House of Commons Hansard #81 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was offenders.

Topics

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should celebrate and encourage Canada's magnificent and diverse culture by changing the Income Tax Act to exempt creative and interpretive artists from paying income tax on a percentage of income derived from copyright, neighbouring rights, and/or other income derived from the sale of any creative work.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Today the House will debate the first private member's item subject to the new provisional standing orders. Therefore, I would like to remind hon. members that the length of speeches will be as follows: (a) member moving the item, 15 minutes maximum,and the speech is subject to a five minute question and comment period; and (b) all other members 10 minutes.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker,it is an honour to be the first person to take part in the new parliamentary system around private members' motions. I guess one could say that I will go down in history today by being at the beginning of the roster.

It is my great pleasure to move Motion No. 293 today. The motion reads:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should celebrate and encourage Canada's magnificent and diverse culture by changing the Income Tax Act to exempt creative and interpretive artists from paying income tax on a percentage of income derived from copyright, neighbouring rights, and/or other income derived from the sale of any creative work.

I am aware of one amendment that will be proposed by my friend from Quebec City, and I welcome the amendment.

In the last Parliament, my colleague, Nelson Riis, introduced a similar motion calling on the government to give a general tax exemption of $30,000 for artists. That motion was defeated largely based on an argument by the parliamentary secretary for the minister of finance of the day, who said:

It is not clear that artists, writers or performers have greater needs than any other individuals with comparable incomes. Thus, to provide a special tax exemption to an individual simply because he or she engages in artistic activities would be very difficult to defend on equity grounds. It would also lead to requests for similar treatment for other groups that also believe they are deserving of special status.

Sadly, the debate rules of that day did not allow for rebuttal on my part, so I would like to take a second to address the notion that artists want special status and how that would be inequitable, or the other arguments from that day saying that the status of an artist is a hard one to define.

On matters relating to who is an artist, the motion I have put forward today gives a much clearer idea of what part of the income would be eligible for income tax relief and what part of the income would be limited specifically to the direct income from the sale of creative works. This would help to define, in my estimation, what income would be allowed as an artistic exemption and it gets to the issue of what exactly is an artist and brings it into the realm of the marketplace, that if a work of art is sold then it becomes income that is eligible under this motion.

In terms of the cost to the treasury, the motion calls for only a portion of income to be deductible and that level would be set by the Minister of Finance. That being said, we know that regardless of the level this measure would not be a great loss to the federal treasury given the fact that the average income of artists in this country is around $13,000 a year.

What precedents are there for this kind of exemption? We can start with Ireland. Ireland has an absolute exemption for income tax for creators. The total cost to the treasury in Ireland is less than 10% of our expenditure on the Canada Council, a total of less than $14 million or less than 50¢ per Canadian.

Quebec has also allowed for a deduction of up to $15,000 on copyright income and that seems to be working very well in that province and has allowed art to flourish in Quebec.

I wish to address some other misconceptions that I have heard about support to our artists in general. A while back I heard from another member of the House who proclaimed that she did not believe we needed any special support for artists, the reason being that personalities and artists, such as Céline Dion and Shania Twain, have been so successful internationally, so why do we need to support our artists?

I would say that unfortunately this kind of mentality presumes that all art in Canada can be judged by commercial success in the international marketplace. It suggests that people who create outside the mainstream, which means less commercial success, are somehow less creative. It views art only as a commodity, only to be judged by its market value.

Although the motion involves changes to the Income Tax Act, the motion, strangely, is not about income. The motion is not about money, given the fact that artists are not making very much money to begin with. I would say it is more about recognition and respect for the creators in our country, and respect and recognition within one of the central laws of our country, the Income Tax Act.

The argument about special status put forward earlier by the parliamentary secretary does not stand up in many ways. In one way we have to look at it, sadly, that our current Income Tax Act is full of special statuses for classes of people, mostly people with money. We have special exemptions for family trusts so that wealthy families can shelter huge incomes for their children. We have special rules allowing entrepreneurs to deduct expenses related to their businesses. We allow the sheltering of income made by playing the stock market or making certain types of investments. When artists have come looking for tax recognition the government has said no because the finance department cries special status as if it is brand new concept. The fact is that art and culture in this country are special. Art and culture are special in the life of a nation.

His Excellency John Ralston Saul, one of Canada's most respected writers and philosophers, has had much to say on culture and its place in Canada. In 1999 he made the point that culture has been presented over the last few decades as if somehow it were a marginal adjunct to society. History tells us that this is nonsense. Culture either exists as the core element to society or it really is not culture at all. Culture is the motor of any successful society.

Up until six years ago, when I became a member of Parliament, I made my living as a playwright and filmmaker in this country. Many of my friends continue to be artists, sculptors, playwrights, directors and painters. Most of them continue to cobble together a living without one bit or one wit of security but also with little real choice in the matter because they are driven to create and to express themselves. They believe they have something to say and that they can make people laugh, cry, feel deeply or change their courses of action, that they can make people feel rage about injustice, cry out, feel deeply about humanity, about war, about terror, about deepening their spiritual journeys, about strengthening their connection to kin and community and about their sense of responsibility in their society. In a word, they believe, rightly or wrongly, justly or unjustly, or foolishly, that their tiny contributions and creations can have an impact, positive or negative, on the human condition.

For this faint hope, they labour mightily in the field of culture making on average about $13,000 a year. They give up a great deal for the special status of being artists. People who have made the choice to be creators often find they have no choice but to live in poverty. To be an artist in this country means to concentrate on creating while worrying about paying the rent and buying food. It means struggling to focus on art while dealing with overdue bills and trying to practise a craft when the basic costs of the tools are sometimes too expensive. It means trying to keep a creative spark alive, a creative work moving ahead over a period of years, while working on jobs which help pay the bills. It often means forgoing family and children altogether. It often means disrupting marriages, families and home lives since people have to travel great distances to work as artists, directors and actors.

We are tremendously richer because of the sacrifice of artists in our country. Our nation would be far worse off without the stout-hearted band of creators who chronicle its course, tell its story, shine light in the dark corners and provide the strength to face an uncertain future.

That is why I take every opportunity to raise issues of culture and creation in the House: because we need to value creation as much as we value money.

I hope that in a few months we will all stand in our places here to pass this motion to start giving creators a limited income tax exemption on their income directly derived from the sale of their work.

Previous debate on this subject in this place has pointed to the organizational support that successive governments have put in place as being adequate and that therefore no extra support is needed for individual artists. People bring up the budgets for the Canada Council, the CBC, the National Gallery, the NFB and Telefilm. They usually use recent numbers, which do not show how the overall cultural supports have been drastically reduced since the mid-nineties. Most important, these moneys do not recognize individual creators' contributions. They are more usually designed to support the amorphous cultural industries.

The motion uses the individual tax return to award the individual creator. It is a strongly symbolic way of saying to the creators that our culture, our society, values their lonely efforts, their creative spirits. But we should also understand who really pays for our collective successes in the cultural sector. In 1982 Canada commissioned a study of our cultural sector; it is called the Applebaum-Hébert report. One of its overall findings was that the largest subsidy to cultural life in Canada comes not from governments, corporations or other patrons, but from the artists themselves for their unpaid or underpaid work.

It looks like things are now worse. In December last year, four months ago, the Cultural Human Resources Council issued its latest report, called “Face of the Future”. I would like to read one paragraph from the report, which looks at trends in the cultural sector:

Despite general growth in the sector, visual artists' annual income, which is extremely low to start with, is dropping. Between 1990 and 1995, Canadian craftspeople experienced a 21% decrease in their average annual income, dropping from an average of $13,480 to $10,606 per annum. In 1995, visual artists earned an average annual income of $12,600, which represented only 47.5% of the average annual income of the total workforce that year; craftspersons earned an average of $10,600 that year, or 40% of the total workforce.

So things are getting worse, and the successes in the sector are not because of government support but because of the sacrifices of individual creators.

I hope members of the House will see this motion as an important and constructive step in attacking the obstacles thrown in the way of our creators. I hope they will see it as a small way of relieving the economic grind facing them, perhaps allowing them to work in a more concentrated way on their art, perhaps allowing them to create a book or a play in one year instead of three or four. It would give them some small financial relief, but it would also give them one big boost symbolically in terms of their importance to this country.

By passing the motion we would be saying as a nation that what creators do is special to us. We would be collectively recognizing their contribution. We would be saying that we thank them, that we need them, and that we cannot exist without them.

I thank hon. members for listening to me today and I look forward to the debate that is going to unfold in the next couple of months on this very important issue and this very important recognition of artists in our country.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a real pleasure to take part in this new version of our private members' business where we actually get to question the mover of the motion.

I am looking back at the member's speech of February 20 of this year in which she was talking about child protection and so on. I would like to quote from that speech, because she made a comment that we must not use the Criminal Code to censor art, but then went on to state:

I worry that the police chief of Toronto has been publicly criticizing the government and has been using child pornography as his reason to ask for more federal money for law enforcement.

The next part is the important quote:

It does not bode well for our freedom of artists if police believe that their funding will increase if they lay more child pornography charges.

With the hon. member asking for tax relief for artists and demanding that the artistic merit principle stand up with child pornographers, the question would be this: Is this an unintended consequence of her bill or does she really believe that artistic merit should be safeguarded and that child pornographers should actually get a tax break? That is unbelievable.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, I will continue to say at every opportunity that artistic merit should be safeguarded. I look forward to having that debate in the House and in committee. Aside from that, the comments made by my colleague are not particularly relevant to this debate.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. colleague a question. From our past work when we sat on the heritage committee in the 35th Parliament, I believe, and dealt with Bill C-32, the copyright legislation, she knows where my belief and conviction lie in terms of helping the artist. I introduced four amendments to that legislation, which substantially tilted the act toward the creator's side of it. I say that as a prelude to my question.

I believe there are two significant pillars to any civilization. In my opinion, arts and sciences are these two pillars. In both of these areas of human endeavour, there is a similar protection for the creator. As the member has identified, on the artistic side a number of legal mechanisms protect the copyright of these people, whether they be neighbouring rights or actual copyright and so forth. The same thing is true on the creative side for the sciences in that people who invent or innovate can obtain patents to protect their intellectual property.

How are we to determine, therefore, that one should have a tax exempt status and not the other?

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member has raised an interesting issue, one that I think is being addressed in this motion, and that is the idea of recognizing income derived from copyrighted work, a play that has been written or a piece of art, for example. It is the actual product of someone's imagination. Although there are many other ways to recognize somebody's status as an artist, that seems to be the one that is the most understandable or satisfying to accountants and people working in the finance department.

There are many ways to support creation. Our government is doing some very good work at supporting creative institutions such as the Canada Council, the CBC and Telefilm Canada. There are those kinds of vehicles, but we also need to look at how individuals can be supported through copyright legislation and through motions such as this which recognize copyright and the moneys attached to it. These are other methods of supporting creation in this country.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on Motion No. 293. I do want to say that I have some sympathy for the private member's motion of the hon. member for Dartmouth. The sympathy I have is that I think there is a need for lower taxes in the country, lower taxes for a lot of Canadians, for hard working Canadian families. I also have some sympathy for her ideas that copyright and patent law need to be protected. We are in agreement with that. Intellectual property is an important part of property. Property needs to be rewarded. When people have ideas and want to put them out to the public, they need some kind of protection. We are supportive of that idea although it has caused some disruption in certain sectors, such as schools that want to photocopy material and have difficulty with that area.

In general I would say that Canadians, not just Canadian artists, are overtaxed. All Canadians are overtaxed. If we were to ask hard working Canadian families about it, they would certainly agree with that.

One of the reasons for this is that we have seen a tremendous amount of spending increases by the Liberal government over the last several years. In fact, from 2001-02 to 2004-05, spending rises from $125 billion to $150 billion. That is just on direct and indirect program spending. Then when we add on the interest we as a society have to pay for overspending in the past 30 years, we get into the range of $190 billion.

That interest alone causes me a great deal of difficulty. In fact, Canadian families, and Canadian artists or whoever, happen to be affected by this, with 21¢ out of every tax dollar they send to Ottawa going just to pay interest on debt. That is not good enough. That is money we would have in our pockets to spend as we would like if we had that opportunity, and the past two governments did not commit the sins that brought that about.

I recall the Liberal government coming to power in 1993 when the national debt was $508 billion, a horrific number, but it ran that up to $583 billion before the Canadian public and others around the world started to get concerned about countries hitting the wall: New Zealand, Mexico and even Canada. Our credit rating was being downgraded by Moody's and others. The message got through in about 1995-96 that we had to do something about it. What did we do? The government actually did reduce spending for a couple of years, but how did it reduce it? It reduced spending by cutting transfers to the provinces. That was the biggest area of spending cuts that it made. It was an easy target, 9% in its own backyard--

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

After we cut our own.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

The member for Ottawa--Vanier said that was after it cut its own. Let us just examine that for a moment. It cut its own spending by 9%, but it cut transfers to the provinces by 20%. That was an easy target and of course provinces had to supply municipal services, so they had to be cut as well.

We have to ask the question: Why do we consume so much tax money in Canada to begin with? Why do we need all these taxes? The answer is that we have a government with a spending addiction. As I said, it is going up by $25 billion in the next three years alone. In the two years prior to 2001-02, under the former finance minister, the member for LaSalle—Émard, we saw increases in spending of 6% to 7% a year. Why would he need that amount of money? Population growth and inflation, put together as a formula, were running at roughly 2% a year. We saw a government that was intent on running up spending, so that was 6% a year.

Why do we have this much spending? I would suggest that there are a bunch of business sector grants that are going out to the aerospace sector, for example. Hundreds of millions and in fact billions of dollars are being spent in grants and subsidies to the aerospace sector: Pratt & Whitney, General Electric, Bombardier and some of the biggest corporations in the world.

Therefore when the member talks about artists, I guess she is just asking for the same kind of treatment that some of our big businesses are getting.

However, members of the Canadian Alliance do not agree with that. To begin with, we do not think that these business sectors should receive that kind of grant. That is the reason we need this kind of tax. The government needs that kind of tax to cover off all of the wasteful and misdirected spending.

Instead of sending those business subsidies out, why not leave that money with Canadians? We will decide how to spend it. If we want to invest in Pratt & Whitney or in Bombardier, which are publicly traded companies, we can do that. I suggest we leave that money in people's pockets, that we reduce taxes for all Canadians, not just certain sectors such as artists, although I agree they are part of the composite that needs that spending reduced as well.

I agree that this is a better approach than we normally see from some of the members in the House where they ask for subsidies for certain sectors. Rather than ask for subsidies, we should ask for tax relief. The member for Dartmouth has done just that. I have sympathy for her argument, but I would not restrict it to only one segment of society.

We must examine what is happening with Canadian families. We must look across the border to the United States and the people we compete against every day for the product that we are selling and for our very jobs.

I just returned from Kitchener-Waterloo. In that one corner of Ontario $9 billion of goods are exported mainly to the United States. Those goods must compete with other products from other countries. They must also compete with taxes. George Bush's latest tax proposal, that has recently gone to the United States senate, has made the case that a family of four earning $40,000 or less annually will not have to pay any federal tax.

What do similar families face in Canada? They start paying taxes at $14,000. There is a $26,000 difference. No wonder artists and hard working families are concerned about the tax levels in the country. There are 30 OECD countries and Canada has the highest personal tax levels.

We will get more groups speaking out and saying that we are overtaxed. I agree with them because we are overtaxed. We must make the case for all Canadians, not just those of us in a special sector.

I will examine a little bit further where that kicks in. Basic personal exemptions in Canada on the federal side kick in at about $9,000. After that individuals begin paying federal tax. Does that make any sense? I think not. Those levels must be raised. In order to allow basic personal exemptions to be raised we must have a government committed to reducing spending and to get some priority on its spending. We must stop the wasteful spending that we saw when the government blew a billion dollars on an HRDC program that moved a Hostess potato chips plant from one place in Ontario to 30 miles down the road to another member's riding. That did not make any sense.

We have other areas where government advertising contracts have blown a lot more money. The gun registry is on its second billion dollars. It does not make any sense. The Auditor General has identified lots of wasteful spending.

We must cut out some of this wasteful spending. Let us get our priorities straight. We should leave money in people's pockets and let them decide how they will spend it. They will make wiser choices than the government of the day.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from the government for his generosity.

The Bloc Quebecois is pleased to speak to Motion No. 293, the purpose of which is to improve the living conditions of creative and interpretive artists. I thank the hon. member for Dartmouth for raising this matter before the House, one we will support, of course.

In Quebec there is already similar legislation. All of us here, I believe, acknowledge the inestimable contribution made by the artists of Quebec and Canada. If artists succeed in making a name for themselves internationally, it is because they have already gained recognition here. The fastest growing sector of manpower here is the cultural sector.

We have all experienced magical moments provided to us by one kind of cultural activity or another: a song, a musical creation, a play, a concert, a book salon, a chance to meet a writer. These all provide us with an insight into something new.

Each of us can remember being moved by a Cirque du Soleil performance, or a book by the likes of Marie Laberge or Neil Bissoondath. Let us think of all the creative minds behind Céline Dion's super-spectacular show in Las Vegas, or the fascinating Légendes fantastiques presented in Drummondville.

The 1999 report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, entitled “A Sense of Place--A Sense of Being”, stated the following:

From the Committee's standpoint, investing in the arts is no less important than investing in the social sciences, humanities, the pure sciences or medicine. The Committee is also aware of the long-term commitments made to researchers and scholars by other federal government agencies and looks for a similar level of commitment to Canadian artists...The Committee feels that support to individual creators should be increased.

We support the demand for increased assistance to creative and interpretive artists, and Motion No. 293 gives us an opportunity to show this support. The intent of the motion is to exempt creative and interpretive artists from paying income tax on a percentage of income derived from copyright, neighbouring rights, and/or other income derived from the sale of any creative work. Creative artists take the biggest risks and are not paid for the time they spend doing research or project development, only for the distribution of the final product.

What are neighbouring rights? They protect performers, such as actors, singers, and record producers and radio broadcasters. Although neighbouring rights seem similar to copyrights, there is a difference. In general, copyright protects songwriters, while neighbouring rights protect singers. Music performers can produce work subject to neighbouring rights called a performer's performance. Sometimes, neighbouring rights are guaranteed in a contract.

Many artists are self-employed. Being a self-employed artist has some advantages when it comes to being creative, but many disadvantages when it comes to getting paid, and many artists live below the poverty line. Income tax deductions do nothing to improve the situation, since if an artist's income is insufficient, being entitled to deductions does not change anything. Not only do artists make very little money, how much they make can vary greatly from one year to the next.

The federal government, in announcing cuts of $25 million over the next two years to the Canadian Television Fund, or CTF, in its latest budget, is not helping interpretive and creative artists.

Many artisans spend their lives struggling from one financial crisis to the next, unless they are, or have been, extremely successful in their particular field.

The perseverance of our artists has allowed audiences in Quebec, Canada and around the world to discover the talents that we have here.

In Quebec, the relevant sections of the Taxation Act that affect what is contained in Motion No. 293 are sections 80, 128, 59 and 68. Obviously, Quebec's Union des artistes intervened on several occasions to ask for these exemptions on copyright revenues. The Canadian Conference of the Arts also asked for tax breaks on copyright revenues.

Cultural products are very labour intensive. Many artists live below the poverty level and some of them could become so discouraged that it could prevent them from producing major works.

In its budget proposal to the finance committee in September 2002, the CCA recommended introducing an annual tax exemption on copyright royalties only, as is currently the case in Quebec. Incidentally, this idea had already been the subject of a private member's bill, a few years ago.

In Quebec, artists were eligible for an annual exemption on copyright revenues based on a sliding scale up to $30,000 at first. This has now been raised to $60,000.

The third recommendation reads as follows:

That the government of Canada give serious consideration to supporting Canada’s professional artists and creators, the cornerstone of Canada’s cultural industries and institutions, by exempting up to $60,000 of annual copyright income.

Other countries have adopted similar measures. Ireland is unique in its tax breaks because there are virtually no taxes at all. However, based on our information, some countries allow income to be carried over into subsequent years, countries such as Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Greece, France, the U.K. and Luxembourg. Australia allows artists with unstable incomes to carry them over a five year period.

Given that artists contribute so much to our experience and our quality of life, the Bloc Quebecois supports Motion No. 293, moved by the member for Dartmouth. We hope that all of our colleagues in the House will recognize the exceptional contribution that artists make to our cultural life, and that they will also support this motion.

I move, pursuant to provisional Standing Order 93(3) for Private Members' Business:

That the motion be amended by replacing the word “Canada's” with the word “a”.

The member for Matapédia—Matane seconds this amendment.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Before I declare the amendment in order, I must ask you whether you have the consent of the mover, the hon. member for Dartmouth, to amend the motion.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I declare the amendment in order.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Oak Ridges
Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would first point out that we certainly will not support the amendment to remove the word “Canadian”.

As mentioned, the provision for the government to support or stimulate the creation of Canadian culture product is an important policy of the government. The motion before us for debate proposes a lower tax rate for creative and interpretive artists on income from creative written works, such as royalties and sales produced from copyright and related rights.

The hon. member is to be commended for her endeavour to support the artistic community. I think we all on this side of the House that. Supporting our remarkable and diverse community of artists is crucial to maintaining Canada's identity as a nation. It is absolutely vital that we possess the necessary tools to safeguard our own culture and to tell our own stories.

The government already provides considerable resources to help ensure that our artists and cultural industries remain vital and prosperous, especially as Canada enters the new millennium. These important supports are delivered through a number of organizations and institutions, representing our commitment to continued excellence in the arts.

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the main institutions, programs and policies available to help Canadian artists, writers and performers in pursuing their chosen craft.

For example, the government provides financial support to writers and other artists through the Canada Council, such as grants, prizes and other assistance for the promotion of the arts, as well as some fellowships in the humanities and social sciences. In 2001-02 the Council awarded nearly 6,300 grants, for a total of $137 million in direct support for Canada's artists and artistic organizations.

Our National Film Board is known throughout the world for its reputation of quality. The Film Board is dedicated to producing and distributing films, audiovisual and multimedia works which reflect Canada to Canadians and the rest of the world. For over 60 years the Film Board has played a crucial role in Canadian and international filmmaking.

The Department of Canadian Heritage also offers a number of important programs, including the cultural initiatives program, which facilitates the involvement of artists from across Canada in over 150 national and international art festivals and special art events. Canadian Heritage also operates a national arts training contribution program, supporting national institutions that prepare young people for professional arts careers.

Turning attention to the tax system, I would note that it too already includes a number of favourable provisions targeted to Canada's cultural sector.

For example, artists may deduct the costs of creating a work of art in the year the costs are incurred instead of when the work is ultimately sold. Moreover, employed artists and musicians are entitled to deduct certain employment related expenses against their employment income which are not available to other employees.

Other important tax provisions in support of Canadian culture include a tax credit for Canadian film and video productions, including the cost of services provided by scriptwriters. This credit provided $145 million in direct support for Canadian film and television producers in 2001-02. They also include deduction over time of the cost of Canadian art that is purchased by businesses and no taxation of capital gains on cultural property transferred to museums.

Turning to the motion before us today, I once again wish to laud the member for Dartmouth for wishing to provide additional support to our cultural community. However I feel that introducing a tax exemption for income earned by certain individuals, such as creative writers, may not be the most effective tool in achieving this result.

As I have already noted, the tax system recognizes the circumstances of artists and musicians in a number of ways. The special provisions ensure that these individuals are not penalized due to various aspects unique to their professions, such as the necessity of maintain valuable musical instruments or the difficulty in valuing art pieces donated from an artist's inventory.

However, outside of these special cases already provided for, it is not clear that artists, such as creative writers, have greater needs than other individuals with comparable incomes. The tax system should, as much as possible, treat individuals in similar circumstances in a similar fashion. Thus to provide a special tax exemption to an individual simply because he or she engages in artistic activities would be very difficult to defend on equity grounds. It would also lead to requests for similar treatment from other groups who also feel that they are deserving of special status.

When it comes to tax relief, I believe the course adopted by the government of substantial general tax relief is the correct one. The government's five year tax reduction plan provides real and significant tax relief to all individuals whatever their chosen career. These tax cuts are particularly beneficial to moderate and middle income families with children. The plan provided economic stimulus of about $17 billion in 2001 and $20 billion in 2002. Canadian writers will benefit from these historic tax reductions along with other taxpayers.

In conclusion, I feel the motion, well intentioned though it is, should not receive the support of the House.