House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Rivière-du-Nord (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Broadcasting and Telecommunications October 27th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the transition to digital signals remains problematic for thousands of Canadians, including many people in my riding of Rivière-du-Nord. Thousands of households, many of them among the poorest, are getting fewer channels than before, even with a digital converter paid for out of their own pockets. In some regions of the country, Canadians cannot even get the CBC, even though it is our public broadcaster.

Do Canadians now have to pay to watch the CBC? Is this the government's logic: no money, no National? What does the government plan to do to correct the situation?

Business of Supply October 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Compton—Stanstead for his spirited and interesting speech.

The Conservatives are planning to abolish the Canadian Wheat Board. They also want to abolish the gun registry and creators' rights regarding private copying. In fact, they want to abolish anything that people use to protect themselves, if it resembles a collective in any way.

Will the Conservatives go down in history as the abolitionists of social democracy?

Copyright Modernization Act October 18th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the bill has some positive aspects, such as digital locks, which we do understand. We understand that companies that have invested in developing video games or movies want to protect their products by using this type of lock.

At the same time, what concerns me about this bill, is the nature of the fines that will be imposed on those who try to find the keys to these digital locks. I am convinced that young people, with their creativity and imagination, will succeed in bypassing the digital locks that are put on any products that they use.

More emphasis has been placed on the protection of industries than on a true copyright reform that would allow creators to receive financial compensation each time their works are used.

It is somewhere between these two visions. On one hand, there is legislation that takes a repressive approach to this issue and, on the other hand, there are creators who would have liked to use a legislative lever to allow for true thought on the definitions of a creator—the nature of a creator; copyright; and how to protect authors and artists and encourage them to create.

Copyright Modernization Act October 18th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, we have been waiting for over 15 years for reforms to bring the Copyright Act in line with the digital age. What we have here is a bill that will cut the legs out from under many creators, and as a result, fewer people will be interested in creating works.

Eventually, we will have a harder time disseminating these works abroad. If copyrights are waived so that works can be reproduced in schools for the purpose of education or fair dealing, as we heard earlier, a whole bunch of authors will no longer want to write books. What motivation is there to write if anyone can reproduce excerpts from books without providing any compensation?

Copyright Modernization Act October 18th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, I cannot really predict the impact the implementation of these various measures and these digital locks would have on the distribution of works by Quebec's artists.

On the other hand, in another life, I had a few songs at the top of the charts in Quebec and I regularly received a cheque from SOCAN for my royalties. They were sometimes ridiculously tiny amounts, but they helped make ends meet nonetheless.

At present, what is known as “ephemeral recordings” are included in one of the provisions that constitute yet another exception in this bill. This provision is going to cost songwriters over $7 million in royalties they would otherwise receive from the broadcasting of their songs over the radio. I think this provision is a slap in the face to all those who dedicate their lives to creativity and helping others see the beauty in this world.

Copyright Modernization Act October 18th, 2011

Madam Speaker, here we have another bill to modernize copyright, the same bill that was introduced by the industry minister on June 2, 2010. The short title of the bill is the Copyright Modernization Act, but I do not think this is the right title; it should have been called the digital lock act or the padlock act, based on what happened in the past.

It was about time that the government introduced, in legislation, the principles contained in the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, which Canada signed on December 22, 1997. Unfortunately, the Conservative government used this as an opportunity to include several provisions that undermine the foundation of copyright. The Copyright Act is the legal foundation that ensures that creations can be reproduced, presented and communicated to the public while guaranteeing proper compensation for their creators.

The people most overlooked by this digital lock legislation—which is being passed off as copyright legislation—are the creators. To weaken copyright by creating a series of exceptions that allow people to use creations without authorization or any financial compensation is tantamount to preventing a group of workers from earning a living from their trade. I will talk later about the financial repercussions of this bill's provisions on creators.

This bill also does away with collectives, a tool that artists created for themselves to facilitate access to their creations in full compliance with their rights. It also jeopardizes cultural industries by cutting off their supply of creations and by preventing them from developing markets that meet the needs of consumers while protecting their investments.

The bill contains over 40 new exceptions, most of which mean no compensation for creators, and this flies in the face of a fundamental principle, specifically, that as soon as a creation is used, there is no reason the creator should not be paid. It is simple; it is clear. That is the basis of copyright.

A royalty is not a tax. Since the start of this debate, the Conservatives have been trying to make the link between royalties and taxes. They are not the same thing. Every industry, to varying degrees, benefits from government assistance through investment, research and development tax credits, and also direct subsidies. Just look at the aerospace, agri-food and information technology industries, to name a few.

Cultural industries are no different. All these industries fiercely protect their intellectual property under the Patent Act, the Industrial Design Act, the Copyright Act or any other intellectual property protection legislation.

What ends up happening? Everyone, as taxpayers or consumers, pays for using the creations of these companies, whether we are talking about software, drugs or iPods, since royalties are included in the price of the product or the price of the software licence, for example.

What is wrong with paying royalties for using music, images, videos and books? The creators of that material are entitled to compensation, just as teachers are entitled to their salary and the mason who repairs the school wall is entitled to his pay.

It is not a tax; it is a royalty we pay to the copyright holder, as we do for many creators in a number of different fields. With all the new technology at our disposal, we have to stop thinking of ourselves simply as consumers of the creation of others. If we write a short story or a novel, compose a song or invent something, we would obviously like to receive fair payment for our creation, our work.

Creators are inventors. They have patents on their creations and are entitled to their fair share. That is why we have to “think different”, in the words of the famous Apple slogan. Let us hope this slogan inspires us to follow through.

I will quickly go over the provisions of this bill and the various exceptions discussed—there are about 40—which will deprive creators, artists, composers, musicians and photographers of the royalties to which they are entitled. I should also mention writers.

What is the significance of broadening the concept of fair dealing for the purpose of education, parody or satire? This will obviously go before the courts. They will have to define the scope of this section. In the meantime, uncertainty will persist and users, especially teachers, as well as copyright holders, will wonder about permitted uses. I already said in another presentation that, with the arrival of the majority Conservative government, with the building of new prisons, these Conservatives will invent new crimes to fill their prisons. There are several new crimes in this bill. We did not know they were crimes, but now we have punishments. Things we do on a daily basis will be criminalized and punished.

This provision affects monies collected by the Société québécoise de gestion collective des droits de reproduction—Copibec; the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada; and the Quebec Collective Society for the Rights of Makers of Sound and Video Recordings. All these organizations appeared before the committee, but the government did not use anything from their presentations. Instead, the government decided to borrow from provisions implemented in the United States. The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, or SOCAN, and the Société québécoise des auteurs dramatiques are also opposed to this provision, as are the Producers' Audiovisual Collective of Canada, Audio Ciné Films and Criterion Pictures when it comes to the reproduction of literary, artistic, dramatic, musical and audiovisual works, the public performance of musical and audiovisual works, and the presentation of dramatic works in educational institutions.

What about lost royalties in Quebec because of the broadening of the concept of fair dealing? In fact, what is fair dealing? The law does not specify what is meant by fair dealing. This will result in the loss of $11 million annually for creators and copyright owners. Every year schools, CEGEPs and universities make 175 million copies of excerpts from protected works.

Let us remember that fair dealing is a loose concept that will put an end to the right to grant or deny authorization to use a work and the right to receive remuneration for the use of a work, thus affecting the rights of 23,000 authors and 1,000 publishers in Quebec.

The Conservatives are opening Pandora's box. The education sector is very large. It does not make any sense. If people can photocopy books for educational purposes without providing compensation, no one will want to write books. Furthermore, since the term “education” is not defined in the bill, this new exception could apply to any sort of educational activity and not just to activities carried out within the school system.

Another exception is reproduction for private purposes. An individual may reproduce a legally obtained work on any medium or device and provide access for private purposes. The government could have chosen, as the artists and performers have requested, to expand the existing compensation system for transferring a sound recording to blank media such as cassettes, but it chose to make it free.

We know that, right now, when we make a copy of a work on a disk, royalties are paid to the creators—29¢ on each CD, for example. Obviously, with the growth in virtual storage methods, the revenue from royalties has disappeared like snow on a warm day, dropping from $27 million to $8 million in a few years. There is nothing in this bill to compensate for these losses.

Creators are dismayed to see, in a copyright bill, that the only thing the government is concerned about recognizing is not copyright, but digital locks. The number of blank cassettes and DVDs sold is declining steadily, the amounts redistributed to creators are falling, and creators’ associations are hoping that a similar royalty will be applied to the purchase of devices like personal stereos, as was said in committee, based on the size of the hard drive or flash memory. The existing private copying regime does not affect those devices, however; only the recording media. And fewer and fewer media are being used.

The use of photographs is another exception that has been criticized by photographic artists. An individual may use for private or non-commercial purposes, or permit the use of for those purposes, a photograph or portrait that was commissioned by the individual for personal purposes and made for valuable consideration, unless the individual and the owner of the copyright in the photograph or portrait have agreed otherwise.

On the question of later viewing, an individual may reproduce a work that is being broadcast for the purpose of listening to or viewing it later. Only one copy may be made and the individual may not keep the recording any longer than is reasonably necessary in order to listen to or view it later.

To summarize, I make a copy of a recorded program that I have paid for in order to watch it later, but I would not be entitled to retain the copy any longer than is necessary for the later use. How can that be verified, and who is going to do it? Who is going to make sure that I do not keep the copy indefinitely or I do not lend it to my neighbours? If I lend it to my neighbour, is that going to be a crime liable to a $5,000 fine? If I look at the criminal provisions in the bill, that might well be the case. I would become a criminal if I lent a program to one of my friends. I think the penalty applied to this type of conduct is excessive in the circumstances.

With respect to backup copies, the owner of a work will be able to make backup copies and use them to replace an original work rendered unusable. Devices that can no longer be used will therefore have to be repurchased, but not the content.

There are some odd things in this bill. It is difficult to make head or tail of it.

With respect to communication of a work by telecommunication, educational institutions will be able to communicate lessons containing copyrighted works to students by telecommunication. The institution will have to take measures "that can reasonably be expected" to limit the distribution of the work and will also have to destroy the copy within 30 days of the date on which the students receive their final evaluations. However, no penalties are proposed if the institution fails to take the necessary measures.

This provision suffers from a somewhat split personality. It is sending the message that these works must be destroyed but there is no arrangement for verifying this. In any event, if it is not destroyed, that is no penalty. I wonder what we are talking about. I would really like to know what firm of lobbyists went to see the Conservative government and asked it to include this kind of provision in the bill. I do not understand.

For extension of the photocopy licence, institutions that have been issued a photocopying licence by Copibec will be able to make digital copies and communicate them to students by telecommunication. The photocopying licence’s provisions will apply to that type of use, and the royalties will be calculated the same way. How will fair dealing for educational purposes be reconciled with this exception?

Institutions in possession of a photocopying or reprographic licence will also be able to make digital reproductions and transmit them by telecommunication. Paid-for photocopies could thus be transmitted by way of digital reproduction, however they get somewhat lost in the maze that is the digital world.

Teaching institutions will be able to access works available on the Internet for educational purposes. We all do this: we use Google, we consult Wikipedia, etc. This exception would not apply to works protected by a technical measure—a lock—or to works displaying not simply the copyright symbol but also a clearly visible warning prohibiting their use. Thus, the principle whereby works are protected as soon as they exist in some medium, without the need for any other formality is reversed, and rights holders who do not wish to provide free access to their works would be forced to lock them or attach a warning. This fails to take into account the millions of works already available free of charge for educational purposes on the Internet under the current licensing system.

As far as reproduction for visual presentations and examinations is concerned, the current legislation permits the reproduction of a work by hand and its presentation by means of an overhead projector. The bill will authorize the reproduction and visual presentation of a work on all platforms irrespective of the type of technology, be it a USB key, an interactive whiteboard, or a computer screen. This exception will not apply if the work is available on the Canadian market in the medium in question. The legislator has removed the possibility of obtaining a licence from a collective society in order to stop the use of this exception. This amounts to an immediate loss of half a million dollars to the copyright holders represented by Copibec.

This is another example of a provision in this bill that does not assist authors but rather deprives them of up to $500,000 in income.

We spoke earlier of provisions in the bill that apply to libraries, museums and archives. Let us see how this applies in the case of loans to institutions. Libraries, museums and archives designated as such under the act will henceforth be able to transmit digitally formatted articles from periodicals to users for private study and research purposes. These institutions must take steps to prevent the user from printing more than one copy of the article or from transmitting it to a third party.

Librarians who forward articles to users must take steps to ensure that these users are not able to transmit this information to a third party. As I cast my mind to my municipal library in St-Hippolyte, I wonder who will have to handle the directives this legislation entails. How will that person proceed?

In the culture sector, the general feeling about Bill C-11 is that, in its current form, it undermines the principles at the heart of copyright, principles that have historically provided an environment that is favourable to creators, producers, distributors and consumers of cultural property. This bill will compromise Canada's ability to compete in a global digital economy and will undermine the economic future of those creating Canadian content. Artists indicate that numerous clauses in Bill C-11 demonstrate a lack of understanding of the creative industry's structures within an evolving technological environment. Parliamentarians have a responsibility to amend the bill and keep the positive measures. In order to develop an innovative knowledge economy, Canada needs to staunchly defend intellectual property.

If Bill C-11 is passed in its current form, there will be serious financial consequences for artists, for Canada's cultural industries, with losses estimated at $126 million per year.

We should be removing all of the clauses that go against the current law and eliminate the revenue currently being generated. This includes the provisions that legalize certain kinds of copying, without providing any compensation. We must allow the educational use of copyrighted material without compensation.

It seems as though all of the attempts at copyright reform in Canada have had very little to do with creating a system that balances the rights of creators with those of the general public. That is what the NDP wants. We do not want to further criminalize the actions of individuals. We want this bill to clearly set out copyright guidelines for creators, to help them enter into a growing, evolving universe.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act October 17th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I heard my esteemed colleague talking about the reduction in the number of public servants, especially at Public Works and Government Services Canada.

Is my colleague aware of what is happening right now in the City of Montreal? It has adopted exactly the same approach to public service reductions, especially in any area related to engineering.

The city is left with a public service that is incapable of judging the nature and value of the work it is responsible for. Is this a good way to go, from a public administration perspective? Does anyone really think this will save any money?

Homelessness Awareness Night October 17th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, on October 21, in more than 20 cities across Quebec, organizations that help the homeless will be holding activities as part of the 22nd Nuit des sans-abri.

The public is invited to spend a night filled with warmth and emotion under the stars, in the company of street people. Every night, people live, sleep and die on Canadian streets. The Nuit des sans-abri is a special opportunity to break through indifference and diminish the stigma of homelessness by showing our support for the homeless.

The Conservative government brags that our economy is the best in the G8. Unfortunately, persistent poverty is on the rise in this country and the number of homeless people and people using food banks is growing.

I invite the Conservative government members to come down from their ivory tower and join the homeless on the street on October 21. Perhaps some contact with reality will make them less arrogant and more open to the needs of the less fortunate.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act October 6th, 2011

Madam Speaker, to answer my colleague's question truthfully, I would say that I did expect that a bit. I know the mentality of the people across the way and their desire to quickly pass a pile of legislation that pushes Canada further and further to the right, toward selfishness and the absence of real social protections. I did indeed expect shortened debates and closure motions and so forth.

Before closing, I would like to point out that Moody's gave Canada a triple-A rating. I know that somewhere, the big bankers are drinking champagne. They are happy to come invest in Canada. I, myself, am giving Canada a triple-E rating when it comes to fighting poverty. Last year, the number of people who turn to food banks rose by 9%. I know that the ladies and gentlemen across the way are not very familiar with food banks. They are closer to the banks than to the people who are suffering.

This statistic tops the list of the greatest indicators of social solidarity. When we see an increase in the number of people using food banks in a country that brags that it is moving ahead, economically speaking, and has come out of the recession, I think there is a disconnect. We are being led by a government that has no concern for the realities of everyday people or for poverty in Canada, and that makes me very sad. In this 176-page budget, there is no measure to correct this situation, and that is shameful.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act October 5th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I love my colleague's question.

I am not so sure about the exact argument. We would like to see this government use the budget to show some concern for economic recovery, naturally, and some concern as well for social justice and for improving social programs and social housing. This budget should ensure that Canadians who lose their jobs or become ill do not end up in extreme poverty. We would like to see measures in this budget to make Canada a more generous country where there is more solidarity. That is not the case.