Madam Speaker, I am grateful to have the opportunity to take part in today's debate on Bill C-11, the copyright modernization act.
In the 2011 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada committed to reintroduce and seek swift passage of legislation to modernize Canada's copyright law in a way that balances the needs of creators and users. This bill fulfills that promise.
This is the third time that we have tried to introduce this copyright legislation. Thanks to this government, we are finally going to update our act so it is consistent with international standards.
It is the culmination of one of the most extensive consultations that any bill has undergone, with more than 9,000 Canadian citizens and organizations having provided their thoughts regarding what a balanced copyright bill should look like.
It is from that listening exercise that our government arrived at the balance that we have today. It is a balance that not everyone is 100% content with, but everyone can agree that they have had some specific measure that was 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 a balanced copyright act should look like.
This legislation will strengthen our competitiveness within the global digital economy and will protect and create jobs, promote innovation and draw new investments to Canada.
It is a hard-won balance, the result of principled compromise and one that the government is proud of.
Opposition parties have talked about this balance in several separate ways, almost disjointedly. 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.
Instead of advocating new costs for consumers, like an iPod tax, the opposition should finally side with us and support the modernization of Canada's Copyright Act.
Over here we realize that this compromise is necessary, because consumers and artists are in fact two sides of the very same coin. They are the same equation. 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 in the consultations we have held. We have also heard that if consumers are unable to enjoy and use the 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.
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 now with smart phones, tablets and computers has taken our economy in a new direction, where artists and rights holders are using the digital economy not only to bring new art to market 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. To name only a few, they include 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 Institute for the Blind.
I could go on, but I think the point is clear: the 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 have listened with interest to today's debate, which is eerily reminiscent of the budget debate. In the budget, for example, we on the government side are putting forward a plan for how to sustain Canada's economic health in a time of global economic uncertainty.
Yes, unfortunately, the global economy is still fragile.
Here we have the opposition 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 an investment in our knowledge economy, sensible changes to the Investment Canada Act, or opening up our telecom sector to increased foreign investment, yet the opposition says “no” to those investments and “no” to changes that will create jobs and investment right here at home.
The new copyright regime will encourage new ideas and will protect the rights of Canadians whose research and development work and artistic creativity make our economy vibrant.
In the budget implementation act 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 new projects representing over $500 billion in new investments will be proposed for Canada. The potential for job growth is enormous.
Since 2006 our government has been looking to streamline the review process for major opportunities such as this. More needs to be done and more can be done, yet the opposition says “no” to jobs and “no” to economic strength. Federal and provincial revenues that would flow from that measure will not accrue to Canadians because of these decisions.
I understand that part of that is the role of an opposition. I appreciate that, but the opposition's parliamentary games are not reasonable. For example, the member for Burnaby—New Westminster took up over 13 hours of debate and 70 speaking spots simply reading from Twitter posts in the House of Commons. I guess none of his colleagues had anything substantive to add to that debate. When I look at those kinds of tactics, I am not surprised about the opposition's stance on this legislation.
The same kinds of games were played during second reading of Bill C-11. The opposition spoke for more than 19 hours, often repeating the very same words, and all the while, for every day it delayed, another day went by without a modern, flexible copyright regime to help spur on our digital economy.
The bill is the outcome of one of the broadest consultations of its kind in Canadian history. In addition, the government acknowledges the many testimonies and briefs from stakeholders and parliamentarians about the bill tabled in the last session of Parliament and thanks everyone who contributed. This process made it possible to send a very clear message: Canada urgently needs to modernize the Copyright Act.
When it comes down to it, that is what this legislation is about: how rights holders and consumers interact with the digital economy, the economy of the 21st century.
What we need is a bill for the 21st century.
We know, after listening to witnesses at the committee stage of both Bill C-11 and Bill C-32, that this bill would create jobs and support the growth of Canadian business in the digital and online environment. It would promote creativity and innovation.