House of Commons Hansard #88 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.

Topics

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the official opposition's policy on bank mergers is very clear. If there is no competition, then there is no merger. On the other hand the Minister of Finance does not seem to have a policy. Why does he not admit that he is using his task force to cover up the lack of a policy? Why does he not admit that he is perfectly happy to let our big banks write the banking policy for this country? That is what he is doing.

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member ought to follow the debate in the House. We set up this task force because we very clearly understood changes would be brought in as a result of globalization and technological change. The basic questions the task force will have to answer are what impact will there be on small business, how will consumers be protected, how will rural communities be affected, what impact will this have on competition, what will happen to our current employees. These questions are the reason we set up the task force.

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister has lots of questions but he has no answers. He is the minister. He is supposed to have some answers.

The country has been waiting since last year for this government to open up the banking industry to real competition, yet the government delays. Why the delay? Why is the government delaying bringing in legislation that would provide competition for consumers and businesses in Canada? He promised the legislation. Where is it?

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the question one has to really ask is to what extent will foreign competition provide new bank branches in rural Alberta, to what extent will foreign competition provide bank branches in rural Ontario. The real issue is why is the Reform Party fronting for the big banks; in one mandate, in one year, from Medicine Hat populist to Bay Street populist.

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week, the CIBC and Toronto Dominion banks announced their intention to merge, as did the Bank of Montreal and the Royal Bank before them. These mergers are the result of market globalization.

Instead of assuming some leadership in this matter, the Minister of Finance put the federal government in a position where it is now trying to catch up to the banks and to this major movement.

How can the Minister of Finance justify the fact that his position and that of his government was not made public two years ago, when the Bank Act was last reviewed and when everyone knew that bank mergers were about to take place?

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, that is why we broke with precedents and did not look back to the past to decide about the future of our financial institutions, and why we set up the MacKay committee to review these issues. We will make a decision in due time, that is when we are ready, not when the big banks would want us to do so.

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance can say anything he wants, but the fact is that he is watching the train go by while the rest of the world is streamlining operations and has been doing so at an accelerated pace over the past five years.

Is the Minister of Finance prepared to consider the possibility that a special House committee be quickly set up to look at this merger, at its impact on workers, and also at the general attitude of the banks regarding loans, for example?

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, why do the Bloc Quebecois and the other opposition parties refuse to face reality?

I want to congratulate my Liberal colleagues for setting up a Liberal caucus committee to review these issues. I also congratulate my Liberal colleagues who have been reviewing these issues for three years, while Bloc members have been making empty speeches.

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, Clint Eastwood over there keeps looking at the issue but he does not do anything about it. We now have six big banks. We are looking at four big banks. We might go down to three big banks. How many big banks is enough competition for the minister? One? How many?

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the real issue is does the Reform Party want to sit down along with the government, along with the Canadian people, and take a look at the future of the Canadian financial institution system? Is the hon. member interested in what small consumers have to say? Is he interested in the problems of rural Canada? Is he interested in how in fact Canadian banks can turn themselves into large global powerhouses? Or does he simply want to stand up here and because a couple of banks decide to get together allow them to set the agenda?

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do want to know what small businesses are saying. I have heard what they are saying. Two-thirds of the members of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business have said that they are opposed to these bank mergers.

Why is the minister not responding to them? Why is he going to allow financing to become more difficult for small businesses, for terms to become more difficult, to choke economic growth and job creation? Whose side is the finance minister on? The side of small business or the side of the big banks? Of Main Street or Bay Street?

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, every time there is a new moon, Reform seems to change its position. If in fact that is Reform's position, then why did his leader, why did his party say that they were in favour of these mergers provided there was more foreign competition?

They had better make their minds up because the situation from this side of the House looking at them is confusing. Every time they speak it is confusing for the Canadian people.

C. D. Howe Institute
Oral Question Period

April 20th, 1998 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

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

The C. D. Howe Institute has released a study which contradicts what the federalists are always claiming, which is that the federal government is being treated by Quebec as a cash cow.

What is the Minister of Finance's reply to the C. D. Howe Institute's statement, supported by a study, that Quebec families pay $652 a year more in income tax to the federal government than they get back from it?

C. D. Howe Institute
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the C.D. Howe Institute's analysis covers less than 40% of the federal government's total cash expenditures.

According to Statistics Canada, the federal government spent approximately $3,750 more per family in Quebec than it received.

C. D. Howe Institute
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, will the Minister of Finance admit that there is an imbalance between what people are paying and what they are receiving, and that this could not be otherwise with a federal government which has imposed huge cuts on the provinces in recent years, particularly in health and education, while continuing to collect more and more tax from those very same people?