House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Copyright Modernization Act November 2nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly it. What my colleague is saying is that our artists are being asked to be technical experts, which means that they will be spending more time ensuring that their works are protected than they will spend producing and creating them. That is the problem.

Internet service providers should be responsible for ensuring that artists benefit when works are transferred. For example, if someone decides to use an artist's work and put it on YouTube, then YouTube sells advertisements, it makes money off our artists' works, not directly, but indirectly. This is not happening directly, but it happens when people disseminate works on different platforms.

So we are turning our artists into technical experts. They will spend more time ensuring that their works are protected than they will spend creating them. Our artists are not robots. Above all, they are creators, and this bill essentially makes our artists poorer and diminishes their rights.

Copyright Modernization Act November 2nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, yes, of course. My colleague from Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert could even support these amendments. This recognition is important because we must protect our culture, and this culture must allow us to dream. That is why we must ensure that our artists receive fair compensation for the works they produce. That goes without saying.

The problem is that this bill would cost our artists money, since it allows users to look for works on illegal markets and it allows those who purchased them legally to reproduce them. That goes against the principle of protecting our artists' works. That is how things have always worked, and it is too bad that the government is opening a door today. It is sending the message that the government does not protect artists' rights, and it could end up making them poorer.

Copyright Modernization Act November 2nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to the bill before the House today. According to the government and as we can read for ourselves, this bill amends the Copyright Act in order to update people's ability and capacity to access great works.

Over the next 15 minutes, I will try to make the government understand that the real way to update the current legislation involves first acknowledging that certain rights exist for the creators, authors, writers and artists who agree to share their gifts with the rest of society for education and research purposes. However, the government needs to acknowledge that royalties must be associated with this and that it is not true that institutions, individuals and corporations can use these works—whether books, movies or plays—without recognizing that royalties must be associated with that use.

I listened to the government members who spoke earlier and who would have us believe that these royalties are essentially a consumption tax. Nothing could be further from the truth. Basically, there are two important things to understand and which, we believe, are not necessarily mutually exclusive. One possibility is recognizing rights while ensuring that new players in new technology can have access to the works available. A compromise can be reached as long as the government agrees not to play into the hands of the major players. For example, Internet service providers come to mind. These providers offer public access through an open market using new technology.

What the government is trying to achieve and the consequences Bill C-32 will have are two different things. First, with regard to permission fees and licence fees, the bill does not ensure that the author is necessarily consulted, and thus, Bill C-32 puts an end to the right to decide whether or not to authorize use of a work. It puts and end to remuneration for use. That is what is of concern in terms of the principle and the concept behind fairness, because clause 29 of the bill talks about a concept of use related to a notion of fairness and fair dealing. This was defined back in 2004 by the Supreme Court. What have the consequences of that Supreme Court ruling been? It has given a great advantage to the users at the expense of our creators, our authors, our writers and our artists.

We must not forget this 2004 ruling because it laid the groundwork for unfair dealing, in our opinion, when it comes to our artists and creators. What does clause 29 of the bill say? It says that a work used for the purpose of private study, education, parody or satire does not infringe copyright. Accordingly, a work may be used as long as it is for private educational purposes, education or parody.

This notion of fairness is not defined in the bill. The first step was taken in 2004 by a Supreme Court ruling that gave a great advantage to the users at the expense of the creators and our artists.

My colleague the Canadian heritage critic pinpointed the problem with the bill and that is that it contains exceptions, which she calls the deadly sins. There are 17 exceptions in total. We on this side of the House are not saying there should be no exceptions. International conventions state that there may be exceptions, but they apply in certain special cases. It is important to remember that. This bill has 17 exceptions that flout Canada's international obligations, specifically the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. This convention stipulates in article 9 that exceptions made for users must be reserved for certain special cases where reproduction does not conflict with the normal exploitation of the work and does not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author.

With these 17 exceptions, the government is flouting its international obligations. This bill ignores Canada's commitments and is unfair to authors and creators.

There are a lot of exceptions in this bill. One particularly problematic exception stands in opposition to what should, in theory, be a positive principle. It concerns educational institutions. Teachers will be able to use protected materials in their courses without obtaining permission to reproduce them. This applies to movies and plays, among other things. The problem is not that people will be disseminating these cultural and artistic works, but that schools, for example, will not be required to pay royalties if they reproduce works. That is the problem.

We have to ensure that everyone in our society has access to culture. Our young people need rapid access to our literary works and their authors, but we must not forget that these are artists whose livelihoods depend on this.

I was reading the latest statistics. In the education sector alone, there are 175 million copies of parts of copyrighted works in schools, CEGEPs and universities. The education sector alone provides $9 million per year to 23 Quebec authors and 1,000 Quebec publishers. People's economic livelihood depends on publishing and culture. Of course we want our young people to have access to culture, but we must also recognize that our creators have the right to fair compensation.

This exception, therefore, is pernicious, the more so because the term “education” is not defined in this bill. It could therefore be defined quite broadly and have a broad scope. Given that the term “education” is not defined in this bill, this exception for the education sector, which allows teachers to use literary works, reproduce them and distribute them to their students, will leave it up to the courts to determine whether this use complies with the law.

Of course, this will force artists and creators, many of whom already have relatively low incomes, to take their cases to court.

We will further impoverish our artists, who are only asking for recognition of their work. Royalties are a measure of fairness. Unfortunately, the Canadian government, with this exemption for education, is not doing any favours for Quebec's artists and publishers that provide works, books and educational materials to our schools.

There is another exemption, the one I call the YouTube exemption. It refers to the creation of a new work by using, free of charge, part or all of a work on condition that it is to be used for non-commercial purposes. In addition, there is no requirement to name the source unless it is reasonable in the circumstances to do so. Thus, another exception is created, and one that is unique in the world, found only in Canadian legislation.

It means that someone could very well use a work, song or music—for which the rights are protected in principle—without asking the author's permission and without paying the associated royalties. This could be the end of private rights for these authors. I will say it again. We must provide greater access to Quebec and Canadian culture, but we must recognize the work of our artists. Even though new gateways and platforms make the use of their work possible, this broader distribution must not exempt us from honouring our commitments and ensuring fairness for our artists.

There is also an exemption for private purposes. An individual may reproduce a legally obtained work on a medium he or she owns and provide access for private purposes.

Once again, there is a refusal to create a new category, and that affects the levies. The government thinks that this levy is a tax on consumers, but on this side of the House, we see it more as fair recognition for our artists' work—nothing more, nothing less. For the Conservative government, “levy for artists” equals “consumer tax”. That is not how we read it.

Other exceptions are created, such as communicating a work by telecommunication. The bill introduces a vague, flexible and inadequate notion. It says that the institution must take measures that can be reasonably expected to limit dissemination of the work. What are these measures? Again “that can reasonably be expected” is not defined, just like those fairness principles, even though the Supreme Court provided some direction on this in 2004. It is up to the courts to later determine the scope of the concepts presented in the bill, and therefore the artists will have to appear in court. With this bill, the government is deliberately impoverishing our artists.

The concept of “that can reasonably be expected” is also used in the exceptions covering visual presentations, examinations and inter-library loans.

The other exceptions cover works on the Internet, extending photocopy licence and backup copies.

This is no longer in line with the Berne convention, which authorized states to create exceptions in special cases. The government is creating systematic exceptions, at the expense of our authors and artists.

It would have been better to stop creating exceptions and to recognize that artists are entitled to a fair shake and to fair royalties. The government should have recognized that the author's permission is required before his works can be reproduced and distributed on new platforms.

What is wrong here is that with the locking approach, artists and artisans are responsible for controlling access to their products on the Internet, while the major Internet service providers are responsible for ensuring that these artists and artisans are appropriately acknowledged. Permission must be given for works to be issued on new digital platforms. We must ensure that our artists, who spend their time creating and making us dream, do not end up caught up in expensive legal battles. The federal government must take responsibility and amend the bill to better protect our creators and our artists.

Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity October 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, this morning Canada won the dodo award in Nagoya at the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

This award, which is named after an extinct bird from Mauritius, highlights a government's lack of effort and failure to help discussions evolve toward an agreement. It was given to Canada because of its behaviour and its insistence on blocking any reference to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Convention on Biological Diversity was signed at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. The goals of the convention are conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of biodiversity and “the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources”.

This booby prize will be added to a long list of such prizes that Canada has won, including the fossil awards from the climate change conference in Copenhagen.

There is nothing to be proud of when it comes to this Conservative government's performance on the world stage.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act October 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, that will depend on the negotiations that are under way between Canadian mining companies and the Panamanian government. However, when we look at other agreements, they must ensure that national governments are in a strong position to shape environmental policies. We have not yet received that assurance. When looking at the power of chapter 11 in free trade agreements, we realize that, in the end, international agreements often rob national governments of their powers to regulate environmental matters, for example.

An international agreement must never weaken the power of nations to implement regulations concerning environmental protection. It is not true that the major multinationals will determine the rules for social and environmental protection. The state is there to protect ecosystems and populations. It is very dangerous to place this power and this recourse to international courts in the hands of any multinationals. I believe that there is cause for concern. Canada must have guarantees before ratifying such an agreement.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act October 26th, 2010

Madam Speaker, the answer is simple. The reason that the Canadian government wants to expedite ratification of the Canada-Panama agreement—unlike Europe and the United States, where the debate in Congress is ongoing—is that it wants to give Canadian companies a competitive advantage in the Panamanian market. That is what it wants. It wants to show Panama that it is eager to proceed regardless of whether workers' rights are respected.

That is the real problem with the Canadian government's approach. By trying to ratify this agreement in a hurry, contrary to what the United States is doing, the government is showing that it does not care about workers' rights, social rights and environmental rights. It cares only about international trade and the economy. I think that is why Canada is trying to rush ratification of this trade agreement.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act October 26th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today to the bill before us, a bill that would fast-track agreements, in particular the bilateral free trade agreement between Canada and Panama.

The fact is that the government is fast-tracking the ratification process for an international agreement similar to those that have already been ratified by Canada. I am thinking, among others, of the agreement with Peru. These agreements are designed to fast-track and increase trade between Canada and other countries. In the case of the bill before us, the agreement in question basically attempts to fast-track trade with Panama.

Panama has decided to increase its trade relations through formal trade agreements with three countries that belong to NAFTA, including Canada. We also know that the United States has negotiated and signed an agreement. Canada would be the last to do so.

First of all, we are not opposed to trade agreements that facilitate trade among countries, whether they are southern, northern or European countries. We have clearly indicated that we would like Canada to negotiate, ratify and sign a free trade agreement with the European Union, but with some conditions. And that is the point we wish to make today in this debate. We are saying yes to trade agreements, yes to free trade agreements, but not at any cost.

The Bloc Québécois has an analytical grid of the trade agreements signed by Canada, which we use to determine whether or not we should support specific trade agreements that are or may be negotiated. What are the criteria for supporting trade agreements?

First, we must ensure that human rights are respected. We cannot agree to sign and ratify a free trade agreement with a country that does not respect the most basic rights, human rights, and that allows repression and the violation of fundamental rules such as women's access to certain sectors of economic activity. We cannot allow Canada to sign trade agreements with countries that violate human rights and the fundamental rights of their citizens. That is the first criterion.

The second criterion is that there must be a minimum level of environmental protection in countries with which we will be conducting tariff-free trade. We cannot agree to trade agreements with countries that have weak environmental regulations, because that would facilitate trade and lead to agreements that are socially and environmentally irresponsible.

Furthermore, what would be the consequence of signing such agreements? It would enable Canadian companies to go to these countries to develop the natural resources, free from any environmental regulations. So a country that chose to implement serious, stringent environmental regulations would lose economic activity to countries that chose to disregard the environment in order to allow businesses to save money and cut costs, at the expense of the common good.

We cannot agree to a trade agreement with a country that has poor environmental regulations. Lastly, we cannot agree to trade agreements when workers' rights are violated and when police crack down on legitimate, peaceful protests.

These three key issues must be taken into consideration when we decide whether or not Canada should ratify or sign a trade agreement.

In this case, with the trade agreement between Panama and Canada, what analysis needs to be done? Our analysis should be based on the principles I just mentioned.

In recent years, Panama has shown that it wants to enter freely into international trade agreements. But what is Panama's record like on the three issues I just mentioned? In terms of the environment, Canadian companies, particularly mining companies, have pushed to be able to operate in Panama, where they have a number of mining claims. They saw that there were abundant natural resources, particularly gold and silver, so they decided to purchase mining claims in Panama to be able to develop these resources. That is good, it is commendable, and it is acceptable. It allows for the creation of wealth, but under what conditions is this being done? That is key. Are human rights, workers' rights and a minimum level of environmental protection guaranteed?

Canadian mining companies are currently in discussions with Panama's government to establish a new legislative framework for environmental co-operation, just as there is co-operation between Canada and the United States as part of the free trade agreements. That is what we want; that is good. We hope that these discussions between Canadian companies and the Panamanian government will lead to the most basic and most stringent environmental protection rules. It would also be good to see the government taking part in these discussions.

Before these agreements between Canadian companies and the Panamanian government are signed, can we know the outcome? Yes, Canada has signed a free trade agreement with Panama, but can we wait for the discussions between these two levels of stakeholders to finish before we ratify this agreement? That would be the socially and environmentally responsible thing to do.

There is also the issue of tax havens. We cannot agree to trade with a country that still does not divulge information and that has a secretive banking system. Panama is still on the OECD's grey list. Last year, the Panamanian government committed to signing 12 tax agreements by 2010. That is one sign that the Panamanian government wants to move in the right direction and improve its record, which is far from enviable at present.

The Panamanian government seems to be showing a desire to put an end to tax havens. Before we ratify an agreement, can we wait and see whether the Panamanian government will follow through on its commitments? It would be smart of the Canadian government to do so. In fact, that is what the American government and Europe have decided to do. The United States and Europe are not rushing to ratify this trade agreement because they want to know that the Panamanian government will follow through on its commitments.

That is what a socially responsible nation should be doing.

October 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I understand what the parliamentary secretary just told us, except that the expert committee he referred to was hardly independent. It was made up of departmental officials who tried to compile some of the available information, but as we know, some information has disappeared.

The parliamentary secretary said that no anthrax was dumped into the St. Lawrence. Yet in the report and the documentary he referred to, a captain, Captain Joseph Lachance, recalled being in an ice canoe and coming across a jug full of anthrax. What he said, basically, was that of course they did not know what was in it. And even if they had known, they would not have been allowed to talk about it. So Captain Lachance's claims contradict what the parliamentary secretary just said.

My question is simple. Will the parliamentary secretary commit to tabling here in the House all of the documentation in his possession?

October 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my question of June 2, 2010, during the second world war, Canadian scientists erected at Grosse Île, near Montmagny, an ultra secret military laboratory to produce the biological warfare agent anthrax. The development of a biological weapon named “project N” was one of three war secrets along with research into the atomic bomb and decoding German messages.

One year before the Grosse Île experiments, the British had begun this type of research on Gruinard Island, in Scotland. It was a disaster. The island was contaminated and would stay that way until 1990. At the time, operations ceased, but experiments continued at Grosse Île. It was a very risky operation, as we just saw.

A number of Canadian scientists who would be assigned to the project were opposed to Grosse Île as a site because the island was too close to shore. The scientists wanted to use a site at least 50 miles from shore. Grosse Île was only three miles from shore. The military ignored this scientific opinion.

It is estimated that roughly 439 litres of anthrax was produced, which represents the equivalent of 70 billion lethal doses, enough to destroy humanity 30 times over. At the end of the project, the anthrax was dumped into the St. Lawrence River.

With the help of the American and British governments, the Canadian government was the first mass producer of this chemical weapon for military purposes.

To summarize, the government's intention was to transform bacteria into a weapon of mass destruction. What is disturbing is that we are talking about a military secret that is over 60 years old. What happened to the anthrax? Were any tests done? Accessing the archives is very difficult and a number of documents have disappeared. For instance, some Department of National Defence documents were accidentally shredded. However, according to Thomas Stovell, a retired scientist from Toronto who worked in the lab, the leftover anthrax was mixed with solvents, left to sit for awhile and then tossed underwater.

Since anthrax spores can survive for about a hundred years and because people are worried, we would like more information about this disposal. On June 2, 2010, I asked the Minister of the Environment to tell us precisely where in the St. Lawrence the leftover anthrax was dumped. I believe it is the government's duty to get more information and conduct an investigation, in order to ensure that people are not exposed to a chemical weapon.

Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act October 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, we reject outright the principle of minimum sentences. However, in the bill, a minimum sentence of six months' imprisonment applies in the case of a third offence. A minimum sentence applies for a third offence because there are two reasons for committing such an offence. It may be committed by an organized crime ring for the purpose of selling parts abroad. Or a car may be stolen by 18- or 19-year-olds who want to go joyriding one evening.

The penalty and the sentence must fit the crime. The same six-month sentence cannot be handed down for an 18-year-old who decides to steal a car and for someone found guilty of trafficking cars. The sentences must be fair. The Bloc Québécois has always opposed the principle of minimum sentences because it wants judges to assess the situation of the accused who is brought to trial and sentenced.