House of Commons Hansard #115 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was heritage.


Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Shall all questions be allowed to stand?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members


Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I wish to inform the House that pursuant to Standing Order 33(2)(b) because of the ministerial statement Government Orders will be extended by 20 minutes.

The House resumed from October 26 consideration of the motion that Bill C-53, an act to establish the Department of Canadian Heritage and to amend and repeal certain other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee; and of the amendment.

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

October 27th, 1994 / 10:35 a.m.


Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in today's debate on Bill C-53 creating the Department of Canadian Heritage.

First of all, I think it is essential for all members of this House to be aware that this bill is a technicality.

Since our government has been in office, the Department of Canadian Heritage has vigorously pursued its mandate and played a key role in Canadian society. Its activities reflect a wide range of responsibilities in areas of cultural development, arts, broadcasting, national parks, historic sites, amateur sport and multiculturalism.

The department also administers official languages, state ceremonial and Native programs, which are all fundamental elements of the Canadian identity. In a world where international barriers are disappearing, where technology is altering borders, Canadian identity lies at the heart of our country's growth.

It goes without saying that the federal government needs an instrument such as the Department of Canadian Heritage to carry on its work to develop Canadian culture and promote Canadian identity.

I cannot describe in detail all the responsibilities entrusted to the Department of Canadian Heritage, but I will outline some of its activities that are essential to our society's development.

National parks and historic sites are concrete symbols of this country's wealth and an important part of the duties performed by the Department of Canadian Heritage which are designed to promote Canadian identity. Our natural heritage, our vast terri-

tory, our history and our place in the world play a crucial role in promoting our identity and the values we cherish as Canadians.

Furthermore, the official languages policy introduced by the federal government in the 1970s reflects a generous and creative vision. The Department of Canadian Heritage was assigned the responsibility of ensuring that French-and English-speaking Canadians feel at home wherever they choose to reside.

The principle of respect for both official languages of Canada, combined with respect for the traditions and contributions of aboriginal peoples, respect for our cultural diversity as well as fundamental respect for human rights make Canada a land of open-mindedness and opportunity that millions of people dream of around the world.

New Canadians and their language skills constitute a valuable asset for the Canadian society. Just think of the key role they play in our cultural exchanges and trade transactions with foreign countries. The heart of Canada is beating to the rhythm of our many cultures, and the impact of these new human resources will help us progress.

In the international arena, nations strive to find the way to bind together, with a deep feeling of national identity, populations made up of various ethnic, cultural, linguistic and racial groups. Several countries are currently looking seriously into the purely Canadian model we have come up with. The multicultural dimension of Canada is a rich social reality in our country, a reality that we must preserve.

Giving each Canadian the place he or she deserves in our society and the opportunity to contribute fully to building a stronger country can only benefit us all. In the enactment establishing the Department of Canadian Heritage, I note that the government undertakes to achieve equality for all Canadians in matters relating to the social, economic and cultural life of their country.

The Department of Canadian Heritage recognizes the need to remove barriers which divide Canada and build ties based on trust and respect. Bear in mind that the purpose of multiculturalism is to ensure social unity and strengthen national identity. Greater participation by all Canadians in community life can only serve to increase awareness of our cultural and natural wealth.

As for the policies and programs of the Canadian heritage department, their purpose is to promote a greater understanding of our diversity. Let us not forget that, for many communities, the economic and tourist activity generated by departmental operations is often vital. These are broad responsibilities that the Department of Canadian Heritage is fully capable of carrying out.

In closing, I wish to emphasize the need for Bill C-53 to be passed, to recognize formally the jurisdiction of the Department of Canadian Heritage and to allow the department to continue pursuing the mission it has been pursuing for a year and a half.

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak this morning about the motion of my colleague, the member for Rimouski-Témiscouata, on an amendment to Bill C-53 that she tabled on October 4.

This amendment asks that Bill C-53 not be now read a second time, but that the order be discharged, the bill withdrawn and the subject matter referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. Mr. Speaker, you will understand that today I would not want to give all the reasons for which I am for or against Bill C-53. I will do that later if necessary.

Nevertheless, I would like to make this House aware of the means it has adopted and which should not be overlooked by a minister who may wish to have his bill approved as quickly as possible.

The House of Commons must insist that bills presented to us on second reading have been considered, first of all, by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. The House of Commons created this committee to fulfil its role; otherwise, what would be the use of it?

Among other things, it is supposed to get to the bottom of the issues by the most appropriate means-hearings, forming sub-committees, nationwide tours, consultations with the provinces-and especially by trying to obtain a national consensus, even within the committee.

After that, we will be able to talk about whether it is appropriate to pass a bill establishing the Department of Canadian Heritage. I believe that the standing committee will have a lot of work to do before it comes back to us with a bill that we are sure will be quite different.

Some people, especially some Quebec government departments, I would say, have some very specific things to tell the committee, so it is totally justified to submit Bill C-53 to it for consideration.

First, the committee can find out what this department's mandate is, and it can see that it makes no reference to Quebec as a distinct society, much less any reference to its cultural specificity.

Once again, the committee will realize that the former Liberal government denied the reality of Quebec culture by diluting it in a Canadian cultural entity based on bilingualism and multiculturalism. This department is being created in the wake of the defunct Charlottetown Accord, which proposed a fictitious and deceptive recognition of the provinces' exclusive jurisdiction over culture.

The committee will also be able to note that the straightforward demands of Quebec's former Minister of Culture, Ms. Frulla-Hébert, are not reflected in the future orientation of the new Department of Canadian Heritage. So you will understand

that we must think twice before presenting such legislation to the new sovereignist government of Quebec.

Without making a list of the areas, and I will come back to this a little later if need be, the committee will see that duplication and overlap in the field of culture will increase rather than decrease with this bill.

Taking Quebec as an example, we are faced with two systems of cultural institutions, each Quebec institution having its federal counterpart, except for the National Film Board.

In summary, Quebec has a budget of $425 million and Ottawa $2.8 billion.

Culture is under provincial jurisdiction and the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage will realize that it must recommend that the House of Commons stop unnecessary spending at a time when social programs are under attack to reduce the deficit and stop allowing interference in provincial jurisdiction over culture.

The Bloc Quebecois will demonstrate to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, through the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata, that both the Conservatives and the Liberals developed their respective cultural policies by increasing federal interference in the cultural sector and by denying the distinct identity of Quebecers.

Through its representatives on that committee, the Bloc will present its views on cultural institutions. We do not intend to deny to Canadians the right to their own federal cultural institutions. However, the Bloc will make sure that Quebec's cultural community gets its fair share of subsidies from federal granting agencies and that the waste resulting from duplication is stopped.

The committee would be well-advised to read the report of the consulting group on Quebec's cultural policy, which was tabled in Quebec's National Assembly on June 14, 1991. That document was reviewed by a parliamentary committee over a period lasting almost eight weeks, in the fall of 1992, during which 181 Quebec organizations were heard and 264 written submissions were received. Following the work of that committee, Quebec developed a cultural policy and the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage will have to examine that policy prior to a thorough review of the cultural issue. If the committee cannot find that policy, I will be pleased to send it a copy upon request.

By adopting its own cultural policy, the Quebec government demonstrated its keen desire to provide Quebecers with a cultural development framework which allows them to thrive. Again, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage will have to take that policy into account before making any recommendation to this House.

As I said at the beginning, and I will conclude on that note, I did not want to elaborate too much on Bill C-53 itself. I simply wanted to make this House aware of the need to pass the motion tabled by the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata, and to refer the whole issue to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage which, I am convinced, will provide us with an amended bill taking into consideration all groups within the populatiobn as well as their legitimate aspirations.

Business Of The HouseGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think you would find unanimous consent in the House for the following motion:

That notwithstanding any other order of this House that any vote on government bills or private members' bills to be taken on October 27 or October 28, 1994, be deferred until Tuesday, November 1, at the conclusion of Government Orders.

Business Of The HouseGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The House has heard the terms of the motion of the chief government whip. Is there unanimous consent?

Business Of The HouseGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to.)

The House resumed from October 26 consideration of the motion that Bill C-53 an act to establish the Department of Canadian Heritage to amend and repeal certain other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee; and of the amendment.

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Martin Cauchon Liberal Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to speak this morning to Bill C-53, which I see as important and essential to Canadian society because of what it represents. All members who spoke to the bill in this House expressed the view that it was basically a housekeeping bill. In fact, the purpose of this legislation is simply to reassign departmental responsibilities.

We have heard criticism from the two opposition parties. Certain details, certain aspects of the bill were criticized, of course, but in addition, and this is what irks me, they took this opportunity to criticize the federal government's role in the cultural sphere. I think that if we are to have a constructive debate, my comments should deal mainly with the federal government's role in this area. According to the opposition parties, the federal government should withdraw from anything that resembles cultural affairs, should stop working with major agencies like Telefilm Canada and, listen to this, should get rid

of an agency as important as the Department of Canadian Heritage.

The opposition parties even claim, and this I found hard to take seriously, that the federal government will use these institutions against the province of Quebec and even against the French fact in Canada as a whole. It takes all kinds, but this takes the cake!

Such comments seem unwise, to say the least, considering the current political context in this country.

I want to make it clear that the federal government's role in cultural matters is a fundamental and entirely legitimate one, and I hope that this short speech will reassure opposition members.

Why is this role so important? The federal government's role is important because of the way Canada was built. We all know that Canada is a wonderful mosaic of various cultures, with two official languages. We also know that Canada as a country has opted for social values based on tolerance, mutual respect, multiculturalism and promotion of the Canadian identity. In this respect, the federal government's role as Canadian umbrella, a Canadian vehicle for promoting our identity as Canadians, is fundamental.

As parliamentarians we must take the broader view and keep this debate removed from what I call constitutional squabbles. Quebec and the rest of the country have already suffered enough as a result of this quarrelling which in most cases has been of no benefit to the people of this country and often puts an extra burden on Canadian taxpayers. We should recall the purpose of this bill and especially the Canadian government's role, and stop this constitutional nitpicking.

It is obvious that you have gathered from my remarks that I am wary of what the Official Opposition is affirming, but also of the Reform Party, which wants to go ahead with unweighed and often unjustified cuts that would go against some basic principles stated by the Prime Minister of Canada, principles he has stated and, indeed, states regularly, in this House. The federal government must respond to the budget situation, while remaining at the service of the population and, in this role, promote Canadian identity.

Of course, we must rise above constitutional disputes, but without losing sight of the objectives set by the government in terms of government administration. The government wants to make sure that we can stay away from any form of duplication. It also wants to make sure that we can streamline government operations and I might add that it is desirable that government administrations at all levels be streamlined.

Bill C-53, to establish the Department of Canadian Heritage, is part of this streamlining process respectful of authority, or

should I say the powers inherent to the three levels of government, specifically the municipal, provincial and federal levels.

The department the Bloc Quebecois would like to see abolished is also the backbone of institutions such as national museums, the Canada Council-allow me to list a few more key organizations-Telefilm and the National Film Board and various programs encouraging interprovincial distribution, exportation of our cultural products and promotion of Canadian talent internationally.

In fact, I would add that the federal government is making use of the legislative or statutory instruments within its jurisdiction, such as copyright or income tax, to encourage or oversee artistic creation and cultural diffusion.

Of course, the provinces and municipalities, as I said, also have a role and since each government has an important role in these fields of jurisdiction, I should say that they have a key role, a complementary role, in fact, with respect to culture.

Far be it from me to challenge the authority of these levels of government. I would even go further by stating the obvious fact that Quebec's powers are special, since it is the centre of French culture in North America. But, of course, this does not prevent the Canadian government from assuming its own responsibilities of encouraging interprovincial trade, sharing a common heritage, structuring the markets for cultural products by using the tools that it alone has at its disposal.

I understand that the way the Bloc sees things, Quebec's goal is to keep anything federal off its territory; however, to say that the break-up of the country is necessary because the federal government's intervention harms Quebec culture is the kind of intellectually twisted argument that they usually give us, unfortunately, and give all Quebecers especially. I think that this attitude is meant to justify at any cost a case that they consider has been proven beyond question. They deliberately want to tarnish a record in which all Quebecers can take pride.

To conclude, I recently heard some Bloc critics and I was deeply offended as a Quebecer. Some Bloc critics say that they want to confine the whole province within a single definition, that of a nation. I must say that Quebec is not a definition. Quebec is made up of people who have pride, their customs and culture, a culture that they want to extend throughout Canada and internationally. There is also a French community that is alive and well outside of Quebec.

The federal government's role and the purpose of this bill are to make it possible-and I conclude-for this French community to flourish more and for the two official languages to live together better, all for the sake of promoting what we call a Canadian identity, of which I am proud.

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

11 a.m.


Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure this morning to speak on Bill C-53 respecting multiculturalism.

I do challenge whether government should be involved in this program. It is very important for the government and ministers of the crown to realize the influence they hold over the people who provide government services on a daily basis.

It is also important for those in a position of power to understand that what they say and do will influence and give direction to the bureaucracy. It is important that all ministers of the crown appreciate what intervention is.

The policy of multiculturalism in Canada is a program that the Government of Canada has imposed and forced on Canadians. I believe that the philosophy of the multiculturalism program is very divisive. I am proud of the heritage of many of the people in this great country of ours. I do not think that any Canadians from the beginning have needed government to provide a program in order for them to share their cultural backgrounds with other Canadians. I feel it is a place where the federal government should not be involved. I take great exception to the federal government's using ethnic and cultural backgrounds as a basis for employing people within government services.

I am offended that our federal government departments are required to list employees by their gender, by whether they belong to aboriginal people, whether they are a visible minority or persons with disabilities.

I am offended when government officials are proudly announcing that they have either met or exceeded their quotas. I do not believe that government departments have any business in developing quotas.

How do they get the stats they are so proud of which they use so loosely? They are self-identification stats by individuals who are required to fill out a form identifying to what sub-groups they belong.

I feel that these kinds of policies are very divisive not only within Canadian society but certainly within our Canadian government services. The government is not satisfied with just creating hyphenated Canadians. It now wants Canadians to list their lineage.

I believe there is a real question of what is a visible minority. Is this a person of a mixed race? Do they have to look like a mixed race person to belong to a visible minority? Do they just need to have it in their lineage?

If we are basing employment on the appearance of people, I have great difficulty with those people who are judging whether those people belong to visible minorities.

What if there are two people with the same background but one appears to be of a visible minority group and the other one not so much? Does the one qualify for the job in government and the sibling not qualify?

For the government to start looking at a quota system in its employees is going down the wrong way. All we have to do is look at when quotas and the appearance of people were used in history, for it is not in circumstances that we can be proud of.

To establish lineage, ethnic background or what qualifies as a visible minority do we need to be one-half of a particular ethnic group? What about one-quarter, one-eighth or one-sixteenth? Where does it begin and where does it end?

This whole idea is ridiculous. I believe that classifying people by lineage is obscene. History would show us that it is obscene. I would like to question why any government would want to encourage and continue this practice.

A second point that I am concerned about is how the policy of multiculturalism is affecting our courts. There was a case in Vancouver in which the parent of a child was being questioned when the parent was trying to put the child up for adoption. The biological father happened to be of aboriginal origin, not full blooded and not half blooded, but a quarter.

Here was a judge in the courts having to determine what percentage of aboriginal background this child had and whether that child should be given to the father to be raised in the aboriginal community.

It turns out that the child was close to one-sixteenth aboriginal and the judge in making his decision felt that the child did not have enough native background in order to be placed in an aboriginal foster home or family.

Why should any judge be faced with this kind of decision? Why should it ever be important where that child originated? What should be important are the best interests of the growth of that child, the provisions that could be made to that child in its infancy and furthermore in its growing years, not whether it is a member of a visible minority.

The other issue that I find very offensive is this reverse discrimination that we see. I am going to use the RCMP as an example. The RCMP is being asked to impose this affirmative action, judging people's employment ability on their gender, on whether they are a visible minority or whether they belong to a group that is physically handicapped.

I would suggest that when we have a government department that in Alberta a few years ago decided it would not accept applications, we are not talking about giving them jobs. We are talking about accepting applications from white unilingual males. I take exception to that. It shows me that all Canadians are not being given equal opportunity. I do not think it solves the problem that the RCMP had with not hiring women and not hiring minority members 20 years ago. It does not solve that

problem by discriminating against young white males today. I do not think those individuals feel they are being treated as Canadians, and I would suggest that they are not.

It is very important for the government to seriously consider whether it has a legitimate right to be involved in this kind of multiculturalism program that does invade and does reach out into all aspects of Canadian society.

I would challenge the government that this program is very divisive and is creating a situation in the country that is very dangerous. I see growth in ethnic groups and youth groups vying for a position of power within our communities, pitting one racial group against the other.

I hear from new immigrants who say they came to Canada looking for and anticipating a new Canadian culture and when they get here they are being encouraged to keep the culture of the place from which they came. They are here with a sense of frustration, of not knowing where to turn. We as the Canadian government have a responsibility to new Canadians to bring together all those things that we share, all those programs and ideals that we are looking to have in this country that will make it a stronger unified country.

I do not think the federal government should be encouraging programs such as multiculturalism and bilingualism that divide Canadians, that bring them up against each other in vying for superiority and power. It is time that the government realized all Canadians deserve equal treatment from the federal government, should be considered equal members of Canadian society and stop this fallacy, this obscenity of creating divisions based on language and ethnic background.

I would encourage the House to reconsider supporting Bill C-53.

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.


George Proud Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in the House today to participate in this debate on Bill C-53, an act to establish the Department of Canadian Heritage. My remarks today will be mainly involving Parks Canada's involvement and the role it will play in this act.

It has been said many times that we have inherited a rich legacy and every generation of Canadians has had an opportunity to make a contribution to it. That legacy is our heritage which we share with everyone in Canada wherever they live and whatever their background.

Our natural and wilderness heritage and our sense of history and place are vital elements of this heritage we all share. They are central to who we are and what we value as Canadians.

The new Department of Canadian Heritage reflects the many dimensions of the Canadian experience, an experience that is always evolving. Protecting areas of natural and historic significance to the nation for the benefit and enjoyment of all Canadians is the responsibility of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

In the past a big part of that job has been done and will continue to be done by Parks Canada, a key component of the new department. The creation of the Department of Canadian Heritage will not in any way undermine the importance we place on issues associated with the protection and preservation of our natural heritage, both natural and cultural.

The Department of Canadian Heritage supports Parks Canada's mandate in this area. All parts of the department are working hard to make sure that Canada's heritage and environment are valued today and passed on to tomorrow.

Parks Canada's traditions, now departmental traditions, go back more than a century to the establishment at Banff in 1885 of Canada's first national park. Of course our system of national historic sites started with Fort Anne in Nova Scotia more than 75 years ago.

From Ellesmere Island national park within the Arctic circle in the north to Point Pelee national park at the southern tip of Canada and from the lighthouse at Cape Spear national historic site at the country's eastern edge on the Atlantic to the Pacific rim national park on the west coast, our national parks and national historic sites dot the length and the breadth of Canada. They are Canada's pride, the crown jewels of our heritage.

Canadians have a strong attachment to and affection for the land and the landscape of the country whether found in small towns, in rural areas, in the wilderness or in the historic districts of the large cities.

Landscape is a vital component of our heritage and it forms part of the rhythm of our lives. Our historic landmarks are a vital part of the landscape, a significant and irreplaceable part of Canada's physical environment. Canada's national historic sites, heritage railway stations and federal heritage buildings are located in every province and territory.

Mr. Speaker, as I speak to you today there is construction under way in my riding of Hillsborough, Prince Edward Island, on the building of a memorial park to commemorate the place where the Fathers of Confederation first stepped ashore and began their journey up Great George Street to the steps of Province House in Charlottetown. What occurred over the next few days in Province House was indeed the beginning of the formation of our country as we know it today. From that point on Charlottetown was to become known as the birthplace of Confederation.

These historical sites are a tangible symbol of our national unity and heritage and are of great importance to the constituents in my riding as well as to the many people who come to visit them.

One or more national historic sites are located in over 400 communities across the land, meaning that these communities are direct stakeholders in the national heritage, sharing that heritage with their fellow Canadians and with visitors to our country.

Our country's national parks, national marine conservation areas and heritage rivers add to this shared legacy of outstanding special places held in trust for all Canadians.

As symbols of our national heritage all of these special places speak directly to Canadian identity. They are living laboratories, places where the public can truly experience Canada's past or its wilderness.

Historic sites cover a vast span of human history measured in thousands of years and document the populating of the land, economic and social development, nation building, Canadian achievements in arts, culture, human rights, wilderness preservation and the sciences, as well as a vast number of other human endeavours and activities. As both the product and the witness of the works of our predecessors, they are fundamental to a broadly defined and diverse yet encompassing sense of Canadian identity.

These heritage places provide an excellent opportunity to make all Canadians more aware of their history and to make landed immigrants and new Canadians aware of their Canadian heritage, aware of the places, events, activities and people that have made us what we are. In this respect these places can play a vital role promoting citizenship value.

Because these historic sites are nationally significant they serve as links between the community and the nation and between the subject of commemoration and our national history.

Each national historic site can be said to illustrate an important chapter in a national saga that is constantly unfolding not only into the future but perhaps surprisingly into the past. A number of national historic sites document the fact that our human history is many thousands of years older than we once thought.

National historic sites represent one of the most important and valuable examples of a vital Canadian tradition, the partnership between individuals, corporations and governments in the history of our country.

Fewer than one-fifth of Canada's national historic sites are owned by the federal government. The investment, the involvement and the co-operation of others in the preservation of places that have been designated nationally significant by the federal government is a remarkable and regrettably often little recognized national partnership of achievement.

Federal heritage buildings and heritage railway stations recall an era when federal buildings and railway stations were often the most important and imposing landmarks in communities large and small across the country, serving as symbols of national integration and confidence in the future.

No less significant than national historic sites, federal heritage buildings and heritage railway stations is the program that formally recognizes persons and events that have played an important part in our history. The program fosters knowledge and appreciation of the achievements of Canadians, such as the boxer Sam Langford, the poet Pauline Johnson, the scientist and educator Frère Marie-Victorin, piano manufacturer Theodore Heintzman, and reformer Nellie McClung.

Events or themes that have been officially recognized have included the inauguration of the transcontinental railway service and the assertion of Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.

I know that my time is running out. I could continue on for many more minutes here but I know, Mr. Speaker, that you are looking at your watch.

The Department of Canadian Heritage will be much more than the sum of its parts. Canada is a country of great geographical and cultural diversity, yet as Canadians we share so much.

Our objective is to foster pride in our achievements as people and as a country. Canada's heritage is evolving. Each generation is making its own contribution to the development of our shared heritage.

Working together in the new department in partnership with Canadians we will achieve more than we ever could do on our own. I invite all members of the House to support the bill to create the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.


Michel Daviault Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the proposed amendment to Bill C-53, an Act to establish the Department of Canadian Heritage. This amendment calls for the bill to be withdrawn and the subject-matter thereof referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

I would like to say at the outset that the fears the hon. member for Outremont wants to dispel have been reaffirmed by this bill. There is no place for Quebec or for the distinct society. It is always surprising, not to say sad, to see the illusions of timid nationalists reaffirmed after fighting in vain for 30 years.

When we look closely at the sectors, the functions and the people targeted by this new department, we quickly realize that this is a "grab bag" department, a hodge-podge of programs which clearly show either the Canadian government's inconsis-

tency or its less than transparent strategy in dividing up responsibilities, in bringing together parts of the following federal departments: Environment Canada; Multiculturalism and Citizenship; the part of Health and Welfare responsible for amateur sport; part of the Canadian Secretary of State, namely official languages, Canadian studies, Native programs and state protocol; the part of Environment Canada responsible for Parks Canada and historic sites; the part of the Department of Communications responsible for the arts, heritage, culture and broadcasting.

Later, they will add the Registrar General of Canada from the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs. The new Department of Canadian Heritage, whose creation was undertaken by the Conservative government, brings together for the first time all of Ottawa's cultural policy instruments, namely the Canada Council, the CBC, the National Film Board, Telefilm Canada, national parks and museums, National Archives, etc.

This department will have a budget in the order of $2.8 billion, compared with a $425 million budget for Quebec's Ministry of Culture. In addition, several responsibilities assigned to the Department of Canadian Heritage must be fulfilled in co-operation with other departments, thus reducing the heritage minister's actual power and political say in administering his own department. After this morning's statement by the minister, we can conclude that even his moral power is affected.

Moreover, responsibility for telecommunications policy and programs was transferred from the Department of Communications to the new Department of Industry. All this with little or no staff or spending reduction in sight. So what is the real purpose of this reorganization? The real powers granted to the Minister of Heritage are like jam: the less you have, the more you spread it around. In this case, the new department's responsibilities are well spread out.

The culture portfolio has undergone two major reorganizations since June 1993; things are getting more and more complicated, the number of players keeps increasing, and jurisdictional overlap is getting worse. The government must have followed an increasingly popular rule: Why simplify when you can make things more complicated and a little more expensive? A highly centralizing Canadian Heritage.

To say the least, the Canadian government has obviously decided to make this Department of Canadian Heritage the main instrument to promote Canadian values and it will also encourage the whole country to fully participate in that exercise.

But what about the distinct character of Quebec's culture and what about the sectors which are under exclusive provincial jurisdiction according to the Constitution of 1867? The bill is totally silent on that. The government is deliberately trying to hide that reality. The old centralizing reflex of the federal government is still just as strong. The government persists in

trying to fool Canadians and Quebecers. Obviously, this new department tries to bury the specific character of Quebec's culture by progressively diluting it in a hypothetical Canadian culture which is, would you believe, unique and multicultural.

Make no mistake about it: The mandate of the Department of Canadian Heritage is twofold. Indeed, it must create from scratch an artificial Canadian identity based on Canada's multi-ethnic mosaic and, consequently, that identity must be multicultural. However, that identity and that feeling of belonging based on bilingualism and multiculturalism sounds hollow to Quebecers.

That double mandate goes totally against Quebec's fundamental interests, since it rejects the distinct and specific character of Quebec's culture. The hon. member for Outremont talked about complementarity, but he should have used the word overlapping.

Such is the new federal cultural policy: A policy aimed at levelling out everything with a steamroller!

On June 21, the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata said in this House, and I quote: "The concept of Canadian identity does not include the Quebec identity. In fact, its purpose is to assimilate or even deny it".

The new Canadian multicultural identity which the government is trying to impose is in fact a ploy to acculturate Quebecers. Even worse is the fact that it will not slow down the growing assimilation of French speaking people who live outside Quebec.

In the promotion of this glorious Canadian multicultural mosaic, the government is rather quick to forget the concept of two founding nations. The Liberals, both as party and government, recognize the first nations but do not recognize the Quebec nation. As I said: If there is an Acadian community, there is also a Quebec nation. In June, the current Prime Minister stated, regarding the operations of CBC, that there is an act regulating these operations and that he would ask the corporation to comply with it.

Among the requirements contained in this legislation, there is an obligation to inform people of the benefits related to our country. However, Canada is not the only one financing CBC. Quebec also pays its fair share, but has hardly any say in the administrative decisions of that federal institution.

Let us not forget that, in recent years, numerous regional TV stations in Quebec, including Rimouski, Matane and Sept-Îles, had to shut down their operations. In addition to being underprivileged in terms of resource allocation, Quebec is about to absorb more than its fair share of budget restrictions. For example, Prime Time News , the 9 p.m. TV newscast on the CBC, has an annual budget of $15 million, or $60,000 per show. By comparison, the SRC budget for Le Téléjournal and Le Point in Quebec barely exceeds $8 million.

In a brief submitted yesterday to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Mrs. France Dauphin, from the Coalition for the Defense of the French CBC network, the raised a number of issues. For example, investment in programs per hour of broadcast time has increased by approximately $7,000 as far as the English network is concerned, but only marginally in the case of the French network. In just five years, from 1987 to 1992, investment rose from $30,500 to $37,500 at the CBC while rising from $17,500 to $18,300 at SRC. In other words, a mere five per cent increase for the French network, as compared to a 20 per cent increase for the English network. What does this mean? It will become obvious later.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has made strategic choices that favoured the English network programming over that of the French network. These choices were made in spite of the objective the CRTC had set for the CBC in February 1987, i.e. to strike a fair and equitable balance between production, distribution and the scheduling of regional and network programs, on both networks.

In addition, over $380 million were recently invested in building new headquarters in Toronto. Jean-François Lisée wrote in Le Tricheur that we can see how, in spite of Trudeau's efforts to attach a Canadian identity to Quebecers, the inclination to go the opposite way is strong and resists the hazards of election policy. In 1990, 59 per cent of the people of Quebec perceived themselves as Quebecers first, 28 per cent as French Canadians and nine per cent as Canadians.

In fact, it is normal for Canada to describe itself more and more as an English-speaking multicultural entity in an attempt to differentiate itself from its American neighbour.

At the same time, it is not considered either normal or legitimate by this centralizing administration for Quebec-a clearly defined nation, the cultural vitality of which is recognized around the world, a truly distinct nation on the basis of its specific culture and its language among other things-to promote its own culture and specificity. It does not require a constitutional amendment to do so.

Finally, the multicultural Canadian identity. The issue of multiculturalism, which is to say the least debatable, must not be overlooked.

Professor Claude Corbo, dean of the Université du Québec in Montreal, concludes it is a failure. According to Corbo, the solicitude shown by the federal government for ethnic communities is suspicious. He says that such a policy could well exacerbate the minorization or the trivialization of the Quebec identity.

The fact of the matter is that, in Quebec, the principle of ethnic diversity must center around the French dimension of our culture which is present in all of our institutions and serves as a basis for Quebec's specificity. Above all however, structures are required to facilitate the integration of immigrants into their host society.

So, I intend to support the amendment put forth by my hon. colleague from Rimouski-Témiscouata, asking for the bill to be withdrawn and deferred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

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11:30 a.m.


Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to address the House in relation to Bill C-53 and the amendment put forward by my colleague from the Bloc. I am supporting the amendment but for very different reasons from those put forward by the Bloc Quebecois.

Apparently the operative word in the whole bill is reorganization, but in light of recent events perhaps the operative word we should be discussing this morning is resignation.

It appears the minister in charge of the Department of Canadian Heritage tabled a letter this morning which indicates he had approached the CRTC concerning specific licensing of a special language radio program. The fact that the document was stamped with the word "intervention" causes great concern. The fact that the letter was written on the minister's letterhead also causes great concern.

I join with the many Canadians who last night and this morning called for the minister's resignation. It is unfortunate to see this type of intervention in a quasi-judicial branch under the minister's control. I hope he will reconsider his decision to stay on as minister and will do the honourable thing and step aside.

As has been stated by my colleague for Calgary-Southeast, the bill should be renamed the special interest funding bill because that will be the effect of the legislation. Bill C-53 will create a ministry comprised of all the odds and ends of the government intervention in Canadian culture under a minister whose sole responsibility is to dole out handfuls of cash to whichever groups the Liberal government has decided to favour.

The scope of this ministry would be large and sprawling with at least 24 areas of responsibility that include-now hang on to your hats: the Canada Council; the CBC; Telefilm Canada; the Museum of Civilization across the river; the Museum of Nature; and the CRTC which I have spoken about. Also included are: the National Archives; the National Arts Centre; the National Battlefields Commission; the National Film Board; the National Gallery; the National Library; the Museum of Science and Technology; the Public Service Commission; the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, as well as Status of Women Canada; amateur sports and official games; official languages; Parks Canada; Historic Sites and Monuments; Canadian Race

Relations Foundation; Canadian Heritage Languages Institute; multiculturalism; and copyright.

This is an unruly collection of agencies which has been lumped together arbitrarily. It truly is the ministry of lost souls, a ministry put together consisting of many irrelevant and outdated agencies with nowhere else to go. That being said, there are some valid reasons for the government to have a role in a select few of those areas outlined. However in the majority of cases those functions could be performed more effectively in either the private sector or by individual Canadians and private organizations.

All this government intervention costs Canadian taxpayers over $4.4 billion. We have put forward constructive suggestions that would save over $1.6 billion in program spending alone. Once the spinoff reductions in the bureaucracy and overhead are factored in the savings could go much higher.

I want to focus the remainder of my remarks today on the multicultural funding programs within the department. My colleague from Port Moody-Coquitlam asked the government for a list of multicultural grants given in 1993. What she received was astounding. It was a 703-page document listing over 1,300 separate grants totalling over $25 million. Most of these grants are questionable. I will mention one or two which I think my constituents in Kindersley-Lloydminster would be very concerned to discover that their hard earned tax dollars have gone to pay for.

One grant was to the Toronto Arts Council. It received $25,000 for phase two of a national forum on cultural equity in Toronto as well as the training of a pool of cultural equity consultants. What in the world does cultural equity have to do with reality? What does it have to do with the real world? Also, the Folk Arts Council of St. Catharines Multicultural Centre received $28,000 for a community needs assessment. The council was to carry out a community needs assessment and prepare a strategic plan.

It really makes one wonder what the priorities of this government are when it would support initiatives like those when the health care system is starved for funds. We are closing hospitals in Saskatchewan in part because the federal share of health care funding is being so drastically reduced.

A few months ago I received notice of an application for one of these grants from within my own province of Saskatchewan. I was sent a letter from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Saskatchewan Provincial Council asking for a grant of $45,000. The money was to help perform a needs assessment study intended to determine the following four things.

First is that access to information about government departments, agencies and services is available to Ukrainian seniors. Second is the development of outreach programs to address specific health care and sociocultural needs, interesting. The

third one is a real winner. Can we believe this? It is for the development of seniors advocacy and lobbying skills; $45,000 to teach seniors how to lobby the government. The seniors I know are very intelligent. I do not think they need that kind of education. Fourth is another lulu. It is to develop a model for ethnocultural wellness. Why in heaven's name do we need a grant for Ukrainian seniors to help them develop a model for ethnocultural wellness?

This is quite amusing. The NDP jumped on the special interest bandwagon immediately. The member for The Battlefords-Meadow Lake wrote to me and implored me to support such a giveaway. So much for the NDP discovering its roots and returning to reality.

I wrote to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the minister who is under so much criticism today, to inform him that I did not support the approval of that application. I did so for three main reasons.

First, I reject the premise that health care needs should be met on the basis of ethnicity. If a senior citizen in Canada or any citizen for that matter is in need of health care services those services should be available on the basis of need, not based on any ethnocultural criteria. If you are sick or you break your leg on the job, it does not matter if you are a Canadian of Ukrainian, Polish, Chinese or Norwegian descent, I would think the doctor is going to treat your case in pretty much the same way.

I can see no reason for special health care for Ukrainians. Most of the Canadians of Ukrainian descent who I know would be deeply offended to learn they were being categorized as a special case. They are proud Canadians, proud of their culture and very capable of looking after their needs and interests without the paternalistic help of the government.

Second, giving people tax dollars to teach them how to lobby for more tax dollars is not effective stewardship of Canadians' tax money. Unfortunately the government does this sort of thing all the time, but I would not and I will not endorse this activity.

Third, I felt that the $45,000 the Ukrainian Canadian Congress was asking for would have been put to much better use if it were spent on health care in general. This way it would benefit all senior citizens, in fact all Canadians in Saskatchewan and the rest of Canada regardless of ethnicity.

The minister's office was kind enough to phone me and let me know that the grant was being approved anyway. This is one more example where the government makes a show of involving individual MPs but goes ahead and does what it wants in any case.

I am curious as to why the minister approved the grant. It may be the minister feels there is some legitimate reason that Canadians of varying ethnic backgrounds need different health care services. Maybe he thinks that. It may be the minister feels that giving people tax money so they can lobby for more tax money is an effective spending restraint.

Perhaps the minister is naive, but I believe the objective here is more politically motivated. It is clear that all these special interest and lobby group grants are being done in a crass old style politics attempt to buy the support of Canadians with their own money. It is the old politics.

In fact the entire Department of Canadian Heritage is nothing more than an entrenchment of special interest funding and Liberal giveaways. That is why I am supporting the amendment to send the subject matter to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. In the committee perhaps the wheat can be separated from the chaff. Perhaps the government can get out of the business and be told to get out of the business of designing culture and buying support with other people's money, often with their own money. We can save the taxpayers of Canada a lot of money in the process.

There has been a lot of talk about Reform versus the status quo. I appeal to members and say that status quo multicultural policy cheapens our rich and diverse culture. The Reform position of placing the onus on lower levels of government, private associations and individuals to preserve and promote their cultural heritage deepens and ensures the future of our rich and diverse culture. Let us deepen rather than cheapen the multicultural nature of Canada.

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11:40 a.m.


Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, how ironic that today is the day we are looking at the reorganization of this department, particularly in light of the allegations that have been made against the minister of this department. I once had a boss who told me that a fish always rots from the head down. Today we should see a reorganization of the department starting at the top.

Last spring I sat in on the committee on Canadian heritage. I sat 10 feet away from the minister when he told us that agencies like the CRTC are to be at arm's length from the government. He has said it on countless occasions and now we are going to make him live up to his words.

Implicit in that letter he sent no matter what he says because he is a minister of the crown is the fact that he is the one who approves along with cabinet orders in council for the positions on the CRTC. His department sets the guidelines. His department sets the budget for the CRTC.

I remind the minister and the members across the way that it was not long ago when the hon. member for Sherbrooke was facing the same sort of situation. The leader of the Conservative Party was facing the same situation and Liberals across the way screamed for his head. They got it. They should have. Now they should hold themselves to the same standards at least of the Mulroney government, a government that did not have very high standards.

I encourage members across the way to get to their feet and tell the Prime Minister in no uncertain terms that this is absolutely not acceptable. I encourage them to move today while they still have a chance to cut their losses and ensure that no more damage is done to the credibility of the government.

That is at the top of the department. I want to move through the department now and talk about some other issues. When we look at all the issues that are within that department; multiculturalism, CBC, status of women, the Canadian Heritage Languages Institute, the National Film Board, there are so many targets. It is an embarrassment of riches. So many boondoggles, so much waste, so little time.

I want to talk in general about Canadian heritage and how it protects Canadian artists and the whole idea of government intervention in the artistic community. This is a relatively new occurrence in western civilization, to have a government involved in protecting particular artists, choosing some and saying they are worthy of the support of the government while others are not. In ancient times when patrons regularly supported artists, those artists were at least accountable to that patron. If they did not produce art work it was guaranteed they would not be supported again by that particular patron. Such is not the case in Canada.

For instance, the Canada Council uses peer juries to select which artists should be worthy of support by the government. This is a closed system. It is like a bell jar, the jar they use in scientific experiments. There is no accountability to the public, the people who are paying the money. At the risk of repeating what I said the other day in a member's statement, they "breathe each other's air". We do not get input from regular people about what constitutes real art.

It is well and fine for artists to produce art for their own pleasure but it should be at their own expense, not the expense of Canadian taxpayers.

Who does not stop and wonder about the huge distortion that government intervention in the arts community has had after they tour the National Gallery. I have talked on this issue before

but I must repeat what I have stated because it is so utterly unbelievable.

I remember distinctly the first time I went to the National Gallery. I was impressed with some of the art work. There were pieces of art work from classical artists which are universally accepted as great art. That rightfully belongs in a national gallery.

I remember like it was yesterday walking into a huge room and seeing in the corner boxes of Brillo pads stacked to the ceiling. This was not a supply room. This was a display of art, believe it or not, in a corner, brightly coloured boxes of Brillo pads.

In another room there was what I thought was some construction in progress. It was carpet underlay lying in the middle of the floor. This was a work of art according to the National Gallery. It was paid for by Canadian taxpayers. This piece of art, if you want to call it that, was called "256 pieces of felt" and it was a pile in the middle of the floor.

Another room had bricks lying on the floor in a line coming out from the wall-

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.


Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

At least they were in a line.

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11:45 a.m.


Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

"At least they were in a line" the hon. member says. This was also art work.

If these people want to do this for their own pleasure, fine. If they want to put some underlay in the middle of their living room floor and marvel at it, that is great. We support that. On the other hand, if they expect Canadian taxpayers to shell out money so this can be displayed in the National Gallery it is crazy. The people are fed up with the waste in government. If it wants some areas where it can cut it can start with Canadian heritage. There is no end of waste in that department.

I remember reading about Charles Dickens. In England in those days there was no support from the government for artists. One fall that great writer was pressed to come up with a new book because he had a large family to support. Christmas was coming and he needed some revenue. Therefore, this prolific writer, who was prolific probably because he knew that if he wanted to survive he had to produce these works of art, was facing this Christmas deadline and knew he had to get something out so he could have an income. Faced with those pressures and faced with the fact that he had to be excellent in what he produced if he wished to sell his book to have some money, he produced one of the great classics of all time "A Christmas Carol".

I do not see why the principles of that time cannot apply today. Why do we have to have the Canada Council involved at every step of the way? People who have no business publishing a book because their work is not worthy are getting grants from the Canadian taxpayer to do it. That is crazy. I again urge the government to look at all these areas where it intervenes into the artistic community, to get out of there and allow real artists to blossom and do their thing.

We have great artists in the country from every area of the artistic community. They will prosper irrespective of whether or not they get grants from the Canada Council or protection from the Ministry of Canadian Heritage. We do not need to worry about them. We do not need to feel that we are somehow inferior. We have shown time and again that we have people who can compete in the international community with respect to the whole Department of Canadian Heritage and artistic accomplishments.

We have a deficit of $40 billion a year, a debt of $535 billion a year and the high taxes that go with that. Canadians used to have some disposable income to spend on art. By running up the deficit because of this ridiculous boondoggle of handing out grants, now they have less disposable income to go out and buy the art that we would all like to see produced. The government across the way is therefore cutting off access that Canadian people have to art.

I urge the government not only to reorganize the department but to cut spending dramatically and reorganize it right at the top starting today with the minister.

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11:50 a.m.


Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to also add a few comments, thoughts and ideas on the bill.

I cannot help but wonder why it is that we feel it is a legitimate role of government to pluck the pockets of the taxpayers by the coercive process called taxation without giving them a choice. We are forcing them against their will to support any and every cause which some bureaucrat or some deputy minister or some head of a department decides is worthy.

My hon. colleague from Medicine Hat has just gone through some of these ridiculous decisions which have absolutely no defence in terms of representing the mainstream of Canadian society.

I am one of those proud Canadians who was born here. I am a first generation Canadian. My parents did not speak English. My first language was neither English nor French. I could be called one of those ethnic immigrants although I was born in Saskatchewan, a point of which I am justly proud.

When we were growing up we had absolutely no access to public funds. As a matter of fact, my grandfather would have dutifully declined if it had been offered because he firmly believed that it was his responsibility to provide for and look after his family.

My grandfather and his sons, my dad and his brothers worked out at a very low wage in order to keep their identity and their

pride. I am very happy that is my heritage. I learned too that hard work and self-effort was required in order to get ahead.

When different people are able, by the spending power of the federal government, to merely access money at will and use it however they wish without accountability, whether or not it has any measure of support out there in the public, promotes and extends a standard of dependence. There is no excuse for that in the long run.

We are sometimes criticized in the Reform Party for harping on the debt. I cannot think of anything that is more important. Whether it is an individual, a family, a business, a province, a municipality or a country, we need to be sound financially if we want to be sound in other ways.

This morning I could not help but think of this when one of my colleagues from the Bloc was speaking. Perhaps part of the reason for the desire of divorce is the fact that we have such tremendous fiscal mismanagement. I read in a book not long ago that fiscal mismanagement and debt is one of the leading causes of divorce in families. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why Bloc members are representing a lack of trust and a lack of consideration for remaining in our Confederation.

We need to start looking at the use of our federal moneys much more carefully than we do. This whole department is a sinkhole of money that does not go anywhere. I cannot overemphasize this any more than I just have.

We have the problem of grants to different societal groups. I think about the past generations. In my area there are a number of Ukrainians and German speaking people as well as English speaking people in great numbers. Most of them, when they came out west, were independent, rugged pioneers. They would not accept handouts.

We keep talking about how we want to be tolerant and loving, we want to be multicultural. I agree with that profoundly. We need to reach out and touch each other, as the good phrase goes. We are building resentment by these programs. One group asks for a grant and they get so much. Another group asks for a grant, but because they do not have as powerful a connection to the decision makers, the grant is less or perhaps is even denied.

This can only produce one result. One group now resents the other group. The only real way of having a level playing field among all these different ethnic groups and promoting true ethnicity in our country is to treat them the same. Allow them to fund themselves at whatever rate they want to. Frankly most of the practice of ethnic culture does not require any money.

I was proud the other day to attend the meeting in this city with the Greeks, the AHEPA, their educational society.

They had put on a dinner and they wanted to inform us about their society. A wonderful thing happened. This was a formal occasion and those who could afford it-of course I was not among them-had tuxedos with black ties. It was a very elegant situation.

Suddenly some of those people gathered around the piano. There was one person there playing piano and two or three people came and started singing. It did not take long until there were about 20 people crowded around the piano. In this formal setting this little informal occasion had arisen.

We did not need a federal grant for that. That happened. It was spontaneous. It was genuine. It was real. I liked it. That is the kind of thing we need to promote. The federal government should be in the role of guaranteeing the freedom to speak in the country any language we want, guaranteeing the freedom to practise our culture any way we can legally. We ought not to be in the business of taking money and transferring it from the taxpayers, often against their will. We know there is an increasing resentment and a decreasing support for this involuntary taxation.

We can help renew that trust of the Canadian people by reducing the amount of money that we take from them in order to promote and give grants to people without just cause.

I want to say something about the CBC. My hon. colleague from the Bloc made mention of funding and that it was not equitable between French and English. I wrote it down while he was speaking that in the area whereof I speak, and this is just a statistical fact, the English speaking people in Alberta outnumber all of the others.

We also have a great number of people who speak Ukrainian. There are German people and I believe the French place fourth, although they may now be even lower in numbers because of quite a bit of immigration from the Orient in recent years.

We have a French television channel there, CBC. Most of the time it broadcasts the test pattern and plays nice music. I admit I sometimes watch it because I like the background music that is on while it displays the test pattern. That is other than the times it just has the 1,000 kilohertz signal.

We fund that. I do not know how new my statistics are, probably two or three years ago, but only about one per cent of Albertans speak French, and of those if I remember correctly only one-quarter spoke French but not English.

If our objective is to communicate with one another it is only important that we speak the same language. How I wish I could speak French so that I could debate and enter into discourse with

my colleagues to my right here. I wish I knew that language. Unfortunately when I was a youngster I did not learn it and I am discouraged at trying now. It is difficult. It is so important for us to be able to communicate with one another. Spending federal money on promoting French broadcasting of the test pattern in Alberta makes no sense, absolutely none.

I would like to see those funds, if continued to be expended, to be used in an area where at least the people hearing the programming can understand it and benefit from it.

It is atrocious that when we have television and radio stations that make a profit-I am told by some of my contacts that radio these days is very competitive-we need to subsidize the CBC at the rate of over $1 billion per year. Surely we can get management in there that will produce a profit for the Canadian taxpayers and not be a continual drain.

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Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the time to debate this reorganizational bill today.

I must start by mentioning what some of my colleagues have already brought to the attention of the House. I should bring to the attention of those listening to this debate and watching on television to the crisis within the department, starting right at the top.

In Quorum I read a couple of days ago, although I do not remember the exact quote, where the minister said that we would now see a whole new way of protecting Canadian culture. A couple of days later we find out that the whole new way of protecting that culture involves personal letters from the minister on behalf of friends to the CRTC, an independent quasi-judicial body.

That whole new way of protecting Canadian culture will not wash in the House or with the Canadian people. It did not wash with past ministers who tried that. We are probably seeing the first serious case that at the minimum the ethics commissioner should investigate. Preferably the honourable thing will happen here in the next few hours and we will see a minister step forward with his resignation. It is unfortunate but I think to clear the air this will be necessary.

What is the cultural background of the country? We on the foreign affairs committee, of which I was member for a few months, found this to be a very controversial issue. Some would bring up the idea that culture is a personal thing, that it follows our actions, that it is a legacy and the heritage we pass down to the next generation. Other people would argue that culture only thrives when the government is behind it and spends money on it and forces it, when the government regulates it and decides which culture is good and which is bad.

The Bloc Quebecois brings the issue up very forcefully that the Canadian federal government has very little reason to be involved in promoting and selecting the culture Canadians would enjoy.

This is not a job for the federal government. The federal government's job is to protect against discrimination, to ensure that people are not discriminated against because of their ethnic background, not persecuted or prosecuted unduly because of their choices.

If individuals, lower levels of government, the provinces and other people and private organizations want to enhance culture, then by all means that is where it should be done. For the federal government to spend billions of dollars on what its idea of culture should be does not wash with the Bloc Quebecois and it does not wash with me and the Reform Party. Culture is not something a bureaucrat can choose from.

The Canadian film board has put forward several pieces of questionable, dubious trash and these are now available to the school boards. I told witnesses who came before the committee: "If you ever got out of the cloistered halls where you are making these decisions and to Fraser Valley East where I live and told the citizens there who do not understand this difficult issue that what they need is a government grant to the Canadian film board to show how lesbian relationships are the way of the future and that this is an excellent thing to promote, the citizens would want to do the old tar and feather routine". They would say that if somebody wanted to put out that film, by all means. There are probably thousands of those films put out every year. Is it the job of the federal government to support that? The answer of course is absolutely not.

We are going in the hole financially-in many ways in the country but financially especially-$110 million per day. How can a government that says it is trying to wrestle the deficit and debt to the ground continue to spend money on discretionary spendings when some priority items in the country are not being funded properly?

It asks students to take on more student loans because it has run out of money for them. There is still money for the Canadian heritage society and every other boondoggle in the country, but no more money for students.

We tell the provinces that they are going to have to cough up a bigger percentage of the health care costs, but we still have money to expand the museum in one of the minister's departments next year. We do not have any money to increase the basic pension requirements but we have money for the CBC to the tune of $1 billion a year.

People are rejecting that wholesale, as they well should. The other day I told members a story and I know how much they enjoyed it; we had laughs over that story. I would like to tell

another story. This one is not quite so funny but it is a true story. Again it is a very personal story involving my father.

My father was born into a community that looked after its own cultural background. It was a Swedish community back in the prairies in Minnedosa, Manitoba. Many a happy hour I spent back there visiting my aunts, uncles and other relatives. It was basically a Swedish community. It did the Swedish thing. It still has pickled herring and a few things from the Swedish past. I enjoy some of the heritage on that side of the family.

My dad's dad, my grandfather, died when dad was only six years old. Really the cultural things became very important. The community things, the family things became very important because that is where my father was raised. He had no father. In those days he had to pick up the support where he could. He got the support from the community.

When my dad was 17 years old and the second world war was on, he left that community and went to Winnipeg to enlist. He was only 17 years old. He was not old enough legally to sign up but being a big, strapping boy from the prairies and probably well fed-maybe underfed, I do not know-he looked the part but the enlistment guy told him he could not sign up and that he needed his mother's signature.

Dad took the forms and went out around the block to the back of the building, forged his mother's signature, went around to another door and came back in and enlisted as a 17-year-old.

There is a whole other story that goes with that but the point about the cultural thing in this is that dad never talked much about the army days. He spent a couple of years in. He did not have to go overseas and he made it through those war years okay, but the thing that stuck out in his mind and the only thing that dad talked about was that he did not think he did a very brave thing. It was what millions of Canadians were prepared to do.

The form on which he had to forge his mother's signature asked what ethnic background he was. This was back in 1943. Dad said that he just put a big line through there and said: "I am Canadian. That is what I am. I am not a hyphenated Canadian. I am not less a Canadian. I am not a half Canadian or anything else. I am a Canadian".

When people have a strong sense of their Canadianism, what they are, they do not need government subsidies. My father certainly did not. People in my community certainly do not.

An hon. member over here mentioned a case a while ago about someone playing a piano who looked up and said: "Does anybody happen to know this song?". Out of the crowd came about 40 or 50 people singing it in German. I do not even know what the song is because I do not speak German but they sang a song in German. Then the crowd went back out, proud of its heritage.

In Vancouver there will be the Chinatown festivities and so on. There will be the dragon dances and all that kind of thing. That has been going on for decades and decades without government help. When culture is part of a person they say: "I am a proud Canadian. I happen to have some of my background, my traditions, my heritage".

Members will find Canadians say: "I do not need government support for that. I am a proud Canadian. I have my own culture. It is my business. The government should not intrude into my life or dictate what I can watch on television or listen to on the radio. It is my business. Stay out of it".

When there are billions and billions of dollars involved, it is time that the Canadian government decided what its priorities are. The priorities are not in this heritage department. The priorities are health, pensions and the best education for our next generation. It is not the boondoggles that we see time after time in the Canadian heritage department.

I am disappointed to find that in this reorganization plan there is not a bottom line that reads: "This department will be severely curtailed". Unless that is in there I cannot believe that any reorganizational plan will be an improvement. The first reorganization of course as I mentioned earlier should be a change in ministers. Then we would see how Canadian heritage should be maintained in the hearts and lives of individual Canadians.

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12:15 p.m.


Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to rise today to speak on Bill C-53, a reorganization bill.

I would like to follow up on what my colleagues on this side of the House have been saying and relate it back to the election of one year ago when I ran successfully against a Liberal. I heard the words of the Liberals during that election campaign, things like: "This government, a Liberal government, will be different than a Conservative government. It will be more accountable". They said they would be more accountable.

Today the headline reads "Minister aids radio licence bid at CRTC". That is what we see today in our headlines. An apology from the minister is not good enough. The minister says that all he did was act as a member of Parliament. A minister of the crown is not an ordinary member of Parliament.

In March he wrote a letter to Keith Spicer asking him to give due consideration to an application for a 24-hour Greek language radio station. Also, which he did not mention this morning in his statement, he asked Mr. Spicer to keep him abreast of developments, adding: "Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information".

If this is not interference, I do not know what is. This is blatant interference. I would also like to mention that the letter sent back to the minister from the commission's secretary general said: "Thank you for your letter of support".

One thing everyone in this business should learn is perception. Perception is everything. If the perception at the CRTC was that this minister was supporting and if the general public and the people of Canada also feel strongly that the minister was supporting then the minister has an obligation to do the honourable thing.

Tomorrow in the House we will be debating Bill C-210, a recall bill. If this minister and government do not bring accountability to the House, members on this side will certainly try to bring accountability here by introducing such legislation as recall. We know that we will receive some support from that side of the House. I have talked to members on that side who are very supportive of this. I hope the minister will do the honourable thing.

With regard to the bill, I have a few comments I would like to make, in particular about bilingualism and official languages. I get a little frustrated when I find out that the reason governments, including the government, sometimes spend money is to promote particular groups or particular people in this country. I know the member is very interested in this subject.

I am going to talk about the Department of National Defence in the province of Quebec for a couple of moments. The Department of National Defence feels it is very important to encourage francophones to join the Canadian Armed Forces, in the navy. In order to do that the government felt it was important to build a fleet school in Quebec City. It spent millions and millions of dollars on a fleet school. The reason for this, and officials from the Department of National Defence have been quite open, is that it wants more francophones in the Canadian Armed Forces. Why spend millions and millions of dollars on that item? Not only is it building a fleet school there, but four of the twelve new coastal patrol vessels will be in Quebec City.

We have the largest coastline in the world to protect and we are going to have four of our coastal patrol vessels, on which we are again spending millions of dollars, in Quebec City with a fleet school.

Why do we not promote people from the province of Alberta? How about farmers in Alberta? Maybe we should promote them being in the navy. Why not build a fleet school on the Bow River? Maybe that is a good idea. Maybe we should do that in order to encourage Alberta farmers to join the navy.

I get laughs from all sides of the House. They are right. It is absolutely ridiculous that we are doing that. People in Quebec, Alberta, Newfoundland and across the country have the opportunity to join the Canadian Armed Forces, and in particular the navy if they want to, but we spend millions and millions of dollars to build a fleet school in Quebec City.

I might point out that the citizens of Quebec City do not even support it. The mayor of Quebec City at one time said that it did not even fit in with the landscape of the city. That is absolutely absurd. The people of Canada will not put up with this nonsense any more.

Official languages in the country, yes. There should be freedom of speech. There is no question about it. It should be respected in the House of Commons and the other place as well. However, we are spending millions and billions. We cannot even get the actual figures for bilingualism. It is said to be $310 million a year. That is absolutely absurd. It is probably closer to a billion or more dollars per year that is spent on bilingualism in the country. It has been proven it does not work. It creates walls and it divides people. It has not worked and it will not work. We have to move toward something new, a new approach, a new way of doing things to respect freedom of speech.

Multiculturalism is something that I feel was created with all the best intentions in the world. They wanted to bring people from other countries into Canada in the hope that it would bring people closer together.

It has put people in separate little rooms of the country. It has separated us all. It has divided us and split us.

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Peter Milliken Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON


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Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

The hon. member says no, no.

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Peter Milliken Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

I said "nonsense". Quote me correctly.

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Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

It gives specific ethnic groups pockets of money that other Canadians cannot have. It is not right.

The country should be looking at ensuring equality. That is what the government should be doing. It should not have a department of multiculturalism. It should be working against discrimination, ensuring that all Canadians, regardless of race, religion and gender, are equal. It does not matter. This is a tremendous waste of money.

In closing I will say that hon. members on the other side of the House are not stupid; they are just wrong. They are simply wrong.