April 16, 1962 (24th Parliament, 5th Session)


Walter George Pitman

New Democratic Party

Mr. Walter Pitman (Peterborough):

Perhaps it is a matter of concern to us all that this resolution should be brought before this house in its last days when time is of the essence. It is a matter of concern that we could not have put things in their right order; we could have cleaned up all the complexities and cleaned up our act of parliament before we went off on this ratification.
None the less, the government is to be congratulated for turning to this matter and doing justice to those who are our authors and artists in this country in the last days of the session. I was interested to hear the hon. lady who represents Niagara Falls (Miss LaMarsh) mention a Canadian authors' bill of rights. In a sense this is very close to being a bill of rights as far as Canadian authors and artists are concerned, because in any democracy a basic freedom is surely the sanctity of property. Throughout the history of democracy in Britain there has been concern about the security of a man's possessions and their defence against authoritarian rule. We have seen in the desultory attitude in the U.S.S.R. and other satellite countries an attitude toward this particular aspect of a man's property which would lead us to believe that they are not very concerned with what we would call political democracy.
Some men's property is in buildings, goods and property of various kinds. Others use their imagination and produce literature, music, poetry and so on. Both kinds of property, whether material or of the imagination require protection. The Ilsley report states in this regard: "Nothing is more certainly a man's property than the fruit of his brain". That, I think, indicates the concern of all of us in this house. This legislation will, we hope, protect and give advantages to our authors and artists with regard to the property which emanates from the mind and imagination of gifted men and women in Canada. The resolution therefore commends itself to us.
Both the minister and the hon. member for Niagara Falls have given long accounts of the stages by which Canada has moved since 1896. I do not wish to repeat what has been said already. We do know that in the interim period this has been hanging fire since 1952 when Canada and 85 other countries signed this convention, 39 of those countries having already ratified the convention. It is remarkable to note in passing that this is another example of the work of the United Nations, particularly of UNESCO. We should not forget these organizations associated with the United Nations which do such good work. This convention was said to be appropriate to all the nations in the world. Canada thus joins a large number of countries which are seeking to protect their authors and artists.

Since 1896, since Canada was a member of the Berne convention, we have seen a number of revisions and we have also had a bilateral agreement with the United States. As both the minister and the hon. member for Niagara Falls have stated, the main problem has been the manufacturing clause in the United States legislation. The Canadian authors association has for many years sought to give arguments and reasons why we must advance in this area, and advance quickly. The royal commission pointed out the problems which were faced by our authors, and the O'Leary commission has now brought us to the point where we are ready to put this through before we leave for our constituencies. The advantages are many. Canada will be in a co-operative affiliation with many other nations. This will protect our authors. We shall be joining in an international agreement which is a progressive and forward-looking agreement which will, we hope, provide an impetus to our own arts and literature.
The immediate problem has been that of our association with our neighbour, the United States. It is always a difficult thing to live beside a giant. Although, in connection with the manufacturing clause we can, in a sense, reciprocate and keep out United States publications, it is obvious that United States facilities for Americans in Canada are not to be compared with the advantages which Canadians can secure in the United States market. The situation has been detrimental to the Canadian publishing and printing industry. A great deal of employment which would have come to Canada has gone by the way for the past number of years.
I hope that other artists will soon be brought under the Canadian legislation. As we know, there have been tremendous changes since the Canadian legislation was put through. I do not want to discuss them tonight because, as the minister said, we are not dealing with the act itself. I think we should express the position of this party, however, and say that we hope to deal with this matter as soon as possible. We in this chamber are concerned with the economic development of Canada but if we are to secure any kind of nationhood we must be equally concerned about artistic development, which is really the basis and the bond of nationhood in this nation of ours.
The royal commission dealt with more than just copyright. It dealt with patents, trade marks and industrial design. These were dealt with in separate reports and, of course, we cannot enter upon that field of discussion now. I will simply say that here nothing has been done in these other areas and it is a matter of great concern in Canada that we should be
Supply-External Affairs using legislation which is entirely and completely out of date in these other areas. An example I could give is the Industrial Design and Union Label Act. It is so out of date in its present form as to be completely unworkable. It does not even cover shape in terms of the design of particular articles. It appears that in our concern over securing economic progress we have allowed this problem to go unheeded and surely we have now come to the point when we must take definite action. In this parliament we have seen the sands of time run out and we must now adopt a hodgepodge solution to it. We must take stopgap measures in the hope that the problem will temporarily be dealt with until we return to this chamber once again.
I congratulate the government on taking this initiative and express the hope that the government will soon introduce other legislation that will be of benefit to our authors and artists, with whose problems I trust this chamber will concern itself more in the future.

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