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.


Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.


Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague from Drummond.

I listened to her speech with satisfaction and with an open mind. I think that she has conveyed to us in her speech what the reality of the National Library and the National Archives should be in Canada.

Throughout her speech, she wondered why this government is doing the opposite of what all other industrialized countries are doing. Why is it so far away from what the reality should be? As our colleague, the member for Drummond, has shown us, being an archivist is not the same as being a librarian. These are two totally different roles.

I would like to ask my colleague about the fact that we have not heard too many questions, in this debate, about the prerogatives of the Librarian and Archivist that will be appointed and the advisory council that will be established under this bill.

How will that council be established? There are no specific guidelines in this bill. Who will appoint these people? Could my colleague elaborate on that? We have seen what is happening right now in Canada with regard to partisan appointments. One just has to refer to the questions asked by the Bloc Quebecois on the Radwanski issue.

I would like my colleague to enlighten us on this aspect, which she did not address in her speech. Surely she wanted me to ask her questions on this subject.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.


Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Jonquière for her kind words. I am glad she appreciated my speech. That is my viewpoint on this bill.

In reply to her question, in the bill the Librarian and Archivist is mentioned in sections 4, 5, 8, 9 and 11. This branch of the public service is presided over by the Minister of Canadian Heritage but under the direction ofthe Librarian and Archivist. The chief administrative officer is called the Librarian and Archivist of Canada and holds office during pleasure of the governor in council.

We insist that the appointment of the Librarian and Archivist be non-partisan. Why? Because the Librarian and Archivist has additional power and can intervene and demand the transfer of documents from the Canadian government or from other libraries, if he believes they are at risk of serious damage or destruction.

Will the Librarian and Archivist of Canada have the right to repatriate any documents he believes to be at risk? Who will be responsible for evaluating the documents? Perhaps the Librarian and Archivist of Canada should not have full power in this matter, to prevent abuse. We have recently seen appointments like that of the Privacy Commissioner where public funds have been misused. In fact, he did more than misuse them; it has become quite a scandal. These appointments are not always transparent. Friends and associates are given such rewards for contributing to campaign funds. And after that, anything goes.

We must avoid this kind of abuse. In this respect, the federal government has had some rough scrapes lately with the sponsorship scandal, first, and now the Privacy Commissioner. One might think that in other institutions where this kind of appointment has been made, there may not be as much transparency as there should be. Every week there is something new. So today it is only normal to demand more transparency and to insist on administrators who are not hand-picked by the minister. The regulations and procedures must be much more transparent and clear, in order to avoid this kind of abuse.

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4:40 p.m.


Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, since no one is interested in what the hon. member has been saying from the very beginning, I would like her to tell us about the advisory council, which will be made up of individuals whose identity is unknown. Will these be archivists or librarians? This is not specified in the bill. Everything is vague, unclear. Also, how will these individuals be appointed? We have to bear in mind that the members of this advisory council will be advising the deputy head.

I would like my colleague to tell us if she has seen any standards, guidelines or what not in this bill? Will these appointments be approved by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage? Will they be approved by this House?

I would like her to tell us if she has seen anything like that in this bill, because I certainly did not. I ask that my colleague enlighten me.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.


Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is correct. Section 6 of the bill refers to the “establishment of an advisory council” whose members are to be appointed by the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

I explained the same thing earlier with regard to the librarian and archivist responsible for overseeing the merger of these institutions into the Library and Archives of Canada.

They are trying to hide something from us, because we are being told, “No, there will not be a scandal, because an advisory council will be appointed”. But the members of this famous advisory council will be appointed by the current Minister of Canadian Heritage. Once again, this minister could decide to appoint party or personal friends.

There are no regulations or procedures, absolutely nothing to prove that these appointments will be done properly or ensure the appointment of competent individuals to oversee the activities of this institution.

It is unacceptable that the current Minister of Canadian Heritage will select the members of this council. In addition, this council has a mandate to promote history and heritage. There is a clear lack of neutrality. Since, in addition to this, the council members will be appointed by the minister, how can we convince the public of this council's independence?

The institutions under the new Library and Archives of Canada are being politicized, since the current Minister of Canadian Heritage has the power to appoint anyone she wants to this council, including her friends.

The Bloc Quebecois believes that there is no point to creating an advisory council responsible for promoting Canadian history, since this contradicts the historic mandate of the Library and Archives of Canada.

The Bloc Quebecois demands that the federal government change the appointment process, should it fail to scrap this council entirely and give this mandate to an independent board. This is not the first time that the Bloc Quebecois has called for the creation of an independent board to ensure that party friends and partisanship have no place. If the public is sick of politicians and politics, it has good reason; it is because of these kinds of appointments, the dilapidation of public funds and petty politics.

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4:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, I intended to speak briefly on this and talk about the insertion of clause 21 and the effect it has on the legislation, but after listening to my friend from Drummond who raised a number of very interesting topics, I probably will comment on them briefly also.

First, in relation to the answer she gave to the member for Jonquière, let me say that I agree with her fully. If there is going to be a board appointed, certainly it has to be a qualified, independent board. Too often we have seen people appointed to boards and agencies because of who they are rather than what they can do or what they can represent; if one is a friend of a minister or whatever, one gets an appointment. That is not the way it should be unless the people are qualified. That is the name of the political game: people like to appoint friends. That is okay if the friends are qualified. Nobody will argue if that is the case, so let us look forward to who will be represented on the board, if we ever get that far.

However, the bill before us, Bill C-36, is a bill that would integrate the National Library and the National Archives of Canada. Both are separate now but would be brought under one entity to be known as the Library and Archives of Canada.

Originally a lot of people looked at this and said it probably makes sense. However, in analyzing what is really happening here, a number of concerns or doubts are raised. The member for Drummond really laid on the table the concerns that a number of people in different parts of the country face, especially in the older parts of the country.

Having said that, before I get into that aspect of the discussion let me say on clause 21 that what has happened here is something we do not see too often. There is an old saying that there is honour among thieves, and I guess that usually there is honour among politicians. When an agreement is negotiated, as was mentioned earlier today by one of the Alliance members, we expect people to live up to that agreement. The heritage committee basically agreed to take out clause 21. Everyone else seemed relatively happy with the remaining legislation, so they were very surprised that a meeting was called which conveniently happened at a time when the majority of the people there were not only Liberals but Liberals with vested interests, and we saw the clause put in.

This is the interesting question to ask in relation to all of this: Who was pressuring whom to have that clause put back into the bill? Unfortunately it seems completely and utterly out of place; there is no reason for it except that somebody for somebody's own interest wanted the insertion, and some members, being pressured, tried to make sure it was done. It had to go in somewhere so I guess the only piece of legislation that was coming in the near future anywhere near the type that could incorporate such a clause was this piece of legislation.

The clause itself basically states that for unpublished works the law limited the rights of the author's estate to 50 years after his or her death, plus a six year window for the estate to either publish or communicate an intention to do so. It seems pretty reasonable. That was before 1997. An estate had perpetual copyright for posthumous unpublished writings.

The new bill adds between 14 and 34 years of copyright for unpublished works, but only for those authors who died between January 1, 1930 and January 1, 1949. When one starts setting parameters, one raises suspicions. Of course it is called the Lucy Maud Montgomery clause, simply because the estate is pushing for this recognition and Ms. Montgomery, of course, died in 1942.

There are a couple of interesting comments from well known people in the literary and historical field. Mr. Donald LePan, president of Broadview Press, is on record as saying that these copyright provisions in Bill C-36 represent, in his words: of the several significant threats on the current horizon for the public domain. Copyright restrictions in Canada are already more stringent than they need be. It is crucial that we resist further incursions into the public domain.

Therefore, why would such a clause be inserted in a bill such as this? The question is, who will benefit from the provisions of Bill C-36? It is often claimed that authors as a whole benefit from extending copyright provisions. In practice, however, it is typically only a handful of the best known and most enduringly successful writers whose heirs benefit from such provisions in any significant financial way. Very few people, or the estates of very few people, would benefit from such a clause being inserted in the bill. Unfortunately, it puts a bad taste on the piece of legislation and how all of this transpired.

Having said that, we will deal with that when the time comes to vote. Maybe between now and the time we do vote on the bill there will be some method to deal with this, even though nobody made an amendment to the bill simply because a guarantee was given at the committee level that this clause would be taken out. Perhaps the minister, in her wisdom, or the parliamentary secretary who today seems to slam the door shut on any further changes, will find some mechanism to deal with this unfortunate intrusion into the bill.

But even in regard to the bill itself, when we start to look carefully at it, I think we have to ask a number of questions that were raised, especially by the member for Drummond. She talked about interpreting Canada's history and she expressed a major concern about the interpretation of the history of her own province. As we know, Quebec is not just an ordinary province. It is one of the major sections of the country and has a unique history, that of the early days of Canadian history, the days of settlement, long before the west was discovered and before anyone heard the expression “go west, young man,” which I think is probably an American expression. I visited one of the old forts in Saskatchewan. I was taken there because it is an historic site. It is 150 or 200 years old. To the people who took us there, it was extremely historic.

I come from a province which was settled by the Norse in the year 1000. We celebrated the millennium of Newfoundland and Labrador only three years ago. In the western world from a European settlement perspective, Newfoundland and Labrador is by far the oldest, settled part of the new world. When it came to a permanent, established settlement, in 1497 John Cabot landed in Newfoundland and shortly afterward we had an influx of European fishermen. In fact, when Jacques Cartier sailed up the St. Lawrence River, he visited a little community in Newfoundland, Renews, and took on water. That happens to be my hometown, where I still live. John Denis, who visited in 1502, I believe, just five years after Cabot, wintered his boats in that same harbour.

Newfoundland and Labrador being the gateway into America, not only was it the first point of landing from a settlement perspective. Let us look at recorded settlement. Because of the way in which the British and the French operated, recorded settlement was only created or historically noted when a king or queen would send out somebody to establish a formal settlement, and then we would say that the first settlement in Quebec, the first settlement in Newfoundland, the first settlement in Nova Scotia, et cetera, was a certain place, but that is not the case.

Long before any established settlement was formally recognized by the king or the queen, we had many settlements all around our coast because people went there to fish. They left some of the big ships. They jumped ship and they settled in the little communities. Even though they were not allowed to, they came and stayed and the communities grew. We had significant community growth in eastern Canada long before the days of these formal settlements. History books say that John Guy established the first settlement in Newfoundland in 1610 with the colony at Cupids, but we had people living in parts of Newfoundland and a number of families in communities 110 years before that.

We have to be very much aware of our history or we can lose it. I mentioned earlier that Quebec is unique. It certainly is, because it was the French and the English who really founded this country. We could argue who did the most exploring or whatever, and people could make arguments for both sides, but they played a tremendous role in the development of this country. The two founding nations set up the eastern part of the country in particular, but not only did they establish and settle there, they moved westward. They moved down into the United States. North America generally benefited from the establishment of solid settlements by these two great founding nations.

The development of settlements in this country and the work that was done by these French and English pioneers should not just be lost by lumping together today's sort of perspective of Canada. It is not that way. Certainly from a Newfoundland and Labrador perspective, we cannot forget our part because our province also is unique. When we talk about lumping the history of Canada into one avenue, one of the concerns is that we wonder sometimes how much of the real history is going to be lost. We did not become part of Canada until 1949. Long before that, the Province of Newfoundland, as it was called, made a significant contribution to the North American scene, and not only to the North American scene but to the international scene. Whether it was in trade or in representing our country generally and our hemisphere in the first and second world wars, we were there as a country.

I believe that Newfoundland is the only country in the world that ever gave up its own independence freely. We wonder sometimes if we did the right thing or not; however, there is always the second time around.

We cannot in any way, through the establishment or the integration of any of our agencies, lose the true perspective of Canadian history, whether it be the Province of Quebec with its uniqueness, as I have mentioned, or whether it be the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador with its uniqueness in culture and history.

We must ensure that these things are properly recognized. We cannot overlook the involvement of the provinces in all this. We cannot lose control of our own perspective. People have a way of changing things to suit themselves, which is always a concern. History as written should be history as created. We do not see a lot of that. We see too many convenient interpretations of Canadian history.

We do have concerns with the legislation. We have particular concerns with regard to the games that are being played to insert clause 21. This might be a good time to take our time in dealing with the legislation and to fully analyze and debate how the history of our great country is being and will be recorded and preserved.

As individual players are we getting a fair share and a fair shake? Are we being recognized for our contributions and, more specifically, are the provinces and our founding fathers being accurately recognized for their contributions to our country?

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.


Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, it was with a great deal of interest that I listened to my colleague from the Progressive Conservative Party, the member for South Shore.

I am very happy that the member also talked about what the member from the Canadian Alliance addressed at the beginning of his speech; in other words, the agreement that was reached between the Minister of Heritage—represented by the parliamentary secretary—and the opposition parties that clauses 21 to 23 should be withdrawn because they do not belong in this bill.

The Progressive Conservative Party, through its new member on the Standing Committee on Heritage—this was his first experience—did not see it that way.

I attended the committee meetings after the House adjourned and I heard that the agreement had fallen through. I saw to what extent this government was not very proactive and disregarded the opposition parties. I agree with my Conservative colleague that this government cannot be trusted.

As he said, his province freely joined the Canadian Constitution in the 1940s. Perhaps there will be another opportunity to do the reverse. One never knows.

I share his concerns with respect to this idea of interpreting history. History changes, but it can also be interpreted by adversaries who have a first-hand knowledge of the situation, wherever they stand on the political spectrum.

As for his interpretation, I do not know whether the Progressive Conservative Party will vote in favour of the bill. His party was very vague, saying it would decide when it comes time to vote. I call on members to listen to the Bloc Quebecois, which will have many questions about this. I am very happy that he listened attentively to my colleague, the member for Drummond.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her question.

I will make my position quite clear. Unless we see changes to the bill as it is presently constructed, I will not be supporting it. I will not speak for anybody else at this stage but I know the new critic on the committee has expressed concerns about the games that were played.

What happened here concerns me. A year or so ago I spent some time on the heritage committee. Unfortunately, due to my workload I no longer could be on that committee. However it is a very good and important committee and, I must say, is chaired by one of the most competent and able persons in this establishment, an individual who not only does a very good job but knows what he is doing.

I know a chair has no real control over how people vote and if the troops are sent in to get something rammed through or to make changes we cannot do a thing about it. That is democracy. I suppose we can blame a lot of things on democracy but that is the way it works.

I am not sure what the member's position is on all this. We may be missing something here and we might hear about it before it is all over but I agree with the questioner. Yes, we have concerns about the way this was done.

We also have concerns about the overall recording of Canadian history. As I said before, maybe this will open the door to some real discussion on who we are, where we came from and what we have done, but more specifically, what we can do.

I believe that one of the things happening in the country is a real lack of pride in who we are. During the summer I set up a youth forum to talk about youth concerns. One of the biggest concerns of course was the cost of education and the fact that it was impossible for some people who live in rural areas and whose parents are not well off, et cetera, to be able to pay the horrific cost of getting an education. That is unfortunate because society has to pick up the bill for the rest of their lives instead of them being contributing members.

They listed another major concern facing youth and listed some things they would like to see changed. One of the top five concerns was the lack of history in their schools about their own province and the history of Canada generally.

In our school system, in some cases, for a period of years there was little or no Canadian history or perhaps a smattering of it at a lower grade where they really did not understand the big picture. All these young people said that after spending years in school and learning about the unification of Germany, and other things because they had studied European and Asian history, and about the cradle of civilization, that they knew very little about their own place. They said that they graduate from school trying to be active participants in their province and their country but nobody even told them how a community council works. That is sad.

Perhaps through discussions like this we might start getting back to what really matters in life and instead of just teaching people how to make a living, we will teach them how to live and what it is all about.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.


Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question of my colleague in connection with his response.

Do you think, under Bill C-36, that this new entity will have guidelines allowing each province to retain its own entity? As the Bloc Quebecois always says, and as you have acknowledged, Quebec is a distinct society. In giving this new structure the mandate to interpret history in general, do you think that your province of Alberta, or Manitoba, or any of the provinces of Canada will have their place and protection for their history in their image, that is to say not interpreted according to the vision of this new entity within the mandate it has been given?

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, to me that is one of the most important questions that has ever been asked in this honoured establishment.

One of the things that has really concerned me in working here over the last three to three a half years is the apparent lack of consultation and co-operation with the provinces. We hear about the First Ministers meetings where they meet somewhere, sit around the table and fight over health care funding. I know these things are important, and health care certainly is the biggest issue in the country and has been for some time and undoubtedly will be, but I have seen in my own province a complete lack of close co-operation and affiliation between the provincial government and the federal government.

I do not want to be critical when I say that. I know because I have been there. Ministers get caught up in their own domain and provincial governments get caught up in their own domain but there are certain things which we have to do collectively. When we look at building a country we need to know where we came from in order to know where we are going to go. We also need to ensure that we recognize the uniqueness of our country, the similarities, the strengths and whatever, but we also need to recognize the differences.

We are not all alike. We are not 10 equal provinces. In the sense of equality from the federal government, I can understand that in relation to how we are treated we are equal, but we are all different in our own respects: in the way we were settled, the longevity of the settlements, the type of people we are, and the type of work we did which affects the character of the individuals.

I have not seen any attempt between the federal and provincial governments to mould together these great strengths that we have that would give us pride in ourselves at the provincial level and across the country. I think that is what is wrong. That is why we are having some of the problems we are having in the country today. Maybe this is a start. Maybe we can get some debate going.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.


Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-36. I want to indicate at the outset that I will be the first member on the opposition benches to speak in favour of Bill C-36.

I want to express the support of all of my colleagues in the New Democratic Party for the bill. It is not unequivocal support. It is not enthusiastic support. It is support based on the need to proceed with the long overdue provisions outlined in Bill C-36, weighing of course the need to do further study and consultation against the need to resolve a very problematic area in terms of Canadian heritage.

I speak also on behalf of my colleague, the member for Dartmouth, the critic in our caucus for culture and heritage. I want to reflect for a moment on her hard work as critic in this very important area and as a hardworking member of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

We are all absorbing the news today that the member for Dartmouth may not run again in the next election. She may return to working as a playwright. That is something we can understand and appreciate, especially given the number of excellent and wonderful works written by the member for Dartmouth. At the same time we have to express our regrets and disappointment at losing a member of such calibre. I know I speak for colleagues on all sides of the House when I acknowledge the good work of the member for Dartmouth and wish her well in all her future pursuits.

The member would want me to stand here today and give her support to Bill C-36 and to say that she had listened very carefully to the many witnesses called before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, had heard their concerns and had listened very carefully to their solutions. She would want me to stand here today and say that she is confident that the committee has created a bill that satisfies most parties and protects the rights of creators.

Of course, that is why essentially the New Democratic Party wants the bill to pass before the House rises or prorogues. It is our view that hopefully the bill will create a wonderful institution that all Canadians can use to discover our history and our stories.

I was fortunate almost 20 years ago to spend some time as the minister of culture and heritage in the Manitoba government. It was a time that gave me insights into the role of libraries in our communities and into the role of our provincial archives in Manitoba. I grew to appreciate the work of our creators who through words create stories and who tell our history.

I recognized at that point the absolute importance attached to places that store those stories and keep them for generations to come. I recognized the absolutely important work of the government to preserve the infrastructure, to preserve the system and to ensure that we have storehouses of knowledge. Like all my colleagues, I came to value the storehouses we have of creative input from previous generations of Canadian writers, politicians and citizens.

This piece of legislation brings those two important storehouses together, the National Library of Canada and the National Archives of Canada. It is a very important initiative. We believe it will actually help make material more available to Canadians. It will give us the means to share the stories of those who created them.

There has been a lot of discussion this afternoon about another aspect of the bill and that pertains to copyright provisions. Some would argue that because of that particular clause, the bill should be sent back and that matter resolved. We would argue that there is merit to proceeding with this bill including that clause because it does address an important concern of writers and those who create material.

It is our view that this bill will redress a wrong done to creators in a previous section of the Copyright Act, section 7. This has created a lot of controversy, more controversy in fact than what the original change to unpublished copyright did in 1997. I want to say this clearly because this is where we differ certainly from the member who spoke for the Conservative Party. We believe absolutely in protecting the work of creators. The NDP will support any measure that protects the creators of work and their heirs.

I want to refer to one of the witnesses who appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on June 3 this year. Janet Lunn, past chair of the Writers' Union of Canada stated:

A writer's legacy to his or her family is the copyright in the works created during his or her lifetime. Often a writer is able to leave little else. We don't as writers have large estates or stocks and bonds. Usually our works are our legacy.

These are important words in the context of this debate. As has been noted, in 1997 the perpetual copyright on unpublished works was changed to match copyright on published works, that being 50 years after the death of the author. We all know that a change like this cannot take effect right away, so works from authors who had died since 1948 were automatically protected for a 50 year grace period. Works from authors who died before 1948 only received protection for a five year transition period before implementation.

When a similar change was instituted in the United Kingdom, a 50 year transition period was considered fair notice. Turning to the United States, that country chose a 25 year transition period.

Again I want to refer to the words of Janet Lunn, who I think explains the unintended consequences of such a short transition period:

Works not published by the end of 1998, even if they have been published since, will come into the public domain on January 1, 2004. This means that while an author who died on January 1, 1949 is protected until 2048, an author who died one day earlier, on December 31, 1948, is protected only until January 1, 2004.

Five years may seem to be a sufficient length of time to publish material even though it can take that long or longer to convince a publisher of the worth of the material. This five year transition period meant a publisher would only enjoy the benefits of publishing material until January 1, 2004, frankly a ridiculously short period of time to recoup the publishing costs of a book. That is why other jurisdictions that removed perpetual copyright on unpublished works a decade or so ago ensured that a longer transition was planned. Our oversight in 1997 needs to be redressed before the end of the year. I would hope that everyone in the House would agree that one day should not create such a discrepancy.

The unintended consequences of the bill are also cause for concern. One is that our authors do not have to publish their books in Canada. Neither do publishers. Other jurisdictions have lengthier copyright protection than we do and if unpublished work is not protected here for a fair amount of time, authors or their publishers can take that work out of the country for publication. That clearly would be a tremendous loss to our heritage.

Furthermore, this section of the legislation will not make it impossible for researchers or genealogists to use information from archives or collections. They were able to do that under the perpetual copyright provisions pre-1997. We all benefited from the books, essays, plays and movies created from people looking at old letters and papers that had never been published. As always, the concept of fair dealing still applies. This means that people can use copyrighted material for research and for review but the right to publish material in its entirety remains with the copyright owner until copyright expires.

I think that helps to explain our position with respect to that contentious section, but I want to return for a few moments to the main purpose of this legislation. It goes back to the whole notion of the merger.

Normally we in the NDP are not that big on mergers, especially when it comes to financial institutions, but in the case of the National Library of Canada and the National Archives of Canada, we recognize that it makes absolute sense. Both of the institutions under discussion are charged with maintaining the documentary heritage of our country. It is an important and costly exercise.

All of us know that under the mandate of the former finance minister, the member for LaSalle—Émard, the budgets of both institutions were slashed in half. Many priceless collections had to be turned away because staff could not process or store them. Other material had to be destroyed because the physical plant could not be maintained.

It is absolutely critical that we see this legislation through, that there be adequate resources and funding for the newly merged library and archives for capital improvements to their facilities. The ultimate purpose of the bill is to provide a safe and secure home for our books, letters and other papers that tell our history. If we do not take these measures to protect them, we will be destroying our own history.

If this bill is to be more than a paper-pushing exercise, it has to be accompanied by new funding. We know we cannot demand that the government make guarantees of adequate funding in this legislative process. It is not part of the bill per se, but we can certainly say to the government that we expect and hope that the question of adequate funding would be dealt with concurrently, that the pursuit of this legislative proposal would be done in tandem with the whole question of adequate resources.

To protect and archive material is a very skilled job. We want to make sure that the people who remained at these institutions after the staff cuts of the 1990s and the budget trimming should not fear for their jobs now. We owe those staff a debt of gratitude. Despite all the trials and tribulations, with all the problems of operating with a weak infrastructure, with an inadequate physical plant, with all kinds of problems that threatened the existence and the preservation of these important materials, they stuck with it and managed to keep the institutions functioning and the collections preserved.

In conclusion, I wish to recognize the work of the staff at the National Archives and the National Library. Their perseverance and experience will make this merger work and will help create a new single library and archives of which all Canadians will be proud.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the hon. member for her support for this important bill.

Some animated discussion took place in committee and I printed off the clause by clause consideration. I might deal with it when I give my speech. A lot of interest has been generated around clause 21 and whether it should come out of the legislation or whether it should stay in.

Could the member put some clarity into the consequences of clause 21 and whether or not its inclusion or exclusion would make much of a difference to the effective outcome of the bill? I raise this point because my colleague from Ottawa--Vanier was quite concerned about clause 21 being excluded. It appeared that there was some consensus but then developments occurred which changed the story. It would be helpful for hon. members to understand the importance of the discussion around clause 21.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the member for Mississauga South.

I want to begin my response by suggesting that whenever it appears that the government of the day has interfered with the work of a committee and has not respected the wishes of a standing committee of this place then it is a matter of concern for all of us. It is a theme that has run throughout these last couple of years in Parliament and one that we have raised on numerous occasions.

The member for Mississauga South will know that on a legislative matter that we held near and dear, Bill C-13, dealing with reproductive technologies, there was great concern expressed on our part and by other members about how the government refused to accept amendments made in committee by all parties and in fact interfered with that democratic process by not including those amendments in the legislative proposal.

However, as in that case, today we must make a judgment about the merits of a bill versus some of the changes that we wanted to see that are not there.

It is important to recognize, in the context of Bill C-36 when dealing with clause 21, that there was in fact agreement in committee to have this clause removed. I am not so sure who bears all the brunt of the blame for the fact that it is not there.

I was not in the House when the bill was debated at report stage, but I understand the fact that action was not taken on clause 21 was largely a result of human error and a lack of vigilance on this question. The members of the government side in committee did not move the motion pursuant to clause 21 when it was the appropriate time to do so, so it did not happen there. When the bill came to the House for report stage, the Official Opposition, who felt strongly about this happening, did not move the elimination of clause 21 in the House.

As a result, by human error and not deliberate intention, this initiative was not taken. The fact of the matter is that we now have to decide if we are going to hassle about that. Are we going to haggle over those terms and that history, and lose a bill which would make an important contribution to our society? Are we going to go forward and at least see that the merger between the National Library of Canada and the National Archives of Canada is allowed to take place? We must have a public policy vehicle to ensure that the work of those who create, the writers in our society, those who write stories based on personal histories and who pursue letters and documents from our archives are able to do so knowing, and that their work is secure and the documents are safe in a physically sound building?

The bottom line comes down to how we sort through that. For our part, we have decided to support the bill, despite any shortcomings with the bill and despite lack of assurances that in fact adequate funding will be there when this merger takes place.

We must give it a chance. We have to listen to the voices of those experts who have been sounding the alarm bells for years about leaky roofs, yellowing paper, and the loss of valuable documents because we did not have the physical capabilities to keep them.

This gives us an opportunity to do what is important in that regard and it also gives us a chance to redress a problem that was created with the last copyright legislation when we did not take into account the whole question of unpublished works and copyright protection.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I would like to remind hon. members that interventions must be directed through the Chair.

The hon. member for Jonquière.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the reminder. It was not that I had forgotten, but that I was so caught up in the debate with my colleague in the Progressive Conservative Party.

I would like to ask a short question of my colleague in the New Democratic Party. I wish to add my voice to hers in saying that the hon. member for Dartmouth has done an excellent job, and if she decides not to run in the next election, I will be disappointed because she is an excellent Member of Parliament. I think we should do everything we can to keep women MPs with us, because there are so few of them.

I would now like my colleague to tell me where in the bill she has found guidelines to ensure integrity and transparency when an administrator and executive are appointed.

Throughout the process, I have been asking the government and the committee to clarify this for me. SInce she supports it, she must have answers to my questions. I would like an answer from her on this. Perhaps then I will able to change what I plan to say in a few minutes. This is something of great concern to me, in light of what is going on in the House of Commons as far as all those partisan appointments are concerned.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.


Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member from the Bloc Quebecois for her kind words about my colleague, the member for Dartmouth. I am sure that she will appreciate this speech and the support of all the members here.

I too appreciated the opportunity of working with the member for Dartmouth and wish to recognize her particular expertise that she brings to the House in the area of culture and heritage which is rare. Rare because of the first-hand experience she brings to this place and also her integrity and commitment to thoroughly reviewing all issues.

With respect to the question of the mandate in Bill C-36, I know that my colleague from Dartmouth would have said that what we have in the bill is not perfect. All the questions have not been answered. We are not absolutely 100% sure how the mandate of the new merged institution will be interpreted and whether or not the agency created will be above any political influence.

Our party came to the conclusion that when all is said and done what we have here is better than nothing and we have the hope of creating that kind of necessary institution. What we have is a bill that will help us keep valuable works and historical documents, and help protect the rights of creators.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.


Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I had no intention of speaking on the contents of the bill but it behooves me to address some of the remarks that some colleagues have made, no doubt genuinely. At the same time I think the record has to be put straight as to what happened in the committee.

I heard things here which seemed to imply that there was some kind of collusion or some underhanded practice that led to the fact that clause 21 remained in the bill when there had been an agreement between the parliamentary secretary and certain members of the opposition to delete it in committee.

I know this agreement did take place. I know the member for Kootenay—Columbia and the member for Fraser Valley were part of it. I know my colleague from Vanier on this side of the House was also part of it. Therefore definitely there had been discussions leading to the decision to delete clause 21. This was done in a very genuine effort to ensure that Bill C-36 would pass clause by clause without any problem. Therefore the agreement was definitely there.

When the committee meeting took place, and I happen to know it because I was chairing the committee, I would like to point out for those members who feel that something untoward or underhanded took place, that was definitely not the case. What unfortunately happened, and I guess we can search ourselves and decide that in the future we should be more thorough when making agreements of this nature, was that it was done at the last minute as Parliament was recessing. The flaw in the agreement was that not all other members on the Liberal side were party to it. As well, replacement members on the committee came in to fill in for the quorum who were not party to the agreement.

Therefore when the discussion took place as to the removal of clause 21, I remember clearly that I put on the record that there had been a prior agreement. Therefore, the question was quite clear to all members that there had been an agreement. At the same time certain members, and I remember my colleagues from Parkdale--High Park and from Verdun—Saint-Henri—Saint-Paul—Pointe Saint-Charles, who had not been part of it argued very strongly that they could not be bound by an agreement of which they were unaware. They felt extremely strong about retaining clause 21 within the bill.

Therefore we have to accept that those members who had not been part of the agreement, and maybe we could search ourselves and say that it was a big flaw in the agreement and obviously it was, decided for their own sake they wanted to preserve clause 21 within the bill and they argued passionately about it.

The member for Parkdale—High Park and the member for Verdun—Saint-Henri—Saint-Paul—Pointe Saint-Charles happen to know the subject extremely well. They spoke with conviction, and with eloquence about the reasons why they felt clause 21 should stay. What happened was they convinced the other members who really were replacement members and who did not know much about copyright legislation. They were swayed by the arguments.

When the vote took place the majority voted in favour of keeping clause 21 within the bill.

It is unfortunate the way it happened. I feel a lot of sympathy for the members who feel they were let down: the members for Kootenay--Columbia, Fraser Valley, Jonquière, and all the others who were at the committee and felt there was an agreement for the removal of that clause. I sympathize with them. I realize how they must feel about being let down in a process where they felt they had a commitment that the clause would be removed.

On the other hand, we also have to recognize that the members who were not part of that agreement had a genuine reason for defending their viewpoint and a democratic right to put across their point of view. What happened was they were obviously convincing enough that the majority of members accepted what they were putting forward and voted with them to leave the clause in.

I feel a particular sympathy for the member for Perth--Middlesex, who is a new member of the House. He came as the only representative of the opposition at the time, because the member for Jonquière had left. He could have broken the committee meeting and stopped it right away by leaving. I made clear to him that there was an agreement, but explained the circumstances that some members were not part of it, and he hesitated. He could have left and to his credit he decided to stay so the meeting could continue. If he had chosen to leave, the clause by clause would have been suspended immediately. Again I have much sympathy with him because by his staying, the meeting carried on and the majority voted to keep the clause in the bill.

These are the facts. The record shows this. I would like to confirm here and now that there was no malice of forethought and no intent to deceive. It was unfortunately one of those tacit agreements, which was made on the fly at the end of a session, and as events show, not very well made because all the members were not part of it. This is why I wanted to stand and put the record straight. I would not like to leave an impression that any of the members had anything to do with anything that was unfair or untoward.

I have chaired this committee now for several years. One thing we have tried to do is reach consensus in a fair and open matter and we have tried to understand one another's point of view. I think we work extremely well together. I regret this circumstance took place, because whether we like it or not, it leaves a bad taste. I hope in the future, when such agreements are made, we tie up the loose ends on all sides so we avoid the circumstances that occurred in the committee.

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5:45 p.m.


Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my distinguished colleague; he knows that I have always had the greatest respect for him. I truly appreciated everything the Liberal member did to advance the cause of environmental protection in Quebec when he was Minister of the Environment in that province.

Obviously we will not spend the rest of our lives talking about what happened, but certain things had to be said. However, I noticed—and it is the same with all committees—that some members attend all committee meetings; they listen to all the witnesses and do all the work, but the government party, represented by eight members on the committee, is never there. All of a sudden, when it is time to vote on opposition motions, we see new people arrive who have no idea what we are talking about, which skews all the work done very respectfully by opposition members. That is what happened and it is a common occurrence in several committees of this House.

An agreement had been reached in good faith among all parties, and I was part of that agreement. All of a sudden, there was no agreement anymore. Do you think that it is nice to be there and to have the government force all kinds of things down our throats when those who represent the government do not even know what it is all about?

I am not criticizing the chair of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, because he is an excellent chairman and I know that he does a good job. However, I hope that this will not happen again.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

October 6th, 2003 / 5:45 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the third reading stage of Bill C-17, An Act to amend certain Acts of Canada, and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a Minister of the Crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stage.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-36, an Act to establish the Library and Archives of Canada, to amend the Copyright Act and to amend certain Acts in consequence, be read the third time and passed.

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5:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Resuming debate on Bill C-36. Does the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis want to respond to the comments by the hon. member for Jonquière?

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5:50 p.m.


Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I understand that members are frustrated by what happened. I believe we should forgive and forget. Everyone had a chance to speak up and now we will have to find a way to work together so that in the future, when there is an agreement, we make sure that every committee member is present.

What happened is that the committee met one week after Parliament had adjourned. So it was very difficult to have all the members in attendance. This is why on that day the members in question were replaced by other members. It was not the result of any ill intent. Everyone said what they thought about it. I can understand them and I sympathize with the opposition members, who are feeling frustrated. I understand them perfectly.

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5:50 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his statements today. It has opened up a constructive dialogue about some of the difficulties we have in committee. The member has put it in perspective, notwithstanding that there is good faith at the committee. As the previous questioner raised, sometimes things happen where the will of the committee seems to be fluid because of who is sitting in the room.

Having said that, could the hon. member clarify the ultimate decision of the opposition not to move a report stage motion to delete clause 21, if this was in fact the exacerbating issue that led to the dialogue within the committee? I am searching to find out if that is a signal that maybe this item was not worth the battle. Maybe the battle is now more on partisan interests or political posturing as it was on the substance of the bill.

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5:50 p.m.


Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will not speak to what happened at report stage or to what is happening today with the clause. I do not think that is my function. I do not have any particular biases in regard to this clause, whether it stays in or is left out.

At the same time, we have to agree that a difficult situation arose because an agreement had been made and then some members, who were not part of that decision, felt very strongly that the clause should stay in. They managed to convince colleagues, in a very genuine way, because they happened to be very convincing and passionate with their arguments, to vote for the inclusion of the clause.

In effect, the government, in looking at the committee report, would see that a majority of members, acting I think in good faith, because they certainly had not been a part of any agreement, voted in favour of keeping the clause in.

In effect, the government saw the committee's deliberation and no doubt decided that because of this it should leave the clause in. That is the only interpretation I can make of what is happening today. The government wanted to reflect the views of those members on the committee who felt that clause 21 was important enough to leave in the bill.

This whole issue of clause 21 is one of those polarized questions where we find people strongly opposed to its inclusion while another group, the other 50%, are just as passionate that it should stay in. It is one of those very difficult clauses. I imagine the decision was based on what happened at the committee and the majority vote there.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.


Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-36, which was introduced by the government.

Since Bill C-36 was introduced, to create the merged Library and Archives Canada, I have been wondering about the government's real goals as it tries determinedly to merge these two institutions, which have two distinct missions and two distinct approaches.

Why is the government going against the trend in most industrialized countries such as France, Belgium, the United States and Germany, which are determined to have these two institutions remain autonomous and retain all their prerogatives?

I listened to the witnesses; I asked questions; I expressed my concerns, but my questions were not answered.

There must be something fishy going on. Let us look more closely at this bill and let us consider the real issues that are present or absent.

There are issues of transparency and integrity, for example, regarding the appointment of the Librarian and Archivist and the members of the advisory council. There is the issue of broadening the mandate of this new institution by adding the interpretation of history. There is also the copyright issue.

Although the Bloc Quebecois has pointed out a number of flaws in this legislation, the government has decided not to correct them. Why is this government so stubborn in refusing amendments that would have ensured transparency in the appointment of the Librarian and Archivist of Canada? This appointment will be made by the governor in council, with the agreement of the heritage minister therefore.

Why are there no benchmarks in this bill with regard to this appointment, that would have provided some guarantee of integrity and transparency? Why does the responsibility of the standing committee on heritage not have oversight on this appointment?

Absolutely nothing in this bill reassures us on this aspect. We in the Bloc Quebecois also feel that it is unacceptable to create an advisory council whose members are selected and appointed by the heritage minister. These will be political friends and close relatives, who will be beholden to the people who chose them.

We will never be able to tell the people of Canada and Quebec that this committee is independent from political authorities. To say so would be to put one's head in the sand. It would be taking voters for uninformed people. When appointments are made and those who make them do not even know under what prerogatives, or whether appointees have expertise in an area related to the new structure—will they be archivists, librarians, we do not know—how can this be expected to work?

People do not like to be duped. It is well know that those appointed are forever indebted to those who appointed them. That is why politicians have lost a great deal of credibility with the voters.

Increasingly, this government is ignoring transparency.

With this bill, the institutions in the new organization are becoming politicized. This is very serious.

First, there is the political appointment of the deputy head. And there are political appointments to the new advisory council. The Bloc Quebecois asked that these appointments be handled by an independent committee, as in Quebec.

The ruling party is no longer the PQ but the Liberal Party, and it is not changing how this operates. We relied on transparency. I think it was the hon. member for Verdun—Saint-Henri—Saint-Paul—Pointe Saint-Charles, who was a minister in the Quebec government, who developed this process.

The greatest concern with this bill is that the government is expanding the mandate of the new institution to include a reference to the interpretation of Canadian history. This new mandate is contrary to the neutrality objectives historically pursued by the National Library and the National Archives.

The government is trying to impose its own vision of history. Like most Quebeckers, including the current Premier of Quebec, we in the Bloc Quebecois believe that Quebec is a nation with a culture of its own. Even the new Premier of Quebec, Mr. Charest, shares that belief.

In his statement under Standing Order 31 today, my colleague from Saint-Jean said that it has been six years since the death of Mr. Bourassa, the former Premier of Quebec. The day after the Meech Lake Accord failed, in June 1990, he said in a solemn and historic speech:

English Canada must clearly understand that whatever happens and whatever is done, Quebec is and always will be a distinct society, one that is free and quite capable of taking charge of its own destiny and development.

There are a thousand and one ways to interpret history; everything depends on what a nation such as Quebec experienced. For instance, when we talk about the War Measures Act in 1970, the perception of events is completely different depending on whether one is from Quebec or Canada.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage talks about Canadian culture. To her, anything from Quebec's culture is in fact a regional element of Canadian culture. It is very worrisome to give a mandate that would allow Canada's history to be interpreted, when we know how the minister thinks and what Quebec culture means to her. Her goal is Trudeau-style nation building, which seeks to instil a sense of belonging, and which reflects only one history and vision of Canada.

The mandate of Library and Archives Canada is not to interpret history. Its mandate is to make historical information available, not to create its own version to propagate across Canada.

It is important to see to what extent in this bill the government ignores the way political institutions make appointments. Given that this type of bill will not be reviewed regularly each year, we should include clauses that would ensure transparency and integrity in the people who will be appointed.

What is more, historical facts must not be interpreted by people who are appointed. Historians, documentalists and archivists are not there to interpret history. Their job is to make available to the people of Canada and of Quebec reference documents to enable them to have a relative view of what occurred at a specific point in Canadian history.

How do we ensure that the transfer of documents is going to be respectful of factual integrity? That is not in the bill. Who will be responsible for assessing the pertinence of documents? Here again, there is nothing in the bill.

As well, they want to include the concept of promoting and understanding heritage. That is a pretty tall order. If anyone is capable of explaining to me what that mumbo jumbo means and how it will be accomplished, they are one up on me.

We are headed for an administrative muddle. The new entity ought not to be responsible for this. It is not the responsibility of archivists, documentalists and historians. It is not part of their mandate, nor of their training. This is a concept of managing the Canadian mind. This bill is an expression of the vision of the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

We cannot subscribe to this initiative, which is aimed at adding this duty to the position of Chief Librarian.

Hon. members need think no further than what has happened with the mandate of the CBC and the notion of selling Canadian unity. Where is there any journalistic freedom in that? It will be tested out with these orientations.

Time moves on, but nothing changes with this government. There is talk of encroachment, lack of transparency. The intent with this bill is for it to recover its vision of what politics needs to be. This is not what politics are all about. I am from a province, a riding, and a city whose inhabitants demand information from me. They want me to assure them that what is going on in Parliament is being done in an atmosphere of transparency.

Unfortunately, with Bill C-36, I could not assure my constituents that, in future, those in this new entity will be beholden to someone.

I do not understand why they are creating this new structure. The people who will be working within this structure do not have the same mission and the same training. They are serious professionals. These professionals are having a political burden imposed on them, and it is not part of their mandate.

This legislation lacks transparency and in no way guarantees any respect for those who will be working within this institution and those wanting access to it.

The Bloc Quebecois will never support the government's new, soon to be adopted, vision concerning the role of archivist and librarian.

In this bill, the government does not guarantee any transparency. The Bloc will vote against this bill, since our party opposes the merger between the National Library and the National Archives of Canada. The Bloc Quebecois considers that the enlarged mandate of the new institution is aligned with Canadian propaganda goals, and that the new mandate will interfere with the neutrality the library and archives have always displayed.

The Bloc Quebecois demands that any reference to the interpretation of the history of Canada be removed from the mandate of the Library and Archives of Canada. This is part of a Trudeau-style nation-building effort. This bill seeks not only to merge two entirely different institutions, with two different missions, but also to turn the history of Canada into a propaganda tool.

The Bloc Quebecois will never allow any federal entity to interpret Quebec history. It will never allow the Canadian government to disseminate biased information. Those working at this institution will not do so by choice; they will be forced to do so by law. We will never allow that to happen, because we have too much respect for our ancestors and others who built Quebec.

As my colleague from the Conservative Party was saying, one has to know where one came from to be able to go where one wants to go. It may not be the exact same words that he used, but it means the same thing.

I come from a family where the historical values of the Quebec nation have been omnipresent since before I was born. These values were passed down orally by my ancestors, from generation to generation.

It is true that something is missing right now in our schools in terms of getting our young people interested in our history. However, this new entity will never allow that to be done in a transparent way.

We know that history is a work in progress. Yesterday's history is not today's history nor is it tomorrow's history, but yesterday's history must stay the same. We must use it to go forward today and into the future. However, if we allow these people to interpret it, we will never reach our goal, and that is what we are here for. Therefore, we insist that our history truly reflect the facts.

In closing, I will reiterate that the Bloc Quebecois opposes this bill and will vote against it at third reading.

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6:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I must tell my friend in the Bloc that I will be using a term in a totally different way than it is usually used. In English when we say that a person is naive, usually that is a put down or a negative, but I will not be using the word in that context at all.

I just want to ask the member, in the broader sense of the word naive, whether she is being somewhat naive. Are we not as human beings all capable of making our own interpretation of any event? When we make that interpretation, it is done on the basis of our heritage, what we have known within our family life, the good experiences, the bad experiences. We have a situation where all archivists and librarians, even today, are making those interpretations, although not intentionally.

The member is well aware of the fact that we are on totally different planets and that we are diametrically opposed to each other in terms of our vision of Canada and the place of Quebec in it.

What I am asking the member is whether, within the context of this bill and putting the strict interpretation of what she said about not allowing people who under the legislation would be making this interpretation, that is not a naive approach because people naturally are making those interpretations today. Is the bill not simply an expression of the reality of the human condition?