Madam Speaker, I am speaking in support of the amendments put forward by our heritage critic today for a number of reasons. Before taking a look at the issue on a clause by clause by basis, I will give a broad overview, probably best contained most recently in an article by Peter Cook in the Wednesday, February 3, 1999 edition of the Globe and Mail .
In part he writes:
Just as the Canadian government thinks its needs a new weapon, Bill C-55, to safeguard a threatened cultural sector, the magazine industry, so Europeans are taking an increasingly nationalistic line with U.S. cultural “imperialism” as it applies to them.
In this article he is speaking about something the French were doing.
The article continues:
The current big transatlantic trade fight is not over culture, but bananas. Still, it is worth noting that the tactics pursued by the United States against Canada on magazines and Europe on bananas are the same—threatening massive retaliation against many unrelated products. And the Europeans have had culture clashes with the Americans before and expect them in future. At one stage, the French held up the Uruguay Round of trade talks in an attempt to limit the activities of U.S. entertainment companies. So there is keen interest in what Canada is proposing to do on magazines and whether, by restricting advertising, it can succeed in making Bill C-55 compatible with world trade rules. Where Ottawa leads on cultural sovereignty, Europe may follow.
The larger question, however, is whether erecting cultural barriers works.
Of course that is the question the Reform Party poses. In answering the question, our answer is no.
Mr. Cook continues:
While it may satisfy those who worry about the powerlessness of the nation state, Europe's experience, and Canada's too, is that publication bans, audio-visual quotas and content rules raise costs and deter quality. Subsidies to European films cost $600 million a year; increasingly, they help film makers make films that win awards at festivals before going on to bomb at the box office. Meanwhile, far from encouraging local talent, television quotas have led to a profusion of European soap operas and game shows that are instantly recognizable as cheap U.S. look-alikes.
The issue for Canadian magazines or French films or Irish music is whether competition, and the public interest, is best served by this. And that, to judge by the European record, is doubtful.
This bill congers up a number of spectres. I take a look at clause 4. Subclause 4(1) states that the minister may cause any investigation that the minister considers necessary to be made into an alleged supply of advertising services in contravention of section 3.
Now we are going to have magazine cops going around making sure that those ads are just exactly what the minister wants.
Subclause 4(2) states that the minister may designate any person to carry out an investigation under this section and shall furnish them with a certificate of that designation in the form that the minister may specify, and that the investigator shall, upon request, produce this certificate to any person in charge of a place under investigation.
Subclause 5(1) states that an investigator may, under a warrant issued under section 487 of the Criminal Code, with any modifications that the circumstances require, enter any place and make any investigation that the investigator considers necessary.
Not being a lawyer, I went to a lawyer and I said “What is section 487 of the Criminal Code? What does it cover?” Section 487 of the Criminal Code covers things like going in and looking for people who may be in the possession of child pornography. Of course this is available anywhere except in British Columbia, thanks to our justice minister. They can go in and do investigations on murder. They can go in and search for illegal weapons.
While they are there, under this clause, it was pointed out to me that they can also go into computers and take apart any data contained in the computer.
It is a very broad ranging section of the Criminal Code that the heritage minister may choose to enforce this bill.
We then go on to take a look at the whole issue of who the minister may choose to go after. Subclause 7(1), which again we have asked be deleted, states that the minister may send a demand to a foreign publisher if the minister believes that a foreign publisher (a) has supplied advertising services in contravention of clause 3 or (b) has entered into a transaction or an arrangement that if carried into effect would likely lead to a contravention of this act. Subclause 7(2) states that the minister may in the demand require the foreign publisher, without delay or within a period specified in the demand, to stop supplying the services, and so on.
What this is basically saying is that the heritage minister may choose to jump all over a foreign publisher. But by definition a foreign publisher would be exactly that, a foreign publisher; somebody outside of the immediate jurisdictional constraint of this House or of the laws of Canada.
While the minister may jump on a foreign publisher, the reality is that under this bill the government is going to go after Canadians who have the temerity to advertise, to use their freedom of speech, association and expression in a particular publication. This bill will allow the minister to go after those awful Canadians who may choose to advertise in an unsubscribed publication.
The reality is that this bill, although it is under serious constraint and is of concern to our trading friends across the border, is a far larger threat to the freedom of expression that Canadians assume they have under the charter.
I agree with the Reform member who spoke before me. There can be absolutely no question that this bill, if it were to be passed, would definitely lead to charter challenges.
There can be absolutely no other way. The Liberals are famous for setting things up for the charter industry, for all the high priced lawyers to go after them. It is just a wonderful way for any of the people in the charter industry to make money.
Reading through this bill is a very scary proposition when one realizes that there is little or no problem. If we take a look at Maclean's this week, I dare say that better than 50% of the advertising revenue in Maclean's will have come to Maclean's from American advertisers. My friend, our international trade critic, will be able to provide us with precise numbers on that. The reality is this is simply a constraint in the ordinary process of doing business in Canada.
Furthermore, although the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association loves to drag out that 80% of the magazines on the stand are foreign magazines, the reality is that there are many Canadian magazines that are very successful.
For example, the Alberta Report and B.C. Report are two examples where the majority of their revenue is derived from subscription. There are many ways for magazine companies to compete on an level playing field.
If this government would just get out of its smother love we might be able to get on with doing business in Canada and disregard the bleatings of the heritage minister.