Douglas Glenn FISHER

FISHER, Douglas Glenn, B.A.

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
Mississauga North (Ontario)
Birth Date
November 28, 1942
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Glenn_Fisher
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=f60da943-de97-40ad-b291-977a9f78c29f&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
businessman, publisher

Parliamentary Career

February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
LIB
  Mississauga North (Ontario)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance (March 1, 1982 - February 29, 1984)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 217 of 219)


November 7, 1980

Mr. Fisher:

Copyright exists for very specific reasons. It exists to protect property and to ensure that people will get recognition and payment. The book industry, newspapers, the music industry, arts and films take copyright laws very seriously because all these people own their material, and they want payment for it. They want protection against its misuse, and they want recognition of their own artistic and creative inputs. When we come along and try to exempt people from copyright laws, we are taking away from the creators of those materials the rights they quite properly now enjoy.

As I mentioned, I have experience in book publishing, and I have seen this happen time and again. I remember a case in British Columbia in which the teacher's federation Xeroxed an entire book and then sent copies to the publisher. I remember in my own publishing company specifically putting on a map the information that the customer could Xerox the map but that the rest of the book was protected from such reproduction. As we look at the arguments of the hon. member for Winnipeg-Assiniboine, we find the same ideas being discussed around more and more sophisticated technology.

The hon. member for Mission-Port Moody (Mr. Rose) was quite right in saying that this technology is spreading, but he was wrong when he inferred that we should condone the practice that is spreading with the technology. Because the bootlegging is happening, in his opinion we should okay it. Car theft is happening as well. Should we okay that? We did not okay horse theft, and when the technology improved we did not okay car theft. We could use the same parallels here. In this bill we are asking artists and writers to subsidize municipal taxpayers. We are saying that schools and colleges do not have enough money to afford materials which they somehow justifiably deserve, and so the writers, publishers and designers, those who spent their time, their thought, their intellect, their money and their labour, are the people who should subsidize the taxpayers. And that harsh fact is hidden by dragging in legions of small children and earnest teachers who somehow deserve access to this material free or cheap.

Broadcasting Act

I am sympathetic to the idea that we need more money for educational materials at all levels of our school system. I am also sympathetic with people who succumb to temptation because the technology is there and it is easy to reproduce the material. But I also know, despite my sympathy, that these are quite separate issues, and I feel determined that we should be protecting the people who give us the materials in the first place.

It should be clear that the right to take away property is not the correct route to raise cash for our school systems. I do not think the hon. member for Winnipeg-Assiniboine would voluntarily give away half his back yard because somebody wanted to build a new school next door and did not have quite enough room. He probably would not give away his car if the school needed a new bus. And we should not ask people to give away their films, their newspapers, their paintings or their books just because enough cash cannot be raised this year from local taxpayers.

In fact, if we look at the consequences of the sympathetic approach the hon. member has taken, we will see that it is actually counterproductive. Perhaps in the short term he would have more materials than he could reproduce on his VTR or on his Xerox, but in the long term he would have fewer materials. Who would do anything remotely useful for a school if it was likely to be stolen from him at the school? We would find-and this pattern has been occurring in book publishing and it would occur again in films and television-that people would somehow just avoid servicing the school market because they would not be getting a proper return for their labour, their investment and their thought.

I congratulate the hon. member. Everyone wants good schools. In fact, I have a niece and a nephew who attend schools in his riding, and I am most anxious that they be good schools. We all want ample materials in those schools, and again, because of my family ties, I want very good materials in the schools in his riding. The people to whom we should be talking are not the artists or the producers. We should talk to Mr. Sterling Lyon and tell him to quit cutting taxes and to supply the schools properly.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BROADCASTING ACT
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November 7, 1980

Mr. Fisher:

That is where the money comes from, not from the producers. If the hon. member for Winnipeg-Assiniboine takes the long-term view and does some homework, he will find out that it is really an old argument. He can go all the way back to the days of Mark Twain and find that some of his books were actually pirated and published in Canada before they appeared in the United States. The fact that it was done in the days of Mark Twain was a strong enough argument for Canada eventually to set up good copyright laws. I do not think we should start backing away from that now just because we have new machines and it is easier to infringe. We should remind people that if they will not steal a physical piece of property, they should not steal an idea. Instead, we should take the sentiment in this bill and redirect it.

November 7, 1980

Broadcasting Act

When the Secretary of State and Minister of Communications (Mr. Fox) comes here and asks for more money for some of his good programs to help creative people, we should give him that money. When the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce (Mr. Gray) comes here and asks for more money to create markets, we should give him those opportunities. When our artists and producers come to us asking for protection and recognition, we should respond to their requests as well. When we and the hon. member for Winnipeg-Assiniboine start doing this, we will find in the long run that there are cheaper and better materials in the schools.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BROADCASTING ACT
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October 29, 1980

Mr. Douglas Fisher (Mississauga North) moved

for leave to introduce Bill C-618, to change the name of the electoral district of Mississauga North.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ELECTORAL BOUNDARIES READJUSTMENT ACT
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October 24, 1980

Mr. Douglas Fisher (Mississauga North):

Mr. Speaker, I like the idea behind this bill and I congratulate the hon. member for Chateauguay (Mr. Watson) for introducing it and for bringing to our attention once again the need to provide protection when a railroad line is abandoned and new uses for the land have to be found.

I come from Mississauga. Since last November, naturally everyone from Mississauga takes considerable interest in railroads and their behaviour, not just in the potential for dangerous accidents but also in the much broader question of good neighbourliness between these large corporations and the local municipality.

As a representative from a large eastern urban riding I particularly enjoyed the examples which the member from Chateauguay presented. I would like to read his explanatory note and put it on the record again. It states:

There is an increasing awareness in Canada of the potential for rapid transit or recreational use of abandoned railway lines or unused railway rights of way. Too often in the past sections of abandoned railways have been sold and buildings erected on the abandoned portion with the result that potential future uses such as urban transit or bicycle, pedestrian or snowmobile trails have been effectively blocked. The proposed bill would safeguard the long-term public

Abandoned Rights of Way

interest for both rapid transit and recreational uses of abandoned rail lines and railway rights of way.

As I mentioned, I like the idea of this bill. It proposes that we set up an authority which would advise the governor in council on the disposition of abandoned railway lines. Surprisingly, there is now no official advisory body on this question despite the wide range of regulatory and advisory bodies now in existence, not to mention government departments themselves. Despite all of this, the governor in council does not have some official source of advice on the disposition of abandoned railway property.

Not that the Railway Act is silent on the question of railway lands, or for that matter on the question of abandonment. The Railway Act offers literally dozens of pages dealing with the ways in which the railways may acquire and use lands.

The act contains extensive provisions dealing with applications by railways to the Canadian Transport Commission to abandon a branch line on the grounds that it is uneconomic, and the subsequent procedure, which is long, sensitive and complicated.

What happens when a line is abandoned? To be precise, section 106 of the act refers, not to the abandonment of the line itself, but to the abandonment of operations on a line. The railway must be granted permission to abandon operations on a line, but once that is granted, the jurisdiction of the CTC and of the federal government ceases, even though the track remains. From then on, the railway is empowered to, and 1 quote section 102(1):

-alienate, sell or dispose of, any lands or property of the company that for any reason have become not necessary for the purposes of the railway.

This power of disposal applies even to lands given by the Crown, with the exception of Crown lands entrusted to CN under section 19 of the CNR Act. In this special case, the land reverts to the Federal Land Management Committee for a recommendation on disposition. I note that Bill C-221 does not make mention of this special situation.

When federal jurisdiction ceases, it would seem that municipal jurisdiction is left to fill the gap with respect to land use. Although I admire the need for sensitivity as expressed by the hon. member for Chateauguay, I also feel we should continue to leave in the hands of the municipalities the final decisions on land use.

Abandoned rights of way are, unfortunately, not easy things to dispose of. In agricultural areas, farmers are often not eager to take the land as it consists largely of gravel and ballast. New roads are sometimes laid across the right of way leaving short, narrow sections of land too small for commercial development or unattractive for recreational use. In the absence of maintenance by the railway, drainage becomes a problem, and more often than not the right of way becomes an overgrown, neglected loss.

I am sympathetic with the need for sensitivity in our disposal of these lands, but it seems that a municipality and a local authority are best able to deal with these concrete problems.

October 24, 1980

Abandoned Rights of Way

The municipality has the authority and the expertise to handle land use planning within its boundaries. In most cases, the disposition of title to the land is up to the railways, which may sell to the province or private interests as well as to the municipality.

The next step, the use of the land, is the proper decision of the municipality. At the moment, as this bill states, the governor in council does not receive any official advice on the disposition of railway lines. The authority proposed in this bill would perform that function.

There are certain technical aspects to this bill and I would like to comment on some of these specific provisions. I am interested in the rationale for the membership of the proposed authority. First, an employee of the Canadian Transport Commission provides valuable knowledge of the history of the rail line up to abandonment. However, the role of the commission as a regulatory agency is quite strictly circumscribed by law. Participation of one of its employees on a separate statutory body such as the authority could cause problems. Speaking without the benefit of legal advice, I wonder if this participation might require amendment to either the Railway Act or the National Transportation Act.

Second, an employee of the Department of Transport, while raising less of a legal problem, might not be in a position to contribute a great deal in individual cases of abandoned lines. The federal government does have a program of urban transportation assistance, but the determination of priorities with respect to individual operations is left to the provinces and the municipalities. Therefore, the reference here to use for rapid transit would have to come within that context. Third, while the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development is included, appropriate representation might also come from Parks Canada, which now reports through the Department of the Environment.

Under the bill, the authority is established to advise the governor in council on, among other things, "the acquisition of title to any abandoned railway line or railway right of way determined by the Canadian Transport Commission to be either abandoned or unlikely to be used for railway purposes in the future".

This responsibility creates difficulties in connection with the CTC's mandate. As described above, the CTC simply makes a decision as to the abandonment of the operation of a railway line. Despite the implication of this section, the CTC makes no judgment on the future of the land itself. The reference to acquisition of title raises yet another problem, repeated later in the bill, of funding. While not explicitly stated, there is a hint that the authority might recommend purchase of some abandoned rights of way by the federal government. This, of course, is a matter that could be clarified.

On the question of the CTC being requested for particulars of abandoned lines, I am advised by the commission that no further records are maintained once operations on a line are approved for abandonment.

Finally, the requirement for a one year's notice of abandonment could work both ways. At present the absolute minimum is three months, and six months, and six months is quite normal, so there is a certain amount of notice under the existing system. There might, however, be situations where quick abandonment would be desirable, in which case the requirement contained in the bill would then become a handicap and not an aid.

I see merit in this bill. The bill makes it clear that careful thinking should be done on the future of abandoned rights of way. However, the question remains, how can this best be done? Each part of the country has unique problems and unique opportunities. In September when the Standing Committee on Transport, of which I am a member, travelled through the maritimes, we heard submissions about the use of abandoned land. In my constituency of Mississauga North our city has a well-developed planning department which undoubtedly prefers to become involved when new land use opportunities are opened up.

It seems to me that the most productive approach to this question would be a reliance on local level decisions. That should not, of course, preclude provincial or federal participation on an advisory basis. The consultative process between levels of government and orders of government is now a fact of life. The key question is whether we need to formalize or enshrine in legislation a special body to deal into this question. In an area like this I am convinced that specific problems can be solved locally with good will, co-operation and imaginative thinking between all three levels of government.

It seems to me that the author of this bill, the hon. member for Chateauguay, has raised an important topic. We need to find ways to make railroads and municipalities better neighbours; we in my area know that well.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for this opportunity to comment on this bill. I would like also to congratulate its author for an important start on this interesting question.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ABANDONED RAILWAY LINES ACT
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July 10, 1980

Mr. Douglas Fisher (Mississauga North):

Madam Speaker, I rise on a matter of urgent and pressing necessity under Standing Order 43. In fact, I believe we may be a bit overdue in this instance.

I move, seconded by the hon. member for Bellechasse (Mr. Garant):

That this House extend its admiration and encouragement to Mr. Terry Fox for his cross-country marathon of hope on behalf of cancer research and, further, that this House support the request of Mr. Terry Fox that other Canadians assist his marathon through their donations to the Canadian Cancer Society.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   CROSS-COUNTRY MARATHON OF TERRY FOX ADMIRATION FOR MR. TERRY FOX FOR HIS EFFORTS ON BEHALF OF CANCER RESEARCH-MOTION UNDER S.O. 43
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