House of Commons Hansard #35 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was review.


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

7:10 p.m.


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

Madam Speaker, I would like further clarification on a question I asked in the House on March 24. I doubt many people are watching us at home at this time. The Montreal Canadiens hockey team is about to play and win game seven in Washington. I have a feeling we are all alone tonight.

Nevertheless, I would like to speak for those interested in the arts who are watching us at this time. However, appreciating the arts and enjoying hockey are not mutually exclusive. Personally, I like both.

On March 24, I asked the Minister of Canadian Heritage a very serious question. I talked about the CRTC's new regulatory policy for television. This policy recommends reducing Canadian and Quebec content requirements for broadcasters. I said that reducing those requirements simply because they are too hard to respect was not a good idea. Instead, we should be helping people meet those requirements, especially when the objective is something as important as Canadian and Quebec culture.

I asked the minister whether, just for once, he could defend culture and artists. I asked him to ask the CRTC to review its decision, which the government did quite recently regarding foreign ownership. His reply was non-committal. He told me to call the CRTC and speak to the president, Mr. Von Finckenstein. He ended by saying that his government kept its promises. I do not know what promises he was talking about, because I have not heard the government make any promises about arts and culture. During the most recent election campaign, I did not hear any. The only promise the government made was to cut $26 million from funding for artists.

In the three throne speeches that have followed—in November 2008, February 2009 and March 2010—the government has made just one small promise: to introduce new copyright legislation. It made this promise a year and a half ago, and we still have not seen any legislation.

I am again asking the minister to stand up for the artists and craftspeople and defend them every time they are attacked in one way or another or when they need help. Far too often he tells artists that he does not want to hurt consumers. As far as the media fund is concerned, he says we have to focus our attention on consumers. When we talk about royalties on MP3s, he says consumers do not like that.

Is he the Minister of Canadian Heritage or the minister for consumers? There must be another minister responsible for consumers. We expect him to tell his caucus or cabinet that by doing this or saying that harm will come to the artists, craftspeople and creators. He says nothing to artists. It is easy to see that he does not understand the arts, he does not appreciate the arts and he does not like the arts.

7:15 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario


Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here this evening to speak to this issue.

I would like to join the member in wishing the Montreal Canadiens and the entire Montreal Canadiens' fan base well this evening. Obviously, I would love to see another Canadian team continue in its drive toward the Stanley Cup championship. So, for everybody watching in Quebec and elsewhere, in places like Peterborough, where there are strong connections to the Montreal Canadiens, I wish them well this evening.

In response to the issues brought forward by the hon. member, there are a couple of things that we need to note.

First, the CRTC is responsible for regulating and supervising all aspects of the Canadian broadcasting system. It is the CRTC's responsibility to establish Canadian broadcast regulations, such as Canadian content thresholds, for all broadcast distribution undertakings.

Canadians are increasingly seeking content on multiple platforms.

The CRTC's new approach is designed to give broadcasters greater flexibility to offer high-quality programs that are of interest to Canadians and seeks to emphasize the creation of Canadian programs rather than prescribing where and when they should be shown.

The group licensing approach that the member spoke to applies only to the large English language private conventional and discretionary television stations, namely, CTVglobemedia, Canwest television and Rogers, or Citytv.

While the lowering of Canadian content from 60% to 55% of the broadcast year applies to all conventional television stations, the CRTC has maintained the current requirement that stations devote at least 50% of the evening broadcast, from 6 p.m. to midnight each night, to the broadcast of Canadian programs.

In 2011, however, the CRTC will turn its full attention to the French language market when it reviews the licences and the obligations of TVA and V, formerly TQS.

The interests of Canadians, including Quebeckers, are well served by the existing legislative and regulatory framework. It enables French language communities in Quebec and elsewhere in the country to participate in and contribute to the development of a broadcasting system that reflects their needs, circumstances and expectations.

On other issues brought forward by the member, in addition to this question, she talked about support for the arts more broadly and whether or not the minister appreciates the arts. I do not think there is any question about that, given the minister's record and this government's record in fighting for the arts, in fact, in devoting record spending and record investment in the arts. That is what it really is, investment in one of the country's largest drivers of the economy.

The arts sector is a massive driver of the economy. It is also a big part of our soul as a nation. That is why we have stepped up and have provided record funding for things like the Canada Council. That is why we have provided record funding for the Canada music fund and, by the way, made a five year commitment to that fund. It is also why we have created the new Canada media fund.

In these things and other things we have just continued to emphasize our government's commitment to the arts here in Canada. It is a big part of our culture, a big part of who we are as Canadians. That is why we support it.

7:20 p.m.


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

Madam Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary just proved my point. Instead of talking about his love for the arts, instead of saying he was in awe of the creativity of our artists, he spoke about funding and investments.

But where was the Minister of Canadian Heritage when Google went after editors and told them it had digitized all their books and that they could sue if they were not happy? Where is the Minister of Canadian Heritage in the foreign ownership debate?

Members will recall that in 2002, Liberal heritage minister Sheila Copps fought and defended artists against her colleague, then-industry minister Allan Rock, to prevent telecommunications companies from being taken over by foreign companies.

The same thing is going on now, but this Minister of Canadian Heritage is not defending artists.

7:20 p.m.


Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, of course, we look forward to working with artists and companies like Google to seek out the opportunities that are there for Canadian artists expanding into new markets. We know that new platforms are emerging. The way that Canadians and people around the world wish to enjoy and take in the arts, appreciate music, programs, shows, books, and other things is changing. Those platforms are changing. They are emerging. One of the great potentials for this country is to get on the front side of that curve. To meet that challenge, we are going to need a number of things to happen.

The participation and support of the opposition would go a long way in assisting us. Also, we need to ensure that whenever possible we are providing the support through initiatives like the Canada music fund, like the Canada media fund, like our support of the Canada Council for the Arts. This is what our government is doing to ensure that we are meeting this new emerging platform.

7:20 p.m.


The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

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 7:21 p.m.)