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Results: 1 - 15 of 554
View John Barlow Profile
View John Barlow Profile
2019-06-19 15:11 [p.29393]
Mr. Speaker, right now in Cape Breton we are seeing a story as old as time. The Liberals are taking $18 million from taxpayers to fund a private airport at the elite Cabot Links golf resort for their millionaire friends to park their private jets. This Liberal decision is decimating the Allan J. MacEachen Port Hawkesbury Airport and small businesses like Celtic Air Services.
Will the Prime Minister put small businesses ahead of his millionaire Liberal golf buddies and stop any funding for a competing private airport in Inverness?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, the points that are being made by our Conservative colleagues in the context of this debate are very important. They are that Canadians want to get ahead. Maybe they are getting by, but they are struggling to get ahead.
Under the current government, that struggle is made more difficult by the piling on of new taxes and the clear promise that the direction that the Liberals are taking this country with uncontrolled spending, if it is not controlled in the near future, is going to lead to tax increases. We have to act now to replace this government with a government that will be committed to living within its means and to managed, prudent spending.
We have to act so that we do not go down the path that the Kathleen Wynne Liberals and the Rachel Notley New Democrats took their provinces, which then required a strong correction after the fact. Rather, the alternative is for us to replace the government now with a government that will make sure the wasteful spending stops and will cut taxes and provide tax relief in so many different areas.
I spoke as well about the issues around the media bailout. We have a government here that is giving hundreds of millions of dollars to media organizations. The Liberals say this is in defence of independent media, but in fact they are delivering those funds and setting definitions around who is and who is not media through a board that includes someone who is explicitly partisan and is planning on campaigning for the Liberals in the next election.
We hear from journalist after journalist, from leading commentators in Canadian politics, about how this policy and approach create a threat to the independence of the media. Those who believe in independent media, including those within the media, are strongly opposing this policy. Some of the corporate barons who own media companies are happy about this policy, but individual journalists who are responsible for covering our politics on a daily basis, the voices that Canadians read and trust, are overwhelmingly critical of this policy.
Let us oppose this budget and replace this government with a government that has a new fiscal approach that allows Canadians to get ahead, that cuts our taxes, that genuinely protects the independence of the media and that moves us forward in so many other domains.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, surely the member cannot be as unaware of the arguments that people have been making, including in the media, about the reality of the effects of this, at least as unaware as he may have been about the process that Bill C-81 followed in the House.
Eligible media organizations are precisely the hinge point in this issue. It is the government, through this panel, that will determine who should be considered eligible to access this funding and who should not. Yes, we are talking about something that involves a cost to government of $600 million.
Therefore, there is a cost, and it only applies to eligible media organizations. The member knows that who fits into that box and who does not will be decided by a panel that includes Unifor. I did not just make that up. It was not an invention of the opposition. Anybody who reads the papers or consults the independent media about which he speaks will know that the government has created this panel, it does in fact include Unifor and that many of the leading journalistic voices in the country have criticized it.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, I guess we agree that it should be tweaked, but we might disagree about the degree of the tweaking.
The member makes an interesting point about looking at other members of the panel. In the context of our motion, our observation would be that the Unifor case is particularly egregious. Nobody else, in the context of that panel, has publicly tried to define itself as “the resistance” to not only a particular party, but to a particular individual who leads one of those parties. Obviously it is the tone and the rhetoric in explicit support of one party and in explicit opposition to another party.
It would be obviously inappropriate that anybody else in a government-appointed administrative role that was supposed to make these kinds of determinations would show such favouritism, such partisanship.
The member may have other points about other individuals on the panel, but it is quite clear that the case of Jerry Dias is particularly egregious in this context.
View Michael McLeod Profile
Lib. (NT)
View Michael McLeod Profile
2019-06-06 15:08 [p.28706]
Mr. Speaker, we know that northern communities face unique economic and environmental challenges as well as a lack of modern public infrastructure and that this government has plans to address these challenges. Investing in local green infrastructure projects helps grow the economy and improve the quality of life for those living and working in Canada's north.
Can the Minister of Rural Economic Development please update this House on recent investments this government has made to improve water quality for future generations in Canada's north?
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
2019-06-04 11:57 [p.28476]
Mr. Speaker, I have been here for over 23 years, and I have always spoken to budget bills, whether the Conservatives were in opposition or on the government side. That is because a budget is what defines our economy; a budget is what defines where Canada's economy will move.
My colleagues on this side have highlighted, in very great detail, what is wrong with this budget bill put forward by the Liberal government. Let me start by saying certain things. I have been sitting here and listening to the Liberals when they get up. They like to attack us, calling out Mr. Harper's name all the time. The Liberal members have used Mr. Harper's name more than anybody I have ever heard. Somehow it is in their psyche that the former prime minister should be used to highlight their deficiencies.
Let me just show, using facts, why they are wrong. The international Institute for Management Development puts together a yearly world competitiveness ranking. Within one year, Canada has fallen three spots on the world competitiveness ranking, from 10th in 2018 to 13th this year. We are the lowest of the G7 countries. In 2018-19, the Liberals were in power. We fell from 10th to 13th.
Let me say this. In the same report, previously, from 2007 to 2015, Canada rose from 10th place to fifth place. That was under the Conservative government of former prime minister Harper. Let me repeat that for the Liberals who speak from their points. Under their regime we dropped in the ranking, going from 10th to 13th, the lowest of the G7 countries. During the period when we were in power under former prime minister Harper, which was 2007 to 2015, we rose from 10th place to fifth place. This is something they should take into account every time they talk about it.
When it comes to economic performance, government officials, business efficiency or infrastructure, the institute says we are not in the top five countries in this index. This is terrible management. Business investment in Canada under the Liberal government has fallen by an annualized rate of 10.9%. This is the second time it has fallen by over 10%. What a shame. This is the management record of the Liberal government.
The Liberal government seems totally oblivious to economic conditions. I come from Alberta. We have seen the devastating impact the government has had on my province. In my city of Calgary, the downtown is completely empty. Right now, businesses in the suburban area are suffering from tax hikes, because the downtown, which used to be the core economic sector in Calgary, has half its buildings empty. That is since the Liberals came into power. They had the opportunity to fix that.
The Liberals bought the Trans Mountain pipeline, but even if they started construction on it, what about Bill C-69, and what about Bill C-48, the tanker bill? Those bills are a direct attack on Alberta.
Albertans are now reeling from the disastrous management of the government. When the father of our current Prime Minister was there, that was the first time Alberta was suffering. I was there at that time. The government tried to seize the oil royalties. The finance minister was Marc Lalonde. It was a disastrous result. Since then, the Liberals have never recovered in Alberta. During the election of 2015, the current Prime Minister said that he would do business differently than his father in Alberta. Lo and behold, those sunny days are gone. This is something that, again, he has not fulfilled.
I am talking about Alberta and the energy sector. The energy sector benefits the whole country. It is not only Alberta's sector. It is British Columbia's, Quebec's, Ontario's, the Maritimes', everyone. It is one of our key sectors.
What is very important is that our companies have spent billions of dollars on clean technology. I will give one example. I was on the foreign affairs committee in the opposition. At that time, in the oil fields of Sudan, Talisman, a Canadian company, had a percentage of the operation in Sudan. All these NGOs that are based in western Canada found that it was easy to target a Canadian company, so they went after the Canadian company, accusing it of all kinds of crimes committed against the environment. The ultimate result was that Talisman sold its shares to China and to India. The next day, all the protests were over.
Has oil stopped? No, it has not. Whom will they target? They will target Canadians. Why will they target them? It is an easy way to do it for these environmentalists. All of a sudden, they disappeared. That shows that the targets of these environmentalists are where they are doing it right now.
I want to go on to another issue, which is the media outlets these guys are giving money to. I can tell members why it is going to be a problem. What about the ethnic media? There are a huge number of ethnic media in the country. Are the Liberals going to give money to the ethnic media, or are they only going to give money to the old Canadian media that are sitting here on the national scene? Are they the only ones who are going to benefit? This is a slippery slope. I will accuse them of discrimination if they do not give money to the ethnic media.
On the panel, there sits a guy who is absolutely anti-Conservative. He said the day before yesterday that he has a right to speak freely. Absolutely. We in the Conservative caucus warn their labour union that he is absolutely right that he can speak, but he is not going to sit on an independent panel and decide which media are going to get money. That goes against democracy. That goes against the principles of democracy. It puts all journalists under a cloud. These journalists had better wake up, because they are going to be under a cloud. Can we trust them when they are getting money from the government? Any time anyone else gets money, they oppose that. How can I believe that what these journalists are writing is unbiased? All indications are that the government is using the money it has to buy votes and to buy publicity. It is a slippery road. It is best not to get involved. The whole country has media, so it is easier for the Liberals not to do that.
In my conclusion, let me say clearly that this is an absolute economic disaster by the government.
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
Lib. (AB)
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
2019-06-04 20:11 [p.28541]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment, as a first-term parliamentarian, to thank each of the hon. members who shared their remarks with us this evening, at the end of their distinguished parliamentary careers. There were many life lessons in those comments. There were many words of wisdom, a few funny stories and indeed things that I hope to be able to reflect on and learn from with multiple mandates in this chamber. However, as members know, that is up to our residents so I look forward to a vigorous campaign this summer and into the fall.
It is the great honour of my life to serve in this chamber and to represent the residents of Edmonton Centre. Therefore, tonight I would like to share my reflections on Bill C-97 and, more particularly, how this 2019 budget says very clearly that our government, budget 2019 and I are here for Edmonton.
I want to start with those people who paved the way for us. I want to start with the seniors and to acknowledge the tremendous sacrifice that seniors have made to build up our communities, to build up our country and, in my case, to build up the city of Edmonton. I honour and respect the wealth of knowledge that they carry with them and the experience and the skills that they continue to contribute and that we want to see them contributing today.
In budget 2019, we recognize the contribution that seniors have made to Canada and we are returning the favour by investing in them. Budget 2019 would help to support their active participation in society, including through work, and would smooth the transition to retirement for seniors when they choose to leave the workforce. I have seen the very good work that the horizons program for seniors has done to reduce social isolation.
I can see the work that we have done to make sure that seniors are able to retain more of the income they now spend. Seniors asked me at the doors why we were clawing back some of the money that they make when they go to work at the Walmart or their kids' school. They asked why we were taking some of that money and we listened. The Minister of Employment, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and the Minister of Seniors were very clear. Now seniors will not pay tax on the first $5,000, it is not going to be clawed back from their GIS and 50% of the next $10,000 will also be exempt. That is $7,500 on the $15,000 that seniors make that will now be in their pockets.
Unfortunately, some seniors are penalized. When they try to keep working, they see significant cuts to their benefits. That is why we listened to seniors and changed the program.
As I mentioned, that is why we are making changes to the GIS allowance benefit. It would begin in the July 2020 to July 2021 benefit year.
Our government respects seniors. Seniors are respected in the budget. We listened to them and we took action.
On innovation and jobs, our government and I are building, together with western Canadians, a strong and competitive west by focusing on business development, innovation and community development. We have pledged to do that by increasing support to Western Economic Diversification Canada with a $100-million increase over three years to increase its programming across western Canada. That means more jobs and more investment in companies. It means more companies will be able to scale up in Edmonton, in Red Deer, in Calgary and across the west.
We have also provided $100 million to the Clean Resource Innovation Network that will help make Alberta's oil and gas even greener and even cleaner.
As members know, when tragedy strikes every second counts, and that makes helicopters an indispensable tool for getting people the care they need quickly and efficiently, which is especially true across such a vast region as western Canada. Since 1985, STARS air ambulance, known as Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service, has provided rapid and specialized emergency helicopter ambulance service to patients who are critically ill or injured in communities across Manitoba, British Columbia and Alberta.
STARS has contributed to saving hundreds of lives and it has helped all of us in some of the worst tragedies: helping after the Pine Lake tornado in July 1999; saving people during the floods of Calgary in 2013; providing transportation away from the fires that swept through Fort McMurray in 2016; and, when the nation's heart sank at the Humboldt crash, helping get those survivors to safety.
Our government recognizes the vital role that STARS plays in delivering access to emergency care for the communities it serves. Our budget will put five new emergency medical helicopters in the air, with a $65-million allocation in budget 2019, making sure that STARS can renew half of its aging fleet and continue its life-saving work.
One of the key aspects of this budget, and even this government, is the hard work we do on behalf of all Canadians, including LGBTQ2 Canadians.
All Canadians deserve our respect, and that includes LGBTQ2 Canadians. That is why I am so delighted to state that in budget 2019 we have included, for the first time in the history of this country, an allocation of $20 million over two years for capacity-building and community-level work for LGBTQ2 service organizations in Canada. This means that community-based organizations that have been shut out and not able to apply to the federal government for anything, ever, will now have that opportunity, starting later this summer and into the new year.
I want to pause and thank the Minister of Finance and member of Parliament for Toronto Centre and his team for this historic investment in budget 2019. It did not have to be there, but it is there. I want to thank the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and MP for Peterborough—Kawartha and her team, because that is the department that will flow the money. I want to thank the LGBTQ2 Secretariat that resides in the Privy Council Office. Without its steadfast work, without its coordination, this would not be possible. I want to thank my own team. To each of them, I want to say that they have made history and they will change and save lives.
Why is the pan-Canadian suicide prevention service, money that we put aside for the national suicide prevention line, so important? It is $25 million over five years.
Earlier today, I was at something called Children First. It was a luncheon and colleagues from the other side of the aisle were also there. We each got paired up with a young person, and I was paired up with 11-year-old Ethan from PETES, an elementary school. We started chatting, in front of a hundred of his colleagues. I asked him what he likes to do. He said he was a video games guy; he likes to play, draw and dance. Then I asked him, “When you talk with your friends, what are some of the big things you want adults to fix?” He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Can you stop bullying? Can you stop people from hurting other people?” I asked if he knew someone who was bullied, and he said he was. It scared him. It ruined his life, and he was quiet for way too long. He became really depressed and had suicidal thoughts. This is an 11-year-old kid who was opening up to me in front of a hundred people at a luncheon today. He asked if we can do something to keep more kids safe.
He wanted to make sure that people would listen. He was not sure that if he told an adult, somebody would listen. The people we will employ on this pan-Canadian suicide prevention hotline will listen to people like Ethan, and that is why budget 2019 is going to make a difference in the lives of so many Canadians.
Turning to another pressing issue in Edmonton Centre, it is important that we do better for, with and by indigenous people, particularly urban indigenous communities. About 60% of indigenous people in Canada live in an urban setting, and Edmonton is home to Canada's second-largest indigenous population. That makes indigenous supports in urban settings a priority for me and for our government. We are investing in safe and culturally relevant community spaces, with $60 million over five years to support capital infrastructure in friendship centres.
With budget 2019, our government is on track to end boil water advisories in Canada by 2021. That affects first nations people whether they are in urban settings or across the country. I attended the Kehewin First Nation sod turning in February. By January 2020, that will be the last boil water advisory for any first nation in Alberta.
With the minute I have left, I want to talk about why an urban riding like mine needs infrastructure. We have the youngest city in the country, with an average age of 34, which is putting me on the other side of the young age now. When a city is that young and dynamic, we need infrastructure, like transit. We have invested almost $1 billion in the transit system that would go through my riding all the way to West Edmonton Mall and to Lewis Estates, so that parents can get home to their kids faster, so that young professionals can get to their activities after work, so that our dynamic economy can continue to grow.
In an urban riding like mine, we need to see commerce increase, and we need people to be able to get home to their families. Our government has listened. Our historic investments in infrastructure will continue, with $16 billion a year over the next nine years. That is improving lives. It is making things better. That is why, with budget 2019, our government and I are here for Edmonton.
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
Lib. (AB)
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
2019-06-03 12:50 [p.28392]
Madam Speaker, the opportunity to provide insight on how the government values a healthy democracy through a free and independent press is why I am here today. Voices must be heard in a democracy: diverse, dissenting and dynamic voices. Those of us who have a seat in this place must speak up for the voiceless, even when said voice sounds like it could use a little TLC.
No one will dispute that a healthy democracy requires a solid, independent news media industry, and we all agree that with today's technology Canadians now consume information differently and through various media forms. Many readers are changing their consumption habits and getting information online.
If we look at the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, 65% of Canadians worry about false information or fake news being used as a weapon. These are the new realities we face here in the House and as a government, and the advent of fake news has prompted our government to act to ensure that our democracy remains well served by informed and reliable journalism.
The support measures we developed ensure that Canada will continue to have an active, professional, reliable and independent press, and that, through responsible journalism, Canadians remain informed of the events that shape our country. As stated by the hon. Minister of Finance, “Whether it's holding governments to account or getting involved in a local cause, Canadians rely on the journalism industry to shine a light on what's important—and these measures will help the industry continue to do exactly that.”
Without these independent journalists, it is much easier for the opposition to peddle fake news stories, such as the ongoing attack ads using public funds, paid for by Doug Ford's government. That is why the Conservatives are vehemently disparaging journalists. However, unlike the Conservatives, our government is not afraid to be held to account by Canadians.
There was one scrum after budget 2019 where someone asked whether this fund would just make sure that the media says what the Liberals want it to say. The Minister of Finance was there, and I think his quip was “I would really like the media to say exactly what I want it to say, but that is not how an independent press works.” That is at the core of what we are doing here.
To this end, we announced a series of measures that, together, would provide support to the Canadian news system, which is crucial to our democracy. Two fundamental principles have guided us in developing these support measures. First, we choose to support the news in a way that is independent, because of all the principles that enshrine our democracy. In short, we fundamentally believe that journalists should not be afraid of their funding being cut simply because they disagree with us. Second, it must be based on the creation of original content.
The first of these measures was introduced in budget 2018, where the government emphasized its support of local news in communities presently underserved by Canadian news media organizations. In an era when fake news is ubiquitous, all Canadians deserve to have access to reliable information.
Let us take the issue of fake news head on. The Conservatives have been trying to sell a narrative recently that is completely false, related to recent government announcements. I want to take the time that I have to address these issues head on.
It is a fact that, on May 22, 2019, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism announced the launch of the local journalism initiative. This initiative, which allocates a total of $50 million over five years, supports the creation of original civic journalism that covers the diverse needs of underserved communities across Canada.
It is a fact that, to protect the independence of the press, seven not-for-profit organizations representing different segments of the news industry will administer the initiative. These organizations will hire additional journalists or undertake projects to give their news greater visibility in underserved communities, thus addressing the need for local civic journalism in underserved communities. The content produced through this initiative will be made available to media organizations through a Creative Commons licence so that Canadians can be better informed regardless of the platform on which they consume their news.
Other support measures were announced in budget 2019, and the government proposed three new initiatives to support Canadian journalism: allowing not-for-profit news organizations to receive charitable donations and issue official donation receipts; creating a new, refundable labour tax credit for qualifying news organizations; and creating a temporary, non-refundable tax credit for subscriptions to Canadian digital news media.
It is a fact that an independent panel of experts will make recommendations on the eligibility criteria for the tax measures so that they are efficient, transparent and fair.
Eight associations representing Canadian journalists were invited to submit the name of a candidate to take part in the work of the independent panel of experts. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have taken issue with one of these associations and have been sharing false information that these associations will somehow be deciding who will receive funding. Fortunately, our government does not believe in such a draconian way of either sharing information or organizing a system meant to protect the independence of the media.
It is a fact that these associations were chosen because they represented the majority of Canadian news media publishers and journalists. the independent panel of experts will be able to consider the views of third parties, including industry stakeholders.
We know for a fact that these key measures will provide Canadians with more access to informed and reliable journalism.
The fact that the Conservatives are threatened by an independent panel of news media publishers and journalists is indicative of the kind of government they had under Mr. Harper and what kind of government they could be. It is the same kind of fear they had with scientists. It is the same kind they had with people of any sort of difference who might actually hold their feet to the fire. Our feet can be held to the fire and because of that, better is always possible.
Over the past week, there has been intense Conservative opposition to the appointment of Unifor to the local journalism panel. Unifor is an independent union that represents 12,000 media workers across the country. It will bring much-needed expertise to the panel on the integrity of news media, freedom of information and workers' rights.
Our government is committed to raising and improving labour standards and working conditions for all journalists across the country, while promoting free press.
We recognizes and value the importance of the independent press to a healthy democracy, and the addition of Unifor to the panel only strengthens that principle.
Let us make no mistake in assuming there is an easy fix after the deep cuts to media experienced under the Harper government, CBC alone, $150 million in cuts. The leader of the official opposition is already on record as saying hundreds of millions of dollars of cuts will come to the CBC should the Conservatives form government.
The Harper government also allocated extensive resources to monitor independent media outlets. Monitoring them is contradictory to the very independence of those media outlets. The previous government was obsessed with message control and engaged in widespread media monitoring. In contrast, our government has built an open relationship with the press.
The Canadian news media ecosystem is under tremendous pressure and that is why we take this issue seriously.
Let us look at the change of the media ecosystem since 2019.
Twenty per cent of daily and community newspapers have ceased their operations. This means that a total of 276 Canadian communities rely on alternative sources of information to obtain the news that is of concern to them. Also, we are not considering the many Canadian news media organizations that had to downsize and adapt their operations to remain in operation due to the drastic cuts of funding that has caused nearly irreversible damage.
In my time as a member of this place, the way the Edmonton media has covered stories has changed dramatically. I used to give an interview to the Edmonton Sun and an interview to the Edmonton Journal. Then about midway through their mandate, they said that I would just have to do one interview now. When I asked them why, they said that they have been consolidated. The Edmonton Sun and the Edmonton Journal are in the same offices now. Therefore, I just give quotes to one person and then the reporters take the different quotes they want to shape the story they want. That is the shape of things to come in the country, so it is time we acted.
Our government recognizes the vital and indispensable role that journalism plays in our country. That is why we will continue to protect the independence of journalists and why we are prepared to make the necessary investments and to take action to ensure Canadians continue to have access to informed and reliable news coverage that is necessary to ensure a democracy.
There used to be over 10,000 jobs in journalism, but most of them have been lost since 2007. Close to 250 daily newspapers have been affected. Some of them have had to close their doors and others have had to reduce the number of journalists that work for them. The government needs to act in this kind of situation and that is what we did.
That is exactly why we are taking these steps now.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Speaker, all of us in the House agree on the principle that the independence of our press is important. The difference I suppose is that on this side of the House we believe the best way to defend the independence of the press is for it to operate independent of government and not have a government-appointed committee that includes the most vocal of Liberal partisans determining who is a journalist and who is eligible for this funding.
It is quite Orwellian for the member to say that the best way we defend the independence of the press is to have somebody who is vocally campaigning for the re-election of his government responsible for deciding which members of the press get the money and which ones do not. Journalists realize that this makes it harder for them to demonstrate their credibility to their readers.
Will the member take a step back from this kind of Orwellian language and realize that independence requires real independence, not government control or control by a government committee?
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
Lib. (AB)
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
2019-06-03 13:00 [p.28393]
Madam Speaker, the hon. member's comments are double-plus bad. In the case of his messaging today, he is making a tempest out of a teapot.
Let us look at the billions of dollars existing in the media industry. Revenues have gone down from $5.5 billion in 2008 to $3.2 billion in 2016, and the member on the other side is worried about a $50 million fund that somehow will revolutionize the balance in the media.
He talked about this somehow favouring Liberal candidates in the next election. Right up to the last election, 74% of all Canadian dailies called for the Harper government to be re-elected, three times more than how it was polling. More than 50% of the population was interested in supporting it. That kind of imbalance is exactly what the member is accusing us of doing, and the Conservatives lived it. We are here to ensure that the independence of journalists is taken seriously.
View Sheri Benson Profile
View Sheri Benson Profile
2019-06-03 13:01 [p.28394]
Madam Speaker, I think we all agree there is a crisis here. What the government is sharing with us as a solution really misses the mark and is just a stopgap.
In Saskatoon, the Saskatoon Express, another local paper, just went under. I want to wish Cam Hutchinson and his staff well. It is a difficult time. It went under because there was no more advertising revenue.
What the government is proposing may help. However, the fact is that the tax system is unfair and large multinationals are making tax-free income from revenue from advertisers and small papers cannot make a go of it.
Would the hon. colleague not acknowledge that what the Liberals are offering today is just not enough and that it will not solve the problem of the loss of independent media in the country?
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
Lib. (AB)
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
2019-06-03 13:03 [p.28394]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the passion of the hon. colleague on this issue. I, too, and colleagues on this side, lament any time a daily or weekly goes under because of lack of revenues. One of the things we have learned and have heard loudly through committee work and through studies across the country us is that ad revenue that used to go to these dailies and weeklies for a dollar apiece now goes to online providers for pennies on the dollar. One cannot sustain a business model that does this.
Therefore, I agree there is more we can do. This is a start. These actions will make a difference. They will help to ensure that independent journalists can protect that independence and ensure Canadians can access media content that has a significant editorial component to it.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2019-06-03 13:17 [p.28396]
Madam Speaker, I used to sit on the heritage committee with the hon. member from Quebec. I want him to know that my home province of Saskatchewan is the second jurisdiction in Canada to have a provincial sales tax on Netflix. Quebec was the first, and Saskatchewan followed up earlier this years with a 6% tax.
I will say a couple of things. I worked for Bell under the CTV brand. There was a lack of innovation from Bell, Rogers and other multimedia companies in this country. They were simply beaten by Netflix, which had been out for two or three years.
Instead of Unifor telling the government where the $600 million should go, perhaps Unifor could use its membership dues to partner with these media giants it is the union for. That would be a far better use of union dues. Instead of using government tax money, Unifor could partner with Bell and Rogers and form a relationship, because they are in bed with each other right now. What the government has proposed is ridiculous.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2019-06-03 13:31 [p.28398]
Madam Speaker, I sat on the finance committee, and this bailout is embedded in an omnibus budget bill. I think it deserves mentioning, again, that this is something the government promised not to do.
This is also a kind of three-package deal. In it, there is a panel that is going to oversee a tax credit. I cannot find any other tax credit the government has which has a government-appointed panel that decides on it. Typically, we let the Canada Revenue Agency decide who meets the eligibility criteria that is set out in the law.
Does the member know of any other tax credit where the government basically appoints a panel to decide who is in or out? If he knows of any, I would love to hear it.
View Michelle Rempel Profile
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-06-03 13:34 [p.28398]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
The institution of freedom of the press is an underpinning of any democratic nation. It is the principle by which we understand that journalists or those in civil service investigate policy, politicians, and comings and goings, and shed light and perhaps different viewpoints on what is going on in our country. This is in order to ensure that we have the best public policy and work toward equality of economic opportunity. Regardless of political stripe, I hope we all agree that the institution of freedom of the press is very important.
I want to contrast the institution of freedom of the press with something that my colleague just said, which was on the industry of journalism. The institution is different from the industry. The institution of freedom of the press does not imply that somehow someone has to make a profit off of this. What we are talking about today is the state interfering in the industry of the press and whether or not that is appropriate in terms of the ability for the institution in Canada to survive.
In 2013, PwC's report, “Online Global entertainment and media outlook 2013-2017”, predicted that newspaper revenue would drop by 20% by 2017. This was not attributed to a lack of consumer demand for journalism, but was attributed directly to a rise in advertising revenue being shifted from print media to online media. It will be no surprise to anyone in this room, or anyone listening at home, that it is because the way we consume information has changed dramatically in the last several years. Many of us consume information on our phones. We consume information with short video blogs. We consume information from content that it is pushed to our phones.
The industry of journalism in Canada knew, through its own corporate forecasts and reports like this one, that its business model was failing. It begs the question of why the taxpayers of Canada should have to bail out a business model that was failing, which is print journalism. These organizations should have known, as any industry does, that they would have to adapt in order to survive. Anyone who owns a business knows that business models can change. For example, look at taxi companies when Uber came in. When something is disruptive to an industry, one has to adapt or one does not survive.
We are now debating whether the government should be bailing out a failed business model, or a failed industry. Unfortunately, what the government has chosen to do in answer to that question affects the institution of freedom of press. Anyone of any political stripe should be concerned about this. A partisan political actor should not be allocating tax dollars in such a way that it could harm the independence of the institution of free press in Canada.
How does that happen? What the Prime Minister has done is to allocate $600 million, which is a lot of money that could be used for a lot of things, to a select group of industry actors in journalism, based on criteria that the government selects and doles the money out on. If those industry actors are not sympathetic to the government of the time, are they inherently credible in terms of actors in the institution of free press? That is what is at stake here.
Anybody who votes Liberal, Green or NDP should be as comfortable with a Conservative-led government selecting those criteria as they are their own. They would have a very hard time standing here arguing for, let us say, Stephen Harper having control over the Canadian media. If an argument does not work both ways from political strife, then we actually have a big problem. Somebody who votes NDP or Green should have a huge concern.
Let us park, for a second, whether Canadian taxpayers should bail out a failed industry that has failed to transition to digital online. This is really about the credibility of anybody at any journalistic institution who takes money out of this fund and for those who choose not to take funds or who are not eligible to take those funds, whether they will be able to compete with people who now have a partisan interest, and they do have a partisan interest.
The government has appointed Unifor to the panel of people who will select the criteria by which the government doles out the funds. Unifor has a publicly stated, publicly funded campaign against a political party in this place. This weekend on the political talk shows, the leader of Unifor said that he should be on that panel because he had a score to settle. He said that other industry and media had endorsed the Conservatives before and why should he not be able to settle the score.
What we are debating here is which partisan actor is better suited to influence the industry on which the institution of freedom of the press is based in Canada. That is disgusting.
We have had a lot of discussions in this place about foreign influence in our election and fake news. It is the individual responsibility of every Canadian to understand how to critically evaluate information presented as news. There is no way the government can regulate that. Many of the existing actors in Canadian industry have responded to this drop in online content by trying to build their own media platforms and responding with clickbait. We do not have a lot of print journalism that I would constitute as journalism anymore. There is some, but a lot of it is editorialization on both the right and the left. Why would Canadian taxpayers perpetuate a failing industry that has such strong ramifications for Canadian democracy?
I know why the Liberal government is doing this and I know why the NDP supports it. When people control the press, they control people. That is what is happening here. Jerry Dias said that he had a score to settle. People cannot control the press through the state. Let us vigorously debate policy and let us even want to throttle each other over differences in public policy. However, to somehow argue with any sort of a fig leaf that this is anything other than the state controlling the press is shameful.
Columnists who have written about the fact that any journalist who works for an organization that takes money from this fund will have to work ten times harder to be credible are right, and they are brave for saying that.
At the end of the day, this bailout will not save print journalism in Canada. The only way that is saved is if these organizations figure out how to transition to the new digital reality, which many of them have failed to do.
In the strongest possible terms, I oppose any sort of interference in this regard. We need to have a conversation about what the state's role is in funding news writ large in Canada. We need to oppose partisan political actors being involved in the doling out of tax dollars to save an industry on which the institution of freedom of speech in our country is underpinned. I refuse to stand here, partisan hat off, and say as a Conservative that I would be excited about that level of control. No, we should have vigorous debate that challenges dogma, not that perpetuates a monopoly that is controlled by partisan actors. It is wrong and it needs to stop.
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