House of Commons Hansard #72 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was products.

Topics

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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

Vote #86

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion, as amended, carried.

The House resumed from June 5 consideration of the motion.

Atlantic Lobster Fishery
Private Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion No. 284 under private members' business in the name of the hon. member for Cardigan.

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

Vote #87

Atlantic Lobster Fishery
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from June 9 consideration of the motion that Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (amounts not included in earnings), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Employment Insurance Act
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-279, under private members' business.

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

Vote #88

Employment Insurance Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion lost.

Employment Insurance Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

It being 6:29 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from March 27 consideration of the motion.

Artists
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I hardly need say that I support this motion, since it reflects what the Liberal Party of Canada has been saying for a very long time.

My party, as hon. members will know, has been fighting from the very start against the disastrous cuts the present government is making in the area of culture. We know they were not necessary and were not based on economic considerations. They were merely based on an ideology that does not in any way fit with the values of the people of Canada.

The Conservative government would like to be able to control the content of what our artists have to say abroad, and this is unacceptable. Culture must be free, and never subject to the overview of any government.

It has been clear for a long time that the government knows nothing about culture. Worst still, it views it with suspicion. That is why they have cut such programs as PromArt and Trade Routes. Those programs enabled our artists to take part in international tours and to become known abroad, which is, incidentally, excellent for this country's image. It is also part of what is called cultural diplomacy, while at the same time making a positive contribution to the economy of our country.

As the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada so aptly put it, “Cutting culture makes us invisible to the world.”

The government told us that the programs were cut as a result of an objective revision based on analysis and facts, yet when I asked for copies of these analyses in committee, none were supplied, nothing, no proof whatsoever.

Yet when the committee received and listened to dozens of artists, producers and other creators who benefited from the programs, the message was unanimous. They spoke with one voice, saying these were good programs and were made good use of, as well as meeting the objectives of the Department of Canadian Heritage. We know that these programs helped out numerous troupes and numerous artists who have performed successfully all over the world. Thanks to them, our artists and our artistic troupes, along with the culture of Canada, have been able to gain wide international exposure.

Since these programs have been cut, some tours have been cancelled, jobs have been lost, and dreams have evaporated. We know as well that Canada's image has suffered as a result.

How are we supposed to explain to our international partners that the Canadian government no longer supports its artists when it comes international tours?

What explanation can we give? None. In spite of this, some of our artists decided to go ahead with their tours, even though they knew they would lose money. It was the lesser of two evils. They preferred to lose money on a planned tour than to lose their reputation and credibility by cancelling the tour.

Our artists have always been, and continue to be, Canada's pride on the international stage. How is it even possible that we have placed them in such an embarrassing situation? The government should be ashamed of itself.

I said it before and I will say it again: funding for these programs must be restored. Similarly, why was the Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund eliminated? With a budget of just $1.5 million per year, this program resulted in many high-quality documentaries that launched the careers of several independent filmmakers. There is a need for this program and its funding should be restored.

And what about the National Training Program for the Film and Video Sector, a program that will shape the future of our industry in this area? How and where will future producers, directors, filmmakers and artisans in the film and video sector be trained? This program was also absolutely essential and the government has proposed absolutely nothing in its place.

I could go on and on, because the list of programs that were cut by the government is long, much too long. This situation has to be rectified as soon as possible.

I also believe that the Canada Council for the Arts budget should be increased. This organization has a great deal of credibility in the arts community and does absolutely extraordinary work with our creators and artists in all disciplines of the arts and culture sector. There are few organizations that have such a great reputation and have such a positive and beneficial impact on the clients that the Canada Council serves.

Having said that, if the government does not like culture because of what it represents, let it at least acknowledge its extraordinary contribution in terms of economic spinoffs.

Indeed, the arts and culture sector largely contributes to our economy. Exports stemming from this industry increase year after year.

Culture is all that and much more. In fact, we must recognize culture for all that it is and all that it represents. Our culture defines us, it is our identity, it is what we are. I would even say that our culture is our past, our present and also our future.

Beyond numbers and programs, culture is alive. It is fun, stimulating, and inspiring. Just try to imagine a world without music, a world without books, or a world without films.

To have all these things that are so important to us, we need creators, dreamers and artists. These absolutely amazing creators, dreamers and artists are right in front of us. We are fortunate to have them here among us. We are fortunate to have some of the best in the world, people who make Canada and every province proud on the world stage. We are fortunate to have some of the biggest stars in dance, music and theatre.

These people are not asking for handouts or favours. They want programs that will let them keep on giving the best of themselves. They want programs that will let them keep on doing what they do best, which is making us laugh, sometimes making us cry, making us sing, making us dance, making us dream.

A government that invests in culture is a government that has confidence in itself and in its own identity. When we invest in our culture, we are investing in our own quality of life and we are helping to boost the heart and soul of our own society. The Conservatives refuse to recognize this, though, and it is up to each one of us to remind them of it.