Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to take part in today's debate on Bill C-11, the copyright modernization act.
I will say at the outset that I support this bill. It is the exact bill that was tabled in the last Parliament as Bill C-32, which reached the committee stage prior to the election last year. It is the exact bill that groups were calling to be passed more than a year ago.
It is the culmination of one of the most extensive consultations that any bill has undergone. More than 9,000 Canadian citizens and organizations have provided their thoughts regarding what a balanced copyright bill should look like. It is from that exercise that we arrived at the balance which we have today. It is a balance with which not everyone is 100% content, but everyone can agree that they have some specific measure that they called for. Canadians can also agree that what we have in this bill, especially with the amendments arrived at during committee stage, is in the right ballpark of what balanced copyright law should look like. It is a hard-won balance, the result of principled compromise, and one which the government is proud of.
Across the way, the opposition parties have talked about this balance in two separate, almost disjointed ways. On one hand, they pit artists against consumers and then they turn around and favour consumers over artists, all the while ignoring the need to ensure compromise.
Over here, we realize that this compromise is necessary because consumers and artists are two sides of the same coin. If artists do not trust the rules that protect their rights and govern Canada's digital economy, they will be reluctant to produce their content here. The government and members of Parliament have heard that time and time again. We have also heard that if consumers are unable to enjoy and use that content in legal ways that make sense to them, there will not be a market for the artists' work. That is why we have created a bill that strikes the right balance between the needs of consumers and users, while at the same time making strong exemptions for educational purposes, or fair dealing.
Given this, the bill is an important stepping stone to the establishment of a strong framework in which Canada's digital economy can thrive. We know that the economy is changing significantly. What we do with smart phones, tablets and computers has taken our economy in a new direction. Artists and rights holders are using the digital economy not only to create new markets, but also to create hundreds of thousands of jobs for Canadians. Those benefits are reflected in the raft of groups that are supportive of this legislation, namely, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, the Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright, the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network, the Canadian Intellectual Property Council, and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. I could go on, but I think the point is clear. This bill has wide-ranging support from those who see it as a key platform in the growth of the digital economy and the creation of knowledge economy employment.
I must say that in listening to the opposition members, it is as though they have forgotten the process by which we have arrived here. I have listened with interest to today's debate and it is eerily reminiscent of the budget debate.
In the budget, for example, we on the government side are putting forth a plan on how to sustain Canada's economic health in a time of global economic uncertainty and the opposition is dreaming up new ways to stop our economic growth right in its tracks. We are providing for new, reasonable and economically viable ways to help grow our economy, whether it is through investment in our knowledge economy, sensible changes to the Investment Canada Act, or opening up our telecom sector to increased foreign investment. Like copyright reform, these measures are important for the advancement of Canada's digital economy. The Minister of Industry's telecom announcement will mean great things for the advancement of a rural digital economy in ridings such as my own, as we saw that rural deployment is a strong focus of his. However, the opposition says no to these investments and no to changes that will create jobs and investment right here at home.
In the budget implementation bill, we have proposed practical changes to create a reasonable timeline for environmental reviews while creating stronger environmental laws. We know that in the next 10 years more than 500 projects representing --