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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was competition.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Pickering—Scarborough East (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns November 5th, 2010

With regard to the G20 Summit in Toronto, what are the details of all contracts for goods or services relating to the G20 meetings, providing for each contract (i) the name of the contractor, (ii) a description of the goods or services provided, (iii) the value of the contract, (iv) whether or not there was an open bidding process for the contract?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns November 5th, 2010

With regard to the G8 Summit in Muskoka, what are the details of all contracts for goods or services relating to the G8 meetings, providing for each contract (i) the name of the contractor, (ii) a description of the goods or services provided, (iii) the value of the contract, (iv) whether or not there was an open bidding process for the contract?

Petitions November 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to offer a petition that was presented to me by President Elsie Hetherman of the Pickering Veterans Association. It is very fitting, given the rally that will be here on the Hill on November 6.

We were presented this petition by dozens of second world war and Korean War veterans, and so its significance is not to be underestimated.

The hundreds of veterans from our communities of Pickering, Ajax, Markham and Scarborough call upon the government to enact the new veterans charter and other federal acts, programs and regulations. They ask that the government reintroduce legislation to recreate all lost programs, benefits and certain legislation, including that which is contained in the Pension Act, and place a regulatory moratorium on the reductions to VAC.

They also wish to emphatically renew the mandate of the veterans ombudsman, Colonel Pat Stogran, and implement legislation guaranteeing the veterans ombudsman is always a veteran and his office is independent from the agency.

We understand that there are several other grievances but in light of November 11, I think this is very timely.

Copyright Modernization Act November 2nd, 2010

Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso has raised a very important and delicate area.

I believe that this legislation, despite its best intentions, was not drafted very well. It will probably create a number of objections in loose, unclear or awkward wording which might pit one group against another. That certainly should not be the intention. What we have to do is agree on a formal set of principles that we want enunciated here.

We do not want a situation where the minister talks about going after people who are infringers or, to use other terminology, wealth inhibitors and yet does not really take into consideration the absolute destruction and devastation that might ensue. BitTorrent or other companies that I have been made familiar with over the past little while, such as isoHunt, might be able to hide behind poorly drafted legislation.

The hon. member talked about the need to compensate authors and those who have created novel, new ideas, whether that be the outward expression in terms of their artistry, or songs, or art itself. It seems to me that we have to find the balance between those who have created and expect compensation for that creation and those who will use it for purposes that are not commercial.

In the case of education, we have to resolve once and for all the issue of institutions which use and disseminate information but do not pay. Perhaps we should be looking at another facility, and the existing one of the Copyright Board was used many years ago, to ensure there is some recognition for the use of material that takes into consideration the balance of disseminating information while at the same time ensuring that those who have provided information, innovation, ideas or thought are also appropriately compensated for the work they are doing.

This is not going to be an easy process. If the bill is not precise, loose language often leads to terrible and unforeseen consequences. The expertise of members on the committee is going to be so crucial, because there are a lot of problems with this bill, but it is a step, as I have said earlier, in the right direction.

The hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso has raised a number of very important critical concerns that go to the core of why the legislation as it currently stands needs to take into consideration some very important principles. I share with the member the concern that we have a long way to go.

Copyright Modernization Act November 2nd, 2010

Madam Speaker, I know the hon. member was an early advocate for changes to ensure that we had copyright legislation and protection, particularly as it related to products that were counterfeit, to ensure they both met the safety standards and did not compromise the quality of Canadian workmanship, which is at the core of his riding. When we visited his riding in 2007, we had heard very clearly about how many Windsorites were losing their jobs as a result of knock-offs and bogus products being made. The member brought those very much to our attention and were part of the unanimous report on manufacturing.

He also raises today a very interesting point. When we are required, after a certain period of time, to destroy information, particularly if it is for students or for educational purposes, it conjures up images of the show Mission Impossible in the 1960s, where the tape would self-destruct in five seconds.

We have to find the balance on both the rights of those who produce these products and those who purchase them. There has to be a reasonable person test applied here. One would use that in the vernacular as common sense, something that we would certainly want to prevail.

However, the hon. member has raised an area that really speaks to the need to ensure that we have on that committee members of Parliament who have at least some background and some skill at discerning, through their own experiences, what appears to be unintended effects and unintended consequences.

I support the hon. member's concern as somebody who has seen this kind of thing being inserted, I am sure unintentionally. What he has raised is an example of what are many problems along the way. It is a good document, but it has troubles and it will require some severe amendments.

I would support the member's concern. I thank him for raising that because I am sure I will be hearing from him on the committee very shortly.

Copyright Modernization Act November 2nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the importance of this bill on modernizing copyrights. As a member of Parliament, I have spent a number of years working with my colleagues from all the parties to ensure that our country can support authors and copyright owners. That is an important principle.

We are at second reading of Bill C-32, which the government wants to move forward. This is not the first time we have seen such a bill. Before 2008, the government at the time introduced Bills C-60 and C-61, but they did not make it through. It is not true that these bills had a number of flaws and problems.

We are here today to talk about the importance of a bill that recognizes the changes going on in the increasingly technological world we live in.

The purpose of this bill is to modernize the Copyright Act to bring it in line with the digital age. I must mention some of the important changes that are being proposed. There are changes that would authorize individuals to make copies for personal use, such as recording television shows or transferring music onto an iPod or computer. There are also new rules that would make it illegal for individuals to circumvent a digital lock or a technological protection measure.

Furthermore, the bill gives new responsibilities to Internet service providers, which will have to inform copyright owners of a potential infringement of the copyright. As a party, we note the new exceptions regarding fair dealing for educational uses, for parody or for satire that are included in this bill.

Canada is definitely in the midst of a digital transformation. The dawning of the digital economy is upon us and it will no doubt have, and has had, profound impact on industries, especially our cultural industries.

It is clear that our aging copyright laws have received significant international criticism, which is not to be underestimated. The longer we remain behind in global best practices, the more Canadian artists and consumers will lose out. This initiative brings into play our international relations as well as the interests of consumers.

There are obviously a lot of ideas about what is in the best interests of consumers, and this is going to require serious attention in committee, where informed, serious debate will be held with a number of stakeholders, and all points of view will get a clear hearing.

We have all received significant lobbying from individuals, interested parties, stakeholders, and experts in this field. I appreciate these interventions because they are significant. This legislation and the work that we conduct in committee will, I hope, do justice to the attempts by many people to bring forth a better copyright law here in Canada.

A number of concerns were expressed by my colleagues prior to my taking the floor. Because of time considerations, I will not repeat them. Rather, I will focus on areas that my party and I believe are extremely important.

This is not a new issue for me as a member of Parliament. For a number of years, going back to 2006-07, I attempted to bring together an all-party copyright committee that would look at these issues.

I sat on the industry committee, where I am still a member, when we issued two reports on copyright, contraband, and other issues that were important to manufacturing and the evolution of technology, which we viewed in a context of modernizing our economic instruments.

Digital lock provisions allow Canadians who have legitimately purchased a CD or DVD or other products to transfer their purchase to their iPod or make a personal backup copy on their computer, so long, and I think this is the caveat, as they are not doing so for the purpose of sale or transfer to others.

That is what the legislation is looking to do. It distinguishes private personal use and commercialization. In some areas, a simple firewall can be established, but it is not clear and it becomes more clouded when we are dealing with new technologies and new electronics.

Many artists, many songwriters, many creators of art have expressed deep concern and substantial reservations about issues such as the new education provisions in this copyright legislation. They are concerned about mashups, statutory damages, and compensation for resale rights. While we have deep reservations, we will support this bill's going to committee and look for an opportunity to address the many concerns that have been brought forward.

We know the question of copyright is fundamental. It is important and must be treated with the same degree of seriousness that the public always expects from Parliament in enabling and modernizing legislation.

I explained earlier that Canada's shift to a digital economy has huge spinoffs for our cultural industries. I also mentioned that our copyright laws have been criticized internationally and that the more we drag our feet on global best practices, the more Canadian artists and consumers will lose out. We have obviously taken into consideration the fact that numerous artists, writers and creators have also expressed serious concerns about certain points, such as the new provisions concerning education, mashup applications, statutory damages and payment for resale rights. Despite these concerns, we are trying to make sure that this bill makes it to committee, where much more work can be done.

Since it was tabled, this bill has received staunch support and strong opposition from various stakeholders. The Liberal Party obviously supports modernization. However, concerns have been raised about numerous areas. The first is whether digital locks should take precedence over every other right to copy. The bill we are debating today, Bill C-32, provides for new rights authorizing Canadians to make copies for personal use, including format shifting—transferring content to a CD or iPod—as well as time shifting and making backup copies. The new provisions concerning digital locks take precedence over these rights. In other words, under the new law, a person who buys a CD that has had a digital lock on it cannot circumvent that lock to transfer the content to an iPod without breaking the law. Obviously this has given rise to some discussion. It is an extremely controversial point that was already contested when the Conservatives introduced their previous copyright bill, Bill C-61.

As a party, we obviously have concerns. As well, consumers have been passionate about sharing their fears about the digital lock provisions. We listened to these fears and we will listen to them again.

Other areas we would look at in Bill C-32 would be education. It has been mentioned here before, but the legislation introduces exemptions for copying, meaning teachers and institutions of higher learning. Education can now make copies of some work for education purposes and not infringe on copyright.

Broadly, the bill would implement two major changes. It would introduce making copies for education purposes as an exemption under Canada's fair dealing rules. It would also introduce several specific distance education exceptions to allow for copies used for lessons, communicated to the public through telecommunication for educational or training purposes. That public consists only of students who are enrolled in a course.

I think we can appreciate that there is in fact a growing concern and opposition to broad fair dealing exemption provisions. Writers and publishing groups in particular are very opposed. Fair dealing is so broad that question really becomes, what is in fact defined as fair? The writers and publisher groups believe new exemptions will give teachers and education institutions a veritable blank cheque to make copies of their work and to give it students. They believe teachers and educational institutions ought to compensate creators for their work.

In particular, one of the questions that arises is why private commercial education institutions should be permitted to disseminate works for education purposes without compensating copyright.

I do not need to get into the number of associations and groups that have advocated fair dealing exemption. They have to be taken in the context of the concerns that have been registered by those who freely and rightly create and ask that they be compensated for their work.

There again is another area that falls into what we consider the not so black and white debate about copyright. It is important for us to take and weigh both of these in accordance with the spirit of what the bill tries to achieve.

It would appear that another area we need to look at is the area known technically as mashups, and it is not something one would prepare at a dinner. It is the creation of an exemption for user-generated content where a personal movie is produced using music clips combined with personal video. Then, as some do, it is posted on YouTube.

In our view, this section is too broadly written. Under the rule, individuals can post an entire movie on YouTube as long as they add a small inserted clip at the beginning or the end. Then they can call the video a mashup. It is kind of the exemption given in this kind of circumstance.

We believe the language in this proposed legislation should be tightened to ensure that the mashup exemption cannot unexpectedly create what appears to be a loophole for further copyright infringement.

We are also concerned about the question of statutory damages. I raise this because I have not heard many other members talk about this point. The bill defines a new statutory damage provision of between $100 to $5,000 for all non-commercial infringement copyright.

A number of people to whom I have spoken, and who have come to meet with members of Parliament, have expressed concern about this section and believe applied statutory damages must be commensurate to, equal to and proportional to the severity.

That is an important factor that we must consider at committee. We may have differing opinions as to how these issues are going to be resolved. It would appear that the committee is going to be cast, once again, with having to judge two, or three or several very weighty issues.

The resale of art is also a new issue that has not really had a lot of attention, but it is one that leaves Canadian artists in a position of distinct disadvantage. As members will know, throughout Europe and in some parts of Central and Latin America, artists are rewarded when their works are sold and sold again. Original art increases in value over time and artists feel a share of the increase in value should be returned to them upon resale of their works.

At committee, we may wish to explore the European model or the European experience and see how Canadian artists can be better compensated for their work. Considering the level of interest that has now been brought forward, I am sure this is an area that our party and areas in other jurisdictions will be certainly interested in modelling as well.

It is clear that ephemeral recordings also present concerns for members of Parliament and will concern Canadians. To put that in perspective, currently copyright holders charge broadcasters for format-shifting their works. A simple example of this is a radio station that might purchase a song for broadcast. The current rules require the radio station to pay every time the radio station plays the song but, more important, when it transfers the song on to its computer servers.

As we know, modern radio stations are changing and these are being done in a way that outmodes and makes less necessary the old way of throwing a record on and paying someone at the end of the day. These are done and filed. Broadcasters want to simply pay once. Stations, whenever they play a song, do not want to pay again and again. The format shift, which is taking place will obviously do this time and time again, leaving artists without the traditional revenue stream they could once expect, basically as a result of changes in technology.

The right of copy for format-shifting and transfers is approximately $21 million each year to artists and musicians, creators of the works. Bill C-32 eliminates the ephemeral recording rights in the Copyright Act, eliminating this compensation to creators.

While I sit the industry side of things, we can all appreciate the importance of Canadian culture, Canadian music, Canadian songwriters and the great impact they have made as a result of these kinds of arrangements, constructed in large part by Parliament in previous times. We know the Canadian recording industry is sound and strong. We are very proud of it and we have to do everything we can, in modern times, to ensure it is effectively and equitably safeguarded.

I believe there is the basis in the country for solid rewrite and review of copyright. It is long overdue. Members of Parliament may have differing opinions as to where and how we view effective copyright legislation, but I think we recognize that as the world changes, as technology evolves, so must the panoply of laws and the framework that allows us to change with changing times. That is the pragmatic approach, which the bill will require in order for it to be an effective response to the demands, needs and realities that society, that those in the industry as well as those artists expect.

I am not only looking forward to the questions, but I am looking forward to the opportunity, with some of my colleagues in the House of Commons, to frame and to craft legislation that may meet those expectations. I am not saying that the bill is the be-all and end-all. It is a very important step and the first step in the right direction. It has a long way to go, but it is nevertheless a critical and very important and timely step.

I look forward to Parliament approving second reading and getting this to committee where the experts then have their work cut out for them. We can hear from Canadians and meet those expectations.

Foreign Affairs November 2nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, is that minister denying what the dip note actually said? Is he saying that the court was wrong?

It seems to me the hon. minister should take the time to talk to his Prime Minister to let him know what his position is because it is confusing to say the least.

The Conservative ministers are apparently torn over the agreement regarding Omar Khadr, or perhaps they tore each other apart.

In the meantime, the Prime Minister was out of the country. When the cat’s away, the mice will play.

The minister of contradictory affairs is entangling himself in all kinds of versions.

What role did the Prime Minister play in this file? Did he personally approve the agreement in the diplomatic note—

Foreign Affairs November 2nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative cabinet is reported to have been fighting each other over the Omar Khadr plea deal while at the same time denying Canadian government involvement in it. It seems the Prime Minister was not even aware of what was going on and was not in the country to act as cabinet referee.

A senior official called the government's denials of plea bargaining “bewildering”. Others would call it what it is: truth stretching.

Could the Prime Minister inform Canadians if he supports the Khadr deal, and when exactly did he become aware of it?

Petitions October 27th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by hundreds of constituents in my riding and across Toronto, the GTA.

The petitioners call upon the Canadian government, through the Canadian charter and recognizing that Canada is a country that respects human rights and includes in the charter that everyone and every individual has the right to life; whereas it has been 40 years since May 14, 1969, when Parliament changed the law to permit abortion, and since January 28, 1988, Canada has had no law to protect the lives of the unborn, the petitioners therefore call upon this Parliament to pass legislation for the protection of human life, from the time of conception until natural death.

Fairness at the Pumps Act October 26th, 2010

Madam Speaker, the hon. member for North Bay, a rural riding though it is a little closer to the smoke of Toronto, also brought forward very much the same concerns about the less travelled parts of the country, where there is a greater dependence on energy-intensive transportation fuels.

It will probably help the hon. member to know a couple of things about the price. In Winnipeg the gas is about 65¢ a litre wholesale, plus whatever the taxes are in the province of Manitoba. It is not very far from Ontario, so it would not have the HST, thankfully. That would be the tax passed by the federal Conservative government.

What concerns a lot of us, though, is the issue of transportation. If I understand the member correctly, her riding is about 500 to 700 miles within a geographic area. Transportation cost is about 2¢ for every 1,000 kilometres. One would think if it is at the outside, 2.5¢, maybe 3¢, that should make the wholesale price about 69¢. If we add the usual taxes, which come up to about 25¢, we are talking about 94¢, plus the GST, plus 7¢ for retailers, which is about what they need to turn the pumps on, especially in areas where they do not get a lot of activity. Therefore, the price should be $1.04 $1.03, $1.05, and I am sure it is a lot higher than that.

When we talk about calibrating and checking these pumps out, one of the unintended consequences I was referring to earlier in my speech would be that the inspection would have potentially the effect of removing gas pumps that currently exist because they would not compliant. I am not suggesting that should be the case, but we have to find a mechanism that takes into consideration rural Canada. The government did not it that into consideration. I propose a sliding scale that will see reviews take place in a way that will not be unduly burdensome of rural Canada.

The other thing the hon. member needs to know is that gas pumps can be faulty sometimes in favour of the consumer, based on how little they are used or based on overuse. There is a number of reasons, electronically and mechanically. These are all internal parts. When we look at the way a pump works, and there are 3 metres per every 5 or 10 or 12 pumps, the reality is the retailer will not know. That is why they inspect them periodically, usually within a three month period. In communities like mine in Toronto, for instance, they are inspected more frequently because retailers do not want the pumps to be off. They cannot afford to have them off. It is not in their interest to rip off the public. Not that the government would understand that because it has never actually taken the time to look at how a retailer runs.

However, in rural regions of the country, this would be a recipe for disaster, especially when we do not know who is inspecting the pumps. What if the inspector does not happen to like the retailer? There is a number of considerations about which the government did not think. As a result, in my view this is not a bill worth supporting.