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.


Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.

In many respects it is the culture of the nation that defines its values and its character. Nations across the world are often associated with the cultural institutions they have nurtured and supported.

One has only to mention institutions like the British Broadcasting Corporation and immediately there is a multitude of thoughts that come to mind. High quality news coverage, documentaries, outstanding dramas and humourous comedies, all of which reflect the essence of British culture and the perspective that the British people have on the world.

It should be noted that even during the days of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who maintained a solid commitment to privatization, the institution of the BBC was essentially retained as she had found it.

It is in this respect that we today examine, among other things, the importance of arts and culture to the preservation and promotion of our national values and vision, of institutions like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Since it was brought into existence, the CBC has been the epitome of Canadian culture and the values of this society. It is really quite remarkable when one reflects over the years upon the enormous contribution of the CBC to Canadian life. It is an institution that brings all parts of this enormously diverse country together, both geographically and in the spirit of Canada.

Whether a person lives in a remote community in Newfoundland, or in a large Ontario urban centre, or on our country's beautiful Pacific coast, the CBC carries the same message to Canadians, demonstrating that, although we may be far apart, we are all linked by this great national institution.

Today, as we discuss issues of arts and culture, we must remember that we are cheering on the Edmonton Oilers, the last Canadian team now in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and we are watching it on the CBC.

If at Remembrance Day we are marking the great sacrifices made by Canadians to preserve freedom, we are watching the ceremony on the CBC. It is the same whether it is Canadian comedy, Canadian music, Canadian talk shows, Canadian political broadcasts, Canadian drama, and the list goes on.

We need to continue to fund the CBC. In fact, we need to increase the support it requires to continue to grow in service to Canadians. We need a strong and vital CBC. To achieve that, the CBC needs the proper funding. To help sustain our cultural fabric, the CBC needs the funds required to provide the level of broadcasting that will be competitive, interesting and informative for Canadians.

As Canadians, we inherently know the value of the CBC to Canadian life. We must also match this recognition with a commitment to provide the kind of funding that makes the CBC viable and pertinent in an ever increasing competitive market.

Today's debate also brings our attention to the issue of support for our official languages policy. Language is the essence of much of our communication. Through it, we express ourselves, our beliefs and we share our identity.

Our great former prime minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, recognized the importance of our two founding cultures to the character of our country. It is for this reason that he facilitated the implementation of our official languages policies. They help to accentuate the character of the two founding nations of modern Canada. Across the world we are known as a nation that speaks both French and English.

Indeed, when I travel, people across the world simply assume that as a Canadian I speak both languages. It is quite a laudable ideal and one that perhaps one day will be a reality, every Canadian having the ability to communicate in both of our beautiful languages. Since language helps to define who we are, it is imperative that our official languages policies are not only retained but nurtured.

I am concerned that the new government may lack the level of commitment to official languages policies that have characterized the beliefs of Canadian governments, both Liberal and Conservative, for quite some time now. I encourage the hon. members in the chairs opposite to join with us in maintaining a solid and abiding commitment to Canada's two official languages.

Similarly, as we look at funding issues in respect of the arts, we must also continue to expand our support for the Canada Council for the Arts. This agency is an arm's length body that supports the arts in Canada through grants, services and awards. Many individual groups over the years have benefited enormously from the support they have received from the Canada Council for the Arts. Across Canada the message of what it means to be Canadian expressed in arts and culture has been supported by the great work of the council.

The previous Liberal government had committed to doubling the funding for the Canada Council for the Arts to $301 million by 2009. We do not see a commitment of this kind, or anywhere near it, from the current government.

Indeed, following the last Liberal budget it was Karen Kain of the Canada Council for the Arts who said that the budget was wonderful news, as indeed it was. In practical terms, it provides the financial resources that are so essential to continue to promote our cultural growth and diversity, these being indispensable foundations of our Canadian identity. All of these institutions play an important role in fostering the multicultural identity that has become the envy of the world.

I am pleased and honoured to represent the people of Davenport. Davenport is located in the heart of Toronto, which is widely recognized as the most diverse city in the world. This diversity is one of the city's greatest strengths. It is also one of our country's greatest strengths. It is a great honour to be recognized like this across the world.

Whether it is the CBC, the Canada Council for the Arts, or the Canadian Television Fund, we must continue to support their work, work that promotes Canada to the world, work that sustains our great multicultural identity known throughout the world. These are the foundations upon which our cultural identity rests. Time does not permit a long discussion of the many other institutions that help promote the arts and culture of Canada but we certainly are very lucky with the importance of the arts in this country.

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened quite intently to the hon. member's speech and I am somewhat disturbed by some of his comments. He was imploring the government to give a lot more funding to the CBC, which I have always found somewhat troubling. The CBC receives a large amount of funding from the Government of Canada. It seems to me that in a very competitive industry if CBC were to put together programs that people watched, it would be able to generate a lot more revenue from things like the sales of commercials.

Having been in business, I was approached many times from a great deal of media that asked me to purchase commercials during their programs. I was never approached by anybody from CBC radio or any other affiliates to purchase any form of advertising on their stations.

Furthermore, the largest CBC television network affiliate in Canada actually broadcasts out of Peterborough. It is owned and operated by an independent broadcaster. That company is actually turning quite a sizeable profit on its television broadcasts in Peterborough. I think the problem with CBC is not a lack of funding; rather, it is the lack of a sound business plan.

I would like to point out to the member that government funds are finite. Where would he like us to pull the funds from? Would he like us to take them from transfers? Would he like us to take them from old age security? If we are going to put more money into the CBC, could he indicate where he would like to take it from? My constituents do not want more of their tax dollars going to the CBC.

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am concerned as well about the comments made by the member. Although the government has quieted down its disdain for the CBC since coming to power, we certainly know that many Conservative members have a very vocal and very august disdain for the CBC. Given that most of those members have been told by the Prime Minister not to speak unless they are given the official line, I am not sure whether the member was speaking on behalf of the government or on his own behalf. Certainly the message I got from the member opposite was that the CBC is not something we should be supporting or funding. I hope that is incorrect.

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

I didn't say that. I asked where you would like me to pull the money from.

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member asked where the funding would come from. If the member has forgotten, unlike when we inherited the incredible deficit from the Mulroney years, the current government has actually inherited balanced books and $13 billion from the taxpayers. There is an incredible amount of money in the surplus for the CBC, if in fact the government chooses to make cultural funding for the CBC a priority. If the government chooses to do that, the money is definitely there. An incredible amount of money was left in surplus by the former Liberal government.

There was a Conservative Senate leader who said during the CBC lockout that it should continue indefinitely. There have been a lot of comments over the years and even now that do not lead me to believe that that party and that particular government are in support of culture and the CBC.

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Gerry Byrne Liberal Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member about CBC and cultural policy in general as is being debated on the floor of the House this afternoon. CBC is taking a significant portion of that debate because I and members on this side of the House recognize that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is a vital link to connect artists with the performing arts and to broadcast and disseminate that message and that form of artistry into the homes and hearts of Canadians.

The CBC has played an invaluable role not only in fostering an environment of broadcasting but in production as well. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the CBC has a mandate to produce, to mentor top notch public programming. Programs such as Salter Street Films' This Hour has 22 Minutes have their genesis from support from the CBC.

The question that has been asked of the member this afternoon is why does the CBC not generate more revenue, radio being a particular example. Those of us who actually are in tune with the CBC know that CBC radio does not conduct paid radio advertising. It does not solicit that form of revenue.

I would like to ask the hon. member if there is a vision, a strategic plan being developed for the CBC that could be brought before the House. If so, what particular elements are critical?

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's very informed question in part is linked to the former question that was asked by the member opposite. It is on the whole issue about how to make the CBC more relevant in terms of getting more audience. It seems to me that there is an indication by the member who asked the former question that perhaps we should get American programming.

Part of the reason we have been promoting what we do in the CBC is it should speak for Canada. It should have a unique Canadian voice. It should be that voice across the country in terms of promoting and enhancing Canadian culture and fostering the Canadian identity as well.

I am not a member of the heritage committee, but that committee is looking at the mandate of the CBC. I would be curious of the outcome of that discussion. One would hope that anything that comes out of the committee's report would be to strengthen the CBC and not to weaken it. It would be a great travesty if we were to weaken one of the proudest institutions we have in this country.

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2006 / 1:30 p.m.


Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to today's motion on a very important topic in Canada.

When I saw that the motion was to be debated it brought back a pleasant memory from the 2004 election campaign, the election in which I was first elected. It was a warm summer evening in June and I was sitting in Mildred Richardson's backyard with a number of people, a number of whom were former Progressive Conservatives who had come together to talk about issues of importance to them.

We talked about a lot of things. I remember most clearly, and it was a pleasant night as it always is in Milly's backyard, Joan Forshner, a great champion of arts and culture in the community, leaning over and quietly making the plea, “Don't forget about arts, culture and heritage. Nobody ever talks about it in Parliament and they should”. She was right. I think about that episode quite frequently.

I was pleased that the first official function I had as a member of Parliament was to welcome Madam Frulla, the minister of heritage in July 2004, to a round table in my community to talk about arts and culture. There were participants from Neptune Theatre, Symphony Nova Scotia and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. There were people from the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia and people representing the Mi'kmaq community. We talked about the contribution to Canada that is made by the arts and cultural community both economically and socially.

I know there are people who will ask why we are talking about this subject when there are so many other important issues. That may well be a good question, but the simple fact is there is always something more pressing and more urgent that requires more immediate attention than this. That is why arts, culture and heritage, as well as the cultural industries, always get put on the back burner.

I remember being on the board of Neptune Theatre in Halifax about 12 years ago. We were raising money to build a new theatre. The provincial government of the day, wisely led by my father as premier, committed money to the project. I remember somebody asking him, “How could you do that? The economy you inherited from the Conservatives is probably the worst in Canada. Premier Buchanan left you nothing. We need the money for health. How could you put money into Neptune Theatre?”

His answer, and I believe he was right, is that we cannot segregate everything out in life. We are composed of lots of different things. There is a holistic approach in communities, just as there is in individuals. We need health. We need universities. We need economic development. Today we need a better budget than the one that was delivered in the House to work on the productivity of Canada and a more equal distribution of wealth in Canada. But we also need to focus every now and then on arts and culture. I applaud the member for Ottawa—Vanier for bringing this motion forward.

We need to recognize our heritage and understand that studying our heritage will help us make better decisions about the future.

A perfect example of this holistic approach has been taken in my province by the faculty of medicine at Dalhousie University. Obviously it is an institution where medical professionals are trained. Their training is important. That is what they do.

In the last number of years, under Dr. Jock Murray and Dr. Ron Stewart, a former health minister in Nova Scotia, and through the department of medical humanities, the Dalhousie medical school chorale has been developed. Health professionals who are being trained at Dalhousie have formed a choir of more than 100 students and faculty members. They perform all around Nova Scotia and around the world. The point they are making is they are using arts and culture, in this case music, as a way to complete the training of health professionals. It is the holistic approach to training health professionals.

In the same way, we as a society need to make sure that arts, culture and heritage are recognized and integrated into our communities and into ourselves. It is a mistake to ignore the importance of arts, culture and heritage.

I come from a province, as does the member for Cape Breton—Canso, where arts and culture are very important. People have heard of the Rankin family, the Barra McNeils. Now they hear of Joel Plaskett. They hear of Matt Mays and El Torpedo from Dartmouth, the best rising group in Canada. They also know about the Cheticamp hooked rugs. They know about Maud Lewis, the painter who overcame such incredible hardship. They know about people who celebrated local cultures, created products based on their heritage and rooted in their communities. Nova Scotia even has a premier from the musical industry, an excellent fiddler, but he is not quite as good a premier. In fact, he is fiddling his way through an election campaign as we speak and he cancelled the Nova Scotia Arts Council a few years ago which was a shame. All this shows the importance of arts and culture to Nova Scotia.

I know that every member of the House can point with pride to arts groups, cultural organizations and heritage societies in their own ridings and communities that have helped to build Canada and make Canada what it is today.

In my own community of Dartmouth, the Eastern Front Theatre is a perfect example. It has become to some extent an economic engine of downtown Dartmouth, but more important, it is an expression of what makes Nova Scotia, Dartmouth and Cole Harbour so special. The former member of Parliament from the NDP, Wendy Lill, has had her plays shown and produced there, and rightly so, as she was always a passionate advocate for the importance of arts and culture.

One of the first things I spoke about in the House was the heritage of my community, as many members often do. In fact, as for Dartmouth, I am glad that the member for Kingston and the Islands is not in the chair today, because Dartmouth was in fact the birthplace of hockey. I am also glad the member for Kings—Hants is not here, because it is the only thing he often gets wrong.

The Shubenacadie Canal has an amazing history of commerce in the development of Nova Scotia. People like Bernie Hart, Allan Billard and Jake O`Connor are working to make sure that heritage is preserved. It is worthwhile. It is important work for a community where we had the famous Starr Manufacturing plant, which was a world leader in producing skates. Advocates like Paul Robinson have argued passionately, often in frustration, at the inability of governments to recognize how important art and culture is to a community.

At Alderney Landing this summer, we will be promoting the Dutchie Mason Blues Festival. We have had a large number of great prime ministers in the House, mostly Liberal, but there has been no greater prime minister than the prime minister of the blues, Dutchie Mason.

All members can speak to the importance of arts and culture in their communities, but I think it is pulled together nationally and forms the backbone of Canada. A lot of the artists I mentioned owe their success to Canadian content regulations, which gave them their start and enabled them to grow and develop in their own communities across Canada and now throughout the world.

I remember a few years ago asking somebody about what defines Canada. That is a tough question. What defines our nation? I remember a person saying to me that Peter Gzowski defined our nation. I think a lot of Canadians would say that was true, and maybe it still is true after his passing, but that speaks to the importance of the CBC. It binds us together, not just because it speaks to us, but because it comes from us and because it is important to us as Canadians. It speaks to Canadians and it speaks to Canadian diversity. It recognizes that Quebec is different from B.C. and Nova Scotia is different from Alberta, but there is a common bond, and I believe it is brought to Canadians through the CBC.

The CBC is a public broadcaster and it should stay as such. There have been cuts to the CBC. Our government made cuts and reductions to the CBC in times of difficult economic circumstances, but they have been restored. In a time of huge economic surplus, it would be a shame and a disgrace if the CBC were cut.

Arts and culture speak to Canadians because they come from Canadians, because they represent who we are, where we have been and, most important, where we are going. I am proud here today to stand to support the motion, and I congratulate the member for Ottawa—Vanier, so that for once the House discusses the importance of art and culture and puts it in its rightful place. I hope all members of the House will support this important motion.

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Rob Anders Conservative Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, one of the Liberals mentioned a program he had seen or knows of that deals with the harsh situations in east Vancouver. I have family and friends who live in that city. He mentioned that he thought there were benefits to the program in highlighting some of the drug use issues and the prostitution that exists in that neck of the woods and making the rest of Canadian society aware of this.

I posed a question previously about how much money we spend on these things. Let us pull a number out of the air. Let us say, for example, that a program on an issue like that costs $10 million. I think that is probably a fair guess. When we look at how many police officers that could actually put on the street at $50,000 per police officer, that is probably about 200 police officers.

I wonder what would be better for that community. Would it be to have their plights and their problems glamorized on TV and have actors and actresses portraying drug users and prostitutes spread out across the rest of the country serving as an example? Or would it be to have 200 police officers, law enforcement officers or maybe even social workers on the street in that community? That $10 million could be applied to the drug use problems and the crime that goes on there to try to end the cycle of drug use and crime. That might be a better use of money. I pose that question to the member.

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, this hearkens back to how I opened my comments, which was to say that there is always something that seems more pressing than arts and culture. Hiring 200 police officers is important. We also could compare this to money that goes into health care. We could compare it to the universal child benefit that is going primarily to richer families in Canada. We could compare it to the budget's reduction in taxes that is going to Canadians making over $150,000, which is more than 12 times as much as the reduction going to the lowest income families.

There is always a comparator. My point is that we always neglect arts and culture. We do not put the value on arts and culture that is represented in communities in celebrating the heritage of where we have been, and quite often it reflects where we are going. I honestly believe that we are made up of a lot of different things. Communities are made up of police officers, but communities are also made up of local theatre groups and dance groups.

If the member is going to compare, I would ask why we would have a credit for hockey but not for dance or violin or some other kind of artistic expression. Not all children play hockey. My son plays hockey, but he also plays the piano. I think it would have been a good start if we had treated those equally. Arts and culture and sports are both very important to the community.

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the member's speech. He talked about what the fabric of a community is and the role that arts and culture plays in a community.

My riding in northwest British Columbia relies heavily on the CBC for its information from outside. The concentration of media outlets in British Columbia in particular has been staggering over the last decade or decade and a half. Single owners have been able to acquire the two major dailies, most of the major radio media and a significant portion of the television market. Media concentration has been raised time and again in debates in this House, particularly in this corner, as citizens need the ability to have wide and diverse views about the news of the day and what is happening in and outside their communities.

Yet while in government, the member's party refused to make any serious commitments to actually having a diverse and transparent ownership regime in Canada. Now we get the sentiment from the new government that foreign ownership requirements may be dropped, if they have not been dropped in negotiations already, allowing outside ownership of our major marketing and our major media outlets, further distancing Canadians from their ability to have open and transparent reporting on the issues that are important to them.

My question for the member is with respect to the CBC. During his government's reign, the CBC was making drastic cuts in its ability to actually do local reporting. For rural communities in Canada this was significant, because getting news centralized from the city is completely unsatisfactory, yet the government allowed this cutting, and the Radwanskis and others, to go unhindered in the ability to concentrate, to not spread out and report more effectively.

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I think the member and I are coming from largely the same place, but I do appreciate his question. It was our government that took a leadership position in gathering support for the UNESCO convention on cultural diversity. We believe in that. We have always been strong supporters of Canadian content regulations. Last year I personally lobbied against the satellite radio decision. Of course the decision last year was taken by the Minister of Industry, who is now across the floor, but I thought it was the wrong decision. I thought it meant that we would have less Canadian content regulations. I thought that was wrong.

In terms of the CBC, its budget is stabilized. I indicated that there were cuts when times were difficult. We might not have liked that at the time, but now, in an age of booming surpluses, there is no reason whatsoever to cut the CBC. We are firmly committed to it. I believe, as do many Canadians, that it is the national institution that most holds us together as Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Luc Malo Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will share my allotted 20 minutes with my colleague from Joliette.

Culture, a vital part of our national identity, is neither inert nor inviolable. To speak of it is to treasure it, to remember its fragility as well as its potential to drive and mobilize us. For these reasons, I am pleased to rise in this House to participate in the debate on a motion that reads as follows:

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.

For everyone’s benefit, I would first like to review what the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions will do; it will: recognize in international law the distinctive nature of cultural goods and services as vehicles of values, identity and meaning; clearly affirm of the right of countries to have cultural policies to ensure genuine diversity of cultural expressions domestically; include provisions by which developed countries undertake to support developing countries in nurturing the development of their own emerging cultural industries; assert the principle of non-subordination—meaning the legal status of the convention in international law will be equal to that of other international treaties, including trade agreements; commit countries to take the provisions of the convention into account not only when entering into other international agreements, but also when applying and interpreting agreements to which they are party; and include a basic dispute settlement mechanism, creating the potential that in the years ahead the convention will accumulate a body of written decisions on issues of cultural policy that will ultimately influence how culture is treated in trade agreements.

When we read that, it is easy to understand why Quebec, its artists and everyone connected with its cultural industry have taken and continue to take a leadership role in promoting this convention.

While the Quebec nation is creative and endowed with a vibrant cultural heritage, it is also up against foreign competitors that have enormous production and distribution systems, and so it is crucial that cultural products and services not be regarded as ordinary, disposable products and services.

Who is in a better position to defend, explain and promote a nation’s culture, in all its forms, than the nation in which it originates? The recognition that Quebec is in the best position to do that is one of the key factors that is missing from this motion, which, all in all, is appropriate, and which the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of.

The motion addresses three related aspects of the convention.

First, there are the existing Canadian cultural content requirements. At present, 65% of musical performances broadcast by commercial radio stations must be in French, a requirement which, according to recent figures released by the CRTC on May 4, has not prevented FM broadcasters from increasing their profits:

In 2005, FM radio revenues grew by 11.8% over 2004, from $923.7 million in 2004 to a little over $1 billion.

ADISQ, however, recommends other criteria that would allow for a more diverse offering of French-language music. Valérie Lesage, a reporter at Le Soleil, wrote: “Out of an estimated total of 900 new Quebec releases between March 1 and December 31, 2005, radio stations broadcast only 137, barely 14% of the music available”. While she added that half of the artists on the list of the 50 top sellers between 2002 and 2004 were francophone, the Bloc Québécois agrees that broadcasters are entitled to want to increase their revenue, but disagrees with any reduction in Canadian and French-language content.

The big problem in the development of Canadian francophone content on commercial radio 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 relaxed.

We know that the Liberal government had the power to send the CRTC’s decision back to it, and by not doing so, they approved it

In other words, the Liberals who are introducing this lovely motion today actually helped to weaken Canadian cultural sovereignty and dealt a heavy blow to cultural diversity, despite the deep concerns expressed in particular by the ADISQ, the Union des artistes and SOCAN.

The second part of the motion has to do with foreign ownership in the cultural sector. The Bloc Québécois is opposed to any relaxation of the foreign ownership regulations in telecommunications.

In its dissenting report on the Our Cultural Sovereignty report of June 2003, the Bloc Québécois stated that “increased foreign ownership would not solve the problem of media concentration. On the contrary: weaker restrictions on foreign ownership and an influx of new capital would accelerate the concentration process”.

The Bloc Québécois recommended at the time that the minister of Canadian Heritage should speak with her colleague in Industry and actively advocate the maintenance of the current foreign ownership rules in telecommunications and broadcasting.

That was our position then, and it still is. We will oppose any weakening, which would necessarily have repercussions on telecommunications in Quebec. The study group on the regulatory framework for telecommunications, which submitted its report in March 2006, advised for its part that the foreign ownership rules should be relaxed.

Rest assured that the Bloc Québécois will remain very vigilant in this regard because in September 2005, the Liberal industry minister, now the Conservative Minister of International Trade, said that he was open to relaxing the foreign ownership rules.

In an article published on September 22, 2005, it said that the minister had stated that he was open, however, to a relaxation of the current foreign ownership regulations in the telecommunications sector if that could ever help Canada become more competitive.

We are even more worried because a report signed by the current Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, then sitting with the Canadian Alliance, which today is the Conservative Party, supports the relaxation of rules on foreign ownership of Canadian businesses, notably those in the areas of telecommunications and the distribution of broadcasting services.

The final aspect of the motion touches on the funding of radio and television. The Bloc Québécois is in favour of sufficient funding for public radio and television.

Though they were behind this motion, the Liberals blithely cut funding to the CBC. In early February 2005, we learned that the CBC was imposing additional cuts of $13 million on CBC French television—$6 million in general television programming, $3 million in support and regional programming, and $4 million in news and information.

These restrictions have a very big impact on the production of public affairs programs on television. I would therefore point out that we condemn these cuts in news and information programming and remind the Minister of Heritage that she has a duty to hold the CBC to its mandate.

It is clear from part II of the Broadcasting Act that the cuts to the news and information budget are contrary to the CBC’s mandate. The 1991 Broadcasting Act stipulates that: “—the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as the national public broadcaster, should provide radio and television services incorporating a wide range of programming that informs, enlightens and entertains”.

Obviously we want the CBC to have the funds it needs to fulfill its mandate. The Bloc Québécois is in favour of adequate funding for radio and television services that objectively reflect the reality experienced by people from here and elsewhere in all its subtleties, and that provide news that does not lapse into propaganda.

In closing, I would urge all the members gathered here to promote the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions among the representatives of all countries that have not yet signed this agreement, so that every nation can flourish and enrich the planet with the distinctive identities that make the world a beautiful place.

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that there is a wide range of cultures across this great country, English, French, European and Asian. Every culture we can think of is in our major cities, particularly in cities like Montreal. The CBC provides service to remote areas, which a lot of private systems do not provide. It also encourages the wealth of many cultures that we have in this country.

My colleague said he does not want French Canadian content to be reduced and I am concerned by those comments. I want him to make it clear to the House whether he and his party support encouraging cultures other than French in the province of Quebec.

Opposition Motion—Cultural DiversityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Luc Malo Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

Quebec has always been, for very many years, extremely respectful of its anglophone minority. Just think of the exemplary health services for the anglophone community. Or of the network of universities, colleges and all manner of educational institutions. They are quite representative and take into account the needs expressed by Quebec's anglophone community.

Of course Quebec is inclusive. As we said, what Quebec sovereignists and the Bloc Québécois are proposing is a society open to all cultures. Anyone living in Quebec is a Quebecker. And that includes francophones, anglophones, allophones and aboriginal peoples.

Marine IndustryStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize National Marine Day sponsored by Canada's Marine Industry Alliance representing over 800 organizations.

Canada is a maritime country with a strong and proud tradition. With the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence system longer than the Atlantic Ocean is wide, Canada truly is a nation that goes from shore to shore to shore, the world's longest coastline.

Of particular interest to marine communities across Canada, like my constituents at Port Weller Dry Docks, is a strong and commercially viable shipbuilding industry. In Quebec, the Maritimes, British Columbia and Ontario our naval architecture and marine engineering has garnered a world renowned reputation. A revitalized shipbuilding policy could create an estimated $800 million in additional commercial economic output per year creating up to 6,700 new jobs.

This evening between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. members are invited to attend a reception at the Chateau Laurier hosted by Canada's Marine Industry Alliance. This is a wonderful opportunity to listen, review and understand Canada's great marine industry.

Biologic MedicineStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Wajid Khan Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is imperative that we encourage and promote the use of innovation to ensure that Canadians live longer and have better lives. For example, new developments in the world of biotechnology can make great strides in improving the long term health of Canadians.

Biologic medicine is fighting illnesses that blight our society, such as cancer, strokes, kidney diseases and bone diseases. The time has come for a new national strategy on biologic medicine. Biotechnology after all has led to cures and treatments for diseases that previously had no cures or limited treatments. We cannot afford to leave any stone unturned in our fight for better health.

To harness the benefits of innovation in medicine we need peer-reviewed science, better intellectual property protection, an effective regulatory system, effective industry and academic partnerships, and an unfettered and fully transparent market access across borders.

For Canada to become a world leader in health, we must not only be open for investment, we must be open for business, which is why the government must create a new national strategy on biologic medicine.

RwandaStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Louise Thibault Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Rwandan genocide indisputably epitomized the ignorance and lack of understanding in our quest for humanity. The Université du Québec à Rimouski organized a symposium in Kigali, “Discourse on the Rwanda Genocide”, in an effort to understand this tragedy.

This symposium provided an opportunity to reflect on the Rwandan genocide. The discussions focused on understanding conflict and educating for peace in an attempt to make some sense of this sorry chapter in the history of humankind.

Looking back at this terrible event, which took place in 1994, was often difficult and brought back painful memories, but I hope that speaking about the unspeakable triggered an openness that will, in turn, prevent condemnation and promote tolerance and understanding.

Congratulations to Professor Pauline Côté and the entire team for the success of this important symposium.

Northern OntarioStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, for 13 years the Liberal government failed the people and communities of northern Ontario. Mills closed, jobs were lost, farmers went bankrupt, gas prices rose, and students left the north in search of jobs. It is a litany of Liberal failure from the federal and provincial governments.

The people in northern Ontario are waiting to see if the Conservative government will do any better. Northern Ontario needs money. It needs a plan for restructuring and working with the new economy.

The federal government needs to be an active partner. The NDP is fighting for these changes: long distance learning and apprenticeship programs, the social economy, co-ops, and a better resourced FedNor agency.

We want FedNor to stand alone as its own regional development agency. With a solid partnership of FedNor, our education institutions and the private sector, the north's potential is unlimited.

Elgin—Middlesex—LondonStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, we know summer is quickly approaching. The weather is turning warmer and the summer student employment offices start to spring open.

Elgin and St. Thomas is only a little different. The student employment centre is a joint effort of the local Youth Employment Counselling Centre and Service Canada. It is housed in the Talbot Teen Centre, a main street teen activity centre which truly makes it a place for one stop solutions.

Finding summer employment for youth may be the best gift we can give them and I am sure that Teepa and Katherine and the gang will be working hard over the next months creating miracles for youth in Elgin County and St. Thomas.

Speaking of miracles, the same teen centre was the staging location for the annual day of caring this last Saturday. Over 100 youth helped complete dozens of community projects from clearing brush, to painting, to sanding windows in the century old railway station.

The volunteer efforts of Tiffany and the youth make a very positive difference to St. Thomas and Elgin.

Jacqueline AlbaniStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Ken Dryden Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I stand in the House today to pay tribute to a woman who gave to her family and her community all her life, Jacqueline Albani.

Born and raised in Toronto, Jackie left high school and a promising career as a violinist to look after her seriously ailing parents. Ten years later it would be her chance and she returned to school and graduated from university as a teacher.

For 29 years, teaching was her life's work but in retirement she found new purpose, working with her church, the Salvation Army and numerous other charities.

In 1995, with the planned closing of part of the military base nearby, she co-founded an organization to ensure the proper development of Parc Downsview Park for the future of her beloved Downsview area.

Jackie battled cancer and its effects for a long time but she always focused on tomorrow and the good that was left to be done. On May 11, Jackie Albani passed away.

I ask the House today to remember that very special woman.

Crime FightingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently I held a contest in my riding where students submitted essays on fighting crime. I am pleased to announce that Nepean High School student, Danica De Jong, was the winner.

Sponsored by a generous donation from an excellent corporate citizen, the Bank of Nova Scotia, Danica De Jong put forward a series of measured thoughts on how we can reduce crime in the community of Nepean and right across the country. Danica proposed that we needed more discipline in the system. She believes and understands that tough on crime actually works.

Danica believes that police officers must be given more resources, that there must be more of them on the street and that they must have tough laws that they can enforce to restore order in our streets.

Finally, she believes that mandatory detoxification and an end to drugs in prison is essential to ending the high rate of re-offence.

I am proud to stand up on behalf of the constituents of Nepean—Carleton and the Parliament of Canada to congratulate Miss Danica De Jong for her excellent work and as the champion crime fighter in Nepean.

André AugerStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Roger Gaudet Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to pay tribute to Mr. André Auger, mayor of Saint-Lin-Laurentides, who is celebrating his 35th anniversary in municipal politics.

The "mayor for life", as he is known in our region, has devoted the past 35 years to his city and his community. His contribution has been invaluable, both within Saint-Lin-Laurentides and the Montcalm RCM, since he has also been the reeve there for nearly four years.

To mark this anniversary, Mr. Auger released a DVD summarizing his career entitled Une vie, la politique, les conséquences.The May 27 release of the DVD was followed by celebrations and several tributes to both the man and the politician, attended by more than 650 people.

Congratulations and thank you to the mayor of Saint-Lin-Laurentides, Mr. André Auger. Keep up the good work.

Equalization ProgramStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, for 13 years, one lonely Saskatchewan Liberal was able to get himself re-elected to the House of Commons. When he spoke, it was always in grand and flowery language, promising the world but we soon discovered that he could not deliver for his home province. The billions promised through the Crow payment buyout disappeared, farmers went to jail for marketing their own grain, Saskatchewan continued to suffer under consecutive Liberal governments and still he returned and continued his climb until finally he was appointed the minister of finance.

He made a deal with two Atlantic provinces to exclude their non-renewable resources from the equalization formula but when his own province asked for the same deal he said, “No way, maybe later”. Well, later has arrived.

After only 100 days in office, our finance minister has made a decision, one that is great for Saskatchewan. Yesterday he announced that non-renewable resources will be excluded from the equalization formula.

Finally, after 13 years there is a government that is actually delivering for the people of Saskatchewan. What a welcome change.

Middle EastStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Susan Kadis Liberal Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, this weekend, the Ontario wing of CUPE made the illogical, absurd and unhelpful move to launch a boycott campaign against Israel. Its demonization of Israel is completely biased, lacks any reasonable approach to the very serious situation in the Middle East and totally undermines the peace process.

Israel is a great friend of Canada. This outrageous resolution must be denounced for perpetuating a one-sided perspective to the detriment of all parties. We do not need to demonize one side to help the other.

I strongly condemn this action and call upon CUPE to overturn its misguided, divisive and non-constructive stance toward Israel. I ask all leaders and members of the House to join together to reject outright and condemn this abhorrent action.