Mr. Speaker, I did not want the remarks of the Reform Party member for Medicine Hat to go by without some mention.
As I mentioned, the hon. member for Medicine Hat talked about the fact that we subsidize the film industry in this country. The member has to be very careful about using the word subsidy because the energy sector in this country probably receives more subsidy than any other sector in the economy.
We do this through tax preferences buried in the tax act. The member stood in the House of Commons and talked about close to $2 billion in subsidies that go into culture related industry. He basically condemned that. He should know that the energy sector receives a lot more than that. The difference is it receives those subsidies buried in tax preferences and the tax act.
I feel very defensive when members stand in this House and take on the cultural industries because in my riding there are close to 5,800 people who work in the motion picture industry.
In the motion picture industry we do not just have actors and actresses. We have cameramen and women, craftsmen and women who do set designs, lens grinders and costume makers. In the last 10 years we have managed to build a world class motion picture industry.
We now have products that we are exporting all over the world. I think of "Degrassi Junior High" which was developed and produced here and is now being exported to over50 countries. It has been cancelled on the Canadian networks but this product is still being exported.
When we go to the 500 channel universe we will have an opportunity to manufacture all kinds of Canadian products. In addition, there are several motion picture producers that come to Canada now and have their motion pictures made in Canada.
The member gave the example of Buddies in Bad Times, a city of Toronto arts grant which I do not want to debate with him today. I do not think he should take one example like that and brandish the whole cultural industry in this country. It is not really fair. It is like taking the CBC and only looking at it for the work it does as a unit. You have to look at the CBC in the sense that it has been a training ground. Many people have left the CBC and gone on to work in the private sector. It has been an
apprenticeship centre which has created the tremendous inventory of talent that supports the motion picture industry.
I could also say to the member for Medicine Hat the CBC is one of the few galvanizing agents in this country. It is very sensitive to bringing together not only information and culture from every region of this country but providing service to remote regions which sometimes may not be seen as profitable for the private sector.
I am not putting down the private sector for not getting involved in unprofitable ventures in this country, but the responsibility for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is to make sure that every region of this country is covered. We do not run the CBC like a business. It is not like a business. Whether it be the post office, the CBC, or Petro-Canada, if we dealt with them strictly on an earnings per share per quarter basis we would not have the type of service that these agencies of government have provided over the years. They really have been able to bring this country together.
With the 500-channel universe just around the corner from us, we have invested so much in training, in the motion picture industry, we now have a talent pool that is recognized as world class. More than ever as we come close to that period where we have the opportunity to fill that 500-channel universe with Canadian product, we should make sure we do not pull away from supporting the motion picture industry. If anything, I would encourage members of the House to urge the government to not only continue to support it, but to increase its support.