Mr. Speaker, I was going to say that I see the member for Timmins—James Bay's contributions to the legislation. I did not violate the rules.
This has been a long slog. I know that other members of the House, including the member for Halifax West and others, have been along this long journey of almost three years now of consideration of modernizing Canada's copyright legislation. When the time comes when we speak of our political careers in the past tense, we will think of how we had been elected for a while and talked about copyright, and some other stuff went on. However, this is important legislation, and I am glad that we have had such a thorough conversation with regard to copyright.
On the substance of this legislation, we have put forward in our throne speeches the need to advance Canada's copyright regime and to modernize it. It has been 13 years since Canada's copyright legislation has been substantively improved, but it has been about 22 years since it has been really looked at with this kind of depth and effectiveness.
When we started our process, we had legislation in the previous parliament, the 2006-2008 parliament. That copyright legislation generated a great deal of conversation and, it is fair to say, a great deal of controversy. Using that as a basis for kick-starting the conversation that led to Bill C-32, our government engaged in unprecedented consultations with regard to copyright. We had online consultations, round tables and open town hall forums all across the country. We received tens of thousands of views submitted from Canadians all across the country, written, online and in person. This has been one of the most open and transparent processes that I have ever seen in my 12 years of public life. The way in which this legislation was arrived at was not done in hiding or behind closed doors. It was arrived at in a very public and open way.
What we have achieved with Bill C-11 is a real balancing of Canada's intellectual property rights needs going forward, most important of which, by the way—and I appreciate the sentiment of the leader of the Green Party in the House—is the need for further tweaks to this legislation.
The reality is that intellectual property law is an ongoing moving target. It is not a black and white issue. It is not a simple left or right divide. There is not a simple regulate-deregulate divide. There is not a simple technological divide either.
What is really needed for this country to move forward is actually what I find the most important section of this legislation. It is the provision mandating that every five years, regardless of who is in power or who is Minister of Canadian Heritage or Minister of Industry, and regardless of political circumstance or minority-majority parliaments, Parliament has to re-engage the debate on intellectual property and copyright law to make sure we are not lagging the world but leading it in the best kind of intellectual property law structure possible. That is what we put forward with Bill C-11.
I am proud to stand by the substance of Bill C-11. We have arrived at an effective balance that will serve Canada very well. What is most important about this legislation is that it will continue a debate going forward so that we will continue to be on the leading edge of what is in the best interests of Canada when it comes to intellectual property law.
When we did consultations after we tabled the legislation in this House, Canadians spoke out quite clearly, and we have a very broad base of support all across this country for this legislation.
For example, the Council of Ministers of Education, which is every minister of education in every province of the country except for the province of Quebec, came out and said that this legislation provides the clarity that they had been looking for and that it was excellent that the bill would allow students and educators to use the Internet to learn and teach without fear of copyright infringement.
The Entertainment Software Association, which represents Canada's video game industry and constitutes about 15,000 very high-paying jobs in this country and important jobs for the future, said that it congratulates the government on this copyright legislation.
This legislation will help protect Canadian creators. It is good public policy and it is essential for our economy.
The Canadian Media Production Association said that it applauds the government's copyright reform and legislation.
The Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Networks applauds our copyright bill as well. It stated:
Arriving at the correct balance between the rights of creators, users, producers and distributors of copyright works is a challenging task and CACN applauds the Government of Canada's efforts to do so.... [New legislation] is long overdue...[and] we strongly urge Members of Parliament from all parties to act quickly and decisively in passing legislation....
The Edmonton Journal, the media watcher of this House that has been paying attention to this debate for a long time, said this copyright bill is a welcome start and stated:
To be sure, something had to be done. It's been 13 years since the last changes were made—arguably 22 years since substantive reform—and...It's a different universe out there.
The Canadian Photographers Coalition stated that they welcome the government's copyright reform and said:
These amendments should allow Canadian small business photographers the opportunity to generate additiona; revenues for their commercial work.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said, “the bill lays the foundation for future economic growth and job creation. The bill is critical to ensuring competitiveness and a stable business environment in Canada's digital universe”.
The leader of the Green Party talked about the importance of education as part of this debate. The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations said, “The government has demonstrated a commitment to Canada's education community. Students across Canada are greatly encouraged. The government has a clear understanding of how this bill will impact Canada's students, educators and researchers”.
The Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright said, “The government has taken a common-sense, balanced approach to copyright legislation. It's a positive step toward modernizing Canada's copyright laws and it achieves balance between the interests of consumers and creators”.
It is not just those organizations but, as I said, cultural industries as well are speaking out strongly in favour of this. For example, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees said, “We applaud the government's move forward with Bill C-11. This bill will help over 16,000 workers in Canada's entertainment industry stay employed. Piracy is taking money out of our workers' pockets. Canada needs copyright legislation that will protect and create jobs, stimulate the economy and attract new investment into the cultural sector”.
I could go on but I have given a healthy and balanced sample of individuals and organizations who have come out and said that this legislation is the appropriate balance and it strikes the right chord for Canada's future. It would be unfair for me to suggest that all of these organizations are happy with all aspects of the copyright legislation because that would not be true either. Intellectual property law is incredibly complicated. It is a balancing act. It is balancing the needs of creators, consumers, individuals, organizations and industries with the rights of citizens to be able to use copyright material in effective and personal ways. It is about striking the right balance. It is also taking into account our responsibility on the international stage.
Many elements are at stake when drafting effective copyright legislation. Even after the consultations we did prior to tabling Bill C-32, after which it flipped into Bill C-11 in this current Parliament, we had well over 100 witnesses come before the two committees combined in both Parliaments. We still took written submissions from Canadians who had their views and wanted to have those views further heard on the legislation after we tabled it. Even with that, we amended our legislation further with 11 amendments that were important to strengthening the legislation to keep it moving forward. So we were more than open in the beginning and during the process and we have been open through all of this.
However, it is time now for certainty and for us to move forward. After almost two years of debating this legislation, it is time for us to get on with passing it, to get this done and to give Canada the best intellectual property structure and laws possible. Bill C-11 would strike that balance. Some people want some amendments that are not on the table, that we have not approved, but when we look at the core of this legislation and the balance we have struck, it is fair to say that our government has been more than open about listening to Canadians, arriving at legislation that works and putting in place a formula that would lead Canada in the right direction for years to come, for ongoing consideration of our intellectual property framework that would serve Canada's interests, both as creators and consumers, for generations to come.