A rotten deal.
Subtopic: SPORTS POOL AND LOTO CANADA WINDING-UP ACT MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
A rotten deal.
Mr. Epp (Provencher):
They even call it a rotten deal. I want to tell the House and Canadians how rotten a deal it was that the Liberals had. I do not know of any other government getting into the lottery field and in fact losing money, but it did that. Not only did it get back into the lottery field, but it lost money.
It is not a lottery, it is a pool.
Mr. Epp (Provencher):
Well, if $46 million does not mean much to the Hon. Member, he can explain that. That being the case in 1980, the Government took very specific steps to try and get back into the lottery field or gaming business. There were no negotiations with the provinces. It simply said it was coming back in.
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What it has done will become more evident not only as this debate unfolds but as the days unfold. There were some very interesting means taken to get back in. While today I do not have the liberty to expose that, the method that was used by the former government to circumvent Parliament, and to circumvent federal-provincial agreements, in order to get back into a field that it saw to be lucrative will become evident. The manner in which that government did it was wrong, Mr. Speaker. I say to Hon. Members opposite that the reason it failed was because they began with the wrong premise, quite apart from whether we agree on lotteries or not.
I suggest that Hon. Members be very careful when they take a look at what was done. Suffice it to say that the federal Government got back into the lottery gaming field by saying that it was not a lottery. However, we find it very interesting to note that it was not to be seen as a lottery but was to have the same effect as a lottery. Obviously, Mr. Speaker, that is not a method that is acceptable to us.
Another controversy developed during that period of time. The question came up as to whether or not the $200 million commitment that was made to the organizing committee for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics would still be in place if the Government got out of the sports pool or if the pool did not make any money. The Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur Sport will go into this in greater detail today, but the Prime Minister has said that that commitment stands. That commitment will be honoured by the Government of Canada because it was made on the same basis as the commitment that was made in 1972 to the Montreal Olympics. An Olympic committee cannot go before the International Olympic Committee without a letter of approval from the Government of the proposed host country, so that project was a legitimate project and a commitment was made. We were not going to use the success or failure of the lottery as a criterion upon which that $200 million commitment would stand.
I could go into further detail about the steps that the former government took. Suffice it to say that the proposal of the former government has met with absolute failure. We opposed that proposal. However, how deep is that failure?
Some Hon. Members might wonder why the Minister of National Health and Welfare is proposing this Bill today. As a Private Member, I took a very strong position against the lottery. Perhaps some Hon. Members are wondering whether or not it is a personal matter. The reason it is being put forward by me is that under the terms of the Financial Administration Act, that is the legal means by which it must be done.
What has happened to the Sports Pool Corporation? I have already said that the Sports Pool Corporation lost money. It was losing money at an average of $1 million to $1.5 million per week during the time of its existence. Once the accounts are settled, we will see that it has lost about $46 million.
The argument was made that proceeds from the pool would be used for amateur sport. To legitimize the proposal, it was
even said that the proceeds from the sports pool would be used for medical research. As a Private Member, I had the opportunity to ask the chairman of the Medical Research Council when he last appeared before the standing committee how much money his people had received from the Sports Pool Corporation for medical research. Do you know what his answer was, Mr. Speaker? It was zero, nothing. I asked him another question. Because medical research funding requires long-term projections, I asked him how much he had budgeted over the next five years or so for moneys that he was to receive from the Sports Pool Corporation. Do you know what he said, Mr. Speaker? He said "Nothing". I asked him if he ever expected to receive any money from the Sports Pool Corporation for medical research, because that provision was in the legislation that we passed and was one of its objectives. From the look on his face, I simply did not need an answer at all.
To date, the Sports Pool Corporation has lost an average of between $1 million and $1.5 million per week. It spent $10.5 million for start-up funding. It received a loan of $20 million from the federal Government to keep it solvent. That money is gone. The corporation has lawsuits pending against it and provincial governments are in strong opposition to it. I say to Hon. Members opposite that its objectives were to fund medical research, to help our amateur athletes who need help and to help fund, in part or in whole, the $200 million commitment to the Calgary Olympic organizing committee. Those commitments still exist and need to be met. As well, what could we have done with that $46 million to help those three causes? The point is that we are $46 million further behind than we would have been if we had never seen the Sports Pool Corporation. That is the reason this legislation is before us.
Additionally, Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to note that Loto Canada was to be wound up. In fact, Mr. Speaker, as a Minister of the Crown in 1979 you had done so. We now find out that, through Orders in Council, it has not been done. That is why this legislation is more than just an attempt to end the Sports Pool Corporation. It is more than an attempt to end Loto Canada. It is a symbol made by our Government to the people of Canada that we do not feel that the federal Government should be in the gaming business, that the federal Government should not be in the lottery business and that when we sign agreements with the provinces, those agreements must be maintained, respected and honoured.
If projects are proposed which are legitimate, worth-while and supported by the Canadian people, we will fund those projects through the proper means here on the floor of the House of Commons rather than through lottery legislation which the Liberal Government tried twice to put through. The Liberal Government tried by some magic to colour the vision of Canadians so that they would see that the lottery business is painless, that it does not affect them and that it is simply a matter of doing business. We are debating a symbol today, Mr. Speaker.
I say to you, Mr. Speaker, and to all Members of the House that the timing of this legislation is obvious. Its purpose is
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clear. I commend it to all Members of the House for speedy passage.
Mr. Sergio Marchi (York West):
Thank you for the great round of applause. It gives me great pleasure to rise in this Chamber to participate for the very first time in a debate in the Thirty-third Parliament of Canada. In addition to being critic for multicultural-ism, I am also pleased to rise as the official critic for the Ministry of State for Fitness and Amateur Sport.
I address myself to the Bill that is before us today. Consequently, I will have to reserve my traditional maiden speech, which offers me an opportunity to outline the values, traditions and aspirations of my riding, for a later date. Nonetheless, I wish to take this opportunity to thank sincerely the constituents of York West for their confidence and support. I can assure them that that trust and faith which they have placed in me will be fully and enthusiastically reciprocated.
In the time allotted to me, I would like to place this Bill that is before us today and its implications in proper perspective. The present Government administration has opted to dismantle the Sports Pool Corporation. However, I believe that before analysing the merits of this Bill, it is necessary to examine what mechanism was put in place and why it was established in the first place.
The athletic events pools were set up to generate funds over the long term, in order to encourage and assist amateur sports, the arts, medical research and, perhaps most importantly, the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympic Games. Of special note are the much talked about Olympic Games to which the previous government made a financial commitment of $200 million. The sports pool, among other revenues, was specifically designed to assist in that financial commitment.
It should be made very clear from the outset that this sports pool was not a lottery. I say that because the previous government had no intention of invading the lottery business, a field which is currently held by the provinces. I believe that that intention is clearly defended and demonstrated by the present Bill. The Bill makes absolutely no reference to the word or to the concept of a lottery, something very different indeed from the time when Government members were in opposition.
In terms of the definition, in a lottery a number is taken at random and there is a chance of winning. A sports pool is primarily a test of a person's intelligence and that individual's knowledge of sports, all of which must be used in determining who the winner or loser will be. It is a system which has been adopted particularly in Europe, as well as by many other countries in the world.
I reiterate that the long-term concept of this strategy was a noble one. It was one which addressed itself to the very real needs of the Olympic organizing committee, Canadian athletes, coaches and officials. It was a recognition that in 1988
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the eyes of the international community would be upon us. It was felt that it was our national obligation to stage a truly first-rate national and international event.
However, unlike the government of the day, I do not wish to dwell on the past or to study endlessly the decisions and initiatives taken in the past. Nor do I wish to provide slogans in place of concrete measures of action. It is on an action plan and on the future that Canadians voted on September 4, and I would like to discuss this Bill on those terms.
Towards this end, a central concern in the winding down of a sports pool mechanism infers that there will be, and needs to be, an alternative to take its place; the winding up of another action plan. It is quite debatable whether this Bill, on its own, is right or wrong, effective or inneffective, appropriate or inappropriate. Yet I would respectfully submit that the debate would be fruitless and unproductive for Canadian interests if it was not complemented by specifically defined and iron-clad measures which would replace the goals and objectives of the previous structure in an effective and responsible manner. However, I fear that this is exactly what we have. To date, as far as I can recollect, the House has not been told by the Government, nor by the Minister, of any such system.
On the one hand, the present Government is committed to a contribution of $200 million for the Winter Olympic Games in Calgary. On the other hand, it has decided to dismantle a mechanism which was to aid in this effort. However, I have not heard, nor has the House heard, in any detail the precise measures on how those moneys will be raised. It is all very fine to promise $200 million. It makes wonderful and popular headlines to support the Olympics and our athletes. Yet the Government must deliver on those promises, for the expectations of the Canadian people, Canadian athletes, coaches and officials, the Olympic organizing committee, the Province of Alberta and the City of Calgary are great, and rightfully so. The Government cannot afford to play political, partisan games with such a national and international event, for the risks are too great.
Consequently, the real issue vis-a-vis this Bill is: From where are the revenues going to come? It has been some two months since the Minister made the commitment, yet we are still unclear as to from where, how and when these moneys will come. I would like to know, and I am sure the House would like to know, if the Minister himself knows. On September 18 the Minister was quoted in The Citizen of Ottawa as follows:
A different form of gaming operation could, and I emphasize the word could, continue after that because clearly we have to keep our commitment to the Calgary Olympics and we will.
The Minister went on to say:
-the question is how we're going to do that.
Those remarks have two very serious implications. First, they suggest that after all the howling that was done by the previous Opposition members on the sports pool concept, the Minister has thrown out the possibility that he will simply replace the sports pool with another similar strategy. The statements which have been given by the Minister and his Party in the House on the sports pool concept not only run
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counter to what was consistently stated in the House and across the country, but also give a new definition to the word "hypocrisy".
Second, if the Minister does not choose to take this route- and according to his reported comments in The Citizen, this is by no means sure-it suggests that he and the Government are at a loss as to how to keep this very fundamental and significant promise.
In The Calgary Herald of September 20, the Minister announced, in relation to the sports pool program, that:
Coming up with a different funding system will be a priority.
My question is: Where is that system and where is the priority attached to that system? There was absolutely no mention made of such a priority in the Throne Speech. It leaves one to wonder if this commitment was merely another of the Government's slogans.
Canadians are also asking themselves if the Government will dip into the federal treasury to come up with the necessary funds. Will it come from general revenues, will it come from the private sector, or will it come from donations? What about the provinces?
We have heard a great deal about the co-operation and mutual respect which exists between the new federal Government and the provincial governments. It would make you believe that anything could be achieved overnight. Well, with respect to this and many other issues of the day, let me say that that night has indeed been very long and very painful. To date, there has been no public agreement that the provinces would help contribute to the federal Government's financial commitment. To date, we have not seen co-operation, consensus, or mutual respect. Great slogans but no action. In fact, it is my understanding that both the Province of British Columbia and the Province of Alberta have refused to participate as partners in the financing of the $200 million. Is this the climate of co-operation that the Prime Minister (Mr. Mul-roney) and his Government have lectured on tirelessly for the last several months?
In addition, the federal Government has not worked out a financial compensation arrangement with the provinces in return for the decision to dismantle the sports pool program. According to the Tory provincial governments, it was perceived as an obstacle to competition. The Government had a golden opportunity to negotiate a financial agreement with the provinces which would have erased many of the worries and financial tensions that the Olympic Games certainly face today. Even during the ill-fated government of the Right Hon. Member for Yellowhead (Mr. Clark) in 1979, the administration negotiated a deal with the provinces which provided that, in return for $35 million annually, the federal Government would remove itself from the lottery business and allow that field to be taken up exclusively by the provincial governments. While the financial aspects of the settlement were absolutely lacking in fundamental, arithmetical logic, since the projected lottery-generated revenues were in the neighbourhood of $200 million annually-and it has been said that it has been very
easy to trade in your Cadillac to get a Volkswagen-it nevertheless demonstrated, at the very least, a concern for the national will.
This Government led by the Prime Minister, in its great desire to please the provinces, has forgotten that it has a national mandate and responsibility. It has not recognized, I believe, that Canadians respect and demand a government which protects, encourages and fosters a national will and purpose. Even the Hon. Member for Edmonton North (Mr. Paproski), the former Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur Sports under the Clark Government, agrees that a negotiated settlement would have been fundamentally correct and necessary. In Hansard of March 27, 1984, as reported at page 2472, the Hon. Member for Edmonton North asked the then Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur Sport:
But I would like to ask the present Minister, who is at least a golfer, why has he not sat down with his provincial counterparts to reach a compromise as far as the sports lottery is concerned-
Such a compromise to date, to my recollection, has not been attained and neither, perhaps, pursued. As everyone well recognizes, Mr. Speaker, negotiations are accomplished successfully from a point of strength, not weakness, as has been demonstrated so ably by this present administration.
As I outlined at the beginning of my remarks, the eyes of the world will be upon us in 1988. This event is made all the more important because of the successful staging of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles organizing committee raised approximately $469 million and showed a profit of $150 million. The president of that committee, Mr. Peter Ueberroth, declared: "After Los Angeles, any city in the world should be able to survive an Olympics". Calgary and, in general, Canada must live up to that challenge. We must meet that challenge head on and I feel we should strive to surpass it, setting challenges for other countries to meet.
I would like to assure Hon. Members, Mr. Speaker, that we on this side have always been firmly committed as a government to amateur sports and to the pursuit of athletic exellence by Canadians of all backgrounds and from all walks of life. Our last Liberal government gave the strongest guarantee ever offered so that Calgary would play host to the Olympic Games in 1988. To complement this initiative, the Canadian Olympic Association publicly endorsed the creation of a sports pool program as one intiative to be used to raise the necessary funds and to focus attention on the Winter Olympic Games. At the same time that Canadian Olympic Association censured the Opposition for its attempts to discredit the sports pool program.
Moreover, Mr. Speaker, we need to be reminded that it was a Liberal government that helped amateur sports throughout Canada, that paid the lion's share in order to send our athletes to Los Angeles where they made Canada extremely proud and honoured by their athletic abilities. We as Liberals support the participation of Canada in the Commonwealth Games, in the Canada Games, in the PanAmerican Games and in the Olym-
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pic Games. However, we as Canadians recognize that we must have money to enable us to ensure that our participation is a responsible and successful one and that our athletes receive the necessary training and resources they require in order to perform well on the international stage of athletics. We need programs and strategies, Mr. Speaker, in order to ensure that those moneys will be generated. Canadians want and deserve to know what will be replacing that which is being removed. How will it be replaced and when? These are the fundamental questions to which Canadians want immediate answers.
When we debate and discuss the Olympic Games and amateur sports in general, we are also talking, to a large degree, about Canada's youth and their great appetite for adventure and achievement. Our future may lie beyond their vision but I would submit that it is not beyond our control. It is the will of our Government and of all Canadians which will determine, in part, their destiny. It is my every hope, Mr. Speaker, a hope which I believe is shared by all the citizens of our country, that as the years pass the efforts of our Government in encouraging athletic excellence in amateur sports and the Olympic Games will be judged as positive and constructive. I endorse the motion of the Hon. Member.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):
The Hon. Member for Thunder Bay-Nipigon (Mr. Epp). It is the other Mr. Epp; I thought it was the Minister getting up again!
Mr. Ernie Epp (Thunder Bay-Nipigon):
Mr. Speaker, thank you for solving the interesting question of how to deal with certain similarities of name, if little else, although in speaking this morning to the Bill to dissolve the sports pool, we will have occasion to see a similarity of view.
I am very pleased to be able to speak this early in the Thirty-third Parliament on an important measure. I believe I will have an opportunity during the debate on the Throne Speech to speak as well and consequently my comments to my constituents and relating to the past election can be held over. Today I would particularly like to address the matter before us.
Before I do so, I would like to congratulate my friend of similar name on his responsibility as Minister of National Health and Welfare. I hope he will have a good time. I wish him well in the great responsibility he faces in maintaining the social security system of our country.
I was also pleased to see the Hon. Member for York West (Mr. Marchi) on his feet speaking to this measure. We have been waiting with bated breath for our friends in the Liberal caucus to name their spokesman for fitness and amateur sport, given that the list announced earlier did not include any such person. Since the Hon. Member is also responsible for mul-ticulturalism, as I am, we clearly will become acquainted.
The Bill before us deals with a measure passed in the last Parliament which was designed to create a sports pool in order to raise money, not just for the Olympics in 1988 but for various other objectives. It was designed to raise money for fitness and amateur sport generally, for the support of arts and culture, including, although not necessarily restricted to, capi-
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tal projects in that area. It was also, as has been recognized earlier today, designed to raise money for the purposes of supporting medical and health research.
All of these things are, of course, very important matters to the people of Canada. They are matters which deserve substantial support. However, the preceding government intended to support these important activities not from the general revenues of the country but by the method of gambling on the federal as well as the provincial level. It was clearly a matter of supporting excellent ends by the use of highly dubious means.
There have not been many comments in the debate to this point on the questionable nature of those means so I would like to give my own observations. In fact there is a large area of agreement between myself and my colleagues in the last Parliament, going back to the 1970s, the views of the present Minister of National Health and Welfare and, for that matter, those of the Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur Sport (Mr. Jelinek), who I regret not seeing here today.
I would like to put on record the views stated by various members of our Party in years past in order to have an indication of the importance of these matters. The House will pardon the historian particularly enjoying documents while he is in the process of adding to the documentation. In 1976 the then Hon. Member for Winnipeg North Centre, Mr. Knowles, spoke as follows in the debate on Loto Canada:
It is because we believe that physical fitness, amateur sport and recreation are important aspects of Canadian life that we think they should be financed out of general taxation and, therefore, paid for on the basis of the ability to pay.
We do not believe that aspects of life as important as physical fitness, amateur sport and recreation should be financed by gambling, which calls on the poor to pay for it, instead of taxation which is levied according to ability to pay.
Although I will not say much about the importance of fitness and amateur sport to all of us, let me say that those sentiments clearly state my position and that of my colleagues. In debate on the legislation which established what we are today concluding, the sports pool itself, the Hon. Member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Deans) spoke as follows on November 18, 1982:
It is clear that if we believe the health and well-being of the people is important, then we must be prepared to make a financial commitment to that end.
The intent of the legislation is quite clear; it will introduce an attitude in the country that gambling is an acceptable way for government to raise money. It is not acceptable, Mr. Speaker.
Later he said:
But when we in Canada make a commitment to health care, health services and provision of adequate facilities for health, whether it be in the sense of providing immediate care or research, we believe in doing it out of tax revenues. Also we believe that it should be funded in a way to allow the people charged with the responsibility of ensuring the continuation of the health care service to do some reasonable fiscal planning, to budget and to commit dollars for years down the road in order to complete the projects which they have undertaken.
Those are fascinating comments given what the Hon. Minister has indicated about some questions he put to the head of
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the Medical Research Council. In further debate the then Hon. Member for Selkirk-Interlake, Mr. Sargeant, on April 19, 1983, made this observation of the impact of organizations such as this sports pool:
What is the nature of the Minister's voluntary taxation-his non-tax source of revenue? For one thing, it is a form of taxation that takes proportionately more from the poor than it does from the rich.
When one thinks about it, it is not really surprising that it is the poor and not the rich who fall for other Government betting schemes. Lotteries, this sports pool and other government-run gambling are turning millions of Canadians into gamblers. The rags to riches, easy money outlook bred by lottery advertising is naturally appealing to poorer Canadians.
He added some observations about the people who tend to buy lottery tickets and presumably participate in the sports pools:
A 1977 profile commissioned by Loto Canada found that 54 per cent of the buyers of lottery tickets earned less than $20,000 a year. A similar study conducted by Gallup found that 73 per cent of people who earned less than $6,000 a year took part in Wintario.
That in my province of Ontario is another dimension of the cause for concern that we feel in our caucus about the proposal which the previous government put on the law books and the pool it created.
Let me quote one more member of my caucus, the Hon. Member for Beaches (Mr. Young), as follows:
i always considered support for arts and culture and support for medical and health research to be a responsibility in the best interest of Canadians as a whole and certainly Canada as a society. I considered this to be a responsibility of all Canadians not just those people at the low end of the income scale who may be tempted because of the economic conditions in which they find themselves as a result of government policy to try to find a way out of those difficulties by buying dreams through the kinds of programs about which the Government is talking. That is what the Government is doing. It is selling dreams. The chances or the odds of an individual who participates in that kind of activity, these lotteries or sports pools, actually coming out a winner are decidedly low.
The debate in the last Parliament was fascinating on that point as Members considered the likelihood with which one might be struck by lightning; it is twice as likely as winning a lottery. That does not prevent the organizers of lotteries from spotlighting every successful winner in order to encourage people, particularly the unfortunate, to take part in these lotteries.
What I found fascinating was the fact that members of the then Conservative Opposition felt the same way about these matters. You will understand, Mr. Speaker, why I look particularly at the Hon. Member for Provencher (Mr. Epp) and the Hon. Member for Halton in making these comments. There really is some fascinating material here which I rather regret was not put on the record at any length this morning. The Hon. Minister referred to strong views but he did not really give us the depth and strength of those views while speaking to the Bill presently before us. When he spoke on November 18, 1982 as an opposition member, the Minister said:
We are being asked today by this Government to accept a Bill which allows the federal Government to get back into the gaming industry. What we are debating here today is action which in 1970 was illegal. In 1970 it was prohibited by virtue of the Canadian Criminal Code. Suddenly after ten or 12 years we not only have had legalized gambling, government-sponsored-in fact governments being beneficiaries of that gambling-but gambling has become a part of the
Canadian pattern. Today we seem to say that we have to increase this new source of revenue, not because we want to justify that new source, but because the Government needs it for valid programs. It is based on this theory that the ends justify the means.
I did not at the outset mean to parrot him, but I do not think I could have said it any better concerning my own repugnance at what has happened in Canadian society since these amendments to the Criminal Code. I am sorry that the proposal before us this morning is only the abolition of one of those bodies. The Minister, then simply the Hon. Member for Provencher, went on to say:
The carrot is put forward to the people, Mr. Speaker, that they might somehow get out of the economic difficulties in which they find themselves by buying one chance, one hope which somehow might extricate them from the daily living that is faced by most Canadians. It is a fantasy based on advertising, glib, glossy advertising, the kind that, if corporations used it, many of us in this House would get up and argue borders very closely on false advertising, if in fact it is not false advertising. But because governments do it, somehow there is legitimacy. I suggest that is wrong.
I heartily agree. I do not think it could have been said better by a member of our caucus.
Oh, maybe marginally.
Mr. Epp (Thunder Bay-Nipigon):
Marginally. The Hon. Minister would always be welcome over here, perhaps, Mr. House Leader.
For a visit.
Mr. Epp (Thunder Bay-Nipigon):
For a visit. Well, there may be something to extract from that a little later. The Hon. Member for Halton also had some fascinating observations to make:
At the outset, I would like to say that this sports pool is nothing more than an indirect taxation by devious ways and means. It is an underhanded way of collecting money from the Canadian public because the Government has failed in its responsibility time and time again to collect it by normal means.
That is a splendid statement, one which I do not intend to allow the Hon. Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur Sport to forget in this Parliament. It is one we might inscribe in an appropriate place and keep constantly spotlighted, as is done in a stadium when the great athletes are performing, in order to be sure we do not forget it.
He went on to comment on the proposal before the House on this day in late June of 1983 by saying the following:
As a former athlete I support anything which can be done to help amateur athletes in this country. But certainly not by establishing the phony, sleazy programs the Government is talking about which would be taking advantage primarily of the poor people of this nation, and then misleading them with false and misleading advertising.
That was splendidly spoken. With those comments on the record from both of the Opposition Parties in preceding Parliaments, I regretted this morning that the Minister's observations did not in fact extend to these considerations. I was disappointed to see him focusing particularly on the federal-provincial ramifications of all of this. He is concerned about the pursuit of the policy which the government of 1979
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followed in turning the field over to the provinces. That is virtuous at the federal level presumably, a vice lift to the provinces. We might remind ourselves immediately, of course, that the Parliament of Canada declares what is illegal in this country, if it does not in fact define all the vice that exists. To leave our provincial colleagues in their governments responsible for this behaviour if in fact it is immoral, if it has vicious consequences and if the social ends are as evil as the Member for Provencher and the Member for Halton suggested in 1982 and 1983, seems to me highly regrettable. We should in fact be giving the sort of consideration to this whole question which the then opposition member for Provencher did in fact propose.
If I might take one more selection from the parliamentary record of years past, I find on November 18, 1982 the then representative from Provencher declared, in words which I convey to him strongly and powerfully this afternoon:
I suggest to the Minister that he seriously consider setting up an all-party committee to study the subject of lotteries and what they mean to the Canadian public, both in the immediate and long term, before this Bill is passed.
I daresay it is not appropriate to propose a motion in that direction. As a new Member I am open to instruction on these matters. I see that the opposition member in that Parliament did not in fact move a motion either, but he proferred advice to the Minister as I now do. I think this is really quite a serious matter. Both of us have provincial colleagues who have taken action which we must regret. I am candid in recognizing that the New Democratic Government of Manitoba was into the field very early, about 1970. I regret that. I think it was a wrong action. I regret equally that the Government of Ontario has been in the lottery field so largely with the Wintario program in particular. It has in fact used that extensively for the very purposes for which the late Government planned to use the sports pool.
Surely, given more than a decade of experience with gaming it would be appropriate at this point to take a good look at it. While as a new Member I may hesitate to add to the number of committees we will have in the House, this is one of the important moral and social matters which certainly deserves consideration and I commend it to the Minister.
In connection with the Wintario grants, the impression I have in northern Ontario is that the largesse which comes from Queen's Park and makes possible the establishment of sports facilities of various sorts can be the sort of gift which some of us occasionally experience. Initially everything seems splendid. In this case with the capital grants fully in the ground and above it with buildings erected, local communities find themselves suddenly having to support the operation of facilities they did not have before. The consequence can be a heavier burden of taxation than those people have known before. That surely is another of the consequences of gambling revenue because it seems to be such cheap money. There is no reason why a small community should not have facilities given that this money is in provincial hands ready to be disbursed wherever it may be.
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There is, of course, concern about the financing of the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary and other activities in fitness and amateur sports. I share the concern of the Member for York West (Mr. Marchi) to know how the Government plans to do this. I took care to obtain the governing Party's campaign handbook last night and also to get some sense of what the policy might be in order to have marks by which we might judge at an early point.
I note in the campaign handbook a statement that the PC Government would explore tax incentives for corporate support for sports and fitness programs. I note that the policy statement given to sports organizations saying that the PCs are committed to maintaining the highest level of federal support for amateur sport in Canada is very likely to be contradicted beginning this evening. We have had an indication in one area and another that all Canadians are going to have to suffer cuts in the expenditures of the Government, so it seems highly unlikely that that particular statement given to sports groups across the country during the last election will in fact be maintained and that they will in fact maintain the highest level of federal support. It looks as if some trimming in the funding made available in that area is inevitable. We will be watching with great concern.
This same section goes on to comment on a commitment to develop a charitable donations tax credit. That brings me to my concluding observations and expression of concern about the way in which all of this may unfold. The Canadian fiscal structure is presently shot full of one tax break and another, whether for individuals or for corporations. I found it very interesting when talking to a Thunder Bay accountant a few weeks ago to hear him say: "When you get to the House of Commons, do your best to simplify that tax structure. Stop trying to achieve social aims through the fiscal system because it becomes more and more complex as each of these is carried through".
My personal opinion about the tax breaks is that we ought to be really rigorous in reviewing all of them. I am intensely suspicious about the use of every one of these. Perhaps the greatest concern I feel about the proposal that there be more such incentives is the concern that all Members of Parliament share, I am sure. That is a concern that we have genuine responsible government in this country. The great problem with using arrangements of this sort is that they inevitably become veiled in the confidentiality which applies to fiscal dealings of government with individuals and corporations. When they are so veiled it becomes quite impossible for Parliament to have any close contact with what is happening. We need a rigorous reconsideration of all of them.
On this day on which the Government plans to put forward an economic statement we need a recognition that one of the factors in the deficit that bothers the Government so deeply is in fact an incredible level of tax expenditures of one break and another. In fact, I suspect that the deficit is largely matched by the breaks to individuals and corporations. It would be good to have all the detail we can possibly have on that. The proposal that we have in addition to it as a means of financing
November 8, 1984
fitness and amateur sport, Mr. Speaker, seems to me not much less dubious for other reasons than was the proposal to establish the sports pool in 1982-1983.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, let me applaud the measure which was put forward by the Minister of National Health and Welfare, subject only to my concern about a proper provision for the employees of the sports pool. I would like to call on the Government to be principled in its entire rejection of gambling in Canada. An all-Party committee to review this seems to me quite essential. We ought to think about the possibility of amending the Criminal Code.
Finally, I would like to say that I await with concern the statement on funding for amateur sport, whenever it is made, and question the intention to use more tax incentives in this area. Thank you for your patience, Mr. Speaker.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):
Order, please. It being one o'clock, I do now leave the chair until two o'clock this afternoon.
At 1 p.m. the House took recess.
AFTER RECESS The House resumed at 2 p.m.
Hon. Warren Allmand (Notre-Dame-de-Grace-Lachine East): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney), speaking about the Peace Camp on Parliament Hill, was quoted recently as having said: "I think they made their point. It's been amply made, it's been well made. It's really a question of how much more you want to make a point." How can the Prime Minister say that these young people have made their point when, last year, countries of the world spent over $700 billion on arms, when $100 billion of that was spent on nuclear weapons, when we now have in the world 50,000 nuclear weapons which have one million times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb, when there is a new nuclear test taking place in the world every week which is really a rehearsal for nuclear war? The nuclear weapons that exist now can destroy 800 million lives in less than one day. Despite that, the Prime Minister has said that these young people have made their point. I would ask the Prime Minister to agree that this important vigil, that this important reminder stay on Parliament Hill until the nations of the world ban nuclear madness from the face of the earth.