House of Commons Hansard #171 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cbc.


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12:10 p.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak to this motion, which I will do from a different perspective. The Bloc was extremely critical of the minister's lack of openness this morning because the announcement made by Michèle Fortin may seriously handicap a powerful instrument for the transmission and production of Quebec culture.

But first of all, I would like to respond to members who wondered why we were defending the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, since it is a federal institution and we want to get out of Canada.

I would like to read a quote from what Pierre Elliott Trudeau said in 1967 in Le fédéralisme et la société canadienne française : ``One way of offsetting the appeal of separatism is by investing tremendous amounts of time, energy, and money in nationalism, at the federal level. A national image must be

created that will have such an appeal as to make any image of a separatist group unattractive. Resources must be diverted into such things as national flags, anthems, education, arts councils, broadcasting corporations, film boards". This is what Pierre Elliott Trudeau wrote in Le fédéralisme et la société canadienne française , HMH, 1967.

We are defending the CBC's French network, which we feel is at risk because of imminent cutbacks, because we are aware that despite the mission Pierre Elliott Trudeau wanted to give the network, Radio-Canada has been a very important vehicle for the transmission and production of Quebec culture, although we could have dispensed with some of the bias involved.

Altogether, it is part of our living heritage. This is an institution that belongs to us, and we want to make sure it will not only continue to exist but will be able to improve the quality of its productions. In fact, Radio-Canada is the depository of a collective resource, a collective instrument that is essential to our culture, and the Minister of Canadian Heritage has no right to trifle with the future of this powerful collective instrument of Quebec culture.

I may recall what was said by Gérald Leblanc on tv-it was not on Radio-Canada-last Sunday. The following gives some idea of the ratings of French television in Quebec compared with those of Canadian tv productions in the rest of Canada: "When the Royal Air Farce, an excellent comedy program, reaches one million viewers out of a potential 20 million, it celebrates and breaks open the champagne. However, every week, Radio-Canada and TVA together regularly reach a viewership of three million or more out of a potential seven million".

He added: "If we were to obey the dictates of the market, Radio-Canada would be affected, cuts would have to be made, but the CBC could not survive". Far be it from me to suggest that we should take away the CBC's means to survive. We are only too aware of the significance culture holds for the future of a people and a nation. We can state forcefully that no people, no nation, with the exception of the United States perhaps, can let the powerful instrument which creates and conveys its culture become hostage to the marketplace.

I add that the CBC is the only broadcaster that has strong Canadian content during peak hours. All other Canadian television networks have a low domestic content, around 20 to 30 per cent during peak hours, which can seriously affect Canadian culture. As for us, we chose this morning to show how important Radio-Canada is to the Quebec culture and how much we want not only to know what the government is planning but also to block its plans to deprive the SRC of its means. We care because the goals of the SRC are intrinsic goals, they are the collective goals it was created to achieve. That is why we cannot afford to let Radio-Canada be deprived of its means.

Mrs. Fortin, to whom I listened with great pleasure, was defending wholeheartedly in her own energetic way the role of this public television network which she compared to public schools. We never say that public schools are not profitable and must be financed in some other way. Public television has an important role to play. At least, it plays an important role in Quebec and it can play that role even better. We think that our colleagues from English Canada could ponder with us ways of strenghtening Canadian culture.

Being a francophone in North America can be difficult since we represent a little more than 2 per cent of the population and we are surrounded, submerged by English language channels. To remain a country not only with a distinct border but also with a distinct national identity, Canada-which does have its own culture, though sometimes it is not easily differentiated from that of the United States-must protect its public television.

I would like to say a few words about culture. If in fact we attach so much importance to public television and to television in general, it is because television is, along with other audiovisual techniques, the main vehicle of culture nowadays. It is not only a vehicle of that culture which exists and which we shall try to define, it is also an extremely important forum for cultural production.

When one realizes the public reached by Radio-Canada and TVA in Quebec, when one realizes the impact popular programs may have on the people, how these programs can strenghten its cultural identity, give rise to debate, question actions, attitudes and values, one realizes how alive our culture is, nurtured of course by our heritage, our history, the arts and all that cultural production embraces, but digested and distributed in another form, vehicled by the media of our times.

In this era of telecommunications, which is still full of surprises, it is a means, the most important means of distribution, development and production of culture.

Figures alone are not enough when we are talking about such an important instrument, which defines what people will think and are thinking and what affects Canadians' current and future desire to live together. This is what nationalism is all about. This is why we say that there are two countries within this country. We keep seeing it-every day. And what we want is sovereignty, because we think it is better for our people.

At the same time, we are aware that Canadian culture as well warrants clearer definition. It too needs to find expression in a world in which it is perhaps more threatened than francophone culture, because it shares a common language with the United States, which is more than a neighbour; it is the prevailing influence of our time. And if, because of this, Canadian minds

are fed American values, images, references, history, action and activities, I would take the liberty of saying that one must draw one's own conclusions and take no delight in the fact that English Canadian public television reaches such a small portion of the population, quite the contrary.

Of course, there are my hon. colleagues beside me who say that culture does need the help of the state. I would challenge them. The state does not create the cultural product, the artist. However, without a way to live, without sufficient means, few artists, artistic endeavours and cultural productions would survive, particularly in today's world. We must remember, here again, that the CBC is in competition with American productions, which have 20 times the resources.

We have chosen to talk about the CBC because our culture, its life and its evolution, depend in part on the continued availability of resources. Just as in the past, during the Renaissance, people needed patrons, the patrons are now being replaced by the state, by states.

No people, no self-respecting nation can afford not to support this great tool which television has become.

It must be said that the audiovisual medium requires a lot of resources. You and I can make video clips, but to produce programs which can compete with other programs coming from all over the world, we need resources. Otherwise, all the talents available to us will either be under-utilized or not used at all.

Culture is what defines a people, a nation. It is its soul. Its way of being. It is not static. It implies a knowledge of the past. It implies the handing down of the cultural production of previous generations. But it also implies a certain intermixing. It implies that each generation has to embark on the creative process using the same basic tools. But, in the long run, it is culture, this way of being, which guarantees that globalization will not reduce all cultures to the one with the most resources. This is what is really at stake in the present situation when we talk about all these numbers.

In 1992, in a fantastic speech he made in Montreal, Boutros Boutros-Ghali said: "The sound globalization of modern life implies the existence of strong cultural identities, since an excessive or ill-conceived globalization could crush various cultures and melt them down into a uniform one, which would spell nothing good for the world".

He added: "Individuals need an intermediary between a universe too large for them and their solitary status, for the mere fact that, at the start, they need a language to understand and decipher the outside world. What they need are practical alliances and a framework of cultural references, to sum it up, a passport to the world". Television is that passport to the world for most young people. That is why it is a national responsibility. This passport contributes the most to the creation of future societies, because it does not act alone.

I digressed a little, but now return to Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali's speech. "Nation-states, which transcend the physically closer alliances of family, clans or villages, fill these needs. A nation has a common reason for existing, which is the first step towards the universal, towards a universal civilization. An orderly world is a world of independent nations which are open to each other and respect each other's differences and similarities". This is what I call the fruitful logic of nationalities and universality.

To defend the Société Radio-Canada and the CBC, the Bloc Quebecois says "stop". Culture is the soul of the people, and if culture is not given sufficient means, the growth of these little people, these small states, will be stunted in a world overshadowed by the giant we all know well.

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12:30 p.m.


Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, first of all, I would like to congratulate my hon. colleague for Mercier on her excellent, and in a large part spontaneous, intervention. It shows how much culture, whether it is Quebec culture or Canadian culture, is dear to her heart and how much she knows about the fundamentals of its development.

I would like my colleague to comment on what I am going to say, because my understanding of the present debate on the future of the CBC reminds me of other debates we have had on the future of Quebec culture and Canadian culture.

Just remember the whole copyright issue which is so fundamental to the development of Canada and Quebec from a cultural point of view. Remember also everything related to the information highway where Quebec, because of its different language in North America, is not recognized, not invited to participate. This is extremely serious. It is also excluded because of the centralizing nature of Canada.

Another example is what happened with Ginn Publishing, where English Canada sacrificed for peanuts a Canadian publisher, simply because we are considering ourselves more and more as vassals of our American neighbour.

This debate on the CBC shows that it is essential to the preservation of the future of English Canada, of the English Canadian culture. As to the Quebec French speaking culture, we are preparing the future so that it will be preserved. I would like my colleague to comment on this subject, that is the American influence on these issues.

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12:30 p.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Madam Speaker, that is in fact the underlying basis of my remarks. We must not think that, in this world where the economy plays such an important role, we cannot afford to

invest in culture. Because culture is the very essence of our identity.

More than that, very concretely, the cultural industry is the main showcase for our cultural talents and products. This industry also needs encouragement.

The fact that Quebec cannot sign international agreements, negotiate its own bilateral contracts or participate in regulatory talks, that it is thus often unable to develop direct expertise, that it cannot address some problems such as copyright matters, and that it cannot continue regional and local production, for example, because it cannot afford it and because the resources come from Ottawa, all contribute to its erosion, if we continue with this comparison.

The French, who are the unchallenged champions of culture, invest heavily in their culture, their heritage, their television, their arts community.

We could say that they know how important this industry is, but they also know how closely it is tied to their place as a middle power in the world. They know that culture is the glue that makes people want to live together. They know that it is extremely important to allocate all the resources and all the energy they can to this industry.

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12:35 p.m.

Laval West Québec


Michel Dupuy LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, I will preface my comments on the motion before us by the following preliminary remarks because I want to make myself perfectly clear.

First, I have the profound conviction that there is a need in our country for a national public broadcaster. I am convinced that this broadcaster is essential to our cohesion and the development of our culture, as both francophones and anglophones. After listening to a fair number of my colleagues opposite, I am happy to see that they support the position I have always defended. Inasmuch as they continue to support this position I just heard our colleague mention, I am very pleased with their contribution. We are working together to ensure that Radio-Canada remains a large corporation and continues to contribute to the development of the francophone culture in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada.

My second introductory observation concerns the relationship between the government and Radio-Canada. I think that there is no ambiguity there either. There has been much talk about this issue. The government, and the Minister of Canadian Heritage in particular, always made it clear that we respect Radio-Canada's autonomy, as essential to this great institution but also to freedom of press, which we wholeheartedly support.

So, what is the government's involvement? Well, Radio-Canada belongs to all Canadians and the government is responsible to ensure that this public property is managed properly and well run. That responsibility takes a specific form with budgeting, in so far as budgetary appropriations are part of CBC's budget, and I will get back to this, and with appointments to the board of directors and, of course, to the executive level of the corporation.

The government can express opinions, as I just did, on general issues related to CBC's position in the world of communications. We can express such opinions. We state our general policy, so that CBC's managers can develop their plans and their management strategy in compliance with the federal government's vision and main policies.

The third point is that the review and the decisions made concerning CBC are part of a larger initiative, namely the development of what is called the information highway. The information highway will, of course, provide information, but it will also contain numerous and significant cultural elements. There is no ambiguity here. As spokesman of the Canadian government, I keep saying that we hope that Canadian content will be prevalent on that information highway. As I said earlier, and opposition members support that position, it is important that the information highway helps promote Canadian culture, which includes the French-speaking Canadian and Quebec culture.

What should we do now? There are three basic institutions which belong to Canada and which can help create this Canadian content. The largest one of is CBC, of course, but there are also the National Film Board and Telefilm Canada. These agencies are in the sound and picture business and, to be sure, very important decisions will be made this year, in 1995, regarding the creation of sound and pictures by Canadian producers.

Numerous studies commissioned by the Minister of Industry and myself are currently being conducted regarding this issue. There is a reference to the CRTC, an advisory committee on the information highway, as well as several other committees at work. All this will lead us to make fundamental decisions a little later on this year, when the consultation process will have brought together all the elements we need to elaborate our policies, the architecture of the information highway and the traffic regulations for this highway.

I think it is important to say these things, because it is within this context that the CBC and the two other agencies I mentioned must make their contribution. It is only natural to address this issue and to consider the way the CBC will be able to play its part.

This brings me to the decisions announced in the Budget which will especially affect the CBC. There are three of them. Nothing complicated, only three decisions. First, the government will undertake a fundamental review of its support, and the mandates of, the three agencies I mentioned.

Of course, the object of this review is to ensure that these three agencies are in the best position possible to play their roles on the information highway. When I talk about the mandates of these agencies, I use the expression in the large sense. I do not mean only a sentence in a piece of legislation. I think it would be wise, while we are examining all our communications, to review this particular aspect of the mandates. This was the first decision that was announced. I will have the pleasure, very soon, to announce the members of the group that will carry out this review and the very specific terms of their mandate.

The second decision announced in the budget was the transfer of Radio Canada International back to the CBC. This decision was made because it was found that the CBC should again assume the responsibility for this agency. I know this will have repercussions on the budget but the conditions and budgetary aspects of this transfer can be the subject of various discussions between the CBC and the government.

Finally, there is the parliamentary appropriation for the coming fiscal year. This appropriation provides for a 4 per cent reduction in the CBC's base budget as far as the parliamentary appropriation for this fiscal year ending soon is concerned. So, why were so many questions asked, since these decisions are clear?

We were asked why the parliamentary appropriations for a second and third fiscal years were not announced at the same time. The answer is simple. If we are serious with our review of the mandates and our study, it would be wise to wait for the results of this examination and for the recommendations that will follow before deciding on the CBC's budget for the second and third years.

To drive from Ottawa to Montreal, one does not need as much gas as if he or she would be to go to Quebec City. Thus, there is a link between the mandate and the budget, as the CBC's chairman indicated many times publicly. Thus, we answered that question and we will have mandates redefined when preparing for the next budget, for next year's budget.

Another thing we have to take into account is the work of the House heritage committee. This is a review of the CBC and it includes, as indicated by the reference, or it will include, I hope, a review on other possible sources of funding the CBC could have access to. That report is not the only document that mentions possible new funding sources for the CBC.

How could we set future budgets permanently when basic elements of the fiscal situation of the CBC are not yet known?

To conclude, I would like to say that I agree with a view that has been expressed by members on both sides of the House: It is important that radio and television programming by our public and private broadcasters provide the bulk of what is transmitted over our information highway.

A few weeks ago, I was in Brussels for a meeting of the G-7 communications ministers. It turned out that I was the only minister who was also in charge of cultural matters. The message I had was essentially what I just said. We cannot discuss setting up an infrastructure without first discussing the content it will carry.

After my remarks, there was no more talk of a comprehensive information infrastructure; all of the talk was about a new information society. That is very important in my view. I got unanimous support, including from the American delegation, when I said that the content that will be carried over those international information highways should reflect different cultures and languages instead of a standardized content that would not be positive for creative artists around the world.

That will conclude my remarks. We are in the process of developing important policies. I know this is a difficult period. We cannot ignore the present fiscal limitations that everybody understands. We have decided that we should all contribute to bringing down the deficit. We should not fool ourselves: this government has a tough fiscal policy, but that policy is supported by 70 per cent of Canadians. I am pleased to add that all agencies that report through me told me that they understood the fiscal situation of the government and that they were ready to co-operate, so that we can eliminate a deficit that makes it so difficult to govern this country.

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12:45 p.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the minister for taking the trouble to come here to get his message across. There are a few questions I would like to raise.

But first, I thought it was interesting that he had a clear itemized message for us. Last year, we spent the year, from the time we were elected until the end of June, sitting two days a week on the Canadian heritage committee and listening to people who came to talk about the electronic highway, to be told that Mr. Manley and Mr. Dupuy, the two ministers, formed a committee that would ask the CRTC to look into the information highway.

Now we are starting all over again. The same people who came before the committee will do the same before the CRTC.

The minister said earlier: "I cannot announce the budget cuts for next year or for the year after". Not according to our sources, which made it very clear in the newspapers and on television that the cuts for next year were already known. He said: "We cannot do that, because I asked a lot of people to look into the matter". Well, that is precisely what the Canadian heritage committee has been keeping itself busy with for the past six months. It has heard the testimony of many people who came and talked about the CBC. And even before our report was released, we already knew this report would be submitted to a

committee of three experts and we knew as well that the decisions had already been made.

This year, $44 million will be cut. If the government cannot announce next year's cuts because it is waiting for the findings of a committee which has yet to be appointed, on what basis did it make its cuts this year? I am not saying that the status quo is what we wanted, financially speaking. Not at all. But the government did not even wait until the committee finished its work or, because it failed to take the longer view, give it its mandate soon enough for the work done by our committee to have an impact on the budget.

We asked whether we should work a little faster so that we could have an impact on the budget. We never got an answer. The sad part is that taxpayers' money had already been invested in the SECOR studies on the situation at Telefilm and the National Film Board. Since that was not satisfactory, another study was ordered. The government thinks everything will be all right, thanks to the information highway. It is like deciding to build a controlled access highway across Canada and getting rid of our other highways. Even with the information highway, we still must keep our other highways.

The government is letting one of those highways-the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation-go to pieces by putting it in a financial situation that is unacceptable at this time, without taking the time to make the right decisions and without taking the time to ask, for instance, whether it is necessary to maintain CBC headquarters, to send the corporation each year to the CRTC, and so forth. Many areas will be affected by cuts. However, when the government announces it will cut so many positions, it will not necessarily be the vice presidents, so that we can keep the people who are involved in production.

How can the minister guarantee that we can do this? Someone will have to administer the $180 million in foregone revenue, the $44 million that has just been cut and the $15 million it will take to manage Radio Canada International. Can we have the assurance that those who lose their jobs will not be the performers, producers and creators? How can the government guarantee it will remove people who are not directly involved in production but are part of a bureaucracy that has to issue cheques in Ottawa to pay people who take part in television broadcasts in Nova Scotia, for instance?

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12:50 p.m.


Michel Dupuy Liberal Laval West, QC

Let us speak first about the respective roles of the CRTC and of the heritage committee. They do not deal with the same issues, although these issues are related.

The CRTC's terms of reference deal with competition problems arising between the cable industry and telephone companies. These problems cover a series of issues which are industrial, commercial or cultural in nature, but which do not come under the terms of reference of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Specifically, in view of the importance given by the government to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, it was very important not to let a whole discussion on the architecture of the electronic highway take place while ignoring the broadcasters, particularly the biggest of them all.

That is precisely why I wanted a thinking process on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation which would be open to all parties and to all the people who would decide to testify.

As for the relationship between the reports that the heritage committee will produce and the last budget, of course, it would have been possible for the heritage committee to report very quickly, but I believe that it did what had to be done. It took the time to think about this and it also gave us the time to think. We have targeted a fiscal year, but that is precisely in order to benefit from the advice that the heritage committee and the other advisory organizations will give us.

There is nothing unusual for a government, whether a Liberal one or other, that has always determined in its budget the commitments for the next fiscal year, to continue to do so. This world is not a world of absolute certainty; it is changing. And we are indeed going through a period of huge changes in the field of communications. It would have been irresponsible to say: "We are going to take decisions for the next 15 years", when everything is changing and we have not yet seen the results of this serious work which is being done.

This also brings me to a comment on studies. There have indeed been many studies. We are up to here in studies. But this time, we are not initiating a new study, let there be no confusion about this. We are trying to have people synthesize the data, to help government bring the elements together and prepare some specific recommendations. So we are certainly not trying to delay things, on the contrary, we want to accelerate the process.

We must not forget that by next summer, next fall, we will begin to see the preparation of the next budget. This is exactly what the deadlines will force us to do. By the time the next budget is ready, I hope we will have answers which will be satisfactory for the CBC.

I must say I disapprove of the attitude of the Bloc Quebecois. They are trying to cause uncertainty, precisely in the mind of those they pretend to be protecting. Those who will suffer most will be the craftsmen, the people who will feel distressed by this confusion the Bloc is trying to create, for reasons that are not always clear. I will not go into details. However, I feel we should explain the truth and the process to those who, after all, are at the origin of all productions. That is what we are trying to do and I hope my colleagues will cooperate to ensure that these people, who have always contributed in a remarkable way to the Canadian culture and the Quebec culture, will understand we

want to help them and give them a mandate where they will truly have a role to play.

It is false to say that government is trying to kill the CBC. On the contrary, the government is trying to ensure that the CBC will be the most efficient instrument, the best institution with the best policies, to carry out the new mandate.

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12:55 p.m.


Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Madam Speaker, the Bloc motion reads:

That the House condemn the government for the refusal by the Minister of Canadian Heritage to publish the government's decisions concerning funding for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation over the next three years, thus causing an ominous threat to loom over the CBC's French-language network.

In essence the Bloc is chastising the government for not being accountable on spending decisions. Naturally I agree with that. My party agrees with that. We believe very much in the principle of accountability.

If turnabout really is fair play, and I believe it is, I have some questions for the Bloc. Where does it get off blocking the business of an entire nation on the whole issue of back to work legislation and the railway strike? How accountable is the Bloc being to its own people in its own province of Quebec who are losing pay, jobs, business and markets because their party will not stand up and act for them? Where is its concern for the unemployed now?

I really feel the Bloc is letting people down. It has acted irresponsibly throughout the whole process and has thwarted the democratic will of this place. That is why I find it ironic that it would put forward a motion that would force a degree of accountability on the government.

Let us talk for a moment about accountability and about the motion. The motion is too narrow. The separatist government of Quebec talked about how it would protect minorities in Quebec, but there is no mention of CBC English language services in the motion.

I have to ask why that is. Just how deep rooted is its commitment to minorities in Quebec? Not very, I suggest. I believe all the statements it has made about being fair to minorities is sugar coating. It is a vain attempt to draw in people who are not francophones in Quebec to vote for the Parti Quebecois in the referendum. I believe it is vain.

Let us talk for a moment about why accountability with respect to the CBC is so important. Obviously accountability is important at any time, but it is especially so when the future of the CBC literally hangs in the balance. We have a $550 billion debt and a deficit of about $30 billion. It is an understatement to say that our fiscal situation is extremely serious.

In considering the whole issue we have to ask ourselves whether as parliamentarians we will be accountable and responsible. We have to ask ourselves why we need a CBC in the first place. Do people really want some kind of institution called the CBC, or do they really want interesting programs that deal with issues not dealt with by private broadcasters at this time at a cost that recognizes our fiscal constraints? That is the real question. I will talk more about it in a moment.

Let us talk about the different divisions of the CBC. People who listen are largely happy with what they receive on CBC radio. However, I firmly believe that the CBC's choice of issues to explore betrays a liberal bias and truly lacks balance on some social and political issues. If the CBC were to fix that it would have a larger audience than it has today.

I also believe all kinds of efficiencies could be built into CBC radio that would make it function a lot better than it does today. On the whole, however, relative to some of the other services the CBC provides radio is in relatively good shape.

The real problem is with CBC English language television. I commend a recent article in the Montreal Gazette to members of the House. It was by W. Paterson Ferns and is probably the best description of not only some of the problems with the CBC but also some of the solutions. I am mostly addressing English language television when I talk about this matter.

Mr. Ferns made four major points. He said that the CBC should start over, that it should start as if the page were blank, by a commitment to focusing programming. Mr. Ferns described Britain's channel 4 as a model and pointed out that it had a mandate to serve all of the people some of the time. Not all of the people all of the time but just all of the people some of the time, in other words to really sharpen that focus.

The question Mr. Ferns asked explicitly and implicitly in his article was: Why in the world should the CBC be broadcasting American programs? It makes no sense. Those programs flood over the border on cable systems. We do not need the CBC to rebroadcast them. To its credit I believe the president has recognized that it is a crazy idea. Certainly the chairman of the CRTC has talked about it. It is a crazy idea and we should move away from it.

Another question is why we are broadcasting programs the private networks are already carrying. Why is the CBC so heavily involved in sports? Obviously TSN is more than happy and more than prepared to pick up carrying hockey games and is already doing so. Do we really need hockey on the CBC? Why is the CBC bidding to pick up Olympic coverage? Why is it bidding twice as much as CTV was prepared to bid to pick up Olympic coverage? It is a huge issue and at a time of fiscal

constraint it is an important issue. It is something the heritage minister and the leadership of the CBC have to address.

We have to ask ourselves and the CBC has to ask itself what types of valuable programming are not on the menu of private broadcasters right now. I do not think that has been done yet. We see a lot of programming that is currently covered by either the major networks, by the Americans or by the specialty channels. That should be a cue to us that we must move away from it.

Mr. Ferns also talked in his article about the need for thin administration. He pointed out that Britain's channel four limited its administration to 10 per cent of the total budget. It is very difficult to examine the CBC figures because they are just not available. When we look through the annual report of the CBC it is not obvious just how much money is spent on administration and it does beg the question: What is it attempting to hide? Why can we not see those figures?

The motion brought forward by the Bloc asks the right question and it should be asked of all the CBC: Why are spending decisions not being made public? Then the question that flows from that is: Why is the CBC not forthright about how it spends all its money?

The CBC's percentage of administration to budget is unclear, as I pointed out. However we know the CBC has a very old style hierarchy of management. It has several vice-presidents and several senior managers in Ottawa. It has more senior managers at the regional level. There has to be a lot of money spent on administration, given the type of hierarchy.

Mr. Ferns also raised that leadership in a network should be comprised of programmers. I must admit that at first I took issue with that point, being concerned about the fiscal side. However if safeguards are built in there is some sense in the idea.

I point to the private sector and the great success of Moses Znaimer who has brought tremendous success not only to City TV in Toronto but also to MuchMusic and the Bravo channel, one of the new speciality channels that can be found on networks around the country. I believe it is enjoying a measure of success.

Visionaries like Mr. Znaimer are probably better able to anticipate public tastes and better able to see needs than perhaps they are sometimes perceived by the public. That is why Mr. Znaimer has been hugely successful. Perhaps one of the reasons the CBC has not been successful is that it has been too administratively driven in the past. Even with people like Mr. Watson there was so much bureaucracy in the way and such a lot of baggage attached to the CBC that it was very difficult for the programming vision to get down to the field level and to drive the CBC agenda.

There is a lot to be said about what Mr. Ferns suggested with respect to the CBC and other public and private broadcasters around the world. A program maker should lead that institution.

My experience is as a broadcaster who came up on the programming side as opposed to the administration or the sales sides. I have seen many successful private sector operations being driven by people with a good sense of programming, a sense of what people want from programming. From a personal standpoint I think it is really true.

A program producer who heads up an organization may indeed be the best choice as long as the organization is accountable. It has to be accountable not just to a board of directors but to its advertisers, its viewers and taxpayers. This is something that has not happened with the CBC to this point, nor with the government when it comes to not sharing information that is important to taxpayers, namely how their money is spent.

An institution such as the CBC must be accountable to Parliament not in name only but really accountable. There should be an annual review of the CBC by this body in a deep and probing way so that if things are going off track we have immediate recourse: We can jump in and make some changes as appropriate.

Also Mr. Ferns indicated that news and current affairs shows should be bought from a reputable source and all shows should be commissioned from the independent sector. That makes a tremendous amount of sense. He argues that the corporation should not make, that it should buy. The CBC invests a tremendous amount of resources-time, money and manpower-in producing programs when there is a huge creative sector out there that could provide and would compete to provide the CBC with all kinds of programming. It should avail itself of that.

That type of competition would lead to better programming. It would also lead to cheaper programming because people would go the extra mile to get their costs down to win the bid and ultimately get a program on the CBC. That makes sense. Why invest money in bureaucracy, administration, bricks, mortar and equipment when it can obtain programs directly from the makers of programs?

The analogy in the article was that book publishers did not hire authors to sit in a room and produce novels which they then published. Book publishers buy the finished product. It makes all the sense in the world. That is exactly what the CBC should be doing.

In summary, we cannot afford the CBC as it is now. To simply parrot what happens on other networks is a complete waste of money, talent and time. People do not watch the CBC as it is now. Advertisers do not support it. While there are a few popular programs, CBC English language television is generally not held in high esteem.

This impression is only compounded when the CBC and the government shroud themselves in secrecy. Given this veil of secrecy, who among us is not tempted to ask the obvious questions: What does it have to hide? What is it afraid of?

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1:10 p.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his remarks, which I listened to carefully. He mentioned at the start that he was surprised to discover we wanted to talk about television, when we were preventing the trains from running.

I think it is extremely important to remind him once again, -we said it a number of times this morning. It is not really relevant, but, since the subject has been raised-had the government accepted the Bloc's proposals, the bill would have been adopted a while back and the trains would probably have started running by now. So, do not blame us if the trains are not running and no one is looking after the economy.

Looking after culture is in fact looking after the economy. It is not only when the trains are running that the economy exists.

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1:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

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1:10 p.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

He also felt our motion was somewhat limited, because we referred only to the French network. Throughout his speech, my colleague talked only of the CBC. This is perfectly understandable. He knows the CBC better than I ever will, and I know the SRC better than he ever will. Since there are really two peoples, two nations, two cultures, two of everything in this country, and people want to deny this fact, it is not surprising that they find our motion limited when we talk of the French network.

What I think is also important to point out, and I have the figures to back me up, in our concern about the famous cuts at the CBC, is what proportion each of the English and French networks will get. It is also perhaps important here for the people in this House and for everyone watching us on television to know that, for an hour of news, the SRC gets $7,000, while the CBC gets $18,000. For an hour of variety programming, the SRC gets $30,000, the CBC, $141,000. For a drama program, the SRC gets $68,000, and the CBC gets $99,000.

We can therefore readily understand that, with less money to begin with, there will be even less money to produce our programs, if the cuts are made the same way. The problem is that the SRC's programs are popular. The BBM ratings for the SRC are positive. What program on the CBC can claim to have 4 million viewers?

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1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Not one.

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1:15 p.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Not a single one. The best CBC programs barely reach a figure of 10 or 12 per cent of viewers. In round figures, in very very generous terms, this means some 2 million viewers. We are therefore definitely not talking about the same order of magnitude, other than to say that a lot of people watch television, and if we had the same resources as the CBC, even the anglophones would probably start watching the SRC, because they would find it interesting.

Does my colleague not think that we have reason to worry about the present situation, since we are told that the information highway is the answer which, in a way, is like saying that we will solve the question of the CBC in 20 years? But what about this year or next? It seems logical that we should worry about keeping a general interest television network since, according to statistics given at the heritage committee, there are places in the West, for example, where rural populations can get only one TV network, the CBC. The same is true for some parts of Quebec.

Then would it not make sense to try to find a way to reach that market? I have nothing against helping private enterprise, but should we not also try to maintain a general interest television network for the whole Canadian community, French speaking as well as English speaking? What does he think about that?

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1:15 p.m.


Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the hon member's question. She talked about several things but I would like to comment on what kind of service should be provided to people in remote areas.

It is a legitimate responsibility of the CBC to provide service in remote areas. I completely accept that. However, there is a larger question and one I posed in my talk which is, does it always need to be the CBC? Is it really important that it be a particular institution, or is it the service itself that is important?

Sometimes that service can be better provided by a private sector broadcaster. When talking about news and current affairs, there is no doubt in my mind that the private sector can and has produced shows which are as good as those on the CBC.

I would argue that people in some of those communities should have the choice of bringing in either a private sector broadcaster or the CBC. It should be ultimately driven by them.

While it is a legitimate role for the CBC, it does beg the bigger question: Is it really the institution we want there, or is it a certain type of programming? That is probably what people

really want. At the end of the day it should be up to them to decide what kind of service they want brought in.

If it is something they cannot get otherwise, then it is something the government should provide for them. That is probably a good use for the CBC northern service. In talking about TV broadcasting, if people in a community would rather have CTV than CBC and it requires building a transmitter, then personally I do not see a problem with bringing that service in instead of CBC.

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1:20 p.m.


Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I have great interest in taking part in this debate today.

It is seemingly unusual that only yesterday I was in the House arguing and defending the budget program of the government. At that time my hon. colleagues in the Bloc were saying: "Cut more. You need to cut more. You have not done enough. The province of Quebec is sitting in a sinking ship and we are not doing enough". Today, they are speaking the reverse argument. "You are doing too much. You are hurting us. Do not do that any more". What is it going to be?

It is clear to most people in Canada that the status quo is not good enough. As we approach the 21st century we have to change. We have to change as a government, as a country and as a people. The status quo which is being defended by the Bloc Quebecois is not satisfactory.

While talking about the status quo, it is interesting to note the problems we are having with our rail industry today. That is part of the same argument in some ways because some of these contractual agreements have matters in them that go back almost a century.

I was surprised to learn that blacksmithing is a job description which is still available in the CN. One has to be a blacksmith to get certain types of jobs. This is the kind of thing the Bloc Quebecois is defending, blacksmithing, as we approach the 21st century. I do not think that is good enough.

I can say that the people of my riding in which General Motors is a major feature are not at all impressed by the ability to manage this economy that the Bloc Quebecois has shown so clearly. We try to manage and people are stopping us from doing that.

We share the North American continent with our tremendously large neighbour to the south. This neighbour has tremendous resources, huge programming and cultural diversity. It is exporting its culture all over the world. Programs come easily across the border. Indeed as we go to better telecommunications devices it is going to be almost impossible to avoid that kind of culture penetrating the North American milieu. That affects our culture, both English and French.

I have always been a supporter of the CBC. I have always believed it is necessary to foster Canadian culture. What we have to do is to foster it in an affordable way.

Clearly the CBC has been a vanguard of supporting culture both in English Canada and French Canada. I note that Canada is an exporter of French programming and clearly therefore, it has been a success. It has been a success not only of the CBC but also of our federal system which has recognized the need to foster these industries, to get them going and let them flourish.

As we approach the 21st century, it is clear we have to change the way we conduct our government and the way we do business. It is clear that governments want to withdraw from direct management of different types of industry, whether they are cultural or direct industries like CN Rail and let others do that for them. It does not mean the government wants to abdicate Canadian culture, far from it. The object of the exercise is to find a better and more efficient way to deliver the same thing.

The CRTC has a mandate which does just that. New licences have just been issued. The basis of that licensing program was to foster and assist Canadian culture.

I remember not too many years ago when the finance department brought in an incentive to support both the French and English Canadian film industry. I was a little pessimistic at first. I am always pessimistic about tax driven investments. However it was very successful both for the French and English people in Canada who developed a movie industry. Once again, Canada was an exporter of French language programming to the world.

We have now slowly moved out of the tax incentives for that. Once we get a child going, it is no different from a family. If we think about it, when our children reach a certain age it is time for them to go out on their own. It is time for them to do their own thing. That is really what we are saying about the CBC.

Even after these cutbacks the CBC will still have funding of $1.4 billion. We can hardly consider that a small amount of money in support of cultural broadcasting in Canada regardless of what language it is in.

We are not saying to the CBC that it has to cut a lot of jobs, which possibly it will. We are saying that it has to redefine where it is going in this country. It has to define the things it can do well and rethink some of the things that perhaps it should not be doing any more.

I had a discussion with some journalists one day. They thought it was unusual that the CBC could have journalists in just about every town in this country whereas other private broadcasters had to rationalize that and make it more efficient. This is what we are asking the CBC to do, to become more efficient so it can be slowly weaned off the public payroll.

The motion very clearly is talking about the concern of the reduction in funding. I ask my colleagues in the Bloc, what would the alternative be? Would the alternative in meeting our deficit targets be to transfer this tax on the poor, the needy, the unemployed? Those are the alternatives. We have to get our deficits in order. That is the commitment we have made to the Canadian people. I can say that the Canadian people are very happy about the leadership we have taken in these areas.

I know there are many new broadcasting ventures. My colleague from the Reform Party mentioned CITY-TV in Toronto which has a tremendous array of new broadcasting programs. In other words it is not necessary to have publicly funded broadcasting companies simply carrying on with this type of production.

The bottom line is that it is necessary. The taxpayers are saying we have to get our economic house in order. The taxpayers are on the hook even after all of this is over for $1.4 billion. Taxpayers want to be able to see what they are getting for that money. In some ways they are getting valued service for that.

Most people in Canada will continue to support cultural funding for broadcasting, but at a significantly reduced level. That is only reasonable. We have to focus on the things which possibly are missing, those things that perhaps need a bit of help right now, but those other areas which can stand on their own, we can let them fly.

In conclusion, it upsets me very much to see that members of the Bloc Quebecois simply want to carry on with the old systems of the past. They do not want to be flexible in seeing how we can change government financing. More important, they do not want to assist their cultural industries from the infancy stage to fruition.

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1:30 p.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak on the motion of the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata. I am a supporter of the CBC, of its domestic and international services, in both official languages.

I was shocked to see that the motion states that an ominous threat looms over the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and, in particular, the CBC French language network. In no way is the government threatening our public broadcaster. Far from it. The government has acted in a responsible fashion to balance the need of all Canadians to continue to receive high quality radio and television services in both official languages with the requirement to take immediate steps to put its fiscal affairs in order.

In addressing this motion, it would be extremely useful to compare the Canadian broadcasting model with examples of similar efforts in other countries. Canada is not alone in its search to develop answers to the questions facing public broadcasting. All around the world countries and public broadcasters have been grappling with changing environments, changing technology and changing viewer patterns.

The sweeping changes affecting public broadcasting began in the 1980s. That decade was marked by a large increase in new terrestrial, satellite and cable channels. These new channels provided the public with an unprecedented range of options in their viewing choices. In Europe alone the number of terrestrial commercial channels increased from four in 1982 to 58 ten years later in 1992. In the 1990s the global broadcasting community began to come to terms with the arrival of new direct to home broadcast satellites. These new satellites have further explosive growth potential in the development of new television channels.

Let us be clear on one thing today. The world is not sounding the death knell of public broadcasting. Countries around the world are rethinking the role of public broadcasting and are seeking to adapt these broadcasting systems to meet the challenges created by the changing environments. In fact, we see few reasons to believe that the changing broadcasting landscape will mean that public broadcasting will be frozen from our televisions and our radios any time in the near future.

In the United States the organization representing public television stations recently issued a report summarizing its concerns surrounding the role of public broadcasting in the information age. According to the conclusions of this report, public television's strength in the multi-channel universe will derive from its position as an integrated production and distribution network for special interest programming. As in Canada, U.S. public television seeks to serve American audiences through high quality and informative programming which cannot be obtained elsewhere.

Clearly a role will remain for public broadcasting. Defining that specialized role will be the key for policy makers, like members of the House, in countries around the world. The new realities of the multi-channel universe have forced many of the world's public broadcasters, such as the BBC and Japan's NHK, to undertake comprehensive reviews of their activities.

In July 1994 a very comprehensive white paper on broadcasting was completed in Great Britain. This widely discussed document examined the many challenges facing one of the world's most venerable public broadcasters, the BBC. Like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC must confront increasing competition because of new technology and services. Like the CBC, the BBC must attempt to face these new challenges in an era of limited resources.

The British government and the select committee studying the matter both agreed that the BBC in its present form cannot go on forever. But within that recognition for the need for change at

the BBC was a very real affirmation of the vital role of the British public broadcaster.

In the British government's view, a key objective for the BBC will be reflecting the national identity of the U.K., enriching the country's national heritage. Furthermore, the BBC is committed to providing diversity and choice in high quality programming which informs, entertains and educates the public it serves.

Japan has also recognized the worldwide challenges facing public broadcasters as a result of the expansion of broadcasting competition and technologies. The Japanese public broadcaster NHK has undergone an internal discussion concerning its role and responsibility as a public broadcaster. This review culminated in the publication in 1993 of NHK's "Future Framework" document which addressed the new challenges and prospects of broadcasting such as multi-media, multi-channel access, high definition television and satellite broadcasting services.

This report also reaffirmed NHK's commitment to quality journalism and to the provision of first rate information services. Furthermore, the Japanese public broadcaster has adapted to the growing globalization of the broadcasting industry by increasing its involvement in international co-productions and other initiatives.

NHK now has agreements with organizations in over 30 countries. In addition, NHK broke with its tradition of producing its programming almost exclusively in-house and began commissioning work from outside production firms.

Public broadcasters around the world are striving to fulfil their public mandates. In most instances they are fulfilling a unique purpose in their broadcasting environment, a purpose that the private sector will not necessarily ever feel the need to fill. This is because private broadcasters have entirely different goals from those of public broadcasters. Private broadcasters respond not only to the preferences of their audiences but to the expectations of their advertisers.

The Government of Canada will not stand by and let Canada's rich tradition of public broadcasting, in both official languages, stagnate or be overtaken by technological advances or other changes in the audio-visual environment.

The government has taken notice of the international precedence and finds the lessons learned by others highly instructive. But more than just watching how other countries are coping with change, the government has demonstrated its leadership by putting into place a forward looking strategy to find Canadian solutions to the challenges facing our distinctive, dual language public broadcasting system.

This strategy includes a fundamental review of the mandate of the CBC, the National Film Board and Telefilm Canada within the context of the entire Canadian audio-visual sector. It is a review that has been made urgent by technological and market changes. It is a review that has been made necessary because of the fiscal realities facing the country.

The Government of Canada is clearly demonstrating its confidence in the future of public broadcasting by examining the mandate of the CBC in the light of the new realities of the country's communications environment.

As I have stated already, our re-examination of public broadcasting is not unique in the world. It is our firm expectation that our approach to the challenges of public broadcasting will serve as a model and a source of inspiration for other public broadcasters and nations around the world.

I have received many letters and phone calls of support for the CBC from people in my riding and others. For example, Orra Henan, Alex Robertson, Floyd Howlett, Ricky Cherney, members of the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra, the art gallery, the theatre guild, teachers and students have approached me about the CBC. One of them, Alex Robertson, refers to the CBC as the glue which keeps this nation together. I want to say to all of those people that I appreciate their support. I agree with them about the role of public broadcasting in Canada.

I disagree with the view of the Reform Party which says that its first option would be to put the CBC on the chopping block and sell it to the first comer. The Reform Party has no sense of what a nation is, no sense that we are here to run a nation, not a business. I do not think it has a sense of the role of government. The government should be involved in public broadcasting. I disagree with its point of view.

I also disagree with my colleagues from the Bloc. I do not think the CBC, a corporation which even after the proposed changes will still have a budget of well over $1 billion, should be immune to the changes which face the rest of us in society, which face public servants, the private sector and all of us as citizens.

The CBC is an institution which should be supported. Like our other institutions it should be streamlined to deal with the present financial circumstances so we can have a smaller, more effective organization which contains the seeds or the foundations for future public broadcasting and which will be even stronger when its budgetary situation improves.

Therefore, I intend to vote against the member's motion.

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1:40 p.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for taking the trouble today to speak on the motion I presented this morning. I appreciate it very much.

I would like to ask him a question. You may have heard the numbers I gave earlier, illustrating the funding imbalance between the CBC and Radio-Canada. I will repeat them for the benefit of new viewers and listeners: for an hour of news, the SRC gets $7,000, while the CBC gets $18,000; for an hour of variety programming, the SRC gets $30,000, the CBC, $141,000; for drama, the SRC gets $68,000, and the CBC, $99,000.

Given the success of French TV programs across the board-for the audience to "La Petite Vie" to reach four million, some English speaking viewers must be secretly looking at it, otherwise it would be extremely difficult to find four million francophones who would feel like looking at the same program at the same time-would it not amount to penalizing SRC for its success to arbitrarily apply the same cuts to the French and English networks?

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1:40 p.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, as the member knows, I have followed the debate as well as anyone else here today. When I spoke earlier I stressed the fact-as I will try to do in my remarks now-that I strongly support the CBC, the SRC and its services in both languages. I support that across the country, as I mentioned this morning.

I support the French language service in the north. I support it in the rural areas. I support the English language service in Quebec. I support and I enjoy the fact that the international radio service, Radio-Canada International, is distinct in the fact that we reach out to fellow Canadians when they are abroad and to other people in both official languages. I greatly support the existence of the services in both languages.

To answer her question, I deliberately used the word streamlining rather than downsizing. This really means that we are. We inherited a government which because of debt is functioning at two-thirds of its effective capacity because one-third of our money is spent on interest. We inherited that. I am not pointing the finger or laying blame. That is a fact.

In order to get rid of the debt we undertake a dangerous but very necessary exercise. We have to make the government which is already functioning at two-thirds capacity even smaller in order to get rid of the debt so we can come back as a fully effective national government. I believe that very strongly. All the cuts we make have to be such that they streamline what is left so that in every ministry we leave the seeds for a future ministry which could be more powerful. In every program we leave the seeds, the foundations for a 100 per cent stronger program in the future.

To answer the question about the CBC, we as a government have made very different cuts in all our ministries. We cut one ministry by 55 per cent. One ministry is growing by a small percentage and in the all the others we have very carefully decided what the cuts should be. That is streamlining.

When we get inside the ministries or inside the programs, I do not believe the House can do it. I believe we have to tell our ministries that with the budget we have given, they should do the same.

My answer to the member's question is the CBC should manage its own affairs and determine itself where the cuts should be made.

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1:45 p.m.


Louis Plamondon Bloc Richelieu, QC

Madam Speaker, I found it strange to hear the speaker before me say that he is for the CBC and the Société Radio-Canada. He says he is for them, yet he would cut their budgets. This is like a mute person saying to a deaf person: "Watch out, I think a blind person is watching us". This is the kind of thing that the Liberals are saying today.

The issue is more complicated than that, when we reflect on the extremely important motion which the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata tabled regarding the corporation. In fact, the current Liberal Party is behaving exactly as the party always has. That is, the party accedes to power using slogans which are tossed out completely once in office.

Let us quickly touch on the 1970s. One of Trudeau's weapons in his election campaign against Stanfield was the promise that he would never control prices and salaries. Six months after being elected, Prime Minister Trudeau announced price and salary controls. This is the doublespeak party.

A little later, along comes the election of the 1980s, which toppled the Clark government. We remember. They said that they would never raise gas prices. Six months after the election, gas prices were up 65 cents.

The Liberals made three big commitments during the election campaign. One was to reduce the deficit. After the election, the deficit had grown from $13 billion to $38 billion. They also said they would reduce unemployment. One year after the election, there were 1,5 million unemployed, when there were 800,000 before it. The party which says one thing and does another.

They said that they would clamp down on government spending. Within one year of the election, expenditures had risen from $85 million to $110 million.

What about the referendum in the beginning of the 1980s, on May 20. Keep in mind that they said that they were committed to meeting Quebec's traditional aspirations, and that they were willing to risk their seats. Two years later, Quebec was stabbed in the back. Who held the knife? The current leader of the Liberal Party, who has always been behind the post-election changes in tune.

During the referendum, they warned us that the dollar, which was then worth about $1.03 American, would tumble to 80 cents. They published small dollars which had an 80 cent value and a drawing of Bérubé, a Quebec minister at the time. The so-called mighty dollar. But, what happened under the Trudeau government two years later? The dollar fell to 69 cents. With the Liberals, post-election facts always tell a completely different story than pre-election promises.

They also talked about unemployment and about a deficit that they would get under control. They threw all of it, everything they promised us so that we would say yes in the referendum, out the window and said they did not give a darn. Then, they proceeded to do the opposite. That is typical of the Liberals.

Now reconsider the 1993 election. What did they promise in their red book? What did they promise during the election campaign? Think about the free trade issue. They were vehemently against it.

One month after the election, our friend the Prime Minister rolled over and made even greater concessions in signing the free-trade treaty in Ottawa. That is an example of the Liberals' double talk.

They used to stand against patronage and loudly denounce the Conservative Party's political appointments. However, after the election, they had to reward their friends. They had to prove Senator Rizzuto right. What did they do? For example, they gave Michelle Tisseyre, a Liberal candidate who was defeated in a Quebec riding, a nice little six month contract worth $49,000 with the Privy Council. A little private contract equivalent to a $98,000 annual salary. They made Camille Samson responsible for political appointments. They appointed Jacques Saada to a $100,000 a year position with CIDA. What did the rat pack, those Liberals who used to denounce patronage, do while their party was busy rewarding its friends?

Whatever happened to the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell? As was said in a newspaper, the lion has turned into a mouse. He is now applauding and supporting these political appointments. He applauded when Mr. Dion, a so-called constitutional expert, was quietly given a $10,000 contract with the Privy Council. The only reason why we know about this is that a journalist managed to dig it up. Otherwise, we never would have known. Mr. Dion was used to objectively defend federalism on public affairs programs, while in fact he was only a salaried employee of the Prime Minister's Office, paid through the Privy Council.

Whatever happened to the rat pack? Where are they now? The new Liberal mice have remained silent. The language changed after the election. They used to talk about unemployment. The Liberal Party critic "rent his clothes" in protest against the Valcourt cuts. Ah! In the first budget tabled a few months after the election, the UI reform proposed by the current Minister of Finance called for ten times more cuts than under former Minister Valcourt, but the hon. members, including the rat pack, who used to shout their disapproval in this House, kept their mouths shut.

What could be said about our defenders of the farming community? What did the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell used to say when defending the farmers in his riding? That he would never accept cuts. Today, he finds it normal when a budget cuts subsidies and guaranteed income by 30 per cent each. He finds it normal. They said before the election that they would defend the public service. What did they do less than a year after the election? They cut 45,000 jobs. This is what the Liberals call normal and they are happy. Such is the Liberal Party. It makes two kinds of speeches: one during the election campaign and another one after.

The same is true when it comes to job creation. The Liberals campaigned by promising jobs, but there is no mention of job creation initiatives in the Minister of Finance's budget. The Liberals also claimed that they were the protectors of French culture outside Quebec. They promised to do everything possible. Now, these same Liberals remain silent when their government reduces by five per cent the operating budget of French-speaking and Acadian associations outside Quebec.

Where are the French-speaking Liberal members who were going to speak up for francophones within their party, so as to ensure that the French fact remains a reality in Canada? Where is the member for Restigouche-Chaleur? The member for Carleton-Gloucester? Why will they not speak up? Why do they remain silent? Where is the member for Nickel Belt? The member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell? The member for Cochrane-Superior? The member for St. Boniface? The member for Cape Breton? The member for Madawaska-Victoria? The member for Beauséjour? The member for Timiskaming-French River? Where are they? What are they saying now that the budget is reduced by five per cent? What about their election promises? Two speeches: one before the election and another one after.

Let us now look at the cultural sector, where the situation is even worse. Take the issue of copyright and the legislation imposed by the Liberals a few months ago. What did the Liberal Party say to the Canada Council? The official commitment made by the Liberals to the Canada Council regarding copyrights was that they would make it a priority to review the Copyright Act, since they understand the importance of copyright. They said that they would reorganize the administrative structure and review the decision made by the Conservatives to split this jurisdiction between two departments. The Liberals made this commitment and then, all of a sudden, they came up with a Copyright Act which was exactly like the Campbell legislation. Again, one speech before the election and another one after.

Then they addressed the cultural issue. What did they have to say about the Canadian Conference of the Arts? What commitment did they make? To representatives of the Canadian Conference of the Arts who asked them: "Does your party recognize the significance of our national cultural institutions, like the CBC, the Canada Council, and so on, and does it guarantee their survival?", the Liberal Party of Canada stated that the Conservatives, by cutting the budget of such national institutions as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Canada Council, the National Film Board, and Telefilm Canada, really did hurt these agencies and show that they did not care a lot about our cultural development. A Liberal government, they said, would be keen to provide a stable multi-year budget to our national institutions. Again, we have two languages, one during the election campaign and something completely different once the Liberals were elected and in a position to govern. Two languages from the forked tongue Liberals.

Mr. Speaker, I see that you are indicating that I must stop for now and resume after the question period.

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1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Dear colleague, you will be able to resume after question period. It being 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to Statements by Members.

Racial DiscriminationStatements By Members

March 21st, 1995 / 1:55 p.m.


Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Saint-Denis, QC

Mr. Speaker, March 31 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a day that challenges all people and their governments to take a stand against racism and racial discrimination.

In a pluralistic society such as ours, racism is one of the most destructive forces preventing people of all origins from sharing equally in the country's prosperity.

Canada is a country built on diversity. Young adolescents in my riding have understood this message clearly, and this is why I would like to draw attention to their efforts to promote cross-cultural dynamics. I am speaking of the Multi Media group, which, next Saturday, will present original works, such as poems, drawings, choreographies, photographs and songs reflecting their hope of living in a racism free world.

Whether we are going to live with each other in compassionate understanding and mutual harmony and then in collective prosperity is a matter that will be decided in the future by our actions today.

I urge all members of the House to join with me in carrying this message to the people of Canada.

President Of Canadian NationalStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Réjean Lefebvre Bloc Champlain, QC

The president of Canadian National, Mr. Paul Tellier, said on television this morning that the working conditions enjoyed by CN employees were too generous for the economic context of the 1990s. Mr. Tellier's attitude clearly indicates the bad faith of management in this dispute.

I find astounding that Mr. Tellier would make such a statement, since he amply benefits from Canadian National's generosity. With a salary of $345,000 and an annual allowance of $51,752, and not forgetting an interest free loan of $300,000, Mr. Tellier is in fact the best paid public servant in the entire government machine.

This gentleman is in no position to be talking about the state's so called generosity toward its employees. Rather than make statements on television, he should do what he is paid to do and negotiate in good faith with his employees in order to reach a quick solution to the dispute that is affecting the entire Canadian economy.

RwandaStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, after the genocide of last year when over one million people were murdered there exist half a million orphans inside Rwanda and 1.2 million refugees in camps in Zaire and Tanzania.

Of the $22 million which Canada has already given, none has entered Rwanda because of conditions placed by donor countries that no humanitarian aid enter Rwanda until all the ref-

ugees return. However, they cannot return because there is no food in the country. Furthermore, the refugees in the camps are under the boot of armed thugs of the defeated regime. They use aid as leverage to control these helpless refugees to retrain them for another war.

The government in Kigali is equitable and broad based, made up of both Hutus and Tutsis. However, they are receiving no help whatsoever to get up on their feet and produce a peaceful front to those outside the country who would like to restart the carnage.

I implore the government to convince the international community to help the government in Rwanda. To not do this makes a mockery of our justice and lays the groundwork for another genocide.

Rail TransportStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Gilles Bernier Independent Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, everyone in Canada is seriously affected by the rail strike. It has already taken its toll on the country's economy, with disastrous repercussions. Production losses in many sectors have been brought to our attention.

It is never desirable for the government to force people back to work with special legislation, but in this case, this exceptional measure is warranted. Let us hope that the major changes which are necessary can be made to rail transportation in a way that helps management reach all of its goals while helping unions protect workers' rights as much as possible.

The government should also update the Labour Code and propose mechanisms which ensure that essential services will always be provided while leaving room for management and workers to work out their differences.

It is certainly possible to negotiate in good faith after back to work legislation, and I encourage the government to introduce its bill as soon as possible.

Racial DiscriminationStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, last night in Winnipeg, on the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, I attended the 20th annual media human rights awards sponsored by B'Nai Brith Canada. The evening highlighted the vigilant role the media plays in protecting human rights.

Earlier today the 1994 annual report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission was tabled in the House. It states: "However diverse our species may be, all human beings remain worthy of respect".

The issue of human rights is about the integrity of any one person which, if violated, destroys the soul of any nation and the very essence of our humanity. Racial discrimination violates human rights.

Therefore on this day we must renew our national resolve to uphold human rights and eliminate all forms of racial discrimination, thereby ensuring human dignity and peace among all Canadians.

Learning DisabilitiesStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Pat O'Brien Liberal London—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, as this is learning disabilities month, I would like to acknowledge the thousands of dedicated Canadian teachers and health care workers who devote themselves to improving the lives of those who face the challenge of a learning disability on a daily basis.

From infancy to old age learning disabilities affect Canadians of all ages in a wide variety of ways. Disabilities range from minor inconveniences to very serious physical, psychological and emotional limitations which must be managed if the affected persons are to maximize their potential and lead full, active and rewarding lives.

Today I salute all Canadians who struggle courageously with any form of learning disability. We thank those who so valiantly assist them in their fight, including my own wife, Evelyn.