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 #78 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was balance.

Topics

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Corneliu Chisu Conservative Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member is right. We do need to move forward. There will be serious dangers if we do not update our copyright laws. They are outdated. We were working through 15 years of issues. The world is moving forward. We need to be able to capture the changes and to use them to protect our own creators, like the company in Hamilton that is listed in the motion picture awards.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I feel very honoured today, as the member for Beauport—Limoilou, to be one of the few members who is able to speak in the House about this bill. In fact, it is completely shameful that the government is imposing a gag order to basically prevent us—one could even go so far as to mention censorship—from offering our suggestions and stating the reasons why we are concerned.

As long as this dialogue of the deaf continues, we will continue to make and reiterate our suggestions and those that Canadians have expressed to us directly. Let us be fair. Abusing gag orders and using them repeatedly is a cowardly way for the government to avoid doing its duty in the House. That is a fact.

I will now focus on Bill C-11. I would like to seize this opportunity to talk about the economic impacts we can expect if this bill is passed. Members will have noted that this is a topic that I am particularly concerned about and that I have spoken about in the House many times. Unfortunately, the Conservatives were listening only half-heartedly, if at all, except to sometimes hurl insults.

What is truly a shame, what is truly unfortunate is that many aspects of the bill that we are debating today, as it now stands, are valid, in whole or in part. We could agree on these aspects or request certain amendments.

However, the members opposite refuse to listen to what we have to say about the other aspects of the bill, which are a cause of great concern to us and which we oppose because of the damaging, if not completely unfair, impact they would have on all Canadians. It is truly appalling.

The debate on Bill C-11, like all debates in the 41st Parliament, shows just how dysfunctional the House of Commons has unfortunately become. If I take the liberty of using that word, it is because it has already been used in the past to call an election and to try to muzzle the opposition.

I am here because I am deeply concerned about certain specific aspects of the bill. In fact, I would like to raise two specific issues, two aspects of the bill that are of great concern to me. I am completely shocked that members of the government party are defending these truly negative aspects of the bill so strongly.

I would like to begin with the first aspect. The scope of digital lock protection under C-11 is huge. It is absolutely unbelievable. In fact, one has to wonder for which particular interests the government is working so hard.

Yesterday, when speaking about the motion we had the honour to move, I condemned the government for abandoning not only workers and pensioners, but all Canadians, because of the flaws in the Investment Canada Act. At present, anyone is more or less completely free to steal jobs, intellectual property, our heritage and our resources, right out from under our noses. These resources belong to all of us. The digital lock protection proposal goes so far that it is practically a submission. The word is not too strong. The government is imposing something that is almost a submission to special interests, particularly foreign interests.

There are other repercussions. Such broad protection could cause other problems because it would not respect certain provincial jurisdictions. This would even have legal repercussions concerning some aspects of our Constitution. This protection, this advantage, could go so far as to create a quasi-oligopoly among the multinationals that hold the copyright to certain works.

What would be the result? It is a basic economic principle. When an oligopoly exists, as is the case in other industrial sectors and areas of economic activity, we can expect upward pressure on prices. All of us, ordinary consumers, all Canadians, would pay the price because a very small group of copyright holders would impose their rules, their prices and their distribution limits on our market. This could have unbelievable and devastating repercussions. We must be aware of this. Time allocation is nothing short of an outrage, because it prevents us from examining all the repercussions of this bill. It is truly unbelievable.

There is something else that I find ridiculous. I would even laugh about it, if not for the truly serious consequences of the penalties for those who try to circumvent a digital lock. How can we support the potential criminalization of users who may be students or grandmothers? I know many women over 60 who use the Internet and the new tools a great deal. They could be fined up to $1 million and sentenced to up to five years in prison for circumventing a digital lock deliberately or inadvertently, as it might be someone in their family or circle of friends who did it.

A two-year prison sentence results in a criminal record, which precludes travel to the United States, for example. Such a harsh sentence for circumventing a digital lock? Where is the logic? How can the government defend this measure and threaten thousands of Canadians with such a stiff penalty? This is definitely like using a sledgehammer to kill a fly. I realize that the government has shown rather poor judgment in its decisions, such as the procurement of military equipment. We are trying to reach out and offer our help so that it makes better choices. But this is going too far.

The government's complete unwillingness to listen and its very disrespectful answers show the extent to which this government is against Canadian society. Its contempt for most members of this House is unacceptable behaviour and cannot be condoned by anyone. Our concerns are legitimate. We are not asking the government to reject all of Bill C-11; we are just asking that it listen to us. We spoke to specific groups and we want to make amendments. We even want to work with the government because, I repeat, the bill contains some valid elements. These elements will fall by the wayside and this government, as it often does, will not hesitate to accuse us in a backhanded and malicious way of voting against this bill.

The government is refusing to listen to us and will make millions of Canadians pay. This type of behaviour must stop. If the government continues to act this way in the next four years, it will pay a high price. I will personally see to it.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, that is another member who spent a lot of time talking about the lack of potential debate on this. However, he has spoken to this bill already once before. My first question is, why is he taking a spot from one of the new members of the NDP caucus who might actually want to speak to the bill? If there are so many members of the NDP who want to speak to the bill, why are the same members speaking to this bill over and over again?

My second question for the hon. member is this. How far will the NDP go in its reckless policies to delay this bill and make sure it does not go to committee so it cannot hear more witnesses or make amendments? How far will it go in hurting the Canadian economy for the extreme left-wing ideological bent that it keeps bringing to this place?

Does he deem to protect creators in legislation going forward? If he does not support technical protection measures, how does he deem to protect creators and artists going forward?

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, my answer to the member is simple. I am a father. Sometimes, when dealing with certain behaviours, we must keep repeating ourselves. We will not hesitate in the least. If the government continues down this road, I believe that millions of Canadians will say again and again that they no longer accept this at all.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, according to recently leaked diplomatic cables, some parts of this copyright bill were designed to address the concerns of American industry instead of the concerns of Canadians, including digital locks.

Does the hon. member expect American industries to exert this type of power in the future? What sort of precedent does this set? I would like to know what he thinks about this.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her very relevant question. Yesterday, I was watching the Radio-Canada show Enquête, which was reporting on the scandalous behaviour of the authorities and their accomplices in the asbestos industry. We saw exactly the same thing with the tobacco industry. It is absolutely unbelievable. I want to thank the hon. member because she is exposing the same modus operandi, the same danger to the general public. It is scandalous to subject some 34 million Canadians to some very narrow special interest groups.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have heard my colleague speak to this bill. It is important for the opposition to express its point of view and be heard. I thought it was rather ironic that the hon. Conservative member asked the opposition earlier to propose things and tell the government what it wants, when the government turns around and limits debates. This is not the first time it has done so. It is rather ironic that the government asks us to propose things and then tells us it has heard enough and it is going to do whatever it wants.

Does my colleague believe that the government wants to listen to us when it is limiting debate and introducing unbalanced bills? Every Canadian I have talked to says that this bill is not balanced and it should be amended. The government is not listening to us and it is limiting debates.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Sherbrooke. I would encourage him not to be shy about telling the government a thing or two just because he is young. This bill, like many others, will affect his future for a long time to come. He has every right to speak up. I strongly encourage him to participate, and I very much admire the work he is doing here.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to speak to the government's bill to amend the Copyright Act. Bill C-11 fulfills a commitment we made in the last speech from the Throne to reintroduce and seek swift passage of legislation to modernize Canada's copyright laws.

It has been more than a decade since the last major update of the Copyright Act. In this time, the Internet and other forms of new media have radically transformed the way in which Canadians produce and access copyrighted material. This transformation is ongoing. Technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Apps for mobile devices continually improve our access to content. Tablet devices allow readers to access e-books, e-magazines and all kinds of other content. They also allow doctors to access online services to offer diagnoses for their patients. These are just a few examples of how content moves quickly to newly adopted technology.

It is important to point out that all of these services involve copyrighted material. That is why the government would modernize Canada's Copyright Act. The reforms that we are proposing would go a long way to strengthening the tools that Canadian creators and innovators need to protect their work and grow their businesses in this digital economy. This legislation would update the Copyright Act and bring it in line with advances in technology and current international standards.

We are taking a common-sense approach to these updates. I am proud to say that both content creators and Canadian consumers would benefit from the proposed amendments. With these changes we would ensure that the Copyright Act supports innovation and attracts investment and jobs to Canada.

The government first introduced the copyright modernization bill in June of 2010. Before being dissolved, the legislative committee that studied that bill heard from more than 70 witnesses and received more than 150 submissions. Over the course of the hearings two clear messages emerged. First, the committee heard that the bill balanced the interests of various stakeholders. Second, the committee also heard that Canada urgently needed to pass legislation to update the Copyright Act. Therefore, our government is proposing a uniquely Canadian approach to copyright reform. The approach takes into consideration the views of all Canadians.

Canadians from all walks of life understand the importance of copyright. They are concerned about the impact of copyright on their daily lives. They recognize the importance to the digital economy and Canada's global competitiveness. The bill before the House reflects a common-sense approach. It reflects the interests of consumers and of rights holders alike.

Canadians have told us that Canada's copyright regime must take into account technology that does not even exist yet. This is a challenge that the copyright modernization bill addresses. It recognizes the importance of responding to the ever-changing technological landscape with amendments that are drafted in a technologically neutral way.

The proposed copyright modernization legislation would recognize the many new ways in which Canadians use technology. It would provide clear policies that would enable them to increase their participation in this digital age. We would be establishing new provisions that are technologically neutral that can be adapted to constantly evolving technological environments while ensuring appropriate protections for both creators and users alike.

Let me remind my colleagues that the bill includes the flexibility to respond to future realities because we have built in an automatic review process. It would require that a five year review of the Copyright Act be undertaken by Parliament.

Canadians want to make reasonable use of content that they have legally acquired. That is why the bill would legitimize many commonplace private or non-commercial uses of copyrighted material, uses that are not allowed, or that have unclear status under the current Copyright Act. Canadians would be able to record television, radio and Internet programming in order to enjoy them at a later time, with no restrictions as to the device or the medium that they wish to use.

Canadians would also be able to copy any legitimately acquired music, film or other works onto any device or medium, like an MP3 player, for their private use and to make back-up copies of these works.

Canadians would also be able to incorporate existing copyrighted material in the creation of new works, such as Internet match-ups, as long as it is not done for commercial purposes and the existing material is legitimately acquired.

Canadians with perceptual disabilities would be permitted to adapt legally acquired material to a format that they can easily use. The changes would also clarify the law regarding the import of adapted material into Canada and would explicitly permit the export of certain adapted materials, including Braille and audio-books.

The bill would also extend fair-dealing provisions to permit the use of copyrighted material for education, parody and satire. Furthermore, the bill would facilitate access to content for educational institutions, libraries, archives and museums. It would do this with exceptions that would allow for uses of copyrighted material that are reasonable and serve the public interest. It would do this in a way that would be responsive to the challenges and opportunities of the digital age. These exceptions have been carefully designed to ensure they are restricted to the activities that they were intended to permit. We believe that all Canadians, users and creators alike, would be well served by more clarity and predictability and sufficient flexibility to adapt to new technologies and take full advantage of them.

I will now tell my colleagues about the benefits of some of these exceptions. Students, particularly those in remote locations, would benefit from new exceptions that accommodate the use of technology for live or on-demand learning. They would be able to reproduce lessons for use at a more convenient time. At the same time, educational institutions would be required to adopt measures to prevent abuse.

Our government wants to encourage innovative companies to continue to develop new products. This bill would provide such companies with the legal tools to protect the investments they have made. This would allow them to invest in future innovation and jobs.

With this bill, our government has introduced important measures that would acknowledge the importance of our creators, those industries whose success depends on copyright, for example, software companies, filmmakers, musicians, writers and publishers. We believe that these changes would encourage greater online participation in the virtual marketplace, an area that is experiencing dramatic growth with global e-commerce transactions that have become so vital to the growth of so many companies.

Our government recognizes that Canada's Copyright Act must help Canadian businesses remain competitive. We realized from the outset that our approach to modernizing the legislation had to balance the interests of a wide range of stakeholders. I am proud to say that we have achieved that goal. I look forward to the day when this proposal becomes law. It demonstrates our government's continued commitment to fostering creativity and innovation and supporting Canada's creative economy.

Our government has sought a balance in our copyright legislation and reforms. We sought a balance between protecting creators and ensuring that consumers' rights were also protected. Over the course of two Parliaments, there have been a number of attempts by our government and a lot of debate and discussion, both in this chamber and in committee, to refine those proposals. I strongly believe that we have found that balance. We certainly sought and received input from Canadians. I believe this bill is one that finds that balance and seeks to move forward in an appropriate manner to allow for the future, for new technologies that will be developed and those that exist now, and ensure that the balance is created. We have done that and I am very proud of that.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Alexandrine Latendresse NDP Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives claim that Bill C-11 will protect artists, but many artists have shared their concerns about this bill with us. Because we have very little time left to debate this bill, I would like to ask a question on behalf of an artist who contacted me directly. He said:

As an emerging artist, I find it difficult to compete with recording industry heavyweights that have access to every possible medium to promote their products. The Internet is an intelligent and economical promotional tool that levels the playing field and supports the free market, giving me and those discovering my work a way to share my music. There are already effective mechanisms in place to protect sharing of copyrighted material. For example, my own music has been temporarily blocked on my own YouTube channel because Warner Music Group's monitoring software detected that I was sharing protected content.... My question is, how can this government tell me that it is protecting my rights as an emerging music creator when it is actually curtailing my freedom of expression?

I would like the member to answer Patrick Bernier-Martin, who asked me that question and who, as an artist, is very concerned about this bill. He does not see how this bill will protect his rights at all. He thinks, and many experts agree, that this bill will protect big industry, which pressured government to introduce it.

Can the member answer this artist?

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the member has sought to consult with stakeholders, whether they be those who are creators or consumers. I assume that she has met with consumers as well and has heard from her constituents on it, as I have. I have met with many creators, including recording artists, over the last couple of years. I have certainly heard from many of my constituents. I have spoken with educational institutions, with libraries in my constituency and elsewhere, so I have heard many of the thoughts and concerns, just as I am sure she has.

I believe our government has found a balance. We need to ensure a balance is created that protects the creators, including the recording artists the hon. member mentioned. We are ensuring that we are finding the balance between protecting them and also ensuring that consumers have access to what they want to be able to have access to.

I think we have found that balance. If some individuals have concerns, they should share those at the committee stage, which, hopefully, we will be at very soon, to ensure their concerns and thoughts are heard but--

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. We need to leave a bit more time for other questions.

The hon. member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, my question pertains to the balance the hon. member discussed in his speech. He said there were two things that came out of the hearings, first, that a lot of people had interest in this, but obviously second, that a balance has been achieved.

I want to question that. We need to look at fair use, at fair dealing. He talks about the education exemption, which basically means, for the purpose of education, one can use copyrighted material. However, if the material in question has a digital lock placed upon it, it cannot be used in this exemption.

Perhaps the hon. member would like to work out that balance, because it does not really make a lot of sense to me.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I suppose the hon. member is entitled to his opinion. However, we sought input from a variety of sources and all kinds of discussion have taken place at the committee level and here in the House. Members of the government have, as have members of the opposition, consulted with those who are creators in the recording industry or otherwise, or consumers.

All of us have consulted with our constituents and what we are hearing is that, although there may be some concerns in various areas and it is difficult to find a balance, they believe our government has found that balance and that we have found a balance that is fair to both creators and the consumers.

I am proud of the fact that we have worked hard to ensure the balance is there and I do believe it exists.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

We will be resuming debate but before I recognize the member for Vancouver Quadra, I want to let her know that I will have to interrupt her part way through her speech as 1:15 p.m. is the end of government orders for today.

The hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add a few comments to this important debate. The Liberal Party absolutely believes that Canada's Copyright Act must be modernized. In this era of iPhones, iPads, cloud sourcing and so on, we must have modern laws.

That is not the challenge here. The challenge, or the issue, is to implement reforms that are fair and that balance the rights of authors and the rights of the Conservatives. We all know this is the objective of the bill. However, the Conservatives have not succeeded. That is obvious. A number of groups have told us and them that the bill is not balanced.

One of the greatest concerns for me is the fact that the Conservatives will continue with their agenda without listening to Canadian citizens, groups, experts and opposition members. We could call this dictatorial federalism.

We know that this bill has sparked a great deal of discussion and that many suggestions were made to improve it. But did the Conservatives add some ideas? Did they change what they will do? No. They introduced a bill that ignores everyone else's ideas. That is not democracy. That is not enough for those of us on this side of the House.

Why do we have to be in such a rush to pass a bill when, when it comes right down to it, the result is not acceptable for so many people and so many organizations in terms of the objectives we have here in Canada? Why? This is a complex issue. This bill is very detailed, and there are many valid arguments. It is worth listening to them and continuing to work on the bill in order to achieve a good result.

Why put forward a policy that is so important and that affects the lives of all Canadians, only to be satisfied with a poor result that does not achieve the balance that everyone wants, when that is the very goal of modernizing the legislation?

It is the same with other issues. The process used by this government and the Prime Minister is a bit dictatorial. They understand while others do not. It is insulting to those who oppose and also to organizations that work every day, every year, to explain the issues with respect to the modernization of the Copyright Act.

Why shorten the debate in such a manner? Why? There is no support for doing so outside that group.

In the beginning, I spoke about the process, which is faulty. I would like to continue in that direction and speak about something that is of great concern to me.

I just asked an NDP member a question about that. Who is managing our decisions as Canadians? Who is in charge of our country's legislation? Recently we learned that some diplomatic cables have shown that some parts of the Conservatives' copyright bill, which we are talking about this afternoon, were drafted to satisfy the concerns of the American industry instead of addressing the concerns of Canadians.

Many Canadians are opposed to the digital locks, which seem to only address American interests. That worries me a lot because the Americans are major partners. They are our friends and neighbours, but they are not in charge of our legislation. This strategy is very worrisome because it sends a message to specific industries in the United States that they can push Conservative MPs in a direction that does not serve the best interests of Canadians.

Our sovereignty belongs to us, to Canadians. It is very important to the people of Canada. Handing over our sovereignty on a silver platter by creating legislation for the American industry is very dangerous. Other industries are going to see that and expect Canada to do it more often. It is unacceptable and we must stop doing it right now.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

It being 1:15 p.m., pursuant to an order made Wednesday, February 8, 2012, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill now before the House.

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

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

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

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the division stands deferred until Monday, February 13, 2012, at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, I believe you would find consent to see the clock as 1:30 p.m.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Is that agreed?