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House of Commons Hansard #69 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cloning.

Topics

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to make the business statement and I will have two motions which relate to that immediately afterward, with the permission of the House.

This afternoon we will consider the Senate amendments to Bill C-12, the sports bill. I understand this will be brief. This will be followed by third reading of Bill C-15, the lobbyists legislation. If time permits, we would then turn to Bill C-20 on child protection, and then possibly Bill C-23, the sex offender registry. I think by then the day will probably have exhausted.

Tomorrow our plan would be to commence with Bill C-2, the Yukon bill, which would then be followed by Bill C-6, the first nations specific claims bill.

When the House returns on March 17 we will complete the budget debate on that day. I will have a motion to offer to the House in a few minutes to defer the vote on that.

March 18 shall be an allotted day, as shall be March 20. I will give an update to members of the House in terms of legislation to be called on March 19.

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties and I wish to seek unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, if on March 17, 2003, a division is requested on the main motion for government order, ways and means proceedings No. 2, the said division shall be deferred until the conclusion of the time provided for government orders on March 18, 2003.

For the benefit of members, that refers to the budget motion.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

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

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, the modernization committee met very early this morning. I tabled one report of the modernization committee this morning.

I now seek unanimous consent to revert to the presentation of committee reports at which point I would then table the third report and seek unanimous consent for its adoption. This is pursuant to what we did this morning.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it agreed that we revert to presentation of committee reports?

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, during question period yesterday reference was made to a paper which was circulated in New York by the Canadian government and members had shown an interest in having it deposited in the House. I was not in the House this morning to table it during the time for depositing government documents.

I ask for the unanimous consent of the House to deposit with the House at this time the paper which was circulated in New York. I understand it is also available in the government lobby.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sure it is agreed, but of course the minister does not need unanimous consent of the House. He can table anything at anytime. It is a wonderful power that ministers enjoy in this House and which of course the Speaker is pleased to permit when required.

The Chair has notice of a question of privilege from the hon. member for St. Albert.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams Canadian Alliance St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege to charge the Minister of Justice with contempt in regard to his release of material to the media that was intended for Parliament.

Yesterday, the President of the Treasury Board tabled the main estimates in the House. The estimates reported that the government was seeking more funds to keep the firearms registry running.

Despite the urging of the Auditor General, the government has failed to provide a proper accounting of the program, a program that the Auditor General considers a major crown project. Apart from an $18 million item under Department of Justice, contributions to provinces and territories, there is no mention of any other funding for the firearms registry in the estimates.

However some cost estimates and details not mentioned in the estimates were revealed yesterday in a government news release. The release reads:

Firearms Program Funding 2003-04 (Main Estimates)

Treasury Board material on the Main Estimates mentions $74 million for the Canadian Firearms Centre. What is this for?

It goes on to say that:

The $74 million is part of the $113 million sought in the Main Estimates for the Canadian Firearms Program. These funds are needed to operate and administer the firearms program for fiscal year 2003-04.

The $113 million figure is arrived at by adding the $74 million to the A-base estimate for the program ($35 million, which was included within the Department's Main Estimates figures for the 2003-04, tabled last year). The $113M includes employee benefits and accommodation costs.

I am not sure what the A-base is. The news release goes on to detail how it was spent.

The $113M consists of the following major elements: $21.5M to the “Alternative Service Delivery”; $8M to operate the Miramichi facility (costs for the Quebec processing site are included in provincial contributions); $16M in contributions to provinces that are administering the program (eg. Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, etc.); $11.3M to administer the program in opt-out jurisdictions; $4.6M for NWEST; $16M in other contributions to federal partners involved in the program; $14.4M for maintenance of the current Electronic Data Processing system and current business operations; and $9.2M for program administration.

The NWEST may be the Northwest Territories but I am not sure. The news release then goes on to provide details of the $74 million. The latter half of the release concerns itself with program funding of $59 million for 2002-03 supplementary estimates.

Mike Murphy, a spokesman for the Minister of Justice, reported to the National Post that the more detailed breakdown contained in the news release would be tabled in Parliament in late March. Mr. Murphy is admitting that the information in the news release is intended for Parliament and that Parliament will be provided with the information later.

Later in March would mean that the detailed information in the news release would be provided to Parliament when the reports on plans and priorities, or part IIIs of the main estimates, are tabled in the House as required under our rules. As you are also aware, Mr. Speaker, those reports are intended for the House.

The Minister of Justice has decided to release this information to the media one month ahead of providing it to Parliament. His spokesman has made the link between the information in the news release and information intended for Parliament in an interview with Bill Curry of the

National Post.

I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to a question of privilege that was raised by the member for Provencher on March 14, 2001. His question of privilege was in regard to the Department of Justice briefing the media on Bill C-15 prior to its tabling in the House.

On March 19, 2001 the Speaker ruled on the matter and stated:

In preparing legislation, the government may wish to hold extensive consultations and such consultations may be held entirely at the government's discretion. However, with respect to material to be placed before parliament, the House must take precedence.

We had another case on October 15, 2001. The opposition House leader raised a question of privilege with regard to Bill C-36. The National Post had reported the contents of Bill C-36 and indicated that it was briefed by officials from the Department of Justice. The article published on October 13, 2001 entitled “New bill to pin down terrorism” described the bill in detail and quoted officials from the department.

The Speaker ruled that the case of Bill C-36 was similar to Bill C-15 and that there had been a breach of privileges of the House and the matter was sent to committee.

I would argue that the reports on the plans and priorities are material placed before Parliament and like legislation, if they are to be released, the House must take precedence.

The supply process deserves the same respect, integrity and protection as the legislative process. I would argue even more so than legislation because the estimates are the fundamental reason that Parliament exists.

The minister's attempt to appropriate money through a news release is an affront to Parliament.

In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, supplementary estimates (B) 2002-03 for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2003. were also tabled by the President of the Treasury Board yesterday. On page 82, the Canadian firearms program will receive another $59,447,000. In addition to that it also has with an asterisk, “Incremental funding to address operational requirements, Vote 1, at $16,436,000”. At the bottom the asterisk states:

Funds in the amount of $14,098,739 were advanced from the Treasury Board Contingencies Vote to provide temporary funding for this program.

If I go back to the 2002-03 main estimates, part I and II, the government expenditure plan in main estimates at page 1-54, for the vote 5 of the government contingencies for the Treasury Board it states:

Subject to the approval of the Treasury Board, to supplement other appropriations for paylist and other requirements and to provide for miscellaneous minor and unforeseen expenses not otherwise provided for, including awards under the Public Servants Inventions Act and authority to re-use any sums allotted for non-paylist requirements and repaid to this appropriation from other appropriations.

Note the word “unforeseen”.

We do know that the Minister of Justice has been telling us that he has been funding the firearms program through cash management after the government withdrew a request for $72 million last December.

I am raising this point with you, Mr. Speaker, at the earliest opportunity because supplementary estimates (B) were only tabled in the House yesterday. I have not been able to verify whether that $15 million was for the Canadian firearms program as the $72 million was in December 2002.

If we find that this money actually was used for the firearms program to replace the money that the government did not request in December 2002, it was not unforeseen. It was to replace a request that was withdrawn which is a significant difference. Unforeseen we can understand; to replace a request that the government withdrew from the floor of this House, for reasons we do not know, cannot under any circumstances be classified as unforeseen.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I am sure that you will find that the Minister of Justice is in contempt of the House for the total disregard for the historic and constitutional role of the House in financial matters and the business of supply. If you agree and if you do so rule, I am prepared to move the appropriate motion.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I think some of the applause is a little premature. Some of these accusations are getting more than a little overstated in the House.

I want to go back to the statement made by the Auditor General, an officer of Parliament, some time ago. The opinion of the Auditor General, at least on that point, was that it was not specifically identified in the main estimates, although funding for the firearms program had been in the supplementary estimates at the time. I do not think anyone can allege that the information is not in the estimates. It is quite clearly there. No one could make an allegation otherwise.

The second point I want to raise is the statement that the minister somehow gave information to the media that was not otherwise available to the House. For the minister to have talking points, further elaboration on any point within a minister's department, whether it is the staffing of my office, or whether it is another minister's programs anywhere, is quite normal. The minister and his staff would have further explanation to further enlighten those who want to ask questions.

Similarly, ministers have briefing books in the House of Commons when opposition members ask questions about a particular item so they can give other information about the item in question. That is not abnormal in itself, although it perhaps shocks the hon. member from Edmonton, and I can understand her shock, given that she will not have a riding anymore.

The hon. member raised an item, and I believe he was serious, contrary to the member from Edmonton, which I believe is on page 82 of the supplementary estimates B. It is in regard to the asterisk portion which refers to funds in the amount of $14,098,739, I believe. I see the hon. member nodding. These funds were used for drug prosecution and aboriginal litigation.

I hope that any suggestion that the minister had used these funds improperly will be rectified by those who made the accusations. To make these accusations against the minister just because one does not know better is not justification for doing so.

Finally, I will carefully review Hansard and I would like to come back tomorrow, or possibly the President of the Treasury Board would return to the House tomorrow, to further elaborate on what I just said. Meanwhile, maybe someone can prepare the necessary apologies to the Minister of Justice.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say a few brief words to the question of privilege with which I agree. The government tabled supplementary estimates at the time when it knew there would be no time to examine them in committee, perhaps one 90 minute meeting.

This delay and the promised statement further impedes the House and the committees by holding back information during the time meant for the procedure of committee scrutiny. This is another example of keeping the House in the dark, just what the Auditor General said was the cardinal sin of the government.

Yesterday I complained about alterations to the budget being made outside the House. A budget was presented but the Prime Minister went out and said, no, that was not what it was, that it was something else. This is more of the same conduct.

This proves that the words of the Minister of Finance about accountability to Parliament are just words and not actions. We are left with the words of the former minister of finance who said that there was a democratic deficit in Parliament.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

The Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has asked that the matter be deferred so that further submissions can be made in response to the hon. member for St. Albert on his very elaborate question of privilege, which I sense is two different points really. I managed to get thoroughly confused on the second one. I found it difficult because figures were being bandied about by both sides and I did not have all the books in front of me.

Obviously this will take a little time to sort out but we will hear from others either tomorrow or on Monday, and the Chair will then take the matter under thorough advisement and get back to the House in due course, as is usual in circumstances of this kind.

The Chair has notice of a point of order from the hon. member for Mississauga Centre.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

February 27th, 2003 / 3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Parrish Liberal Mississauga Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to express my regret over inappropriate comments that I made outside the House yesterday. These are difficult and frustrating times for everyone. I share a fear of imminent war experienced by many Canadians. That fear and frustration do not justify my comments. I sincerely regret having made them and I have made a fully apology to Mr. Cellucci, the U.S. ambassador to Canada.

Physical Activity and Sport ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberalfor the Secretary of State (Amateur Sport) and Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved the second reading of, and concurrence in, amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-12, an act to promote physical activity and sport.

Mr. Speaker, I will participate only briefly on this item because another member wants to make her comments.

We know that at first the amendments as presented to us by the other place were not appreciated by Canada's athletic community.

I am told that the sports community has had the time to examine these amendments. It now supports the amendments as presented by the Senate or, at least, they are able to reach a consensus.

Under such circumstances and with the support, I think, of all sides of the House, I am pleased to indicate that the government also intends to support these amendments and recommends that they be passed by the House of Commons.

The amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-12 are now agreeable to the House. We intend to support them and to concur in them as I have indicated a moment ago.

I understand that there are a few other brief comments to be made. I am sure that the athletic and sports community in Canada is enthusiastically awaiting our support. If we were to provide that support early today I understand that the bill could receive royal assent in a few days. I hope that we all cooperate in order to do that.

I would like to thank all hon. members and the critics from the other side of the House who have cooperated with the hon. secretary of state on this issue. The secretary of state is very pleased that the bill will finally come to pass and that it will be the new law of Canada very soon.

We wish to thank everyone involved in the amateur sport community for their tremendous contribution, and the preparation and the adoption of the bill.

Physical Activity and Sport ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are prepared to let the bill pass later this day, get it back to the Senate, and approved in time to not only help our athletes prepare for things like the Olympics but also to prepare Canadians to exhibit more healthy lifestyles. We must encourage Canadians to engage in sporting activities, to use that as a reason to encourage one another to cut back on some of our health costs, and to have a healthier Canadian population.

I have a couple of points though about the Senate amendments. The Senate put back into the bill a clause which we took out in the House of Commons committee. The purpose of the bill is to help our athletes and to promote healthy living by Canadians, but the Senate put another clause back in that changes the purpose of the bill to also promote bilingualism.

Bilingualism is certainly something that is a Canadian reality. No one is fussing with that but it is a mistake to use a bill, which primarily should be about sport, as an excuse to promote bilingualism. This should be about promoting sports with all Canadians regardless of their linguistic backgrounds, whether English or French. It should not be about the bilingualism policy of Canada. That is a separate issue and we wish the government would have kept that separate.

It was a mistake to put that clause back in, but nevertheless we will allow the bill to go through. It is not something that should hold it up, but again we believe it is a mistake. The government does make this mistake from time to time.

The other thing that cannot go without passing comment is that we encourage the government to support our Olympic athletes. We thank the government for reversing its stand that it would help our Olympic athletes only if the 2010 Olympic bid did go through. Thankfully the government saw the error of its ways in time to send the proper message to our elite athletes that not only would it support them with this new bill but it would also support them with that minimum financial support regardless of whether athletes are fighting for Olympic gold here in Canada or in some other location.

Having said that, all of us in the House are confident that the 2010 Vancouver Olympic bid would be successful, this bill not being a major part of it but nonetheless supportive of that 2010 bid.

We will let the bill go through. Let us get on with not only a healthier lifestyle for all Canadians, but with supporting our athletes from coast to coast who compete in international games both at the amateur and elite levels.

Physical Activity and Sport ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to take part in today's debate on amendments from the other place to Bill C-12.

First, given what is at stake, I hope that the Secretary of State for Amateur Sports, who has said that he is concerned with the future of our athletes, is listening to everything being said here in the House.

The merits of this bill are not in question. After holding numerous consultations, the federal government has finally responded to the expectations of the sports community by introducing a modern, updated bill, which makes sports and physical a central feature of our daily lives and our health.

Inspired by Canada's sports policy, which aims, in particular, to increase participation, support excellence and develop potential, this bill will become the strategic framework for federal government policies on sports and physical activities.

Despite this expression of willingness to serve the interests of the population and the sports community, I would like to mention a few extremely important points.

First, there is the thorny issue of the official languages. This bill contains certain provisions on official languages. But we will be responsible for ensuring that the principles it contains are respected and turned into concrete action.

The flaws as far as official languages are concerned are more of a concern to me and most certainly are nothing new. In June 1999, I filed a complaint with the Commissioner of Official Languages, asking for an investigation of the situation of francophone athletes in elite amateur sport in Canada. This was a follow-up to the hearings of the sub-committee on sport and the discrimination I had witnessed.

The commissioner's report indicated that our complaint was justified and clearly demonstrated that francophone athletes were markedly disadvantaged in the present sport system in Canada.

In the year 2000, the commissioner tabled a report containing 16 recommendations to be implemented by April 1, 2001. We are not far from April 1, 2003, yet the report's recommendations have barely been addressed. This is a major cause for concern and is one of the reasons that the Bloc Quebecois has strongly urged that there to be some clear indication in Bill C-12 of respect for official languages.

Energetic measures are needed immediately so that francophone athletes in Canada do not have to leave their language behind in the dressing room if they want to get on to the podium.

This is why I am so pleased with the amendments made in the other place. They are, in fact, a reflection of the commissioner's recommendations.

The first amendment addresses the principle of linguistic duality. According to the commissioner, the principle of linguistic duality, a fundamental characteristic of Canadian society, needs to be part of the preamble to the bill, on an equal footing with the other important advantages of physical activity and sport.

The other amendment, moreover, refers to a crucial clause in the bill, since it relates to the financial assistance the minister can provide through grants and contributions. These are the sources of funding for the sport organizations which were the object of my complaint. They have demonstrated—and in a number of cases still do—some serious shortcomings as far as respect for official languages is concerned.

With this addition, the minister will have to exercise his powers in accordance with parts IV and VII of the Official Languages Act which, among other things, requires the government to enhance the vitality of francophone and anglophone minorities.

These two are important prerequisites for encouraging and imposing respect of both official languages.

Another aspect to which I wish to draw your attention is the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre. We have already voiced some concerns about certain aspects of the centre. I will not revisit them here, except for one.

One of the key elements of the bill is without a doubt the creation of the sport dispute resolution centre. Although we are convinced of the importance of this centre for athletes, namely with regard to timeframes for settling disputes and the exorbitant costs of legal proceedings, we have certain reservations about the minister's power to make appointments to the board of directors.

Like the sporting community, we think that creating a board of directors is an excellent idea. However, this board must reflect the diversity and backgrounds of all the athletes, and must be equitable, and respectful of linguistic duality.

This board of directors, which will be required to decide on the centre's policy directions, will have to be impartial and transparent, two fundamental values for ensuring confidence in the centre's integrity and especially its independence.

The Secretary of State for Amateur Sport told the sports community of his intention to hold an extensive consultation before appointing a board of directors. I intend to follow this consultation very closely.

Furthermore, still in reference to this centre, two amendments were proposed by the upper chamber requiring the minister to table a copy of the business plan and the annual report in each House.

I would like to reassure the sports community that these amendments are not meant to take away from the centre's independence. It is imperative to preserve the centre's independence. This measure is not aimed at interfering in the management of the centre, but at strengthening Parliament's control over the management of public funds. The centre's accountability to Parliament is not synonymous with interference by parliamentarians. The purpose of the amendments is to make the centre accountable to Parliament.

Finally, one last issue that is of particular concern to me is the funds that are necessary to achieve the bill's objectives. Even though we support this legislation, I want to remind the secretary of state about something that is very to truly achieving the stated objectives. It is all fine and well to pass an act promoting physical activity and excellence, but if, in the end, we do not provide the sport community with adequate funding, this will be disappointing for athletes.

In this regard, the federal government has just missed a great opportunity to demonstrate its willingness to provide the sport community with the necessary tools. We were also very disappointed with the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport, as we were with the budget, because he was not at all upset by the measly amount of money earmarked for athletes and the sport community. The base budget of $75 million was not even increased, despite the fact that Athletes CAN and members of the sport community recommended that the government double Sport Canada's budget, to increase it to $150 million.

But nothing was doubled, not even a loonie. Yet, during an awareness campaign held last fall, these athletes took the trouble to come here to meet the parliamentarians of this House. Moreover, in January, during a brief discussion with top level athletes, the Prime Minister recognized the importance of sport and physical activity.

The Prime Minister could at least have asked the Minister of Finance to take action, so that some money, some hard cash, would follow. On the contrary, these athletes only got a pittance, a measly $10 million over a two year period for high performance athletes. And had it not been for the outrage of the sport community and my own representations through the media, these funds would still be conditional on the 2010 Olympic Games being awarded to the City of Vancouver.

I still have some reservations and I still wonder about the government's real willingness to invest in the development of sport, which is the main objective of the bill. Therefore, I would like the government's action to reflect the objectives stated in the bill. In order for a policy to be effective, the means to carry it out must be provided.

The Bloc Quebecois is prepared to support this bill and the amendments, but in return we are asking the federal government to take a very serious look at the situation in the sports world and to make a financial commitment to athletes and coaches, so that they will have adequate facilities and an income worthy of an Olympian or of an athlete that makes us proud by standing on a podium.

Physical Activity and Sport ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part briefly in this discussion of Bill C-12. The reason we are dealing with it is that four amendments have come back to us from the other place. One is on linguistic duality. The second is on grants and contributions that will accord with the Official Languages Act. The third one deals with the corporate plan of the new sports body to be tabled annually in both Houses and, finally, that an annual report be tabled each year.

Just briefly by way of background, Bill C-54, now Bill C-12, was considered to be non-controversial and was supported unanimously last June by all parties in the House. The bill replaces and updates the Fitness and Amateur Sport Act, which dates back to 1961, and is intended to bring people, organizations and governments together to encourage, promote and develop physical activity in sport in Canada, a goal that all parties supported enthusiastically, as I have said.

In its preamble, the bill indicates that sport and physical activity can be forces that bind Canadians together, enhancing, among other things, the bilingual nature of Canada. The bill received unanimous support in the House on October 9, 2002, although I do not believe there was a recorded vote at that time.

To deal specifically and briefly with the amendments, Motion No. 1 makes a change to the preamble to the bill by adding the phrase “linguistic duality”.

The preamble states, and I quote:

whereas the Government of Canada recognizes that physical activity and sport are integral parts of Canadian culture and society and produce benefits in terms of health, quality of life, economic activity, cultural diversity and social cohesion, including strengthening the bilingual character of Canada;

And the amendment reads as follows:

social cohesion, linguistic duality, economic activity, cultural diversity and quality of life;

The main change here is to have the phrase “linguistic duality” replace the words “bilingual nature of Canada”. I would point that out to the member for Fraser Valley, who seemed to be concerned that the government was somehow trying to sneak something in as a result of the proposed changes from the other place. I think the two are very similar.

Motion No. 2 relates to the grants and contributions in accord with the Official Languages Act. The bill as passed in the House last year read as follows:

For the purposes of this Act, the Minister may provide financial assistance in the form of grants and contributions to any person.

The amendment adds, after the words “to any person”, the following words:

in accordance with Parts IV and VII of the Official Languages Act.

In Motion No. 3, the corporate plan of the new sports body is to be tabled in both Houses each year, with the annual report to be tabled in both Houses each year. We support both of these.

With regard to the corporate plan, the Senate amendment adds a new subclause 32(4), which states:

The Minister shall cause a copy of the corporate plan to be tabled in each House of Parliament on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the Minister receives the plan.

We contacted representatives of the sports community. They were initially opposed to that clause being added, arguing that the sport body was set up to be at arm's length and the government seemed to be pulling it back under too tight a control. They insisted initially that enough accountability had already been built in and that these amendments sent a negative signal to sports bodies and athletes.

We have been told, however, that after consideration they are now prepared to support these amendments. So are the members of this caucus. We will be supporting the four amendments that have been presented to us this afternoon.

Physical Activity and Sport ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to say a few words in support of the amendments and the bill in general.

Recognizing linguistic duality in a bilingual country certainly should not be a chore for any of us. Having said that, when talking about sports, athletes or Olympic competition, many of the great athletes in this country of course come from the great province of Quebec. Just to make sure that as they proceed through the whole process they feel as comfortable as anyone else when assurance is given that linguistic duality is recognized, we support that fully.

There is another concern I have with the bill. It is laudable for the government to talk about increasing our awareness of sport and physical activity, to encourage participation and to make it possible for more people across the country to be involved in sport and physical activity, unlike, Mr. Speaker, in your day and my day as we were growing up when it seemed everyone was involved in physical activity, from the workplace point of view to the sports point of view. Everyone around, all the young people, were involved in some sort of sport or physical activity.

That does not seem to be the case today. A lot of our young people would rather come home from school on a bus than walk the two miles like we did, sit in front a television, which we did not have, and watch programs and eat junk food, which we did not have either. All of this leads to a lifestyle which certainly does not promote physical fitness or encourage people to get involved in sports. I still believe that with encouragement, leadership and the opportunity to participate, we would encourage people to get off the soft chair and get involved.

However, the one concern I have when I hear government talking about encouraging more people to get involved, and the great support we have for our people who are involved in the Olympics or professional sport, is the fact that it is very easy to set up organizations that encourage people to do things. But encouraging people to get involved and ensuring that they meet their full potential are two entirely different things. Our Olympic athletes cannot make it to the top without financial assistance. It is a wonder that Canada does as well as it does with the meagre assistance it gives in comparison to the countries with which it competes.

There is no better way to encourage young people to get involved in physical activity and in sports than having them see their heroes perform.

Mr. Speaker, you and I probably played hockey because we saw someone that we admired and we wanted to do what that person did. You certainly made it to the NHL, in one way or another. I certainly did not, for all kinds of reasons, but over the years I participated with people who could have if they had been given any kind of a chance, if they had had the right coaching or the right financial incentives, but of course they did not.

Mr. Speaker, more than anyone here you know the cost of helping people get to the top. Consequently, if we want our athletes to be the best and to be the shining stars that our young people can emulate, then we had better put our money where our mouth is.

Physical Activity and Sport ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been discussions among the parties and I think if you were to seek it you would find unanimous consent for the following motion: That Bill C-332, an act to confirm the rights of taxpayers and establish the office for taxpayer protection, stand in the name of the member for Mississauga South.

Physical Activity and Sport ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the parliamentary secretary have the consent of the House to propose the motion?

Physical Activity and Sport ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Physical Activity and Sport ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.