House of Commons Hansard #130 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nuclear.

Topics

Divorce Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to speak to Bill C-41, an opportunity we have had several times before. We are having a debate this morning because the Senate or should I say the other place, in parliamentary terms, wanted to introduce amendments. This means discussing the bill again.

For the benefit of the public, I may recall that we went through the usual procedure: first reading, second reading, referral to the justice committee which considered the bill, and then third reading. Now once again, the other place wants to put in its two cents' worth and thus delay the proceedings.

As a result, the Minister of Justice was obliged to suggest a compromise. Why? Because he hopes to see this entirely legitimate bill, which is basically sound and pursues entirely valid objectives, passed and implemented before the next election.

This again raises the question of the usefulness and relevance of the other place. As we know, it is always one step behind. These people are not elected but appointed by the government when vacancies occur. Often at the beginning of a government's mandate, we have a situation where the former government's party has a majority in the other place. In this case, a few months ago the Conservative Party had a majority. And since the other place pursued the interests of the Conservative Party, this tended to delay the parliamentary process.

It has been like this since the beginning of Confederation. When government is replaced, the party that was in power before is still able to delay implementation of legislation by resorting to all kinds of stratagems in the other place.

Mind you, these people are not elected. In my riding, I always ask people the same question: "Do you know the senator who represents you in Ottawa?" I know who it is now. I do not think we can mention names, but she is getting to be known.

Divorce Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yes we can.

Divorce Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis, QC

We can? I am referring to Mrs. Bacon. She does not live in the riding, but she bought a piece of property in the riding of Lévis to be eligible for an appointment to the Senate. Does anyone ever hear about this senator? This is par for the course in the other place.

Even since the Bloc Quebecois came here, we have said that reforms are necessary. It just does not make sense. First, it costs a lot of money, more than $40 million annually, and second, it is increasingly obvious that this institution tries to delay the legislative process. Occasionally, but such cases are few and far between, we get some new legislation from the other place. But more often, as in this case, people who are opposed to a bill use the other place to delay its implementation, although because of the usual majority in Parliament, the bill is passed in any case, so the delay is only temporary.

So duplication is at work here. I say that right away, because the compromise proposal is to have a joint committee of senators and members of the House of Commons consider the bill's provisions on child custody and visiting rights. I have nothing against the principle. But it is not, in our view, sufficient reason to vote against this bill. Members of the official opposition were among those who supported the bill because of its objectives. One of the main provisions of the bill is to exempt support payments from existing tax provisions.

As we know, this led to a war of almost historical proportions. The spouse who received the support payments was required to pay tax, while the one who made them did not. Often the children were the victims of this war of court orders and legal wranglings.

I would like to call to mind a situation known to everyone, that Canada now has more poor children than when the Liberals came to power, and the numbers are still rising. One child in five is living under the poverty line. In 80 per cent or more of cases, the children living in extreme poverty are in single parent families. In most cases-and this must be said, though as a man I do not want to start a war of the sexes over this-women are the single parents who have to provide for their children. More and more often, unfortunately, these women have to do so under extremely difficult conditions. This is something that cannot be repeated too often.

This bill makes it possible to avoid crises when taxation time comes around, but it does create some rather special situations. The bill is not entirely perfect because, under the Constitution, divorce comes under federal jurisdiction while, under the civil code, marriage in Quebec is a provincial matter under the Napoleonic code. That is one of the dimensions of the distinct society no one wants to recognize.

So, people get married under provincial law and divorced under federal. This is a strange situation, a sort of complicated maze. In today's society, many couples decide not to marry but to live together as common-law couples, and there are various laws recognizing this situation. This is a very good thing, except that, in such cases, the matter of divorce and the guidelines suggested by the bill are under federal jurisdiction. If we take the case of individuals who are living common-law and have children, when problems involving separation arise, application of the guidelines is a purely provincial matter. You can see how things get very complicated at that point.

I have just described the situations of two couples with children, one a married couple for whom the guidelines on support payments apply, the other a case of separation after the divorce, where the federal guidelines apply. In the case of a break up of a common law relationship where children are involved, support is exclusively a provincial matter, in the case of Quebec.

Under an imperfect system like federalism, responsibilities are rather haphazardly distributed. I am not saying this because I am a sovereignist. It is a fact. The Quebec Civil Code governs questions of separation outside marriage.

We could talk at length on this, but an analogy is called for. This is not the only case where this sort of situation prevails. The federal government has the annoying tendency to use the system's ambiguity whenever it can to impose its guidelines in all sorts of areas on the provinces.

By way of example, and only to illustrate the case and not to talk about it, let us consider the bill on tobacco. This bill concerns health, a provincial matter, but the federal government justifies its intervention in the field by pointing to infractions and sentences, which come under the Criminal Code.

Bill C-41 concerns support, family law and other related matters. There is good reason the bill was introduced by the Minister of Justice. Once again the federal government is using the Criminal Code to justify its intervention. The Criminal Code is federal, but the Civil Code is provincial.

It is a bit strange. We must admit that we should never have legislated in the area of support, separation or divorce. Ideally, in a society, there should be no need to legislate people into paying support. They should be able to do so themselves, because, if their children are involved, it is their responsibility.

I will always find it, I would not say abnormal, but strange that, after living a period of time together-years-a couple breaks up and turns to the law to resolve their problems, because they are incapable of doing so themselves. It is too bad, really. It is a real shame to end up in this sort of situation. The ideal would be to have people recognize their responsibilities toward their children.

It is sad for me to see people, mostly women but men also, walk into my riding office and complain about having been treated unfairly by the justice system on suppport issues. Sometimes they cannot afford to pay. It is a shame when, as is often the case, there is hatred where there used to be love and people seek revenge. I always find this unfortunate. The children who are brought into this world did not ask for it, but once there are here, we should provide for them.

While we support the bill, I take this opportunity to deplore how little compassion this government has shown so far for the poor in our society. It is unfortunate that, this week again, the federal Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister commented on how good things are in Canada.

No doubt, on Tuesday, the Minister of Finance will repeat again and again that his government successfully exceeded its federal deficit reduction targets. It has done so at the expense of the disadvantaged and the unemployed, and by cutting transfer payments to the provinces.

When cuts are made in transfer payments, one has to know what that means. The cuts occur mainly in services to the children,

because they reduce transfers for social assistance, health and postsecondary education. In so doing, they are attacking our future.

The Standing Committee on Health spent several weeks this fall reviewing the whole issue of children's health. Experts told us repeatedly that the first three years of a child's life are crucial to the child's mental and physical development. Some even contended with great conviction that, often, juvenile delinquency problems encountered later in life stem from trouble at home in early childhood. Insecurity causes tension which promotes aggressiveness in these young people whose feeling of revolt is often expressed in aggressive ways. So, this is very important.

Repeated cuts in social programs will lead to a grim future. In spite of our concerns about Bill C-41, in spite of the federal government's paternalistic attitude in interfering in areas that should be under the authority of the provinces, in spite of the fact that guidelines were imposed that should normally be under provincial jurisdiction, and because this bill deals with the health of children and bettering their lives, children being the future of Quebec and Canada, this bill is an important bill. For these reasons, we from the Bloc, being the responsible members that we are, will be voting for this helpful bill, as imperfect as it may be.

Divorce Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the changes to the Divorce Act particularly as they impact the care and nurturing of children are important parts of a piece of legislation that affects all of society.

Even if we as individuals are not touched directly by the terrible stresses and strains caused in a relationship by divorce, we in the greater society are affected profoundly by it. We are affected if people who have children do not look after their responsibilities as parents. We are affected because we as the greater society then have to step in to look after and nurture those children.

We are affected by the consequences of divorce even if we are not involved in divorce ourselves because we know statistically that children who are nurtured in a two-parent home do better. That does not necessarily mean that single parents cannot nurture children, but the ideal is a two-parent home where the children are nurtured in an environment that is conducive to love, respect, a sense of family and a sense of community responsibility.

That is not to say that there are not circumstances in which people will be raised in a single parent home where single parents, female or male, are heroic in their responsibilities and in their ability to raise children to become citizens of the first order.

Having said that, we know statistically that children who are reared in a two-parent home have far less propensity to get involved in crime and do better in school.

Our legislation should speak to two particular objectives. It should speak to what we can do as a society to encourage families to stay together. Then, if in the unfortunate circumstance we find ourselves, myself included, in the throes of divorce, how can we make divorce least disruptive? How can we keep as many lawyers as possible out of it? How can we ensure that both parents, even though they have divorced, do not divorce the kids? How can we make the best of a bad situation?

The first objective is what we can do as a society to ensure the problems do not happen in the first place. We know that many divorces result from family distress brought on by financial problems. Obviously there are other reasons but we all know that a family under financial stress is far more likely to have other problems crop up than a family not under financial stress. What can we do as a government to address this problem? The first we can do is nurture families. We can make it possible for families to look after and nurture their own children. The way we can do that is to provide tax relief to families initially. We can say as a society that our future is encompassed in our children, our grandchildren and their children. Everything we do as legislators should be focused to that end.

We will be talking about the seniors benefit later today. I am absolutely amazed that as a nation we have decided to have a guaranteed annual income for seniors. That is what the seniors benefit is all about. All seniors will have tax free annual income after the year 2000 of $11,430 whether or not they need it. Then it will be taxed back very quickly for those who do not need it. That is another story.

If we as a society can afford to have a guaranteed annual income for seniors, why can we not have a guaranteed annual income or a negative income tax for children? Children are the future of the country. We as a society will get a far better bang for the buck and a return on our investment if we do everything we possibly can to nurture children. That means we should do what we can to take the financial load off families and to keep the stresses in families to an absolute minimum to make it possible for them to nurture their children.

We know that is the ideal and we know that is not the circumstance. We know families take in a whole spectrum of different models. Whether or not one person likes it does not have anything to do with it. As a society we must firmly focus our interests on children.

How do we go about protecting children in the case of divorce and the circumstances that lead up to divorce? We say in our legislation that when a couple decides to divorce it might be in society's best interest to get involved in conflict resolution right off

the bat. Rather than each party going to their lawyers and having a couple of barracudas working at it to see who is going to get more from the other, we could have some conflict resolution. They have made the decision to split up and on how they can best achieve this with the least possible damage to the children. The part of the legislation that envisions this is highly laudable and highly supportable.

We appreciate there are cases that involve spousal abuse. There is no reason whatsoever for a spouse who is being abused to stick around for a split second. This raises a whole new set of questions. Why is it always the female and the children, the abused, who have to leave the domicile and go to a shelter? It does not make any sense to me.

The reason is that we have to protect the rights of the abuser. Again the victims are being penalized and the abuser is not. We cannot just haul the abuser off to jail, keep him there and tell him that he cannot go anywhere near those people or abuse them. We usually have to take the mother and the children and put them in a safe spot, hopefully.

We are now in a situation where we as legislators have determined that we will do everything we can to prevent the break-up from happening in the first place. We know this is the ideal. We know it will not happen in every circumstance but we should be working toward the ideal.

That means we have to take financial pressure off families through tax relief focused directly at them. How on earth can we be concerned about tax relief and subsidizing Bombardier and other major corporations when we do not subsidize and nurture our children and make it possible for them to have a future? It does not make any sense. It is so completely wrongheaded that it defies reality.

Now we come to the point where families are splitting up come hell or high water; it is going to happen. This is not a holier than thou speech. I have been in the middle of it. I know about what I speak. Whose responsibility is it to look after the children who are involved? Is it the state's responsibility or is it the parents' responsibility?

When any of us decide to have children those children become our responsibility, our family responsibility, period. The only time the state should be involved is when the parents are unable to look after their responsibilities.

How do we go about making it easier or palatable for families to look after their responsibilities? First, we do not say that one person is right and the other is wrong. We do not say that either the male is 100 per cent wrong or the female is 100 per cent wrong and we will put one or the other into debtor's prison. We will make it impossible for one or the other ever to have another life.

It seems to me that we should go right into a position of joint custody and joint responsibility. We know there are situations where we will not have that. We know there are situations where one partner, usually it is men, flee from whatever the responsibilities are.

Again, we are addressing this legislation to the ideal. Our society has inculcated a culture where people intuitively know and automatically understand that, when they get married, when divorce or separation is envisioned down the road, their further responsibility is to nurture, protect and look after their children in a manner that is harmonious as it can possibly be. They know they should put marital problems behind them so that their children do not suffer further.

In my experience the number one problem that people have brought to me relates to access to children. It is not paying maintenance. It is paying maintenance and not having access to the children. That is what drives people crazy. It is kind of the chicken or egg situation.

Fathers or mothers who are non-custodial should have access to their children in a default co-parenting situation even if they split up. It cannot be said that maintenance and access are not inextricably linked because they are. If I or anyone else has a commitment to make a maintenance payment to his ex and does not do it, then obviously the ex will be enraged. The ex will be figuring out how to can get back at me.

The only way to get back is through the children. Situations come up where maintenance payments are made, but for whatever reason, the custodial spouse makes it impossible for the non-custodial spouse to have his or her regular visitation. It breaks the link with those children. Somehow we need to ensure that, when maintenance payments are to be made, they are made but it does not exacerbate the already difficult situation caused by the divorce.

It can be done in many ways. However, if the state has an involvement, it seems to me that when a custody or maintenance payment is made, it could be put into the general revenue and come back from the federal treasury to the individual who will receive it. If it can be done for GST rebates, why can it not be done for other things?

The whole idea is to somehow mitigate or lower the potential avenues for distress, for disharmony and fighting between the two. Remember, our eye is on nurturing the children. It is not getting even.

If we could, as a society, somehow inculcate the sense of responsibility so that people intuitively say: "I know we have broken up, but having broken up, we will be both responsible for nurturing our children". It is really none of the state's business why a marriage breaks up but having broken up, the default position on maintenance is 50:50.

That means the cost of raising and nurturing the children is 50:50. The tax circumstance is 50:50. I do not know why it has to go all one way or all the other. Why is it not possible, in a maintenance payment, for the person making the payment to pay 50 per cent of the tax and the person who is getting it pays 50 per cent of the tax. They are partners. It took both of them to create those children. It took both of them to get married in the first place and it took both of them to break up the marriage in the second place. Why can they not just go further and automatically have it that the default position is a joint responsibility?

I know that is the ideal. I know there are all kinds of circumstances where that is not necessarily going to happen. However, it does not have to mean that legislation cannot be framed for the ideal and the other problems cannot be dealt with as they arise.

I would like to address one more issue in this debate and that is the role of the Senate. In particular, I would like to recognize the role of Senator Anne Cools in this debate. When this legislation first went through the House Reform members were saying essentially what we are saying now, that the legislation is well intentioned but it certainly has some huge problems and these are of such major consequence that the bill should be changed.

It is government legislation so there are winners and losers. This is legislation that speaks to the future of our country and how we raise and nurture our children and how we accept responsibility for our children.

We were not able to change a comma, a period. As hon. members know, if the government is set on what it is going to do, the opposition has absolutely no role in it. As a matter of fact, I will take it one step further. If the cabinet or the Prime Minister or persons surrounding the Prime Minister want to go in a particular direction, that is way we are going to go. There will be no changes whatsoever.

This is not a democracy. This is really an place where, if you are lucky, you may have some influence and might be able to change something.

When Senator Anne Cools saw the legislation, she was able to do in the Senate, because of the precarious position of its majority, what we could not do in the House of Commons and that was to force the government to make some modifications which will greatly enhance this bill.

It is incumbent on the official opposition, ourselves and other people in opposition to recognize the courage that Senator Anne Cools has shown in standing up to the government machine. It means that she becomes the person in the room from which there emanates a faint odour. It is not a very comfortable position to be in.

I think democracy is made better when it is tested. Leadership is made better when it is tested. On this and other legislation Senator Anne Cools has shown the resolve and the fortitude to test the government when it needed to be tested and when it was impossible because of the way this House works for the opposition to be able to test it. It has had to come through one of its own members in the Senate who has the strength of character to stand up against the government machine.

This legislation will come back. The deal is done. It will be debated here. It will become law in its somewhat redefined and changed form. It is better than it was but it still does not recognize the primary problem in family law and that is that family law should not be of an adversarial nature. The family court should be unified. It is not the same as criminal law. It should not be adversarial. We should be going into conflict resolution and doing everything we possibly can to nurture the children of the future in as harmonious a circumstance as we can.

Divorce Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to direct some comments to the my hon. colleague's brief remarks on such important legislation.

Having met with a lot of parents who have gone through a divorce where children were involved, I have often equated that unfortunate development in people's lives to the loss of a child. However, our court system today promotes a very adversarial environment and it affects the children of divorce. I believe the hon. member said that the primary focus has to be on the well-being of the children, the unintended victims of marriage breakdown and divorce.

I have endeavoured to address this issue and the greater issue of co-parenting and access to children. It is assumed that while a marriage is intact that both parents are good parents. That is the assumption of society. It is the assumption that both parents are worthy of raising their children. However, on the breakdown of a marriage somehow that assumption is thrown out the window.

I have introduced private member's Bill C-242 which calls on the government to introduce a system of joint custody in all cases, except where it can be shown that it is not in the best interests of the child or in the case of documented evidence of abuse or neglect which would preclude joint custody. I believe this would go a long way toward removing the adversarial approach in our court system. I would like my hon. colleague to comment on that.

Divorce Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The member may finish after statements by members.

Order Of Military Merit
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Len Hopkins Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with pride that today I congratulate the 52 members of the Canadian forces who were recently honoured by the Governor General of Canada with the Order of Military Merit. This order was established in 1972 to recognize the exceptional service of men and women in both the regular and the reserve forces.

I believe these 52 honoured members of the Canadian forces are truly representative of the kind of people who make up our Canadian forces today. These individuals demonstrate the dedication, honour and courage of the Canadian forces.

They serve Canada in many ways, from providing services to Canadians at home to representing Canada abroad with pride and in often difficult circumstances. They come from all parts of Canada, including my riding of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke and from my home community of Petawawa.

We salute them for their outstanding contributions to the Canadian forces and to Canada over the years.

Lynn Larose
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, on January 8, 1997, Reverend James Browning of Drumheller, Alberta lost his dear and lifelong friend Lynn Larose of Kingston, Ontario. Miss Larose died suddenly and brutally at the hands of a woman with a murderous past.

I would like to repeat the words of Reverend Browning: "Another headline, another murder, another statistic, another victim but this time it is different, very, very different. This time the victim is an old friend, she was like an adopted sister, not another faceless victim-No, it's true you won't remember Lynn Larose's name among the mighty honour roll of this world's powerful and popular icons like John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King or John Lennon, but she did have something in common with them. She too was brutally murdered. God bless and keep you `Short stuff'. This world is poorer without your presence. I remain your friend".

Lynn Larose died at the hands of a person who had murdered before. Our justice system must change for the sake of us all.

World School Championships
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the next world school championships will take place from March 2 to March 7, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Fifty per cent of the Canadian delegation will made up of ten young students registered in the studies-sport-excellence program of the Thérèse-Martin secondary comprehensive school, in my riding of Joliette.

The team will compete in a cross country ski race with the best school athletes of 12 other participating countries. These young teenagers are primarily motivated by the pursuit of excellence, through intensive physical and intellectual development.

They will be led by one of their teachers who is also their coach, Jean-Pierre Sansregret, and who, for some 20 years now, has been constantly urging young people to meet academic and athletic challenges.

Their common determination deserves our admiration. Their personal commitment is an excellent example to help fight the problem of school dropouts as well as other problems that our young people currently face.

Pensions
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, while thousands of corporations like Bombardier receive huge federal handouts and families like the Bronfmans receive unbelievable tax holidays, somebody has to pay for all of this. Today the Liberals will announce who that will be. It will be future seniors, the disabled, widows and the working poor. This is nothing short of outrageous.

In a cruel and mean act, the Liberals will cut pension benefits to widows and the disabled. Pension exemptions will no longer be fully indexed, which will hit low income workers. The poor will pay more yet receive fewer pension benefits.

One can tell a great deal about a society as to how it provides for its elderly, its poor and its disabled. To introduce this regressive legislation that victimizes these individuals in our society says that Canada has turned its back on those most in need.

Youth Employment Strategy
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the federal government is now working hard in its commitment to young people in this country with the youth employment strategy announced Wednesday by the Minister of Human Resources Development.

The youth employment strategy is the result of consultations with youth, educators, parents and the private sector to determine how best to serve the needs of Canada's young people in today's newer and new economy. Each of us recognizes that youth unemployment is unacceptably high and that there is nothing as frustrating as wasted potential.

The strategy consolidates over $2 billion in new and existing funding for programs and services that young people need to make the transition from education to our workplace. One of the strategy's highlights is the new internship programs that will provide work experience to young people in the crucial areas of science and technology, the environment, international trade and development.

I call upon those concerned to work together to accomplish what we need, a society that is good for all Canadians starting with our youth.

Banks
Statements By Members

February 14th, 1997 / 11 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadian banks continue to contribute greatly to the Canadian economy.

In 1996 alone, banks paid $4.9 billion in taxes and levies to government and paid over $2.3 billion to their shareholders, the people of Canada. Unions, businesses and the general public own over 90 per cent of bank shares. Since most bank shares are owned by the people, when banks make a profit, the people profit.

Banks have recently introduced initiatives such as implementing a code of conduct, offering alternative dispute resolution and appointing both internal and national ombudsmen.

Banks in my community have contributed to university funds, have supported charities such as the Snowsuit Fund and have helped many youth organizations to name a few.

As you can see, banks are not all bad.

National Flag Of Canada Day
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Jesse Flis Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, Saturday, February 15 is National Flag of Canada Day. The tradition of celebrating our national flag began last February and was promoted throughout the year by the Canadian Heritage One in a Million Flag Challenge.

I have also taken an interest in acknowledging this newfound tradition as I am searching for a song to commemorate the pride and glory of our Canadian flag. Over the last few months I have issued a challenge to students and artists in my constituency to compose new lyrics to the "Maple Leaf Forever" that reflect the significance of our Canadian symbol.

On the occasion of this year's flag day celebration, I would like to issue the same challenge to all Canadians to come up with a song that will capture true Canadian sentiment.

We have been represented by the red and white maple leaf since 1965. I feel the best way to honour this symbol would be to accompany it with a musical tribute.

It is my wish that as Canadians don their million flags with pride, they also have a song to commemorate the celebration of national unity.

Divorce Act
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, today this House will once again be looking at Bill C-41. Maybe this time government members will actually listen to the Reform Party's concerns.

Earlier this week I had the occasion to hear a number of government members talking about how they were unaware of the full consequences of Bill C-41. One suggested that they should just acknowledge their mistakes and accept the amendments.

This is quite typical of how the Liberals have managed this Parliament. They just accept the notion that their cabinet ministers create perfect legislation so they put their brains in neutral. Independent thought is not welcome in the Liberal caucus.

I encourage members opposite to actually think for themselves and listen to the Reform Party's amendments in this House rather than rely on the patronage appointed hacks from the other place.

Quebec Arts Week
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, for the sixth consecutive year, the Quebec Department of Education, in co-operation with the provincial ministry of culture and communications, is organizing the Quebec arts week, which began on February 9 and will end on the 16.

In order to mark this unique event, the whole Quebec school system was invited to organize activities under the theme "Sans mots pour le dire". This means that over one million Quebec students at the elementary and secondary levels are currently exploring the various facets of an artistic project or creation process that includes dance, music, plastic arts, communications and performing arts.

While some may claim, wrongly, that Quebec never spent a penny on its culture, it is not by spending millions of dollars on flags that we will make our young people aware of arts and culture, or that we will give them an opportunity to develop their creativity and their imagination.