House of Commons Hansard #87 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was plan.

Topics

Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985
Government Orders

April 3rd, 1998 / 12:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

When the House broke for question period the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue had 29 minutes remaining in her remarks and she now has the floor.

Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

London West
Ontario

Liberal

Sue Barnes Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I will try to wrap it up a little earlier than the full 29 minutes.

I believe when I left off I was speaking about standardizing pension plan contracts and transferring, especially for the small employer, some plan administration responsibility to financial institutions as a cost reduction measure. The details of this regime will be introduced later through regulations.

I would like to move now to speak about reducing regulatory burden.

Under Bill S-3 the Minister of Finance would be able to enter into a multilateral supervisory agreement that is currently being developed by OSFI and the provincial pension regulators through the Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities, known as CAPSA.

OSFI has been participating in this development for upwards of two years now. By reducing the number of rules to be complied with the regulatory burden facing multi-jurisdictional plans will be reduced. This goal is consistent with the government's objective of reducing overall regulatory burden.

While a number of issues remain to be worked out it makes sense to include the authority to enter into this agreement now to make way for future reductions in regulatory burden. In drafting this package I should point out that the government reviewed legislation in other jurisdictions in order to benefit from their experience and to minimize any regulatory differences.

I have highlighted the key principles underlying the proposed legislation and now I want to turn to some of the specifics of Bill S-3 itself.

I will start with OSFI's supervisory focus, wherein Bill S-3 replaces OSFI's obligation to review all plan documents and amendments with the requirement that plan administrators certify at the time of their filing that documents and amendments meet the regulatory requirements.

This change focuses the ultimate responsibility for the plan administration where it belongs, on the plan administrators. In turn, this allows OSFI to allocate resources to solvency concerns or higher risk plans. This refocusing is consistent with the government's intention to further clarify OSFI's mandate. It must also be noted that OSFI retains the right to review documents and amendments on a case by case basis and will do so as appropriate.

As I mentioned earlier, the superintendent currently has very limited powers to take remedial actions with respect to a pension plan. Bill S-3 introduces several specific new authorities and I will only describe the most important of these.

The most significant is the authority to issue directions of compliance to plans regarding conduct which is contrary to safe and sound financial or business practices and for breaches of the act. This is similar to the power in the financial institutions legislation.

Bill S-3 introduces an appropriate due process along with the authority for the superintendent to seek a court order requiring compliance with the direction. In addition, Bill S-3 gives the superintendent the authority to attend and call meetings with an administrator or to require an administrator to call a meeting with members and other professionals in attendance.

This authority could be used when OSFI believes that the pension plan members or all the members of a particular plan's board of trustees are not fully apprised of the problem. The superintendent will also have the authority to obtain independent professional advice at the expense of the plan. Some plans routinely neglect to file reports required by OSFI to adequately monitor plan solvency. This authority will help the superintendent to have these reports prepared.

Finally, the superintendent will be able to remove an administrator and appoint a replacement when a plan is being wound up and circumstances suggest that members' interests are not best served by the incumbent.

I am going to take a minute to cover the funding rules which have been advanced under this bill.

Under Bill S-3 the superintendent must approve any benefit enhancements that reduce the plan solvency ratio below the prescribed rates or levels. This reflects the government's belief that it is not appropriate for pension plans already experiencing financial difficulties to make improvements when there is no way for the employer to increase funding.

I have received some concerns, as I am sure my colleagues have, with respect to this approach. It is important for this House to understand what concerns have been voiced and to know that the government is working to address them.

First, we want the House to realize that the concerns being raised relate primarily to the solvency threshold which plans must maintain in order to improve benefits. This bill does not specify that threshold. Those details will be provided in the regulations.

Our original white paper indicated the government was looking at requiring that plans now show a solvency ratio of 105% after an amendment, with this requirement being phased in steadily over approximately a 15 year period. Subsequently a range of experts was consulted on this proposal. Professional and industry groups and unions have pointed out that this threshold may be too high and that more flexibility is desired. Consultation is continuing on the regulation that will provide the details behind this provision while recognizing that it serves pension plan members no great service to be promised benefit improvements that cannot be delivered.

Alternatives are being considered for achieving the same result. This could involve a lower threshold accompanied by realistic commitments from the plan to fund itself in an appropriate manner. There may also be other options that will emerge as this work is further fleshed out. It should be made clear that the government will undertake considerable consultation prior to the issuance of the regulations associated in particular with this provision.

I will spend a couple of moments on the arbitration process for surplus assets. In the white paper interested parties were invited to comment on proposals dealing with entitlement to pension plan surplus assets. Many comments were received but not many concrete suggestions were made. Most comments indicated that this is a difficult area to legislate and any improvement would be welcomed.

The government believes that Bill S-3 facilitates arrangements between employers and employees concerning the use of surplus assets in two ways. It provides a lower cost alternative to going to court and it promotes an environment where employers and employees work toward a mutually satisfactory compromise.

Briefly, Bill S-3 proposes that if entitlement to surplus assets is not clearly demonstrated in the pension plan documents then the employer can propose to the employees a surplus withdrawal.

If more than two thirds of the employees consent and required solvency thresholds are met, the superintendent may approve the withdrawal. For ongoing plans, if less than two thirds but more than one half of the employees consent, then the employer can opt to seek arbitration.

Originally Bill S-3 provided that for plans being wound up if less than two thirds but more than one half of the employees consented, arbitration would be mandatory. As I noted earlier, the Senate made a few amendments to the bill, all dealing with the surplus issue. The Senate was concerned about certain situations regarding plans in the wind-ups.

From the point of view of pension plan members and retirees, the timely statement, settlement and distribution of surplus assets is a priority. We agree that this is a concern. As such, the original bill had a certain no man's land. No definitive action to deal with surplus assets or surplus was required if less than one half of the employees consented to a proposal.

The Senate passed an amendment that requires arbitration within 18 months after the termination of the plan, irrespective of consent levels achieved for any proposals. The Senate also questioned the intent of the requirement for the superintendent to approve the withdrawal. Clearly the intent is there to ensure that certain minimum solvency thresholds are maintained. Obviously the superintendent is not going to consent to a surplus withdrawal that would jeopardize plan solvency.

The Senate agreed with the intent but perceived that the original drafting of Bill S-3 provided the superintendent with pervasive scope for not consenting to a surplus withdrawal, in particular if the superintendent did not think that the deal was fair.

There was a concern that if an employer went through the rather lengthy consent and arbitration process the superintendent could arbitrarily deny the withdrawal. As such, an amendment was passed by the Senate which requires that the superintendent in deciding whether to consent to a refund must recognize the claim of the employer to the surplus or part of the surplus, as arbitrated under the provisions of the act.

The government believes that the Senate amendments fill gaps in Bill S-3, and we appreciate the additions. Other more technical amendments were also passed.

The measures in this bill are the result of a broad consultation process. When drafting this legislation the comments received on the initial proposals contained in the white paper were considered and the appropriate amendments made. Provincial ministers responsible for the supervision of provincial pension acts were also invited to comment and there was ongoing consultation among pension supervisors throughout CAPSA.

Other proposals in the white paper not addressed in this legislation will be introduced later through regulation. Areas such as additional disclosure requirements and funding rules are already dealt with through regulations, and this approach will continue.

In other cases such as planned governance and investments, the government believes it is more appropriate to develop best practices. We recognize that the size and other attributes of individual pension plans will effect governance structures and investment strategies.

Considerable additional consultation will take place prior to the implementation of these regulations and any resulting guidelines.

At this time, on behalf of the government I would like to thank the Senate and the many industry participants and other stakeholders who provided constructive and insightful advice. I can assure them that the government looks forward to additional feedback on its regulations and guidelines in the future.

I have highlighted the important issues dealt with in this legislation. Bill S-3 will enhance the stability of Canada's private pension plan regime to the benefit of plan members throughout Canada. Of that we are confident.

I encourage my hon. colleagues in the House to give speedy passage to this bill and I thank them for their attention.

Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wish I could say at the outset that it is a pleasure for me to rise today to speak to Bill S-3 but it is not. I say that not because I am particularly opposed to this piece of legislation but because I am very much opposed to the way the government has decided to introduce some of this substantive legislation through the other place.

Bill S-3, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Act, accomplishes four things. First, it enhances the powers of the superintendent of financial institutions to supervise a pension plan which includes the authority to issue directions of compliance. Second, it is designed to clarify that the office of the superintendent of financial institutions' focus with respect to the supervision of pension plans is on matters affecting the funding and financial condition of pension plans and not on reviewing the text of all pension plans and amendments that are filed.

Third, it provides a mechanism for an employer to establish entitlement to surplus assets, including obtaining membership consent and access to an arbitration process. Fourth, it authorizes the Minister of Finance to participate in agreements with designated provincial authorities respecting the application of provincial law to any pension plan that is subject to federal jurisdiction.

These changes are intended to improve the supervisory regime for pension plans under the PBSA which regulates approximately 1,100 of Canada's 16,000 pension plans. These changes also reduce the administrative burden regarding private sector pension plans and allows the office of the superintendent of financial institutions to have increased supervisory powers to take action when concern arises over the safety and soundness of a plan.

I will talk about some of the highlights of this bill under two main areas. The first area is that of administrative reductions. Under the amended bill, plan administrators will be allowed to certify that all pension plan amendments meet with the standards of the law. This is instead of the present requirement which states that each change must be reviewed and improved individually. The change will allow for greater time to be spent on other matters.

A new kind of simplified pension plan is also created under Bill S-3. In this plan a small employer can use a standardized plan text administered through a financial institution such as a trust company. This is designed to permit defined benefit plans to be extended to small employers who were formerly frozen out of offering such plans due to the high administrative costs involved in creating a customized plan. This will be an added bonus for these small businesses. This bill will allow employers to act as administrators for plans established under collective agreements.

The second area is increased supervisory powers for the office of the superintendent of financial institutions, OSFI. There are several increased supervisory powers for OSFI. Most of these changes will allow the office of the superintendent of financial institutions greater powers.

Some major changes include the following. The superintendent will have the right to call meetings with plan administrators or to force administrators to call meetings with plan members to discuss problems. The office of the superintendent of financial institutions may enforce changes to a plan before the plan faces bankruptcy. Under existing legislation the superintendent has only two options, to close the plan down or to let it run.

Changes in this bill would also allow the OSFI to expect that the administrator of a plan would use such techniques as diversification and match assets to liabilities to avoid risks. The OSFI may issue directions of compliance, a kind of court order, to prohibit certain actions on the part of individual plan administrators. The OSFI will be given the powers to remove administrators and replace them with a court appointed administrator when a plan is being wound up. The OSFI will also be given the power to administer a new set of rules requiring that surplus assets in the wind-up of a plan will be distributed fairly and in an open manner. A vote must be held among plan members to determine how the surplus will be distributed. In principle I support the bill, as does the official opposition. However, there are some serious concerns regarding how the bill came before us today and I mentioned that at the outset.

The bill was introduced and passed by the Senate of Canada and is before us today as the sober second thought before the bill is passed and given royal assent to become law. It is ironic that a bill of this nature, one which would normally be introduced in this place and then sent to the Senate for final approval, is brought here by the very place that is to provide a second look at legislation normally.

Our House leader, the member for Langley—Abbotsford, raised a question of privilege on this very issue because of the nature of this place. Three of the five political parties did not have the opportunity to discuss the bill in the first instance in the other place. The hon. member also argued that a similar bill, Bill C-85 introduced in the 35th Parliament, received royal assent and did not this time. There were also arguments made that this was a supply or in other words a money bill and we all know from Canadian history and politics courses that bills of this nature are only to be introduced in this Chamber.

The Speaker ruled this was not a question of privilege and that the bill is properly before the House now after being introduced and debated in the other place. I am not arguing with the Speaker's judgement but I am calling into question why the government would have this legislation introduced in the other place.

My main concern comes with the representation of the people of Canada. There will be several individuals affected by this legislation and my concern is why the government introduced this particular piece of legislation in the Senate, an institution that is unelected and unaccountable to the citizens of Canada.

As a member of Parliament I was elected by the people of Prince George—Peace River to represent them. My constituents, knowing their feelings regarding the Senate, an unelected, unequal and what many perceive to be an ineffective institution, would not agree with this practice. Many feel that I am their representative, not an individual appointed by the Prime Minister who may or may not serve the best interests of the province of British Columbia, depending on whether they actually show up for work.

We as the elected members of Parliament need to serve as the first voice for our constituents, not as the sober second thought of legislation. That was the intent of the other place, and so it should remain.

I agree with the intent of the bill before us today but not with the way it came to us to be debated.

Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been discussions among representatives of all parties. Some of our colleagues who would have liked to debate this subject matter are not present today but look forward to taking part when we resume the debate at a later date. This is with particular reference to the members of the Bloc Quebecois.

I think there would be consent that those who want to participate and are available for debate today do so and that when we return to this subject matter at a later date the representative for the Bloc Quebecois, in accordance with Standing Order 74, be given 40 minutes on debate if he or she so chooses.

Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, I just want the record to clearly show we have agreed to this in an honest attempt to try to keep our House working well together and I would like the record to show that the Bloc owes us one.

Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Is there agreement to proceed as such?

Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, my discussion will centre not on the bill, because by and large we support portions of the bill, but on the origins of the bill.

The bill originated in the Senate, and this is where the Reform Party has some difficulty. The Senate is unelected, unaccountable, unlike the House of Commons, and we feel bills should be originating in this House. They then should go through the other place for sober second thought. That is fine. We agree with that. However, we have major difficulty with having bills originate in the Senate

The reason we have the difficulty is the unelected and biased nature of the other place. I would like to go through the appointments the Prime Minister has made to the other place since he came to power.

There are 28 appointments and the reason I wish to go through this list is to show how biased the appointments are and that legislation originating in the other place has to be biased because of the make-up of the Senate.

The Prime Minister's appointments to the Senate were Sharon Carstairs, a former Manitoba Liberal leader; Landon Pearson, who is married to the son of former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson; Lise Bacon, former Liberal deputy premier of Quebec; Jean-Robert Gauthier, a long time Liberal member of Parliament. John G. Bryden was a candidate for Liberal leader in New Brunswick and managed the Prime Minister's 1990 New Brunswick Liberal leadership campaign. The point I am making is that these people are all very biased.

Rose-Marie Losier-Cool has no patronage connection disclosed; Céline Hervieux-Payette, former Liberal cabinet minister under Prime Minister Trudeau; Marie-Paule Poulin, former deputy secretary to the cabinet in the privy council office. These are all senators appointed by the Prime Minister.

Doris Anderson has no patronage connection that was disclosed; Bill Rompkey, former Liberal cabinet minister in the Trudeau government; Lorna Milne, former Liberal riding president and a Liberal Party worker; Joseph Landry, former Liberal member of the New Brunswick legislative assembly; Shirley Maheu, former Liberal member of this House.

Nick Taylor is a former Alberta Liberal leader; Jean Forest's patronage connection was not disclosed; Eugene Whelan, former Liberal cabinet minister under Trudeau; Leonce Mercier, Quebec Liberal organizer; Wilfred Moore, no patronage connection; Lucie Pépin, former Liberal member of Parliament.

Catherine Callbeck is former Liberal premier of Prince Edward Island; Sister Peggy Butts, no Liberal connection that we could find; Fernand Robichaud, former Liberal MP in the government; Marisa Ferretti Barth, no connection; Serge Joyal, former Liberal MP and prominent Liberal backroom fellow. Thelma Chalifoux has no patronage connection; Joan Cook, failed provincial Liberal candidate and loyal Liberal worker; Archibald Johnstone, no patronage connection.

The last appointment which raised a lot of concern in this House and across the country was Ross Fitzpatrick, prominent B.C. Liberal organizer and golfing buddy of the Prime Minister. In fact, he is a former business associate of the Prime Minister.

The point I wish to make is that 20 of these 28 appointments have blatant Liberal connections. Any bill that originates in the Senate, as Bill S-3 did, and then comes to this House by definition has to be biased.

What these appointments demonstrate is that the Senate is not working and it needs to be reformed. The Senate was set up by the Fathers of Confederation to represent the provinces. That was the original intent of our Senate. Quite clearly from the list I have just read, the majority of senators appointed by the Prime Minister represent not the provinces they come from but the Liberal Party, the party of the Prime Minister.

Again, that is the concern we have with legislation that originates because it is by definition biased. The bill we largely support but we do not support the process. The process is flawed and any bill that comes through the Senate should be looked at. By definition, a money bill cannot come through the House but other bills we feel should originate with all of us who are elected, accountable.

If we go back to our constituents and they do not like what we have done, we will not be elected in the next election. That is accountability. There is no accountability in that other place. By definition we feel all bills should originate in the House.

Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, I ask my colleague to comment on the distribution of the members of the Senate in terms of how many there are from each province relative to the population of British Columbia and so on. I think he is aware of these numbers and he could enlighten us as to how well the Senate does in representing the different population areas of the country.

Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the opportunity to expand on the numbers in the Senate.

When the Senate first started and the country was small, between Upper and Lower Canada or Ontario and Quebec there were 24 senators each. The maritimes have 30 collectively. Where it falls apart is west of the Ontario border because instead of each of the western provinces being given a number of senators equal or in comparison to the other provinces that were already in, the four western provinces got only twenty-four senators, in other words, six for Alberta, six for B.C., six for Manitoba and six for Saskatchewan.

This is a major discrepancy and it is something that will take constitutional change. For example, electing a senator does not take constitutional change. That can be done as was shown with Senator Stan Waters. The difficulty in the numbers is what is going to take quite an arm wrestling match because there is a disproportionate number across the country.

Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, Bill S-3 proposes to update the Pension Benefits Standards Act, a law through which the federal government supervises private pension plans.

Canada's system of retirement income has three pillars. The first pillar is the basic old age security paid to all seniors together with the various supplements paid to low income seniors. This first pillar will soon be undermined by the proposed seniors benefits which will result in effective marginal tax rates approaching 70% for some seniors from the combined effect of existing tax rates and the 20% clawback on family incomes above $26,000.

Retirement savings experts are already telling middle income Canadians over the age of 50 to be wary of savings in RRSPs because what they save now will be most likely eaten up in higher taxes later. This creates a direct disincentive for Canadians to do what is right and that is to save for their own futures and for their retirements.

The second pillar consists of the employment based Canada and Quebec pension plans. Under the government's reforms to this pillar Canadians will have to pay more to get less.

The third pillar includes retirement savings such as RRSPs and employer pension plans. The government has moved to restrict access to RRSPs by freezing contribution limits and forcing seniors to mature their RRSPs two years earlier.

The legislation deals with the other part of the third pillar, employer pension plans. Most employer pension plans are governed by provincial law, but 500,000 Canadians belong to the 1,000 plans that fall under federal law.

Ten years ago the Progressive Conservative government overhauled the Pension Benefits Standards Act, the law that covers those plans. Significant changes were made to the minimum standards that plans must meet in areas ranging from survivor benefits to information disclosure. The bill before us updates that act.

The goals of the bill are to improve the way that plans are governed, to improve Ottawa's ability to step in when plan administrators do not appear to be following sound financial practices to set up rules for the withdrawal of pension surpluses. It will also allow Ottawa to enter into supervisory agreements with provincial regulators through the Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities.

Unlike other recent changes to our system of retirement savings, the only parts of the bill to generate even minor controversy are the provisions that pertain to the withdrawal of pension surpluses. Pension fund managers are concerned that the surplus and the wind-up provisions in the bill are weighed heavily against employers.

However, the bill is not particularly controversial. There has been some controversy over the introduction of some government bills in the Senate, a practice which has fallen into disuse in recent years.

Without getting into a debate on Senate reform, if bills are to be introduced in the Senate, Bill S-3 is especially the kind of bill on which the Senate can do solid work before sending it on to the Commons. This is particularly the case given the combination of the technical nature of the bill, the expertise of those on the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce in the area of corporate governance and the non-partisan spirit of co-operation with which members of this committee approach such legislation.

To not optimize the collective skills, wisdom and experience of these senators is an affront to the Canadian taxpayer. We do have a Senate. The senators on this committee have demonstrated prowess, ability and expertise in these areas. I would remind my colleagues in the Reform Party that to not optimize this expertise would be denying Canadian taxpayers another level of deliberation on this type of important legislation.

It is an approach that we could use here from time to time when we look at legislation, especially legislation affecting areas of corporate governance where there is a significant amount of institutional knowledge in the Senate.

The Senate banking committee has made six substantive amendments as a result of the testimony it heard from officials and from outside witnesses. The Senate amendments further clarify the rules to be followed when an employer wants to withdraw from the pension surplus. It struck a provision that would have given the Superintendent of Financial Institutions the ability to decide if a particular allocation of a surplus was fair, as the issue of fairness should be left to the employees and employers to be settled, not to a public servant.

It also improved a process for allocating the surplus in cases where a company goes bankrupt or winds down. It is very important that we protect individuals when a company is faced with the types of dramatic downsizing and corporate readjustments that have occurred over the past few years. The legislation will help improve that process.

Those amendments were developed by opposition and government members in the Senate, working in a spirit of co-operation with the officials. A spirit of co-operation might be something that we should try to duplicate in the House periodically when we are working on legislation as important as this legislation.

At the end of the process finance officials conceded that the bill had been improved by the contribution of the Senate. Our colleagues in the other place have done well on this rather technical bill. That does mean that we do not have to do our work or that we do not have further work to do.

I look forward to the committee examination of the bill and to further improving it through contributions by the House.

Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Reform

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask a question of my colleague who just spoke.

As I understand it, the opposition which my colleagues made to this was the fact that the issuance of the bill that came from the Senate was in violation of Standing Order 80 that says:

All aids and supplies granted to the Sovereign by the Parliament of Canada are the sole gift of the House of Commons—

Section 53 of the Constitution Act provides that only the House of Commons may table money bills. It goes on to say that bills which require the expenditure of public funds or invoking a tax or an impost. That means fines, levies, duties and penalties. These bills are totally out of order with Standing Order 80 and run opposite to section 53.

Does the member agree that these bills should not originate in the Senate but should come from here first?

Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, the hon. member would seek to deny Canadians the benefit of the expertise of the Senate on this type of legislation. As a parliamentarian I am quite proud of the spirit of co-operation and the level of expertise that benefited Canadians through the work of the Senate on the legislation. I work alongside senators to provide the good representation Canadians deserve.

Senate reform is another issue. It is arguable that there needs to be some significant Senate reform. It was under a Conservative government that Stan Waters was elected as a senator. While there is a need for Senate reform in the interim we need to maximize both houses. This may mean that some legislation will periodically be introduced in the Senate where more substantive, non-partisan co-operation and expertise can benefit Canadians before it reaches the House.

Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Madam Speaker, I will follow up on the issue raised by my colleague. The member rightly points out that there are some very fine, dedicated and capable people serving in the Senate. We could all wish they were more democratically chosen but that does not necessarily reflect on their abilities. That is a good point.

However we have a different problem. We have an issue that lies at the heart of democracy. In a democracy it is the people who rule. When decisions are made with respect to spending their money, shaping their future and ordering their lives, should it not be the people through their elected representatives who bring those measures forward? If we are to endorse a situation where the other place—

Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I am afraid I have to interrupt at this point. The question of what emanates from the Senate is a question for the Senate and for the House. As far as the bill being receivable in the House is concerned, the Speaker has already ruled on that matter.