Copyright discussed in Parliament : Oct 23, 2007

You know that a bill is coming when the topic of Copyright is mentioned many times in the Hansard for a single day. This is in addition to the discussion of "Counterfeiting and Piracy" in Question Period.

Hon. Jim Prentice (Minister of Industry, CPC) - in the context of his Debate on Address in Reply of the Speech from the Throne):

Our government is aware also of the need for copyright reform and that this is essential to ensuring Canada remains competitive. We will introduce legislation in the next few months that will provide legal measures for rights holders, clarify the rules relating to copyright as they apply to Internet service providers, address the educational and research use of copyrighted materials, and address consumer interests.

Hon. Mauril Bélanger (Ottawa—Vanier, Lib.): - In the context of his Debate on Address, discussing his new responsibilities as Heritage Critic for the Liberals.

The Conservatives did not do that. In the throne speech there was mention of finally acting on copyright, but there were no details as to content or timing. Legislation had been promised before June 2006 on this matter and then before Christmas 2006. Now, 18 months later, we may get this legislation.

Mr. James Rajotte (Edmonton—Leduc, CPC): - replying to Mr. Bélanger

Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up on what the hon. member opposite was talking about with respect to copyright legislation. As he said, it was mentioned in the throne speech, so it will be a priority for the government this fall going forward.

He obviously knows that in a minority government situation like this it will require at least two parties if not more to come to a consensus on this issue. I am wondering perhaps if he would enlighten the House about some of the specifics that he and his party would like to see in such copyright legislation. Bill C-60 was introduced in the last session, but perhaps he could identify some of the specifics that he, as the critic, and his party would like to see in any such copyright legislation this fall.

Hon. Mauril Bélanger:

Mr. Speaker, by the very nature of a minority Parliament, it is for the government to consult first and foremost. The government should reach out not only to the opposition parties, but it should include the opposition parties and reach out in terms of what our expectations are. Before that, it should reach out to the industry, and not just the industry side of that, because there is industry and there is heritage. There has forever been a bit of a dichotomy in heritage.

My colleague was not here during the last round of modernization of the Copyright Act which I think was Bill C-32 in the 35th Parliament. That is how far back it goes. It was complex and difficult. Compromises had to be worked out even in a majority Parliament. Imagine that.

My hon. colleague's question regarding a minority Parliament is that much more relevant. At the base of it all to ensure success first and foremost are consultations that are respectful and that lead to perhaps compromised positions which everyone can live with. I assure him and his minister that we in the official opposition are quite prepared to play ball in that field.