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."