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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was national.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Don Valley West (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 53% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions December 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I wish to present a petition this morning asking Parliament to act quickly to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and to adopt all necessary measures to recognize the full equality of same sex relationships in federal law. It has my support.

Bausch And Lomb December 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, recent newspaper articles state that the company Bausch and Lomb has been misleading buyers of contact lenses. It appears that the company's short, medium and long term use contact lenses sell for $10 for the short term to $200 for the long term. The problem is they are all the same contact lens.

What can the Minister of Industry do to protect consumers against such deceptive marketing practices?

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation June 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin my speech on this motion by reading an excerpt from my party's official pre-election program "Creating Opportunities", commonly referred to as the red book.

"Canadian culture embraces our shared perceptions and beliefs, common experiences and values, and diverse linguistic and cultural identities: everything that makes us uniquely Canadian. Culture is the very essence of national identity, the bedrock of national sovereignty and national pride. It gives meaning to the lives of every Canadian and enriches the country socially, politically and economically".

At a time when globalization and the information and communications revolution are erasing national borders, Canada needs more than ever to commit itself to cultural development.

Since its creation in 1936, the CBC has been and continues to be an essential mechanism for defending our national cultural sovereignty.

The motion now before the House deals with the possibility of privatizing all or part of the CBC. Let me just take a few minutes to remind the House of the services provided by the CBC and the raison d'être of Crown corporations. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was created on November 2, 1936 pursuant to an act of Parliament. It reports annually to Parliament on its activities through the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Its provides comprehensive national broadcasting services in both official languages, that is French and English, in addition to running the Northern Service and Radio Canada International, a shortwave service for listeners abroad.

The CBC is governed by the Broadcasting Act and is regulated by the CRTC, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

The CBC has a permanent staff level of approximately 9,100 people. Seventy-five per cent of these employees are involved in program production and distribution, with the remainder providing administrative and support services. Apart from its own employees, each year the CBC provides work to about 25,000 Canadian artists, writers and performers such as musicians, soloists, members of groups or orchestras, singers, graphic artists, authors, critics, dancers, actors and actresses, to name a few.

It is the largest single employer of Canadian artists and has provided a training ground for many of our finest Canadian stars. Anne Murray, receiving one of her numerous and well deserved awards recently, thanked the CBC for giving her the chance so many years ago to launch her career.

The CBC has helped to develop and establish a wealth of Canadian stars whose unique ability to express their vision of Canada and what it is to be Canadian has helped us to know ourselves and each other. Without the CBC, Canadians would not have had the opportunity to share and appreciate the rich cultural diversity of our English, French, aboriginal and ethnic communities.

Talent development remains a key objective for the CBC. Variety specials with Canadian music stars and new Canadian artists as guests, the broadcasting of the Genie, Gemini and Juno awards programs are important tools through which our artists reach their public and gain national and international exposure.

The need for talent development is critical today, and of course more remains to be done. In an era in which new technology further fragments audiences and globalization diminishes national boundaries, the CBC's role in ensuring that there is a service to which Canadians can turn to see our images, hear our stories and be inspired by our artists is now more vital than ever.

The CBC is the principal instrument of the government's cultural policy. In 1994-95 its parliamentary appropriation is approximately $1 billion, representing 62 per cent of all federal appropriations to cultural agencies in the portfolio of the Minister of Canadian Heritage. In addition the corporation expects to raise some $396 million this fiscal year, mostly from television advertising, bringing its total resources to $1.4 billion.

With this funding the CBC offers and extensive array of separate services:

English and French television networks;

English and French AM mono and FM stereo radio networks, free of commercial advertising;

CBC North which covers more than four million square kilometres encompassing the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Arctic Quebec by providing radio and television programs in English, French and eight native languages, also provides specialized training services for native broadcasters and journalists;

Newsworld, 24-hour national satellite to cable English language news and information service funded entirely by cable subscription and commercial advertising revenues but achieves its quality level by making extensive re-use of news and current affairs programming that is drawing on public funding;

Radio Canada International, a shortwave radio service which broadcasts in seven languages, provides material specifically targeted for Canadians abroad, consisting of the most popular domestic CBC programs, and plays an important role in promoting Canadian artists abroad, is managed by the CBC and financed by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Both the English and French television networks have reached a remarkable 88 per cent Canadian content level in prime time. The television networks provide a balanced mix of news, current affairs, dramas, arts, science, music, variety, sports and children's programs.

Including the non-prime time schedule, about 69 per cent of CBC television broadcast by the English and French networks is Canadian produced though not necessarily all by the CBC.

The corporation is an important outlet for the work of Canada's independent production community. In fact, about 48 per cent of Canadian entertainment programs shown in prime time are produced either entirely by independent producers or in conjunction with outside producers or agencies.

While AM radio covers music and entertainment, its programming is primarily informational. FM stereo produces a wide variety of music, drama, arts and literary programs. All four radio networks offer Canadians commercial free, intelligent, appealing, and unique Canadian programming for which they have achieved a devoted following.

About 99 per cent of English and French speaking Canadians have access to CBC television. Almost 94 per cent of English and French speaking Canadians have access to CBC AM mono radio in their respective languages and 70 per cent of anglophones and 76 per cent of francophones have access to CBC FM stereo in their respective languages.

The ability to reach so much of our population comprised of two official language communities, scattered over a huge amount of rugged terrain and no less than six different time zones is a major technological challenge for the corporation.

Like the railroad, the CBC links Canadians every single day of the year in my riding with aboriginal peoples in the north, farmers on the prairies, fishermen on the east and west coasts, and everyone in between.

The CBC is also a proud ambassador abroad. In addition to the important role played by Radio Canada International, it maintains formal and informal contact with at least 10 international broadcasting unions and associations. It also encourages program exchanges and participates in more than 50 radio and television festivals around the world through which our artists and programming are promoted.

Of course, the CBC's mission is to carry out the official purposes set forth in the Broadcasting Act and it has the duty to conduct its activities in accordance with sound business practices. I fully agree with hon. opposition members in this House who think that we are going through a difficult economic period and that we should scrutinize every dollar of taxpayers' money that we spend. Nevertheless, advocating the total privatization of the CBC suggests that section 3 of the Broadcasting Act could be satisfied by the private sector or that we are prepared to forget about meeting the objectives stated there. Neither of these assertions is correct. Providing authentically Canadian broadcasting services of good quality to the whole country has never been and undoubtedly never will be something that the private sector could do profitably.

The efforts made to build our country never met the criteria of strict profitability. Nevertheless, we have built a remarkable country of which my constituents and I are immensely proud and the CBC has helped to shape it.

My colleague has already told you about the significant support measures that the government has offered the CBC. Nevertheless, given the serious financial difficulties before the government in the coming days, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is fully aware that it might have to change some aspects of its activities. If the CBC, in assessing how to face future difficulties, concludes that it could better serve the Canadian public by privatizing some particular aspects of its activities, the Minister of Canadian Heritage will let the CBC make that decision, as he said.

In conclusion, the committee of which I have the pleasure to be the chairman, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, will be developing in conjunction with the CBC some of these ideas and sharing them with Parliament at a later date.

Bankruptcy Act June 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity to join the debate on Bill C-237 which is presented by the hon. member for Portneuf to guarantee superpriority to employees in the proceeds that would be realized from the bankruptcy of their employer firm.

This compelling issue, le célèbre fauteuil de mon collègue en face, has been the object of repeated parliamentary and provincial examinations before our Parliament, in seven bills and seven reports. Not only has superpriority been consistently rejected before, but also a fund from government revenues has been refused as was the tax.

In 1992 the previous government was obliged to drop the provisions for a wage claim payment program so as to ensure that the other provisions of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act referred to by my previous colleague on this side would be accepted. It did give workers a preferred claim to cover wages earned during the six months that preceded the bankruptcy, up to a limit of $2,000 a person. In striking contrast, the bill before us provides a first priority payment up to a limit of $9,000 per employee in the context of bankruptcy proceedings.

What the act also did, and this is important to our debate today, is it instituted a three-year review to examine the matter of bankruptcy and debt. So it is important not to jump the gun and obliterate that concerted effort of government and stakeholders.

With the passage of the 1992 act a consultation committee was struck, the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Advisory Committee, or BIAC. The government should be given time to exercise the three-year review. This committee, BIAC, co-ordinates consultations of insolvency stakeholders on a multilateral basis. BIAC is enabling us to bring stakeholders into the policy development process early on, and keep them on board right through to the end in a systematic way, to look at the issues and then to recommend options.

In the meantime, Industry Canada has been gathering data on the impact the 1992 revisions have had on the economy. We need to know the full extent of the problem and what is required to resolve it. For example, in how many insolvencies do employees lose wages? How much have they lost in total? Do they receive any of the wages owing from the trustee? How long does this

process take? In past cases how much money was available in the estate for paying creditors?

Related issues abound, many of which are fundamental. Here is one example of an important issue facing BIAC. The Colter and Tassé committees have recommended amendments to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act to deal with the increasing problem of international insolvencies. Indeed, in a global marketplace cross-border insolvency problems are not rare. This possibility is gaining huge significance in light of free trade and the NAFTA.

I ask you to bear with me, Mr. Speaker, as I move to a second point, which is one of the absolute issues arising from the legislation that is presented to us today, one with which you are abundantly familiar. As my hon. colleague has referred to previously, that is the priority of the crown which is above all would-be super priorities. The hon. member for St. Paul's gave us a tantalizing glimpse of the problem under this rubric. I wish to reinforce and amplify his remarks.

By way of explanation, under the Income Tax Act the crown has the super priority to a business's unpaid deductions for income tax, Canada pension plan and unemployment insurance. Bill C-237 would put the wage earners super priority ahead of that of the crown.

What is the end result if you do that? The employee might well get compensated for wages lost in the bankruptcy but the crown could find it does not have enough funds to make up unemployment insurance payments. Premiums would have to be raised. The cost of business would necessarily rise. More businesses already facing tighter loan money because of added responsibility for the wage earner super priority would face bankruptcy.

In a telling metaphor the hon. member for St. Paul's spoke of a vast ripple effect. I do not believe this bill pays enough attention to the ultimate reach of that ripple effect on business viability and job creation.

What is a priority? It is a moving, subtle thing that can apparently seem to defy logic. I will give one example, and it will be my final one, in an area touched by the committee on Canadian heritage of which I have the honour to be the chair.

Priority becomes a far more fragmented thing within the information based marketplace. To put it at its simplest level, the government has been approached by one set of representatives of that market and to get to cases I mean authors who are often their own copyright holders.

What happens to a copyright holder when a publisher goes bankrupt? An author-and I can claim to be a modest one in this regard-put years into writing a book, his or her whole life in some instances, his or her mind and spirit, and yet receives little or nothing if the publisher collapses leaving royalties unpaid. The unpaid author has to watch while suppliers quite possibly recover the cost of paper and ink that delivered his very book to print.

There is a system in place that may shed new light on these many interrelated problems that must be addressed together if any hope for a resolution is to be realized. It is in the interest of this country and of its labour force, which this bill wishes to help, that we give our review system, the one I referred to previously, a chance and that we allow a solution to come forth from the concerted effort of government and stakeholders.

It is equally in our national interest that we develop a global approach that allows our businesses to reorganize or to catch their second wind and have another go at it. We do not need or want a piecemeal approach which will only be remembered for its disastrous consequences.

This government wants a concerted effort that has regard for all workers, creditors, consumers and of course the crown itself. For this reason and at this time I do not support Bill C-237.

Committees Of The House June 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present in both official languages the first report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on Bill C-31, an act to amend the Canadian Film Development Corporation Act, without amendment.

Supply March 16th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member had five questions for the Prime Minister and now I have three for her.

First, the hon. member refers to the fact that three Canadian companies were willing to bid for Ginn. Does she have any idea whether each of them is willing to pay $10.3 million or not?

Second, if they were not willing to pay that sum but something closer to $3 million, where does she propose the $7 million difference might come from? Does she propose adding it to our national debt?

The third question is really a more philosophical one. I would like a little understanding of whether we or the previous government should have intervened or not intervened on the sale of Ginn.

supply February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the point is well made that security is being redefined as we speak after the cold war. It is also being redefined in the countries we are trying to help. I remember in my own time during the Ethiopian famine when the geopolitical concerns of Somalia versus Ethiopia and their protectors, the superpowers, was of overriding consideration.

Now we face a world in which we potentially have a peace dividend in this country, but there is also potentially a peace dividend in the developing countries. We are in a position where we can force a greater degree of conditionality by saying that if the priorities in such and such a country are to rearm rather than to help the poorest of the poor we may share those priorities with them and not give them a hand.

Therefore we have the foreign policy debate, the security debate and the environmental debate. All these debates come together in a most complex pattern and it is an ideal time to be reviewing our foreign and development policies.

supply February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Louis-Hébert for his comments. I fully agree that, at the present time, Canada's objective is 0.7 per cent, but it is very difficult with the upcoming budget later this month.

As regards government priorities, indeed we have to make choices. I think that when we review our foreign policy we will have to ask ourselves: What worked in the past? Where were we successful and where did we fail?

We must also acknowledge the fact that we are part of an international setting. In my opinion, we will always have two objectives: the centrality of the individual's development, as well as the basic needs which underlie any development. However, we must remember that developing countries need high technology just like us.

I think we can do two things at the same time: Improve the plight of the poorest in the world and try to make them benefit from our technological advances.

supply February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, poverty alleviation, protecting human rights, building democracy and ensuring environmental stability are the challenges facing the Canadian International Development Agency.

The Auditor General states that few Canadian organizations, private or public, attempt the complex and high risk taking tasks that CIDA undertakes. Our aid effort ensures that Canadian values help to shape the world of the 21st century, a world we hope will be peaceful and prosperous, fair and free.

Canada's aid program helps define Canada's place in the world. It is beneficial in a number of ways. For example, a good part of the aid budget is directed to fulfilling basic human needs. It supports the humanitarian concerns of Canadians. It supports the respect of human rights, gender equality and popular participation, all values important to Canadians. It helps developing countries achieve environmental sustainability. What kind of work does our aid budget actually support?

In West Africa CIDA has been helping the people of Senegal fight against the spreading desert by planting trees. The Panaftel project, one of Canada's major initiatives in Africa, gives several countries a good basic communication link.

In Zimbabwe the University of Ottawa's human rights centre and Zimbabwe's legal resources foundation, a non-governmental organization, are bringing legal services and rights to the rural poor.

Part of the program has involved the training of paralegal workers who operate in different parts of the country, educating people about their legal rights and helping them deal with problems that range from finding missing relatives to damage claims after bus accidents, a big concern in Zimbabwe.

In Honduras there is a problem of rapid destruction of the hardwood forests which stretch along the Caribbean coast. Each year over 2 per cent is cut and burned for shifting agriculture.

CIDA's hardwood forest project is addressing the problem on two fronts, improving forest management and sustainable land use in buffer zones next to the forest. The project is expected to reduce deforestation and reduce the pressure to convert forests to farms.

A rural development project in northern Pakistan supported by the Aga Khan Foundation and CIDA is widely regarded as one of the world's best.

The Auditor General recognizes in his chapter on CIDA that most Canadians support international aid efforts, but they want assurance that their taxes are really being used to develop the potential of the poor and of the developing world in general.

The Auditor General and CIDA have agreed to a follow-up on the action taken by CIDA to implement the recommendations of the 1993 chapter. The Auditor General will be reporting on CIDA's progress in implementing changes at all levels of management in his 1995 report to Parliament.

We believe that a sustained partnership with non-governmental organizations and business people doing outstanding work abroad can strengthen this support from taxpayers for the Canadian aid program.

International development is very important, considering the present world situation. It promotes global security, respect for human rights and democracy.

We need to work together to deal with the problems of our planet and the aid budget is a contribution Canada makes as a good citizen of the world community.

The aid program brings significant benefits to Canada. The aid program sustains over 40,000 jobs in this country with 2,000 businesses, 45 universities, 80 colleges and dozens of provincial departments and agencies benefiting from aid-related contracts.

Canada's food aid represents the output of some 3,000 Canadian farms.

Canada's aid program alone cannot change the world. It has made a difference. CIDA has a reputation in the field for integrity and co-operation.

The Auditor General said many things about CIDA but he did not say that aid is a poor investment for Canada. He did not say that aid is wasted.

As the Auditor General mentioned in his report, CIDA is recognized throughout the world for its integrity and co-operation. Nevertheless, we are aware that improvements must be made and CIDA is committed to renewing its management.

CIDA has committed itself to management renewal and to demonstrating results for investments. CIDA has launched a

process to streamline and modernize its management practices. Some early steps such as simplifying its organizational structure and improving management systems are already completed. Others are under way.

We have a lot of resources, technical expertise, and experience gained in our own development. Our role in development has won Canada a lot of good will and credibility virtually everywhere in the developing world.

Sometimes, the images the media give us lead us to believe that the history of developing countries is just one of failure and despair. The figures tell another story. Despite the problems, we must admit that international aid has helped improve the situation in developing countries.

My government is proud of the success achieved in international development.

Within a generation, the average real income in developing countries has more than doubled. Infant mortality rates have been halved since 1960.

The adult literacy rate has risen 20 per cent in recent years.

Over 70 per cent of the people in developing countries have access to health services.

Smallpox has been eliminated, at a cost of $250 million. This involves a saving of $1 billion a year on vaccine and treatment, in addition to the relief of the suffering formerly associated with the disease.

CIDA's program in South Africa continues to play a constructive role in the transition toward political pluralism.

Let me say, Mr. Speaker, that just this week there was a letter published in the Globe and Mail that discusses the positive side to CIDA which press reports often do not cover. The letter states: ``On a visit to El Salvador I witnessed some absolutely incredible success stories such as an industrial co-operation made possible through CIDA. I was never so proud to be a Canadian''.

With respect to more business-like and accountable modes of operation CIDA like other government departments is responding to public demands to demonstrate better accountability. Clearly this will require the support of our government and the support of development partners in Canada and overseas.

However, let me assure you, Mr. Speaker, that CIDA through its annual report to Parliament and its appearance before the public accounts committee in the House of Commons makes every effort to ensure that parliamentarians are properly informed. There is already an evaluation and audit process in place at CIDA as well as a comprehensive consultation process between CIDA and its partners.

The Auditor General did say that CIDA, like all other organizations, must adapt to new conditions. It needs to do better with less. CIDA must be more systematic in measuring the impact of development programs. CIDA's partners including multilateral organizations, other governments, Canadian companies and non-governmental organizations must participate in this change. CIDA needs to be more transparent to Parliament and the public. CIDA agrees with the thrust of the recommendations aimed at improving the agency's accountability and strengthening its management effectiveness.

By addressing issues at the level of program management CIDA will achieve a more results oriented and business-like style of management and will also address project management concerns.

Clearly there can be no question of the importance of the aid programs to the developing world and to Canadians. The government is committed to renewal in the public service, improved effectiveness, openness and transparency. This applies to CIDA as well as other departments. There is no doubt that CIDA will meet this challenge.

Mr. Speaker, it is also important to note that the foreign policy review will answer some of the questions raised in the Auditor General's report.

This foreign policy review involving a broad consultation with Canadians and partners is the process the government has chosen to help us define our priorities in foreign policy. Once the review has been completed the government will establish its new priorities, thus tackling what the Auditor General describes as making CIDA's task so difficult, that of trying to meet so many contradictory priorities.

Pre-Budget Consultations February 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Yukon.

We talk specifically in the red book about new kinds of funds called expert funds based on the model of MDS Capital, a health care outfit, and investing on the basis of its expertise. That is the kind of new model we need wherever businesses find themselves, whether they are in small or large communities.

What makes the difference is a fund that understands the nature of business and is prepared to put equity into it as well as lend money to it. That will also have an effect on the way banks conduct their businesses in the future.