Evidence of meeting #33 for Canadian Heritage in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was cbc.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Okay, we're in session.

Welcome, Minister Moore. We're here studying the main estimates. We're pleased to have you here with the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. I'll let you introduce the people who are with you.

I'll give you the floor.

12:10 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

James Moore Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, colleagues. I appreciate the invitation. I'm always glad to come here and discuss the budget or whatever issues are on the minds of members of this committee. I appreciate this committee's work on a number of files. I know over the past few months I and my office have been obviously watching closely what you have all been discussing, and some of the recommendations and thoughts that have come from this committee have been indeed very helpful.

With me today are Daniel Jean, the deputy minister of Canadian Heritage, and René Bouchard, who is the executive director of the Portfolio Affairs Secretariat.

First, I would like to reiterate a principle of our government. Our government understands and believes in the importance of the arts, culture, and heritage sectors and their contribution to Canadian society, not just in terms of their social benefits to the country, but indeed for their economic benefits. Our government is proud to be investing more in arts and more in culture than any government before in Canadian history.

While governments in other countries have made decisions to heavily cut and in some cases eliminate entirely their support for culture, our government has chosen a different path. Our two-year economic action plan to invest in the Canadian economy during the worst parts of the global recession didn't cut, didn't maintain, but rather increased our funding for culture. The next phase of our economic action plan, budget 2012, maintains our support for culture.

Our recent budget maintained funding for the Canada Council for the Arts, which currently receives the largest amount of funding in its history. Our recent budget maintained funding for all of Canada's national museums. Why did we do these things? Well, we did it because we believe supporting arts and culture is absolutely essential to our economy and to keeping it on track.

Contrast this with the decisions of other governments around the world.

Just look south of the border at what the U.S. government is currently doing with the National Endowment for the Arts.

In the United States, the National Endowment for the Arts runs on less money now than it did 20 years ago. Arts Council England has seen its funding cut by 30%, and its operating costs cut in half. Italy has cut its culture budget by over $1 billion since the recession began. In the United States, local government support for the arts is down by over 10%.

In the State of Michigan they've taken measures to cut funding for the arts by up to 80%. In Australia the budget allocated for the Australia Council for the Arts is $163 million.

The budget for the Canada Council for the Arts is more than $181 million for this year, and we've protected that going forward. In Canada we decided to permanently increase funding for the Canada Council for the Arts by 20%, the largest funding increase for the Canada Council in decades. We kept it at that level this year, protecting the Canada Council's funding, because we understand what it does for our cultural communities—providing direct support for theatre, for dance, for publishing, music, and the performing arts. During the recession we have increased support for local theatres and arts festivals across the country.

Again, in comparison, in the U.K., for example, grants to museums have been cut by 15%. Meanwhile, here in Canada we created two new national museums: the Canadian Museum of Immigration, at Pier 21 in Halifax; and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, in Winnipeg.

As I just mentioned, our budget has maintained funding for our national museums because we know the importance of the role they play in the cultural life of Canadians and in preserving and sharing our national history.

We also announced in Budget 2012 that we will increase support to museums and galleries in Canada through the Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Program. The indemnification limit will be increased from $1.5 billion to $3 billion. That is a very positive development for our museums and galleries.

Our budget has been widely praised, I think, and certainly well regarded by Canada's cultural communities. Simon Brault, who is the president of Culture Montréal, said, “This budget is a clear signal of support for the arts.” Eric Dubeau, who is the co-president of the Canadian Arts Coalition, said, “We feel the government has heard us regarding the importance of arts and culture for the economy and the creation of jobs.”

Joseph Rotman, Chair of the Canada Council for the Arts said that this government clearly appreciates the positive contribution the arts have to the economy and the identity of this country. Ensuring a strong economy is our government's top priority, and we understand that investing in arts and culture is a sound decision that contributes to our objective.

As Canadians, we have so much to be proud of. Christopher Plummer won an Academy Award this year. The movie Monsieur Lazhar was nominated and has received critical acclaim around the world.

In December, four of the five top-selling Billboard artists in the United States were Canadian artists.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is the oldest and most successful ballet company in North America, indeed in all the Americas.

The Toronto International Film Festival is the largest public film festival in the world. The Festival de Jazz de Montréal is the largest, most successful jazz festival in the world. The festival Juste pour rire is the largest, most successful comedy festival in the world. We have some of the best museums and galleries in the world here in Canada.

Keep in mind that Canada, while we are the second-largest country in the world in size, is the 36th-largest in population. So culturally we have a tremendous amount to be proud of because of what our cultural communities have been able to achieve. We've achieved these things together, in partnership—the federal government, provincial governments, municipalities, NGOs, and arts organizations. Most importantly, leading all this are the brilliant men and women and creators in our cultural industries who lead the way in doing what they do so well, which is being creative and shining not only on the Canadian stage, but indeed on the world stage.

I will gladly take any questions you may have with regard to the budget, our government's priorities, or where things are.

I think when one considers the decisions other governments in the world have made, even what other provincial governments have made, and you juxtapose that with the priorities of our government and the successes we've had in our country, culturally, from coast to coast, I think we have a great deal to be proud of.

Thank you.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Thank you, Minister Moore.

Now we'll begin our question and answer time. These are seven-minute rounds. You have seven minutes for the question and the answer.

We'll start with Mr. Calandra.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Welcome, Minister.

I wonder if we could talk about at least two of the reductions to the department through the economic action plan.

Could you talk a little bit about the process and the decision on Katimavik? Why was that program cut, and how will we be supporting youth moving forward?

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

We have a wide number of programs that support youth all across this country, including SEVEC, Encounters with Canada, Forum for Young Canadians, and the YMCA/YWCA. I will continue to support those programs. Those programs have had a great track record.

The decision on Katimavik, as I've said, was not a difficult one. In the past, under Liberal governments and Conservative governments, departmental officials, prior to my current officials, and others have always done ongoing assessments of Katimavik and youth programs. The reality is that this is a program that has received taxpayer funding for 34 or 35 years, if memory serves. They started receiving funding the year after I was born. When they were created, 99% of their funding came from taxpayers, and here we are in 2012, and 99% of their funding still comes from taxpayers. The assessment done by my department, which we tabled in the House of Commons a few months ago—I believe it was six months ago—showed that over the past four years, on average, there was a one-third dropout rate among students who participated in the Katimavik program. The fact that they haven't held a serious fundraiser at all in years showed me a great deal about the lack of reciprocity with the degree to which taxpayers have invested in this program.

There's no doubt in my mind that the goals of Katimavik and the aspirations are noble and well intentioned, but I don't think the results match the investment. I think it was an organization whose taxpayer funding was due to run out for lack of achievement of those goals and lack of reciprocity with taxpayers.

May 29th, 2012 / 12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Thank you.

One of the other main elements of the economic action plan was a reduction in funding for the CBC. We heard from the CBC president some time ago about their 2015 plan. I wonder if you could comment on some of the rationale for the reduction and whether they still, in your estimation, will have the ability to implement their plan.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Yes. CBC is obviously a very important institution for the country in terms of culture, but economically as well.

As the minister in charge of official languages, I would say that only the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation provides information and news in every region of the country in both official languages, on every electronic platform—be it radio, television, websites or iPad applications.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is very important for our country's cultural future.

After the election, I sat down with the president and the board of the CBC. I asked a simple question about the 2015 plan that they've outlined, which I believe every member of this committee has had access to and had a good discussion about. I asked how much money they need to achieve it: how much money they need to achieve their mandate in the Broadcast Act and how much money they need to achieve the opportunities that are expressed and outlined in the 2015 plan.

Budget 2012 provides those funds. It's still providing more than $1 billion every year to the CBC. They have the funds necessary to fulfill their obligations under the Broadcast Act, and the 2015 plan—I don't mean to just gloss over it—is pretty impressive. This is stuff that this committee, and the Senate committees that have examined the role and mandate of the CBC in years past.... Certainly I think it is a strong, effective approach to public broadcasting.

The pillars of it, of course, are that it be 100% Canadian content, with no Wheel of Fortune, no American films; that Canadian films, television shows, news, shorts, children's shows, and animation—all Canadian creations—be shown on the CBC; that they fully embrace the digital opportunities, because I think it's critically important for the CBC to make those connections with young Canadians, so that the next generation of young Canadians think of the CBC as a go-to place for Canadian content. Their full embrace of digital technologies has, I think, been very well received and well regarded and is essentially the centrepiece of their 2015 plan.

I also think, as I said, that their national footprint, maintaining services in all regions of the country, with zero station closures—there's not one station closure—and the maintenance of their national footprint in both of Canada's official languages is core to their mandate. Those things are all built into their 2015 plan, and they have the funds to start to deliver on that plan.

Would CBC, like everybody, prefer to have their budget increase by 10%? Sure. Everybody who has come before this committee, I'm sure, has made that argument. But the reality is that we have an obligation. We made a commitment to Canadians and were elected on a platform commitment to balance the budget in the medium term and to do so responsibly. Responsibly means doing, I think, what we did, which is sit down with all of our crown corporations and all of our agencies and ask them those questions—not how much money they want but how much money they need to fulfill their mandate, what their goal is, what they are planning to achieve in the coming few years, and how they can best do it.

That's what we did with the CBC. We didn't work against them; we worked with them in this process, so that they have the funds available to deliver their 2015 plan.

It's not going to be easy. They're going to have some challenges, there's no question, but they're going to be able to do it. A great deal of credit certainly goes to Hubert Lacroix, the president and CEO, the board, the management, and the team that they have there, who have I think come together with a really ambitious plan for the coming five years that will serve the country very well.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

With 35 seconds left, I want to.... Well, I'll just leave it. There's not going to be enough time, so I'll pass.

Thank you, Minister.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Mr. Nantel.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good afternoon, Mr. Moore. Thank you for joining us. We are very pleased. This meeting is a highlight of our session. I would also like to say hello to Mr. Jean and Mr. Bouchard, whom we saw yesterday.

I would like to begin by complimenting you on your skating skills. You are a very good skater, and you must work very hard on the presentation of your work. In Quebec, people took note of your appearance on Tout le monde en parle, where you said you were a friend of the arts community. I think I know how important it is for you to appear sincere on that issue. You said that several of your colleagues are clamouring for you to go after CBC. That is fairly clear. You said that on the air.

At times, this approach can become a bit delicate because it may have a domino effect, as we say. Clearly, your verbal support for the arts is one thing, but it does not take away from the fact that huge cuts have been made at CBC, and they have an enormous impact. Various shows may be cancelled. There will be 13 episodes instead of 12. All sorts of cuts will be made, and Radio 2 will have to run advertisements.

How do you explain claiming to be a government that has done the most for artists when, clearly, significant cuts like these have been made? How can you say that this is a priority for you and go ahead with such cuts?

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

I am not the one who said that. Witnesses who appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage pointed that out. They are saying that our copyright legislation protects artists and takes care of their need to make piracy illegal in Canada. We impose the WIPO Internet treaties, we protect artists' interests regarding electronic devices, and we protect the investments in the Canada Council for the Arts and in our museums. Under Budget 2012, we have increased the financial aid to our museums across the country to $3 billion.

I think that the appointments made at the Canada Council for the Arts and other cultural organizations have been effective and responsible. They have met regional needs. Debates will certainly be held in regions across the country regarding the best way to protect, invest in and establish policies on culture. That much is certain, but it doesn't mean that you are against culture or that I am against culture. We can have different opinions about this.

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Absolutely. This is a management issue.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Exactly.

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Absolutely. In addition, you talked about the copyright legislation, Bill C-11. Honestly, I want to ask you the question again: what do you suggest to artists who will have lost $20 million to broadcasters? What do you suggest to them?

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

I would say that Bill C-11 is a fair and responsible piece of legislation that has been debated here, in the House of Commons, for over two years. That bill makes piracy illegal.

What hurts artists the most are people who steal from them using their computers. That is what hurts them the most. I do not agree with the analysis that artists are losing $20 million. What hurts our artists the most are people who steal from them. Bill C-11 protects our artists. Piracy is now illegal in Canada.