Mr. Speaker, we are talking a lot about digital locks, which is understandable because they are one of the easiest things to see. When there is a digital lock, people see it and they know that a right is being protected under a padlock. We talk about this a lot, but I wonder whether people, the legislator, have not focused on this much because the corporations, the multinationals, are focusing on it in order to protect their works.
There is no doubt that the major multinationals in this world have been installing locks for decades, rightly or wrongly. They have been installing locks whether they have the right to or not. That is the issue. When we look at this legislation, we get the impression that those with the loudest voices and the most money are the ones who were heard: in other words, the major lobbies and the major industries.
That is rather pathetic because people forget that creation and culture are essentially the story of individuals, of people who have ideas, people who are encouraged to think differently and to see the world in a different way. Without arts and culture, everything would be black and white and that would be dull.
Today, all of these creators help form our identity, what is known as Canadian cultural heritage and Quebec cultural heritage. Creation is what matters. This is crystal clear, considering the whole process related to Bill C-32. I was not a decision-maker in the process at the time, but I once worked in the cultural industry. Now that I am a decision-maker in the process linked to Bill C-11, I can say that the Conservatives did not listen to creators. Instead, they listened to lobbyists and large corporations that have assets and want to invest here and there—major networks, cable, antennas—big business. That is fine, because it is important to have business. We need a way to disseminate people's ideas and our heritage.
The saddest part of all this is knowing that the Conservative government is behaving as it always does: blindly and lazily. Listening only to those who shout the loudest is the lazy way. Copying whatever the Americans are doing is also the lazy way. Our colleagues across the floor seemed to take an attitude of crass laziness towards the witnesses who appeared before us, telling us their stories and telling us about how they live—the people from the industry who create the heritage that makes us unique. We are all proud of our heritage. Whether one is from Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia or the Maritimes, we all have an identity that we want to protect. It is what distinguishes us from our neighbours.
Unfortunately, when these people come to the table, the questions they get asked are totally incoherent. These witnesses come to complain about the fact that they have lost—or will lose, if the bill passes—their broadcast mechanical, and the person across from me says that they are selling music to radio stations. The witnesses explain that they are not selling music to radio stations, that they are just suggesting music for the stations to play and that they are happy with that. Then they get asked why the radio stations should have to pay, since they are happy that the stations are playing music.
This system has been around forever, and it works well. According to radio stations and music producers, the system has always worked well. Then the government stomps in, saying that it is no good and that since the radio station people would rather not pay, then they do not have to pay anymore. The government tells artists that it is enough. Basically, that is what is happening. It happened with broadcasters, and with the transfer of use of cultural or literary material in schools. There were agreements, like Copibec—systems, shared royalty collection systems, a common management system for those rights.
These systems were working very well. Then the government came out and said that this was no longer how it was going to be done. Honestly, there was no problem. In general, the education sector was not complaining and did not feel that it was paying too much. When it is your job to teach young people and show them how to think independently, paying copyright fees to someone who is transferring knowledge via a page in a novel is not a problem. You pay the author. There has never been a problem with that. And then someone comes in like those guys over there, asking if people would rather stop paying, and all of a sudden people start thinking about how much they would save.
We are all aware that the education sector is searching for money wherever it can find it. And so, if the education system can save $3,000 a month, there is a lot of interest. Wow. Off we go. Thanks very much, ladies and gentlemen. Things were working quite well, and then—badabing—here comes the government and it is all over. This heavy-handed approach relies on listening to the industry rather than the creators. Unfortunately, when the creators are not heard, the ones that are heard the least are those in Quebec.
I have heard the hon. members opposite say that they recognize the Quebec nation, but I look at Bill C-11 and see that it is a worthless gesture. They care nothing about how they do business or about how Quebec's creative people make a living. It is not important to them; they want to do this, so they do not listen.
When the Minister of Canadian Heritage appears on Quebec television and sweetly rhymes off the names of Éric Lapointe and other artists, it is all a sham. Everyone in the arts watches him but does not wish him well, in fact.
As my colleague from Davenport was saying, the artists are losing $20 million. That is horrendous. And then what can we say about the other losses coming from adding sections 29.22 and 29.24 to the Copyright Act, a fine law that has served us well, by the way. These sections make it possible to make all the copies anyone might want, as long as they are not given to another person. What a big, fat joke.
The entire music industry in Quebec is outraged, because, once again, no one has been listening. There is no willingness to try to understand. No, they want to copy the big players, like Sony in the United States.
In reality, Quebec artists will now be like hawkers who sell their wares on street corners. They will no longer be able to earn a living by selling their music, as they did previously. They will have to put on shows.
We keep hearing that people such as stage technicians are pleased with this bill. Yes, I understand that they are pleased; that is obvious. However, I do not believe that sound engineers working in a studio or people who create music but do not put on live shows are happy with it. And when I hear that Canadian photographers are pleased, I can understand that, because there are no big corporations that take a cut in that sector. But there are in the world of music. Honestly, the only word that comes to mind to describe the bill is “lazy”. That is the reality.
The impact of this bill is clear: artists will lose about $50 million. How is it that we are interfering once again in a process that worked for artists? That bears repeating. Without getting into the specifics, a few years ago, the Copyright Board of Canada told the radio people that the situation regarding recorded music made things difficult for musicians and artists and that solutions had to be found to improve things. Radio broadcasters were asked to contribute a little more by paying mechanical rights. Previously, radio broadcasters made a copy and played the LPs on a turntable. Now that music is downloaded from the Internet, they have to pay a royalty if they make a copy for their operating system.
The broadcasters agreed because if you want to make cheese, you have to feed your cows. Cows have to eat. If we want music, then artists have to be able to make a living. The government is swooping in, cutting left and right and it is over. Broadcasters will be able to make copies without paying. Copyright is indeed very complicated, which is why I cringe when I think about these slapdash amendments, when people have not had the chance to attend these debates in committee.
How can the government just swoop in today and say that the broadcasters will not have to pay these mechanical royalties anymore without any proposal, promise or agreement to tell the musicians that we will look into it?
If I were an artist with a guitar, as my colleague was saying, I would do better here in this House. Honestly, what are artists supposed to live on? The Conservatives have said nothing about an alternative to paying mechanical royalties. Nothing.