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House of Commons Hansard #29 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cbc.

Topics

Privacy Commissioner

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of the Privacy Commissioner on the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act for the year 2005.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(h), this report is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

Canada Elections ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Commonwealth YouthRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Wellington—Halton Hills Ontario

Conservative

Michael Chong ConservativePresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, I had the privilege of representing Canada at the sixth meeting of the Commonwealth youth ministers in Nassau, the Bahamas, from May 22 to 26.

The theme of the meeting was youth empowerment for the eradication of poverty, crime and violence and HIV/AIDS.

It provided an opportunity for the Government of Canada to demonstrate its commitment to the Commonwealth and to participate in discussions on topics of importance to youth in Canada and other countries in the Commonwealth.

In the final communiqué, released last Friday, the ministers transmitted a message to the Commonwealth heads of government in which they reaffirmed their commitment to youth development and empowerment as a fundamental Commonwealth goal. They recommended that the Commonwealth heads of government, at their 2007 meeting, endorse the new plan of action for youth empowerment.

That plan provides the framework for all Commonwealth youth development work in the areas of poverty eradication, democracy and good governance, HIV-AIDS, and gender equality, topics that are close to the hearts of all Canadians.

During the meeting, as Minister for Sport, I held preliminary meetings with 24 Commonwealth delegations, most of which were responsible for sport.

These bilateral meetings were invaluable in promoting Halifax as the host city for the Commonwealth Games in 2014. I took advantage of these meetings to indicate Canada's interest in hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2014, to raise awareness about Halifax's bid for the 2014 games, and to solicit support. I was also pleased that Scott Logan, chief executive officer of the Halifax bid, was able to accompany me on this trip to assist me in this effort.

Last March I was in Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games to support the Halifax bid as well. My presence in Nassau was the continuation of my determined efforts and this government's determined efforts to promote Halifax as the host city for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. I hope I can count on the support of all my colleagues in this House to ensure that this bid is successful so that the beautiful city of Halifax in the beautiful province of Nova Scotia in this great country of ours can play host to these very great games.

Commonwealth YouthRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Albina Guarnieri Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for his statement.

I would like to thank the minister especially for finding the time in his schedule to journey to the Bahamas to participate in the Commonwealth conference on youth and to promote the Halifax bid for the Commonwealth Games. Of course, there could be few better places to engage Commonwealth ministers on the challenges of youth poverty, crime and the devastation of HIV.

The Commonwealth is fortunate to have a leader who has been focused for half a century on finding promise and potential among the perils of youth, a leader who set out on a personal crusade to create a better world by making the world better one young person at a time. That leader, of course, is the Duke of Edinburgh, with his Duke of Edinburgh awards.

Across the globe, the efforts of this leading Commonwealth organization have touched the lives of thousands of young people from every possible background. Projects have given hope to struggling youth across Africa, turned young men away from the path to prison, released the possible, and set their futures free.

This privately funded group, with its august leadership, has achieved where governments have failed and has found hope where others have found despair. The breadth of projects, the scope of innovation and the depth of genuine concern that we find in the Duke of Edinburgh's organization should be an inspiration to NGOs and governments everywhere.

I trust that the minister will continue to connect with his new-found colleagues among the Commonwealth ministers for youth and will agree that the inspiration and success of the Duke of Edinburgh awards needs to be followed by imitation and resources. The Commonwealth needs to match the challenge of youth poverty, crime and disease with its own commitment to reach young people across the ocean with the resources to reach for a better future.

Commonwealth YouthRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the organizers of the Halifax committee bidding for the games, and wish them the best of luck in the selection process for the 2014 Commonwealth Games host city. Contributing to the development of a group of young athletes who are so disciplined and passionate about their sport is an honourable goal in itself.

Last year, the United Nations proclaimed 2005 the International Year of Sport and Physical Education. According to the UN, the fraternity that comes with playing sports, and the values of sharing and social interaction associated with playing sports, provide excellent models for young people, and sport can even “contribute to [a nation’s] economic and social development, improving health and personal growth in people of all ages—particularly those of young people...Sport can also help build a culture of peace and tolerance by bringing people together on common ground, crossing national and other boundaries to promote understanding and mutual respect”.

We also believe that the spirit of fraternity that is a necessary outcome of playing sports is indeed a source of hope. The hope that harmony can be built among nations, and living conditions for young people everywhere improved. But also the hope that something will be done quickly here at home so that Canadian sport “policy” serves some goal other than “the development of the Canadian sport system to strengthen the unique contribution that sport makes to Canadian identity, culture and society”.

A sport policy does not mean only funding for athletes or visibility for a government, and should not be developed solely on that basis; it should rather be directed toward incorporating physical activity and sports into a healthy lifestyle, with the goal of improving quality of life for individuals and communities.

Sport must therefore be developed within a framework that reflects the responsibilities and areas of jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. Quebec must therefore be in charge in this area, an area in which, by virtue of its education and public health network, Quebec can and must promote a healthy lifestyle and stress the importance of an active life.

In closing, I hope that the 2014 Games, like the 11th FINA World Aquatic Championships held in Montreal last summer and countless other sports events that bring people together, along with the role models provided by the athletes who take part in them with their contagious enthusiasm, will encourage young Quebecers and Canadians to get involved in a physical activity and incorporate the benefits and lessons they gain from that experience into their lives as citizens.

Commonwealth YouthRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise on behalf of the New Democratic Party to speak on the sixth Commonwealth Youth Ministers' meeting that was recently held in the Bahamas.

The ministers undertook several days of meetings that centred around the themes of youth empowerment for the eradication of poverty, crime and HIV-AIDS.

Youth, the 15 to 29 year old age group, make up over half the population of the Commonwealth. At the meeting, Canada's minister reaffirmed our commitment to youth development through a rights-based approach. In their communiqué to next year's Commonwealth heads of government meeting, the ministers at the Bahamas meeting committed to promoting the role of young people in national development, democracy and good governance.

These commitments toward youth provide Canada with a unique opportunity that I sincerely hope the government will take seriously in the years to come. This strategy of empowerment is intended to improve the mainstreaming of youth development and empowerment in all policy-making, planning and program delivery in the political, legal, economic and social spheres.

Today the minister also spoke, in his role as minister for sport, to the energy he has devoted to the promotion of the Halifax bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

There are many benefits to sport development among youth and other groups with events like these, and there are significant social and cultural benefits. As a country that will see the 2010 Olympics on one coast and the bidding for the 2014 Commonwealth Games on the other, the Halifax bid does present an opportunity for developing new centres of excellence in sports. However, there is a cost to hosting these games.

I will take this opportunity to remind the minister and his colleagues in the government that if successful, both games should be viewed equally important. Recently, the minister created a working group of parliamentarians from the province of Nova Scotia and other interested members to prepare a strategy around the Halifax bid. I commend the minister for taking this important step toward increasing participation and transparency in the Halifax bid strategy.

I look forward to the opportunities to create a strategy that fits into Canada's commitments to youth and amateur sport as well as the needs of the community of Halifax.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. Pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2) this report contains the list of items on the order of precedence which was established on May 19 under private members' business that should not be designated not votable.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2) this report is deemed concurred in.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership of House committees. If the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence in the ninth report later this day.

Alternative Fuels ActRoutine Proceedings

May 30th, 2006 / 10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-314, An Act to amend the Alternative Fuels Act and the Excise Tax Act.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise before the House and table my private member's bill, an act to amend the Alternative Fuels Act and the Excise Tax Act.

The purpose of this bill is to promote the use of motor vehicles powered by engines capable of operating on alternative fuels. This bill would increase the percentage of vehicles acquired by the federal government with engines capable of operating on alternative fuels from 4% to 10% of the fleet by 2009. It would also encourage people to purchase or convert to such vehicles by creating rebates on the goods and services tax paid by those people.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House earlier this day, be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

moved That the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented on Friday, May 19, 2006 be concurred in.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

(Motion agreed to)

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is it agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I wish to inform the House that because of the ministerial statement government orders will be extended by 11 minutes.

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

moved:

That, in view of the ratification by Canada of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the House insist that the government, its departments and agencies maintain the program policies and regulations in support of Canada's artistic sector and cultural industries, in particular, by maintaining or enhancing: (a) existing Canadian cultural content requirements; (b) current restrictions on foreign ownership in the cultural sector; and (c) financial support for public broadcasting in both official languages.

Mr. Speaker, first of all, it is important to remind the House what the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions is and how it was created.

Last fall, on October 20, 2005, to be precise, a very large majority, more than 100 of the eligible countries present, voted to adopt that convention. Only two countries voted against it, namely, the United States and Israel. All other countries present, including Canada, voted in favour of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

As I was saying, on October 20, 2005, the convention was adopted by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The convention recognizes the dual nature of cultural goods and services that have both economic and social value. It underscores the right of governments to take measures to support the diversity of cultural expressions. The convention is on an equal footing with other international treaties—and that is very important.

Before going any further, I would like to thank and congratulate certain individuals for their hard work over a number of years.

I want to refer in particular to the past member of Parliament, Sheila Copps, former member for Hamilton East, when she was Minister of Canadian Heritage. She undertook this formidable task of creating or bringing together nations to create a convention, a new international instrument.

I remember when Madam Copps invited a number of countries to Ottawa in 1999. They met at the National Arts Centre. There were about 20 countries at the time. I remember that Greece and Mexico participated actively because the following meetings were held in those countries respectively.

To the credit of Madam Copps, she saw, and the government at the time saw, the necessity for such an instrument. The world is embarking more and more on international treaties for the liberalization of trade, for free trade areas such as NAFTA, the WTO, and the current rounds of negotiations on a number of fronts. At the time, the cultural and artistic milieu or industries were being threatened as well. There was a recognition that their economic and social importance was indeed missing.

After a number of meetings and years it came to be that the nations of the world indeed recognized the dual nature of cultural industries. They are important economically, as we will see, but they are also very important socially.

Following Madam Copps we had other ministers of heritage also supporting this, in particular Madam Liza Frulla. She was the one who actually helped bring it to fruition in October 2005.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize the active and very important participation of the Quebec ministers of culture, who have always supported the efforts made. There has been considerable reciprocity between the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec in this regard.

There has been a great deal of support and collaboration. The arts community has definitely been involved. Coalitions for cultural diversity have been established and have been very active, with support from the Quebec and Canadian governments and from their own communities. Their approach is very constructive and they wish to ensure the survival of cultural industries in Canada and throughout the world.

Congratulations and thanks must be extended to these people for their perseverance and also for having discerned the needs and the instrument required. In Canada this instrument, the convention, was ratified on November 23.

Canada was the first country to ratify this international convention, and we are waiting for a number of other countries to do the same. Indeed one of the questions the government may wish to address, and which I would hope it would address in this debate today is what exactly the government is doing to encourage other nations to ratify this very important convention.

The convention recognizes the dual nature of cultural industries, on the one hand the economic impact and the importance of the initiatives of these industries and on the other, the social impact.

Let us look at the economic impact. I will give an example from this area which is not the hotbed of television production. We would find more television production in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver for instance. In national capital region, I am aware of three companies. They are Sound Venture Productions with Neil Bregman, Knight Enterprises with Chris Knight, and Les Productions R. Charbonneau with Robert Charbonneau.

In the past few years those companies have grown. They have become more important to the local economy. They have hired a number of graduates from Algonquin College, la Cité collégiale, the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. They have studied in this environment. They have produced television shows and are looking into the production of movies as well. Some productions have been broadcast on our public television network. Some have been broadcast on privately owned specialty channels and some have been broadcast on educational networks that are owned by the provinces. Most of the productions have been sold abroad.

This very active industry is having a significant impact economically in terms of job creation, investments and exports. This can be applied one hundredfold when we look into the television and film production that occurs in the Toronto area and the television and film production that occurs in other parts of the country from coast to coast.

Montreal should not be discounted. It is a very active centre for television and film production.

The same thing applies in other cultural industries. Book publishing is one. Canada has a very good reputation in book publishing. We have worked at it. We have worked through the granting program of the Canada Council and through programs in the Department of Canadian Heritage to support publishing, to support artists, to support authors, to support the export of books. We have managed to build ourselves a great inventory of authors but also an industry that can actually thrive in this environment. The same thing applies in other areas of cultural industries, whether it be magazines or the theatre.

This is also the case for the visual and performing arts. These are all industries that provide jobs, boost the economy and gross domestic product, if I may call it that.

We must recognize that in terms of national importance, cultural industries hold a place of honour, just like the other industries, such as the forestry, automobile, fishing or agricultural sectors. Taken together, the cultural industries are a very important component of Canadian industry.

That, however, represents only part of the importance of these industries, as the international convention recognizes. The other aspect of their importance is the social and cultural aspect, the aspect that defines us as a nation, as citizens and as individuals. This other aspect adds to the value of everyday life. In a way it is what makes life worth living, when we can sample cultural expressions, such as literature, one of Canada's art galleries, a film, a television series or dance or theatre. These are activities in which we can become involved, either as active participant in presenting the event or as spectator, the passive participant appreciating the creative work of artists. They are of equal value. You cannot have one without the other. Together they give life its meaning.

We can see that the more a country develops its cultural industries, its artistic areas and communities, the richer its society. This is what the convention recognizes.

We have a situation where governments now have the right, and I would argue the duty, to protect cultural industries and to do so on an even keel in terms of other international instruments, be it the World Trade Organization or free trade instruments such as NAFTA. The situation now is that a convention has been ratified overwhelmingly. Canada has ratified that convention as well. Hopefully other countries are in the process of doing the same so that it will have force very soon.

Before anyone jumps on the anti-Americanism bandwagon, let me assure the House that is not what is driving this. It is absolutely not. Let us look at the situation in Canada. Movies are possibly the most extreme. Of cinema screen time, we see Canadian movies 1.2% of the time. If anyone were to argue that we are trying to restrict access into Canada of American made films or films made in other countries, that is not the case. There is ample access. There is hardly any room on our screens right now for Canadian made movies. The same does not apply in Quebec and in francophone Canada.

Quebec's film industry is flourishing. Last year, it enjoyed phenomenal success. It increased its share of the market to some 27%, primarily in Quebec.

Francophone and anglophone production combined has captured only 4% or 5% of the country's market. That is very little given that American film production occupies over 90% of it.

There is no question of blocking American cinema. Rather, the idea is to create a space for our own cinema.

The situation is the same in the case of books. We need only wander around any airport, bus terminal or train station to see that American best sellers are everywhere.

We are not trying to restrict access to American books, American music, American theatre, or any other artistic endeavour that is prepared in and exported from the United States into Canada. That is not the point of this exercise. It is absolutely not anti-Americanism. It is pro-Canadian. It is to make sure that we have certain restrictions and safeguards so that Canadian cultural products and images can be enjoyed by Canadians in their own country.

I would therefore like to make sure that during the debate today, members do not accuse us of anti-Americanism. because that is not the case.

We focus on three items.

We mention in particular three items that we want the government to maintain, such as the current Canadian content requirements. We are not suggesting that things stay fixed in cement forever. We understand that technology evolves. We understand that new methods and new means of communication are created. We understand that there may be a need to adjust, to innovate and to strengthen.

What we are looking for collectively I hope in the House is that we do not go backward, that we do not withdraw from requiring minimum Canadian content, be it on radio, television or in other cultural industries. We have demonstrated over time the usefulness and the appropriateness of requiring a minimum of Canadian content on our public airwaves for instance.

If we look at the most celebrated songstresses in the world, four or five Canadians could be named who benefited greatly from the Canadian content requirement. I think of Sarah McLachlan, Avril Lavigne, Shania Twain, Alanis Morissette and Céline Dion. They are perfect examples to justify requiring a minimum of Canadian content on the radio. It generated incredible support and enthusiasm for the Canadian music industry. This is the kind of result that requiring Canadian content yields. I would hope that all members in the House would support maintaining Canadian content requirements.

It is the same kind of argument on foreign ownership.

It is the same kind of argument on foreign ownership restrictions. We have maintained over the past, a number of restrictions on foreign ownership of broadcasting facilities. Now we are looking at a situation where the government may put that into question. It is very important to reaffirm our desire to maintain the ability to own our own distribution networks and our own broadcasters, because if we have given up on that, then we have given up on everything, and I do not think that is where Canadians want to go.

I understand that the private sector, and those who would benefit directly from lifting such restrictions on foreign ownership, want them. That is human nature and one can understand that. But we have a duty here and the CRTCs of the world have a duty that goes beyond that. We have a duty to protect the interests of Canadians and the interests of Canadian cultural industries. That is why it is important that before we embark on the lifting of any foreign ownership restrictions, which is something the government is hinting at, we be very careful and establish protection policies.

We recognized that some arguments can be made, for instance on the telecom side, that there may need to be some consolidation and greater foreign ownership. Having said that, there have to be allocations made to keep the broadcasting industries under Canadian control and in Canadian hands. If indeed we are looking at a convergence situation where all the telecom companies own the broadcasters, then we would have a situation where we could end up with foreign interests owning all our broadcasting capacity. Therefore, the need to maintain restrictions against foreign ownership is very important.

This is a topical issue because the government apparently intends to lift these restrictions.

Lastly, there is public television and its funding by taxpayers.

We say that we want to maintain the level of funding, and perhaps even enhance it, of public broadcasting. In this case, we are talking principally about CBC Radio-Canada and its various guises and manifestations.

It is important to mention that the CBC, with its French- and English-language television and radio networks, has become an extremely important institution to Canada. The CBC tells Canadian stories. It is therefore important that this institution maintain its autonomy and its ability to plan.

As the government prepares to review the CBC's mandate, I think it is important that the House give its opinion on the importance of this institution and its funding, and I hope that will happen today.

Regarding the CBC's mandate, the other day in this House the minister answered me that she would bow to the will of the committee or body that will be reviewing the CBC's mandate and will have a say in its parameters. I hope that we will have the opportunity to discuss this, because this is a significant debate. I would hope, for example, that Canada will look at funding models for public television and public broadcasters elsewhere in the world.

These are the issues I wanted to define today.

These are very significant debates in our country. We have extremely important and delicate issues before us. In my view and hopefully in the view of this House, as we go forward it is important that the House establish some parameters, some areas where we wish the government to go and where we do not wish it to go in terms of Canadian content, in terms of restrictions on foreign ownership and in terms of public broadcasting.

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Kootenay—Columbia B.C.

Conservative

Jim Abbott ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I was very interested in the member's comments about UNESCO. When we were on opposite sides of the House and as members of the heritage committee, he may recall that I was very supportive of the work Sheila Copps did with respect to the instrument, which was ultimately negotiated.

He also will know that the Conservative Party supports the convention on protection and promotion of diversity in cultural expression. Our Prime Minister has worked very hard to ensure that Quebec has a particular place in the world with respect to UNESCO.

I have a comment and I would like his input on this. The Liberals believe that the thought of having Quebec play a role at UNESCO is a threat to Canada's very existence. Would he challenge that or does he agree with it? We know the Bloc believes that unless Quebec can veto Canada's position at UNESCO, then it is not effective. Those seem to be the two polar opposites, the two extremes.

I recognize the Liberals are currently without a leader so I do not know what their policy might be on this. Therefore, it will likely be that member's opinion on this. What is his attitude toward the statement that the Liberals believe that having Quebec play a role at UNESCO is a threat to Canada's very existence? Does the member agree with that statement?

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the critic and spokesperson for the official opposition in this matter, I said the government essentially made official what we had done. The fact that the minister of culture of Quebec was invited to participate in the UNESCO discussions and meetings held by the then heritage minister, Madam Frulla, is pretty well what the government agreed to formally with the Government of Quebec. Essentially, what the government has done, in terms of Quebec's method of participation in UNESCO, is formalize what we had done. How can I be opposed to that?

What I find regrettable in the member's question, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Heritage, is that he would try to poison the debate by bringing up rather irrelevant issues at this point. We are trying to bring forward a debate that is non-partisan. one that calls for a cohesive approach to cultural matters. Yet all the member opposite wants to do is score cheap political points. I am really disappointed with that. I would hope we could elevate the debate today beyond cheap political points.

If the member wants to score cheap political points, we can get into that game too. We can start quoting what he wrote in his dissenting report on the CBC. We can start quoting his leader. I would hope we can avoid that and talk about the future and where we want Canada to go in terms of cultural sovereignty.

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the hon. member who just delivered a fine speech about cultural diversity.

One of the major problems we face, as everyone knows, is the development of francophone Canadian content on commercial radio stations, a problem which comes from the advent of satellite radio. Even though satellite radio is still only a marginal player, the licence conditions granted to it are clearly less demanding than those imposed on commercial radio, and conventional broadcasters are taking their cue from it now and are having a fine time demanding that the conditions imposed on them should be eased.

We know that the hon. member’s government had the power to send the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s decision back to it, and in not doing so, the government approved it. I would like to hear what my hon. colleague has to say about this. In my view, this is a policy that really hurts cultural diversity.

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the satellite radio decision made last year was controversial. Regardless of which way the CRTC leaned, that is to say toward awarding or refusing the licences, it would have been a controversial decision.

My hon. colleague has a legitimate view. It is possible to be against this decision. It must also be admitted that this decision bore certain consequences, for example that commercial radio stations which do not broadcast by satellite would ask for a reduction in Canadian content. That is what is happening now. The hon. member’s comments and question are legitimate. I will answer by saying that even if it were admitted that this decision should have been different, the facts are there today. It is up to us, as Parliament, to maintain a minimum amount of Canadian content.

The fact that the Canadian content required of satellite radio was different from what was required of traditional stations—because there still was a requirement—is a reflection of the technology, perhaps, and a sign that it is impossible to require the same Canadian content from satellite radio. It is these kinds of fine distinctions that the CRTC must be able to make.

Parliament’s important role consists in issuing guidelines to the CRTC, and that is the opportunity we have today. By virtue of a vote today, we the members of this 39th Parliament of Canada expect Canadian content to be respected and maintained; we do not want to back down but want to find innovative ways, when necessary, to continue encouraging a musical industry in our country.

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, during his speech, the hon. member made a statement related to the restrictions on public broadcasting. He said that if we gave up on that, we would give up on everything. That is a very fundamental point for which I know the member has been fighting for a long time.

In the preamble of the convention, there are a couple of statements about cultural diversity in which it states that it:

--creates a rich and varied world, which increases the range of choices and nurtures human capacities and values, and therefore is a mainspring for sustainable development for communities, peoples and nations...

A critic of this convention said that these policies might be used by a nation to control what citizens could see, read, listen to and do and that the world must reaffirm the rights of all people to make the decisions for themselves.

There seems to be a debate about whether promoting cultural diversity and protecting public broadcasting is at odds with the principles of the convention. Could the member comment on that?