free flow of persons and goods and services across this country that are critical for us to maintain the leadership position that we have globally, economically, the position that has Canada being, really, the envy of the industrialized world when it comes to our approach on the global economy.

Improving Trade Within Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I was thinking of what Winston Churchill once said. He was asked about his political opponent Clement Attlee, “Isn't he a modest man?” and he replied, “A modest man, but then he has so much to be modest about”. I am not speaking here of my opponent, although he is modest. However, I think his government, actually, is not modest, although it does have much to be modest about.

In fact, this is a very modest piece of legislation for us. Although it was interesting to hear my colleague actually say that this is really about powerful messaging.

Should we not want more than that in this House? Should we not want some powerful substance, instead?

It really does not do much. It does a little bit and that is good. The protocol makes some small steps in a positive direction. However, what concerns me is that the government is ignoring the real economic problems with the country; particularly, at a time when we see what is happening in Europe. Even China, now, is expecting to have lower growth.

We are looking at very difficult times around the world economically and we see a government that is sleepwalking toward it. We have people with real problems, facing joblessness, not getting much help through this period. In the meantime, what do we have the government doing? The government gets Parliament to authorize $50 million for border security and ends up spending it on pork-barrelling in a member's riding hundreds of kilometres away from the border. What kind of responsibility is that?

Improving Trade Within Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will not thank the hon. member for the question. There really was not even a hint of truth in that question or any facts in that question.

I can talk about some facts. I can talk about some reality for the hon. member. The reality is there were 600,000 net new jobs created in Canada since July 2009.

The reality is we have the soundest banking system in the world, according to a very credible third-party source, the World Economic Form, four years in a row. The IMF and OECD, again, which are very credible third-party organizations, have said that Canada continues to lead the industrialized world through a time of very difficult global economic uncertainty.

There are those around the world who are praising Canada. Canada is the envy of the world, in terms of our approach to the global economic slowdown. Yet, all that we see from the opposition parties, both the NDP and the Liberal Party, are ideas to turn a complete 180 degrees, to go in exactly the opposite direction, to raise taxes. The very taxes that are lower now under this government and have been credited for Canada's economic strength, the opposition parties want to raise. We are not going to go in that direction.