House of Commons Hansard #425 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was news.


Cruelty-Free Cosmetics ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

moved that Bill S-214, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (cruelty-free cosmetics), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill S-214, a bill that was introduced in the Senate by Senator Stewart Olsen. The bill aims to ban cosmetic testing on animals in Canada. Bill S-214 would amend the Food and Drugs Act to prohibit cosmetic animal testing and the sale of cosmetic products developed or manufactured using animal testing. It would also ensure that no evidence from animal testing may be used to establish the safety of a cosmetic in Canada.

At present, there is long list of approved cosmetic ingredients. New scientific methods have been developed to test products on human tissue collected during surgical procedures, making animal testing obsolete.

Cosmetic animal testing has been banned since 2009 in 27 EU countries, and the sale of cosmetic products or ingredients subject to new animal testing has been illegal since March 2013. Israel imposed similar bans in 2007 and 2013, and similar policy change is also under consideration in India and South Korea.

In most other countries, cosmetic animal testing is neither expressly required nor prohibited, so cosmetics companies and ingredient suppliers decide whether they want to conduct such testing.

In a few countries, including China, cosmetic animal testing may still be a legal requirement for some ingredients and finished products.

Given the push by Health Canada to adopt a risk-based system for classifying food products, prescription drugs and cosmetics, this bill would allow ingredients for use in foods and natural health products that would not be allowed in cosmetics.

This bill originated in the Senate, and it came out of the Senate at the end of the summer session last year. It was passed unanimously in the Senate. Therefore, members can imagine my surprise when various stakeholders began to approach me and the government to indicate they could not support the bill in its existing form and that amendments would be needed in order to drive it forward. That began the process of talking to each stakeholder group and finding out about the amendments that they wanted to the bill.

As can happen, not everyone wanted the same amendments, so negotiations were undertaken to come to a consensus on what amendments should be made. We have now all come to the place where we believe we could improve the bill, and I am going to take a few moments to go through the amendments we would like to see to the bill.

The first amendment, reference to a cosmetic for human use, is intended to provide clarity to the principle that the ban is not intended to apply to products that are included in the definition of cosmetics but are for non-human use, such as pet grooming products. For example, the ban should not prevent non-invasive and non-toxicological testing of a finished product, such as a dog shampoo, on a dog to ensure its effectiveness and likeability.

The second amendment refers to the party to be held responsible for ensuring that the cosmetic products comply with the ban. This should be consistent with the regulated entities that currently have legal responsibility under the Food and Drugs Act, which are the manufacturer or the importer. It is important that the people who are producing cosmetics, producing the ingredients for cosmetics, and those who are importing, have the responsibility of making sure that they have met the requirements in Canada. In the past, there have been people who have been distributors of the product, not the manufacturer or importer, and they do not always have the necessary information. Therefore, we would hold the manufacturers and importers legally responsible to ensure that they comply with that.

To be sold legally in Canada, the cosmetic product must be filed with Health Canada by the manufacturer or importer. The cosmetic notification system provides Health Canada with a list of all products on the market and the party that is responsible for the regulatory compliance. Retailers may be the responsible parties if they are also the manufacturer or importer of record. As to a ban on conducting animal testing on finished cosmetic products, this would apply, appropriately, to a person, as the ban would be on the act of doing the testing rather than on the ability to sell the product.

Amendment number three is that it is a principle that the ban should not apply to animal testing of any substance regulated as a food, drug or device in the context of those regulatory uses under the Food and Drugs Act and associated non-cosmetic regulations. As I mentioned earlier, the government is moving away from the separate approval process that existed for food, drugs, natural health products and cosmetics, and going to a risk-based approach, which puts additional burden of proof on those things that have higher risk.

Amendment number four is that the operational details of the sales ban as they relate to reliance on new animal test data for cosmetic purposes should fit within the Canadian regulatory context in order to operate officially, as well as to align with the European Union. One of the discussions was about aligning ourselves with the European Union and the State of California in terms of what they have established to make sure that would be applicable with all of the countries that have globally agreed to the ban.

It is understood that the Minister of Health has the ultimate responsibility for the protection of public health and safety with respect to consumer products. As such, the minister should have the power to issue an exemption to the ban if the minister determines it is necessary to address a serious or imminent risk of injury to health, for the protection of human health or the safety of the public, and that there is no acceptable non-animal approach available. This gives powers to the minister, and these are powers that the minister ought to have to make sure that public safety is protected.

The minister deciding to use the power to issue an exemption gives rise to the next amendment. Public transparency and accountability are key principles with respect to regulation. As such, the public and stakeholders should be able to expect that they will be made aware when there is either a violation of the ban or the minister has exercised the authority to provide an exemption as previously outlined. Public notification should consider due process, but also be transparent and easily accessible to interested parties.

Amendment seven has to do with the principle that the ban should be on a go-forward basis and not apply to any animal testing conducted, or the use of data arising from it, prior to the ban coming into force. It is recommended that the ban come into force two years after the date of its enactment, although it is understood that Health Canada must be in a position to effectively administer the changes. There is no point in having rules that cannot be enforced, so that would have to be put in place.

When we considered the bill, there was no Conservative Party policy in this area, so there was a bit of a polarity of views: some were in favour and some had concerns about the legislation. They were concerned that people may use this legislation as a wedge to prevent other activities, like hunting, fishing, farming or going into other areas. That was a concern.

Another concern had to do with applying to countries that require animal testing in order to be approved. For example, if we want to sell in China, we have to do animal testing in order to sell the product there. We did not want to limit people from being able to participate in markets in other countries that have other requirements, so that, as well, was written into the bill.

Another question came up as to how this would impact jobs in Canada. What we typically talk about, for the purposes of this bill, are rats, mice, rabbits and some guinea pigs that have been predominantly used for the purpose of these tests in the past. There are a very small number of jobs in Canada associated with that. In fact, most of the larger cosmetic firms have already adopted this, because of its use in the other counties that I mentioned. We do not believe there will be a huge impact on jobs, but think it is something that should be looked at.

It was in December when we first came to agreement on all these different amendments and began to put them into the legalese of all the members' bills that come before the House. That activity has taken place.

Getting to this point and to the first hour of second reading has been a pleasure, but we are very close to the end of the session. It does not appear that this bill will actually be passed in this parliamentary session, because there is a polarity of views and there are some other discussions to be held. However, I feel that we have increased the amount of support on all sides of the aisle. I will be interested to hear the comments that other parties are going to make after I finish my speech, to see where they are on this bill and to see the potential to introduce this into the 43rd Parliament, which I hope to return for.

I would like to thank a lot of the stakeholders across Canada that participated in both bringing this legislation forward and with the amendments: the Animal Alliance of Canada, The Body Shop, Cosmetics Alliance Canada, Cruelty Free International, Humane Society International/Canada, and Lush fresh handmade cosmetics.

There were so many petitions from The Body Shop. That is how I became the sponsor of this bill. The Body Shop in Sarnia—Lambton approached me. They had stacks of petitions from people calling for us to support this legislation. I then found out that The Body Shops across the country were doing similar things. We have had hundreds of thousands of people sign petitions to show their support for the bill. In addition to that, the Humane Society ran a national TV campaign to raise awareness of it.

I have received emails, letters, petitions from every part of the country. There is an appetite to follow it along. Currently I believe there are 38 other countries that have now agreed to this ban. Canada would then become the 39th, if we can get this done, and it is well worth doing.

Some of the interesting things I have learned going through on this bill was about the new technology that exists that uses post-surgery human skin for testing. We do not need to do testing on animals anymore. The technology has now brought us to a place where it is time to change the legislation and catch up with the technology.

One of the members of our caucus, the very intelligent member from Kingston, asked the question on whether or not this legislation would apply in cases where animals are euthanized before the testing is done. The way the legislation is written currently, that would be okay. I am not sure whether everyone who is a stakeholder would be okay with that. There are further discussions to be held on some of those questions, and some of those things could be taken care of in the regulations.

That is my summary on Bill S-214, the bill to ban animal testing on cosmetics. I think it is a good step forward. It is a step that would align Canada to other countries in the world that are taking similar steps. There has been a significant amount of work that has gone into meeting with stakeholders, talking to Canadians, and addressing amendments and changes that are needed to make this legislation both consistent with the food, drug and cosmetic rules being changed and put in place by the government, and also to make it consistent with other places, like Europe, California and countries we do business with. That has brought us to the place where we are today, and it is a good place.

I am certainly interested to see this bill go forward. With that, I will end.

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Oakville North—Burlington Ontario


Pam Damoff LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, the hon. member mentioned the process she has gone through, and then acknowledged that there is not time to get this bill passed. That is really disappointing for stakeholders, not only the big ones she has mentioned, but everyone from high school students to constituents.

I am disappointed that it has been brought forward so late in the session. Could the hon. member elaborate a little more on that?

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, when I first received the bill, it was the end of the summer parliamentary session. I left the session early with pneumonia, and when I returned in the fall, I was surprised to find so much disagreement on the bill. There were amendments one group wanted that another group could not agree with, so discussions went on until December. Then we were supposed to draft it, but we did not receive the final draft from the stakeholders until February. At that point, there was an indication from the health minister's assistant that the government wanted to look at the amendments as well to be sure that it could be comfortable with them, and that it might want to make further amendments.

From there, we tried to get the bill on the approval process and get it to the House. We presented it in April, and then of course it went to the bottom of the Order Paper, another 30-day delay. I have been trying to trade the bill up, but here we are running into the end of the session and many members are at the first reading of their private members' bills, so it is their only opportunity to get that done, or people who are at the second hour of second reading and want their bill to go to committee still have a chance to get it through before the end of the session, so I have not had much luck there.

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, I have a similar bill, Bill C-400, which requires the labelling of dog and cat fur on products that are imported into Canada. I would like the member's comments with regard to consumer rights. My bill calls for that as a basic requirement. The United States and many countries in the Europe have banned this practice. Millions of dogs and cats are slaughtered, often coming from Asian countries, and they are in children's toys, coats, and a whole series of products we see, from the dollar store to the higher-end stores.

I am arguing for consumer rights as a bare minimum. Would the member agree with that approach?

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, when it comes to aligning it with other countries, again there is a polarity of views. Within our own caucus, there were people who were strongly in favour and people who were strongly opposed. There seems to be a fear that this would creep and end up infringing on other people's individual rights to hunt and fish, and that it would also get into the area of animal welfare with respect to farming. We have seen a lot of progression in farming in Canada to allow for animal welfare and better conditions for chickens. I have toured barns and I know that is a concern as well.

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, my colleague answered most of my questions. As with other bills, sometimes I get a little concerned about the definition of what cruelty to animals may be. I am from an agricultural constituency. Other bills have taken certain ranch practices and have deemed some of that cruelty to animals.

As to the member's point about compliance with California and Europe, I have some concerns with anything using that as an argument. It may not be a very strong argument for me. Could she give more assurance on the definition of cruelty to animals? Is it by statute or is it going to creep, as she talked about?

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, the bill confines everything to the testing on animals for cosmetic products. It does not do anything to the definition of what is cruelty or what is not cruelty. It is just talking about the use of animals specifically in testing. Therefore, I do not believe it would progress as the member is concerned about.

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

Oakville North—Burlington Ontario


Pam Damoff LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be here today to discuss Bill S-214, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act with regard to cruelty-free cosmetics. I would like to start by commending Senator Stewart Olsen for spearheading this work in the other place, and the member for Sarnia—Lambton for introducing this bill in the House.

I am disappointed with how long it took Bill S-214 to get to where we are today, as it passed third reading in the Senate almost a year ago. However, I am happy to announce our government's support of this important legislation, with amendments to bring it in line with the approach taken by the European Union.

The humane treatment of animals is undoubtedly a matter that preoccupies many Canadians. Our government has heard directly from many Canadians who have expressed their heartfelt concerns through emails, social media and letters. I can honestly say that this legislation has been a top concern from my constituents. The Body Shop alone has collected over 630,000 signatures on its petition.

According to a 2013 poll commissioned by Humane Society International/Canada and the Animal Alliance of Canada, an overwhelming majority of Canadians, 81%, support a nationwide ban on cosmetic animal testing.

The government's view is that the decision to test anything on an animal should not be taken lightly or without due and careful consideration of the potential pain and suffering that may be caused. For years, the Government of Canada has been publicly committed to eliminating animal testing for cosmetics and to the responsible and ethical use of animals for human health research.

This commitment is reflected in the work that has been done to support and carry out the research, development and implementation of alternative, non-animal test methods, both in Canada and abroad. Health Canada officials have worked in close collaboration with domestic and international partners, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation, and the International Cooperation on Alternative Test Methods.

In addition, our government has begun to explore potential opportunities with the newly established Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods at the University of Windsor. My friend and colleague, the member for Beaches—East York, who is one of the most knowledgeable and passionate on issues of animal welfare, has spoken to me about this centre at the University of Windsor, and I understand it holds great promise.

The Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods and its subsidiary, the Canadian Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods, aim to develop, validate and promote methodologies in biomedical research, education and chemical toxicity testing that do not require the use of animals. All of this work is of the utmost importance, because by joining forces, we can more quickly and effectively develop and implement alternative, non-animal test methods for a variety of purposes, not just cosmetic safety.

Thanks to these efforts, I am pleased to say that, in most cases, it is now possible to test for issues such as dermal penetration, skin irritation, harm to genetic material and eye irritation without using animals. The presence of alternative test methods is dramatically decreasing the use of cosmetic animal testing around the globe.

However, it would be irresponsible for me to ignore certain situations where animal testing may still be required in order to protect the health and safety of Canadians. For example, in cases of determining carcinogenic effects of ingredients, reproductive toxicity and the way the body processes toxins, the inability to use animal testing could put Canadians at heightened risks of cancer, fertility issues and acute or chronic effects from repeated exposure.

Such concerns are especially pronounced when considering the rapid development of new, biologically active ingredients, not only in the area of cosmetics, but in many other products used by consumers every day, including drugs, vaccines and food additives. While I know that this may be upsetting for some, I emphasize that animal testing may be the only reliable way to protect the health of Canadians in these circumstances.

I would also point out that in many cases products share ingredients with cosmetics. In such situations, it only makes sense to allow evidence derived from animal testing to be submitted to support the safety of a cosmetic, given that it was not undertaken for the purpose of developing the cosmetic itself. Not permitting this would mean ignoring potentially crucial existing information that might enable us to better protect the health and safety of Canadians.

The European Union recognizes the importance of maintaining access to this evidence. While the EU imposes restrictions on testing on animals specifically for meeting the requirements of its cosmetics regulations, it does allow evidence generated for other, non-cosmetics-related regulatory frameworks to be submitted to demonstrate the safety of cosmetics. As it is currently written, Bill S-214 would not permit the use of such evidence. I highlight this to bring the attention of members to one important element of this well-intentioned bill to which we ought to give careful consideration.

I am pleased to inform the House that our government has identified a number of amendments to this bill that would be moved at committee and that would adequately mitigate the issues I have just mentioned. The bill, as amended, would continue to explicitly prohibit animal testing for cosmetics in Canada and the sale of any cosmetic that was developed or manufactured using cosmetic animal testing. However, the amendments would, among other things, allow government officials to rely on animal testing data for cosmetics when the health of Canadians is at risk and provide companies with the ability to submit animal testing data when required under another regulatory framework, consistent with the EU approach.

These amendments will also designate a four-year coming-into-force period for the entire bill to allow for an orderly transition. With the amendments I have briefly outlined, the bill would allow us to meet the expectations of many Canadians to put in place new measures supporting the goal of eliminating cosmetic animal testing, while ensuring that we continue to protect the health and safety of Canadians.

I look forward to further discussion of this bill, and I am pleased to tell the House that, with these amendments in mind, the government will support its referral to committee.

I want to close by thanking all Canadians who have been advocating for the passage of this bill for their passion and commitment to cruelty-free cosmetics. I applaud their efforts and want them to know that I share their concerns. In particular, I want to commend those in Oakville North—Burlington who contacted me, from students at Garth Webb Secondary School to those who have come to my office. Their voices are important and make a difference.

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise on Bill S-214 in the House of Commons.

Like the previous speakers, I certainly would like to thank all those Canadians who have been actively engaged in putting the spotlight on this issue of cruelty in testing on animals, particularly in cosmetics, and who have also been urging members of Parliament to adopt the bill. I praise those members, and will come back to where the government should be going procedurally in a moment.

First, I would like to thank all the activists involved in Be Cruelty-Free, including the Canadian section of the Humane Society International and the Animal Alliance of Canada, who have been working to bring forward this legislation. This legislation is important, and many Canadians see its passage as absolutely vital.

We could say that the market has already evolved in a very real sense, since there are hundreds of cosmetic companies that are now banning animal testing, so in that sense it is important for government to provide the final impetus to eliminate cruelty to animals in cosmetic testing.

There are 39 countries around the world that have already passed laws to end or limit cosmetic animal testing, including, as has been mentioned, the 28 member companies of the European Union, India, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey and Guatemala. There is no doubt that there is broad public acceptance for banning animal testing of cosmetics. In the most recent polling, over 80% of Canadians indicated that they support a national ban on animal testing of cosmetics and cosmetics ingredients, so with all of these things in place, it is clear to me that there is broad public support for this measure.

In the NDP's case, we will be supporting the bill. This support comes from a long history within the NDP of providing support for measures that diminish cruelty against animals. Isabelle Morin, a former NDP MP, offered Bill C-592 in the previous Parliament, which would have amended the Criminal Code. My colleague from Windsor West has been very determined in terms of producing a bill on the cruelty towards animals in the community. He has been very active in Windsor and in put forward legislation, such as his Bill C-400, that would have forced the labelling of all dog and cat fur in products that were imported into Canada. This ban on dog and cat fur did not pass Parliament, but his Bill C-400 would have ensured that Canadians knew if dog and cat fur was in a product they were looking at buying. These are the types of initiatives that the NDP has supported in the past, which is why we are supportive of Bill S-214.

My colleague from Sarnia—Lambton spoke very eloquently about the amendments that need to be brought forward. However, I heard the government representative say that it is too bad that we are running out of time and that we just cannot bring this bill forward, which is misleading to all the Canadians who are interested in the bill and all the Canadians who have approached members of Parliament on this bill. The government has given itself extreme tools that it is using to push through a variety of other legislation.

There are three weeks remaining in this session, and we have seen the government approve billions of dollars in corporate tax cuts and a whole range of initiatives that tend to benefit corporate CEOs, and it does that in a minute. We have three weeks remaining in the session, which provides the ability, given the Senate has already passed the bill, for the bill to come through committee, come back to the House and be adopted. There is no doubt about that. The government has the tools to do it.

The fact is that today the government is putting up speakers throughout the day to actually prolong and delay the consideration of the second hour of debate. If the government really was supportive of this legislation, instead of putting up speakers to delay passage of this legislation until after we rise for the summer, it could facilitate having the bill adopted and sent to committee.

Because there is a Liberal majority on every committee in this House of Commons, we have seen committees impose closure on consideration, and they have moved to extended hours, so they can adopt amendments that are brought forward to improve this legislation and then bring this bill back to the House.

As colleagues know, we are now sitting until midnight every single evening. Often we are doing that to adopt legislation that is only good for the Liberals. Some pieces of legislation, quite frankly, have an attractive title, but when we look beyond the attractive title, we see a whole range of things that could have been done but that the government has chosen not to bring forward. Those amendments or clauses are in not in the legislation. As a result, we are often talking about empty shells of legislation that do not do what they are purported to do.

Instead of pushing legislation through that is good for the Liberal government, the Liberals should be pushing legislation through that is good for Canada, and many Canadians have told us that Bill S-214, with the appropriate amendments, is something that they see as a priority.

Liberal members will probably come up and speak again over the next half hour or so to say they would really like to see this bill go through, and then not exercise any of the abundant tools that the government has given itself. I think that smells of rank hypocrisy.

This is a bill that over 80% of Canadians support, as I mentioned earlier, and it is certainly a bill that most members of Parliament support. The issue, then, is to get the amendments through, do the due diligence, get the work done and bring the bill back to the House for a final vote. If that does not happen in the next three weeks, it is because the government is refusing to do so. Although Liberal members stand up and say that they support the bill, they are going to have to walk the talk and make sure that this bill gets passage over the next three weeks.

I think that is why more than 80% of Canadians across the country support this bill. This is a common-sense bill that aims to eliminate something the vast majority of Canadians no longer want to see in our country. Animal cruelty is being used simply to test cosmetics and beauty products. The vast majority of Canadians oppose this and do not want to see any of these products on the Canadian market.

We have the ability and the opportunity to pass this legislation within the next three weeks. The government has all the tools at its disposal. Over the past four years, the government has been giving itself ever-increasing powers and procedural tools. Let there be no doubt that this bill could pass if the government really wanted it to.

The Liberals are standing up in their places today, one after the other, and delaying the study of the bill and the vote on the bill. This proves that they are not walking the talk. This legislation is supported by many Canadians across the country, including in my riding, New Westminster—Burnaby. Obviously, popular support is important. We must not allow the government to delay the study of this bill and stop us from studying all the amendments that are needed. We must pass this legislation within the next three weeks, specifically before this session of Parliament ends.

We have broad popular support and we have the support of very important organizations across the country. The government should simply get the job done, use the tools that they have and make sure that Bill S-214 is adopted before the end of the session.

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics ActPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my NDP colleague for his comments. He drew the excellent conclusion that the Liberals lack the will to move forward. Sad to say, as my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton said, we will not be able to pass the bill by the end of the 42nd Parliament.

I want to thank my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton for the great work she did on this file. I wish to acknowledge her talents as a parliamentarian. She is conscientious and very open-minded. I commend her for it, and I hope the people of Sarnia—Lambton will bear it in mind on October 21.

I rise today in the House to speak to Bill S-214, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act regarding cruelty-free cosmetics. I want to thank Conservative Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen for sponsoring this bill, which was introduced on December 10, 2015. I want to highlight the fact that it was introduced in 2015, because it bears out what I said in my preamble about the Liberals lacking the will to get this bill passed.

Ms. Stewart Olsen has 20 years of experience as a nurse, including more than 10 years as an emergency room nurse in hospitals all over New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec. She knows first-hand that things have changed and that progress has been made in all fields, which obviously includes science, technology and research. In a speech she gave in February 2016 at second reading of Bill S-214, she said:

Many of the tests on animals conducted today were developed in the 1940s, an era when our understanding of how chemicals interact with the human body was very basic. Science and technology have advanced considerably since those days, but in the 21st century, nearly 200,000 animals still suffer and die every year in the name of cosmetics and beauty products.

Every year, 200,000 animals die needlessly. That is a huge number.

Something that used to be useful, necessary and commendable for protecting human health when these tests were first conceived 70 years ago has no relevance anymore.

I read in an article in La Presse on April 15 that a 3D print of a heart with human tissue was unveiled in Israel.

Israeli researchers announced on Monday that they 3D printed the first vascularized heart using a patient's own cells, calling it a major breakthrough in treating cardiovascular disease and preventing heart transplant rejection.

Researchers at Tel-Aviv University showed the media the inert, rabbit-sized heart encased in liquid.

Although many obstacles remain, scientists hope one day to be able to print 3D hearts that could be transplanted with minimal risk of rejection in patients who will no longer have to rely on a possible organ transplant.

If we have come this far, then tests created in 1940 can certainly be replaced, thanks to scientific advances. Tests can be done on 3D models made from human tissue taken post-surgery, for example. There is therefore no need to conduct animal testing for the cosmetics industry and beauty products. I believe we are capable of testing products without needlessly affecting animals' lives.

We, the Conservatives, support the cruelty-free treatment of animals. In the interest of Canadians' health, medical research must continue, but we strongly recommend that scientists develop other means of testing. We cannot oppose scientific research and jeopardize Canadians lives. That is the bottom line. However, we can do better.

Steps have been taken to eliminate cosmetic animal testing in close to 40 countries, including the European Union, India, Israel, Switzerland, Norway, New Zealand, South Korea and Guatemala, to name just a few.

Some countries have passed legislation prohibiting animal testing, while others have laws that ban the sale of products developed with animal testing. It is a societal choice. I believe that our bill affirms the position of Canadians.

In 2018, California was the first U.S. state to pass a law prohibiting the sale of animal-tested cosmetic products. The California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act was passed unanimously, 80 votes to none, by the California State Assembly on August 31, 2018. It comes into force in 2020. The assembly made decisions and worked to pass the bill, unlike the Liberals, who did nothing for three and a half years with a bill that was introduced in 2015.

All Canadian provinces and territories have laws, codes of conduct and standards regarding animal welfare. In her speech on February 3, 2016, Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen said:

Canada's legislative record on animal testing is more complicated than those of other countries. There's no clear statement on animal testing in Canada at the federal level other than permitting its use under the regulations attached to the Food and Drugs Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. However, part of the animal welfare aspect of the issue of animal testing is dealt with in the Criminal Code, and that is “causing unnecessary suffering to animals” and “causing damage or injury to animals by willful neglect,” which are offences under sections 445.1 and 446 of the Criminal Code.

We have all heard about animals being injected with chemicals, having substances put in their eyes—or worse—during testing. This is 2019, and we can do things differently. We must be responsible and protect these little creatures that unfortunately become victims of the cosmetics industry.

Clause 5 of the cruelty-free cosmetics act addresses concerns raised by the cosmetics industry. It would add section 18.2 to the Food and Drugs Act to give the Minister of Health the power to authorize animal testing “when there is no alternative method to evaluate substantiated specific human health problems associated with a cosmetic or ingredient of a cosmetic”. As I mentioned earlier, we will not jeopardize the lives of Canadians. The act seeks to protect animals and prevent them from being used to test cosmetics, which are not essential. Animals should not be killed for that reason. It is time the federal government showed some leadership in this regard.

I would like to assure the House that the Conservatives support research and scientific testing, as well as the humane treatment of animals. I therefore support Bill S-214, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act with regard to cruelty-free cosmetics.

I would now like to talk about something very important. It is important to understand that this bill does not go against recreational hunting and fishing. That is completely different. It is important to let hunters and fishers, who care about the preservation and conservation of nature and environmental protection, practise their sport. What we are saying is that the cosmetic industry's scientific testing on defenceless animals is unacceptable. I am a fisherman and I am not concerned about this bill.

I encourage members on the other side of the House to be constructive and to consider the 10 amendments proposed so that this bill can be quickly passed.

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


TJ Harvey Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise here today to speak to Bill S-214, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act.

I want to congratulate the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton, not only for sponsoring the bill, which originated in the other place, but for the co-operative approach she has adopted in ensuring that the legislation would achieve its objectives in a way that could be supported by both the animal advocacy community and the industries being regulated. Too often, these initiatives, which most of us support, digress into combative false dichotomies that pit one group against the other, to the detriment of the overall objective. That may be a useful exercise in terms of attention and fundraising, but it does not serve the public interest well and it does not serve public policy goals well. In many cases, it actually makes the situation worse.

This brings me to the central question: What is the objective of Bill S-214? The legislation, as tabled in the House, purports to end the practice of testing cosmetics on animals in Canada, even going so far as to describe the outcome, in the bill's short title, as cruelty-free. What is particularly interesting about this communication strategy is that even the original sponsor of the bill admitted during debate that there was virtually no animal testing of cosmetics in Canada, and she went on to praise the advancements the cosmetics industry has made in the development and implementation of alternative testing methods here in Canada.

I would like to reference the factual comments by the sponsoring member in the other place made during the second reading debate on Bill S-214, on Wednesday, February 3, 2016:

Currently, more than 99 per cent of all safety evaluations related to cosmetics products or their ingredients are now being conducted without animal testing as the Canadian industry has adopted alternative testing methods....

Our cosmetics industry should be commended for moving forward towards eliminating this backward practice.

We can all agree that eliminating this practice is moving forward on the issue and that a narrative that vilifies the Canadian cosmetics industry under these circumstances is both irresponsible and fundamentally dishonest. In fact, this admission by the sponsoring senator resulted in one of her colleagues on the Senate committee studying the bill to question the need for the bill at all.

Although it may appear that what we have here is a piece of legislation in search of a problem, I feel that by reaching out to all the stakeholders, the member for Sarnia—Lambton, along with Health Canada, has used this opportunity to put together a potential bill that would bring some needed consistency and clarity to the application of this overall and global objective.

Mr. Darren Praznik, president and chief executive officer of Cosmetics Alliance Canada and a former minister of health in the province of Manitoba, in his testimony before the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, provided a solid rationale for moving ahead with this initiative in the absence of any pressing domestic need. He said:

If properly done, where we can all make this work...and we don’t create some absurdities in regulation, I think it sends a very symbolic message to the world to get on with the work generally about eliminating animal testing and developing alternatives, scientifically, to eliminate animal testing. It also sends a message to regulatory authorities that when those [alternatives] are developed and validated by regulators that they should be used as the [primary] method of approving safety.

I would certainly agree with that sentiment and applaud the responsible manner in which the sector has engaged in this process. The cosmetics industry in Canada is made up of hundreds of individual companies and employs thousands of Canadians. Due to the intricate nature of globalization, the sector is both a major importer and exporter of products. Whenever we as legislators contemplate making regulations, especially ones that are questionable in the domestic context, we must ensure that we do not put Canadian industry and jobs unnecessarily at risk while we also look at the global good and the performance of public policy.

Today, as legislators, we must deal with the actual bill that is before us now. I quote from the bill as written:

cosmetic animal testing means the topical application or internal administration of any cosmetic or ingredient of any cosmetic to a live non-human vertebrate to evaluate its safety or efficacy for the purpose of developing or manufacturing a cosmetic.

Drawing on my own experience in regulated industry, when I look at this proposed bill through the lens of regulatory compliance, I have two specific questions that pertain to the actual implementation of this bill.

First, based on this definition of cosmetic animal testing, would testing a dog shampoo on a dog prior to putting the product on the market be considered cosmetic animal testing? Second, if the cosmetics industry wished to use an ingredient, let us say a chemical preservative that is currently being used in a health food product, which would require animal testing, based on Health Canada's approval process, would that subsequent cosmetic use be allowed under Bill S-214, even though no additional animal testing would occur?

I ask these questions to underscore the difference between a policy that is supported and the regulatory instruments chosen to implement it. If I understand correctly, and I realize that this chamber has a duty to deal responsibly with a public bill originating in the other place, we are being asked to vote on whether there is agreement in principle for a bill that requires at least seven amendments that we have yet to see and evaluate.

I am certainly heartened by the comments from the government that it plans to introduce the necessary amendments to the existing bill and that any new bill introduced in the next Parliament would incorporate this approach as well. I also wonder if the amendments being proposed would be considered outside the scope of the original bill, as passed by the other place, and whether the sponsoring member of the other place would agree to allow these changes.

As we all know, complex regulations are often used as non-tariff barriers, and as I stated earlier, bringing consistency and clarity to this issue is useful. In addition, we need to examine closely how our major trading partners in the European Union, one of the leading jurisdictions on this issue, have approached animal testing regulations. Given that the EU has not only set the precedent in this area but has also had implementation time to make the necessary adjustments to the administrative and logistical details, it becomes clear that any initiative we undertake must align with what the EU is doing, albeit in a manner that is consistent with our domestic regulatory framework.

If we take note of where we are in the electoral calendar, clearly the clock will run out on this current initiative, but I feel that a new bill in the next Parliament, one that is based on stakeholder consensus reached through this process and based on the manner in which the member for Sarnia—Lambton has approached this bill, will serve Canadians very well.

In closing, I want to reiterate my praise for the member for Sarnia—Lambton and my support for the realistic and inclusive approach she has chosen for this initiative. I want to recognize as well the government and the ministry, for putting in the work to ensure that the end result will bring clarity and consistency to the issue, and the animal advocacy sector and the cosmetics industry, for recognizing the importance of working together collaboratively.

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Madam Speaker, I know I have a couple of moments to touch on Bill S-214, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act, cruelty-free cosmetics.

I want to thank Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen of the other place, who has put in months, if not years, of work on the bill. I also want to thank the sponsoring member in the House, the member for Sarnia—Lambton, for her work in bringing this forward.

We have heard from literally hundreds of thousands of Canadians. They are concerned about this issue. They have seen worldwide the changes that have been made in other countries and they want to follow that up in Canada.

This ban recognizes that science has come a long way in developing alternative methods by which we can test cosmetics without subjecting animals to cruel and needless testing

Furthermore, the ban would put us in line with many of our international trading partners, including the European Union, Israel, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand.

The bill proposes to ban the sale of cosmetics that are developed or even manufactured using cosmetic animal testing. In effect, it will ensure that the Canadian cosmetic market is completely free of any products derived from animal testing practices. I think Canadian consumers desperately want to see that.

In implementing the bill, we will ensure that Canada does not participate in testing cosmetics on animals in any shape or form. This prohibition recognizes that Canadians does not accept the cruelty of animal testing within the cosmetic industry. We must move forward in alternative methods of testing that do not require the use of live animals.

More cosmetic companies are testing their products these days using more innovative and effective means, such as three dimensional reconstructive human skin modules, which can be more accurately tested for the harmful side effects of certain cosmetic products.

It is time for Canada to fully embrace these alternative methods of testing the safety of cosmetics by banning the practice of animal testing within the cosmetic industry.

Given the existence of these alternative testing methods and given the cruelty that animals suffer for the sake of testing cosmetic products, it is unacceptable that animal testing for cosmetic purposes remains permitted in Canada in 2019.

Bill S-214 is truly a step forward because it would put Canadian policies toward animal testing of cosmetics in line with not only our international partners, as I mentioned previously, but with the views and the expectations of all Canadians as well.

In my constituency of Saskatoon—Grasswood, hundreds of people have signed petitions, calling on all of us in the chamber to support Bill S-214 to ban cosmetic cruelty in Canada.

It is also worth noting that the bill passed in the Senate almost one year ago without any opposition whatsoever. Now a year later, the responsibility clearly falls on all of us in the House to move in the right direction as a country toward ensuring a cruelty-free cosmetics industry in Canada.

I want to thank those people throughout my province of Saskatchewan who have signed petitions. I have read many of them into the record a number of times in the House. I looked at each and every one of those signatures. They came from people far and wide in my province. The sponsoring member of the bill mentioned all of Canada. I presented over 600 names from Saskatchewan, from those who took the time to go into places like The Body Shop and sign the petition, indicating where they were from, in an effort to have the bill go forward.

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics ActPrivate Members' Business



The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The hon. member will have five minutes left for his speech should he wish to use them the next time this matter is before the House.

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 3rd, 2019 / 12:05 p.m.


Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC


That the House:

(a) take note of the importance of a free and independent press to a healthy democracy;

(b) express its belief that it is inappropriate for partisan political actors to pick winners and losers in the media in an election year;

(c) condemn the inclusion of Unifor, a group that has taken and continues to take partisan political positions, in the panel that will oversee the distribution of the $600-million media bailout; and

(d) call on the government to immediately cease trying to stack the deck for the election with their media bailout and replace it with a proposal that does not allow government to pick winners and losers.

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today. This subject is a personal one for me. I will disclose my conflict of interest right off the bat: I was a journalist for 20 years. That means I probably know what I am talking about. At issue here is the importance of ensuring the freedom and independence of the press.

I am very proud to say that I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Thornhill, who is also former journalist. I am sure he will explain his experience. However, I have to remind him that he was there for the induction of Robert Stanfield and Pierre Elliott Trudeau as leaders. He was a correspondent during the Vietnam War. When I was a student in his class, I remember quite well the famous interview he had with Sir John. A Macdonald. It was a really important part of journalistic history. That is a joke; please do not quote me on that.

What we are talking about today is the freedom and independence of the press. The Liberal government came up with this proposal to give some $600 million of taxpayers' money to its hand-picked media organizations mere months before the next election. We are looking at a clear case of unacceptable partisan political interference targeting one of the founding principles of our democracy, journalistic independence. As I said in my intro, I was a journalist for 20 years, so I know what I am talking about.

Having worked as a journalist for many years, I know that people sometimes try to influence journalists by presenting their ideas and explaining why they are right. I have no problem with that. However, that is not the same as people telling journalists they can probably give them a few million bucks to help their company.

Journalists are human beings. Expecting independence of them in response to such a proposal is totally unrealistic. That is why I think the Liberal government's approach is disrespectful of journalists and a serious threat to journalistic independence. Moreover, their $600-million proposal will in no way resolve the underlying problem with the media.

What do the Liberals plan to do? They plan to take $600 million of taxpayers' money to help the media industry, which is currently in crisis. We acknowledge that there is a crisis in this industry as a result of technological changes. I do not remember the last time I paid for news by buying a newspaper. I always have free, up-to-the-minute access to the news on my smart phone.

The industry is facing a new reality, and the Liberal government chose to take taxpayers' money and invest it in the media companies it chooses.

We do not think this is the right thing to do. The government is choosing who will receive taxpayers' money, and on top of that, this will not even fix the underlying problem with traditional media, in particular print media, which is that people have access to massive amounts of news for free. That is how things worked at the time. I remember delivering the Le Soleil newspaper when I was a kid, about 40 years ago. The newspaper was thick on Wednesdays and even thicker on Saturdays. Now, Le Soleil, which is published in Quebec City, is much thinner than it was back then, and this has nothing to do with climate change.

We need to be careful here. We think the government is offering a band-aid solution that does not fix the real problem. This is indeed a problem, but it is nothing compared to the problem the Liberal government manufactured by appointing Unifor to the panel. Unifor is a politically partisan and engaged union whose avowed mission is to ferociously attack the opposition. The panel members must decide who is right and who is wrong, who will receive millions of dollars and who will not.

What is Unifor? It is a union that apparently represents over 12,000 people who work in the media. However, it is not the only union that represents media workers.

On November 14, 2018, at 4:40 p.m., those folks sent out a very evocative tweet that really gets to the root of the issue and shows the Liberal partisan political agenda hidden behind the media bailout. This bailout will be paid with hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money.

On November 14, 2018, at 4:40 p.m.—and the time matters—Unifor president Jerry Dias tweeted the following:

“Unifor’s National Executive Board started planning for the federal election today.”

I cannot show the photo that was posted, but it was a black and white photo of the five main Unifor leaders. It replicated exactly what Maclean's had posted just a few days earlier on the same platform.

It said, “The resistance: Welcome to [the opposition leader's] worst nightmare.”

Indeed, the opposition leader's name was mentioned, but I cannot say it in the House.

Unifor took a partisan political stance against the official opposition, and yet it represents journalists. They have been chosen by the Liberal government to sit on the panel that is going to decide who will get the hundreds of millions of dollars. Obviously, that makes no sense.

I said earlier that the time mattered. It was on November 14 at 4:40 p.m. that Jerry Dias sent out his tweet clearly indicating that he was campaigning against the official opposition. At 5:46 p.m., so about an hour later, David Akin, an eminent journalist, reacted strongly by distancing himself from his union, Unifor.

“I am a member of [the] union as a condition of my employment and I cannot stress enough how stupid an idea this is for a union that represents journalists.”

That was the reaction of an honourable man, a dignified journalist of integrity who understands that his union representative should not meddle in the political debate, because he is a journalist. Journalists must be impartial and independent from political power of any kind and any party. In this case, Unifor has entered the political arena without even consulting its own members. That is also insulting.

That is why we are fiercely condemning this approach and, above all, the fact that, of the hundreds of Canadian unions that represent journalists, the Liberal government picked the one that has directly stated that it is the Leader of the Opposition's worst nightmare. One could not be any more partisan or compromise journalistic independence more seriously. That is exactly what the Liberals have done.

Fortunately, experienced people have distanced themselves from this. According to Chantal Hébert, who is well known in the worlds of politics and journalism, among the ranks of political columnists, many fear it is a poison pill that will eventually do the news industry more harm than good.

Others have also spoken out. According to Andrew Potter, an associate professor at McGill University and CBC correspondent, the reality is actually worse than anyone could have imagined. He said that an independent body staffed entirely by unions and industry lobbyists is a real disaster.

Andrew Coyne wrote that it is quite clear now, if it was not already, that this is the most serious threat to the independence of the press in this country in decades.

Will the Liberals' strategy really help the media? No. The Liberals are appointing Liberal Party friends and enemies of the opposition leader to the panel that will pick the winners and losers in the granting of the $600 million that the government intends to give the media without actually resolving the fundamental problem it is facing. This strategy shows how loose the Liberals' ethics really are.

I would like to remind members that the Liberal Party has been in office for almost four years now, and this is the fifth time that this government has been investigated by the Ethics Commissioner. Never, in the history of our country, has a sitting prime minister been investigated and found guilty of breaking the ethics rules.

From my perspective, this attempt to distribute $600 million to the media without truly helping them, while appointing Liberal partisans who are against us to the panel in charge of distributing this money, shows that the Liberals have flexible ethics.

The same goes for the infamous SNC-Lavalin scandal. When an honest, integral and clear decision was made by the justice system, as prescribed by law, the Liberals interfered in the justice system for partisan purposes because they were unhappy with the decision and because the Prime Minister said that he was an MP from Montreal and he had to be re-elected. That is what the Prime Minister and his henchmen actually said.

These unedifying examples show that this government has very flexible ethics. The example we are raising in today's motion only proves it, with the Liberals appointing an ultra-partisan group, Unifor, to a so-called independent panel. Unifor has avowed to destroy the leader of the official opposition, saying that it was the Conservatives' worst nightmare. That is totally unacceptable. That is why we are calling on hon. members to support this motion that seeks to safeguard journalistic independence.

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Spadina—Fort York Ontario


Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Madam Speaker, I may share a profession with my hon. colleague across the way, but I certainly do not share his perspective.

When Unifor is identified as only representing journalists, it does not tell the story that Unifor also represents the caretaking staff, librarians, editors and camera operators. It also represents receptionists and all of the personnel who make up media organizations in this country.

To suggest that Unifor represents only journalists does not only elevate journalism in a way that is very telling from the other side, but it also completely misrepresents and under-represents, in fact I would say obscures the reality, that newspapers, radio stations and television stations across this country are so much more than just the journalism. They are the heart and soul of so many communities, and they are disappearing person by person, city by city, town by town every single day.

Anyone who has spent a lifetime in this industry knows the families who are affected, and to simply put this down to the defence of journalism so massively oversimplifies this problem that it is horrible.

The member said that he is afraid that journalists can be bought. That seems to be the implication of what he is saying. Could he perhaps tell us the journalists he thinks can be bought and list them by name?

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.


Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I would be very pleased to quote a journalist who talked about that. David Akin said, “I am a member of this union as a condition of my employment and I cannot stress enough how stupid an idea this is for a union that represents journalists.”

I recognize that there are a lot of people who work to produce newscasts. I know this, because I was a journalist for 20 years. I have a lot of confidence with the camera, and it worked well for me. There are also editors, and people like Marie Josee, who worked so hard and so well in the newsroom. However, Unifor is not the only union to represent people who work in the media.

That is why I find this totally unacceptable. Many people and journalists think it is a shame that a guy who identifies himself as the worst nightmare of his political opponents is part of a so-called neutral panel that will give millions of dollars to the workers. This is unacceptable.

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.


Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

In a past life, in my youth, I worked for two weekly newspapers in Rimouski, Le Rimouskois and Progrès-Écho, which are now defunct. There is only one weekly paper left, which was started later on. Diversity of information has really suffered these past few years.

When the Conservatives were in office, from 2011 to 2015, I was in Parliament, and the crisis had already been going on for quite some time. The Conservatives had no solutions to offer back then. I remember my colleague from Longueuil—Saint-Hubert's frequent interventions on this issue, but the Conservatives did not seem to see it as urgent.

Now the Liberals are proposing a plan, which does have many flaws, and the situation is growing ever more urgent. The Conservatives' position is rather confusing, since they have no ideas on how to address the crisis that the media is grappling with.

Could my colleague tell us what the Conservatives would suggest to the media, especially print media, in order to respond to the crisis it is facing today?

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I am happy to hear from my colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, who always asks relevant, well-thought-out questions.

I too worked for regional media outlets before moving into the so-called national media, but I want to reassure the former parliamentary leader of the NDP, the second opposition party in the House, that our leader was very clear when he answered similar questions just a few weeks ago.

To us, the worst thing is for the government to be spending millions of dollars picking winners and losers. This is a solution that does not solve the long-term problem.

We are working on a proposal that would enable people like me, who have free, direct access to news through the Googles and Facebooks of the world, to participate and contribute to the tax base.

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciated almost all but the opening remarks of my colleague from Quebec's speech.

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had the good sense to stay out of the nation's bedrooms. His prime ministerial son does not have the wit, sagacity, acuity, percipience, sapience or clue of a newt to realize he has absolutely no business in the nation's newsrooms.

We know that the Liberal Prime Minister can memorize and recite a clever explanation of quantum computing, but he has shown us that he has no knowledge of or respect for the absolutely essential independence of the fourth estate. I will offer a reminder for the record, for Hansard, if the PM or his acolytes are ever advised by its contents, as well as for the most recent heritage minister.

Historically, there were three original states of the British realm: the clergy, the nobility and the commoners. However, over time and the evolution of parliamentary democracy, society came to recognize the press, or print, and then, over time, radio and television news, as a fourth estate, or independent chroniclers, protectors and defenders of facts and truth, arbiters of public trust, and eventually independently expressed analysis and criticism of the other evolved estates: the Crown, the courts and government. Then suddenly, as we approached the turn of the last century, mainstream journalism, as we had come to consider it, hit the rocks.

These were the rocks of technology, of fragmented audiences, of equally fragmented advertising revenues, and generational abandonment of traditional newspapers and appointment television and radio newscasts. At the same time, there was an ever-escalating shift of audiences to digital information sources, digital opinion and unregulated social and anti-social media.

The Canadian news industry began to collapse. Newspapers were downsized. There were massive layoffs and failed consolidations. Scores of newspapers were abandoned. The same shrivelling of original news content generation, local, national and international, hollowed out and emptied radio and TV newsrooms.

The solution to this crisis in Canada's news industry is not after-the-fact mitigation, the Liberal government's misguided attempted election-year bailout of failing newspapers, which, despite the heritage minister's rhetorical flailing, are indeed the fossilizing dinosaurs of hard-copy print.

The solution will eventually be found, will come, in those print and broadcast newsrooms that can adapt and survive the transformation to profitable, sustainable digital news platforms. The transformation and survival of robust, independent, digital journalism platforms in Canada will require bold policy adjustments and political leadership to level the news industry playing field. However, how can any news organizations be truly independent if they become dependent on government subsidies, temporary slush-fund tax relief or direct cash bailouts?

It is important to remember that these hundreds of millions of dollars, almost $600 million, will only go to Canadian journalistic organizations that must first apply to register for financial assistance and then be accepted as a QCJO. What is a QCJO? It is a typical, Liberal nanny state concept, a values-imposing concept, a confected panel bureaucratically designated as a qualified Canadian journalism organization. To be eligible, a newsroom must employ two or more journalists working a minimum of 26 hours a week and employed for at least 40 consecutive weeks. As well, the panel will also decide eligibility on the subjective measurement of acceptable news content generated by a newsroom.

The Liberal government is going to decide, through this commissioning panel, which struggling newspapers get money and which ones do not. It is a terrible concept, an outrageous concept. It offends the fundamental principles of the independent craft of journalism. However, it gets worse. This motley panel was created without consultation. Its most blatant shortcoming, of course, is the inclusion of Unifor, a union which has repeatedly proclaimed its deeply partisan intent to become the worst nightmare of the Leader of the Opposition in the coming election.

We have heard protests in recent weeks from many of the 12,000 practising journalists that Unifor claims to represent, journalists forced to belong to Unifor and forced to pay dues to a union that compromises their independent craft. However, beyond Unifor, we have heard protests from journalists represented by other groups among the eight groups on the Liberals' panel. For example, the head of the Canadian Association of Journalists said that she learned of the CAJ's involvement in the panel not by consultation but by the government's proclamation, and that she was concerned to learn that decisions of the panel will not be transparent and final but subject to secret secondary screening by the Liberal cabinet.

Condemnation of the Liberals' misguided decision to pick winners and losers in the Canadian news industry is not limited to those journalists represented by panel organizations. The columnist Andrew Coyne, for example, in noting that the Liberal plan excludes anyone outside the existing Canadian newspaper industry, wrote that it is designed for, “not the future of news but the past; not the scrappy startups who might save the business, but the lumbering dinosaurs who are taking it down.”

The founder and editor of The Logic, one of those scrappy start-ups, David Skok, complains that the mandatory full-time status of journalists required for funding ignores the vital role that freelance journalists play in the news ecosystem. Mr. Skok noted in an editorial, “According to Statistics Canada, as of 2016, there are about 12,000 people who identify 'journalist' as their profession. Of those, it's safe to assume that the number of people not employed full-time with a newsroom is in the thousands”.

Chantal Hébert, whose primary employer is the Toronto Star, will very likely be designated a qualified recipient of Liberal beneficence. She said, “The government’s half-a-billion package will not resolve the crisis [that newsrooms face]. It may end up doing little more than delaying the inevitable.” Ms. Hébert says that “among the ranks of the political columnists, many fear it is a poison pill that will eventually do the news industry more harm than good.”

Here are a few more prominent voices. One is Andrew Potter, from McGill University, who wrote, “This is actually worse than anyone could have imagined. An 'independent body' staffed entirely by unions and industry lobbyists. What a disaster.”

Jen Gerson, a commentator on CBC and Maclean's, tweeted, “If any of these associations or unions could be trusted to manage this “independent” panel, they would be denouncing it already.”

Aaron Wudrick from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation tweeted, “Mark my words, this isn't going to arrest the erosion of trust in media. It is going to make it worse. Indeed, it already has.”

Global News Journalist David Akin, who sits above us on many occasions, sent an invitation to Unifor union boss Jerry Dias to visit with Unifor members who are also members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. David tweeted, “I’ll set the meeting up. You will learn first-hand how much damage you are doing to the businesses that employ us, to our credibility and how terribly uninformed you are.”

The finance minister cannot justify this $600-million election year bailout because he has no idea at all what will happen after his subsidized transition period, and that is unacceptable. It is wasteful of Canadian tax dollars, because an intervention should have a goal of not only short-term survival of print but long-term sustainability of the evolving craft of digital journalism.

As I remarked earlier, the transformation and survival of robust, independent journalism platforms in Canada will require bold policy adjustments and political leadership, but how can any news organizations be truly independent if they become dependent on government subsidies, temporary slush fund tax relief or direct cash bailouts?

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Spadina—Fort York Ontario


Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Madam Speaker, the member opposite and I were colleagues in journalism before we were colleagues here in the House. In fact, he was so enraptured by my entry into politics that he actually donated to my first campaign. I do not think I have ever thanked him face to face before, but let me give him my thanks. It has been an interesting career change.

My hon. colleague described this industry as a “fossil”. The word fossil was used a couple of times. I would love for the party opposite to turn this around and think of another industry that is based on fossils, such as fossil fuels, an industry that the Conservatives are only too happy to subsidize. They are only too happy to pick winners and losers and only too happy to provide support and public investment.

I am curious as to why that industry is worthy of such investment, including representation from those very workers and industries, and why the print industry and journalism is not.

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, I do recall with a certain amount of fondness the days when we were both practising the craft of journalism in different newsrooms, and I do recognize and accept his point that I made occasional errors both as a journalist and in supporting a fledgling politician, who seems to have gone more than a little off the rails.

I understand and respect the fact that my hon. colleague is trying to deflect this debate from the motion at hand, but I would suggest that he look more closely and ask his Prime Minister and finance minister why, as I said, this motley panel is being asked to be sworn to confidentiality in their considerations and why the panel will not be allowed to comment on those applicants whose applications will ultimately be denied by the Liberal government.

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question.

The first point in their motion reads:

(a) take note of the importance of a free and independent press to a healthy democracy;

The Conservatives want a “free and independent” press. Do they also want a sustainable press or do they want a dying one? From what I know, things are not going well.

What are they proposing?

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

The reality that we face today is that the journalism of the last century, print newspapers, is collapsing. The transition to digital platforms has caught up and surpassed the old media. The newspapers that are asking and have celebrated the announcement of the $600-million election-year attempted bailout are newspapers that are fossilizing. They are failing. They have not been able to establish the digital platforms that will eventually determine which media organizations and newsrooms survive and which fail.

I mentioned that this issue needs bold political leadership and policy adjustments. The government should be looking at the taxation of Canadian advertisers on American digital platforms under chapter 19. Just as print publications no longer allow advertising on outside platforms to be deducted, exactly the same should apply to digital advertising.

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.


John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Madam Speaker, is it not true that the independence of journalism in this country is being placed at risk by this Liberal plan? It is not the journalists themselves; it is actually this plan that is placing the independence of those journalists at risk and in fact placing our democracy at risk.

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.


Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, I would respond in much the same way I did when the heritage minister wagged his finger at me and said that Conservatives were accusing the government of attempting to buy journalists. I asked him if he would go up to the gallery where the journalists sit above us, some of them forced members of Unifor, and ask them whether they would give thumbs up or thumbs down to this outrageous government policy.