House of Commons Hansard #241 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was magazines.

Topics

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

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

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

June 9th, 1999 / 3:30 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

moved the second reading of, and concurrence in, amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-55, an act respecting advertising services supplied by foreign periodical publishers.

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3:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Mark Muise West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order concerning the amendments that the Senate has sent to this House on Bill C-55.

I want to focus on amendment No. 3 that proposes to add a new clause 21.(1). I submit that this amendment proposes to do what no member of the House of Commons can do, which is to amend the bill beyond its scope as was decided by the House at second reading. This House sent to the Senate a bill which had as its stated purpose, and I quote the minister in her second reading speech: “Under the Bill introduced in the House of Commons, only Canadian publishers will have the right to sell advertising directed at the Canadian market”. Later in the same speech she told this House: “Parliament is being asked to prohibit the sale and distribution of advertising services directed specifically at the Canadian market”—

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3:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. The hon. parliamentary secretary on another point of order. I am hearing a point of order. I stress this.

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3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, my point of order is that what you are hearing is not in fact a point of order, it is debate.

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3:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for West Nova is making a point of order concerning the admissibility of the amendments before this House as I understand it. In that sense, while it may be close to debate and he may be perhaps going on a little long on his point, I think I need to hear his point if there is some argument as to the procedural acceptability of the motion before the House, which I understand the hon. member for West Nova to have indicated at the outset of his remarks.

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3:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Mark Muise West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, yes, I would like to finish my point of order if I could. I was quoting:

Parliament is being asked to prohibit the sale and distribution of advertising services directed specifically at the Canadian market by non-Canadian publishers. Parliament is being asked to put in place fines for foreign publishers that attempt to violate these laws.

Those statements are clear and unequivocal. Prohibit, not regulate. Prohibit. We all know that any similar amendment proposed in the House to modify such a prohibition would not survive for five seconds.

The Senate amendments, particularly the new clause 21.1, have the effect of breaking the prohibition and turning the machinery into a regulatory regime. To regulate is the opposite of prohibit.

The Senate can send whatever message it likes, but so far as this House is concerned, the issue of an absolute prohibition has been settled by three readings and a committee examination which was concurred in by the House.

Beauchesne's and Erskine May make reference to the long title of a bill as being a factor in establishing the scope of a bill. If this were the sole criterion, it would put great power in the hands of those officials who draft bills and who are not accountable to the House.

I submit that a minister in setting forth the concepts, as she sees them at second reading, goes a great distance in setting out the scope of a bill. In this instance we were told by the minister that this bill was not about subsidies. We were told that there was to be a prohibition.

The Senate amendments fly in the face of the decision of the House and ask the House to swallow itself whole. Unless the Chair intervenes to disallow the proposed Senate amendments, there will be nothing to prevent a government from bringing all its legislation to the House in a bland form, have ministers play games with their credibility and then use the Senate to insert all of the controversial measures, remitting them back to the House for a one-shot vote under time allocation.

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3:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I hesitate to interrupt the hon. member but I am interested to know, and I know he is about to conclude, whether he is suggesting in his point that the financial prerogatives of the House have been in any way impaired by the amendments before us. I would be interested in hearing his views on that point.

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3:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Mark Muise West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am not making reference to the financial aspect. If you would let me finish I have but a short period and you will see exactly where I am going with this.

Mr. Speaker, I ask you to assert the right of the House of Commons to be able to believe ministers of the crown when they address the House. I ask you to rule that these amendments exceed the scope of the bill that was sent to the Senate. Sir, assert the primacy of the House of Commons. Open the great doors of the House and throw these amendments out.

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3:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair wishes to thank the hon. member for West Nova for raising this issue before the House. I know it is an interesting point but one that has been dealt with before.

I would refer the hon. member to the decision of the Speaker of this House made on November 19, 1996, in respect of a similar argument advanced by the hon. member for St. Albert on a bill then under consideration.

In that decision by the Speaker he indicated that there were two amendments by the Senate for which concurrence of the House was being sought. The member for St. Albert had asked the Speaker at that time to rule on the procedural acceptability of changes made by the Senate. The Speaker stated, and I quote from page 6411 of Hansard :

My view is that your Speaker cannot stand as a procedural judge on what is done by the Senate. What they do over there, they do over there.

In his ruling the Speaker cited with great reverence the decision of Mr. Speaker Fraser made on April 26, 1990, which is published in the book whose publication we are celebrating today. I refer the hon. member to the decision of Mr. Speaker Fraser which was made on an argument advanced on a bill to amend the Unemployment Insurance Act brought forward in 1990.

I can tell the hon. member that the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell and I argued something along the lines he is arguing today, but with the additional argument about financial measures. I can also tell the hon. member that at that time we lost our argument as he is going to lose his today.

This argument in my view is not well founded. I quote from Mr. Speaker Fraser's ruling on page 10723 of Hansard , April 26, 1990, where he said:

—the Speaker of the House of Commons cannot unilaterally rule out of order amendments from the other place. I can comment, as I am doing, but the House as a whole must ultimately make the decision to accept or reject amendments from the Senate, whether they be in order according to our rules or not.

As Mr. Speaker Parent said, it comes down to a decision of the House.

I am afraid the hon. member may, by his arguments later, advance arguments as to why the House should reject the amendments made by the Senate, but in my view it is not the place of the Speaker or presiding officer of the House to rule these amendments out of order, at least on the grounds advanced by the hon. member for West Nova.

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3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Sheila Copps Hamilton East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Senate for the work it has done. Many things have been said in the last number of days about the Senate and its work or lack thereof. However I have to say that here was one very strong case of how the Senate took its responsibility very seriously, dealt in a very conscientious fashion with a piece of legislation and assisted ably in helping Canada achieve an historic agreement.

For the first time in its dealings with any nation, the United States has finally accepted the right of Canadian content in Canadian cultural industry.

I firmly believe that the concurrent work of the Senate while the negotiations were going on actually helped to show the Americans that we were serious about the legislation and that we were serious that any legislation would include Canadian content. That is the crux of this debate.

I congratulate the Senate on its very serious work on a piece of legislation which will prove in the long term to be an historic piece of legislation, not just for Canada but for our approach in future international trade negotiations.

Let us look at where we were two years ago and where we are today. Two years ago Canada lost a decision by the World Trade Organization. We did not like it. Most of us thought it was an unfair ruling, but it was a final ruling with no right of appeal. There was no way around it, many people thought.

What did that ruling give the United States? It gave the United States 100% access to our magazine advertising market. It gave the United States the whole enchilada. It had everything. It had a ruling which would have entitled it to crush the Canadian magazine industry and decimate Canadian magazines. Those are the facts. The United States won and we were left with nothing.

Where are we today as a result of these amendments? The United States will have access to up to 18% of the advertising market, not the 100% it got from the WTO ruling, not the 100% it originally insisted it was entitled to, not 90%, not 80%, not 50% but 18%, and that only after a three year transition period.

We judge a tree by its fruit. We started from zero following the decision of the World Trade Organization. We built this bill and this agreement piece by piece. This is what the critics must understand.

They are up in arms, saying that we have shortchanged Canadian periodicals and even culture, whereas the very opposite is true.

Following the decision by the World Trade Organization, we went on from zero to recover 82% of the lost ground. To all those who predicted that we would end up in a trade war with the United States, with all due respect, I am proud to say that they were mistaken.

The road was long and exhausting. I want especially to congratulate the Senate on its work. It gave us the push we needed to get an agreement that recognized, for the first time, Canadian content in a bill that will not be contested by the Americans.

We reached a good agreement for Canada. We have before us a bill that, with the amendments, protects the interests of all Canadians. We have achieved an unprecedented agreement with the Americans on Canadian content.

Let us make no mistake about it. This agreement and this legislation will be at the forefront of future international agreements which recognize culture and cultural content as legitimate aspirations of any nation.

We got written agreement from the United States that it will not appeal this legislation to a national or international organization. We demanded that publishers wanting to exceed the 18% limit on advertising revenues publish a magazine with mostly Canadian content.

What is more, should some Canadian magazines suffer we have the capacity and the will to help, and we shall do so. Yes, it will cost something but let us imagine the alternative. Let us imagine if we had let the WTO ruling stand with no effort to find a solution. The United States would have had everything and Canada would have been left with nothing. Now we have claimed back or clawed back 82% of what we had before we were deep-sixed by the WTO ruling.

Naturally, the matter has been in the wings a long time. Issues have sometimes heated up between the two countries, but Canada has done a good deal.

We must have Canadian periodicals that speak to us of our history and of our values, that bring together Canada's four corners and that speak of Canadian issues of interest to Canadians.

Was it all worth it? Absolutely, because culture is the soul of a nation. A country does not abandon its cultural identity simply because it has lost a case before the WTO. A country does not abandon its cultural identity because its adversary is 10 times more powerful.

We like Americans but we are not Americans. We are friends with the United States but we are different and we want to keep that difference. We like American movies and we like Hollywood, but we want to have our own cultural diversity.

We share North American values but we also have unique Canadian values. We want to nurture the instruments that allow Canadians to express our values, to speak to each other, to speak to our children, to learn about our past, to engage in the present, and to build Canada's future.

We want to be able to share our ideas, our stories and our values with the rest of the world. This agreement with the United States and this law before the House of Commons today, with regulations and the power to guarantee Canadian stories, will allow us to do these things.

I had the privilege over the last couple of days of sharing a unique experience with colleagues from all sides of the House. Along with a member of the official opposition and two other colleagues in the House, I went to recognize two very unique sites in Canadian history. One was the beaches of Normandy, the place where the D-Day sacrifice by Canadian Armed Forces was so great, a sacrifice that guaranteed peace in our time.

From there we travelled to Belgium where we had the privilege of declaring the medical site of John McCrae, the place where the poem In Flanders Fields was written, as a Canadian national historic site. Some day someone will write about that Canadian national historic site, Flanders Fields. Some day someone will write about the recognition of D-Day, the beaches of Normandy and Juno Beach as part of our history.

As a result of these amendments which protect and enshrine the concept of Canadian content in the law and which have forced the Americans to the international table on the issue of content for the first time in history, I hope we will continue to have the opportunity to share the very important stories of our grandparents with our children.

I believe that this legislation is good legislation. I believe the support of all sides of the House will help us to move the benchmark forward and be the first country in the world which has brought the Americans to the table on the question of content and won. I am very proud of this legislation and I hope and believe that all members of the House will see the benefit and value of Bill C-55 in its amended form.

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3:55 p.m.

Reform

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-55. We all know it has been a long haul since the bill was introduced in the House.

I agree with the PC member who raised a point of order that there is no doubt that the intent of this bill has changed substantially. Let me say at this time that the Reform Party will not support the amendments as they have been presented to the House.

Let me propose an amendment to the motion:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following therefor:

“a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint their Honours that the House disagrees with the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-55, an act respecting advertising services supplied by foreign periodical publishers, since the amendments allow the bill to continue placing unreasonable limits on fundamental freedoms such as freedom of contract, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the infringement on property rights as guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights”.

Having listened to the minister of heritage—

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3:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am trying to be helpful here. The hon. member wishes to move an amendment. If he moves it now, he will terminate his speech immediately. You do not move an amendment in the middle of a speech. Does the hon. member wish to hold off and move his amendment at the conclusion of his remarks? I sense he wants to go on and I sense he has made a very brief speech. I am trying to be fair.