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House of Commons Hansard #71 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was spam.

Topics

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Eglinton—Lawrence for some insight. The last time he spoke, Stefano was having a birthday. He always talks about family.

In talking about family, there is the issue of the harm that is being done already and the problem that we are trying to address and why this is also a public safety and security issue, as well as a nuisance issue that we are dealing with.

Would the member care to comment on the dimensions of the problem and why it is so important that we get this legislation in place.

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for recognizing that in this place we can talk about human things and family, as well as the important things of legislation because the two are very often intertwined.

I spoke about Stefano last time. This time let me talk about Matteo. Matteo is only about 20 months old but he is celebrating, in the culture that I come from, his name day. His name day is, of course, St. Matthew. I do not know whether he is watching. He is probably missing his grandfather, I hope. However, as the member said, it is important to mix together the evolution of our society.

As I said a few moments ago, our society has moved in leaps and bounds. There is exponential growth in a commercial activity associated with Internet usage, there is exponential growth in the dissemination of knowledge and there is exponential growth in the use of that knowledge for the realization of one's personal ambition and, because we are in this place, of our collective and national ambition.

We are so far behind from a legislative perspective that some people could say that Canada, which I think the parliamentary secretary acknowledged, is still the wild west of the western world in terms of Internet usage, Internet regulation, the protection of privacy, the protection of commerce and the establishment of an environment for productive and competitive businesses and relationships.

One of our NDP colleagues talked about online governments. That is one of the initiatives that was begun by members of the Liberal caucus. I think the member for Mississauga South was a part of that, just a few short years ago. All of his work and the work of that caucus went to nil because the current government decided to go to sleep for the last five and a half years.

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a very simple question. One can always criticize the government for being so slow regarding a bill like this one. The task force was created in 2004 and the final report was released in 2005. Here we are in 2010 and spam has been around for quite some time.

We have a task force that has presented interesting ideas and possible solutions. We would really like the Minister of Finance to build on the work already done on this file. Consultations have been done, but we have to wonder how reliable they are. Consultations are currently underway for the next budget.

Should creating task forces like that one, which focus on very specific issues, not be the way to go, as well as using new technology, in order to allow the general public to share their opinions on things like transport, fisheries, local and regional development, and any other issues?

This example shows that when the government takes an issue seriously, participates in the process and moves more swiftly than it has in this case, we can really achieve something.

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for once again explaining to us the challenge inherent in any government bill.

Six or seven years ago, the working group was tasked with finding ways to implement a bill that would have achieved something our colleague believes is desirable for Canadians. In other words, the Minister of Finance should have received a call from the then-minister of Industry giving him the funding to carry out the project. The minister at the time was responsible for establishing a timeline and conducting the necessary analysis to justify costs. The Industry minister at the time, like the current Minister of Industry, always had to work with other ministers to convince the Minister of Finance, who was responsible for allocating financial resources.

I do not know if the current minister is inspired enough to do this. He is always talking about the problem of the coalitions of knowledgeable people. I find it uninspiring when I see that he has had several opportunities to supply the resources our colleague was talking about a few minutes ago.

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-28 introduces measures that people and businesses have been waiting for for a long time. The government also put this measure forward as Bill C-27. Now we are dealing with Bill C-28.

I asked this question earlier, but I would like to hear the member's opinion, which may differ from that of the NDP member. Why does he think it took so long to get to Bill C-28?

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, my reply will be brief. As a legislator, I am frustrated because we already had a plan. After waiting four and a half years, almost five years, the government is finally waking up. With hints of an election in the air, the government wants to give the impression that it is responding to the public's demands. I believe that the government is not yet convinced, as it has not been for the past five years. It is that simple. There was no interest in promoting the interests of Canadians no matter where they live. The Internet is international—

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Unfortunately, we do not have time to hear any more comments.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-28, which has a slightly misleading title because I do not know if we will really be able to eliminate spam. It is called the “fighting Internet and wireless spam act”. I hope we will be able to fight spam and eliminate it, but it will not be easy to completely block fraudsters and dishonest people. These people inundate our email with spam.

We listened to a number of speeches, including that of my illustrious colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, the Bloc Québécois industry critic, who has worked very hard on this file. His speech was very eloquent and provided a good explanation of the multi-faceted manner in which this scourge attacks businesses, offices, service providers and all those in business. I will repeat, it is a real scourge.

I remember very well that when I arrived here on Parliament Hill, not as a member of Parliament, but as an assistant, it was the first time that I had to work so much with computers. My previous job had me working with computers only occasionally. I was shocked by the number of spam messages and how much of our time they took up every day. I imagine that that is still the case for many businesses. Here in the House of Commons, and we must give credit to our tech team, we get far fewer spam messages. I will not go into detail, but we were getting some completely unacceptable emails. In some cases, pop-ups would take over our computers and sometimes cause them to freeze. The computers were frozen, not us. It was a serious problem.

The bill is creating a new electronic commerce protection act to set limits on the sending of spam. Spam can be defined as a commercial electronic message sent without the express consent of the recipient. It can be any commercial electronic message, any text, audio, voice or visual message sent by any means of telecommunication. Email was mentioned earlier, but there is also cellular phone text messaging—which is popular with young people—and instant messaging. Based on the content, it is reasonable to conclude that the purpose of the message is to encourage participation in commercial activity. That is the case, of course, with electronic messages that offer to purchase, sell, barter or lease a product, good, service, land or an interest or right in land, or offer a business, investment or gaming opportunity.

The Bloc Québécois is in favour of the principle of Bill C-28. As was mentioned earlier, it is new legislation that specifically targets unsolicited commercial electronic messages. We need this new legislation, and it has long been requested by society as a whole. The members who spoke before me said that it took a ridiculously long time for the government to wake up and put a real policy in place.

This bill is not yet in effect. It must be examined in committee. A task force has been studying the issue since 2004. We would have expected it to be quicker. These kinds of emails are costing us billions of dollars.

Nevertheless, the Bloc Québécois is pleased to see that Bill C-28 takes into account most of the recommendations in the final report of the task force on spam. However, we are not pleased that the legislative process took four long years.

Consideration of the bill in committee should give many industry stakeholders and consumer protection groups an opportunity to express their views on the new electronic commerce protection legislation created by Bill C-28.

I would now like to go over how Bill C-28 came about. First of all, the task force on spam was struck in 2004 to look into this problem and find ways of dealing with it. It brought together Internet service providers, as well as electronic marketing experts and government and consumer representatives. Consumers are often the main victims of spam.

I am thinking of fraud spam primarily. For instance, a bank or credit union asks someone to provide all of his or her contact information because of a bogus problem. I will come back to that. I will no doubt have time at a later date.

I am pleased to say that the Bloc Québécois supports the principle of this bill.

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

When this bill is brought forth again in the House, the hon. member will have 15 minutes left.

The House resumed from September 23 consideration of the motion that Bill C-5, An Act to amend the International Transfer of Offenders Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It being 6:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the second reading stage of Bill C-5.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #89

Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) ActGovernment Orders

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

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

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, last May I asked the minister, while world attention was focused on the devastating offshore oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana, if the Canadian government was prepared should such a disastrous oil spill hit our Arctic waters from a ship or drill rig.

I also pointed out that with increased drilling activities in waters adjacent to ours, the risk of such an incident would increase, and that the Canadian government has to be prepared for a spill that could originate in international waters and that oil spills do not recognize jurisdictional boundaries.

It was truly disappointing to hear in the government's response to my questions that it was not aware of what other countries were doing in neighbouring Arctic waters, and it did not answer what it expected to do to deal with an oil spill in Arctic waters or what to do if that oil spill would get under Arctic ice.

Not getting any answers from the minister, I raised the issue again as a question on the order paper. It will surprise members to learn that since 2006, to date, the Government of Canada has spent a total of approximately $10.25 million on research and development on methods to deal with offshore blowouts and offshore spills, including possible events in Arctic waters.

It was $10.25 million over the past five years. Let me put that in perspective. The United States government spends $7 million yearly in such research, and in fact used to spend twice as much. Except for the coast of Alaska, it has nowhere near the Arctic coastline and territory that we have.

Initial estimates from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico placed the damage in the billions of dollars. BP has set aside $500 million in an effort to respond to concerns over the effects of the oil spill on the U.S. coast; $25 million of that money has been donated for research to the Florida Institute of Oceanography. The oil industry in the gulf has now cooperated with contributions of millions of dollars for the research to help ensure this disaster of unprecedented proportions does not happen again. As the Beaufort project determined in the 1970s, cleaning up oil spills in ice-covered waters is even more challenging.

In his answer, the minister should have pointed out that money has been spent by Canada to understand seabed conditions in order to improve the design of drilling wells, contribute to the overall prevention of an offshore blowout, quantify the effect of chemical dispersants on oil spills, record the behaviour of oil spills in cold waters and broken ice, and study the biological effects of oil dispersants on marine populations, among others.

It is a good start, but all these studies confirm one thing that northerners understand: there is not enough known about oil spills in Arctic waters. There is not enough being done. For that reason, the government should not be looking at any immediate drilling activity and should be directing more funds for research efforts, equipment and supplies, et cetera, recommended by the upcoming National Energy Board review.

The departments have outlined some levels of equipment that could contain small spills around Arctic communities, and this is helpful. However, what would they do to deal with a spill of the magnitude of the Exxon Valdez or the gulf?

Once again I ask, will the government table its plan to deal with an unfortunate but potentially disastrous oil spill in the Arctic from a ship or a drilling rig, originating in either Canadian or foreign waters?

7 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, we have a very stringent regulatory regime in relation to the question he asks and all Canadians are concerned by the devastating environmental and economic impacts of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and they would be concerned. It is only right that we have a good look at our own situation and ask tough questions about safety and security when it comes to offshore activities in Canada, and those are the questions that we ask in this government.

In the meantime, I want to assure Canadians that there are currently no active authorizations for drilling of any kind in the Beaufort Sea and we will keep Canadians safe.

For the member opposite, I am a registered trapper and I have lived in northern Alberta almost all of my life. The motion to quash the long gun registry was defeated 153:151. The member opposite promised his constituents that he would vote at every opportunity to ensure the gun registry was abolished. The people of the north understand how important it is. When the issue came to a vote on May 15, 2009, he voted to abolish it, but then several days ago he voted to keep it.

In preparing for tonight and the address of the member, I looked at the news and found a CBC report from the member's premier, Premier Fentie. On Thursday, in the legislature he said:

We don't change our mind, like the Liberals, on the long-gun registry. We didn't hide from our verbal commitments to Yukoners. We backed it up with action.

He went on to say, “It is about trust and the Liberals are all in it together”. The premier added, “Yukoners cannot trust them”.

In the Yukon legislature on Thursday, Klondike Yukon Party MLA Steve Nordick, presented a motion demanding that the member return to the territory to explain his action. Has he gone back there and explained his action to the legislature there? I know in northern Alberta a long gun rifle is a tool, just like a shovel is. As a registered trapper, it is very important. The gun registry makes it almost impossible for aboriginals to abide by the law and as such, the member's failed promises have made criminals out of many people in Canada who quite frankly do not deserve that.

Mr. Fentie went on to say, “Obviously once he's received his paycheques”, and he was speaking about the member, “he has entirely changed his mind”.

Has the member returned? Has he changed his mind again? What is going to happen with that?

7 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for that totally irrelevant answer about oil spills. The government does not have much to say about it going to clean up oil spills in the pristine Arctic, about which northerners have expressed so much concern. We asked that question of the minister nine times in a row and had no answer. I can see the parliamentary secretary is no better. He has to fudge and use quotes on a totally different topic because he has no answers as to how the government deals with oil spills in the pristine water, so it is a very disappointing situation.

The government had the entire summer to find the answers. The officials actually have some answers and neither the parliamentary secretary nor the ministers can come up with any answers. He has a minute left. Maybe he can suggest that he actually knows something about oil spills in the pristine Arctic environment in those difficult conditions.

7 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments, but I would suggest to him it is extremely relevant. It is extremely relevant for Canadians to know whether or not that member will now stand in his place and apologize for flip-flopping and whether he will stand up for his constituents. Clearly he does not understand what his constituents want. If he knew what they wanted, he would have voted for them. He had the opportunity last week to vote for them and he did not do so.

As to oil spills, Canadians know that they can count on this government to keep oil spills in check if necessary, but to prevent them in the first place. That is the key.

That member is part of a party that was in government for many years. They had the opportunity to make actual steps in relation to the environment, but just like every other issue involving the environment, they did nothing. That is why we are here to clean up their mess.

My question again to the member is this, and he should quit trying to avoid it. Why would he not stand up for the constituents who voted him in? Why would he not abolish the long gun registry when he had the chance? The vote of 153:151 is close enough that his vote made a difference.

7:05 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, before the summer recess, I posed this question to the government. I pointed out the fact that last year CHCH-TV employees in Hamilton had their underfunded pension plan wind up with an $8 million deficit. The result was they would receive only 85% of the money they were expecting to be able to plan on for their retirement. The rub here was that executives at Canwest were given $41 million to top up their underfunded pension plan just before they went into CCAA protection.

Canadians are asking how that happened in a federally regulated industry. They also want to know when the government is going to accept that pension assets are deferred wages and not some corporate slush fund.

In light of the pension situations at Abitibibowater, Fraser Papers and other companies across Canada, I found the minister's response that day lacking in sincerity. The Minister of Industry in his response attempted to deflect the responsibility from his government by stating:

—the Minister of Finance and his parliamentary secretary have been hard at work, working with the provinces and territories, which are where 90% of the pensions were in fact regulated. To make sure we have a more comprehensive view on this, we have asked the NDP members to be part of the process.

The minister also said, again referring to the NDP, “We have asked them to be constructive”.

The House will know that I have been constructive and have been part of the process of examining the pension situation in Canada. I repeatedly brought this issue to the floor of the House. I shared in meetings with the government the views of Canadians I received during 37 meetings with seniors from coast to coast. I also had meetings with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance seeking to move forward my Nortel bill on protecting pension assets during CCAA and BIA. I even went so far as to seek the support of the House for my private member's bill, the Nortel bill, which was denied in this place by both Liberals and Conservatives.

The minister further stated in response to my question the government's mantra that those members revert to when they are always running on empty, “They keep voting against our budgets, so that is not helpful”.

I decided to offer the minister the opportunity to come here today to directly clarify for Canadian pensioners, in perhaps a little less rhetorical nature, the question he was asked.

7:05 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to respond to the concerns raised by the member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek.

The government very much understands the value of secure and sustainable pensions and has taken action on a number of fronts.

On the narrower issue of bankruptcies and restructurings, the government has already taken steps to protect pensioners by amending insolvency laws. For example, in July 2008 we amended the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act to provide a higher priority for outstanding pension contributions so that those amounts would be paid to pensioners ahead of even secured creditors. In September 2009 we made similar changes to the Companies' Creditors Arrangements Act, dealing with pensions in the case of firms undergoing a restructuring.

However, attempting to deal with unfunded pension liabilities through insolvency legislation can have a significant impact.

Canada's insolvency laws aim to encourage restructuring as evidence shows that this leads to better recovery for creditors and preserves more jobs. We must be careful therefore before changing the priority assigned to various claims in insolvency, as doing so can have a significant impact on a businesses ability to restructure, the availability and cost of credit and on the other creditors of an insolvent company, including small suppliers, independent business partners, landlords and many others.

However, the longer term answer to pension security requires a multi-faceted approach. Prevention and proactive solutions must be the order of the day if we are to ensure adequate retirement security for Canadians.

That is why last October, in the federal domain, the Minister of Finance announced some important reforms. A number of these reforms are now coming to fruition with the government's recent passage of Bill C-9, Jobs and Economic Growth Act, which among other things, implements important changes to strengthen federally regulated private pension plans.

Complementing the act are changes to the relevant sections of the pension benefits standards regulations that the minister proposed in early May. These changes will enhance protection for plan members, reduce funding volatility and modernize the rules for investments by pension funds. They will allow sponsors to better manage their funding obligations and give them greater flexibility in investment allocations.

The member should rest assured that for its part the federal government, after considered deliberation to reconcile the needs and perhaps at times conflicting advice received from stakeholders, will make the necessary choices and do the right thing for Canadians.

7:10 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for the information he is providing, but I would remind him that in the throne speech, the government said that it was going to take a look at the status of pension funds in CCAA and BIA, and people are still waiting.

Seniors who are living on these pensions are very concerned that if that company gets into trouble and vulture capitalists buy their way into it, then we will have a significant problem.

I will commend the government, though. Recently, in P.E.I., it agreed with the position of the NDP. We said that we would call for an increase in CPP. We are calling for a doubling. I do not expect that it will hit that mark, but at least it is ahead of where the Liberals were when they said that they wanted a supplemental plan aside from that, because we might as well just use RRSPs.

Coming back to the CCAA, that is a very important component for seniors.

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his input and look forward to working with him in the future on this and other issues of importance to Canadians.

The recent passage of Bill C-9, the Jobs and Economic Growth Act, implemented important changes to strengthen federally regulated private pension plans. We will continue to strive to make an already strong foundation of pension services and retirement security even stronger. That said, pension reform must be undertaken with due deliberation. That is why we have taken great care to get input from Canadians from coast to coast and why we have been continuing to work with our provincial and territorial colleagues.

At the end of the day, Canadians can be sure that the government, within its legislative mandate, will make the tough choices and do the right thing to protect the retirement income of Canadians.

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Liberal Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, back in May I raised a series of questions regarding the government's reckless ideological cuts to Toronto's gay pride festival.

The government stimulus program has been marked by patronage and problems. The infrastructure money it was giving out was done using new funding agreements instead of the existing gas tax transfer, generating more waste and taking longer to implement but with the advantage of Conservatives using it to pork barrel in their ridings.

Pork barrelling is one thing, but blatant discrimination is another. The marquee tourism program was supposed to help already established world-class events expand their tourism offerings as a stimulus measure. It came about because last year, the former tourism minister, the member for Calgary—Nose Hill, was stripped of the program after she appeared in a photo op with drag queens.

Toronto Pride leaves a $100-million economic footprint, creates 650 jobs and generates $18 million in tax revenue. Compare that to many other events that got the funding.

If this program were about stimulating the economy, than surely helping to expand one of the country's largest festivals would have met those objectives.

We all know that the Minister of Industry himself made the decision and that according to the National Post, he created new policy specifically to keep another drag queen photo opportunity from happening.

Why was this policy changed to exclude gay Canadians? Spreading the money around would seem to contradict the point of this stimulus program. Events with little international drawing power were funded.

When asked about the decision, the Prime Minister's former chief of staff, Tom Flanagan, said that the Tories deserved all the criticism they got and called the whole ordeal atrocious political mismanagement.

In fact, rather than give Pride Toronto the $600,000 it asked for, the minister actually let about $12 million from the program go unspent. If the point of the program was to stimulate the economy, then why did the government not spend all the money, particularly on proven economic drivers such as Pride Toronto?

No other gay pride event in Canada even got any money. This was not about Toronto. This was about excluding a specific group of Canadians from government out of pure prejudice. The executive director of Pride Toronto said that she believes that homophobia was behind the decision.

I guess the simple question I have, in conclusion, is has the government changed any other policies in order to exclude specific groups of Canadians?

7:15 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I do not really know where to begin in terms of the inaccuracies in the hon. member's comments, but let me try.

The marquee tourism events program was announced on January 27, 2009 as part of budget 2009. In budget 2010, the government reaffirmed its commitment to fully implement these temporary stimulus measures.

The marquee tourism events program is part of the government's support for Canada's tourism industry. While the industry has strong, long-term potential to generate jobs and growth, it has faced its own economic challenges and competition from other destinations. Promoting tourism is a key component of the economic stimulus which was introduced to encourage growth and restore confidence in the Canadian economy.

The marquee tourism events program is designed to contribute to the long-term growth of the tourism industry by bringing more visitors to cities and communities hosting marquee events from inside and outside Canada. It provides much needed assistance to these world-class recurring events that have a history of programming and management excellence.

The program respects the three principles that guide the economic action plan. It provides timely support for marquee events that stimulate tourism in all regions. It is targeted at major events that drive business activity in the communities in which they are held. Funding is temporary, ending March 31, 2011.

In its first year, 165 applications were received. Sixty events in 26 cities were funded for total approved funding of $47.5 million, including $1.2 million in funding for two-year projects. In the second year, 131 applications were received. Forty-seven events in 35 cities were funded for total approved funding of $39.2 million.

On May 7, 2010 when the Minister of Industry announced the recipients for 2010, he also announced an $8 million investment in the Canadian Tourism Commission. This funding was provided to the Canadian Tourism Commission in order to capitalize on the success of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in key international markets. The Canadian Tourism Commission is well positioned to use this investment to attract international tourists and generate increased tourism revenue for years to come.

A small amount of funding remaining was earmarked in each year to support program administration costs. In both years all supported events met the program's eligibility criteria and demonstrated how their proposed projects would contribute to program objectives. In year one, almost 70% of the funding went to events in Canada's largest cities. In year two, successful recipients were selected to ensure broader regional distribution of support. This has meant 19 new events are being funded across Canada and will have the opportunity to highlight their tourism offerings to domestic and global markets.

The marquee tourism events program is a two-year program, and applicants were required to submit an application for each year. Funding is project based and each application was considered on its own merits. Now in its final year, the marquee tourism events program will have provided support to close to 80 festivals and events to help stimulate the economy and promote Canada as a global destination of choice.

7:15 p.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Liberal Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite said that the project funding was based on merit and that each program was evaluated accordingly. Why was funding cut for a program for a world-class festival that generates over 650 jobs, that generates over $18 million in revenue for the government and that would have created the stimulus that was necessary during that time period?

There is no logic to the argument presented by the member opposite because $12 million were left in that fund unallocated. This was a missed opportunity. It is very clear, based on the reaction of what happened to the former minister of tourism, that this was done simply to appease a right-wing ideological agenda based on some form of prejudice.

I think what most Canadians are looking for is some clarity as to why this decision was made in going forward as a government policy.