House of Commons Hansard #102 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.


Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Vic Althouse NDP Mackenzie, SK


That, in the opinion of this House, the government should consider the advisability of introducing amendments to the Income Tax Act so that taxpayers whose income may fluctuate from one year to the next would be able to average their income over five years.

Madam Speaker, I introduced this motion some time ago and it was drawn within the last year. The reasons for the motion are fairly clear-cut. It is based on the assumption that the Canadian economy is much more diverse than what some of our policy makers perceive it to be over the last number of years.

We still have literally hundreds of thousands of individuals who are basically self-employed, who work to fulfil a dream of producing what they want to produce on the hope and the assumption that the price or the value of that production will go up or on the hope that they will eventually be able to produce enough of the product to make it an economically viable entity.

While the Canadian economy may have become more industrial and more global, there are still many people who work on this basis. They are farmers, fishermen, real estate brokers, builders, prospectors, architects, artists, musicians and a host of others who sometimes work years without any real remuneration. Eventually the big income year comes and they have in the past been encouraged in their activities which are useful to the whole of Canadian society with the concept of income averaging.

There is a great deal of income fluctuation in some of the sectors of our economy simply because of changes in production due to cyclical weather patterns whether it is in fishing, farming, forestry or a whole host of other businesses attached to those. There is also fluctuation as world prices go up and down. No matter how efficient a producer one is of wood products or agricultural products or fish products, when the world price is down one is going to show a loss.

However those people do not give up and quit simply because they have a loss in one year. They know that it will turn around. They hope that it will turn around. They realize that their activities are of use to society in general. People have to eat. People need wood for their houses and for their shelter and so they continue.

I brought the motion to the House because we once had three methods of averaging income for the diverse group of people who have up and down incomes. We had general averaging which was available to all taxpayers. At one point it was actually worked out by the department itself when incomes exceeded 120 per cent of the previous year. It was almost automatic.

We had for a while income averaging using annuity contracts which was introduced for a few years. We had five-year block averaging for farmers and fisherpeople.

I want to do a bit of past history of these with a brief explanation because in 20 minutes one cannot do justice to the issue. Prior to June 1992 general averaging, as I said, was available to all. We could go back five years and pay not only income but losses in those five years. This was finally replaced in 1982 with something called forward averaging.

However even tax experts admit this is only helpful when incomes decrease significantly so that a person can be put into a lower tax bracket. It is used by retirees, by athletes who are on their way out, by people who are pulling back rather than to encourage production which is what the original averaging plans did.

Tax experts like Beam and Laiken conclude that the forward averaging has not been a suitable replacement and has not done the job it was hoped it would do.

The income averaging annuity contracts which I mentioned were available as well were of very limited use. They were used for the collapsing of RRSPs when people reached the age of 70 or 71 years.

It was used for the utilization of capital gains provisions which were changed in 1982. It is probably not used very much

any more. It was basically a way of permitting people to adjust to the capital gains provisions in 1982 and some later budgets.

The five-year block averaging which had been available to farmers and fishermen lasted a bit longer. Although it was announced in the budget of 1982 it officially ended in 1987, which means that the last year most people could use it was 1991.

There are some exceptions to that such as in cases in which taxpayers had such low incomes they did not bother filing a return. That is not considered to be one of the years. If they did not file a return in 1988, for instance, they could go until 1992. If they happened to miss three or four years they might still be eligible to pick up on those last remnants of five-year block averaging simply because they have to use five years when they file on time. These could have high incomes or losses and they could all be averaged out.

We need to look at what the replacements for five-year block averaging were. The block averaging has been replaced with a form of forward averaging. There have been a couple of inventory rule changes that were supposed to pick up the slack for farmers and fishermen. While they are helpful in the short term they do not meet all of the advantages that were there for the five-year block averaging.

There is a mandatory inventory adjustment for people with off farm incomes. This is almost all farmers now. Last year we are told that the average family farm incomes were in the neighbourhood of $43,000, of which just over $30,000 came from off farm sources. Therefore on average on farm income was about $13,000 and roughly $30,000 came from off farm sources.

It is interesting to note that a lot of economists and government policy makers seem to think that the answer is to move to larger farms so that incomes can be generated from those larger farms. At least that is the theory. The reality is that when we look at the data the larger the farm, the larger the off farm income. It is virtually impossible to generate a family income from farms regardless of the size under the economic conditions that have existed for the last several years in Canada.

The second inventory adjustment program allows bringing in livestock, which seems to be defined by the courts as anything that is a living, sensate being, from rabbits to fish to ostriches and llamas as well as the usual horses, cows, pigs, sheep, et cetera.

Some difficulties with the program have been discovered, since a cash accounting method has been permitted. This is a good thing for most farm operators, especially individual operators who are not incorporated. That method of computing income is still available. It allows some transferring of income from one year to the next by selling in one year but collecting the money the following year for livestock sales and grains and oilseeds.

This is a possibility in most regions of the country. These provisions do not recognize the fact of wide income variations that were handled under the old five-year block averaging system. It might mitigate a sudden income surge at the end of a year and allow some of that income to be shoved into the following year. It does not take into account the large cyclical changes in prices which are then reflected in huge cyclical changes to income for farmers and fishermen which usually ride for three to five years.

The five-year averaging provision permitted people to hang in there. Perhaps they would lose money for five years, hoping they would recover in a subsequent five years. This allowed for a shifting of income over the five years and paying the tax accordingly.

The new provision does not permit that kind of flexibility and has provided some real horror stories where the lives of farmers or ranchers are interrupted. They leave an estate which can find itself paying unwarranted amounts of taxes because of the legal work that may not have been done in the proper sequence according to the department of revenue. If step a is taken before step b the department will double tax.

Paying taxes should not depend on a chance happening initiated unwittingly by so-called professionals acting on behalf of taxpayers or their estates. Rules should be as simple and as clear as is possible. The block averaging is relatively simple in its concept, in that it applies to the total income of the taxpayer and not just the part that exceeded a certain threshold amount. It permits a complete levelling of net incomes over the averaging period, including the offsetting of losses within the period against profits.

Prior to its demise in 1982 block averaging had existed since 1946. It had accomplished a fairly progressive and widespread growth in the economy. It should be used again in the 1990s in recognition of the continued need in our country for the recognition that there is a wide and diverse choice of economic activities that Canadians choose to be engaged in, or are sometimes forced into, which recognizes that some necessary and crucial economic activities have periods of poor returns but that society must permit some recognition through the tax system we continue to need that we need these people for the smooth and efficient working of our society in general.

Most of the groups I have mentioned in regard to tax averaging are not eligible for most of the so-called safety nets that our society takes pride in providing. Most of them are self-employed individuals ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits. Most do not quality for welfare even though their

incomes are definitely poverty level from parts of their income cycle, sometimes for three to five years.

I argue that the government should consider the advisability of reintroducing income averaging provisions once again to recognize that fluctuating incomes are a reality for a great many productive individuals in our Canadian system. Fair treatment demands that it be given a higher priority if Canada is once again to flourish.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Madam Speaker, I rise to speak on private member's Motion No. M-256. I question the advisability of moving in this direction at this time.

I am extremely concerned about further complicating the tax system and setting up a situation whereby those with money and in the higher income brackets have the ability to manipulate the tax system to their advantage.

When I talked to Revenue Canada about the issue I was informed its previous experiences with income averaging has shown that such averaging may result in unfair tax advantages to those taxpayers who are able to arrange their affairs so as to control the amount and timing of their income and in turn their tax liabilities.

By checking the retirement savings system we will find that in extremely good years some individuals may make significant tax deductible registered retirement savings plan contributions based on income. Where an allowable contribution is not made for a year, it may be carried forward for seven years. RRSP contributions may be made in a year or within 60 days after the year ends.

This system can help individuals to lessen any increased tax burden that might arise as a result of an increase in income, while at the same time fulfil its primary goal of encouraging Canadians to save for retirement. It is a very important point that we have within our tax system the ability for people in their years of good income, when they do not have to draw down on their funds for cost of living and so on, to contribute dollars into retirement savings. It helps them and society as a whole.

Averaging provisions generally introduce a great degree of complexity into the tax system. If the government and Revenue Canada have time to look at the various issues, rather than spending a lot of time looking at block averaging over the years I would certainly favour spending time looking at ways to make those with larger incomes pay their fair share.

I am surprised that greater emphasis is not placed in the motion on those who are somehow dodging the tax system in some way. We should be making those individuals pay their fair share. In fact I am worried about the motion opening up the possibility for wealthy individuals to manipulate the tax system again to their advantage.

Talking about the complexity in the tax system, any income averaging formula entails detailed and often complex calculations in addition to very specific rules designed among other things to prevent its use for an unintended objective. That is what I am speaking about. Will the motion and its possibilities allow greater manipulation of the tax system? I am very worried about that.

A formula would have to take into account and recalculate benefits and means tested tax credits in low income years, such as child tax benefits, goods and services tax credits and various provincial tax credits, and additional taxes and credit reductions, for example, minimum tax, reduction in age tax credits, and old age security clawbacks in high income years included in the averaging period.

As well, where other supporting individuals have claimed tax benefits based on the income of a particular taxpayer, for example, spousal tax credits, their tax liability would also be adjusted based on the averaged income of the taxpayer.

Those kinds of problems really open up the possibility of manipulating the tax system further to an individual taxpayer's advantage and cause a considerable number of administrative problems in terms of the government department's ability to administer these taxes to see that they are paid fairly and administered by the rules of the act.

Averaging provisions would interact adversely with the alternative minimum tax. The purpose of that tax is to ensure all Canadians with significant incomes in a given year pay at least some level of income tax. Providing income averaging could increase the number of higher income Canadians who pay no income tax for a particular year. This is generally perceived to be manifestly unfair.

I do not have anything more than that to say on the issue. However I want to underline one point. I do not believe we should now be opening up the tax system to the possibility of further manipulations by individuals who have extreme amounts of income. We should be looking at other ways of improving the tax system by ensuring that the very wealthy in society pay their fair share. I do not believe the motion deals with that problem.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, before I start my speech on Motion No. 256, allow me to congratulate the people of my riding, especially those of Rouyn-Noranda, for making it into the Guinness Book of Records with the longest banner in the world. This 425-metre banner was made by several families to draw attention on the International Year of the Family. It was stretched in the streets of Rouyn-Noranda, yesterday. It was quite a sight, I congratulate them.

Now, let us move to the motion of the hon. member for Mackenzie which I will read before commenting on it:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should consider the advisability of introducing amendments to the Income Tax Act so that taxpayers whose income may fluctuate from one year to the next would be able to average their income over five years.

The hon. member explained the objectives of this motion. At first glance, it would seem that it would benefit a number of people in very special job categories. For example artists can make a lot of money one year and very little the next. There are also those who are into production of some kind, like farmers or fishermen. Think of all the self-employed persons who, from one year to the next, do not know how much their income will be. This is the most positive aspect, which does not mean there are not others.

We tried, through various schemes-be it unemployment insurance, crop insurance or others-to stabilize income as much as possible, with relative success, depending on the area of activity. These insurance programs are precisely income stabilization schemes which guarantee a certain income stability.

The problem is that the motion is not restrictive in any way, and would apply to people with very high incomes in a given year, even though they do not belong to any of the categories I just mentioned. Does it mean that anyone with a sudden high income would be able to defer it at will? This might be a way of ensuring that individuals go on a sabbatical every four years. It just might be. But then again is that really the objective?

I believe that the real objective is more to help people whose income fluctuates due to the type of economic activity they are involved in. On several occasions, the member referred to the fact that nowadays our economy is very diverse and that it should be taken into account. However, I doubt very much that it is appropriate to do so for everybody since, obviously, the more time you have to plan how to manage your taxes, the easier it becomes to evade them. Balancing revenues and expenses is one of the fundamental principles in accounting but this goes slightly in the opposite direction and the more you separate the two the more complicated it becomes.

Of course, as the Liberal member mentioned later on, we must wonder whether the whole tax credit system and the entire tax structure would have to get adjusted to take the deductions into account? Should we allow the same income averaging? It would become extremely complex. This does not mean that we should not permit a certain level of income averaging in some specific economic sectors or for individuals involved in these sectors, but it should be done as simply as possible and only in a very limited and strictly controlled way. Obviously, this kind of measure cannot be very simple.

The Income Tax Act allows companies to carry forward profits and losses, at times with some degree of success, but at other times, the government is depriving itself of significant revenues. Companies are allowed to do some tax planning and they certainly take advantage of it. You could say that they reinvest this money in the economy, except that, in some cases, they minimize the taxes they will have to pay.

I have some concerns about extending this system to include all Canadians. I think that we should identify our target more clearly and even take a hard second look at the provision in our tax system that allows businesses to carry forward profits and losses over a certain number of years.

Family trusts are another means used to defer taxes. We have been looking at this issue since our arrival in the House of Commons and this morning is an ideal time to speak about it.

As you know, in the case of trusts taxes can now be deferred until the last beneficiary has died. In some cases, this represents 80 years of tax deferral. With tax planning horizons as distant as this, you can be sure that the government will be seeing very little revenue indeed. There are limits-taxes cannot always be avoided-but the longer they can be deferred, the more possibilities there are and the greater the amount due will vary.

I therefore have some reservations about the motion, and rightly so, in my opinion. Not that we need linger too long over the motive for the motion. I can recall people, particularly artists, calling for income averaging. Given that only people in certain sectors are affected by it, I think it should be looked at more closely.

The hon. member seems to have examined the question very carefully because there was a similar system in the past. He should now focus his attention on specific groups in certain areas of economic activity rather than on all taxpayers. When this is done, it will be possible to comment with more assurance. At this stage, there are arguments for and against.

We understand the reasons for the motion, but cannot give our support to something this broad. The goal is very obviously to allow all high-income earners to average their income, but it could lead to some odd situations. Would not those with high salaries or income from company profits-in other words, dividends from businesses they own-have an opportunity to average even more of their income than is already the case? They will have two ways of allocating their dividends or corporate revenues. This will produce rather surprising results at the fiscal level.

Public finances being what they are at present, I doubt very much that such an idea could be put forward. Since allowing this would reduce the tax impact on certain clients-artists, self-employed and seasonal workers were mentioned-such a measure would deprive us of revenues.

I think that we should secure revenues from other sources. Of course, a motion cannot pursue several goals at the same time, but we should keep in mind the need to look for revenues elsewhere. If we stay with the same approach, we may have to look at corporate or trust tax deferrals, particularly the extraordinary revenue losses from family trusts whose renewal had been allowed by the previous government. The current government, for its part, does not appear committed to correcting the situation as it does not seem to believe that there are large revenues to be collected from this sector.

In conclusion, although the goal is commendable, the motion is much too broad and troubling because everyone would be allowed to average their income. It would be difficult to support the motion but, given its goals, the hon. member could explain it further and ensure that specific sectors are targeted, in particular the arts community. From there we could move on to a private member's bill or something more concrete in order to get good results.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Madam Speaker, the entrepreneurial spirit is a driving force to the Canadian economy. I say again that there is a particular group of Canadians who are a driving force in the Canadian economy. They are the entrepreneurs. They are the people who get up in the morning with a blank page in their diary and go to bed at night having filled that page by exhibiting personal initiative. They have filled that page with creative, productive activity.

The entrepreneurial spirit moves forward with no boss pushing. These are the self-starters. Truly, if they do not do it, it will not get done. They are the farmers, ranchers, fruit growers, independent small business people, artists, writers, people in real estate sales or sales in general, freelancers and consultants.

Let us define what we are talking about here. We are talking about taxation and the way it relates to the entrepreneur. Tax is an arbitrary confiscation of wealth by government so that it may provide services and under political direction redistribute that wealth. The wealth is in the form of dollars and cents. It is capital. We are talking about the confiscation of capital for altruistic purposes. What we are really talking about is fairness in the taxation system.

I support the thrust of the motion because I believe the current tax system discriminates against entrepreneurs who are, I state again, a major driving force in the Canadian economy.

Assuming that the government historically has not intentionally discriminated against the entrepreneur, this question still must be asked: Now that it has been drawn to the government's attention, why would it want to continue to discriminate against people who have the handicap of never seeing a steady month to month paycheque? Why should these people have to suffer the disadvantage of irregular income along with the other insecurities of trying to provide for their families' welfare, their children's education and their own futures?

In debate in the House on September 20, 1991, Lee Richardson, member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, said in part:

When income of individuals fluctuates significantly from year to year, the total of the income taxes they pay over several years may be greater than if their income stream has been more constant over that period. This is because in those years, when incomes were high, they are subject to higher marginal tax rates and thus pay a greater portion of their income in tax. In such circumstances, averaging the income over a number of years would result in lower taxes each year, thus lowering the total tax burden over that period.

Using farmers as an example, in the same debate at page 2500 of Hansard the member for Edmonton Southeast said:

I would like to pick up a thread that was made, I think, yesterday by a member. Right now the average farmer in Canada produces food for about 95 to 100 Canadians. At the same time, since most farmers are men, his spouse has to go off the farm to earn money to feed the family on the farm. That is a catastrophe.

I believe and support the point the member for Edmonton Southeast was making that currently the tax system discriminates against the family farm. In many cases it forces an undesirable situation within families.

Staying with the same example of the farmer, in a letter from Mr. Ken Gadicke of Folkman and Gadicke, chartered accountants in my riding of Creston, British Columbia, he says:

The taxpayer in question reports his income on a cash basis, meaning revenues are reported only when received and expenses reported only when paid. For the first time, the farmer has sold almost his entire crop prior to the end of his current fiscal year. Furthermore, in almost every sale case he would be able to collect the cash also prior to his year end. However, this would put him in the position of receiving two crop years of revenue in one fiscal period, the 1993 and 1994 crop revenue. As this would mean a large absolute increase in the amount of income tax he would be paying, he has made the nonsensical business decision to ask his customers to not make their payments to him until after his year end. In turn, he has had to ask his bank to extend his line of credit, incurring unnecessary financing costs.

In a case such as this some form of averaging of income may have benefited the taxpayer by allowing him to collect the cash, reducing his need for financing from the bank and no increase in his overall tax burden.

As shown in Mr. Gadicke's letter about farmers, the impediments are common with impediments to all small business

people and individuals who are concerned about cash flow or having to become involved with interest payments which result specifically from the action of the current burdensome taxation system that confiscates wealth or the working capital they so desperately need. This can lead to a situation where the business person or individual has to make some nonsensical business decisions.

Other examples of individuals would fall into the area of real estate sales people and especially sales people who are on 100 per cent commission. They frequently cannot control when their next commission cheque is going to arrive. This group includes writers who want to work on books, reporters who sell their columns by the word or staff people with professional skills or extensive background work and experience who, when they encounter layoffs, become consultants and work on contract.

There is a growing pool of experienced contract workers who are serving the business community well. Additionally there are artists who have work in progress who may be forced to push forward a finished product.

At the risk of overusing the agriculture example, in my constituency with the downturn of demand for Delicious red apples many orchardists in Creston pulled up their apple trees and replanted a specific form of Japanese cherry. This was a very prudent decision to build revenue for the future. However it has serious taxation implications because of the inability to average income.

A parallel example would be that the inability to average income could hamper entrepreneurs as they try to improve or change their current situation. Business people need flexibility in the taxation system in order to retool or invest in response to market pressures. If they cannot rationally make changes it is an impediment to productivity.

Let me restate that I support the motion because I fully acknowledge there is a particular group of Canadians who are a major driving force in the Canadian economy. I support the entrepreneurs and their entrepreneurial spirit.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

As no other member wishes to speak and since the motion was not selected as a votable item, the time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired. Pursuant to Standing Order 96(1), this item is dropped from the Order Paper.

The sitting of the House is hereby suspended until 12 p.m.

(At 11.43 a.m. the sitting of the House was suspended.)

The House resumed at 12 p.m.

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Laval West Québec


Michel Dupuy LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

moved 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.

Madam Speaker, I am delighted to move second reading of the bill to grant official legal status to the Department of Canadian Heritage created one year ago. Passage of this bill will enable the department to pursue its mandate with confidence and enthusiasm.

At first, we had some reservations about the name of the Department of Canadian Heritage. What did Canadian heritage mean, and what reason could be given to justify consolidating in a single department such diverse elements as communications, cultural industries, official and heritage languages, national parks and historic sites, voluntary action, multiculturalism, state ceremonial and amateur sport? But if we think of the word "heritage" in its broadest sense, that is to say the set of signs that enable us to recognize ourselves as individuals who belong to a group or even a country, then the department's name is fitting.

Heritage is closely linked to questions of individual and national identity, which is why it can have such far-reaching and important influence. In today's world of changing geopolitical borders where the map of the world is being redrawn and nationalist groups around the globe are making constant demands, the Department of Canadian Heritage is in a sense the flagship of Canadian identity.

Each and every unit of the department is connected in some way to the soul of Canada. Combined, these units form a striking picture of what we were in the past, what we are today and what we want to be in the future. It is therefore impossible today to limit the meaning of heritage to the legacy of years gone by. Heritage is far more than a collection of remnants of the past; it is the manifestation of a link between the members of a community and a means of defining the relationship between the community and the world around it. From this perspective, although the scope of the activities undertaken by the Department of Canadian Heritage may seem huge, it is entirely justified.

The Department of Canadian Heritage is active in three main areas that have a common objective namely, promoting Canadian identity. First, the department is the chief custodian of the natural and physical heritage comprising our national parks, our historic monuments and canals; these sites highlight the uniqueness of our country and contribute to Canada's reputation as a tourist destination. Our rich natural and historic heritage includes 36 national parks, 750 historic sites, nine historic canals and four marine areas located throughout Canada. Stretching from Ellesmere Island National Park in the Artic Circle to Point Pelee National Park on the shores of the Great Lakes, from the Cape Spear lighthouse on the Atlantic coast to Pacific Rim National Park, they are among the most beautiful gems of world heritage.

Parks Canada will continue to protect, preserve and promote these sites which Canadians hold dear. The traditions of the Parks Canada program, now embraced by the Department of Canadian Heritage, have very deep roots. They date back to 1885, when Canada's first national park was created in Banff. Our network of historic sites was established more than 75 years ago. In a short while, we will be celebrating with joy and pride the 75th anniversary of Parks Canada.

Canada's parks and historic sites are important to the national economy, generating annual revenue in excess of one billion dollars, including some $275 million from foreign tourists, and providing jobs for roughly 30,000 Canadian men and women. They are the lifeblood of the Canadian tourism industry; in 1992, almost 27 million people visited our national parks and historic sites.

Second, the Department of Canadian Heritage devotes much of its attention to promotion of the official languages, amateur sport, community support and participation and other cultural elements that enrich our own culture and set us apart in today's world economy.

The history of this country has to a large extent been shaped by successive waves of immigration and the interaction between the newcomers and the society in their new country. The way immigrants adapt their way of life to Canadian society will continue to be a determining factor in the Canadian identity, and the Department of Canadian Heritage plans to take an active role in making their integration as sucessful as possible.

We have to realize that the co-existence of cultures is one of the biggest challenges facing countries around the world as the century draws to a close. Canada has always been in step with the many cultures that can be found here. This diversity includes vast human resources that are part of Canada today and that could be, in a world with an increasingly globalized economy and culture, a definite asset in maintaining our place on the world stage. It is also a virtually limitless cultural resource that we can use to our advantage and that sets us apart from other countries.

The Department of Canadian Heritage plans to tap these resources and encourage all cultural communities to contribute to the growth and development of Canadian society. We hope to rally the mighty forces of multiculturalism behind a cultural identity that is uniquely Canadian.

Amateur sport and related events, like the Canada Games and the XVth Commonwealth Games held this summer in Victoria, are a fundamental vehicle for fostering and illustrating important Canadian values such as the pursuit of excellence and cultural diversity. In this regard, I would like to take this opportunity to say again how happy we are to be hosting the 1999 Pan-American Games in Winnipeg. We also hope that Quebec city will be given the honour of playing host to the Winter Olympics in 2002 and are working to make that a reality.

We have inherited a country whose strenght comes not only from its cultural diversity, but also its linguistic duality. Preserving and promoting our official languages do not make Canada a real Tower of Babel. It is important not only to protect the right of individuals to speak whichever language they prefer, but also to realize that the English and French languages open the doors to two of the greatest sources of universal culture.

Canada's official languages are inextricably linked to Canadian identity and culture. For this reason, it is vital for a department like ours and for society as a whole to promote them and broaden their sphere of influence.

Moreover, in these days of market globalization, knowing two of the most widely spoken languages in the world is a definite plus. English is an official language in no fewer than 33 countries around the world, French in 25 countries. From a purely economic standpoint our two official languages already give us an edge in our efforts to conquer new markets.

Of course we must not forget the incredible number of international languages spoken by new Canadians. Their language skills are critical in expanding our trade and cultural relations to new countries.

The fact remains however that the linguistic landscape in Canada is dominated by two official languages as English or French is spoken by 98.6 per cent of the population. To ensure that both languages continue to thrive in all regions of the country the Department of Canadian Heritage is committed to supporting the development and enhancing the vitality of linguistic minority communities in all sectors and encouraging Canadians to learn their second official language.

Specifically the department's aim is to give these communities the means to ensure their own economic development which is the key to a better future. With this objective in mind it has taken measures to encourage all federal institutions to promote

the full development of minority official language communities, measures which I announced this summer during the Acadian World Congress.

Third, the department is focusing its efforts on the management of cultural development in Canada and on means of communication which are crucial not only in ensuring our uniqueness but also as a powerful instrument of economic development. Culture is not an abstract concept separate from the real world, nor is it mere decoration. It is first and foremost a way of looking at the world and a manifestation of our civilization. This unique view of the world is one of the features that allows one group to distinguish itself from others. In short, without culture, there is no identity.

In this age of trade globalization and amid the proliferation of information technologies, our cultural resources have become not only a means for Canada to carve out a place for itself on the world stage but also a powerful economic lever. The numbers speak for themselves.

In 1991-92 the cultural sector accounted in total for 3.7 per cent of the gross domestic product or approximately $22 billion. In addition, the sector employed almost half a million people, which represents a rate of employment growth of approximately 21 per cent between 1986-87 and 1991-92. The economic impact of culture is far too great to be left entirely to chance.

The rate of growth may be impressive but it must not overshadow the problems our industries have to address. I need not point out that cultural industries do not have the capital or the market to compete in Canada with the big producers of mass culture, namely our neighbour to the south, the United States, the richest cultural market in the world and one which is increasingly visible in Canada because of the new distribution technologies.

Bringing all cultural functions together in a single department will enable the Government of Canada to take more concrete action, making it possible to defend the interests of the cultural community, our cultural community, on many fronts. From this standpoint the department's responsibilities are primarily national in scope. The department has a duty to contribute to the emergence of Canadian culture, foster a sense of belonging and instil national pride. It is responsible for providing funding for and encouraging the development of cultural agencies that have a national mandate such as the CBC, the National Arts Centre, the Canada Council, the National Theatre School, Telefilm Canada and the National Film Board. It is also responsible for museums, archives and the National Library.

The department also has to spearhead legislation aimed at fostering the full development of creative activity in Canada. The aim of copyright legislation, for example, is to enable our authors, producers and performers to earn a decent living from their crafts and be fairly compensated for their work.

Let us get one thing clear. After a very long period under the former government during which culture suffered from marginalization and was considered merely as a distraction, not to mention a luxury, we must bring back culture to the forefront of society's concerns, for it is essential to our identity, to our pride, to our unity and to our independence in international society.

Culture contributes to our quality of life. It is part of the ever richer heritage that is our legacy to future generations. The Department of Canadian Heritage has international responsibilities relating to the promotion, distribution and marketing of Canadian culture. For example, the department is expected to negotiate agreements on cultural exchanges with other countries and identify foreign outlets for Canadian cultural products.

In keeping with this mandate the department was actively involved in the development of TV-5, the international French language television network that serves as a cultural and commercial window for French language programs and francophone artists from Canada and other French speaking countries.

The Department of Canadian Heritage also has a mandate to ensure Canadian participation in international exhibitions. The most recent Canadian initiatives of this type took place last year in Taejon, South Korea, one of Canada's largest export markets. It produced excellent results as Canada banked on economic partnership for the first time. Exhibitions of this kind are outstanding international fora that combine both culture and communications. They are also an important part of the mission of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

For example, the government's commitment to implementing a Canadian strategy for the information superhighway augurs well for the cultural industries. The super highway is far more than a technological infrastructure. It will be a powerful vehicle for Canadian content and will ensure wider distribution of our cultural products, making them more accessible to all Canadians.

The department is particularly sensitive to broadcasting issues, as broadcasting is without question the most popular and the most powerful of all cultural media. More than 99 per cent of Canadians own a radio; 99 per cent also own a television set; and more than 75 per cent own a video cassette recorder.

Because broadcasters are among the companies most vulnerable to competition from their American rivals, the Department of Canadian Heritage has to be very vigilante and adopt policies and programs that make Canadian culture as accessible to Canadians as possible.

Clearly the mission of the Department of Canadian Heritage is closely linked to the major issues facing Canada today. Our agenda is very full and our mission extends into many sectors of Canadian society.

It is more important now than ever before to start thinking of Canada's cultural complexity as an asset in an age when openness to rest of the world is as important as the preservation of our identities. That is where the Department of Canadian Heritage comes in. The Department of Canadian Heritage does not deal exclusively with the past, but it is focused on the future. It is at the nerve centre of the major challenges facing contemporary society.

The department I have the honour of overseeing must have official legal status if it is to continue its work of fostering the emergence of a strong cultural identity in Canada.

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Madam Speaker, the Canadian government is coming to the House of Commons today for second reading of Bill C-53, an act to establish the Department of Canadian Heritage and to amend and repeal certain other acts.

First of all, the surprising thing is that the government took nearly a year to draft Bill C-53, which for all practical purposes confirms what Prime Minister Kim Campbell announced when her cabinet was sworn in in the summer of 1993. In so doing, the present Prime Minister and his government are confirming the same mistakes in decisions made by the previous government when for economic reasons Ms. Campbell decided to reduce the size of cabinet and merge several departments; among those decisions was the creation of the Department of Canadian Heritage. This is totally unacceptable, both for Canadians and for Quebecers.

At first glance, this bill seems to be a purely technical measure that should pass quickly without lengthy debate, since its primary purpose is to establish a department, Canadian Heritage, and amend all related laws accordingly. After thoroughly examining this bill, we unfortunately must come to the conclusion that such is not the case.

This bill is more than a purely technical measure. It would create a department where the minister would have the following powers, duties and functions, under clause 5:

-initiate, recommend, coordinate, implement (and promote) national policies, projects and programs with respect to Canadian identity and values, cultural development, heritage-

Madam Speaker, through you, I draw the attention of members of this House to the fact that the adjective "Canadian" refers to the following four items in the list I just read, so it should be taken to read as follows: "In exercising the powers and performing the duties and functions (assigned to the minister by section 4), the minister shall initiate, recommend, coordinate, implement (and promote) national policies, projects and programs with respect to Canadian identity, Canadian values, Canadian cultural development and Canadian heritage".

Accordingly, you will not be at all surprised to learn that the Bloc Quebecois cannot support such a bill, for many reasons, but mainly these.

First, this bill shamelessly infringes on what so far has been considered provincial jurisdiction: culture.

Second, the steadfast obstinacy of the Canadian government in refusing to recognize the distinctiveness of Quebec society is totally unacceptable.

Third, based on our reading of this bill and on the old saying that the past is a guide to the future, it is far from obvious that the Department of Canadian Heritage provides the guarantees required to defend the French language and culture, especially those needed for the francophone and Acadian communities in Canada to continue to develop, flourish and even exist.

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Peter Milliken Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

It is in the Constitution.

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Let me speak, please, sir.

Fourth, Canadian culture is in danger, given the government's inability and lack of political will to correct its predecessor's mistakes.

As regards cultural rights, telecommunications and the electronic highway, the government maintains the existing division of jurisdictional responsibilities between the ministers of Canadian Heritage and Industry.

Put simply, this means that the Minister of Canadian Heritage will be responsible for the content, while his colleague from Industry will be in charge of the means required, such as wires, optical fibres, microwaves, etc. In other words, the former will be responsible for culture, while the latter will look after the business side of things. However, the recent experience with Ginn Publishing makes us wonder about this arrangement. The minister responsible for culture had only one thing to protect, culture, but he had no weight. Consequently, the influence of the Minister of Industry, who pledged allegiance to the U.S., prevailed. We think that maintaining the artificial dichotomy created by the previous government is to recognize the supremacy of the dollar over cultural and social values which apparently-but only apparently-do not always seem to be the most profitable ones. Consequently, the bill before us makes us fear the worse as regards the future of Canadian culture.

Let us see what is meant by the provinces' jurisdiction. The Canadian Constitution, that of 1867, gives provinces certain powers regarding culture and communications. These powers are included in subsection 92(16) of the Constitution Act, 1867,

which provides that all strictly local and private matters fall under provincial jurisdiction.

Moreover, subsection 13 of the same section recognizes that Quebec has jurisdiction over civil law, which is a fundamental feature of our distinct society. Also, section 93 of the Constitution Act, 1867, confirms that provinces have jurisdiction over education, which is undoubtedly an essential element of the cultural sector.

Finally, section 40 of the Constitution Act, 1982, provides that where an amendment is made under subsection 38(1) regarding education or other cultural matters, Canada shall provide, and I quote: "reasonable compensation to any province to which the amendment does not apply".

So, in reality, provincial legislatures have exclusive jurisdiction over most cultural matters.

The federal government has interfered in the cultural jurisdiction only because of its spending power, and we know to what extremes its uncontrolled spending power led it. The federal government must withdraw from that field, because it is using its power in a way that goes against the will Quebecers-and at times other Canadians-have expressed for the last 30 years.

Let us look at the historical demands of Quebec in the cultural area. The federal government's refusal to recognize in this bill the distinct nature of Quebec society is unacceptable. In February 1994, in his address in reply to the throne speech, the hon. leader of the Official Opposition said, and I quote: "Our cultural objectives are closely linked to our collective objectives. Culture is what unites the men and women who want to live together. It represents the essence and the basis of any society. Measures and policies must be undertaken to protect and reinforce Quebec's unique and specific culture".

The mandate of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, as defined in clause 4(1) of this bill being considered at second stage, is as follows: "The powers, duties and functions of the minister extend to and include all matters -relating to Canadian identity and values, cultural development, heritage and areas of natural or historical significance to the nation".

This bill does not refer to Quebec as a distinct society nor mention its cultural specificity. Again, Ottawa deliberately and knowingly ignores Quebec's cultural reality by mixing it in an hypothetical pan-Canadian cultural identity based on bilingualism and multiculturalism, whose risks for Quebec's language and culture have often been denounced.

In doing so, the federal government ignores the historical demands Quebec has made these last 30 years. In 1966, Mr. Daniel Johnson stated that Quebec must make its own decisions concerning its cultural development, in the arts, literature and linguistic areas. In 1969, Mr. Jean-Jacques Bertrand maintained that cultural affairs were a provincial jurisdiction.

In 1971, under Bourassa, when Quebec went through its cultural sovereignty period, Quebec asked for some changes to the jurisdiction pertaining to culture, under the Constitution. In 1973, Quebec demanded total control over all cultural policy, including the budgets.

In 1975-76, Quebec proposed that every province be able to legislate exclusively in art, literature and heritage matters. In 1978, based on its primary responsibility in cultural and natural heritage matters, Quebec asked the Canadian government to negotiate the return to Quebec of the management of cultural property and historical sites and property located in Quebec.

In 1985, Quebec requested that all grants and contributions given by Ottawa, pursuant to its spending power, to individuals and institutions involved in culture and education be approved by the Quebec government according to its spending power.

In March 1991, the Bélanger-Campeau report said that Quebec should have the exclusive jurisdiction and responsibility over its social, economic and cultural development as well as language matters. In 1991, the Allaire report recommended that culture be Quebec's exclusive jurisdiction.

In 1992, following extended consultations and discussions with major stakeholders, Quebec adopted its own cultural policy statement. On this point, in 1992, Ms. Liza Frulla, Minister of Cultural Affairs in Quebec's previous Liberal government, speaking before the Standing Committee on Culture, said: "As for programs, the federal government does little or no consulting". And also: "When, as often happens, it is faced with a fait accompli , Quebec has to state its real needs after the fact''.

As you can see with this brief historical background, Madam Speaker, successive Quebec governments all agreed in their demands concerning culture and communications. Unfortunately, the federal government almost always turned a deaf ear to these claims, giving way naturally to many a confrontation and overlapping. This kind of overlapping was criticized many times.

Here is what can be found in the Arpin report on the Cultural and Arts Policy, which was submitted to Mrs. Liza Frulla-Hébert in June 1991. "We can conclude that there is obvious duplication between the two levels of government in terms of program structure, in terms of clients and even in terms of legislative and tax measures. We can even say that this duplication is driving up the costs. There are differences in directions and priorities depending on the clients. Some measures taken by the federal government go completely against Quebec's options. The harmonization of interventions by both levels of government has always been difficult. The federal government has

never been willing to recognize Quebec's supremacy with regard to culture".

It is not surprising that this government would introduce such a bill. The Prime Minister's whole career has been centred on one important thing: to counter the recognition of Quebec's unique character.

Remember that during the 1980 referendum campaign, he made a lot of promises regarding the Constitution. Since then, he has refused any type of constitutional negotiations with Quebec and is doing everything possible to try and grab powers that have traditionally belonged to Quebec.

Remember also that in 1982, without warning Quebec, the then negotiator who is Prime Minister today secretly concluded, in the middle of the night, a constitutional accord with the English-speaking provinces. The main purpose of this accord was to strip Quebec of an important cultural power, namely the power to legislate on language matters. That is why the National Assembly of Quebec voted unanimously against this federalist attack.

The Meech Lake accord recognized Quebec's unique character. But an ambitious lawyer named Jean Chrétien, who already saw himself as leader of the Liberal Party and future Prime Minister of this country, joined forces with the known enemies of Quebec's unique character, worked hard in secret to kill in the womb any type of affirmation of Quebec's cultural identity and fought ferociously against the distinct society clause. The Prime Minister showed us then who he really is. It is very difficult to believe today that he is and still feels like a true Quebecer.

The refusal by Jean Chrétien's federal government to recognize Quebec's unique character does not surprise me. It is obvious that his government has no desire to see to it that Quebec's culture and language can blossom within the Canadian confederation, but that it would rather see that province's unique character die a slow but sure death.

All Canadians witnessed recently the situation where the Prime Minister tried to have Quebecers pay a double price because their government had wanted to hold a referendum according to their own specificity. That is totally unacceptable. The referendum legislation and election rules are part of the distinctness of Quebec. Its respect for democracy has led Quebec to adopt, in the area of electoral equity, a legislation which is comparable to no other in Canada or elsewhere in the world.

This refusal by the federal government to admit the distinct character of Quebec has serious consequences and generates all kinds of duplication and overlapping.

We must remember that duplication caused by the intrusion of the federal government in the cultural area, which normally is under provincial jurisdiction, cost Canadian taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Acknowledgement of the distinctness of Quebec by the federal government would mean a repatriation of the cultural sector and of all the related budgetary envelopes. It would result in some important savings and would be more attuned to the logic which has been fundamental to Canadian cultural policy for many years.

How can the Governor General explain the dual principle in terms of culture? Clause 4.(2) of the proposed legislation states that the Minister's jurisdiction encompasses jurisdiction over, and I quote:

(j) the formulation of cultural policy as it relates to foreign investment;

In other words, for the last thirty years, Canadian cultural policies have been aimed at limiting foreign investments in the cultural area in order to ensure the survival of the Canadian culture. At the same time, and according to the same fundamental principle, that is the safeguard of the Canadian culture, Canadian governments have tried to impose to the various media a minimum Canadian content and ownership.

According to these principles, the Canadian government is saying that governments must defend their culture, that it must not be left in foreign hands or allowed to be submerged by a foreign culture. Canada should therefore recognize the fact that Quebec is in the best position to defend its culture, which is different from Canada's.

When the subject is Quebec culture, all those high-sounding principles supported, for instance, by the Canadian intellectual elite, fall by the wayside. Then they call it isolationism, tribalism and narrow-mindedness. When one hears such vehement statements, one wonders why Canada, as a sign of protest and to deny any hint of narrow-mindedness and isolationism, does not simply put its culture into the hands of the Americans. If managing their culture is good for Canadians, why would it be so bad for Quebecers? Again, a double standard.

Under Canadian federalism, English Canada has the right to defend its culture against the American invader, but Quebec should drop its own culture, according to the bill before the House today. They want to make us all one nation and deny there are two. There are two nations in this country, and the act to establish the Department of Canadian Heritage should reflect an awareness of the situation in Quebec and the flexibility that Quebec needs to develop and prosper.

This bill contains no guarantees for the French language and culture in Canada. Instead of defending French language and culture, the Department of Canadian Heritage is being used by

the Canadian government to undermine French language and culture in Canada.

The Department of Canadian Heritage administers all programs connected with clause 4(2) (g) of the Act, and I quote:

(g) the advancement of the equality of status and use of English and French and the enhancement and development of English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada;

First of all, it is strange the legislation does not refer to the equality of French and English. According to the department, however, this kind of wording would be far too coercive, although the present minister is French speaking. The legislation therefore refers to advancement, to moving towards a hypothetical equality.

Since for the past 125 years or more, we have been moving nowhere at all, francophones can hardly be expected to believe they will get there some day.

Similarly, the Canadian government is careful to avoid any reference in this bill to recognizing and promoting the position of Canada's two founding nations, since such recognition would have involved genuinely defending the French language and culture in Canada. Inequality between francophones and anglophones in Canada is systematic. There are many examples, and I will mention a few that struck me after I got to Ottawa.

Example No. 1: I suggest that members who receive their weekly green list of government publications compare the number of documents available to anglophones and francophones. On the list, it usually says that the French version will be available later on.

Example No. 2: It is a fiction that a francophone can make himself understood and obtain services in his own language across Canada. Even some of our so-called bilingual public servants are unable to provide services in French. Even here in the federal government, in the national capital, once you get past the token francophone, there is a complete vacuum: almost everything is in English. So much so that even the Assistant Deputy Minister for Cultural Affairs of the Minister of Canadian Heritage is losing his francophone roots and testifies in English before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. Thousands are being assimilated every day within the very precincts of the federal government, because they know that English means more status, more advancement and, as a result, better pay.

I challenge the government to order a private company that is serious and strictly impartial-which automatically excludes the Commissioner of Official Languages-to find out to what extent a francophone can expect to receive the same level of service from the federal government in his own language. If the government refuses to take up this challenge, I am prepared to prove my point by revealing a number of bilingual positions held by people who do not know a word of French. When people find out what positions are involved and which citizens are affected by these positions, they will be flabbergasted.

Example No. 3: Contrary to their anglophone colleagues, francophones working for the federal government must, for the most part, work in what is for them a second language. It is a whole class of citizens who are being assimilated. In this respect, the federal government behaves exactly the same way-especially in the national capital region-that private companies did in the late 1960s in Quebec, when francophones were not allowed to speak French even while smoking in the cafeteria. As soon as they entered the plant, they had to speak English. I demand an independent and earnest inquiry into this matter. This of course excludes the Commissioner of Official Languages.

Moreover, I am asking all French speaking civil servants, especially those in the national capital region, who are required to work exclusively in English, to systematically complain to the Commissioner of Official Languages so that he can no longer hide behind the lack or small number of complaints to avoid taking action and severely reprimanding a government which claims to promote French language and culture but which forbids a significant number of its French-speaking employees to work in their own language. I will add that it would be useful to send me a copy of the complaints so that I can act upon them, while preserving the complainants' anonymity, and defend in the House of Commons French speaking civil servants who have been deprived of their fundamental rights.

Similarly, how can it be explained that the federal public service in Quebec, excluding the Outaouais region, is made up of 54 per cent bilingual positions, which are truly bilingual, whereas in Ontario, excluding the national capital region, only 8 per cent of positions are bilingual? Given the respective minority, English in Quebec and French in Ontario, to be fair, 25 per cent of positions in the Ontario federal civil service should be bilingual.

This shows how little the federal government cares about its French minority and how great his concerns for its English minority in Quebec are. As a matter of fact, the federal government is using its civil service to impose bilingualism on Quebec. After all, when every francophone can speak English, who will need French?

I will remind my hon. colleagues that the promotion and development of French and English minorities in Canada is one of the responsibilities of the Department of Canadian Heritage. The only minority in Canada which does not have its own schools-and when it does they do not have toilets or running water-, which hardly has any cultural instruments, which does not have health services or social services in its own language, is the French-speaking minority. The maximum of services should

go to this minority. If cuts are necessary, they should not be made at the expense of the neediest.

I am surprised that this principle, considered so sound in other areas, should not be acceptable when it comes to francophones. The minister wants to cut $25 million from cultural minorities in Canada, on top of the other 5 to 8 per cent cut that the Minister of Finance is considering and which will not spare the minorities.

The minister confirmed these cuts in a document he called "Confidence in the future". When I see such a title and when I consider the content of this document, I wonder how the French-speaking minority will make out.

Indeed, like the English-speaking minority, it must decide itself where the axe will fall and it must cut to the same extent as the English-speaking minority in Quebec. Yet, the minister, who has discretionary powers, should make his savings at the expense of those who can afford it, that is the English minority in Quebec.

The minister must cut where the need is least, and not across the board. The English minority has its own school system, its health system and social services, its cultural network. So the minister, ever respectful of social and cultural justice, should put the burden of the cuts on those who can support them, irrespective of the language they speak.

Moreover, all input of public money intended to promote bilingualism: immersion classes, scholarships and so on, should be cancelled. On the issue of cuts the minister is acting like a doctor who can choose between giving a cardiac massage to a patient in danger or teaching a person in very good health how to give a cardiac massage.

The lack of logic in the distribution of jurisdictions between the departments is a threat to Canadian culture. As I said earlier in my statement, Bill C-53 aims at establishing legally the Department of Canadian Heritage. Canadians could rightly expect the government to put some order in its house. One would have expected the government to take this opportunity to organize a bit more strictly the various jurisdictions dealing with heritage. But it seems to be asking too much of the Liberal government. For instance copyright, which is directly linked to culture, will come under the jurisdiction of the Department of Industry as provided in Bill C-46.

Remember that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Canadian Heritage stated officially and unequivocally that the adoption of phase II of the copyright legislation was a priority. Apparently this was only baked wind since by favouring the Department of Industry over the Department of Canadian Heritage, the government is forcing Canadian Heritage officials, who are defending the copyright, to submit to the dictates of their colleagues at Industry who think first of all in terms of dollar bills.

As a matter of fact, the latter will always be able to argue, during the numerous interdepartmental quarrels that will ensue, that it is their right and that they have the last word since copyright comes under their jurisdiction. The most tragic aspect of that story is what it underlies. The government has already told us in the Ginn case that the cost effectiveness of culture, be it American or another, must come before the need to protect the Canadian culture. In other words, the Department of Industry is willing to sell large segments of the Canadian cultural industry to Americans.

This is why the Department of Canadian Heritage has approved the sale of the important Canadian publishing house Ginn Publishing to an American company. Once more, having to choose between Canadian cultural integrity and its wish to not displease the Americans, this government has chosen to grovel before the Americans.

I remind members that the Minister of Canadian Heritage tried to justify his actions by saying that there had been a verbal agreement between a junior official and Paramount.

For obvious reasons copyright reform that the cultural industry is waiting for so impatiently because it is crucial to its survival will probably be shelved. The same lack of logic which seems to be the trademark of the governing party has prevailed in the case of telecommunications which were cut up into so many pieces. The government could have taken the opportunity to answer the industry's long standing request and regroup the whole of telecommunications in the Department of Canadian Heritage and, in so doing, make up for the mistakes of the Campbell administration.

Even when I arrived in Ottawa, the deputy minister told me that this was a monumental mistake, that he intended to recommend to the present minister that it be corrected when the department was created. Once again, the Department of Industry, no doubt a heavier player in the cabinet, inherited the lion's share of jurisdiction in the field of telecommunications.

Chances are that the Liberal government, who so staunchly defends federalism, and by extension, the duplication of services, continued overlap, and the waste of money, will see this division of the field of telecommunications as an opportunity to form joint committees of civil servants seconded from here and there. It will be an opportunity to increase the numbers of civil servants, committees, meetings, all those things that are a waste of taxpayers' money, but that for the Canadian government, and its deficit in the hundreds of billions of dollars, is the federalist thing to do.

For why simplify when it is so easy to complicate matters? In this bill, the government, true to form, is merely ratifying

reform put forward by others. What did we expect? It has done nothing new since it came to power one year ago.

Fortunately, in the near future-and I will not mention dates, that would only stir things up-the people of Quebec will be asked to choose between an unlikely cultural existence as part of Canada and a cultural existence as a sovereign state. The federalists will point to venerable institutions like Radio-Canada as proof of the cultural viability of the Canadian federation.

When we know that the endangered culture in Canada is the French culture, we cannot believe that this very federal and very federalist imbalance will ensure its survival in the Canadian context. No wonder that in a 1980 survey conducted by the Fédération des jeunes Canadiens français, the reply of young French-speaking Canadians when asked in which language they listened to television, radio, video games and videocassettes was "mostly in English". Perhaps it would not be so, had the federal government not treated them as second-rate citizens culturally.

If Quebec is to survive culturally, it must repatriate all culture-related powers and monies. I should point out in that regard that all the governments in Quebec have been asking for just that for 30 years and that for the past 30 years, this has been denied to everyone of them by the federal government.

Basically, at the next referendum, Quebec will have a choice between two alternatives: cultural death within the Canadian federation and development as a French speaking sovereign state in North America.

That is why I would like to introduce a motion at this time. Seconded by the hon. member for Québec, I move:

That the motion be amended by striking out all the words after the word "That" and substituting the following: "Bill C-53, An Act to establish the Department of Canadian Heritage and to amend and repeal certain other Acts, be not now read a second time but that the Order be discharged, the Bill withdrawn and the subject-matter thereof referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage."

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

I will take your proposal under advisement and advise you in a moment as to its admissibility. I would suggest that you continue with your remarks in the meantime.

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Madam Speaker, the main thing about our motion to defer second reading, to not read this bill a second time but to refer it instead to the committee, is that it is absolutely essential in our view that all the overlapping in the cultural area be reviewed and really reported on to this House. This bill, which had probably been drafted by the previous government, meets Ms. Campbell's wishes. It must be amended to avoid all sources of conflict, all overlapping, all unnecessary expenditure of Canadian taxpayers' money, and particularly to ensure that the Quebec community can see its uniqueness reflected in this bill.

Understandably, Madam Speaker, it is impossible for a Quebecer to feel at ease as part of the Canadian Heritage.

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

Your motion is admissible, hon. member.

Before giving the floor to someone else, I would like to remind the House that sometimes, with motions, we forget that it is not our practice to name individual members of this House. We can refer to them by their titles or ridings but not by name. I did not rise but that was done several times and I would ask all hon. members to be more careful.

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

When I named the Prime Minister, I was referring to him when he was a lawyer. I could not say "Prime Minister" as he was just a lawyer at the time-

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

I will check the "blues" but I think you are mistaken. If I am wrong, I will get back to you, but I would first like to see the blues for that part of the debate.

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.


Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-53, an act to establish the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Before I begin my speech I would like to state for the record that in order for a reasonable and conscientious debate to take place, as we are hoping to do with this bill, it would be greatly appreciated rather than receiving an amendment 20 minutes before rising to speak in the House that we be given an adequate response time. This has happened continuously throughout this session of Parliament and I do object most strenuously.

The bill is intended to establish legislatively some of the changes to government that the member for Sherbrooke and his Conservatives bequeathed to us in Parliament. In reality it is nothing more than moving the tables and chairs of a bloated bureaucracy. There is no downsizing, no cost savings. It is the status quo once more, the consistent refrain of a Liberal government that has become one of review, study, consult, discuss. Quite frankly it is do nothing mumbo-jumbo.

I am going to address a number of issues today explaining why my colleagues and I will oppose the bill. Further I will address those changes that should be made to the bill which would allow my Reform colleagues and I to support it. Having just heard the Bloc amendment, in principle I can say we will support it because it will move the bill to committee for further extensive examination.

With respect to the bill itself we oppose it for a number of reasons. First, it will legislatively entrench multiculturalism spending, national enforced bilingualism and the funding of special interest groups, all of which the Reform Party is ideolog-

ically opposed to. Second, the establishment of the department will not streamline, will not result in downsizing and will not result in any financial savings. In fact the bill will end up costing Canadian taxpayers.

In June 1993 shortly after taking office then Prime Minister Kim Campbell announced what were supposed to be sweeping changes to government. The changes were intended to streamline the bureaucracy to make it more efficient and more cost effective. As the bill demonstrates, none of these objectives were accomplished by the changes which the Progressive Conservatives proposed.

The Tories had put forward a concept which was simply window dressing in an attempt to satisfy voters who were looking for leadership in a government that had continually demonstrated its arrogance by showing it did not care about the size of government, the accountability of government, the responsibility of government, or the cost of government. Canadians continued to believe as I do that they remain overgoverned.

Attempting to change that impression the Tories decided to reconstruct a smaller cabinet, to downsize government. We all know what a good job they did to change public perception. They did such a good job that they suffered the largest electoral defeat in the history of the country.

Now we have the Liberals who inherited these proposed changes to government. It is astonishing but they actually appear satisfied with these leftover, stale Tory ideas, satisfied enough to implement the changes left to them. It epitomizes a government which has resigned itself to the status quo. There are no new ideas, no creative solutions to the problems we face and there is continued disdain for the best interests of Canadians.

I find it difficult to understand why the Liberals have introduced Bill C-53 at this time. The president of the Queen's Privy Council is undertaking his program review which is purported to be laying the groundwork for the government's restructuring and downsizing. This review is not expected to be completed, so it is reported, until sometime this fall. Why is the Liberal government establishing departments prior to the release of the results of the program review? A number of possible answers come to mind.

Perhaps the government is not planning to make any restructuring changes at all, but this would contradict the Minister of Finance who has already promised there will be cuts made in next year's budget. Perhaps there are some interim results of the review which the government is acting upon but has not yet made public. This action is quite conceivable given the events in the House of the past two weeks. Perhaps the Minister of Canadian Heritage has heard from the President of the Privy Council about the restructuring of the Department of Canadian Heritage but remains very content at this time to symbolically move the tables and chairs.

The Department of Canadian Heritage is a mishmash of responsibility, a helter-skelter of activities, programs, departments and bureaucrats. The department is responsible for: the Canada Council; the CBC; Telefilm Canada; the Museum of Civilization; the Museum of Nature; the CRTC; the National Archives; the National Arts Centre; the National Battlefields Commission; the National Capital 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; Status of Women Canada; amateur sport and official games; official languages; Parks Canada, historic sites and monuments; Canadian Race Relations Foundation; Canadian Heritage Languages Institute; multiculturalism; and copyright.

There is no strategy, no evident plan for the management of this department. It simply serves as a grab-bag for anything that smacks of heritage. The Liberals have spent no time planning an effective and downsized ministry but have rushed headlong to put Bill C-53 in place giving the minister broad and sweeping powers.

Copyright is a good example of this poor planning. Presently copyright is split between the Departments of Industry and Canadian Heritage. Industry is responsible for the technical side of copyright; heritage is responsible for copyright in so much as it relates to heritage issues. This duplication of responsibility is extremely inefficient.

In fact phase two of the copyright legislation was due last spring, but it was postponed until this fall. Now we hear that phase two of copyright will not be tabled in the House until next spring. The duplication of the responsibility for copyright has resulted in administrative and territorial hassles which have so far put the legislation more than one year behind schedule. It is this kind of inefficiency that Canadians want to see eliminated.

Copyright is not a heritage issue. Copyright is commercially based. It is the exclusive legal right granted for a specified period to an author, designer, producer, or another appointed person to print, publish, perform, film, or record original literary, artistic or musical material. All these artistic activities relating to copyright do fall under the auspices of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

However, when creators apply for copyright protection they are essentially protecting a business enterprise. Publishing and distribution rights as well as protection under copyright laws

create a commercially based business enterprise. This is a view that I support, encouraging more artists to take a business approach to their work. When copyright protection is acquired or sought an artist becomes a businessman or businesswoman.

Currently our copyright laws are antiquated and completely out of sync with other areas of the globe. There is a need for worldwide harmonization. This becomes far removed from the focus of Canadian heritage. In fact it moves copyright beyond the mandate of this ministry.

Support for copyright changes will be driven by financial considerations, irrespective of anything the Bloc Quebecois has put forward. It will come from the business community, both domestic and international. This scope is externally driven as our copyright laws must interface with those that exist both within and without the country of Canada. It first must be appreciated that it is essential that copyright responsibilities be delegated to only one ministry.

As I have said, copyright is a business issue which is commercially based and externally driven. As such it should remain within the portfolio of a ministry that deals primarily with the performance and regulation of business and that is the Department of Industry. This same conclusion is drawn from the following example.

Consider a computerized accounting package that is developed in New York, patented there and distributed internationally, including to Canada. Whoever and wherever are the business considerations given to the marketing of that product.

The pirating of such computer programs is reported to cost the computer industry some $7 billion a year in lost revenue in North America. Whose responsibility should it be to protect the copyright laws in this instance? Surely not the Department of Canadian Heritage. Copyright is part of the international information highway. It should be in the ministry that deals with the organizations that are most affected financially by the legislation. That department is the Department of Industry.

I repeat that I cannot support Bill C-53 at all. As I stated at the outset the intent behind all of this departmental shuffling is to downsize government and to save money. At the briefing for this bill the question was put categorically: Will this bill cause any downsizing of personnel or decreases in spending? The response was equally categorical. It was no.

This fact alone should be sufficient to merit the bill a unanimous rejection by all members of the House. The original intent is now muddied because there will be no downsizing and no reduction in expenditures. The bill failed dismally on its original intent. How can we support a bill which is so fundamentally flawed?

The taxpayers of Canada told the last government in no uncertain terms what they thought of a government that does not keep its promises, that fails to balance its books and that fails to pay its debt.

We have in the bill another example of the Liberal government failing to learn from past mistakes. The government does not care about balancing the budget or addressing the national debt. If it did it would begin by restructuring and downsizing government departments.

The state of Canada's finances is shocking. The Liberal government spends over $110 million more every day than it generates in revenues. Instead of doing something about it, it continues to introduce bills which do not save any money. Nor does it cut spending. Instead it introduces legislation like Bill C-53 that costs Canadians more and more money.

Despite this reason, which is in itself reason enough to oppose the bill, there are others. In fact the bill should have another name. Instead of Bill C-53 it should be short titled the special interest funding bill.

The special interest funding bill grants to the minister the power to spend millions and millions of hard earned taxpayer dollars on such things as grants for thousands of special interest groups.

Canada is in a fiscal crisis. The federal debt is more than $532 billion. What is needed is a plan to address this dire situation.

The Minister of Finance continues to ask members of the Reform Party for constructive ideas for cutting the deficit. The minister should wake up and pay attention because my colleagues and I have been responding since the beginning of Parliament with good ideas about where to find a whole lot of spending cuts. The Minister of Finance can begin by cutting all federal funding to promote multiculturalism in Canada.

The Reform Party supports a number of principles that I fully endorse and believe in. We believe that the legitimate role of government is to do for people whatever they need to have done but cannot do at all or do as well for themselves individually or through non-government organizations. We believe in the value of enterprise and initiative and that governments have a responsibility to foster and protect an environment in which initiative and enterprise can be exercised by individuals and groups. We believe that public money should be regarded by governments as funds held in trust and that governments should practise fiscal responsibility, in particular responsibility to balance expenditures and revenues.

Having said that, one can understand why I believe in the principle that individuals or groups should be free to present their cultural heritage using their own resources. The Reform

Party opposes the current concept of multiculturalism and hyphenated Canadianism pursued by the Government of Canada. We would end funding of the multicultural program and support the abolition of the department and the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism.

If the Minister of Finance sincerely wants ideas on how to cut his deficit, he will get rid of this aspect of special interest funding and immediately save the Canadian taxpayers some $38.8 million a year. If we include official languages in this special interest cash cow we can save close to one-quarter of a billion dollars.

Multiculturalism is an idea that is fundamentally flawed and I will spend the next few minutes explaining this point. Multiculturalism was introduced in the House of Commons on October 8, 1971. In the 23 years that have followed it has been politically incorrect for anyone to criticize it, especially in the House of Commons.

In fact members of Parliament from the Tories, the Grits and the NDP have all used the multiculturalism policy in an insincere, superficial and shallow manner to garner political support from ethnic communities. There is now a new voice, another voice of reason in the House of Commons, a Reform voice that takes the wishes of the majority of Canadians to the House on any and all issues. That includes expressing a categorical rejection of the federal government spending money on multiculturalism.

We all want the right to retain our roots but what we have is Trudeau's enforced multicultural scams. The costs have been excessive. Ethnic group is pitted against ethnic group and the country is fragmented into 1,000 consciences. Trudeau's ideas about multiculturalism continue to contribute as a primary factor in the erosion of federalism and Canadian unity. Catering to special interest groups à la Trudeau and company smashes the spine of federalism. This destructive outcome is almost inevitable so long as we officially encourage large groups to remain apart from the mainstream.

The multiculturalism policy was designed to recognize and promote the understanding that multiculturalism reflects the cultural and racial diversity of Canadian society and acknowledges the freedom of all members of Canadian society to preserve, enhance and share their cultural heritage. It is intended to promote full and equitable participation of individuals and communities of all origins in all aspects of Canadian life, including equal treatment and equal protection under the law while respecting and valuing their diversity. The language of the policy is fairly innocuous and well meaning but in practice it endorses the agendas of special interest groups at the expense of the taxpayer.

Before continuing, let me quote from Philip Resnick's book Thinking English Canada as he reflects on multiculturalism and its limits:

The emergence of multiculturalism as a force in Canadian politics was a belated response to a sociological transformation going back to the turn of the century. Waves of immigration pouring into Canada at that period from central, eastern and southern Europe could not with time dilute the overwhelmingly Anglo-Saxon character of Canada outside Quebec. The further migration of millions to this country in the post World War II period and the removal of de facto barriers to non-European migration in the 1960s would deeply alter the face of Canada and its urban centres in particular. Visible minorities from the West Indies, Central and South America, the Far East, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, even Africa have taken on a new importance to a point where they will constitute 15 per cent of the total population of Canada by the year 2000. Audible minorities speaking over 100 different languages and mirroring a myriad of cultures have become an integral part of the Canadian mosiac. To deny their specificity and their presence is to play ostrich, redneck or worse.

At the same time, people of diverse backgrounds have chosen to migrate to Canada and, in most cases to become Canadian citizens. This decision means that they and their offspring subscribe to the political, legal, and other features that characterize this country and cannot expect special treatment or recognition as groups apart, nor can they simply import with them blood feuds and hatred from countries from which they originate and give them new expression on Canadian soil. The price of forging a new nationality out of diverse elements is a fair degree of tolerance and goodwill all around.

Reznick continues on multiculturalism:

In one way multiculturalism opens up wonderful opportunities to tap the diversity of Canada's ethnic heritage, itself a microcosm, more and more, of the planet as a whole. To the degree that English Canada, moreover, has become less European or less white, to the degree that it has shed a predominantly British Isles tropism, it has gone beyond ethnicity in laying the foundations for national identity.

Such developments, in Resnick's opinion, are reason for celebration. He says:

English-Canadian society represents a remarkable amalgam of cultural communities and people; wisely it does not require that each of these surrender its identity in order to become Canadian. If English Canada is to develop a sense of itself as a nation, it will be through continuing to foster such open mindedness in the years to come.

Where I would draw the line, however, is with a multiculturalism that might seek to deny a specifically Canadian or English-Canadian identity altogether.

In a world where nationality remains a primary source of identity-whatever the 21st or 25th centuries may bring-English Canadians must be careful not to deny themselves the ability to think of themselves as a nation. National identity requires a primacy for English against any other language, a minimal sense of our past and of the political traditions we have developed, a sense of place, here in the northern part of North America and nowhere else. English Canada is multicultural but it must be based on something more than multiculturalism.

Resnick's ideas capture the need we have in Canada for a new vision of federalism.

The member for Port Moody-Coquitlam placed a question on the Order Paper which requested for 1993 the total amount of funds received by individuals and groups from the Department of Multiculturalism, who these individuals were and how much they received. The response to the question staggered me and should sicken taxpayers.

The response from the government was a 703-page document that detailed 1,350 grants at a cost of $25,041,939. Let me share some of the outrageous grants that are doled out in the so-called interests of promoting multiculturalism.

Lu Hanessian Productions received $19,254 to produce a musical review of 27 songs and musical vignettes about human relationships. That is 20,000 taxpayer dollars wasted on a montage of songs that could, indeed should, have been produced with support from the private sector.

The Ottawa-Carleton Learning Foundation spent $9,044 to study the feasibility of offering engineers courses that integrate first generation Canadian engineers into the profession. Engineers by virtue of being engineers are already fairly privileged. I doubt that they need any further special integration courses. This is an example of the government giving grant money to individuals who do not need it but who should seek professional support from their peers.

The Multicultural Society of Ontario spent $40,000 on activities related to the Montreal venue of the national tour of many rivers. We do not even know what the activities are, but $40,000 is a lot of money for a tour of some rivers.

The Folks Arts Council of St. Catharines Multicultural Centre is spending $28,000 to study the needs of the community with respect to folk arts. This $28,000 is not even going to multicultural groups themselves. It is going into the pockets of self-appointed experts to determine what the needs of the community are with respect to folk art. This is ridiculous. We have a government spending more time and more money worrying about satisfying folk art needs than it does addressing the debt and deficit.

The Dance Centre will spend $30,000 bringing dancers together to meet and create a list of dance resources. Here is the Liberal government giving $30,000 so that dancers can meet and create a list of themselves. This money is not even going to help dancers dance.

As I said, the grants fill 703 pages. This list of outrageous grants goes on and on. This is a 703-page example of government wasting taxpayers' money. These are the kinds of special interest handouts that have to stop.

Canadians remain unsure of what multiculturalism is, what it is trying to do and why and what it can accomplish in a free and democratic society such as ours. Multiculturalism can encompass folk songs, dance, food, festivals, arts and crafts, museums, heritage languages, ethnic studies, ethnic presses, race relations, culture sharing and human rights. Much of the opposition to multiculturalism results from the indiscriminate application of the term to a wide range of situations, practices, expectations and goals, as well as its institutionalization as state policy, an expensive one at that.

Public support for multiculturalism has been difficult to ascertain. In the early 1970s when the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism recommended the government introduce some ethnocultural policy, public support for multiculturalism was at around 76 per cent. An Angus Reid poll in 1991 shows that figure has not changed much. It remains at 78 per cent. But what can we make of this level of support? Little to nothing, I suggest. For at the same time that this poll was being done, the Citizens' Forum on Canada's Future reported some uneasiness about the Canadian public's attitude toward multiculturalism policy.

It stated: "Overwhelmingly, participants told us that reminding us of our different origins is less useful in building a unified country than emphasizing the things we have in common. While Canadians accept and value Canada's cultural diversity, they do not value many of the activities of the multicultural program of the federal government. These are seen as expensive and divisive in that they remind Canadians of their different origins rather than their shared symbols, society and future".

Further, a Decima survey was commissioned by the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews and carried out in October 1993. The survey found that three out of four Canadians expressed a preference for an American style melting pot approach to immigration over the multicultural mosaic that has been officially promoted in Canada since the 1970s.

The survey also disclosed that Canadians generally are increasingly intolerant of interest group demands and that there is a relatively strong view that particularly ethnic, racial or religious minorities must make more efforts to adapt to Canada rather than insist upon a maintenance of difference, especially at federal expense.

Roughly similar proportions of visible minorities expressed the same sentiments. This poll would suggest that it is the prevalent opinion among the groups targeted to receive multiculturalism grants that such grants are divisive and not uniting.

As I mentioned, criticism of the status quo has been increasing from the policy's supposed beneficiaries. Jimmy Wong who emigrated from Vietnam in 1980 and is now a technician at a photo processing lab commented: "The government spends too much money on something that is not necessary. Canada has freedom and work for anyone who wants it and that is all newcomers need". Richmond magazine editor Anthony Choy

agrees that government sanctioned segregation is no good for Canada.

What seems to be clear is that there is an erosion of support for multiculturalism by the citizens of Canada. This erosion of support for the multicultural approach, particularly given that minorities themselves concur, does nothing to promote harmony and unity in Canada because it does not recognize that all Canadians are equal.

Earlier I referred to the Citizens' Forum on Canada's Future. This royal commission is better know as the Spicer commission. Mr. Spicer's views were well enough respected to earn him the chair of the royal commission on Canada's future.

We should take a brief look at his views on the future of multiculturalism. Mr. Spicer clearly saw the need for integration. In 1987 he said: "Isn't the time coming to stop making a religion of mosaics altogether and to start fostering a national spirit we can all identify with? With constant intermarriage, for how many generations more must an English or Ukrainian Canadian revere his presumed roots?" Spicer went on to accuse the government of making a virtue of a weakness, a glory of a hindrance to nationhood. We pay people to have foreign roots.

Two years later, just before he was given the chair of the royal commission, he wrote an article which appeared in the Montreal Gazette stating that state funded multiculturalism encourages not Canadians but professional ethnics and that multiculturalism was an anthology of terrors: Balkanization, ethnic politicians siphoning off political protection money, ghetto mentalities, destabilization of Quebec leading to secession-look where we are today-reverse intolerance for Canadian culture and institutions and a devaluation of the very idea of a common nationality.

At first blush the armies of the politically correct would have us think that Mr. Spicer's views are extreme and unrepresentative. However, nothing could be further from the truth. I referred earlier to the 1991 Angus Reid study on multiculturalism in Canada. It is the most comprehensive and the most recent evaluation of Canadians' attitude toward multiculturalism. Its findings echo the comments made by Mr. Spicer.

In a section of the study on multiculturalism policy and the federal government in general, groups knew little of the federal government's policy on multiculturalism and most of those who claimed familiarity were, upon further probing, unable to provide substantive details of the policy. Further, the study dispels the myth that it is only the west where we find people opposed to multiculturalism spending. The report states clearly that there was a widespread feeling that the government should not be involved in multiculturalism especially in Toronto and Calgary and the notion that multiculturalism policy was ultimately divisive was expressed clearly in Montreal, Toronto and Calgary.

The study also evaluated the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and the Canadian Heritage Languages Institute, both of which are large components of the multicultural program.

Regarding race relations, respondents did not believe that it was the task of government to eliminate racism. They believed it should be handled within the community or one on one. Regarding the languages institute, respondents in Toronto, Winnipeg and Calgary expressed the view that ultimately the responsibility for preserving heritage languages resides at the family or the community level.

Importantly many participants noted that funds to any of the organizations should come from private not public funding sources. When people begin to criticize multicultural federal funding, the liberal left often trot out section 27 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to justify the continuous pouring of taxpayers dollars down the multicultural drain. Section 27 of the charter states: "This charter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians".

For the Liberal left any reference to the charter is meant to be an immediate conversation winner as it serves as their Bible. Any reference to it is as such deemed to be incontrovertible. However, in this instance section 27 will not save them. Peter Hogg, understood to be the leading constitutional expert, even by the liberal left, doubts the utility of this section, calling it a mere rhetorical flourish.

I must share the words of another Canadian author, Richard Ogmundson. He writes:

Times have changed and we have moved on, apparently in the most accidental fashion, to a new social policy called multiculturalism. My visceral understanding of this is that the old social contract, upon which I based my life, has been terminated. It has apparently been replaced with a new social contract that emphasizes "old world" cultural identifications. It would appear that the cultural ideal has become that of a hyphenated Canadian. Apparently, one is now supposedly to identify primarily as Aboriginal, French, British, Italian, Sikh or whatever, and only secondary as a Canadian. In this view, it would appear that there is no cultural space available for someone, like myself, who wants to be a Canadian. At best, this category is considered secondary, residual or anomalous. At worst, someone who wishes to identify as a Canadian is likely to be considered chauvinist, reactionary, racist, and bigoted.

My visceral reaction to this sequence of events is that I have been deprived of my primary cultural identification by the opportunists who run this country. In a way, one might consider the multiculturalism program to be a form of cultural genocide aimed at the destruction of a pan-Canadian identity.

I feel an acute sense of betrayal. I feel a sense of demotion. I feel that I have been told that, by virtue of my ethnic heritage, I'm not good enough to be a full-fledged member of Canadian society.

Our vision of Canada should be committed to the goal of social and personal well-being that values individuality while emphasizing themes like family and community assumption of responsibility, problem solving and communicating these value sets to a means of better group life. However, at no time should the rights of a group supersede the rights of individuals unless the group happens to consist of a majority within Canada.

This discussion of multiculturalism serves as an example of how Bill C-53 really is a special interest funding bill. I have shown how the federal government's interpretations of multiculturalism support must come to an end. We can no longer spend money we do not have financing such a notion. The Angus Reid study from 1991 clearly showed that not only has the multiculturalism program failed but Canadians oppose it.

Bill C-53 gives to the Minister of Canadian Heritage the power to spend money on programs which fundamentally undermine the unity of this country. Canadians are tired of a status quo government. Canadians will not support or tolerate further special interest funding and they will not support the bill.

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Mount Royal Québec


Sheila Finestone LiberalSecretary of State (Multiculturalism) (Status of Women)

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to join this discussion in the House today and to speak to Bill C-53, the Department of Canadian Heritage Act. The bill is designed to give legal status to the amalgamation of five predecessor organizations, the Secretary of State, the Department of Multiculturalism and Citizenship, the Department of Fitness and Amateur Sport, the parks departments of Canada, a component of Environment Canada, and the cultural broadcasting and heritage components of the Department of Communications.

This profound reorganization reflects the government's commitment toward more efficient and effective government. Under the new arrangement one department is responsible for delivering a critical mandate. The Department of Canadian Heritage brings together many elements that define us as Canadians, as who we really are, a multifaceted, dynamic and diverse nation with a very rich cultural and natural heritage. Our geography and our culture are as diversified as one could possibly find. We should not be asking the question of who is a real Canadian. That is answered as a matter of citizenship. We must ask ourselves what are our Canadian values and how do we appreciate and communicate their importance to all Canadians.

I would say that those I have just been listening to have been communicating a tremendous degree of misinformation. I hope my remarks will put proper information in the hands of all Canadians.

The fact is that we have always been a multicultural, multilingual nation, from the many native communities and native peoples that existed here before the founding of our two nations, that is the British and the French who came here and later joined the aboriginal people and the Inuit. We were later joined by people from around the world to build a bilingual and multicultural Canada and that is our reality. This new department is responsible, and I will quote from the legislation, for "the promotion of a greater understanding of human rights, fundamental freedoms, and related values as well as multiculturalism".

Canada's multicultural nature is something we have already entrenched in section 27 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is one of which all Canadians can be proud. No one has been asked to remove their roots. Everyone has been told they are welcome here in Canada and please bring their culture with them, not their ancient angry patterns.

We have codified our commitment to respect the diversity of this nation by unanimously passing the world's first multiculturalism act. By placing this policy, this program, this name, whatever we wish to call it, by placing multiculturalism within the context of the Department of Canadian Heritage we are ensuring that this is a policy that addresses the needs of all Canadians.

Everyone in the House, regardless of colour, race, language, creed or religion is a Canadian by right of birth or by right of choice if they hold a Canadian citizenship passport.

My vision of today's multiculturalism relates as a word to its policy, to its program, how it describes our reality. It is one that encompasses the full diversity of our people. It includes those whose families arrived from Europe many centuries ago as well as those who recently arrived from the four corners of the globe. Canada reflects the world for the world is here in the nature of our people and the citizenship that they hold.

The mandated program is to provide and promote a greater sense of intercultural and interracial understanding and that is not laissez-faireism. That is active understanding of who we are, how we came to be, and an appreciation of the uniqueness of this Canadian mosaic. That is what I would have liked to have heard from across the floor. It is most unfortunate that was not the language of the discourse.

We must all recognize that in order to achieve this goal of social cohesion, social understanding and acceptance, the government is only spending $1 per year per Canadian. It is barely enough I believe to ensure social cohesion, social harmony and the great country that we are.

It is a broad but essential mandate, if we want to consolidate the elements needed to foster a sense of Canadian identity. The place of multiculturalism in this context shows the paramount importance of this policy in strengthening our national identity.

A great deal has been said about the situations that caused deep disagreements within our society. The so-called break-up of the family, the greater visibility of our multicultural population, the prolonged recession from which we are only now emerging have all led us to ponder who we are and what we represent, even though the United Nations still rates our country as the best in the world.

The Department of Canadian Heritage was created to promote understanding of our diversity, active involvement in Canadian society and knowledge of our cultural and natural wealth. It carries out this mandate by implementing policies and programs designed to help resolve disagreements, clear up misunderstandings and make us proud of our personal and national identity.

The increasing diversity of our population is only one of the dramatic changes that we are facing. Efforts to deal with these demographic changes are occurring in the face of a number of destabilizing and worrisome dilemmas: world recession, structural changes in the economy, poverty, job losses and other global moves, youth alienation and the difficulty of achieving political consensus on major issues.

Our response to these challenges demands adjustment by and for our people, both as individuals and in their national institutions. Achieving progress can be a daunting task but a worthy challenge.

For example, since taking on the responsibility of Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and travelling across this land and speaking with the people, I have become aware as never before that nation building in a culturally diverse society is a formidable but necessary challenge. The importance of this task must not be underestimated because it involves reconciling cultural diversity with national goals, with national identity. It involves ensuring respect, understanding and appreciation for differences. It involves ensuring that the tapestry which we have woven together with its multicultural colours and its uneven surface is one to be appreciated and one to be admired, with the overwhelming need to ensure that national unity is understood as a common value of which we can be very proud, talking about a national unity, talking about a sense of pride.

I listened earlier to some of the remarks and I do not feel there is a sense of betrayal. I certainly do not feel like a fractionated or hyphenated or disembowelled individual who has to cut off my roots and sense of belonging in order to have a sense of pride and belonging in order to be seen as a Canadian with all the attributes I bring in that personality and in that persona.

I am just not a hyphenated Canadian. I am a Canadian who is proud of her cultural heritage. In Quebec I am a Montrealer. In Canada I am a Quebecer and around the world I am a Canadian. If anyone asks me it is with pride that I say I am a Canadian almost anywhere in this world including in my own city or province.

Let me make it quite clear that none of those identities is incompatible with the strong sense of national identity and pride. It is very much what I am. It is very much that which I am first and foremost, a proud daughter with Jewish roots. I am a mother. I am a grandmother. I share my care, my love and concern and can spread it equally, evenly and as need be. For me that is no conflict. For Canadians, I have spoken to all origins. Whether Italian, Greek, Hungarian, Romanian, from Sri Lanka, Indo-Canadians, whether they are Chinese or Chilean, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or Jewish, this is not the issue.

The issue is that there is a social contract in Canada that says we share together, learn together, appreciate what we have here and protect it. It is like a very tender young flower. It is a democracy that is messy sometimes but it is the finest thing in the world. We have every reason to be proud of our families, our roots, our heritage. It is through the family and through volunteerism and with participation with the state and the institutions and structures of the state that we can accomplish the kind of country we have all inherited, are inspired by and have a responsibility to protect.

That is why we work closely and in partnership with other levels of government and with key stakeholders in the community. By bringing together various institutions we work to assist them in becoming more responsive to the access needs of our people, to the sense of belonging, to the need for employment and housing, and respect in our health institutions and all aspects of our daily living tasks. By working as mainstream Canadians with newly emerging Canadians as well as others we help to build a Canada that is inclusive of all people.

Our partnership with organizations such as the Canadian Ethnocultural Council, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Federation of Mayors and Municipalities, the Conference Board of Canada, Multicultural Canada, the Canadian Advertising Foundation, the Asia-Pacific Foundation, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and as well with the mayors of major cities we work and give our funds to these organiza-

tions in shared partnership as leverage so that we can promote a better understanding and destroy myths and stereotypes such as have been promoted from across this floor this morning.

We work with these partners to break down prejudice, misinformation, disinformation and to ensure fairness and equality for all people, to build understanding and create that sense of belonging.

Fortunately, Canada's experience in the last 20 years generally offers a positive viewpoint on multiculturalism issues, on bringing cultural communities together. What is needed to bridge the gap between new arrivals and the Canadian community receiving them is to build a society based on a consensus about what constitutes the common good for people with diverse interests, backgrounds, origins and beliefs; give everyone a role to play in the big issues; and identify peaceful solutions to potentially explosive problems.

In short, social peace is behind all the efforts we make through multiculturalism goals and strategies.

I have travelled across the country. I have listened sometimes to the misunderstanding but I have listened to the people and have heard what they have said about our diversity. I have heard about the economic advantage of a diverse population, advantages when we have such increases in foreign trade. We have also learned that when business is responsive to and reflective of its diversity it can be profitable as well.

The advertising council's colour your money study showed that by producing representative advertising companies such as the Bay, Zellers and McDonald's increased their revenues because people felt welcome. They felt they could be received behind the counter and were perceived as clients when the advertising was put out; they belonged as Canadians and would be served by Canadians.

This and other experiences have convinced me that the programs and policies under my responsibility are a great help in dealing with the problems facing us as a country with a very diverse population comprised of many different groups and peoples.

As you know, at least 46 different countries and ethnic communities are represented in my riding of Mount Royal, while Canada has over 100 ethnic communities.

Frank Rutter, a foreign affairs writer for the Vancouver Sun , has described multiculturalism as sweeping the world and as trying to balance a multicultural heritage with a national soul.

The implications of not achieving that balance are very worrisome, if not horrific. We only have to look at what is happening in the world around us to see the results of not trying to reconcile different realities of diversity and ensuring a sense of unity, a sense of belonging and a sense of pride.

I stated the obvious because Canada must clearly approach the issue of cultural diversity with rigour, sensitivity and broad-mindedness or be willing to suffer the consequences. The approach adopted by our country in dealing with multiculturalism is an asset that has allowed us to avoid the ethnic tensions plaguing other countries.

Let us realize the real picture of whom we are today. Forty-two per cent of all Canadians have origins other than British and French. With respect to our people of colour, those statistics are often referred to in Statistics Canada reports as visible minorities in Canada. Nationally these were 6 per cent in 1986, 10 per cent by the year 2000. In our major cities, 17 per cent in 1986 and 30 per cent by the year 2000. However in Toronto alone there will be approximately 50 per cent non-English and non-French backgrounds with 30 per cent visible minorities. Other major Canadian cities are undergoing similar changes.

Therefore the increasing diversity of Canada has broad ranging implications. Given an increasingly multicultural reality, Canadian governments and institutions face a number of practical challenges.

Let me close this part of my remarks by saying that fostering a national sense of belonging does not mean asking people to cut off their roots. It does not mean asking mainstream Canadians to forget their origins. It means telling, asking, expecting, teaching, training and educating so that we have an appreciation of where we started, with aboriginal, multicultural, multilingual peoples, whom we added and how we have lived together in peace and understanding.

I would hope that as I continue talking about the Canadian mosaic people will learn and appreciate the role that we play for a dollar a year for each Canadian.

We have to talk about how we ensure and promote growth and understanding of our diversity while recognizing our common values. I believe we have to find and implement effective ways to eliminate discrimination, prejudice, racism and bigotry based on the colour of our skin, our religious beliefs or our cultural differences. We have to learn how to encourage individuals and institutions to make a commitment to work toward eliminating and erasing racism.

These are all programs and projects which we undertake jointly with community groups to ensure that people can get together to understand and know each other in a much more neighbourly way.

How to involve people in welcoming and facilitating the integration-

Department Of Canadian Heritage ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

We will await the hon. member's words with great anticipation.

It being 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to Statements by Members pursuant to Standing Order 31.

Tom MartineauStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Len Hopkins Liberal Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in Bosnia, Warrant Officer Tom Martineau, who is serving in central Bosnia with the Lord Strathcona's Horse Battle Group, was injured during an exchange of fire between Bosnian government and Bosnian Serb forces.

Warrant Officer Martineau received a single gunshot wound to his left side while working at an observation post in the Bosnian Serb side of the confrontation line about eight kilometres east of Visoko. He was observing warring faction activity from a Cougar armoured vehicle when he was struck during an exchange of fire between the opposing sides. We are very proud of the useful work that our Canadian forces are doing on the international scene.

Warrant Officer Martineau is currently in the excellent care of Canadian forces medical personnel at Camp Visoko and is listed in stable condition.

I know that all members of the House of Commons here in Canada will want to join with me in extending our best wishes to Warrant Office Martineau and his family during this difficult time.

Party FundraisingStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Louis Plamondon Bloc Richelieu, QC

Mr. Speaker, we learned today that companies, banks and unions contributed over $25 million to finance the national Liberal, Reform, Conservative and New Democratic parties. Big corporations contributed $25 million to ensure that their interests are well represented here in the House of Commons.

The Bloc Quebecois for its part received contributions only from the people and is accountable only to them.

For the sake of the openness and democratic values which guide us, I call on the political parties in Canada to be concerned above all with the people's interests and to refuse contributions from party sponsors. Members of Parliament ultimately owe their loyalty to the people and not to big corporations.

Young OffendersStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, in May I received an appeal from 16 of the high school staff at Lumby, B.C., for assistance in deterring criminal acts such as those committed against Rodney Bell, an Oyama who had his skull smashed by an axe wielding youth, or an RCMP officer who was crippled for life after he was intentionally struck by a vehicle driven by adolescents.

My constituents are asking what the government is going to do about the non-enforcement of our laws, particularly against young offenders.

In their own words the Liberals stated in their red ink book that "dealing with the growing incidence of violent crime will be a priority for a Liberal government".

While the people of Canada are calling for crime control this government instead has moved toward further regulation of guns owned by responsible citizens.

Specifically these teachers and staff of Lumby ask the Liberal government to consider caning as a viable option for legislation.

HockeyStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


David Iftody Liberal Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, the House passed Bill C-212 that recognized hockey and lacrosse as national sports. Hockey is a sport that unites Canadians regardless of region. Canadians have a special relationship with hockey and we are very disturbed over this strike.

I do not stand alone in the House when I say that the revenues and salaries of hockey players and owners are sufficient.

League revenues increased 22 per cent last year from $549 million to $700 million. Salaries increased by 19 per cent. Small markets like Winnipeg are losing money and jobs. Markets like that cannot sustain a strike.

Fifteen to eighteen hundred jobs are directly attributed to the Winnipeg Jets and over $50 million is injected into the local economy of Winnipeg.

Stop this madness. Lock yourselves in a room. Negotiate an agreement and save five small franchise teams in Canada. Do not destroy the livelihood of many ordinary Canadians who depend on sport for income.

Last, I encourage the players and owners to get back to the table, stop the lockout and give hockey back to ordinary Canadians.

Endangered SpeciesStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


John Finlay Liberal Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Body Shop, the Canadian Nature Federation, and the Sierra Defence Fund for their national campaign which begins today to urge the federal government to enact legislation which will protect Canada's endangered species.

It will be important for all of us to pick up the call begun by these groups. In order for future generations to have a sustainable environment we must do everything within our power to protect species, both plant and animal, which are in danger of becoming extinct.

More and more people all over the world have begun to realize over the last few years just how fragile our environment is. I want to thank these groups for reminding us that the time to take action is now.

German Unity DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, four years ago today saw the dawn of German unity, when the governments of east and west Germany forged one republic. Heralded by the fall of the Berlin wall, the coming together of the two halves of that nation hastened the end of the cold war.

The process was not easy. The political differences which separated the two halves were formidable. But the will to achieve a united nationhood and to act on it was stronger. Unity of effort is no less important than unity of purpose.

I call on my colleagues to join in today's celebration of German Unity Day. It marks the triumph of a people's freedom to live in a democracy and the end of a tragic part of German history.

May we find inspiration in the meaning of this day and pledge to uphold the ideals of a Canada united in vision, purpose and effort and thereby secure the strength, prosperity and freedom of our country.

ImmigrationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, the consultations by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to set immigration and refugee policy are like this government's other consultations: while the people are being consulted, the real decisions are made by a small group chosen by the minister.

The minister's questionable strategy of openness clearly shows that he intends to keep the major stakeholders, namely the organizations which defend the interests of immigrants and refugees, away from the implementation of this policy.

How can the minister claim to really consult the people when the decisions are made by a chosen few? When will the government really act openly? Those are the real questions that the minister will have to answer sooner or later.