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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 October 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, to follow up on the hon. member's question, would he comment on the concept of digital locks? Digital locks, being digital, are very easy to break. The minute a lock is put on, someone is working to break it.

Would the member comment on the possibility of finding ways to balance out compensation for everybody, including video game producers, musicians and audiovisual workers, and whether exploring a way of compensating for the potential loss might be a better way of approaching this issue?

Copyright Modernization Act October 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the $30 million is money that is collected from users for accessing the works of artists. However, in this digital age, it is virtually impossible to lock down everything.

Many years ago, a method for compensating artists was developed. Money was put into a fund from which artists drew. As the bill stands now, that money would no longer be available. The private copy levy placed on cassettes, CDs and CD-Rs, which is a nominal fee of 27¢ per disc, is where that money came from. With the advent of other forms of digital media, CDs are virtually becoming obsolete and this money has been in decline since approximately 2006.

That is what the bill must provide compensation for. It expropriates that money without providing any form of compensation.

Copyright Modernization Act October 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member from Longueuil for sharing his time with me.

I rise to speak to Bill C-11. It is a complex and quite honestly dumbfounding piece of legislation. It attempts to strike a balance between the interests of consumers and stakeholders.

The need that the bill is meant to address has been lost in the haste of having legislation in place by an arbitrary date. However, it must not only answer immediate concerns but also future concerns of stakeholders. In its haste, the government is missing a golden opportunity to provide support for Canada's creators and in fact is abdicating its responsibility to them.

In this era of ever-evolving, growing and fluid digital integration of communications and entertainment, it is even more important that the bill strike a balance between the needs of Canadian consumers and their ability to access and enjoy artistic content and the undeniable rights of the creators of that content. It is imperative that a sound legal framework be established to protect the rights of creators and other stakeholders.

The works of artists can inspire, comfort, educate and on occasion help us express that which we are unable to express on our own. In addition, those works fuel the heart of a massive economic engine that drives $85 billion into the Canadian economy and provides 1.1 million jobs, yet those works still are grossly undervalued. The bill underlines that fact by putting business, consumer and user rights ahead of the rights of the creators of those works.

The nature of copyright is better expressed in the French language, “droits d'auteur”, meaning author's rights, the right of the author, the creator. That right gives artists the ability to determine how their works will be used. Sadly, this is conspicuously absent from this document, or at least is addressed minimally.

As an artist, and an advocate of the bill since its previous incarnation as Bill C-32 through to its present state, I have discussed the issue at length. When meeting with individuals and members of organizations in my constituency office as well as here in Ottawa I hear the same concern expressed. Although they agree that new copyright legislation is needed, they all ask why money is being taken out of the pockets of artists and why their needs are not being addressed.

Indeed we have entered new territory and, as with anything new, there is always adaptation required. For the first time in history the types of physical controls that copyright holders held in the past are gone. Entertainment and academic works are accessed more easily and therefore are less protected.

What protection mechanisms do artists have? There are a few cursory exemptions from prosecution or civil action for consumers and their advocates. In exchange a rather dizzy and confusing series of vague obligations are offered, one of which includes shredding their class notes. The artists and cultural communities are offered lip service with regard to the principle of equitable compensation for their creative works. They are also offered an inconsistent and frankly scary approach toward the protection of those works as well as compensation for them.

In its present form, Bill C-11 is an unequivocal failure. It outright fails to satisfy the two most important benchmarks we as parliamentarians use for evaluation. It fails to establish clear, universally understood rules for consumers. It also fails to ensure equitable enforceable compensation rules for those people who dedicate their lives to the creative enterprise.

Many of my colleagues have remarked on the many practical problems of this law, some of which we in the official opposition are committed to remedy through good faith dialogue at committee stage. I hope my colleagues across the way will work with us on this approach with purpose and in the spirit of openness.

After a long career in the arts, I came to Parliament as a voice for those artists and a voice for the constituents in my riding who are artists. From my perspective, this law's greatest weakness is its complete failure to extend or acknowledge the vital and current compensation framework upon which so many artists, writers, musicians and creators depend for their livelihood.

During the 2008 federal election, the Prime Minister made his feelings with regard to artists clear. We took exception to that, particularly in my home province of Quebec. The bill does little to show any change of heart regarding the Prime Minister's view. The images provoked by his words are misleading and undermine the artistic community, which contributes far more to this country than it receives.

Typically, today's Canadian artists continue to focus on their creative works more than where their next meal will come from. The typical artists in this country have a median income of under $13,000, yet the government sees fit to take $30 million a year out of their pockets.

That party's characteristic cynicism, for which it grows ever more famous, shows the value the members of the government have for artists.

I look at the discussion regarding digital access as a reminder of the Wild West days when our forefathers came to this country and were given pieces of sticks and told to go out and stake their claims. For some reason, many people feel that the Internet offers that same opportunity. However, like our forefathers who staked their claims, there are people who own the rights to works of art found on this worldwide entity called the Internet.

The Internet is a tool. It is a medium through which we can access all sorts of information. However, if we walk down Sparks Street and the HMV doors are open, that does not give us the right to walk into HMV, put a CD in our pocket and leave. We must provide compensation, which is what the bill fails to do.

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. colleague to change the subject from big business to the so-called arts tax credit. I have worked in the arts field, and I have used the arts to help young, at-risk youth to connect with themselves and to learn the tools to become better citizens.

This arts tax credit that the Conservatives are producing seems to me to be something that only works for those people who actually have an income and who can actually pay for arts classes. Can my hon. colleague comment on that?

Affordable Social Housing October 6th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the state of affordable social housing in this country is pitiful. The various affordable social housing programs administered by the federal government provide residents with inadequate basic living conditions and ignore those who need specialized services or who have physical limitations.

This government should do more to support affordable social housing.

In this time of austerity we must never forget that social housing is not wasted money. It is a sound economic investment. The more we do to help those who are most in need, the faster they will be able to find their own footing and participate in and contribute to Canada's economy. By helping people with basics, such as a base from which they can begin to build, we can help them turn their lives around.

Everyone has trouble making ends meet at some point. I encourage the government, on behalf of my constituency, to make a true investment in Canada. I challenge the government to see that economic prosperity is not only banks and multinationals, but about the people of Canada and especially those that need our help from time to time.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation September 26th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the important achievements of the CBC in its 75-year history have proven its worth. The CBC contributes to Canadians' feeling of belonging. It is an important institution to Canadians from coast to coast.

Will the Conservatives stop attacking the CBC and finally support the only truly national broadcaster?

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation September 26th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, Canada's national public broadcaster has been increasingly underfunded under the government's watch. Since 2006, funding for the CBC has dropped to an all-time low.

The government is responsible for the slow silencing of Canada's only national voice. From deceptive propaganda campaigns to petitions circulated by Conservative members for its complete defunding, the government's plans for our public broadcaster are clear.

Will the Conservative government end its anti-Canadian venture and come out in clear support of the CBC and provide true and stable funding for this Canadian institution?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am not really sure what that question has to do with the issue on the table.

We did not vote against those things because we do not believe in them. We voted against those things because they are not enough. The $1.36 a day, or whatever it is, is not enough to lift a grandmother out of poverty. It is not enough.

If the government really cared about seniors, it would give them the money they need to lift themselves into some sort of dignity. Please, do not twist words.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I think it is pretty apparent. The negotiations have been dragging on for so long and they finally actually got to the amount of money they would be paid, the salaries, which is usually the largest and heaviest sticking point.

As a union leader myself, I have been involved in many negotiations. It is always the largest sticking point, but they managed to get to that.

Why does the government not respect that and move forward from there? Why does it have to bring back-to-work legislation that includes lowering their wages? Answer that question.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

I am sorry that the hon. member feels that this is a useless exercise. The fact is that while the government wishes to break this down to a simplistic “Deliver the mail”, this is about more than just mail delivery. This is an attack on workers' rights.

I am sure that the person who sent the e-mail would be quite distraught about the fact that he and members of his family might have their rights eroded through this.

If the member really wants work to resume and to have these cheques go out, it is in the government's hands. The government acknowledged this lockout. The government is responsible for this lockout. Thus, the government is the one that can end this lockout. If the government wants the mail to go out, end the lockout.