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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was cultural.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Parkdale—High Park (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2006, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Finance February 1st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Human Resources Development said in the House in the last day or so, we made the commitment in the Speech from the Throne to ensure that EI reflects labour market realities. I was glad to hear that and I support that position. I hope we will be working toward that.

In answer to the member's first question, I personally would like to see EI brought within the new labour force market realities for the self-employed, especially for self-employed women and how we can deal with that.

In answer to his second question concerning the CBC, I am probably as big an advocate of the CBC as the member is in rural Canada. I have chaired the Liberal CBC caucus committee for a number of years. I have been a supporter of the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. Unfortunately, I am not the finance minister but I would join the member in urging the finance committee not only to not cut the CBC but to ensure long term stable funding for the CBC.

Finance February 1st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I hope I have the opportunity to answer all hon. member's questions.

When I was going through the priorities, tax cuts were not one of the top priorities. That is not to say that some people do not want tax cuts. The people in my riding, and I am not speaking for everybody, but from a sample of the people who were there, they understood that the Government of Canada over the last five years has reduced taxes by $100 billion. Yes, the government does understand how important tax cuts are.

We also brought in full indexation, which especially helps seniors. We raised the tax free amount. We reduced the middle income tax bracket from 26% to 23%. Income ranges for low and middle income brackets have been raised. All surtaxes have been eliminated, which helps the poor and middle class. High tech and small business corporate taxes have been reduced from 28% to 21%, and the small business level has been raised to $300,000. Employment insurance premiums have actually been cut eight times. I think the government has been proactive and does understand the concerns that the member is bringing forward.

With respect to health care and child care, those are certainly two of the three priorities that the Prime Minister has mentioned. The third priority has been cities. I think it is time we stopped saying that it is either health care or the arts, or that it is either health care or child care. That is not what government policy is about. It is about having a holistic approach. As controversial as it may sound, our arts and culture are integral to the health of our communities, as is education and health care. It is not one or the other. It is about working together to find a holisitic approach for all cities.

Finance February 1st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in the debate on the prebudget consultations. I want to share with the House and Canadians the results of a number of prebudget consultations which I held in my riding and also throughout the city of Toronto.

Since being elected in 1997 I have annually held prebudget consultations with individuals, members of not for profit organizations, and representatives from business organizations. This year in my role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, I also held consultations with representatives of the greater Toronto area's artistic and cultural organizations to determine what these organizations need and what our government could do to help artists and arts organizations achieve and maintain greatness in their respective fields in Toronto.

If we can help Toronto's artists and arts communities achieve greatness, because these organizations and artists are integral to the economic and social life of the city of Toronto, then we can create a blueprint to allow all artists and arts organizations to excel in Canada.

In December I held a prebudget consultation meeting at Swansea Town Hall. The notice calling the meeting asked a very basic question especially in light of the announcement on November 16 by the Minister of Finance of a $9 billion surplus for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2004. The question was simple. What should the federal government do with any future surpluses?

Along with this general question the following four supplementary questions were asked: First, how should the federal government allocate any future discretionary finances between tax relief, new spending and debt repayment? Second, if taxes are to be cut, which ones should be reduced and to whom should the cuts be directed? Third, if the government is to spend more, which new or existing programs should receive this spending? Fourth, if the federal debt is to be further paid down, how much should it be reduced versus spending more and/or taxing less?

Prior to entertaining budget suggestions from the floor, we also presented and reviewed a federal budget history chart. It summarized revenues, expenses, international debt payment and any surplus or deficit from the fiscal year 1993-94 to and including the fiscal year 2003-04. We also reviewed a chart summarizing federal debt history from 1993-94 to 2003-04 and reviewed recent major initiatives regarding taxes and debt, as well as the government's recent major initiatives regarding spending.

My constituency office prepared these summaries. I would be more than pleased to share them with members on all sides of the House.

At our meeting there were a number of budget items that received overwhelming consensus. I am sure this will be hard for members of the official opposition to believe but no one at that meeting called for immediate tax cuts. On the other hand there was widespread agreement that the government should continue to pay down the debt but to do so gradually, however, not at the expense of the social programs that are integral to our values as Canadians.

A number of constituents also suggested that perhaps it was time for the federal government to put in place some type of mechanism which could more accurately anticipate surpluses prior to the year end. Initially Canadians could understand that budgeting very conservatively led to huge surpluses and currently these huge surpluses were immediately applied to the debt when in fact if the proper budgeting had been done, these moneys could have been spent on programs or tax cuts during the fiscal year.

There is also a very important thing which I learned a number of years ago which I would like to share with the House. It is something which was told to me by a constituent during prebudget consultations a number of years ago and which it is important for all of us in the House to keep in mind during the budget process. A constituent wrote and reminded me that in deciding on budget priorities, one must never forget that the fiscal choices we make reflect the kind of society we want.

In terms of spending initiatives, certainly in my riding in the city of Toronto there was unequivocal support for additional funding for cities and also for communities. The need for an immediate investment in public transport was paramount not only in terms of the TTC in Toronto, but also in terms of the GO train, the train that connects the greater Toronto area to the city of Toronto. My constituents were unequivocally clear that they did not want money spent or wasted on the Front Street extension, which abuts my riding and which would cause major chaos in my community.

The second most important priority in my riding was the need for housing. Notwithstanding the successful federal-municipal partnership of the supporting communities partnership initiative, or SCPI program, an excellent program in the city of Toronto to address homelessness, I regret to say that homelessness continues to be a problem. There is also a need for more low income housing in Toronto. It was highly recommended that any such initiative emphasized green affordable housing, which is a project being considered in the part of my riding known as Parkdale.

The next priority in my riding and in the city of Toronto is immigration which, as hon. members all know, is an integral part of Toronto's landscape. It desperately requires additional funding. It was recommended that additional funds be allocated for resettlement purposes. Language training programs should be enhanced. The government should and must set aside funding to assist newcomers in obtaining professional accreditation.

Money for youth programs was also considered a priority. Programs for retraining should be enhanced. The cost of post-secondary education continues to need to be addressed, along with the continuing problem of escalating student debt. We cannot forget our young people when we look at our priorities and when we look at our needs as a nation.

Last but not least, and I am sure hon. members will not be surprised to hear this, enhancement of funding for the arts was also noted. One cannot overlook the importance of the arts, especially in terms of the cities' and the communities' agenda. Our artists and cultural organizations play a key role in the economic and social well-being of our cities and communities. The arts are the essence and the vibrancy of our communities and cities.

At this point and before going on to share with the House a number of the priorities of the arts and culture sector, I would like to take this opportunity to commend and to thank the chair of the Standing Committee on Finance, the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, and the other members of the standing committee, including my colleague from the greater Toronto area, the member for Beaches—East York, for their report and recommendations on culture. I believe that this is the first time since I was first elected in 1997 that culture received more than just a passing mention.

There are seven pages on the cultural sector in the finance committee report. I did look at the dissenting opinions and I cannot say that anyone dissented or disagreed with investment in the arts. I believe it was the Bloc which encouraged that while some of the recommendations with respect to culture were very good, a key item had been left off, and that I believe was the GST on books. In a minority government, I take that actually as a round of applause and unanimous support for Canada's cultural sector. I have to tell the finance committee how proud I was when I read that report.

I would like to read out loud to Canadians and members of the House who may not be familiar with the specific recommendation. Recommendation 11 reads as follows:

That the federal government provide stable, long term funding to the following elements of federal support for arts and culture: the Tomorrow Starts Today program; the Canada Council for the Arts; Telefilm Canada; the Museums Assistance Program; the Community Access Program; the Canadian Television Fund and initiatives designed to promote Canadian culture internationally.

Moreover, the government should increase funding for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Radio-Canada.

As well, the government should allocate funds to build capacity and assist archives with respect to archival content.

Finally, the government should increase the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit to 30%.

I cannot help but note that I am actually watching the vice-chair of the heritage committee who is listening quite attentively. The vice-chair sat on the previous Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage when we drew up what has come to be known as the Lincoln report, entitled “Our Cultural Sovereignty”. Some of the recommendations that are found in the finance committee's report were actually in our standing committee's report, so it looks like we are actually listening.

I would like to take this opportunity to urge my colleagues in the House to also urge the finance minister to implement in its entirety recommendation 11 of the Standing Committee on Finance.

As I stated at the beginning, I held a number of consultations with various arts groups in the city of Toronto and the greater Toronto area last year. They reconfirmed that a revitalized arts and culture sector is integral to the success of ensuring that Canada's cities and communities are safe, prosperous and stimulating places to work.

We all now know the work of Richard Florida, the urbanist. We seem to quote him again and again. Ever since Richard Florida wrote about it, we know how important the arts are to our communities, to attracting people and citizens to our communities. It has been a long time coming that we finally sat and listened to this.

It is important to note that not just Richard Florida, who is a U.S. author and urbanist, wrote about this but even our Federation of Canadian Municipalities has recognized how important the arts and culture sector is to our Canadian cities and communities. There is not a magazine that we can pick up that the FCM has distributed where arts and culture is not front and centre. The FCM has a subcommittee which deals in particular with how we enhance the arts and culture sector not just within our large cities but also in our communities.

I would like to share with members some of the comments and recommendations that I received from some of the larger arts organizations that participated, including the Stratford and Shaw festivals. One meeting I held was with the larger cultural institutions. When I say larger cultural institutions I do not mean just the Toronto based ones but the large Canadian based cultural institutions. There is no doubt that in Canada they are seen as jewels in the crown but unfortunately they lack stable adequate funding. This is a constant threat to their continuing excellence.

What is interesting to note is that they pointed out to me that they are not asking for new funding models or new funding programs, because those are not necessarily the best solutions. We need to look at the enhancement of existing programs that work, more specifically, Tomorrow Starts Today.

I just spoke about the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. At its last annual meeting a resolution was brought forward by cities either in Alberta or British Columbia to urge the federal government to renew the Tomorrow Starts Today program. For those who may not be familiar with it, the Tomorrow Starts Today program was announced by the government in May 2001. The government provided a brand new total of $560 million, which is the largest reinvestment in the arts in Canada in the last 40 years.

There were various envelopes to that program, including the culture capitals program, the arts presentation program, an endowment program, Canada culture online, additional moneys to the book publishing industry and, very importantly, additional moneys for the Canada Council.

The Canada Council came up during our discussions as well. It was felt that one way to support all of our arts and cultural sectors across Canada was to perhaps refocus the priorities of the Canada Council. We also duly noted, as we all should in this House, that the 50th anniversary of the Canada Council is coming up in 2007. In fact, this could be used as a springboard for new funding and new programs.

There is no reason to recreate the wheel. What we should do is build on our successes and build on the excellence and build on what we know in Canada. This works not just in the large urban areas but also in all of our communities.

Another important issue that was brought up was the importance of touring. Again, financial constraints preclude the major organizations from active touring, both nationally and abroad. Touring was seen by most participants as essential to showcasing the best of Canadian culture, attracting new audiences and providing new fora for our performers and creators. I personally would like to add that it is a wonderful way of ensuring Canada's place in the world as one of pride and one of influence.

It has recently come to my attention that the arts promotion program under the Department of Foreign Affairs is being scheduled for a 35% cut in funding in March 2005.

According to Martin Bragg, the artistic producer of CanStage, one of the country's largest performing arts companies and a company that is a beneficiary of this program to tour its production of The Overcoat , notes that there will be severe consequences and the impact of this cut will have a terrible effect on the arts and cultural sector.

In his letter, Mr. Bragg states the following:

The Arts Promotion Program has been the primary source of finance assistance from the Canadian government for the promotion of Canadian culture, both nationally and internationally.

This proposed cutback would drastically reduce the trade and commerce of Canadian culture around the world by over 50%. Currently, almost half of all applicants to the program are declined funding. The cutback would increase that percentage to 85% for all applicants in the performing arts.

He then goes on to note:

As it stands, the funding available through the Arts Promotion Program is not enough. When set against our G-8 counterparts who annually commit over one billion dollars per year, Canada's contribution to the international arts promotion is extremely humble. This funding must be increased, not cut, if Canada is to strengthen our presence in the international markets through the development of cultural partnerships, the fostering of cross-cultural exchanges with emerging markets (i.e. China, Brazil, India) and the initiation of Canada-U.S. culture diplomacy programs, among other efforts.

Another recommendation the finance committee made with respect to culture and an important fund for our television and film sectors, and one which I strongly support and I know members of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage have supported, is to provide stable, long term funding to the Canadian television fund, the CTF, one of our great success stories.

Just last week I received a letter from Michael MacMillan who is the chairman and CEO of Alliance Atlantis which makes the social economic case for establishing the CTF as a permanent fixture and to maintain funding at the current level of $100 million per year.

As I am running out of time I would like to make my last submission from a cultural, economic and social argument as to why this fund is as important as the other programs that support our arts are important.

Mr. MacMillan writes:

While Canadians are wholeheartedly aware of the many choices faced by your government in delivering a fiscally prudent budget, we believe it is important to consider the CTF funding in the context of its benefits to an economically and culturally vibrant Canadian industry. Of the $3 billion that the government spends annually on culture each year, this sector directly contributes $27 billion to our gross domestic product. Since 1996, the CTF has provided $1.7 billion in funding towards the creation of 18,000 hours of programming in English, French and Aboriginal languages. The total value of these productions is currently estimated at $6 billion. As these numbers illustrate, the CTF is a major contributor to the ongoing vitality of the Canadian broadcasting sector.

I know I have run out of time but perhaps we can continue this discussion another time. I hope members on the opposite side will support me in these recommendations.

Marriage December 13th, 2004

Madam Speaker, last week the Supreme Court ruled that the draft legislation referred to it by the Government of Canada upholds the right of same sex couples to civil marriage. As a result, the government can either move ahead with legislation to codify civil marriage for same sex couples or use the notwithstanding clause to take away this right.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a pillar of Canadian society. The rights protected under the charter are the same rights that protect churches, synagogues, mosques and temples from being obliged to perform marriage ceremonies that are contrary to their beliefs. This is not about religion. It is about equality.

The Prime Minister has stated that he will not use the notwithstanding clause to deny rights guaranteed by the charter. I am proud to say that I will be voting with the government and the Prime Minister to acknowledge same sex civil marriage.

We all have a choice. We can either uphold the charter because we believe in it, or we can abandon it. Parliamentarians must now make that choice.

Telefilm Canada Act December 13th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, let us not forget that it was this government in 2001 who reinvested the largest amount into the arts and cultural sectors with an investment of $560 million. It was the largest investment since the creation of the Canada Council almost 50 years ago. It was originally a three year program which was then renewed for another year. As I have said before in the House, we are working through program review and hoping to work with the finance minister to renew this program as soon as possible.

With respect to defending the artists, well I do defend the artists. I personally contribute thousands of dollars to support cultural institutions for a very good reason. We must ensure that our cultural institutions are there to survive, to pay fairly what the artists deserve, to ensure that they have continuing work, and to ensure that they are able to participate in various parts of the sector from theatre, to television, to film. If those institutions are strong, then it will ensure that our artists are strong and our artists have voices, that they are paid properly. I would submit those two things go hand in hand.

Telefilm Canada Act December 13th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear about what we looked at. We looked at supplementary estimates going up to March 31. These are moneys that were taken away in the past as part of the whole government looking at how to increase its efficiencies and reduce costs. It was part of a great exercise. I believe that the CBC put in $10 million. I do not have the actual estimates in front of me.

Nobody wants to see cuts and I definitely agree with that; however, to say that this is something for two and three years is incorrect. Not only is it misleading, but it is totally incorrect. One of the commitments that the government made was to look at the important role that our cultural institutions play, such as Telefilm.

As we said in committee, and as I said here today in the House, we will be moving forward to look at the role and mandate of Telefilm. Hopefully, at that time, we can look at increasing its mandate as well, that the funds will be there so that it can carry out the new mandate that I hope all parties will look at.

Telefilm Canada Act December 13th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to unequivocally state that indeed culture is definitely part of the government's priorities. It was made clear in the Speech from the Throne which was delivered by Her Excellency, the Right Hon. Adrienne Clarkson in October. In fact, it was a priority under the communities and cities agendas which acknowledged that culture was the essence of our communities and cities.

The Prime Minister has made it absolutely clear to everyone in this country that the government has three major priorities: first, health care, a deal which he has achieved already; second, child care, and he has put into place a framework which the Minister of Social Development is working on; and third, cities and communities, part of which is culture.

It is interesting to note that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities recently passed a unanimous resolution calling for the Minister of Finance to renew the Tomorrow Starts Today program. A few weeks ago, when the Federation of Canadian Municipalities was in Ottawa, I was delighted to see that even the federation saw culture as integral to the vibrancy, strength and vitality of communities. To say that culture is not part of the government's vision would be absolutely incorrect.

I would like to take this opportunity to address the member's comment about cutbacks to Telefilm. Let us be clear. Those were not cutbacks. When we looked at the supplementary estimates in committee, we looked at $1 billion which had been part of a review of all government programs. Each department had been asked to see how we could make the departments more efficient.

I could not agree more with the member and I would ask him to help me to advocate to the Minister of Finance how we should increase the envelope, not just for Telefilm but for other important cultural institutions such as the Canada Council, the Canada Broadcasting Corporation and Radio-Canada. It is important that we have this debate in the House to demonstrate how arts and culture is integral to our country. It is not something that we get on the side. It is as integral as our health and educational systems.

Again, I welcome the member's comments. I hope that we can work together to ensure that in the next budget the cultural component is indeed increased.

Telefilm Canada Act December 13th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-18, amendments to the Telefilm Canada Act.

I will begin by thanking the members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage for their excellent work on this bill. In keeping with the debate on second reading of the bill in the House, the discussion in committee was both constructive and succinct. As a result, we have arrived at third reading in a very timely fashion.

Bill C-18 is straightforward legislation. It is my hope that the bill will continue to move through the parliamentary process in a straightforward manner.

Telefilm Canada supports the production of high quality Canadian products that celebrate and reflect our cultural and regional diversity to Canadians and to the world. In this way, it plays a key role in helping the government to achieve our cultural policy objectives.

I want to remind members that Telefilm Canada was created in 1967 as the Canadian Film Development Corporation with a mandate “to foster and promote the development of a feature film industry in Canada.”

Telefilm fulfills this mandate in a most worthy way.

However Telefilm Canada's mandate as a cultural investor has, over recent years, extended beyond feature films. Telefilm is now also dedicated to the development, production, promotion and distribution of popular Canadian television programs and new media products. It is involved to some extent in the sound record industry as well.

Many of the high quality cultural products that Telefilm has helped bring to fruition have not only captivated Canadians of all ages, they have attracted audiences and acclaim around the world. These successes underline the fact that good storytelling transcends borders, language and also cultures.

I will mention some of the productions that have benefited from Telefilm's expertise and funding.

In the film world, Les invasions barbares, the Barbarian Invasions walked off with the Oscar for best foreign film in 2003. Séraphin, Un homme et son péché was a phenomenal box office success in Canada, with receipts of close to $10 million. Mambo Italiano is the most lucrative English Canada film ever, having been screened in more than 50 countries, and Atanarjuat,The Fast Runner was awarded the prestigious Gold Camera Award for a first feature film at the 2001 Cannes International Film Festival. Imagine, the first Canadian feature film in the Inuktitut language won one of the world's most prestigious film awards.

In television, the popular Da Vinci's Inquest is enjoyed in 45 countries across the world. The mini-series Trudeau attracted record-breaking audiences, proving that Canadians hunger for Canadian stories.

The format for Un gars, une fille has been sold and resold to 30 countries including Germany, France and Italy.

In the new media sector, Telefilm has invested in a new media content associated with popular television programs such as Degrassi and The Toy Castle , a wonderful Canadian program for young children.

Telefilm has also invested in new media content ranging from interactive educational games such Mia Mouse , to databases full of information about Canada and Canadians. In the sound recording industry, 13 music labels have benefited since 2001 from Telefilm's support for the implementation of forward looking business plans.

As technology has evolved, Telefilm has also evolved to meet the needs of Canadian creators in the audio-visual sector. Its original mandate, however, was never formally updated in recognition if its expanded role. Bill C-18 would simply formally extend the mandate of Telefilm to the entire audio-visual sector.

The proposed amendments to the Telefilm Act, thus, would simply confirm in law Telefilm's current activities.

Some members have wondered whether we do not need to go further in modernizing the Telefilm Canada Act. This is true. Bill C-18 has one specific objective, but as soon as it is passed, we fully intend to complete that process.

For the moment, we have the possibility of clarifying the important role Telefilm plays in the cultural life of our country, as it has evolved over time. The Auditor General has encouraged clarification of the Telefilm mandate, and the members of this House agree on the need for this.

Further, as a government, we have greater ambitions. For example, the government will be responding in detail to the Lincoln report on Canadian broadcasting. The report contained no fewer than 97 recommendations. Developing our response to such a great body of work is an exacting but most valuable exercise. However by the end of April the government will have made clear its overreaching priorities concerning broadcasting and how it plans to act on these priorities.

Canada's cultural institutions, both private and public, face complex new challenges and new possibilities in the digital age. At the same time, the demographics of our country are changing. We are more multicultural than ever before and their diversity needs to be reflected in our cultural policies and our cultural institutions.

Simply put, we need to ensure the clarity of the mandates of all of the cultural agencies in the Canadian Heritage portfolio but for now we must send to Telefilm the message that we want it to continue in its role in helping to bring Canadian experiences and viewpoints to Canadians and the world. We can do this by supporting Bill C-18.

It is heartening that during the course of debate on the bill no one has questioned the success of Telefilm. No one questions the invaluable contribution of the arts and culture to the economy and the life of our country. No one questions the importance of the audio visual sector.

I am delighted at the degree of unanimity on culture matters that has been demonstrated thus far in the House but this support of culture should not come as any surprise given the contribution of the sector to our communities and to our economy.

The audio visual sectors keep 225,000 Canadians at work in creative skilled jobs. These innovative Canadians are very much part of the knowledge based economy that is critical to Canada's future prosperity. Cultural industries help create culture rich communities, and these are exactly the kinds of places that are most attractive to today's business investors.

Let there be no doubt about where the government stands on cultural matters, whether it is film, TV, music or new media, our cultural products speak for us in words and images that reverberate across our country, in cities and in rural and remote areas, but most important, around the world. They reflect our aspirations, our values and our vision as a country. They deepen our mutual understanding across diverse cultural backgrounds. They enrich our lives and contribute to our economy.

The government unreservedly supports Canadian culture and the cultural institutions like Telefilm that serve it well.

We are not alone in that, I know. Many members of all parties and from all regions of the country support us.

I would therefore call upon all hon. members in this House to support Bill C-18.

Human Rights December 10th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate International Human Rights Day. This date was established in 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly to honour the anniversary of the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948.

The declaration is truly a remarkable document. Its 30 articles deal with the full range of human rights, including political participation, due process under law, education, property rights, and the freedom to marry among consenting spouses.

While virtually every country has signed on to the declaration, we know that the practical recognition of human rights is far from universally observed. This is why it is important to celebrate and reflect on these values that are so fundamental to living a life unburdened by despotism, racism, persecution and arbitrary sanction.

Among the people observing International Human Rights Day, I would especially like to single out our country's vibrant Tibetan community, a great many of whom live in my riding. I commend their efforts and the efforts of all their supporters in promoting human rights during this difficult period in their long history.

Main Estimates, 2004-05 December 9th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I too rise this evening in support of the motion to restore funding to the Governor General's budget.

As we know, the question of other government department support to the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General has been an issue in the recent past because parliamentarians have indeed expressed an interest in the overall expenditures of the government in support of the Governor General. This is in addition to the direct budgetary expenditures of the office.

During the time I have I would like to outline the support provided by other federal departments and agencies to the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. It should be noted that such support is not new to this mandate, but has been government practice for virtually every Governor General since Confederation.

I would like to begin by making one point very clear. Costs are incurred by other government departments to support certain activities of the Governor General because these activities help them to achieve their departmental mandate. That is why these costs form part of their annual budgetary appropriation that is approved by Parliament. As such, most if not all of the decisions to incur expenses in support of the Governor General are made by those departments and agencies in whose budget these allocations appear and not by the office of the Governor General itself.

The institution of Governor General is a powerful symbol of Canada's national sovereignty and identity and, as I will note, the Governor General is frequently called upon to participate in departmental events when it is important to have our head of state present.

However, in the interests of transparency, the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General has made public a report that summarizes the source of funding from all other government departments and agencies that provide that kind of support, the purposes to which those funds are put, and the amount of those expenditures for the most recent complete fiscal year, that being 2003-04.

Let me now tell hon. members about some of the highlights of this report. The Department of National Defence provides support to the Governor General and to the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General in several respects because of the position of the Governor General as Canada's head of state and commander in chief.

In particular, the Department of National Defence provides transportation services and other logistical support for all the Governor General's travel, whether for an event in Canada or for state visits abroad. The service covers travel of a personal nature and security policy advises that the Governor General travel by government aircraft.

The Department of National Defence provides several key personnel to the Governor General and the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General on military assignments. They include five aide-de-camps who are junior officers at the captain or naval lieutenant level from all three services and undertake this posting as a two year assignment. It also includes a colonel or captain on a three year or four year assignment. Other personnel are provided for special services on short term assignments for undertakings such as state visits abroad.

All members of the House will agree that as commander in chief the Governor General plays a highly visible role and has an important symbolic relationship with the Canadian Forces. This is reflected in requests from the Department of National Defence for the Governor General to participate in events which are particularly meaningful to the Canadian Forces as a whole or to individual branches or units.