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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was colleague.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Brome—Missisquoi (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 43% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Copyright Act November 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my dear colleague for his comments.

As I have already said, I agree that this bill does not help creators. This lock will help neither creators nor consumers. For all the reasons I have just listed, we will work on amending this inadequate Bill C-11 because it is very important for Canadians. Canadians have spent $1.4 billion on attending live artistic performances, or more than twice as much as on attending sporting events, spending $0.65 billion on those.

Copyright Act November 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, to begin with, I would like to stress how important this issue is to all creators, and particularly those in my riding, whether they be in Sutton, Magog, Bromont, Cowansville, Knowlton, or elsewhere. Moreover, I salute all those creators who are very active across all forms of art, which improves people's quality of life, whether it be through the medium of cinema, theatre, improvisation, television, writing, painting, and so on. Artists are entitled to be fairly compensated for their work. This bill will deprive artists of millions of dollars in revenue and erode their market. The long and complex list of exceptions does not adequately recognize the rights of creators.

In fact, these exceptions create new ways for consumers to access protected content without concurrently creating new avenues through which to compensate creators for the fair use of their work. Bill C-11 does not adequately protect the ability of people to post content submitted or produced by users themselves, even if it were easy to collectively authorize this. Moreover, Bill C–11 creates an artificial distinction between copying for private use and reproducing for private use in Part 8, section 80 of the Copyright Act, and section 29, paragraph 22)(1)(e) of the copyright modernization bill.

There are also direct implications for consumers. The rigid provisions assign unprecedented powers to rights holders, which trump all other rights. If passed, Bill C–11 could mean that an individual would no longer have access to the content for which he has paid, and which he has every right to use. For example, if someone is enrolled in long distance education courses, it is draconian and unacceptable to ask him to destroy his course notes within 30 days of the course concluding, as proposed under this bill.

For all these reasons, it is felt that powerful, new anti-circumvention rights must be created for content owners, as opposed to content creators and content developers. In addition to preventing access to copyrighted works, these new provisions are strengthened by fines of over $1 million and sentences of five years detention. A further provision prohibits access to protected information by way of a digital lock, such as a digital watermark.

This would lead to a situation whereby digital locks would take precedence over virtually all other rights, including the fair dealing rights of students and journalists. This is problematic for several reasons. In particular, there is a very tangible danger of consumers, in some circumstances, not being authorized to use content for which they have paid. Moreover, the digital locks trump all other rights guaranteed by the Charter, including change of format in the case of a visual disability.

Secondly, the new provisions would require, where a digital lock has been used, that copies made for educational purposes be automatically erased after five days and that course notes be destroyed within 30 days of the course concluding. That would lead to serious problems for students enrolled in long distance education courses. It is not an appropriate use of the copyright rules.

Thirdly, it would create new limited exceptions to the fair dealing provision of the Copyright Act, including the exceptions for educators, and exceptions for parody and satire. The exceptions do not adequately recognize the rights of creators. In fact, the exceptions facilitate consumers' access to copyright protected content without the provision of new methods for creators to be compensated for their work.

With this bill, the Conservatives have intentionally avoided dealing with the question of the possibility of extending the exception for private copying, a measure that has been proposed by the NDP and also by a number of experts.

The private copying exception has been very effective in the past for cassettes, CDs and DVDs. The government has tried to put a populist face on its opposition to extending the exception.

The NDP believes it is high time to modernize copyright rules, but there are too many major problems with this bill. In some cases, it even creates problems were there were none before.

We are going to try to amend the bill so that it better reflects the interests of Quebec and the Canadian public. The NDP believes that copyright rules in Canada could balance the right of creators to receive fair remuneration for their work and the right of consumers to have access to content at reasonable prices. We are also going to study any potential amendment that could be made to the bill to create a fair system of royalties for artists. As it stands at present, the bill eliminates several million dollars in income for our artists.

For all these reasons, it seems that the efforts Canadians have put into reform of the Copyright Act in recent years have had very little to do with the creation of a system that strikes a balance between the rights of creators and the rights of the public. Those efforts have instead been attempts to meet the demands of the big owners of American content, the film industry, record companies, video game developers and others. When will Canadians finally have legislation that meets their needs?

In the NDP, we believe that Canadian copyright legislation can achieve a balance between creators’ right to receive fair compensation for their work and consumers’ right to have reasonable access to content. We are going to assess all of the amendments that might be made to the bill to create a system of fair royalties for artists. As it stands at present, the bill eliminates income worth several million dollars.

As a result, the copyright modernization bill gives with one hand and takes back with the other. Although the bill contains some concessions to benefit consumers, they are undermined by the government’s refusal to adopt a compromise position on the most controversial issue: copyright in Canada.

We are also proposing that the clauses that criminalize the elimination of digital locks for personal, non-commercial purposes be removed from the copyright modernization bill. We support reducing the penalties for people convicted of violating the Copyright Act, since that would prevent excessive prosecution of the public, a problem that often exists in the United States.

The Conservatives have ignored the opinion of the experts who were heard by the committee and the conclusions of their own copyright consultations in 2009. As a result, they have introduced a bill that could cause more harm than good.

The NDP believes it is high time for a modernization that will eliminate these blatant problems and we are going to work to amend the bill so that it better reflects the interests of Canadians.

In conclusion, a number of groups have stated their ideas and supported what we are calling for through their statements, such as the cultural industries and the Writers Guild of Canada. The Guild says that the only option Bill C-11 offers creators is the addition of a digital lock, the effect of which would be to block existing sources of income for creators and create a loophole in the bill by taking away from consumers the same rights as are guaranteed to them in other clauses of the bill.

Border Crossings November 18th, 2011

Madam Speaker, under the pretext of cutting costs, the government is penalizing our region. While the economy remains fragile, the government's measures are harmful to farmers, tourists, emergency services that have cross-border reciprocal agreements, and all of the families that feel torn apart by these service reductions.

Will the government commit to reopening the border crossings that have been closed and returning the others to their former hours of operation?

Border Crossings November 18th, 2011

Madam Speaker, since April 1, three border crossings in my riding—Morses Line, East Pinnacle and Glen Sutton—have had their hours of operation reduced, while other crossings have been completely shut down. In addition to restricting the flow of goods and services as well as people, this also puts jobs at risk.

Does the government realize that it is seriously jeopardizing the socio-economic balance of that border region? Will it reverse its decision?

Copyright Modernization Act November 14th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I have a question for my colleague.

SOCAN, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, said it believes that Bill C-11 should be amended in order to facilitate access to creative content via new media and to ensure that creators are fairly compensated for the use of their creative content via new media.

How will artists be affected if this delicate balance is disturbed?

Firearms Registry November 4th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, that is not an acceptable answer for the victims of the shooting at the École Polytechnique or for victims of other shootings. The gun registry is essential to public safety. The provinces and chiefs of police have said it over and over. They use the registry every day, yet this government is willing to get rid of the data in the registry for no good reason.

Will the government reverse its reckless decision so that we can avoid another shooting like the one at the École Polytechnique?

Louise Gratton November 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to highlight the exceptional work of a biologist who works for an organization in my riding called Appalachian Corridor, whose mission is to protect natural areas. Louise Gratton was the recipient of the Pierre Dansereau award, presented on Thursday by the Association des biologistes du Québec. This award, which was created in 2001, is handed out every year by this organization in recognition of the exceptional contribution of a biologist through research, teaching or communication on biological diversity.

Over the years, Ms. Gratton has acquired a significant amount of expertise in protecting and conserving natural areas, botany and environmental management. In addition, her commitment as volunteer has been outstanding. The Pierre Dansereau award just is one of many awards that she has received. I congratulate this scientist for working to protect Quebec's natural heritage.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act November 1st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are arguing that they are opposed to the data transfer because it constitutes a violation of privacy. The Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, has found that this does not violate privacy in any way. In fact, she maintains that the data can be shared between the government and the provinces to help the provinces enforce their laws. There is no need to impose costs. All that is required is an agreement between the federal government and the provinces that wish to participate, like Quebec.

When will the current government take action to sign agreements with Quebec and the provinces that wish to participate?

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act October 27th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, how will the government respond to the honest, hard-working police chiefs, police officers and other front-line workers across this country, including youth protection workers, ambulance attendants, paramedics and nurses, in cities and in rural areas, who say that the registry is useful in the context of their duties or that it makes their work environment safer?

Criminal Code October 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-310, which would amend the Criminal Code, clarifies legislation pertaining to human trafficking, a global phenomenon that requires the legislator to take a transnational approach.

This bill amends two provisions of the Criminal Code pertaining to human trafficking. The first change would make an addition to section 7 of the Criminal Code. It formally recognizes trafficking in humans as an extraterritorial offence that can be prosecuted in Canada, and applying to both Canadians and permanent residents.

The second change would replace section 279.04 of the Criminal Code in order to provide a more precise definition of the concept of exploitation. Hence, “ ...the Court may consider, among other factors, whether the accused, (a) used or threatened to use violence; (b) used or threatened to use force; (c) used or threatened another form of coercion; or (d) used fraudulent misrepresentation or other fraudulent means”, when determining whether or not there was exploitation. It should be noted that the bill also includes in the concept of exploitation the removal of an organ or tissue by the use of force, violence or coercion.

A number of experts have expressed concerns about the current legislation, which they believe is not detailed enough to allow the courts to prove the offence of exploitation. By including the content of article 3 of the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime Protocol, the legislator is attempting to harmonize domestic law with international law in the area of human trafficking. Thus, in this article:

“Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;

In light of the extraterritorial nature of the offences set out in sections 279.01 and 279.011 of the Criminal Code, the legislator uses principles of international law in order to fight human trafficking, which must be strongly condemned. We must agree with strengthening the legislation to deal with these offences This bill is one solution that will help limit this transnational scourge.

By making these amendments to the Criminal Code, Canada would only be respecting its international commitments. Canada signed this convention and its protocols in 2000 and ratified them in 2002. As a result, it is required to introduce legislation to recognize trafficking in persons as an offence.

I will take this opportunity in the debate at second reading of this private member's bill to talk about the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling, which is not addressed in these legislative amendments. Human smuggling is defined as a crime committed by any person who enables the illegal migration of other individuals by means of the organized transport of a person across an international border. By contrast, human trafficking refers to the recruitment of vulnerable persons for the purposes of various types of exploitation, generally in the sex industry or forced labour, through various methods of control.

Victims of human trafficking in Canada are unfortunately most often aboriginal women and girls who are sexually exploited.

Exploitation for the purposes of forced labour also exists in Canada. The people behind this type of 21st century slavery take advantage of the precarious legal status of foreigners under their control, who are often illegal immigrants. These immigrants are brainwashed and often fear testifying, since they worry that they themselves will be arrested or deported to their country of origin.

In conclusion, I would like to say that I support this private member's bill, which would aim to bring our legislation in line with international law.