House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was heritage.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Independent MP for Longueuil—Saint-Hubert (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 31% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply October 25th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I have a very simple question. How does my colleague define a government that does not respect a valid plebiscite and a valid consultation and which breaks the law?

Business of Supply October 25th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I will again ask the member what he would call a government that does not respect the law or a valid plebiscite, such as the one already conducted.

Business of Supply October 25th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I will be brief. I would like to ask my colleague what she would call a government that does not obey the law and that does not respect a valid plebiscite such as the one conducted.

Copyright Modernization Act October 21st, 2011

Madam Speaker, I am always stunned by the Conservatives' comments.

They say that Canadians all over the country support this bill.

They have a talent for always referring to the only doughnut that everyone wants from the dozen, and passing over the 11 doughnuts that no one wants. That is always the Conservative way.

I would like to ask my Liberal colleague if he has any idea of the number of signatories from the Canada Council—which has nearly 80 organizations that are against this bill.

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act October 20th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would first like to thank my hon. colleague for reminding us of the importance of Tommy Douglas' birthday. When we think of this great Canadian and his birthday, the cynicism of today's debate on the Canadian Wheat Board is even more striking. I heard someone say that the survey in question, which our Conservative friends continue to ridicule, was at least honest enough to show a very clear vote on wheat and a much closer vote—51% or 52% I think—on another grain.

I wonder if our colleague could elaborate a little for us. Just how credible was that plebiscite?

Copyright Modernization Act October 18th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, that is a good question, and fitting, since I have talked both before and after question period. We are essentially talking about compensation methods because it is very difficult to track every little transaction made by a user at home who sits in front of a computer searching for a song, ideally on a legal site. Unfortunately, we all know that people are more likely to search for music on illegal peer-to-peer sharing sites. It has been mentioned many times that most artists do not want to be in a position where they have to sue the people who like their music. It is also very difficult to track all this with any accuracy.

That is why the principle of compensation was proposed. At the time, the compensation was easy to apply. It was applied to blank recording media, to which a work could be copied. Today, copies are made on portable digital players. When people tried to extend the private copying compensation system from blank CDs to the portable digital player, they wore t-shirts that read, “No iPod Tax”. They refused to add another tax. This compensation measure will have to be applied. The reality is that we have gone from copying on a CD-R to a portable player with virtual songs that, theoretically, do not exist anywhere, and to which we cannot apply royalties. Who would get the royalties when we are not always able to get an accurate record of these millions of transactions per year that can be made on the Internet?

Copyright Modernization Act October 18th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, it is clear that this bill is really like an 18-wheeler that arrives at the homes of songwriters and copyright owners only for them to find that it is empty. In reality, there is nothing to compensate for losses related to the private copying system.

We will remember how it happened and it is not just theoretical; it is very real. In the past, music was purchased in a different way. Today, we have music on our computers, our BlackBerrys and our iPods, and it should have been purchased. There is no problem at all if it was purchased through businesses such as iTunes, Amazon or However, we know very well that such is not always the case and that the recording industry is suffering great financial losses because material is available online, despite the fact that it may be coming from places where it is illegal to download material.

This shortcoming shows how completely out of touch this government—a government that claims to want to protect Canadians' jobs and recognize this value—really is. In reality, where will copyright owners' money come from if they cannot sell their material or if it is being stolen or literally plundered from the Internet? Clearly, this bill cannot be passed as is. We will have to work very hard to add something, particularly with regard to the private copying system.

I fully understand rights holders when they say that it does not make sense, that with the right to copy that the telecommunications and broadcasting media are being offered, that the steak, if you will, is being taken off the rights holders' plates, and that the potatoes and carrots may vanish as well. Let us look at the basics: when songwriters, CD companies, producers, and rights holders produce music, they expect to have it aired by broadcasters. To do this, the broadcaster makes an initial copy and inserts it into the broadcasting system. Everyone is glad the broadcaster is giving the song airtime, but nevertheless a mechanical reproduction right has until now been enshrined as part of the copyright. Now songwriters and rights holders are being told that the broadcasters will not be bound by this obligation. They will be permitted to make their working copy without fear of retribution. This is not the major issue affecting rights holders when it comes to Bill C-11, but it is just one more consideration. It adds insult to injury.

To my mind, the major problem remains the private copying system, which applies almost entirely to outdated platforms. The private copying system provides a form of royalty earned from each CD-R. But we all know that consumption of CD-Rs has fallen to infinitesimally low levels, because portable digital players such as iPods, MP3 players and other such devices have completely replaced the equipment and song transfer system used with CD-Rs.

The levy system is dying, and Bill C-11 is turning a blind eye. Nevertheless, this problem must be addressed. It is the biggest problem currently facing the rights-holder community. Not only is the initial mechanical reproduction right being taken away in broadcasting, copies may be made free of charge in educational and learning environments. One can understand how rights holders might be sympathetic to this situation, but royalties should still be paid all the same, although they could potentially be waived in writing. Rights holders may receive a request from a teacher and make exemptions in writing, or exempt someone from paying a fee in a particular context. Once again, the bill would stand in the way of this and seeks to abolish private copying, abolish the broadcasters' copy, and also remove the tiny amount of money that would otherwise have come from the education sector. What are artists and rights holders left with when it comes to copyright? This really must be addressed.

One possible solution could be to look at who benefits from this situation. As members know, when we look for music on the Internet, there is a place to buy music. But some people might also look for music elsewhere. That increases information trafficking on the Internet.

There are people selling high-speed connections with varying upload and download bandwidth limits. Could the government at least show an interest in exploring other avenues to compensate for this loss to the private copying regime? That is the essence of it. In the case of transfers over the Internet, that would be the least we could do for all of the subscribers we represent. The Internet has replaced traditional in-store CD sales. If we cannot apply the private copying system to devices like MP3 players or iPods, what is left for copyright owners? These people are left out in the cold with a new bill that should be providing some relief, since our copyright legislation is way behind—stuck in the times of Séraphin Poudrier—compared to the rest of the world. It is time for us to revamp copyright legislation. And with copyright collectives in particular, we have a long way to go.

In conclusion, I would like to make sure that we have a chance to look at other avenues to compensate for losing the private copying system.

Copyright Modernization Act October 18th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to speak to Bill C-11, because I have a special interest in it. I spent nearly 20 years in the recording industry, which has seen some hard times. In our opinion, there can be no objection to reviewing the Copyright Act. Obviously, today, in 2011, we are lagging behind at the international level in terms of modernizing the law. It is high time it was done. The other major western countries have done it and it is our turn. It is really past time.

We deplore the fact that the bill is a little like Swiss cheese: there are a lot of bubbles, a lot of holes, in terms of protecting rights holders and creators. We are talking about this bill in theoretical terms but, in concrete terms, as my colleague was saying, the way we consume cultural products today is different. Before, we bought a record for $15 or $20, we took it home and we listened to it. While the recording industry has kept up its production rate and budgets have declined slightly—since with technological progress we can now record music more cheaply—it is still a cultural industry. Investors, industrialists and consultants who support a creator invest large amounts of money to make a product that will sell.

We are not talking about a minstrel strumming a lute on the church steps. These are people who have created songs, and other people who saw a business opportunity there and said that everyone is going to want that song or that album and will be prepared to pay a price to buy it and listen to it. What the recording industry has experienced is unparalleled in terms of plummeting revenues.

I will give you a brief overview. The complete operation of producing an album, which includes recording, promotion, video clips, launches and so on, calls for a budget of about $100,000. That is a very ordinary budget in an ordinary recording industry. We are not talking about a huge operation like a Michael Jackson album made before his death, that might have cost $1.5 million to produce. We are talking about an album that would have cost $20,000 or $30,000 or $40,000 and all the associated expenses.

To recover that investment, the companies, the recording industry—and that means jobs for people who work in this field, as I was lucky enough to do—would sell the record for between $15 and $20. Today, with modernization, the Internet, digitization of music and the incredible capacity to create master quality copies, this is no longer the same generation as when we were young. Then, we copied music onto cassettes and there was often more background noise than music. That is no longer the case today, and that is the issue.

If a digital version of a song exists, thousands of copies can be made in a few hours and the rights holder will have been deprived of his due. When people today buy music on the Internet, they sometimes buy the complete album but usually they buy the CD in a store. Those who buy their CDs and their music on the Internet very often take a piecemeal approach, by downloading one, two or three songs at a time. The retail price is $1 or $1.49. That means that the recording industry, as it attempts to recoup its production and marketing costs of approximately $100,000, did so based on a price of $15 to $20 per CD. Nowadays it has to make do with $2 or $3.

I sincerely believe that no other industry has experienced such a drop in revenue in such a short time. We are talking about huge percentages, from $15 or $20 to $3. This is unprecedented. The industry is already on its knees. We must enact legislation now on behalf of the rights holders, so that the situation can be corrected.

Copyright is essential. Allow me to quote the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages who, referring to Canada, stated that the cultural sector contributes twice as much as the forestry industry to our GDP.

The arts and culture sector generates spinoffs of over $46 billion and provides work for over 600,000 people. This is an industry, a sector of the economy, that is extremely important.

There are problems with Bill C-11 in relation to YouTube, the education system and other related areas. The biggest problem, however, has to do with the collective copyright collection system, commonly called private copying.

Earlier, I gave an overview of how we used to consume music. We all know that a decade or so ago, the CD-R hit the marketplace. Using an ordinary home computer, it was possible to copy a disc—ideally, one that had been purchased—and immediately make a copy of it that would be identical from a quality standpoint, with only the graphics missing. This craze led to creators, the rights holders, feeling like they were missing out, and they successfully went about putting in place a compensation system. Compensation is the right word here. The private copying system is a form of compensation for losses incurred as a result of the development of a new technology.

This system, which initially applied to audio cassettes, CD-Rs and DVD-Rs, generated significant amounts of money. In 2008, for instance, the figure was $27.6 million. The following year, the amount raised through this private copying compensation system dropped to $10.8 million and it continues to decline. Why? Certainly there are those among you who have purchased CD-Rs at one time or another, and very few people buy them these days. As far as music consumption is concerned—I am talking about legal consumption in a suitable format—people now copy their music onto a portable digital player, an iPod or an MP3. The format the royalty was based on, in other words the CD-R, has become completely obsolete by the current changes.

That is why the copyright owner lobbies have asked that this private copying compensation system be extended to include portable digital players or iPods. As the hon. member was saying earlier, the members opposite reacted by wearing t-shirts that said No iPod tax. This is great. It is a very good response to the creators who were feeling forgotten, cheated and abandoned.

What can we offer those creators today when Bill C-11 does not address the problem of the private copying system? This is certainly the most important aspect of all. We could talk about exemptions for the likes of YouTube, which is increasingly becoming a competitive alternative to the way music has traditionally been distributed. I keep talking about music because it is an area I am familiar with and also because music was the first victim of this digitization and this new accessibility. In a few years we will have the technology to download feature films very quickly. Some may say that is already possible, but it is still not very common.

The thing about music is that the video for the song being copied takes much longer to download. The problem that music is currently experiencing will very quickly spread to the other cultural media we find on the Internet.

I will stop there for now.

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

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my hon. colleague, who was once a minister of revenue, has any tips or tricks he could share with the current government regarding the speed of adjustment to the new reality. When the facts change, how quickly can one change course?

FRAPRU Social Housing Organization October 3rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, today on World Habitat Day, I would like to show my support for a remarkable initiative undertaken by Quebec's Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain, or FRAPRU. This morning, in Ottawa and Quebec City, two caravans made up of FRAPRU members and 35 people living in inadequate or social housing demonstrated in front of the offices of the federal and provincial finance departments, and called for 50,000 new social housing units. And that is just for starters.

From October 3 to 9, about 80 people will criss-cross Quebec and travel 3,200 kilometres demanding the right to housing. Artists such as Judi Richards, Webster, Johanne Fontaine and Yvon Deschamps are participating in the caravan for social housing. Next Saturday, in Longueuil, which is in my riding, the two caravans will meet up in St. Mark Park for a rally. The event will come to a close next Sunday in Montreal.

As we all know, the NDP has been proposing a national housing strategy for quite some time. Let us applaud the FRAPRU initiative calling for access to housing for all.