Physical Activity and Sport Act

An Act to promote physical activity and sport

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in November 2003.

Sponsor

Sheila Copps  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

SupplyGovernment Orders

October 23rd, 2003 / 4:05 p.m.
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Bras D'Or—Cape Breton Nova Scotia

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to join in the debate today on this opposition motion. May I note off the top that I will be splitting my time with my very capable colleague from York West.

Certainly I will never pretend to have a vast or deep technical appreciation for the complexities of the procedures of the House. However, I assure members that any light that I would shed would be pale in comparison to the comments in the intervention that was made earlier in the debate from the government leader of the House.

I will not be quoting from Marleau and Montpetit or citing passages from Beauchesne's. I believe as far as the technical aspects of the motion, they were very much addressed during the presentation by the government House leader.

I would like to make comments about the current Prime Minister, but I will not reach back too far and try to celebrate the 40 year career of our current Prime Minister and his commitment to public life. I will leave that to the pundits and the biographers and let him take his rightful place in history, which I am sure will be smiled upon by all.

I would like to talk about events that have occurred recently and more, the recent initiatives shown by this Prime Minister, including some of the brave, decisive decisions that have been made while he has been on his watch. He has presented legislation, rendered opinions on everything in our day to day activities in the House that have really made Canada a better place to be and one of which all Canadians can be proud.

I must make note first of some of the comments that have been made on the other side of the House during the course of this debate. They would like to think of late that things have slowed down in the House and that the work of the government is not being done. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Since 2002, over 55 pieces of legislation have come forward. Of those, 22 have been passed by the House, the Senate and have received royal assent. We really should celebrate some of this significant legislation.

I look at Bill C-2, the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act, Bill C-5, the act respecting the protection of wildlife species and species at risk in Canada and Bill C-12, an act to promote physical activity in sport. That is the first piece of sport legislation that has cleared this House since the late 1960s. Bill C-44, an act to compensate military members injured during service is legislation that addresses some obvious inequities in how we deal with members of the military who have sustained serious injury and debilitating injury.

Of late we have had a tough time as a country. We have to look at some of the things we have experienced over the last 12 months such as SARS, mad cow and the forest fires and floods in western Canada. My home province of Nova Scotia just suffered the effects of hurricane Juan. We have had our own array of difficulties and none through any cause of our own. We have been very fortunate. Because of our financial situation, we have been able to offer assistance. We have been able to move in and make decisive, benevolent moves to help in each of those areas.

The pain is far-reaching on several of those issues, but certainly the federal government has been there. Had we not been in good financial stead, then perhaps we would not have been able to assist as well as we did.

Obviously, on our financial house, everything comes back to the economy and what has gone on with it. Sometimes as Canadians we suffer from a short memory. It is convenient not to remember back to 1995 or not look back and remember when this country operated with a $48 billion deficit. The state of the books as of the mid-1990s was deplorable. We were close to being recognized as a third world nation. We just could not continue as a country.

Under the leadership of our Prime Minister, a vision was set. If we could get our financial house in order, then we could to reinvest in the social programs, those programs that Canadians hold so dear. That is what in fact took place. Cuts were made, and, yes, every Canadian shared in the pain of those cuts. However they were imperative. We had to lasso the deficit and gain control of our financial well-being. That was done in the mid-1990s.

Since then we have been able to reinvest. Our economy continues to grow and continues to strengthen.

Since 2002, 612,000 jobs have been created under the Prime Minister, two-thirds of them full time. While other members of the G-7 continue to experience huge difficulties with their national budgets, we are firm on the controls of the budgets here with the Government of Canada.

From 1997 to 1998, Canada became a deficit free country for the first time in 30 years. In the year 2000 the recorded surplus was $12.3 billion. In 2003 the government under, the Prime Minister's leadership, recorded its sixth consecutive surplus budget. In doing so we have applied $52 billion to the national debt. That alone this year will save the people of Canada $3 billion in interest payments on that national debt, which is significant and that has to be noted.

It is great to talk about the big numbers and about the national picture in terms of our financial position. Let us bring it down and let us talk about what has been accomplished at the grassroots for the average Canadian. How have they benefited from the leadership and the stewardship of the Prime Minister?

I remember that it was not that long ago, two or three years, when we all talked about the brain drain and the loss of our best and our brightest as they moved across the border to seek employment in the States. The government saw this as a problem and the Prime Minister saw this as a problem and part of his vision was to invest in innovation and research.

By doing so we were able to keep those students and professors in Canada, to have them study here and perform their research here. What we have seen is really a shift, where now the drain is coming from the States. These people are coming back to Canada or they are staying in Canada and we are attracting some of the best and brightest minds from other countries.

I can take that down to a personal level. I see the investments that have been made in the universities in my area, St. Francis Xavier and the University College of Cape Breton. They are benefiting from programs such as the national research chairs, the Atlantic innovation fund, those types of investments. We are keeping those kids here.

I see the reinvestment in health care of $34.8 billion following the Romanow commission. We have an MRI machine in Sydney. We have digital x-ray machines in Inverness and in Richmond County. People can get x-rays which can be digitized, then sent and read by specialists anywhere in the world. That was not available two years ago.

I see improvements in infrastructure in my home communities, in Birch Grove and in St. Peter's through the Canada-Nova Scotia infrastructure program. Tomorrow I will attend tomorrow the opening of a water treatment plant in Glace Bay, where a $10 million investment by all three levels of government will provide clean water to the residents of Glace Bay. I am very happy to be part of that announcement.

I could talk about species at risk legislation that is important to the people and Kyoto that will secure a healthy environment as we go forward to the future.

What I would like to finish on is the Prime Minister's guidance and leadership through the Iraqi crisis. He took a brave, strong and principled position throughout the Iraqi crisis, identifying that Canada stood as a sovereign nation, much to the criticism of the official opposition. When we look at the polls now, well over 70% of Canadians know that he did the right thing.

Our Prime Minister has provided great leadership in this country, and well beyond this motion today, he will continue to provide that leadership to the people of Canada.

Export Development CanadaThe Royal Assent

March 19th, 2003 / 3:15 p.m.
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The Speaker

Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

March 19, 2003

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Hon. Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 19th day of March, 2003, at 10:01 a.m.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Uteck

Secretary to the Governor General

The schedule indicates the bill assented to was Bill C-12, an act to promote physical activity and sport--Chapter No. 2.

Physical Activity and Sport ActGovernment Orders

February 27th, 2003 / 3:45 p.m.
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The Deputy Speaker

We will go back to the previous matter before the House, Bill C-12.

Is the House ready for the question?

Physical Activity and Sport ActGovernment Orders

February 27th, 2003 / 3:35 p.m.
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NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part briefly in this discussion of Bill C-12. The reason we are dealing with it is that four amendments have come back to us from the other place. One is on linguistic duality. The second is on grants and contributions that will accord with the Official Languages Act. The third one deals with the corporate plan of the new sports body to be tabled annually in both Houses and, finally, that an annual report be tabled each year.

Just briefly by way of background, Bill C-54, now Bill C-12, was considered to be non-controversial and was supported unanimously last June by all parties in the House. The bill replaces and updates the Fitness and Amateur Sport Act, which dates back to 1961, and is intended to bring people, organizations and governments together to encourage, promote and develop physical activity in sport in Canada, a goal that all parties supported enthusiastically, as I have said.

In its preamble, the bill indicates that sport and physical activity can be forces that bind Canadians together, enhancing, among other things, the bilingual nature of Canada. The bill received unanimous support in the House on October 9, 2002, although I do not believe there was a recorded vote at that time.

To deal specifically and briefly with the amendments, Motion No. 1 makes a change to the preamble to the bill by adding the phrase “linguistic duality”.

The preamble states, and I quote:

whereas the Government of Canada recognizes that physical activity and sport are integral parts of Canadian culture and society and produce benefits in terms of health, quality of life, economic activity, cultural diversity and social cohesion, including strengthening the bilingual character of Canada;

And the amendment reads as follows:

social cohesion, linguistic duality, economic activity, cultural diversity and quality of life;

The main change here is to have the phrase “linguistic duality” replace the words “bilingual nature of Canada”. I would point that out to the member for Fraser Valley, who seemed to be concerned that the government was somehow trying to sneak something in as a result of the proposed changes from the other place. I think the two are very similar.

Motion No. 2 relates to the grants and contributions in accord with the Official Languages Act. The bill as passed in the House last year read as follows:

For the purposes of this Act, the Minister may provide financial assistance in the form of grants and contributions to any person.

The amendment adds, after the words “to any person”, the following words:

in accordance with Parts IV and VII of the Official Languages Act.

In Motion No. 3, the corporate plan of the new sports body is to be tabled in both Houses each year, with the annual report to be tabled in both Houses each year. We support both of these.

With regard to the corporate plan, the Senate amendment adds a new subclause 32(4), which states:

The Minister shall cause a copy of the corporate plan to be tabled in each House of Parliament on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the Minister receives the plan.

We contacted representatives of the sports community. They were initially opposed to that clause being added, arguing that the sport body was set up to be at arm's length and the government seemed to be pulling it back under too tight a control. They insisted initially that enough accountability had already been built in and that these amendments sent a negative signal to sports bodies and athletes.

We have been told, however, that after consideration they are now prepared to support these amendments. So are the members of this caucus. We will be supporting the four amendments that have been presented to us this afternoon.

Physical Activity and Sport ActGovernment Orders

February 27th, 2003 / 3:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to take part in today's debate on amendments from the other place to Bill C-12.

First, given what is at stake, I hope that the Secretary of State for Amateur Sports, who has said that he is concerned with the future of our athletes, is listening to everything being said here in the House.

The merits of this bill are not in question. After holding numerous consultations, the federal government has finally responded to the expectations of the sports community by introducing a modern, updated bill, which makes sports and physical a central feature of our daily lives and our health.

Inspired by Canada's sports policy, which aims, in particular, to increase participation, support excellence and develop potential, this bill will become the strategic framework for federal government policies on sports and physical activities.

Despite this expression of willingness to serve the interests of the population and the sports community, I would like to mention a few extremely important points.

First, there is the thorny issue of the official languages. This bill contains certain provisions on official languages. But we will be responsible for ensuring that the principles it contains are respected and turned into concrete action.

The flaws as far as official languages are concerned are more of a concern to me and most certainly are nothing new. In June 1999, I filed a complaint with the Commissioner of Official Languages, asking for an investigation of the situation of francophone athletes in elite amateur sport in Canada. This was a follow-up to the hearings of the sub-committee on sport and the discrimination I had witnessed.

The commissioner's report indicated that our complaint was justified and clearly demonstrated that francophone athletes were markedly disadvantaged in the present sport system in Canada.

In the year 2000, the commissioner tabled a report containing 16 recommendations to be implemented by April 1, 2001. We are not far from April 1, 2003, yet the report's recommendations have barely been addressed. This is a major cause for concern and is one of the reasons that the Bloc Quebecois has strongly urged that there to be some clear indication in Bill C-12 of respect for official languages.

Energetic measures are needed immediately so that francophone athletes in Canada do not have to leave their language behind in the dressing room if they want to get on to the podium.

This is why I am so pleased with the amendments made in the other place. They are, in fact, a reflection of the commissioner's recommendations.

The first amendment addresses the principle of linguistic duality. According to the commissioner, the principle of linguistic duality, a fundamental characteristic of Canadian society, needs to be part of the preamble to the bill, on an equal footing with the other important advantages of physical activity and sport.

The other amendment, moreover, refers to a crucial clause in the bill, since it relates to the financial assistance the minister can provide through grants and contributions. These are the sources of funding for the sport organizations which were the object of my complaint. They have demonstrated—and in a number of cases still do—some serious shortcomings as far as respect for official languages is concerned.

With this addition, the minister will have to exercise his powers in accordance with parts IV and VII of the Official Languages Act which, among other things, requires the government to enhance the vitality of francophone and anglophone minorities.

These two are important prerequisites for encouraging and imposing respect of both official languages.

Another aspect to which I wish to draw your attention is the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre. We have already voiced some concerns about certain aspects of the centre. I will not revisit them here, except for one.

One of the key elements of the bill is without a doubt the creation of the sport dispute resolution centre. Although we are convinced of the importance of this centre for athletes, namely with regard to timeframes for settling disputes and the exorbitant costs of legal proceedings, we have certain reservations about the minister's power to make appointments to the board of directors.

Like the sporting community, we think that creating a board of directors is an excellent idea. However, this board must reflect the diversity and backgrounds of all the athletes, and must be equitable, and respectful of linguistic duality.

This board of directors, which will be required to decide on the centre's policy directions, will have to be impartial and transparent, two fundamental values for ensuring confidence in the centre's integrity and especially its independence.

The Secretary of State for Amateur Sport told the sports community of his intention to hold an extensive consultation before appointing a board of directors. I intend to follow this consultation very closely.

Furthermore, still in reference to this centre, two amendments were proposed by the upper chamber requiring the minister to table a copy of the business plan and the annual report in each House.

I would like to reassure the sports community that these amendments are not meant to take away from the centre's independence. It is imperative to preserve the centre's independence. This measure is not aimed at interfering in the management of the centre, but at strengthening Parliament's control over the management of public funds. The centre's accountability to Parliament is not synonymous with interference by parliamentarians. The purpose of the amendments is to make the centre accountable to Parliament.

Finally, one last issue that is of particular concern to me is the funds that are necessary to achieve the bill's objectives. Even though we support this legislation, I want to remind the secretary of state about something that is very to truly achieving the stated objectives. It is all fine and well to pass an act promoting physical activity and excellence, but if, in the end, we do not provide the sport community with adequate funding, this will be disappointing for athletes.

In this regard, the federal government has just missed a great opportunity to demonstrate its willingness to provide the sport community with the necessary tools. We were also very disappointed with the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport, as we were with the budget, because he was not at all upset by the measly amount of money earmarked for athletes and the sport community. The base budget of $75 million was not even increased, despite the fact that Athletes CAN and members of the sport community recommended that the government double Sport Canada's budget, to increase it to $150 million.

But nothing was doubled, not even a loonie. Yet, during an awareness campaign held last fall, these athletes took the trouble to come here to meet the parliamentarians of this House. Moreover, in January, during a brief discussion with top level athletes, the Prime Minister recognized the importance of sport and physical activity.

The Prime Minister could at least have asked the Minister of Finance to take action, so that some money, some hard cash, would follow. On the contrary, these athletes only got a pittance, a measly $10 million over a two year period for high performance athletes. And had it not been for the outrage of the sport community and my own representations through the media, these funds would still be conditional on the 2010 Olympic Games being awarded to the City of Vancouver.

I still have some reservations and I still wonder about the government's real willingness to invest in the development of sport, which is the main objective of the bill. Therefore, I would like the government's action to reflect the objectives stated in the bill. In order for a policy to be effective, the means to carry it out must be provided.

The Bloc Quebecois is prepared to support this bill and the amendments, but in return we are asking the federal government to take a very serious look at the situation in the sports world and to make a financial commitment to athletes and coaches, so that they will have adequate facilities and an income worthy of an Olympian or of an athlete that makes us proud by standing on a podium.

Physical Activity and Sport ActGovernment Orders

February 27th, 2003 / 3:20 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberalfor the Secretary of State (Amateur Sport) and Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved the second reading of, and concurrence in, amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-12, an act to promote physical activity and sport.

Mr. Speaker, I will participate only briefly on this item because another member wants to make her comments.

We know that at first the amendments as presented to us by the other place were not appreciated by Canada's athletic community.

I am told that the sports community has had the time to examine these amendments. It now supports the amendments as presented by the Senate or, at least, they are able to reach a consensus.

Under such circumstances and with the support, I think, of all sides of the House, I am pleased to indicate that the government also intends to support these amendments and recommends that they be passed by the House of Commons.

The amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-12 are now agreeable to the House. We intend to support them and to concur in them as I have indicated a moment ago.

I understand that there are a few other brief comments to be made. I am sure that the athletic and sports community in Canada is enthusiastically awaiting our support. If we were to provide that support early today I understand that the bill could receive royal assent in a few days. I hope that we all cooperate in order to do that.

I would like to thank all hon. members and the critics from the other side of the House who have cooperated with the hon. secretary of state on this issue. The secretary of state is very pleased that the bill will finally come to pass and that it will be the new law of Canada very soon.

We wish to thank everyone involved in the amateur sport community for their tremendous contribution, and the preparation and the adoption of the bill.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

February 27th, 2003 / 3 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to make the business statement and I will have two motions which relate to that immediately afterward, with the permission of the House.

This afternoon we will consider the Senate amendments to Bill C-12, the sports bill. I understand this will be brief. This will be followed by third reading of Bill C-15, the lobbyists legislation. If time permits, we would then turn to Bill C-20 on child protection, and then possibly Bill C-23, the sex offender registry. I think by then the day will probably have exhausted.

Tomorrow our plan would be to commence with Bill C-2, the Yukon bill, which would then be followed by Bill C-6, the first nations specific claims bill.

When the House returns on March 17 we will complete the budget debate on that day. I will have a motion to offer to the House in a few minutes to defer the vote on that.

March 18 shall be an allotted day, as shall be March 20. I will give an update to members of the House in terms of legislation to be called on March 19.

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties and I wish to seek unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, if on March 17, 2003, a division is requested on the main motion for government order, ways and means proceedings No. 2, the said division shall be deferred until the conclusion of the time provided for government orders on March 18, 2003.

For the benefit of members, that refers to the budget motion.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

February 20th, 2003 / 3 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I will not interfere in the correspondence between those who have and those who have not been working over recent weeks.

This afternoon we will return to the second reading of Bill C-24, the elections finance bill. We would then call Bill C-20, the child protection bill. We would then move to Bill C-23 respecting a registry for certain offenders. I understand that there would be an interest on the part of some hon. members that after the initial speech by the parliamentary secretary we would adjourn the debate for the convenience of some members.

Tomorrow we will deal with Bill C-13 respecting reproductive technologies. I am still uncertain about one additional item, mainly that of the Senate amendments to Bill C-12, the sports bill. I will get back to hon. members later to see if we can deal with this item tomorrow, but that is still uncertain at this time.

Monday shall be an allotted day. On Tuesday and Wednesday we shall resume the budget debate.

Thursday and Friday of next week will be on legislation that we have before us. I will be speaking with House leaders early in the week to adjust that in view of the tremendous progress made on legislation this day to which the hon. House leader of the opposition in the House referred to earlier.

I wish to conclude by thanking all hon. members for the progress on legislation so far this day.

Physical Activity and Sport ActRoutine Proceedings

October 9th, 2002 / 3:15 p.m.
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Simcoe North Ontario

Liberal

Paul Devillers Liberalfor the Minister of Canadian Heritage

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-12, an act to promote physical activity and sport.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is in the same form as Bill C-54 from the first session of this Parliament and, in accordance with the special order of the House on October 7, 2002, I request that it be reinstated at the same stage that it had reached at the time of prorogation.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)