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House of Commons Hansard #134 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was heritage.

Topics

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from the Canadian Alliance for his question. I can tell him that yes, we each interpret history in our own way, each on our own side of the river as I said earlier. Canadians and Quebeckers can certainly view history in a different perspective.

What I regret is that this bill broadens the terms of reference of the new institution and gives it a role which is contrary to its mandate; this destroys the neutrality that has always been displayed by the National Library of Canada and the National Archives of Canada.

Yes, historians do interpret history, but that was not the role of the National Library of Canada or the National Archives of Canada. We would go to the National Library of Canada to have access to reference books and we would go to historians so that they would help us understand those documents.

This bill will broaden the role of the Librarian and Archivist, but that will ruin the neutrality that has always been there since the creation of the National Archives and the National Library. I would like to see the new institution maintain this neutrality.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is a rather useful exchange. It seems to me that we should be looking at something on which we perhaps could have full agreement, such as some of the terrible atrocities that occurred during the second world war in the name of many countries. Had the allies not been victorious during the course of that war I wonder what the interpretation of that war would have been at that time. The fact is that we, supposedly, were the good guys, and I truly believe we were in that we were victorious and we now have freedom of expression, freedom of worship and freedom of association. As a result of that war, we made certain interpretations, and I think correctly so, on some of the events of the war. However, had it gone the other way, heaven forbid, would those interpretations not have been different?

Have we not seen the rewriting of history even in Canada relative to certain issues that relate to, say the feminist movement, or things of that nature? Even when the Famous Five, the women who were so influential in Canadian political history, were going to be enshrined, as they have been, on Parliament Hill, many people were asking about Nellie McClung and the things she accomplished. Is there not a constant interpretation?

I believe I understand the Bloc member's concern but it seems to me that what is contained in the bill, which has to do with the reconstruction and amalgamation of the library and archives, is simply an explanation or a description of what is, in reality, currently going on today. I was just wondering whether she was getting rather carried away with her concern.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member of the Canadian Alliance for his question. I could give him another example.

Let us talk about conscription, both in 1917 and for the second world war. Historical interpretations differ a great deal, depending on whether you are a Quebecker or a Canadian.

In this mandate, which interpretation will be considered the right one? That is the question I have. There is always a choice between different interpretations, and this worries me.

This raises big questions. We cannot ignore the fact that we are Quebeckers or Canadians. In Quebec, we do not look at Canadian history the same way a Canadian Alliance member does, because he is a federalist.

Which of these interpretations will be made accessible to all? Just the Canadian interpretation, or will the Quebec interpretation be available too? I worry about the way the documents concerning both interpretations will be made available. Will the Canadian interpretation be a priority while the other one will be pushed aside? I worry about that.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a quick question for the member with regard to clause 21. I would like to hear the member's opinion as to whether or not its inclusion or exclusion would have a material impact on the essence of the bill.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of the debate on Bill C-36, we had reached an agreement and the members of the Bloc Quebecois were of the opinion that clause 21 had to be removed. We thought that it should not be in there.

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is presently reviewing the copyright issue. We believed then, and we still believe now, that this clause should have been removed and included in the Copyright Act.

This is one of the reasons why we oppose this bill. This clause does not belong there. It does not need to be included and it should be discussed in the context of the copyright issues. This bill, which will be referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, is very important for the Bloc Quebecois.

This is why there was no fundamental discussion on this. Since an agreement had been reached to exclude it, we did not go into it in great detail.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for this opportunity to add a few thoughts in the closing minutes of debate on Bill C-36.

I wanted an opportunity to rise on behalf of our NDP heritage critic, the member for Dartmouth, to make a summary point as we close the debate on Bill C-36 today. Many members have spoken about the relative merits of the bill. It is my task today, in the few minutes I have left, to point out some observations on behalf of the member for Dartmouth.

In 1998 Dr. John English, a former Liberal member of Parliament, conducted a study regarding the fate and the future of the National Archives and the National Library. That study caused the member for Dartmouth to do some investigating. What she found has not been articulated clearly here today. It is that the sorry state of our National Archives and our National Library is due in large part to the budgetary cuts of the Liberal government during the 1990s. It cannot be ignored and we would be remiss if we left these facts out.

The National Archives budget went from $65 million to $44 million from 1993 to 1997. The library's budget went from $47 million to $27 million. These are huge cuts. The fat was already trimmed and we were cutting deep into the bone. All of a sudden archivists had to decide which historical collections of national significance were going into the blue box and which they could afford to preserve. At least the archivists had that flexibility; the National Library did not.

The National Library, by an act of Parliament, must collect two copies of every publication published in Canada. It has no option to cut its acquisitions or do away with some of its archives. We have told it to be the national repository of all of our books, reports and magazines.

Therefore, the only place it could cut was its physical plant. It wound up that it could not even afford to fix its leaky roof, as sad as that sounds. It could not afford to fix the bursting water pipes. It could only try to move its collections around so the water did not drip through the roof onto its valuable documents.

I point this out to illustrate that this is the manifestation of budget cuts that were so deep they were irresponsible because our national treasures suffered. Our national history suffered as a result of what I consider to be the cutting, hacking and slashing of budgets without consideration of how those cuts manifest themselves. It is more difficult to see in social programs, et cetera, when those cuts take place, although no less dramatic.

It is easy to see when a simple thing like fixing the roof was impossible and the water poured in on our National Library. Some 25,000 works were damaged to the point where they could not be used or had to be thrown out. Even the attempts to improve the plant by building a new preservation centre in Gatineau has been only a band-aid solution. These cuts have meant fewer archivists and without archivists no one takes care of our archives.

It was that point that I wanted to make in these final moments of the debate. The ruthless cutting, hacking and slashing during program review by the member for LaSalle—Émard, the former finance minister, is directly responsible for the crisis that our National Archives and National Library find themselves in today. The merger in Bill C-36 is being proposed originally by the Liberals as a cost saving measure. We support this bill only because it may lead to a better treatment of our national treasures in both these institutions.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

There is not enough time left for a question or a comment. I wonder if I could have the unanimous consent of the House to see the clock as 6:30 p.m.? I notice that the two members who will be speaking in the adjournment debate and the parliamentary secretaries are in the House.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question today pertains to the fisheries situation in the Fraser River on the west coast.

I would like the hon. member opposite to understand one fundamental fact, and that is, it is not possible to discriminate in favour of somebody on the basis of their skin colour, race or ancestry without simultaneously and unfairly discriminating against somebody else because of their skin colour, race or ancestry.

My question is, what does the hon. member suggest is the message the House of Commons delivers to non-Indian fishermen who are denied the opportunity to earn a livelihood in the salmon fishery because they are the wrong skin colour? What does the hon. member say to that person?

What do we say to individuals whose dreams and aspirations are denied because they are the wrong skin colour and why embark on such a discriminatory, state-sanctioned, segregationist policy which most Canadians find offensive, demeaning and discriminatory?

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. I wonder if I might seek the cooperation of the House.

We will hear the parliamentary secretary's answer.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, could I have you repeat, please. My colleague was talking to me at the same time.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The member for Saskatoon—Humboldt made his first comments and we are now waiting for the parliamentary secretary's answer.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

October 6th, 2003 / 6:30 p.m.

Laval East Québec

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, in the absence of my colleague, the hon. parliamentary secretary, I will be pleased to respond to the remarks of the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt.

I welcome this opportunity to respond to the concerns of my hon. colleague concerning the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations. These regulations are an important part of the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy and of Fisheries and Oceans Canada's initiative in response to the Marshall decisions.

The fishing licences issued under the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations give the aboriginal people access to fisheries for food, social and ceremonial purposes as well as access to commercial fisheries.

While believing that the regulations are valid, the Government of Canada clearly expressed the desire to respond to the concerns of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations.

I can only commend once again the committee members on their dedication to this issue as well as their continued efforts to make their concerns heard. The Government of Canada reviewed at length the views expressed by the committee. Instead of bypassing the parliamentary process—far from it—as the hon. member suggested, in June, the minister introduced in this very place Bill C-43 to amend the Fisheries Act.

Bill C-43 clarifies which legislative authority will be responsible for the regulations governing fisheries in Canada. The honourable member referred to pilot sales and to the judgment handed down this summer by the Provincial Court of British Columbia in the Queen v. Kapp.

The Attorney General of Canada appealed that decision. And even though it was the decision of a lower court, the department decided to continue negotiating in order to conclude pilot sales agreements for the current year in British Columbia. It also terminated existing agreements, in accordance with provisions in those agreements.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is working with British Columbia's first nations to arrive at agreements that will be in the interest of those aboriginal communities who want to reap the economic advantages of fishing, and that will bring more certainty and stability to all aboriginal and non aboriginal participants.

Furthermore, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will continue to cooperate with all stakeholders in this fishing industry. Preservation of the resource and proper management of fisheries remain a priority of the department.

As the minister said to the member in June, the majority of Canadians and all the members on this side of the House want aboriginal peoples, the first inhabitants of this country, to have fair economic opportunities, and that is what we are going to provide.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that we have to categorize citizens of our country into when they apparently immigrated here. Does that mean that second generation Canadians have more rights and privileges than first generations Canadians but less than third or fourth generation Canadians?

In any event, the hon. member has completely dodged my question so I will ask it again. I suggest to her that not only are the eyes of the nation on her but so is the permanent record of the House of Commons.

What does the hon. member say to non-Indian fishermen whose dreams and aspirations of earning a livelihood in the salmon fishery on the Fraser River are denied because the Liberal government has decided they are the wrong skin colour? What does she say to those people? They are listening and watching, so let us have a direct answer to that specific question.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is probably referring to the decision by the Provincial Court of British Columbia. I said earlier that the Attorney General of Canada has appealed this decision.

Even though it is a decision by a lower court, the department has decided to carry on negotiating with a view to reaching agreements regarding pilot sales for the current year in British Columbia. That is my answer.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, in May 2003, I asked the Minister of Industry a question regarding the price of gasoline. As you know, early in 2003, there was an inexplicable hike in the price of gasoline. We were told that it was because of the impending war in Iraq. It was not that the availability of petroleum had decreased, but simply that the oil companies had maximized their profits on refining.

After that, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology unanimously passed a motion by the Bloc Quebecois asking for a review of the situation.

In May, I asked the Minister of Industry to conduct an inquiry to get to the bottom of it. The same thing happened for Labour Day. It happens every time there is a special occasion such as a long weekend. Nowadays, given the refining capacity in North America, oil companies and multinationals have the upper hand and can instantly, virtually within 24 hours, decrease the quantities of refined petroleum, which in turn results in an increase in the price of oil.

What I was asking the minister in May is still relevant today. Why does the government not intervene in this debate? Why is there no effort to ensure that there will be normal fluctuations in the price of gasoline instead of sudden jumps and drops, huge changes up and down, with serious impacts on the economy.

The entire transportation industry, as well as people who live in rural areas, people who use their cars every day, and especially people with low incomes, all need to know in advance what the price of gas will be. At present we are being held hostage by the multinationals, who are either using the international situation as an excuse, or claiming a sudden increase in demand caused by their reductions in refinery capacity.

We saw it just recently. A refinery in Ontario was closed and activities concentrated in Montreal. It is a good thing to have a sizeable refinery operation in Montreal, but it is also important to have sufficient refinery capacity. It looks as though the oil companies have set things up rather nicely in the past few years.

I would like to ask the minister, or his representative, if he has any intention of holding the public inquiry we are asking for. This subject is always on the agenda of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. I would like to know if the government side has reviewed its position since the last time, because the multinational oil companies are still up to the same tricks?

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry and address this question about retail gasoline prices raised on May 7 by the hon. member.

We have already answered this question several times before the House. Again, I repeat that our views on this important matter are very straightforward. We believe that a fair, efficient and competitive marketplace will provide Canadian consumers with the best prices and will encourage companies to innovate and offer new product choices.

As we all know, the Competition Bureau is an independent law enforcement agency responsible for the administration of the Competition Act. The act contains criminal provisions that prohibit price fixing and price maintenance, as well as civil provisions dealing with mergers and abuse of dominance in the marketplace. All these provisions apply to gasoline and other petroleum product markets.

We must also acknowledge that there is a larger context to this issue. We must remember that outside factors influenced the price of gasoline in Canadian markets, especially in February 2003 with an impending war in Iraq, a political crisis in Venezuela which affected that country's oil production, a cold winter in northeastern North America and unusually low inventory levels throughout this continent. All these factors created upward pressure on crude oil prices, which in turn had an impact on the price of gasoline in Canada and around the world.

In fact retail gasoline prices around the world reached very high levels in February 2003. However, the latest available data from the International Energy Agency, an autonomous agency linked with the OECD, showed that in June 2003 Canada had lower gasoline prices than most of the other major industrialized countries studied.

It is important to note that high prices and profits during volatile market conditions are not contrary to the Competition Act. Suppliers of any product are generally free in Canada to charge whatever prices the market will bear. Experience has shown that over the long run, market forces are the most reliable means of ensuring that product prices are as low as possible.

Agreements among competitors to artificially fix or raise prices are prohibited under the criminal conspiracy provisions of the act which are strictly enforced at all times.

At this point there is no evidence to suggest that the price increases over the last year are due to any conduct which would raise issues under the Competition Act.

I can assure hon. members that where the Competition Bureau finds that companies or individuals have engaged in anti-competitive conduct, it does not hesitate to take immediate and appropriate action under the Competition Act.

If anyone has any evidence that prices in the petroleum products sector are being set by agreement among competitors and not by market forces, I encourage them to bring that evidence to the Competition Bureau.

In the past the Competition Bureau has been very active in examining markets in the domestic petroleum industry.

In the last 12 years the Competition Bureau has conducted four major investigations of the gasoline industry, as well as numerous examinations of consumer complaints, and has not found any evidence to suggest that the price increases which occurred during that time period resulted from either a national or regional conspiracy among refiners or other suppliers of gasoline. Indeed, we must recognize that the periods of high prices in the past proved to be temporary and were always followed by a return of prices to normal levels.

In the year 2000, in response to concerns about gasoline prices, the federal government sponsored an independent study by the Conference Board of Canada to examine Canadian gasoline and diesel fuel markets. In its report, released in February 2001, the Conference Board concluded that Canadians were well served by gasoline markets that operated fairly and efficiently and that they enjoyed some of the lowest gasoline prices in the world. The report also has noted that the rapid increase in world crude prices was the main factor explaining increases in Canadian gasoline prices.

While I realize that this is little comfort to consumers who have had to pay more to fill their gas tanks, I must remind the hon. members that the Government of Canada does not have the authority to directly regulate retail gasoline prices except in emergency situations and therefore, under the constitution, the decision whether to regulate retail prices rests with the provinces.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary has put her finger on the right thing, but is not giving it the right interpretation.

How can she state that an objective study has been undertaken, when the organization carrying it out was the Conference Board of Canada, to which the oil and gas companies themselves belong?

Similarly, as far as the matter of a competitive market goes, we agree there must be one. But when, in an industry like the oil and gas industry, there is a maximum of five or six actors who decide to raise prices at the same time—as everyone has seen in their own home town—when all gas stations change their prices at the same time, does this constitute an acceptable competitive market?

Finally, the competition commissioner himself has acknowledged in committee that the law did not have the teeth needed for carrying out studies that are not quasi-judiciary. Such studies require evidence of equivalent quality to that required in court to establish guilt.

In this case—and the minister has acknowledged this himself, since he is carrying out a study at the moment on it—ought not the Competition Act to confer sufficient powers on the competition commissioner to allow this type of study to be carried out and the matter settled for once and for all? This would mean that, in future, it would be possible to prevent refinery profits from being absolutely overinflated in comparison to what the market reality ought to be.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, as I stated in my earlier speech, the high prices and the rising profits during volatile market conditions are not contrary to the Competition Act.

If the hon. member has proof that this is happening, it should be reported. Agreements among competitors to artificially fix or raise prices are prohibited under the criminal conspiracy provisions of the act and are enforced at all times. As the minister has stated already, the Competition Bureau does carry out its duties and it would not hesitate to take appropriate action.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:46 p.m.)