Mr. Speaker, I will continue in the few minutes I have left to tell you how important the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières mentioned earlier is for jobs. It generates 150 jobs, including 80 directly. It is an event of considerable economic importance for the Trois-Rivières region. It is an international event, because it is broadcast throughout North America. It is televised because it is permitted.
Clause 31 clearly provides, and I quote:
31.(1) No person shall, on behalf of another person, with or without consideration, publish, broadcast or otherwise disseminate any promotion that is prohibited by this Part.
It will no longer be permitted to televise a sporting event of the size of the Players Trois-Rivières Grand Prix, because the law will prohibit it.
Oddly enough, clause 31(2) permits the same sort of events when they come from outside the country, and I quote:
31.(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to the distribution for sale of an imported publication or the retransmission of radio or television broadcasts that originate outside Canada.
This means that, when it comes from Quebec or Trois-Rivières, it is serious and promotes smoking and when it originates elsewhere, it does not. Or does it mean that, when a European Grand Prix is being broadcast and the word Valvoline appears behind a car it is OK to televise, but if the world Marlboro appears, the transmission will be jammed? Where are we going with this?
This does not make any sense. It goes to show how out of touch this government is, with its gurus and the kind of ayatollahs who
advise the Minister of Health of Canada, who has completely lost touch with common sense and growing public pressure across Canada for preserving cultural and sports events by maintaining sponsorships from the private sector.
We must realize that this ban on television advertising would take effect immediately and not later, as suggested by the chair of the Liberal caucus in an interview to the CBC, when he said that the amendments will delay implementation. In fact, the amendments that apply concern clause 24, and are set out in clause 60, which states that clauses 24(2) and 24(3) will come into force on October 1, 1998, or at an earlier date set in an order.
This affects the 10 per cent rule, whereby cigarette advertising shall not take up more than 10 per cent of the billboards or ads. That provision will take effect on October 1, 1998. But the ban on the broadcasting of events, where sponsors or philanthropists are paid back for investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in such or such an event, will be effective immediately, which means the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières will be affected as early as next summer. That is totally unacceptable, because no real consultation has taken place.
It is especially annoying since it has not been demonstrated in any way that looking at billboard advertising or watching television ads is an inducement to use tobacco products. There are no studies showing that. The only evidence available is that a smoker, which means someone who already uses tobacco products, may switch brands after attending the Du Maurier tennis tournament, seeing the Bendon and Hedges Symphony of Fire or travelling to Trois-Rivières for the Grand Prix sponsored by Players. He may prefer a Players cigarette over a Du Maurier.
But that is his own choice, it is not a matter of public policy. What could be interesting and fundamental to prove is that someone who sees these billboards could decide to start smoking. But that is laughable.
I will conclude by quoting this morning's editorial in the daily Le Nouvelliste , which addresses the issue of sponsorship and billboards. It says: ``We have a hard time believing that a teenager from Trois-Rivières would take up smoking just because he was exposed to a Players billboard ten days a year''.
It is that simple, there is nothing complicated about this issue, that is common sense. It just goes to show that the government is out of touch and so hypocritical that it wants it both ways. We know how much tax revenue smoking brings in. If the government was consistent, would it not completely prohibit tobacco and cigarettes production? If smoking is so bad for our health that no ads can be broadcast, should we not stand up and have a real debate on the issue and think about prohibiting the production and importation of tobacco products? Then, we would be addressing the real issues instead of dealing once again with the government's hypocritical and stealthy behaviour.