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Evidence of meeting #67 for Finance in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was federal.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Aurel Braun  Professor, University of Toronto, As an Individual
Rob Rainer  Executive Director, Canada Without Poverty
James L. Turk  Executive Director, Canadian Association of University Teachers
Jeffrey Turnbull  Past-President, Canadian Medical Association
Michael Jackson  Professor, Faculty of Law, University of British-Columbia, As an Individual
Alain Noël  Full Professor, Department of Political Science, Université de Montréal, As an Individual
Alain Pineau  National Director, Canadian Conference of the Arts
Linda Silas  President, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
Karen Wirsig  Communication Policy, Canadian Media Guild
John McAvity  Executive Director, Canadian Museums Association
Anil Naidoo  Project Organizer, Council of Canadians

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Actually the point of order that I have, Chair, is that this member has five minutes and I assume that his time is being used up as he goes through and berates me. I didn't berate any of the witnesses. I agreed and disagreed with them. In fact I was very respectful to Mr. Naidoo. So I assume that you're not giving him any extra time for this tirade.

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

I appreciate that.

6:10 p.m.

A voice

That's shameful.

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Order.

I know we've spent a lot hours, and I know members are working very hard. I would just encourage members to be as respectful as possible. Let's try to cut down on the back and forth across the table. Let's pose the questions to the witnesses who are here. I am asking all members to do that respectfully and to use their time to ask questions of the witnesses, and to get as much information out as they can.

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Ms. Wirsig, I said you were brave and I want to point out that Mr. Naidoo told us he felt he could speak freely because he is not afraid of losing his public funding, since he does not receive any.

Before talking to Mr. Pineau about the consequences of eliminating the Arts, Culture and Diversity Program, I would like to ask him something, and I will phrase my question carefully. Does he understand why I think it is a great shame that, having been such a cohesion builder in respect of copyright reform, the Canadian Conference of the Arts is having its funding reduced by so much when the program has been funded for 46 years? Does he think it is reasonable for me to raise my eyebrows at these kinds of cuts?

6:10 p.m.

National Director, Canadian Conference of the Arts

Alain Pineau

It depends on what your political philosophy is. You may be surprised. When we learned that this was the government's decision, we decided to accept it. We have worked for a year now to establish ourselves on an autonomous footing. In fact, regardless of the government's political stripe, when an organization is funded out of public monies, politicians are very thin-skinned and sensitive. I worked at the CBC for 34 years, and I can tell you all about that.

Becoming autonomous is an objective that our board of directors has embraced. We have developed a business plan that enables us to do that. We have requested transitional funding from the government. It saw that we were serious about this and it gave us a lot less than what we needed, but we can start from there. I hope we will succeed, because I believe that an organization like the Canadian Conference of the Arts has something unique to bring to the public discourse.

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

That is entirely correct.

I am sure that my neighbours opposite greatly appreciate your politeness, sir.

The Canadian Conference of the Arts certainly played an absolutely outstanding role in the negotiations relating to copyright reform—

coast to coast to coast

—in trying to build cohesion among the views of creators throughout Canada. That is entirely to your credit.

6:10 p.m.

National Director, Canadian Conference of the Arts

Alain Pineau

Under the agreement with the government, our fundamental role is to simplify the message as much as possible, by reducing the cacophony that exists within such a diverse community and bringing together so many divergent interests. That is why our position was not necessarily an absolute consensus, but a majority consensus.

We simplified the message and we presented 20 clear amendments to parliamentarians. If someone does not like the message, that is one thing, but at least we fulfilled our mandate of simplifying matters.

May 31st, 2012 / 6:15 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

I congratulate you.

I have one last question that relates to the Arts, Culture and Diversity Program. Is it correct to say that the ASPAQ, the Association des professionnels des arts de la scène du Québec, which made its voice heard clearly during negotiations concerning Bill C-11, is going to disappear along with that program?

6:15 p.m.

National Director, Canadian Conference of the Arts

Alain Pineau

No, the ASPAQ is not part of that program. If I understand correctly, because this covers a lot of ground, the cuts to the Canada Music Fund will affect that organization. That has nothing to do with the program that funded us.

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

I would like to ask Ms. Wirsig a question.

A little earlier, you alluded to television studios. Do you have an idea now about what is going to happen in the case of the Halifax television studio, which will probably be sold? Do you think it will be sold to a used car dealership or another broadcaster?

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Please give a brief response.

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

It is a private broadcaster, this time.

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Please give a brief response.

6:15 p.m.

Communication Policy, Canadian Media Guild

Karen Wirsig

We do not know. The proposed closure is scheduled for 2014, I believe. Between now and then, we will be working to stop the sale of the studio or find a way to keep it operating, because it is very important to have a television studio in eastern Canada.

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Fine. Thank you.

Mr. Van Kesteren, please.

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you, everybody, for coming this afternoon.

There's a lot of talk about the size and scope of the budget. That's been much of the focus. I need to stress that this is a result of the government's strategy, which is jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity. That's our strategy. That's what we plan to do.

Madam Silas, you think we should spend more on health care, and that's fair. Mr. Pineau thinks we should spend more on culture. I think Ms. Wirsig said the same, and I don't disagree with that.

We heard from the Council of Canadians. I checked your web page, and right up front, the first thing I read was “don't frack”, “no pipelines”, “no tankers”, and “saying no to CETA”. You also agree that we should spend more on health care. That's kind of a consensus we have here, as well.

We all have to agree that to improve services, we have to grow our economy. Again, I want to stress that this is the government's strategy: jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity.

In a previous meeting here, I made reference to the fact that here in Canada, we are cutting $5 billion out of the budget. I just returned from a trip to the Netherlands. The Netherlands is a country of 16 million people, as opposed to our 33 million. It is a country the size of Mr. Brison's province. It's the size of Nova Scotia. With a budget of approximately 150 billion euros, the Netherlands is going to cut 15 billion euros. The Netherlands probably agrees with us, in that we both recognize what economists are saying, which is that western economies can't continue to go on in the direction they're going. This is what economists are telling us. The Netherlands isn't the only country. I think there's Germany and a number of other countries. We can't continue our spending levels and not expect to run into some big problems.

In the previous panel that came before us, we spoke to Mr. Turk. His concern was education. He felt, and I don't think anybody disagrees, that we need to spend more money on education. He compared us to the United States in post-secondary spending. What wasn't brought out, of course, is that in the United States it costs about $30,000 for a year of university. I don't know what it is in Canada, but I know that it's not $30,000. I said $30,000, but in some places it's $35,000, $40,000, or $50,000.

The other difference that wasn't brought out is that the United States is projected to have another $3 trillion deficit. It did that last year, and it looks as if it's going to do it this year. There seems to be no plan to stop.

I have a very simple question, and then maybe we can discuss later how we're going to do this. I want you to just answer this very simple question. The strategy this government has embarked upon I believe is something Canadians want us to do too. Do you think the strategy to balance the budget is the correct strategy? Or do you think we should continue to move into a deficit position, as the United States is spiralling into?

I'd like each one of you to answer that simple question. It's a yes or no question. Then we'll talk about how we're going to do that.

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

You have about a minute, so please be very brief.

6:20 p.m.

President, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions

Linda Silas

I mentioned before that it's a question of priority.

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

No, please. Is the strategy to eliminate our deficit the correct strategy, yes or no? That's all. Then if we have time, we'll talk about—

6:20 p.m.

President, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions

Linda Silas

It's not a yes or no question, so I'm not going to be pinpointed there. But I—

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Could we move on to Mr. Noël?

6:20 p.m.

President, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions

Linda Silas

—did not say to increase the cost of health care. I said to spend more smartly. Give continuous funding—

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

That's not my question. We can talk about that in a minute.

6:20 p.m.

President, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions

Linda Silas

—but spend more smartly.