House of Commons Hansard #111 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was war.


Business Of The House
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business Of The House
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to)

Business Of The House
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.


Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe you would find unanimous consent to see the clock as being 1.30 p.m.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is there unanimous consent to see the clock as 1.30 p.m.?

Business Of The House
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members


Business Of The House
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

We will now proceed to Private Members' Business.

The House resumed from May 1 consideration of the motion.

Cultural Industry
Private Members' Business

June 9th, 2000 / 1:25 p.m.


Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 259 which states that the government should give consideration to exempting up to $30,000 of income from income tax as a gesture of support for those artists, writers and performers who work in Canada's cultural industry. The motion has been brought forward by the member for Kamloops—Thompson and Highland Valleys.

On the surface it seems to be a proposal which is very much in harmony with the government's stand on the arts. The government recognizes the importance of providing continued support to individuals engaged in the arts. However, this is not the way to do it.

The government is committed to ensuring that Canadians have Canadian choices and that they are connected to other Canadians and to the very diverse Canadian culture. This means focusing on the creation of Canadian content and supporting creators, artists and innovators. It means enhancing the capacity of cultural organizations, cultural industries and cultural institutions to build and retain audiences and to seize both the opportunities and the challenges created by the globalization and new technologies which are unfolding. It means finding ways to build connections among Canadians across communities, to connect Canadians to the world, and to engage young Canadians in all that we do.

Our government's commitment also means taking into account the uniqueness and the distinct character of Quebec culture and the needs and circumstances of French language communities in other parts of Canada as well.

Taken at a glance, the proposed tax exemption for artists, writers and performers could be seen to be very consistent with these stated objectives. However on closer inspection, it becomes less clear that such a tax exemption is warranted.

Since 1997 I have been a member of the Standing Committee on Finance. It is interesting that this motion has come forward for consideration by the government, yet creators have come to the finance committee and asked us to look at initiatives such as income averaging or indeed some of the aspects of the Irish model.

Income earned by artists, writers, composers and sculptors from the sale of their work is exempt from tax in Ireland only under certain circumstances. In Ireland, section 195 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, empowers revenue to determine that artistic works which are original and creative are recognized as having cultural or artistic merit and may have an exemption from tax within the year in which the claim is made.

It is done through the minister of finance. It is determined in consultation with a board or body of persons that are knowledgeable in this area of art. It looks at the sale of artistic endeavours such as a book or other writing, a play, a musical composition, a painting or other like picture, and a sculpture. It also has a proviso that claimants for artists exemption must be resident or ordinarily reside and be domiciled in Ireland.

These are initiatives the government has been encouraged to look at and I believe there is merit in doing so. However the motion before us is simply a tax exemption of up to $30,000 for artists who reside in Canada. I would emphasize that the tax system already has features, several unique measures as a matter of fact, that support our artistic and cultural sectors.

Certified Canadian film productions produced by qualified corporations have a special refundable tax credit which covers up to 12% of the cost of the eligible production. It replaces a previous system of capital cost allowance deductions for certain investors that was in place until 1995 and it maximises a benefit for the eligible productions.

As well, Canadian art objects purchased by businesses for display purposes are eligible for a generous depreciation allowance, notwithstanding the fact that such art objects may retain their value or indeed appreciate in value over time. This provision enhances the exposure given to Canadian art.

The designation of the national arts service organization provides national not for profit art groups with the same tax treatment as charities. This has done much to enhance that sector. Artists may deduct the cost of creating a work of art in the year incurred even though the work may not be sold until a later date. This provision recognizes the difficulty that many artists face when attributing costs to a particular work and carrying inventory over long periods of time.

Employed artists and musicians may deduct certain expenses against income from that employment notwithstanding that most employment expenses are non-deductible. Specifically, employed artists may deduct expenses related to their artistic endeavours up to an annual limit.

Employed musicians are able to claim the cost of maintenance, rental, insurance and capital cost allowance on musical instruments. The special deductions recognize that these expenses are required in order to carry on employment in these fields.

Artists may also elect to value charitable gifts from their inventory at any amount up to their fair market value. This provision removes an obstacle for artists donating their works to charities, museums and other public institutions.

Certain objects certified to be of cultural importance to Canada are exempt from capital gains tax if donated to a designated museum or art gallery. This provision helps to ensure that artistic works of cultural significance are retained in Canada.

These are important provisions. They demonstrate that the government has taken steps to ensure that the tax system does not form a barrier to engaging in artistic endeavours. However the proposal before us today does not seek to address a specified problem faced by artists. Rather, the proposal is for a substantial tax exemption for all individuals recognized as artists. Such a tax exemption would raise significant concerns in the context of the income tax policy and administration.

From the perspective of equity I am sure we would all agree that the tax system should as much as possible treat individuals in similar circumstances in a similar manner. This means that individuals with comparable incomes and needs should pay comparable amounts of tax. However under the proposed exemption an eligible artist would pay substantially less tax than another individual in a comparable position who is not an artist. This would seem to me to be highly unfair.

I am certain that other taxpayers would also see this issue in the same light. It would be very difficult to explain to a hard working taxpayer why she should be faced with a tax liability while another individual at the same income did not pay any tax whatsoever simply because she was an artist. For this reason alone I find the proposal before us today to be flawed.

Moreover, the proposal is overly vague in several crucial aspects. First, the proposed exemption would require that some definition of eligible artists be developed. However the motion makes no reference to this definition.

It is true that some definitions already exist. For example, in the Status of the Artist Act and in the guidelines used by the Canada Council for the Arts there are definitions, but these definitions were not created with the income tax system in mind and would likely have to be revised.

It is difficult to imagine that any definition could be developed that would satisfactorily address all needs of interested parties. Without a doubt any definition that excluded a given group or artistic activity would be subject to dispute and would be very difficult both to administer and to control.

The motion before us does not specify whether the proposed exemption is to apply to the income from the artists' endeavours only or to all income earned by eligible individuals no matter how they are defined.

Limiting the exemption to artistic income would seem to be too restrictive, especially by part time artists and performers. However extending the exemption to all sources of income seems to be overly generous and would encapture people that perhaps do art as a hobby or simply as a sideline. These are just a few of the things that make the motion before us so problematic.

In conclusion, while encouraging our arts and cultural industries has been and will continue to be an important priority for Canadians, I do not believe the proposed tax exemption would be an appropriate policy tool and I do not support it.

Cultural Industry
Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.


Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to enter the debate and to speak in favour of Motion No. 259 as put forward by the member for Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys. I know the hon. member spent a great deal of time speaking to arts and cultural groups across the country. In fact it was at their request that the member put the idea forward for debate in the House of Commons.

Motion No. 259 has the endorsation of 30 arts and cultural groups across the country such as the Canadian Conference of the Arts, the Writer's Union of Canada, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, and the Canada Council for the Arts, just to name a few of the many groups that have come forward asking parliament to recognize in a meaningful way through our tax system the contribution arts and cultural communities make not only to the Canadian cultural fabric but to the Canadian economy.

Motion No. 259 seeks to amend the tax system to introduce tax fairness for our working creators. It would encourage an income tax reduction that would be similar to that already offered in the province of Quebec for working artists. Once again the province of Quebec seems to be leading the way in this type of issue. At least it has recognized the value of the cultural industry in that province and has made meaningful changes to that effect.

Motion No. 259 would benefit those artists and creators who earn very little income. We are only aware of the artists who have reached celebrity status. Granted, there are some musicians and artists who become famous and earn a good deal of money, but the incomes of most creators are over 50% below the national average.

Just by way of an example, the Writer's Union of Canada states that the average annual income of writers is less than $12,000 a year. According to Statistics Canada visual artists earned on average $12,633 in 1995. The Crafts Association of British Columbia states that 50% of its members reported earnings of less than $5,000 per year from their craft and 31% reported earnings of between $5,000 and $20,000 a year. That is the reality of most people working in the arts and cultural communities. Whether one is a writer, a visual artist, a filmmaker, a musician or a dancer, that is the reality.

If we want people to be in those positions and if we value the cultural institutions by which Canada identifies itself and in which Canada takes great pride, we need to support those individuals in a meaningful way.

Motion No. 259 recommends that up to $30,000 of income be exempt. This would change the basic personal exemption to up to $30,000 of income earned from the activity for which the person is registered, not of their total overall earnings. If they are earning supplementary income from another type of work obviously they would be subject to the same tax as everyone else. This is the actual copyrighted work that they are producing as an aspect of the art in which they are involved. I think it is very realistic. Other countries have undertaken it and we have some evidence to draw from as to what it would actually cost or what the pick-up would be were this offered to the artistic community.

One of the most famous examples is Ireland. Ireland, as everyone knows, is well known for its arts, culture, music, great writers and great poets. People in its cultural sector are valued, treasured, appreciated and accurately reflected in the income tax system. I have some examples of how the Irish system works, but it would be safe to say that we could look to this model.

The motion put forward by the member from Kamloops is vague for a purpose. The member genuinely wanted to stimulate this debate. He did not want to say what we should be doing or how it must be done. He wanted us to speak in the House openly and freely about whether or not we value our creators in the cultural sector.

People working in the arts and cultural sectors make up 8% of our total labour force. It is actually larger than forestry, mining and agriculture combined. I do not believe we recognize them and the contribution they make not just to our quality of life, which is important, but to our economy.

It would be a very small cost factor. I believe there is no ceiling in Ireland on its tax break for income earned from artistic endeavours, as we are recommending. Even there where they have many people involved in the arts and cultural sector and with no ceiling it only costs about $12 million Canadian per year. Frankly that is not a great deal of money when we consider the contribution it makes to the economy of Ireland. Perhaps we could view the impact of the program being recommended by the member from Kamloops in a comparable light. That would be the approximate price tag we would be contemplating.

We believe that our arts and cultural community has been underrecognized. We expect artists to be there when we want to be entertained. We assume they will always be there because for the love of their craft they are willing to starve and live in some garret, the stereotype of the starving artist. That is not necessary. If we value the product we should be demonstrating that realistically with a tax exemption.

Other industries receive exemptions because we value them. There are capital gains exemptions for businesses and so on. People in other occupations enjoy that type of tax credit. It is a recognition of the way we value them in our community, but we do not do the same with artists, musicians, dancers and so on.

Some artists face real costs to carry on their craft. Musicians these days, whether violinists or pianists, may have $100,000 invested in their instruments. They are paid abysmally because I do not think there is a symphony orchestra that is adequately funded. After studying all their lives and investing an absolute fortune in a quality instrument they are virtually paid peanuts.

The motion put forward by the member from Kamloops in some way takes some steps toward recognizing the hardship faced by those who create in our arts and cultural sector. We value them. The NDP caucus is quite interested in this motion. I was very pleased to be able to speak to it today. We are disappointed that the first member who spoke from the Liberal side dismissed the idea without a great deal of thought or getting into it in any detail.

The only way we could investigate this fully is to deal with it at the finance committee. If the motion were allowed to pass at second reading we could do that. I point out that parliament has dealt with the issue in the past. In 1982 we all remember the Applebaum-Hébert commission on Canadian cultural life. It pointed out that the largest subsidy to the cultural life in Canada came not from governments, corporations or other patrons, but from the artists themselves through their unpaid and underpaid labour. As early as 1982 we were seized of this issue.

In 1999 the heritage committee's report stated:

From the Committee's standpoint, investing in the arts is no less important than investing in the social sciences humanities, the purer sciences or medicines. The Committee is also aware of the long term commitment made to the researchers and scholars by other federal government agencies and looks for a similar level of commitment to Canadian artists.

As recently as 1999 the heritage committee recommended this in its report, so I was very surprised and disappointed when the first speaker on this motion today simply said that it was not meant to be. Maybe she has not researched the recent comments of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

I have pointed out how much I admire the hon. member for Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys for bringing the motion forward. It is an important debate. Other countries do it. The province of Quebec does it. I believe that the Government of Canada should show support for those involved in the arts and cultural industries.

Official Report
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.


Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the speech I made last night around 5.30 p.m. concerning the opposition motion is reported in today's Hansard .

I said “Economic Development Bank” but meant “Federal Development Bank”. I would like to have this correction made to Hansard if possible. The blues were not in when we left yesterday, at 7 p.m., and this morning, Hansard had already been printed. For posterity I would like this change to be made.

Official Report
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

It is certainly now on the record, although I am not sure just what we can do. The member has it now on the record so that in any event her position is settled.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Cultural Industry
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.


Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to represent the wonderful people of the riding of Elk Island in the debate on a motion put forward by the hon. member for Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys.

The motion is very interesting. The hon. member is proposing that some people in the country who are not making enough money to make a decent living should have a tax break. I have to say that I very much agree with that part of the motion.

The hon. member is talking about people in the arts and entertainment industry. People are working full time trying to make a living and sometimes their income level is really challenged. It is very tough for them to make ends meet, yet the Liberals are still quite content to reach into those people's pockets and take some of their meagre earnings and use them to build fountains in Shawinigan and other projects of their liking.

I find this really passing strange. It is an interesting comment on the Prime Minister and on Liberal thinking when we contemplate what the Prime Minister said in Europe just a few days ago. He said something about people who want to keep more of their own earnings being greedy. That was the word he used.

An artist who makes $13,000 or $15,000 a year has to pay several hundred dollars in income tax so that the Prime Minister can take the money to spend in his riding. He attributes the word greed to the artist who would like to keep some of his or her own earnings, but he somehow does not see that there is any element of greed in his own wanting to use that very same money for his nefarious purposes.

I also think of single moms. There are many single parents and most of them are single moms. Many of them make less than $20,000 yet the Liberal government with its so-called social conscience is quite content to lift from the pockets of those people who make less than $20,000 a year some $6 billion or $7 billion a year in income tax. How shameful.

An NDP member is saying that we need to be less greedy and let artists keep more of their earnings. I simply say it is time we replaced the Liberal government which cannot see past anything that moves without wanting to regulate it and tax it. In principle I agree with what the NDP member is proposing in the motion, which is is to reduce taxes, particularly for those people who have a very limited income.

I could hardly let this moment pass by without mentioning our solution 17. For all intents and purposes it would take almost two million taxpayers off the tax rolls completely, giving them a 100% reduction in taxes. When the Liberals knock our solution 17 plan, they are trying to get a message to Canadians to be suspicious of our plan, to not accept it and to not trust us to form the government. I really wonder about the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister who will not openly and honestly deal with the facts and let the people of Canada decide. Instead they paint a bunch of pictures of our plan which are quite different from what the plan actually is.

There is no doubt that low income Canadians, among them artists, need a substantial tax break. The member for Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys has suggested that the tax break should be 100% up to $30,000 of earnings. I have a bit of a problem with that. As much as I agree with the concept of reducing the taxes, I am not in favour of saying let us find which groups we should give this benefit to.

The Liberals like to line up different groups based on their race. They say that one race will have a better advantage over another one when it comes to hiring or benefits and other things with respect to the government. The NDP would probably look at people in terms of need, but it is only prepared to look at some individuals who have needs. In this case it is looking at people in the artistic community.

Let us not hesitate to say it does not matter whether the person is an artist, a mechanic, an unemployed nurse or a part time worker at a fast food place. If the person does not make enough money to adequately provide for his or her family, then there is still something fundamentally wrong with the government taking a certain portion of the earnings and saying that it wants it anyway.

The concept of increasing the basic exemption is very good. This is where solution 17 shines. For an individual, we would take that basic exemption right up to $10,000. Many students, artists and other people who have a small income would be totally exempt from paying federal income tax, which is as it should be. The remainder would pay the lowest rate. We are currently proposing 17% for that rate. That is why we have named it solution 17.

Artists of course have other things that affect them. Depending on the area where their work takes place, many of them incur expenses while they are producing their art. Whether one is a writer or a painter, it sometimes takes a year or two or three to earn an income. Producing the work takes that much time and it is only when the work is sold that there is income.

Perhaps we would be much wiser if we looked not only at artists, but at people whose income falls into the category of a large income over longer intervals of time and no income for a long time and then a spurt of larger income and then again a time of limited or no income.

Perhaps we should re-design our income tax system so there can be some long term averaging of both income and expenses. The annual exemption of our proposed $10,000 per year would in effect give the artist a $30,000 exemption over three years, the time that it takes to produce the work.

Obviously we need to deal with this issue not only for artists but for all Canadians. Although I agree in principle with what the hon. member is trying to do, I am going to have to vote against the motion. The simple reason is that I do not think it is right to single out one occupational group as a favoured group who can earn up to $30,000 without paying income tax, but everyone else regardless of how poor they are or what their obligations are to their children and families have to pay taxes on an amount of money after whatever the basic exemption is.

The basic exemption is around $8,000 under the Liberals. It would be $10,000 per adult under our plan. A family, a mom and a dad and two kids, under our plan would have a tax free income up to $26,000. That is very close to what the hon. member is proposing for artists. The difference is that our plan would apply to everyone in that income category. That would be a much more fair way of dealing with it.

I regret that my time is up. I would like to talk a bit more about some of the supports that are available to artists but I will have to leave that for other members.

Cultural Industry
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my constituents in the riding of Madawaska—Restigouche, New Brunswick, it gives me great pleasure to speak in favour of Motion No. 259, a votable motion put forward by the hon. member for Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys.

It is very important to recognize that civilized societies have always supported the arts and culture. It is a tradition that has been valued throughout history. We should seek to maintain and improve this with policies, not specifically tax policies, but policies that support and encourage culture and the development of the arts in Canada, which has had a long and diverse history.

As an Atlantic Canadian from New Brunswick, one of the most culturally diverse and productive regions in Canada, we value a tradition of excellence. There are economic opportunities for all Canadians in recognizing and harnessing the power of the arts and cultural community, whether it is the Lion King in Toronto, or musicians like the Rankin Family and Natasha St-Pierre in Atlantic Canada who started from very humble means and have done extremely well, or artists who have reached international acclaim, like Roch Voisine who was born in my riding in New Brunswick. These types of success stories are worthy of recognition. However, we must do more to help artists when they are starting off.

The motion is very sound from the perspective of the hon. member's desire to help. However, there are some difficulties in its implementation and I would like to point out a couple of them.

It is very nebulous in terms of describing who qualifies and how the term artist fits a specific individual and whether or not that can be defined and the definition defended effectively.

The hon. member also pointed out the financial roller coaster artists are on. An artist may go on for several years without payment and then receive a lump sum payment recognizing contributions made over a period of time. The best way to address that would be through income averaging. This would also address other people who are similarly predisposed through the nature of their business to receive lump sum payments in recognition of work completed over a period of several years. Income averaging would be the best way to address it.

The average income of an artist in Canada is currently estimated at about $13,000. The issue raised by the hon. member can be addressed in a more broadly based way by significantly raising the basic personal exemption for all Canadians. The Progressive Conservative Party's task force which reported in January recommended an increase to $12,000. This would help significantly. That being the case, we should move over a period of time to raise the basic personal exemption.

The hon. member also recognized that tax relief could play an important role in helping artists pursue their chosen field of culture and art and in keeping them in Canada. It indicates that he recognizes the importance of lowering taxes for all Canadians to ensure that Canadians, regardless of career or life pursuit, can choose to stay and prosper in Canada. Whether it is a dot com, e-commerce, biotech or traditional industry, Canadians could have a future in Canada.

The hon. member demonstrated clearly that he recognizes the important role that tax policy plays in encouraging and discouraging pursuit of particular activities. In that vein I think he would agree that we should continue to be vigilant in ensuring that the tax burdens of Canadians are not excessive when compared to those of other countries.

Whether Canadians wish to pursue careers in the arts or the traditional economy we want them to be free to do so in Canada. I am sure he would share with me the need to reduce taxes for all Canadians based on his basic premise that decreasing taxes could help to encourage people, in this case artists, to pursue and maintain a certain level of activity.

The issue of capital gains tax needs to be addressed as well. In Canada we currently tax at 50% of the regular inclusion rate for the donation of publicly traded or listed securities to charitable foundations or institutions. Whether it is a hospital, a university, an endowment fund or a cultural activity, we tax 50% of capital gains.

Inclusion rates are taxed in Canada for donation of publicly traded or listed securities. In the U.S. there is absolutely no capital gains taxes on contributions of listed securities. This has led over the years to a significant disadvantage for Canadian universities, Canadian hospitals and the Canadian arts community. It has created a disincentive for high net worth Canadians to contribute listed shares of publicly traded companies to the cultural sector, health foundations and universities.

At the time of the prebudget report the Progressive Conservative dissenting report recommended the elimination of capital gains tax on gifts of listed securities. That would go a long way toward encouraging high net worth individuals in Canada and Canadians of relatively modest means who may have done very well in equity investing in recent years to help foster a greater environment for cultural activity in Canada. That is one way this could be addressed.

I would also be interested in exploring the examples of other countries relative to special tax exemptions for those engaged in the arts. By and large there is only one party in the House of Commons which consistently opposes any support for the Canadian arts. I expect it would probably kick a member out of its caucus if it were discovered that he or she had gone to live theatre.

It is important that there be almost an all-party commitment to the arts and cultural community in the House of Commons. While I may disagree with the particular vehicle set forth by the hon. member to help create a better environment for cultural and artistic diversity in Canada, I assure him that the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada remains committed to work with altruistically oriented parties in the House.

We must seek better ways to support and encourage the arts and all types of creative endeavours for Canadians, whether they be involved in graphic arts, the dot com universe, weaving, painting, dancing or playwriting.

One of the things that defines us as Canadians is our unique culture and vibrancy from coast to coast to coast, which we shall continue to have with the proper support and encouragement of all Canadians.

Cultural Industry
Private Members' Business

2:05 p.m.


Rick Laliberte Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to lend my support to Motion No. 259 of my hon. colleague from Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys. I will state it clearly for the record:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should give consideration to exempting up to $30,000 of income from income tax as a gesture of support for those artists, writers and performers who work in Canada's cultural industry.

My reason for speaking today is to show a gesture of support for our artists, writers and performers. Not enough can be said for the artistic and gifted people in Canada who are continually contributing to an industry that is growing in leaps and bounds with the new media, the Internet and the information age interconnection. There is a new aspect of visual, artistic, audio and video presentations, real time, and an international sharing of information.

If language is a barrier among our communities and our youth, the whole aspect of graphics, pictures, audio visual presentations and music provides an international language which breaks the boundaries. A flourishing industry starts with the planting of a seed in the form of the God-given talents of young people who find their calling, their true gifts and their strength. Maybe it is a gift they have been given in the artistic field.

Our society is on an income base. It is a state of dependency. In any city transactions involving milk, water, clothes, housing or electricity are dependent on money. To live in a city one needs money. Whether it be Paris, New York, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, Lethbridge or Hull, young people are trying to find their calling. This is an opportunity for Canada to give a gesture of support to artists. They may find they have to scrape their elbows and their knees to provide food and shelter for themselves, their immediate families, their communities or their extended families such as their elderly parents or grandparents. Artists are probably the most generous in terms of charities. Artists donate their works of art as a gesture of charity to local events such as silent auctions. The government should show a gesture of support by assisting them in finding their calling.

For example, an artist working in oils may find that those techniques are the best templates for the colours on a modem to be transferred internationally on a desk top computer in multi-media. Colours and hues can be controlled by technology as opposed to mixing oil paints on a palette.

Some may have to go for some upgrading in new styles or techniques. They may have to broaden their horizons by going to a big city or venturing into a new part of Canada. It would take considerable expense to make this happen. As a nation we could make a gesture of freedom to our artists. Basically it would allow them the freedom of expression and the freedom to try new ways.

I would like to cast a good light on our artists and their gifts. At a younger age when choosing my career path and realizing my aspirations for the gifts I was given I was told that an artist is a conceptualizer. For example, someone dreamt up the architectural concept of the parliament buildings. Somebody expressed it on paper or in words. That gesture was supported and it grew into the buildings on Parliament Hill. The architecture of these buildings are of artistic value. They also have a purpose.

Our artists may have artistic talents but they also have integrity and serve a purpose in terms of the nation and the new technologies. There has to be a purpose. It is not for mere entertainment or mere entrepreneurial skills that our artists work on their concepts.

I come from a region of Canada which is known for its beadwork, crafts, clothing such as moccasins and dream catchers, where people consider their talents to be a gift and have included purpose in their art such as dream catchers trapping the good dreams and screening out the bad ones in a child's room or the parents' room. The dream catcher is an artistic form but also has a spiritual purpose in making our lives better.

The government has an opportunity to make a gesture of support for our artisans, our playwrights, our singers and our poets. I also think of our recently lost colleague and brother, the late Mr. Maurice Richard.

Performers in television and movies are growing in numbers and attracting the motion picture industry here. Let us support them. They are seasonal jobs. Some people might find summer work in shooting locations throughout the country but may fall short trying to make ends meet.

The exemption of $30,000 worth of income could be our gesture to encourage artists, writers and performers to say they have a rightful place and that we count on them to conceptualize our future and make out lives better in the country we call home, Canada.