House of Commons Hansard #214 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was museums.


Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria Liberalfor the Minister of Canadian Heritage

moved that Bill C-64, an act to establish an indemnification program for travelling exhibitions, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario


Mauril Bélanger LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, at first glimpse Bill C-64 looks like a relatively small technical piece of legislation of apparent interest only to people who work in Canada's museums. However this legislation has tremendous potential. It has the potential to affect the heart, soul and mind of every Canadian now and in years to come.

With this legislation in place every Canadian will be that much closer to seeing and experiencing many of the world's treasures that are all too often inaccessible except to a fortunate few.

Canada has museums, art galleries, libraries and archival depositories that are renowned throughout the world. They house treasures that belong to all the people of Canada. Many of us, if not most of us, have never had an opportunity to admire them.

For someone living in Red Deer, in Moose Jaw, Trois-Rivières, Corner Brook or such small places as Howe, Saskatchewan, which I have had the opportunity to visit, Mattawa, where I was born, or Saint-Eleutère-Pohénégamook in the lower St. Lawrence region of Quebec, it is not always possible to get to Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City or Fredericton to see exhibitions.

The entire world is full of wonderful things which Canada's children and youth will probably never get to see, for most people cannot afford to visit Rome, Paris, Beijing or Johannesburg.

But what if these treasures came to Canadians, instead of Canadians having to travel to see them? What if the world's greatest works could be brought here to Canada, and if Canada's art works could be seen by people the world over?

Far more Canadians would then have an opportunity to learn more about their history, their heritage, their identity, and the world's masterpieces.

This is precisely the essence of Bill C-64: to give Canadians the chance to know Canada, to open up the world to Canadians, to open up Canada to the rest of the world.

The bill deals with a major roadblock in putting exhibitions on the road. One solution is to get rid of the high cost of insurance. That is what the bill will allow us to do, to greatly lower the cost of insurance by covering loss or damages to an exhibition through an indemnification program: no money up front, only after the fact, only if needed.

Fourteen industrialized countries including the United States, Great Britain, Australia and France have have had their own government sponsored indemnity programs for years. Do they work? They more than work. In 23 years of operation the United States indemnity program has received only two claims at a cost of just more than $100,000 U.S. out of a total annual indemnification value of $3 billion. It is a similar story for the other 13 countries with similar programs. The precedent has been set.

Risk for Canada would be minimized by stringent eligibility criteria in a number of areas, including plans for security, environmental control and artefact handling.

Having a sliding scale will do away with requests for relatively minor indemnification.

It also means that insurance companies will not be excluded, because they will continue to supply insurance policies. Exhibitions valued at less than $500,000 would not be eligible for this program, and the maximum indemnification per exhibition would be $450 million.

The risk to government could be further reduced by setting a maximum of $1.5 billion for all exhibitions indemnified during a fiscal year.

With this bill, we want first and foremost to circulate Canadian heritage and to put it within the reach of all Canadians. We also want it accessible to visiting tourists. We want to make the wonders of the world more and more accessible to the people of Canada.

We must not ignore the economic impact of visitors to a province, a region or a city anywhere in the country. The Barnes exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario alone generated $38 million in consumer spending, much of which comes from the some 65,000 foreign visitors to Canada. The same phenomenon occurs pretty well across the board in other cities in Canada.

Last summer, I had the honour of visiting the Rodin exhibit in Quebec City. The exhibition was thronged and beautiful. The same phenomenon is happening with the Monet exhibit in Montreal, which I have also had the opportunity of seeing, and it occurs in the rest of the country as well.

Consider also last fall's Renoir exhibition at the National Gallery in my own backyard: $6 million in restaurant sales, a quarter of a million room nights in Canadian hotels and motels, 80,000 more people visiting Parliament Hill, and $25 million spent by visitors from abroad.

Exhibitions are about culture. They are also about jobs, manufacturing, consumption of goods and services, and tax revenues for all levels and orders of government.

I am honoured to have the National Gallery in the riding of Ottawa—Vanier that I represent. I know families from St. John's, Victoria, Whitehorse or Val d'Or cannot take a walk or a mere drive to the National Gallery as can my constituents and those in the national capital region.

I would like the wonders of that gallery, the Group of Seven paintings, the Emily Carr paintings, the modern sculptures and the antique artefacts, to travel to all Canadians. The bill is one big step in making that happen. As a proud Canadian, as all of us here, I think that is fantastic.

If our museums, art galleries, archives and libraries are to compete with institutions in other countries in order to borrow the world's most prestigious collections, we must pass this bill.

If we want a greater share of tourist revenues, we must pass this bill.

If we want our kids to see more Canadian art firsthand, we need this legislation. If we want our kids exposed to the greatest works of art in the history of humanity, we need this legislation. A vote for this bill is a vote for the achievement of Canadians and for our national identity. It is a vote for opening up the world to our children. It is a vote for culture and the power it brings to the human mind, the human soul and the human heart.

I am delighted from preliminary conversations with representatives of the opposition parties that there seems to be a substantial amount of support for the legislation. I encourage speedy passage at second reading so that the committee can be tasked with dealing with the bill and report as early as possible.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.


Inky Mark Reform Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-64 this morning.

The Reform Party, the official opposition, certainly supports Bill C-64, the Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act. The bill would in effect make the Government of Canada the underwriters for travelling international exhibitions under the auspices of public institutions up to a maximum of $450 million per show and up to an aggregate of $1.5 billion for any given year.

Before I begin to tell the House why we support Bill C-64, I want to say that this is another good example of Reform's support for legislation put forth by the government. It makes sense and it will ultimately provide better service to all Canadians.

Our record shows that almost half of the time we do support legislation from the government side. We support legislation when it is well thought out, when the people have been consulted and when we know the impact that it will have on the country. This side of the House would support more legislation if the government would be more transparent and take its time when it is putting together its legislation.

I will now tell the House why the official opposition believes Bill C-64 should be supported. By serving as underwriter to the public travelling exhibitions, the government potentially saves taxpayers the cost of paying a premium for private showings. For example, insurance on a recent travelling exhibition valued at $1.5 billion carries a premium of $1 million. Under the current circumstance, how can anyone afford to pay those types of premiums? Without this legislation, the premium is certainly a barrier to museums and other organizations that would like to bring in international and national exhibits and have them circulated throughout the country.

As long as standards of security, care and transportation are maintained at a high level, it seems unlikely that a potential liability would turn into an actual liability. Under a federal United States identification program, with a ceiling of $5 billion, in the last 25 years of operation only two claims were filed totalling $100,000.

I had the opportunity to meet with the Canadian Museum Association this past year to discuss Bill C-64 in-depth. This indemnification program was requested by the museums and by the Canadian Museum Association. They want the bill amended so that the maximum aggregate liability of $1.5 billion in any fiscal year be changed to $1.5 billion at any time.

However, section 53 and 54 of the Constitution Act, 1867 require that supply be specifically proposed by the crown and specifically authorized by the House of Commons. From a constitutional point of view, $1.5 billion at any time is disallowed. There is provision in the subclause for the amount to be raised or lowered by an appropriation act for a given year.

There is no minimum exhibition value set for participation in the indemnification program by the governor in council, but the governor in council is authorized to make regulations for setting a minimum. The government intends to set the minimum at $500,000 in order to maintain standards sufficiently high that losses are highly unlikely. This is a good approach.

It has been mentioned by the parliamentary secretary that there will certainly be a spillover of economic impact from major exhibitions. This could run into the tens of millions of dollars and would have a huge impact on local governments, provincial governments, local chambers and local small business because it would generate economic activity.

People from many miles away will literally flock to these exhibits. This will give the people of this country an opportunity to see world-class exhibits which would otherwise not occur. From that point of view, there are a lot of pluses with Bill C-64. This program will keep costs low. Decisions as to what kind of exhibitions will travel would be left up to the museums.

The Reform Party supports the freedom of Canadian culture in communities to grow and develop without needless protection and government regulation, encouraging a cultural free market which offers choice while lowering costs to consumers as services are provided by those sectors which are able to do so most cost effectively.

The indemnification in Bill C-64 is the kind of program that all governments can do with little cost to the taxpaying public. It brings sufficient economic as well as cultural benefits to the citizens of the country. Therefore, the official opposition supports the bill and also supports all stage consideration by the House on Bill C-64.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.


Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address Bill C-64, an act to establish an indemnification program for travelling exhibitions, at second reading.

This bill seeks to establish a program of indemnification for international exhibitions, and for domestic exhibitions that are shown in at least two provinces. It will empower the Government of Canada to assume the financial risk, and provide compensation, for damage to or loss of an item that is part of the exhibition.

The program's main feature is that it will allow museums to save several hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance, which is a very significant amount of savings for the arts world, as the hon. member pointed out.

Let me say from the outset that the Bloc Quebecois supports the principle of the bill. Indeed, we fully agree with the idea of helping museums by assuming a financial burden, which they certainly could do without. However, we would like to see some amendments to the bill. I will elaborate on these in the second part of my speech.

First, let us take a look at how this legislation came to be. The facts to which I am referring are taken from a report prepared in February 1997 for the Canadian Museums Association.

Canada once had an indemnification program for exhibitions. That program was established in 1985, but abolished in 1995, as part of the program review. During its 11 years of existence, the program was used to insure 157 travelling exhibitions sponsored by 50 museums, for an estimated total value of $6 billion.

The program had been set up to help museums deal with the huge increase in the value of works of art and, consequently, in insurance costs, which had become prohibitive. Today, these costs have not diminished, far from it.

At the international level, various studies, some dating back to 1974, concluded that the establishment of government sponsored indemnification programs was more effective than commercial insurance for travelling exhibitions. Not only is this method more economical, because breakage is very limited, but it also has the advantage of eliminating the problems associated with legal interpretations of the policies and legislation of various countries, which is reassuring to art lenders. During the 1980s, studies done in Canada reached the same conclusions. It so happened that in 1981 the Art Gallery of Ontario was to host a Van Gogh exhibition. Shortly before the opening, one of Van Gogh's paintings was auctioned off for a very large amount. As a result the owners of the items on loan demanded that coverage be increased accordingly. The insurance premium went up so much that the federal government had to step in.

The following year, in 1982, during the annual federal-provincial meeting of ministers of culture, a resolution was passed to set up a task force to examine the details of an indemnification program for exhibitions, in consultation with representatives of federal and provincial museums. This task force pointed out the savings that such a program would produce.

In fact, according to the task force's figures, claims for breakage during travelling exhibitions from 1972 to 1982, a ten year period, were slightly higher than $300,000, half of which represented a single claim. The task force therefore recommended an indemnification program for exhibitions worth over $5 million.

In June 1985, the federal government announced the introduction of an insurance program for travelling exhibitions so that Canadians would have access to exhibitions that would otherwise cost too much, and so that Canada could host major exhibitions.

During its lifetime, the indemnification program cost the federal government and the museums $6.6 million, and insured 157 exhibits by 50 museums, for a total coverage of $6 billion.

Claims made over the 10 years of the program's existence totalled $550,000, which I would point out is far below the claims average for the Canadian insurance industry.

In 1995, 15 countries were offering support to museums in one form or another, in order to insure travelling exhibits. The program implemented in the United States allowed eligible museums and galleries to save some $90 million U.S. in insurance premiums between 1975 and 1977. Over that same period, claims totalled only $104,700 U.S. This shows how low the costs of such a program are.

In introducing this bill today, the federal government is merely catching up with other countries in the world that already have similar museum support programs.

Now that we have examined the background to this bill, I would like to set out the points which are, in my humble opinion, the most problematical. In fact, what I am doing is passing on to the House comments that are supported by the people who work in museums.

Although the Bloc Quebecois supports the principle of the bill, we would like to see certain essential changes made to it. First of all, the definition of travelling exhibit ought to be amended to include those not presented in at least two Canadian provinces; second, the annual eligible limit needs to be raised substantially; third, the two subjective criteria for eligibility of travelling exhibits, namely educational and professional quality of the exhibition, and significance and relevance of the theme and content to Canadians, ought to be changed.

First, the requirement to show the exhibition in at least two provinces is found in clause 2, which sets two conditions for an exhibition to be considered a travelling exhibition, namely that the total fair market value of the objects in the exhibition that are borrowed from outside Canada exceed the total fair market value of those borrowed from inside Canada, or that the exhibition be shown in at least two provinces.

The problem with the second condition is that international exhibitions are rarely shown in more than one province. In fact, they rarely shown on more than one continent.

Also, a more modest exhibition may be of interest to a province, but not to the other regions of the country. The Bloc Quebecois feels that the residents of one province are taxpayers just like the residents of two different provinces, and must be entitled to the same services.

This provision will also have a greater impact in Quebec, where exhibitions are often shown in French only and can therefore not be presented in English speaking provinces.

As for our second point, which is to raise the annual maximum liability, we are not the only ones to raise this issue. Indeed, all the museum officials to whom we talked unanimously condemned the indemnification program's annual maximum liability, since that maximum can be reached with three major exhibitions.

This ceiling is all the more unacceptable because experience has shown that claims by museums are below the insurance industry's average, and that an authorized maximum is set for each eligible exhibition.

However, this measure coupled with clause 5(a), which limits accessibility to the program to exhibitions valued at $500,000, will restrict the bill's application to big exhibitions and the major facilities.

Need we remind you that the major exhibitions—Picasso, Renoir, Daumier and Van Gogh—at the National Gallery of Canada alone represent a total value of several billion dollars. Consequently, the Bloc Quebecois would like the Minister of Finance to raise the annual ceiling for eligibility to the indemnification program considerably.

I would remind the hon. members that clause 3 of the bill provides that the government's liability cannot exceed $450 million per exhibition and $1.5 billion annually for all exhibitions.

Furthermore, clause 5 permits the governor in council to make regulations for the purpose of, first, limiting the minimum value of eligible exhibitions and, second, establishing the criteria for the conclusion of indemnification agreements.

We have been told that the minimum value of eligible exhibitions would be $500,000. This minimum is way too high for small travelling exhibitions. The Société des musées du Québec, for example, is asking for a limit of $200,000. The Bloc Quebecois supports its recommendation.

Finally, the criteria to be considered in the conclusion of indemnification agreements provided in the bill include, in subparagraphs 5( b )(ii) and 5( b )(iii), and I quote:

(ii) the educational and professional quality of the exhibition,

(iii) the significance and relevance to Canadians of the exhibition's theme and contents,

The Bloc wants these overly subjective criteria deleted. Why does the government want the privilege of deciding on the educational quality of exhibitions and their significance for Canadians? Does it hope to use travelling exhibitions for propaganda purposes? I put the question.

Furthermore, the Bloc Quebecois is not alone in its reservations. They are shared by the president of the Société des musées du Québec, Hélène Pagé. She made her views known at the hearing held at the head office of Radio-Canada in Montreal on February 25 by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

I should begin by pointing out that the Société des musées du Québec is made up of 250 museums in Quebec, which, according to a recent survey, were visited by some 14.8 million people in 1997-98.

So as to clearly convey Ms. Pagé's thoughts to members of the House, I will read what she said:

—we have seen the draft bill and it is quite worrisome because there does not seem to be an understanding of what a travelling exhibit is. There are two conditions. The travelling exhibit must contain more foreign objects than Canadian objects, whereas we know that an exhibit that comes from abroad does not include any Canadian objects, or else it must travel in two provinces. The great international exhibits are presented once on the European continent, once in the United State and in one Canadian province. They don't go to two provinces.

She states further:

Secondly, the regulations are worrisome because here again, it is somewhat coloured by politics. A regulation will decree what makes an exhibit have educational value and interest for Canadians. I don't understand that this can be done by regulation. There is no trust in the museum professionals. Who will decree that this exhibit interests Canadians or not; that the Monet exhibit in Montreal is not really interesting for Canadians? There is truly a problem there, and a connotation of political intervention in a bill for which we had high hopes.

Another thing is worrisome. We have learned that it would only apply to exhibits of a value of $5,000 and up. Only the large national museums are able to present that kind of exhibit. The others only present that kind of exhibit on an exceptional basis. If a small museum in Newfoundland or Quebec presented an exhibit worth between $90,000 and $200,000 and an unfortunate fire occurred, it would be a total catastrophe. The museum would not be compensated.

Therefore, this is a bill that will be useful to the big museums but not the small ones. Right now, throughout the country, the smaller museums are experiencing a great deal of difficulty.

That was a long quote, but an interesting one. As members can see, there are very clear concerns among museum directors about this bill, and the government needs to be attuned to them. The professionals working in this field, those who are knowledgeable about it, need to be trusted. If competent people like Mrs. Pagé voice reservations, the government needs to heed them, and to make the changes they are asking for.

It would be a great disappointment if we were to feel obliged to oppose this bill on next reading just because the government's intent was to make political hay from an indemnification program.

It has been clearly demonstrated that this program was a highly economical one with great advantages for the museums.

Why should the program not be expanded to include more museum exhibitions, since this is easily done? I would remind this House that every possible precaution is taken by museums. Every possible effort is made to protect exhibits and to ensure that they are not damaged. Hence there are virtually no losses and very few accidents.

In conclusion, the federal government has a duty to demonstrate its confidence in the museum community, by amending the bill as requested, solely in order to include as many exhibitions as possible. I trust that the government will be responsive to the real needs of the museum community.

Message From The SenateGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed certain bills to which the concurrence of this House is desired.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-64, an act to establish an indemnification program for travelling exhibitions, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the NDP is pleased to speak in support of Bill C-64, an act to provide for the indemnification of travelling exhibits. It is easy to see what the motivation was for the introduction of this bill given the research we have been doing.

Currently for museums to field travelling exhibitions they have to undertake commercial insurance offset by help from the federal government for a total of $6 million per year. In order for Canadian museums to tour shows we are paying up to $6 million a year to commercial insurance in the event that they may suffer damage or loss to some of the artefacts or exhibits, whereas the empirical evidence shows it can be far more cheaply undertaken by a socialized system. If the government undertakes the risk and the liability, it will cost far less.

In the United States the American government undertakes the risk for $3 billion worth of artefacts touring the U.S. In 23 years of operation there have only been two claims amounting to payouts of less than $100,000. The American model underwrites a far greater amount of value in artefacts and the empirical evidence has been that only two claims were made for less than $100,000.

We are spending $6 million a year to the commercial insurance industry. It is only common sense that this is one of those good examples of where government can do it better. Rather than have this insurance product contracted out, if we keep that work in house, we all reap the savings and the museums can feel more comfortable in taking their exhibits on the road.

Many of us undervalue the role Canadian museums play and the level of interest in the community for Canadian museums and the good work they do. According to our research there are over 24,100 employees of Canadian museums, a figure that may surprise many members here. There are also 55,000 volunteers which indicates to me huge interest and support in the community for the work they do.

An even more telling figure of the value of our Canadian museums and why we should support them with this bill is that 54.9 million people visited museums last year. In a country of 30 million people that means almost every Canadian went twice to a museum, or some people went an awful lot. That is all the more reason to share the wonderful products, the message, culture and heritage Canadian museums hold with more Canadians by taking their shows on the road.

Museums have not been so inclined to get involved with travelling exhibitions, whether of their own artefacts or of touring international shows, because of the terrible risk they face in terms of loss of artefacts. They are dealing with priceless products, absolutely world class items in many cases. There is no possibility of ever replacing them accurately. As a result the commercial insurance industry has no choice but to put a very high value on those products.

I was involved recently with a travelling show at the Museum of Man and Nature in Manitoba. I was very pleased to take part in it. I raise this only as an example of the value of taking shows out of the museum and into the communities so more people can see them.

Museums can actually play a role, and always have, in shaping social policy through education. This one example was the very pressing and timely issue of child labour.

The Museum of Man and Nature to its credit put together an exhibit of photographs by David Parker called “Stolen Dreams”. It dealt with this man who travelled all throughout the world and found examples of child labour. It did not stop there. The museum put together a multimedia interactive exhibit. There would be a photograph of a child working in a brickyard in India and a lever next to it. Some kid looking at the picture could push on that lever and actually feel how heavy it is to carry a load of bricks for 12 hours a day.

This exhibit will be taken beyond Manitoba. I know it is going to Vancouver and all around the country. CIDA has helped to put this show on the road. By travelling, this show will expose and sensitize far more kids than could possibly have been exposed to this very real and pressing international issue. It is very important.

I raise that as one example of the importance of museums ignoring their physical barriers, the walls of their own buildings. Rather than trying to take Mohamed to the mountain, the mountain will be taken to Mohamed.

It makes sense to do this internally. We can look at socialized auto insurance. No one who has ever lived in a province that is lucky enough to have government run auto insurance would ever argue that we should go back to the commercial carriers because we were simply paying too much.

The Government of Canada was paying too much to insure these artefacts. Now we know. All we have to do is look to our neighbours to the south. We did not have to spend $6 million a year to underwrite some of these touring exhibits. It is $100,000 a year in the United States to insure $3 billion worth of products. We are talking about a maximum value of $450 million per exhibit.

There is one thing I would criticize about Bill C-64. I would hope people would review it when it gets into further debate. Exhibitions under Bill C-64 must have a value in excess of $500,000 to qualify for the program. I am a little suspect of that. I wish that could be altered because in the example I gave, whether it qualified or not, we would have been dealing with photographs and with relatively inexpensive materials. The artefacts were not as important as the interactive value. Really $500,000 would preclude a lot of valuable exhibits from being underwritten and taken on the road.

I hope that the figure could be brought down to something more realistic. I am not sure why there has to be a minimum dollar value unless there is a breaking point where it simply is not worth the paperwork. If the exhibit was only worth $500, there may be more than $500 worth of administration to register the articles and so on. A realistic figure would be $100,000. If the exhibit has a net value of $100,000, it should qualify under this otherwise very worthy program.

Museums need a break. The Government of Canada should not be paying more than it needs to but neither should the museums. Look at what they have been facing in recent years.

There has been a huge escalation in the number of museums and related institutions in the country. In 1972 the Canadian Museums Association listed 838 museums, galleries and institutions. As of 1999 there were 2,271 listings in the directory. It has expanded 200-fold.

Going back to 1990-91 the total museum funding was $210 million, give or take. It went to a high and spiked at almost $220 million in 1995. In the year 1999-2000 it will go down to $193 million. They have actually seen quite a cutback in their overall budget funding in a period of time where the number of institutions was escalating. I would assume the burden then falls to more volunteers, more community input or other levels of government funding museums. Many of them are still operating in a very healthy fashion.

The museum in Dawson City where I used to live had quite an impact on the community. It helped to shape and save the whole community. When I moved to Dawson City it was a ramshackle town of falling down buildings. Nobody cared a hoot if Dawson City washed away into the Klondike River because it was an old ghost town with a couple of leftovers still hanging around from an old time.

In 1970 or so Parks Canada had the common sense, prior to all this stuff slipping away, to try to hang on to some of the artefacts that were disappearing like crazy. The museum got going and started to give value to these products which otherwise had no value; they were junk. Tourists could pick up an artefact and take it home, resulting in the history of the place disappearing. It was truly the people with the foresight to start the museum who saved the town by giving value to articles which otherwise had no value.

Dawson Creek has now been rebuilt. It is a tourist destination, a mecca. The real catalyst was the people, including the Parks Canada people to their credit, who had the foresight to start to catalogue and chronicle the wonderful rich history of Dawson Creed.

Bill C-64 recognizes the value of Canadian museums and the way Canadians feel about their museums. It does not go as far as talking about restoration or overall museum funding—that is not the nature of the bill—but it does help and speaks to the value that Canadians give to their museums. Our caucus is proud to support Bill C-64.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Mark Muise Progressive Conservative West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise before the House to debate Bill C-64 at second reading, the Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act.

Ever since the Liberal government discontinued its cost sharing insurance arrangements with our Canadian museums, curators across the country have been struggling with the high cost of insurance premiums on travelling exhibitions.

Depending on the quality of the exhibition in question, insurance premiums can cost thousands of dollars. These high costs are a serious deterrent to our museums which are striving to provide Canadians with the broadest possible collections of art and artefacts. Without these exhibits Canadians throughout the country will be losing out on a very important aspect of our cultural heritage.

One of the main shortcomings of our education system is that it does not make full use of our museums as a teaching tool for our children. Reading history or art books cannot replace the immediate joy that comes from being in direct contact with objects or works of art from the past.

It is especially important for young Canadians to be able to see what life was like for those who worked hard to build this great country of ours so we can reap the benefits today. Children must understand what life was like before this era of high technology to better understand the supreme efforts everyone must make to be successful in this complex world in which we live.

What is indemnification for travelling exhibitions? In essence it means that the Canadian government will assume financial risk for damages to contents contained within travelling exhibitions. This means that the government will pay for loss or damage to objects in these exhibitions.

Not only will this indemnification program relieve some of the financial burden that is affecting most of Canada's museums. It will also help them negotiate the loan of other prestigious foreign exhibitions. Having Canada's financial resources to back up foreign exhibitions should make it a lot easier to access some of the major cultural exhibits from other nations.

As I mentioned previously, the federal government withdrew its support for cost sharing of insurance in 1995. In the 10 years prior to 1995 the federal government invested approximately $6 million in premiums for commercial insurance.

By creating a government sponsored indemnification program Canada will join 14 other industrialized countries that presently offer such a program to their respective museums. Countries like the U.S., Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia and France have recognized the advantages that such a program has for the enhancement of one of their major cultural industries. The eligibility requirements to receive the indemnification program will be determined by the value of the individual exhibitions.

At present the bill requires that the total value of objects must exceed $500,000 to qualify for coverage. I am concerned that by establishing a benchmark of $500,000 for qualification, many of the smaller museums in the country will not be able to access this funding and will miss out on the intended benefits of the program. I would suggest that we revisit this figure to see if we could not arrive at a more reasonable figure that will benefit both our small and large museums alike.

The total coverage allotted within the bill would be limited to $450 million for exhibitions. Perhaps this figure could also be re-examined when the bill comes before committee.

For years our Canadian museum representatives have been lobbying government to implement an effective government based indemnification program. During meetings in Ottawa of the Canadian heritage committee we have had the occasion to meet with a number of very distinguished individuals from across the country representing our museums, libraries and public archives. It was during these hearings that I heard firsthand of the significance that such an indemnification program would have on our museums. Subsequently this message was repeated on many other occasions as our committee crossed the country to meet directly with interested groups and organizations.

Mr. François Lachapelle, directeur general corporation du Musée régional de Rimouski, was the first to focus my attention on this issue as he discussed possible government initiatives that would be very beneficial for our museums. Allow me to quote Mr. Lachapelle:

You will understand that moving a national treasure from one province to another or to another country is going to be extremely costly in terms of insurance because of its great value or of the high risk involved in transportation, etc. Therefore, the premiums charged by insurance companies will be extremely high. That is why this program is very important so exhibitions can travel outside Canada.

This sentiment was further supported by Ms. Candace Stevenson, executive director of Nova Scotia Museum. She represents the 25 provincial museums in my home province. Ms. Stevenson believes this indemnification program will be a tremendous boost for many of our institutions, although it is questionable whether any of Nova Scotia's museums will actually be able to benefit from it.

It does not take away from the benefits the program, however, will have on Canadian museums in general.

Although the government seems to be responding to the concerns expressed by our museums, let us not forget that it is the government itself that put Canadian museums in a critical situation by making significant cuts to their budgets over the last few years.

In 1972 the initial budget for museum assistance programs hovered around $8 million per year. By the early 1990s their budget was increased to a maximum of $15 million despite a Canadian Museum Association recommendation for a budget of $25 million per year. Last year the Liberal government reduced this amount to a paltry $6.5 million, leaving the museum industry reeling to try to find alternative financial resources.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage has since announced subsequent increases to the MAP of $2 million and $1 million respectively, putting the 1999 budget at $9.4 million. This amount does not come close to responding to the grave concerns expressed by our museum representatives.

As it stands now our museum directors barely have the resources necessary to maintain their present exhibits, no less try to expand their collections. Not only must a museum be concerned with preserving valuable artefacts, in many instances they must invest enormous resources in maintaining their buildings themselves, which are often historical landmarks.

Each time we neglect archaeological finds for lack of funding, we lose an important part of our country's history. Artefacts are impossible to replace once they are lost. It is high time we started focusing our energy on the preservation of our cultural heritage for future generations.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

If the hon. member for West Nova would forgive me, I think we will interrupt proceedings a little early to see if we can get more Statements by Members in today.

There will be time for questions and comments when debate resumes and the hon. member for West Nova will have approximately 9 or 10 minutes remaining with the resumption of debate.

Sikh CommunityStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, last Monday the Government of Canada unveiled a 46¢ stamp to honour one century of contributions to Canada by the Canadian Sikh community. In unveiling the commemorative stamp the Prime Minister said:

This celebration is very much what Canada is all about. As Canadians, many of us today take it for granted that this country values equality and fairness. The experience shows us that was not always the case.

Indeed the history of the Sikh community in Canada left a scar in our nation's past when the Sikhs on the Komagata Maru were refused entry and sent back to India. Canada has now buried the lingering memories of the Komagata Maru .

Last Monday's occasion reminds us that out of a people's struggle emerges the strength of a nation's citizenship. We can all be proud that Canada is a nation of people who have brought to this land diversity, values and honour.

Canada Book DayStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is Canada Book Day and to mark the occasion Canadians are invited to celebrate books and the love of reading by participating in Canada Book Day activities.

Canada's vital cultural legacy is reflected in its literature. On this day Canadians are encouraged to buy books, attend readings, receptions, book giveaways, and participate in contests in celebration of our literature and the rich cultural heritage it represents.

Through its support of the book publishing industry the Government of Canada will strive to ensure the continued rejuvenation of Canadian literature and the continued enrichment of our country's social and economic life. The future of our book industry, however, lies primarily in the hands of all Canadians.

We therefore encourage Canadians everywhere to take part in Canada Book Day activities and to support this important national resource by rediscovering Canadian books. Information about activities in various communities can be found on line at

WarStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, we were honoured yesterday morning to hear Kim Phuc at the parliamentary prayer breakfast.

She was burned by a napalm bomb during the Vietnam war and suffered terribly with burns all over her body. The picture of Kim running and crying became the symbol of the horrible suffering that children endure in war.

However she has found in the Christian faith the ability to forgive her attackers and tormentors. Her presentation was truly inspirational. She exudes grace.

Seeing the families of Kosovo on TV these days reminds me that my family escaped under similar circumstances. War and expelling citizens from their country is never an answer to problems. I am very grateful that my family also chose to exercise forgiveness. Even though my family lost everything in the old country, we had the opportunity to make a peaceful living in Canada.

Dental Health MonthStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


John Finlay Liberal Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to remind members that April is Dental Health Month, a time to celebrate the smile.

The Canadian Dental Association and its provincial counterparts use Dental Health Month for promotions to raise our awareness of dental health issues. Some dental associations host public lectures on important subjects like oral cancer and mouth care for the elderly. Many groups mount mall displays and sponsor contests; others co-ordinate free dental clinics for the needy.

These are just a few examples of the efforts undertaken during Dental Health Month. They all have a common purpose: to reinforce the elements of prevention, from brushing and flossing, to visiting the dentist for regular checkups and eating a healthy diet. Dentistry's commitment to prevention is to be commended. It is a commitment that is celebrated during Dental Health Month, but practised all year round.

Patricia Picknell Elementary SchoolStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, next Saturday I will have the great pleasure of taking part in the official opening of the Patricia Picknell Elementary School in my riding of Oakville, in Ontario.

After numerous years of lobbying, the francophone community of Oakville can be proud of its achievements.

Jointly selected by the school board, the students and the faculty, the school is named in honour of Patricia Picknell-Arseneault, who regrettably passed away last July.

A tireless defender of francophone rights, Mrs. Picknell's legacy to the Franco-Ontarian landscape will endure for generations. To her family and friends, she will be remembered as the very embodiment of French Canadian joie de vivre.

As a former school board trustee for Halton, Waterloo and Wellington, Mrs. Picknell promoted and defended the francophone rights to a quality education in their mother tongue.

I am sure members of this House will join me in congratulating the Franco-Ontarian community in Oakville.

Acadian Village In West PubnicoStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Mark Muise Progressive Conservative West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the people in West Pubnico who, for the past nine years, have been working very hard to recreate a 17th century Acadian village.

The village, which should be opened to the public this year, is located on the very spot where the first Acadian settlers probably settled.

During the first stage of the project, four old buildings will be moved from West Pubnico to the village. Two houses, a blacksmith shop and a fish shed will be carefully restored.

Visitors will have the opportunity to take part in various activities such as cooking a typical Acadian meal, tending to livestock, salting fish and much more.

The Acadian village will be an authentic representation of a culture that has survived the 1755 deportation and the many English influences surrounding us.

I am proud of my Acadian heritage and happy to see people in Pubnico West take the initiative of celebrating our past, thus helping to preserve our future.

Crimes Against HumanityStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Peter Goldring Reform Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, all too frequently humanity sinks to such depravity that it wreaks death and destruction on its own.

What motivates and drives such diabolical crimes against civilization might only be the understanding and the purview of the insane and the almighty.

Tens of millions have died in genocide this century alone; in the Ukrainian famine, the holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda, Armenia and now possibly Kosovo.

Over seven million Ukrainians perished in the famine brought on by Stalin's Russia in the 1930s. Over seven million starved to death under the dictate of a man gone mad. Tomorrow in Calgary a monument will be unveiled on Memorial Drive to bear witness to this calamity.

Civilization's failure must be put on public display so that we can all see the dark side of humanity and hopefully learn.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to draw to the attention of the House and Canadians the announcement today by the solicitor general, and my support for his decision to reinvest $115 million in upgrading and modernizing the RCMP's CPIC computer system.

The Canadian Police Information Centre was created following federal-provincial meetings in 1966 to increase information sharing in the fight against organized crime. I am proud to say that my father played a prominent role in those meetings some 33 years ago.

Today CPIC is operated by the RCMP on behalf of all Canadian law enforcement. It contains millions of records on criminals, missing persons, vehicles, stolen property, registered firearms and crime scene information. It is the primary tool used to identify suspects, to access outstanding warrants and restraining orders, to screen out sex offenders from jobs involving contact with children and to flag files of dangerous offenders. It annually handles over 100 million enquiries from 15,000 points of access.

This investment will enhance speed of access, data bases, allow transmission of digital photographs and fingerprints. This means better crime prevention—

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceStatements By Members

11 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Matapédia—Matane.

Organ DonationsStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


René Canuel Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, with 14 donations per million inhabitants, the rate of organ donation in Canada is among the lowest in the world.

As a consequence, only one person in two will benefit from an organ transplant and have a longer life expectancy as a result, while 140 less fortunate persons will die.

In 1989, the rate of organ donation in Spain was comparable to the present Canadian rate. It is now at about 30 per million inhabitants. Besides ranking first in the world for organ donations, Spain also has the lowest mortality rate in the world for people waiting for an organ transplant.

National Organ Donation Week, which is coming to an end, allowed us to raise public awareness, but we must also give ourselves the means to identify rapidly potential organ donors.

This social issue must be supported by real political will. We must be responsive to all those people waiting for a transplant, because the gift of an organ is a gift of life after life.

Bloc QuebecoisStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning the Leader of the Bloc entered into the fray on the issue of a step-by-step referendum process, by taking position against this trick of Guy Bouthillier and Denis Monière with respect to the separation of Quebec from the rest of Canada.

Indeed, there was enough for everyone last weekend. The Bloc Leader joined the hardline separatists by opposing a scenario of asking Quebeckers to vote on a special status for Quebec.

The Bloc takes a radical stand on the future of Quebec. It advocates the independence of Quebec, which was rejected twice by Quebeckers: first in 1980 and again in 1995.

While those academic discussions are going on, our Liberal government opted for a practical solution and is dealing with one issue at a time to improve Canadian federalism.

Vive le Canada.

Liberal Party Of CanadaStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, the more the years pass, the more things remain the same as far as Liberals are concerned.

One hundred years ago, newspapers in western Canada were complaining about the indifference of the Liberal government to the needs of the west.

Wilfrid Laurier, against the wishes and advice of western Canada, reduced the ranks and efficiency of the mounted police. Unlike more recent Liberal prime ministers, at least Laurier had the integrity to admit he had made a mistake.

What was the concern expressed by westerners 100 years ago? That cattle and horse thieves would run rampant without effective policing. What are the concerns of the west today? That drug dealers, criminal refugee claimants and organized crime is running rampant without effective policing.

History shows time and time again that the Liberals do not care what happens in the west just as long as we keep sending our tax dollars to Ottawa.

They made the point 100 years ago, and it is still valid. The Liberals do not have, and never had, the interests of the western half of the nation at heart.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the University of Waterloo and the Elora Centre for Environmental Excellence for a recent funding announcement made by the Ministers of the Environment and Natural Resources.

The announcement gives $220,000 in funding under the climate change action fund to implement the Residential Energy Efficiency Program, REEP.

It is through the climate change action fund that the federal government is taking concrete steps to engage and inform Canadians in partnerships that will lead to a greater understanding of climate change.

The REEP is a community-based program set up to inform homeowners on energy efficiency and the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Using the “EnerGuide for Houses” rating system, REEP will conduct audits to determine energy performance of homes in the area. This information will help identify how to improve a house's energy efficiency. Four thousand audits, representing 5% of the detached homes in Kitchener—Waterloo will be completed.

Again, congratulations to the University of Waterloo—

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre.

ArmeniaStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, on April 24 Armenian Canadians and Armenians everywhere will commemorate the 84th anniversary of the 1915 Armenian genocide. As an expression of solidarity, I offer my deepest sympathies to the Armenian people and I share their grief.

Far too often in this century, we have witnessed the incredible cruelty that humans can inflict on one another. The Armenian genocide of 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Turks was the first genocide of the 20th century but certainly and sadly not the last.

Modern Turkey has yet to recognize this serious crime, which has already been recognized by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, the European Parliament, and several other countries. Here at home this genocide has been formally recognized by the Quebec National Assembly and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It is far overdue that this Liberal government do the same in the House of Commons.

I urge all hon. members of the House to recognize the Armenian genocide. I extend my most heartfelt wishes to the Armenian people on this tragic anniversary. Let every one of us recognize—

ArmeniaStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Louis-Hébert.