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Evidence of meeting #33 for Canadian Heritage in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was cbc.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

That's it in part. That's one of the arguments.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Simms.

Mr. Armstrong.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Minister, I want to thank you and your departmental staff for being here today.

To start, overall there's a 12% increase in your department's funding, and you expressed to us that many other countries are reducing their funding because of economic pressures in the recession, so that's a very positive thing for your department.

The CBC has seen a budget reduction, but they have also said they have the needed funds to implement their 2015 plan. A big part of the 2015 plan, as I understand it, is to have more Canadian content and more Canadian-produced television shows. In fact, by 2015 I think that's all they're going to be showing. Am I accurate in saying that?

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

That's correct, in both English and French.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

That's for both English and French.

When you look at the increase your department has received, much of it is due to an increase in the funding for the Canada Media Fund. That media fund, as I understand it, is to support artists in actually producing Canadian content and Canadian media. Would there not be a significant possibility that it could support the CBC, and provide them the content they need to meet the 2015 plan? Could you expand on the use of the Canada Media Fund?

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Yes, there's no question that it's an important point. This can't be lost. I'll give an example. We talked about the importance of our national museums and galleries. People ask why the government isn't increasing funding, for example, for the MAP program, the museum assistance program, or why we couldn't be doing more for our national museums. Yet again, you have to draw back to 10,000 feet, and look at the entire suite of programs that we have to support Canadian culture.

For example, in the budget, the indemnification program is a simple concept. There are galleries and museums all across the country, from the big, from the Art Gallery of Ontario, to Glenbow Museum, to the smallest, the Port Moody Station Museum, a little museum in my riding—all shapes and sizes of museums. They apply to the Government of Canada for indemnification; that is, the Government of Canada agrees to be an insurance underwriter for the cost of transporting and hosting paintings, sculptures, any kind of exhibit that might be shown in a gallery or museum across the country.

Local museums can't take this on. Local museums in this country are overwhelmingly volunteer organizations. It's not as if somebody like my father, a retired dentist, is going to take on the financial liability of hosting something from Rembrandt. He's not going to expose himself to that, to vandalism or what have you, nor is a volunteer organization. The Government of Canada steps in and backs them up, helps underwrite and fund them. We've doubled that.

Some people ask if the government couldn't be doing more for galleries and museums. On the cash side, we say sure, there's always an explanation for that, but if you draw back and look at the indemnification program, $3 billion is a massive relief for our galleries. The current envelope of $1.5 billion is usually taken up and consumed within the first three months of the year. We recognize that. Also, the big, professional organizations that have decent-sized budgets can go straight after those funds and crowd out the little guys. So we fixed that.

The reason I mention it is that there's a similar parallel to the CBC. The CBC's budget is being reduced by 10% over the coming three years, it's true. However, on the other side, our government has created the Canada Media Fund. The Canada Media Fund receives $100 million per year from the Government of Canada. All told, the total partnership is $375 million. So $1 billion per year of A-based, Government of Canada money goes to the CBC, plus they get their ad revenue, which constitutes about a third of their operating budget. On top of that, we're committing $100 million every year to the Canada Media Fund, a public-private partnership that we created, which in total kicks $375 million into Canada's audio-visual sector.

All those shows are created and have to be Canadian in content and available in multiple platforms. The CBC leads the country in multiple platforms. It allows the CBC to access up to $375 million worth of productions of Canadian content to be shown on Canadian platforms all across the country. What we’ve done is take the Canada Television Fund and the Canada Media Fund, merge them together, and create a partnership.

The Canada Media Fund and the Canada Television Fund were created by the Liberals after the 1995 cuts to the CBC as sort of a stopgap from some of the blowback it received from those cuts. Those were both sunsetters and were lapsed every year. So production companies relying on those funds in order to create their Canadian television shows didn't know if those funds would be available multiple years down the road.

What we did is merge those two funds, create the Canada Media Fund, and build a partnership with the private sector. We put in $100 million, and the private sector kicks in $275 million this year into this fund. Now we have all this money available. And better than that, the fund is not a sunsetter; it's an A-based fund. In budget 2011, which we passed just after the last campaign, we A-based it, which is to say that it's not a sunsetter any more, it's now a permanent part of the Government of Canada's funding infrastructure for Canadian television and shorts and movies, and content in both official languages. Part of it is reserved for productions in French, part of it is reserved for productions in aboriginal languages and in aboriginal communities, and part of it is reserved for all these things that are critical to Canada's diversity across the country.

When people are critical of the reductions to the CBC, I understand, but you have to draw back and see the entire suite of things being done to support Canada's audio-visual sector. In that regard, I think we're doing very well.

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Thank you.

How much time do I have left?

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

You have a minute and a half.

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

I want to move on to another increase in funding, the $29.9 million for the aboriginal peoples' program, which is related to the cultural connections for aboriginal youth and the aboriginal languages initiatives. I think this is a very positive investment. For someone who has had a lot of background and experience and education of our first nations youth, this ability for them to engage like this, for the federal government to engage our aboriginal youth, which is the fastest-growing population in Canada....

Could you elaborate a bit on why that decision was made? I think it's a positive decision. I think it's the right direction to go.

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Well, we've shifted the fund itself and the program to the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. We've directed it there, and it has the funding necessary, in part because.... There are these asymmetries all through government. For example, the Department of Canadian Heritage funds youth programs, whether it's SEVEC or Katimavik or Forum for Young Canadians, but also HRSDC has a number of youth programs. They have different goals and different purposes. It doesn't mean that they should be doing them, but there are these asymmetries.

After having been minister for three years, it was our view last year that it seemed to make a lot more sense to have these programs integrated more effectively under the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, in part because there's greater expertise there—no slight meant to anybody who has worked in my department over many years on these programs and done so with good intentions. The point is that the aboriginal affairs department has a better, comprehensive appreciation for the needs of aboriginal youth in the country--in particular, urban aboriginal youth. To give them the funds, rather than have us try to manage it as a cultural file, and to have it as part of a broader-based approach to supporting aboriginal communities made more sense to us.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Armstrong.

Mr. Cash.

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Minister, for being here today.

I want to pick up on a couple of things you and my colleague Mr. Nantel were talking about, because you mentioned ideology and an ideological difference, and you brought in sincerity. You know, sincerity is that the things you say match the things you do, and on that account we don't see sincerity coming from you.

And in terms of ideology, we know that the Conservative government has loved to hate the CBC, but they've got you, and you are like a knife I have in my kitchen. You know, I've got some blunt knives that don't do a very good job, then I have a beautiful knife with a nice handle and it's sharp and big. You don't feel it sticking in at first, but it cuts nonetheless. And you cut. You cut. You say that you love the arts, you say that you love artists, and yet you cut. You are James the Knife. You've cut at the CBC, you've cut art, you've cut funding for artists, Minister.

When you cut 175 hours of programming in prime time on the CBC, you're cutting funding to artists. You're cutting funding to actors, to musicians, to directors and producers, to writers. You know, you mentioned Christopher Plummer, and I know you love to be around all these guys, but what you're doing is you're cutting the very foundation that nurtured these artists. I don't know if this government really understands how artists make a living.

Now, with respect to the parliamentary secretary, it was you who mentioned copyright here today, and I wanted to pick up on something you said there. You said the main issue with copyright is that we have to deal with the piracy and that's going to help artists. How does piracy and a loophole that allows broadcasters to not pay a royalty to artists connect at all? It's like saying you've got to go the dentist to fix your tooth, and when it's being fixed he's going to break your legs at the same time. He only had to fix your tooth. It makes no sense. That argument makes no sense.

On the subject of the CBC, you also say that allowing a large crown corporation with a billion-dollar budget to have three years--let's say three, let's not say ten--of budget certainty is not prudent government. How is that a fact when about every large corporation in the country needs that planning time, needs to plan in advance?

Now, what you did say was that the CBC has some certainty in terms of what has been cut over the next three years. So are you saying that there are going to be no more cuts other than this $115 million from the CBC? Is that what you're saying today, that that's it for cuts to the CBC?

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

First, to your opening analogy with the reference to the knife, thanks for calling me big and beautiful.

But look, nice try with the leg-breaking analogy. Not quite so true. As I explained to your colleague with regard to the audio-visual industry, not only are we still spending over a billion dollars every year to the CBC, but there is $375 million in money that didn't exist prior to, frankly, our government. Not to be immodest, but the first initiative that I took on as Minister of Heritage was to re-establish that public-private partnership and to build the Canada Media Fund.

I appreciate you waving the flag here for a 10% reduction over three years to the CBC, which is $115 million, but feel free to go ahead and acknowledge the $375 million that is also being invested on the other side into the audio-visual sector, looking forward to that analogy.

With regard to the CBC, our economic action plan is a plan and the reductions that we have are over three years. Everything we have put in place is to arrive at a balanced budget by 2015. That's over three years. Everything that we've put forward in the budget is our plan over three years. The certainty that we've given the CBC, and every single other government organization, is that these reductions will be phased in over three years. This is a three-year plan, and the CBC is planning accordingly, specifically to their mandate and their plan for 2015.

Our whole approach to this, on policy and on funding, has been to support and recognize the 2015 plan and to make sure that it is realized in the full scale they hope it will achieve, and the funding is there in order to do that.

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Yes, but when they presented their 2015 plan they presented also $50 million in cuts. At the time, you said you were satisfied with that and that CBC had what they needed to fulfill the mandate. Then you proceeded to cut another $115 million.These cuts are.... You know, you can talk all you want about the various other ways in which you—

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

It's just a third of a billion dollars. It's no big deal, right?

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

What's that?

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

It's just a third of a billion dollars.

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

But that doesn't relate to the CBC.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Your time is up.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Nice try.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Mr. Young.

May 29th, 2012 / 12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you, Minister, for being here today.

I want to quote from the remarks we have in front of us that you read today. You said that supporting arts and culture is absolutely essential to keeping our economy on track.

I spent a couple of years of my life in the music business, booking and managing bands, etc. I am thinking of how when someone writes a song it leads to economic activity. To give you a brief summary, one person with a guitar or a piano writes a song and records it, which employs engineers and technicians in the studio and graphic artists if they're going to release an album, and production workers and distributors, and retail sales and radio station staff, and all their advertisers and all their employees. Then they may decide to perform that song.

Earlier today I was thinking of a song. Tom Cochrane is from Oakville. He wrote Life Is a Highway in 1991. He sold six million copies of his album Mad Mad World. Then he went out and performed it. That employed sound and lighting technicians, people in ticket sales, ushers, security, souvenir sales, and beer sales, of course. That's repeated year after year across Canada.

I wonder if you can comment on how funding for the arts consistently—and I'm thinking of the Canada Council for the Arts—directly benefits the Canadian economy.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

I think it's a great way of framing it.

I saw some criticism. You may remember there was an interview with Maggie Gillis where she was attacked because of the assumption that there wasn't a return for investment in the arts. Sometimes there isn't, but it's also not subject to a very static analysis, such as saying, “We built this bridge and we had this many crossings, and the typical speed was this. Therefore, we're moving this many people to and from work in different parts of the city. Therefore, we can assume that we've taken this many GHGs out of the atmosphere. Therefore, we've improved productivity.” We can do those kinds of analyses on a number of projects, for example on shipbuilding, but when you invest in the arts, it's not subject to such a quick and easy static analysis of what the economic and social benefits are. This is often why those of us who believe in the importance of the cultural economy have to very persistently engage and re-engage in making and bolstering and re-emphasizing the argument for supporting the arts and what it means to our economy and to our society.

The macroeconomic numbers are known, and I say them every time I have the opportunity. Arts and culture is $46 billion in the Canadian economy and over 640,000 jobs. It is three times the size of Canada's insurance industry, twice the size of Canada's forest industry. It's a massive part of our economy.

When Les FrancoFolies happens in Montreal and all the people rush into town to see these fantastic performances, they fill the hotels, they buy gas, they buy sandwiches, they buy drinks, they go out at night. Maybe they take a side trip to Charlevoix or they go up to Quebec City. The economic benefits and the spinoffs are things that are often hard to quantify, but we all know they're there.

We also know that housing prices go up when houses are next to a park. Housing prices in Vancouver go up for homes that are next to the park that hosts Bard on the Beach. We know these things. How do you quantify and loop into the economic benefit of investing in the arts if we're supporting Bard on the Beach? All those condos in Kitsilano and on the west side of Vancouver have higher property values. Why? Because of the green spaces and because of the arts and culture and because of the milieu that is there and that has been nurtured for years.

There is an economic benefit to that, but it isn't expressly quantified by those who would attack the arts and ask, “You invested how much in Bard on the Beach? What were the ticket sales? What were the numbers? Then it's an economic downturn.” It's not true. Investing in culture is investing in the economy. In the long term, it's investing in the economy by stirring children's imaginations and brains.

When we talk about wanting the next generation of kids to be inventors of iPad apps, to be the great technological innovators and thinkers of the future, it doesn't start when they're choosing their major in university and college after high school or grade 13. It starts when they're five or six years old and we take them to see the performing arts and we expose them to music, which their parents may not have had the opportunity to do. When they see culture, those synapses in the brain fire. Those cultural sectors of the brain are stirred at a very young age. That's when it starts. It starts when they're five or six years old.

Sometimes that does require public subsidy, and it does require our working with organizations to ensure that galleries and museums and films are available to our kids, because it's so critical. The economic benefit of all that is immeasurable.

You know of Richard Florida's book in which he segments the country into the different zones. He makes an argument--which is not always true, but I think there is a compelling argument--that it's not a coincidence the most prosperous and innovative part of the digital economy in the United States is housed in the same place where we find Berkeley, in San Francisco, one of the most creative cities in the United States. The cultural sector and the arts are generated in San Francisco and those places that are seen as the cultural hubs of North America. It's not an accident that all the technological companies are based there as well. These things actually feed on one another.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Young.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

That's it?