Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the House that negotiations are underway. It is not our custom to negotiate in public.
Lost his last election, in 1997, with 37% of the vote.
French Speaking Minorities May 31st, 1996
Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the House that negotiations are underway. It is not our custom to negotiate in public.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation May 3rd, 1996
Mr. Speaker, we well know the policy of the Reform Party with regard to the CBC. It wants to gut it completely. It wants to eliminate it.
The government has committed CBC funding for the next number of years on a long term basis. We have committed to responding to the Juneau report in the very near future. We have committed to helping our cultural industries and there will be a cultural fund set up that all cultural industries will be able to access.
I can honestly say in this regard when it comes to the Reform Party talking about cuts, here it is on one side complaining we are not cutting enough and all of a sudden it is complaining we are cutting too much.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation May 3rd, 1996
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. It gives me an opportunity to clear the air.
There were no new cuts announced in this year's budget for the CBC. The government has announced its long term plans for CBC with regard to funding. Almost a billion dollars in funding, $800 million within the next fiscal year, which has been allotted to CBC is plenty of money for it to operate.
Canadian Human Rights Act May 1st, 1996
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member is making accusations which are not correct. he has also made an accusation which to me has taken the Chair in question. He is attributing that we are deciding who speaks in this House.
Broadcasting Act April 26th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to speak to you briefly, you and those assembled here, on bill Private Member's Bill C-216 on negative option billing.
First of all, I wish to congratulate my colleague from Sarnia-Lambton for his unflagging, and finally successful, efforts over recent months to get this question onto the Order Paper.
Most Canadians will recall the launching of the new Canadian specialized services some 15 months ago. It is unfortunate that this excellent opportunity to discover these Canadian programs was overshadowed by the issue of what is called "negative option billing".
The public did not criticize the choice of programming, but rather the fact that they were trying to force subscribers to pay for a whole package of programs and then burdening them with the need to reject the options they did not want.
My colleague's proposal will amend paragraph 3(1)( t ) of the Broadcasting Act on distribution undertakings, making use of the negative option approach illegal.
It is important to point out that the Minister of Heritage and myself, as well as the hon. member for Sarnia-Lambton, are all vigorously opposed to the practices that were common early in 1995, and we hope that the committee debates will cast more light on the optimum way of solving this question once and for all, so as to implement an approach that is better suited to the concerns of the Canadian consumer.
You may be aware that the Broadcasting Act is mainly concerned with key principles and objectives in the area of culture, and not with trade practices such as negative option billing.
Therefore it might be worthwhile if, during their discussions on the matter, committee members considered referring it to the CRTC with a view to amending its regulations or the mechanisms governing the licensing process.
By changing the regulations, the commission might set new requirements for negative option use, or make the standards imposed upon industry for customer service more stringent.
Perhaps it is time for a national approach to the rights of consumers. Despite the need for Canadians to know about the diversity of quality Canadian programming on the newer specialty channels, it cannot be done at the expense of consumer choice. It is the right of Canadian consumers to have Canadian choices but not to have these forced upon them.
New information technologies are transforming the traditional parameters between producers and consumers. New players can offer an ever increasing range of viewing choices that transcend territorial boundaries and pose new challenges for the dissemination of our cultural products. Canadians know this. Therefore, it is important that all distribution undertakings follow the same rules and recognize the consumers' right to be consulted before subscribing to new services.
The CRTC is preparing to re-examine a wide variety of new applicants ready to deliver to Canadians new and exciting program venues. Previously the CRTC has expressed its concern about negative option marketing. The minister is strongly behind the end of negative optioning and is prepared to support measures which ensure that all future programming entries are evaluated on their own merit without resorting to a marketing instrument such as negative optioning. This point will be made clearly to all persons concerned with broadcasting regulations.
This reminds me that the issue of Canadian content and programming which underlined this episode provoked some very strong views, particularly from the western provinces. In my view, the past 25 years or so of Canadian content regulations have allowed us to grow from a fledgling music and television industry to one that has gained international acceptance and recognition. We should take great pride in everything that has contributed to forging our identity.
The competition will be fierce for the specialty channels that want their programming to go to the largest possible number of Canadian households. However, we know the CRTC has received as many as 40 proposals for its May hearing on new specialty devices or services. This large number of proposals demonstrates that Canada's creators and broadcasters still contemplate original concepts and remain optimistic about the Canadian public's reception of their offerings.
At this critical time when tensions and divisions loom to tear us apart, we must call on the ideals and values that bind us. We must affirm our commitment to Canada's cultural objectives which define our national identity.
In the era of a multichannel universe and the information highway, the challenge to keep our domestic content on the airwaves can be both frightening and exhilarating. The new opportunities created by technical advances also translate into global consumer empowerment, making McLuhan's global village a reality. McLuhan could also have said that in this global village the Greek democratic ideal is resuscitated in a modern form in which the consumer is poised to become a pivotal player in a newly emerging marketplace.
I personally support the project put forward by the hon. member.
Canada Labour Code April 24th, 1996
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me on behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage to respond to the comments made by my hon. colleague, the member for The Battlefords-Meadow Lake.
The question is very timely, I am pleased to say. The Minister of Canadian Heritage today is signing with her provincial counterpart an agreement to create Wapusk National Park near Churchill, Manitoba.
Members know that these are challenging times and Parks Canada has to do its share. By 1998-99, federal funding to Parks Canada will be reduced by $98 million. This means its appropriation will go down to $259 million.
Parks Canada is offsetting these reductions somewhat through its cost recovery efforts. While revenues will reach $64 million by 1998-99, they do not offset cuts of this magnitude.
Parks Canada is committed to achieving these reductions while maintaining its core mandate to provide for the use and enjoyment of all Canadians a system of national parks, national historic sites and related protected areas and to manage these places in a manner that leaves them unimpaired for future generations. Parks Canada will continue to secure and set aside parks and sites for future generations.
Given the economic impact of parks and sites, the government intends to keep the parks and sites open for the enjoyment of all Canadians and for our international visitors.
To achieve the level of reductions we are considering a number of options. And in keeping with the direction the federal government has adopted under program review, Parks Canada is reducing its involvement in direct delivery of services.
One option that is now being pursued by Parks Canada is employee takeovers. Treasury Board released a government-wide employee takeover policy on February 22, 1996. It is an innovative policy outlining an effective option for service delivery.
The minister has already indicated to the member and he alluded to the fact that we are studying other options besides this one. The minister is determined to adopt an approach or approaches which will be best for the staff while achieving reductions and preserve the Parks Canada mandate for all Canadians.
Canada Labour Code April 24th, 1996
Madam Speaker, with all due respect, I believe the question had been put earlier that the bill be made votable. It was refused and it has been refused again.
Looking at the subject matter, severance pay, and knowing the bill has some very positive features, maybe it would be permissible to refer the subject matter to committee. The committee would then determine if there is an injustice in this regard, which there seems to be, and could look at it in a positive way. Then the member could make his presentation to the committee.
I believe the question of making the bill votable has already been put twice and it has been turned down. I think a more positive approach might be to refer the subject matter to committee. That might receive unanimous support.
Québec-Téléphone April 22nd, 1996
Mr. Speaker, Québec-Téléphone's rights to hold a licence to provide broadcasting services on the information highway is a crucial issue for the people of eastern Quebec. These people should have access to the same kind of broadcasting, telecommunication and new communication services as the rest of the Canadian population.
The information highway offers hope for the economy of the future. I think that is not unrealistic. Right now, the economic, social and cultural sectors are going through a period of rapid transition brought about by the power of the information, to name but one factor.
It is true that electrical connections and wires by themselves will not create that economic growth. But it is there new information content and applications essential to every information based society will be developed.
The federal government showed the way by dealing with issues related to the creation of the information highway in Canada. That information highway will answer the needs of the Canadian population and allow us to remain competitive on the global communication market.
The government identified three study objects for the public consultation process leading to the implementation of policies in that area, namely facilities, content and competition.
With regards to the competition policy, many supported the guiding principle according to which a fair and sustainable competition is good for consumers. Canadian consumers have clearly indicated they want more competitive distribution choices.
Our government's policies have already helped to determine how competition will be introduced into direct to home satellite services. Among other things, the government has launched a process that will make it possible to ensure healthy competition in the delivery of direct to home broadcasting and telecommunication services.
Despite the strong competition that will result from these new types of systems for delivering services, the development of our cable television and telephone networks in Canada will continue to be one of our greatest assets in meeting the challenges of the future in the communications field.
Clear guidelines resulting from the government's policy will reassure the industries in question and encourage them to invest in the technologies that will benefit Canadian consumers.
The freedom of consumers to use the services they feel are the best and to select whichever network or networks they wish can be respected only if competition between the various stakeholders is fair and defensible.
In this regard, we have pointed out to the government that it would be preferable not to give an initial advantage to the cable television and telephone companies in the provision of services traditionally offered by one or the other. These conditions apply not just to the regions served by Québec-Téléphone and BC Tel, but to the entire country.
It is the CRTC that studies regulatory questions such as the conditions of interconnectivity and interoperability, in order to ensure competition in the local telephone services sector. For its part, the government will determine the evolution of competition between these networks.
The Deputy Prime Minister and heritage minister has indicated her readiness to find solutions that will guarantee residents of eastern Quebec and British Columbia the same kind of services enjoyed in the rest of Canada.
Numerous meetings have already been held between the directors of Québec-Téléphone and BC Tel and the minister or her representatives. The talks are continuing, with a view to finding solutions that will maintain the integrity of the Canadian broadcasting system, while offering Québec-Téléphone and BC Tel the latitude necessary to ensure that their networks can be used effectively and that they complement communications services in the regions inhabited by their clientele.
The government will shortly be announcing the implementation of its policy with respect to merging telecommunications and broadcasting. I am sure that this policy will include the inhabitants of the Gaspé, the Lower St. Lawrence, the North Shore and any other region served by Québec-Téléphone or BC Tel.
The Budget April 16th, 1996
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his question. I would like to point out to him that the government has two priorities: to put our financial house in order and to create jobs.
To answer the question put by my colleague about our financial future, I would say that if he had reviewed the figures in the budget, and I will repeat them because I mentioned them in my speech, he would have obviously noted that the deficit for 1995-96 will decrease to 3 per cent of the gross domestic product and that it will continue to fall. By 1997-98, the deficit will have dropped to 2 per cent and it will continue to diminish until it gets to 0 per cent.
In 1993, the deficit reached $42 billion. By 1997-98, it will have come down to $17 billion. So, it is widely recognized throughout the country that the Minister of Finance is acting responsibly and putting our financial house in order. We are making progress. The figures we have here go to prove it.
In terms of job creation, I think the minister has identified new initiatives with one priority in mind, our youth. It is one of our priorities, our future, the future of our country. In my view, this is our most important natural resource. It is very important that it be identified as one of our priorities. It is the first time that a federal government has made a priority of this very important issue.
The hon. member made some comments about the unemployment insurance program, based, I think, on the act itself, which we are currently amending to help solve the problem he mentioned.
The Budget April 16th, 1996
Madam Speaker, please note that I intend to share my time with the hon. member for St. Catherines.
I am very pleased to rise today to speak to the 1996 budget. I would first like to congratulate the Minister of Finance. This budget and those tabled by the minister in recent years have always met and often exceeded the government's financial objectives.
The finance minister's budgets work together to help the people of Canada protect their future. To that end, the government has focused its efforts on four primary objectives: maintaining social programs for future generations, ensuring our financial future, rethinking the role of government, and investing in our future.
Although numerous measures will be necessary in each of these areas, today I want to concentrate on those I see as the most important.
One area I am concerned about in the federal government is in securing our social programs for the next century. I know this is a large area to look into in my short 10 minutes but I want to concentrate today on the employment insurance program and go back a bit to when it was first presented in December.
At that time a number of problems were identified. Even before those problems were identified, the minister in his presentation of that proposed employment insurance bill indicated to the House that he was willing to make changes that would be equitable, changes that would be based on common sense. From that time on the Liberal caucus and members of the Atlantic caucus especially have indicated to the minister a number of changes which have to be made.
There is no doubt that the status quo is unacceptable. In my riding constituents have come to see me over the years. They indicated that the unemployment insurance program was not adequate and it had to be updated and modernized. They indicated where the problems were.
I know from personal experience when dealing with a layoff at the Atholville mill and the Dalhousie mill that every time we wanted to have some flexibility in the program we were told it was impossible because the Unemployment Insurance Act did not permit us to do this or that.
I am very pleased to see the government has decided to modernize the UI program. I am also very pleased to see the government has agreed to make changes. The minister from Acadie-Bathurst has decided to listen to the committee. I hope the committee will come up with some good amendments.
I congratulate the members for Fredericton-York-Sunbury, Halifax West, and Etobicoke-Lakeshore for the positive amendments they have put forth in that committee so far. Our commitment and amendments should help clarify the intensity rule by making it more equitable, especially for low income families, as you are so much in tune, Madam Speaker, with regard to alleviating their status at the present moment.
I should also point out another amendment that will be made with regard to the divisor rule. The hon. member for Halifax West has already indicated that he is ready to look at the divisor rule and to link it to the UI rate rather than the flat 20 weeks. That should again alleviate some of the problems that have been put forth or identified in the present bill.
The other thing that should be pointed out is the tremendous job the hon. member for Fredericton-York-Sunbury has done on this dossier altogether on his amendment with regard to the going back 26 weeks for UI eligibility and the counting of hours.
In all of this debate some of the positive things in the bill have been put aside and not emphasized enough. The area of counting of hours for qualifying rather than weeks is going to be positive. It will allow people to qualify sooner. It will allow them to qualify for longer periods. It would also be a way of guaranteeing that all hours count.
The other thing that is important on the other side is the flexibility it will give to the programs. I should mention here the transition fund which will go to high unemployment areas. The government has identified $300 million which will go into that fund and the investment fund, the permanent programs, the $800 million which will be put forth to help create more work.
We realize that the changes are not perfect but what I want to emphasize again is that the government has always been listening and has reacted to the concerns that have been brought up by members of Parliament and especially members of Parliament from the Atlantic region.
The 1994-95 budget measures will help us achieve our deficit reduction objectives for 1995-96 and 1996-97, namely 3 per cent of GDP. The 1996 budget guarantees that the government deficit will go down to 2 per cent of GDP in 1997-98. The deficit will have fallen from $42 billion in 1993-94 to $17 billion in 1997-98.
There is no increase in personal or corporate income tax or excise taxes in this budget. Finally, there have been no personal income tax hikes in the last three budgets.
It is very important to underline the fact of no new taxes because that is what the people have asked us to do. That is what we have heard in our ridings and in the meetings we have had with constituents, from letters and phone calls we have received. People did not want to have an increase in their taxes. The government has responded in a positive way.
The priority area the government has seen fit to work on is getting government right. In this case the budget takes continuing action in reducing waste and inefficiency and in redefining and redesigning the government's programs and activities. Program review, phase one, phase two, it is ongoing. The government has indicated publicly that it will continue that program review to make government more efficient and to cut out a lot of the duplication that exists.
Working at delivering better quality services at lower costs to the taxpayer is what we want. Government must not only spend less, it must spend more wisely. An example of that is in my own Department of Canadian Heritage where a Parks Canada agency will be set up as a form of alternate delivery of services. In that case the agency will continue to report to the Minister of Canadian Heritage but it will allow for the services and the flexibility to be provided in each individual park. It will allow local parks to adjust their mandate to the local situation and to do that in a fashion that is speedier and more efficient.
Our government has been providing the economic and social environment that will encourage the economic growth that makes new jobs possible. The government has worked at keeping inflation down which results in lower interest rates.
The government has also recognized that youth are our greatest natural resource and the key to our future. Since our election a number of programs for youth have been implemented, such as youth services Canada, youth internship Canada and the student summer job action program. In this budget the government continues to build upon the measures taken for youth in the previous budgets. We have provided for on the job training through the reallocation of $315 million over three years to help create youth employment opportunities. The budget also doubles the government's commitment to the summer career placement program.
With regard to Canadian heritage the minister has announced renewed funding for Radio-Canada International which was again a request from Canadians, again a sign that we have listened to Canadians. They told us that it was an important feature of our culture, that it was an important feature for Canadians. We have reinstituted that funding to allow it to continue for another year. The minister is now searching for new ways of funding that service.
I should also point out that the minister has indicated to this House and publicly that a special culture fund is being set up to assist our cultural industries. That should be in place very shortly. The details will be announced publicly whenever they are ready.
I want to thank the Speaker for letting me speak this morning. I hope the hon. members opposite will applaud the Minister of Finance for bringing down a budget that will really benefit this country.