Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present to the House for third reading a bill on the creation of a mechanism to allow appeals of decisions made by the Cultural Property Export Review Board.
Bill C-93, an act to amend the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, the Income Tax Act, and the Tax Court of Canada Act, passed second reading on October 3. I thank my colleagues for their comments in the House and the progress of the bill. I thank those who gave input at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.
The purpose of this bill is to establish an appeal mechanism against decisions by the Cultural Property Export Review Board concerning fair market value of cultural property offered as a gift to museums, galleries, archives and libraries in the public sector.
The mechanism is twofold: first the donor or the recipient institution may ask the Review Board to reconsider its first evaluation of fair market value. Donors who have obtained a second evaluation from the Board and are still dissatisfied may then go on to the next stage, appeal of the Board's decision to the Tax Court of Canada.
As announced in the February 1990 federal budget, the responsibility for determining fair market value of cultural goods donated to designated Canadian museums, art galleries and libraries is transferred from Revenue Canada-Taxation to the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board.
The legislative amendments implementing this change became law in December 1991. In January 1992 the review board assumed this new responsibility.
Inadvertently, no provision for appeal from decisions by the board was included in the amendments, despite the fact that a right to appeal had existed previously.
When Revenue Canada still had this responsibility, the lack of an appeal mechanism had raised considerable concern among donors and custodial institutions. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, in co-operation with the Review Board, undertook a series of consultations with the community concerned on the need for an appeal process.
Subsequently we decided to propose legislative changes that would provide for the right to appeal to the Tax Court of Canada. Why should we adopt this bill?
What we want to do through this legislation is restore a natural right that existed up to 1991. With these amendments we have actually proposed two avenues of appeal over disputes concerning the fair market value of donations of cultural property to museums, art galleries, archives, and libraries.
The two tier process is effective in that it gives donors a chance to obtain satisfaction more quickly without having to go to court. The latter process is always very long and costly for all parties concerned.
This mechanism is not only a boon to present and potential donors of cultural property. It is not only essential for museums, art galleries, archives and libraries, as present and potential beneficiaries of donations of cultural property. It is important for Canada as a whole and for all Canadians, now and in the future. It encourages donations of items that are outstanding examples of our heritage, so that these can be preserved, exhibited and appreciated, for the greater benefit of future generations.
The Minister of Canadian Heritage is responsible for a department where the concept of heritage is given its broadest possible meaning. Heritage means the set of values we share and the signs by which we recognize ourselves as being members of a group and, indeed, a country.
Today, we can no longer restrict the meaning of heritage to what we have inherited from the past. Heritage is far more than just a
collection of historical remains. Canada's heritage is first of all an expression of the ties that bind its citizens and of the unique identity of this country within the international community.
One could say that the concept of heritage cannot be separated from our identity. In the present economic situation, the concerns of heritage and identity are sometimes seen as redundant or of lesser importance.
Heritage and natural identity lie at the heart of economic and fiscal matters, for they animate and inspire the people and activities that drive the economy.
As a result of the various ways in which it interacts with other commercial enterprises, the arts and culture sector generates considerable expenditures which stimulate a direct demand for goods and services produced by other industries.
In 1992-93, the direct and indirect financial impact on GDP totalled more than $24 billion.
More than 600,000 corresponding jobs were created directly and indirectly the same year. The amendments we are proposing to the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, the Income Tax Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act will consolidate the sectors of the arts, culture and heritage by making it easier for those who give valuable cultural property to museums, art galleries or libraries.
Investing in our arts, culture and heritage is investing in our collective future. These amendments are therefore of the highest importance to all Canadians, and particularly to the 60 million visitors to our art galleries and museums annually.
I would like to point out here that Canada's museums were the first of its cultural institutions to be established. For example, what is now the Canadian Museum of Civilization was founded in 1881. It can be difficult for museums, galleries and libraries to acquire new collection items. They have not escaped the financial challenge of these difficult times.
They have had significant cuts to their funding. Our museums, our art galleries and our libraries must therefore depend on the generosity of Canadians from all walks of life, on people who could have made money selling their artifacts, on people who, instead, have generously given them to us forever.
To offset the drop in funding faced by our museums, art galleries and libraries at the moment, it is our job to come up with ways these cultural and heritage institutions can acquire cultural property that will enrich their collections. Collections are not simply the irreplaceable assets of museums, art galleries and libraries, they are their raison d'être.
Policies and activities involving collections are among the basic mechanisms museums, art galleries, archives and libraries use to define and carry out their mandate. Museums, art galleries, archives and libraries may find it very difficult to complete their collections, for reasons such as rapidly increasing costs.
That is especially true for some art galleries, following the rapid increase in prices on the art market. The speed with which new products appear on the market make it very difficult for museums of science or history to show up to date collections. Donations of cultural assets to the collections are of definite financial value.
For instance, the Cultural Property Export and Import Act concerns a very large range of cultural items, including works of art, historical artifacts, natural science specimens, archives or scientific and technological material of historic significance. Our government has committed to supporting the cultural sector in Canada. Data produced by Statistics Canada show that the Government of Canada remains by far the one that supports the most the cultural sector in Canada. The government wants to go on doing so by continually seeking new ways of promoting the development of the cultural sector.
Innovative structural changes such as Bill C-93 will support the cultural sector without increasing the burden of Canadian taxpayers, so that they can donate their cultural properties instead of selling them to other countries. Canadians must be able to benefit from tax incentives such as those resulting from this legislation. These incentives encourage people to increase their support for our museums, art galleries and libraries.