SUB-COMMITTEE ON THE INDUSTRY OF SPORT IN CANADA OF THE
STANDING COMMITTEE ON CANADIAN HERITAGE
SOUS-COMITÉ DE L'INDUSTRIE SPORTIVE DU CANADA DU
COMITÉ PERMANENT DU PATRIMOINE CANADIEN
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Monday, November 17, 1997
The Chairman (Mr. Dennis J. Mills
(Broadview—Greenwood, Lib.)): Why don't we begin.
We'll introduce ourselves and maybe give a little
bit of a backgrounder on why we're interested in this
Maybe we could express some of the
additions to this discussion document, and any
additional thoughts for a process, for witnesses, or
for other topics that we should be sure to cover off
when we send out invitations.
Why don't we begin with you, Denis.
Mr. Denis Coderre (Bourassa, Lib.): Thank
you, Mr. Chair.
First of all, I come from Montreal. It's obviously a
hockey city, but we also have a football team. We have
a baseball team that is in jeopardy right now, and
we're wondering if we're going to remain as Expos
fans next year. So this task force will help us to
maybe look particularly at our region in the province
of Quebec, based on the national point of view of what
the government approach should be to help those
professional teams, as a first.
Second, we have to also discuss what our philosophy,
our ideology, of sports itself should be. Should we
make an effort to help the élites, or should we
constitute ourselves as an élite country because, as
you notice, we are participating a lot in the Olympic
Games? We sometimes have the impression that the
government's not doing enough to help those athletes,
but also, based on sponsorship, to help the trainers
and to help those kids to go there and to perform.
saying that, we should also look at sports at the
amateur level, and check for ourselves what the link
should be amongst the government, the professionals and
In Quebec, we have what we call the Jeux du Québec,
and we have a lot of athletes who participate
through the school system. It's not the same as
college football in the United States, for example, but
we have some good teams in basketball, soccer, and
sometimes in football too. But we have to look at what
the governmental approach should be, and at whether or
not we should do that as policy. We should even ask
ourselves if we should participate at the sport level.
How should we consider sports: as culture, as an
industry, as both?
I was born in 1963, but I remember that goal by Paul
Henderson in 1972. After that event, we noticed
that hockey in particular had a good effect on national
So we have to ask ourselves if we should, as
the national government, participate at that kind of
level. Should we encourage all those national teams
based on an approach of national unity?
There are two things that we say we shouldn't discuss
in Quebec, sports and religion, but since the Nordiques
are now in Colorado, we're okay.
I thank you, Mr.
Chairman, for managing this task force, because I think
it's a must. We should discuss this. We're talking
about millions and millions of dollars, and now we have
the Americans taking our national sport of hockey.
We hear a lot of things being said about Canada being
too small-market to have professional hockey teams. We
saw what happened with the Oilers. We're not sure
if they'll remain as a Canadian team beside maybe
Toronto and Montreal, and there are also some problems
in Vancouver, so we should look at it. As you know,
Hamilton and Saskatoon wanted teams in the past, so do
we as a government have the ability to help them?
Should we help them?
I spoke to a lot of people about this committee, and a
lot of them are enthusiastic. We have to make them
understand, first, that this has nothing to do with the
salaries. The first thing they're saying, especially
when we talk about professional sports, is that with
all those salaries, they don't need us, that there's no
way the government should get involved in this. But
when we discuss the industry itself, it has a great
As an example, I give them the Montreal
Canadiens' transfer from the Forum to the
Molson Centre. It had a direct effect on commerce
and enterprise just in that area, so imagine what
happens when a city or a region loses its professional
team. It has a direct effect on the industry itself.
Not only in Quebec, but in other regions of the
country, we have some industries for sporting goods
that are directly affected if we lose or do not lose a
Those are the kinds of things I would like to
discuss—the link between amateur and
professional sports, the role of government and,
specifically when we talk about the amateurs, the
Olympics. The main goal of an amateur athlete is to
attend those Olympic Games. We don't want to see
another Greg Rusedski, who is now playing on behalf
of Great Britain. He didn't feel at home here because
he didn't have enough help. We had the same problem
figure skating, in the case of the Duchesnays, who were brother and
We have to think about what our role should be and how
to help them. If we want to keep that popular approach
but don't want to work at the excellency level, I think
we'll have a problem. We should wear both hats at that
The Chairman: Just before we move on, with the
whole area of recreational sport—especially in Quebec,
with its linkage to skiing and tourism—one of the
things we're going to try to link is sport and job
creation, sport and its contribution to the economic
engine of Canada. Do you see the possibility that
maybe that whole industry around skiing, for example,
is something that should be brought to the table?
Mr. Denis Coderre: Yes, because we have the region
called les Laurentides. We have Mont Tremblant
there, and we have Mont Ste-Anne in the
Quebec City area. Obviously, we have our own champions,
like Jean-Luc Brassard, Mélanie Turgeon, and
even Myriam Bédard. When I talk about the
Olympics, in a way, we should take all those sports and
look at those based on that industry also.
Tourism is one that I forgot,
but thank you, Mr. Chairman. I
think it has a direct effect on that.
We also have to discuss sponsorships. We now have
some problem with tobacco. There are two things: we
encourage them or we try to find some other kind of
sponsorship, but we have to take care of the athletes.
The problem we have, no matter what the sport is,
with the amateur sports, is when we're helping the kid it's
because he gained a gold medal, but we have to realize
those kids train hours and hours per week and
sometimes it takes several years before they can
attempt any medals. During that time they spend money.
They are making sacrifices.
As a government, I think we have a duty to help those
kids to have that excellence, to make sure we'll
be proud of them. By helping the kids we're helping
the industry and we're helping ourselves.
The Chairman: Infrastructure.
Mr. George Proud (Hillsborough, Lib.): Thank you,
Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you for bringing
together this task force to look at sport.
I come from Prince Edward Island.
The only professional sport we have
there is horse racing, and
it's in serious trouble. We are probably a microcosm
of what is happening on the larger scale. Three years
ago we had a professional hockey team, an AHL team,
the farm team of the Ottawa Senators. We didn't have
the people to support it, and it left after two years.
I think those are the situations you see the
Canadian cities facing as far as the NHL is concerned.
Sport is a big part of the culture and
the life of my province. We've sent many
hockey players to the NHL. Hockey, baseball,
football...of course basketball has caught fire there, the same as
it has everywhere else.
What role government should play, I don't know, but I
think there is a role for it. Certainly, as
Denis said, we don't want to start talking
about salaries and
this type of thing. I believe the government,
be it federal...the
provinces are involved to some degree in all our
sports, in whatever kind of role, not necessarily
financial...but making sure our athletes.... I think
our athletes in the last number of years in many cases
have gone wanting because of the lack of government
support in one way or the other, certainly in
recognition. I think that has hurt a lot of our people.
There are a lot of sports commissions across the
country I would like to see come before us. I would
like to see them from all the sports to make
presentations if we have the time to do it, and I'm sure
we will. I think there are a lot of ideas out
there that need
to be debated amongst ourselves and with the people
involved in it.
As I said earlier this afternoon, before we started
the meeting, horse racing, which is a big industry in
Canada and which employs over 150,000 people, is in serious
trouble because of things that happen as we go along in
society, with changes to gambling regulations and other
things like this. It has hurt the racing industry.
Whether it can renew itself, I don't know, but that's an
industry I'd like to hear from around this table.
The big issue at present is whether we are going to
lose more of the NHL hockey teams from this country.
Probably we are, because of the big centres in
the United States, which have the numbers. They can sell
their sweaters and caps, and this kind of marketability
gives them a bigger market.
Those are things I would like to hear from these
people. I certainly look forward to sitting on this
committee. I've been around the sports business all my
life. I never was a professional by any stretch of the
imagination, but I've participated in many sports and
think it's a very important part of our culture and of
The Chairman: Charlie.
Mr. Charlie Power (St. John's West, PC): Thank
you, Mr. Chairman.
I'm Charlie Power, from St. John's West, representing
Peter MacKay, who is going to be our permanent member on
It's just the opposite of Quebec; the
only sports we have in Newfoundland are probably
religion and politics.
We do have a professional hockey team. The St. John's
Maple Leafs are there. We used to have horse
racing, harness racing, which I think has died a rather
slow death over the years.
As you get out to the periphery of Canada
you're going to find less emphasis on professional
sport and more emphasis on amateur sport, for sure.
Obviously in your study in your committee there
will be a vast amount of things you can look at.
Certainly in the last few years it has seemed that
amateur sport development has downsized from the
federal government to the provincial government in
Provincial government downsizes to cities
and towns, and cities and towns downsize to their
organizational bodies. Whether it's minor hockey or
minor soccer, it puts a tremendous burden on those
organizations to fund-raise.
It has significantly reduced competition and travel
within the country.
From Newfoundland's point of view, it's very
difficult now for any of our amateur teams to be able
to travel around the country, which I think hurts
national unity. It doesn't give our young people a
chance to travel once those subsidies get reduced.
It is just an unfortunate part of modern times.
In Newfoundland—and I suspect even
in your provinces, in P.E.I., for sure—the member's office
continually gets called to donate, to contribute in some
fashion, to all these little local championships that are
now invited to national championships and very often
So those kinds of things are there, but
from Newfoundland's point of
view—and Peter may bring a different perspective from
Nova Scotia—certainly an emphasis on amateur
sport, how to develop it, how to encourage players to
stay involved at all levels....
The other part of it is that a
tremendous economic activity is generated from
sport, whether it's hockey or whether it's golf now in
Newfoundland, where there are five or six new golf
courses that are just going crazy.
I do a lot of
hunting and sport fishing. It may not fit the real
definition of sport in some of our minds, but
the money you spend on it is tremendous and it
does stimulate the economy significantly.
So I think
government subsidies for sport would be
accepted much better by the public if there was some
understanding of what it really contributes to the
economy and the fact that it's not just a sinkhole for
someone to play their favourite game but actually
generates a lot of activity.
I'm sure Peter will have something to add
to the committee, We'll just participate in any way
The Chairman: On the point you
raised about teams from Newfoundland being
disadvantaged because of the travel factor, the cost in
travel, would you be able to find someone from your
province who has done a little bit of analysis on
that and could point it out? You touched on
it in terms of national unity. That almost creates an
isolationist environment there. It seems to me
that if we don't address that imbalance of opportunity,
especially at the amateur level, then you're never going
to have a premier athletic system, because your premier
athletes are going to be forced to leave home in
order to get to the next level.
Mr. Charlie Power: That happens now in
Newfoundland. If you're 12 or 13 years of
age and you really want to play hockey.... We have
four or five now who have just been drafted into the
NHL. They couldn't have done it until they left home.
Simply, the competition is not there; the coaching is
not there. Premier athletes will have to leave
Newfoundland to get the competition and coaching that
The other side of it is that obviously sport, as we all
know, is not designed simply to create premier
athletes. Hockey serves a great function
besides supplying players to the NHL. It has a
tremendous benefit to all the participants. It gets a
lot of young boys, in particular, through the high school
years, when times are pretty tough, and keeps them out of
mischief and keeps them busy.
The Chairman: That's what I was referring to.
Mr. Charlie Power: So in the amateur sports out
there, I'm sure our sports-governing bodies could give you
many examples of where we've had teams that won
divisions and championships within Newfoundland but
were unable to participate in national championships.
This is because they may be held in Vancouver,
Victoria, or some part of northern Ontario.
For softball, soccer and other sports we're good
at, it is still pretty expensive to take a team of 18 or 20
people on short notice.
Just keep in mind that amateur sport has a
value above and beyond development of professionals.
The Chairman: Absolutely. Full persons.
Mr. Charlie Power: I think we all know that.
Mr. Denis Coderre: There are two other questions
we should ask ourselves.
First, we should
take it as amateur itself. Even the kids now
can't afford to suit themselves. If you want to play
hockey, if you are a goal-tender, it's crazy—it costs
a lot. That's the first thing.
The second thing is, if for example we bring all the
tools.... The government says, okay, we're going to
pay through federation. We'll try to find a kind of
péréquation. Are the kids still interested in participating?
In Montreal north, where my riding is—I've been there for
the past 25 years—I remember when I played baseball
about 15 years ago. We had about 20 teams. It was
divided into five or six divisions and we had a lot of
Now the city itself is participating and investing a
lot of money in recreational sports, but we don't have
the kids. We have a problem because a couple of years
later they made a choice. They called it
said they were going to gather just a bunch of the best
and the others were left out. That was the first
The second problem is that the values of the families
themselves are not the same. We have other kinds of
social problems and we have a lot of what we call
familles reconstituées”. The mother is taking care of
two kids and doesn't necessarily have the time to bring
them to arenas. So we have to find a way to support
the family but we also have to bring the kids back to
participate in sports. That's the first level.
On the second level you have kids who want to
participate but don't have the right tools because they
can't afford them. They can't afford to buy equipment
or participate fully. That's another problem. If you
are very good, like Myriam Bédard or other
athletes, it has nothing to do with the sport itself.
The problem now is we feel we have left the kids alone
and aren't putting money in the right places. We have
let the kids go and we don't know how to bring them back.
So we can also talk about the marketing approach.
Sometimes the role of governments is to not only put
money where the mouth is but to also make sure we
create the environment so kids will have fun again.
Another topic I'd like to discuss is the role of the
parents. You've been to arenas and seen parents
fighting among themselves when the kids playing are
only seven years old. It's crazy. What kind of sports
do we want? What kind of approach and environment do
we want? Do we want to be creative and make them
participate? It's so crazy now to think about the
millions a future athlete might earn, and the kids
don't have fun any more.
I spoke to a couple of parents when we decided to
build the committee. It was interesting; when I asked
them what they thought, they said it was about time we
discussed those issues, because right now they felt the
kids weren't having fun any more.
So we might have a moral issue in that committee. We
don't want to preach anything, but maybe we should focus
on what sports should be. I think that's the cultural
approach we have to look into.
The Chairman: That's a good insight.
Mr. George Proud: You see organizations today
putting more emphasis
on house leagues rather than on the trip teams.
That has come about as a result of what Denis just
talked about—a lot
of the kids had quit.
I know where I come from, I've had three boys
in hockey, and now
I have two grandsons. One fellow would make the AA
team and the other fellow wouldn't. Well, that's quite
competition in my own house.
But you have to have a place for the good guys. You don't
want to keep them tied up. I also believe the
emphasis on the house league teams is just as important
to the young man or woman who's trying to have a good
We all know that parents are as big a problem as
the kids a lot of the time. There has to be some way
to make the kids feel important. I guess that's what
you're saying. They have to have a good time at it.
I'll just give you an example. We have a chap in
Charlottetown who used to play hockey with Boston,
Detroit, Chicago, and all the guys. He was one of the
tough guys back in the fifties and sixties. He has a
training camp every fall for 50 to 70 kids. When the
general manager asked him when he was going to start
cutting some of the guys, he said, “When everybody's had
a chance to play”. He said he'd hung around that rink
all his life and never got a chance to play, but every
one of these guys was going to get a chance to play.
They may not make it, but they were going to get a chance
I think that's the type of individual you
need in the organizations.
The Chairman: Just sort of musing about this
notion of linking sport to job creation,
people say, well, this is a frivolous kind of thing,
but I don't believe
Canadians by and large have a clue—I certainly
don't—about much money we've invested in
infrastructure in this country for community centres
and arenas, etc.
About two years ago I called the Federation
of Canadian Municipalities and asked if they could
give us an inventory of all the arenas that
exist throughout the country in terms of the number of
people who work at these facilities, and budgets and
so on. They said they'd never done that before, so
they didn't know.
Mr. George Proud: It's time to start.
The Chairman: If you go to Stats Canada, you don't
have a clear categorization of sports
apparel manufacturers. One of the
things that has great export potential is those areas
where we do have a unique manufacturing capacity. There
may be times when these people should be linked to the
number of jobs they've created so that if they're on the
verge of being bought out, or shut down, or moved south
or offshore, we may decide that some of these
industries are important to support through a
transition period, in whatever communities they come
So I hope the committee will be supportive of our
getting information in here on what our physical plant
inventory is in Canada and the number of jobs related
to it, and the number of sporting goods manufacturers
and the number of jobs related to it, and the number of
exports related to that.
I think it should be done by
province. I mean, where is this stuff being made?
We don't know.
Mr. George Proud: Take golf, for one—the golf
courses, the infrastructure, that's there now in our
part of the country.
Mr. Charlie Power: I don't want to compound
your quorum problem, but
today is my duty day. I thought we were going to
select a chairman today. But I presume that's for
The Clerk of the Committee: The chair is already
included in the order of reference.
I wonder, Mr. Chair, if you want to focus the
conversation as to how you intend to approach these
topics in terms of sequential steps, in terms of
witnesses, in terms of themes. How do you
intend to get from point A to point
B to point C, considering June 30? You take a month
for writing, adopting, and that brings you to May. By
May, you should have a report. How do you intend to
The Chairman: I throw this open for discussion,
but first of all, we know these various
associations across Canada that would be interested in
preparing briefs and sending them to us. Obviously we
can't have them all. The committee would decide from
those briefs what witnesses we would take. If the
committee is basically supportive of that, then maybe
we should begin a focus or create a list. We could
pull out a list from Sport Canada about some of
the various associations there.
Mr. Finn Poschmann (Committee Researcher): Are you
thinking about the amateur sports associations?
The Chairman: Yes, absolutely. For sure, right
off the top, we want to start with the amateur
associations so that there is no doubt in anyone's mind
that this is a committee that's starting from the
grassroots up, and that we're not here to put a focus
on professional sport.
The Clerk: May I suggest that if you're going to
do that, then you should have a list of questions or at
least specific items we can send to them. This is
excellent, but I think you need something a bit more
precise than that.
The Chairman: Absolutely.
The Clerk: That could be the subject of your next
meeting. You could have the list approved and your
list of questions approved, if the researchers are
capable of doing that in one week.
Mr. Finn Poschmann: I was mulling over what those
questions would be, because we have to figure out what
they're going to be from the committee's point of view
In other words,
we have a lot of things to talk about, but of
course in order to set an array of meetings, there are
questions that have to be in your mind.
Mr. Denis Coderre: Should we have a steering
The Chairman: I don't think that's necessary. I
think we're proficient enough here that we can decide
among ourselves. Then Finn can put some stuff together
Mr. Finn Poschmann: Maybe you should tell me. I heard
what you said so far, so I can extract a few
questions from that. But if there are other things
that you have in mind, then—
Mr. Denis Coderre: I might have something else.
The Chairman: Go ahead, this is an open
Mr. Denis Coderre: Let's talk about national
unity. One of the main problems in the past, from the
Quebec point of view at least, is that they were not
treated fairly by their federations.
The Chairman: Yes. The national federations.
Mr. Denis Coderre: That's it. We might open a can
of worms, but the best way to make sure things happen
is sometimes to open it.
The Chairman: Suzanne mentioned that. We said we
would do that.
Mr. Denis Coderre: Okay. I think it's a must, and
I'll be supportive of that.
We should ask them questions
and even have witnesses on both sides so they can
explain to us why that one is better—
The Chairman: I think that's something we would
put to the witnesses. When they prepare their briefs
or when we invite the ones we choose to come, we should
give them a heads-up that we will be asking them how
they decide the—
Mr. Finn Poschmann: Are we talking about the
criteria for supporting training, in other words, the
Mr. Denis Coderre: You have those kinds of
criteria, but when they built the Olympic teams, we had
some examples, especially in swimming, of good people
from Quebec who were left out. Tennis is another
example. Skiing is another example we can
The Chairman: There's sensitization and making
sure, presuming the athletic quality is there, that
there's national representation, not just one or two
regions. We had a couple of incidents—
Mr. Finn Poschmann: I'm just thinking. For
example, in swimming, there are pretty tight rules for
what criteria you have to meet to make the Olympic
The Chairman: We'll have them explain it.
Mr. Denis Coderre: The best way to understand
things sometimes is to communicate them. If we have
all those criteria and this is public, then they have to
explain them. When we realize there's no décision
arbitraire, then that's it.
The Chairman: Exactly. I know the president of
the Canadian Hockey League is looking
forward to the time when he can say this is how we
choose our athletes and this is how we are regionally
Mr. Denis Coderre: I want to see Dave King
here. I want to ask him why the hell
we didn't have some good hockey players from Quebec on
Canada's national team.
Mr. George Proud: Any guy who's honest will tell
you that it depends on who you are in a lot of cases—
Mr. Denis Coderre: And who you know.
Mr. George Proud: —and who you know.
The Clerk: Mr. Chairman, from
what I'm hearing, I suggest that
what we need to do is identify the
key themes. Then, from those themes, we should identify
the questions. From the questions, we identify the
associations and the witnesses.
Therefore, next week you should be perhaps looking
not at questions, but perhaps at the themes. This is
so you have the right themes. From the themes will
flow your questions.
The Chairman: Okay.
Mr. Denis Coderre: I have a point of information.
It's going to be very easy to turn that committee to
The Chairman: We're going to resist that
Mr. Denis Coderre: I agree with you. We have to
say that part of it will be hockey, but the other part
will be whatever.
A voice: Boxing.
The Chairman: As well, it's very important for us to
bring in these sporting goods manufacturers. Aside from
the various sports themselves, I think we have to put
the notice out to the people who are involved in
sporting goods manufacturing.
Mr. Denis Coderre: Do we also want the pros? CBC
just signed a big contract with Labatt. In hockey,
we're talking about $300 million.
The Chairman: I think we have to ask the CBC, not
at the professional level, about their contribution to
sport in Canada. There are a lot of people who feel
that the CBC is really not stepping up to the plate to
promote sport in Canada. That's part of their mandate.
Mr. Denis Coderre: We didn't have the Grey Cup at
The Chairman: I think we should ask how they view
their role as part of the legislation and what various
things they're doing to build and promote sport in
Canada especially at the amateur level.
Mr. Finn Poschmann: To follow up on what Normand
was saying, yes, we need a theme that brings this in.
In other words, what route do we take that brings us
over here, and brings us over there?
The Clerk: You're looking at about a month before
you can start having hearings, I would think. You need
a week for your themes and a week for your questions.
The third week, you can have the
We can line them up now, Mr.
Chair, in fact. After that, you can start
with your hearings.
The Chairman: I think we would like
to get to those departmental officials as soon as we
could, just to get an overall departmental briefing.
Now, I think the heritage committee is going to have the
sports officials in front of them. Am I
The Clerk: No. We were, but now that the
subcommittee has been struck, I think this is where
it's going to go. We have Hedy Fry, Parks, and the main
The Chairman: Do you think
it would be possible that next week we could get a
background briefing from the department?
The Clerk: Yes, if they're available.
The Chairman: There's no point here in reinventing
wheels. In other words, they're going to give us some
insights, some thoughts and some road maps that might
be very useful as we refine our focus.
The Clerk: Am I hearing you say it's some sort of
status of sports in Canada—
The Chairman: Yes, from the—
The Clerk: —including everything they have,
including from the
Mr. Denis Coderre: I spoke about the
industry itself. There's your idea of an inventory,
and the impact of the money spent. That will be
very important to discuss. We need one meeting
to discuss just that.
The Clerk: I wonder if the researchers—and I'm
simply asking the question—could have for
the department at least a few
pointers, because otherwise it's very broad.
Mr. Finn Poschmann: Yes. I'll have to talk to them
The Clerk: All right.
Mr. Denis Coderre: The problem with that kind of
committee is that you can talk about a lot of things
and go way off-topic.
The Chairman: Exactly. That's going to be our
challenge, to keep our focus. But I think it's very
important that every brief—
Mr. Denis Coderre: We have to focus.
The Chairman: —has to have a special
emphasis—and this goes back
to your point—on the linkage to job creation,
to the economy. One of the
things we've never done with sport is that we've
never given it....
I believe that the way things happen around here
is that if you can make your case based on
the economic linkages,
you have a much better day in court for your cause.
Every other sector of the economy around here, when
they come for a pre-budget hearing, whether it's book
publishing or whatever it is, have always linked
their hopes for policy amendment or regulation,
whatever it is, based on their economic impact, by and
Sure there are cultural underpinnings and
everything else. It's very important that all of these
people be sensitized to that. Even the volunteer
capacity that is involved especially in amateur sport
across Canada is a tremendous number. I think they
should identify it and see if they can't quantify what
it would mean if we didn't have those volunteers.
The Clerk: I'm simply clarifying so that I
understand the process and can see which is the best way
to go. You have two choices, as far as I can
understand. You can have sports officials next week,
if they are available. That's a big “if”, because it is
very difficult to get Heritage Canada. Or you can
determine your themes and some of your questions.
That will then give you time to schedule them. Then try
the themes on them to see if we have all of the
themes. Do we have some missing? Can you fill it in
there or not? That may make it a bit more focused
than a broad spectrum.
Mr. Denis Coderre: We have to build a frame.
The Clerk: Yes. It would give the researchers a bit more
time to build a frame and a bit more time to organize
ourselves. It's obviously your choice. I'm just
repeating what I heard.
The Chairman: We have no problem with that. But
you should give the officials a heads-up that two weeks
from now we would like them to be with us.
The Clerk: Yes.
Mr. Denis Coderre: Now, if I may say,
we want an impact from that
committee, which means, you know, we don't want
to discuss...we have to find out...we have that
subject, it's a subcommittee of industry, blah, blah,
When we discuss it amongst anybody, their first
reaction is salaries, and they say they don't want to hear
about that, but if we take the
approach of, “What's the situation of sports in
Canada?” at the start, then we can have the economic
approach, the cultural approach, etc.
The Chairman: Well, the cultural component is
going to be an automatic discussion, because that
essentially has been the traditional emphasis in sport.
We're going to have to motivate some of these groups to
Mr. Denis Coderre: Imagine you're a reporter.
What's your lead? The lead is, “I want to look at the
situation in sports right now”. Is that it?
The Chairman: The lead has been, and most
journalists are catching on, that we want to link it to
economic activity. Yes, understood, there's this
cultural underpinning, which has always been a
discussion, but it's to evaluate and collate. We'll
never get all of it, but we want to get enough of it to
realize that, my goodness, this is a
multibillion-dollar industry with I don't know how many
jobs involved, and if all of a sudden we're starting to
see, even at the amateur level, people staying at home,
teams folding, manufacturers going south, then we might
say, “Hey, this thing is falling apart in front of us.
Do we really want that to happen?” And ultimately
that will lead to some tough recommendations.
Mr. Denis Coderre: No wonder we lost the Jets.
The Chairman: Why did we lose the plant from
Saint-Hyacinthe, CCM? It's gone to the
States. Why did we lose the plant from Sainte-Thérèse,
the Bauer plant? It went south when Nike
took it over.
An hon. member: It's gone, period.
Mr. Denis Coderre: Why should it be the role of
government to prevent that?
The Chairman: People look at sport and say, oh,
it's just a bunch of people making a few hockey sticks
and skates, and it's only 50 jobs. But all of a sudden
we start to see this thing could be a very powerful
industry, because as this business of sport is growing
in the States, that's a heck of a market. Rather than
just give it away, maybe we should figure out ways to
encourage our people to attack that market and be more
Mr. Denis Coderre: I don't know if this has been
done before, but may I suggest that we also invite some
sports reporters, people such as Réjean Tremblay?
The Chairman: I have concerns over that, and I'll
tell you why. There are thousands of sports reporters
in Canada, when you include radio, TV, and print. If we
give preference to anyone.... We should be very
cautious there. I think we should just deal with....
Mr. Denis Coderre: Oh, okay.
The Clerk: From a more practical point of
view, I believe there would be a conflict of interest
for any reporter to appear in front of a parliamentary
committee, because I've checked into that in the past.
They report; they can't comment.
Mr. Denis Coderre: Okay.
The Chairman: If we can move this away from the
perceived notion that this is about helping rich hockey
players and get it into the infrastructure, the amateur
level, the linkage of family affordability, etc., then
the sports community, and just in general, the
journalists who are interested in public policy, are
going to be intrigued.
Mr. Denis Coderre: My question was, if we try to
define what's an expert in sports, obviously you have
in hockey, from the Gazette, Red Fisher, who
knows everything—he's been there for the last 30 or 35
years. But I agree with the clerk. I understand the
point of view. If we want some experts—
The Chairman: I think they're going to make their
expertise known through their own columns.
Mr. Denis Coderre: Okay.
Mr. Finn Poschmann: I just want to make sure we
have something to work with and that I can come back
with some themes, which is vital, and some questions
for next week and get them approved. That's the nice
timing so we don't run off in all directions on this.
The Chairman: Right. It will be a challenge to
keep a focus. I realize that.
There's one other thing that is very important, and I
want to go back to Suzanne Tremblay. She mentioned two
Number one—and Denis mentioned it as well—is the
whole notion of the inner circle.
This isn't going to be a centrepiece, but we can't run
away from it. It's the issue of Team Canada's
construction: How does it become a national unit? What
are the criteria? I don't want to put it right in the
front window, because we don't want to interfere with
how teams are managed or run or whatever, but I just
want to flag the fact that it's a concern of hers.
The second concern of hers, which Denis mentioned as
well—and it touches especially our disadvantaged
regions—is the whole issue of affordability. Even in
a major market such as Toronto right now, as the
downsizing continues, you have private sector
organizations taking over, and they're interested in
profit more than they are in community-building. The
cost of some of our sports in a major market such as
Toronto, because of land costs and all the other costs
now, is becoming so prohibitive for families. So when
we're sending out letters to those organizations that
are managing amateur things in major markets, they
should be asked to deal with the whole notion of how
they maintain family affordability when they're running
their organization, whatever sport it is.
Mr. Denis Coderre: We don't have quorum today. I
was just wondering if we can replace members if they're
not here, because it's a very important issue.
The Chairman: Yes, we can. We have a lot of
members who want to be on this committee.
Mr. Denis Coderre: We have to do something.
The Chairman: Yes. We'll raise it. Pat O'Brien
had a personal family crisis that he had to look after.
We have to get to Suzanne Tremblay, because she didn't
make us aware until Friday that Monday evening is a bad
time for her.
Did she tell you this?
The Clerk: No.
Mr. George Proud: I'll be out for the rest of
this week and next week, so I'll get somebody.
The Chairman: Okay, good.
Mr. George Proud: Plus I'll send somebody from my
office, like a staff member.
The Chairman: So that's it. Thank you.
Mr. George Proud: My staff can sit in, though?
The Chairman: Yes, just let Vivaldo know and he'll
call another member.
The meeting is adjourned.