House of Commons Hansard #131 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was flag.


Corrections And Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

moved that Bill C-296, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (rehabilitation programs), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on my private member's bill, Bill C-296, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (rehabilitation programs).

The purpose of this bill is to require federal inmates to complete programs that will assist in their rehabilitation and make their release on parole contingent, and I emphasize the word contingent, upon their successful completion of such programs.

I hope that I will also be able to shed some light on the problems that exist in Canada's correctional system. I might point out it is a problem that not only I believe exists but the recent report by the auditor general seems also to support my fears.

The mission statement of Correctional Service of Canada is to actively encourage and assist offenders to become law-abiding citizens. Its mission therefore is not only to punish but to rehabilitate at the same time. Good corrections is in effect the successful reduction of the risk of reoffending.

To begin I would like to explain just what process is followed when an offender is remanded into custody at a federal penitentiary. An offender first undergoes an intake assessment to determine their level of risk and their programming needs. Upon returning to the institution, the offender is put through standardized tests which ask questions dealing with their education, intelligence, employment, psychology and lifestyle. Although an offender is allowed to contribute suggestions regarding the correctional planning process, it is rare that their suggestions are actually followed up on.

The recently released report from the auditor general has shown that the assessment process is indeed weak. He questioned just how qualified are the individuals who assess these offenders upon their entrance into custody. He also stated that the length of time offenders have to wait before receiving counselling is far too long, which is another problem.

Systemic inefficiencies, time constraints, scheduling difficulties and program evaluation and availability tend to undermine the effectiveness and benefits achieved during the programming process. An offender may have to wait as long as three years before being put into any kind of program. What good is a program if it is too little too late? An offender is most vulnerable to help and counselling upon first arriving at the institution. After being left on his or her own for a number months, maybe years, the impact of programming to an offender is of little or no use.

In the Correctional Service of Canada's own literature it is stated that programming must be directly linked to meeting offenders' needs an particularly those who need them almost immediately. If addressed it will result in a pro social behaviour. It should be directed at changing lifestyle patterns to make the individual change their habits and hopefully when they are returned to society they can be contributing members. The literature goes on to state that institutions must ensure that a process is in place so that recommendations developed by case managers and program officers concerning program and work assignments are indeed implemented.

There are many questions that need to be answered. There are obvious weaknesses in the system as it is now. My bill may not be the complete answer but hopefully it will help focus attention on problems which threaten society and our homes as a whole.

The auditor general brought forth a suggestion that Correctional Service of Canada could be doing a much better job overall. In his report he stated that the service's range of programs is impressive but there is always room for improvement. He also went on to state that he found serious problems with federal efforts of rehabilitating offenders and returning them to society.

The auditor general also found that there are a number of cost discrepancies which exist within the system. One program may cost $2,000 to treat an offender in one institution and a similar program may cost upward of $7,000 per offender in another

institution. Let me state for myself and I know I speak on behalf of my constituents that this is unacceptable. I believe there should be unanimity right across the board in these programs.

The auditor general also reported that a disproportionate amount of resources is being spent on only very few offenders. For example in the 1994-95 budget only 70 per cent of the budget dollars were devoted to rehabilitating sex offenders which of course accounted for only about 20 prisoners in Quebec. That works out to approximately $85,000 per offender. This is unbelievable and of course unacceptable.

All this is without any proof whatsoever that these individuals had indeed successfully completed the program. Meanwhile approximately 35 per cent of all sex offenders who have been released from federal prisons did not receive any prevention treatment at all. On behalf of my constituents, and I believe on behalf of most Canadians, I say that this is unacceptable.

From the studies I have received from Correctional Service of Canada it seems that the problem does not lie in the programs themselves. On the contrary the programs being developed by researchers of the service are among the best in the world. The problem lies in the way these programs are administered and managed.

Not all programs are accessible in all federal institutions. One reason may be the shortage of trained professionals to deliver these programs. For example, it was recently reported at the Warkworth penitentiary that there are only four therapists to look after 680 inmates. How can four people possibly do an effective job with a population of 680 inmates? I believe they cannot accomplish very much. I offer to the House as a result the tragic examples of two young individuals at the same penitentiary.

The first is a 25-year old by the name of Jamie Taylor who is serving time for killing his best friend when he was 17. When he was first incarcerated he was still considered a young offender and began serving his sentence in the youth detention centres. While there, Jamie began receiving treatment for his anger and violent behaviour on a day to day basis. He worked one on one with case managers and it was reported that he was improving along the way and his attitude was beginning to change.

Upon becoming an adult he was transferred to Warkworth federal penitentiary to complete his life sentence for second degree murder. He is eligible for parole in the year 2000 which if I may remind the House is only just a short three years away. Until that time Jamie Taylor is biding his time. With only four therapists for the entire inmate population, his treatment and therapy sessions have literally stopped.

Mark Williams is the other example. He is a 24-year old inmate at the same institution who is serving a life sentence for killing a Toronto woman during a robbery when he was 17 years old. Mark refers to jail as "a business with him being the inventory sitting on the shelf". He says he has had virtually no treatment since beginning the sentence. He has only seen his case management team four times in six years. He feels he has had no way to rehabilitate himself and no guidance whatsoever. Basically he has felt nothing but anger since he has been in the institution and behind bars and he has had no help in dealing with it.

Mark Williams comes up for parole in 1998, just one year from now. Without any assistance to deal with his problems and feeling anger the way he does, Mark Williams will probably be denied parole. I sincerely I hope he is denied parole because he is not ready to re-enter society. When an individual like Mark Williams is returned, we can see the threat that it might pose on our community and our country as a whole.

The legislation that has been brought forth by the Minister of Justice is intended to punish and rehabilitate at the same time. Therefore we have a responsibility to ensure that programs are available to people like Jamie Taylor and Mark Williams on a day to day basis, but four therapists for 680 inmates simply will not do the job.

These offenders are going to get out one day after they serve their full term. If we do not pay attention to them today, we can well imagine we are going to have problems in the future within our communities as a whole.

My bill today is really nothing historic. More so it is saying that if an offender who is behind bars is asking to be paroled we must make that parole request contingent upon their successfully completing a rehabilitation program. We should use their time in prison to give them the skills they need so that when they eventually become released they can be contributing members to society. It only follows that if a person is given the skills to acquire a job and possibly be a contributing member to society, the chances or opportunities for them reoffending certainly will be diminished greatly. We could help break this cycle which leads to career criminals by offering them these programs.

Correctional Service Canada spends only 7 per cent of its services total budget on rehabilitation programs. If the problem is a lack of funds for making these programs work properly, then perhaps the board could allocate more of its budget dollars toward rehabilitation programs.

I am not saying for more money to be put into the system. On the contrary, the last thing we need to do is ask the Canadian taxpayer to take from their hard earned dollar to put more money into these programs. I am simply saying that perhaps the money that is

already allocated for these programs could be spent more wisely and more efficiently.

It is not only the auditor general who is calling for changes in the systems. Victims rights groups are also questioning the safety of releasing the offenders before they have a chance for rehabilitation.

In a recent news story, the Canadian Resources Centre for Victims of Crimes has called for an inquiry into the National Parole Board's decision to release George Harvey Milne, a convicted sex offender. Milne is currently facing new charges for sexually assaulting young boys. Even though the parole board's own report raised concerns about his potential danger to the community, it approved his release.

The report went on to say that Milne demonstrated no real desire to change and only when all other options were exhausted did he become involved in treatment. When Milne came up for parole on October 30, 1991, the board again noted that he had not benefited to his full potential from treatment and denied parole.

Only one month later the board stated that the risk presented to the community was not unmanageable and granted Milne parole. Shame, I say.

Call me crazy, if you will, but I do not believe that this man could have been rehabilitated in less than one month. Due to the new charges pending against him, obviously he was not.

This is just another example of how the safety of the public is at risk. If the parole board felt that Milne was not fully rehabilitated and still posed a risk, even if it is a small one, it should not have granted him full parole. Because of its decision, more young boys were caused terrible suffering, along with the families and communities as a whole at the hands of this-I do not even know what to call him.

My bill has also received the attention of representatives, for example, from long term offenders in Saskatchewan. A gentleman by the name of Darrell McPhedran is currently the representative of long term offenders in this penitentiary and he has provided me with some insight regarding how our correctional system works from the perspective of an offender.

McPhedran has informed me that he has been exposed to a wide variety of both positive and negative feedback with regard to the usefulness of rehabilitation programs and the delivery of such programs at his institution.

He stated that the general consensus is that programs delivered under the auspices of the psychology department do appear to serve a purpose and are helpful indeed. However, the core group of programs such as educational, vocational and substance abuse tends to be very basic and watered down.

He states that programs are very limited in their scope and that those who are delivering the programs are also under qualified. He has expressed great concern with the way Correctional Service Canada runs its institutions, but in the end his main concern is in the area of programs or lack of available space, especially for long term offenders.

One would say why worry about long term offenders. After all, they are serving lifetime sentences. I would remind people and everybody in this House that today we do not have capital punishment and at some point in time these individuals will serve their full time and re-enter our communities.

If an offender is given a life sentence, they are still eligible for parole after 14 or 15 years. Therefore, do we just forget about the offender for those 14 or 15 years? I do not think we should. We simply cannot just warehouse these people and throw the key away because after 14 or so years, there is that possibility that they might be released.

We feel secure that if we put them in these programs, possibly when they do return to the communities the chances of their reoffending will be greatly diminished. They will become, eventually, individuals who will be eligible for parole.

If I may point out again, my bill proposes that for individuals who are serving long or short term sentences who are asking for early parole, it should be contingent on their successfully completing a rehabilitation program before their request is accepted.

This brings me to another weakness, the lack of proper support being in place to help the offenders in their transition from an institution to the community. There must be in place community support groups for offenders to provide a bridge for individuals once they re-enter the community.

The auditor general has stated that the service has not established a continuing program in that area to support these individuals in their transition back into the community. Studies show that it is critical that offenders have access to such treatment programs so that their bridging back into the community is made easier and, of course, much more safe.

This is a time when they are confronted with the factors that originally led them to offend. The auditor general has stated that approximately 65 per cent of the demand for community based sex offenders relapse programs is being met. However, I am concerned about the other 35 per cent. This is why we have to address the concern in that area.

One criticism I was surprised to hear about my bill is that it is unconstitutional, that it would infringe on the constitutional rights of individuals if they are asked to participate in these programs against their will.

I hear comments from across the way. It is unfortunate that the criticism comes from members the Reform Party. If we want to talk about hypocrisy, I believe the use of that word has reached an all time high. In public they say "hang them high, throw away the key". They are the lone rangers with the white hats fighting crime. But behind the scenes they say something else.

I am disappointed that not one Reform Party individual would come forward to speak on the bill and give it some support and at the same time provide constructive criticism or input as to how we can possibly correct the system that unfortunately today is not working. Instead of calling them the lone rangers, I will just call them the lone.

In answer to the question whether my bill is unconstitutional, let me state that I am not asking anyone to do anything against their will. I am just interested in seeing that offenders are given the option of assistance that will help them rehabilitate themselves and prove that they can return to society without risk of reoffending. If they are not prepared to enter the program to rehabilitate themselves, their parole requests should not be considered.

The Minister of Justice has brought forward amendments that will increase sentences for individuals who are considered dangerous offenders. He has introduced measures to keep track of high risk offenders after they are released. I applaud the minister for those initiatives. But we also need to fine tune the system because nobody and nothing is perfect.

I do not believe my bill is the only or the perfect solution. I do believe it might be just one step to help our society become safer and maybe will help those people who have served their full sentence to re-enter society as contributing members. I hope my bill will receive the support of the House.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it has been interesting to listen to my hon. colleague across the way speaking about his private member's bill which will solve all the problems in the prisons.

For the life of me I cannot appreciate why this bill is even being put before the House. The assessment of inmates is done before they are placed in an institution on a permanent basis. Six weeks to two months is taken to do an assessment before they are placed in an institution.

A case management team already recommends the treatment which is appropriate for the inmate. Maybe it does not happen as much for the prisoners that he talks about.

We need to go into the prison system to find out what really happens instead of just talking to a couple of inmates who are unhappy with the treatment they receive or the lack of treatment.

There are problems with funding for these programs. There are not enough spaces for the number of inmates. However, there are problems with inmates who show no remorse for the offence they have committed and feel nothing for their victims but they are taking these treatment programs because it as an out for them. They are unlikely to get parole unless they participate in these programs.

The hon. member across the way should talk to some of the people who give these treatment programs and listen to their stories about the inmates who think it is joke. These inmates think they can go into these treatment programs simply to get parole. No, it does not work because these inmates are not in the right frame of mind to make it work.

The hon. member should have been at the justice and legal affairs committee the other day when we had experts talking about treatment programs. They said that treatment programs for some violent offenders do not work because those violent offenders are psychopaths and all psychopaths get from treatment programs is a better understanding of how to manipulate the system to make it work for them.

Treatment programs are the end all, be all. Yes, early intervention with young people is and yes, some treatment programs for alcohol and drug abuse would be far more effective than anything else in our prisons.

What do we do? We allow drugs into our prisons in such numbers that it is uncontrollable. What do we do? We give them bleach kits so they can bleach the needles. How is that helping these inmates with drug problems? It does not. What do we do for the prisoners with alcohol problems? Do we provide treatment? To a little degree I suppose. However, we have inmates who are so convinced that they need treatment that they make their own booze behind bars.

I do not think we should be wasting our dollars on any inmate who does not show the initiative, the want or the desire for treatment. I do not think this bill identifies or recognizes the problem. I repeat that I have no idea why this House is even dealing with this bill.

We are going to force people to take treatment programs against their will just so they can get parole. We are already doing that. One of the things with parole is that prisoners have to show that they have made some effort to be remorseful, accept that some harm has been done by their behaviour and that they have done something to

rectify that. They are already unlikely to get parole if they do not take these treatment programs that are made available to them.

I see absolutely no point in passing another piece of legislation. The law is there and the programs are there. Yes, we could be putting more resources into those programs, I do not deny that, but we do not need more legislation to provide more facilities for inmates. What we have to do is make sure that the right inmates are getting the treatment. If somebody has a violent personality, does not show any remorse, does not want the treatment and does not feel he needs the treatment, forcing treatment down his throat is not going to work. That has been proven in the past.

This hon. member should talk to some of the treatment people who deal with sex offenders, in particular. It is an absolute joke unless that person identifies that they do have a problem and wants to deal with it.

To this hon. member who is trying to change the system, to make the system work better, to help out these poor individuals who need treatment, I find it repulsive that this member voted against a private member's bill that was about having assessments done on dangerous offenders who committed serious sexual offences against an adult or any sexual offence against a child. Looking at the voting record, this member was one of the Liberals who voted against it. It confuses me. If he is so interested in seeing that treatment is given to protect society, why would he vote against something like that?

When the member talks about a Reformer telling him it was unconstitutional, I find that very hard to believe because I have a private member's bill before the justice committee and it is the Liberal members who are telling me it is unconstitutional to try to do something to make it possible to keep dangerous offenders off the street. It is the Liberal members and it is the Liberal Minister of Justice who is telling me it is unconstitutional.

I do not believe for a moment that any Reform Party member or Reform MP would feel that a question of constitutionality is a reason to walk away from doing what is right. It is the Liberals that are constantly using the charter of rights as an excuse to pass bad legislation which allows the government to sit on its duff and not deal with the real issues out there in society.

I am terribly confused. This Liberal member is putting forward a bill that is unnecessary. It will not accomplish anything. He claims it is the be all and end all on the issue. It seems to me that this member is looking for public support in the next few months. He is probably looking for a few votes. He feels that if he can parade this private member's bill, which will not do anything but looks good, maybe he can convince Canadians that he is serious about getting tough on crime.

I do not think Canadian voters are that stupid. They will see through this. All they have to do is go to the voting record, not only of this member but of all the members on the Liberal side, to see the true picture.

The true picture is that Liberal MPs are not that interested in getting tough on criminals. They are not that interested on changing the justice system to make it work. They are not interested in supporting bills that will actually deal with, address and solve a problem. They are not going to support a private member's bill which will actually keep dangerous offenders off the streets. Instead they look for some namby-pamby way of dealing with people who do not like the way things are behind bars.

Maybe the people who are offending, the people who are killing their best friends, should be thinking about what it is like behind bars before they kill. Maybe they should be looking for counselling to help them with anger management and drug abuse before they end up in prison, instead of waiting until they are in prison. Maybe they should be worrying about getting a better education before they end up in prison. It would make a whole lot of sense to me if our money was spent on alcohol and drug treatment programs before young people end up in prison. Our money should be spent on improving education facilities for young people who have dropped out of high school before they end up in prison.

Why does the government feel that all of those resources should be spent on these individuals after they break the law, after they murder somebody, after they are in prison? I would find it far easier to support a private member's bill that dealt with those issues rather than one that is a waste of my time and a waste of the time of the House.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, to really understand Bill C-296 introduced by the hon. member, we must remember what it says in the mission statement of the Correctional Service of Canada.

To be able to analyse and understand the hon. member's bill, we must know what this mission is. The mission, and I will read it to you from a very official document of the Correctional Service of Canada, says the following: "The Correctional Service of Canada, as part of the criminal justice system, contributes to the protection of society by actively encouraging and assisting offenders to become law abiding citizens, while exercising reasonable, safe, secure and humane control".

And we in the Bloc Quebecois want to say right away that the system may not be perfect, but it certainly is not the disaster implied by Reform members. In Canada, the correctional system works. However, there are some shortcomings. There are a number of questions, and perhaps I could get back to this later on.

When we look at the mission of the correctional service and the purpose of this bill, we see that the summary of the hon. member's bill reads as follows:

The purpose of this bill is to require federal inmates to complete programs that will assist in their rehabilitation and make their release on parole contingent upon their successful completion of such programs.

Immediately, I see something that is pretty obvious as regards the mission of the correctional service and the hon. member's bill. It is pretty obvious to me that the hon. member-and I am astonished that this should come from the government benches-is introducing a bill which is an admission of failure. That is what the bill says, because it will be necessary to require inmates to do such and such, while if we know how the Correctional Service Canada works, this is being done.

The correctional service proposes such and such, it does follow up, it assists inmates with psychological problems, problems with social reintegration, sexual problems or whatever. They will be helped in such a way that when an inmate leaves the institution, he again becomes part of the community and no one will notice the difference. That is the mission the correctional service has with respect to parole, but the bill seems to say the system has failed and that inmates will be required to do such and such that will assist in their release, to be contingent on the inmates completing the programs already available to them.

This is all very well, but I think it is dangerous to proceed this way because the government member seems to be saying there is a problem. Now, either the statistics we get from the department on repeat offenders are correct or they are not. I assume they are correct, unless the parole figures and the whole question of repeat offenders, unless the figures the Solicitor General gives us every year are not correct. However, if they are, this means the failure rate is minimal and the system works. It means that inmates are making good use of the programs available to them.

However, the hon. member's bill implies the statistics are not correct, because the hon. member has looked into this. He wants to oblige inmates to start and follow through with this process.

So the bill is not bad in itself, but I wonder whether it is worthwhile adopting this bill.

I know there are two versions with respect to recidivism. Apparently the police seem to be saying that the department's figures may not be accurate. As far as early parole is concerned-and I was very surprised to read this in L'Express , a magazine dealing with the judiciary system-we are told there is a failure rate of about 80 per cent for early parole. If this is true, there is a problem. The problem concerns early rehabilitation, or maybe there is a problem with the figures the Solicitor General gives us annually.

One thing is sure. From sitting on the Standing Committee on Justice, from considering legal issues and from questioning witnesses who have come before the committee, I know that one thing is sure. While things have not yet reached catastrophic proportions, if the cuts of the past continue, and schooling, computer training or other programs for the purposes of rehabilitation or reintegration into society are eliminated, because the prison system is obliged to cut certain programs for lack of funding, we will have a problem, whatever bill the member opposite proposes, because we will have no money to implement it.

One thing is sure, the more the cuts, the fewer programs there are for inmates, the greater the chance inmates will find themselves really unprepared on their release and back within the prison system in no time.

The bill is indeed praiseworthy, however, it is quite distressing that it comes from a member opposite and that it is conditional, because I think that, in the long run, the outcome may be affected. It is not true that the result is better in the end if we legislate someone to do something. I think that, even inside, even having prisoners do time, we could encourage them from within and not force them.

People who are in prison are not law abiding people like the general public. Sometimes they have a bit of a revolt inside. You just have to tell them they have to do it for them to not want to. I think we have to continue, focus more on existing programs and ask them to take the programs, not spontaneously, but encourage them and not force them. I think we would be asking for real trouble if we made it mandatory.

I will conclude by saying that, in the past few weeks, months and years, there have been all sorts of issues concerning the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, and so forth. Recent events have shown us that there are great gaps in the system. They have also shown us that a lot of things work well.

The government opposite does not seem to have a global view of the problem society faces with inmates and their release. There are members, here and there, who introduce private bills to change the law. Even the government, which occasionally makes changes to the law, will do so piecemeal, in an effort to find a band-aid solution. That is not how to solve the problem once and for all.

We have seen really human cases of late, in which even the father of a young girl killed by someone on parole took part in the debate, saying: "There are gaps in the correctional system. It is good in some respects, but perhaps society ought to be involved

more". Far from condemning the system, he said it needed improving. I am referring to the Bolduc case.

Instead of changing things bit by bit, instead of making minor changes to please voters, instead of tilting totally right, like the Reformers, why will the government opposite not act on the request of the official opposition? In recent weeks and months, we have been calling for a thorough examination of the entire problem by a commission of inquiry or a parliamentary commission, which would report to us. Then we would really see what works, what does not work and what needs to be changed or not. We would not be doing it bit by bit.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to pay tribute to my colleague from Scarborough Centre for his interest in urban safety and community issues. This is not the first time the member has brought forward issues of great concern on behalf of his constituents. He is a tireless individual who has done that many times before.

It is important to relate what is the objective of this private member's initiative. The purpose of it, as stated, is to require federal inmates to complete programs that will assist in their rehabilitation and make their release on parole contingent on their successful completion of programs.

Corrections Canada must invest further in programming, provide incentives for offenders to participate in programs aimed at changing their criminal behaviour.

My colleague introduced this bill based on comments made by the auditor general. Probably what motivated him at the same time is the fact that in 1996, of the 7,481 offenders released on parole almost half, 3,163, were returned to prison, 32 per cent for committing new crimes and 68 per cent for parole violations. Certainly it is a cause for alarm.

My colleague has tried in his initiative to bring to the attention of the House and to the public that there is a problem and this is one way to try to address it. I am sure that my colleague's intentions are not to have more money thrown at the problem. I am sure he is 100 per cent in agreement that the over $300 million spent annually to reintegrate offenders into society in order to deal with the more than 14,400 inmates in prison, is a substantial amount of money. The issue here is a question of how do we spend that money?

Programs are in place now through initiatives the government has taken. However, still more can be done. There has to be co-operation between the provincial levels of government in areas of information sharing, standardization and access to information.

One of my colleagues in the Reform Party has tried to make it look as if the government is not doing anything. The fact is the government has done a tremendous amount. A truckload of prevention is better than a whole train of cure. What I am trying to say is that most of the legislation the government has introduced over the past three years has dealt with the issue of prevention in the community.

For example, members of the opposition and the Reform Party have unfortunately voted against the gun control legislation which dealt with taking weapons away from those who, if the weapon is left in their hands, may commit a crime.

Another initiative that the government has undertaken is amendments to the Young Offenders Act. It is to be commended. It dealt with young offenders in our society. Another initiative taken by the solicitor general and the Minister of Justice established a crime prevention council has been a very successful.

The whole issue has to focus mainly on prevention. I would like to give an a example of how and where prevention is working in my community of Ottawa Centre. I want to pay tribute to the Ottawa Police that have worked tirelessly with community groups in my area and have proved over and over again that they are capable of changing the trend and ensuring that the community is safe and good to live in. However, it can be made even better.

I want to mention the name of one member of the police force. Inspector Susan O'Sullivan is a committed, dedicated, energetic and outstanding member of the Ottawa Police. She and her colleagues in the Ottawa police department have embarked on a number of major initiatives in the community to establish outreach centres throughout the riding and the Ottawa area. The police force man those centres in conjunction with volunteers in the community. That initiative and many other initiatives that were undertaken by the police force in my constituency have paid great dividends.

All anyone has to do is speak to people in the community such as Cheryl Parrot, who along with other volunteers in the community, has tackled the problem of prostitution. They worked very hard and with the assistance of the Ottawa police were able to literally eradicate this problem from the neighbourhood. That is a joint partnership between the police force which is the public sector and the community, the non-profit sector and a voluntary sector.

Other people in the community have worked with the Ottawa police and have proved that, collectively, crime can be fought and safety assured. Angelo Filoso, along with his people, have established another group in the community to work with the police and they have been successful.

There is no way the problem can be tackled by just looking at it and hoping it will go away. More resources have to be put into it for the people who are on the street, in particular for the police. We need community policing not only in one community but throughout the whole country. The provinces have to provide the police forces in their cities and municipalities with the tools they need. They have to ensure they have proper outreach programs. They have to ensure they have the proper resources in order to work with the community.

Only through working collectively and in co-operation with these groups and organizations can the problem be tackled. To turn around and dismiss what the hon. member has introduced before the House as being nothing but an initiative that is unwarranted is unfair. One would say that the government has taken a longstanding position that the root of the problem has to be dealt with by taking proper measures. We need proper prevention programs. We need to work with community policing. We need to work with the provinces.

The government has been doing that. Is it enough? It is not enough. What we have to do is continue working until there is not one single crime committed in any one part of the community in any one part of the country.

I have had the great honour and privilege of working with community groups and with the Ottawa police in my constituency. The experiment we have undertaken has been a great one. What is important, perhaps, is to share with other communities elsewhere across the country and across the provinces what we have done. However, we in the public can create an awareness and a need in our communities to the fact that our police forces need more tools with which to work.

Policing is a provincial responsibility, a municipal responsibility. However, the federal government can provide the experience and the expertise that exists in the different departments to work with the provincial governments to facilitate the co-operation between the different governments. In that way we will have a national standard when it comes not only to sharing information but also to sharing policing.

Once again, I want to congratulate my colleague on bringing before the House an initiative that will create awareness. I know he is not expecting this bill to become law. As many have indicated before, many parts of this proposal have already been undertaken by the department.

The fact that he wanted to bring awareness to it is fair. To that extent, I congratulate him and say that I appreciate the opportunity to bring to members' attention what is happening in my community.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


John Finlay Liberal Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, following my colleague's positive words, I want to support my colleague from Scarborough Centre because this bill, although not votable, puts a positive bent on what we are talking about.

My colleague from Ottawa Centre pointed out that a lot of the initiatives of the government in the justice area are aimed at prevention and have been successful.

I would say to my colleague from Surrey-White Rock-South Langley that this is a positive bill. Her remarks seem to suggest that there is only one way to deal with transgressors in society and that is to put them in prison and throw away the key. I do not think that is really what she intends, but that is the way her remarks appear to me. It is very important that we judge not so harshly lest we be judged. My colleague's bill puts the other side to the question.

In the course of this Parliament about a dozen changes have been made through a number of bills to the Criminal Code. Most of them have dealt with increasing the penalties, making them tougher, increasing mandatory punishment for crimes of long term offenders and serious offenders. For example, although the gun bill is preventive, it increased the mandatory sentence to four years for a crime involving a gun. I have no objection to that. In fact I am working on a private member's bill that would increase the penalties for the sexual abuse of children.

However, this bill adds the other dimension. To go on from the mission statement concerning the job of the parole board which was mentioned by my colleague from Berthier-Montcalm, the purpose of federal correctional systems is to contribute to the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by assisting the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into the community as law-abiding citizens through the provision of programs in penitentiaries and in the community.

Some of those programs have been and are now very forward looking. Not only do they deal with substance abuse and anger management but also with native spirituality, elder counselling, educational upgrading and other programs appropriate to these individuals' needs. Since a preponderant percentage of the people in our prisons come from the aboriginal population, a couple of those programs need a lot more work and support, native spirituality and elder counselling.

This bill does not make it mandatory for prisoners to take part in these programs but it does hold out a carrot. It improves the chance for parole. It suggests that if inmates do not show any obvious interest in improving themselves and in living better lives when they are paroled, they will be denied it for a further period of time.

The other purpose of the bill is not to spend more money but to spend it more wisely, as my colleague said in reference to the auditor general's report in which one can read that while some programs of moderate intensity cost $2,000 per offender, other similar programs cost $7,000 per offender. This suggests there

needs to be some hard work done and the discrepancies between those kinds of costs for the same benefit need to be addressed.

A similar situation exists with programs for vocational and educational training which are much less expensive per inmate than the institutional employment programs. This means that instead of having prisoners stamp out licence plates it would be better to do it in the private sector where it can be done more cheaply. It would be better to spend the money at $7,000 a year instead of $13,000 a year to provide the same inmates with further vocational training that could be useful on parole.

I support my friend's initiative which speaks to what should be the overall aim and our reason for being. We want all our citizens to be free. We want all our citizens to be useful. We want all our citizens to contribute to society, and we have to go the extra mile to try to ensure that.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business



Rex Crawford Liberal Kent, ON

Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise in the House today to speak on this very important piece of legislation, Bill C-296, even if it is with tongue in cheek.

Let me begin by congratulating my colleague, the hon. member for Scarborough Centre, for the innovative intestinal fortitude to table the bill. This bill could be seen as being somewhat controversial. However, the facts tell the truth. One out of three offenders released from correctional institutions goes on to commit another offence. This is simply unacceptable. What is the point of having prisons if the offenders just keep coming back? It is expensive, unnecessary and does not solve the problem of crime in this country. This bill offers a reasonable solution to the revolving doors of our prison systems.

Canada does boast one of the best correctional services in the world and it is indeed internationally recognized. My cousins in Michigan always point to our prison system in Canada and how their murders escape to Canada and we fight to keep them here so that they will not be hanged. The prison system effectively serves the purpose of deterring crime, punishing offenders as well as rehabilitating them.

According to section 3(b) of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the purpose of the federal correctional system is to contribute to the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by assisting the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into the community as law-abiding citizens through the provisions of programs in the penitentiaries and in the community. I worry about the victims when these prisoners are release, though.

More specifically, section 76 obliges the correctional service to provide a range of programs designed to address the needs of offenders and contribute to their successful integration into the community.

The mandate is already in place to offer these programs to offenders. This piece of legislation ensures that offenders take advantage of these programs before they go back into society. It is astounding that in the last decade we have released 70,000 federal offenders back into the community. Most of these were released with early parole. However, as I said earlier, one in three of these offenders is returning to commit more crimes. This begs the question what can we do.

Twenty-five years ago when an offender participated in rehabilitative programs they focused on job training or schooling that would help the offender readjust into the working world. Today these programs focus on social issues such as alcoholism or sexual violence, which attempts to solve the underlying problem behind many of the crimes committed.

Not only are these programs better suited to target the problems of the offenders and an attempt to solve them, they are cost effective as well. Years ago we would group all offenders into one category. Rehabilitative programs only work for a select group. Now we are more aware of the criminal mind and we can tailor our programs to work effectively.

John Gillis, the Atlantic regional special advisor to correctional services says: "Offender correctional treatment plans can also now be used to zero on the program needed by individual offenders, as well and when and where they are needed. This allows more effective and selective management of specific cases and precious resources". In times of fiscal restraint these programs can reduce the number of return offenders to our jail cells.

I hope in the future I will be able to finish my speech.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry, the hon. member will not be able to finish his speech as the matter is dropped from the Order Paper. It is not a votable item.

The hour provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the item is dropped from the Order Paper.

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.


Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC


That this House denounce the use of public funds squandered on propaganda activities sponsored by Heritage Canada, such as the Canada Information Office and

the One Million Flags Operation, at a time when cuts unprecedented in the history of Canada have been imposed on cultural institutions in Canada and Quebec.

Mr. Speaker, this is an official opposition day. As indicated in the motion, we once again condemn the federal government's policy, which basically consists in denying the existence of Quebec as a nation as well as the Quebec culture and using propaganda-we will clearly demonstrate today how extensive this propaganda is-in its relentless fight against the nationalist vitality of Quebecers and their desire to have their own country.

The purpose of this motion is to denounce the use of public funds squandered on propaganda activities sponsored by Heritage Canada, such as the Canada Information office and the One Million Flags operation, and other operations we will detail later, at a time when cuts unprecedented in the history of Canada have been imposed on all cultural institutions in Canada and Quebec.

Today, February 17, is Flag Day. This may be a proud day, a day that may mean something to Canadians in general, but I must add in the same breath that February 17, a day set aside for celebrating the Canadian flag, is a sad day for Quebec.

I would like to remind the House of the origins of the federal government's determination to use public funds to fight openly and specifically Quebec's legitimate and democratic aspiration to statehood. You will recall that, in one of his books, Pierre Elliott Trudeau stated that an effective way of defeating Quebec nationalists was to fight them with Canadian nationalism, regardless of the cost.

Today, we will demonstrate not only to this House but also to Quebecers and Canadians that, ever since this policy was established by Pierre Elliott Trudeau's Liberals, this government has been obsessed with spending as much energy, resources and money as necessary to fight Quebec.

May I remind you that this institution is publicly funded. Part of these public funds, the $30 billion collected in taxes every year in this country, comes from Quebec and is used to fight Quebec's democratic aspiration to statehood.

Today, February 17, Canadian Flag Day, we must recognize that the heritage minister's One Million Flags operation, which will cost taxpayers in Canada and Quebec in excess of $15 million, is the continuation of Trudeau's idea of spending endless money on fighting Quebec and its march toward sovereignty.

Today, February 17, is Flag Day in Canada, but it is a sad day in Quebec. Remember what happened a year ago in Hull, during the Flag Day celebration. The event was tarnished by an incident during which the Prime Minister grabbed a protester by the throat. It became uglier when the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage immediately reacted by saying the protester was obviously a separatist, when in fact everyone realized in the hours that followed that the man was simply protesting against poverty in this country, against poverty generated by this government.

But the Deputy Prime Minister, this champion of propaganda, immediately said during a scrum that it was a separatist who had been protesting and who was grabbed by the throat by the Prime Minister.

These were unfunded accusations by the Deputy Prime Minister, who was guided by her state of mind, which is to constantly try to incriminate Quebec sovereignists, when everyone in this country knows that Quebec's evolution and march toward sovereignty is taking place through a democratic process and with respect for the rules of democracy.

Today, February 17, is also a sad day for Quebec because of the patriation of the Constitution, in 1982, which took place in spite of a motion passed by the National Assembly, asking that the Constitution not be patriated unilaterally.

The Liberals of the time, led by Pierre Elliott Trudeau, ignored the Quebec institution called the National Assembly and unilaterally patriated the Constitution, thus confirming, much to the pleasure of the federal Liberals, that, for once in Canada's history, they had bumped Quebecers out of the picture, no longer recognizing them as a founding people. The Quebec culture no longer existed, a culture which represents the essence of the people of Quebec, through its creators, artists, writers and film producers. Indeed, with that decision, the federal Liberals denied the existence of the people of Quebec and their culture.

From now on, according to this government, the people of Quebec will simply be a big cultural community within an English Canada. The government wants to turn the people of Quebec into a big cultural community within an English Canada.

Quebec's culture is sad today because artistic and creative criteria have taken a back seat to the political criteria of this government. Today, this policy of propaganda, which is designed to stamp out Quebec's culture and its aspirations to sovereignty, is now solidly entrenched in all departments, including the Department of Foreign Affairs, which just last week approved a policy for international cultural distribution that requires artistic works to be demonstrably in favour of Canada's national unity.

The heritage minister has obviously been instructed to concentrate on the Canadian national identity, and to stamp out Quebec's national identity. This is the mission of Heritage Canada, and we are going to show today how public funds are being used for

propaganda purposes. All departments, the entire machinery of government is taking part in this propaganda exercise.

The result is a sad day for cultural industries and for creators and artists who must work for Canadian unity if they want their projects to reach a larger audience. If they want to reach an audience in Canada, in Quebec as well as abroad, they must first now meet the essential criterion set by this government, by the federal Liberals, the political criterion of promoting Canadian unity, to the detriment of their own creations, of their own works.

We have denounced this government for interfering in Quebec's areas of jurisdiction, particularly manpower training, but also culture and communications. There was the very recent example where this government, specifically the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, actually told journalists that they were not doing a good job in their coverage of the referendum.

This government actually told journalists that they were not promoting Canadian unity in their coverage of the referendum. This is a government that is becoming increasingly totalitarian, calling to mind the Trudeau era with its emphasis on controlling content, controlling those who work in the field of artistic creation, those who shape our identity. Those who work in the print and communications media are being criticized for not working to build Canadian identity.

In this connection, I will refer to a quote from La Presse of November 14, 1995: ``The accusations against the CBC arise out of the convictions of a number of the Liberal leading lights, federal Liberal leading lights, including the Prime Minister himself, if we are to believe this weekend's statements, that the public broadcaster did not fulfil its duty during the referendum campaign and has actively harmed the federalist cause''.

This government has reached the stage of wanting to control the media, of wanting to tell the media what it must say on Canadian unity. We are not going to follow suit, for all Quebecers have built their democracy on clear rules of the game, under which all parties have a right to express themselves regardless of their position or their option.

This government is accusing the CBC, which it claims was mandated to promote conviction and national unity. The Prime Minister went on to say: "Obviously this is not one of its concerns; I saw something else this evening when I was watching television". The Prime Minister is concerned that his option be reflected by "his" Radio-Canada and "his" CBC, for his government had just stated that it was the owner.

Following along with that argument, creators, artists and cultural industries are called upon to serve Canadian unity. They are called to serve the government's political ideology, convictions and political objectives, and not their own creations, which are essential to our society.

Mr. Chrétien stated that evening of November 14, in the context of the Commonwealth Summit being held in Auckland, New Zealand, that "the CBC, whose mandate it is to promote national unity, has not fulfilled its role".

When the Prime Minister of a country accuses the press of not supporting his political option, no more need be said. In this, we must acknowledge that the government is consistent with itself, and is continuing the legacy of Trudeau.

The government is pushing the political criteria that from now on are supposed to guide the whole government apparatus, all those useless investments. In future, its support for culture, its domestic and foreign policies will be based essentially on political criteria. We just saw this with the policy announced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Today, I found it very depressing to read an article by Stéphane Baillargeon in Le Devoir . This journalist wrote: ``Today, political and not artistic criteria are applied to the support given by the federal Department of Foreign Affairs to Canadian artists on tour abroad. Requests for grants will from now on be examined on the basis of the ability to promote respect for Canadian sovereignty and Canadian unity and to present Canada as a bilingual country consisting of various cultures''.

That is this government's new policy: to promote, both outside and inside the country, a Canadian cultural policy in an English-speaking country where there is room for other cultural communities. What this government is trying to do is make Quebec and its culture one of the many cultural communities in this English Canada.

The Minister of Human Resources Development suggests in his statement that only Canada can own and preserve French and Quebec culture. May I remind the minister that the situation of francophones across Canada is such that year after year, the Commissioner of Official Languages has found there is ongoing assimilation? Francophones in Canada are constantly being assimilated, and the government would have us believe, in the kind of statements made by the Minister of Human Resources Development, that Canada is saving the French fact and French culture in Quebec. Not so: Quebec creators and artists are the ones who are doing that in Quebec.

I would like to first show you how much this government has been spending on propaganda activities alone since 1994 and then tell you about the cuts it has made in our cultural industries.

During this period, the government spent as much as $98 million on programs to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Canadian flag. There was $1.1 million for advertising billboards. Remember those billboards, all 600 of them? Coincidentally, 300 were put up in Quebec and the remaining 300 across the rest of Canada. That is how this government targets its propaganda.

UN 50th anniversary celebrations: $1.8 million; Heritage Minutes: $2.2 million; tourism promotion: $15 million; the One Million Voices campaign, Fédération des communautés francophones: $500,000; National Capital Commission: $3 million; Canadian unity: $4 million; Canadian passports: $25,000; federal government services, television advertising: $5 million; Operation Unity: $11 million; Council for Canadian Unity: $8.4 million; Canada Information Office: $19.5 million; Operation One Million Flags : more than $15 million; Operation Unity: $5 million; Word given, Word kept: $600,000; Services included: $400,000; Take it to Heart : $550,000, that is more than half a million; and the latest addition Attractions Canada: $1.5 million, for a grand total of $98 million.

Nearly $100 million was spent on propaganda. Meanwhile, what is this government doing? It is literally putting the axe to cultural industries, including major industries and institutions in Canada and Quebec, namely the CBC, Telefilm Canada and the National Film Board.

This government, which is investing close to $100 million for propaganda purposes, made drastic cuts affecting the broadcasters themselves, those who promote our culture and help build our national identity, and also the artists and creators who reflect our own identity.

This government is talking out of both sides of its mouth. In its red book, it claims that these are important institutions, that a stable financial process must be established, and that the Conservatives were wrong to target this industry. However, once they took office, the Liberals changed their tune. What did they do? They systematically cut. The CBC lost 4,000 jobs and $14 million in an unprecedented series of cuts, while the National Film Board suffered a cut of $20 million.

In conclusion, the official opposition declares that February 17, 1997, Canada Flag Day, is a sad day for Quebecers. It is a sad day because Canada is represented by a Liberal government that speaks out of both sides of its mouth, first promising to support and to develop the very essence of our identity, namely our culture, and then, once in office, cutting and systematically eliminating all the tools for these cultural institutions, by reducing budgets.

During the next election, the Bloc Quebecois will fight this government in Quebec, this government that speaks out of both sides of its mouth. The election will allow all Bloc Quebecois members to come back here to protect Quebec's interests.

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is a very happy day for myself and for all Canadians in this country. As you know, the majority of Canadians, including those living in Quebec and those living outside the country, are aware that we live in the best country in the world. We are not the only ones to feel this way. The United Nations has determined, on several occasions, that Canada was the best country in the world in which to live, work and raise a family.

I am still prouder to be an elected member of this Parliament on the government side under the direction of a Prime Minister who comes from the very fine province of Quebec. This Prime Minister is working, not only with his colleagues on this side of the House, but also with all Canadians, to ensure that we have a flexible, dynamic federation which responds to the needs of the Canadian public today and in the future.

I do not see why my colleague is attacking the government and its approach to Canadian federation, attempting to drive a wedge between Canadians in Quebec and Canadians in other provinces and in the entire country, when in Europe, France, Italy, Spain, England and Germany have joined together in a confederation to establish a system of European unity in order to address the economic and political problems, not only of Europe, but of the world as a whole.

My colleague ought to keep in mind that today, the whole world over, peoples are joining with one another, approaching one another, and that there is now a unity which makes it possible for the problems of poverty, unemployment and uncertainty which exist in certain countries to be addressed.

As my colleague is well aware, the time has come for us to all join forces to work at addressing the needs and problems of the Canadian people.

My colleague is doing nothing toward progress in this area when he attempts to create division and when he attempts to divert attention, to get things changed, to deprive us of the time required to attack unemployment. He knows that the priority of Quebecers is a government which will address the problem of unemployment, a government which will foster economic development, one that is truly interested in their needs.

This government, up to and including the Prime Minister, has adopted resolutions here in this House of Commons to protect Quebec's needs, which include culture, the division of power, and manpower. We know that culture is a provincial matter. This includes Quebec. It has the right to decide what kind of educational system it wants to have.

The same thing goes for manpower, immigration, health, the environment and transportation. If we look at all the things a province needs to truly decide what is best for its people, the provinces, including Quebec, have that authority. They are capable of determining what is best.

Finally, I would like to ask a question of my colleague. Does he not agree with the fact that the French culture in Quebec, in North America and everywhere in the world, will be better protected within a confederation which encompasses all of Canada than outside that confederation?

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to thank the hon. member for his comments. I sense a deeply held conviction in what he said. I think the hon. member defends his point of view very well and is a skilful defender of the Liberal government's policy. However, we are miles apart.

I would like to remind him of a number of positions taken by his own government. First of all, there is the matter of the European model, the unity of international trade, free trade within a geographical area. May I remind the hon. member that Quebec has been a determined proponent of free trade? It supported free trade. And who was against free trade? The Prime Minister and the Liberal Party, the hon. member's party.

The hon. member need not hold up the European market and the common market as examples. In Quebec we know all about opening up markets. North-south trade with the United States is worth more than $34 billion, while trade with the other Canadian provinces is worth about the same. I may remind the hon. member that it was his party that opposed free trade.

Second, I may remind him that the European Union is a union of countries and that this is what Quebec wants, to be a country and enrich the continent with a francophone country.

In the Americas there are important, flourishing cultures: English Canadian, American, Spanish and Portuguese cultures. We simply want to add a French speaking country to the Americas, and thus add to these riches. Furthermore, we are offering an economic partnership to a partner and friend we have known for a long time, Canada.

This is an example of our open attitude to English Canada: we ask it to be a partner, once Quebecers have voted in favour of becoming a country and a nation, and this union will come in the form of agreements.

On the other hand, I would like to remind the member of his own ministerial responsibilities. When this government was elected, there were over one million unemployed in this country, which he calls the finest country in the world, in the G-7. When the Liberals were elected, there were one million unemployed. They said they were going to fight unemployment. There were also more than one million children living in poverty. The Liberals said this situation was untenable. They said they were going to fight poverty.

And, today, what do we see? We are heading toward elections. We have over one million unemployed. We now have a million and a half children living in poverty in this country. Through you, Mr. Speaker, I remind the member who has just said that Canada is the finest country in the world that his government has created the situation we are in today through its budget choices.

I would point out that, instead of investing in jobs and fighting poverty, this government has decided to siphon off $5 billion a year from the unemployment insurance fund. This money belongs to employees and employers and not the government. Year after year, the government dipped into people's pockets.

Tomorrow, the Minister of Finance will probably brag that he achieved his objectives in the fight against the deficit. He reached them by dipping into people's pockets rather than by giving money back to them, as they were entitled to expect, for job creation. He is responsible for the poverty related tragedies in Canadian and Quebec society. That is how things stand and you are going to have to swallow that, because we will be reminding you of it throughout the election campaign. We will not let you forget your track record and your fine promises in the red book, which you dropped as soon as you got elected.

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Vancouver Centre B.C.


Hedy Fry LiberalSecretary of State (Multiculturalism)(Status of Women)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to address the opposition motion concerning the many activities of this government, activities which my colleague across the way has just called propaganda. In his impassioned speech he talked about the money that should have been spent on child poverty and money that should be spent on so many things Canadians need but is being spent on what our hon. colleague considers to be propaganda.

Propaganda? The cost to the Quebec taxpayers for the referendum as quoted by Quebec's chief electoral officer was $63.5 million. Let us talk about where that money could have gone. Let us talk about propaganda. Let us talk about spending about $5 million to promote pre-referendum votes. I do not want to continue in this vein but it is absolutely clear to me that when we talk about propaganda, what we are talking about here is hypocrisy.

When this government took office in 1993 our focus was twofold. At the forefront was our resolve to move ahead on a jobs

and growth agenda. Inextricably connected to that goal was our commitment to strengthen Canadian identity and Canadian unity. Today we remain committed to those things. The difference between then and now is the remarkable progress we have made in meeting those commitments. The proof of that progress is found in Canada's strengthened economy, in all of Canada working together, in the number of jobs created and in the strong sense of Canadian identity.

In this important work we will continue a longstanding Canadian tradition, a tradition of creating links across this vast land, a tradition of creating links between the diverse and scattered communities of Canadians, people of all backgrounds who share one thing, that they are proud to call themselves Canadians.

Canada's unique characteristics have shaped our destiny and interests. For example, Canada's huge land mass, our relatively small and scattered population with its bilingual and multicultural composition and our close proximity to the United States are forces that have combined to make us who we are.

Over the years these forces have created in us a strong need to connect with one another across vast distances and challenging landscapes, across diverse cultures and different languages. Canadians have responded to that need and in responding, we have created the ability to become the world's great communicators.

Early on, this need to connect was expressed through physical transportation links such as the sea to sea to sea water routes of Canada's First Nations peoples and the voyageurs, or connecting the east and west coasts with the railway and much later, the cross-country link of the TransCanada Highway. More recently came the communications links such as Canada's sophisticated telephone, cable and broadcasting systems, and most recently as the first country in the world to connect itself through the information highway and the Internet.

For Canadians this need to connect with one another has its pinnacle in the connections we have among ourselves as a people; in our hearts, in our spirits as Canadians and our shared sense of common values that have made us a great nation. As a government we recognize ultimately that is what will keep Canada united, strong and growing: our shared sense of Canadian identity and our sense of pride in belonging to what is still for the fourth year running, the best country in the world in which to live.

We recognize that culture occupies a unique place in that sense of Canadian identity. Canadian culture underpins both our identity and our economy. We know that a healthy and growing Canadian cultural sector is one of the most powerful tools and ways we can promote unity and jobs. We recognize that Canadian cultural identity is at the core of our destiny and our strength as a country and as a united but diverse people.

Consider the economic impact alone of Canada's cultural sector. In 1993-94 the total cultural sector contributed directly and indirectly $42.8 billion to the Canadian economy. That amounts to 6.9 per cent of the gross domestic product, 1.2 million jobs and 9.3 per cent of the workforce, more than the construction industry, more than the transportation or agricultural sectors. This is why the Government of Canada has taken measures to strengthen both Canadian identity and Canadian culture. These initiatives include but are not limited to the Canadian Information Office and the one in a million flag challenge.

The fact that hon. members in this House chose to see such important Canada strengthening activities as propaganda activities says more about their weak sense of commitment to Canada than it does about this government's work. Nevertheless I will respond to the motion of the hon. member for Richmond-Wolfe by highlighting the accomplishments of this government in creating initiatives that bolster Canadian identity and strengthen Canadian unity while improving the economy and creating more jobs and opportunities for Canadians. They are inseparable.

Only two days ago on February 15 Canadians celebrated the 32nd anniversary of our flag. The red and white flag with the maple leaf is known throughout the world in every country as signifying the greatest country in the world. On Friday in my city of Vancouver we walked with the largest Canadian flag in the world. There were hundreds of people holding on to the edges of the flag as we walked down the street in the glorious Vancouver rain to show our pride in our country. This government is committed to enhancing pride in Canada and promoting a sense of belonging and shared values.

It is one symbol that wherever they go in the world Canadians wear on their sleeves, their hearts, their backpacks. In fact, I have it on good information that a young person travelling in Europe can pay as much as $200 on the black market to buy a small Canadian flag. It is being bought by people who are not Canadians but by young people who want to sew it on to their sleeves and their backpacks so people will believe that they are Canadians. That wonderful red and white flag with the maple leaf.

As a government we recognize our responsibility to enhance a sense of pride and belonging among Canadians through a heightened awareness of our symbols, our traditions, our achievements. That flag is recognized around the world and it is not just that other people want to wear it. The question is: Why do people want to wear our flag? They want to wear our flag because of the values it represents, values of freedom, democracy, respect, tolerance, compassion and understanding. It represents people who have learned to find peaceful resolution to conflict, the peacekeepers of the world.

That is why people want to wear our flag. The flag also also represents the pride and citizenship of Canada as well as the qualities that make us such a great country in which to live.

The one in a million flag challenge is helping Canadians to wave the flag higher and stronger not only around the world but within our country. It is important that we take our flag when we leave Canada and within Canada celebrate it. It has been a great success. There are now more flags flying across Canada than in the history of this country. That is testimony to the depth of the pride that Canadians feel for this country. It is moving to see Canadians everywhere hoisting the flag higher and waving it with pride. As Canadians there is no better time than now to open our hearts and express the pride and love we feel and share for this great country and the glorious red and white maple leaf.

Just as Canadians have shown an ever growing pride in our flag, Canadians across the country are also showing that they want to know more about our country, more about the people living in other parts of this vast land. I have noted that the need to connect is something which is almost second nature, historically a tradition among Canadians.

The mission of the Canada information office is to facilitate the process by creating links among Canadians from sea to sea to sea, from coast to coast, across mountains and prairies. As we cross the country we realize how much we know and do not know about each other. The things which make us great are the things which also make us different.

The CIO provides up to date accurate information about the development of the Canadian federation, the history of Canada, the role the government plays in meeting its nation building objectives. That is what we are doing, building a nation. To fulfil these goals the CIO lends a hand to all Canadians who want to know. We work to establish partnerships with and among Canadians.

It is difficult for me to understand how a member of the House of Commons could object to a mechanism that ensures the flow of accurate, factual information about Canada, information sharing that has as its goal the promotion of all of Canada, all of Canadian identity and a mutual understanding among the people of this country.

The government is deeply and enthusiastically proud of its initiative to promote Canada's richness, its diversity, its heritage and its multi-faceted stories. What better work could we do for and with Canadians than to inform them about their country, about the different regions, about the different peoples.

We are proud of the work the CIO is doing. I would like to discuss some additional government initiatives that we are working on to strengthen Canadian identity and unity while improving the economy and creating jobs for Canadians.

Over the past four years the government has worked hard to ensure that the Canadian broadcasting system remains the best in the world.

Broadcasting is a powerful tool for building national unity and economic strength. It is a powerful tool for strengthening our social fabric, and our individual and collective empowerment. It is a powerful tool for strenghthening our shared sense of Canadian identity and our international success.

Canada's broadcasters give Canadians a reflection of ourselves, a sounding board, a window on our neighbours, whether they are on the other side of town or whether they live on the other side of the country. Let me give a few of the most basic facts about the economic impact of Canadian broadcasting.

The Canadian film and television production industry generates $2.7 billion in production activity, which includes $800 million in production revenues. Today there are more than 700 large and small film and television production companies with profits of over $60 million, sustaining 72,000 Canadian jobs, and giving us a sense of who we are. This is a sector worth supporting and encouraging, from an economic perspective, from a Canadian identity perspective and from a job perspective. This is what we are doing.

In response to the report of the mandate review committee, which Mr. Pierre Juneau chaired, the Minister of Canadian Heritage announced last September the creation of the Canada television and cable production fund. The report has called for more distinct Canadian content in this time of expanding viewer choice.

The $200 million a year fund is fulfilling that need by ensuring a greater sense of Canadian presence on Canadian television screens.

The fund results from a partnership between the private sector cable production fund and Telefilm Canada's television production programs. The response to the fund has been positive, especially from Canada's private broadcasters. They know firsthand how hard it is fund the cost of producing high quality Canadian programs.

It costs around $1 million to produce one hour of Canadian drama.

In one hour it takes us that amount to produce one hour of Canadian broadcasting. We recognize that if we are going to prove that we are committed to our Canadian identity in our broadcasting we must put our money where our mouth is. The $200 million fund for broadcasting and production is doing exactly that.

It has been remarkably successful. To date, 140 projects have benefited from a total budget of $269 million, of which $69 million came from the Canada television and cable production fund. Those are amazing results from a fund that was launched only a few months ago.

We estimate that in the future the production fund's annual $200 million investment will lever over $700 million worth of Canadian production. That should mean as many as 10,000 new jobs to the broadcasting industry, a sector that already employs over 60,000 Canadians. It is growing at a rate of 14 per cent a year.

What about radio? I was weaned on Canadian radio even when I did not live in Canada. Today I listen to Canadian radio across this country. For almost half the life of this country, radio has been the principal source of self-discovery and self-expression for Canadians. It is our 24 hour electronic town hall to which 99 per cent of Canadians have access. The average Canadian spends 20 hours a week listening to Canadian radio and the vast majority of that time is spent listening to privately operated Canadian broadcasters. That also includes public radio, the CBC.

The CBC is a vibrant core. It keeps us in touch with one another wherever we live in this big country. This government is committed to ensuring that CBC radio's unique voice continues to be heard from coast to coast in both official languages.

That is why again last week the Minister of Canadian Heritage acted to support public radio in two ways. First, the minister announced $10 million in additional annual funding for both English and French language CBC radio services starting April 1, 1997.

The minister also announced that the government has guaranteed stable funding for the CBC for five years starting April 1, 1998. That is good news for radio and good news for Canadian culture.

What I am saying is that in fact sustaining Canada's identity, its heritage and its culture is not just one thing. It is not simply the million flags. It is not simply the CIO. It is not simply the Canadian film industry. It is also the Canadian television industry, the Canadian radio industry and the Canadian publishing industry. The market share of Canadian authored books has risen from 5 per cent to 25 per cent since 1970. Exports of Canadian books are up by 151 per cent over the last five years.

In Canada we have literature in which we can take pride. We have internationally recognized talented and creative writers. We have publishers who want to make sure that Canadian stories are told. We recognize the consistent record of excellence in Canada in both English and French language literature and book publishing. As a government, we recognize that the climate of extreme challenge and change that faces authors, publishers and distributors of books must be dealt with.

The changing economic environment, the need to reduce government deficits, technological change, changes in the marketplace, we know that all of these factors will threaten Canada's publishing sector. In the face of these challenges, both short and long term, we have taken measures to ensure that publishers will enjoy a more stable fiscal environment and can continue to contribute to the vitality of our cultural sector.

That, again, is why the Minister of Canadian Heritage recently injected $5 million into her department book publishing industry development program.

Another area that we need to talk about in this ongoing saga of publishing is the voice of the Canadian magazine industry, which has faced many obstacles. We are working hard to ensure that the Canadian case is defended vigorously in the WTO.

Last year has seen many changes. The Copyright Act, Bill C-32, marking the important step in moving forward and updating the rights of creators, will significantly improve the status of the cultural sector.

It evolved as a result of talks with Canadians from coast to coast and of listening to what they had to say. It has brought about fairness and integrity that Canadians embrace. It updates the Copyright Act, which is integral to the jobs and growth agenda that is our priority.

Canada's cultural sector is dynamic and rich with future promise. The role of the Government of Canada is to support, in every way we can and with every single strategy we can, with multiple strategies indeed, the culture of Canada.

The sound recording industry, the music industry, is a complex one but we have taken measures to bolster its growth. The minister made this decision in a response to the March 1996 recommendation of the task force on the future of the Canadian music industry that funding levels for her department sound recording program be boosted in the next fiscal year.

This government is committed to continuing to address all the recommendations in the recording sector of Canada's industry. The money we will put in is an investment in our cultural industries. Our museums are well known. They are very important parts that tell us who we are as Canadians.

We must support and strengthen the culture which underpins Canada's identity and which strengthens our economy. To support the culture of this country, we must support its soul.

As we approach the next millennium, we would be wise to use every means at our disposal to do so. We will use partnerships. With the cultural sector using the $30 billion that it pumps into Canada's economy, it will account for nearly-

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12:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry, the time of the hon. secretary of state has expired. Questions and comments.

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12:55 p.m.


Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my hon. colleague from Richmond-Wolfe for the motion he tabled this morning. Part of this motion reads as follows:

That the House denounce the use of public funds squandered on propaganda activities sponsored by Heritage Canada, such as the Canada Information Office and the One Million Flags Operation-

I will never forget my high school teachers, particularly this history teacher who used to say that freedom is not something one can beg for; one has to assert it. Another favourite line of his was this one: "Love cannot be bought, it must be won, and it takes hard work to keep it".

Could the hon. member for Vancouver Centre tell me if there is any other country in the world that spends as much to buy the love of its inhabitants, its people?

When I visit my relatives in the U.S. and we attend sporting events, when the time comes to stand up and sing the national anthem, it is clear that my nephews, Canadians who have been living in the U.S. for several years, love the country where they now live. They are proud of it, because in the U.S. everyone is treated with respect.

Unfortunately, it is not the same here. I will point out to my hon. colleague from Vancouver Centre that, after the union, in 1841, when Upper and Lower Canada were joined, not only were both communities amalgamated, but so were their respective debts. Quebec, which was not heavily in debt but whose infrastructure was minimal, joined with Upper Canada, Ontario, whose debt was 12 times higher, but whose infrastructure-roads, ports, railroads-was highly developed. The total amount of the debts was split equally between the two.

From day one, equality between the two founding nations was trampled on. The people of Quebec have almost constantly been neglected in this federation.

Take industrial development in the automotive industry for instance. The automobile assembly plant in Sainte-Thérèse is the only one in Quebec, while there are dozens of these plants in Ontario. Why is that? Mere coincidence, you say. Hardly. Pride in one's country cannot be bought with flags.

I was listening to Robert Gillet's radio show where, under the alias of Bob Sweater, he phoned the 1-800 number to order flags for free. He ordered enough flags for all the cottages along the St. Lawrence River. You fell for it and became the laughing stock of Quebecers with your million flags.

Indeed, the hon. member for Vancouver Centre can rest assured that Quebecers' love will not be bought with flags. Just as the love of a spouse cannot be bought, neither can love for one's country. As far as we, Quebecers, are concerned, our country is Quebec and two, three or even four million flags cannot change the fact that Quebec will always be our country.

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1 p.m.


Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to respond again to the propaganda comment that is being made.

Buying freedom. I agree with the hon. member that freedom cannot be bought. But one has to ask oneself about the 1995 Quebec referendum that cost Quebecers $63.5 million, or the pre-referendum public consultations that cost the Government of Quebec $5 million, or the premier's office committing $2 million to the Conseil de la souveraineté in Quebec to promote a yes vote, and the international affairs department signing a $1.2 million advertising campaign with Marketel, is it along those same lines? I wonder. Do these work together? Are they the same thing? Is this buying pride? Is this buying freedom?

It should be known with respect to the Canada Information Office which is being considered to be a propaganda tool that similar offices exist in countries such as Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, The Netherlands and Denmark.

The one in a million flag campaign has been the most popular campaign in the history of this country. It is interesting to say that a group of people flew flags from that campaign on their chalets as a joke. I am here to say that the maple leaf with its two red stripes on either side, that red and white flag is not considered by any country of the world to be a joke. It is considered to be a proud symbol of a country the world looks to for peace, for humanity, for justice and compassion.

Flying flags on our homes is not a joke. It is a symbol of pride in our country, regardless of what others would call it.

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1:05 p.m.


Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the debate today is rather interesting.

It is my considered opinion that the heritage minister is a walking, or I should say, a flying disaster. The minister envisions

herself as a unity minister but cannot even maintain unity in her own cabinet on issues which surround her portfolio.

For example the defence minister supports a Reform position that would maintain funding for CBC radio, Newsworld and RDI, but would privatize CBC television and CBC stereo. He is clearly offside with her on that issue.

The industry minister and his ministry are understandably very upset with the last minute disjointed amendments to Bill C-32, an act to amend the Copyright Act, which destroyed the process of developing a thoughtful, balanced copyright law. After destroying the committee process, she presented a dog's dinner of disjointed amendments that will create a problem of great magnitude rather than solve the conflict.

The international trade minister appears to be going bald from pulling out his hair when she stumbles forward with frivolous comments about cultural exports totalling $1.4 billion a year because she is jeopardizing Canada-U.S. trade relations. Serenity in Canada's exports of $1 billion a day is threatened by her intemperate, illogical rants about Canadian culture.

I have in hand a letter from the Minister of Transport dated November 21. It should be noted that I also have department statistics which show that as of November 18 there had been 2,237 flags issued to his constituency against the provincial average of 2,500. In the November 21 letter, three days after those numbers came out, he went to great lengths to say that flags appeared to be held up. What he was really getting at was he wanted to be able to make the following comment.

I quote from the Minister of Transport's letter to the Canada flag challenge program: "I am writing to you to inform you that any flags distributed to my constituents may be done so under the signature and mailing privilege of my colleague, the Canadian heritage minister, under whose jurisdiction the program falls, or any other way you see fit. I do not believe that it is appropriate for myself or my staff to be directly involved". Clearly, on the issue we are debating today, the transport minister was going out of his way to distance himself from the frivolousness that surrounds this entire issue which was developed by the heritage minister.

To make my case that she is a loose cannon and a walking disaster in her heritage portfolio, here is what she has actually done with this extremely expensive flag program at a cost of $15.5 million. Unfortunately, she has unwittingly proved that there are two solitudes in Canada and manufactured patriotism by flag waving does not close the gap.

I have figures indicating the number of flags ordered by riding throughout Canada. The question is: Why are these statistics divided into ridings by the Canadian heritage department? There must be something there. Let us take a look at it.

For those of us who may not be aware, flags ordered in Liberal members' ridings were sent out through their offices. That is right. The members' frank or mailing privileges were used. Of course, there is a tidy list of individuals who ordered flags which no doubt will prove to be quite useful in the upcoming election. The heritage minister in a debate with me in the House made the statement: "The flag is not Liberal. The flag is Canadian".

As proof that she is taking a hypocritical position, let us look at the details. An average of 2,000 flags per riding were ordered in every province across Canada, excluding Quebec. However, the following ridings had a considerably higher number of flags ordered. What is the similarity among these ridings? They are held by Liberal members. I would suggest that these members were encouraged to ensure these numbers in order that the minister could meet her one million flag mark.

For example, 8,000 flags were given to the riding of the minister of fisheries; 8,000 flags to Brian Tobin's former riding; 6,406 flags to the riding of the minister of francophonie; and 8,440 to Lanark-Carleton. In contrast, to show how these members pushed so hard on this program, the heritage minister's own riding only ordered 2,847.

The real telling numbers are in Quebec. With 25 per cent of the population, that province only accounted for 11 per cent of the flags ordered. The average number ordered in Quebec ridings was only 400. Again I note the following numbers of flags ordered by the ridings of Liberal members in Quebec against an average of only 400 flags per riding in that province: Hull-Aylmer, 2,944; Pierrefonds; 3,075; Gatineau-La Lièvre, 3,338; Gatineau, 3,000. This clearly establishes that Quebec Liberal members were aggressively spreading as many Canadian flags around as possible in a vain attempt to get the numbers up in Quebec.

What did all this cost and how much planning was there? At the outset the minister clearly and specifically stated that without donations the program would cost $6 million. Her press secretary, Duncan Dee, again confirmed the cost would be between $6 million and $7 million. Now the minister has applied her own mathematical skills to this program, which has cost the taxpayer $15.5 million. According to this minister, she has actually saved us $8 million because there was some wild and orchestrated speculation this past summer that the program would cost $23 million.

In summary, the program announced on February 14, 1996 according to the minister would generate patriotism, drive Canadian unity and would be funded by donations. Instead we have a

program which has had little consequence in the province of Quebec and has cost all Canadians $15.5 million. Remember, the minister originally said that it would cost $6 million but because it cost $8 million less than the wild speculation, she says she is under budget when she comes in at only $15.5 million. We can only hope the Prime Minister will not make her the Minister of Finance.

Included in that cost is another tidy little contract for the minister's former campaign manager, a senior partner at Thornley Fallis, Inc., who is not doing too badly. Since Thornley's benefactor was made Minister of Canadian Heritage, it would seem he has obtained five contracts from the Liberal government.

The minister claims to have reached her goal of one million flags. How was this attained? As I reflected on earlier, with the assistance of her Liberal colleagues. I have received calls and letters from many Canadians who never ordered the flags they received. In many cases they received two, three and even four flags. A Montreal Le Devoir reporter indicated in a story that his offices received seven unsolicited flags, again not ordered. The reporter promptly stuck them in the bottom drawer of his desk. So we ask, what effect are these flags at Le Devoir? An anonymous source in the minister's office contacted me and said that they were instructed to invent names and addresses to get the flags out so the minister could reach her goal.

I ask members of this House, did they see a great flurry of flags this past weekend, which would have demonstrated the tremendous success of this program? How successful? Students in Halifax who have seen the Liberal government gouge $4 billion from the CHST which includes funding for post-secondary education showed their contempt for this wasteful spending by ordering 750 free flags which flew from their windows in protest. This was the most significant flurry of flags that anybody could see this weekend.

All of this falls into the same category as the minister's ill thought Canadian Information Office which when announced was supposed to cost us only $20 million. Using the same mathematics, one can only assume we are going to get dinged for considerably more when the government's term is over. What are we getting for this? Not even a free flag.

I remind the House that the office is not accountable to Parliament. It is not accountable to access to information requests; they are blocked by cabinet order. Employees of that office are considered to be exempt staff which means the minister once again can stuff in as many Liberals as she can dig up and put their services to work for her own partisan purposes. The minister said the CIO would not duplicate any other government service already in place. However, what about Reference Canada within the industry department and all the other information offices run by each department? Further, a minister is responsible for intergovernmental affairs. Does his department not respond to requests for information?

The minister clearly stated that the office was not aimed at the separatists in Quebec. In her July 9 press release she said "Canadians made it clear that they are proud of their country and want to know more about each other-the office will bring measures to help Canadians to understand each other and build a stronger Canada".

She denied very vehemently that it was aimed at separatists at that time. However, only two months later the minister admitted to a reporter "the federal government has a duty to respond to the propaganda which the Quebec government spread during last year's referendum campaign". Which is the truth, her position on July 9 or her position two months later because the two things are mutually exclusive.

Only in Canada could we have members of Parliament who come to dismantle our great, magnificent nation. While I share the minister's concern about the seeds of disunity that the Bloc Quebecois and other separatists are spreading in the province of Quebec, she does not have clue one as to what it will take to focus Canadians on what it means to be Canadian.

Her office has set up a web site, for example, at the CIO office. Not surprisingly Quebecers are ignoring the information office web site in the same proportion as they ignore the minister's ill-thought out expensive flag program.

Let me now remind members of the enormous pride we, as Canadians, all Canadians, feel when we have such enormously successful winning athletes standing on the podium at the Olympic ceremonies, athletes such as Silken Lauman, Donovan Bailey, Karen Magnussen, Sylvie Frechette and Canada's special Olympians at Collingwood, Ontario. Does this not instil a greater pride in our country than a bunch of flags filtered through Liberal MPs offices at the expense of the Canadian taxpayers to the tune of $15.5 million?

On August 30, 1996 the minister insisted that the budget is sufficient to cover the costs and that she will not have to cut other programs to come up with the funds. She should tell that to the amateur athletes whose living funds are being eroded today by the heritage ministry. These are the athletes who grow to become Canada's athletes at home and abroad. Can patriotic Canadians afford to buy flags? You bet they can. Could athletes make use of the $15.5 million for incidentals like track shoes and food? I guess so.

Why did this minister blow the $15.5 million on this program when our athletes are starving to death? As part of the $414 million slashed and bled from the CBC, CBC radio, which is supported by the majority of Canadians, took a $30 million hit. With unbelievable massive cynicism last week this minister has now restored $10 million to CBC radio. The net loss to CBC radio, $20 million. The point is she is blowing away the same amount of money as she has

slashed from CBC radio and she is spending it on the Canadian Information Office.

As a consequence I move the following amendment to the Bloc motion.

I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the words "Heritage Canada" and substituting the following therefor:

"such as the $20 million spent on Canada Information Office and the $15.5 million spent on the One Million Flags Operation at a time when cuts unprecedented in the history of Canada have been imposed on cultural institutions such as CBC Radio and direct funding to amateur sports".

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1:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The motion is in order.

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1:20 p.m.


Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the point of my speech is very simple and straightforward. Patriotism cannot be manufactured.

Contrary to the ideas the Liberals have, that if it is not done by the government, somehow it is not worthwhile and it is not going to happen, the point of my speech is this. Canadian culture is what Canadians do. Canadian culture is what Canadians are. We are proud of our nation. We are proud not only of the magnificence of our nation and the bounty of its resources but we are particularly proud of its people.

We do not have to be told that we are different to someone else. We do not have to feel inferior to anyone else. Canadians are the greatest people in the world. They are industrious. They are forthright.

It bothers me so much when we run into a situation that unless somehow the government gets involved, the government mandates, the government controls, the government funds, the government over arches everything, somehow we cannot be Canadian.

The approach of the heritage minister to everything, whether it is the Canadian copyright law, or the Canadian content rules that she was musing about over the weekend with respect to the CRTC, or where we should be going as far as CBC or even the importation of books into Canada, I find absolutely appalling that this minister is so shortsighted that she cannot see the greatness of our people and the greatness of our nation right in front of her face.

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1:20 p.m.


Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with sadness that I rise today because, in this great and extraordinary country called Canada, we have to condemn the use of public funds made by this government, which has earmarked money for propaganda activities that essentially seek to discredit the people of Quebec.

The Information Canada office, the one million flag operation, all these schemes are ways of telling Quebecers: "You are wrong to feel like a people, to feel like a nation".

I want to thank the Reform Party member for specifying the amounts involved. We all know these figures, but we can never repeat them often enough.

Tomorrow, the Minister of Finance will deliver his budget speech. Chances are the budget will be soft on Canadians. Since this government came to office in 1993, budgets have been harsh. The government did not hesitate to make drastic cuts, which primarily affect the poor and the needy, and which force provincial governments to cut health and social programs.

Culture has not been spared either. Cultural institutions of which Canada can be proud, and to which Quebec can deservedly claim to have contributed, such as the CBC, Telefilm and the National Film Board, have been the target of incredible cuts.

These institutions played a major role in the expression of my culture. In Quebec, Radio-Canada has been a tool to make people aware of the fact that French is a rich and dynamic language, as well as an original way of stating our identity.

When Prime Minister Trudeau came to office, he had something against Radio-Canada. He never hid the fact that, if he had had his way, he would have closed that institution. Since 1993, one can feel that the current Liberal government would very much like to fulfil the former Prime Minister's wish, as evidenced by the cuts made to cultural programs by the heritage department.

There have been a few heritage ministers since 1993. The most recent, the Deputy Prime Minister, is probably the most flamboyant. Without the slightest hesitation, she is diverting funds set aside for culture with a capital C towards purely propaganda activities. These are activities promoting Canadian unity and culture, multiculturalism. In other words, culture in Canada has only one face, only one colour-it must be Canadian.

You will have no trouble understanding that I am opposed to this state of affairs, because it is my contention, and the very great majority of Quebecers would agree with me, that my culture is the culture of Quebec. It is not better than Canadian culture, but it is different, and we are staunch advocates of this right to be different. Our understanding of the decisions made by the heritage minister is that what she is setting out to do is to take away our right to express this difference.

There are many examples. There was even one recently. We learned that the Department of Foreign Affairs has new criteria for awarding grants to artists. The determining factors will no longer

be talent, creativity and originality, but ultimately the colour of the flag artists prefer. If you prefer the maple leaf, you will get your grant; if the fleur de lis means more to you, forget it.

This means that the current image of culture outside Canada will gradually fade, because unfortunately there are many Quebec artists who identify with the Quebec culture and are not afraid to say so, even if it may mean the loss of grants. It is all vaguely reminiscent of the good old days in the USSR when artistic merit was measured by an artist's promotion of the values of the unitary state, by his adulation of the government's achievements. This is not, I think, what culture is.

Culture is the expression of a people, of its identity, of its difference. For as long as French survives in Quebec, for as long as the people of Quebec see the French language as the best means of giving expression to their identity, I am sorry, but we will speak of a nation of Quebecers.

Since it was elected, this government has made major cuts in the cultural sector. It is very interesting to read what the red book has to say, although in few months it will be more than obsolete. In the red book the Liberal Party set out to promote culture and condemn the nasty Conservatives who dared to make savage cuts.

On page 88, it says, and I quote: "Spending cuts to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Canada Council, the National Film Board, Telefilm Canada and other institutions illustrate the Tories' failure to appreciate the importance of cultural development". And also: "A Liberal government will help Canadian books, films and sound recordings to increase their share of the domestic market. We will also take measures to enable Canadian producers of cultural products to export their work to international markets. Finally, a Liberal government will be committed to stable multiyear financing for national cultural institutions such as the Canada Council and the CBC". It took a long time to achieve stable multiyear financing. And before we get there, there will be more cutbacks amounting to tens of millions of dollars.

Since 1993, the Liberals slashed the CBC's budget by a third, for a total of $414 million in cuts, resulting in 4,000 lay-offs, including 1,300 at the French network. Similarly, Telefilm Canada suffered funding cuts totalling $46 million; at the Canada Council, it was $12 million; at the NAC, the National Arts Centre, $5 million, and at the National Film Board, $27 million. Once you start cutting, you can go on. It is easy. You get used to it.

Last week we heard the Minister of Canadian Heritage, who is still Deputy Prime Minister of this country, promise stable financing for the CBC. After more than three years of cuts, promising stable financing means that the CBC will be left with a downsized, inadequate budget, especially in the French television and radio sector, which are underfinanced compared with the English network.

However, francophones are wizards. They do wonders with reduced budgets. In other words, this government rewards the competence of artists and producers by cutting funding. All this is probably planned in advance.

But just the same, some crazy things have happened. They cut funding, and then they established an office called the CIO, or BIC in French. At home, Bic is a wonderful little village in Quebec on the shores of the St. Lawrence, with magnificent views. It is really beautiful countryside. So, obviously, calling the centre the BIC, Bureau d'information du Canada, is a bit disturbing, but we will let it go.

Extraordinary things came out of all this. There was, for example, the One Million Flags Operation. My impression, however, when I looked at my Christmas cards this year, was that things were not going as well as they might, because there were Christmas cards where an entire family was dressed in a Canadian flag. Now that is quite extraordinary.

It seems there were flags alright, when they were trying to colour Quebec red and white. It seems that only 10 per cent of the flags ended up in Quebec, compared to 40 per cent in Ontario. So 50 per cent of the operation took place in central Canada, except that I must say I saw few flags displayed in Quebec. I did not see any in the towns and villages. Perhaps I am colour blind.

They are doing other things too. They are setting up sweepstakes. Lotteries are in fashion. They are preparing Attractions Canada questionnaires. It seems to me that if you are proud of your country, you do not need this sort of incentive. Being proud of one's country, loving one's country, comes naturally.

When a government feels obliged to invest huge amounts to force people to love their country, we know it is not going to work. You cannot force people to love, and Quebecers cannot be forced to appear to love, because loving involves being treated with respect. And we can see from all that goes on with Heritage Canada that respect is not the watchword in this government's treatment of Quebec.

I had the opportunity to see the figures for federal spending since December 1994, that is, a few months prior to the referendum campaign. The figure is nearly $100 million, which is a lot of money. I am no economist, but I recall our asking for Tokamak, a high tech industry, the sum of $8 million, which was out of the question. Yet, $100 million was allocated to propaganda before the referendum and immediately after.

More than $1 million was spent on the Canadian flag 30th anniversary celebrations. I wonder how much France spent to mark the anniversary of its flag. It may be worth asking our researchers to look into that.

An amount of $1,843,000 was spent for the UN's 50th anniversary; for the "Heritage Minutes"-I do not go to the movies often, but I remember seeing one or two on the big screen, but putting anything on the big screen is expensive: $2,220,000.

Tourism promotion for Canadians: $15 million. That is incredible. I have the figures right here; I can read them, even without my glasses. The "One Million Voices" campaign-they must have sung quite loud because it cost $500,000. And that went in fact to the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne.

Canadian identity alone, in terms of subsidies not identified within Heritage Canada, cost $3 million. There is the Canadian passport promotion. Is it not just incredible to be promoting the Canadian passports? Passports are used less and less. In Europe today, people can travel freely, but here the passport is being promoted. It is a well known fact that Canadians travel extensively around the world; therefore a small amount of $25,000 was allocated to promoting the Canadian passport. You realize that there are single parent families with two and three children that do not earn that much in a whole year.

On federal government services, $5 million was spent. For Operation Unity: $11 million. And the list goes on, with $23 million here and $600,000 there. This all adds up to nearly $100 million.

I believe the government should think again. Tomorrow is budget day. We cannot really tell what the finance minister's budget will contain, but one thing is for sure: in this country, culture will continue to have a strongly partisan connotation to it. I must say that it is a shame that propaganda takes precedence over respect.

I hope that, by the year 2000, ours friends across the way will have learned to view Quebec in an honest, respectful and realistic way.

I think there is nothing wrong with being naive; it allows us to keep hoping. I tell you that my hope is alive. We should never lose hope.

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2:40 p.m.


Patrick Gagnon Liberal Bonaventure—Îles-De-La-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the hon. member's speech.

The member sort of criticized, again, Canada and its proud and well-known institutions, which have worked hard to promote and to preserve the French fact, in Quebec and across the country.

I find it strange that, when numbers are mentioned, particularly by Bloc Quebecois members, there is a tendency to exaggerate. I would like the hon. member to explain something. As she knows, Quebec accounts for close to 25 per cent of the country's population, 24.9 per cent to be precise, and pays 22 per cent of federal taxes. However, in the case of certain federal institutions, such as the National Film Board, we note that 73.9 per cent of the NFB's budget is spent in Quebec.

In the case of Telefilm Canada, which was used to edit a number of well-known Quebec films, close to 62.9 per cent of the budget was spent in Quebec, including 43 per cent on French language films. Again, Quebec currently accounts for 25 per cent of Canada's population.

As for the CBC, I agree with the hon. member that cuts were made. However, cuts are not unique to Canada. Indeed, major cuts were made to Radio-Québec and to community radio stations in various regions of the province. We could also mention the various cuts made in other countries. It is a fact that the media world is undergoing drastic changes as we are about to begin a new century.

I am looking at the figures for the CBC, and I agree that cuts were made. The corporation had a budget of $918 million, of which close to 40 per cent, or $367,280,000, was allocated to its French network, Radio-Canada. So, based on the proportion of the overall population living in Quebec, the province is actually getting close to $140 million more than it should.

I find it strange and I wonder if, in this post-referendum context for us, which is probably a pre-referendum context for the Bloc Quebecois, the hon. member could tell us where Quebec would find that money, should it achieve sovereignty.

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2:40 p.m.


Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member asks how will we come up with this money once Quebec is independent.

You know, it has nothing to do with chance, if I may rely on the figures given by my colleague, the member for Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, when he says that the NFB spent 73 per cent of its budget in Quebec, it is very simple. It is because the creativity is in Quebec, that is all.

What is the mainstay of Canadian culture right now? The mainstay of Canadian culture is the dynamism of the culture of Quebec.

Let no one think that money has been allocated to the NFB or Telefilm Canada out of the goodness of anyone's heart. That is not the case. It is because of our ability to turn to exceptional account the money given to our creators.

It is my view that, the day Quebecers take charge of their own affairs, become their own masters, our culture will have all the means to find its full expression, without being subject to the dictates of people who claim to have money, because they have forgotten that the money they have actually comes from the voters, from the taxpayers.

My colleague was saying that we represented almost 25 per cent, or a bit less, of the population, but as far as I know, we pay the same taxes as the rest of Canada. So he was worried about how we would manage. I can reassure him immediately. I think that our future will be on a level with our ability, our determination and our respect for ourselves and for our neighbours in Canada.

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1:45 p.m.


Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Haldimand-Norfolk.

I am pleased to rise in the House to address the opposition motion today and in particular I want to remind the House of the accomplishments of this government in supporting Canada's publishing industry and its progress in the field of copyright reform.

Our government and our Prime Minister are deeply committed to supporting Canadian culture and promoting Canadian content. In partnership with leaders in the arts and culture in Canada, the Minister of Canadian Heritage is developing a cohesive vision for the real and sustainable support to culture in this country. Today I would like to highlight some of our accomplishments to date.

This government wants to ensure the continued development of the Canadian publishing industry. By directly assisting this sector and by implementing structural policy measures we are making sure that Canadian publishing remains an important agent of cultural expression.

The Canadian poet Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau once said that writers burst the boundaries of the globe. Our books and magazines connect us, first to deeper parts of ourselves, then to each other and finally to our sense of place. In turn, they reflect Canada back to the world.

Canadians want to read Canadian books and they are doing so. Recent market research shows that Canadians are reading more than ever and that most of them are reading Canadian writers. Eighty per cent of these works are published by Canadian owned firms.

The successes read like a hit parade of Canadian writers. Many are household names, remarkable talents, such as Robertson Davies, Michel Tremblay, W.P. Kinsella, Anne Hébert, Marie-Claire Blais, Emile Nelligan, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Gabriel Roy and Robinson Mistry, to name only a few.

Our writers are helping to forge a place for Canadian literature as a world class art form. It is being translated into dozens of languages, studied in some 40 countries and recognized internationally by being awarded some of the highest honours and awards. For example, Antoine Maillet has been the recipient of the most prestigious French language literary award, the prix Goncourt. Michael Ondaatje won the Booker prize, Great Britain's most prestigious literary award.

Canadian magazines are another essential form of our cultural expression from news and opinion magazines like L'Actualité and Maclean's to health magazines like Santé and children's magazines like Chickadee . Our magazine industry is essential to our sense of who we are as Canadians.

Canada has over 1,400 magazines. They provide employment for nearly 6,000 Canadians and bear witness to the fact that our publishers, editors, art directors and writers are among the finest in the world. Through the book publishing development program, the Government of Canada is providing $15.8 million in direct financial assistance to over 180 Canadian publishers in 1996-97. As well, over $6 million was provided to support the marketing of books in Canada and to promote the export of Canadian books abroad.

The Government of Canada helps the Canadian publishing sector and Canadian authored books to achieve their considerable success. The Canadian market share of Canadian authored books has risen from 5 per cent in 1970 to 25 per cent today. In the last five years export sales of Canadian books have tripled.

Our commitment is stronger than ever. During the summer of 1996, the government worked with book publishers to study options to improve the financial health of Canadian owned publishing firms. The result of this study is fueling a three point publishing strategy, including short term funding assistance to stabilize the industry, a feasibility study for creating a publishers loan guarantee program and other long term measures to stabilize the financing environment for publishers.

Recently the Minister of Canadian Heritage provided our publishers with an additional $5 million to bolster direct financial assistance to the sector for 1996-97. The periodical industry has received both direct assistance and support through structural policy measures.

Canadians are reading more Canadian magazines than ever before. In 1961 about 25 per cent of magazines circulating in this country were Canadian. By 1992 that had increased to almost 68 per cent. We want to keep this kind of growth in Canada's vital cultural industries. The book and the periodical publishing sector in Canada plays a pivotal role in telling us about ourselves, about Canadian places, events and issues. Our enormous successes in this sector at home and abroad are dependent upon industries with strong foundations in the domestic market. The government is working with members of the publishing community to strengthen it. That is partnership in action, working for Canadian culture and identity.

An area relating to the publishing sector and directly affecting it is that of copyright. Among the initiatives of the government is its work in copyright reform. For several years Canadians have awaited amendments to the Copyright Act, important changes that would update the legislation and help the cultural sector to meet the challenges of the information age.

Bill C-32, an act to amend the Copyright Act, will soon receive third reading in the House. In the early 1980s the Liberal government of the day produced a comprehensive document, the Applebaum-Hebert report, which called for the reform of copyright legislation. In the years that followed, the Conservative government failed to act to update copyright legislation. We are remedying that situation by making sure that Bill C-32 passes into law.

As a member of the heritage committee I work closely with Canadian authors and publishers to ensure that Bill C-32 addresses the concerns of both groups. The bill as amended by the heritage committee effectively balances the interests of the publishers, authors and consumers of copyright material. Bill C-32 will help ensure that Canadian authors will be compensated for the unauthorized use of their works.

An amendment I proposed will ensure that users will have access to unpublished documents in archives while providing protection for authors who do not wish to have their papers copied. The bill will also ensure that Canadian publishers with exclusive distribution agreements will be protected from parallel importation.

I receive many calls from Hamilton book sellers expressing concern about the limits on parallel importation. I was able to assure them that amendments were made to the copyright bill that will ensure that book sellers have timely access to special orders.

This government has listened to Canadians. We have taken the measures to move ahead on such long sought after legislation as Bill C-32. We recognize that if there is any matter that Canadians hold dear, it is Canadian culture. By bringing Bill C-32 before the House we have made a significant contribution to the vitality of Canada's cultural sector. By protecting the legitimate right of Canada's creators who are the source of our cultural vitality, we are ensuring the continued vitality of Canada's cultural sector.

In 1993 the Liberal government pledged its commitment to support Canadian culture through concrete support and by the establishment of relevant policies and legislation. We are proud of our accomplishments and we stand by our commitment to complete the work we have begun.

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1:55 p.m.


Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member could help me understand something about just one of the many aspects of Bill C-32. I am thinking of the blank tape levy.

With the blank tape levy where people are going to be charged so many cents, which we talked about in committee, 35 or 40 cents a tape, it is going to raise $12 million which supposedly will be distributed to artists. Could the member help me understand how this encourages Canadian artists, considering that the vast majority of the music being copied is an American product. The money is going to be distributed in small part to the Canadian artists.

This is actually simply encouraging two things, number one a trade battle with the U.S. where it says "if you are collecting $12 million and the product that you are copying is an American product, we demand to have our fair share of that". Therefore we once again have the Liberals instigating a trade battle with the U.S. much like with Sports Illustrated .

Second, could she explain to this House, indeed to Canadians, how this will actually encourage more work by or for Canadian artists, if it is not what I have always called it, simply a tax on tapes.

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1:55 p.m.


Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is hard to give a brief answer to that question, but maybe I could come back and finish it after question period. Would that be all right?

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1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleague, if you would rather wait and give a fuller answer after question period, that would be fine with me. With that, the hon. member for Kootenay East will get an answer to his question and we will be able to begin Statements by Members.

Correctional Service CanadaStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Lee Morrison Reform Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have received several complaints about apparent overstaffing at corrections Canada's Okimaw Ochi Healing Lodge near Maple Creek, Saskatchewan.

For example, a certified day care worker was recently hired for the one toddler at the institution. I am told that there will soon be two toddlers. The lodge has a good working arrangement for foster care on the nearby Nikaneet Reserve, so that solitary child is at the lodge only half time.

There are two nurses on staff for the 20 inmates, whereas neighbouring taxpaying farmers and ranchers who have never

committed a crime still have to travel 30 or 40 kilometres to obtain basic medical services. Is this fair?

This small institution has four clerical employees. I do not doubt that they are busy, but why is there so much paper to shuffle?

My diagnosis is that corrections Canada suffers from chronic bureaucratic bloat.