House of Commons Hansard #178 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was flag.


The House resumed consideration of Bill C-55, an act respecting advertising services supplied by foreign periodical publishers, as reported (with amendments) from a committee, and Motions Nos. 1 to 21.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services ActGovernment Orders

February 10th, 1999 / 4:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester, Transport.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.


Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to participate in this debate today on Bill C-55, an act respecting advertising services supplied by foreign periodical publishers.

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage having reviewed this bill clause by clause, we are now proceeding to consideration of the bill at report stage. My hon. colleague from Dauphin—Swan River has introduced 21 motions in amendment designed to delete clauses 1 through 21 of Bill C-55.

To ensure greater efficiency in the House, the Chair has grouped these 21 motions together. I will therefore use the time allotted to me to discuss the Bloc Quebecois' position on this bill.

First of all, the Bloc Quebecois is against the 21 Reform motions as they boil down to withdrawing the bill.

The Bloc Quebecois has supported this bill from the outset because it acknowledges as legal and legitimate the right of any people to protect its culture against an overly aggresive invader. It is therefore no wonder that the Bloc Quebecois is working toward Quebec's sovereignty, since the Canadian government will not recognize the people of Quebec.

The battle waged at this time in Canada goes far beyond the periodical publishing industry. Two major principles are at stake.

First, we must assert the rights provided for in the trade agreements we have signed. Otherwise, it would be like saying that all these rights, including the cultural exemption in NAFTA, have no true value without the United States' approval.

Second, if Canada does not defend its rights, it would be tantamount to letting Washington dictate our country's economic and cultural policies.

This is nothing new. In all the trade negotiations in which Canada took part, successive Canadian governments stated clearly, without beating around the bush, that Canadian culture was not negotiable. Yesterday, in a statement to the media, François de Gaspé Beaubien said, and I quote:

We have obtained a cultural exemption under the free trade agreement and under NAFTA, and we have not assumed any obligation under the WTO agreements that would restrict Canada's right and ability to implement these policies. In the magazine industry, the United States have not obtained the right to have access to our advertising services market, and we are under no obligation to grant them that access.

What is the purpose of this bill? Essentially, this bill is to prevent American advertising from being replaced with Canadian advertising in split run editions of American magazines sold on the Canadian market. This policy has been in place for more than 30 years, and split run editions of American magazines such as Time and Reader's Digest are protected under the bill's grandfather clause.

This is not about prohibiting imports of foreign magazines into Canada. After this bill is passed, nothing will be changed. Foreign periodicals will still be imported and will still take up 80% of shelf space in English Canada, and account for 50% of magazine sales in English Canada. This bill is aimed at preventing unfair competition by dumping advertising charges.

The Bloc Quebecois understands the concerns expressed by many Quebec and Canadian businessmen, who do not want to get caught in the crossfire when they are not directly involved in the periodicals industry.

The Bloc Quebecois believes that the United States is using these businesses to encroach upon states' rights to pass measures favourable to their economy.

These industries deserve to be given information by the federal government on the mechanisms governing international trade so that their fear of reprisal will be replaced by informed knowledge of the mechanisms for handling international trade disputes.

The Bloc Quebecois also believes that the rules of international trade apply to the US as much as they do to any other country on this planet. The Bloc Quebecois therefore calls upon the federal government to continue its negotiations with the US representatives, in order to reach a negotiated agreement to protect the magazine industry.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.


Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Madam Speaker, I want to assure all members of the House that the NDP's lukewarm support of Bill C-55 still holds. It is possibly now stronger due to the bullying noises coming from Washington.

We still believe the bill is too weak because it does not contain provisions to improve the situation for Canadian magazines. We still believe the main premise of the bill is false, that the cultural protections offered under NAFTA or by the WTO are inadequate.

The WTO does not protect culture and the FTA and NAFTA continue to remain untested with fatally flawed exemptions for culture. We know that half a loaf is better at this time than no loaf and therefore we support the bill.

A lot seems to have happened on the volume front concerning Bill C-55 since the heritage committee heard witnesses on the bill. The Reform Party has decried this bill, saying we have no need to protect culture, that we should simply promote it.

We are debating today the 21 amendments proposed by the Reform Party, amendments that tersely delete ever section of the bill until nothing is left. The amendments to methodically delete every trace of the bill seems to reflect its approach to Canadian culture, methodically and clinically delete, delete, delete.

The irony of this position is that Reform then puts forward budget plans which would inevitably decimate the Department of Canadian Heritage, the only mechanism in place to promote our culture. The Reform Party position smacks of hypocrisy and of an opportunism that I believe comes painfully close to being anti-Canadian.

The Americans have turned up the volume by threatening, albeit verbally, to countervail steel, plastics, lumber, textiles and God knows whatever else if we pass this law. This kind of bullying is not unique. The committee heard similar threats coming from the New York based president of Time magazine at the hearings. He suggested that we were preparing to confiscate his property without compensation and compared the Canadian government to some old-style communist regime. I must admit that this is the first time I have ever heard this particular criticism levelled at this government.

What the Reform Party and the Americans believe is that this is not about culture but that it is about money. They think that magazines, and music, and books, and videos, and films, and paintings, and fragile artifacts are not to be valued as culture, they are goods to be priced for sale. They do not believe that writers are creators, but are potential profit centres only if marketed properly.

I can categorically say that Canadian culture is not a commodity. Margaret Atwood is not a soap pad. The Group of Seven is not an international trading cartel. The Canadian book publishing industry, a group of visionary business people who have made our great writers a possibility, should not be allowed to be shipped south as if it were a roll of newsprint.

The fact that only 2% of Canadian film screens show Canadian films is not a reflection of the quality of our films, because they are excellent. Instead it is the reflection of the fact that Hollywood spends more money promoting a single film than most Canadian filmmakers will ever have to produce their films in their lifetimes.

Sadly, this government and the official opposition continue to bow at the altar of Jack Valenti and his Hollywood version of reality.

Our culture is constantly under attack from south of the border. We as parliamentarians have a duty to stand in our places and say that we are different.

We need a government which will stand up for our creators, not reluctantly pick and choose cultural winners and losers.

I can see the talk around the current cabinet table: “This time we will hold the line on magazines but we will let books go. This time we will have the CRTC promote Canadian content through the CBC but we will kill the mother corp with underfunding. We will promote access to Canadian national museums, but we will abandon the regional and local museums. We will talk tough on trade but do nothing to fix the problems which exist in our current trade agreements. In other words, we will play both sides of every cultural issue”.

This may be the Liberal way of politics, but our cultural legacy deserves the full support of the Canadian government, not half a loaf.

Culture is something which Canadians have a right of access to, not simply because some American conglomerate has decided that it may be marketable, but because it has intrinsic value.

We should promote, but we also have a responsibility to protect.

I call upon this government not only to draw the line at magazines, but also to get active protecting our culture across the board. Do not continue to stand idly by while our book publishers are sent offshore with the obligatory nod from the Minister of Industry. Do not further gut the CBC and the NFB to shuffle funds to Canadian film producers. Take action on allowing Canadians to see their own product by bringing Canadian content to our screens. Do not listen to voices who believe there is a price for culture but ignore the value of culture.

Do not believe that the Minister of Canadian Heritage is the great protector of culture until the title is earned. I would say that the jury is still out on this minister's legacy.

Again, Bill C-55 is something that we will support in the House, but we continue to hold our praise for the minister and her efforts on Canadian culture.

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4:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Mark Muise Progressive Conservative West Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise before the House to once again speak in favour of Bill C-55, the foreign publishers advertising services act.

Bill C-55 is a very important piece of legislation. Besides providing much needed support to our Canadian magazine publishers, it also sends a clear message to all Canadians that we are intent on protecting and maintaining our cultural sovereignty in the midst of ever increasing pressure from foreign influences.

A desire to protect our cultural integrity has always been a major Canadian priority in all business discussions.

The former Progressive Conservative government was always very concerned with the protection of our Canadian cultural industries which is why during the free trade negotiations we ensured that all cultural industries were exempt from the final free trade agreement. This exemption was also included in the North American free trade agreement.

Over the past three decades, successive Canadian governments have brought in legislation aimed at ensuring that Canadian publishers have sufficient advertising to maintain their competitive edge in the Canadian market.

The Canadian publishing industry has prospered during this period specifically because of these initiatives. According to Statistics Canada, in 1996-97 there were 1,166 publishers producing some 1,552 periodicals with a total circulation of 539 million copies. The result is that we have revenues reaching the billion dollar mark plus 7,000 full time and part time employees.

Canadian publishers rely on advertising revenue for anywhere from 65% to 100% of their income. Therefore, it is easy to see why it is imperative that we intervene to protect them against the potential of any unfair competition by our U.S. competitors.

The government introduced Bill C-55 to help protect our Canadian magazine industry following last October's World Trade Organization ruling against Canadian imposed excise tax and customs tariffs on split-run magazines entering from the U.S. It is very important to note that in its decision, the WTO was not questioning Canada's right to protect its cultural industries; it objected to a policy that directly targeted U.S. magazines. Rather than target U.S. magazines directly, Bill C-55 will focus its attention on advertising services.

Essentially, Bill C-55 will restrict the sale of advertising directed at the Canadian market to Canadian publications. It should be noted that U.S. magazines can still sell Canadian advertising in their magazines so long as these advertisements appear throughout their North American publications. They cannot be solely targeted toward the Canadian market.

Some people might be wondering why we should impose measures to protect our Canadian magazine industry. There are a number of very important reasons, notwithstanding the fact that each year the Canadian magazine industry pumps millions of dollars into our economy creating employment opportunities for thousands of Canadians.

For one thing, many of Canada's most distinguished writers have graced our magazines with thoughtful and entertaining stories about people, places and things that have helped make our Canadian culture unique. More specifically however, Canada's magazine industry plays an important cultural role in helping us to define who we are as a people and what we stand for as a nation.

A culture defines one's beliefs and values. We are not automatically born with a culture. We might be born in a culture but culture is something we learn. We need Canada's magazine industry to prosper so that future generations of young Canadians have the opportunity to learn and appreciate the value of our own distinct culture, one that is envied throughout the world.

From the very beginning, the Reform Party has opposed any kind of legislation that would call for the protection of Canada's unique culture. Obviously it does not believe we have a culture worth protecting. Well I believe and the Progressive Conservative Party believes that Canadian culture is worth protecting.

When Canada was rallying together to show the people of Quebec that we very much wanted them to remain part of this great country, where was the Reform Party? Its leader was busy in private discussions with the former American ambassador.

More recently, the Reform Party went to the U.S. to hire a kind of guru to help cultivate MPs' minds.

The Reform Party's heritage critic has introduced 21 motions on Bill C-55, none of which contains any constructive improvements. All the Reform Party wants is the total cancellation of the bill. Is the Reform Party blindly following our American friends while overlooking our own cultural needs?

For months Canadians have been hearing stories about possible U.S. retaliation directed toward such Canadian industries as lumber and steel if Bill C-55 is allowed to become law. Naturally we take these threats very seriously. Canadians are naturally concerned, as I am, of any possible sanctions that might be imposed against any Canadian company.

That is why as the Progressive Conservative heritage critic I made a point of asking on a number of occasions questions in committee, precisely to get assurances from the representatives of the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Department of Justice that Canada's industries would be protected if indeed the U.S. brought challenges before the WTO or NAFTA. I received these assurances from departmental staff, as well as from the minister herself during yesterday's question period. As the minister stated, Bill C-55 respects every one of our national and international obligations.

Canada has one of the most open markets in the world for imported magazines. Imports account for 50% of magazine sales in Canada and over 80% of newsstand space according to the Magazine Publishers Association.

This bill is not going to close the door on imported magazines. It is going to allow our Canadian publications an opportunity to continue to compete with other foreign magazines in a very competitive industry.

In April 1993 the first Canadian edition of Sports Illustrated successfully circumvented import prohibitions by electronically transmitting its magazine to a printer in Canada. Essentially this opened the door for unfair competition from U.S. publishers who began producing split-run advertising editions of their magazines, thus reaping the benefits of repackaging the editorial content of their U.S. editions with Canadian advertising which they could sell for considerably less than their Canadian competitors. This essentially is dumping of U.S. magazines in the Canadian market.

Advertising has changed more in the last 10 years than it had in the previous 60. This is mostly because of new technology and changing markets. That is why any threat derived through unfair predatory practices must be challenged. Canadian publishers need our support to maintain their competitive edge in this new global economy.

Bill C-55 may not be perfect, but it is my belief that we must be strong as a nation and protect our Canadian culture. That is why I will be supporting this bill.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to these amendments today.

It is always a pleasure to remind the ruling party that the government's primary duty to the citizens of Canada is to defend their fundamental and natural rights and not to strip them of these rights by misguided legislation such as Bill C-55.

I have a little aside before I go any further. The same government that pretends to protect Canadian culture would not allow Canadians to indicate on their census forms that they were Canadian. Figure that one out.

Bill C-55 violates fundamental and natural rights including freedom of expression, freedom of contract and property rights. Bill C-55 also violates the charter of rights and freedoms and the Canadian bill of rights. Additionally, Bill C-55 has violated at least two international treaties including the 50-year old Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the North American free trade agreement.

Why were amendments not introduced to deal with these colossal oversights? It is because of politics.

When the government can run roughshod over individual rights and freedoms on the false premise of protecting our culture there is something sick with our system of government. I have said more than a dozen times in this House that if we do not change the system we will not change much else.

Bill C-55 should be scrapped, which is what the amendments of my colleague intend to do. It should not be just amended, it should be completely done away with. Bill C-55 makes it unlawful for Canadians and Canadian businesses, small and large, to advertise in foreign magazines sold in Canada, especially those magazines published in the United States.

How is this legislative sledgehammer supposed to protect Canadian culture? By prohibiting Canadians from advertising in American magazines. The bill actually guarantees that Canadians will only see American ads in American magazines, not Canadian ads.

Even a foreign magazine that has published only articles about Canada could not sell ads to Canadians. That is a long leap of Liberal logic that is bound to make everyone shake their heads in amazement.

Farmers cannot sell the grain they have grown with their own hands on their own land because of a government enforced monopoly. Now the government is taking away the freedom of Canadians to advertise where they think it will do the most good for them, for their companies, their employees and their shareholders.

Section 2 of the charter of rights and freedoms states:

Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

Professor Jamie Cameron of Osgoode Hall Law School says that this fundamental freedom includes advertising. The charter states that everyone has these fundamental freedoms; everyone it seems but Canadians who want to advertise in the magazines of their choice.

Through Bill C-55 the government takes away these fundamental freedoms for Canadian citizens. This will undoubtedly be the subject of a charter challenge. Has the government factored this into its cost of implementation for this bill? Has it considered what will happen when this unconstitutional law is struck down? How much will it cost us?

Violation of the freedom of expression is the first reason this bill should be scrapped rather than amended.

Last December 10 was the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations, which included ratification by the Government of Canada. Article 19 of the universal declaration states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.

Bill C-55 prohibits the imparting of information and ideas through any media. There it is for the world to see. Canada chastises other countries for violating fundamental human rights but it is prepared to violate article 19 of this international treaty which it signed 50 years ago. Violating such a fundamental freedom guaranteed in an international agreement will diminish respect for Canada and Canadians, and this is the second reason that Bill C-55 should be withdrawn rather than amended.

Bill C-55 violates another international agreement, namely the NAFTA. I would think that the minister of heritage and her cabinet colleagues would have learned their lesson when they lost the fight and millions of dollars when they arbitrarily tried to ban MMT in 1997.

Members of the House will recall that the Ethyl Corporation of the United States took the government to court because Canada had breached its obligations under the NAFTA. The NAFTA established a compensation process for investors harmed by a government failure to meet its NAFTA obligations.

Just like Ethyl Corporation, American magazine publishers will claim compensation for the advertising dollars they will lose as a direct result of the Canadian government's arbitrary prohibition of advertising from their Canadian customers. It is estimated that the loss to American magazine publishers will be in the neighbourhood of $250 million. This is money that the Canadian taxpayer cannot afford and that the government should not put at risk. That is the third reason Bill C-55 should be abolished and not amended.

Property rights protect the freedom of individuals because they allow people to make their own decisions about how to make the best use of their existing possessions, including their labour and the fruits of their labour. In the long run the right to make one's own decisions about one's life, one's work and one's business is the foundation of dignity and freedom.

In order to have property rights individuals must have freedom of contract, or economic liberty as it is called. Bill C-55 takes away Canadians' freedom to enter into contracts with whomever they choose. Bill C-55 takes away everyone's fundamental freedom of contract and, as a consequence, violates the property rights guaranteed in the Canadian bill of rights. That is the fourth reason Bill C-55 should be killed rather than amended.

None of these four reasons have been addressed by the government or any of the other parties that are criticizing us for our stand on this. I wish they would address these four concerns.

Let me summarize why Bill C-55 should be killed, scrapped and abolished. First, it violates the charter of rights and freedoms. Second, it violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Third, it violates the North American Free Trade Agreement. Fourth, it violates the Canadian bill of rights.

Throughout Canadian history it has been taken for granted that we have freedom of speech and property rights, including freedom of contract. In fact people have come to this country because Canada is known for protecting these fundamental freedoms.

These freedoms have provided a foundation for the culture that has developed on this continent, especially in Canada. Canadians value their property rights and their freedom of speech. They see them as being part of their heritage. For the government to use protection of culture as an excuse for this bill is ridiculous. Any thinking person would realize that this bill does the very opposite. This bill flies in the face of what Canadians value most. It does not protect their culture, it undermines it. The speech I have just given makes that absolutely clear.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.


Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay—Columbia, BC

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.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.


Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate today at report stage of Bill C-55, although I admit I am a little dismayed that we should be debating such a bill to begin with.

In my capacity as the critic for international trade for our party, I understand all too well the importance of trade to Canada. Forty per cent of our GDP is derived from exports.

Canada recognized a long time ago, and I suggest that even the Liberal government of the past recognized a long time ago, as early as 1947, the need for some rules to surround the trade issue. Canada has a relatively small population base and we need trade to survive. It is as simple as that.

A third of all the jobs provided in this country are related to exports. That is a simple fact of life. There is not anybody here who is not affected by that fact of life. Of that, 83% of those exports go to United States. We have this great big trade relationship, $1.4 billion a day crossing the Canada-U.S. border in a healthy, goodwill relationship. I submit we need to make sure that stays.

In that trade relationship, yes, we have some problems with the Americans in terms of agriculture from time to time. Problems with softwood lumber and other issues present themselves. This is a pretty small problem overall in terms of our total trade relationship but to those industries the problem is big.

Add to that the steel industry. It is subject to a lot of anti-dumping charges by the U.S. and I do not think they are really substantiated. They have to go through quite a process to comply. The compliance factor is very expensive. They are always on notice that there will be problems with the U.S. on the steel industry.

We have come a long way with trade liberalization. It has been recognized worldwide for the last 50 years, largely as a result of the second world war. A number of institutions were built to make sure we did not get back into those situations again, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and of course the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the United Nations.

One of the reasons the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was put in was so that we would not have Balkanization where there was no access to markets from other countries.

I have already made the case why we need that access. In addition, under the free trade agreement with United States and the subsequent NAFTA, trade between our two countries has grown by over 50% in 10 years.

That speaks volumes about the need for and the benefit of trade liberalization and yet we have a government that as far back as 1988 fought the free trade agreement. The minister responsible for Canadian heritage was one of the leading proponents of fighting the free trade agreement with the United States. She even fought it right up until NAFTA was signed.

Although the Liberal government all of a sudden was elected in 1993 it said at the time it would not sign NAFTA unless a number of important problems were addressed. It did not do that. It did sign NAFTA.

I wonder if some of the Liberals who fought this so hard are really committed to trade and trade liberalization. It seems to me we are seeing today that some of them are not.

Do we need protectionism in our cultural industries? A number of our speakers have already suggested we do not. I would subscribe to that theory. Our cultural industries need promotion just like any other industry. It needs to be promoted at our embassies overseas and through trade missions. I have no problem with that aspect at all.

We have a number of areas in culture that stand up very well but what we do not want is to have other countries take this same type of venue, protectionism, especially the United States. What would happen if the United States told Canada our artists no longer had access to Hollywood or Nashville?

Look at the number of Canadian artists who have developed their abilities by having access to that huge American market. We absolutely have to make sure that stays. This kind of legislation is the type we have come to expect from the minister, stick your finger in the eye of the United States and give it a good gouge.

What do we have from this minister so far? We have the MMT legislation, Ethyl Corporation. We were to ban the sale of MMT. It came from the minister. Of course we had to back down. The American Ethyl Corporation was paid $16 million as a result of the heritage minister's misguided policies.

We had the split run legislation on taxation, on duties, that went to the World Trade Organization that we lost. We had the endangered species legislation that had to be pulled as an embarrassing piece of legislation because the minister was not going to take into account the very users in the areas involved, forest companies, farmers and ranchers. We have of course the toxic waste situation where S.D. Myers in the United States is probably going to sue Canada under the investment chapter of NAFTA because the minister decided that toxic waste should not be exported to the United States, it should go to northern Alberta so we could burn it up there.

This is what we have come to expect but it is not what we should expect from a minister of the crown who should be introducing responsible legislation. This issue will come back to haunt us. I know the minister has introduced an amendment today, essentially backing down, saying this will not be put into effect for some time.

I noticed the tone of her remarks in question period during the last while has really come down a lot. She is trying to put this issue at a lower level, and rightly so. It should be scrapped altogether. The legislation should be scrapped because it is not in Canada's best interest.

I happened to catch a CBC program the other night where a number of the minister's own constituents in Hamilton were interviewed. The big issue for them is jobs and not whether split runs continue to enjoy Canadian advertisers. It is the fact that their jobs may be threatened. The Hamilton steel industry has enough problems with the Americans. We do not have to invent phoney ego trip problems by the minister.

What about the chemical industry, the plastics industry out of Toronto and other parts of the country which has had tremendous growth into United States, taking advantage of niche opportunities in that big American market? Are we going to kill those opportunities now because we risk retaliation from the United States?

It is clear that if there are any jobs to be lost on this issue it should only be one, that of the Minister of Canadian Heritage for irresponsible legislation.

Does Canada have the right to introduce the legislation? Of course we do. But is it the responsible thing to do? That is the question. Is it responsible to risk our big trade relationship with the United States? NAFTA, brought in 1993 and endorsed by the Liberals, says Canadians have the right to protect our culture. It also says as part of that agreement that if the Americans are not happy with that they have the right to retaliate to an equivalent effect.

Some people have estimated that equivalent effect to be $350 million of Canadian businesses that may be subject to tariffs and duties. Can our steel industry support having duties applied to it? We know what has happened to our softwood lumber industries in the past when that happened. It has had a very dampening effect on jobs.

It seems this is sending entirely the wrong message to Canadians, that one minister on an ego trip is willing to sacrifice the jobs of Canadian farmers, the jobs of Canadian steelworkers, Peerless Suits in Montreal which has actually had a tremendous niche opportunity and developed a business in the United States. It has developed this because the United States took a misguided view of things and put a tariff on wool coming into the United States.

We do not have the same tariff. We have seen the light. It has given Canadian companies in Montreal a tremendous opportunity in manufacture in wool suits. They captured a tremendous amount of the American market. We were not there 10 or 20 years ago but we have several billion dollars worth of sales of wool suits in the United States. That shows what can happen when we a view in terms of liberalization, in terms of duties and tariffs. This bill should be sunk. It should have the deep six. It should go to the bottom of Lake Ontario, the same place the minister referred to with some of the ships from the war of 1812. She put it in the same category as the American-Canadian battle of 1812 when American ships were sunk. That is where this should go, to the bottom of Lake Ontario.

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5:10 p.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, as I sat listening to the speeches it really struck me what a menace this minister is. She truly is a menace.

When we think about the history of the bills and acts she has introduced and the actions she has taken in parliament she truly is a menace. Just a short time ago I remember seeing a news item on television where she was taking a swim in a polluted part of Lake Ontario. It had been approved safe to swim there. Obviously it was not cleaned up enough and corrupted her thinking in terms of sensible legislation. I do not know why her cabinet colleagues continue to humour her this much, to allow her to introduce this type of legislation, especially when we consider her history.

This is the minister who introduced a ban on the transportation of MMT. When she could not get the health department to prove to her that MMT was harmful she introduced a ban on transportation. What could be more ridiculous than that? No wonder we ended up in a fight with the United States over that. It cost us close to $100 million by the time the dust settled.

Then we had the flag fiasco. Remember that nonsense the minister ran for about a year and a half where she gave away flags, putting Canadian businesses out of work. I had people in my riding who make their living selling Canadiana who were begging with me to stop this minister from being in competition with them, giving away Canadian flags. How much did that cost us in the end? It cost $14 million for a complete fiasco which actually put people out of business. There was loss taxation and lost jobs on top of the actual cost to the treasury.

The heritage department was reported by the auditor general a month ago to be in complete disarray. It has no idea what it is spending the money on or why. The auditor general gave examples of programs that should be in completely different departments. For example, the minister's department produced a brochure on alternatives to physically disciplining children published in 16 languages, including French and English. It is unimaginable the waste that goes on.

We heard recently the minister's department gave $80,000 to a Montreal publisher to produce a book on blonde jokes. Another example is a conference to discuss promoting science and technology programs in schools for a specific racial group. A further program she funded was a conference for aboriginals on adolescent issues.

We have to ask ourselves, with this sort of history, the actions of her department and the bills that are coming in, how we can tolerate anything at all that the minister brings before us.

We have the example of the previous magazine bill that she brought before the last parliament. What a fiasco that was. Although we did not end up with the compensations we had to pay for the MMT fiasco, I will bet there were tens of millions of dollars in legal fees, human capital, resources, use of copiers and travel, all the things that went into that appeal and the challenge that took place under NAFTA.

It appears that everything the minister touches turns to poop. I hope you do not mind me saying that, Madam Speaker, but that is to put it mildly.

It makes me think of the complaints I receive in my riding about the CRTC which tries to impose through the minister culture upon the people of Canada. When a new Canadian station starts up, whether or not it is even commercially viable, whether it is mediocre or excellent, cable users are forced to pay for it and it is forced into an unimpaired part of the channel spectrum on cable. Some other channel people were getting before goes into the nether regions of space where they have to pay for an additional package to get it.

I know these sorts of complaints come to every member of the House. This is a misguided attempt to force upon people something on which they should be able to have free choice. All the things the minister is doing should be based on choice. The people producing them should have to produce excellence instead of mediocrity if they want to be accepted.

My original home country, New Zealand, went through quite an upheaval in the early nineties. It cut the size of government from something like 80,000 federal employees down to about 45,000 people today. That does not sound like much by Canadian standards but it is for New Zealand, a small country. Almost 10 years later it is running with half the people it had in 1993.

Part of the program system it had involved cultural controls, subsidies to protect New Zealand culture. It was exactly the same nonsense we have here. TV and radio stations had to have a certain amount of New Zealand content. With the upheaval in the New Zealand economy and the restructuring there was the abandonment of that approach.

After an initial faltering the culture industry in New Zealand took off because it offered opportunities for entrepreneurs and private people to put money into the system. It started to become excellent instead of mediocre. It managed to produce films like The Piano which was sold worldwide and appeared on screens all over the world, something that had never happened from New Zealand before. Mutiny on the Bounty was made there as a result of encouragement of culture. People were encouraged to come from the outside and use New Zealand talent.

The point that I am illustrating is that every attempt the minister makes to compel Canadians to go along with her plans to absorb more Canadian content is a disaster. They are a complete and utter failure. They cost us hundreds of millions of dollars and achieve absolutely nothing except to make Canadians irritated and angry about what the minister is trying to do.

The minister should be telling the people making their livings off the grants and subsidies she hands out that they are on their own. They should prove to Canadians that they can produce excellent quality material and the viewers and readers will come and they will be successful. She is not doing these cultural groups any favours at all by giving them constant subsidies.

Some of my colleagues have mentioned that we are threatening the billion dollars a day in the trade we do with our biggest trading partner all over a few arguments about advertising in magazines. It is quite clear, from the way the bill is constructed, that we would not just have the Americans challenging us. We will have Canadians taking us to court if the bill is enacted. People will ask what right the Minister of Canadian Heritage has to stop them from advertising where they want to advertise. There will be challenges.

Mr. Speaker, you always enjoy it when I make speech when you are on duty. I am pleased you have taken the chair. It is a shame you were not here before because you missed the best part about the minister being a menace and how everything she introduces turns to poop.

The national publicity the bill has received over the last week has finally brought some sense to the minister. She realizes, with the uprising in her own riding, that this attempt to protect Canadian culture at the expense of everything else is a silly fiasco. If the magazines are worth reading they will be purchased by Canadians and there will be advertisers in them. Let us get that out of the way.

We have to remember as well that only about 5% of all magazines sold in Canada are sold off magazine racks. Yet we hear all this weeping and wailing about how 80% of the magazines on the racks are from foreigners. Most of the magazines in Canada are delivered through subscriptions or through delivery along with the local newspapers or by free drop off at the door.

There is plenty of opportunity in magazines for advertisers and Canadian content. In committee representatives of the Canadian industry admitted that their biggest competition was from Canadian industry, not from across the border.

What have we done here? We have used a great big sledgehammer in an attempt to take care of a tiny, little problem that should be resolved by people in the industry sitting down with their counterparts across the border and seeing if they can work out natural trade relationships where they share advertising and editorial space. Let us use creative thinking at the commercial level instead of the nonsense that the minister keeps introducing. I urge all members to vote against the bill.

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5:20 p.m.


Roy H. Bailey Reform Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will use my time to explain to the government that the bill is a time bomb. The bill is ticking. Even though we have temporarily put it on the shelf by order in council the bill will explode.

When the bill explodes every Canadian will be affected by it, not just the people in Hamilton or the people in my constituency. The bill will hurt Canadians everywhere, from ocean to ocean to ocean. We are bound to suffer severely from the bill even though it has been put on hold.

One might ask if it is a heritage bill. No. What is the bill? Is it a finance bill? No. Is it an industry bill? The minister is seeking to control an industry. Is it a justice bill since it is applying the Criminal Code to those people who wish to exercise their right of free speech? Or, is it a foreign affairs and international trade bill? As this time bomb sits there and as the bill sits on the shelf there will be severe repercussions for Canadians.

Two words cannot be found in the bill. They are the words culture and heritage. These words do not even occur in the bill.

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5:25 p.m.


Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Will the member opposite be kind enough to indicate to which of the motions in Group No. 1 he is referring?

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5:25 p.m.


Roy H. Bailey Reform Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am referring to Motions Nos. 1 to 22.

We will have trade retaliation. The government knows it. The Minister of Canadian Heritage knows it. Backbenchers know it. This why the bill will come into force to be fixed by order in council. That is how much they trust their own minister's bill.

There are nine ports of entry into the United States in my constituency. They are all legal. If an American magazine published in Minard was dedicated solely to Canadian geography and sold advertising to Canadian advertisers, it would face criminal charges. Can we believe this? It is true. The magazine would face criminal charges, and I have that happening in my own area.

I do not know whether the government has clearly thought the bill through. On the other hand, if a magazine owned by a Canadian in Estevan writes about vacation spots in the United States, it can get advertising from whomever it wishes. This is bound to have severe effects on international trade.

Let us take the western perspective. A group of people just south of the 49th parallel are waiting for some little excuse to retaliate. The first truckload or caravan of cattle turned back because of retaliations for this bill will fall right smack in the government's lap, particularly in the lap of the Minister of Canadian Heritage. They do not seem to care. That will happen. The time bomb is ticking away on the bill.

Let me put it in a different perspective. The bill is more restrictive than the Canadian Wheat Board bill. It is a fact. Why is it more restrictive? The Canadian Wheat Board bill only affects the property rights in the west of those who grow wheat, but this bill will affect all Canadians everywhere.

Does the government opposite think for one moment that it should restrict American advertising on Canadian TV? Does it think for one moment that a little FM station in Scobey, Montana, should not be able to take Canadian advertising or, better still, that we should not be able to take from Estevan and advertise in the States?

This is sheer nonsense. If we want to see culture grow and prosper we should let it compete. Canadians can compete in any area they wish. They can compete in manufacturing. They can compete in agriculture. We do not need this international squabble looking us in the face.

Weyburn and Estevan in my constituency have some very unique projects which are running short of funds. They look after people who cannot look after themselves. They are both short of about $20,000. We could not get it from here. Yet, as the hon. member mentioned, we find a Montreal publishing firm was given $98,000 to publish a bunch of dumb blonde jokes.

What do members think the people out there think? They ask if that is the government's priority? The answer is yes, that is the government's priority. And, it is all in the name of what? Oh, culture.

If you advertise in the wrong magazine you are subject to criminal prosecution. Think of that. Somebody in my constituency who chooses to advertise in a magazine that is published in Bismarck will be subject to prosecution. It is unbelievable but it is true.

This bill will not be passed for some time. There will be terrible ramifications. It will cost us hundreds of millions of dollars to get ourselves out of the legal suits. I would ask the government members opposite and the ministers to take this back to caucus and do the sensible thing and pull this rotten bill right off the list. Pull it right away. Get it out of here. It has failed in the past several times. It will fail again but they are quite willing to blow a hundred million dollars to try to defend it in international courts and they will say that they were standing up for Canadian culture. Nobody believes that.

Let us honour the Canadian's right to compete. Let us not try to protect something that can compete. The minister in charge of the wheat board would tell us right away that Canadian wheat can compete anywhere in the world but this bill says that Canadians cannot compete. I believe they can and I think this government is terribly wrong in trying to say they cannot.

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5:30 p.m.


Howard Hilstrom Reform Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I re-emphasize that Motions Nos. 1 to 21 in Group No. 1 point out that the bill is poorly crafted. It is a thinly veiled attempt to circumvent two unfavourable rulings that Canada received at the World Trade Organization tribunals. It is provoking very real trade retaliation from U.S. trade representatives and it is offensive to fundamental freedoms.

There are some very practical reasons why I oppose Bill C-55 on behalf of the constituents of Selkirk—Interlake. This foreign publishers advertising services act will have a large negative impact on my riding and on all Canadians. The minister has said words to the effect that this bill is about promoting Canadian culture. I think the minister referred to ensuring that her daughter has magazines to read that have Canadian content.

I say this bill is really about promoting the heritage minister. It is not about Canadian culture at all. Let us look at this promotion. The protection of what appears to be two major publishers in this country is what this whole bill seems to be about. The two that have come to the attention of this House are Maclean Hunter and Télémédia Incorporated, two very large companies that really have no problem standing on their own or competing with others. I think they would agree this has nothing to do with their not being able to compete.

As soon as any country starts to go into protectionism and reduce trade the population of that country soon becomes much poorer. Throughout history look at the greatest nations in the world like Rome. We find that the rich nations were those that had open and free trade. They became wealthy. Their citizenry became wealthy. That is what is under attack in Bill C-55. We want to close in among ourselves. Deal inside Canada. Keep the evil foreigners away, in this case the Americans. Tomorrow it will be the Europeans. The day after that it will be the Japanese. That is what this bill is about. It is about dollars and cents as to its repercussions.

Mr. Gary Leech, one of the chief executive officers of Manitoba Rolling Mills, a steel rolling plant in Selkirk and a subsidiary of Gerdau, was so concerned with the possibility of trade problems in steel exports from Canada to the United States that he sent me a letter outlining the problems he sees will come up. Bill C-55 and protectionism is exactly what he does not want. He wants to see the exports that earn large amounts of money for Canada continue to flow to the states. It is a good customer. It wants to make these purchases. There is an example of a direct impact on my riding. It is one of the industry items that we are exporting that we do not want to see shut down.

The reality check is the harm in trade between Canada and the U.S.. It is our biggest customer and we are its biggest customer. It would enter into the hundreds of millions. When we get into a tit for tat trade dispute, which is what the heritage minister seems to be trying to get us into, it soon turns into billions.

At best, the intent of trying to protect a couple of our publishers to the tune of a few million dollars is not worth the trade costs and problems we will have if this bill gets passed.

I am the chief agriculture critic. Agriculture is another gigantic industry in western Canada, in my riding in particular. At present Canadian agriculture and agri-food trade is over $28 billion a year. We are not talking a few million for the publishing trade.

I pointed out that Motions Nos. 1 through 21 have very much to do with the World Trade Organization talks. We are coming up to those talks. What we are going to find out is that the trade representatives from other countries are going to look at Canada and say “Are you putting out bills like Bill C-55 and going into a protectionism type mentality? Our economies are about 10 or 15 times bigger than yours. You are going to be the loser”. We will not see that in published print but I guarantee that is exactly what we are talking about in the debate today.

The cost to agriculture could be gigantic. We are talking about an industry of $28 billion in exports a year. In agriculture we depend on trade for our survival. Right now we see the problems of agriculture with reduced exports to other countries and low commodity prices. They are low because the dollars we are able earn from trade and the lower exports are hitting families on Canadian farms in the pocket book.

We are not talking about some hypothetical bill, that is really does not matter or that it matters to only a few Canadians. This matters to everyone.

At present commodity prices have collapsed and in Saskatchewan the estimates earlier on this fall were that the drop in income could be as high as 70%, Manitoba as high as 45%, Prince Edward Island as low as 41% off from past years.

Instead of introducing legislation that would ensure a viable agricultural sector, this government seems to spend its time on Bill C-55. Bill C-55 will erode our farm markets and will deepen the income crisis we are in already.

I point out that our exports to the United States have been hurt by South Dakota and North Dakota which feel that we are subsidized, that we are exporting products which are not in keeping with their pesticide regulations or other chemical regulations.

I believe Bill C-55 will just add to the frustration of American trade negotiators. They will not necessarily say they are restricting the movement of grain, cattle or hogs into the states because of Bill C-55 but in the back of their minds they will see Canadians as unfair traders, people trying to restrict trade and put up barriers to the United States and other countries.

In the fall the agriculture minister was real big on this. He said don't worry about trade, it is just to do with the elections in the United States. When that is over we won't have any more problems. The elections in the United States were over in the fall and the trade disputes and the trade irritants got worse. It was false that the elections were the cause of the trade disputes.

On top of all that now we see Bill C-55 which could be looked on as the straw that broke the camel's back if passed. I urge all members to vote against this bill.

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5:40 p.m.


Reed Elley Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today, not necessarily to have to speak to a bill like this, but still to exercise my democratic right as an elected representative of the people of Nanaimo—Cowichan to continue the debate on Bill C-55 and the amendments proposed by my hon. colleague.

I want to share why I believe those amendments should be passed and through the passage of those amendments the bill should be entirely wiped out.

This bill has drawn a great deal of controversy and political rhetoric over the past several months. As we all know, what we read and hear from the spin doctors and the political posturing from the government does not tell the whole story.

Part of the government's and magazine industry's story has been that without this bill Canadian culture will be hurt. I have eight children and I do not for a minute think that the passage of this bill will protect the kind of culture with which they grow up. I have a little daughter who is going to be eight tomorrow. I wish her a happy birthday. As a member of parliament I may not be there for her birthday. But I do not expect that she is going to ever have her cultural sensitivities hurt because this bill passes into law.

The government said that not to endorse this bill is somehow unpatriotic and anti-Canadian. This is absolute nonsense.

I believe, moreover, that this bill has the potential to do far more harm than good for Canada. If this bill is approved and given royal assent the heritage minister is willing to put vast portions of the Canadian economy at risk.

The minister may be willing to risk it all but I wonder, are the people who she is affecting willing to risk it all? I dare say that if we asked the logger, the sawyer, the pulp and paper worker in the British Columbia forest industry, we would find that they are not willing to take this risk. They have already paid dearly in the downtrodden economy of British Columbia. They have already paid with layoffs and downturns.

My riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan has traditionally been a large producer of forest products with many people employed in that industry. I can guarantee that they are not willing to put any more of those people at risk through a bill like this.

I wonder if the minister of heritage is willing to ask the farmers across the prairies who have already seen a price drop in grain whether they are willing to risk their livelihood further. Farmers are already facing many natural calamities from drought, frost and hail without built-in disasters that are imposed by their own federal government. Many farmers are already facing a disaster from this federal government by hearing that the cheque is in the mail when in fact it is not.

Perhaps the minister would be willing to listen to the response of the many people who depend upon work in the steel, textiles or plastics industries which stretch across southern Ontario and Quebec.

Many of these businesses have carved their place in the market in spite of major international competition. Are they willing to risk it all based upon the false premises of this bill? I suggest that they are not.

When the heritage minister asks the House to pass this legislation, there are major risks and very real consequences.

The United States has clearly stated its own position on this matter. I do not want to be misunderstood here; I believe in Canadian sovereignty and I strongly believe in national unity. But there are many issues and times that I feel this government has acquiesced to the sabre rattling and scare tactics of our neighbours south of the border.

Overall our U.S. neighbours are good neighbours and I agree they cannot dictate Canadian policy. However, our ambassador to the United States met with me and a group of parliamentarians which incidentally included members of the government in Washington last week. The government members should listen to this. Among other things, we discussed this bill and its consequences to Canadian-U.S. relationships. The ambassador warned us not to get into a situation where a trade war would erupt because when all is said and done, we know who the losers would be. Here is a man who has his ear to the ground in Washington. I really wonder whether our government has been listening to him. I do not think so.

There are other instances. I believe that the minister of fisheries has a lot to account for in the handling of our west coast fish stocks. Where was the nationalism of this government when our west coast fishermen were being stopped from reaping their livelihood and were forced to watch from the sidelines as Alaskan fishermen ran their nets and lines down to pull up our Canadian salmon? It was not found anywhere on the west coast.

Where was the strength of the government when the British Columbia forest industry was facing sanctions and tariffs by the lumber industry of the United States? It was nothing but weak-kneed action that I would see.

This government has a lot of very mixed up priorities. On the issues when the government could have made a difference and truly stood up for national sovereignty, the Liberals were nowhere to be found. On the issues that involve the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of individuals and businesses alike, they are prepared to take enormous risks. This seems to be out of step with what Canadians really desire.

I believe that Canadians want to have opportunities to work, opportunities to move ahead in their lives and to not be faced with regressive and hidden taxes every time they try to make a step forward. This bill does not meet those kinds of objectives.

In doing some rough calculations, the total trade that Canada currently does with the United States is approximately $365 billion, a billion dollars a day. That is a huge number. The annual advertising market that Bill C-55 is designed to address totals about $400 million. This is just over one-tenth of one per cent. In comparison, the value of the goods for wheat, metals, alloys, chemicals, plastics, fertilizers and forest products that Canada exports to the United States totals $76.98 billion.

The heritage minister is willing to risk 21% of our trade with the United States for the sake of this bill. This is a far greater risk than I believe the stakeholders in these industries are willing to take. This bill is fraught with misconceptions and bureaucratic doublespeak.

On Tuesday, February 9 the heritage minister was asked if Bill C-55 was an ironclad piece of legislation that could survive any possible U.S. challenge to the WTO or the NAFTA and to confirm that it conforms with Canada's charter of rights. The minister's reply was that it is the position of the government that this bill respects every one of our national and international obligations.

In fact, the WTO handed down two rulings last year which found the provisions under previous magazine advertising legislation to offend the GATT. We were not receiving a straight bill of goods on these most important questions.

This bill also has possible ramifications for our charter of rights and freedoms. Through the enactment of this bill, Canadian advertisers will be banned from selling their goods and services in foreign magazines. Is the minister telling Canadian advertisers that when it comes to freedom of speech, something we all hold in high favour, that these people are second class citizens? I certainly hope this is not what it will come to be.

We have been told this bill is to protect our Canadian culture. My read of this bill does not show the word culture anywhere in its writings. What this bill has is the workings and markings of protectionism and will likely fail when challenged at the World Trade Organization through the GATT.

We have been told that this bill is intended to protect Canadian advertisers from cheap American advertising dollars creeping into split-run magazines. In fact, Mr. John Tory of Rogers Communications, which owns Maclean Hunter and publishes Maclean's magazine, recently appeared before the heritage committee. At the heritage committee he admitted that magazine publishers' biggest competition for advertising dollars is from Canadians. It does not make sense.

Perhaps the item that causes me the most concern in this bill is the addition of the magazine police. Are we going to have them all over the place? I suspect so if this bill goes through. I believe this legislation is wrong. I do not believe that the Canadian public is supportive of this legislation and I certainly am not.

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5:50 p.m.


Mike Scott Reform Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know that unlike my colleagues across the way, you have been waiting for some time for my intervention and I hope I do not disappoint.

The first thing I have to say and which is patently obvious to most of us in the House and most Canadians at this point in time is that the heritage minister's ego and arrogance know no bounds. It is becoming clearer to Canadians all the time. She has demonstrated this over and over again. Let me give this House some examples.

Alongside this bill, what has the minister got for a track record? She has the GST promise. She has the—

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5:50 p.m.


Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is my understanding that members on either side of the House have to address the motions that are on the floor. Would you please invite the member to do so.

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5:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sure that the hon. member for Skeena is going to address the 21 amendments that are before the House at this time. I am sure he was just warming to a theme.

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5:50 p.m.


Mike Scott Reform Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is indeed the case. I am amazed. My friend across the way must be blessed with ESP to know what I was going to say as I just rose.

I have to relate this bill to other things the minister has done to show the arrogance and the egotistical approach she has to her job. I can talk about the MMT, the GST, the flag giveaway, and as my colleague mentioned the $98,000 for a book on dumb blond jokes, which incidentally was just before she had her hair dyed. She demonstrates little concern for the economic wreckage she leaves behind her with all of these initiatives. This bill is a case in point.

The minister professes to care about national unity. She professes to care about keeping Canada together. Then she introduces a piece of legislation such as Bill C-48 which I suggest is going to do more to divide and anger Canadians than anything the minister has done before. We will see the fruits of her labour not too far down the road.

What is amazing is that the Prime Minister continues to let the heritage minister prance around without a leash leaving unpleasant little surprises for us all over the place.

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5:55 p.m.


Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege. This is probably the toughest afternoon I have ever had in my life listening to the nonsense from across the way, but when it degenerates to personal insults directed at members of the House I am amazed that the Chair tolerates that.

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5:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair is mindful that members do sometimes make personal comments. While some may regard them as in poor taste, I do not think that intervention by the Chair is required unless the comments are unparliamentary. I have not heard comments that under the rules appear to be unparliamentary. A matter of taste is a matter of taste and I leave members to exercise their own restraint.

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5:55 p.m.


Jim Gouk Reform West Kootenay—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Reform members seem to be the main ones who are trying to shed some light on the problems of the bill. We are continually being interrupted. Could I suggest that perhaps it might be in order if the hon. member across the way has so much to say that he take a place on the speaking rotation instead of interrupting.

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5:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I think the comments on both sides are indicative of the fact that perhaps there is not complete agreement on all the terms of the bill. The Chair is not in a position to adjudicate on what I regard as perhaps not well taken points of order or questions of privilege.

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5:55 p.m.


Mike Scott Reform Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, it would be easier for us on this side and certainly easier for me to proceed with my intervention and to keep the personal comments to a minimum if my colleagues on the other side were not engaging in this kind of heckling in debate.

The case before us is really important. Canada's trade with the United States is huge. Eighty per cent of our trade is with the United States. We need them and they need us. It is a very important trade relationship. We need them very badly.

The magazine issue as an economic matter does not even register on the scales in terms of economic importance. It is not important in terms of our economy. Issues like steel, softwood lumber and other trade relationships that we have are vital to the future of the country and vital for the province I come from and vital for the constituents I represent. We have a huge trade in softwood lumber with the United States.

By introducing this bill, the minister is indicating that she is willing to put at risk those jobs and those industries and that trade relationship for the sake of her ego. It is irresponsible in the extreme. She is willing to put our entire trade relationship with the United States at risk over an issue that does not even register on the scales economically. Someone should run out and buy the minister a calculator. She should become acquainted with the numbers and maybe then she would pause and change her mind.

The minister and the government show so much concern for magazines. If the Liberals are that concerned about the trade relationship with the United States and protecting Canadian businesses, why do they not do something about fish?

The people in my riding particularly from the Prince Rupert and the Queen Charlotte Island areas are in deep trouble because of our trade relationship and because of the fact that the government has been totally ineffective at negotiating any kind of an agreement with the Americans on the Pacific salmon dispute. It was totally ineffective in even bringing up the issue, and totally ineffective in even trying to make this a priority because the Liberals do not consider it to be a priority.

When it comes to magazines, oh yes it is a national issue but when it is Pacific salmon, that is a regional issue, a B.C. issue. It does not matter. It does not register on their scales, or the minister's scales.

Where is the concern for the sports fisherman, the aboriginal fisherman and the commercial fishermen who have lost their livelihoods? That is a heritage issue. These people, particularly in the commercial industry, have lost and are in the process of losing a way of life because of government inaction and inability or unwillingness to deal with that very crucial issue.

The province I come from does a tremendous amount of trade with the Americans on softwood lumber. I cannot begin to say how many communities in my riding, never mind businesses, depend on trade in softwood lumber for their sustenance, for their livelihoods. Families depend on a paycheque so they can make their mortgage payments, buy groceries, put their kids through school and have some kind of future.

The minister is willing to put that at risk over an issue that does not even register on the economic scale. The minister is willing to put at risk thousands of jobs in the steel industry in Ontario over an issue that does not even register on the economic scale. The minister is willing to put her ego and agenda ahead of the best interest of Canadians. I am frankly appalled.

I look at my colleagues across the way. They just do not understand that real lives and futures are on the line. If they would choose to venture out of Ontario and come to my riding in northern British Columbia they would see for themselves the economic devastation that northern communities in British Columbia have faced over the last couple of years. Then maybe they would not be so quick to criticize.

We see window dressing action on the part of the minister that is designed to try to persuade Canadians she is concerned about our country and out there doing something. She is really out there attempting to exacerbate the problems my constituents already have in the industries in which they are employed.

I understand the heritage minister being this way because she has demonstrated a track record in this regard for a long time. What I cannot understand is how her caucus, her fellow cabinet and the Prime Minister will let her continue with putting at risk hundreds of millions of dollars of trade with the United States every year over an issue which basically does not even register on the economic scale and is not important to most Canadians. I frankly do not think most Canadians are concerned about the issue the minister is trying to address. I am appalled that the minister is willing to put everything else on the line over this issue.

If the heritage minister and the government were really serious about standing up for Canada's interest, they would get off this issue which for most Canadians does not even register and address some other issues like softwood lumber and Pacific salmon which they have done absolutely nothing meaningful about for five years now, ever since I have been in this place.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.


Jim Gouk Reform West Kootenay—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I note once again that Liberal members across the way have the opportunity to officially join in this debate at any time but would rather snipe from the sidelines. Of course, that is understandable. They have nothing concrete to add. They have nothing substantive to say so all they can do is hurl little insults or stand there and nod like drinking birds. It is kind of interesting. If they had something to say I am sure the Canadian public would listen, but as it is they have already declared the merit of the bill by their silence.

Let us look at what is really happening with the bill. I have just completed a round of town hall meetings in my riding. I have talked about how legislation works in the House. I have explained that only the government writes legislation and that sometimes it writes good legislation which we support. In fact we work with them to get it through the House as quickly as possible because it might be long overdue.

Sometimes the government comes out with legislation that has some merit, but we think it could be a little better so we propose amendments. Sometimes the legislation is bad, really bad, and we say we will fight it unless the government agrees to fix it up. Every now and again it comes out with some legislation that is so bad it is absolutely unfixable. We are close to that with this one.

There is actually one more category. Every now and again it comes out with legislation that just does not make sense. We fight it if it is bad. We may not agree with it but at least we understand where the government is coming from. However, every now and again it comes out with something that just makes no sense at all.

Should we try to come up with some Machiavellian reason as to why it might come out with such legislation? Let us look at the legislation before us. We are only talking about two big corporations that stand to have any possible benefit. The rest of the publishers in the country are asking what it is doing.

Why would the government do that? It was not overly rich back in pre-1993 but it got all kinds of contributions from big corporations. I wonder if there will be a marker out there after its slides this piece of garbage through the House.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

An hon. member

Do you think so?