House of Commons Hansard #139 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was young.

Topics

Tobacco Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

I am giving credit to all members who participated in this initiative.

Having been goaded by some members earlier, I raised that fact that I was little uncomfortable with the atmosphere that demonizes people who smoke. I know we are not trying to do so, but in an effort to spin up the politics and get the bill passed we can say smoking is bad for our health. In fact it is lethal. We must recognize that there are many good people out there who are addicted. We must look for soft landings for people who are addicted.

I close by saying that tobacco is now seen as an enemy of the people. It has taken us 400 years since Sir Walter Raleigh to get that far. Let us realize what it is. Let us recognize other countries

such as France and the United States care about the health of their citizens and are doing the same. I am prepared to support the bill.

Tobacco Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gaston Leroux Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by reminding my colleague of what he just said, about being disappointed, about being shocked, about the media being used to underline the impact of the bill on events and economic activities, about how people are going around attracting attention.

The actions of his own colleague, the Minister of Health, have been raised in the House, and this is in the hands of the Speaker. Even before the bill has been passed, the minister has filled pages in the newspapers with his references to the "act", not the "bill" but the "act". He is referring to Bill C-71 as though it were already enacted. What is shocking is not so much that people are attracting attention, but that a minister is using the word "act" when the bill has not even been passed here in Parliament. That is what is shocking, not the other way around.

I would like to remind members that not only did the official opposition vote in favour of the principle of the bill at second reading, but that it worked in committee and presented no fewer than 32 amendments in order to take a proactive stance in the fight against smoking. What did the government do? It rejected our amendments. It did not see the worth of our proactive amendments to combat smoking, did not think they could be useful to it. Why? Because it rejects everything out of hand. This government is intransigent and rejects the contribution of others out of hand.

The other extremely important point is that we tried to draw this government's attention to the direct consequences of $30 million in economic spinoffs for events, not in order to distract it from the fight against smoking, and to get it to see that in many countries provision has been made for transition. It is possible to negotiate, to allow transitional measures.

Australia did and France is preparing to relax its bill to make an exception for major events. Austria is doing likewise. In Hungary, an exception is made for major events. In Belgium, a bill has just been introduced that makes an exception for sports and related events. This government has demonstrated its intransigence in this regard and it is here that we would like to see the government take a more responsible attitude.

Tobacco Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raises the issue of transition as an important part of legislation which requires adjustment. That is a very good point. It is a very good point. We need transition for our tobacco farmers and there is something happening now for them in terms of transition.

On the advertising issue, the hon. member will recognize that the bill has a two-summer delay before implementation to allow for

adjustment on some of the advertising prohibitions. I know the frustration of an opposition member when the government does not seem to move. I sat over there for a long five years. Sometimes we win and sometimes we do not.

I am delighted to know the official opposition endorses the bill in principle. It is up to the official opposition whether or not it gets hung up on all the details. The principle is very much there and I am pleased to see the opposition endorses it and hopefully will vote for the bill at third reading.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I believe there have been consultations among the parties for the following motion. I move:

That, when the House adjourns on Thursday, March 13, 1997, it shall stand adjourned until Monday, March 17, 1997.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is there unanimous consent for the parliamentary secretary to move the motion?

Business Of The House
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business Of The House
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

The House resumed consider of the motion that Bill C-71, an act to regulate the manufacture, sale, labelling and promotion of tobacco products, to make consequential amendments to another act and to repeal certain acts, be read the third time and passed.

Tobacco Act
Government Orders

March 6th, 1997 / 4:35 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Calgary Centre.

I rise on behalf of my constituents from Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt to state our opposition to Bill C-71, the Liberal government's proposed tobacco act. My constituents and I have discussed the bill at length. We have talked about it at town hall meetings and I have had a great deal of correspondence on the issue. People called with their views when the Liberals introduced the bill. I also conducted a poll in my riding.

The poll confirmed that a statistically significant majority of respondents do not believe that tax increases will cause people not to smoke. Most important, 70 per cent of the respondents who

were less than 18 years of age said that taxes were not a deterrent to smoking.

When I recently visited the Keremeos Secondary School we discussed the bill. We held a classroom poll. The students agreed that they would not be deterred from smoking because of the contents of the bill. They felt that negative impacts of the bill would cause more harm than good.

The students listed the problems they predicted if the bill were passed. They felt the black market in cigarettes would be encouraged and incidents of theft would increase. They were concerned there would be a rise in youth crime as a result of the bill.

I have received a great deal of telephone calls and letters by mail and fax from businesses in my riding concerning the bill. These retailers are already doing everything in their power to prevent the sale of tobacco products to young people. The following retailers are furious the measures in the bill target them directly: Lai Wah Lok, owner of Courtesy Corner in Lower Nicola; Adam Eneas, owner of the Snow Mountain Market in Penticton; Denis Bissonette, owner of the Osoyoos Duty Free Shop; and Dennis VanRaes of the Super Save Gas Bar in Penticton.

All of them wrote to me outraged about the bill. They spelled out the hardships their retail outlets would experience as a direct result of Bill C-71. They are furious with the Liberals. They have told me about the construction costs they will have to pay to modify their retail outlets to satisfy the tobacco display requirements of the bill. Their businesses will suffer once Bill C-71 becomes law. Their businesses will be left with virtually a clandestine method for selling tobacco products.

The Liberals should be creating and developing a climate that encourages growth for small and medium sized firms. Instead, the Liberal approach is to penalize entrepreneurs with red tape, restrictions and bureaucracy.

Bill C-71 is creating a special police force responsible for patrolling small businesses to ensure they are not in contravention of the bill. This is unbelievable in Canada, not to mention that it is very costly.

With Bill C-71 we see that the Liberal solution to a problem is to impose restricting regulations, laws and tax increases. The bill will not solve the problem. The Liberals have let us down again.

The real answer to the problem of young people smoking is education. My constituents and I want to see the government educate our youth with respect to the effects of smoking.

Children are not stupid even though the Liberals think they are. I have talked to many young people, students and very young children in every corner of my riding. They are all very eager to learn. It can be seen in their faces. The Liberals should throw away the bill and all the things in it and focus their efforts on talking directly to children.

The bill makes it clear the Liberals have totally disregarded the option of spending federal government time, effort and resources on delivering an anti-smoking message directly to the young people of Canada.

My constituents do not want the federal government to be given more power and control over our lives. We do not want the government to interfere further into our lives.

Therefore the Liberals are not deterring smoking with the bill. They are making older Canadians pay more for a substance to which they have become addicted, tobacco, which has been legal all their lives. It is not fair to tax senior citizens who began smoking decades ago and cannot quit.

The bill should not seek to punish smokers. It should seek to help prevent people who do not smoke, especially young Canadians, from smoking.

The bill imposes a de facto ban on tobacco company sponsorships but the Liberal health minister says that is okay. He talks about the high profitability the banking industry is enjoying and that it should be sponsoring events the Liberals are preventing the tobacco companies from sponsoring.

Is the minister making a threat? Are the banks the next industry to be punished by the Liberals in their attempt to address the problem of smoking? How much of a punishment tax will the Liberals make the banks pay to finance the sporting and cultural events that have been stripped of funding by the same Liberals?

Who else will the Liberals tax to pay for these events? Will it be other financial institutions? Maybe communications firms or telephone companies. I predict the Liberals will pick a prosperous industry, one that provides jobs for Canadians. Then they will proceed to kill those jobs. They will assault that industry with a tax grab and force it to pay for lost funding of cultural and sporting events. The Liberal solution to every problem is tax, tax, tax, which kills jobs, jobs, jobs.

The bill imposes a de facto ban on tobacco product advertising. In my previous career I sold advertising. The bill makes clear that the Liberals have made a serious error in their understanding of how advertising works. They have seriously overstated the influence of advertising on the Canadian public.

The Liberals believe we can lead a horse to water and make it drink. The bill and its emphasis on advertising is an insult to the intelligence of Canadians.

I do not smoke. I have never smoked. I am not influenced by tobacco advertising. When I was young I was not influenced by

tobacco ads. Nor was I influenced by one of my parents, three of my siblings and most of my peers who smoked.

Who are the people the Liberals think are affected and influenced by tobacco advertising? The young people to whom I have spoken do not feel that they are influenced by tobacco ads either. Products are sold through advertising efforts that are aimed at the people who use the product. Companies pursue a market share. They are chasing a piece of the pie and that pie consists only of people who smoke. Tobacco advertising is focused on the people who smoke.

Tobacco companies are concerned about increasing the sale of their brand by securing a larger percentage of the market. Their advertising effort is not aimed at non-smokers. Such campaigns do not work. There is no getting people to smoke. The results from that kind of effort are not worth the cost of such a campaign. From a sales and advertising campaign perspective, teenagers are not the target, smokers are the target.

For example, if you are selling Cadillacs, you are going to starve if your strategy is to sell a Cadillac to a person that drives a compact car. Your advertising should be directed at the consumer in the luxury car market. A Cadillac can be sold to a person that drives a Lincoln.

The Liberals think that Canadians are stupid. This bill is so typical of virtually all the legislation the Liberals have proposed and passed during the course of this Parliament. The Liberals support big government supported by big taxes and their policies have resulted in high unemployment. This bill continues the legacy of Liberal mismanagement.

Products that assist Canadians to quit smoking are becoming very popular. Devices such as the patch and other therapies designed to help smokers quit is a boom industry. What did the Liberals do to help Canadians quit smoking? They raised taxes on smokers and promise to raise them even higher and higher in the future. What a pathetic effort.

My constituents and I are amazed at the parallels that can be drawn between this legislation and the Liberal's Canada pension plan contribution changes announced last month. The Liberal's proposed Tobacco Act is not the solution to the problem and it will punish Canadians who do not deserve to be punished.

In the case of the Canada pension plan the Liberals are punishing young Canadians because successive Liberal and Tory governments have mismanaged the Canada pension plan. Young Canadians have to pay through the nose because of the largest payroll tax grab in Canadian history. The Liberals promised Canadians jobs, jobs, job. Their proposed Tobacco Act will kill thousands of jobs as soon as its blade slashes through corner stores, cafeterias, truck stops and gas bars across the country.

My constituents and I believe that young people are not going to be prevented from starting to smoke as a result of this bill and therefore I am very proud to stand on their behalf and vote against Bill C-71.

Tobacco Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was really quite taken aback when the member started his speech and announced that he would explain why he is not going to support the tobacco bill, Bill C-71, after the vast majority of his colleagues have risen in their place and have spoken so eloquently on the fundamental health impacts of tobacco and the cost to our society, not only in dollar terms but also in terms of lives.

The member said he went to kids and asked them whether or not they thought advertising affects them. He concluded from this interaction with these children that since they said it would not impact them that is it. The irony here is that the research that has been done over the last 25 years has concluded very clearly that if you do not start to smoke by age 19 then likely you will never be a smoker. Everybody in the tobacco industry, as well as the health industry, knows that very well. This member knows that the tobacco companies spend about $66 million a year on advertising. He knows they do things like putting out slim packages of cigarettes and calling them slims to attract young women. We heard the statistics about lung cancer being the biggest cause of deaths among women.

I do not have to explain to the member the impact that advertising has because the member was in advertising. That was his profession. How can he stand here and say that advertising has no impact? It cannot be both ways.

I would like to ask the member to explain again to Canadians why he thinks that tobacco advertising has no impact on the preferences of children.

Tobacco Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question. I would like to address the first part of his comments when he said he was surprised that a member of the Reform Party would stand and speak against the thoughts that others in his party have voiced. That is the difference between this side of the House and the other side. Reformers are not afraid to stand in opposition. When we oppose something we can vote against the party if we so choose and support our constituents.

I can understand why he is surprised and probably a little envious of the position that I have taken today because it one he cannot possibly take in the Liberal Party of Canada or this government.

Yes, I have spent a considerable time in advertising and I can say that advertising is designed for those people who are in the market for a product. People will not buy something they do not want.

In my example I made it quite clear that a person who sells Cadillacs cannot sell a Cadillac to someone who drives a compact car. It would be a waste of money to attempt that. The advertising is targeted to the people who are in the market for luxury cars. They

are after a market share. It is naive of this member to assume that any form of advertising can influence people to change their lifestyle or their attitude toward something.

I will use the example of people in the auto supply business who are trying to sell anti-freeze in the middle of a hot summer. It cannot be done. It is a market share and there has to be a need for the product. The companies are trying to increase their market share among the ones that are competing for the business.

Tobacco Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Reform

Jim Silye Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, the bill is teaching me a lot about life in general. In Canada we have guaranteed rights and freedoms-

Tobacco Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I apologize to the member, but I have to read this before five o'clock. Would he permit me to do it and then we can go back and he will get an extra 20 seconds on his speech?

It is my duty, pursuant to the Standing Orders, to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Parry Sound-Muskoka-small business.

Tobacco Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Reform

Jim Silye Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, in Canada we have guaranteed rights and freedoms except when it comes to any activity ending in i-n-g. Then we have governments that interfere in our every day lives in the name of a better good with new regulation and laws.

Bill C-71 is an example of a much bigger issue than just tobacco and smoking and who and where it can be used. It is also about rights and responsibilities.

Before I elaborate, let me state that because I agree with the intent and target of the bill to help care for, educate and protect one's minor children, a big responsibility of all levels of government, I will vote for and support the bill.

It will restrict advertising in magazines with less than 15 per cent youth content. No advertising will be allowed on billboards and bus shelters, but it will be allowed in areas and places restricted to minors. Displays will be restricted in retail outlets and no vending machines will be allowed in public places.

Finally, the one that bothers the tobacco industry and of course the Bloc members, is the limitation being placed on sponsorships where the space occupied by an ad cannot exceed 10 per cent of the surface area.

These regulations will not stop young people from smoking. They will be a deterrent, but they are only a step in the right direction. What is needed is education.

There should be funding for legitimate organizations, such as the Neighbourhood Tobacco Recovery Network, which is active across Canada. It reaches out to aboriginals. We must teach young females that smoking does not keep them thin. I believe that is why a lot of young females smoke. They believe it keeps them thin.

I encourage the minister to start investing in schools, in groups, in hospitals and in other places where we can educate and give all concerned the proper facts from which to make an informed decision.

That brings me to the bigger issue. I quote from a paper on civic responsibility in Canada which was prepared by the Library of Parliament on August 22, 1994. It states:

In Canada -individual rights are both entrenched in the Constitution and safeguarded in legislation at the federal, provincial and territorial levels. While it is generally accepted that with these rights come corresponding duties, individual responsibilities do not appear at the forefront of Canadian society to the same extent as individual rights. Moreover, it is not simply the protection and advancement of individual interests which form the basis of civic responsibility. There is also the broader type of public duty to advance the common interest or good. Responsibility from this perspective involves contributing to the construction, maintenance, transformation and improvement of the community as a whole.

Given that both rights and responsibilities are an essential condition for the normal functioning of any society, many people feel that more emphasis must now be placed on public responsibilities in order to recognize, preserve and strengthen Canada's social fabric.

This is the part I like:

A balance must always be maintained between individual liberty, the liberty of other individuals and the reasonable demands of the community.

Seeking this balance is what divides Canadians. Seeking this balance is what is pitting tobacco industry manufacturers, retailers, political parties and provinces against one another. It is a tough problem to solve. The bigger issue is encroachment into the area of rights and freedoms. However, sometimes we forget about responsibilities.

I submit that while young people are definitely influenced to smoke through advertising and accessibility, this bill has not and cannot prevent the two biggest causes. I believe that my colleague from Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt who just spoke has underestimated the value of advertising. It has a huge influence on people. That is why companies and retailers spend billions of dollars on advertising. They do not just target the people who use their product, they target non-users to show them the kind of lifestyle they could live.

Advertising is a big factor which the bill addresses. I support that measure. However, the two biggest reasons that cause young people to smoke, which the bill does not and cannot address, but which I will mention because it pertains to the responsibilities of people in society, are the adults and parents who smoke. Kids see adults smoking everywhere. The adults tell their kids: "You cannot smoke. Do not smoke. You are too young. It is not good for you". However, when the children see adults doing it, what influence does that have? I do not know how to combat that, but it is there.

The second reason young people smoke is peer pressure, to be in, to be accepted. Every generation goes through that. We all went through it when we were younger. We all rebelled against the older generation, to which I now belong. Young people like to rebel. I am 50 years old and in the three or four generations I have been aware of smoking was one way to rebel. That will continue.

However, we can combat that through education and better information on the effects of smoking and the higher degree of addiction for cigarettes versus alcohol. All those statistics are important. Maybe one good cure is to take an underage person out behind the barn somewhere and give him a cigar or make him smoke a half a pack and let him get green in the face. That will cure that person. According to one Bloc member if you have one cigarette you are addicted for life and you have to have another one after five minutes.

Those are some of the issues in terms of this bill that will not really be able to solve youth smoking. We know it is going to continue to exist. It is important to find that balance especially with something that is legal. Smoking is legal and we have to remember that. The government is trying to both huff and puff and suck and blow at the same time. When it is doing that it has to be very careful to balance all aspects of individual rights, corporate rights, citizen responsibilities, civic responsibilities and the cost to our society in terms of the health, opportunity and the loss of freedoms.

This issue is also about money. There is a thriving and healthy industry called the tobacco industry. It generates huge profits and it also pays taxes. Governments collect these taxes and reinvest them.

I had one constituent write to me on this issue and I said I would mention it the next time I spoke to this bill. The problem is that some of these things like smoking and drinking have an impact on those taxpayers who do not smoke and drink because it is their tax dollars that are going to subsidize those who are sick in hospitals, those we have to pay for because of the greater number of diseases that smoking and drinking cause over and above what we eat, because eating also causes diseases. As I said, everything that ends in i-n-g seems to have a problem with it.

We do have a responsibility as politicians. I believe that this bill for the very reason that it targets a specific area, youth smoking, has tried to balance and finish a job that a prior government did in terms of regulating something that is legal. It is better to make it legal, to monitor it and regulate it than to ban it. If smoking were banned, then obviously there would be a lot of underground activity in that area. We would have a lot more criminals in the streets and people committing crimes. We do not want to make criminals out of people who want to smoke.

It is a tough act to debate. I am in favour of the targeting of better education for youth, making it less accessible for youth and so on. However, I in my heart of hearts as a businessman I do not like it. I feel very threatened by governments that try to tell me how I can market my product, how I can sell my product, when I can sell it, where I can sell it and how much advertising I can do. All these things that get to the other side of it bother me.

On balance I feel that the government and the health minister have made a very commendable effort to resolve all the differences. Listening to the debate today I was almost scared. If it is that bad maybe we should be doing something more serious about it. I guess we will keep it legal. We will continue to monitor, regulate it and try to keep it out of the hands of those people who are the most easily influenced, who can become addicted the quickest and the longest, thereby shortening their lives.

Therefore factoring in all these things, I submit that this is a bill that should be passed and certainly the majority of the Reform Party will be supporting this bill. I would like to congratulate our critic on this issue from Macleod who has listened to debate within our caucus very often and very reasonably. There were a lot of us who had different opinions and differing points of view. He certainly welcomed the debate and did a good job of bringing out all aspects of this complicated issue.