House of Commons Hansard #114 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.


Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick


Paul Zed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to three petitions.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.


Jim Peterson Liberal Willowdale, ON

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Finance.

The report is entitled "The 1997 Budget and Beyond: Finish the Job". I would very much like to thank members from all parties who worked so diligently and with such-

All members showed great co-operation in producing this report.

I would also like to thank out staff from the House of Commons and all others who worked with us in such a professional and diligent way.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.


Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I wish to point out to you that there is a dissenting report by the Bloc Quebecois appended to the Liberal majority report. The main points in this dissenting report are a recommendation to the Minister of Finance to stop dipping into the unemployment insurance fund surplus to reduce his deficit, to rebalance the monetary policy to ensure that job creation is made a number one priority, and to immediately reform the corporate taxation system, which, in the opinion of the Bloc Quebecois, could make $3 billion available annually for job creation.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.


Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs.

Pursuant to the order of reference of Monday, June 10, 1996, your committee has considered Bill C-27, an act to amend the Criminal Code, child prostitution, child sex tourism, criminal harassment and female genital mutilation, and your committee has agreed to report it with amendments.

I would like to thank our researchers for their diligent work and the many witnesses who appeared before us. Their testimony is reflected in the amendments our committee has made. Congratulations to members on all sides of the House for their efforts in this very important issue to women across the country.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.


Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise to present yet another petition from constituents in Calgary regarding parents who are concerned for the safety of our children. The petitioners I represent are concerned about making our streets safer for their children. They are opposed to the current status quo in the screening of pedophiles within the community. The petitioners pray that a federally implemented pedophile registry be established in order to better protect our children.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.


Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition today signed by 200 residents from British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. The petitioners feel that the GST on reading material is unfair and wrong. Education and literacy are crucial to the development of our country.

The petitioners call on Parliament to zero rate books, magazines and newspapers and ask Parliament and provincial governments to zero rate reading materials under the proposed harmonized sales tax.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.


Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased this morning to add to the 30,000 signatures already tabled in favour of abolishing the Senate in conjunction with the motion of my friend and colleague from Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, the names of 1,100 petitioners from the riding of Terrebonne, who also wish to see this unelected chamber abolished.

I am therefore pleased to table in the House this morning a petition signed by 1,100 of my constituents.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I have two petitions today. The first comes from Garibaldi Highlands, B.C. The petitioners draw to the attention of the House that our police and fire fighters place their lives at risk on a daily basis as they serve the emergency needs of all Canadians. They also state that in many cases the families of officers who lost their lives in the line of duty are left without sufficient financial means to meet their obligations.

The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to establish a public safety officers compensation fund to receive gifts and bequests for the benefit of families of police officers and firefighters who are killed in the line of duty.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, the second petition comes from Calgary, Alberta. The petitioners draw to the attention of the House that managing the family home and caring for preschool children is an honourable profession which has not been recognized for its value to our society.

The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to pursue initiatives to assist families that choose to provide care in the home for preschool children, the chronically ill, the aged or the disabled.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, I table a petition signed by 1,520 people, in addition to those signed by 12,000 people that I have already tabled on behalf of my constituents. Altogether, 30,000 signatures were collected.

As an editorialist at La Presse wrote yesterday, Senate obstruction, particularly on issues like the constitutional amendment regarding Newfoundland, do bring grist to the mill of those who want to see the Senate abolished.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, this petition has been certified correct as to form and content.

The petition is signed by thousands of Canadians.

Delegates attending the 1996 general council meeting of the Canadian Medical Association draw to the attention of the House a series of factors related to tobacco and tobacco related illnesses which kill over 40,000 Canadians every year and that cost Canada something in the order of $15 billion a year.

The petitioners implore Parliament to enact new tobacco control legislation based on the elements outlined in the government document "Tobacco Control: A Blueprint to Protect the Health of Canadians".

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, I have two other petitions from Canadians from across the country. One relates to the synthetic milk hormone.

The petitioners ask the government to introduce legislation and regulations to ensure that this product is not employed in Canada.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, the third petition is signed by several hundred Canadians from various parts of the country.

The petitioners call on Parliament, the Prime Minister and the government to declare Canada indivisible and that the boundaries of Canada's provinces, territories and territorial waters be modified only by a free vote of all Canadian citizens, as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or by the amending formula as stipulated in the Canadian Constitution.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick


Paul Zed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, Question No. 61 will be answered today.

Question No. 61-

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Roger Simmons Liberal Burin—St. George's, NL

With respect to the management of hazardous wastes, what action has the government taken in response to the following findings of the auditor general in his May 1995 report: ( a ) there is ``no national plan or federal fund-for cleaning up--

contaminated sites that pose risks to human health and the environment", ( b ) the department has not proposed amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1988) or developed regulations under the act that could help ensure adequate control of environmental risks associated with federal facilities and lands, including the clean-up of federal contaminated sites'', ( <em>c</em> )comprehensive and consistent information on the number and characteristics of contaminated sites in Canada is not available'', ( d ) the department has not provided Parliament with adequate information-'', and ( <em>e</em> )the government's ability to ensure safe and cost-effective storage and timely destruction of federal PCB wastes-could (be) seriously impede(d)'', given that the ``federal PCB destruction program-ended on 31 March 1995''?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

York West Ontario


Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister of the Environment

(a) The national contaminated sites remediation program (NCSRP) was a mandated program and, as such, ended as scheduled on March 31, 1995. Subsequent to its termination, Environment Canada reallocated $7.8M from its 1995/96 A-Base to assist the provinces in remediating selected outstanding high priority orphan sites.

Significant progress was made in regard to one of the primary purposes of the program putting the necessary infrastructure, scientific tool and institutional frameworks in place. The federal government provided a strong catalytic role recognizing the program was not designed to continue forever.

The infrastructure which was developed provides provinces with the required scientific tools to address their sites, as well as the recommended principles for implementing "polluter pays" legislation. Through the NCSRP, provinces have put, or are putting, in place new legislation with the authority to enforce clean-up or to recover costs.

The government will continue to get its house in order. Federal departments are responsible for their sites and will continue to clean up their sites as per the code of environmental stewardship, greening of government policies and Treasury Board guidelines.

Furthermore, as part of recent amendments to the Auditor General's Act, departments will be required to table their sustainable development strategies to Parliament by 1997. These strategies will outline each department's goals and action plans for integrating sustainable development into its operations. It is expected that the (new) Commissioner on the Environment will hold other government departments (OGDs) accountable for their actions with respect to further assessment and clean up.

Until the end of FY 1996/97, Environment Canada will assist OGDs with contaminated sites through the contaminated sites management working group (CSMWG). This interdepartmental committee is chaired by EC and the Department of National Defence (DND) and is working toward ensuring a consistent approach to the clean up of federal contaminated sites. The CSMWG is planning workshops (to be prepared by EC) which will inform custodial managers about the tools developed under the NCSRP, as well as focus on risk assessment, risk management and available technologies. The CSMWG also plans to explore legal liability issues and prepare a best practices and pollution prevention manual.

Environment Canada will continue to provide technical assistance to federal departments, resources permitting.

(b) No direct amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) are currently being proposed in this area although guidelines on the management of federal underground and aboveground fuel storage tanks, a common source of contamination, will be issued shortly.

Progress on federal contaminated sites will continue to be ensured through existing government policies (code of environmental stewardship, greening of government, Treasury Board secretariat increased ministerial authority and accountability policy (1986), federal government guidelines (EC, TBS)) and through interdepartmental committees such as the contaminated sites management working group.

(c) Although the department supported the development of an inventory in 1990, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) members were unable to reach an agreement and it was decided that individual members would be responsible for reporting on the number of sites within their jurisdiction.

As per the intent of the code of environmental stewardship and under greening of government initiatives, federal departments have a responsibility to properly manage land under their custody. It is the responsibility of individual custodial departments to ensure that accurate inventory information is recorded and maintained.

Through the interdepartmental committee on contaminated sites, Environment Canada, in conjunction with other federal departments, is currently scoping the size and nature of the federal problem. Furthermore, to ensure consistency in reporting the CSMWG is currently developing a template for reporting information on contaminated sites.

(d) It is important to understand that the NCSRP is a joint federal-provincial program. Progress has been reflected in both the main estimates and annual reports to CCME.

Although the program did lapse funding in the initial years, this is a reflection of the time required by some provinces to gear up to full capacity and in terms of finding matching funding.

Cabinet and the Treasury Board Secretariat were aware of reallocation of funds from the NCSRP to other high priority initiatives (such as the Great Lakes action plan and the North American waterfowl management plan).

(e) Recognizing that funding for the federal PCB destruction program was to end on March 31, 1995, the interdepartmental committee on federal PCB destruction, under the leadership of Environment Canada, devised an alternate plan for the destruction of federal PCB wastes.

Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) agreed to act as service agent for federal departments and agencies, and contracted nationally with the Alberta Special Waste Treatment Centre for the destruction of federal PCB wastes.

More than 1,100 tonnes of federal PCB wastes have been destroyed to date, and negotiations continue between PWGSC and its federal clients to dispose of the remaining PCB wastes.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Paul Zed Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

I suggest that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is it agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members


Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia


David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

moved that Bill C-71, an act to regulate the manufacture, sale, labelling and promotion of tobacco products, to make consequential amendments to another act and to repeal certain acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, I am pleased today to begin the second reading debate of Bill C-71, what is known as the tobacco act.

This bill is a central element in our government's comprehensive tobacco control strategy. It complements the tobacco tax increase and the anti-smuggling initiatives announced last week, as well as the education programs designed to make Canadians more aware of the health consequences of tobacco use.

The focus of the bill is simple: health. Let there be no doubt on this particular point. While there are many interests involved in this debate, health, especially the health of young Canadians, is of paramount concern.

The government recognizes the complex and pervasive nature of tobacco use in our society. It designed a balanced and an integrated strategy that takes into account the various factors that influence the smoking decision process, particularly how these factors affect young Canadians.

This bill addresses the environment, messages and opportunities that affect attitudes, beliefs and behaviours about tobacco use. It does so by restricting the access young people have to tobacco products. It places reasonable limits on the marketing and promotion of these products. It increases health information on tobacco packaging and it establishes powers needed to regulate tobacco products.

Canadians want us to take these steps. They expect us as parliamentarians, regardless of our political ideologies, to do our job.

According to a recent Angus Reid poll, 91 per cent of Canadians support efforts by governments to discourage young people from becoming addicted to tobacco. Seventy-three per cent of Canadians support efforts to discourage smoking among people who smoke already. In short, Canadians want us to do the right thing.

This debate is about people and about the impact tobacco has on their lives. There are seven million smokers in Canada. Far too many of them and their families must deal with the tragic health consequences of tobacco use.

Each and every day in this country more than 100 people die of tobacco related causes. How many of us have lost loved ones to heart disease brought on by years of tobacco use? How many of us have watched friends die of cancer that could have been prevented? Those deaths stand in stark contrast to the glamorous, exciting and often healthy images that tobacco promotions invariably portray. Yet those are the true faces of tobacco use.

The human toll of tobacco use is immense, not only in Canada but throughout the world. In 1991 the most recent year for which we have had full data on tobacco related mortality, 41,408 Canadians died of diseases attributed to smoking, one of every five deaths that year. That is more than three times the number of deaths caused by murder, automobile accidents, AIDS, suicides, and drug abuse combined. Those are startling figures.

In one year tobacco use killed more than 14,000 people in Ontario, almost 12,000 people in the province of Quebec, some 6,000 people in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and more than 5,000 people in British Columbia and close to 4,000 people in Atlantic Canada. This is a human toll that cannot be ignored and stands alone as the primary reason why we as parliamentarians must take action on tobacco.

Tobacco use also generates a significant financial burden on the economy. To begin with, it is a drain on medicare. In 1991, smoking cost our health care system about $3.5 billion. I invite

hon. members to think of the health priorities in their communities which could have been addressed with that money.

But where did the money go? It paid for 3.1 million extra visits to doctors and the four million days that people were in hospitals for smoking related reasons. It also covered the cost of the 1.4 million drug prescriptions that were required to treat smoking related illnesses.

Smoking costs the economy in other ways as well. Canadian smokers are absent from work for 28 million days a year because of tobacco related causes. Lost productivity arising from smoking related deaths amount to $10.6 billion in 1991.

The simple reality is that the harmful effects of tobacco use are not restricted to smokers alone, despite the rhetoric that we might hear about smoking being a matter of individual choice. Smoking costs Canadians approximately $15 billion a year, a staggering figure.

As alarming as those numbers are, the data suggests that matters will probably get worse before they get better. Tobacco takes years to exact its toll. We are now only seeing the results of the smoking surge among women during the 1960s and the 1970s. Lung cancer has overtaken breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths among women. Researchers predict that deaths due to smoking among Canadian women may equal or even exceed the level among men by the year 2005.

Of particular concern is the pattern of youth smoking. Approximately $250,000 Canadians each year take up smoking. Eighty-five per cent of these new smokers are under the age of 16. Right now-

Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Could we have some order so that the minister could complete his debate?

Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.


David Dingwall Liberal Cape Breton—East Richmond, NS

Madam Speaker, 29 per cent of young people between the ages of 15 and 19 smoke. Fourteen per cent of kids between the ages of 10 and 14 smoke. Half of these smokers will die prematurely of tobacco related illness. The need for action is clear.

Over the last 25 years governments, committees and individual members in the House have proposed and acted on measures to reduce tobacco use. Through it all the focus has consistently been on protecting the health of Canadians and young people in particular.

In 1971 the federal government introduced a bill to restrict tobacco advertising. That legislation was still on the Order Paper when the House prorogued. In 1986 the House debated a private member's bill sponsored by a new Democratic member, Ms. McDonald. Her bill, the Non-Smokers' Health Act, mandated smoke free workplaces in areas under federal jurisdiction and banned smoking in common areas under federal jurisdiction.

Let me quote from Hansard dated November 20, 1986, page 1382.

Society has a stake in the health of its citizens. When a person is ill, absent from work or dies leaving young dependents, society must pay. Society pays for medicare, society pays for dependents, and society pays for pensions".

In 1989 the government of the day brought in the Tobacco Products Control Act. This act banned the advertising and restricted the promotion of tobacco products. It required by law health messages and information on toxic constituents to be displayed on tobacco product packaging.

The health minister who was responsible for that bill, the Hon. Jake Epp, said:

This is not a moral crusade. It is not a case of some over-zealous individuals attempting to force their lifestyle on others. It is responsible government action in reaction to overwhelming evidence-If tobacco were discovered tomorrow, no government would permit its sale, let alone its advertising".

I want to remind the House that the minister was a member of the Progressive Conservative Party. His initiative, as well as that of Ms. McDonald, a member of the New Democratic Party and minister John Munro, a member of my party in 1971 were supported by members of all political parties in the House.

The government knows that the members from all sides of this House may choose to differ on many different issues, but we have common interest when it comes to protecting the health of Canadians, especially young Canadians, from a lethal product.

Our challenge once again is to work together to reduce tobacco use. We accept this challenge with an increased knowledge and understanding about the physiology and psychology effects of tobacco use. We have learned more about the factors that influence the decision to start and continue to smoke, and about those who are most affected in encouraging people to quit.

We are better equipped today to respond to the judicial standards and expectations that must be reflected in any law that we draft.

The result is a bill that is balanced and reasonable and that responds to the factors that lead far too many Canadian children to smoke. About two-thirds of all young people try cigarettes. For about half of them, experimentation leads to a habit that becomes regular and addictive over a two or three year cycle.

At the outset, they think addiction is something that happens to other people, not them, and that the prospect of heart disease or cancer is far removed from them. Most believe that they will be able to stop whenever they want, but the facts are something

different. That is what hundreds of thousands of young people say each and every year. However, the fact is that half will never quit.

Restricting youth access to tobacco products as much as possible is therefore critical. Restraining access and making it difficult for children ages 10 to 14 and teenagers to purchase cigarettes decreases the likelihood that those experimenting with tobacco will graduate to addiction. The tobacco act will introduce such restrictions.

Photographic identification will be required when proof of minimum age is requested by retailers. As corner stores and gas stations become less viable as a source of supply for young smokers, they will turn to other avenues.

In order to further reduce youth access to tobacco products through such sources, vending machine sales, and mail order distribution of tobacco products will not be permitted.

Self-service displays of tobacco products will also be prohibited. These displays enable underage youth to quickly and easily help themselves to tobacco products, regardless of age restrictions, thus beginning a purchase transaction that retail staff are less likely to challenge. Duty free stores will be exempted from this provision. The exemption is reasonable and will not undermine the achievement of our health objectives, given that these outlets operate in a controlled environment which unaccompanied youth generally do not frequent.

In order to enhance public awareness of the hazards of tobacco use, this legislation will increase the amount of health information to be displayed on tobacco product packaging.

Studies confirm that cigarette packaging is second only to television as a key source of health information about tobacco. A 1996 survey conducted for Health Canada revealed that 75 per cent of smokers want health warning messages to remain on cigarette packages as a reminder of some of the health consequences of tobacco use. Half of these smokers who tried to quit or cut back confirmed that labelling on the packages contributed to their decision.

In another study that same year, the majority of Canadians favoured expanding the amount of information on tobacco packages about the presence and effects of some of the toxic constituents in tobacco and tobacco smoke, such as arsenic, lead and others.

This bill will require that information. The tobacco act will also address the role that promotion plays in the decision to smoke. Promotion does much more than just convey factual information about a product. Through associations with people, objects, events and ideas, promotion creates a brand identity or image that influences and shapes the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of consumers and potential consumers.

Clearly it is not the exposure to one ad, one display in a convenience store or one tobacco sponsored event that triggers the decision to smoke. People do not get up in the morning and decide suddenly to take up smoking, as some people may have suggested. As I have said before, the decision to smoke, which includes the decision to start and the decision to continue, is a gradual one.

Tobacco promotion contributes to that decision and hinders the quitting process by conveying as many positive and reassuring impressions as possible that smoking is desirable, socially acceptable and more prevalent in society than it actually is, that it is sexy and cool. One should do it to be part of the game.

It is the cumulative effects of tobacco promotion that we as legislators, not members who are bound by political ideology, but those of us as legislators transforming the political ideologies that are in the House, that we must address.

Tobacco promotion is pervasive all across this country. Our environment is literally papered with it from coast to coast to coast. Brand name promotions appear in magazines, on billboards, on the sides of buildings, buses, gas stations, airports and sports stadiums. Retail stores display tobacco brand names on clocks, countertop displays, life size cutouts of sports celebrities and even in ads laminated on the floors of different stores.

The tobacco industry insists that its marketing campaigns do not target youth but that is not the issue here. Whatever the ostensible intent of the tobacco companies, their rich promotional campaigns reach youth. Kids cannot help but be exposed to the images of tobacco that appear on every possible medium in every conceivable location across this country. Being more aware of promotional activities than other age groups, they are susceptible to it. An Ontario study showed that they can name the tobacco sponsors of sports and cultural events. In a Canada-wide survey, 88 per cent could name the country's two most popular brands of cigarettes. That is alarming.

It is not possible to promote a particular brand of a cigarette without at the same time promoting smoking. Our objective is to diminish the prominence and the exposure of tobacco promotion in order to diminish its reach and its influence.

The bill will therefore prohibit tobacco product advertising such as broadcast advertising and billboard, bus panel and street advertising. It will permit tobacco companies to communicate product and brand preference information in print ads in publications that are primarily read by adults, in direct mailings to adults and in places where children are not permitted by law, for example premises that are licensed to sell various alcoholic beverages.

Under the bill the use of tobacco brand names or logos on youth oriented products or those with lifestyle connotations will not be permitted. Young people should no longer serve as walking billboards for tobacco products by wearing ball caps or backpacks emblazoned with cigarette brand names or symbols.

This bill will also regulate the use of tobacco brand names and other brand elements in the promotion of events sponsored by tobacco companies.

Allow me to emphasize an important point. This legislation will not ban tobacco sponsorship nor will it prohibit sponsorship promotion. Tobacco companies remain free to sponsor events and activities of their choosing and will continue to have scope to associate their brands with those events and activities. What the bill will do is limit the extent to which tobacco brand names and other brand elements can be used in the promotion of sponsored events.

Accordingly the display of tobacco brand names and brand elements will be restricted to the bottom 10 per cent of sponsorship promotional material. Such materials will only be permitted in publications that are read primarily by adults, in direct mailings and on the site of the sponsored event. The size of on site promotions and the length of time they can be displayed will in fact be regulated.

What does this effectively mean? It means that tobacco brand names can continue to be used in the name of an event, such as the Craven "A" Just for Laughs Festival, or in the location of the event, such as stade du Maurier, but it also means that the display of the brand names would be confined to the bottom 10 per cent of the promotional material. This is reasonable and it is balanced and it is fair. It enables the tobacco companies to continue to communicate brand information while at the same time contributing to the government's overriding health objectives.

Finally this legislation will give government the authority to regulate tobacco products. While we do not plan to exercise this authority right away, it is important that we have the flexibility to respond quickly to new products that may be introduced on to the market, as well as the developments in social and scientific knowledge as it evolves.

If and when it becomes possible to make tobacco products less hazardous without inadvertently creating new health hazards or triggering negative economic effects, we will have the means to do so.

The legislation will also ensure that we have the information we need to effectively monitor and enforce the production, promotion and sale of tobacco products. Tobacco manufacturers will be required to provide the government with product and sales information as well as information about their manufacturing, distribution and promotion practices.

Great care has been taken to ensure the measures contained in this legislation reflect the guidance provided by the Supreme Court of Canada and respect the charter of rights and freedoms.

In its September 1995 decision the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that the federal government has the criminal law power to control the advertising of tobacco products. It recognized that the detrimental health effects of tobacco consumption are both dramatic and substantial, and that in fact tobacco kills. As Justice LaForest wrote: "Parliament can validly employ the criminal law to prohibit tobacco manufacturers from inducing Canadians to consume these products, and to increase public awareness concerning the hazards of their use".

Moreover the court unanimously held that the purpose of the legislation, which is to reduce the health effects of tobacco consumption, is a valid and important legislative objective sufficient to warrant limiting freedom of expression. That is precisely what we have done. Justice McLachlin, who wrote the majority judgment, said: "Even a small reduction in tobacco use may work a significant benefit to the health of Canadians and justify a properly proportioned limitation of the right of free expression".

Contrary to what the tobacco industry may suggest, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized a link between certain forms of tobacco advertising and consumption. In particular the court stated that lifestyle advertising may as a matter of common sense be seen as having a tendency to discourage those who would otherwise cease tobacco use from doing so.

The court identifies options which would be a reasonable impairment of the right of free expression, namely: a partial ban on advertising which would allow product information and brand preference advertising; a ban on lifestyle advertising; measures to prohibit advertising aimed at children and adolescents; and attributed health messages on tobacco product packaging. These are precisely the measures that are incorporated in this bill. These clarifications are important because they set the context for the comprehensive and integrated set of measures that are contained in the legislation before us.

This legislation is a product of a deliberate and thoughtful process. We have taken the guidance of the Supreme Court of Canada. We have studied the results of the research conducted by and on behalf of Health Canada as well as the extensive body of international data on tobacco promotion and tobacco use.

We have consulted with the tobacco industry, with arts, cultural and sports groups, with health groups, with retailers and distributors, with tobacco growers and with festival organizers. We have consulted but consultation does not mean that we have to agree with each and every thing that the party across the table is putting

forward. I resent to a certain extent those who are now saying that there has not been sufficient time for consultation.

When the blueprint was tabled in November 1995 over 3,000 interventions and representations were received from a variety of Canadians including those in the province of Quebec. These representations were in regard to a strategy for tobacco consumption. For them to come forward now and say to parliamentarians that they need more time, that they need to have additional consultations, I say that that is the recipe for the deferral and delay of the legislation which I do not believe is acceptable to any reasonable Canadian.

There is no magic solution to the public health epidemic of tobacco use in our society. There is no law that can turn this problem around overnight, but we can take steps to make tobacco less acceptable and less accessible to youth. We can take measures to counter the positive aura that so often contributes to kids' decisions to smoke. We can ensure that people have the information they need to understand what smoking does to their body and to those exposed to tobacco smoke. We can strike a balance between the reality of tobacco use, the charter of rights and the health interests of Canadians.

Our first priority is the health of Canadians and young Canadians in particular. We have proposed steps which should reduce their tobacco use and lessen the encouragement to smoke they encounter all around them. The bill will help to reduce the sense that tobacco use is just a right of passage for young people on the way to a glamorous adult life.

I imagine that very few of us can think about tobacco use without being able to name someone who has lost their life to it. We must persuade young people not to get on the treadmill that will see some 40,000 of our fellow citizens die early, unnecessarily and often painfully.

I close my intervention at second reading with a thank you. Since I have become Minister of Health, I have sustained opposition attacks from a variety of sources, but I want to congratulate the health critic for the Reform Party. He has put aside our partisan differences and has looked at the substance of what we are attempting to do. Because of that I have said to him privately, publicly and now on the floor of the House of Commons that that is the true test of those who take our oath in this House that we will do our utmost to try to improve the lives of ordinary Canadians. I am very appreciative of the hon. member's support. I look forward to hearing his speech and to meeting him at committee as we proceed with this legislation.

I wish to say to the Bloc critic I understand that Bloc members have legitimate concerns and complaints. They should be given the opportunity to air them here today and also to express them at committee. However, I would hope that he could join not with me as a minister but with young Canadians from coast to coast to coast to try to move on this legislation so that it can be passed by Parliament as soon as is humanly possible.

Perhaps that is the best gift that members of the Bloc, the Reform, the New Democratic Party, the Conservative Party and my party could give to young people in this country: a message of health, a message of hope, a message of caring, caring about their futures.

I appeal not in an ideological sense, but I appeal to my colleagues in the Bloc man to man to take their responsibility seriously, which I know they will. Let us move expeditiously to put the legislation through the House as soon as possible.

I wish to apologize to my colleagues in the Bloc and the Reform. I am requested to be in cabinet as I now speak. I must leave the Chamber but I will return as soon as is humanly possible. I hope they will not look at my departure in any way as suggesting that I am not concerned or do not want to be here to listen to their remarks.

Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Madam Speaker, as a member of the Standing Committee on Health and the official opposition critic on tobacco, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-71, the Tobacco Act, at second reading.

Before the minister leaves, since I know he must leave us, I would like to tell him that I noted the kindness and appreciation he expressed to the Reform Party critic. Unfortunately, I will disappoint him somewhat, remaining as objective and non-partisan as possible.

I cannot go as far as the Reform Party critic, who, at a press conference, even before reading the bill clause by clause, spoke in favour saying that, for once, his party would support the bill to have it passed as quickly as possible, perhaps even before Christmas. He was satisfied with the information sheet provided by the minister some five minutes before the press conference.

I will disappoint the minister, but this sort of intervention is not in the style of the official opposition. Before we agree to, support or oppose a bill, we take the time to read it. We have read it and have reservations, which we will make known to the minister as positively as possible.

As all my colleagues are aware, at second reading, the practice in this Parliament is for the parties to vote primarily according to the principles and objectives of a given bill. It will perhaps surprise the minister, but the official opposition will vote in favour of this bill at

second reading, because we agree with most of the minister's objectives. The first part of my speech will focus on this.

I would point out right off that the opposition cannot support the part concerned with the request by the Minister of Health for unusual-and I stress unusual-powers to regulate tobacco products, sales and advertising.

My colleague from Chambly is ready to rise on this matter and will give the minister a hard time. In our opinion, these powers are really unusual. Regardless of how noble the cause, the official opposition will never let the rights of parliamentarians be trampled by a minister who wants to give himself just about every power.

Our strongest reservations relate to the sponsorship provisions of the bill. I am pointing this out now, but I will elaborate later on. The Bloc Quebecois will not support the bill at third reading if the federal government keeps refusing to compensate organizers of cultural and sporting events.

It may be that, given his mandate, the Minister of Health cannot do so. However, the heritage minister was unequivocal about this. We will try to make her change her mind, but she did say that she would not compensate the organizers of cultural and sporting events that are sponsored in Canada. You will hear from us on this issue, in committee and in the House.

Since we agree with most of the government's objectives regarding a reduction in health costs associated with tobacco use, we will support the bill at second reading because, as I said earlier, the vote at second reading usually relates to the objectives and principles of the legislation.

It is appropriate to point out the minister's objectives. Clause 4 reads as follows:

  1. The purpose of this act is to provide a legislative response to a national public health problem of substantial and pressing concern and, in particular,

(a) to protect the health of Canadians in light of conclusive evidence implicating tobacco use in the incidence of numerous debilitating and fatal diseases;

(b) to protect young persons and others from inducements to use tobacco products and the consequent dependence on them;

(c) to protect the health of young persons by restricting access to tobacco products; and

(d) to enhance public awareness of the health hazards of using tobacco products.

With respect to the first subsection, concerning the seriousness of the problems in question, mention should be made of the publication, in the October 18 issue of the American weekly Science , of the results of the first study to determine conclusively that there is a direct genetic link between tobacco smoke and lung cancer.

According to this study by researchers at the University of Texas and the Beckman Institute in California, one of the chemical components present in tobacco smoke, a carcinogen, causes damage to the cells of human lungs that is comparable to the damage observed in most malignant lung tumours. According to the study results, this carcinogen damages gene P53, a gene that is critical to health, because it blocks the growth of cells that cause tumours. According to the study's authors, damage to gene P53 is linked to half of all cancers in humans, and to almost 70 per cent of lung cancers.

To date, no one has challenged this study. It provides conclusive evidence of a link between this carcinogen and lung cancer.

The minister has a second objective that we support, that of protecting young persons from inducements to use tobacco products and the consequent dependence on them. I could immediately mention the third objective of protecting the health of young persons by restricting access to tobacco products.

I was youth critic before I became health critic. For three years now, the official opposition has expressed its support for these goals and has even accused this government of not doing enough to attain them. More on that later.

The following are a few statistics on smoking by young people. At the present time, 29 per cent of young persons between the ages of 15 and 19, and 14 per cent between the ages of 10 and 14, smoke. Smoking among adolescents 15 to 19 years of age has gone up 25 per cent since 1991. It has gone up, and part of the reason is the present government's inaction. It is not the only reason, but is certainly one of the reasons.

Approximately 85 per cent of smokers took up the habit before they were 16. This is where attention must be focused. Efforts must be made to try to convince adult smokers to stop, but, more importantly, these people must make up their own minds to do so. Without a decision on their part, it will not be possible. But we in the official opposition agree with the minister that everything must be done to discourage young people who have never smoked from starting.

Thirteen- and fourteen-year-olds are particularly vulnerable, because the daily consumption of tobacco products increases steadily during that period and tends to stabilize by the age of 15. See how young they start smoking. It is estimated that 80 per cent of smokers have seriously considered quitting and that 80 per cent of them have tried to quit at least once.

Cigarettes are bought mainly at convenience stores. In 1994, nearly half the young people in the 10 to 14 age group who tried to buy cigarettes in a store-I repeat, half of those in the 10 to 14 age group-were never asked how old they were or refused the cigarettes they were asking for. That is what a study commissioned

by Health Canada showed. According to 91 per cent of young people, and I think it is important to point this out, tobacco is habit forming. That is what we must work on.

I emphasize the federal government's ineffectiveness in enforcing the existing legislation regarding the sale of tobacco products to young people. Elsewhere in that study, it was reported that, across the country, 50 per cent of retailers did not enforce the law in this respect.

No wonder tobacco use among young people has increased by 25 per cent since 1991. In fact, the percentage is even higher among young girls. With only 40 or so federal inspectors to monitor convenience stores throughout Canada, does this come as a surprise? No.

The fourth objective pursued by the minister is to enhance public awareness of the health hazards associated with tobacco use. Again, we in the official opposition have taken every opportunity to press the current health minister and his predecessor to do more in terms of public education.

Why? Because it has been demonstrated time and time again that, for every dollar invested in prevention and public education on health matters, between seven and ten dollars could be saved in the long term. I find that previous Health Canada initiatives have proven, as I said, extremely ineffective. The minister is urging us to spread information. He has distributed documentation and we agree with some of what it says. This is a good opportunity to go over the statistics.

In Canada, in 1991, smoking caused an estimated 27,867 deaths among men and 13,541 among women, for a total of 41,408 deaths. Twenty one per cent of all deaths in Canada that year were caused by smoking. Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Canada. It is estimated that more Canadians die prematurely each year from smoking than from car accidents, suicide, drugs, murder and AIDS combined. In 1991, deaths related to tobacco use accounted for about 62 per cent of the total increase in the number of deaths since 1989. In that same year, there were 11,841 deaths in Quebec.

Lung cancer accounted for respectively 31 and 26 per cent of smoking related deaths among men and women. Ischemic heart disease, or heart attacks, accounted for 25 and 20 per cent of the deaths among men and women, respectively. The number of deaths relating to tobacco use increases more rapidly among women than men. The number of such deaths among women went from 9,009 in 1985 to 13,541 in 1991.

Given the considerable increase in the number of female smokers in the sixties, the number of smoking related deaths among women is expected to continue to rise until the end of the nineties, and could equal, if not exceed, the number of such deaths among men by the year 2005.

In 1991, the costs of tobacco use in Canada were estimated at some $15 billion. Smokers spend more time in hospitals than non-smokers do. In 1991, they spent 4 million days in hospitals. That same year, the treatment of tobacco related diseases resulted in a total of 1.4 million medical prescriptions being issued.

Still in 1991, 38,000 people spent time in long term care facilities because of tobacco related diseases. Overall, the use of tobacco results in annual health care costs of some $3.5 billion in our country. On average, smokers missed four days more than non-smokers at work, for a total of 28 million days.

We should also mention the 40,000 plus deaths that are related to the use of tobacco and that will result in a $10.6 billion loss in future revenues.

That covers the main points of the health department's informative approach. Some may find it morbid.

Although I think the harmful effects of tobacco have to be mentioned, a more positive approach could also be developed, something more all-encompassing than the approach the department is now taking, and has been taking for a number of years now.

Before entering politics, I worked in recreation and sports. In fact, the reason I stopped smoking was because I was so interested in sports. I smoked next to nothing because I quickly realized that it was not possible to run a good marathon or 10 kilometre race as a smoker.

Do you know any marathoners, any Olympic athletes who smoke? They know only too well that it is not good for their performance.

Madam Speaker, I know you like singing. I am sure you know that most singers, Céline Dion comes to mind, do not smoke, because it damages the vocal cords. I think we should make the public more aware of these examples, through advertising or some other means.

The whip, who used to be a professional referee and came into contact with professional hockey players, could surely confirm that he has seen very few professional hockey players smoke. In any event, those who did cut short their career. I digress.

In Quebec, Kino-Québec used an extremely positive approach focusing on sports and health. A "play outdoors" theme was used to encourage people to participate. The theme targeted everyone, not just Olympic athletes. The idea was to get out and about in the fresh air, go mountain climbing. When you have made it to the top of Mont Jacques-Cartier in the Gaspé and you see caribou, and the air is crisp in your lungs, do you crave a cigarette? No, you do not, Madam Speaker. That would be an all-encompassing positive approach. But no.

Instead of that, what does the federal government do? It cuts funding for sports and recreation; it is even cutting back on funding for Olympic athletes.

Once upon a time, this department went by the name of Fitness and Amateur Sport. Those days are long gone. Now they are happy to take a more regulatory approach. They ban this, they regulate that. This has become the trademark of the Liberal government. Despite its adopting strict legislation on young people three years ago, it is not even capable of applying it. Legislation is only good if it is enforceable.

A law that is good but unenforced is not necessarily a bad law, but it is an rather ineffective one. This is what we are seeing with the federal government at the present time in the area of health, smoking in particular. This government has been humming and hawing for three years, and has not been enforcing its legislation.

The minister even complemented the RCMP for its anti-smuggling efforts. I shall not go into that episode, for lack of time, but I believe that the outcome in 1994 was disastrous. It was disastrous. I am not prepared to congratulate them. I will wait until there is a real change, before I follow his example.

We believe that the government, if it wishes to take a positive approach, and if it recognizes that smoking is the top-ranking cause of death, ought to be prepared to take action and to put its money where its mouth is. If it believes that advertising is contagious and strongly influences consumers' decisions, why would it not do more positive advertising, illustrating the benefits of being healthy, being fit, and in particular being a non-smoker? Why does it not do this?

We do, however, acknowledge that the government's efforts relating to advertising are praiseworthy, and correct, where radio and television and so on are concerned. We are going to vote in favour of the objectives and principles of this bill.

Because we have so many reservations, however, and particularly because our major objection concerns sponsorships-we are opposed to the minister's interference in this area-we shall be proposing a great many amendments to him in committee. If he sticks with his policy, we are going to invite him, once again, to compensate the organizers of sporting and cultural events. We are going to insist he do so. We are going to criticize his approach.

Clearly, the minister is applying the decision of the Supreme Court and the fact that the court rejected the government's position, and so he cannot completely prohibit sponsorship. He is therefore proposing something I would consider rather ridiculous. He is not prohibiting sponsorship entirely, but limiting it to 10 per cent. Sponsors are entitled to 10 per cent of the advertising space at the event provided the advertising is at the lower level.

The bill before us does not indicate how the minister will close certain loopholes, including one obvious one. Imagine a sign four feet by ten feet that was allowed on the site of an event in the past. Under the 10 per cent rule, how is the sponsor going to go about maintaining the space he had in the past? He has only to multiply the size of the sign by ten. It is not uncommon to see huge signs at such events. He has only to do that and will achieve the same result. As we can see, then, this rule is hard to apply.

The minister says he will regulate this. He says the only thing he cannot prohibit apparently is the use of colour. This is his only reservation. As for the rest, he says we will see how tobacco companies react. There are fewer restrictions in this rule of 10 per cent than in the old bill, which was thrown out by the Supreme Court.

If the bill is not amended, with this 10 per cent multiplied by 10 arrangement, it would be possible to portray Céline Dion and Jacques Villeneuve or an Olympic athlete in the process of smoking, so that young people see that smoking would not be a bad thing for their career. I am not saying these two people smoke. It is unlikely such famous people smoke. Others, however, might be tempted to smoke by the lure of money. Nothing in the bill prevents this.

The minister's approach is strange. He appears to be a severe man wanting to prohibit smoking, but, his bill has a hole in it. If the tobacco companies were to operate in bad faith, they could easily put it to use.

More than 300 Canadian organizations count on tobacco companies to sponsor their events. These sponsorships represent more than $60 million, some estimate them to be as high as $65 million for Canada as a whole, with $30 million for Quebec. Without compensation, many of these sporting and cultural organizations may well disappear.

The reputable SECOR management consulting group, which specializes in the analysis of economic benefits, selected 20 of these events and compiled studies on their many ramifications to show the important impact these events have on the Canadian economy at a time when funding from the various levels of government is becoming scarcer and scarcer. The 20 events examined by the SECOR group produced $240 million in spin-offs and created approximately 5,000 jobs. We have a government that pays lip service to job creation but takes little action in this regard, while these events actually generated 5,000 jobs.

According to the SECOR group, the events also produced at least $66 million in income for individuals, $34 million for businesses and $18 million for, guess who, the various levels of government.

This is $18 million in government revenue that will disappear along with the events that generated it.

In addition to their cultural interest, events sponsored by tobacco manufacturers promote the economic development of various industries, thereby benefiting society as a whole. I am still talking about cultural and tourist events.

We also disagree with the regulatory aspect. We have concerns and, unless changes are made, we will vote against the bill at third reading. If no changes are made in committee and the government closes all doors regarding regulations, we will have to oppose the bill.

My colleague from Chambly will address this in greater detail later, but with this legislation, the minister gives himself the power to regulate just about anything in areas that usually fall under provincial jurisdiction. Health is clearly identified as such in the Constitution.

Reference was made to advertising at the provincial level. That is an area of provincial jurisdiction as well. As for trade, it too normally falls under provincial jurisdiction. But here comes the minister saying that there is no problem, that he is prepared to regulate.

Clauses 7 and 17 were mentioned, and there are many more, but what worries me the most is clause 53 in Part VI, which reads in part as follows:

-the burden of proving that an exception, exemption, excuse or qualification prescribed by law operates in favour of the accused is on the accused-

This is reversing the burden of proof in a way that disadvantages the accused. This would mean that, after a preliminary case has been made by the crown, a retailer charged with any offence will have to prove that an exception, exemption or other excuse exists to justify his action.

Reversing the burden of proof is a very exceptional measure in penal and criminal law, since it violates the presumption of innocence under the charter of rights and freedoms.

I also want to discuss the issue of seizure. The bill provides that inspectors may seize any tobacco product or other thing by means of which or in relation to which they believe on reasonable grounds that the act has been contravened. This gives the inspector a lot of discretionary power.

A very broad discretionary power is given to the inspector, who has authority to seize just about anything. This could lead to some abuse. For example, imagine that cigarettes are seized from a retailer, who is later cleared of the charge against him. This person could end up with an outdated stock of cigarettes and suffer a major financial loss.

I also want to say something about the Supreme Court. The hon. member for Chambly will discuss it in greater detail, but we Quebecers are somewhat leery of the Supreme Court. My office is close to the Supreme Court. I look at it every day and it reminds me of certain things. It reminds me, among other things, that most Supreme Court judges are from Ontario. Not only is it located on the Ontario side, but Quebec is also under-represented. This situation has always been deplored by Quebec premiers, even those who were federalists, like Robert Bourassa.

Both the minister and his Justice colleague are leaving it up to the Supreme Court to determine the constitutional future of the country, to decide whether or not we will have the right, following a positive result in a referendum, to achieve sovereignty.

Every day, I hear ministers rise in this House and say: "We cannot compensate the 80-year-old retired Singer employees under POWA, because we need to get an opinion from the court". The issue has to be heard by the Supreme Court, and people must wait years for a decision. Given that these people are now 80 years old, some of them may not be around long enough to get a settlement.

The Supreme Court invalidated three sections of the Tobacco Products Control Act on September 21, 1995, seven years after the act was passed. The legislation had been ruled unconstitutional by Quebec's Superior Court, in 1991. However, that decision was overruled by the Quebec Court of Appeal.

At every stage of the legal challenge, the courts ruled on whether or not the legislation violated the freedom of expression provided under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We all remember that famous document. We support the basic rights provided under the charter, which is now part of the Constitution, but now the issue is left in the hands of the Supreme Court. However, since we still fear the Supreme Court, which has always been partial to one side, we are understandably suspicious.

The Supreme Court finally decided in favour of the tobacco companies in a very close judgment, five judges in favour and four against. The ultimate aim of this case was to determine if there was a causal link between a total ban on tobacco advertising and a decrease in the number of smokers. All judges agreed that, with this law, the government was infringing upon the freedom of expression guaranteed in the Charter. Four of the nine judges, however, believed that this violation of freedom of expression, under section 2(b), was justifiable under section 1 of that same Charter, which allows reasonable limits on certain freedoms. Five judges, however, found that the government was going too far.

With its new legislation, the government claims to be prepared to win any future court challenge. Health Canada employees told us they had obtained an opinion from the Department of Justice to that

effect. If this legal opinion exists, let it be made available to MPs so that their work is not in vain, should this opinion not be as obvious as the Minister of Justice would have us believe.

At any rate, we can sense some uncertainty in the very structure of the bill. That is unusual. In each section of the bill we can clearly see that the minister is giving himself the power to regulate, as if he were, basically, expecting not only challenges, but a possible repeat of the loss in the Supreme Court. He could say: "We cannot apply that part, but we are continuing to apply the rest". We can see that the minister is unsure. It is all very well for him to put on a flamboyant act, but the structure of his act indicates some uncertainty and worry.

There may be more than a few challenges. Perhaps the government will be caught unawares by many different challenges, which could result in so many sections being invalidated that it might be forced to bring in new legislation.

At a press conference on December 3, Bob Parker, the president of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, stated that, if the federal government's bill were not substantially amended, dozens of challenges could be expected.

Obviously, I could have a great deal to say on this. We will save our breath for the work in committee. I would, therefore, like to end here, allowing some time for other members to express their reservations and objections about sponsorships, the regulatory aspect and the non-respect of certain individual rights.

I am sure that a number of my colleagues will, as I am doing, express their approval this morning for the objectives, particularly as concerns young people under 18. The official opposition supports these objectives. It does not agree, however, with the means to achieve them. In some respect, we wonder whether things have not got a little out of hand.

We would certainly have liked the opinions of the provinces as well, of all the provinces, because this involves health. The minister makes no mention of working with his provincial counterparts.

Another element concerns us as well. It is the minister's timing in introducing his bill. This is not unimportant, although we are somewhat used to it. I am a member of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development. The government did the same thing last year with the Employment Insurance Act, in the same circumstances. It tabled its bill at the beginning of December.

Why chose this point in time to introduce bills that may well be controversial or criticized? The answer is that the ministers of this government hope people have already started their Christmas festivities and that they will be more kindly disposed. They hope that people in general will be more docile, I would say, or less attentive to the debate on a bill, because we know how distracted people can be during the holiday season.

This is unacceptable. The bill has not been passed yet, but we are assuming that the government will want to move quickly. It is no assumption, as we have already been asked to co-operate. Even before the bill was tabled, all members of the Reform Party, who were probably in a hurry to leave on holidays, agreed that the bill should go through the various stages quickly-second reading, study in committee and then third reading-before Christmas as a Christmas present for Canadians. Some presents turn out to be nasty surprises, as you know, so we have to be careful.

At Hallowe'en, little children are told to be careful with candies. They look good, but sometimes they contain needles. We have to take the time. We are asking the government to be careful. It must not succumb to the temptation of going too quickly, because a bill passed too quickly is often flawed and does not contain enough amendments to improve it, so that it ends up being criticized by people and businesses. It may suffer the same fate as the last bill, which was challenged in court and eventually invalidated, forcing the government to introduce another bill.

In the meantime, years go by. The objectives of a minister or a government cannot be reached, because the government's action is ill- considered. We do not want the government to act thoughtlessly. We do want to help it achieve its objectives, as long as it respects the rights and freedoms of individuals and groups and avoid doing more harm than good, that is depriving organizations trying to improve the well-being of the public.

I could go so far as to talk about the gross national well-being, because festivals are not simply festivals. Cultural and sporting events provide a positive setting for people in hard economic times. We need such events; they create jobs. We are talking of 5,000 jobs for only 20 events.

The minister requested our co-operation earlier. He will have it, but he must not push to have his bill rushed through the House, because we will object. We will defend the rights of parliamentarians. We will not allow our powers to be taken away and given to a minister who wants to move too quickly.

Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.


Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, I am speaking today on Bill C-71, an act to regulate the manufacture, sale, labelling and promotion of tobacco products.

I have quite a personal interest in this subject. In my 25 years in medical practice literally every day I faced people who were ill from smoking related diseases. I have also faced over and over again people who wanted to quit. I have tried nicotine gum,

nicotine patches and I have had patients go for hypnosis, recognizing full well that there is a big problem with tobacco in our country.

On a personal note, when I set up my practice I watched a number of my senior colleagues who smoked. In medical staff meetings when I started my practice, 50 per cent of my colleagues were smokers. By the time I resigned my position in the hospital to run for Parliament not one colleague smoked. I use that as an example. There has been a change in thinking in the medical community on tobacco as new evidence came to the fore. It became quite obvious that smoking was not just a benign activity.

I would like to express today the expectation that people at home have of an opposition politician. Opposition politicians traditionally find fault and criticize everything. That is part of the job of an opposition politician. In some cases it can be destructive rather than constructive.

I have had constituents say to me: "Surely there is something that those government MPs bring to the floor that you can support". And a specific quote: "You all fight like children rather than improving legislation co-operatively". I have taken that to heart and have tried to approach this bill with that idea. This should not be partisan. Partisan considerations should take a back seat when health issues are being considered.

To that end I am not going to nitpick about this bill. I will make a couple of broad comments about some deficiencies in it, but I will save my concerns for the committee stage. However, I think there are significant shortcomings. I hope that I will get the same constructive spirit of co-operation from my colleagues.

Reform asked to fast track this bill and I would like to explain to the House and to Canadians why. For over a year after the blueprint was presented which basically laid out where the tobacco measures would go I waited for action. The major press conference that was called over a year ago was followed by silence. Some promises were made but no action. During that period of time a new generation of smokers started smoking at an unprecedented rate.

I had my staff do a graph for me because I do not always trust statistics that come from various groups. This graph showed the per capita cigarette consumption in Canada and the United States between 1970 and 1994 which were the last figures that were readily available to me.

This graph was very interesting. It showed the U.S. and Canadian experience with per capita cigarette consumption following very closely. If the two lines were drawn it looked like the two were in lock step together. Because I cannot use this as a prop I have to describe what I have in the graph. It actually looked like a ski jump with a real nice downward slope, both the U.S. and Canada following that downward slope with per capita cigarette consumption a little bit better in Canada than in the U.S.

That lock step, that drop down, stopped in Canada quite abruptly in 1993. It actually then looked like a ski jump where it goes upward. The same thing does not happen in the U.S.

Here we are back from 1970 to 1994 with the two countries moving together with excellent reduction in per capita cigarette consumption.

Then boom, there was a change in 1993 which did not happen in the U.S. Two things happened in Canada to change our cigarette consumption, the tax rollback and the supreme court shut down of the legislative measures that Canada had in place.

Second, I looked at a chart on Canadian tobacco consumption. Because tobacco consumption can be measured in many ways I chose one that looked to be the most accurate. It included domestic sales of tobacco and also the contraband market. It showed the number of Canadian cigarettes smuggled into Canada as best could be ascertained and all the contraband. It included other forms of consumption like consumption by returning residents bringing back their imports.

The figures were really interesting. In 1991 compared to 1990 there was a drop of 6.16 per cent in Canadian tobacco consumption. In 1992 there was a drop of 0.39 per cent, not as big a drop. In 1993 there was a drop of 3.49 per cent. This is the same downward trend in total tobacco consumption in Canada. In 1994 there was a break in the trend with an increase of 9.2 per cent.

With those independent studies in mind I determined that there was a vacuum in Canada that was being filled by the tobacco companies with glee. I looked at the tobacco companies' profit picture, which was very very good. There was a new group of youthful addicts and a new market for the tobacco companies.

Because I believe in small government, the least intrusive legislation that is effective and enforceable and clearly specified regulations in legislation, I paused for a long time over legislative measures in this area. But the health of our youth is more important than restrictions on activities that are solely profit driven. That is why I have recommended to my colleagues that we push hard to see this legislation on the floor of the House of Commons.

What do tobacco manufacturers do that every Canadian should know? I have spent a lot of time on this issue. I have listened very plainly to tobacco manufacturers say that they do not, want not and will not conscript youth to smoking.

I have an internal tobacco company document that talks about the objectives of looking to sports as a mechanism of advancing the tobacco companies' interests. I will read part of it: "To brand the

events"-sporting events-"we sponsor via media advertising so as to increase the level of awareness particularly among smokers and potential smokers". The document goes on to say that these major world class sporting events and artistic productions will be the mechanisms.

Off to the side there is a little note on the groups being targeted by these proposals. The first target group is composed of males age 12 to 24. The second target group is composed of females age 12 to 17. This is from a lobby group that says it will not, cannot and must not target youth for smoking. That document directly and completely makes that comment inaccurate. I could use much stronger words.

On cancer, I have listened to the tobacco industry for years and years saying that there is no direct connection with cancer, that no direct connection has been proven. New genetic research has just surfaced which is conclusive: tobacco causes cancer. In fact, the member for the Bloc has actually mentioned the specific research.

I have waited, watched and hoped for a retraction from the tobacco companies of this long held statement that tobacco does not have a direct link to cancer. I have waited and will continue to wait because that retraction has not and will not come.

Another thing I pay attention to is the argument that sponsorship will cease and plunge the art groups into the wilderness if this legislation goes through. I went back to the record of the last round of tobacco legislation and found that this very argument was used. Without going into a long discussion on this, I extracted from hearings on Bill C-51 some information. The Royal Canadian Golf Association stated it would not be able to replace the tobacco sponsor of its Canadian open men's golf tournament if Bill C-51 came in. Today those members who are interested golf would know that the event continues very successfully and the sponsor today is Bell Canada, which stepped in on the issue, very comfortably taking up the sponsorship vacuum.

On the international experience, I am a real keen race car guy. Car races are sponsored by tobacco manufacturers. I have personally have competed in a big event where my car bore tobacco advertising. There is quite an international change away from allowing this type of advertising. Because I like racing, I watched the Formula I circuit. Jacques Villeneuve here in Canada has a very specific logo on his driving suit and on the wing of his car. I will not give the company extra advertising by saying what the company is. In France and Germany on the Formula I circuits there are no logos on the cars or on the suits.

Can Canada do the same? Will the Formula I circuit, the Indy circuit and the rest of motor racing fall into an abyss because the sponsorship will be reduced? Not a chance.

I have also watched the international moves by the U.S. It has taken some very dramatic steps on nicotine to recognize nicotine as

an addictive drug and to call the cigarette a drug delivery device. This is intellectually consistent and a very powerful way of changing the way tobacco is looked at in North America.

So why fast track this bill? I would like to talk for a moment about the bill. We have pushed this legislation to the floor of the House of Commons by saying that we would fast track it. I believe there were some internal division in the government and I believe they were actually paralyzing the government. It took 18 months for Jake Epp to bring Bill C-51 through the process. If it had taken 18 months to put this bill through the process, I could not face myself with a new generation of youthful smokers. I think Jake Epp went through a legislative process which was awful.

I said I would not try and nit pick on the bill, but I have a couple of criticisms. The undefined, unspecified powers granted in the bill are too broad. This is in the regulatory component. I and my colleagues will work to define and specify those powers.

We do not always have to be serious in the House of Commons. There are a couple of things in the bill that are a real chuckle. I am going to read this for the Canadian public. Clause 10(1) states: "No person shall sell cigarettes, except in a package that contains fewer than 20 cigarettes" and it goes on "or fewer than a prescribed number of cigarettes, which number shall be more than 20". I hope there is a wording mess-up in the bill because I have asked as many of my colleagues as I could what that clause means. I figured maybe I had gone senile. I hope it is a misprint.

There is a regulation which appears on page 12 of the bill: "The governor in council may make regulations"-and then we flip over to paragraph (i)-"prescribing anything that by this part is to be prescribed". We are talking about big powers. The governor in council could turn aircraft into land machines with that sort of power.

As I say, I believe those regulatory powers must be defined and specified. I would like to see and have continued to hope for the health committee, when regulatory powers come in, be the actual spot where these things are reviewed by elective representatives so the governor in council will not be able to just steamroller things along.

Finally, I would like to say something to my smoking audience. I know they enjoy smoking. I know they accept the risks of smoking. This is to my colleagues as well. I do not believe this bill is directed to them. It is directed mostly to the kids. However, I want to say to them that the most poignant quitters I have been involved with in my years of trying to get people to quit smoking are those who quit because of a comment made by little Johnnie, who comes home from school and says something like: "Daddy, please don't smoke. I love you. I want you to quit smoking. I need you nearby". Those smokers quit because a little one they love cares for them

and says"please quit smoking". I have very little trouble with those smokers. When they wanted to quit, they quit quickly.

This bill should now go to committee. Reformers will still work hard for specific improvements in committee. Consequently, I move:

That the question be now put.