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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.

Topics

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3:55 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is simple. The Bloc Quebecois is interested in only one thing, making Quebec a sovereign country. It is clear; we know that. But nothing is ever said about the propaganda campaign in Quebec.

Yes, $20 million was spent on flags, and I am proud of it. Of course, I would have liked that money to be spent elsewhere. However, there is a $80 million fund, and there is also the fact that an amount of $20 billion was withdrawn from the Caisse de dépôt to bolster the Canadian dollar in case of sovereignty.

I am a Quebecer. The opposition is in no position to tell me who I am and whom I represent. However, as a Canadian and Quebec taxpayer, I have a right to know where that money is going in Quebec City. Let them phone their finance minister and let them give us an answer in the House.

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3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is quite difficult to answer on behalf of the Government of Quebec. We are not in Quebec here, we are in Canada. So the member for Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine will lose his riding; he should think of being a candidate in Quebec. Indeed, Mr. Johnson would be quite happy to count on a new recruit because there is not much of a future for him in Canada and Bonaventure-Gaspé-Les Îles-Pabok with the kind of things he is saying here.

It is absolutely absurd not to recognize that the government has spent $100 million on propaganda. If only it were done for interesting reasons, such as information. The CIO is supposed to be an information bureau. The minister told me: "Go on the Internet, you will see what is there". There is nothing interesting on the Internet, nothing that will inform us on Canada.

If money is being spent to inform people, it should be information, interesting information on the Internet instead of propaganda. It is a waste of time to try to force people to love a country that has not earned their love. That is the problem. The country must be lovable. How can you love someone who is not lovable? The country must be lovable, it must really put its values into practice. It must be tolerant, it must accept things: "If you can't beat them, join them".

So, reach out to us if you want to keep us with you. Otherwise, we will go, and faster than you think because we are fed up with the kind of speeches we have just heard.

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3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to ask a question and say a little about the comment that this is not a lovable country. Surely the member did not wish to

convey the message that this country, Canada, and Canadians are not lovable. I request a clarification, please.

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3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, if you are going to love a country, you have to feel loved by it, not rejected. When you do not feel loved, you cannot find the situation or the people lovable. You feel rejected.

I made an attempt in this House that I thought would be a step toward unity between our two nations. But the Louis Riel bill was defeated in this House, something that should never have happened if there had been the slightest consideration for who Louis Riel was. The vote was against the Bloc Quebecois.

In this country, people are always voting against something; people vote against someone. People never really show their acceptance.

If that had happened, I would have said this country was lovable, but now I know that you are rejecting us with all your being.

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3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Mercier Bloc Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. I simply want to say that for people of my generation, from my country-I was born in Europe-the money spent on flags brings to mind some unpleasant memories and unpleasant names like that of Goebbels in Germany.

When a country defends itself with flags, and I saw them all over the place, I saw thousands of them. I do not want to equate the maple leaf with the swastika-

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4 p.m.

Liberal

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

The maple leaf liberated you.

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4 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Mercier Bloc Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

I want to compare, if hon. members would show me the courtesy of letting me speak, I want to compare two policies. When you want to promote a people with thousands of flags-

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4 p.m.

Liberal

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

In Holland and Belgium, the first to get there was the Canadian army.

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4 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Mercier Bloc Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

What does that have to do with it? Obviously we are very grateful to Canadians. Let us use our common sense and see the problems for what they are. I am comparing two policies which use the same means, which is to fly flags everywhere, and this reminds me of Goebbels. Although the flags are not comparable, the policies are.

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4 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think we should get hold of ourselves. We must not confuse issues. This whole flag issue has a very negative impact on our country. I hope the government will think about it. We are not in a country where propaganda is acceptable.

We must appreciate the people, be open-minded and accept them. The Deputy Prime Minister's papers must not be the only place where we find that attitude. It must be present in everyday life and for everybody.

We should stop spending money on propaganda. This measure is perceived as propaganda, it is regarded as propaganda and we all know what the results of propaganda are.

We must pull away from this situation we are in. The government must understand that the $100 million must be spent elsewhere than on propaganda.

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4 p.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Saskatoon-Dundurn.

I am very pleased to take part in this debate and I hope it will enrich the reflection brought about in the House by the motion presented by the member for Richmond-Wolfe. I am happy to see that my opposition friend is concerned about the future of Canadian culture and to have this opportunity to present our own vision on the issue.

To start with, if I may, I would like to remind everybody that when we talk about Canada, when we promote Canada, we are promoting Quebec as well, recognizing it as a distinct society with its unique language, culture and institutions.

When we are promoting ourselves, we get richer. I would like us to see the debate from this angle, at least for a few minutes. I was shocked when I was told that Canada was not a friendly country. This is not true. Of course, Canadians are not all the same. Their experience is different, but the vast majority of them love and respect their fellow citizens in Quebec. I believe the reverse to be true also.

I have learned over the year that what we do not know well, we do not understand well, and when we do not know well and do not understand well, we cannot appreciate of course. It is very difficult to love.

I often hear some of my English speaking colleagues who are less, at times, than totally generous toward their Quebec colleagues. I would maintain that is a minority.

Very often when that happens, they know very little about Quebec. They know very little about its language, its culture, its institutions, the unique place. The reverse is also true. When someone knows very little about the other, when they do not understand, how can they appreciate, how can they care?

Unfortunately that is one of the problems that exist at times in Canada, not just in Quebec but in every single province and territory.

The world has never been so easily accessible. New communications technologies have made it possible to develop a greater awareness of the world around us and to have direct access to an ever increasing volume of information and knowledge. Through the Canada information office, the government wants to provide Canadians across the country with accurate, factual and pertinent information about our country, its institutions, its regions and its people. It wants to give a Canadian slant to the mass of data and information we receive.

But this slant is not only Canadian, it is also a Quebec slant, something that affects, for example, my community in my Franco-Manitoban riding. We just had the Festival du voyageur, we even had artists from Quebec who came to our region and were warmly welcomed. We have artists, writers, all kinds of people who go to Quebec and are appreciated there. That is today's world. There is this huge sharing, not only in Canada, but also throughout the world.

Culture is first and foremost an outlook on the world. In this sense, it is important to have instruments such as the Canada information office and Canadian symbols to convey this typically Canadian outlook not only to Canadians but also to people in other countries.

When we talk about the flag, some may say this is propaganda, but we can also appreciate that it is a powerful symbol that affects all of us. This is what some people fail to understand sometimes.

With the advent of the information highway, content communication is becoming vital for cultural expression. When I talk about content on the information highway, of course I am referring to Canadian content. It expresses and reflects the values, the ideals and the knowledge shared by all Canadians.

In this context, because of the importance of communicating our cultural heritage for the strengthening of both the national identity and the economy, the Canadian government had to take major steps recently.

The government made many efforts to ensure access to cultural content on the digital information highway. It has become an international leader in this area.

At the G-7 conference on the information based society and development held in South Africa, the government stressed how very important it is to have a diversity of views expressed and languages used on the information highway. In the area of heritage for instance, the government participates in pilot projects put forward by the G-7 to promote the most democratic access possible to world culture while respecting individual national identities. It takes part for example in a project called multimedia access to world cultural heritage and, through the National Library of Canada, in the Bibliotheca universalis project.

At home, the Canadian government has worked on setting up a task force on digitizing collections of cultural and scientific value. National institutions involved in heritage take an active part in integrating and developing new technologies. They are digitizing their collections and making them accessible to the public.

The government will explore many avenues to develop new ways of helping produce digitized Canadian content of heritage value. It also plans to promote conservation, distribution and access to this digitized content.

At the same time, the Canadian Heritage Information Network supports its institutions' efforts to make their collections available to a broader public. It provides, among other things, an Internet directory of Canadian museums and heritage sites. To date, the network has generated a total of 22 reference databases in both official languages and a few other information products available on Internet. More than 1.5 million netsurfers have visited its site.

This is an exceptional showcase for Canada and its culture, history and heritage. In addition, the Government of Canada has worked together with CultureNet and the Canadian Conference of the Arts to develop the cultural electronic network of Canada. This network will be a window on Canadian culture for people in Canada and throughout the world.

The government is committed to promoting the establishment of a Canadian information highway that would provide goods and services in both official languages. As it indicated at the round table conference on culture, a few days ago, the government will take every necessary step to promote the creation of Canadian content.

The federal government also adopted, and is currently reviewing, a number of measures designed to increase access to traditional markets, to promote greater dissemination of Canadian culture abroad, and to penetrate specialized markets for the arts, heritage and cultural industries. Among the initiatives taken, the government organized, in December, a national round table on the marketing of Canadian heritage goods and services abroad.

Given their mandate, museums as well as cultural and heritage institutions play a prominent role in the preservation, the promotion and the sharing of our heritage. Some 2,000 museums and institutions dedicated to preserving our heritage are important cultural tools, not only because of their number, but also because of their popularity with Canadians and foreign visitors. It is estimated that 56 per cent of those who visit our institutions are Canadians. It is also estimated that Canada's museums welcomed over 55 million visitors.

Through its museums assistance program, the Government of Canada provides direct support to these institutions, so as to increase access to collections, to manage these collections efficiently, and to ensure their preservation, for the benefit of current and future generations.

This summer, the government will provide more than 800 young Canadian students with an opportunity to work in institutions dedicated to our heritage, such as libraries and museums. This will be done through the Young Canada Works program, which will include Quebec students. This summer job initiative will not only help young people earn money, but also help them gain better knowledge of their country, their province, their territory, their history and their culture.

We must make sure that our tools to promote culture, and our heritage institutions, are at the service of Canadians, and we must also make sure they offer a typically Canadian content. Our cultural productions and our own perspective on events should also be shown on tomorrow's networks.

The Government of Canada wants to give Canadians as many opportunities as possible to undertake initiatives in order to express their own identity. As we move into the 21st century, we need to be able to express Canada's uniqueness.

Before concluding, I want to say a few words about my own province and francophones outside Quebec. There are around a million of them and people sometimes try to forget about them. In my riding, close to 20 per cent of the people speak French. A high percentage of English speaking citizens have also learned to speak French and taken up the French culture in our province.

There is also a solid core of francophones in other provinces. Need I remind the House that a third of the New-Brunswick population speaks French? For the million people outside Quebec who still speak French, their language and their culture are very dear to them. When they travel to the province of Quebec, they feel very at ease. When Quebecers come to our region, they feel comfortable.

When I travel to France, I feel at ease. I have friends who went over there and they felt the same way. Yesterday, I had friends over from France and we went to the Festival du voyageur , and they really liked it. They had spent some time in Quebec City and had felt also very welcome over there. They felt very at ease in our area too. Do not forget that strong ties bind us together.

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4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is understandable that the Canadian government was scared by the results of the referendum and that it wants to try, with great difficulty, considering the limited budgets available, a sense of belonging in all Canadian provinces including, for the purpose in hand, in the "province" of Quebec, where most Quebecers are to be found.

But one should never forget, first, that for each dollar invested in such propaganda, 25 cents comes from Quebec. Thus, there should be some form of ethics, some respect, a gentleness and a sense of democracy in the spending of these funds, since they come in a large part from Quebecers, including sovereignists.

Also, when one wants to create a sense of belonging, one should be aware, as we have seen earlier, that the line is very fine between the will to create that feeling and mere propaganda. Approximately one year ago, Chantal Hébert wrote something in La Presse and I would like to know how the hon. member for St. Boniface responds to that. Mrs. Hébert who, as far as we know, is not a sovereignist does good work as a daily columnist for La Presse .

She wrote: "Since 1995, all departments have been instructed to celebrate the Canadian flag. A survey was made of their efforts. For example, on February 15, 1995, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation presented its employees with a cake in the form of the Canadian flag, and its cafeteria provided a "Canadian" menu. Even the Canadian spies were in on it. That same week, all the employees of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service found the story of the Canadian flag in their electronic mail. All public service managers were urged to circulate a questionnaire on Canada to their staff through the electronic mail. Consideration was given to the possibility of asking public servants' children to participate in drawing contests on their love of Canada. Public servants were encouraged to wear red and white on the anniversary of the flag".

One can promote Canadian patriotism but I think that the very fine line between patriotism and propaganda was just crossed, and I would like to hear what my colleague for St. Boniface has to say about this.

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4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comment and his question. I wonder why they are so afraid of promoting Canada. Why that fear? When we promote Canada, we promote Quebec, Manitoba and all the other provinces and territories.

They do not understand and they do not want to understand. As for those spies, I do not know exactly what they did. I know Mrs. Hébert and she is a good writer. I respect her very much. But be serious. Every day I listen to a number of Bloc members. I accept them and I even like some of them a lot. They promote Quebec in many ways even though they have a tendency to exaggerate. They can go very far.

But can we call it propaganda? Some would speak of lies. Not me. They just do their work. They do it as best they can. They are promoting their province, their distinct society, their language, their culture, and their own special institutions. I commend them

for that but they should do the same for Canada, the country that is theirs as much as it is mine.

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4:15 p.m.

Saskatoon—Dundurn Saskatchewan

Liberal

Morris Bodnar LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to address the opposition motion today. The achievements of this government in support of Canadian culture and identity are significant.

Canada's culture has evolved through the contributions of our creative artists, our cultural institutions and the individual and collective expressions of who we are as Canadians. It is not one voice but many represented through the rich diversity of our regions and our varied ethnic roots.

In 1993 this government took over from a Conservative regime that failed to appreciate the importance of cultural development. The Liberal government has stayed true to our vision of creating a stronger, more unified country while strengthening the Canadian economy. In that vision, we place great importance on the need to support and strengthen Canadian cultural and identity and to celebrate Canada's heritage.

The practical side is clear. We want to strengthen the economy and provide more jobs for Canadians. We are doing that. We are also creating a stronger, more unified Canada where Canadian culture and identity thrive and where jobs and growth are a given. Let me give a couple of examples of how well it is going.

The Department of Canadian Heritage is an active partner in the federal government's job strategy. A great deal has been happening. The young Canada works program is putting young people to work and nurturing their understanding of Canada.

In 1996 the young Canada works program provided interesting summer job experiences for over 2,000 young Canadian. This involved four key areas of Canada's diverse cultural and natural heritage, specifically our national parks and national historic sites, aboriginal urban youth, Canada's two official languages and our heritage institutions.

The young Canada works program is unique, providing the chance for many of its participants to travel to other parts of this country. I am pleased to say that it will run again this coming summer.

As a government we are proud that young Canadians have this chance to connect with other Canadians, people from different backgrounds and regions of Canada.

Young Canadians have a sense of passion and commitment about Canada; like the country they call home, their future is ahead of them. Through young Canada works we are helping young people to finance their education, gain invaluable work experience and learn more about Canada.

This year we are adding two more components, providing graduate students with internship opportunities that will build their skill sets and increase their future employment prospects. Putting young people to work is important for all of us. The pride and passion they feel for Canada touches each and every one of us deeply at the very core of our being. Our Canadian identity is something we can share and celebrate. Young Canada works is helping Canadians do just that.

Another area where this government is working hard to build Canadian identity and culture while strengthening the economy is the arts. The arts in Canada have grown rapidly over the last decade. They contribute to Canada in many ways. They serve as the human talent pool for all the cultural industries and broadcasting. They touch on other areas of the cultural sector such as heritage, architecture and advertising.

The cultural sector contributes overall over $29 billion worth of economic activity to Canada's gross domestic product and supports more than 900,000 jobs. The Government of Canada knows that investing in the arts is a win-win situation. It is an investment in Canada. It makes good economic sense and it makes good sense for Canada's cultural identity as well as for Canadian unity.

The Department of Canadian Heritage is a success story in supporting the creation, production and distribution of the arts in Canada. For example, the performing arts are burgeoning in Canada. Over the last decade the number of live performances increased by 33 per cent. Attendance grew from 10 million in 1985 to over 13.5 million in 1995. Earned revenues, mostly box office receipts, grew 87 per cent to $187 million.

In 1994 alone Canadians bought more than 13 million tickets to performances by not for profit professional dance, music, opera and theatre companies, most of which the Department of Canadian Heritage supports through the Canada Council.

The Stratford Festival receives almost $790,000 from the Canada Council. In return Stratford generates $25 million in taxes and a further $100 million in economic activity.

The young Canada works program and support to the creation, production and distribution of the arts in Canada are just two mechanisms through which this government is building a stronger country.

Our commitment is clear. We will continue to lead the way in promoting the excellence of our artists and the success of our

cultural institutions and industries. We will continue to lead the way in engaging all Canadians in the life of Canada, including our youth who will take up our torch and create Canada's future.

Much remains to be done but our commitment remains. It is vital to ensuring Canada's strength and prosperity today and in the future.

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4:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to my hon. colleague opposite that he neglected to address the issue raised in the Bloc Quebecois motion. He did not speak to the motion, he drew us a picture that has nothing to do with the motion. The motion put forward by one of my hon. colleagues this morning reads as follows:

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.

This is the issue, this is the motion before the House today. As further evidence of this shameful waste of money, take the $98 million taken from taxpayers in Canada and Quebec to pay for this propaganda campaign.

Today, February 17, the Canadian Flag Day, is indeed a sad day for Canada. How sad it is to see such a waste of money, when the unemployment level keeps rising, the number of jobs keeps decreasing, more and more people are out of work and more than 1 million children are currently living below the poverty line.

Could we not have used this $98 million to better ends, to support better programs? Let me give you some examples: the celebrations surrounding the 30th anniversary of the Canadian flag, which cost $1.1 million; the 600 billboards, 300 of which were put up in Quebec; the production of TV segments like the Heritage Minutes, a $2.2 million expenditure which was pointless.

My question is the following: Could we not have used this money to help the children living in poverty? Why did the government not choose this option instead of undertaking propaganda activities for Canada?

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4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Morris Bodnar Liberal Saskatoon—Dundurn, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting to hear the member speaking about the spending of money on flags, on the pride that we should take in this country and on keeping this country together which, I take it he has already heard, is the best country in the world to live in. But he fails to mention all the money that was wasted on the last referendum in Quebec, the wasted money on posters that were printed in Quebec. Why was that money not put into Quebec's economy to help the children of the province of Quebec?

He indicates that the unemployment level is going up. That is not so. The unemployment level has come down, not as much as we would like, and we are trying to get it lower and we will get it lower, but it has not been going up, as has been mentioned.

It is very sad when a member refers to flag day as being a sad day for Canada. It is very sad that any member of the House of Parliament of Canada would say that in the democratically elected Chamber of Canada. That attitude is not understandable. A strong country leads to employment for all, including youth.

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4:30 p.m.

Reform

Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member for Saskatoon-Dundurn speak about the programs which are funded by the heritage department and the heritage minister. Coming from Saskatchewan as well, I know that the average person who walks on the streets of Saskatoon or in rural Saskatchewan is not very impressed with most of the programs and projects funded by Heritage Canada. There are a few things that need to be funded, such as discrimination against racism and so on and so forth.

The provincial government has withdrawn funding for health care and the federal government has followed suit and withdrawn billions of dollars from health care. How can the member stand in the House to defend the third or fourth rate priority funding of Heritage Canada when funding for health care has been so drastically reduced? It is certainly not going over well in Saskatchewan.

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4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Morris Bodnar Liberal Saskatoon—Dundurn, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the hon. member mentioned that the ordinary citizens of Saskatoon do not support what Heritage Canada is doing. He must be walking on different streets from the ones I walk on.

The member is critical of what he referred to as cuts in spending. It is interesting to look at the Reform budget and the cuts which it suggested. The cuts are very interesting. The Reform Party suggested cuts to post-secondary education, cuts in health, cuts in the Canada assistance plan and cuts in equalization. Equalization cuts of 35 per cent. Cuts to the Canada assistance plan of 34 per cent.

Reformers are critical of what has been done to get the finances of the country in order. They would have butchered the system and destroyed it but all of a sudden, lo and behold, now that it is almost election time, they are the saviours. Three years ago when it was not election time they were the ones who would have destroyed the system.

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4:30 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, let me begin my remarks by saying that those statements are absolute fiction.

We have said that we need to restore the fiscal situation in this country. Any of the cuts which were suggested in the taxpayers budget have been far superseded by Liberal cuts. The cuts which

have been made by the Liberals have been deep. They have been painful for people right across the country.

When we look at health care especially just to sum up the member's statements, this government has cut more in the area of health care than any Reformer would ever think of doing. Every hospital closure in the country ought to have a sign over its door which reads: The closure of this hospital has been brought to you by the Liberal Government of Canada.

Probably some of the acrimony which we have seen is what gave rise to this debate today. I cannot agree with Bloc members on how they feel about our flag, but I can understand their sense of disappointment with the status quo, the way the country has gone. In fact, that is why I am here too, because I cannot go along with the status quo.

On the one side we have a government which says status quo; Liberal or Tory, it really does not matter. That certainly was proved today by Guy St-Julien, the former member for Abitibi, an old Tory who used to scream from that side of the House across to this side. He is now going to run as a federal Liberal. What is the difference between a federal Liberal and a Tory? I do not think there is a difference. They are just flip sides of the same loonie.

Beyond that the other choice is out and out separation, which is what the Bloc Quebecois offers. Even though it has been proved wrong twice in province-wide referenda, it is still here squawking about it.

This debate today is in fact round two of the flag debate. I was a teenager when this debate was in the House in the sixties. It was a pretty painful process to watch. It took about six months because the government of the day did not bring in closure quite so much as it does now.

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4:35 p.m.

Liberal

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

I was not born yet.

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4:35 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

That explains a lot of things also. Nonetheless, that flag debate was one of the most acrimonious debates in this House.

We went to the Canadian flag in 1965 and this maple leaf is one of the proudest symbols worldwide. I am glad to be a member of a Canadian society where my flag is held to be so special to us in this country and internationally as well. That is so important.

It bothers me and upsets me that a group of people in the House of Commons wants to leave this country. They are out and out separatists. They try to dress it up with all kinds of fancy names but they want to pull out of this country. And they are calling our flag propaganda. We have heard it several times today. It is unfortunate that the context of that could not be ruled unparliamentary because I certainly think it is unparliamentary. It is shameful that there would be people in this place who call our flag propaganda.

Unfortunately the Minister of Canadian Heritage has tried to offer this free flag program. It is a symbolic thing which, if times were great, would be appreciated. If we had a great surplus of extra cash lying around, it would be a great project. But we are $600 billion in debt. The government is spending $70 million a day more than it is bringing in. It has cut health care. It has cut transfers to the provinces incredibly, $7 billion with the Canada health and social transfer.

However this minister wields so much power that she can go into cabinet and demand $20 million, $50 million, $100 million for these special projects. That is probably the nub of the issue right now. It is not whether or not we celebrate our flag, or whether or not we should have a flag program. She said at the beginning that this would come from donations from people across the country and that it might cost $6 million. Guess what? It has come from donations but it has come directly out of the pockets of Canadian taxpayers and they did not have any say in how that cash was going to be spent. It was another one of those voluntary-involuntary programs that we as Canadian taxpayers get stuck with over and over again.

The idea was a good one: to generate patriotism and drive Canadian unity. That is a noble aspiration and a good thing to do, but again the cost was exorbitant and the minister had no idea where the cash was coming from. She was able to get her elbows sharpened up and make some way at the cabinet table. She scared the Minister of Finance off so that he bought this thing: peace at any price; the Minister of Canadian Heritage will get some cash to keep her quiet. It is unfortunate when so many other priorities have had to be put aside, yet the minister has been able to get her way.

There is another thing that bothers me about this. It is not just the cost of it but this seems to me to be the government's idea of a national unity program. Is that all there is? Free flags to say that this is going to solve our national unity problem?

We do have a crisis in the country, which is that members of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition are separatists. They do not like this place and they do not like Her Majesty. They have made that very clear. Is this the government's response in total? Is that all there is, my friend? Here is a free flag. This is our new national unity program. What a tragedy and only a year and a little bit after a referendum that saw us come so close to falling over the edge. The Prime Minister says: "We won that referendum".

It is like the Stanley Cup. We won. I have news for him and his seatmate the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage, and news for everyone on the government side and for everyone who is watching today. Unfortunately, that referendum was not the end of the Stanley Cup. This thing is going into overtime because Lucien Bouchard is at the helm in Quebec. Members know only too well that he was my seatmate for three and

a half years in the back row. Although I disagree vehemently with his politics, and I am a Canadian through and through, I learned to understand what a masterful strategist he is. I also know that if he gets his way and has another referendum in Quebec, he does not have any intention of losing.

Surely there must be something better that this government can offer those of us who are federalists and passionate Canadians. Surely there has to be more to offer than just a Canadian flag.

The minister criticized me one time in question period saying that people in Beaver River ordered flags, as if this was some terrible thing or some wonderful thing that she had discovered. The people in the Beav are proud and passionate Canadians as well and many of them did order a flag. They are not ashamed to fly the Canadian flag. When these things were being offered to them, many of them did write in and ask for a flag. And what happened? They each got three, four or five flags in an envelope. What in the world is going on in that office where they cannot even count to one? There is something sad about it.

There has to be something better than national unity just by a free flag. It has got to be deeper than that.

Our 20-20 plan addresses this so well. We have said that we understand that there are very real concerns of the people in Quebec. What we need to do is give back to the provinces what was originally in their jurisdiction.

We see so much overlap. There is so much incredible lust for power from the federal government. It has all that power to organize and administer everything and it simply cannot relinquish it. There still must be federal powers: defence, foreign affairs, monetary policy, regulating financial institutions, the Criminal Code, facilitating national standards, equalization, international trade, domestic trade. Those are things the federal government should do well and does do well.

We are always told that we are going to have to decentralize and there will be no federal powers left, but that is not true. The provinces still must have the jurisdiction they were originally designed to have. I think many Quebecers would be happy with that.

On the flip side of that are 20 reasons why you might want to stay in Canada, 20 realities about the cost of seceding-or the cost of separating, let us call it what it is-and those are not pleasant to think about. I think you should think twice before you decide to go away.

When anyone sits close to me here and is a separatist and says that my flag is propaganda, it really bothers me. I want to take them on and challenge them by saying: When you criticize my flag or Canada Day, you criticize me because I was born on July 1 in 1952 and nobody is going to mess with my flag or Canada Day, or Dominion Day as I still like to call it.

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4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, from now on, for me, July 1 will not only be Canada Day but my hon. colleague's birthday.

I would like to point out to my colleague that the issue here is not the flag itself but the propaganda it serves. I have the utmost respect for national flags, for the Canadian flag, as have, I am sure, all members of this House and all my colleagues in the Bloc. But I do not like the way the flag has been used. It has been used for what we call propaganda. The issue is not the flag but the ends to which it has been used, the intent behind it.

I would ask my Reform colleague whether she is appalled by the fact that no ceremony celebrated the Canadian Flag Day this year and that there was only a small ceremony last year. Is this not in some way reducing the role played by the flag in representing Canada?

I love the Quebec flag and I understand why Canadians love their own flag, as it is legitimate and respectable to do. But when the government on the other side is unable to celebrate Flag Day as fervently as it denounces our speeches, I am puzzled. What we take issue with is the use this government has made of the Canadian flag. Do you not agree, dear colleague?

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4:45 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think I made it fairly clear in my speech that I have a problem with the way the government went about it, first, in terms of the cost of the flag program, for which we do not have the money, and second, in terms of the fact the Liberals think this is their only national unity scheme.

The member said that he has respect for the flag and I appreciate that. He said he has a great love for his flag, the fleur de lis, the Quebec flag. I also have the same love for my provincial flag of Alberta. Over arching that is my citizenship as a Canadian. I celebrate the Canadian flag first and foremost and after that come the family of provinces and there I celebrate the Alberta flag.

He said that there was no great ceremony for flag day. Could it have something to do with the way flag day went last year? Members will remember what happened last year. The remembrance I have of flag day was not so much the celebration of the flag but watching my Prime Minister take a guy out because he got in his way at the flag day ceremonies. What a disgrace, what an embarrassment for a national leader.

He did not follow the RCMP who celebrate the flag and who were looking after the Prime Minister that day. He just bulldozed out into the crowd to be the great hero. Some protester got in his way and the Prime Minister said: "So I had to take him out". He just turned him around and threw him to the ground. Is this what we are to celebrate under our flag? Is this what other countries see when they look at our flag? Is this the way Canadians behave? I do not think so.

I appreciate what the member said about the flag. I was not sure I heard that earlier from his colleague from Rimouski-Témiscouata when she said it hard to love a country that is not lovable. That is shameful. It is absolutely shameful that someone would holler that out in the shouting match between two Quebecers. She said: "If you want us to stay, come and get us". For generations the rest of Canada has been coming to get Quebecers.

Quebec is in this family. There are days when we are not happy to be part of a particular family. I know that. There were four teenage sisters growing up in my family and lots of days I am sure we all wished we had another family, as is only normal. But love is not conditional. This is the family. These people are part of this family and family life is not conditional.

The flag is ours. And whether some days or some years the people in this separatist camp think they want to run away from home, they are part of the family. I think it is shameful to say: "It is hard to love a country that is not lovable" and "If you want us to stay, come and get us". You are here. We love you. Please stay.

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4:45 p.m.

Reform

Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to compliment the member for Beaver River for an excellent and rational point of view on this whole issue.

The motion before the House today, an accusation from Bloc members of funds being squandered on propaganda, is a bit of a narrow-minded, hypocritical motion. I would like to point that out.

The balance of the motion states that instead of spending money on free flags and the Canada Information Office and in light of the cuts to the cultural institutions that more money should be spent on health care and education, et cetera.

I would like to point out to Bloc members that their former fearless leader who sat in this House, that same Lucien Bouchard who is now running and guiding the province of Quebec, in his next budget and the budgets in the ensuing years will cut spending on health care and education. He will have to make cuts and eliminate the waste in those areas because that is where savings can be had and that is where, even in welfare and other social programs, he is going to have to revisit.

This party, which claims it can do all and be all for everybody, will have to face the stark reality of what governments are all about. Governments are all about taking tax dollars and reinvesting them back into the country, for natural infrastructure and for human infrastructure. The group of people that best knows how to do this is the group that should be running this country.

For 30 years we have had politicians who have mismanaged these finances. They have mismanaged them so badly that they have had to borrow close to $600 billion to cover everything they wanted to do for the people of Canada. They would not live within their means.

The stark reality for everybody, no matter to what political party you belong, is that we are in a time of fiscal restraint. We are in a time of having to balance budgets. We are in a time of not squandering and wasting taxpayers' dollars.

When talking about this motion that attacks the Department of Canadian Heritage we must ask what is its purpose. Why do we have a Department of Canadian Heritage? The purpose of the department is to promote Canada. The purpose of the Department of Canadian Heritage is to invest in Canada so we can be proud of ourselves and our country.

Let me point out what the department currently does in dollar terms. According to the public accounts, the Canadian identity program costs half a billion dollars. We spend over $300 million on Parks Canada. We spend $1.171 billion on the CBC. We spend $95 million on the Canada Council which promotes Canadian arts and artists. We spend $190 million on Canadian film development and the National Film Board combined. We spend $91 million on museums of heritage, civilization, science and technology. We even spend $4.45 million to protect the battlefields of Quebec. We spend $23 million on the Canadian radio, television and telecommunications, plus an additional $10 million this year because the Liberal government now wants to give stable multi-year funding to the CBC for the next five years. We spend $19.6 million on the National Arts Centre which is right down the street.

We spend $98 million on the National Capital Commission, the fourth level of government in this area of Ottawa-Hull. I have a hard time with that. Is there a need for four levels of government in the city of Ottawa? There is the federal government, provincial government, municipal government and a National Capital Commission on top of that.

Nobody gives you a ticket around here because they are afraid to. If they do give you a ticket they do not force you to pay for it because nobody knows whose jurisdiction it is. If there was ever a city that needed to be cleaned up, it is Ottawa. Toronto is a megacity. Why do they not make this a megacity, combine

everybody and kick the National Capital Commission people out of here. Let us just have one city and be proud of the city called the capital of Canada?

Across the bridge, Hull, Aylmer and Gatineau are thinking about getting together and forming one city. It is a great idea and there will be savings. We will have fewer politicians to boot which is what we need in this House and all across Canada, fewer politicians.

The National Gallery of Canada, the National Library of Canada and the National Archives of Canada add up to $129 million. That is $2.9 billion, close to $3 billion, which is recorded in the public accounts, that we spend through Heritage Canada to promote Canadian identity. That is to promote Canadian human infrastructure and to communicate information about Canada through the telecommunications medium.

Is that not enough? Should we not now be proud Canadians? Should we not now be able to show all across Canada, across the 10 provinces with $3 billion that we are together and that we have it together? No, it is not.

This government throws money at every problem, from Indians to separatists to oil and gas people. It just throws money at everything. It does not throw what is really important at the Canadian public. What it does not throw is pride and the idea of being proud to be Canadian. There are better commercials from the private sector on being proud to be Canadian than what comes from this government.

We have to start promoting Canadians. One thing this government could do, which it does not have the guts to do-I know that is a parliamentary word, I know I can use it because it was used today in question period. This government and its Prime Minister do not have the guts, they have the power. But the heritage minister does not have the guts-yet she has the power-to do one thing on our census form. One simple little thing that would shut the separatists up. One simple little thing would bring us altogether from coast to coast to coast and that is to allow us on our census to put down Canadian, not Hungarian Canadian like I might have to put down, not French Canadian, not English Canadian, not Ukrainian Canadian, not German Canadian, not Polish Canadian but Canadian. Why do we not do that? Why is it that the government, with all its power, is too lazy and too stupid to do something so simple and so common sense?

We are all, first and foremost, Canadians, not French Canadian or English Canadian or Canadians from Quebec. We can be proud of the region we come from. We can be proud of our cultural distinctions and our differences but we are Canadian. Why do we not just put down Canadian? What would be wrong with that? How much would that cost? Very, very little and this government will not do it.

I have said that Heritage Canada spends close to $3 billion on Canada, on Canadian identity and promoting this country. What about bilingualism? The separatists sit here and say we are not giving them enough. The Official Languages Commissioner claims we spend at least $600 million, but that is ridiculous. We know the cost of bilingualism is a lot higher. The cost is probably more like 5 per cent of the gross expenditures of the government which is about $120 billion.

Therefore, it is safe to say that we spend a great deal on bilingualism, on having everything in two languages and on promoting French outside of Quebec and English inside of Quebec, which the separatists do not want. The separatists believe in democracy, freedom and respect. You can take Quebec out of Canada but you cannot take anything out of Quebec. You can protect language as long as it is French. You do not protect English. That is hypocritical of this party. The cost of bilingualism promotes Canadianism and Canada and is another expenditure that we have.

My main point is that the government has not done enough. It has spent $3 billion in Heritage Canada. It has spent anywhere from $600 million to $6 billion on enforcing official bilingualism.

In conclusion, national unity cannot be legislated. This fly a free flag program was a disaster. Where was the Prime Minister on Saturday? Where was the leader of this country? Where was his pride? Was there nobody to strangle this weekend? Was there nobody to get his hands on this weekend? Where was he? The papers state he was out grocery shopping. Yes, right. Why was he not proud of what his minister was doing?

National unity cannot be legislated. It cannot be done. You cannot make the separatists happy. They have it in their minds that they would be better off by themselves. They are not correct in that assumption. We have to do more for Canadians in Quebec. Why does the government, which has a lot of bilingual ministers, not go in there and do more for Canadians in Quebec, more for the anglophones and more for the francophones who want to stay in Canada? Just to fly a flag is not enough. It is a failure. It was empty rhetoric.

I would like to see Canada come together and stay together. The start would be with the census where we would mark down our origins as being Canadian. Everyone who is born here is Canadian no matter from which province.

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4:55 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the heritage minister today made one of many announcements, specifically about the fact that she is putting together a program for schools.

I must say that I agree with my colleague from Beaver River, as I do with my colleague from Calgary Centre, that we are proud Canadians and that these symbols, these flags, these crests and all of the information about the provinces are a very important part of Canada. I applaud the minister for the intent that she is exhibiting in making this kit available.

However, I wonder if my colleague would like to comment on this. In our so-called paperless society, it is rather interesting that all of the information is currently available from Industry Canada by way of Internet. Probably the majority of schools at all levels in Canada now have access to the World Wide Web, the Internet.

They can retrieve from the Internet all the graphic material which would include the flags, the coat of arms, all the provincial crests and provincial flags, and all the background and data that the teachers would require as teaching aids to tell our Canadian children more about Canada. However, while that is at no cost, this kit that the minister is putting together just by coincidence happens to include a CD ROM and a video. Very clearly there is going to be additional information on that.

I wonder if the member would agree that the probability is that once again our heritage minister is going to be giving to the students and teachers of Canada her own tiny perfect little vision of what Canada is really about rather than simply providing the information so that the people, the teachers and the students can come to their own judgment and inform themselves accordingly.