Mr. Speaker, I will use up my 40 minutes. I am very pleased to speak to the bill today. The bill is not about Canadian sovereignty. We already know that we are a sovereign nation. The bill is about putting Canadian jobs at risk. If I had the opportunity to ask the minister, the question I would ask is whether she could assure the country that thousands of Canadians will not lose their jobs if the U.S. retaliates.
Reform opposes Bill C-55, unlike all other parties in the House. I have waited patiently for five days to speak to this bill. Time allocation was invoked this past Monday. It is ironic that even though the amendment by the minister was not debated we still voted on that amendment on Tuesday. I guess that is the way things work in the House.
First let me address the issue of time allocation before I make some comments on the minister's amendment which we should have debated in the House this past Tuesday. For the 49th time the government invoked time allocation. It is becoming a habit of the Liberal government. I remind members of the government what they used to say about time allocation or closure. I will quote a few of the members from Hansard .
In October 1989 the member for Ottawa West was quoted in the Toronto Star as saying:
This government had shown it has no respect for the public process, no respect for parliament and no respect for the opinions of the public.
The current House leader thought differently of time allocation when he was in opposition. He said:
—I am shocked.... Perhaps I should not be shocked.... This government has used closure on dozens and dozens of occasions. This is just terrible. This time we are talking about a major piece of legislation.... Shame on those Tories across the way.
That was in the November 16, 1992 edition of Hansard .
My last quotation in reference to closure was by the current Minister of Foreign Affairs in an article in the April 1, 1993 edition of Toronto Star in which he said that it:
—displays the utter disdain with which this government treats the Canadian people.
Let me speak to the amendment which the House did not have the opportunity to debate. Reform does not support the amendment to Bill C-55 put forth by the Minister of Canadian Heritage. This amendment is redundant. What does the amendment change? It changes absolutely nothing so it was unnecessary.
The actions taken by the government are contradictory if we examine them closely. On the one hand the Liberal government is calling for time allocation and trying to fast track the bill. At the same time it is putting forth an amendment to slow down the process at the implementation stage. Talk about mixed messaging.
What does the government really want? Are members opposite not convinced about the bill? Does the government not have any faith in Bill C-55? What does the government want in reference to Bill C-55? Does it mean the government wants to leave it on the shelf after it passes both houses? If that is the case why is it invoking time allocation and fast tracking it through? It is indeed a strange and unusual way to pass legislation.
By fast tracking Bill C-55 the government is sending a strong message to the United States that it is ready to risk a real trade war. Will the third reading have any effect on today's negotiations to avoid a trade war? I hope the government knows what it is getting into.
Peter Foster in the March 10 edition of the Financial Post gave a very accurate account of what is currently happening. He said:
What is really going on at the political level is a gigantic game of chicken. Politicians are merely revving their engines and trying to look as determined as possible while facing each other from opposite ends of the trade drag strip.
Who will be the real causalities if the U.S. retaliates? The real casualties will be the working people of this country, real Canadians, real Canadian jobs: jobs in Hamilton, jobs in Montreal, jobs in Toronto, jobs in Windsor and jobs in other parts of Canada.
Reform is not willing to put thousands of jobs of Canadians at risk. Therefore the Reform Party is the only opposition party that opposes Bill C-55. As members have heard from the minister, the government is trying to wrap itself around Canadian culture, Canadian sovereignty and the Canadian flag in defence of Bill C-55.
Canada is a sovereign country. Bill C-55 is not about protecting Canadian culture. If we examine Bill C-55 closely, it is really about putting Canadian jobs at risk and putting Canadians out of work. We have already heard that retaliation may amount to $1 billion to $4 billion. How many jobs will that be?
Bill C-55 had a terrible beginning. The publishers were consulted by the government but the other half of the industry, the advertisers, was not. From the very beginning the industry was divided and it continues to be divided to this very day. Publishers support Bill C-55 and the advertisers oppose it.
The government should take Bill C-55 back to the drawing board. It is poorly put together.
Another glitch we discovered this past week is the impact Bill C-55 will have on other ethnic split-runs in Canada which the ministry knew nothing about. It was too busy concentrating on American split-runs. The department does not know how many international split-runs are currently operating in Canada. This bill is so broad that it may affect numerous magazines already in circulation in Canada.
On that very note, I want to clarify some things that were said in Monday's question period. I pointed out to the heritage minister that her magazine bill, Bill C-55, would shut down the Chinese language World Journal and Ming Pao magazines. In her response, the heritage minister claimed that both magazines would be grandfathered and therefore unaffected by Bill C-55.
The grandfathering clause, clause 21 of Bill C-55 requires that a publisher “lawfully supplied such advertising services during the year before the day on which this act is introduced in the House of Commons”. The real question is did World Journal and Ming Pao magazines lawfully supply advertising for the Canadian market? The fact is they did not lawfully supply advertising for the Canadian market.
During the February recess the heritage committee travelled throughout the country listening to Canadians on the subject of culture. We tried to answer the question of what is Canadian culture. I was present at a meeting in Montreal. An interesting discussion took place between two well-known Canadians, Robert Pilon and Pierre-Marc Johnson.
Mr. Johnson stated that the history of Canada has shown that we can compete. Satellites of today are opening doors to everyone in the free world. Globalization will impact on everyone. There is no way of isolating oneself to this changing world. Mr. Johnson went on to state that he was all for openness and that “we as Canadians need the same openness in other countries. We need both work and trade openness in cultural goods. We need cultural products from the rest of the world. We need to move from defence to offence”. What does that really mean? In other words, let us promote our culture around the world instead of trying to protect our culture.
The heritage minister needs to heed the advice of the defence minister. In a speech delivered January 27, 1997 the defence minister said, “Perhaps in a new digital world, policies of cultural promotion make more sense than traditional policies of protection”.
I would like to read the concluding paragraph from an article entitled “Advertising Canada's Culture: Why the New Policy on Magazines Is Not Up to the Task” from the C.D. Howe Institute:
Canada should vigorously defend its right to promote its culture through subsidies, tax breaks, and sensible content requirements and definitions aimed at ensuring the continued availability to Canadians of products from their own culture, and, in general, a fair competitive environment for domestic cultural productions that are demonstrably of special value to Canadians. Canada should also insist that government policy be able to treat magazines containing Canadian stories aimed at Canadians differently in certain respects from those produced for a foreign audience. But by clinging to measures that increasingly restrict access to information, that threaten Canada's commercial interests, and that possibly accelerate, rather than prevent, cultural assimilation, the federal government instead risks taking Canada down a path toward poorer cultural and economic health, and is diminishing the chances of arriving at a negotiated agreement with other countries on the proper line to draw between free trade and culture.
I say again, Bill C-55 takes us down that path toward cultural assimilation.
I would now like to tell the House what Canadians are saying about the heritage minister's magazine legislation. I will quote from an Ottawa Citizen article written by Chris Cobb on January 13:
Deputy U.S. trade representative Richard Fisher gave notice to Canada's ambassador in Washington on Monday that the U.S. would target the country's steel, wood and textile industries if Canada goes ahead with the new magazine law.
This is from an article written by Peter Morton in the January 12 National Post :
The U.S. has raised the stakes in its battle with Ottawa over so-called “split-run” magazines by expanding its list of threatened economic reprisals to include Canadian steel, textiles and clothing worth billions of dollars.
This is from the Canadian Press on January 21:
The president of Canada's second largest steel company has asked the federal government to kill its “split-run” magazine legislation, the CBC reported Wednesday. John Mayberry, president of Hamilton based Dofasco, wrote to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and three of his key ministers saying he fears the legislation would damage his steel company. Steel exports to the U.S. account for 10% of Dofasco's sales, according to the letter. Mayberry is also concerned sales to the U.S. based car manufacturers, which also have production in Canada, could be hurt. “I appeal to you to stop this bill immediately”, Mayberry says in the letter.
From the Ottawa Citizen of January 13, “Do the bidding of Canadian media giants, Rogers and Telemedia”.
From the National Post , January 12:
Don Belch, vice-president of government affairs at Stelco Inc., said he is not surprised that Canadian steel ended up on the list because it has such a high profile. Canadian steel exports to the U.S. through September last year totalled about $2.8 billion.
From the January 22 Globe and Mail :
Last week a top U.S. trade official warned Canada that the United States will slap sanctions on Canadian exports of steel, wood products, plastics, and textiles and apparel if the magazine law is enacted.
Many of the targeted companies, including Hamilton based Dofasco Inc., have complained loudly to Ottawa that the legislation is needlessly putting them at risk. And, they want the government to back off before the United States hits back with punitive tariffs.
In the January 12 National Post :
Sergio Marchi, the trade minister, told the Ottawa Citizen over the weekend that the government is interested in negotiating with the U.S., but still has no intention of withdrawing the legislation.
“If you want to retaliate, you might just as well do it now” he said. “Don't wait because we ain't yanking the bill.
From an article written by Chris Cobb in the January 13 Ottawa Citizen :
The U.S. trade official accused the Canadian government of doing the bidding of Canadian media giants Rogers and Telemedia, who are at the helm of an inefficient industry that does not want competition.
There are some recent articles. There was an article written by Robert Fife in the National Post on March 8:
Roger Gallaway, a Liberal MP from Sarnia, Ontario, says he will abstain because 40%—