James (Jim) Alexander HART

HART, James (Jim) Alexander

Personal Data

Canadian Alliance
Okanagan--Coquihalla (British Columbia)
Birth Date
October 30, 1955
advertising executive, radio host

Parliamentary Career

October 25, 1993 - April 27, 1997
  Okanagan--Similkameen--Merritt (British Columbia)
June 2, 1997 - July 17, 2000
  Okanagan--Coquihalla (British Columbia)
March 27, 2000 - July 17, 2000
  Okanagan--Coquihalla (British Columbia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 125 of 126)

February 8, 1994

Mr. Jim Hart (Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

The Auditor General has repeatedly expressed concern that eight crown corporations are exempt from the provisions of the Financial Administration Act which mandate good management

and accountability. The exempt crown corporations include the Canada Council, the National Film Board, the National Arts Centre Corporation among others.

At a time when Canadians are demanding that governments spend their tax dollars wisely, can the minister explain why these crown corporations are exempt from part X of the Financial Administration Act?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Crown Corporations
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February 2, 1994

Mr. Jim Hart (Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt)

Mr. Speaker, the Okanagan Valley ships apples, pears, peaches and fruit of all kinds around the world. Our producers have become world leaders in the industry and strides forward continue to be made.

From January 26 through January 28 the British Columbia Fruit Growers' Association held a major convention in Penticton. It was highly successful and brought many fruit growers together to discuss issues that are important to the industry, such as the impact of the NAFTA, the GATT and advances in new technologies.

Over the last 100 years, B.C. fruit growers have invested their capital, their ideas and their hard work to become a world leader in fruit growing. It is again proof that Canadians can compete and win against the best in the world.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Fruit Growers
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January 31, 1994

Mr. Jim Hart (Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt)

Madam Speaker, today I am going to direct my comments to the matter of Canada's cultural identity from the perspective of my constituents in Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt and all Canadians who are looking for fiscal responsibility.

The arts is an area in which my family has been involved. For many years my mother operated an academy of dance in Alberta. My sister is still involved in that industry. My brother has been an actor on stage and in film in Canada and is now a producer in the Toronto area. My own background in commercial radio and the cable television industry has given me the perspective I would like to share with hon. members of the House.

I congratulate the government for talking about our cultural heritage in the throne speech, although the two sentences were very vague and lacking any detail. It certainly left me feeling as though the government may feel it appropriate to spend more tax dollars in this area. This would not be something to which I or the average Canadian who realizes the fiscal dilemma we face would agree.

First we must ask: What exactly do we mean by Canadian culture? I submit that where we live in Canada, our ethnic background and even the size of our bank account would have an impact on the answer. As Canadians we embrace individuality and freedom, caring and concern for other people. We embrace healthy competition as shown in the love of our sports. We appreciate our country's abundant natural beauty and as a people we have generously supported the arts. Therefore I ask again: What is Canadian culture?

The answer is that culture is what Canadians consume, what we as a people in a free society choose on our own to read, watch and listen to. These things are consumed. Whether art, literature, music or theatre, they will not and should not survive if they do not appeal to the Canadian consumer. No matter how much money is given in the form of government subsidies, it will not encourage the consumer to enjoy the product any more.

Our culture is as varied as the immense geography of our land. It defies attempts to reduce it to a common denominator. The things that are important in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, are not necessarily the same things that are important to us in Summerland, British Columbia. Prairie communities have their own cultural values. The people of Quebec and the people of the First Nations have their own vibrant cultures and traditions, as do members of every ethnic community in our country.

Canada's culture is not about some standard imposed on us by the culture bureaucrats. Too often in recent times someone else's idea of what is Canadian culture has been shoved down the throats of Canadians.

It is in vogue in certain cultural circles to disdain producing art for public consumption. They call it commercialization. All art, however, is commercialized and destined for consumption. Giving government subsidies to artists without equal consideration to marketing and distribution of the product is giving money away to talented people to show their works to their closest friends. If Shakespeare were alive today his name would probably be Steven Spielberg.

Canadians can be proud of the great achievements of many members of our arts community. These achievements stand out in the global community, not just on some national stage. The achievements of Alex Colville, or for that matter of Bryan Adams, stand out in a global context.

These are achievements of individuals, not of national cultural institutions or organizations. These individuals would stand out in any culture, in any society. What made them great was the fact that what they produce is what many people want to see and hear, and will pay for.

The Canadian taxpayer has generously funded the arts community for many years now. We have created institutions and a cultural bureaucracy that have a seemingly insatiable appetite for funding. In today's climate of mounting debts and out of control spending, we can no longer continue this. Every expenditure must meet the test of necessity. We have to set priorities.

In this context we have the sacred cows of the cultural bureaucracy, and expensive cows they are too. We have the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In 1992 it gobbled up a subsidy of $1 billion and still turned a loss of $108 million. One of the mayors in my constituency after losing a battle for funding to clean up a lake pointed out that the CBC received more money than all the federal funding for environmental programs. This is just one crown corporation.

We must priorize our spending.

Then we have the Canada Council. This institution spent some $108 million last year. Over $23 million went to administration. The projects supported by the council have also been the focus of much discussion as to their actual worth. The National Citizens Coalition of Canada says: "Actors, writers and poets all receive huge amounts of tax dollars to produce works that in most cases few want to read or hear". Unfortunately hon. members in this place will never know the effectiveness of the council because it does not have to account to Parliament.

The Auditor General has asked to examine the accounts of the Canada Council but under the exemption from part X of the Financial Administration Act the council does not have to submit to his scrutiny. That means that hon. members have no opportunity to evaluate this organization or the seven other crown corporations that are also exempt. This not only includes the CBC and Canada Council, but among others the Canada Film Development Corporation and the National Arts Centre Corporation.

We also have the National Film Board with a budget of $82 million. Can we justify this kind of spending when we have a thriving film industry? How many films does the National Film Board produce that Canadians will pay to see?

We must ask ourselves in these times of huge deficits and burgeoning debt if this cultural bureaucracy can be tolerated. Can a country with a debt of half a trillion dollars afford to continue to pour money into the institutions that have little or no benefit for the average Canadian?

I would also suggest that we concentrate on encouraging excellence in the arts, encouraging those Canadians who actually want to be listened to or seen on the global stage. We should be encouraging and assisting our best talents to reach the world stage.

Although it received no mention in the throne speech, I applaud the Liberal government's commitment expressed in the Red Book to take measures to enable producers of Canadian cultural products to export their work to international markets.

Sixty years ago people in remote areas had little access to the outside world. First radio and then television changed all that. Technology expanded the role of culture in Canada. With cablevision came community access channels which allowed local groups to reach a much wider audience. Satellite and cable technologies have allowed Canadians to watch the deliberations in this chamber via the CPAC network and they have taken us to the very scenes of world events as they unfold. Few will forget the drama and intensity witnessed at Oka or during the gulf war.

In the near future as access to hundreds of channels approaches and as individuals are empowered to decide for themselves what they wish to watch through the power of interactive technology, we will see a global culture emerge. The opportunities for our best artists and our best writers will grow but only if we have encouraged excellence.

The best assistance government can render our cultural community is to ensure that all Canadians do not face a future of national bankruptcy.

In conclusion, I applaud the government's attention to culture although I doubt we will find much common ground when it comes to spending taxpayers' money. We must critically examine every aspect of spending in this country if we are to avoid

the future of bankruptcy. Social and cultural policies cannot be exempt from this.

While spending in this country is clearly out of control, it seems to me an obvious thing that representatives of the people must have the ability to examine for themselves whether our constituents' taxes have been used wisely.

I do believe we can agree on this much. At the very least the Auditor General should be allowed to examine those corporations exempt from part X of the Financial Administration Act as part of his review of government programs and that he be asked to provide an interim report to this House as soon as possible.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Social Security System
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January 31, 1994

Mr. Hart

Madam Speaker, I would like to reiterate to the hon. member that I come from a background in the arts community. My family spent many, many years striving for excellence in the arts. We did so by other means and with no subsidies from the government.

I point out that it is not my contention that we simply abandon all the cultural programs. The thrust of my message is that we must be accountable. Those corporations must be accountable to the Canadian taxpayer. Right now the way it stands there are eight crown corporations which are exempt from the scrutiny of the Auditor General. This is unacceptable to the Canadian people from coast to coast. It does not matter where you are, if you are involved in the arts or not, this is something that is wrong. It has to be changed and we have to address it immediately.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Social Security System
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January 27, 1994

Mr. Jim Hart (Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt)

Mr. Speaker, speaking on behalf of the small business owners in Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt these people are forced to spend long hours dealing with government paperwork and regulations.

Even before the imposition of the GST, over 60 per cent of small business owners in Canada spent up to 10 hours a week complying with government regulations and red tape. This time is better spent marketing their products and doing business. This situation has become much worse with the GST.

This government promised to review the impact of regulations and paperwork on small businesses and their ability to comply. Government and the public service must live up to their names. They must serve Canadians by removing unnecessary and duplicate regulations.

Let us make compliance with the needed regulations as convenient as possible. I believe this will help restore the public confidence in government and allow small businesses to do what they do best: create jobs.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Small Business
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