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.