House of Commons Hansard #270 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was indian.


The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-49, an act to amend the Museums Act in order to establish the Canadian Museum of History and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Speaker's RulingCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

There are 15 motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-49. Motions Nos. 1 to 15 will be grouped for debated and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table.

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.


Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC


Motion No. 1

That Bill C-49 be amended by deleting Clause 1.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-49 be amended by deleting Clause 2.

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-49 be amended by deleting Clause 4.

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-49 be amended by deleting Clause 11.

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-49 be amended by deleting Clause 12.

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-49 be amended by deleting Clause 13.

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-49 be amended by deleting Clause 14.

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-49 be amended by deleting Clause 15.

Motion No. 9

That Bill C-49 be amended by deleting Clause 16.

Motion No. 10

That Bill C-49 be amended by deleting Clause 17.

Motion No. 11

That Bill C-49 be amended by deleting Clause 18.

Motion No. 12

That Bill C-49 be amended by deleting Clause 19.

Motion No. 13

That Bill C-49 be amended by deleting Clause 20.

Motion No. 14

That Bill C-49 be amended by deleting Clause 21.

Motion No. 15

That Bill C-49 be amended by deleting Clause 22.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to these amendments. Many changes were needed. We still have very serious reservations about the bill creating the Canadian museum of history, which is quite unfortunate.

Normally, the creation, the birth, of a national museum should not be an acrimonious process. It is not reasonable for a government, even a majority government, to just announce a project like this and proceed without consultation and discussion among the parties in Parliament. It is certainly not right that this is being done despite the vocal opposition of experts, historians, anthropologists, archaeologists and ethnologists who are casting serious doubts on the merits of this government's project.

This is why we are rising to question this bill. In doing so, we also recognize that the government's proposal contains some very worthwhile elements. The minister is to be commended for his willingness to invest in this project—even if this is one-time funding for only one year—to get people talking about our country's history, and for the creative ideas that he has brought to the project. It is quite obvious that this project is very important to him.

However, other aspects of the proposal are problematic and quite serious. I am thinking in particular of the deletion of the words “research” and “collections” from the museum's mission. It would have been a good idea for the government to listen, if not to the opposition parties, then at least to the experts and, in particular, the witnesses who appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage when the bill was being studied.

Sadly, the government did not listen. The amendments we proposed in committee—which would not have gutted the bill, but would certainly have improved it—would have allowed us to rectify the situation. All of the amendments were rejected, without consideration or discussion. Given that all of our amendments in committee were rejected outright, we are being forced to table a series of amendments today, which have been listed here in the House. This is a national, public museum; this could have been done more co-operatively. The government is forcing us to throw the baby out with the bath water.

We simply wanted to ensure that research remains part of the new museum and that any museum that takes the place of the Canadian Museum of Civilization remains an institution that maintains collections, as was the case with the Geological Survey of Canada more than 150 years ago. That function was enshrined in its mission, as stated in section 8 of the Museums Act. However, because of government intervention, that is no longer the case.

Today, we are faced with a government that is determined to rename and alter our most important national public institutions as it sees fit.

No one will change the government's mind, not even national associations representing historians, anthropologists and archaeologists, whose members still work at the museum and who are being ordered to work on this project as underlings. Even the architects of the current museum—which is known internationally for the work, creativity and talent of those architects—will not change the government's mind.

The few redeeming qualities of this project are being jeopardized by the minister's and the government's cavalier approach. Our doubts, along with those of experts, specialists and professional historians, have not been taken into account.

That is why we have to move much more significant amendments to get rid of the provisions that so many stakeholders found problematic. Our amendments would leave the name of the Canadian Museum of Civilization intact. That name is widely recognized, particularly in the tourism industry. It helps attract people to the Outaouais region and enhances Canada's international reputation.

The name is also recognized in the university and academic community, among researchers in history, anthropology, archeology and ethnology. Here and elsewhere, the name is a symbol of the excellence of our scientists and their contribution to human knowledge.

I suspect that many of those experts will be find it a nasty surprise to be associated with an institution that is no longer mandated to maintain a collection for research purposes. We are talking about a research institution that many researchers are affiliated with. Some of them have been for their entire careers.

Many of their international colleagues in museums like the Smithsonian and universities everywhere will ask them why Canada's flagship museum in Gatineau is slowly but surely getting rid of the leading lights that built its reputation.

Those who have been dazzled by the avalanche of announcements over the past few months, spectacular ads on TV and ostentatious initiatives can easily lose sight of that fact.

What is the museum now? The Canadian Museum of Civilization is not a showcase. It is a hive of research activity. The museum itself has two distinct aspects. It is physically divided into two structures. Those of us who have never visited the museum but who have at least seen it know that Douglas Cardinal's awesome design separates the museum into two gigantic buildings.

On the right is the part of the museum that is open to the public. It houses permanent and temporary exhibits on history and civilization. On the left is an equally important sinusoidal building that is no mere administrative or storage facility. It is the very heart of the museum, a building that houses the institution's expertise and its collections.

On behalf of the workers in that building, we are taking this opportunity to propose an amendment aimed at ensuring that research and collection development remain part of museum's mission, as is currently the case under the Museums Act.

I want to be perfectly clear: whether by accident or by design, the government is relieving the museum of its obligation to maintain collections for research purposes. I would remind the House that we wanted to put that wording back into the government's bill, but of course the Conservative majority rejected that in committee.

Why are the Conservatives so determined to undermine research and collection development? Can someone explain that to us? Is this request coming from the museum's management? We know the museum is having financial difficulties, so is management trying to reduce spending by eliminating research positions or getting rid of certain parts of the museum's collections? Since the Conservatives are so determined to eliminate the words “research” and “collection” from the museum's mission, we have to wonder if they do not plan to do the same thing at the museum as they have done elsewhere.

For instance, at Parks Canada, they have already cut staff—including curators—at our national historic sites. At Library and Archives Canada, they have deprived the institution of its experts by muzzling them and forcing them to obey a code of silence, even when their research projects required communication, discussion and peer review.

Generally speaking, the Conservatives have chosen to relieve federal institutions of their role as independent research bodies. Our country spent the past two centuries building spaces for creativity and independent thought, but the Conservatives needed only two and a half terms in office to reduce these institutions to a shadow of their former selves, subject to the whims of outside influences. What a shame.

As with these institutions, there is reason to question whether our museums are truly independent. With the summer recess just a few days away, our fears about the government's bill to repurpose the Canadian Museum of Civilization have been realized.

Our suspicions that the real purpose of the project was to allow the government to use the museum to promote its favourite topics are becoming a reality. The gap that must exist between the museum and the government has been narrowing over the past few years, and that is a growing concern given the subterfuge, half-truths and contradictions surrounding the minister's strange over-involvement in the museum.

We know that neither the museum nor the minister feels comfortable telling us when they talk and what they talk about. Do they talk on the phone? Is the minister in the habit of visiting the museum? What do they discuss during those visits? The museum's so-called independence means nothing as long as we do not have answers to these questions.

The independence granted to the museum in the legislation must also be granted in real life. We are concerned when we find out from the media about the shocking coincidences that are happening. Yesterday, we learned that, without any explanation, the museum suddenly cancelled the major exhibits that were supposed to be a key component of its programming, exhibits in which the museum had already invested $70,000. That means that the museum was doing more than just considering these exhibits.

On the contrary, it means that the head of the museum had to have known about and approved the details of the exhibit. He must have signed a cheque for and a contract with an internationally renowned museum, and he must have approved an advertising budget and the programming for this event.

It is somewhat ironic that one of the Canadian Museum of Civilization's current exhibits is called “Double Take”. The title is fitting since, after all those decisions were made and the museum spent $70,000 on an exhibit on underwear, the museum supposedly changed its mind unexpectedly. All of a sudden, the exhibit from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is not good enough anymore.

A cheque from Nigel Wright is not going to make the facts reported yesterday morning go away. First, the Canadian Museum of Civilization's senior management spent $70,000 on an exhibit on underwear, and then they cancelled it out of the blue.

What happened? There are two possibilities: either the museum's president made reckless decisions and shamelessly wasted more than $70,000 of public money on an exhibit, before realizing that it was not to their taste, which would be a fiasco—and is what they would have us believe—or the museum did not make the decision and someone else did. Someone told the museum that the exhibit was a problem, but who? This reminds me of the time not so long ago when someone told the Museum of Science and Technology that some of their exhibits were problematic. That is called political interference.

Today, our suspicions are aroused and heightened by undeniable facts, by a $70,000 shortfall, and by contradictory denials here and there that only cast more doubt over the museum's independence. These facts paint a picture of a museum that should normally be independent under the Museum Act, but gives in to phone calls from the minister's office when certain exhibits are not to the minister's liking.

What we know today is that none of that ever happened. Experts at the museum were notified of the museum's new name and change in mandate. Experts outside the museum were consulted six months after the announcement, when the museum was already being dismantled. All those decisions were made somewhere between the museum's upper management and the minister's office. It seems that even travelling exhibits on underwear cannot escape outside scrutiny. There is nothing redundant or ridiculous about asking that our public institutions be free from political influence and interference.

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.


Matthew Dubé NDP Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was very pleased to second my colleague's amendment. Indeed, I worked on this bill with him as part of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

Clearly, what he says is very true. We heard several amendments to allow for changes, but with a much more responsible approach than the minister's current methods. We talked about consultation, and that is a fact. We also discussed research work, which, according to the changes proposed here, will be seriously compromised, in my view.

I would like to talk some more about consultation. It was one of the key points of the debate as well as a key element of our position on this bill. Indeed, there is a reason why we try to keep history separate from politics. I know, because I have studied history myself. There is an expression that says, “the victors always write the history”. Well, we do not want this to happen here. We do not want a majority government to decide to rewrite our history. We are certainly aware that we have to keep up with the times and that things cannot remain the same forever. However, we need to hold consultations and prevent political interference.

I would like to ask my colleague to comment on this very important issue.

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.


Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. He is quite right. I would like to point out that he did excellent work on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. In light of his area of expertise, the member contributed a great deal to our committee.

We noticed that, on many occasions, very competent people and authorities in this area felt ignored in the process. Even worse, they were being disregarded. The last witness to appear before the committee realized that no one was listening and that plans had been made in advance. The day after he was elected, the minister already knew what he would do—including recent changes that were announced about this exhibit—to have the museum that he wanted. Clearly, there was an obstacle in the minister's path, and it had to be pushed aside to make room for his plan.

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.


Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague something.

I realize that the bill is a little more complicated than the question I will ask him. However, I think that what the Conservatives are doing with the Canadian Museum of Civilization is rather silly, for lack of a better word. I am concerned about many things, but especially about the name change.

If I go to my riding, Nickel Belt, and talk to people about the Canadian Museum of Civilization, they know exactly what I am talking about. Now, the government is changing the name to the Canadian Museum of History. History and civilization are almost the same thing. That is why I think that what the Conservatives are doing is rather silly. Furthermore, they are spending a lot of money on the name change.

I know that my colleague proposed many amendments to this bill. I would like him to talk a little about the amendments he presented and explain the reason for some of the amendments.

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.


Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his very pertinent question.

He is quite right. The name of the museum speaks volumes. That is why we wanted to keep the name Museum of Civilization and simply add “history and”. This would have added another dimension to the museum's mandate, which, of course, is very pertinent at this particular time. Canada's 150th anniversary is coming up, and now would be a good time to reinvigorate our history and museums sector. We completely support this initiative. I understand that some museums are excited about the possibility of receiving artifacts from major museums like the one in Ottawa.

The problem is that in order to do so, the act has to be used. At this time, what the minister and the current president of the museum want to do is destroy what is already in place, rather than complement it. The proposed name change would maintain the focus on research and the study of civilizations. This is extremely popular and relevant.

I would simply like to say that, fundamentally, our rationale for these amendments is that we simply do not trust this government and do not want to give it carte blanche. Clearly, any time we give them an inch, they take a mile. Everyone can see that the close ties that appear to exist between the museum management and the minister and his ambitions are very troubling, and that is what we are trying to limit.

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.


Jim Hillyer Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, today in Canada an entire generation of Canadians are largely unaware of our history. In fact, only 40% of Canadians could pass a citizenship exam that tests the general knowledge of Canadian history. But Canadians want to know more about our shared history. They recognize that a better understanding of our history gives us a better understanding of who we are. It gives us a common purpose and inspires us to rise to our full potential as a people.

That is why last fall we introduced Bill C-49, which would create the new Canadian museum of history. It would be a national institution that tells the story and stories of Canada. This museum would build on the Canadian Museum of Civilization's reputation and popularity to create a new museum that would showcase our achievements as a nation.

The vast majority of Canadians, including museum and historical associations, historians and professors, are thrilled with the change. A few people though, mostly partisan elitists, are concerned. They think that it is too Canada-centric. It is okay to be humble, but the days of government-sponsored self-loathing are gone. Canadians are proud to be humble, so to speak, but we are getting sick and tired of being told by some academic or government official that being Canadian is something that must be apologized for. Our history and our heritage is not something that needs to be swept under the rug.

Of course, our country has only been around under Confederation for almost 150 years and that is nothing in the scheme of things when compared to all of civilization. For that reason there are some people who are worried that changing the Canadian Museum of Civilization to the Canadian museum of history would be one giant leap backward, a massive reduction of scope of the subject matter of our national museum. Of course, they missed the fact that it would be the Canadian museum of history and not the museum of Canadian history.

Most people who are worried about it belong to a handful of partisan radicals who actually give credence to the fact that the Prime Minister and his Conservatives are hell-bent on intentionally destroying the country. It makes me feel like this oversight is caused by a slight case of dyslexia. We understand that our history does not begin in 1867, that Canadian history is a shared history and that our present is also shared with the rest of world, the rest of civilization. Canada is made up of peoples and cultures from all around the world.

The name change and mandate change to the museum would not be done at the expense of civilization or all that the current museum has to offer. Let me read the mandate of the new museum according to the legislation:

The purpose of the Canadian Museum of History is to enhance Canadians’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of events, experiences, people and objects that reflect and have shaped Canada’s history and identity, and also to enhance their awareness of world history and cultures.

There is nothing wrong with understanding all of world history and civilization. In fact, the only way to fully understand Canadian history and its current culture is to better understand world history and civilization, but we think it is high time that we do so from a Canadian perspective. Indeed, I would argue that we cannot fully understand world history and civilization without some sort of perspective by which to examine it. What better perspective than the Canadian perspective?

Before someone gets all upset and calls me ethnocentric, I am not saying that the Canadian perspective is the best perspective. Well maybe I am, but even if we, for the sake of argument, say that all perspectives and all aspects are equal, and even if the Canadian perspective is not the best perspective, it is after all, our perspective.

Now let me address the main criticism to changing and updating the museum. Ironically, this main criticism is a politically motivated criticism. It is ironic because the criticism is that the driving force behind this change is politically motivated, that in some way it is designed to promote the Conservative Party of Canada. It is the same criticism that came with our government's decision to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, as if the Conservative Party fought and won that war all by ourselves.

It is the same criticism that came with restoring “royal” to the air force and navy. The same criticism that came with not just restoring the funds and updating the equipment for the armed forces, but also restoring the respect it deserves; that somehow this is all politically motivated.

Perhaps this argument could hold some water if the Conservative Party really was responsible for all our military victories, our royal heritage and all of Canadian history. That would be quite a coup if we could lay claim to all of Canadian history, but we cannot. Canadian history and all its achievements belong to the Canadian people. The notion that the long overdue acceptance and even embracing of our history, including our nation-building military history, is a Conservative political stunt is not only insulting to this government and the millions of people across the country who elected us but to all Canadians, regardless of political stripe, and to those generations of Canadians who made the great, even epic sacrifices to build this great nation.

These are the stories that need to be told over and over, not just to young and old, new or fifth-generation Canadians. Ours is a story made up of stories worth telling the world and, without a doubt, the world wants to hear it.

Not only is this current museum outdated, it is also out of reach for most Canadians. My mother immigrated to Canada when she was two years old in 1954. Please do not do the math; I assure members she is only 30 years old. In the almost 60 years that she has been in the country she has never been to Ottawa. She has never been to that magnificent museum across the river. This will be even more tragic once that museum goes through its transformation. Thanks to the partnership program included in its mandate, the museum could now come to her. The new museum would sign partnership agreements with museums large and small all across the country. As partners, these local museums would have access to the new museum's collection, allowing them to provide greater opportunities for Canadians to learn more about our history.

In committee we were told by some experts that this move to bring the museum to the country would be a mistake because some artifacts are just too important for the general public. We were told that a focus on updating exhibits is not important, even though the current Canada Hall exhibit ends in the 1970s and only starts with the European contact with North America. However, they said that as long as a handful of academics could do their research in some back hall, all would be well.

We are told that this updating of the exhibits and sharing them with the rest of the country was “popularizing” history. Of course history is not caused by a few famous individuals but is the interplay of every human being who has ever lived.

Wolfe and Montcalm were not the only people on the Plains of Abraham. That is exactly why this partnership program would flow in both directions. Not only would local museums like the Galt Museum in Lethbridge would be able to display exhibits from the national museum, but the Galt Museum, the Raymond Museum and the Gem of the West in Coaldale would be able to share their records, stories and artifacts with the rest of the country and even the world by sharing their materials with the Canadian museum of history here in the capital. It is a wonderful idea. It is a unifying, nation-building idea. In that sense, one may be able to say the move is political. However, one cannot say it is partisan.

To be clear, the vast majority of Canadians are happy with this move. The vast majority of museum curators and historical associations are happy with the change. The president of the current Canadian Museum of Civilization is delighted with the decision.

Our government understands that the key to building a better future is found in a better understanding of our past. With the creation of the new Canadian museum of history, we would be building a modern, national infrastructure to help Canadians discover, understand and share our nation's proud history. That is why today I ask all members of this House to support Bill C-49, which would establish the Canadian museum of history.

I would ask my francophone colleagues to speak slowly and clearly if they ask questions in French because I do not have access to the interpretation right now. However, I can understand them if they speak clearly and slowly.

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, one of the things I found rather stunning in the member's speech was his statement that the government would help the museum come to people in their communities. Yet, this is the very government that cut the funding for all the local museums.

I sat in this House several years ago, and on our side we fought against the cuts to local small museums, many of which have had to shut down. I find it rather puzzling that his argument to these changes now is to enable the fantastic collection in our Museum of Civilization to go to these small museums, many of which have now shut down.

In 1967, the government made the decision to give money to all the local communities to celebrate the centennial, and that was a fantastic idea. The decision of this government is to concentrate the money in the museum here instead.

The hon. member mentioned the fact that many families do not have the resources to come to this museum, so I find it very puzzling. It is a very nice idea that we could have this collection go to local museums, but many do not exist anymore.

I would also remind the member that I stood up and fought the government that would have reneged on providing support to the Royal Alberta Museum. It finally lived up to its word and provided that funding. If we had not fought for that, the government would have cut that too.

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Jim Hillyer Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, in addition to helping the museum share its collection with large and small museums all across the country, we are helping provincial governments and networks of museums share within their own provinces as well.

Yes, we do live in the real world where things cost money. If we do not plant potatoes, it does not matter how hungry we are, we do not get to harvest the potatoes.

Decisions have to be made. We have made a commitment to balance the budget. However, at the same time, we can balance budgets and share this great treasure with all Canadians, not just the ones who have the privilege to come to Ottawa.

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have listened carefully to the comments by the member for Lethbridge. I will give my comments in English so that he will not have to go through the translation device.

Twice the member referred to history and civilization together in the same sentence, with which I totally agree. History is a component of civilization, and so are culture and arts and other matters. One of the criticisms that has been directed at this initiative is that it is reductive in nature, in the sense that it reduces the current mandate, which is of civilization, to history, which is a component of civilization.

To reflect the will, it seems, of the government to proceed in any event, there were recommendations by the previous executive director of the museum, Mr. Rabinovitch, that the museum be called the Museum of History and Civilization.

The member referred to that twice in his speech, and I am wondering why the government members of the committee vote against that particular suggestion.

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Jim Hillyer Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, there have been criticisms that this is reducing the scope of the museum because it is changing the name to the Canadian Museum of History. That is actually unfounded. Anyone who reads the act would see that it does not in fact reduce the scope. Anyone who talks with current museum management, who are pleased with this change, would see that management is excited because they get to expand the scope of the museum.

As I said in my speech, it would not just expand and update the museum itself; it would expand the audience, the number of people who could benefit from this.

We are making a shift in focus because Canadians want to be more aware of our history. The more aware of it that they are, the more proud we will be of it.

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, for a number of reasons I, too, am deeply troubled by this initiative and the way it has been presented.

I sat in on some of the committee sessions, including the one where Mr. Rabinovitch and five other witnesses were presenting their views, half of whom opposed the changes. There were some very constructive changes that came from them. One of those recommendations was that instead of the name being the Museum of History, it would be the Canadian Museum of History and Civilization. The reasoning behind that was quite straightforward: why change a great brand? To say anything else would be inaccurate because the Museum of Civilization is a fairly significant brand.

Mr. Rabinovitch said, “The Museum of Civilization is described throughout the global tourism industry as one of Canada's must-see landmarks. It actually receives a three star billing from the Guide Michelin; Parliament only receives two stars”. It may be only one star these days. He also mentioned Frommer's Travel Guides, Lonely Planet and on it goes, as examples of guides stating that people must visit this place.

He further stated, “Visitor recognition of the name and the style of the CMC is enviable. It's one of the country's bright spots in showing itself. Foreign diplomats make this point repeatedly, and they use the museum as a key orientation point for new staff who arrive, and also for dignitaries”.

I thought the recommendation that the name be changed to “The Canadian Museum of History and Civilization” was very constructive, but it was unfortunately not even taken into consideration.

The other point that was brought up, and was far more troubling, was the abandonment of the research component. Again, I understand that the member for Lethbridge said the current president, Mr. O'Neill, supports it. However, he is in a bit of a quandary. If he did not support it, that would leave him very few options, since he is the one who is currently employed there. If he did not support it, I think we would probably see another Munir Sheikh appear on the national stage. The fact, though, that two previous presidents, Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Rabinovitch, are both adamantly opposed to this speaks volumes. Yet, the Conservatives refused to listen. Therefore, it is troubling that they would do that.

What were the reasons advanced for it? The Conservatives said that the government is going to put $25 million into the museum and that it needs to change the name. Sorry, that does not wash. If they are going to encourage the museum to share its collection, I am absolutely in total agreement there. No one in his or her right mind would oppose that. The question is very simple: Do they need to change the name of the museum to do that? The answer is no. The Museum of Science and Technology does it, and the Museum of Aviation does it. We have not seem them change their name. Although, the Museum of Aviation actually did change its name by adding the word “Space”. That was very welcomed, but that did not stop it from making exchanges. Therefore, this notion that they need to change the name of the museum in order to encourage them to share their exhibits is total nonsense.

On the other matter, do they need to change the name to enter into agreements with other museums? Absolutely not. Yet, that seems to be advanced as one of the reasons.

The other thing is the $25 million. I am sorry, but I would be very curious at the end of the day to see how much of the $25 million will have been used to renovate this museum. That seems to be where it is being directed. Yet, we would say it is going to be used for these further exchanges. If that is the serious intent of the government, it is not nearly enough, and we will see that.

There are other significant problems. We were given some assurances by some of the government members in this House during the time we had second reading debate on this. The member for Leeds—Grenville said, in part, “the Grand Hall and the First Peoples Hall, which present the history of Canada's first peoples, would remain an integral part of the new museum”.

Also, the member for Wild Rose said, “It is important to remember that the Grand Hall and the First People's Hall, which present the history of Canada's first peoples, will remain an integral part of the new museum, as will the Children's Museum”. If that is the case, I have some questions.

I would like to quote a story that appeared in the newspaper this week about the removal of one of the significant pieces in the museum, the Nishga Girl. The article confirms that the showcase in the First Peoples Hall is going to be removed from the museum, to the surprise of those who donated it. Yet, assurances have been given to us in the House that things like that would not happen. What is going on? Have we been misled? Have the people of Canada been misled? If that is the case, there is a serious breach of fiduciary obligation and respect for Parliament. That is not the way we should conduct ourselves.

The other thing is that Mr. Morrison, who has been recently hired to work there, is quoted in that story as saying, “We have a new mandate here”. He was trying to pooh-pooh the comments of the previous president, Mr. MacDonald. With all due respect to Mr. Morrison, he does not have a new mandate, at least not yet. Parliament has not yet passed this bill. It has not gone through report stage or third reading, and it has not gone through the upper house yet. For employees of the museum, no matter what position they occupy, to say that they have a new mandate is disrespectful of Parliament.

I received an invitation from the historical foundation to an event that will occur in October. I think all members have it. It will be an evening of celebrating Canada, a great event. When I saw on the invitation that it was to occur in the Canadian Museum of History, I was a little taken aback. The Governor General is associated with that evening. How is it that people who understand Canada's history, democratic principles, and the legal mandate that flows from Parliament, the House and the Senate, are presupposing the decisions we will be making? They have invited us to a museum, when the bill has not even been approved at second reading.

I did get a letter of apology from Deborah Morrison, who is the president, because she realized it was a mistake. However, the government is treating this bill as if it is a fait accompli, a given decision. It speaks volumes about the government's attitude. There were some very serious, thoughtful and constructive amendments proposed at the committee stage, and they were all turned down.

I will not reveal with whom, but I have had private conversations with members on the government side. They thought the amendments were helpful and constructive. I thought for a brief moment, naively, of course, that perhaps the government would approve some of the amendments. If we are going to create a national institution, it is better if it is approved by multiple parties in the House and Senate, as opposed to being approved by the dominating one. That is not how to construct a society, not by ramming things down people's throats and making affirmations that are not accurate. There are words that we are not allowed to use in parliamentary language.

Affirmations were made that were not accurate, such as receiving assurances that there would be no changes. Yet, even before the mandate is changed, there are changes occurring in the museum. Mr. Speaker, there is something dreadfully wrong, and you might want to look at that. It is disrespectful of Parliament. How is it that there are changes going on in that museum now when the mandate has not been approved? I hear no one from the other side saying that is fine, or not fine, which would be the more appropriate thing to say.

We have a situation where a very strong institution has been a great showcase throughout the world for Canada. It is all encompassing. When we talk about civilization, we are not talking about just one component of civilization, which is history, though that is absolutely an important one.

I am with the gentleman who was at the committee the other night who said that he would love to have a museum of history in this country, but not by carving out the Museum of Civilization.

I would hope that the government, and I know it is probably wishing against hope, would seriously consider what it is doing, because I do not think it is constructing positively for the future of our country. I think the Conservatives have to rethink their approach and consider very sound proposals by past directors of this museum, past presidents, to make it, perhaps, much more acceptable to everyone in this country.

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciated my colleague's speech on the Canadian Museum of Civilization, which, indeed, is Canada's most popular museum. I welcome the opportunity to make just a few brief comments.

One of the things that always strikes me about the Conservatives is that they claim to be interested in history, but they have already gutted Canada's knowledge and research communities throughout the government and all over Canada. It has fired and muzzled archeologists, archivists and librarians. It has gutted the national historic sites, Parks Canada and our national archives. If the Conservatives were truly interested in Canadian history, cuts, mismanagement and interference would stop now.

I am really concerned about the direction we are taking with this bill, and I want to ask the member specifically about women.

This is the history of the government. When I was first elected in 2006, we started with taking equality out of the mandate of Status of Women and cut the funding. We now have also blocked efforts, most recently at the UN, to address sexual violence against women. The Canadian Association of University Teachers has pointed out that a history narrated by the classic heroes risks relegating women to a secondary rank.

I wonder if the member would tell us whether he thinks it would be more appropriate that the content of the museum be defined by museology professionals, such as historians, anthropologists, archivists, and librarians, than of by politicians?

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a result of what we are witnessing here today, I suspect that if the museum becomes the Canadian museum of history, future generations will see this period in our history as a dark period, when equality between men and women actually took a major step backward.

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario


Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, we only need listen to that garbage that has just come from that speech to understand why it is so important that Canadians continue to have a principled Conservative government governing this country. If anything mentions Canada or Canadian pride, the opposition members, Liberals or New Democrats, run for cover. It is embarrassing to them to be proud of their country.

I have in my hands the Liberal amendments to this bill. He talked about the thoughtful amendments the Liberals brought forward. I have these amendments here. Ninety-nine per cent of them deal with changing the name of the museum. Those are the thoughtful amendments.

Once we decided we were not going to water down the focus on Canadian history in the new Canadian museum of history, that we wanted to have that focus for all Canadians, and we turned that down, 99% of the Liberal amendments were also turned down.

What we are hearing them also say today is that somehow, Dr. Morrison, who has 20 years of experience as an archeologist, is an author and is very experienced, is not capable of putting together museums and exhibits that all Canadians can be proud of.

When it comes to something that is so important to all Canadians, I have never heard such nonsense as I just heard from this member in his speech, not to mention the question just raised by the opposition NDP member.

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the member is going to criticize, I would hope he would criticize with facts. The amendments we put forward included re-establishing the research component of the museum, which is crucial.

Also, what I said about Mr. Morrison was not that he cannot do his job. He said that they have a mandate. That is not accurate, because until Parliament changes the mandate, the mandate of the Museum of Civilization stands. There is no new mandate until Parliament says so, no matter how much he would like it.

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, while I am proud, I would say that this museum has nothing to do with pride. The Conservatives want to reduce history to military history. We already have the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. It could be turned into a military museum, which would solve the problem.

The War of 1812 is not the be-all and end-all. It was one event in history. Yes, we should be proud of it. On a VIA Rail train, I was served a new kind of wine with a label commemorating the War of 1812. There is no need to get carried away.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization touches on sociology and civilizations, and the history of women in particular. Women make up 52% of this country's population. If the museum is forced to use a dated structure, and everything that comes along with that, the focus will be on the masculine.

When will women start to be part of our history? There is no focus on women, yet we make up 52% of the population. What does the member think about that?

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, museums must be able to do research and critical analysis. Museums are not supposed to glorify anyone. I am very proud to be Canadian. I always have been and I always will be.

However, it is important for national institutions to be created in a spirit of harmony and respect, for their mission to be objective, non-partisan and not focused on a reductionist approach to our society as a whole.

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario


Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise again to talk about this legislation, especially after following such a disrespectful speech to the people who are in charge of Canada's national museums, who are charged with the task of updating a museum that has not been updated for a long period of time. Only the opposition would criticize a $25 million investment in such an important national institution as the Canadian Museum of Civilization, which will become the new Canadian museum of history.

In his speech, the hon. member touched on the important landmark the Museum of Civilization currently is. We agree that it is a very important landmark. It is something we should be very proud of. That is why we were proud when the architect Douglas Cardinal, who the member mentioned, said that he supported the conversion of this museum to the new Canadian museum of history and how excited he was that the museum can continue to grow.

There was a time when the museum was called the Museum of Man. Times changed, and we updated it to become the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Let me refer to the museum president's testimony at committee. He said this about the museum:

“In the Canada Hall, the regions of the country presented are frozen in time and exist entirely under themselves. Whole categories of endeavour, politics, sport, culture, our contributions to the world among others, are poorly covered or not covered at all. Women's history is, at best, peripheral and the journey through time ends in the 1970s, so almost half a century of our history is left unexplored”.

He goes on further to say:

“As a result of this, while walking through Canada Hall you will learn about life in New France, but you will find no mention of the Quiet Revolution, or anything else about Quebec. You'll learn about the early whaling industry in Newfoundland, but nothing about why, how or when the colony joined confederation. You'll see recreations of grain elevators and oil rigs, but you won't learn about the phenomenon called Western alienation.

Although modules on the rebellions of Upper and Lower Canada have been added very recently, Confederation itself is reduced to a multimedia timeline. You'll find no mention in Canada Hall of the Flag Debate or Constitution, no mention of Paul Henderson's goal in Moscow, or the wartime internment of Ukrainian or Japanese Canadians. You'll find no reference to the residential schools or peacekeeping, or Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope. No meaningful reference to the Great Depression, the Conscription Crisis, or even a hint as to where Canada might be headed. But perhaps the most egregious flaw in the Canada Hall itself is its starting point. If you've been there you will know that its telling of our national story begins not with the arrival of the First Peoples in time immemorial, but with the arrival of Europeans in the eleventh century. Colonization as a term or concept is not mentioned in Canada Hall”.

As proud as we are of the museum, if one has gone through it, it becomes quite clear that it needs to be updated. That is why, in addition to the enormous resources we have poured into arts and culture, with some $142 million for our museums, we are investing another $25 million in this museum to update it.

Some opposition members have referred to research. They have said that as a result of some of the changes, the museum will no longer be doing research. Had they actually read the bill, as we have been saying through second reading debate in this place, and I will say it again, they would see that it is actually right in the act that research will continue to be important to the museum of Canadian history. I will say it again. Paragraph 9 (1)(f) states “undertake or sponsor any research related to its purpose or to museology, and communicate the results of that research”.

It is on the second page of the bill. One does not have to read that far to get to the fact that the museum will continue to do research. I know that opposition members do not typically read bills. All I am asking is that they read to the bottom of the second page, and they will find that the museum will continue to do research.

Again quoting the statement of the president of the museum:

“[W]e will continue building our national collection and undertaking scholarly and other types of research, despite claims from some to the contrary. In fact, our national collection fund now totals $9 million and in consultation with academics across the country the corporation has developed a research strategy, the first in the museum's history. This strategy will guide the work of the museum in its research activities over the next 10 years”.

It is one of two things. Either they have not read the bill, in which it specifically talks about research, and do not believe the museum president who talks about how important research will be going forward, or they are deliberately trying to confuse Canadians into thinking that a museum of history will not actually do research.

It goes even further.

I see that my time is actually running out, Mr. Speaker.

Motions in AmendmentCanadian Museum of History ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Having noticed that it is 11 o'clock, the hon. member will have four minutes after question period to finish his remarks.

We will move on now to statements by members.

4-H CanadaStatements by Members

10:55 a.m.


Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, in 1913, E. Ward Jones and deputy minister of agriculture, George Black, started the first 4-H Boys and Girls Club in Canada. The club started in Roland, Manitoba, which is located in my riding of Portage—Lisgar.

Roland was the first 4-H head, heart, hands, health club in Canada. Today there are 160 clubs in Manitoba, more than 2,200 members and 23,000 youth involved in 4-H in Canada .

For 100 years, 4-H programming in rural communities has been helping youth to build confidence and learn skills in agriculture, homemaking, public speaking and leadership. Today when members look at their community, they will find many rural leaders who had their start in the 4-H program.

The 4-H leaders volunteer their time to the organization because they believe in its value and want to continue its traditions.

As we all join together to congratulate 4-H Canada in its 100th year anniversary, let us all try to remember its motto and “learn to do by doing”.

Brain Injury Awareness MonthStatements by Members

11 a.m.


Matthew Dubé NDP Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, June is Brain Injury Awareness Month in Canada. According to the Brain Injury Association of Canada, brain injuries are the number one killer and disabler of people under the age 44 in our country.

As the sports critic for the official opposition, I realize that too many traumatic brain injuries occur while practising physical activities. As summer approaches, I encourage all Canadians to practise their physical activity safely and always bear in mind the consequences of traumatic brain injuries.

I encourage parents to ensure their kids practise their favourite sports in a safe environment by wearing the appropriate protective gear and with adequate supervision.

Appropriate protective gear can reduce the risk of serious injury during sports.

The New Democratic Party proposed a national strategy to reduce the incidence of serious injury in amateur sport. It calls for guidelines related to concussions and a mechanism to enhance collaboration between medical professionals and people involved in sports.

The Conservative government should show some leadership on this file and support our initiatives.

Samuel de ChamplainStatements by Members

11 a.m.


Chris Alexander Conservative Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, exactly 400 years ago today, there were two canoes travelling up the river behind your chair. They were approaching the Chaudière Falls, which the locals called Asticou, a spiritual place and portage point.

Among those voyageurs was a man from Brouage, in Saintonge. He was a royal representative in Canada and a seasoned adventurer and cartographer who made good use of his astrolabe.

A few days later, on Allumettes Island, he met with Tessouat, chief of the Kichesipirini, the people of “the great river”. The chief was a great orator and a keen strategist, who at the time imposed customs duties on navigators. He would later allow the French to travel deeper into the country by opening the route to the Great Lakes, the Upper Country and the west.

However, this French voyageur had already left his mark on our country as a key figure in the history of Acadia, as the founder of Quebec City, by inspiring the settlement of Montreal and by establishing New France.

The day before yesterday, at Westminster, our Prime Minister was right to call the man who helped found our country “our first governor”.

Let us celebrate that man who was travelling up the river behind you 400 years ago. Let us celebrate Samuel de Champlain.

Erskine SmithStatements by Members

11 a.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize Erskine Smith, who recently passed away.

Involved in theatre as an actor and director for more than 50 years, he and his wife, Pat, founded the Victoria Playhouse in 1982. His family and the playhouse is the heart of Victoria-by-the-Sea, entertaining tourists from all over the world and locals.

Erskine spent many years touring maritime theatres and festivals and performed at the CBC nationally. In 2012, he was awarded the Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contribution to theatre and the arts.

His lifetime in dedication and self-sacrifice serving the theatre community reflects the exemplary man he was. His humility, integrity and hard work continue to inspire, expressed by many as “how kind, welcoming and generous he was”.

As Erskine moves on, there is no question that he will always be centre stage, from memories of artistic expression to the kindness that was his very being.

On behalf of the House, we recognize and thank Erskine for his dedication and contribution to his community and the arts sector as a whole.