Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the amendments to Bill C-71. I would like to thank the hon. member for his passionate speech; it was probably because of the subject: tobacco.
The core of the problem with this bill is indeed sponsorship. The measures included in the bill could eliminate a number of cultural, sporting, and social events. Most Bloc members decided today, a Friday, to come back from Montreal to oppose this crazy bill, as Quebecers have asked us to.
On this entire issue, things are far from clear. Members opposite are telling us that it is clearly a health issue, and that we must legislate. Everybody recognizes that smoking is not healthy, and that we must do all we can to prevent our young people from starting to smoke. Unlike the two previous speakers, I am a long time smoker and, despite several tries, I have not been able to quit. I think it is important to tell our young people not to start smoking, so they will avoid the problem of trying to quit later.
Since we agreed on this in principle, we voted for the bill at second reading. However, we must admit that sponsored cultural and sporting events are basically healthy and may even encourage potential smokers to be more active. We know that, generally speaking, athletes are not heavy smokers.
We are here today to speak to this bill. I would like to point out that not too many members across the way stood up for Quebec's interests in this matter. If I may, I would like to quote from an article published in La Presse on February 16, in which the Liberal member for Outremont, who was just mentioned as the exception in that he stood up for Quebec, is quoted by Réjean Tremblay as saying something like the following: ``Everyone agrees with the intent of the legislation put forward by the Minister of Health of
Canada." So do we. "Trade in tobacco should be regulated, not with a view to ban its sale but rather to control it. We must look at the 10 per cent rule for advertising, the notion of site for events, merchandise and the possible extension of the transition period".
Note that, after this was written, we have never seen the hon. member for Outremont again, and there is a fundamental reason for this: he is a Quebecer, a Liberal member from Quebec who, even if he wanted to defend Quebec or positions taken in Quebec, could not do so because his caucus, which is of another mind, would not let him. That is a fact, and that is why we will not see the hon. member for Outremont stand up and speak on this issue.
We must recognize also that the spinoffs generated by sponsorships are very important to Canadians and Quebecers. I would like to mention some of the major events that will be affected, some of which have already been mentioned: the Just for Laughs Festival, the Montreal Grand Prix, the Trois-Rivières Grand Prix, the Montreal film festival, the Toronto film festival, the Montreal jazz festival, the Vancouver jazz festival, the Benson and Hedges international championships, the Player's international tennis championships and many other sports and cultural events.
As we know, the cultural community too is not at all happy with the proposed limitation of sponsorships because it will lose a major source of revenues at a time of government budget cuts. We know how much culture has always suffered from lack of funding. The cultural sector had finally managed to find patrons, but we are now taking them away. As my colleague was saying, we are stopping something that is working when we should be going after lots of other things.
As for revenues, here are some data about it. According to the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council, sponsorship of arts amounts to about $25 million whereas that of sports organizations amounts to about $35 million, totalling $60 million in Canada, including close to $30 million in Quebec. That is why we are in the House today, to defend this position that should be considered.
The health minister questions these figures, saying that, for several events, only a small proportion of the funding is coming from tobacco companies. However, he cannot say what the sponsorships amount to and, moreover, he fails to mention that for some events the proportion is much higher than what he is says.
For example, here are the figures reported in The Gazette on December 5 of last year. The Montreal Jazz Festival costs $9.5 million, and tobacco company sponsorships bring in $1.5 million, or about 16 per cent of all sponsorship revenues.
We all know how much the jazz festival is an integral part of Montreal's image, and we know also that fireworks attract visitors in droves. Well, fireworks cost $1.4 million, of which $1 million comes from tobacco companies. Tobacco sponsorship represents 72 per cent of costs.
The Festival Juste pour rire, and that probably includes Just for Laughs too, costs $10 million, and tobacco sponsors fork out $1 million, or 10 per cent.
The Festival d'été de Québec costs $4.5 million, and tobacco companies pour in $500,000, or 11 per cent.
Some 16 comparable analyses of 88 cultural and sport events throughout Canada estimate that economic benefits stand at $133 million and that 2,179 jobs depend on these investments. The member who spoke before me made the point, which is fundamental here, that there is no consensus on the real impact on tobacco use of the visibility of sponsors' trademarks in cultural and sport events.
In that same vein, we should keep in mind the remarks of the minister on December 6. He stated that, within three years, the number of smokers would drop 1.5 million because of this legislation, some 15 to 22 per cent. But he has been unable to explain how these estimates have been figured out. They have no basis whatsoever.
Moreover, I remember two surveys, and this is important, because the essence of democracy, as my colleagues have pointed out, is that it is the people who decide. We will therefore talk about the people.
Two surveys confirm that the majority of people do not want the proposed legislation to apply to cultural and sports events. In particular, the survey that appeared in La Presse on December 6 showed that 81 per cent of respondents felt that the measures contained in the proposed legislation would not stop young people from smoking, and 68 per cent were against the ban on sponsorship. And we have a government determined to make laws that people want nothing to do with.
Even if it does not ban sponsors, as the health minister keeps saying, there is a strong danger that the bill, through its restrictions, will effectively eliminate sponsorship by tobacco companies.
Another survey, and I will close with this, was carried out by Insight Research Canada in September 1996. It found that 66 per cent of Canadians agreed that tobacco companies should be
allowed to sponsor events and organizations in the fields of arts, sports, entertainment and fashion. Furthermore, 84 per cent of respondents felt that a company legally doing business in Canada should have the right to sponsor these events.
In addition, 83 per cent thought that the decision of whether or not to allow sponsorship should rest with the organizations sponsored and those doing the sponsoring, rather than with the government.
Clearly, people are not in favour of this bill. That is why the members of the Bloc Quebecois have returned in large numbers today to defend this position. If there is no change regarding sponsorship, we will be voting against this bill.