Bill C-31 (Historical)
Export Development Act
An Act to amend the Export Development Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.
Pierre Pettigrew Liberal
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
June 20th, 2002 / 10:15 a.m.
Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB
Mr. Speaker, the second petition has been signed by literally thousands of first nations citizens who call upon government to reject the first nations governance agreement. They believe it is being imposed on them in the same manner as the Indian Act and Bill C-31 was imposed. They believe it will reduce first nations governments to municipalities and could impact their treaty rights.
They urge all members of parliament to drop the first nations governance agreement and to negotiate a more satisfactory resolve.
February 28th, 2002 / 5 p.m.
John Bryden Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON
Mr. Speaker, I am really pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this motion because it gives me a chance to submit a kind of wish list, the 12 things that I would do if I was Prime Minister, so the opposition will just have to bear with me as I go through because they have had their opportunity to say what they would do if they formed the government.
If I led a government on this side what I would first do is reform the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. That is number one. These two bits of legislation, when they were originally introduced, the Access to Information Act in 1983, it was the second piece of legislation of its kind in the world, the second freedom of information legislation.
Now, it is sad to say it is now lagging behind just about every freedom of information legislation elsewhere in the world, and similarly the Privacy Act. It is most important and in the interests of the nation to amend both pieces of legislation in order not only to enhance the public's right to know but to create efficiencies in government in order to make Canada a globally competitive nation.
Secondly, I would write legislation requiring charities to be answerable in terms of transparency and corporate governance. We have a $100 billion industry, actually a $122 billion industry if we count the non profit organizations, that is run without any kind of legislative transparency whatsoever.
We know anecdotally that there are problems all through that industry. We know of small scam charities, but most importantly the large hospitals, the health care institutions in this country which spend some $40 billion a year are charities, and they are not transparent or they are not required to conform to legislative standards of corporate governance. I believe if they were then our problems with financing health care would be solved because we would save billions if only we could rein in the way administrators manage the health care industry. I just in passing point out that the CEO of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, for example, makes $500,000 a year, twice that of the Prime Minister.
Thirdly, I would amend the old Bill C-31, the amendment to the Indian Act that was passed in 1985 that created over 100,000 new Indians, many of them with no connection to reserves, no connections to their Indian heritage whatsoever. It was intended to correct a problem with respect to the spouses of people who married off the reserve. It has created a nightmare where we are now passing in the House race based legislation that discriminates based on race in our urban communities.
I was the only one on this side of the House to vote against the youth justice bill Senate amendments that came to the House because what they did is they required the courts to consider race, whether a person is an aboriginal or not, in sentencing and I would say that is unacceptable.
Fourthly, the federal government must rein in gambling. It is an issue that is not talked about at all in the House anymore but you will remember that a change in the criminal code actually has passed to the provinces this incredible cash cow which is called casino gambling and video lottery terminals. This has now created a $27 billion industry, if we will, that preys on the weaknesses of our fellow Canadians.
I have travelled around the country and I always go to casinos to see what the casinos are like, and each of those casinos preys on a different sector of the community, and for example the casino in Winnipeg has video lottery terminals that are operated by a nickel. In other words, the clientele in Winnipeg is not sufficiently wealthy to put in $1 or $5 so the terminals are directed towards getting the money from the people on social welfare, the really poor people, and so we have nickel terminals and we are creating a massive addiction.
The provinces are pretending that this is okay because they are taking the profits and giving them to charities, and I deplore the fact that charities are financing themselves on money that is obviously coming from people who are either addicted or cannot afford the losses that they incur when they go to casino gambling.
Fifthly, I would change the general federal policy with respect to aboriginal affairs. We have to look at it again because what has happened is that it is not working. I spent three years on the Indian and Northern Affairs committee and my heart really went out to the witnesses from the various aboriginal communities across the country that came to the committee. Something is very, very wrong with our policy because what we are doing is we are creating a culture of dependence rather than a culture of pride. That should be a number one priority for any new government, to actually come back and re-examine where we are going wrong in our aboriginal affairs policy.
Sixth, I would revisit the Supreme Court Act. This parliament forgets that the supreme court is beneath parliament. In other words parliament is the supreme court of this land, not like in the United States. We have the supreme court making decisions when it does not even have a majority of the judges onside, decisions that the Government of Canada interprets as binding decisions, as binding interpretations of the charter of rights and freedoms.
Madam Speaker, I should tell you that the supreme court judges themselves can make these incredibly important decisions based on only three hours of testimony, most of the work actually being done by law clerks. We have to take a look as a parliament and satisfy ourselves that the supreme court is serving the nation the way it must.
Seventh, on that note I think we should return to the Singh decision. The Singh decision was a Supreme Court of Canada minority decision in the mid-1980s that the Government of Canada has used as justification for saying that anyone who lands on Canadian soil, any foreign alien, must be treated as though that person were a citizen and have access to all due processes of law and all the benefits of Canadian society.
Madam Speaker, if you actually examined the Singh decision you would find real doubt that this was the intention of the court at the time, but we have to go back to that because we are one of the few nations in the world where foreign aliens can come onto our soil and have all the rights of citizenship. We have to address that problem because it is causing all kinds of difficulties in immigration and refugee policy.
Number eight, I would take back the tax points that we have given to the provinces on health care. We have to take control of health care in the provinces because what we know as a federal parliament is we are putting money out to the provinces for health care and they are using it in other ways, so we have to get control of health care spending. We have to make the medical health of Canadians a federal responsibility centrally because I believe the provinces are failing in their obligation in that regard, and they are forever saying that the federal government is not giving enough to the provinces but in fact if we took back the tax points that we have given the provinces I think we would more than bring the spending on health care under control, and we could combine that with better transparency with hospital administration.
Number nine, I would declare that Canada is indivisible. I was never comfortable with the clarity bill in its suggestion, and it is a suggestion only, that this House could actually decide that one province or another could walk away from the Confederation. As a government or a prime minister I would say simply that as long as I was around and as long as my government was around this would never be on the table. This is one country.
Number ten, I would dump our equity employment policy and all gender based government programs. Our gender based programs were brought in way back in 1973 as a result of a report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women. In 1973 they were undoubtedly relevant but they are not relevant in 2002. I do not believe the women of this country by and large, by the grand large, actually feel that they have to be treated in special fashion. They do not. This is a land in which there is equality of opportunity regardless of gender, and I think it is a disgrace that we suggest that women are in some way inferior and that they have to have special treatment, so I would scrap that entire program.
Concerning number 11, I would dismantle the arm's length agencies like the CRTC. Here again there has been a long policy of the government avoiding its responsibility and its accountability.
The last one is that I would change the oath of citizenship so that it reflected the values of Canadians, the values of the charter of rights and freedoms.
February 5th, 2002 / 10:25 a.m.
Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB
Mr. Speaker, I stood in the House almost a year ago in support of the Canadian Alliance motion requesting the establishment of a national sex offender registry. During that same period of time on the other side of the House the Liberal government unanimously stood in support of its commitment to set up a registry by January 30, 2002.
As of today, February 5, 2002, we do not have a national sex offender registry in this country. We do not have one because this Liberal government has failed again to meet another one of its commitments. It failed in this regard as it has failed to keep many of its 1993 red book promises.
The subject of today's motion is to have the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights prepare and bring in a bill establishing a registry given the fact that this government has failed to do so in spite of its promise and in spite of its commitment.
The motion we presented last March and which government members voted in favour of was the establishment of a national registry containing the names and addresses of convicted sex offenders. We proposed that every sex offender be required to register in person at his or her local police station at least once a year and provide any updated information, including a change in address.
This proposal is nothing new. Ontario already has such a registry. Christopher's law, or Bill C-31, received royal assent in April 2000, establishing a registry to:
enhance public safety by providing law enforcement agencies with a modern, reliable and effective electronic tool and support services to track sex offenders in our communities and to improve the investigation of crimes of a sexual nature.
I also stood in the House last March cautioning members on the other side, particularly those members who were in the House prior to 1993, to carefully consider their position on a national sex offender registry. I did so because I had a copy of an April 1993 Liberal document entitled “A Liberal Perspective on Crime and Justice Issues”.
Contained within this document were a number of recommendations put forward by the then official opposition, the Liberal Party, to do the following, and I quote, “to combat Canada's growing violent crime problem”. One of the Liberals' very own post-government recommendations was, and again I quote from that document, “to support the establishment of a national registry of convicted child abusers”.
The rationale for this recommendation, and again I will quote directly from this Liberal document, states:
Sex offenders represent almost 20 per cent of the incarcerated population and 10 per cent of the conditionally released population. These numbers are not an accurate representation as they include only those sentenced to two years or more in prison. Actual figures are much higher.
Over the past five years there has been a 20.4 per cent increase in the rate of admission of sex offenders. Evidently more and more sex offenders will be reintegrating into Canadian communities.
The document goes on, however, to state that:
Repeat sex offenders are more than twice as likely to commit further sex offences, much more likely to violate conditional release conditions and more likely than any other offenders to reoffend with a non-sexual offence. However, treatment programs for sexual offenders are sorely lacking...It is the norm, when it should be the exception, that convicted sexual offenders return to communities without any counselling or rehabilitation therapy.
Much of the information used by the Liberals to support their 1993 recommendations for establishing a sex offender registry remains the very same today. Nothing has changed.
In fact, a review of the research and the website of the statistics branch of the Correctional Service of Canada reveals that the majority of the studies done on sex offenders and recidivism rates are outdated. The statistics in most cases are more than 10 years old.
I am confident that findings today would be similar to those findings in the late 1980s and 1990s indicating that sex offenders have one of the highest recidivism rates of any criminal group, with an estimated 40% reoffending within five years of their release.
In 1990 the ministry of the solicitor general struck a working group on the management and treatment of sex offenders, “as a result of a number of factors, including the rapid growth of the federal sex offender population”. The working group reported its findings and recommendations in March 1990. These were some of the key findings.
First, offender treatment programs have shown limited results.
Second, practitioners in the field of sex offender treatment do not claim to cure sex offenders. Rather the treatment strategy is to manage the risk of reoffending.
Third, there are not enough experts to meet the demand for sex offender treatment and the limitations of treatment are recognized.
This research, which was based on research produced by the Correctional Service of Canada, clearly demonstrates why for the sake of our children we need a registry. We need to do everything within our power as parliamentarians to protect our children from repeat sex offenders.
I will read to the House a copy of a letter that was addressed to the solicitor general, copied and sent to me. Before I read it I would like to assure the House that I obtained the permission of the author, Jim Stephenson, the father of Christopher Stephenson, the Christopher in Ontario's Christopher's law, to read the letter. He said:
Anna and I both thank you for taking the time to meet with us earlier this week. As you know, our purpose in speaking with you was to explain why CPIC is incapable of providing the enforceable protection of a specific sex offender registry and why national action is essential. I regret that we were unsuccessful in that effort and you continue to take advice from your officials that legislated compliance is neither necessary nor permissible. They are wrong Minister; and I only hope that no child dies before you decide to listen to people other than those whose preoccupation is defending the status quo.
During the meeting, D/Sgt. Muise from Ontario's Office for Victims of Crime raised the additional issue of the difficulty Ontario was experiencing in trying to arrange the seemingly simple task of linking with the Federal Offender Management System. I was encouraged to note your surprise at this and your direction to--
In the letter to the solicitor general Mr. Stephenson names the official. I will just call him the official.
Mr. Stephenson went on to say:
-- [the official] of your Ministry to resolve this problem.
Following our meeting, my wife and I, together with D/Sgt. Muise further discussed the matter of a national sex offender registry with your official. We were sufficiently shocked at his conduct and remarks, in your absence, that I felt you should be apprised of them as they reflect extremely poorly on you as the Minister. Despite your previous public statement that “governments must continue to give victims more of a voice in the criminal justice system”, our own expressed desire to be included in the determination of appropriate registry format, and your acknowledgment that we would continue to work together, [your official] informed us that our involvement with the Working Group would not be possible as our presence would be “disruptive”. He further stated that the group of officials operated, to use his words, “like an old boys' club” and people like us would not be welcome.
Please be assured that our only interest in continuing these discussions is to prevent other Canadians from having to undergo the nightmare that befell our family when federal correctional officials released and then failed to supervise the repeat child rapist that abducted and murdered our son. Mr. Minister, unlike [your official] and his “colleagues”, my wife and I belong to a club of a very different sort where membership is unwilling and comes at a price that no one should have to bear. If this is the attitude of federal officials, it is small wonder that Canada lacks commitment to a National Sex Offender Registry and that public confidence in the justice system is continually questioned.
Finally Minister, I have learned that [your official's] “club” has scheduled a one-day meeting next week in the resort community of Banff, Alberta; a choice of locales I suggest speaks volumes about their priorities. I am certain that I could arrange the use of OPP facilities in Orillia where the Ontario Sex Offender Registry is housed--
What more can I say? Where is the commitment of the government? Where are its priorities? Certainly Canada is begging and calling out for a national sex offender registry. When will the solicitor general listen?
Message from the Senate
The Royal Assent
December 18th, 2001 / 5:05 p.m.
The Deputy Speaker
I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
Bill C-6, an act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act--Chapter No. 40.
Bill C-24, an act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and law enforcement) and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter No. 32.
Bill C-31, an act to amend the Export Development Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter No. 33.
Bill C-32, an act to implement the free trade agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica--Chapter No. 28.
Bill C-34, an act to establish the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter No. 29.
Bill C-36, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Official Secrets Act, the Canada Evidence Act, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act and other acts, and to enact measures respecting the registration of charities in order to combat terrorism--Chapter No. 41.
Bill C-38, an act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act--Chapter No. 35.
Bill C-40, an act to correct certain anomalies, inconsistencies and errors and to deal with other matters of a non-controversial and uncomplicated nature in the Statutes of Canada and to repeal certain provisions that have expired, lapsed or otherwise ceased to have effect--Chapter No. 34.
Bill C-44, an act to amend the Aeronautics Act--Chapter No. 38.
Bill C-45, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2002--Chapter No. 39.
Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (alcohol ignition interlock device programs)--Chapter No. 37.
Bill S-10, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Parliamentary Poet Laureate)--Chapter No. 36.
Bill S-31, an act to implement agreements , conventions and protocols concluded between Canada and Slovenia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Senegal, the Czech Republic and Germany for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income--Chapter No. 30.
Bill S-33, an act to amend the Carriage by Air Act--Chapter No. 31.
Points of Order
December 4th, 2001 / 5:35 p.m.
I am now ready to rule on the point of order raised earlier today by the hon. House leader of the PC/DR coalition concerning Vote 36a under Foreign Affairs and International Trade in the Supplementary Estimates (A), 2001-02.
The hon. House leader drew to the attention of the House that Vote 36a provides for the transfer of $2 million to the Export Development Corporation from the government. The purpose of the transfer is to compensate the corporation for the liability transferred to it by the government with respect to contributions made by corporation employees to the public service death benefit account.
The hon. PC/DR House leader pointed out that this liability will be transferred only with the passage into law of Bill C-31, an act to amend the Export Development Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.
While that bill has been passed by the House, it is still being considered in the other place.
On that basis, he indicated that the request for funds in Vote 36a was without legal authority and requested that it be struck from the supplementary estimates and removed from the appropriation bill based on those estimates.
The principle that legislative authority must be in place before funds could be appropriated is clearly recognized. The House of Commons Procedure and Practice , at page 735, provides the following citation from the ruling of Mr. Speaker Jerome.
This was on March 22, 1977, and I quote:
—it is my view that the government receives from parliament the authority to act through the passage of legislation and receives the money to finance such authorized action through the passage by parliament of an appropriation act. A supply item, in my opinion, ought not, therefore, to be used to obtain authority which is the proper subject of legislation.
The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader later informed the House that such statutory authority does exist and can be found in the Public Service Superannuation Act. He explained that the Export Development Corporation--and it is useful to note that the existing name is what appears in the appropriation bill--incurred a one-time liability when it withdrew from the Public Service Superannuation Act in April 2000, and that is the situation that Vote 36a addresses.
In the short time available, I have examined the text of Bill C-31 and the supplementary estimates and I have concluded that in light of the explanations offered by the parliamentary secretary the vote is in order and can proceed.
I am therefore ruling that the amount of $2 million in Vote 36a under Foreign Affairs and International Trade in the supplementary estimates is in order, as is the corresponding amount in the appropriation bill.
I thank the hon. member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough for his vigilance in raising the matter.
The house resumed consideration of Motion No. 1.
Points of Order
December 4th, 2001 / 5:10 p.m.
Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Earlier today the hon. member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough raised a point of order with respect to the appropriations bill provision for foreign affairs vote 36a of $2 million for payment to compensate for transferred liabilities to the Export Development Corporation in respect of its employees who have contributed to the public service death benefit account. The member suggested that there is no statutory basis for this transfer.
I want to point out that the current name for the corporation is that which is specified in the appropriations bill.
I would like to note also that EDC withdrew from the Public Service Superannuation Act in April 2000. It thus incurred a one time liability at that time. This payment simply covers EDC's liability for that purpose. Authority is provided under the Public Service Superannuation Act for this. This would have been required with or without Bill C-31, the EDC Act and in fact, has nothing to do with that bill.
Points of Order
Oral Question Period
December 4th, 2001 / 3:05 p.m.
Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order concerning the content of the appropriations bill that would enact the contents of Supplementary Estimates (A)
I draw the attention of the House to Vote 36a under Foreign Affairs and International Trade in the amount of $2 million. The explanation in the estimates is: “Payments to compensate for the transferred liabilities to the corporation from the government in respect of export development employees who have contributed to the public service death benefits account”.
At the moment there is no statutory basis for this transfer. The transfer would be authorized by what now exists as Bill C-31, which passed the House on October 30. Alas, Bill C-31 has not yet completed its metamorphosis from a bill into the full majesty of statute.
The bill was sent to the Senate, but it would appear the Senate has not yet passed the bill. It would be inappropriate for the House to include vote 36a in the appropriations bill since at the moment there is no other legislative authority to transfer the funds to the EDC. Nor can the House assume that Bill C-31 will be passed by both houses in the form in which it was passed by the House of Commons. Presumably there is still an opportunity for amendments to occur in the other place.
You will be more familiar than most, Mr. Speaker, with the statement of Speaker Jerome on March 22, 1977, when he stated that a supply item ought not be used to obtain authority which is the proper subject of legislation.
The House has already indicated through its passage of Bill C-31 that the transfer is in its view the proper subject of legislation, but the draft legislation has not yet been passed by both houses of Parliament. I therefore reluctantly invite the Speaker to strike this item from the appropriations bill.
December 4th, 2001 / 1:25 p.m.
John Bryden Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON
Mr. Speaker, the member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca suggested in his speech that government backbenchers were afraid to utter constructive criticisms of their own government programs. Not so. Many, many backbench MPs have constructive suggestions for the government. The member from Esquimalt when I challenged him on that suggested that I, who is well known for making constructive criticisms of government programs, was relegated to this corner of the House as some sort of punishment.
Well, I wish to reassure all members of the House of Commons that I am over in this corner of the House of Commons in order to give me more speaking room, in order to speak to the government members, to speak to the opposition members and to speak to even the Conservative members in the corner here. I consider my place in the House of Commons, the location of my seat, an honour. Now I will proceed to criticize a government program.
I really actually appreciate the opportunity this opposition motion does afford those in the House who monitor various government programs and have reservations about them. The program that most disturbs me and will be the main focus of my remarks is the non-insured health benefits program run by Health Canada for Canada's aboriginals, all those covered by the Indian Act.
This is a program that now costs the government treasury $578 million a year. It is a program that is not mandated in legislation whatsoever. It comes out of the blue. It was inherited from the previous Conservative government and it was designed to provide Canada's aboriginal citizens with free drugs and free vision care equipment like sunglasses and eyeglasses. It was designed to give free transportation to aboriginals.
The program was introduced by the former Conservative government under Brian Mulroney. At about the same time, a couple of years after that same government brought in a bill called Bill C-31, which extended Indian status extensively. It extended it mainly to women who had married non-Indians and had moved off the reserve. Consequently over the last 15 years there has been a tremendous expansion of people who qualify as aboriginals for the various programs that exist for aboriginals. This applies to the non-insured health benefits program, so what we have is a program that began costing the government a couple of hundred million, has risen exponentially and now costs $578 million a year.
The difficulty is it is a program that is based exclusively on race. It is not based on the economic disadvantage of individuals. It is not based on whether they are on reserve or off reserve. It is not based on income. One of the problems is that an untold amount of money in that program is going to people who have their Indian cards who are taking advantage of the program and have no need to take advantage of the program.
I know of at least one instance where the individual is earning about $300,000 a year and yet he qualifies for the program. That is a very extreme example, but in Canada's urban centres there are literally tens of thousands of individuals who qualify for the free drugs which run into seven million prescriptions a year. There are stories where they go out and their kids can get free sunglasses and so on and so forth.
This is a classic case where parliament needs to intervene and draw parameters around this program focusing on people who are in need rather than simply on race. I would suggest that the savings could be a couple of hundred million dollars.
We have heard a lot from the other side on how in this time of recession we should be doing everything we can to cut spending and lower taxes, but I submit that we have not had a lot of constructive suggestions. I would suggest that if the government were to come into the non-insured health benefits program, put it under legislation finally and make it income relevant as it should be directed to those in need, there would be a tremendous saving and I think there would be a tremendous benefit to the people involved as well.
The other program that I am very critical of that I wish the finance minister would pay attention to is in the context of Canada's national debt. The member for Elk Island spoke considerably on this. My disappointment is that it is certainly true we have reduced the debt by $36 billion, but looking at the public accounts and looking at the report of the auditor general we could have reduced that debt by another $7 billion. We can still reduce it by $3 billion or $4 billion just like that. The way is to take the money back from the foundations, the nine foundations that were set up with government funds to undertake various programs.
For instance, there is about $3 billion locked up in the Canada foundation for innovation. I have no problem with the idea behind this foundation, which is to try to improve Canada's technological competitiveness, but it is an evasion of public responsibility when taxpayer dollars are given to an arm's length organization that then invests it. Rather than having a foundation invest taxpayer dollars, it should have been reduced from the debt because what you have, Mr. Speaker, is $7 billion in various investments in these arm's length foundations that would actually, if the money had been held back until needed, have reduced the debt by some $7 billion.
I think the finance department and the finance minister should examine the whole philosophy about setting up things like the millennium scholarship fund which is another one of these foundations that accounts for $2.4 billion. The millennium scholarship fund is an excellent program. I think it is excellent but it should be a charge as you go, not as a charge to the future. The final difficulty, Mr. Speaker, is of course if you put the money out to foundations and they invest it of course they become susceptible to what happens in the markets.
I have the annual report before me of the Canada foundation for innovation, but I regret I cannot get enough information from it to determine whether the billion or so dollars that it invested in various market instruments had gained or lost money. That is precisely the point: if it had been a debt reduction it would have meant that the Government of Canada would not be borrowing.
You see what happens, Mr. Speaker. By giving it to an arm's length foundation, $7 billion to a foundation, it means the government has to continue to borrow. I do not think this is acceptable, but I think $7 billion is a worthy saving.
I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank members of the opposition for giving me the opportunity to suggest to the government these two areas that I think it could address. I know it is too late for the budget remarks that are coming up very shortly, but to me it is parliament that is responsible for spending taxpayer money. It is parliament that should be accountable. I deplore situations where there is a $578 million program that is not legislated by parliament that is dispensing that amount of money. I deplore also where we offload our responsibilities to arm's length organizations when we should keep the money for our own purposes to keep the debt down and pay for these programs as we go.
Code of Canadian Citizenship
December 4th, 2001 / 10:05 a.m.
Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-417, an act respecting Canadian citizenship.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Fundy--Royal for supporting the private member's bill, an act respecting Canadian citizenship.
The PC/DR coalition bill is about Canadian citizenship. It speaks to and unites all Canadians, Canadians by birth and Canadians by choice. The bill would ensure there is only one class of citizenship in Canada, unlike the last Liberal bill, Bill C-31, which promoted two classes of citizenship.
It is time for Canada to have a new citizenship bill, an act for all Canadians.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
Export Development Act
October 30th, 2001 / 6 p.m.
Pursuant to the order adopted earlier today, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division at the third reading stage of Bill C-31.
Export Development Act
October 30th, 2001 / 4:40 p.m.
Jim Karygiannis Scarborough—Agincourt, ON
Mr. Speaker, Canada is a country built on immigrants who have brought with them a wealth of knowledge of business. In my riding, one of the most ethnically diverse ridings in Canada, there are many such people who are engaged in trades.
EDC serves not only people in my riding but all Canadians who require its much needed support. This support must be enhanced. Bill C-31 is long overdue. In addition to Canadians travelling the globe enhancing and promoting Canadian trade there exist many organizations engaged in international trade that make money and employ Canadians. Trade is the engine which makes our country competitive and keeps it a leader in the global economy.
One such individual whom I have known for many years is Mr. Angelo Rapanos, an individual who has travelled the globe on business and has excellent trade credentials worldwide. Mr. Rapanos has done multinational trade deals for Canada worth many millions of dollars. He has created many jobs with the everlasting assistance of EDC.
EDC changes are needed and they are needed now. Which part of the bill does my hon. colleague across the way disagree with? Which part of us wanting to do business and engage our people across the globe does he disagree with?
Export Development Act
October 30th, 2001 / 4:20 p.m.
Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-31. As its title indicates, this is a bill to amend the Export Development Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.
Obviously we can assume that from the moment this bill becomes law it will probably be the last time we discuss what went under the name of Export Development Corporation for many years. This bill proposes a new name, export development Canada.
As my colleagues, the members for Mercier and Joliette, clearly indicated, we will oppose the bill for reasons that are becoming more and more obvious as the debate progresses.
I should remind members that the Bloc Quebecois proposed in committee a number of amendments which, unfortunately, were defeated. We would have liked to see the bill improved or at least to see a number of environmental protection measures included in this bill. We would also have liked the bill to provide for more transparency with regard to the disclosure of information.
Parliamentarians study the way the corporation has had to work and develop in recent years but we are not alone. A number of NGOs, those belonging to the NGO working group on the Export Development Corporation, repeatedly looked at the work the corporation had done in recent years to expand exports and the extent to which funds and aid were given to projects carried out in developing countries.
I can list some of the organizations involved. They include the Canadian Lawyers Association for International Human Rights, the Social Justice Commission of Montreal, the Canadian Council on International Co-operation, the Canadian Labour Congress, Democracy Watch, Development and Peace, Falls Brook Centre, Canadian Friends of Burma, Mining Watch Canada. Many others also considered the potential impact of this bill on aspects of our lives today.
We could debate a number of aspects of the bill, the whole issue of disclosure of information, the place of democracy and human rights, which certain specific organizations in the working group and the standing committee on foreign affairs and human rights considered.
However, my intervention will focus primarily on the environmental framework of the EDC and its involvement, on support for certain projects which the EDC set up or supported in the past, but which also—no point hiding it—violate to some extent a number of environmental parameters Canada and Quebec have debated frequently. These debates naturally concern the funding of projects in developing countries, some aspects of which should have been included in the bill.
The bill is, to say the least, vague, soft and lacking in environmental terms. It is vague as concerns its environmental framework, which, in many ways, is nebulous and inadequate with respect to the need for disclosure of information. I think this should be pointed out.
As for EDC's environmental framework, the objective is far from clear. It is to “implement a simple, clear, and efficient process for reviewing on a timely basis the best available environmental information on projects for which the Corporation's support is sought”.
Through this objective, the EDC is not saying that the purpose of an environmental assessment is to ensure that the projects approved respect the environment and encourage sustainable development. The EDC prefers to qualify its approach in order to give itself some leeway.
Furthermore, the framework is based on two guiding principles. The first is that environmental reviews undertaken by financial institutions to mitigate project risk can help encourage sustainable development by promoting consideration of the environmental benefits and costs of projects in host country jurisdictions.
The end of my sentence, which is included in the bill, is important.
The meaning of this guiding principle from the framework is that consideration will be given to the context in which a project would be carried out and therefore also to the context in which the project is funded.
In certain developing countries, the corporation could be called upon to fund projects which did not respect all the laws, the environmental consensuses, the rules, regulations and environmental values which Canadians and Quebecers have decided are important.
In this regard, I would like to mention one project, although several come to mind. I am thinking of a project funded by the Export Development Corporation. It was criticized for funding and giving $135 million U.S. in support to a mine in Peru. In this particular case, the compensation to the communities affected was clearly inadequate.
The Candu reactors are another very eloquent example. Is it right that while environmentally based social consensuses must be enforced within Canada's borders and prove acceptable, they would not be enforced for certain other projects which, because of less stringent environmental rules, could be implemented?
One must be consistent in politics. A project that would be unacceptable in Canada for environmental reasons should not be acceptable in some developing countries because their environmental rules are not as strict as ours. That is why we, as well as several environmental groups in Canada, have asked that these projects be assessed under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. If that were the case, the values and principles that are agreed upon in Canada could be applied to those projects and not only to Canadian projects.
We must realize that the framework used is not the Canadian framework but could be that of a country where environmental rules are not as strict.
The other aspect, which is the second guiding principle, is that the EDC should decline support for projects which, after taking into account the implementation of mitigation measures, are in its opinion likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be justified in the circumstances.
We think the first guiding principle clearly illustrates a watering down of the environmental standards that the EDC intends to apply. As I was saying earlier, why is it necessary to specify that it has to be done in the context of the host country? Several EDC projects are in developing countries where environmental standards are not as strict as they are in Quebec and in Canada.
Moreover, need I remind members of this rather eloquent report from the Auditor General of Canada, a special report dealing with its evaluation of the Export Development Corporation, which pointed out that the EDC did not respect its own environmental framework. According to an evaluation by the Auditor General of Canada, and not by opposition members in this House, the environmental effects had not been assessed properly or not at all in 23 out of 25 projects funded by the EDC. The situation is clear. In some cases, the environmental framework is respected but, in other cases, it is not respected at all. I think we must act quickly to correct this problem.
It is wrong to say that the bill we are looking at will remedy the situation. It creates, in a way, a kind of loophole for the government, a dispensation from even having to respect the environmental consensus that has been reached in Canada.
There is another important aspect: the whole matter of preselecting projects. How does the EDC environmental assessment operate?
The first step is to select the projects that will undergo environmental analysis. Right at the start, the corporation eliminates two-thirds of these projects because it does not submit the short term assurance aspect to any type of environmental review whatsoever. This includes short term client account insurance. It protects exporters from any risk of non-payment by purchasers.
For us it is clear that environmental viability is not related to whether or not a project is carried out on the short or the long term.
Then the project is linked to a risk sector. Whether the mining sector, hydroelectric energy, oil or gas, forestry or pulp and paper, the EDC does an influence test. With it, it determines whether it can bring any influence to bear in order to reduce the risks posed by a project. It carries out a detailed environmental review of a project only when it determines that risk and influence constitute factors.
It can be seen that the Export Development Corporation, soon to become export development Canada, possesses by virtue of what I have just stated, a certain discretionary power in determining whether risk and influence constitute factors to be considered. Rather than subjecting every project to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the corporation gives itself the power to conduct this screening.
The decision ought instead to be based solely on potential environmental risk. A number of other institutions classify their environmental assessment requirements according to potential impact on the environment. This is the case in particular with the world export and corporation bank in Australia. The greater the repercussions, the more stringent the examination.
I said that this bill leaves much to be desired. It is vague as regards its environmental framework and inadequate as regards its screening and self-assessment processes.
If the EDC feels that it has some influence, it carries out an environmental assessment based on the promoter's information. A guiding principle of the corporation's frame of reference provides that it will not support a project if it feels that the anticipated positive effects do not justify the potential harmful risks to the environment, in spite of the implementation of mitigation measures.
In her May report, the Auditor General of Canada found that there is no methodology to determine if adverse environmental risks can be justified. This means that a project that would have a negative environmental impact could be approved, based on the interpretation of the assessor and on the information provided by the promoter.
No scientific criteria are used. Therefore, it is no surprise that the auditor general found that, for 23 out of 25 projects that were funded by the EDC, the assessment of the impact on the environment had either not been done properly or not been done at all.
We would have liked to see amendments adopted by the committee. We would have liked to see improvements to this bill, including to subsection 10.1(2), which leaves the corporation totally free to determine its own environmental criteria. This clause says that “The Board shall issue a directive respecting the determination referred to in subsection (1)”.
As we can see, these projects are not governed by Canadian laws. How could we accept that the arguments, proposals and representations of some promoters be taken into consideration and that a kind of discretionary power be granted to the board of directors of a corporation such as the Export Development Corporation, when the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is, to some extent, a requirement under other bills?
In conclusion, we would have liked to see major changes to this legislation. We would have liked to see some amendments accepted. This would have prevented giving a discretionary power to the EDC's board of directors and letting it determine what is good, what environmental guidelines and what frame of reference are acceptable. We would have liked to see the provisions of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act implemented.
We deeply regret the fact that even though amendments were presented in committee, the government refused to accept them. Again, I want to thank the NGOs working group on the Export Development Corporation, which I thanked earlier.
Export Development Act
October 30th, 2001 / 4 p.m.
Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-31, the amendments to the Export Development Act. I think the concern Canadians have whenever we talk about agencies or organizations such as the Export Development Corporation is that once again we are talking about a crown corporation that operates supposedly for the people of Canada and yet lacks all accountability.
EDC has a reputation of being unaccountable, secretive and without transparency in its operations. It does not fall under the Access to Information Act which allows it to operate in such a way that it does not respect environmental concerns and issues. It has a reputation of being a crown corporation that operates out there on its own agenda.
I think Canadians are concerned that it has become a norm for agencies of the government to operate without parliamentary oversight. If people watch question period they will see that even when the opposition parties try to ask questions of the minister to bring some accountability to the crown corporation that the questions are not answered, not that any of them ever are, but questions pertaining to this particular crown corporation are never responded to in a way that shares information with Canadians as to what it is doing.
I think Canadians have real concerns that the government is continuing to operate in this manner and that it is the government's mode to develop organizations that it controls. It controls the people who run these organizations. It controls the information flow that goes into them and the lack of information that comes out about them. In essence, the government is removing any kind of connection between the people who pay for the crown corporation, which is the Canadian taxpayer, and the operation of it.
I think Canadians have become more aware of the involvement of the Export Development Corporation when issues like the Candu reactor come up and the fact that the Canada account, which I believe was used in that kind of venture, is often done in such a way that there seems to be a disregard for those regulations that are put in place, such as the environmental regulations. Canadians are somewhat concerned that Canada would be exporting Candu reactors without any kind of environmental assessments being done, without any real concern about the national security of our country where we would give foreign nations the capacity to perhaps use nuclear by-products for other means other than creating energy.
I think Canadians to a degree are aware of the existence of the Export Development Corporation but are not aware of the details of it, who sits on the board or to whom it answers. Canadians are a little concerned that here again is another crown corporation that is run in a manner that may not be acceptable to the Canadian public who pay for it.
We have to look at the bill and the amendments to see whether they address those concerns. I would suggest that the bill does not seem to address those concerns that Canadians have. I do not think that the means with which the bill deals with the accountability is sufficient. I think Canadians want to know that this crown corporation, which is using Canadian tax dollars to give to some corporations but not all corporations, is done in a fair and transparent manner. Some Canadian corporations might ask themselves why their competitor is getting this kind of support when they are not. Canadians need to feel comfortable that the people who are making the decision as to who will get government support, taxpayer money, are treating these decisions in a fair, open and above-board manner.
I think the fact that the chairman and president of the Export Development Corporation are appointed by the Prime Minister should cause some concern. The fact that the other 13 board members are appointed by the Minister for International Trade should cause Canadians some concern. The reason for this concern is that once again we see that the appointments to this board are political. They are being used to reward individuals who have been faithful supporters of the party with an opportunity to sit on the board.
I think Canadians would like to see the end of that practice. I think Canadians would like to see some justification for the appointments to the board of the Export Development Corporation. They would like to see that the appointments of a president, CEO or chairman are done in such a manner that they could not be used for political purposes. They want to see people appointed who have earned the right to be there, people who have expertise in the field they will be dealing with, who will be fair and balanced in the decisions they make and who will not unduly risk Canadian taxpayers' money for ventures that are not sound.
Somehow, perhaps reflecting on past appointments, Canadians cannot be confident that this is happening. The amendments to the bill do not deal with that concern. A very real concern that I hear on a very regular basis through my householders is that Canadians are concerned about the way the government does business and appoints individuals to positions for whatever reason, most of them political. Canadians are concerned about that as well as being very concerned about how the government spends their money and how the decisions are made on how to spend their money. I do not see any changes in the legislation that deal with those concerns.
As in many other cases, we see the government putting in housekeeping legislation that deals with minor things like changing the name. Canadians do not care whether it is called the export council of Canada or export development council or whatever. Canadians do not care what it is called. They care about what it does and how it does the business of the day.
The issues of transparency and complying with the laws of Canada with regard to environmental assessments are the issues that Canadians care about. Canadians care that when the government is operating in the global market network we can be proud of how Canada is represented, that it is being represented by a corporation and by the government in a way that makes us proud.
Minor changes to legislation such as changing the name and moving around a few of the powers and oversights and whatnot just do not cut it. I heard my colleague from the Canadian Alliance talking about the decision maker, the oversight and the judge all being one. That basically is still the situation. It has not changed.
Once again we see the government operating in a manner that shows its arrogance and lack of contact and connection with Canadian taxpayers. This shows that it really does not believe in transparency, that it really does not believe in giving access to information to Canadians to let them to know what is going on in their government and how their money is being spent.
I do not buy the argument that there are business decisions that cannot be shared. If the Canadian taxpayer is being asked to put money into a corporation, there should not be anything that the corporation is not willing to share with the people who are paying the bill. If those individuals do not want the ordinary Canadian to have access to that information, then perhaps they should not be asking the Canadian taxpayer to pick up the cost. If they want to avoid disclosure, if they want to avoid access to information, there are private funding sources they can go to that do not have that kind of responsibility to disclose and to be accountable.
The government could have done a much better job of making this crown corporation more accountable, of making this crown corporation more acceptable to the Canadian taxpayer who is putting the money up front. I would hope that the government could, in this legislation as in other legislation, make necessary amendments to make it more appropriate.
Export Development Act
October 30th, 2001 / 3:50 p.m.
Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC
Mr. Speaker, I would like to address my remarks to three particular points in the bill. I would like to attack it from the principles of patronage appointments and of crown corporations and private enterprise, and also on the business of transparency, in particular with regard to the judge, advocacy and jury all at the same time with the bill. It would do those things.
It is actually amazing what the bill would do and how it came to be. The first thing I want to stress is the business of this crown corporation actually being created to be in direct competition with private enterprise. Some people would ask how I came to this kind of conclusion. The conclusion comes to me on the basis of what the United Kingdom did when it considered joining the EU. At that time it became very evident that it needed to maintain a clear balance between crown corporations, which are really the instrument of government, to develop their particular policies, purposes and objectives, and to do so in a commercially viable way. At least that is the purported intent.
While I do not quarrel with a situation where a private enterprise could not get into that enterprise, I do quarrel with it here. So did the EU and so did the United Kingdom. In fact, in 1991, ten years ago, the United Kingdom privatized a short term branch of its equivalent export agency. It was called the Export Credits Guarantee Department. The agency was privatized to ensure that there were no implied trade subsidies in the EU from one country to another. The United Kingdom government now, as written in 1997, provides a political risk reinsurance to the private company that took over the ECGD.
I think it is very significant that the United Kingdom saw the potential conflict that was there, not only in its own government but also in the governments of other countries, and the complication that it would create among various countries doing business with one another. It wanted to have a fair and level playing field among them.
Why is that significant? The EDC really runs its operation on two accounts. It has a commercial account and it has a Canada account. The commercial account really gets most of its money from financing export operations and the insurance in guaranteeing certain loans to exporters. The Canada account, on the other hand, is designed to advance the particular policies, objectives and purposes of the Canadian government. I am really addressing my remarks here to the first part of that, because that is its major operation. It is here that it finds itself in direct conflict with private enterprise.
Philosophically and on principle I am utterly and completely opposed to government doing things that the private sector can do as well or better. I would suggest that not only is that the case for the private enterprise, but it is actually in the interests of all Canadians that it be the case.
I will move on to my second point which has to do with the patronage appointments that are possible here. I will read, for the benefit of those who are listening to us this afternoon, the provisions for this activity as provided for in Bill C-31. It is really an amendment to section 7. Section 7.1 states:
The Board may establish any other committee and that committee may exercise any powers and perform any duties of the Board delegated to it by the Board.
If we wanted carte blanche, there it is. We would first of all have this board and this board would have a number of members on it appointed by the government. They feel they would like to do something. There may be some friends that they would like to have doing some work, so they form a committee and appoint people who are their friends and who can do certain kinds of things. The number of committees is unlimited. They may form any committee to do whatever they want and then they can delegate whatever powers they have to any one of those particular committees.
One would think that reason would prevail and that in fact there would not be an abuse of this power, but we have seen it, not only in this government but in other governments where this kind of freedom exists and politics rather than the interests of people enter into the decision making process. At that point it is clearly obvious that a political advantage accrues to those who supported the party in power. That is what I am concerned about.
Not only would the bill make it possible, the bill almost says please do it and make sure that there are enough vacancies here so that we can appoint anybody we want to have appointed to these committees. I take strong exception to that. I do not believe that kind of thing should happen.
Can a private corporation do something similar to this? Yes, it can, but it has the added difference that it does this on the basis of being efficient and working in the interests of the shareholders and the people it is trying to serve.
That motivation may be the same for the government, but it may not be. The political situation may be one of fostering its own bed rather than developing what is there in the best interests.
I know, Mr. Speaker, that is not you. You care about people. I know that. I know you very well. Even though you are in an opposing party, you are the kind of guy who I think would not do this sort of thing. However, Mr. Speaker, they are not all like you.
I will move on to my third point which has to do with the judge, advocacy and jury of this committee. I cannot believe the kind of thing that has happened here. However, not only do I have to believe it, I have to put it in the context of what the auditor general said about this corporation.
I want to refer specifically to paragraph 22 in the May 2001 auditor general's report on the Export Development Corporation and in particular the environmental review framework. In paragraph 22 he states:
Unlike federal departments and agencies--
Here I notice that he is separating out from federal departments and agencies that crown corporation in particular, the Export Development Corporation.
--the Export Development Corporation is not subject to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act or to the Access to Information Act. Unlike private sector financial institutions, it is not subject to regulation by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, does not pay income tax, is not required to pay dividends, and can borrow at favourable rates on the credit of the Government of Canada.
That is very significant. This group could determine a number of things. With regard to the environment, it may determine whether a particular project “is likely to have adverse environmental effects” and then later on it will define what an adverse environmental effect is to be. Is that not interesting? A project comes up and the board decides on what are adverse environmental conditions. The other one is whether the particular project actually does meet those requirements. If we wanted to create a situation where we could change the rules of the game halfway through the game, we would have a perfect way in which to do this. All the board would have to do is change the definition and change its particular interpretation or application of that definition for a particular project.
I cannot think of a greater morass, almost a miasma, a poisonous vapour arising from this kind of situation, than a group that comes to this board and says it will not cause environmental damage, with the board members saying they are not sure if it fits the definition or not, and then they could move it around to suit the situation as they wanted.
That should never be allowed. There should be an independent group like the environmental group that stands for all government agencies and departments, financial institutions, private institutions and for us as individuals. It should apply in exactly the same way to this agency even though it is a crown corporation.
I have to vote against this provision unless it is changed.
Export Development Act
October 30th, 2001 / 3:40 p.m.
Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC
Mr. Speaker, as always I am pleased to rise on behalf of the people of Surrey Central. Today I am taking part in the third reading debate on Bill C-31, an act to amend the Export Development Act and to make amendments to other acts.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to share my time with the hon. member for Kelowna.
The bill is of a housekeeping nature, simply to update the act. The government did not accept any amendments from the opposition parties during the committee stage.
Since legislation governing the Export Development Corporation requires a ministerial review of the act, a review commenced in 1998 and concluded with a report. It was reviewed and reported by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The results of that report are the amendments in Bill C-31.
If passed, the bill will enable the board to delegate its powers. It will require the EDC to establish a pension plan for its employees. The treasury board policy encourages crown corporations to arrange a comprehensive, independent pension plan for their employees.
The CPP managed by the federal government earns even less interest than a bank savings account. That is how expert the government is in mismanaging the employee and employer funds.
The surplus funds from the inefficiently managed CPP were grabbed by the Liberal government. The chief actuary of the CPP was fired for being forthright and not yielding to the Liberals' pressure.
Prior to these amendments, there were no legislated environmental review requirements of the EDC. If the bill is passed, it will require the EDC to determine if a project is likely to have adverse environmental effects and whether it would be justified for the EDC to enter into a transaction.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act will not apply to the EDC's reviews so that Canadian environment standards and laws are not imposed on other sovereign nations. That is what the government says. Or perhaps the government can further its own agenda under the guise of environmental protection evasion.
The objective of the substantive environmental amendment is to strike a balance between trade competitiveness and concern for the potential environmental impacts of projects supported by the EDC.
My opposition to the bill also stems largely from questions surrounding EDC's lack of environmental accountability under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
In 1996 Candu reactors were sold to China at a cost of $2.5 billion. To sweeten the deal, the Canadian government financed the sale with EDC facilitating the deal.
Ordinarily, the deal would have required an environmental assessment to deal with questions such as whether the area around Qinshan was prone to earthquakes, floods and the like. Issues like these are of vital importance in determining if nuclear reactors are a danger or not. Had an environmental assessment been done at that time, it would have helped put these concerns to rest.
We now know that since the government did not like the rules of the game, it changed them, even though there is a lawsuit by the Sierra Club of Canada. This is another example of how the government failed to do its homework and tried to circumvent due process by altering the rules of the game to suit its purposes.
We all witnessed the alarming and tragic consequences of the nuclear tragedy in Chernobyl. The loss of life directly attributable to that disaster is truly staggering.
Years later, cancer rates in the area remain alarmingly high. Imagine the effect of such a disaster in China where the population is much greater. The death toll from radiation poisoning and cancer would be enormous.
Environmental assessment in highly populated areas, flood prone areas and earthquake prone areas was probably very important, but the government thought it was better to stay quiet about such issues rather than jeopardize the deal.
In general, this weak government's record on environment is very weak. It has let the legislation on the protection of endangered species die a few times on the order paper. It has signed international treaties, including those from Kyoto, Beijing and Rio, for example, with no intentions whatsoever of carrying out its commitments. The government made those commitments without consulting Canadians, parliament and the provinces. The government has made political decisions about matters that require scientific decisions, logic and reasoning.
The auditor general recommended that most international financial institutions, including export credit agencies, have environmental policies and procedures. A consensus emerged on the elements of good practice that an international financial institution should adopt to ensure that the projects it supports are environmentally and socially responsible. Industrialized G-8 countries and OECD countries developed common environmental guidelines for export credit agencies but the government is trying to circumvent them.
To strengthen the framework's implementation, the EDC should concentrate on the tools that identify environmental risks in the screening process and on monitoring to ensure that the framework is operating efficiently and effectively. To strengthen EDC's environmental review process, EDC needs to make changes in both the design and the operation of the framework. To close the gaps in the framework's design, EDC should focus on enhancing transparency through public consultation and disclosure.
Another problem with the bill is that EDC is being used by the Liberal government, no surprise, for political favours, in addition to other crown corporations and agencies being used, such as CIDA, HRDC, WD, ACOA and many others.
Patronage appointments in crown corporations are rampant. Most recently, Mr. Bernard Boudreau, a short term senator and cabinet member who unsuccessfully ran for the Liberals in the last election, was appointed to the board of EDC. The bill does not address the issue of patronage appointments at all.
The Canadian Alliance recognizes the essential part financial institutions play in the everyday lives of Canadians. We would protect the best interests of consumers by fostering competition and ensuring that the financial services sector is adequately regulated, without impairing stability or opportunity for success and growth in these institutions.
Most of the services provided by the EDC, such as short and medium term export insurance and financing, should be privatized. The rest of the EDC services should become a division of DFAIT and should be directly accountable to parliament. This division could provide occasional loan guarantees and other services that are beyond the scope of the private sector, such as long term insurance, political risk reassurance and projects that are not commercially viable but are deemed to be in the national interest. In 1991 the United Kingdom privatized its equivalent export agency, the Export Credits Guarantee Department. We can learn from that.
To serve exporters better, there should be true competition in the export business and financing business. They should have the opportunity to deal directly with their own banks or insurance brokers to have their exports financed and insured. If the banks got into the business, exporters might receive 100% financing in addition to speedier and personalized services.
In conclusion, the bill does not address the concerns that I have highlighted. I ask the government to address these issues and make appropriate amendments to the bill, which they have not done so far. Otherwise I will be left with no choice but to vote against the bill.