Mr. Speaker, today, we are discussing a motion condemning 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 unprecedented cuts have been imposed on cultural institutions in Canada and Quebec.
When I got back to my riding, I went, as I do every week, to buy a number of magazines. One of these was Le Point , whose cover this week read L'unité canadienne se crée-t-elle? , or ``Is Canadian Unity Developing?'' This issue contains a very comprehensive report on the situation in Canada. The government members would be well advised to read this report in order to understand what is happening in Canada and what a foreign observer is thinking of it. The author comments on Winnipeg, for instance. Apparently, it is the coldest place in the world. He also mentions St. Boniface, which has been amalgamated to Winnipeg and where, unfortunately, 70 per cent of the people now speak English.
This is a statement of fact made by a total stranger having to describe our country in an international magazine. He must describe to his fellow countrymen what is happening in another country.
When the Conservative Party was in office, with Mrs. Campbell at its head, it was decided to drastically reduce the number of ministers. The government then thought of establishing a department called Canadian Heritage, which would contain everything that could fit nowhere else. Responsibilities were gathered from all over the place to form a tutti frutti department.
Amateur sports, parks, historic sites and the Department of the Secretary of State were included in its mandate. The department is also responsible for the Queen's visits to Canada, the choice of olympic athletes, etc., as well as funding for these activities. It does a bit of everything, but mostly propaganda. It has become a propaganda specialist.
The creation of this department was a problem for the Liberal Party when they were in opposition. I remember that the first time I went to the Department of Canadian Heritage to meet the then Deputy Minister, he told me he had recommended to the new government that it divide up the Department of Canadian Heritage, instead of using it as a grab bag as intended, and remove Communications from Canadian Heritage, leaving it with only those elements having to do with heritage. If the mission of the Department of Canadian Heritage had really been to reflect what this
country is all about, it would have been told not to forget that in this country, there are two peoples, two languages and two cultures.
But that is not what happened. Once in power, the Liberals, as usual, found things already prepared by senior bureaucrats who are ready to operate regardless of who is in power. The only visible change, when a new government is elected, is the colour of the CBC, which is red or blue depending on the party in power.
When this government came to power, they had to act and ensure passage of a bill creating the Department of Canadian Heritage. They created exactly what Ms. Campbell wanted, and asked it to promote Canadian identity. We then tried to make Canadians understand that they had to take Quebec into account, that in this country there are two cultures and two languages.
It is true that, when we debated the issue, we did not know what the Prime Minister was really thinking. One day, the Prime Minister answering a question happened to say in the House, and I quote: "Mr. Speaker, there is a French culture in Canada, which is Canadian. It is in Quebec primarily, but I think the culture of the Acadians and Antonine Maillet forms part of the French culture, and this culture is not necessarily Quebec culture. So, when we talk about a Canadian culture, it may be of French or English expression". The entire quote can be found in the December 6, 1995 issue of Hansard .
Shortly after the referendum the Prime Minister confirmed that, although a Quebecer, the little guy from Shawinigan had forgotten his roots and had made his another culture, the Canadian culture, renouncing his own, the Quebec culture, for ever. He made this statement on behalf of all his colleagues, confirming that in his view, Québec and the distinct society did not exist, as we saw later with the passing of his phoney motion on the distinct society, this empty shell devoid of any meaning.
Therefore, in the opinion of Canadians, Quebec culture does not exist. Yesterday, while listening to "Le Point", on Radio-Canada, I understood that for many Canadians, the Canadian culture does not exist either. We were shown Saskatchewan francophones, like Carmen Champagne. Since there are only 50,000 people who speak French in that province she opted for moving to Quebec to be able do grow, and make a fortune while selling her records, audio and video tapes, video clips and all the excellent material she produces for children. She was looking for a market and she found one in Quebec; she could not have found one in Saskatchewan.
I also saw other people who spoke English, but I felt they were more Ukrainian that Canadian. They extolled the beauty and the wealth of their culture, but they sounded more like Ukrainians talking to a Quebecer than Canadians. I felt how great their need was to cling to their Ukrainian roots. I believe that the notion of multiculturalism Mr. Trudeau put in the heads of Canadians is probably the single biggest obstacle to the creation of a Canadian identity.
The Prime Minister is looking for ways to have people identify with Canada; I think he could simply abolish multiculturalism tomorrow morning, as they did in several countries like Brazil, and he would find that, tomorrow morning, all the people in Canada would be Canadians.
Except, of course, for Quebecers, who have already made up their minds, at least 50 per cent of them, and know they belong to a culture, they form a people, they have a territory. They still need a country before they can develop fully, but that threshold will soon be crossed and we will have the patience to wait for the next referendum to really fulfil ourselves.
Meanwhile, we observe what is going on in Canada. There is a subculture, the Quebec subculture, and a larger one, the Canadian culture. What happened until 1976, at the CBC for example? Those who governed our country respected both cultures, both people, and the CBC and the SRC received equal funding. The French network and the English network received the same amounts.
After the election of Mr. Lévesque, the surprise of 1976, Mr. Trudeau decided there was a separatist clique at Radio-Canada. He ordered an inquiry, which was considered to be almost an inquisition, to finally find out that it was not so, that there was no such thing as a separatist clique at Radio-Canada. There were only people doing an honest job who, in the news, showed what was happening in Quebec.
In 1995, after the referendum, the Trudeau heir adopted the same attitude. He also said that the CBC had not done its job properly. The French network of the CBC was, once again, hit by funding cuts. Clearly, it will be more and more difficult for the journalists of the corporation to do their jobs in the professional manner they are known for, if the government keeps casting doubt on the quality of the programming, which is excellent. The reason is that the government does not like the way what is happening in our society is presented.
The CBC suffered extensive cuts. The National Film Board lost 20 per cent of its budget. Funding for Telefilm Canada was reduced by $50 million, over and above the cuts already announced, in order to create a fund, with headquarters and decision making in Toronto, for the production of television programs.
This fund will be made up of $50 million from the cable distributors, $50 million from Telefilm Canada and $100 from
Heritage Canada. Directors of the fund have been advised to be careful and to finance programs with a Canadian flavour, programs which promote Canadian culture, in other words they should try to avoid films like "Octobre".
We saw after the referendum the way the heritage committee went on a witch hunt, how the chairman was given the mandate to try to see what was going on, and to promote Canada.
Today, we have reached a stage where we embarked on this campaign to give away a million flags. Not very long ago, a Liberal senator was telling me: "I do not understand you, in Quebec. We have given you bilingual stamps, bilingual bank notes, a flag, a national anthem". I could agree with the bank notes and the stamps, but it was the late great Réal Caouette, with the complicity of a minority government under Mr. Pearson, who felt, on the eve of the universal exhibition of 1967, that it would be shameful to receive the world without a flag which would identify us all. That is when the war to introduce the flag started.
Consequently, I even wonder if English Canadians ever wanted the flag, since the government still feels forced to promote this flag 30 years later. There are limits to thinking that it can impose something to people through propaganda.
As for the national anthem, the government took the one that we used to sing when we were kids and that was called O Canada . The words and the music were composed by two francophones from Quebec. The anglophones translated it, changed it here and there so it would fit their purposes, but the national anthem was not invented by an anglophone of this country; the government took the words and music that two francophones from Quebec had composed.
There are limits to trying to make us believe that we resist that. It is true that we resist because this was another era. The government took the name, the flag, the national anthem; it can have them, but we are somewhat disenchanted with the whole propaganda campaign it is conducting to try to impose these things.
My colleagues have also said it: almost $100 million have been spent on propaganda at a time when the government tells us it has no money, for example, for programming, for small and medium size business, for job creation, for the destitute, for poor children. According to what the Prime Minister told us, some gifts for poor children will be announced in the budget tomorrow. They we made poor and now we are being told: "Thanks to the federal government, we will save poor children." It should have saved them four years ago, instead of waiting until the eve of an election to present us with a budget containing measures to save poor children. Consequently, until now, it is an appalling failure on all counts.
The official languages policy, which is another failure in Canada, is a responsibility of Heritage Canada. Most of the money went to anglophone minorities in Quebec or was spent on teaching English in the other provinces.
They give lip service to bilingualism, but what they really want to do is bilingualize Quebecers to better assimilate them, given that the anglophone minority in Quebec represents only 9 per cent of the population, whereas 54 per cent of civil servants are bilingual. The francophone minority in New Brunswick accounts for 38 per cent of the population, yet only 42 per cent of civil servants are bilingual. And this great government's latest cost-cutting innovation was to create only one 1-800 line for all francophones in Canada having problems with the child benefit.
So, the Official Languages Act has also been a pitiful failure in the public service. According to a study, in the Ottawa-Hull area, where the law provides that French and English are the languages of work, 76 per cent of francophones say that English is the language spoken at meetings. So, the public service is also a tool for anglicizing francophones.
Another innovation is the information highway, where the federal government is interfering again in areas of provincial jurisdiction. Here, as in other areas, the federal government intends to exert its leadership, regardless of Quebec's jurisdiction or its culture. We also find Canadian cultural content in the information society. They never miss an opportunity to express their contempt for the people of Quebec.
This morning, I read in detail about the minister's plans for schools. No one in Quebec can enrol in a school without asking for authorization. In her paper, the minister says that the great values in Canada are tolerance, mutual respect, compassion, and acceptance.
You have to see it on paper to believe it. It is unbelievable. There is no tolerance, no compassion, no respect, no acceptance for the people of Quebec. They talk about values, but they do not believe in them.
What does the minister put in her propaganda kit? She is providing a teacher's guide. This teacher's guide is not authorized by the Quebec Minister of Education. This is unacceptable; this cannot be done in Quebec. There are videos, an audiocassette, a CD-ROM, and a box one can check off to order a flag.
How much does each of these kits cost? There are various kits for various age groups. There is one kit for children between four and seven. The propaganda is adjusted to the children's chronological and psychological age. There is another kit for children between eight and eleven, and another one for children aged twelve and up. They are available in French or in English.
I think the Minister should substantially change her approach if she does not want to see the number of sovereignists keep rising in this country. At the rate she is going now, we thank her very sincerely because she is helping the cause of a sovereign Quebec.