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

Topics

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Maka Kotto Bloc Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, supposing that—and I am speaking hypothetically—the Conservatives bring to fruition their plan, which is well laid out in the dissenting opinion on the Lincoln report, does my NDP member see the CBC, in the future, as an instrument fulfilling its ideal role as educator of the masses?

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, with respect to television as opposed to radio, the public broadcaster has two roles. One is entertainment and one is to create a sense of cultural identity. What we see with private broadcasters is the role to entertain, period.

The problem we are facing is that CBC does not have the resources to adequately provide the entertainment value. Let us be very honest that without the entertainment value it will not have the market sufficient to carry out its educational and cultural roles. That connection between entertainment and maintaining a strong audience base so that it can carry out those other functions is essential. Unfortunately the situation now, for example in Toronto, is that the design production abilities of CBC English Canada have been erased. No longer will English Canada television be able to do in-house production. They have gotten rid of that, I believe because of the lack of funding over the years, to the point where now they are simply having to buy outside programming.

That undermines the notion of a cohesive identity that can be created through a cultural space. It also undermines what we had always had before on CBC, which is the building of a talent pool that is committed as national broadcasters for entertainment, for sports, for news and for cultural and political development.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

Noon

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured and pleased to participate in the debate and to support my colleague, the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier, and his motion for concurrence.

On November 2, 1936, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was first established in its present form. The CBC has since become very much a part of the fabric of Canadian life, culture and expression of our national identity.

As I have noted before in the House, nations across the world recognize the need for a strong, public broadcasting service that occupies an integral role in the vitality of our cultural life.

The British Broadcasting Corporation, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation or the NRK in Norway are examples of the commitment countries bring to public broadcasting.

In the United Kingdom, for example, the licensing fees are collected from the public and used to fund public broadcasting. The results are clear: a vibrant, world-renowned public broadcaster that is a leader in virtually every field of communication. Indeed, in the realm of news broadcasting, the BBC is recognized as the standard. The CBC here in Canada acknowledges and presents the BBC world services news each night as part of its programming.

The point is simply that public broadcasting is a vital part of the cultural, political and social life of nations across the world. We are unique in many respects to other nations throughout the world insofar as we have a large neighbour to the south that very directly impacts our daily life here in Canada, including in the realm of broadcasting.

The CBC, our nation's public broadcaster, plays a significant role in protecting, nurturing and encouraging our Canadian culture.

In view of these realities, it is imperative that decisions respecting the future of the CBC in this country are made in a fully inclusive and appropriate manner. It is for that reason that it is essential that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage occupy an important role in any review of the mandate of the CBC.

This is not simply about taking account of the services provided by just any broadcaster. It is not about reviewing the fiscal bottom line or taking a casual glance at the network's programming. This is about reviewing and perhaps redefining one of this country's great national institutions. It is about the role of a broadcasting service that has woven itself through the fabric of our modern history in this country.

In our system of parliamentary democracy, the role of Parliament is one of oversight, advice and consent. In respect of this, the institution of Parliament must also be respected and included. The standing committee is one such component of the process.

It is important to note that what my colleagues and I are calling for today is not that the standing committee be the vehicle for a review of the CBC's mandate exclusively. What we are asking for is eminently sensible and unquestionably reasonable. We are asking that a standing committee of a democratically elected Parliament be fully included in the review of one of the most important cultural institutions in this country, the nation's public broadcaster.

The CBC is more than just a vehicle for hockey or news, although there are few who would argue that the broadcaster excels in these areas like no other provider. The CBC is about drama, commentary and cultural expression.

There are enormous and emerging challenges today in the realm of broadcasting and communications generally. These challenges are not unique to Canada. Across the world the role of the Internet, specialty television services, pay on demand services and so on are increasingly complicating the communications spectrum.

There is a need to remain current in such a diverse and sometimes incomprehensibly challenging environment. It often seems that we are no sooner comfortable with a new communications innovation when another quickly appears on the horizon.

It is in this environment, this new reality, that the CBC must now operate and so there is certainly a need to review the mandate of this cultural institution. This review needs to be undertaken so that we might ensure that the CBC remains a major part of our country's communications reality.

The CBC is a forum for our national expression and a mechanism for nurturing our country's considerable cultural talent pool. The role of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is an important part of our national discussion on the future of institutions like the CBC.

It is for those reasons that the standing committee most certainly should be part of the process of determining the terms of reference for any review of the CBC or its mandate.

There is a clear and sustained logic to including the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in determining the role of any review. The committee is made up of democratically elected representatives chosen by the people to manage the affairs of this country, to chart the future direction of our nation and to ensure there is proper stewardship of Canada's important institutions.

Across the country, Canadians in communities large and small rely on the CBC for news and entertainment. This is particularly true of smaller communities in this vast country. The CBC helps to unite Canadians in a way that is important for the future of Canada. We are a vast nation with challenges unique to our country.

The Broadcasting Act states that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a national public broadcaster should provide radio and television services incorporating a wide range of programming that informs, enlightens and entertains, which is very important.

Reading these parameters indicates very clearly the vital role of the CBC in Canada.

Once again, let us get this right. All of us have recognized that the government has the right to appoint an independent commission to review the mandate of the CBC. This is not up for the debate. However, surely this mandate review as it is undertaken should take into account the advice of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage which is comprised of people elected to represent the will of Canadians.

I encourage the government and the Minister of Canadian Heritage to reflect on this matter and to do the right thing before the mandate review is undertaken and include the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage from the beginning of the process. Let us all work together to ensure the vital and effective public broadcaster continues to be a part of our national heritage and our national identity.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, during the last lockout of the CBC employees by the CBC, the Conservative representative in the Senate, Marjorie LeBreton, was very nasty toward the employees in their efforts to strike a better deal for working conditions within the CBC. Now that person is the leader of the government in the Senate.

When this legislation heads to the Senate, does the hon. member have any confidence that it will receive a fair hearing and a fair adjudication from within the Senate from people such as Marjorie LeBreton who was so nasty toward the employees of the CBC during their recent labour strike?

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is of concern to all of us in the House who care about the CBC. The hon. member mentions a good point. The leader of the government in the other place has raised issues about the CBC in a derogatory manner which leads us to be concerned about the future of the CBC, especially when any legislation goes into the other house.

However, we need to have faith that we can get the cooperation of all parties. The CBC is a unique cultural institution that belongs to all of us as Canadians. As people who care about the culture identity of this country, we need to be supportive of CBC. I would hope that whatever the outcome would be that we will have unanimous support.

We were, as I am sure the hon. member was, disappointed, when we had a very reasonable motion in support of heritage and culture in this country, that the government opposite, unfortunately, did not support our motion. It was a fair motion that could have had unanimous support in the House.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Maka Kotto Bloc Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate my Liberal colleague for his presentation.

I would like to ask a simple question. In view of what we know today about the CBC and the means available to this public institution to fulfill its mandate, would it not have been advisable for the government to consider the possibility of actually reviewing funding for this institution in order to support its mandate rather than what has been proposed today? In other words, we must determine if the mandate falls in line with the means available to the government.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my dear colleague. It is too bad that I am no longer a member of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. When I was, it was very interesting to listen to the hon. member, who has very important things to say about heritage.

I just want to say that I hope the government will support all members of the committee in this review. This is important. In fact, this is a very important issue for this country's culture and identity. I hope that this review will have the support of not only all the committee members, but all the members of Parliament as well.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, the other review that has implications on the CBC is the study being done by the CRTC on the current state of audio-video technologies and how using different platforms can promote access to various broadcasting systems.

I understand the heritage committee wants to review the mandate of the upcoming CBC review, which I totally support, but have there been any discussions as to how the two studies will complement each other? Many people now use different platforms to connect to CBC Radio and it is quite unfortunate that the CBC, especially on the TV side, with its many years of cutbacks has not been able to expand on the local television stations which has left the people in many remote communities not being able to connect to their local news.

Could the hon. member tell the House whether there is a connection between these two studies? Could he also tells us what he thinks about the recent studies on cutting production teams at CBC which would take production out of the hands of the CBC and privatize it?

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am no longer a member of the heritage committee but I have been following this issue quite closely. Like a lot of members who have an interest in culture and the CBC, there is obviously a link between the CRTC and the CBC.

I was just told by the member for Ottawa—Vanier that the review is going on at this moment and will be finalized by the middle of December. We of course want to monitor what the members want to do. I certainly have some concerns about the direction in which they want to go with regard to the CRTC. In the past, comments made by members of the government were not very favourable to both the CBC and the CRTC, which are important institutions that have a direct impact on the broadcasters' mandate.

We will all need to monitor that very carefully. Even those who are not members of the committee need to ensure, as this process goes along, that we are not in any way jeopardizing these two fundamentally very important institutions.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, just to complement the answer of my colleague from Davenport, it was only on Sunday when the Minister of Canadian Heritage announced the technical review of the CRTC and asked that it be completed by mid-December. There is no doubt that this will have an impact on whatever structure is created to look at the mandate of CBC Radio-Canada.

The debate here is mostly focused on the fact that the heritage committee unanimously has asked the minister to be consulted vis-à-vis the terms of reference of whatever structure or group is gathered and given the task to review the mandate of CBC Radio-Canada. That is the purpose.

There are some misgivings on our part vis-à-vis the intentions of the government. It did not support a motion two weeks ago to maintain CBC funding. There have been some comments referred to in the House and in the other place by members of the government. It is because of these misgivings that the committee asked for a chance to have input, on the terms of reference only, of whatever structure is created to look at the CBC mandate.

It is in that sense that those are two independent reviews, one believes, but that one will certainly have an impact on the other.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier makes a very fair point and comment. We have to monitor the situation and be very careful to ensure that these two very important institutions, which have been in place over so many years, will not be jeopardized.

We also have to ensure that there is involvement from the beginning by the heritage committee. There are people on the committee who are extremely passionate and care greatly about the cultural identity of these two very important institutions. As long as they are involved at the beginning, there is some comfort level that, at the end of the day, we will have something of which all of us can be supportive in the House. Hopefully that is the goal.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Is the House ready for the question?

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

At the request of the chief opposition whip, the vote stands deferred.

The House will now continue with the remaining business under routine proceedings.

Centennial of the Polish Alliance of CanadaPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition in this House on behalf of a number of people and especially the Polish community of Canada.

A former member of this House, Jesse Philip Flis, to whom I extend warm greetings, recently met with me and asked me to support the Polish community in its initiatives.

This petition asks Parliament to recognize the centennial of the Polish Alliance of Canada, which will take place in December 2007. It therefore asks that a commemorative stamp be issued to mark the occasion.

Child ExploitationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday was the International Day Against Child Labour. Today, I am pleased to present a petition that is part of a larger batch of 12,000 signatures from people asking the government to promote the International Labour Organization's Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour.

An initiative of Amnesty International and Children's Care International, the day promotes awareness of the worst forms of child labour, such as slavery, prostitution and exploitation that is likely to harm children's health or safety.

I am pleased to present these signatures in this House.

DarfurPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to introduce a petition from Christine Johnston and students and teachers at Ashbury College.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to uphold its responsibility to protect under the convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide. They call upon the House to play a leadership role in lobbying the United Nations Security Council to send a peace making force to the Darfur, Sudan region and for Canada to play a key role in that peace making force.

Citizenship and ImmigrationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present a petition of 30 some pages, containing the signatures of over 1,000 citizens from across Toronto and Canada. It concerns the elimination of the $550 fee that has to be paid by refugees in order to apply for permanent residence in Canada. The petition also asks that the fee be eliminated for women and children fleeing domestic violence.

Because of this very expensive fee, some families are unable to be united and are unable to establish in Canada. If one considers a family, the fees amount to over $1,000 for them to move to Canada. The petitioners ask that the fees be dropped.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

June 13th, 2006 / 12:20 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

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