Bill C-18 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Telefilm Canada Act and another Act
This bill was last introduced in the 38th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in November 2005.
Liza Frulla Liberal
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
Ways and Means Motion No. 10--Speaker's Ruling
Points of Order
March 13th, 2008 / 11:45 a.m.
The Speaker Peter Milliken
I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised by the hon. member for Pickering—Scarborough East on March 11 concerning the admissibility of the ways and means motion to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 26 and to enact provisions to preserve the fiscal plan set out in that budget for which the hon. Minister of Finance gave notice on that day.
I would like to thank the hon. member for Pickering—Scarborough East for initially bringing this matter to the attention of the House, as well as for his subsequent intervention, and I would also like to thank the hon. member for Markham—Unionville, the hon. government House leader, and the hon. House leader for the Bloc Québécois for their submissions.
The member for Pickering—Scarborough East, in raising the matter, claimed that Ways and Means Motion No. 10, standing on the order paper in the name of the Minister of Finance, seeks to have the House decide upon a matter which it had already voted on.
That vote took place on March 5, 2008, when Bill C-253, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deductibility of RESP contributions) was adopted at third reading. To this issue, the member for Markham—Unionville has added the contention that Ways and Means Motion No. 10, by including provisions related to Bill C-253, seeks to implement a measure that does not flow from the most recent budget, thus, he alleges, enlarging the usual parameters of budget implementation ways and means motions.
He further contended that this was a backdoor attempt to circumvent the rights of private members as provided for in the rules governing this category of business.
For the sake of clarity, I should state that sections 45 to 48 of Ways and Means Motion No. 10 are the subject of this point of order. They are conditional amendments that seek to amend or repeal the amendments to the Income Tax Act contained in Bill C-253 should the latter receive royal assent. The stated objective of these ways and means measures is, to quote the Minister of Finance at page 3971 of the Debates, “--to protect Canada's fiscal framework”.
The government House leader asserted that the broad scope of Ways and Means Motion No. 10, and the wide range of taxation and fiscal measures it seeks to implement are clear evidence that the motion is fundamentally a different matter than was Bill C-253, and therefore, that it should be allowed to proceed.
In support of his arguments a number of procedural authorities were cited, some of which I will return to later in this ruling.
Let me first deal with the argument that the inclusion of provisions regarding Bill C-253 in Ways and Means Motion No. 10 does not respect our conventions regarding the content of such motions.
The Chair wishes to remind the House that the budget speech and bills based on ways and means motions tabled at a later date are not necessarily linked. House of Commons Procedure and Practice states at page 748:
While a Budget is normally followed by the introduction of Ways and Means bills, such bills do not have to be preceded by a Budget presentation. Generally, taxation legislation can be introduced at any time during a session; the only prerequisite being prior concurrence in a Ways and Means motion.
At page 759, Marleau and Montpetit goes on to state:
The adoption of a Ways and Means motion stands as an order of the House either to bring in a bill or bills based on the provisions of that motion or to propose an amendment or amendments to a bill then before the House.
That text footnotes examples from 1971, 1973, and 1997. Furthermore, in the case before us, it must be noted that the title of Ways and Means Motion No. 10 states clearly that it not only implements certain provisions of the February 26, 2008 budget, but that it also aims to:
--enact provisions to preserve the fiscal plan set out in that budget.
On this point, namely the objection that the motion includes provisions that were not contained in the budget, the Chair must conclude that Ways and Means Motion No. 10 is not procedurally flawed.
Let us now turn to the argument that the decision of the House to adopt Bill C-253 at third reading must stand since the House cannot be asked to pronounce itself again in the same session on the same subject.
The Chair wishes to remind hon. members that while a part of Ways and Means Motion No. 10 touches on Bill C-253, the question that the House will actually be asked to vote on today, assuming it is called today, is not the same as the question it agreed to on March 5, 2008, when it adopted the bill at third reading.
In this regard the Chair has found a number of examples where a bill repeals sections of an act already amended by another bill adopted by the House in the same session.
For example, in the first session of the 38th Parliament, Bill C-18, An Act to amend the Telefilm Canada Act and another Act, and Bill C-43, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 23, 2005, both proposed to amend subsection 85(1) of the Financial Administration Act.
In addition, there are also examples of bills proceeding concurrently even though some of their provisions are dependent upon one another.
As mentioned by the government House leader, Mr. Speaker Lamoureux ruled on February 24, 1971, on such a situation at page 3712 of the Debates. He stated:
There is, therefore, in my view, nothing procedurally wrong in having before the House at the same time concurrent or related bills which might be in contradiction with one another either because of the terms of the proposed legislation itself or in relation to proposed amendments.
This is further supported by the 23rd edition of Erskine May at page 580, which affirms that:
There is no rule against the amendment or the repeal of an act of the same session.
Most compelling are the rulings of Mr. Speaker Fraser from June 8, 1988, and I refer to the Debates at pages 16252 to 16258, and on November 28, 1991, pages 5513 to 5514, both of which were quoted by the government House leader. These rulings clearly support the view that the progress of any bill flowing from Ways and Means Motion No. 10 rests with the House.
As Mr. Speaker Fraser put it on November 28, 1991:
The legislative process affords ample opportunity for amending proposed legislation during the detailed clause by clause study in committee and again at the report stage in the House.
Insofar as this process affects private members' business as a category of business or indeed the rights of individual members to propose initiatives, I must point out that it is not the Speaker but the House which ultimately decides such matters.
For the reasons stated above, the Chair finds that Ways and Means Motion No. 10, as tabled by the Minister of Finance, may proceed in its current form.
Once again, I would like to thank the hon. member for Pickering—Scarborough East for having raised this matter.
Committees of the House
October 6th, 2005 / 10:10 a.m.
Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 12th report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration and citizenship issues entitled, “Updating Canada's Citizenship Laws: It's Time”.
In tabling this document, the committee calls on the government to fulfill its commitment in the throne speech to present the House with a citizenship act. We have had three previous attempts at reforming the citizenship laws since 1997 which were Bill C-63, Bill C-16 and Bill C-18.
In concluding, citizenship is the most sacred covenant between the citizen and the state and it is time we had citizenship laws that reflect that reality.
Main Estimates, 2005-06
June 14th, 2005 / 6:30 p.m.
Mauril Bélanger for the President of the Treasury Board
Motion No. 1
That Vote 1, in the amount of $125,413,000, under PRIVY COUNCIL — Department — Program expenditures, in the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2006, be concurred in.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate in favour of the motion to approve the budget of the Privy Council Office for 2005-06.
I find it unimaginable that anyone could be against passing the Privy Council Office budget and that some hon. members in the opposition intend to obstruct it. This shows a lack of understanding of how the Government of Canada works. Those who oppose passing this budget should take the time to learn more about the basic principles of public administration and government.
The Privy Council Office plays a central, not to say crucial, role in the planning and implementation of major government policies. As a central agency, the Privy Council Office conducts strategic analyses of complex issues and does a thorough review of proposals and government orders as they are presented.
That is what allows the Privy Council Office to advise the government on developing and implementing its policies. It is the central agency par excellence and ensures that the general policy objectives, as set by the government and by Parliament, are met.
One of the most important documents setting out the objectives of the government's policies and its plan of action for achieving them is the throne speech. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Privy Council Office and particularly the Clerk of the Privy Council are closely involved in preparing the throne speech as advisors to the government on the aims of its policies and its plan for implementing them, in close cooperation with the PMO.
It may rightly be said that the throne speech is the equivalent of a bible for the PCO, as for the whole of the government apparatus. It reflects the government's vision of the type of Canada it hopes to build through the policies and programs contained therein.
There is another analogy, which perhaps better explains the link between the PCO and the throne speech. The throne speech becomes a sort of routing slip. It defines the government's legislative program and the commitments to be met. It is in this statement that the PCO and the rest of the government machine find their routing slip. The PCO ensures the work is carried out.
It will be remembered that the October 2004 throne speech dealt with a number of broad themes, namely a vigorous economy; the health of Canadians; children, caregivers and seniors; native Canadians; cities and communities; our environment; an influential role of pride in the world and governing with a common goal.
With your permission, I will describe some and, if time permits, each of them, bearing in mind that I do not have time here to mention all the objectives the government presented in each case. We have either accomplished or are on the way to accomplishing many more than what can be mentioned in a single speech.
What I want to get across to my colleagues opposite—in case some have not yet grasped it—is that the PCO was closely involved in defining each of these strategic objectives. It would be unrealistic to think that a government can successfully manage such a large range of problems without drawing on the PCO's functions of analysis, coordination and critical examination.
So I will start with a vigorous economy.
The current government is working to lower the debt-to-GDP ratio to 25% within 10 years, a goal it reiterated in the 2005 budget along with its ability to reach that goal.
We said that we would review the expenditures and reallocate the resources as needed. The 2005 budget confirmed that the expenditure review committee has identified nearly $11 billion in cumulative savings over the next five years, which will be reinvested in core federal areas of responsibility.
The first part of our five-point economic strategy—building a highly skilled workforce, promoting learning in the workplace and updating labour market agreements—is on track, as the 2005 budgetary statement confirmed.
We announced the implementation of an action plan on labour market integration of immigrants trained abroad. This plan allocates financial support to facilitate the foreign credential recognition process, provide immigrants with better language training and develop a portal so future immigrants can better prepare for their integration into Canada.
There is also the learning bond program—an innovative incentive to encourage low-income families to save for their children's education—funded with money set aside in the 2004 budget and which is supposed to begin on July 1. We also improved the program so as to introduce more people to the registered education saving plan and encourage low-income families to take advantage of it.
The second part of our five-point economic strategy is also progressing rapidly. The National Science Advisor was appointed to help universities, colleges and businesses renew their commitment to establishing a real national science program.
The third element of our five-point economic strategy, which deals with a smart regulatory system, was proposed by the External Advisory Committee on Smart Regulation; it provides for a transparent and predictable regulatory system. Work in this area is being pursued at the cabinet committee responsible for domestic affairs. Bill C-19, to amend the Competition Act, has already been introduced in the House.
The fourth element, which is the reform of the equalization program, has led to the adoption of a new framework for equalization and territorial formula financing. Under that new framework, federal support will be increased by $33 billion over the next 10 years. Legislation on the reform of the equalization program is currently before the House in the form of Bill C-24.
We promised a strategy for the north, a first in Canadian history, and we have started work on developing that strategy.
The fifth element includes the promotion of investment through the adoption of a sound monetary and fiscal policy and a competitive tax system.
The implementation of this sound monetary and fiscal policy has already been completed. The 2005 budgetary statement provides for balanced budgets through 2009-10. The 2004-05 fiscal year marked the completion of the five-year tax reduction plan totalling $100 billion, which was announced in 2000. The 2005 budget contains measures to reduce the general corporate tax rate to 19% and to eliminate the corporate surtax.
Another aspect of the fifth element of our five-point economic strategy consists in building on the Smart Borders initiative to strengthen security in North America while facilitating the flow of goods and people across the border.
Let me turn now to the health of Canadians. Long before last week's Supreme Court decision, this government set out an ambitious, yet absolutely crucial, set of policy deliverables to ensure that Canadians would have the timely and quality health care they deserve.
This complex set of policy goals includes: reduction in wait times; establishing a requirement for evidence based benchmarks; comparable indicators; clear targets; and transparent reporting. It also includes an increase in the number of doctors, nurses and other health professionals; improved access to home and community care services; improved access to safe and affordable drugs; setting goals and targets for improving the health status of Canadians; an annual report on the health status and health outcomes; the promotion of healthy living; enhancement of sports activities at both the community and competitive levels; and health protection. It also includes working with provincial and territorial partners on reforms and long term sustainability of the health system and on health promotion.
The cornerstone of our health care agenda is the government's commitment at last September's first ministers meeting of $41.285 billion over 10 years. Budget 2005 will implement the first year of the funding commitments related to the 10 year plan to strengthen health care.
As regards reductions in wait times, budget 2005 provides $15 million over four years for wait times initiatives. The provinces and territories are engaged with the federal government on developing a process for wait time reductions.
Budget 2005 also provides $110 million over five years to improve the data collection and reporting of health performance information; $75 million over five years to integrate internationally educated health care professionals; $170 million over five years to help ensure the safety and effectiveness of drugs and other therapeutic products; $300 million over five years to encourage healthy living, and prevent and control chronic disease; and finally, increased funding for Sports Canada to $140 million annually.
This funding builds on the additional $2 billion health care transfer to the provinces provided for in budget 2004 through Bill C-18.
The next theme in the government's agenda that I would like to address concerns children, caregivers and seniors. As members know, this government has placed very strong emphasis on children and the need for a national system of early learning and child care. We spent the day debating that.
Budget 2005 provides $5 billion over five years to help build the foundations of such a national system. To date, we have signed bilateral accords to support the development of early learning and child care with Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia.
We have concluded an agreement with the government of Quebec to enable that province to establish its own parental benefits plan, with the federal government providing a one time start-up fund of $200 million and an annual premium reduction of approximately $750 million for the government of Quebec to use toward its plan.
Let me turn to our commitment to improve tax based support for Canadians who care for aged or infirm relatives or those with severe disabilities. The overall commitment of the federal government is $1 billion over five years. Budget 2005 is the first step toward a more comprehensive strategy to support unpaid caregiving.
Acting on the recommendations of the technical advisory committee on tax measures for persons with disabilities, budget 2005 proposes to increase tax relief for persons with disabilities by $105 million in 2005-06, growing to $120 million by 2009-10. In fact, with budget 2005 the government is acting on virtually all of the committee's recommendations.
It is important to note the impact of the reduced tax burden on low and modest income families which budget 2005 announced. By 2009 the amount that an individual can earn tax free will increase to at least $10,000 and most of the benefit will go to those with low and modest incomes.
The Speech from the Throne committed the government to do more for Canada's seniors. Specifically, it committed the government to continue the new horizons program and explore other means of ensuring that we do not lose the talents and contributions that seniors make to our society.
In the February 2004 Speech from the Throne, the government announced a new deal for Canada's cities and communities. The government also established a new secretariat for cities and a new federal department of infrastructure and communities. We said we would make available a portion of the federal gas tax to municipalities to enable the containment of urban sprawl and to invest in new sustainable infrastructure projects in areas such as transit, roads, clean water and sewers.
Budget 2005 has $5 billion over the next five years in gas tax revenue to be given to the cities and communities. It also adds new funding of $300 million to green municipal funds. This builds on budget 2004 in which the goods and services taxes paid by municipalities were rebated entirely by the federal government
The Government of Canada has now signed gas tax revenue sharing agreements with three governments: British Columbia, Alberta and Yukon. Two more are anticipated before the end of this month. They are with the governments of Ontario and Quebec.
In addition, the government committed to move quickly to flow funds within existing infrastructure programs. Significant infrastructure investments have been announced. There is the $1 billion funding package for the Toronto Transit Commission; $500 million for the expansion of the Vancouver Convention Centre; and significant projects undertaken at major Canada-U.S. border crossings such as Windsor-Detroit.
We have reached agreements with Quebec on financially supporting Quebec municipalities with the challenges of renewing their infrastructure; with Ontario in support of improvements to Ottawa's public transit system, and of course with the expansion of the Congress Centre also in Ottawa; and with Prince Edward Island on infrastructure funds for P.E.I. communities.
Other policy deliverables by the government to support and improve the quality of life in our cities and communities include the affordable housing initiative, the supporting communities partnership initiative for the homeless and the residential rehabilitation assistance program.
I may not have time to deal with the initiatives that we have taken on the environment and the numerous initiatives we have taken on Canada in the world.
I would like to provide an overview of the government's agenda as it relates to a role of pride and influence for Canada in the world. The government promised and released a comprehensive international policy statement which provided an updated and integrated approach to Canada's foreign policy objectives: trade and investment needs, defence requirements and the development assistance program.
One of the first actions of the government after the February 2004 Speech from the Throne was to develop and approve Canada's first ever national security policy. Considerable work has been undertaken since then in implementing the new security policy and a progress report on implementation to date will soon be released.
The government established a cabinet committee on security, public health and emergencies and has appointed a national security adviser to the Prime Minister. Separate legislation to create the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has been passed and the new Canada Border Services Agency legislation is before Parliament.
We have taken steps to build a more sophisticated and informed relationship with the United States. As part of the new enhanced representation initiative, the new Washington secretariat has been established and has commenced operations. Other projects are under way to advance advocacy, support policy coherence and share information among all levels of government.
Earlier this spring the Prime Minister, President Bush and President Fox announced the security and prosperity partnership launching a series of negotiations among the three countries on key aspects of security, prosperity and quality of life for North Americans.
On the defence front, our chief policy deliverable was to invest more in our military. Budget 2005 provides $12.8 billion in new money for defence over five years. It provides $3.2 billion over five years to strengthen military operations by improving training and operational readiness, enhancing military medical care, addressing critical supplies and repair shortages, and repairing infrastructure.
We have promised investments in key capital equipment, for example, new armoured vehicles and replacements for the Sea King helicopters. Budget 2005 provides more than $2.7 billion for new medium capacity helicopters, utility aircraft and military trucks.
We are increasing regular forces by 5,000 and the reserves by 3,000, and training regional peacekeepers, such as in Africa for the African Union mission in the Darfur region of Sudan.
The February 2004 Speech from the Throne promised the creation of the Canada Corps to help young Canadians participate in international assistance; provide to developing nations Canadian expertise and experience in justice, in federalism, in pluralistic democracy; and to bring the best of Canadian values and experience to the world.
The new Canada Corps was mobilized successfully and effectively for monitoring the elections in Ukraine last December, which we all remember with great pride.
Budget 2005 commits to doubling aid to Africa by 2008-09 from its 2003-04 level. It also provides additional funding to combat disease in developing countries and $3.4 billion over the next five years in increased international assistance. We are maintaining Canada's leadership role in the creation of a new international instrument on cultural diversity and continue to participate actively in a number of international organizations, be it the Commonwealth or the Francophonie.
This is not the complete list of the government's policy goals and the actions we have taken to achieve them. In each and every item that I have described to the members in this House, the Privy Council Office is right there helping to analyze and develop the policy, challenge any weakness, exert due diligence, bring together disparate parts from across the breadth of government, tie together the loose ends and manage the preparation of legislation and its follow-up.
In short, the Privy Council Office is engaged in all aspects of the cabinet's work in governing the country. Voting against the motion to support the approval of the Privy Council Office budget for fiscal year 2005-06 would cause considerable damage to the functioning of government as a result. It would most certainly be against the interests of all Canadians.
I therefore encourage and exhort all hon. members of the House to do the right thing and to vote in support of the motion. To do otherwise would be unconscionable. It is rather surprising that we would be confronted with a motion that would remove the entire funding for the Privy Council Office. It is a demonstration of a lack of understanding of how government functions.
In concluding my remarks, and I know I will have occasion to answer some questions if there are any, we definitely urge all members of the House to consider seriously the implications of not supporting this motion, which is central to the ability of government and Parliament to function.
May 18th, 2005 / 10:10 p.m.
Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON
Mr. Chair, I have a particular attachment to Canadian citizenship. I value it perhaps as much as the next person and perhaps more, in part because I had to swear allegiance to Canada and acquire that citizenship.
I am proud to say that my grandfather who lived here at the turn of the 19th century was a Canadian citizen. He had been a British subject prior to that. He conferred that same status on to my mother. I would have had it had I not been born someplace else. However, the circumstances allowed me to apply for citizenship.
In terms of two levels of citizenship, we just need to take a look at some of the members here in the House right now. Six were born outside the country. Two more were second generation. Such is the value of our citizenship that those who were born elsewhere can take a seat in the House. I have been fortunate enough to be called to cabinet. I joked earlier about the shelf life of people in my position, but the fact of the matter is that this is a wonderful place that values citizenship. It allows us all the opportunity to come, to be a part of, to be shareholders this great enterprise and to be able to make some of those decisions.
How do we lose our citizenship? We lose it if we acquire it by fraudulent means. That means that we must have misrepresented the case that qualified us to be here and to become permanent residents or to acquire citizenship. I do not think anybody would suggest that if it was acquired fraudulently, that it should be retained. Does the process require a series of judicial mechanisms? Perhaps. The only way people can lose their citizenship is by misrepresenting their case. Bill C-18, a bill that died on the order paper, did have that judicial process.
When will I present another bill? It will be up to members tomorrow night I guess.
Committees of the House
May 12th, 2005 / 10:15 a.m.
Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON
Mr. Speaker, I move that the third report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, presented to the House on Thursday, November 30, 2004, be concurred in.
I will be splitting my time with the member for Laval—Les Îles.
On November 30 we tabled this document from the citizenship and immigration committee. Let me say that the issues we at the committee tried to address are issues that have been longstanding concerns in front of this House.
One of the main issues that I was certainly very much interested in was the whole issue of revocation of citizenship for those who were not born in Canada. Under our current Citizenship Act, revocation of citizenship for naturalized Canadians does not conform to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
I was delighted to see in the throne speech what the government laid out in saying that we are going to modernize our Citizenship Act. I was also glad to see that in the throne speech the government laid out that one of the founding principles by which it would govern was based on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The issue we are talking about on revocation of citizenship pertains to all those Canadians who were not born in Canada. We are talking about nearly 6 million Canadians. We have close to 50 members of this House who were not born in Canada. This would apply directly to them.
We have been trying to deal with a new Citizenship Act since 1996. The first Citizenship Act that was considered in debate was Bill C-63, which was followed by Bill C-16, at which point in time I was parliamentary secretary to the minister of citizenship and immigration. As parliamentary secretary to the minister of citizenship and immigration, I could not at that time support the contents of Bill C-16 as it pertained to the revocation of citizenship.
I could not support Bill C-16 because I believe that something as important as citizenship, which strikes at the very identity of the 6 million Canadians who were born elsewhere, is of great importance and should be covered by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
At this time, I am sad to say, citizenship is not covered by the charter. Therefore, I had looked forward to sitting on the citizenship committee, whereby we could correct a longstanding injustice.
Madam Speaker, I may say that this situation applies to you as well, not having been born in Canada, and many other members of this House.
My battle has been to make sure that for something as valuable as citizenship rights, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies and applies also if the government wants to challenge the legitimacy of any naturalized Canadian's citizenship.
It is not often that a parliamentary secretary opposes a government initiative or, as a matter of fact, votes against the government's legislation and resigns over it, but that was one of those occasions, so when I returned in the last Parliament I decided to sit on the citizenship and immigration committee to address this issue in particular.
I am very pleased that the committee, acting in a very non-partisan fashion and with the good of Canadians in mind, went through the Citizenship Act and made a number of recommendations in our report. We recommended that the government table a new Citizenship Act.
First, those recommendations included one that there must be equal treatment of Canadian born and naturalized citizens. We cannot change the fact that some of us were born in Canada and some of us were born elsewhere, but we are all citizens. What we have in common besides our love for this country is the fact that our rights, and a right as important as citizenship, should be protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The committee made that recommendation in the report and it is worth emphasizing again: there must be equal treatment of Canadian born and naturalized citizens.
Second, referring to Bill C-18, there should be no probationary citizenship status.
Third, the legislation should enhance English and French as the official languages of Canada.
Fourth, for those who qualify, citizenship should be seen as right rather than a privilege. I think that is a very important concept, because there were those who said that citizenship is a privilege that can be revoked at a whim of the government. That is wrong. The committee unanimously agreed that it is wrong. I regret that some of the former ministers of citizenship did not see that point.
The next point was that no one should be denied or deprived of Canadian citizenship if doing so would render them stateless. This is important because we are signatories to international conventions in which we fight against statelessness. For us to be signatories to those conventions and then turn around and do this is wrong.
Another main point is that all determinations under the act should be made by an independent decision maker in a judicial process free from political interference. This point strikes at the very heart of our judicial system. It means that no politician, even a prime minister, should be able to deprive individuals of their liberties. That can only be done by the due process of law under the legal section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Another issue we talked about was that while we get rights with citizenship, we also have responsibilities. That is an important concept. We often talk about rights but we do not talk about responsibilities, those responsibilities including people partaking in the democratic process and in the life of their community.
One of the very interesting things about this report is that we toured across Canada. During most of April, the citizenship and immigration committee went from coast to coast. We visited every provincial capital. We also visited Vancouver and Montreal, and for the very first time in its history, we visited the Waterloo region. The outpouring of support for the principles enunciated in this report was overwhelming.
This is a very important document that strikes at the very heart of what it means to be Canadian. I hope we can get legislation to incorporate both this report as well as all presentations to be heard from coast to coast.
Message from the Senate
The Royal Assent
March 23rd, 2005 / 6:40 p.m.
The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)
Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:
March 23, 2005
I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 23rd day of March, 2005, at 4:56 p.m.
Policy, Program and Protocol
The schedule indicates that royal assent was given to Bill S-17, an act to implement an agreement, conventions and protocols concluded between Canada and Gabon, Ireland, Armenia, Oman and Azerbaijan for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion--Chapter No. 8; Bill C-20, an act to provide for real property taxation powers of first nations, to create a First Nations Tax Commission, First Nations Financial Management Board, First Nations Finance Authority and First Nations Statistical Institute and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter No. 9; Bill C-6, an act to establish the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and to amend or repeal certain acts--Chapter No. 10; Bill C-39, an act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and to enact an act respecting the provision of funding for diagnostic and medical equipment--Chapter No. 11; Bill C-41, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2005--Chapter No. 12; Bill C-42, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2006--Chapter No. 13; and Bill C-18, an act to amend the Telefilm Canada Act and another act--Chapter No. 14.
A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.
March 22nd, 2005 / 11:25 a.m.
Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB
Mr. Speaker, I rise to address a very critical issue in Canada today and a very complex one too. I wish we were not here today debating this particular amendment because I do not find it particularly satisfactory to the dilemma we find ourselves in.
However, it may be the only way in which we can register our concern and opposition with the government, and the way it has botched a critical matter in Canada today.
We are almost at a crisis point in this country in terms of our federal-provincial relations. I have been in political life for close to 20 years. I have never seen such a divisive situation, such a sour situation with many different agendas competing for attention. I have never seen so much backstabbing and so little leadership to bring parties together to build a strong nation.
I have travelled the country with the finance committee on fiscal imbalance. I have had a chance to see just how deep those divisions are and what angst exists in provinces right across this country. I cannot emphasize enough the seriousness of the situation today in terms of our nationhood, in terms of our ability to build a stronger nation, to keep the federation in place, and to address competing interests between the provinces, the territories and the federal government.
I am worried about how this situation will unfold in the next short while. I have not seen any leadership from the government. I have not seen any leadership from the finance minister, the Prime Minister, or any of his colleagues. I feel nothing but gloom and despair as I see events unfold and feel somewhat helpless about this tragic situation. If I, as an elected member of this place, feel helpless, just imagine how Canadians must feel watching the news day in and day out and wondering what this country is coming to.
We are debating today one of the most fundamental concepts for this nation as a whole, for the preservation of national unity, and for describing our unique identity. Yet, we have heard neither a satisfactory answer from the government nor a clear cut proposal from the official opposition.
As I said at the outset, we may support the motion. It may be the only way by which we can register our opposition to the government which continues to act as if it had a majority and continues to ignore the voices of parliamentarians and the wishes of Canadians. It may be our only way to force the government to address some inequities in the system that it has created. I think in particular of the Minister of Finance's own province of Saskatchewan and the way it has been treated over the course of the last several months vis-à-vis the side deals that the government has embarked upon.
Equalization is about who we are as a nation. It is the glue that holds this country together. Equalization is part of the financial foundation of our social programs. It is part of the collective commitment that we all make to solidarity and social cohesion.
It is a program and a concept that is so important to Canada that it is entrenched in the Constitution. It is a program that has a long, proud history and it must be remembered and revisited at this critical moment if we are ever to find our way through these deep divisions and these dark days.
I do not need to remind the House that we have had equalization since 1957 for the provinces and 1958 for the territories and how it has formed an integral part of our national effort to ensure some semblance of equality across our diverse regions, provinces and territories.
Equalization aims at ensuring roughly comparable services with roughly comparable taxation levels through good economic times and bad. It symbolizes, at the macro intergovernmental level, the positive role that government can and must play in redistributing wealth so all may prosper. As I said, it is so fundamental to the fabric of Canada that in 1982 it was entrenched in the Constitution.
If equalization is so fundamental to the country, why are we here today dealing with a motion that essentially is running around trying to pick up the pieces of the equalization process? Why are we dealing with a motion from a political party that has no more interest in pursuing the notion of equalization than it has of pursuing equality for women?
I do not need to remind members how much this concept has been held in disrepute by members of the Conservative Party and before that members of the Reform Party. I do not think we need to go over the whole history, except to remind ourselves that inherent in the position advanced by the Conservatives in the House today is the notion that somehow equalization is bad because it saps energy and vitality and takes away incentive to overcome the odds and prosper without due regard for the structural issues at the heart of any difficulties a province or a region might face, without any understanding of the historical accidents that occur, which is really the placement of oil and gas reserves and other natural resources. It has nothing to do with the strength of a province such as Alberta with its ability to overcome all odds. It has to do with an accident of history where those reserves are placed.
It is like trying to get through to that party the concept of equality of condition for all individuals. The Conservative Party has no understanding of what it means to help put in place those programs and supports that ensure equality of condition. The Conservatives seem to think that all that has to be done is let people loose and they will do it on their own. They will overcome all odds and difficulties and do not need to have a government that worries about a national child care program, a health program, an education support system, a housing program, an environmental protection program, a transportation program or a social assistance program. The Conservatives do not have any understanding of those programs.
Therefore we obviously approach this debate with a great deal of reservation. If and when we support the motion it will be with a great deal of reservation. It will be because we are left with a government that refuses to exercise its leadership and prevent the kind of dismantling of the country that we are seeing all around us.
Why are we trying to pick up the pieces here in this way? We do not have to look very far. We only have to look to the government benches. The Liberal government bears responsibility for this mess in so many ways.
It was the Liberals, under the current Prime Minister at the financial helm, who brought in the vicious cutbacks of the mid-1990s, which sent transfers for health care, post-secondary education and social services into a tailspin, that has spawned an ongoing series of crises over federal-provincial funding arrangements that continue to this day and goes to the heart of my presentation today.
We are not dealing with a situation that has been fixed by the Liberals. We are dealing with some band-aids, a patchwork of systems, a set of boutique programs over here and some pilot projects over there, to try to deal with the kinds of crises the government has created with its single-minded focus on dealing with the deficit back in 1993, as opposed to balancing the need to restore some balance in the fiscal situation of government while not neglecting the human deficit.
Yes, it was the Liberals and their transfer cuts that downloaded more financial responsibility on to the provinces that added to equalization pressures as the only life raft within sight through which to recover provincial stability. It was the Liberals who followed the Conservative dictum of backing out of their government responsibilities to develop an energy strategy for Canada that has led even more directly to today's debate.
Such a strategy is the proper context for today's discussion but, under the Liberals, the strategy does not exist. During their entire regime, fully conscious of the changes that signing free trade agreements has brought to our energy picture, the Liberals have done nothing. Selling off Petro-Canada for them is an energy strategy.
Even worse, for their entire regime they have also been aware of the energy implications of climate change and the need to act on Kyoto. Again, they have done nothing to build an effective energy strategy for the future sustainability of our economy and our planet, or even to work out these vital issues with the provinces and territories.
As my leader, the member for Toronto--Danforth, wrote in a communication with the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador almost a year ago, Canada needs a national energy strategy that not only corrects such fiscal imbalances regarding resource extraction but also best positions our country for a future under the Kyoto protocol and beyond.
The government has been dithering with a capital D and that dithering has become the Liberal trademark, the real branding of the government. Wherever else we have seen it over the last few days, weeks and months, whether we are talking about the sponsorship scandal and the Gomery file, the budget and its commitment to deal with social infrastructure and urban needs, or any number of issues before us today, that dithering has extended to the whole equalization process as well.
It was the Liberals in 1982 who brought in a system of basing equalization payments on only five provinces' economic performance, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and B.C., instead of ten. It has created problems over the years but the Liberals have avoided the type of meaningful negotiations with the provinces that could have reached a more lasting solution.
A make do, buy some time agreement in 1999, was an opportunity to move forward, but no. What did we get? We got more dithering. The fundamental issue was so low on the Liberal priority list that by the time the deadline was approaching in late 2003 so little had been done that the Liberals had to introduce Bill C-54 as an interim measure just to ensure that the whole equalization process did not grind to a halt along with equalization payments.
When that died, to enable the Liberals to create an event out of their leadership change, they had to follow up last February with Bill C-18 to essentially buy another year of time.
However, that was not at all necessary. All the provinces, interestingly, at that point in time were in agreement as to the route forward to get equalization back on track with a full 10-province rating system and an all inclusive calculating method. I have the document here and I hope the Minister of Finance refreshes his memory with this important contribution dated September 2003, a paper entitled, “Strengthening the Equalization Program: Perspective of the Finance Ministersof the Provinces and Territories”.
Just a couple of years ago the provinces were in agreement on a proposal that would have dealt with some inherent problems in our equalization system. It would have put us on a solid footing for ensuring that the program continued over the next five years on a fair basis and in a reasonable way. The proposal called for a 10-province standard and the inclusion of all revenues, including non-renewable energy resources. It would have worked and it would have had the support of all the provinces. It would have dealt with some inherent inequalities. It also would have, by its existence, prevented the government from making the foolish mistake it did by not pursuing a good plan and then ending up making side deals with Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
I believe the Liberals apparently were not interested in actually negotiating a solution. Instead, they came back to the provinces in October with a take it or leave it deal, another Liberal trademark by the way, to which the provinces and territories reluctantly agreed despite some obvious flaws. They put a pot of money on the table and told the provinces that it was theirs to basically do with as they wanted. The Liberals then set up another committee to study a longer process and a panel for which there are deep concerns right now about who is on it, what work it will do and when it will report.
Immediately the Liberals became embroiled in side deals. If we fast forward, today we are being asked to formally recognize side deals as the new way of doing equalization. It is obvious that the Liberal deal from last October began to unravel before the ink was even dry on the page. The danger is that the whole valued equalization process may unravel with it as both have and have not provinces have heightened, not lowered, their dissatisfaction levels. The dilemma should be really no surprise to Canadians. Balkanization has become the Liberal password.
We have watched the Liberal government's consistent abdication of the use of national standards or the national programs that have been part of the great tradition that has built Canada. The current Liberal government seems only qualified to dismantle programs and measures such as equalization.
Social cohesion seems to run counter to the Liberal vision and the corporate interests it represents. Equalization is the fault line in the neo-Liberal agenda in Canada where Liberal cuts and downsizing government services meet government's role as the major agent of equality and the redistribution of wealth head on.
Of course Saskatchewan and other provinces want to protect their future economic stability. They recognize the volatility of the commodity market. Unfortunately, the Liberals have not acted. They have stood by as spectators while our economy has shifted once again back toward a dependence on oil, gas and other commodity exports to the United States.
The Liberal dithering and inaction is stunning to its extent and that is why we end up in this dilemma in the House today debating a motion that is less than satisfactory but one that may be the only way to make the government listen to the provinces, deal with the present concerns and inequalities, as in the case of Saskatchewan, and begin now to put in place a formula that is based on the 10-province standard inclusive of all revenues.
Telefilm Canada Act
December 13th, 2004 / 1:35 p.m.
Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today and speak in the House, as it always is.
I will begin by saying that the New Democratic Party supports Bill C-18, the act to amend Telefilm.
We have come a long way since Telefilm was formed in the 1960s. I think there is a recognition out there of the convergence of new media and the need to adapt to respond to new media and to continue in our fundamental obligation as government to work in cultural industries to promote our identity.
These amendments to change the act of course also came from recommendations from the Auditor General. I think they are very well put forward.
The discussion we are having today comes at a time of a fundamental watershed in Canadian cultural identity. We see ourselves as having built a very successful entertainment export industry. In fact, I would say that our number one export in the world is our artists. We have been very successful at that. We have had a somewhat more mixed success in terms of our ability to compete internationally in our film and television, particularly because we are so close to the United States.
I think there has always been a sort of false discussion about bad U.S. content and good Canada content. The fact is that in the United States we have seen the development of massive industries of entertainment. Over the last number of years a vertical integration has happened in these various media outlets from Hollywood and in music and television, such that it is making it incredibly difficult for other voices to be heard regionally across the United States, for example, but right across Canada.
I will give an example that I read about in Benjamin Barber's book Jihad Vs. McWorld . He describes the impact of the global U.S. entertainment culture. He says that this SpongeBob culture we are seeing is of a depth of only about three or four inches, like water, and it runs on a smooth plane, right across the community. If we look across the community we will still see the church steeples, we will still see the municipal buildings and the schools, and we will ask what kind of effect this mass popular culture has.
But what he concludes with is that children can drown in even six inches of water and we are looking at the spread of this thin layer of what we call popular culture coming out of Hollywood and other massive entertainment industries. Thus we have to ask ourselves, “Where is the room for our story?” A fundamental of any country is its ability to tell its own story. And it is not just to entertain, because we have come to see culture as entertainment; culture is how people group together. It is how they understand themselves. It is how they tell their history. It is how they can reflect their politics. It is how they can see where to go forward. We have to view culture as a multi-dimensional aspect of life. It is not simply our legends. It is not simply our songs. It is a whole fabric of the way a community interprets who it is.
In which case, I would bring us to where we are with the Telefilm discussion. Telefilm has been one of Canada's great success stories. We need to find ways to start improving the tools that we Canadians have in our cultural industries. What we are looking at with Telefilm is being able to move into the new mediums that they are already having to deal with, because, again, it is not just film and it is not just television. Our new mediums go from the web to PC games; there is a whole variety. That is where Canadians are moving. We need our institutions to have the tools to do that.
I fully support where we are going in terms of the Telefilm direction. To give an example of what we are looking at, we are talking about $85 million that would be going to film; $95 million to $100 million to television; $8 million to $9 million to sound recordings; and $9 million to new media, which could be websites or video games and other new technologies. On that front, I think we are definitely moving in a very positive direction.
However, I am very concerned that what we are doing is not nearly enough. I would not want to have anyone come out of today's debate thinking that the New Democratic Party thinks we are fully on the right road in terms of where we are going with our television and our film industries, because what we have seen over the last number of years is the continual downsizing of our government's support for these industries.
These industries need our support first of all because we are going up against such powerful and sometimes almost predatory heavyweights. It is almost impossible for a small film or television company to be able to even get the access to compete against the U.S. giants. We need to support our artists.
Second, there is an economic component. We can see that the money that goes into arts and film has created thousands of jobs and has built some fantastic industries right across the country, but these industries are now in crisis and we cannot avoid that fact. We are seeing a major crisis right across the country, from Halifax to Vancouver, in terms of the power that our film and television industries have. We have to make some very clear decisions as a country and as a government about where we are going in terms of our support of our cultural entertainment industries.
There has been a real destabilizing that has gone on in the last 10 years under this Liberal government. There have been major cuts to arts, which have destabilized numerous of our grassroots, the incubators of culture. We are looking now at our upcoming estimates for future cutbacks: cutbacks to Telefilm, cutbacks to the National Film Board and cutbacks to CBC. On the one hand we are saying we support culture, but on the other hand arts groups and film people across the country are saying, “We cannot even make the fundamental decisions in order to make even basic movements forward because we have been so undermined”.
When we talk about telling our story, it is almost like kitschy Canadiana in terms of how we like to talk about ourselves, like the roller piano from the Klondike and the happy lumberjack story. But the fact is that a lot of Canadian stories are not being told because there is not the needed funding in the areas where these stories are coming up.
For example, I bring up what happened to CBC. We saw devastating cuts to our regional programming. As someone who lives in an area of Ontario that is very distinct from southern Ontario and has a population the size of Saskatchewan, let me say that we do not have even a single television transmitter in our area of northern Ontario to speak to any of the issues that come out of CBC. We have no ability to even be heard on the national scale. We do not have the reporters up there to do that.
We are looking at undermining the distinct voices right across the country. We have to engage the government. In fact, the parliamentary secretary to the minister said it was the job of the opposition parties to make the case. It is unfortunate, but I seem to agree that it has become the job of the opposition parties to articulate the need for the government to commit to restoring the money that has been cut out of fundamental areas, such as, for example, the Canada Council, where we are seeing major cuts being planned on top of the cuts that have already been made. These are cuts which will come directly out of artists.
It is all fine and well for our government to say it loves artists. Well, I love little children and I like baseball too, but that is not really relevant to the matter. What is relevant is whether the government will put back the money to support these organizations so they can continue their job.
It is particularly distressing when we have such major industries as film, television and the Canadian book publishing industry now three and a half or maybe four months away from the new fiscal year and looking at zero in front of all their budget lines because they are being told there is no money. Is there no money? Maybe there is money, because the hon. minister loves arts; so maybe there will be money, but maybe there will not be. The months are ticking down to the new fiscal year and nobody is being hired, tours are not being planned, books are not being published and films are not being made.
So we can talk about a housekeeping bill, which this is, but the house is in terrible disrepair. I support the efforts to take the broom to the front door and clean up around the door, but I really think the roof needs fixing, because there is water pouring in on all levels of our house.
I would also like to say that I brought forward an amendment and it was shot down, unfortunately, but I think it is very important to raise in terms of Telefilm. We are talking about our support for the artists and we are talking about how much we value them. Yet when these bills come forward and we are talking about who sits on these boards, who sits on Telefilm, who sits on CBC, who sits on CRTC, we have no ability to guarantee that people who are committed to the arts community, people who are committed to arts and know the grassroots issues, the front line issues, have any representation on these boards.
Maybe the Telefilm bill is a housekeeping bill, but it would have been a nice foundational structural change to this housekeeping bill if we had said that someone from the arts community, someone who is involved in the day to day business of making a living and helping create culture, was sitting on that board, but that was shot down. It disturbs me greatly, because again it undermines, I believe, Canadians' confidence in our cultural institutions if we do not know why people are being appointed to these boards and who is making the decisions about appointing them.
I brought that forward as a potential amendment and it was not supported by any of the other parties. It is unfortunate, but I think it should be put on the record that we need to say that if we are going to support our artists it is more than rhetoric. Once again, we all love our artists, do we not? But until we start making some firm commitments as Canadians, we are going to continue to see an undermining of our export industries. We are going to see a continued loss of the jobs that have previously helped many of our urban areas. And we are going to see a continual erosion of what we like to call our story. I think that would be a national travesty.
I will conclude by saying that the NDP will support this bill going forward, but we believe the government has to do more. This government has to commit to coming up very soon with some honest answers about where it is going in terms of its funding for the arts, for film and for Canada's book industry. It has to let these people know so that they can get down to the business of doing what they do well, which is creating culture, creating jobs and creating export investments for us as a nation.
Telefilm Canada Act
December 13th, 2004 / 1:25 p.m.
Maka Kotto Saint-Lambert, QC
Madam Speaker, to continue, if our colleague over there had listened to the end, he would have seen the connection immediately. I trust he will have the patience to do so.
Quebec, as I was saying, is a house, our house. We are attached to it. It is a house with walls and a roof. We should be free to do whatever work we want on it, whenever we want to. We should be free to put in place the cultural regulations that we want.
We in Quebec live according to principles that are recognized by the great majority of “family members”. We need to be free to reflect our own image in our creativity, in our writings, to reflect our own image in our productions, our broadcasts. We have values that are ours alone, a genius that is ours alone, a sense of solidarity that is ours alone, a shared public language that is ours alone, and above all a culture that is ours alone.
Mr. Speaker, the world we live in is media saturated, globalized, dominated by market logic; it is a world exposed to cultural Darwinism, a world where film and other audiovisual media are extremely popular and powerful means of communication.
For years, in keeping with Ottawa's approach of intruding into other realms of responsibility, Telefilm Canada has imposed itself upon Quebec as a federal cultural body with a mandate for the development and promotion of the film and television industries.
Bill C-18, which we have before us here in third reading, , is intended to integrate into the mandate of Telefilm Canada the entire audiovisual industry, that is film, television and new media. Among other things, it gives Telefilm the authority to act in the sound recording industry under agreements made with the Department of Canadian Heritage.
In fact, all Bill C-18 does is to update and make official the increased responsibilities Telefilm Canada already has. The current legislation does not reflect the real mandate of this intrusive agency, Telefilm Canada and needs to be updated. So Bill C-18 makes official the new Telefilm mission that has been in place for years.
In its annual report for 1997-1998, Telefilm Canada described its mission as including the development and promotion of the Canadian film and television industry and new media products. In a March 2002 survey on client satisfaction and needs, 21% of respondents said that they worked in the new media sector among others.
The main purpose of the bill is to act in audiovisual industries including film, television and new media and to provide authority to act in the sound recording industry under agreements made with the Department of Canadian Heritage. The Bloc Québécois does not have a problem with the main purpose of the bill. We have some reservations as previously mentioned.
Essentially the bill replaces the expressions “pecuniary interest in film activity” and “feature film production” with “audiovisual industry” and “film” with “audiovisual”. Let us also recall that it provides Telefilm with the authority to act in the sound recording industry under agreements made with the Department of Canadian Heritage, and provides it with the powers of a natural person. As well, everything done before the coming into force of this enactment is deemed to be valid to the same extent as it would be if it were done after this enactment comes into force.
The Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-18. However, I repeat, the Bloc Québécois also believes that culture is a provincial jurisdiction and that the Department of Canadian Heritage is interfering in matters of the department of Quebec culture.
Part of the mission of the Quebec department of culture reads:
The mission of the ministère de la Culture et des Communications (MCC), in partnership with government corporations and other public bodies, is to foster within Québec the affirmation, expression and democratization of culture as well as the development of communications, and to contribute to their distribution within Quebec and abroad.
It does so while respecting the values of Quebec society. It also accomplishes its mission by maximizing benefits in artistic quality, community enrichment, and encouragement of regional , national and international development of businesses and agencies involved in culture and communications.
The ministry's mission always keeps the people of Quebec at the heart of its concerns. In order to promote public access to the arts, culture and communications, the ministry and its agencies rely on a group of partners, which primarily consist of organizations and people whose activities take place at one of the stages of the cultural and communications chain, creation, broadcasting, training, production, conservation, distribution and marketing, exports and promotion.
That should make clear to those who were not aware of it that there is a real machine in Quebec, a culture machine that is operational and sufficiently mature to stand alone, without a tutor, without a guardian.
To fulfil its mission, the government of Quebec must possess all the tools it needs for the development of culture in Quebec. That is obviously not possible given its situation of dependence.
First, I want to take this opportunity to ask, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, for the complete repatriation of powers related to culture and telecommunications, which are considered an essential support for culture. The Bloc Québécois is a sovereignist party that believes Quebec must have all necessary powers to determine its own future as it wishes.
I shall read part of an open letter signed by our leader, which appeared in La Presse on June 23, 2004.
—the decisions made in Ottawa too often prevent our cinema, our theatre, our television, our literature or the songs of Quebec from developing and making the impact they deserve. In addition, electronic distribution of our culture is threatened by the federal government's laissez-faire attitude and its inability to recognize our cultural uniqueness. Regulation of telecommunications includes the regulation of radio and television as the means of distributing culture.
If we cannot achieve complete repatriation, at a minimum, the Bloc supports the unanimous report from the Quebec National Assembly requesting “a new federal-provincial administrative agreement... in the field of communications”.
The purpose of such an agreement is to clarify the responsibilities of both levels of government in the field of communications and to affirm their common desire to promote, through coordinated actions, diversity in voices and choices. More specifically, it is to give Quebec a say in the licensing of the electronic media.
Ideally, Quebec should have its own regulatory and licensing body. Federal budgetary envelopes in this area should be transferred to allow Quebec to develop a cultural policy that truly reflects its reality.
This position was clearly stated in the Bloc's complementary opinion to the Canadian heritage committee's 2003 report on broadcasting.
The Bloc Québécois asks that the federal government respond positively to the request from the Quebec Government, which is unanimous in demanding a new federal-provincial administrative agreement [...] in the field of the communications.
The Government of Quebec is in the best position to defend its culture. It is completely reasonable that this is the government to address the cultural development of Quebecers. All Quebec governments, regardless of their political allegiance, have defended their autonomy and maintained that culture is an area of exclusive provincial jurisdiction.
The Bloc Québécois recommends that the federal government recognize that Quebec has sole responsibility for arts and culture in Quebec, and to sign a framework agreement with the Government of Quebec acknowledging this responsibility and transferring the necessary funds to Quebec.
The Bloc Québécois recommends that the federal government negotiate an agreement with the Government of Quebec to make the province solely responsible for communications and telecommunications undertakings.
This position is also consistent with Quebec's demands in this respect for the past 40 years.
Repatriating powers over culture and communications is in line with Quebec's demands over this period.
Frequency allocation cannot and must not be the prerogative of the federal government. Quebec can no longer tolerate exclusion from an area where it so obviously has a vital interest.
This is a quote from Daniel Johnson senior. It is found in a submission presented at the federal-provincial conference held in Ottawa, from February 5 to 7, 1968.
The Quebec government also presented the following position in July 1980:
Quebec is asking that the provinces' legislative authority in the area of communications and communication systems be entrenched in the Constitution--
What transitional measures could be implemented to give more room to Quebec? I am putting the question as a show of reaching out to members opposite. We think that only by negotiating a partial or full delegation of powers will Quebec be able to regulate as it wants to do the use of its cultural tools, the airwaves and the broadcasting of the Quebec culture.
What can the Minister of Canadian Heritage do to give more room to Quebec? She must be consistent with herself. In 1992, the Minister of Canadian Heritage wrote the following in Quebec's cultural policy:
In the current constitutional context, I, as the Minister of Cultural Affairs, intend to reaffirm the need for Quebec to obtain full control over its own culture. Culture is of paramount importance to Quebec. Therefore, it is important that its government have the exclusive powers that it needs to fulfill its responsibilities.
Now, we are waiting for concrete action.
Telefilm Canada Act
December 13th, 2004 / 1:15 p.m.
Maka Kotto Saint-Lambert, QC
Madam Speaker, we as democratic sovereignists are here today, December 13, 2004, to debate Bill C-18 not just out of respect for Canada's institutions, nor out of the respect and admiration we have for you, Madam Speaker, or all the parliamentarians here. We are here mainly to defend the interests of Quebec and its move to full and complete sovereignty.
Like many on this side of the House, it is not because of some folk tale longing or fanatical reflex that I am committed to creating the country of Quebec, but from a conscious decision. Now more than ever Quebec wants to be freed from the shackles of this Confederation in which it is trapped.
To make myself understood in the present situation, let us put a few things in perspective.
After October 1995, with hands over their hearts, they promised to improve the functioning of Canada in order to satisfy Quebec's demands concerning its interaction with the central government. They did not keep their word. They continued to run Canada as though nothing significant had happened in Quebec one night in October 1995.
In their eyes, the desire for change as expressed democratically by half the population of Quebec was nothing more than a tempest in a teapot in the government's efforts to standardize—or weaken—Quebec culturally, politically, economically and socially. What contempt.
In 1999, there was nothing but contempt in the Clarity Act, which was full of rhetoric and ideas from unenlightened dictators, an act that ridiculed Quebec's democracy and the integrity of its National Assembly. What contempt.
Also in 1999, nothing but contempt in the framework agreement on the social union, which is crushing the aspirations of Quebec. This agreement was not validated by Quebec, it does not recognize the existence of the Quebec people, but instead recognizes the equality of the provinces as such, Quebec being considered just a province, a conquered territory.
This agreement recognizes Ottawa's right to spend and deal directly with organizations or individuals without consideration for Quebec's areas of jurisdiction, even if the matters involved are under Quebec's exclusive jurisdiction.
This agreement forces Quebec to concur with Ottawa on the development of new programs in areas under Quebec's jurisdiction and then to meet Canadian standards set by the centralist government.
This agreement obliges Quebec to report to the federal government on the management of various programs; there is, however, no reciprocal arrangement.
This agreement excludes all possibility of Quebec opting out with financial compensation if, given its uniqueness and responsibilities, it wanted to implement its own such programs.
The list goes on with Ottawa's persistent refusal over the past 40 years to negotiate the transfer of responsibility for culture, communications and telecommunications.
All this reflection engendered by Bill C-18 serves to remind members that they are building a highly centralized Canada, impotently united at the expense of a beleaguered Quebec, brought to its knees and constitutionally humiliated with the complicity of its own provincialists.
Quebec is a house. It is our house and we are very attached to it. It has walls—