Mr. Speaker, we must support reduced postal rates for interlibrary loans. We must support this type of measure in order to counter the significant disparity between the regions with respect to the number of existing cultural amenities.
It is a well-known fact that Canada cannot provide the same cultural amenities in all regions because of the vastness of our country. Nevertheless, providing access to knowledge must remain the primary objective of every successive government that rules the country.
Unfortunately, in so-called remote areas, the penetration rate of cultural services via electronic technology remains marginal. As parliamentarians, we must address the challenge of using high technology to somewhat democratize access to knowledge. The government has the duty to make the knowledge accumulated by public services and libraries accessible, for the common good.
Our collective memory belongs to all Canadians. Subsidizing postal rates for interlibrary loans is imperative in this increasingly global village, as a famous Canadian once said.
I have spent my life in the world of education, from my schooldays to teaching young homeless people on the street. I have been able to see the harm done by insufficient education. We have a huge responsibility today towards the younger generations in the regions. We must provide young people with the knowledge that will open the doors of the world for them, with their knowledge and culture.
In these houses of Parliament we are surrounded by millions of books on many subjects, including democracy, science, geopolitics and history.
How can we have a positive influence on the state of the world if we do not have access to this knowledge? How can we prepare policies for the future without the books and treatises that give us a clearer vision of our present condition? In today's world, knowledge is stored in all sorts of forms and formats. Books are no longer the favoured knowledge tool of all humanity. We must encourage the circulation of all these formats, including books of course, in order to arouse people's thirst for knowledge and their creativity.
Inventors, creators and scientists from all regions of the country, whether in the early stages of their careers or at the height of their creativity, must have access to the entire corpus of works available in our libraries and archives.
Ours is a knowledge society. How can we arrange to share the knowledge that is needed for prosperity and the creation of more knowledge with the whole population? Many communities are still facing material poverty, which comes from the difficulty of distributing human knowledge. Our duty to remember must be supported by the documentary sources available; they are one part of our national identity.
I ask all members to show their faith in knowledge and education. I ask them to make the distribution of knowledge possible and thus ensure the survival of our democracy and its values.
Recently we have seen democracy breaking out all over the world. Such movements have become possible because of the distribution of knowledge through new electronic communications networks. Politicians here have been impressed by these efforts to bring the democratic debate to the most inaccessible parts of the human family.
What better way is there to strengthen and spread the values of democracy here at home than to work on improving knowledge sharing networks? Using reduced postal rates to help offset the cost of shipping documents on different media, such as books, CD-ROMs, CDs or films, contributes to democratic expression across the country. Literature, cinema, paintings, dance and sculpture are all important means of human expression and must reach all communities.
Every child and adult in this country must know the cultural reality of others. We are living in a changing world where education and culture in the broad sense are more important than ever.
I would be remiss if I did not quote the joint manifesto of UNESCO and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, which joined forces to outline the responsibility of public authorities with regard to human knowledge sharing:
The public library shall in principle be free of charge. The public library is the responsibility of local and national authorities. It must be supported by specific legislation and financed by national and local government. It has to be an essential component of any long-term strategy for culture, information provision, literacy and education.
We must not forget our most remote communities. We must not forget first nations populations, which have a right to the advantages afforded by education, which is essential to creating collective wealth.
This bill makes it possible for our constituents to access documents from our archives and our libraries, and also allows them to create education strategies for people of all ages who need to increase their knowledge of the modern world.
Enhancing knowledge will allow small rural communities to sustain their populations and prevent rural-to-urban migration. Staying in a community and having access to our written materials, our culture and our creative works is not merely a theoretical aspiration; rather, this is part of sharing multiple Canadian cultural realities, regardless of where we live.
There are no second-class citizens in Canada. We need to make sure that our culture makes its way into all of our communities. We need to offer young people an opportunity to dream about their development by increasing their knowledge.