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.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: SPORTS POOL AND LOTO CANADA WINDING-UP ACT MEASURE TO ESTABLISH