The House resumed from October 30 consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, never have such strong-arm tactics been used to amend national museum legislation. I want to congratulate the members opposite.
The way this government expects Parliament to do its bidding would make anyone's blood boil. Not only are the Conservatives asking us to stand quietly by while they shove a museum down our throats, but they are also asking us to trust them. That takes the cake.
They are getting ready to shut down the existing Canadian Museum of Civilization and, at the same time, they are asking us to believe that the museum will be just as popular, just as accessible and just as non-partisan as it has been for the past 20 years. More than anythin, though, the Conservatives are asking us to trust their word when they swear that the government will not interfere with the new museum. We know that the government is passionate about certain historic topics, at least when presented in nice little 30-second television clips.
They are asking Canadians to close their eyes, fall backwards, and hope that someone will be there to catch them. There are far more reasons not to believe them than there are to trust them.
We know what the Conservatives' commitments to the independence of crown corporations really mean. We are well aware of examples of their interference elsewhere in government. I am especially thinking of Bill , which is the most obvious example of their taste for excessively proactive management of arm's-length agencies. We know that the government is always elbow-deep into the operations of any organization that needs to operate autonomously and at arm's length.
The Conservatives also ask us to trust them when they tell us they have consulted experts. However, the national associations of archaeologists, anthropologists and historians have publicly expressed their outrage at not being consulted. The Conservatives are asking us to trust them, just as we would like to trust the government to protect our national institutions, such as Library and Archives Canada and Parks Canada, institutions that the Conservatives have deliberately gutted in recent years. They were stripped of their experts and their researchers, individuals who work hard to protect our history. I do not need to remind you that Parks Canada and its historic sites recently lost 80% of their archaeologists thanks to the Conservatives. This kind of behaviour is astounding. Then, they ask us to trust them
Tonight, they will ask us to trust them to create an independent museum, free to choose its content and direction, yet we are being told exactly what that content will be, and how it will be new and improved—not to mention that there are still significant concerns about ongoing interference at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. After all this time, what we hear everywhere is that no one trusts them. That is the issue.
It is clear that the museum or its experts did not come up with this idea and proceed to present it to academics, stakeholders, and then the public. In committee, the minister at the time clearly told us that this all started in his own office. It was his idea. This is what he said in committee. He started thinking about this in May 2011. Then, the minister made an announcement on the spot, at the museum, while the museum employees and experts themselves were kept away by security guards.
It was only after this announcement that they thought of introducing the bill. Now, that is strange. Then they decided to inform the opposition parties, and it was only after all this that they thought of consulting the public. Finally, someone decided to talk to historians, archaeologists, museum curators and experts. Everything was done backwards.
The members opposite said that we had a lot of nerve to oppose the bill before it was introduced in the House. They told us that we were not respecting parliamentary matters. That is pretty pathetic, coming from them. The reality is that when they introduced this bill, their minds were made up. The Canadian Postal Museum was already closed and dismantled, without warning and in secrecy. They had already made plans to dismantle the Grand Hall that depicts Canada's history.
The parliamentary stage of their plan to gut the Canadian Museum of Civilization was simply a nuisance for them, a speed bump on the fast track to a museum created by the Conservatives for their own enjoyment. By rejecting all of our amendments in committee, they have confirmed that impression.
Now let us talk about the consultations. We are not the only ones saying that the government does not want to hear anyone's opinion on this project. In committee, the president of the Canadian Anthropology Society, Lorne Holyoak, said that he felt the museum and the government did not make an effort to adequately consult the professional community of historians, anthropologists and archaeologists.
The head of the Canadian Anthropology Society said this about the museum consultation:
|| The meetings on the new museum that have been convened to date do not meet the definition of true consultation, a formal discussion between groups of people before a decision is made. The public meetings held last fall were brainstorming or awareness sessions, but not actual consultations.
National associations of historians and archaeologists have said the same thing. They were not consulted either.
The museum's CEO was asked to talk about that in committee, and my colleague from , who is an archaeologist herself, asked whether Canadians and museum experts were consulted about the changes to the mandate. The CEO responded that they did not ask Canadians if they thought the mandate should be changed.
This is from the Canadian heritage committee hearings:
|| Mr. Chair, we did not ask Canadians if they thought that the mandate should be changed.
That is the president of the museum speaking.
Once again, there is a profound credibility gap between what the government has been promising us and what has actually happened at the museum. It is very difficult for us to put our support, and as we all know, it is impossible for Canadians to put their trust in a process that has not been straightforward. This process has not been an open one, as it could have been. This is a question of credibility for the government and it is a question of trust for us.
It was clear to everyone that the government's mind was made up before the consultations were held. Even the mayor of Gatineau was not consulted. He was invited to the minister's announcement, where he learned about this plan at the same time as everyone else. He seemed rather surprised, I must say. Then, he was asked his opinion on a bill that had already been introduced.
The effect of this complete lack of consultation has been particularly clear for first nations and for the Japanese-Canadian community.
Last June, a group of first nations people decided to visit the Museum of Civilization to see an important artifact that is on display in the existing Canadian history hall on the fifth floor. I actually encourage my colleagues to see this massive, very impressive exhibit. The people came to see the Nishga Girl, a fishing vessel built by Japanese-Canadian boatbuilders unjustly confiscated by the Canadian government during the Second World War and then donated to the Museum of Civilization by one of the hereditary chiefs of the Nisga'a First Nation.
First nations visitors arrived at the museum in June to see the boat that they had donated, and they discovered it was gone. It had been sent off to storage, and the museum was about to get rid of it. That mistake caused a huge amount of anger for first nations and for the Japanese-Canadian community. We brought this up in the House, and the was very delicate, as always, and he called it “storage”.
The Museum of Civilization officials have since apologized personally in Winnipeg to leaders of both communities and have promised to return the boat to the museum's exhibition.
This is what happens when consultation does not take place; this is what happens when politicians try to draw their own museum exhibits; this is what happens when the people at the top think that consultation is not important.
The Conservatives do not appear to be trying to change the Canadian Museum of Civilization because the current museum is lacking in history, or because the first nations are not adequately represented, or because of any of the other oversights that the Conservatives have already brought up in the House and continue to talk about in the media. Instead, it appears to be because the Conservatives are not satisfied with the version of history that is presented: an archeological, cultural, and community-based history; a history of survival, commerce and trade; a history of the builders of this continent; a history that they do not think fits in with their identity or policies.
This all boils down to an issue of credibility and trust. We cannot trust this government, which has wasted every opportunity, which has exaggerated history and has distorted it for its own political purposes. It bypassed the experts who could have taught this government a lot about Canadian history and about how to appreciate and promote it.
We cannot trust a government that spent $70 million on television ads about the war of 1812 during the Super Bowl and that continues to cut staff and archeologists from archeological and historical sites.
The member for dared to say last week that we oppose history. In response, I say, on the contrary, we are defending history, while the Conservatives are harming it by suffocating researchers. For all of these reasons, we cannot support Bill .
Mr. Speaker, listening to the member opposite, I think he has some vision that the government members are going to be on the telephone every day or every week telling the directors of the museum what to display and what stories to tell and what parts of Canadian history to tell, which is absolutely absurd. It is really a form of paranoia. It is fearmongering and it is totally inappropriate.
It defies logic that anyone in the House, any whole party, could be against Canadian history. We just do not get it and Canadians do not get it either. It is a perfect time to plan a new museum in Ottawa and in Canada because we are on the road to our 150th anniversary. It is an unparalleled occasion to celebrate our history and the accomplishments that distinguish us as Canadians.
In 2012, we celebrated, among other things, the War of 1812, the 19th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and Her Majesty the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. We also announced the creation of the Canadian museum of history in October 2012. During the announcement of the new museum, the member for and former minister of Canadian Heritage, said, “Canadians deserve a national museum of history that tells our stories and presents our country’s treasures to the world.” I could not agree more.
Our government believes that it is essential to take full advantage of every opportunity to celebrate our history. The legislation, once passed, will enable the evolution of the Canadian Museum of Civilization into the Canadian museum of history.
Some have questioned why this change is necessary. The statistics paint a pretty clear picture about that. More than 75% of Canadians feel that learning about Canadian history strengthens their attachment to their country, yet less than 50% are able to pass a citizenship exam that tests their general knowledge of Canada. Only 26% of young people aged 18 to 24 know the year of Confederation. Only 37% know the Battle of Vimy Ridge was fought in the First World War, and 76% of Canadians are embarrassed by the lack of knowledge that we in Canada have of our history. Something must change.
Our children deserve to know more about our long and complex history. This government is preparing to meet this most fundamental need for all Canadians. After all, our history is a key aspect of our identity. The creation of the Canadian museum of history would provide Canadians with a fantastic opportunity to discover and appreciate the richness of Canadian history. It would provide a chance to learn about the history of Canada and its people. We are here today to discuss the legislation that will make this museum a reality.
Through online consultations, kiosk activities and round table discussions, Canadians have made their opinions known. Input was sought on various topics such as how best to reach Canadians across the country, whether with travelling exhibitions at local museums, creating apps about the museum for mobile phones and tablets, or showing museum stories in movie theatres. More than 20,000 Canadians took the time to tell the museum what they wanted to see in the new Canadian museum of history. The results of the consultation can be seen on the Canadian Museum of Civilization's website under “Canadian Museum of History News”.
Mr. Speaker, I forgot to mention earlier that I would like to split my time with the hon. member for if that is agreeable.
Before criticizing the consultation process that was carried out by experts at the museum, please have a look at the report.
Canadians in all regions should have opportunities to learn more about Canadian history. To increase those opportunities, the new museum will sign agreements with a number of museums across the country to tour its exhibitions, to share expertise, and to lend artifacts and other materials from vast collections to enhance local programs. This is a great plan and opportunity for hundreds of small museums across Canada.
The Canadian museum of history would have more than 43,000 square feet of permanent exhibition space in 2016. This space will allow the museum to present a more complete history of Canada to all visitors. This additional exhibition space and rejuvenation of existing areas is made possible by a one-time federal investment of $25 million.
However, none of this means an end to international activities by the new museum. The new mandate is explicit. One of the purposes of the new museum is to increase Canadians' awareness of world history and cultures. I quote:
|| The purpose of the Canadian Museum of History is to enhance Canadians’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of events, experiences, people and objects that reflect and have shaped Canada’s history and identity, and also to enhance their awareness of world history and cultures.
Along with the new mandate, the museum's name must logically change to the Canadian museum of history so that it better reflects the focus of this new museum. While the new museum's focus will be on Canada, it will continue to host major travelling international exhibitions, which we recognize are important to a national museum's vitality and reputation.
It is important to emphasize that the revised mandate will be fully consistent with the strategic directions approved by the museum's own board of trustees, not government members, in particular its decision to better reflect our national achievements through the social, cultural, human, military and political dimensions of Canadian life. Under this new mandate, the Canadian museum of history will pay greater attention to the events and accomplishments that have shaped and transformed Canada into what it is today.
The last spike, Maurice “The Rocket” Richard's famous number nine sweater and objects belonging to Terry Fox are but a few of the artifacts that illustrate Canadian history and touch our hearts.
There will be new opportunities for interpretation both in the museum's exhibition galleries and history museums throughout the country as they enjoy loans from the museum of Canadian history. More than ever before, the new national museum will provide the public with an opportunity to appreciate and celebrate our identity as Canadians.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization plans to present a series of temporary exhibitions that will highlight its new mandate and generate enthusiasm about the changes in its programming. Just last week the Canadian Museum of Civilization announced that in June 2015 the museum will present “The Greeks—From Agamemnon to Alexander the Great”, an exhibition celebrating 5,000 years of Greek culture.
Those who decry the role of the future Canadian museum of history on the world stage need to understand that the international role of this museum will remain firmly intact, as will its research and collections roles.
On International Museum Day, celebrated on May 18 every year, my colleague the , in his capacity as former minister of Canadian Heritage, said that Canadian museums receive about 30 million visits annually. That is why our government is proud to invest in programs and policies that support the more than 2,500 institutions that make up Canada's museum sector. We recognize the important contribution that museums make to Canadian society and culture as well as to our economy.
Given the role of museums as centres of dialogue and learning, it is vital that we work together to facilitate the creation of the new Canadian museum of history. Along with a new mandate, the museum's name must logically change to the Canadian museum of history. That will better reflect the focus of this new museum, and this museum's focus will be on Canada. It will continue to host major travelling international exhibitions, which we recognize are important to a national museum's vitality and reputation. There will be new opportunities for interpretation, both in the museum's exhibition galleries and history museums throughout the country as they enjoy loans from the Canadian museum of history.
I am eager to see the new Canadian museum of history. I urge all my colleagues to support the bill to help realize its vision for the benefit of all Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, I too would applaud the member for for his excellent speech supporting this bill. However, what I think might be indicative of the NDP's confusion on issues is the mistake of the member for being a teenager. I would politely disagree with that, despite being a big fan of his.
I am pleased to speak in support of Bill , which would create the Canadian museum of history. Bill is very short. It is very clear and specific. It makes a set of targeted amendments to the Museums Act to allow the Canadian Museum of Civilization to transform into the Canadian museum of history.
The creation of the Canadian museum of history would not be an isolated act. It would be one step in the larger government strategy in support of our history and the need to increase our knowledge and appreciation of it. That strategy did not start with this bill and the decision to create a new museum. Our Conservative government has been making efforts to close gaps in how Canada's national museums share Canada's incredible story.
In 2008, we created the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, in Winnipeg, and in 2010 the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, in Halifax. The government recognized the need for these stories to be presented across the country. These were the first national museums to be established outside of the national capital region.
The 2011 speech from the throne observed that Canadians are united by core values, a shared history and a sense of common purpose. In that speech, our Conservative government pledged to join Canadians in celebrating our heritage. The 2013 speech from the throne reinforced this theme. The government's strategy is underlined by the priority it is giving to nation-building milestones on the road to our 150th birthday in 2017.
Our Conservative government's efforts began, as we know, with the commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, as a way of increasing the awareness of the influence that this conflict had on our nation. Other important anniversaries and milestones in the years approaching Canada's 150th anniversary have been identified and will also be commemorated. On the War of 1812, I remember that having that moment to recognize our history was tremendously appreciated across Canada. I remember the celebration we had in Barrie for the War of 1812 and how the community came out to recognize that important milestone. A lot of young people in our community learnt a huge amount about it through that commemoration.
Other events we will be commemorating in 2013 and 2014 include the 100th anniversary of Canada's first Arctic expedition, the 150th anniversaries of the Charlottetown and Quebec conferences, the 100th anniversary of the First World War, the 75th anniversary of the Second World War, and the 200th birthday of Sir John A. Macdonald. I know the member for is not in the House right now, but I know he would be a big fan of that particular celebration.
On June 11, the announced a range of further measures in support of the government's history strategy. I would like to take a moment to describe a few of these. First, the Canada history fund will connect Canadian young people to their history in a number of ways, including through the Government of Canada's history awards, which honour outstanding students and teachers who show an interest in celebrating Canadian history.
We have some amazing teachers across this country who have done a lot to inspire young Canadians about our history. I think of Clint Lovell from Eastview, in Barrie, in the east end of my riding, who was recognized with an award two years ago in Ottawa. That inspired the community. It highlights people who throw their heart into Canadian history. I was pleased to see that recognition, and we certainly need to continue that type of recognition of some of our incredible educators.
Through the Canada history fund, the government has also partnered with the Historica-Dominion Institute, both to create new heritage minutes and to allow more veterans and serving soldiers to connect with students in their classrooms.
The second measure is a range of existing programs that have been strengthened to improve access to funding for museums and youth groups that wish to promote Canadian history in their local communities. For example, there is the exchanges Canada program that provides young Canadians with more opportunities to take part in history themed events. The Canada book fund encourages collective projects, with a focus on promoting Canadian history titles. The Canada periodical fund, through the business innovation and collection initiatives components, supports the promotion of history magazines and history content. The Virtual Museum of Canada funds 2017 online exhibits and podcasts, and provides new historical content for teachers and students.
Finally, beginning this year, we will mark the first Canada History Week, from July 1 to 7, which is an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about their history through local and national activities and events.
The creation of the Canadian museum of history is a significant part of this multi-faceted strategy to explore and preserve our history and increase Canadians' knowledge, understanding and appreciation of it. Indeed, Bill is but one aspect of this exciting initiative.
We know that in addition to the creation of the museum, a network of history museums in Canada is being formed. Led by the Canadian museum of history, museums would work together to share Canada's stories, share artifacts that are the touchstones of those stories, bring history exhibitions from museums across Canada to the national museum, and create opportunities specifically for small museums to borrow artifacts from that national collection.
We all have museums in our regions that would love this opportunity. I can think of the Simcoe County Museum, just north of Barrie, in the riding of Simcoe—Grey, and that would be tremendously appreciated by the broader Simcoe County community.
To help make this happen, the museum assistance program would support museums, including small museums that wish to borrow objects from exhibitions in the national collection of the Canadian museum of history. We understand that the cost of shipping and insuring artifacts is often too much for small museums. We want to help these museums showcase the national collection across the country, which is why we changed the museums assistance program.
The museum assistance program would make it easier for institutions to create and share history exhibits, by eliminating the requirement for exhibits to travel outside their province or territory of origin. We recognize that local and provincial history is an important part of our broader national story. It is vital to give a voice to these stories. We believe that by moving the interprovincial requirement for exhibition circulation, more exhibitions would be shared, and the Canadian story would be better understood.
These are exciting initiatives, and we hope their impact will be felt by Canadians for generations to come. The creation of the Canadian museum of history, through Bill , is an important part of this broader history strategy.
I urge all members in the House to support Bill and efforts being made within and outside government to preserve and promote Canada's history. It really is an incredible story.
Mr. Speaker, it has been a very long road to get to this point, but we are finally voting on the final passage of this legislation. With the bit of time I have, I want to thank a few people who have allowed this moment to come.
First, I thank all the provinces in this country. The provinces and territories across all political boundaries, Liberal, NDP, Conservative, have all stepped forward and said they support this legislation and want to see it passed.
I also thank the mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau who have also come forward to support this legislation. Douglas Cardinal, who was the original architect of the Museum of Civilization, is supporting this. I thank him for his support as well.
I thank all of Canada's history organizations and societies across the country who have endorsed this legislation and want this museum to be created. I thank the Canadian Museums Association, which has helped build a network to make this possible, for the great work it has put in to building the family of museums across the country that are supporting this legislation.
I also thank historians Jack Granatstein, Richard Gwyn, Charlotte Gray, and others, who are supporting this legislation, putting partisanship aside, and who recognize that getting a $25 million investment for Canada's largest museum will be great for Canada's history and the celebration of our 150th birthday.
In a non-partisan way, I thank all those who took the time to support this legislation and to make it happen. It will be a very great day when this museum is reborn as the Canadian museum of history.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
I have the honour and the duty to rise in the House to oppose Bill , which appears directly connected to the Conservatives' plan not only to eliminate history, but also to control it. A Conservative member even said in this House that they were trying to control history.
Bill , formerly Bill , is the Conservatives' latest attempt to rewrite our history by recalibrating the Canadian Museum of Civilization and giving it a new image as the Canadian museum of history.
I am proud of our history, but in this bill, the Conservatives are presenting an incomplete history that is a bit too political to be called history. The bill will narrow the museum's mandate, and I am very concerned that they are doing this to disregard parts of our diverse history, such the experiences of francophones, first nations and women.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization is an important institution in the Outaouais region, a region that I represent as a member from the RCM of Papineau. The museum received 1.2 million visitors last year and brought in $15 million in revenue. If the change to the museum's mandate is not done right, it could have disastrous effects on the Outaouais region's tourism industry, and therefore on my region as well. The region's economy and many jobs could be in jeopardy.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization is the most popular museum in Canada. It is a tourist draw that helps drive the economy. I cannot stress enough that this institution attracts people to the Outaouais, helps the tourism industry in the RCM of Papineau in particular, and helps stimulate the economy. Imagine losing these gateways to the Outaouais region, these huge museums like the Canadian Museum of Civilization—a museum that brings people from all over the world to the Outaouais. This will make a huge difference to our region if it is not done right.
Despite this obvious fact, the decision to transform the museum was not actually made by the minister's office. It is clear that this is a political decision, since the stakeholders in the Outaouais region were not consulted in this process. When people in my riding in the Outaouais say that this change will affect them, that they were not consulted and that they would have liked to be, I think this cannot be called consultation.
At the same time, the Conservatives will continue to spend millions until 2014 to commemorate the War of 1812, wasting taxpayers' money on pretty showcases, commemorations and ribbon cuttings.
In my riding, Grenville Canal was built as a result of certain events in 1812. However, the canal has been downright abandoned. It is falling apart and is being completely neglected and ignored by the government. However, it does exist and it has a place in our Canadian history--but no, it does not matter. On the other hand, there is always money for Freedom of the Town events held in towns that would have never had them.
In short, lately our history has been rewritten. It is clear that this initiative is part of a wider effort to promote symbols with a more conservative character. In my view, this is an actual scheme to rewrite our Canadian identity, carried out for the express purpose of highlighting militarism and the monarchy. Far be it from me—I really want to emphasize this—to speak against showcasing our military history. I have nothing against our military heroes.
The first time I came to Ottawa was to watch the Governor General present my uncle with the Order of Military Merit. I was a little girl at the time and my uncle took me to the Canadian Museum of Civilization for the first time. I am getting choked up thinking about it.
When most Canadians come to Ottawa for the first time, when they are young, on a school trip for example, they go to the Canadian Museum of Civilization. They discover a great many things there. Let us not take that away from future generations of Canadians.
That being said, a history that only celebrates the military, which is what the Conservative government is doing, puts women second. No one ever talks about women in wartime, especially when we are talking about the past. Women are currently serving in Afghanistan, among other places, but when we are talking about history, no one talks about what women went through and how women helped to build the country.
I made this point during the study on the celebrations of the War of 1812 at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. Frankly, it was clear that I was not alone in saying so.
All these changes also give me the impression that the Conservatives are off-loading some important tasks to our smaller museums, which are accomplishing a lot with the little resources they have. They are fantastic. To illustrate what I mean, I will talk about two museums in my riding.
The Plaisance Heritage Centre is an important and exceptional museum in my riding. It is devoted to the local history of Petite-Nation in the Outaouais. This proud and compelling region needed a museum that showcased its local history. The interpretation centre was founded in 1994 and, like the Canadian Museum of Civilization, it includes a permanent exhibit and temporary exhibits. One of the temporary exhibits on right now is about the importance of rivers in Petite-Nation's history. The exhibit focuses on Champlain and celebrates the 400th anniversary of his voyage on the Ottawa River.
The centre brings a lot of people to the region. Those who were interested in following Champlain's route and who took part in the 400th anniversary activities in the Ottawa-Gatineau region and on the river, came through Plaisance. This is part of how the tourism industry in the Outaouais region works.
The Musée régional d'Argenteuil also sits on the banks of the Ottawa River. It was founded in 1938. It is the second-oldest private museum in Canada and is housed in the Carillon Barracks in Saint-André-d'Argenteuil. It was purchased by the Historical Society of Argenteuil County. Many of the founding members were very well known, in particular Maude Abbott. The region has gained recognition because of them and their dedication.
Unfortunately, small museums are fending for themselves and they do not receive enough help. That is why I find it so unfortunate that this resourcefulness and passion for history is being pitted against a Conservative government that is abandoning history, culture, our economy, our environment and the way of doing things that we pride ourselves on.
I would ask the members of the House one last time to not support this bill, to vote against it. It will have truly damaging effects, not only on my region, but also on the way we self-identify as Canadians. I find that very unfortunate.
Mr. Speaker, it saddens me to be the last member to speak to Bill . Once again we are subject to time allocation.
I am certain that many others, not just official opposition members but also Conservative members, would have much to say about this subject.
We are talking about the Canadian Museum of Civilization. I am probably the only person in the House who watched it being built. I was a young law student working for the firm Beaudry Bertrand located at 25 Laurier Street. The Canadian Museum of Civilization was being built right in front of our office as a result of promises made by various governments in the early 1980s. The promises had to do with my lovely Outaouais region, which is just on the other side of the river. There was a huge imbalance between the number of Canadian public servants located on the Ontario side and the number located on the Quebec side.
One of the many promises made by the Conservatives and the Liberals over the years was that they would build a museum on the Quebec side. That is how the great Canadian Museum of Civilization came to be built. At the time, it was called the Museum of Man. The name was changed because it was discriminatory in the face of gender equality. It therefore became the great Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Why do we object so strongly? I was stunned when I saw this bill introduced. The former Canadian heritage minister is upset because we have the audacity to question his brilliant idea to change the nature of the museum, but it functions quite well. Museums inspire people to become more cultured and are an extremely powerful tool for developing tourism and the economy. The Canadian Museum of Civilization works very well in the Outaouais region, so well in fact that it is probably the top-performing museum, according to statistics. However, the government wants to change the nature of the museum.
The Conservative government—through its mouthpiece, the minister at the time—told us there had been consultations, but they were meaningless consultations. Real consultations would include asking the opinion of the public and partners, like Outaouais Tourism, for example. Does a certain museum need renovations, a different mandate or a new name? Those are the questions that consultations should endeavour to answer.
That is not at all the kind of consultation that took place. An announcement was made. At one point, the government said that it would provide $25 million to change a given room, and then it dangled that money in front of the City of Gatineau, asking if it agreed with the changes. Who would spit on $25 million? I do not know many people who would—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
It is funny to hear the Conservatives yelling because we are talking about the economy and tourism development, which is so important. They are putting a dark cloud over a region by changing something that was working very well. This is so unbelievable, it just boggles my mind.
I find it especially appalling that they continue to claim that meaningful consultation took place. Every time I heard any of the debates in the House on the previous Bill , which has become Bill , I heard the minister say he had the support of the City of Gatineau and its mayor. The Conservatives are playing with words and doing some fancy footwork with those kinds of comments. They are putting words in people's mouths, words those people never said. In that sense, I feel as though many Canadians are being misled. The Conservatives want to give the impression that they are changing something for the better.
I do not know how the government is going to react. The region is already struggling in terms of the public service breakdown, unless the government would have us believe that the job cuts made in Ottawa will achieve the famous 75:25 ratio that has always been promised to the Outaouais. Cutting jobs in Ottawa does not mean greater balance. That is not job creation.
This is exactly what is happening with this museum. It is a major concern for the economic players in my region and also for Outaouais Tourism. Obviously, when a minister shows up with a cheque for $25 million, people may be a bit embarrassed to speak up about certain topics. What I can say is that this has caused a wave of concern throughout the region.
I encourage people on the other side to do something other than just attend self-congratulatory events. They should go to the museum on a day when tourists are visiting so they can see what brings people to the Canadian Museum of Civilization. I am not saying that a museum of Canadian history is not important or necessary, or that Canadians would not all be better off learning more about our history, but why change the mandate of a great museum? As my colleague from was saying, is this being done simply to turn it into a state propaganda tool? This creates rather serious problems to be sure.
Obviously, the Conservatives were ordered to vote a certain way. This is unfortunate. I have seen this museum grow and flourish. The Conservatives may laugh, but I can tell them that our region is close enough to Parliament to hear them laugh. People will remember. The members on the other side found it very funny to see that they could change a winning formula. We will see whether the new approach works. Meanwhile, as they say, if this causes some tourism and economic problems in a certain region, who cares? What was it that the said? He said, “I couldn't care less.” This is the message the Conservatives are sending out. In 2015, the people of the Outaouais will vote to tell the government: “We couldn't care less.”