House of Commons Hansard #64 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was police.

Topics

Parliament Of Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Eugène Bellemare Carleton—Gloucester, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-316, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (oaths or solemn affirmation).

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to introduce a bill to amend the Parliament of Canada Act.

This bill would require a federal member of Parliament to take an oath of allegiance to Canada and the Constitution in addition to the present oath to the Queen.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Excise Tax Act
Routine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Reform

Stephen Harper Calgary West, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-317, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act (small supplier carrying on a taxi business).

Mr. Speaker, today I am tabling this bill to amend the Excise Tax Act so that a small supplier carrying on a taxi business is no longer required to be registered for the purposes of the goods and services tax.

When the GST was introduced a category of suppliers was created which was exempt from registering, collecting and paying GST saving many small business owners from the regulatory burden of this abhorrent tax. Strangely, upon implementation of this tax a whole category of workers, taxi drivers, were excluded from becoming small suppliers although there had been strong indications that they would be permitted small supplier status.

I am hereby submitting this private member's bill to correct this injustice and allow these workers the same flexibility that other workers enjoy. This is but a small step on the way to freeing every business person from the regulatory burden of the GST.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from members of United Senior Citizens of Ontario Inc. who reside in Peterborough. They say that the safety of consumers and senior citizens in particular is at risk because brand name drug manufacturers are attempting to force generic drug manufacturers to market their equivalent products in a size, shape and colour different from the brand name medication.

Any action that affects the look of generic drugs could endanger patient safety through improper use of medicines. Therefore, the petitioners request that Parliament regulate the longstanding Canadian practice of marketing generic drugs in a size, shape and colour which is similar to that of its brand name equivalent.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have another petition which is from the citizens of Peterborough.

They draw attention to the fact that section 327 of the James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement discriminates against James Bay Crees who no longer live in James Bay, Quebec by virtue of their not living there. The clause states that if the original inhabitants of James Bay, Quebec leave James Bay territory for longer than 10 years, they are no longer eligible for any benefits under the James Bay agreement.

The petitioners request that Parliament revoke section 327 of the James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement due to its contravening the Canadian Constitution of 1981.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Pat O'Brien London—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present three petitions from constituents of London-Middlesex and other Londoners.

These petitioners note that Canadian law does not prohibit criminals from selling their stories and financially benefiting thereby. The petitioners ask Parliament to enact Bill C-205 which has been moved by my colleague from Scarborough West. Such a bill would prohibit criminals from profiting from their crimes. I am very pleased to present these three petitions today.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have six petitions from another 500 constituents.

Petitions continue to come in from people concerned about the addition of sexual orientation to the Canadian Human Rights Act. They are concerned this will mean the eventual extension of benefits to same sex couples. They are asking that that not happen.

It appears to be slightly late now, but I am happy to table these petitions on their behalf.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I wish to inform the House that because of the ministerial statement Government Orders will be extended by 35 minutes.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, for the fourth time now, I would like to call to your attention the fact that, on March 11, 1996, I put four questions on the Order Paper concerning the choice of Shawinigan instead of Trois-Rivières as the site for the Department of Human Resources' regional management centre.

I will say outright that I am counting today on your support to make all necessary representations to the parliamentary secretary in order to get legitimate responses to these questions before the House ajourns for the summer.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, as I have previously indicated to my hon. colleague on the points he has raised, the answers he is looking for are being assembled. The information is being put together as we speak. It is certainly my great hope that before we rise for the summer my hon. colleague will receive that information.

Standards Council Of Canada Act
Government Orders

June 18th, 1996 / 10:55 a.m.

Portage—Interlake
Manitoba

Liberal

Jon Gerrard for the Minister of Industry

moved that Bill C-4, an act to amend the Standards Council of Canada Act, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to support the Minister of Industry on the third reading of Bill C-4.

Let me begin by thanking the Standing Committee on Industry for the prompt review of the bill. I would also be remiss if I did not thank the more than 1,000 Canadians who participated in the consultations which led to the development of this amendment and this amended bill.

Its first objective is to provide a structure giving more adequate support to the efforts of the 14,000 Canadian volunteers who give of their time, energy and expertise to the national standards system.

Modern, effective standards are an integral part of creating the right marketplace conditions to encourage economic growth and jobs for Canadians. Marketplace framework laws like the amendments here to modernize the Standards Council of Canada help create an environment in which Canadians can make the decisions needed to create jobs and growth. These changes define the rules of the marketplace to balance the interests of all parties: businesses and consumers, small and large enterprises, buyers and sellers, the private and the public sectors.

When marketplace framework laws work effectively, governments can stay on the sidelines, like referees, and let the private sector get on with the job.

Marketplace framework laws have been at the core of the government's program to revitalize the Canadian economy. The changes proposed here fit well with our overall strategy.

When the Minister of Industry tabled the agenda for jobs and growths in the publication "Building a More Innovative Economy", he outlined how Industry Canada would address four key elements to help the private sector create jobs and ensure growth in Canada. These four elements are trade, infrastructure, technology and the marketplace climate.

The legislation before us addresses one of these elements, the marketplace climate. Standards establish a common benchmark against which the performance of goods and services can be measured. The impact of this legislation will be felt on all the other elements of our jobs and growth agenda.

Standards promote trade both domestically and internationally. Internationally, standards like the ISO 9000 series give Canadian products and services a seal of quality recognized around the world. Within Canada, standards enable different jurisdictions to agree on a benchmark for quality that allows them to eliminate duplication of government services.

Let me give the House an example of how important standards can be to international trade. Twenty years ago Canadian plywood was virtually unknown in Japan. Japanese builders had not accepted the wood frame construction we use commonly in Canada. There was therefore no market for Canadian plywood in Japan. Well developed Canadian standards in this area have, however, helped to convince the Japanese building industry of the value of wood frame construction.

The forest industry in Canada worked hard with the government to have Canadian certification recognized. The Canadian Plywood Association became the first organization in the world to gain Japanese approval as a foreign testing organization. Today Canada sells the Japanese 70 million board feet of plywood each year.

Let me also give an example of how participation in standards development leads to expanded trade. Advanced Information Technologies Corporation, a Toronto based company, is working with the International Organization for Standardization to develop standards for passports that can be read by a machine. Its work has opened many doors for its business and last year its sales topped $34 million, with 80 per cent of the sales coming from the machine readable document business.

Standards are vital in order to build an effective infrastructure. If members want an example of what can happen when uniform standards are not applied, study the early history of the railway industry in North America and in Australia. In Australia each state applied a different standard gauge for railway tracks. Hon. members can imagine the result. No train could travel from one state to the next. Every time one came to a state border the cargo had to be unloaded from its cars and reloaded on to the next train.

We can shake our heads now in wonder at why this happened, but we must ensure a similar situation does not now arise in the case of infrastructure for the next century, infrastructure for the information highway.

This infrastructure requires a great deal of co-ordination in the standards that will apply. The standards clearly affect a number of both federal and provincial jurisdictions, and a wide range of industries are involved in providing both the road bed and the content for the information highway. We do not want to find ourselves in the cyberspace equivalent of having to unload our information railway cars every time we come to a border.

Standards are vital to the healthy development of technology. The government's overall objective is to create conditions where we can build an innovative society in which research and development create technology and the business community adapts and adopts the best technology possible. That is the way to create jobs and growth in the modern context.

One cannot have technological innovation without safeguards. Canadians must be assured their health and safety will not be

compromised by the new processes, the new products and the industrial designs that make our society innovative.

Canadians want assurances that the buildings erected this year will not topple next year due to unproven techniques. Canadians want assurance that the electrical appliances they buy can be plugged into outlets at home and, once they are plugged in, they want the assurance a short-circuit will not burn their home down.

Canadians want assurances their natural gas lines will not leak, that the gasoline they buy has the right octane levels for their car and that the propane tanks they buy have the right thread fit for their gas barbecues. Canadians value new innovation and the convenience of modern technology. However, Canadians will not compromise safety and security.

This creates clearly a challenge for government. On one hand, we must encourage creativity and the adoption and adaptation of new technology. We do not want to slow down innovation. At the same time we have an obligation to ensure the new innovations will not expose Canadians to unwarranted risks. Standards are an effective way in balancing the need for technological innovation with the need to prevent undue risk. They enable innovators to know in advance the criteria that must be met.

The criteria have been established as a result of consensus on how the public interest can best be protected. This enables the business community, researchers and innovators to forge ahead. Innovators can be as quick and flexible as they need to be in responding to new ideas and to new opportunities.

Innovators know that by using standards set for their technology they will stay within the limits of safety. From my own constituency the needs are particularly important in farm related technology and new machinery as well as in the advancing and roll out of the information highway.

Why has the adoption of standards been part of the government's strategy to create jobs and growth? Standards help business people, they help innovators and they help the consumers of Canada to get on with the task at hand.

People do not always have to be looking over their shoulder to see what the government thinks. They do not consistently have to check for government approval, they just apply the standards that are there and accepted.

The primary objective of this legislation is to make standards a more effective tool for the creation of jobs and growth in Canada as well as to provide safety for Canadians.

Bill C-4 is part of the government's overall strategy to create market conditions where the private sector can get on with the job of building a modern innovative economy.

I congratulate all those who contributed to the drafting of this bill and I ask my colleagues to give it their full support.

Standards Council Of Canada Act
Government Orders

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Bélisle La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am going to take advantage of my remarks on Bill C-4, amending the Standards Council of Canada Act, to draw to the attention of the members of this House a series of legislative elements that I regard as extremely significant.

The Standards Council of Canada is a body created by the Standards Council of Canada Act, which is chapter S-16 of the Revised Statutes of Canada. It reports to the Minister of Industry. Its objects are "to foster and promote voluntary standardization" where this is not already "expressly provided for by law", in a number of fields set out in the act, including construction, manufacturing, production, quality, performance and safety of buildings, structures, manufactured articles and products and other goods.

The Standards Council of Canada is made up of representatives of the federal government, the provincial governments and industry, as set out in section 3 of the act. All standards are established on a voluntary basis by the relevant industries, and their purpose is to encourage and facilitate domestic and international trade.

Bill C-4, before us today for third reading, enlarges the mandate and powers of the standards council. In addition to advancing the national economy, the bill tells us, standardization will have to support sustainable development; in addition to benefiting public health, it will have to benefit the health and safety of workers.

The standards council will have an important promotional role to play, in addition to encouraging standardization where it is not already mandatory. In its annual report, the council will have to make recommendations to the minister regarding standards it considers should be mandatory.

Bill C-4 proposes significant amendments to the existing act. It chiefly seeks to make the council less ponderous by reducing the number of its members from 57 to 15. One of those members would be "a person employed in the public service of Canada to represent the Government of Canada".

The bill would also create two advisory committees: the provincial-territorial advisory committee, whose Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson would sit on the council, and the standards development organizations advisory committee, whose Chairper-

son would sit on the council. Provincial and territorial representation would thus be assured by the first of these new committees and representation of expert bodies by the second.

Eleven other people representing the private sector, including non-governmental organizations, would sit on the council, for a total of 15 members.

I think it is important to support Bill C-4 for three main reasons. First, the bill is designed to improve the operation of the Standards Council of Canada, a federal agency. Second, the bill is designed to promote economic growth by eliminating pointless irritants. And finally, Bill C-4 would help to pave the way for a flexible, efficient and viable partnership between Canada and Quebec.

These reasons deserve closer examination. First, the bill id designed to improve the operation of the Standards Council of Canada. Bill C-4 is designed to make the council less ponderous and more functional. This is a very important process. The federal government machinery is imposing, weighty, often not very efficient, and prone to expensive duplication.

The federal government machinery is omnipresent in the Canadian economy and often hampers economic growth by legislation or regulations that put a brake on, or put obstacles in the way of, economic progress.

In this context, measures designed to improve operations are always welcome. All taxpayers will benefit in the long run. The agencies and enterprises that do business with the federal government will also benefit.

Lastly, since governments are constant targets for criticism, the fact that the federal government wants to introduce some real changes may well make the public's view of it more favourable, and fairly quickly, too.

The end result will be the development and maintenance of functional, productive and viable relations between the government and the various components of our society.

Second, promoting economic growth. The importance of Bill C-4 lies in the status and mandate of the organization whose operation it is designed to improve. The standards council plays a key role in regulating economic processes. Its role is to promote voluntary standardization by industry; that is the very core of its mandate.

It would be difficult to argue that standardization does not matter. Without it, the propensity toward diversification characteristic of market economies would in the context of vast trading networks cause an immense variety of problems for the various transactors.

Apart from wasted resources, increased costs and consumer dissatisfaction, both domestic and foreign trade would be seriously affected. Scarcity of resources and the principles of rationalization and efficiency demand standardization. Standardization means fluidity, efficiency and effectiveness in trade. Standardization means the elimination of brakes on trade and of obstacles to trade.

Four factors militate in favour of standardization. First, the fundamental dynamic of the economy-the interdependence of trade, competitiveness, productivity, growth and employment. Second, the age-old dependence of the Canadian economy on raw materials: although the service sector has been developing steadily in Canada over the past 30 years, too many of our raw materials are still not processed in Canada, even now.

Third, the context of globalization in the framework of NAFTA and trade with other countries of the world. Forth and last, the trend toward forming local, national and international partnerships.

The principle of voluntary standardization is at the heart of Bill C-4. This key aspect of the standards council's mandate relies on promotion of voluntary standardization being done by industry stakeholders themselves. Encouraging stakeholders to adopt standards on a voluntary basis has obvious advantages.

This approach assumes that each sector knows itself, its products, its needs and its stakeholders. It uses a consensus approach, which minimizes government intervention and control. In the circumstances, and given the council's role and mandate in improving efficiency, this is an approach we support.

The third element I wanted to discuss is the implementation of a Quebec/Canada partnership. This is the third reason for our support of Bill C-4. We believe that very soon now, Quebec will have achieved sovereignty and, as it committed itself to doing in the agreement of June 12 of last year among the Parti Quebecois, the Action démocratique du Québec and the Bloc Quebecois, it will negotiate an economic and political partnership with Canada-essentially because Quebecers want to maintain a shared economic sphere, and stable, productive and viable political relations, with Canada.

From this perspective, Bill C-4, like Bill C-19 implementing the Agreement on Internal Trade, constitutes in our view an important step toward making such a partnership possible.

In both instances, an effort is being made to improve and consolidate government agencies that will be better able to serve our Canadian friends and that will be indispensable in negotiating the new partnership.

To sum up, our support for Bill C-4 is based on the three reasons I have discussed: it should improve the way the Standards Council of Canada, a federal government agency, operates; it should encourage economic growth; and it should help to lay the groundwork for a partnership between Quebec and Canada that will be flexible, effective and viable.

We hope that our future Canadian partners will understand that we are looking forward in all good faith to these improvements in federal political institutions.

In conclusion, I would like to add that the bill does not in our opinion seem to pose any major problems. The council's structure would be changed, and to a slight extent its powers, while the way it operates would be made less ponderous. The provinces and territories would drop from 12 representatives to two, but their proportional representation would be just the same. In addition, the proposed provincial-territorial advisory committee would give the provinces and territories the opportunity to make their voices heard.

Standardization is voluntary. This is simple common sense, as the economic sectors or companies that decide not to go along are penalizing themselves at a time when trade is so important, both within Canada and in North America and the rest of the world.

Given the increased trade among the provinces of Canada, between Canada, the United States and Mexico under NAFTA and soon with South America as well, and ultimately with the whole world, standardization will eventually have to be adopted by all parties. This is the only logical conclusion for those who want to trade.

Standards Council Of Canada Act
Government Orders

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Philip Mayfield Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak at third reading of Bill C-4, an act to amend the Standards Council of Canada Act.

To begin thinking logically about this subject, two questions need to be considered: What are standards and what role do standards play in Canadian society?

Standards reassure consumers that products and services will work as they are described and as they are supposed to work. They also inform consumers about manufacturer tests for quality and safety and guarantee that human and environmentally safe production techniques have been used in all manufacturing processes.

For example, standards tell Canadians that hockey helmets will not break when players are in a collision on the ice. They tell Canadians that an electrical cord is safe to use and will not spark a fire. Standards tell Canadians that their TV reception will not go fuzzy when they turn on their sets. Indeed, standards ensure Canadians that products and services provide a level of quality on which they can rely.

Standards also play an important role in national and international trade. If a manufacturer in Canada makes a product that does not meet the standards required by another province or another country, it will not be allowed to ship or export that product to the desired destination.

In fact, some countries use unique product standards as artificial trade barriers to restrict foreign imports. It is important, therefore, for Canada to encourage national and international co-operation in the development of common standards.

In that regard, Canada's trade agreements, NAFTA, GATT and the internal trade agreement, prohibit the use of standards as trade barriers.

The development of the Standards Council of Canada reflects the importance the Canadian public places on standards. Established in 1970 as a crown corporation, the Standards Council of Canada promotes voluntary standardization in Canada and encourages international co-operation with our trading partners and standards organizations. It also oversees the Canadian standards system which consists of organizations that write standards, certify products and services, tests and calibrates, and registers standards.

The bill before us today changes the form and function of the Standards Council of Canada in several ways. First, it expands the current mandate of the Standards Council.

Second, Bill C-4 reduces the number of council members from 57 to 15 and adds necessary qualifications for the private sector representatives.

Third, Bill C-4 changes in the English version the titles of the president and vice-president to chairperson and vice-chairperson respectively.

Fourth, it specifies the duties of the chairperson.

Fifth, Bill C-4 establishes the provincial territorial advisory committee and the standards development organizations advisory committee.

Finally, Bill C-4 specifies that meetings of the council and its committees may be held through electronic means.

These are changes to the Standards Council of Canada Act that the Reform Party of Canada supports.

Let me discuss just a few of these proposed changes. First, the expansion of the Standards Council of Canada's current mandate means that it will include all areas where standardization is not already provided for by law. It will involve more Canadians in standards activities. It will oversee the national standards system. It will foster quality, performance and technological innovation in Canadian goods and services through standards. Finally, it will establish long term objectives and strategies.

These changes increase the competitiveness of Canadian industry. Let me explain why. The current role of the Standards Council relates to the maintenance of the national standards system. The Standards Council does not develop or promote a national strategy. This puts Canada at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis other countries, as Canada is one of just a few G-7 members that does not have a national standards strategy.

For example, Britain, Germany and France have well established strategies designed to support their industry both domestically and internationally. Often representatives from Canadian steel companies find that potential customers from around the world want to purchase steel according to German standards, an indication of how well the Germans have promoted German products and German standards throughout the world.

British industry improved the image of its export products by complying with international standards for quality labelled ISO 9000.

Japan currently provides assistance to many countries in order for them to adopt national standards based on its system of standards and as a result Japan acquires a competitive advantage.

The United States also aggressively promotes its standards internationally, even though it has not formed a formal national strategy.

A Canadian national standardization strategy would go a long way to support and help build Canada's commercial competitiveness abroad. Other countries would be encouraged to develop our system of standardization and we could gain more credibility by having Canadian industry accredit themselves with ISO 9000.

Renewing the Standards Council of Canada mandate to establish long term objectives and strategies is an important step to increasing Canada's international competitiveness. It is important that the Standards Council does not develop its strategies in secret.

Bill C-4 gives Canadians this commitment. It states that more people will be involved in standards activities. I remind the Standards Council to make sure it consults small and medium size businesses and implements their views in planning national standards strategy. Their interests must not be neglected as they have been in the past by this Liberal government.

Changes to the Standards Council of Canada membership under Bill C-4 is an important step in moving in this direction. The number of public servant members on the council will decrease from six to one. This change will hopefully make the Standards Council of Canada become more representative of Canadian industry, including those from the medium and small enterprises.

The private sector membership of the standards council will also change under Bill C-4. Private sector members would now have to represent a broad spectrum of interests and possess the experience necessary to assist the standards council in fulfilling its mandate. Hopefully the standards council will become more open, accessible and accountable to Canadians and Canadian industry under this change.

I recommend to the minister to make one change that would improve Bill C-4 in our estimation. That is to follow the suggestions made by the Canadian Standards Association and add a review clause to the Standards Council of Canada Act. The review clause would state that the act be examined on a regular basis such as five year intervals.

Since standards change rapidly in a fast growing technological and global economy, it makes common sense to review the Standards Council of Canada Act to ensure the standards council and the national standards system remain relevant to the needs of Canadian industry and Canadian society.