June 8, 1993 (34th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Stanley J. Hovdebo

New Democratic Party

Mr. Stan J. Hovdebo (Saskatoon-Humboldt):

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on this series of resolutions to make some comments in support of the resolutions by my colleague from Okanagan-Shuswap.
These amendments are aimed at making this bill a little more consumer friendly and a little more Canadian friendly. What needs to be done with this bill is to strengthen the relationship between the consumer, the provinces and the industry. A good portion of this industry has been developed by the provinces and is part of the provincial structure. It therefore becomes very important that the provinces and the consumers be involved and that we make this industry as Canadian friendly as possible. Instead, this movement toward competitiveness makes it probably more American friendly.
This series of amendments gives some vision to the industry. It puts in place some kind of vision of what the industry should be doing. What is more logical than the
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four or five amendments that have been placed here? For instance, what can be more logical than making one of the most important aims of the industry to be, as the motion states:
"(b) to enhance the expression and communication of Canada's cultural identity."
What would be more logical than making that the basic aim of the industry? What can be more logical than maintaining an affordable system?
One of the real concerns all across the country has been that the whole of the communications industry is gradually becoming the area of those people who can afford it. I have a daughter, for instance, who told me the other day: "I am just not going to be able to afford a telephone very much longer".
This is not an unrealistic approach for a lot of people. When you are having trouble putting food on the table then communications, if they become expensive, become extra. That again is one of the amendments which my colleague has put forward.
Third, what can be more logical than having consultation with the provinces? After all, the basic industry has been developed by the provinces. In fact, as far as telephones are concerned I was a member of a telephone company that was a co-operative in Saskatchewan 45 or 50 years ago. It became part of the Saskatchewan telephone system and is now being threatened to some extent in the direction it is going in being available to people in my community.
Again, what can be more logical than to be sure by putting it into legislation that the provinces, the industry and the government consult before they take directions that are harmful to Canada generally and to the consumer specifically?
What can be more logical than to support and to encourage innovation and to make that a central point as far as the development of the industry is concerned? All of these are very specific and very small directions which would strengthen the bill that, as my colleagues suggested, has been around for 90 years.
I am very surprised that the minister said we in this corner are filibustering it when for nine years it could have been passed. The filibustering must have gone on within his caucus. That is where it has been held up for the last nine years.

June 8, 1993
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Now when it is brought forward and we get a little debate on it, he shuts it down. The positions that Canadians right across the country have held for many years and have presented to us as their representatives should be put in. We would not have any trouble supporting this bill if the minister had taken the time to strengthen it in the directions which are indicated even in these first five motions.
There are five motions in this group aimed at making the bill more consumer friendly, more Canadian friendly. That is the direction we should be looking. It is the direction that we thought the government was looking but obviously it did not take the time to make the kinds of changes which would have made it Canadian and consumer friendly.

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