House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was accused.

Topics

Nuclear Safety And Control Act
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Edmonton Northwest
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Natural Resources

moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to.)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-53, an act to amend the Prisons and Reformatories Act, be read the third time and passed.

Prisons And Reformatories Act
Government Orders

February 4th, 1997 / 6:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the third reading stage of Bill C-53.

Prisons And Reformatories Act
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, you will find that there is unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberals voting yea.

Prisons And Reformatories Act
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members of the official opposition will vote yea.

Prisons And Reformatories Act
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members present will vote no, unless instructed otherwise by their constituents.

Prisons And Reformatories Act
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

NDP

John Solomon Regina—Lumsden, SK

Mr. Speaker, the New Democratic Party MPs in the House tonight will vote yes on this motion.

Prisons And Reformatories Act
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

John Nunziata York South—Weston, ON

I will vote yes on this matter, Mr. Speaker.

Prisons And Reformatories Act
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Jag Bhaduria Markham—Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be supporting this motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Prisons And Reformatories Act
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed.)

Prisons And Reformatories Act
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

It being 6.34 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Cbc North
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Audrey McLaughlin Yukon, YT

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the Minister of Canadian Heritage should proceed immediately to exempt CBC North from layoffs and funding reductions to the operating budget resulting from the $127 million reduction in federal funding to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announced in 1996, as well as future cuts should they occur.

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on the issue of-

Cbc North
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Order. Hon. members who are carrying on discussions in the Chamber could perhaps go behind the curtains. The hon. member for Yukon has the floor and members who are interested in participating in the debate this afternoon will want to hear her.

Cbc North
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Audrey McLaughlin Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address this motion today. It is an important motion, not just for CBC and Radio Canada in the north but of course for all of Canada.

I have specifically chosen to address the portion of CBC North because obviously, I have heard most about that from my constituents. I would add that throughout many years, the New Democratic Party members in this House have supported our public national broadcasting system. We continue to do that and feel it is essential to the unity of our country and to bringing Canadians together.

With respect to CBC North, this motion has received a lot of interest in the north. MLAs in the Northwest Territories legislature very much support the motion and support the intent of the motion.

In November 1996 Charles Dent, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, wrote and spoke to the Minister of Canadian Heritage. He conveyed to her that the Government of the Northwest Territories strongly urges the minister to recognize the unique and vital role of CBC in northern Canada.

The member for Nunatsiaq has lent his support to the campaign to save CBC North and I thank him for that. I have not heard anything from the member for the Western Arctic on this issue, but I do hope she will have the opportunity to respond to the motion today and to support CBC in the north.

The Yukon government very strongly supports the motion as well and CBC in general. Both the government leader, Piers McDonald, and minister Dave Keenan have shown a strong interest in the issue.

I want to quote briefly from a letter written to the Minister of Canadian Heritage by the hon. Dave Keenan, a minister of the Yukon government. It succinctly outlines why this issue is so important to Yukoners and to people in the north:

As a national institution the CBC is mandated to strengthen Canada by reflecting and sharing the diversity of its regions and cultures. In the Yukon the requirement to build national unity is tied also with the requirement to strengthen the unity of our peoples as major changes in economic and political institutions take place. The cuts proposed to the CBC northern service threaten to remove the ability of the CBC to speak with Canadians who live and work in the north as local news and current events programming is reduced, and will direct the service toward a service that speaks to these people, often with more prepackaged programs from the south.

That succinctly says what much of the concern is by northerners. I should add that the NDP Yukon government has also passed an all-party resolution calling for an end to the cuts to the CBC. The resolution was supported by members of the Liberal Party in that legislature.

I had the opportunity today to look through Hansard and to realize once again that New Democrat MPs have been the only ones, along with perhaps one or two interveners from the Bloc Quebecois, who have stood in this place and defended the vital role of the CBC. New Democrats are the only ones who are speaking for the majority of Canadians when we say that the Liberals should keep their election promises and restore funding to the CBC.

Since Mr. Beatty announced in September the CBC board of directors plan to deal with the most recent cut to the corporation's budget, my office has been absolutely inundated with letters and telephone calls. I might say that in the almost 10 years I have been a member of Parliament, as surprising as it may seem, I have never received more calls, conversations, letters, petitions than on this issue. That is why it is so important that people across the country and in this House hear how vitally important this national broadcasting system is to the people of the north.

In December I sent the Prime Minister some 140 letters which until that time had been received by me in a two to three week period. Since that time I continue to receive calls about the future of CBC and Radio Canada. I would also like to mention the strong movement within the community again through petitions to urge the government to have adequate and stable funding for CBC and especially for CBC North in our view.

I would like to also mention the editor of the Yukon News , Peter Lesniak, who has undertaken on his own and in his own name a save the CBC campaign. Again this illustrates the real intent, the emotional attachment and intellectual attachment people have to the service of the CBC.

This is an important motion to northerners and I believe to all Canadians. It is our way to be heard by other Canadians. I have to note that without a strong CBC and Radio Canada in the south, we do not have a strong CBC North either.

We would have liked to have seen much more debate on this motion and have had it brought to a vote, however we do not have this. This has been denied but I would like to point out a few facts to the House today.

In the past 28 months CBC North has dealt with budget cuts of $1.9 million and has already laid off 30 staff. The latest cuts will mean a further reduction to CBC North radio of 28 per cent and to CBC North TV of almost 40 per cent. This is not death by a thousand cuts; this is being hung, drawn and quartered. This is not what the public want to see, nor what they expected from this government.

Aboriginal language programming in the north could be one of the first victims. I have been told that cuts could also affect programs now being broadcast in Inuktitut. Inuktitut will be one of the two official languages of the new Nunavut territory. In fact it might be argued that cuts may violate the Nunavut Settlement Act since the federal government has an obligation to provide basic services in both languages.

French language services in northern Quebec could also be affected. CBC North provides a weekly news magazine called "Boreal Hebdo". There is a good chance that this program which is widely listened to may also be seriously affected and see its last

days. So we have aboriginal languages, French language, obviously English language programs all being affected by these cuts.

There is the red book promise, which I am sure we could debate at length. I think many other Canadians believe that during the last election the Liberal government and the current Prime Minister made a commitment to maintain funding for the CBC. But like many other promises during the last election, the Liberals promised they would stabilize funding for the CBC and they did not do it. During the last election the Liberals said they would scrap the GST and they did not do that.

Pierre Berton best summed it up when he said: "The Prime Minister promised us that he would trash the GST and save the CBC and then he saved the GST and trashed the CBC". That is Pierre Berton's comment. As we know he is a national hero and has supported national unity. He and many other national figures are now speaking out on this.

In the last election the Liberals said they would make jobs the number one priority but they did not do that either. In the last election they said they would renegotiate NAFTA and they did not do that. In the last election the Liberals made 21 promises to aboriginal people. So far they have kept only three and have shelved the royal commission report on aboriginal peoples. In the last election the Liberals said they would fund the national day care system to create 150,000 new child care spaces for children and they did not do that either. In the last election the Liberals said they would protect medicare and education from Tory cutbacks but by 1997-98 they will have cut $7 billion from those programs.

There are many challenges facing the country today, including the child poverty issue which we are all aware of and the 1.5 million people who are unemployed. What do changes to the unemployment insurance mean to the Liberal Party? It means a change of name to employment insurance. Who buys that? Less than half of the unemployed now even qualify for the benefits and social program spending has been slashed.

Now at the 11th hour we are going to hear some new promises from the Liberals. They are going to say: "You know those children who have been put into poverty? We are going to do something about that. We will start to do something about it after you have voted for us in the next election". It is shameful. It is a betrayal of Canada. Canadians will not forget these broken promises, just like the CBC cuts that were not supposed to happen.

I know all members of the House do not all agree on what should be done with the CBC, but at the same time it would have been important to ensure that everyone here could have debated this issue. We should have had a debate about something as fundamental as our 60 year old national broadcasting system. It is a system which in French and in English has served Canadians well. It serves our country well. Canadians need to have the opportunity to express their views.

Throughout the north CBC North is one vehicle. We have very good radio stations which operate in the Yukon, however, it is the CBC which provides that connection with national and international events. It makes the linkages to all parts of the country possible. It allows us as Yukoners and as northerners to speak with the rest of Canada and it allows the rest of Canada to speak with us. Surely that is what this country should be about.

We have seen the destruction of many of our national symbols. Just flying the flag does not hold the country together, as important as it may be. We need a vehicle which will allow us to express our identity and to express our soul.

I want to say that the emotional reaction to the potential loss of the CBC and Radio-Canada really underscores that the government got it wrong. There are certain values, there are certain principles, there are certain things that we need to maintain to preserve the Canada that we know.

Some people have argued that people should take their complaints to Mr. Perrin Beatty, the chair of the CBC board of directors. However, I would point out that the CBC board of directors does not have anyone on it from the north speaking for northern communities. That is why this issue needs to be revisited in the House of Commons. Every other region of the country has someone in that boardroom who can say, "No, we should do this. Yes, we should do this. Here is an alternative. Here is our regional concern", but there is no one from the north.

The cuts to the CBC, as I mentioned earlier, are more than just figures in a book. We all realize that there are stringent necessities in terms of budget. However, we also realize, and it has been brought home to us very well, that it is important that we not only have symbols of our country but that we have a way to talk with each other. CBC Radio-Canada has provided that. In the north it is a vital link for us in many areas.

I would like to close with the words of the New Democratic Party leader, Alexa McDonough, who does not yet have the opportunity to speak in the House of Commons, but in the new Parliament we will be happy to see her here. We know she is a representative who will keep her word, who will speak for the people of Atlantic Canada and for all Canadians. In November, Ms. McDonough said that the CBC is one of the most important institutions in this country and that it is capable of holding Canada together. I believe that from the bottom of my heart.

A national and international public broadcasting system is important to this country. To the north and to rural areas it is the vital link that makes us the country that we are.

I would like to end by asking for unanimous consent to refer this motion to the heritage committee for further study.

Cbc North
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Order. The House has heard the proposal of the member for Yukon, asking for the consent of the House to refer the motion to the heritage committee for further study. Is there unanimous consent?