House of Commons Hansard #37 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cuts.

Topics

Canadian Human Rights Commission
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I have the honour to table the 2008 annual report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(e) this document is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to two petitions.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly, OSCE PA, to the fifth economic conference of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly held in Andorra la Vella, Andorra, May 24 to 26, 2007.

Pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly, OSCE PA, to the annual fall meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly held in Portoroz, Slovenia, at which it was my privilege to attend, September 29 to October 1, 2007.

Pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly, OSCE PA, to the Bureau of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly held in Madrid, Spain, November 28 to 30, 2007.

Industry, Science and Technology
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology entitled, “A Study of the Crisis in the Automotive Sector in Canada”.

This is pursuant to the motion adopted by this House on February 26, 2009.

I just want to point out to the House that there was a premature leak of some of the information contained in this report but, unless the individuals responsible come forward, I believe there is little that this House can do to address that matter.

I would also like to take this opportunity to briefly highlight the important work done by members of this committee over the last couple of weeks. We heard from 28 witnesses, received 13 briefs and met over 24 hours in a very short two and a half week period, often meeting until midnight and, on some occasions, meeting for four, five or even six hours in a row. I want to thank members of the subcommittee for their efforts.

Understandably, the report is not as definitive in its five recommendations as it might be due to the still unfolding nature of the auto crisis, both in Canada and in the United States.

The hearings, however, were useful in that they revealed some new information to not only members of the committee but to Canadians. We learned about the new vehicle incentive programs that some of the manufacturers wish to have. We also learned of General Motors' indication that it had pledged its worldwide assets, including those in Canada, for its access to American loans.

Finally, the committee requests that pursuant to Standing Order 109 that the government respond to the report and the recommendations contained therein.

Industry, Science and Technology
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to join the member for Wellington—Halton Hills in reporting to the House the findings of the subcommittee on the automobile industry in Canada, a committee created by the direction of the House at the behest of the Liberal opposition.

The purpose of the subcommittee was to help Canadians better understand the auto sector and the serious issues facing it and the government when dealing with the industry.

The opposition must note, however, its dissent with certain limitations of the report. These include opinions found in the report that were not, in every case, arising from opinions of the witnesses before the committee, such as the effects of a scrapage program or a tax holiday to stimulate car sales.

While drawing attention to the cyclical and structural issues facing the auto industry, what became obvious throughout the study was the government's lack of a comprehensive auto industry strategy.

Canada is part of a fully integrated North American auto industry. That in itself calls for the development of a North American auto forum that would more meaningfully and formally provide governments and industry stakeholders a venue to collectively monitor the industry and would, through engagement, enable governments to develop harmonized continental policies and regulations affecting the industry.

It is strikingly clear that the absence of such a structured meaningful engagement between all stakeholders has been detrimental to the industry in the past and, looking forward, such a forum is critical for the long term sustainability of Canada's share of the North American auto market.

In closing, the issue is about protecting Canadian jobs, the good jobs that are the lifeblood of communities right across this country. It is also about protecting taxpayer money and ensuring an investment in the auto industry today will provide results for taxpayers in the future.

Industry, Science and Technology
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, as well, we in the New Democratic Party oppose the actual report officially, which is different from all other parties, because of the lack of recommendations and would--

Industry, Science and Technology
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I regret to interrupt the hon. member for Windsor West. I recognized him in error.

It is only a member of the official opposition party who can respond to the committee report. I apologize.

Income Trusts
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

March 31st, 2009 / 10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 and as certified by the Clerk of Petitions, I am pleased to present yet another income trust broken promise petition from Burlington, Ontario and from my own riding of Mississauga South.

The petitioners remember the Prime Minister boasting about his apparent commitment to accountability when he said that the greatest fraud was a promise not kept.

The petitioners remind the Prime Minister that he promised never to tax income trusts but that he broke that promise by imposing a 31.5 % punitive tax that permanently wiped out over $25 billion of the hard-earned retirement savings of over two million Canadians, particularly seniors.

The petitioners, therefore, call upon the government to: first, admit that the decision to tax income trusts was based on flawed methodology and incorrect assumptions; second, apologize to those who were unfairly harmed by that broken promise; and finally, repeal the punitive 31.5% tax on income trusts.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—CBC/Radio-Canada
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Honoré-Mercier, QC

moved:

That this House recognizes the indispensable role of CBC–Radio Canada in providing national, regional, and local programming including news coverage and services to linguistic minorities throughout Canada, and therefore regrets the financial hardship and substantial lay-offs that CBC–Radio Canada currently faces; and urges the government to provide CBC–Radio Canada with the bridge financing it requires to maintain 2008 staffing and service levels.

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier.

It is unfortunate that we are obliged to move such a motion here today, in another attempt to draw the attention of the government to the issue of funding for our public broadcaster. If the government had done its homework, and if it had listened and understood to some degree, it would have already grasped the importance of the role played by CBC/Radio-Canada and it would have acted accordingly.

As we all know, the corporation is being forced to cut 800 jobs and sell nearly $125 million in assets just to balance next year's budget.

The Conservative government has known for a very long time that the public broadcaster has had a budget shortfall of $171 million and has done nothing to prevent the lay-offs, program cuts and selling of shares. The corporation got no help whatsoever from the government. In fact, it was as if the government were pleased with the way things were going.

The CBC has never —and it is important to point this out—asked for more money from the government, as it has pointed out. What it did ask for was greater financial flexibility in order to get through this advertising revenue crisis, which affects all of this country's broadcasters, we should add.

So far the federal government has refused a loan or an advance on next year's envelope. This inaction has forced CBC/Radio Canada to make heart-wrenching choices that will have absolutely disastrous consequences on its work as a national public broadcaster and imperil its very future.

According to CBC President and CEO Hubert Lacroix, the corporation will have to manage to sell $125 million worth of assets if this downsizing plan is to work, or else it will be back to square one. If it is unable to sell assets worth $125 million, and to keep that money, there will end up being more cuts at the CBC.

Mr. Lacroix also indicated that the sale of assets was necessitated by the Conservative government's refusal to help the CBC though the current economic upheaval. As well, according to him, this loan would have meant a considerable reduction in the number of people laid off and would also have avoided having to sell assets. He commented on how sad it was that CBC-Radio Canada had been left with no other choice but to mortgage its own future in order to balance its books.

I can state that the Liberal Party would never have turned its back on the fate of CBC-Radio Canada. We would have backed it up in order to allow it to obtain the necessary leeway to get though this crisis. As a result, the layoffs and reductions in service and programming could have been avoided.

But because of the government's inaction, jobs are going to disappear, not only in major centres like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, but also in many Canadian cities and regions. I am thinking of such places as Windsor, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Quebec City, Moncton, Sydney, Saint John Nova Scotia, Corner Brook, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Regina and many others. The list is getting longer because of this inaction.

The cuts that have been announced mean specifically—to give clear examples—the transformation of the Windsor station to a production centre, and the elimination of programs: the noonday Téléjournal Acadie and L'Ontario aujourd'hui.

I do not think that francophones in minority communities are impressed by the government's work on this issue. I do not think that there is one single francophone who is impressed by its work on this issue. If the government sincerely believed in linguistic duality and in promoting and respecting our two official languages, it would invest the necessary funds. Without that investment, the government is all talk and no action.

Our public broadcaster is very important to all regions of the country, and I am extremely disappointed and angry that the government has chosen to get rid of television, radio and new media journalists, producers and artists. Despite its claim that it wants to create new jobs, it has put the CBC in the position of having to cut 800 jobs.

The government needs to make up its mind: is it going to invest to get us out of this crisis, or is it going to do nothing, as it has done for the CBC?

The fact that the government's inaction has resulted in cuts that affect French-language services to francophone minority communities is unacceptable. We know that these communities count on the CBC to disseminate and promote their culture across the country. The government has a major responsibility toward both of our official languages, and it must shoulder that responsibility instead of trying to duck out.

Let us consider the CBC's mandate. First, its programming must reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special needs of those regions. Second, the CBC must actively contribute to the flow and exchange of cultural expression. Third, its programming must be in English and in French, reflecting the different needs and circumstances of each official language community, including the particular needs and circumstances of English and French linguistic minorities. Fourth, its programming must strive to be of equivalent quality in English and in French. Fifth, the CBC must contribute to shared national consciousness and identity. Sixth, its programming must be made available throughout Canada by the most appropriate and efficient means and as resources become available for the purpose. Last, the CBC must also reflect the multicultural and multiracial nature of Canada.

How can CBC/Radio-Canada carry out that important mandate when it faces a $171 million shortfall? How can it maintain a presence in the regions, in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba or British Columbia if it is not provided with the tools to do so? That is what this motion is about. In view of the Conservative government's inaction and insensitivity, this House must act.

It is clear that the government has wanted to do away with CBC/Radio-Canada for a long time. The current Prime Minister had this to say on March 28, 1995, when he was a member of this House:

If we look at the Canadian television industry we see two private national broadcasters that both manage to make a profit most years. Then we have the CBC which is mortgaged to the hilt and costs over $1 billion a year. The major reason two are winners and one is a loser is based on incentives or lack of them.

Reform policy would place the government sponsored loser [the CBC] in a situation where subsidies are weaned away and the future of the company is based on consumer satisfaction.

In short, he is talking about abolishing CBC/Radio-Canada. It is clear that this government, which is very firmly led by this Prime Minister, who controls everything, wants to do as much damage as possible to the public broadcaster by using the current economic crisis for its own purposes. The government wants to use the current economic crisis to slash funding for the CBC and get rid of the corporation. We know what the Prime Minister thinks of the CBC, but it is interesting that some of his own members recently voiced quite a different opinion.

In February 2008, in its report to the government, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage recommended stable, long-term funding for CBC/Radio-Canada. These two recommendations were supported by the Conservative members. Obviously, the government did not act on the report's findings. In fact, it did not lift a finger to help our public broadcaster. Now, the situation is critical and action is urgently needed.

That is why I said and will keep on saying that in view of the government's inaction and insensitivity, this House must act. That is the reason for the motion and the debate today. I ask all my colleagues to support this motion.

Opposition Motion—CBC/Radio-Canada
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, I guess it is of benefit in the House from time to time to have a short memory, but I would like to jog the member's memory and take him back to the 1993 Liberal red book. I know the individual was not a member of the House at that time but I imagine he was still a proud Liberal.

Let me outline a couple of things that were in the 1993 red book. Better health care, we know about that. Shorter wait times, we know that doubled under the Liberal government. Better access to post-secondary education was in it, but tuition fees doubled under the Liberal government. The Liberals were going to cut the GST and now they want to raise it. I do not understand. Of course, they did not cut it. We know national child care was a major failure. The Liberal Party did not get that done.

In the very last paragraph of the 1993 red book the Liberals said they would support the CBC at current funding levels. They cut $414 million from the CBC and 4,000 people lost their jobs. Does the member remember that? Where was his passion from 1993 to 1997 and, in fact, in 1998?

Opposition Motion—CBC/Radio-Canada
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Honoré-Mercier, QC

I was a proud Liberal then and I am a proud Liberal today, Madam Speaker.

We could always go back 10 or 20 years. The member, in answer to a question on the CBC, talked about child care and the GST. He will talk about almost anything to smother debate and try to shift the attention to other things. Simply stated, in the current situation, the Liberal Party of Canada would never have abandoned our public broadcaster as the Government of Canada is doing.

I read the comments made by the Prime Minister as a member of this House. At the time he thought, and even today he thinks, that they would cut, cut and cut some more and end up making the CBC disappear.That is the government's position.

Opposition Motion—CBC/Radio-Canada
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, the issue we are dealing with is similar to many other major concerns before the House today, including when the previous government refused to ensure a solid foundation for certain programs. This created ripe conditions for the Conservatives to come along and erode them even further.

The CBC is no different than any other issue like that. The problem we are now facing is due to the fact that the Liberal government did not ensure proper support for the CBC over the last decade. We now have this erosion of our public broadcaster.

My question is specifically the following. In the past, when the Liberals cut back or targeted CBC, specifically with respect to Ukrainian broadcast services under CBC, the community spoke up and caused that cutback to be rescinded. Today we are facing a situation with the Conservatives where they are doing the same thing.

I want to ask the Liberals, what was the benefit? What did the lobby do that caused the Liberals to change their minds on this so we can apply that logic to the Conservatives today?