Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure for me to talk about issues that matter to Quebec City in the House.
In December 2014, I asked a question about a major and highly anticipated event, the 2017 tall ships. Quebec City would like to host about 40 tall ships as part of the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation.
From what I understand, the City submitted its detailed proposal to the government in May 2013, but it has yet to receive an answer. There has been nothing but radio silence. We have no idea whether the Conservatives plan to support this project.
I would like to point out that we are just days away from a deadline, which is in February. A decision about this project needs to be made this week. If the federal government does not get on board with the plan, the City of Quebec can withdraw its bid in February 2015 at the latest. The Quebec City tall ships project could be compromised if the federal government does not confirm funding in the next few days.
We have heard nothing but radio silence from the Minister of Canadian Heritage on this, despite the many times she has risen in the House to say that she understands how important the 150th anniversary is to Quebec City. It is indeed very important, and we want things to be done right. Unfortunately, even though she came to Quebec City many times last summer and fall, we have not had an answer. Frankly, it is disappointing, because we expect an answer. We need one soon in order to set the budget. The year 2017 is just around the corner. We are talking about booking 40 prestigious tall ships that could sail up and down the St. Lawrence and stop in Quebec City for us. It is important to be able to take care of things in advance so that they are done properly and budgets are respected.
Unfortunately, we now see that the Conservative government desperately lacks any vision, given that it has completely abandoned international events that draw millions of tourists and generate huge economic spinoffs. We know that in the tourism sector, one dollar invested translates into seven dollars in direct economic spinoffs. That is important.
The federal government had a program to help major festivals in the country, but since that program was eliminated in 2011, subsidies for festivals in Quebec have gone from 24% to 18%. We all know that just last year, the Conservatives decided to reduce the budget of the Canadian Tourism Commission by 20%. It is a marketing budget that helps these events get exposure and brings national and international tourists to just about every corner of Quebec, which is very profitable for us.
Someone very important to us reminded us that we want more money in order to generate more economic spinoffs. That someone is Daniel Gélinas, director general of the Quebec City summer festival, a huge festival that puts on more than 300 shows every summer. It is high time to get on board with this.
The Conservatives' inaction and the lack of funding has already created victims. The International Festival of Military Bands in Quebec City has folded after 15 years. It is important to remember that the Festival of Military Bands in Quebec City was so extraordinary that it attracted people and bands from all over. People came to Quebec City to learn from this expertise, knowing that such a massive and top-notch event could be organized.
I find it very unfortunate that we cannot keep running these events, especially because the federal government would just have to contribute a modest amount given that the provincial and municipal governments were on board. The initiative only required a little support.
With the disappearance of the International Festival of Military Bands in Quebec City, we wonder today whether Quebec City will have to cancel another international event, the very exciting Rendez-vous 2017 tall ships regatta, because of the Conservatives' inaction.