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House of Commons Hansard #61 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was equality.

Topics

Foreign AffairsPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Foreign AffairsPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Foreign AffairsPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93 the recorded division is deferred to Wednesday, March 12, 2008, just before the period provided for private members' business.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, on February 1, I asked the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages a question in this House.

Here is the wording of that question, which came the day after the new chair of the Telefilm Canada board of directors, Mr. Roy, appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. I am quoting myself:

The new chair of the Telefilm Canada board of directors, Mr. Roy, who was appointed by the Conservative government, yesterday told the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage that Telefilm Canada's funding is insufficient.

I continued on, asking when the government would do something about the needs of that industry, which has been calling for action for two years.

I would like to repeat what was said the day before at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage meeting, so that my colleague across the floor can answer me later—hoping that my colleagues across the floor will pay attention to the debate.

Here is what I asked Mr. Roy:

But, as Chair of the Board, Mr. Roy, you aren't prepared today to say that there would be grounds to increase Telefilm Canada's funding?

He replied:

As Chair of the Board, I—

I retorted:

You're appearing in that capacity.

He replied:

Currently, in the French-language film market, given the appetite of producers, I don't think funding is sufficient.

In my question of February 1, I reiterated Mr. Roy's comments made the previous day. I will quote one part of the answer I got from the parliamentary secretary to the minister.

I believe if he were to reflect on the answer of the new commissioner, the new commissioner was not asking for increased funding.

That was a bit of smoke and mirrors. He did not ask for increased funding; however, he did say that the funding is insufficient. It is the same thing.

I would like to point out, Mr. Speaker, that I asked this question on February 1 in the hope that the government would include something for French-language and English-language feature films in the budget.

Thus, I began searching. The industry has been looking for additional support for at least two years and has been waiting for answers from both the current minister and her predecessor. An additional $20 million had been talked about. I know that the Charest government has done its part. I believe it put in $10 million. There was hope, and I was told that meetings had been organized, but nothing happened.

When I asked the question on February 1, it was in the hope that something would be included in the budget. We searched and searched. I noted that, in the case of the Department of Canadian Heritage, many cuts were made—departmental savings—and that some amounts were also added. In total, over three years, $72 million was added to cover the Olympics and related preparations, and that is commendable. Except that, of the $72 million, it seems that $60 million is from budget cuts. We were looking for signs that the Department of Canadian Heritage would add $10 million over three years.

I continued to search because there was obviously nothing about feature films. I continued to search. The national museums were in the same boat. The government said it was adding several million dollars when, in reality, it was adding $2.1 million over three years to the total envelope for national museums. In the end, there were mostly cuts there, too. However, there was nothing there for feature films.

And so I continued. With regard to another institution, Library and Archives Canada, which we know well, not only are they not receiving any new funding, but they are being cut. There is mention of the gradual elimination of the book exchange program. Still nothing about feature films. How sad.

6:50 p.m.

Kootenay—Columbia B.C.

Conservative

Jim Abbott ConservativeParliamentary Secretary for Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, working with the hon. member opposite, I want to say, with the greatest respect, that unfortunately I think he is taking Mr. Roy's testimony out of context. He should remember that when he asked Mr. Roy whether Telefilm's funding was adequate he explained that the answer depends on the perspective.

He said on the one hand that the film industry will always be happy to receive as much money as anyone would care to give, but on the other hand he said that “anyone working in a cultural industry other than film could say that too much money is being allocated to that sector”.

I think the new Telefilm director gave a balanced answer. I would suggest that the member might want to consider some of the following. I would like to look at some numbers.

In 2006-07, our government invested over $765 million in Canadian audiovisual content: $74 million from the National Film Board; $96 million from the Canada feature film fund; $252 million from the Canadian television fund; $14 million from the Canada new media fund; and $330 million from two tax credit programs. That does not include over $1 billion for the CBC.

By any measure, this is a large investment by Canadians for Canadians. In addition to the direct investment in the audiovisual industry, I would remind the member that we also reduced the GST by two full points, which also helps the industry.

The hon. member asked when the government will increase the Telefilm budget. Why is he asking that? I remind him that the 2005 Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, under the Liberal government, issued the report, “Scripts, Screens and Audiences: A New Feature Film Policy for the 21st Century”. The present standing committee under the present government retabled the report.

I would think he would remember that because it was done on Tuesday, May 30. I checked the notes. I see that the member attended that particular meeting, so he would be aware that the report was retabled. This is important, because I would like to remind my colleague that all parties supported the committee's conclusion that existing levels of feature film funding were adequate.

In other words, they recommended this under the committee under the Liberal government. It was retabled not once but twice. It was tabled and the committee unanimously concluded that existing levels of feature film funding are adequate. Our current government agreed with the standing committee's conclusion in its response tabled before the House of Commons on September 29, 2006.

Are we satisfied? No. Our government is in a continuous discussion with the audiovisual industry regarding its concerns. Our government is and remains committed to Canada's film, television and new media industries, and no one can say differently.

6:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have yet to receive an answer.

The hon. member is talking about 2005, but this is 2008. In the meantime, a crisis has occurred in the film industry in Canada, especially when it comes to French-language feature films. There was not enough money. The Government of Quebec acknowledged this and did its part. That is all that was expected of the government. The current minister and her predecessor implied that they would give money, but nothing happened.

The excerpts of my discussion with Mr. Roy, the chair of the board of directors of Telefilm Canada, were very clear. At the end of the meeting, he said:

Currently, in the French-language film market, given the appetite of producers, I don't think funding is sufficient.

Since there was a request, and the Government of Quebec did its part, the Government of Canada could do the same thing.

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Of course, Mr. Speaker, this is why we have the government and the opposition. Again I will say that the government, on behalf of the people of Canada, has invested over $765 million in Canadian audiovisual content: $74 million, $96 million, $252 million, $14 million, and $330 million, plus $1 billion for the CBC. I really think that this particular sector is not doing all that badly with way over $1 billion and approaching $2 billion.

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd St. Amand Liberal Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, speaking of sectors that are doing poorly, the manufacturing sector is doing very poorly as well.

I asked the Minister of Industry a question on November 23, 2007, which was dealt with by his parliamentary secretary. I pointed out, and this is beyond dispute, that hundreds of thousands of good manufacturing jobs were disappearing at an alarming rate, and, I dare say, particularly in Ontario. I also indicated that the government had taken little by way of action.

In my riding alone, many well-paying jobs have been lost. These were jobs that paid $20, $22 and $24 an hour. The Minister of Finance, in particular, and, to an extent, the Minister of Industry, continue to trumpet the fact that thousands and thousands of new jobs are being created.

New jobs are being created in the service sector, in retail and in hospitality. It is true that all work is noble but the reality is that the jobs which are being created today are paying people, in many cases, about half the salary that they were earning, earning at places that have closed their doors because of lack of assistance from the government.

I am talking about Canadian Blue Bird Coach in Brant. A terrific entity, which had been in Brantford for some decades, has had to close its doors. It has relocated to the United States. GenFast, another long time solid employer in my community, has gone. Easton Coatings has gone. DURA Automotive is gone.

Yes, some jobs are being created. Wal-Mart, for instance, in my community, has decided to open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Yes, there will be jobs created at Wal-Mart probably paying $8 or $9 an hour. That is fine enough but, for an individual trying to maintain or support his or her family, receiving an hourly wage of $9 an hour is not commensurate to having received $22 an hour a few months ago.

The answer from the government, I presume, is that it has done lots, that it has reduced the corporate tax rate and it has made provision for accelerating the capital cost allowance. Those measures are of some benefit but they are only of benefit to manufacturing entities that are yielding a significant profit. It is only of benefit to entitles that have the financial resources to buy new equipment or new technology, in which case the accelerated capital cost allowance provisions help.

However, this is at a time when other countries are targeting their manufacturing industry and are providing direct incentives to manufacturing, such as in the United States where the state governments and the federal government are injecting billions into the manufacturing sector to preserve jobs and to preserve manufacturing entitles.

Again, does the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry not recognize that there are hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs that have been lost? What exactly is the government doing or intending to do to keep still with us those jobs that remain?

7 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, it is just now that the hon. member for Brant remarked that manufacturers are facing difficulties. It is as though this is a new reality for members opposite, yet workers have been losing jobs in manufacturing since 2002. It is sad that manufacturers, their workers, their families and their communities that depend on them have to pay dearly for the lack of leadership in the previous government.

Why did the previous government not take action when it became clear that our manufacturing industries were facing a perfect storm? With over two million Canadians directly employed in such a cornerstone component of our economy, one is left to wonder.

I want to bring forward some of the comments he made in his speech.

He did not do his homework. If he did, he would know that almost 18,000 new manufacturing jobs were created this past January. Last year wages in Canada grew. He says that in service jobs and the jobs created, the low paying jobs, overall wages grew 4%. Unemployment overall is at a forty year low. Unemployment in Canada is 6.1% and in manufacturing, the sector that he talks about, it is 5.9%. We are really getting things turned around.

Fortunately, Canadians decided for a change, for action, for leadership last year. That is why this government immediately set out to introduce measures that would benefit the manufacturing industries.

Our first budget was described by the industry as the best budget for manufacturers and exporters in five years. By the way, the member voted against it. We introduced 29 tax cuts, including eliminating the capital tax, reducing corporate and small business tax rates and confirming the elimination of the corporate surtax. We also took steps to improve productivity through investments in innovation and skills training.

We followed up November 2006 with “Advantage Canada”, a long term plan to make Canada a world economic leader. This plan announced the Government of Canada's strategic economic priorities for ensuring that businesses, including manufacturers, would benefit from advantages of competitive taxes, a sound fiscal environment, broad-based entrepreneurial opportunities, extensive knowledge resources and a modern infrastructure.

In March 2007 we introduced a budget that created a shift in attitude toward the manufacturing sector not seen in a decade. Budget 2007 introduced a new temporary investment incentive for manufacturing and processing businesses at a cost of $1.3 billion, permitting businesses to write off 100% of their investments in machinery and equipment over the next two years.

In budget 2008 we are enhancing this measure, allowing manufacturers to benefit from an additional $1 billion in support.

We committed to cutting red tape for businesses, in particular small and medium sized businesses, and we are delivering. The government took another important step in October 2007 to eliminate 80,000 requirements and obligations in 13 key regulatory departments and agencies.

We also announced the details of a $33 billion building Canada plan to modernize our infrastructure, which includes at least $400 million for the new Windsor-Detroit crossing.

Innovation is an important driver to improve productivity, and business, research and development is a pillar of innovation. This is why the government introduced a new science and technology strategy that will benefit industry. In budget 2008 we have proposed improvements to the scientific research and experimental development tax incentive program, based on the consultation we launched last year, as well as $34 million per year for collaborative research that contributes to the knowledge and innovation needs of the automotive and manufacturing sectors, among other sectors.

With budget 2008, we are providing over $9 billion in tax relief to manufacturers over the period of 2006-07 to 2012-13.

Our tax reduction initiatives will give Canada the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the group of seven, the G-7, by 2010, and the lowest statutory tax rate in the G-7 by 2012.

In January we unveiled the community development trust aid package of over $1 billion. We—

7 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Brant.

7 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd St. Amand Liberal Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite spent a fair bit of time talking about earlier budgets. He did, in fairness, touch on the 2008 budget. However, with respect to the 2008 budget, I would like to quote Jason Myers, president of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, who wrote:

Disadvantage Canada, that's what this budget represents for Canada's manufacturing and exporting sectors....We [as manufacturers] were very specific in what the nation's most innovative industry needed and we received recycled ideas and pocket change at a critical time when we needed tangible solutions. It's disappointing.

The member opposite touched upon the Windsor-Detroit tunnel. Surely he is aware of the 30-year high unemployment rate in Windsor. Ten per cent of individuals in Windsor are not employed, are not able to find work, a community that relies heavily on the manufacturing sector.

The government, with respect to the automotive sector, has provided auto funds of—

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member and his party for allowing our budget to pass. This proves to Canadians that the Liberal Party believes that we, at this difficult time, are the best to manage the finances of our country.

Let me be clear. This government, unlike its predecessor, recognizes the importance of our manufacturing industries, including the auto sector, to our country. Since we came to government, we have continually introduced initiatives that help our industries compete. At a time when others sat around and watched, we took action.

Our response to the report of the House's industry committee on manufacturing was comprehensive and overwhelmingly positive.

We set out to develop a long term economic plan that would give an advantage to our businesses and create jobs. In fact, last year in Ontario alone nearly 100,000 new jobs were added to the economy, offsetting the 37,000 jobs lost in manufacturing. These are mostly full time, high paying jobs.

We introduced incentives for manufacturers so they could innovate and improve their productivity. Budget 2008 introduced a number of important initiative to benefit manufacturers. Total tax relief—

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Since the hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert is not present in the House to raise a question during the adjournment debate, her notice is deemed to have been withdrawn.

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:07 p.m.)