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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was cbc.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Mississauga East—Cooksville (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2008, with 50% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Anti-Violence Campaign April 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Canadian Heritage launched "Speak out Against Violence", a campaign of public service announcements by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters.

The Government of Canada is a very committed partner in this initiative which is another fine example of what can be achieved on an important social issue through co-operation between the public and private sectors.

To accommodate our federal contribution, Canada's private broadcasters are committing $10 million in free air time to broadcast these announcements.

The government is aware that the media heavily influence our attitudes, and we think this campaign is an excellent way to make all Canadians think about the questions raised by violence in our society.

I invite all Canadians to join us in this bold initiative to help build the Canada of the future, a Canada where men, women and children can be safe in their homes and can walk the streets without fear of harm.

Supply April 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, personally I am disappointed by the hon. member's speech, and I am sure Canadians must be surprised at the position and views of the Bloc Quebecois on official languages.

I have a question. The other day, the hon. member, who is the heritage critic, asked and I quote:

"When will they," meaning the provinces, "start treating French Canadians as well as the English are treated in Quebec".

Her leader, commenting on the same subject, said and I quote:

"The Quebec government did not do enough, even the Péquistes did not do enough. The federal government certainly did more than Quebec. I am ready to admit that".

Mr. Speaker, my question is, why do Bloc members not speak the same language?

Supply April 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, large numbers of parents have been enrolling their children in French immersion programs. Enrolment increased at a phenomenal rate over the past decade. Significant increases have also been seen in other French second language program schools outside Quebec and English second language programs in Quebec.

The most recent census shows that as a consequence of these programs the level of bilingualism in the 15 to 25-year group has risen from 16 per cent to 23 per cent in only 10 years.

The value of our official languages is also reflected in the desire of our English and French speaking minority communities to have access to quality public education in their language as a key to retaining their vitality. The Government of Canada has assisted and continues to assist in the development of the minority official language education system across Canada.

Canadian identity is a reflection of who we are. It must therefore accommodate native people, linguistic duality as well as the multicultural nature of our society and our regional diversity. It is important for Canada to reflect all its citizens. The notion of "belonging" applies not only to those who had the good fortune to be born in this land, but also to those for whom Canada is a country of adoption.

Our concept of citizenship must also include the values we share and those we would like to be associated with. Equality and respect for diversity form an integral part of our shared vision of Canada and the vital elements of our identity.

The public debate has often been so focused on what divides us that it often overlooks the things we have in common, including our grassroots civic commitments to building our communities. This active concept of citizenship encompasses not only a legal status but rather our active commitment to the fundamental values we share which give us pride in our citizenship.

How do we go about edifying a common vision of Canadian identity? In my mind, this cannot be done in isolation. Existing tensions can only be overcome if all Canadians have an adequate knowledge and understanding of the fundamental realities of their country and aspirations of the communities that make it up.

It is not by accident that language and culture are recurrent themes in Canadian society. No parliamentarian or government can afford to overlook these issues. They must be addressed openly, transparently. There are certainly adjustments to be made to the application of the official languages policy and there is still room for improvement, as the Commissioner of Official Languages pointed out last week.

Public debate should focus on these improvements. It should deal with hard facts, and not myths, misconceptions and exaggerations. The hon. member's motion is based on such misconceptions and exaggerations.

I am pleased to have had this opportunity to take part in this debate and to show the importance of our official languages policy for Canadian identity. And I have no doubt that, put before the facts, this House will reject the proposal before us today.

Supply April 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party has put before the House today a motion asking the government to amend the Official Languages Act so that French can be the predominant language in Quebec and English the predominant language in the rest of the country. Reformers also want federal services to be available in the official language of the minority where there is significant demand.

Obviously, the motion was drafted by someone who does not understand the Official Languages Act very well or by someone who wants to give a distorted image of the letter and the spirit of the Act.

Who could deny within the Reform Party or elsewhere that French is the predominant language of Quebec? Who could deny that English is the predominant language of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario or Newfoundland?

Not only does the Official Languages Act do nothing to change that, it recognizes it. It recognizes it by ensuring that official language minorities have access to federal government services where there is significant demand. This is much of what the motion asks and it is what the act already does. What is new? Perhaps it is only a new attempt to foster resentment and discontent among Canadians.

I would advise the hon. members of the Reform Party to get better acquainted with the official languages policy if they are interested in meaningful debate based on facts, not simply rumours or misconceptions. Perhaps they might read the brochure "Myths and Realities" to see whether they are on the side of myths or realities. Maybe then they will stop fighting windmills and join with the government in tackling the real problems of this country.

The position taken by the Reform Party on the issue of official languages more than proves they do not understand a thing about government policy. It shows that they do not understand what Canadian identity is all about. We know that the members of the Bloc Quebecois want to break up Canada and ensure Quebec's separation. That is very clear. The Bloc deals with its own contradictions as it sees fit, but its basic option is without any ambiguity whatsoever.

Unknowingly, the Reform Party is also proposing the break-up of Canada. They want to break up Canada by attacking our Canadian values and the major policies, such as official languages and multiculturalism, which unite our country.

Like sorcerers' apprentices our opposing friends would like to throw away long held policies and workable solutions with total disregard for the dire consequences which would fall upon Canadian unity and Canadian identity.

Our task as parliamentarians is to reinforce unity, not uniformity. Our mission is to contribute a sense of a country which respects the many ways of being a Canadian.

Language and culture are sensitive issues in any society. They touch the very essence of how people define themselves and their place in society.

Public debates do not always honour the facts.

The Canadian people want policies that reflect such Canadian values as dialogue, understanding, equity and mutual respect for policies based on a definition of citizenship which includes rights as well as responsibilities, for policies which urge all Canadians to take their place in a pluralistic Canadian society.

However, do not attach too much value to labels like multiculturalism, pluralism, diversity, bilingualism, linguistic duality, official languages that go beyond minorities or to semantics on which people do not necessarily agree. These terms have one thing in common: they all refer to solutions made in Canada. Canadians have tried to develop policies that would reflect the various aspects of their society and the challenges they face.

These very Canadian policies have been used and are still used as models elsewhere, but they were made here, in Canada.

The raison d'être for our official languages policy is clear. The presence of two significant language communities is one of Canada's defining features. Ninety-eight point eight per cent of Canadians speak either English or French and these are the principal languages used by Canadians in their daily lives.

The official use of both English and French within the institutions of the government has roots which even predate Confederation. It is hard to look at Canada without seeing the importance of these two languages within Canadian society.

Approximately one-quarter of Canadians have French as their first official language and three-quarters have English. A majority of both language groups are unilingual. Seven per cent or over 1.5 million Canadians live in provinces where their first official language is in the minority.

The value of languages is made clear in public opinion surveys which show that three out of every four parents want their children to learn the second official language.

This has resulted in large numbers of parents enrolling their children in French immersion programs.

Budget Implementation Act, 1994 April 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the instant promotion but I am a mere parliamentary secretary and not a minister. Thank you anyway.

The hon. member makes the point that there should be more food in the cupboard but to many people culture is a form of food and sustenance. It is the unifying link that binds this country together. The measure that the government has proposed and put on the table before members is very responsible. It is done with a view to ensuring that we are fiscally responsible. The money that we are proposing is money well spent.

Budget Implementation Act, 1994 April 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member would like to elaborate, when he says that there should be substantial cuts, where these cuts should be made.

Budget Implementation Act, 1994 April 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the Reformer is on record as wanting to privatize part or all of CBC. I thank the hon. member for his question.

As some make this recommendation they also claim that Canadians would be better served by the privatization of CBC. All they would succeed in doing by imprudent budget cuts is waste much of the money that remains spent on the CBC because it will not be commercially viable and its product would deteriorate to irrelevance.

Closing the CBC or severely cutting funding would be to dam the last river of Canadian culture and leave it in effect as a stagnant pool. Certainly if the hon. member has suggestions to make he may wish to make representation before the CRTC.

The hon. member also said that all Canadians recognize the importance of CBC as a refuge from the mainstream of American sitcoms and documentaries about the civil war or the FBI. As the principal carrier of Canadian content, the CBC does prevent Canadians from being completely culturally disenfranchised.

Regrettably, though, the CBC must continue to suffer the slings and arrows of Reform MPs who were advocating its demise, unfortunately with a very narrow view of what constitutes Canadian culture.

Budget Implementation Act, 1994 April 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to join today's debate. I am rising to speak in support of Bill C-17 and to address more particularly clause 18 which introduces an amendment to the Broadcasting Act. This amendment will allow the CBC a greater measure of financial flexibility.

I would like first to convey my appreciation to the Minister of Finance faced with the difficult task of balancing so many competing priorities. His support for the CBC has been most gratifying. I know the employees of the CBC, including very many talented Canadian artists along with millions of loyal CBC viewers, also join me in expressing their appreciation.

The importance of public broadcasting in Canada fully justifies such a commitment. Thanks to public broadcasting, Canadians remain in touch with one another locally and nationally scene and with the whole world. Public broadcasting also gives all communities across this vast country of ours a chance to define and articulate their own vision of the world. Public broadcasting plays a decisive role in reaffirming our national identity.

That is why annual budget funding for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation totals about $1 billion. This is 62 per cent of all federal funding for cultural agencies reporting to the Department of Canadian Heritage.

However, the financial situation of the CBC has deteriorated in recent years. Since 1984, its budget has been cut by over $200 million, which has had the effect of increasing its dependence on advertising revenue. In 1984, this source of financing made up 21 per cent of the CBC's total budget. Today, it is 36 per cent of the CBC's total budget, an increase of 15 per cent, although this has not been enough to turn around a very serious deficit. Its

dependence on advertising revenue calls into question the role of the CBC as public broadcaster.

Furthermore, the 1993 budget inflicted cuts totalling $100 million, effective in 1996. The CBC has already told us that if its financial situation is not turned around, it will have to proceed with further cuts in operations.

However, the problems of the CBC are not only due to budget cutbacks, a structural deficit and the impact of the recession on advertising revenue. The Canadian broadcasting industry has changed considerably in recent years. New and specialized services obtained operating licences in the eighties.

Canadians now enjoy a wider range of programming and services than ever before. Although these changes are significant, they are only a preview of what we can expect in the broadcasting industry. In radio and television, technological progress will generate even greater diversity. It is expected that this diversity will lead to increased competition, fragmented audiences and major investments in technology, and will increase the cost of Canadian programming.

In television, the advent of direct satellite broadcasting and the ability of cable companies to increase the number of channels they offer mean that 200 or even 500 channels will be available before the end of the century. New American direct satellite broadcasting services will be extended to Canada in the next few months. Cable companies will add a number of new services, including a number of specialized services which the CRTC is expected to authorize this year.

This new competition will further fragment the audiences and advertising revenue of Canadian broadcasters, including the CBC.

Radio is also facing a number of changes. A few years from now, we will probably be seeing new radio services and digital technology adopted by existing services.

Our government has an historical tradition of supporting CBC, of supporting Canadian culture.

Our electoral platform was clearly outlined in the red book. In that document we stated that culture is the very essence of our national identity, the bedrock of national sovereignty and national pride.

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

There is no single instrument more important to the development of our national cultural identity than the CBC. This belief was the basis for our electoral pledge to provide the corporation with stable, multi-year financing. It is a key element in our plan to strengthen the CBC's ability to adapt to the new communications universe.

On February 3 of this year the Prime Minister announced the appointment of Mr. Anthony Manera as president of the CBC. Mr. Manera has enjoyed a distinguished career both within and outside the CBC. His commitment to the ideals of public broadcasting and his understanding of the corporation are deep indeed. The government is confident that under the capable leadership of Mr. Manera and the direction of the board of directors the corporation will meet its many challenges.

The government recognizes the enormity of the task before the CBC. In asking itself how the CBC can continue to reflect our fundamental values that project an image of Canada in which all Canadians recognize themselves the government understands that it must provide some measures of assistance to the corporation.

As a first step the government has committed not to impose new reductions on the CBC over the next five years subject to annual parliamentary approval of appropriations.

In addition, the government agreed to reprofile the cuts announced by the last government in order to ease their integration by the CBC. This measure comes in cost of $100 million in foregone savings to the consolidated revenue fund. It is a sure sign of this government's commitment to the CBC that this decision was made in the context of severe financial constraints.

These measures, the appointment of a strong new president, our agreement not to impose new reductions on the CBC and the reprofiling of previous cuts will give the corporation both the leadership and the clear picture of its financial future for the next five years it needs to plan for the longer term with confidence.

The next step in our campaign to help the CBC has been our agreement to grant the corporation's longstanding request for a borrowing authority. This measure will permit the CBC to become more efficient in its operations and allow it to enter into other ventures acceptable to the government that provide a return on investment.

The proposed legislative amendment to the Broadcasting Act would authorize the CBC to borrow from the consolidated revenue fund and from Canadian banking institutions through lines of credit, commercial loans and issuing bonds or commercial paper.

These borrowed funds would be used only to generate operating savings or for venture investments. The operating savings would accrue from investments in small and medium capital equipment and projects which have a payback of four years or less.

At the present time the corporation is unable to take advantage of such opportunities due to its shortage of capital re-

sources and the immediate need of addressing physical obsolescence in plants and equipment across the country.

Although the CBC can currently request an advance from the government this can be obtained only in exceptional circumstances.

The present situation is inadequate for two reasons. Requests must be evaluated in competition with other government priorities and the outcome of a request is directly dependent on the availability of operational reserves.

An obvious example of how this initiative could generate operational savings would be the purchase of capital equipment to replace leased equipment.

The operational savings would first serve to repay the capital investment over a period of three to four years and then further be applied against the corporation's operational shortfall. The authority to borrow would also facilitate the corporation's undertaking of large scale initiatives that further the achievement of the CBC's mandate and yield significant returns for a relatively small investment.

A good example of an initiative of this magnitude is the recent arrangement reached by the CBC to establish its owned and operated stated in New Brunswick. If the CBC had taken out a loan of $9.5 million for the purchase of the station, the advertising revenues from this new station would have allowed the CBC to repay the loan over a shorter timeframe than the life of the current agreement. The ability to borrow would have improved the CBC's financial position over the term of the agreement by over $3 million.

At this juncture I would like to assure the House that under no circumstances would the CBC be permitted to use these borrowed funds to address an operational shortfall and thereby operate on deficit financing. The CBC would be responsible for raising all the borrowed funds and ensuring that all procedures are followed in full compliance with the guidelines for market borrowings by crown corporations issued by the Department of Finance. The cash flows from the projects in question would remain with the CBC with their first priority being to service the debt.

The CBC's borrowing ceiling would be $25 million. A memorandum of understanding between the CBC and the Department of Finance would set out the terms and conditions governing the borrowing authority. Foremost among these conditions is that the CBC would require the approval of the Minister of Finance for each case in which borrowed funds were required.

In my opinion granting this long standing request for the borrowing authority is an important initiative in fostering the business like flexibility that is required for a $1 billion corporation with commercial objectives like the CBC.

No other corporation operating such a large enterprise would wish to operate without at least some such ability to borrow for viable investment opportunities.

The government and the CBC have taken a joint approach to resolving the corporation's problems. In addition to these measures, the minister has resolved to consult with his Cabinet colleagues, with other broadcasting industry stakeholders and with the corporation itself with a view to finding other ways of generating revenues in the public broadcasting field which would reduce the CBC's dependence on advertising revenues.

For its part, the CBC is expected to eliminate structural deficits and to absorb inflation costs as well as operating costs.

Mindful of the unique and highly enviable reputation enjoyed by the CBC's radio broadcasting services as well as the vital role that regional services play in helping the corporation serve the regions and introduce them to audiences nationwide, we have asked that current radio services and a regional presence be maintained.

The challenge is formidable. The move to grant the CBC limited borrowing authority will be one important component of the new strategy which the corporation will need to embrace if it is to meet the challenge.

Clearly, what we want is a renewed CBC.

Canada needs an effective public broadcaster as a front-line weapon in the battle to defend our cultural sovereignty against the influences of globalization.

To wage this battle effectively, the CBC must do the following: it must be the perfect reflection of regional perspectives across the network; it must help English-speaking Canadians and French-speaking Canadians gain a better understanding of the other group's culture by exposing them to programs produced by the other group; it must contribute to the common understanding of the multicultural or multiracial makeup of our population; it must adopt the strictest standards of journalistic responsibility; finally, it must co-operate with the rest of the broadcasting industry in an effort to come up with new markets for Canadian programs and sound recordings.

If we really want the CBC to be the typically Canadian voice that will shape our national identity in a multichannel environment, we must give it the necessary tools with which to confidently plan its future.

I call upon my hon. colleagues in the House to support the passage of Bill C-17 which, among other very commendable things, will amend the Broadcasting Act so as to grant the CBC limited borrowing authority. Recourse to this mechanism under the stringently controlled circumstances described above will

give the CBC considerable commercial flexibility. In turn, this flexibility will result in operating savings in the long run.

Parks Canada March 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage is to be commended for tabling the new Parks Canada "Guiding Principles and Operational Policies".

Today is an occasion for pride in our rich heritage. This policy document is the foundation for our national and international commitments to protecting and showcasing our heritage.

This initiative results from the efforts made in the last two and a half years by the many Canadians who took part in the consultation exercise needed to develop and refine the policies.

The exercise demonstrated how deeply Canadians care about their natural and cultural heritage preserved by our national historic sites, national parks, marine conservation areas, historic canals, heritage rivers, heritage railway stations and other program elements of Parks Canada.

World Speed Skating Championships March 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the world short-track speed skating team championships were held this past weekend in Cambridge, Ontario.

Félicitations à Nathalie Lambert, Sylvie Daigle, Isabelle Charest, Christine Boudrias and Angela Cutrone whose performances assured Canada the women's team title.

On the men's side, the Canadian team made up of Frédéric Blackburn, Mark Gagnon, Derrick Campbell, Denis Mouraux and Stephen Gough came in second, behind the South Korean team. Congratulations!

This was the last competition in Canada for Sylvie Daigle and Nathalie Lambert, two of the Canadian short track speed skating team's stars.

Sylvie and Nathalie have both had exceptional careers and are to be commended for their dedication to their sport.