Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.
I rise today to voice my opposition to Bill C-55, the foreign publishers advertising services act.
I have been in this place for close to one and a half years. I have had the opportunity to observe and interact with members of both sides of the House. At this juncture, I would like to tell my colleague when he said that the Reform member should join his caucus, I extend to him the invitation to come and join us.
What separates the official opposition from the government is not that we have more concern for the people of Canada. What differentiates us is that we have a different view on how to achieve a better society for all.
We both want the same thing, a prosperous and tolerant Canada where all can participate openly. However, while this government feels that this can only be achieved through the cumbersome, heavy hand of central planning and intervention, the official opposition believes that freedom and having faith in people is the right road to take.
At a time when countries around the world are realizing that straight intervention has its limits, this government continues its policies of trying to run almost every facet of Canadian society. Bill C-55 continues this long tradition of Liberal interference in the lives of Canadians.
Before I deal specifically with Bill C-55, allow me to elaborate on my last point.
Many of my Reform colleagues have spent a considerable amount of energy questioning this government on the Canadian Wheat Board. As we know, the wheat board dictates the price at which wheat may be sold, thereby robbing our farming communities of the freedom to sell their goods. Interfering in market forces is no different than the central planning that the east bloc characterized before reaching its senses in the late 1980s.
Another key example is the high taxation levels that Canadians and Canadian businesses continue to endure. Canadians have seen their income shrink as they are forced to transfer more and more of what they earn to the government coffers.
All agree that more money left in the pockets of individuals and businesses will benefit the economy. While the finance minister boasts of balancing the budget, he does not reveal that the way he achieved this was on the backs of Canadian taxpayers and businesses.
The truth of the matter is that taxes have increased since this government took power in 1993. The fact that this government reneged on its commitment to scrap the GST is proof of its commitment to high taxation.
It is no secret there exists a direct correlation between tax levels and job creation. Is it a mere coincidence that the two provinces with the lowest income tax levels, Ontario and my home province of Alberta, lead the nation in creating employment.
Perhaps the minister should ponder whether the Canadian periodical sector could benefit more from lower taxes rather than from eliminating competition.
Today we heard a news report highlighting the plight of Canada's working class. The study released by the Centre for Social Justice states that working families are being devalued in Canada. Families are working harder than they did 10 years ago and have less money to show for their increased efforts. Between 1989 and 1996 the average family suffered a $4,000 decline in their income. Why does the finance minister not realize that the time has come for tax relief for the middle and lower income families and businesses?
I have used the issues of the wheat board and taxes to point to the fact that this government has a track record of intervening in the economy, often with less than stellar consequences.
Bill C-55 continues this Liberal tradition of intervention and state control. While Bill C-55 most definitely has economic ramifications, I would like to focus on its cultural dimensions.
This bill seeks to protect our domestic periodical industry from outside competition. It attempts to do this by prohibiting the right of foreign publications to sell advertising space to companies targeting a Canadian audience. This would free up advertising dollars for Canadian publications.
The Minister of Canadian Heritage introduces this bill claiming it will protect Canadian heritage. However, the minister and indeed this government has failed to recognize the essence of what culture is.
Culture comes as the natural consequence of economic activity. The key word in the last statement is natural. Culture survives and thrives best when it is allowed to grow in a natural state free of artificial crutches and interference. Culture and art must be promoted but never protected and created by the state. When the state starts dictating what culture is, it becomes a slippery slope toward when artistic and cultural freedom end and when state propaganda begins.
I would like to turn my attention to some of the specifics of this piece of legislation. Subclause 20(c) of the bill allows for the minister to make regulations respecting criteria to determine whether advertising services are directed to the Canadian market. By allowing the minister to make orders in council with respect to the nature of advertising, Bill C-55 essentially gives the minister the authority to make laws dealing with international trade without passing them through parliament.
Moreover clauses 4, 5 and 6 allow the minister to create her own culture police to investigate whether foreign publications are carrying advertising geared toward the Canadian market.