FOR BRANT NEWS
In addition to my many regular duties here in Ottawa, I sit permanently on the standing committee on industry, science and technology, as well as the standing committee on human resources, skills development and the status of persons with disabilities.
At these committees, I am one of 12 MPs mandated to review and pass legislation, undertake studies, publish reports and contribute to federal public policy development specific to our portfolios. It has been encouraging that these committees have focused this year on working to support job creation and economic growth.
Additionally, it was a pleasure to learn recently that I had been appointed to a new legislative committee created specifically to review, amend and pass one of our government’s most important and urgent bills – the Copyright Modernization Act (Bill C-11).
Bill C-11 was introduced in the previous session of Parliament as Bill C-32, which was an updated version of Bill C-61 from a Parliament before that. The development of this legislation has involved five years of parliamentary debate and the most extensive public consultation of any bill in Canadian history.
It aims to update Canada’s copyright laws, last updated in the era of vinyl records and cassette tapes. In doing so, it will provide much needed clarity for Canadian artists, businesses and consumers. For instance, I think that many Canadians would be surprised to learn that until this bill becomes law, the legality of your home personal video recorder (PVR) device is not even a certainty.
Once my appointment to the committee was made public, it quickly became clear just how important copyright law is to millions of Canadians.
My office was instantly inundated with meeting requests, phone calls and e-mails from interested individuals and stakeholders from every corner of the country.
Companies and organizations representing actors, musicians, photographers, writers, radio broadcasters, record labels, software developers, internet service providers, online companies, television studios, educational institutions and many other sectors of the Canadian economy all have a major interest in Bill C-11 and explored every avenue in order to make their views known to me.
This helped to put into perspective why it is so important to ensure that the bill strikes a fair balance for all those who will be impacted, including creators, consumers and businesses.
Typically, a parliamentary committee holds two hours of formal meetings twice a week, but this committee met four days each week, for three hours at a time. At committee, we heard testimony from almost 50 witness organizations and individuals, in addition to roughly 100 who testified on Bill C-32 in the previous Parliament and many more who provided testimony on Bill C-61.
After hearing testimony, the committee moved on to review the bill line-by-line and passed a number of technical amendments.
The bill was then approved and, finally, after 5 years sent back to the House of Commons for final passage.
It was an honour and a privilege to work on such an important bill with so many positive implications for our country. It will bring Canada into full compliance with standards set by the World Intellectual Property Organization. It will open the door to new trading agreements and opportunities with major partners. It grants clear, new rights for copyright owners in the age of iTunes and YouTube, new exemptions for educational institutions and a framework within which Canada’s creative industries can truly thrive.
Bill C-11 will make our copyright laws forward-looking and responsive in the fast-paced digital economy while helping to create jobs, promote innovation and attract new investment opportunities to Canada. With just one final vote remaining, the bill is now set to position Canada on the leading edge of intellectual property law in the developed world.
Phil McColeman is Member of Parliament for Brant.