House of Commons Hansard #164 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was competition.

Topics

Broadcasting Act
Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

One moment. We will check the lists.

Unfortunately, the mover of an amendment is considered to have spoken on the amendment. It is unfortunate, particularly on this last sitting day it seems, but after consultations, I have to inform the hon. member that he is not entitled to speak once more on the amendment.

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Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Gaston Leroux Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, is it because I moved the amendment?

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Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It is indeed because the hon. member moved the amendment.

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1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am astonished at what we heard from the parliamentary secretary, the government member, since many organizations have told us that the amendments and legislation will duplicate a provincial act, that we already have legislation to deal with this and that in any case, people do not want it.

When he says the Bloc Quebecois is acting against the interests of Quebecers on this issue, I think the hon. member is very much mistaken and we will be able to prove that daily during the election campaign. It certainly cannot be said that the Bloc Quebecois has failed to defend the interests of Quebecers in this House. The party critic was very vigilant, ensured that the province's jurisdiction would be respected and that substantive issues were given due consideration.

This bill as presented by the current majority is totally unacceptable, and we will do everything we can to prevent its passage. We believe this bill is anti-francophones. It will contribute to the assimilation of francophones in Canada, and it would be misleading to claim this is not so. We will vote against the amendment and the bill because to us they are unacceptable.

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Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

London West
Ontario

Liberal

Sue Barnes Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, this issue of billing in a certain manner was the number one issue in London West as far as responses or input directly from constituents were concerned in the whole time of this Parliament to date. I think the number two issue was quite a bit behind that.

People were not lobbied in my riding to phone in or write in about this issue. This is something that genuinely affected them in their pocket books and they felt very strongly about it.

I can remember two Christmases ago being in my riding a couple of days after Christmas and the phone calls coming in. I had to keep emptying our telephone banks and resetting them.

This is an important matter for a lot of my constituents. It is not an important matter only in London West. It is an important matter across the country.

I am a little concerned and confused by the Bloc's continued attack on the consumers across the country who are concerned about negative option billing. Bill C-216 would protect consumers in all provinces, wherever there are cable companies.

This negative billing practice in essence requires people to pay for specialty channels without being able to say they want these options and they choose to pay for them. I have always resented any practice which assumes I want a product by not responding. This is the type of marketing that I know suits mass industry because of the volume. Most people maybe do not pay attention to the fine print as well as they should, but we should not punish them for not doing so. We should protect them in a manner that they can give an informed consent, which the majority of the population is capable of. I believe in those choices.

There has been a Senate amendment to this and now the Bloc is rallying to protect the cable companies which will be the main beneficiaries. It will not be the average Canadian. The Bloc has allied itself with the big business and special interests in this area. I feel strongly that the French language is protected in the bill as amended by the Senate.

There are people in this country who struggle to pay their bills every month. I think the Bloc would be wise instead of trying to talk about only part of the issue to consider the consumers in Quebec and protect them, as is their obligation in Parliament.

Many people have spoken against the bill, one being a strong lobbyist and former member of this place. When there are paid

lobbyists on one side of the argument, they are going to oppose the bill because that is their job. That is the position they are supposed to be stressing as strongly as they can.

I cannot argue against someone doing their job. I can just say there is the position of the lobbyist and the position of the consumer.

Consumers have contacted my office in my riding, as I am sure they have contacted the offices of members of the Bloc.

The cartoon channel which is at the centre of this issue is not going to be the only channel. There will be others. What is at risk here is full consent, informed choice. In my early training informed consent was an important principle. It is one that maybe does not go well with the concept of mass marketing.

However, as a representative of my riding I listen to the people and I have considered the bill and supported it at second reading.

I Know it is the intention of Bloc members to run out the debate. I want to put on record that there are a number of people in the House from a number of parties who want to support the bill because they are responding to their constituents. I do not see anything wrong with that position. I know other issues have to be considered but I certainly would not support anything that I felt would inhibit the French language in this country. I believe very strongly in official bilingualism. I believe very strongly in learning to speak French and I support that principle. To me that is the red herring in this debate.

I have spent time in this Parliament trying to learn the second language. This is not a French-English debate, it is a consumer debate. The consumers would very strongly wish to have a choice in how they spend their money and have their choices spelled out to them and then choose to pay for the channels they wish to have. Negative option billing is something I cannot support on a mass scale. It is a practice. Cable company representatives spoke to me after this happened in my riding and they said that they would never be doing this again. I do not think there is a lot to fear from this point.

I know the clock is ticking and I want to put my support on record. If there were a vote in this House I would support the bill.

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Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

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Some hon. members

Question.

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The Deputy Speaker

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

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Some hon. members

Agreed.

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Some hon. members

No.

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The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

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1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

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Some hon. members

Nay.

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The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen: