Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member ask a question of the previous government member who spoke, the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, about funding. I want to be very clear that our government has in fact increased funding to CSIS and the RCMP by over one-third. In fact, our government has provided $700 million more than what was provided in the last year the Liberals were in power, so there was certainly a failing on their part.
The bill is another step in the right direction. Is there more we can do? Certainly. I know that the government has committed to doing what needs to be done to ensure we protect Canadians and keep them safe.
I hope the member will join us in those efforts.
During the request for questions and comments, it would have been a government member's turn. I had not seen this hon. member. I had started to call the name of another hon. member when the other hon. member brought to my attention that it was in fact his turn.
The Chair will review the tape to see if there is a need to come back to clarify this. At this point, the floor goes to the hon. member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore.
Again, Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House we respect the independence of the CBC to make its own decisions, decisions that are important.
Also, of course, there is a mandate that the CBC has to fulfill. We understand that. There is a mandate to meet its obligations in French and English for official language communities. We know that aboriginal communities across this country, in rural and northern parts of this country, depend on CBC Radio. We understand how important that is.
That is why the government provides over $1 billion in resources to the CBC. That is why, since coming to office, we have made sure it has the resources it needs. That is why we have invested in arts and culture, and that is why this sector is doing so well. That is why there are jobs being created in Etobicoke—Lakeshore. That is why there are jobs being created in Newmarket—Aurora, to support this industry.
I am very proud of that. I am proud of the artists and proud of what Canadians have accomplished. I only wish the opposition would be as proud as we are on this side.
Mr. Speaker, before question period, I was talking a bit about the impact of the economic downturn of 2008, about the decision-making that went into this government's policies that were meant to create jobs and opportunity, and about the fact that this government continued to invest in arts and culture. As has been pointed out by many of the members opposite and members on this side of the House, arts and culture is a significant part of the Canadian economy, responsible for thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity, and that is why this government continued to invest in arts and culture. We are one of the only governments that did that, and we did it despite the fact that many opposition members voted against those investments. Members will also recall that as part of that, we did provide significant investments into the CBC.
Let us put into context the type of investments that Canadians are making into the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Over $1 billion is how Canadian taxpayers support the CBC across this country. Some members in the opposition would say that is not a lot of money. I would counter that by saying that Canadians work very hard. In my riding, my community has done very well despite the downturn, but people work very hard in my community. They are up very early in the morning. A good portion of my riding is rural. The farmers are up at 5:00 in the morning. They are hard at work all day, and they come home very late at night. All they ask from their government—their members of Parliament, councillors, and elected officials at all levels—is that they will do their best to use their money wisely, that they will not waste money, that they ensure that the investments they make are investments that are good not only for the community and the province but for the entire country. That is why this government has continuously made decisions to help support CBC to the tune of $1 billion. As I mentioned before question period, we reversed a lot of the unilateral cuts that were made by the previous Liberal government.
We understand on this side of the House the importance of the CBC to different areas of the country. We know that in some rural parts of the country, in aboriginal communities, and in official language minority communities, the CBC is an extraordinarily important venue for entertainment and for information. It is not just about hockey; we get that. That is why this government has continued to offer that support, and Canadian taxpayers have appreciated that support.
However, in the context of returning to a balanced budget, we asked all our partners to participate. Despite that, the CBC has continued to receive over $1 billion in funding from Canadian taxpayers.
In terms of the impact that arts and culture has on the Canadian culture, before question period I talked about the fact that it is not just about the actors, not just about the front-line people we see whom Canadians are more aware of. It is everything that goes into it. A number of films and TV shows are filmed in and around my community, and what I am most impressed about is all of the people who help support the industry. It is also about carpenters, electricians, the security guards who secure the set, hairdressers, and makeup people. It is all of these people behind the scenes who help support this industry and are responsible for the billions of dollars in economic activity.
I had the great opportunity to visit Cinespace, in the riding of the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore. It is an exceptional film studio where hundreds of people are employed. They are doing exceptional work. It is a studio that Canadians should be proud of. Some of the leading films are filmed there. TV shows are filmed there. It is competitive not only across Canada but throughout North America. It is known for being one of the premier sites to film, not just because of its location in the riding of the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, but because of the supports that this government has put in place to help support arts and culture.
When I had the opportunity to visit this studio with the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, one of the things the people there recognized was the fact that the government had helped support the industry through tax cuts. We are putting money back into the hands of people, into the pockets of our small, medium and large business creators. They recognize how important that is. I am proud of the fact that we were able to do that.
When we talk more broadly on the impact of arts and culture, I look at my own riding. We have a wonderful community radio station called WhiStle Radio where a team of volunteers works very hard to put quality programming on the air every day. It is a station of which I am very proud. We also have the Markham guild of artists and the Lemonville Group of Artists. We have Latcham Gallery, where my children attend summer camps and where there are a number of displays of local arts and crafts. Arts and culture is very important, not only to me but to all Canadians. We get that.
However, when we talk about the CBC specifically and some of the challenges it faces right now, it is quite clear that there has been a bit of a different dichotomy for the CBC. Yes, it has lost Hockey Night in Canada. That is no surprise to anyone. It was responsible for a tremendous amount of revenue for the CBC, revenue which it has now lost.
I also had the opportunity to speak with individuals from Rogers. They were successful in obtaining the rights to broadcast Hockey Night in Canada. One of the things they talked about was the amount of money they were investing to help support the broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. They are spending millions of dollars on new studios, on new talent, and on the people who help support the broadcast to put it on the air. Rogers is a private company. Hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity will be generated by this contract for Rogers.
However, that means something different for CBC. CBC will have to do what others do, and that is try to focus on finding programs that excite Canadians and that will bring Canadians to its channel so it can generate advertising revenue. It cannot just continuously look to the Canadian taxpayer and say that it does not need to have any accountability for the dollars it spends because it will be up to the Canadian taxpayer to cover that shortfall.
When I speak to people at the CBC, they do not see it the same way as many members of the opposition see it. They tell me they can compete, that they have the tools to compete and that they are making the decisions they need to make so they can still be relevant for Canadians across the country, so rural Canadians can have access to the information and high quality programming that some of us in urban Canada have. They understand they have a role to play, that they have to provide services in English and French across the country. They understand that is part of their mandate. They understand Canadians expect them to be in communities. They understand Canadians expect them to do things that maybe we do not expect from our private broadcasters. They also understand the fact that they are given incredible support to do that. I come back again to the fact that it is over $1 billion, which is a lot of money.
We will continue on this side of the House to support the CBC. We will continue to support arts and culture in general because we understand the importance of it to our Canadian economy. However, what we will not do is what the opposition motion has asked us to do, and that is to set aside accountability, set aside the fact that Canadians work very hard for their money and want us to use their money in the best possible way. It is not just for the CBC; it is for all, across government.
I am very excited by the fact our government will be the first government in the G7 that will return to a balanced budget. This is very exciting for Canadian taxpayers. That will provide us extra resources so we can continue to secure and provide investments for health care and some of the social programs on which Canadians have come to rely. We will continue to make investments across the country in infrastructure so we can create even more jobs and opportunity. It will provide us extra money so we can continue to make investments in our museums.
I know during question period, there was a discussion about the Canadian Museum of History. What an exciting project that is. It came with a $25 million investment from this government. This was on top of the other investments we made into all of our national museums through Canada's economic action plan.
Across the country, museums were given extra resources so they could better meet the needs of Canadians. One of the exciting things about the Canadian Museum of History is that it will tie together communities across the country. Large and small museums will be able to access the collections of the Canadian Museum of History.
Another thing ties into this. I really like what CBC is doing, because it understands it also has to shift. It has become a lot more aggressive online. It has a new music portal, where Canadians can go to access music.
We all know that Canadians are finding different ways and avenues to seek entertainment. It is not just the old way of plugging it in, putting up an antenna, and then it is there. Canadians have iPads and computers, and they want to be able to receive their content on the go. The CBC has recognized that and is making investments in those areas to bring it to more Canadians communities, families, and individuals.
We also recognize, and the CBC has done a really good job of this, the importance of some of the historical collections or archives that the CBC has on hand. There is a treasure chest of old reports from the CBC, which it has made available online to Canadians. That is very good news, not only for the CBC but for Canadians.
I recognize and applaud the fact that the CBC has taken it upon itself to not only be the guardian of some of Canada's broadcasting history, but also the guardian of arts and culture in parts of the country where they might not necessarily have access, like we do in urban Canada.
Again, I want to commend the CBC for the initiatives it has taken. We understand there are challenges and that is why we will continue to support the CBC. The broadcasting industry in general has faced a lot of challenges as we move from somewhat of an old school-type of business model to a new business model, where Canadians expect and demand to have services in different ways.
The CBC is moving in that direction, as all Canadian broadcasters are. If we look at where Canadians were a number of years ago and where our broadcasting industry is today, Canadians should have every reason to be extraordinarily proud of how far we have come and what we are accomplishing.
It is not only our artists or our musicians, it is our directors, actors and the people who support them. Canadians are among the best in the world. We have nothing to apologize for. We should be proud of all the people who work in this industry. We should be proud of the fact that arts and culture is so important to the Canadian economy. We should be proud of the fact that as a Parliament, we have supported that industry even in downturns and as the economy was moving in a different direction.
This government made the decision, unlike previous Liberal government that attacked funding for arts and culture, to go the opposite route and increase funding and support for our museums, radio, TV and broadcasting industry and our musicians. I am very proud of the fact we have done that.
I know the CBC will succeed if we give it the tools it needs, which is what we have done by giving it $1 billion. It has been around for a long time. It understands what it has to do to succeed.
The CBC is not asking for Parliament to tell it what to do. In fact, it is just the opposite. It values and cherishes its independence as an organization. What it wants Parliament to do is get out of the way and let it do the work it has to do so it can live up to the mandate it has to provide quality services for both French and English across the country and meet the needs of all Canadians.
Since we have been in government, we have guaranteed that the CBC has that independence, and that it has the tools and resources to meet that mandate.
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I saw quite clearly, when you asked for resuming debate, that the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, was standing before the member opposite. Therefore, I move:
That, the Honourable Member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore be now heard.
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives would love to have us forget that Rob Ford, the Prime Minister's fishing buddy, is one of them.
For instance, until a few days ago one could go to their website and download a video of Rob Ford introducing the Prime Minister at a campaign rally in Brampton. Now that has somehow vanished.
What has not vanished is the official record that shows Rob Ford to be a generous Conservative donor. He has given thousands of dollars over the years, including to Conservative members from Etobicoke—Lakeshore, Don Valley East, the government House leader, and the Minister of Veterans Affairs.
Of course, cronyism is reciprocal. Numerous Conservatives have given generously to get Rob Ford elected, including the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of State for Sport, and the Conservative member for Willowdale, just to name a few.
The Ford nation is alive and well, and living across the aisle. I am wondering if they are going to support him in his attempt to be the new Conservative leader.
Order, please. The time has expired for this round of questions and comments.
Just to let all hon. members know, we have passed the five hour mark since the first round of speeches on this stage of the bill. From this point forward all interventions will be 10-minute speeches, followed by a 5-minute period for questions and comments.
Resuming debate, the hon. member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and close the debate on my private member's bill, the discover your Canada act.
I outlined previously to the House why we should send the bill to committee. I spoke about why I believe this legislation is important for building Canada's unity. I was very clear that this legislation is an initiative to encourage Canadians to travel within Canada, period. I have produced figures, testimonials and polling data. I have even shared personal insights to help my colleagues better appreciate my reasoning for introducing this bill. I do not intend to spend the little time I have today restating what I have already said. I will instead use the limited time I have to address some of the criticism brought forward by members, because I am disappointed by the pessimistic tone and the calibre of debate.
Our duty as members of Parliament is to assess the merits of legislation. In order to do so we must have accurate and detailed data to make better-informed decisions. However, many members are obviously not using accurate information. I heard the remarks made on March 27 by the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, who said that the bill is really just a novelty, a gimmicky distraction that would cost taxpayers more than $200 million without really encouraging tourism within Canada. I have problems with this statement that go beyond its non-collegial tone. Accusing me of imposing a gimmicky distraction upon Canadians is bad enough, but I dispute the claim that the discover your Canada act would cost over $200 million a year. It is a little exaggerated.
When researching where this number came from, I realized it was based upon a number that the Department of Finance came up with. To this date, the department has yet to provide me with a breakdown on how this number was arrived at, so I am not sure how credible this number is.
However the independent Parliamentary Budget Office has provided everyone here with a full-blown detailed analysis of this legislation so they can better understand the fiscal implications of what they would be voting on. The PBO calculations determine that the discover your Canada act would have a fiscal cost of $90 million, but at the same time, it also says there will be a revenue windfall of as much as $110 million due to the increase in tourism spending. If I were to use industry standards, which are quite conservative, every $1 spent would generate $5 of economic spinoffs. Members can see that the cost is not even a factor, contrary to what some Conservative and NDP members have said, who have used this as an argument to speak against the bill.
Therefore I am left to ask the question: What passes for solid evidence on the government side and on that of other members of the House, when time and time again the PBO has put out estimates more accurate than the government's? This happens when the government is more interested in partisanship than pursuing the best interests of Canadians. It is shameful. It is ongoing. It has to stop.
Unfortunately, I was also disappointed with the NDP's arguments against this bill.
My colleague for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup read the report by the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, but he does not seem to have understood it very well.
He seems to think that we are milking the Canadian tourism industry. If that were the case, why would the Parliamentary Budget Officer state that the measure will have $110 million in tourism spinoffs? It seems that there is some milk left.
My colleague also talked about potential fraud that the bill could encourage. For example, people could claim that a business trip was a vacation. As an accountant, I am very familiar with taxation. Business deductions are far more generous than the proposed measures in this bill.
In short, a business person who tries to claim a business trip under the provisions of this bill will pay more taxes because this deduction is less advantageous.
The bill may not be perfect. I accept that, and I am ready to work on it at committee. However there appears to be no desire by some Conservative or NDP members to work with me on the bill, which has the support of 70% of Canadians and would come into effect in 2017, in time to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday.
The PBO's estimate of $110 million in economic spinoffs is another piece of information that my colleagues have failed to mention in their haste to discredit the bill by claiming it would not encourage tourism within Canada, which is totally false. An independent Harris/Decima study confirmed that four out of ten Canadians surveyed would be more than likely to travel within Canada if the bill were passed.
I am asking all my colleagues to set aside partisan politics and vote for this bill so that we can study it in committee and improve it.
I will close by simply stating that we should vote in favour of the bill, which 70% of Canadians support in its current form, so we can send it to committee, work collaboratively to improve it and pass an even better version at third reading, so that even more Canadians will approve. We owe it to Canada to support the bill, which is good for national unity.
The electoral district of Etobicoke--Lakeshore (Ontario) has a population of 114,641 with 86,386 registered voters and 251 polling divisions.
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