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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was community.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Jeanne-Le Ber (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 45% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Copyright Modernization Act May 14th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, independent artists like the two he mentioned depend on the Copyright Act to protect their work, so they can sell it in a way that works for them. All the different little revenue streams that artists access, such as private copying, mechanical rights and user fees by broadcasters, go to making sure an artist can, one, live and, two, continue to create.

This bill strikes a lot of that with the vague premise that because piracy is going to end, artists will get more money. The revenue streams that exist now were developed over a number of years and had nothing to do with piracy. They were ways of making these small businesses, these entrepreneurs, more self-sufficient and able to gain more money from the work they do.

Copyright Modernization Act May 14th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I cannot read minds, unfortunately. It would be a great skill, and I sure as heck would do a whole lot better in this place. All we can do is assume.

I think that the business aspirations of the government took over from the need and the focus on what copyright is. Arts and culture is big business. We have heard many times how it contributes $85 billion to the economy. Why it chose to side with big business as opposed to artists, with the same result, is beyond me. It thinks that if there is no piracy, artists will get more money. In the computer world, the minute any kind of lock is established, somebody is working to get around it. Will we ever end piracy? It would be a wonderful thing. I do not know if we will. To take away money on that hope does not make a whole lot of sense to me.

Copyright Modernization Act May 14th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, it is hugely important to have a Copyright Act that is in step with other countries. Many of our artists have their works played in other countries and, due to treaties that exist between Canada and the music-collecting agencies here and abroad, the money that is made by our artists in other countries is collected and sent back. It is important, but one cannot look at elements of this bill that do work and ignore the parts that do not, and there are elements that do work. We are looking to find the balance in what works for everybody, not at the cost of creators.

Copyright Modernization Act May 14th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, my head spins sometimes when I hear the commentary from the other side. It is disturbing to me that the bill is coming out from a collection of individuals who have shown very little understanding of the process of creation and have decided to look at the end result and make the law based on the end result without looking at the effect of how we got there.

The current bill in its form now does a great disservice to the very people copyright legislation is supposed to protect. Either the government realizes this and does not care, or it is unaware of it. However, being the eternal optimist that I am, I believe there are some members over there who do care about these people, the creators. Therefore, I speak on record in hopes that in the future those same people will realize the changes needed to make the bill work.

Copyright starts with the creator and ends with the creator. Therefore, my focus is on the independent creator. I define “independent creator” as a freelance individual who is neither commissioned nor employed by an organization to create or develop a work in that organization's name. These individuals who depend on copyright law are the vast number of individuals that this law would affect. They depend on copyright law to ensure their rights to their work remain in their hands. It gives them the right to choose how the work is used and, through the Copyright Board, determine the value of that work and the determination of how it is used.

Believe it or not, because the delivery system has changed it does not mean copyright owners, or creators, should be penalized on the remunerated access to their work. They should still be paid for the work they do. It has taken a lot of decades to get to a point where artists can monetize the work they used. This is what I believe is being missed, especially on the mechanical rights. It is not a trade-off between piracy and remuneration; they both should be worked on and protected. Therefore, if we have individuals who wish to own a copy of a work created, whether they purchase it at their local music store or they purchase it online, it is still purchased.

Something I will share is that the changing of platform has existed since radio has existed. Back in the day, it was not as easy with digital records, where we just plop our MP3 player into our computer and transfer it onto the unit. Back in the day, it was a little less classy, a little less stealthy. We stood there with our portable tape recorder, held the mike up to the speaker and put it on a cassette so we could walk around with it. That was platform shifting back in the day.

The industry caught onto that and came up with eight-track players so people could listen to it in their cars. Unfortunately, the eight-track player did not go very far. Then cars started coming in with cassettes and the recording companies started making music available on cassettes so people could play it in their cars. Individuals would purchase the LP and/or the single and they would buy the eight-track and/or the cassette. They would pay four times so they could have their music where they wanted it.

Therefore, platform shifting existed from the beginning. I would like people to keep that in mind.

In the case of access for commercial use, one has access currently to a file or we purchase the file once. Now we have broadcasters asking why they should have to pay for things twice. They are not. They are paying for it once. After that, the commercial entity pays for each use, so we have an access fee and we have a use fee. Why use fees? Why should artists not just be thankful that their work is being played? Times have changed.

When radio first came into play, it was a medium of communication. We had live radio dramas and so forth. Then recorded music hit the ground. Rock and roll came about. Radio stations realized there was money in it, that if they played it, people would listen to the radio station and they could flog products that people would buy and the radio stations would get money from the advertising companies.

Once upon a time it was like this. Radio broadcasters seemed to feel that songs and artists would not exist if not for them. There may have been at one point a modicum of truth to that. Once upon a time, record companies could go to radio stations and give them little goodies so they would play their songs. That resulted in the payola scandal back in the day.

In recent years, we have seen self-releases through personal websites that have proven quite effective in raising the profile of an artist to the point where an artist is already famous. Take Metric, for example, which won a number of Junos about two years ago, having not signed a major recording contract and doing all its publicity and sales through the website. It got to the point where radio stations were looking for it because people wanted to hear the band's music. Therefore, one has to question who benefits whom, in terms of whether radio needs the artist or the artist needs radio. For me, I think it is a very symbiotic relationship.

That being said, a few broadcasters appeared in front of the last legislative committee. They said that they would rather pay whole departments year round to erase a piece of music every 30 days and then re-record it, or re-download it, rather than pay the access fee, the mechanical right, once. It does not make a lot of business sense to me that someone would pay employees to sit there and erase every 30 days so they do not have to pay it and then re-record it, or re-download it so they have access to it, just to avoid the one time only payment for access, the purchase of the piece. They then went on to say that they had to pay for it twice. No, they pay for access, they pay for use fee.

Content is king. We have creators and it seems the government members have the idea that a hit song, any song, just appears out of the blue, that artists sit on a bus, get an idea for a great song and write it on the back of a ticket, or on a napkin. Napkins seem to get lambasted in the House quite a bit. Great ideas have been created on napkins. Then the song ends up on the radio.

Let us look at it from a different perspective, one that the government seems to understand, the perspective of a small business. An entrepreneur has an idea, a song. The entrepreneur develops the idea. The entrepreneur needs capital investment for both prototype and to move from concept to reality, which is the demo phase. This costs an artist a lot of money, either in renting recording space or in buying the equipment. This includes hiring individuals, a project manager, staff, equipment, facilities, delivery systems, marketing, packaging and there is distribution and the product of these sales.

Artists need to be remunerated. Artists depend on the back end to get remunerated. The back end is things like the mechanical rights, $21 million, private copying $30 million. It is not a question of choosing piracy over remuneration. It is a question of developing a bill that respects the rights of creators and ensures they are remunerated for the work that they do.

Copyright Modernization Act May 14th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, my colleague touched on a couple of things that I would like him to expand on.

I heard a member across the way mention Mick Jagger and say that Mick Jagger would not be hurt by this. That is absolutely true because the Copyright Act itself is about protecting the small members, the guys who do it on a daily basis, who collect those $100 cheques here and those $4 cheques there. I am one of those people. For the movies that I do, I get a $4.50 cheque for something I did 10 years ago. It is that cumulative thing that would be affected.

Taking $21 million out of the pockets of those people with that $200 cheque, which would be what he or she needs to pay the rent, is what would be harmful here.

I wonder if my colleague would care to expand on that a bit?

Business of Supply April 30th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I am trying to address some of the questions that my hon. colleague asked.

I will not so much digress, but kind of put a different spin on this. The government has been quite closed about its activities. It sort of lets things out in broad strokes, but when it comes down to the details, it is not very forthcoming.

What I hear from my constituents, although I live in an urban riding, is their concern about what they do not see in the budget, the nuts and bolts of how these things will be accomplished so they can make informed decisions.

That is the message we bring, the question of how the government will do this. To say it is going to do something is one thing, but how is it going to be done? What are the nuts and the bolts, the actual play by play of the budget?

Could my hon. colleague respond to that?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns April 30th, 2012

With regard to the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812: (a) what is the total budget for the commemoration, broken down by (i) department, federal institution and crown corporation, (ii) province and territory; (b) which programs provided funding for the commemoration; (c) which programs, funds or projects were subject to funding reductions or were eliminated to allow for the commemoration; (d) for each department, federal institution and crown corporation, what projects and activities were or will be funded, by province and territory; (e) for each department, federal institution and crown corporation, what contracts have been made for projects and activities related to the commemoration, including (i) the date the contract was signed, (ii) the parties to the contract, (iii) the amount of the contract, (iv) a description of the contract; (f) for each department, federal institution and crown corporation, what advertising initiatives related to the commemoration have been initiated or are planned, including the cost of each initiative; and (g) for proposals related to programs or activities associated with the commemoration, (i) which proposals came from the government, (ii) which proposals came from outside the government, (iii) what criteria were used for assessing the proposals and for determining which proposals should receive funding?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns April 30th, 2012

With regard to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations: (a) what is the total budget for the celebrations, broken down by (i) department, federal institution and crown corporation, (ii) province and territory; (b) which programs provided funding for the celebrations; (c) which programs, funds or projects were subject to funding reductions or were eliminated to allow for the celebrations; (d) for each department, federal institution and crown corporation, what projects and activities were or will be funded, by province and territory; (e) for each department, federal institution and crown corporation, what contracts have been made for projects and activities related to the celebrations, including (i) the date the contract was signed, (ii) the parties to the contract, (iii) the amount of the contract, (iv) a description of the contract; (f) for each department, federal institution and crown corporation, what advertising initiatives related to the celebrations have been initiated or are planned, including the cost of each initiative; and (g) for proposals related to programs or activities associated with the celebrations, (i) which proposals came from the government, (ii) which proposals came from outside the government, (iii) what criteria were used for assessing the proposals and for determining which proposals should receive funding?

21st Québec Entrepreneurship Contest—South West Division April 30th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, on April 11, I attended the awards ceremony for the 21st edition of the south west division of the Québec Entrepreneurship Contest, which was held in my riding.

This year, nearly 70 applications were submitted to the contest. That is a record number of new entrepreneurs. The jury conferred 11 awards in seven categories, and I am very proud to announce that nine of the winners are from my riding.

I wish to congratulate Bluespace, Eau Matelo, Atrium 64, Centre la Tienda-d'ici à Compostelle, Logiciels Héritage, Opera VMana, Panoplie, So Food and Zandel Media on their projects.

I am also proud to celebrate the creation of new small and medium-sized businesses in my riding. They help to create stable, innovative, high quality jobs and contribute to the prosperity of our nation.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act April 23rd, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask this question in terms of those who are designated irregular arrivals. I am pretty sure that if I am in a war-torn country where my life is threatened, I am going to pay whoever, however, to get out of that country to save the lives of myself and my family.

What I would like to ask the hon. member to comment on is this. Should those people be penalized who are legitimately fleeing for their lives, who do not have the time to sit there, leaf through a book and say “Okay, I have to do things this way”, who want to get out and who will pay somebody to get them out? Somebody will take advantage of that situation and take advantage of them.

Should those people be penalized in the way the government is looking to penalize them, by having their children stripped from them and being jailed for up to a year?