House of Commons Hansard #195 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.

Topics

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

moved that Bill C-55, an act respecting advertising services supplied by foreign periodical publishers, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, only a few moments ago in this House we prayed for guidance in our deliberations. There is probably no better place where that guidance should be applied than in the government's law on magazine publications.

This is a critical decision for future generations and the vote which we will undertake in a couple of days will really chart a path for the future of the country.

In order to carry out our responsibility to the Canadian public, the Government of Canada introduced a law on advertising services provided by foreign periodical publishers.

What members of the House will be voting on is not about bound sheets of papers. It is not about a business interest. It is about the capacity of future generations of Canadians to have a chance to tell their stories.

We will be voting on an important expression of our culture and how we define ourselves as Canadians going proudly into the 21st century.

Some would have us believe that our magazines, our music, our films, our books are just about making money. They are wrong. They are about culture. Magazines, books, movies are vehicles for transmitting the intangibles that are the essence of a civilization: ideas, values, perspectives and the ability to see and celebrate our own experience and the experience of others.

Let me be very clear. Bill C-55 is not about building walls around Canada. Bill C-55 is not about keeping out the ideas and the expressions of other nations. Bill C-55 does not in any way limit access to American magazines or the access that Canadians have to reading those magazines. What is at issue is not newsstand space for foreign magazines. What is at issue is ensuring that Canadians continue to have access to stories that reflect their country and that they continue to have access to a genuine Canadian lifeline.

This legislation will allow future generations to have a choice. This is about choices, including Canadian choices, a choice of reading articles that reflect our culture and who we are. Canadians not only have the right to protect our cultural identity, we have the duty to do so.

In these past months some have alleged that we have not played by the rules. Nothing could be further from the truth. In August of last year Canada complied completely with all aspects of the World Trade Organization ruling on Canadian periodicals. We acted to repeal Tariff Code 9958. We moved to amend the Excise Tax Act. We altered the administration of the postal subsidy and we lowered the postal rate for foreign magazines.

Bill C-55 complies with the letter and the spirit of all our international obligations, our Canadian rights, and, more importantly still, our commitments to the future of our own country.

Bill C-55 is a well considered measure intended to meet a very difficult challenge. It focuses on a very specific commercial activity. It contains absolutely up to date provisions on the application of the law. In fact, over 100 laws contain similar provisions.

A measure of the balance of Bill C-55 is reflected in the fact that it has received the support of four of the five parties in the House.

I know that my colleague Suzanne Tremblay, who gave a lot of consideration to—

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. minister knows she is to refer to other members by their riding and not by their surname. I know she will comply with standing orders in that regard.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Sheila Copps Hamilton East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Rimouski—Mitis could not be here today, but I know she has given the matter careful consideration. I simply wanted to add her voice to that of all the other political parties, the New Democratic Party, the Progressive Conservative Party, the Bloc Quebecois and the Liberal Party.

What counts is that, when we look at the policies of all the governments since Confederation, establishing structures to protect our culture is not a partisan thing.

Successive governments have understood the delicate balance needed to build a nation. Conservative governments and Liberal governments, supported by members of the opposition, have historically and continue to understand that as a nation we reserve the right to protect our culture. That has been well understood by parties which recognize that when we share the world's longest undefended border with the most powerful nation in the world, when most of us live only 100 kilometres from that border, when most of us share the love of the movies and magazines that come across that border, the challenges those things represent for our children must be balanced in law.

The average Canadian child will spend more time watching television than they do in a classroom, an average of 23 hours a week. Part of the role of government is to make sure that when they are watching television, when they are reading books, when they are perusing magazines, when they are experiencing films, they have choices that include the choices of their own country. That is what this legislation is all about.

Canada has played by the rules. We ensure that the legislation protects the interests of all magazines that are currently publishing legally in Canada.

Over and over again we have shown our willingness to listen. Over and over again we have demonstrated friendship with our American neighbours, but we maintain respect for our cultural sovereignty. The approach we have taken to this bill is fair. Canadians appreciate and understand fairness.

Almost all political parties have expressed support for this bill because they understand that for us to survive as a nation we need to have national leadership in areas of cultural diversity and cultural respect.

The support of those who work in the community, in every single magazine organization across the country, those who are at the front end of delivering Canadian content, support and understand why we have taken these measures.

For more than 100 years successive governments of different political stripes have ensured that policies are in place to respect diversity of expression. We need Canadian ideas, Canadian information and a Canadian point of view.

These policies have been balanced to create a market for American cultural products that is the most open market in the world.

The government spends an enormous amount of time on this matter. I think in this House alone we have had more than 50 people who have risen to speak to this matter.

We considered the legal, the cultural and the trade aspects of the issue. We weighed a host of possibilities. We thought long and hard about the cost of taking action and the greater cost of doing nothing.

What cabinet approved was a viable solution to meet the needs of Canadians to defend our culture and to meet the desire of Canadians to respect international law and to fulfil our international trade obligations.

To those opposite who are wringing their hands, saying “Do something else”, where are the options that they can provide? In reality, do something else means do nothing. Quite frankly, doing nothing is not an option and has never been an option.

Successive governments of different political stripes have always acted when Canada's cultural identity is at stake. Our cultural wealth and diversity is not an accident of the marketplace. It is not simply an issue of consumers. It is the result of a deliberate commitment to provide a healthy public space for our own voices.

There is also a larger purpose. Culture is a reflection of our society. It is our window to the world. It is also a reflection of our soul and the way we see ourselves as citizens of the world.

Canadians value our cultural sovereignty and will not allow any other country to tell us what legislation we can or cannot pass. That would be abdicating our rights as a sovereign nation.

Then there are those critics who say “This is no big deal. There really is no risk”. Imagine if the roles were reversed. What if over 80% of the magazines on American newsstands were Canadian? What if Canada said “That is not good enough. We want it all”. They would scream blue murder from Waikiki to Wall Street to Washington.

The United States has a huge cultural presence in our lives. That is a fact. No matter how challenging, Canadians will continue to carve out our space for the diversity of Canadian stories and the reflection of our culture. That too is a fact of life.

To use an analogy that I think the Americans will understand, let us reflect on Borg in Star Trek trying to turn everyone in the universe into one grand mass, one huge brain, one completely dominant culture. The Borg says “Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated”. I am here to tell members that resistance is not futile and that Canadian cultural diversity will not be assimilated.

Then there are those who say we are just against American culture. That is plain ridiculous. We fully appreciate the many wonders of American culture. We watch TV shows. We go to Hollywood movies. We read American magazines. All we want to ensure is that there is room for Canadian voices in Canada and around the new globalized world.

It is okay for Canada. It is okay for the United States. We expect the United States to act in its own interest, but it is equally okay for us to act in our interest.

I would like to come back to an important point. Canada is, and continues to be, the world's most open country when it comes to foreign cultures. Some people are concerned that the government wants to ban American magazines. That is not the case. We simply wish to stop the American practice of dumping and siphoning off Canadian advertising revenues.

One party opposite raises the issue of free speech. I agree. The legislation is about free speech and freedom of expression. It is about Canadians having the choice to speak to each other through Canadian periodicals. It is about ensuring a magazine industry which allows for freedom of Canadian expression. It is about making sure that hundreds of scholarly magazines, religious magazines, farm magazines and economic magazines do not disappear. It is about ensuring the survival of magazines full of Canadian commentary, editorial slants and letters to the editor. In short, Canadian content.

Certain justice loving Canadians have said that Bill C-55 could do enormous harm to Canadian advertisers. The truth is that Canadian advertisers will continue to do business in an environment that is almost the same. In this regard, the bill changes nothing.

Certain Canadians who are not opposed to the bill in principle are worried about its possible repercussions and cost. They feel that we should not step in to help the Canadian periodical industry for fear of raising American ire against too many other Canadian industries.

I want to repeat it in English because I think a member opposite made reference to it. Some people say we should do nothing because the stakes we are facing in other industries, and in particular the steel industry, are higher. To do nothing would be to lie down to the schoolyard bully. To do nothing would set the stage for a regime where no international laws are respected. To do nothing would say that might means right. To do something firms the right of the steel industry, the right of the plastics industry, the right of the agricultural industry to play by fair international rules.

What we understand and respect is fairness. We believe in the final analysis that our American friends will also respect that fairness.

If we withdrew every time Americans got annoyed, we would be the laughing stock of the United States—

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

An hon. member

And of the whole world.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Sheila Copps Hamilton East, ON

—and of the whole world.

I understand why businesses are concerned. After all, the proposed retaliation of $3 billion is a reflection of what I would only characterize as the reaction of the schoolyard bully.

The cultural stakes are huge but the economic stakes in no way reflect that figure. No American will ever lose a job as a result of this measure. Not a single American will lose a job as a result of this measure.

I repeat, not a single American will lose his job because of this bill. Not one. Yet American trade representatives are getting ready to put Canadian jobs at risk with their policies.

The United States must surely appreciate that no democratically elected country could allow itself to be blackmailed into submission. The disagreement over magazines is in fact a reflection of a larger challenge. While acting to safeguard our culture through this measure, we are also determined to pursue a new set of international trade rules that respect culture.

Culture is not a commodity like other commodities. We need to come to a global agreement that recognizes the unique role cultural diversity must play in the state of nations. It will not be easy but Canada can and will play a leadership role in pushing for new rules on which to seek world respect for cultural diversity.

The point of all our efforts is simple. It is to guarantee that in the global world we continue to have shelf space for our own stories. Bill C-55 is about acting in support of cultural sovereignty.

Bill C-55 embodies the cultural sovereignty we are claiming as a country.

It is about acting on behalf of Canada. It is about standing up for our children. It is about ensuring that there will be an exciting array of Canadian magazines for our grandchildren to read. It is about guaranteeing that no foreign conglomerate, from no matter how powerful a nation, can get away with dumping product on to the Canadian marketplace.

I am counting on parliament to pass the legislation despite the threats. Parliament always has and always will stand up for Canada.

In closing I would like to quote a citizen of the world who really put the message in a way that I think everyone will understand and appreciate:

I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the culture of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.

That message came from Mahatma Ghandi. That message is as relevant in the House today as it ever was.

The legislation is about ensuring that in the world of nations there is space for every nation and there is room for every nation. That is what the legislation will guarantee and protect.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Reform

Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There are a number of questions we in opposition would like to ask the minister relative to Canadian job losses and U.S. sanctions. I seek unanimous consent of the House to ask the minister questions for 10 minutes.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the House give its consent that there be a period of questions for 10 minutes following the minister's speech?

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Reform

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will use up my 40 minutes. I am very pleased to speak to the bill today. The bill is not about Canadian sovereignty. We already know that we are a sovereign nation. The bill is about putting Canadian jobs at risk. If I had the opportunity to ask the minister, the question I would ask is whether she could assure the country that thousands of Canadians will not lose their jobs if the U.S. retaliates.

Reform opposes Bill C-55, unlike all other parties in the House. I have waited patiently for five days to speak to this bill. Time allocation was invoked this past Monday. It is ironic that even though the amendment by the minister was not debated we still voted on that amendment on Tuesday. I guess that is the way things work in the House.

First let me address the issue of time allocation before I make some comments on the minister's amendment which we should have debated in the House this past Tuesday. For the 49th time the government invoked time allocation. It is becoming a habit of the Liberal government. I remind members of the government what they used to say about time allocation or closure. I will quote a few of the members from Hansard .

In October 1989 the member for Ottawa West was quoted in the Toronto Star as saying:

This government had shown it has no respect for the public process, no respect for parliament and no respect for the opinions of the public.

The current House leader thought differently of time allocation when he was in opposition. He said:

—I am shocked.... Perhaps I should not be shocked.... This government has used closure on dozens and dozens of occasions. This is just terrible. This time we are talking about a major piece of legislation.... Shame on those Tories across the way.

That was in the November 16, 1992 edition of Hansard .

My last quotation in reference to closure was by the current Minister of Foreign Affairs in an article in the April 1, 1993 edition of Toronto Star in which he said that it:

—displays the utter disdain with which this government treats the Canadian people.

Let me speak to the amendment which the House did not have the opportunity to debate. Reform does not support the amendment to Bill C-55 put forth by the Minister of Canadian Heritage. This amendment is redundant. What does the amendment change? It changes absolutely nothing so it was unnecessary.

The actions taken by the government are contradictory if we examine them closely. On the one hand the Liberal government is calling for time allocation and trying to fast track the bill. At the same time it is putting forth an amendment to slow down the process at the implementation stage. Talk about mixed messaging.

What does the government really want? Are members opposite not convinced about the bill? Does the government not have any faith in Bill C-55? What does the government want in reference to Bill C-55? Does it mean the government wants to leave it on the shelf after it passes both houses? If that is the case why is it invoking time allocation and fast tracking it through? It is indeed a strange and unusual way to pass legislation.

By fast tracking Bill C-55 the government is sending a strong message to the United States that it is ready to risk a real trade war. Will the third reading have any effect on today's negotiations to avoid a trade war? I hope the government knows what it is getting into.

Peter Foster in the March 10 edition of the Financial Post gave a very accurate account of what is currently happening. He said:

What is really going on at the political level is a gigantic game of chicken. Politicians are merely revving their engines and trying to look as determined as possible while facing each other from opposite ends of the trade drag strip.

Who will be the real causalities if the U.S. retaliates? The real casualties will be the working people of this country, real Canadians, real Canadian jobs: jobs in Hamilton, jobs in Montreal, jobs in Toronto, jobs in Windsor and jobs in other parts of Canada.

Reform is not willing to put thousands of jobs of Canadians at risk. Therefore the Reform Party is the only opposition party that opposes Bill C-55. As members have heard from the minister, the government is trying to wrap itself around Canadian culture, Canadian sovereignty and the Canadian flag in defence of Bill C-55.

Canada is a sovereign country. Bill C-55 is not about protecting Canadian culture. If we examine Bill C-55 closely, it is really about putting Canadian jobs at risk and putting Canadians out of work. We have already heard that retaliation may amount to $1 billion to $4 billion. How many jobs will that be?

Bill C-55 had a terrible beginning. The publishers were consulted by the government but the other half of the industry, the advertisers, was not. From the very beginning the industry was divided and it continues to be divided to this very day. Publishers support Bill C-55 and the advertisers oppose it.

The government should take Bill C-55 back to the drawing board. It is poorly put together.

Another glitch we discovered this past week is the impact Bill C-55 will have on other ethnic split-runs in Canada which the ministry knew nothing about. It was too busy concentrating on American split-runs. The department does not know how many international split-runs are currently operating in Canada. This bill is so broad that it may affect numerous magazines already in circulation in Canada.

On that very note, I want to clarify some things that were said in Monday's question period. I pointed out to the heritage minister that her magazine bill, Bill C-55, would shut down the Chinese language World Journal and Ming Pao magazines. In her response, the heritage minister claimed that both magazines would be grandfathered and therefore unaffected by Bill C-55.

The grandfathering clause, clause 21 of Bill C-55 requires that a publisher “lawfully supplied such advertising services during the year before the day on which this act is introduced in the House of Commons”. The real question is did World Journal and Ming Pao magazines lawfully supply advertising for the Canadian market? The fact is they did not lawfully supply advertising for the Canadian market.

During the February recess the heritage committee travelled throughout the country listening to Canadians on the subject of culture. We tried to answer the question of what is Canadian culture. I was present at a meeting in Montreal. An interesting discussion took place between two well-known Canadians, Robert Pilon and Pierre-Marc Johnson.

Mr. Johnson stated that the history of Canada has shown that we can compete. Satellites of today are opening doors to everyone in the free world. Globalization will impact on everyone. There is no way of isolating oneself to this changing world. Mr. Johnson went on to state that he was all for openness and that “we as Canadians need the same openness in other countries. We need both work and trade openness in cultural goods. We need cultural products from the rest of the world. We need to move from defence to offence”. What does that really mean? In other words, let us promote our culture around the world instead of trying to protect our culture.

The heritage minister needs to heed the advice of the defence minister. In a speech delivered January 27, 1997 the defence minister said, “Perhaps in a new digital world, policies of cultural promotion make more sense than traditional policies of protection”.

I would like to read the concluding paragraph from an article entitled “Advertising Canada's Culture: Why the New Policy on Magazines Is Not Up to the Task” from the C.D. Howe Institute:

Canada should vigorously defend its right to promote its culture through subsidies, tax breaks, and sensible content requirements and definitions aimed at ensuring the continued availability to Canadians of products from their own culture, and, in general, a fair competitive environment for domestic cultural productions that are demonstrably of special value to Canadians. Canada should also insist that government policy be able to treat magazines containing Canadian stories aimed at Canadians differently in certain respects from those produced for a foreign audience. But by clinging to measures that increasingly restrict access to information, that threaten Canada's commercial interests, and that possibly accelerate, rather than prevent, cultural assimilation, the federal government instead risks taking Canada down a path toward poorer cultural and economic health, and is diminishing the chances of arriving at a negotiated agreement with other countries on the proper line to draw between free trade and culture.

I say again, Bill C-55 takes us down that path toward cultural assimilation.

I would now like to tell the House what Canadians are saying about the heritage minister's magazine legislation. I will quote from an Ottawa Citizen article written by Chris Cobb on January 13:

Deputy U.S. trade representative Richard Fisher gave notice to Canada's ambassador in Washington on Monday that the U.S. would target the country's steel, wood and textile industries if Canada goes ahead with the new magazine law.

This is from an article written by Peter Morton in the January 12 National Post :

The U.S. has raised the stakes in its battle with Ottawa over so-called “split-run” magazines by expanding its list of threatened economic reprisals to include Canadian steel, textiles and clothing worth billions of dollars.

This is from the Canadian Press on January 21:

The president of Canada's second largest steel company has asked the federal government to kill its “split-run” magazine legislation, the CBC reported Wednesday. John Mayberry, president of Hamilton based Dofasco, wrote to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and three of his key ministers saying he fears the legislation would damage his steel company. Steel exports to the U.S. account for 10% of Dofasco's sales, according to the letter. Mayberry is also concerned sales to the U.S. based car manufacturers, which also have production in Canada, could be hurt. “I appeal to you to stop this bill immediately”, Mayberry says in the letter.

From the Ottawa Citizen of January 13, “Do the bidding of Canadian media giants, Rogers and Telemedia”.

From the National Post , January 12:

Don Belch, vice-president of government affairs at Stelco Inc., said he is not surprised that Canadian steel ended up on the list because it has such a high profile. Canadian steel exports to the U.S. through September last year totalled about $2.8 billion.

From the January 22 Globe and Mail :

Last week a top U.S. trade official warned Canada that the United States will slap sanctions on Canadian exports of steel, wood products, plastics, and textiles and apparel if the magazine law is enacted.

Many of the targeted companies, including Hamilton based Dofasco Inc., have complained loudly to Ottawa that the legislation is needlessly putting them at risk. And, they want the government to back off before the United States hits back with punitive tariffs.

In the January 12 National Post :

Sergio Marchi, the trade minister, told the Ottawa Citizen over the weekend that the government is interested in negotiating with the U.S., but still has no intention of withdrawing the legislation.

“If you want to retaliate, you might just as well do it now” he said. “Don't wait because we ain't yanking the bill.

From an article written by Chris Cobb in the January 13 Ottawa Citizen :

The U.S. trade official accused the Canadian government of doing the bidding of Canadian media giants Rogers and Telemedia, who are at the helm of an inefficient industry that does not want competition.

There are some recent articles. There was an article written by Robert Fife in the National Post on March 8:

Roger Gallaway, a Liberal MP from Sarnia, Ontario, says he will abstain because 40%—

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member knows that even when quoting somebody, he cannot use the name of a member of this House. He must refer to the member by name of the constituency or by title. I know he would want to comply with the rules. This is the second time this morning. I do hope that hon. members would avoid this misuse of the rules. I think he means the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Reform

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, I shall refrain from using the member's name. Anyway, we know who he is and I will continue. He says that he would abstain from the vote because 40% of Canada's $5.9 billion plastics industry is in his riding—that is a lot a money—and that 85% of the goods are exported south of the border. He is also concerned about aspects of the bill that limit Canadians' rights to advertise in whatever publication they choose. This is a quote from him:

It is telling people how they can spend their money. I think there is a dangerous step there in terms of freedom of speech and quite frankly I don't think telling people how to advertise is going to influence what Canadians read anyway.

This quote is from a March 11 article written by Rosemary Speirs:

A few Liberal MPs are starting to get cold feet, notably the member for Hamilton West, normally a staunch supporter of the heritage minister, but like her, a representative of Hamilton's threatened steel industry.

The trade minister is said to be anxious, behind his bold front in public.

I will continue with the same article.

After she left the environment ministry, the heritage minister watched two of her previous attempts to stand up to the Americans—her ban on the gas additive MMT and her moratorium on the cross-border transport of PCBs—go down to humiliating reversals.

We know that has cost taxpayers a huge sum of money.

This time however, the Prime Minister appears to have dug his heels in. He is no doubt aware that the whole Canadian cultural community is anxiously watching the magazine precedent.

The last article I will read is from the March 11 Ottawa Citizen , by David Warren. The concluding paragraphs read:

Though a mindless torpedo to our actual interests, Bill C-55 makes sense as a party power play. The Liberals are trying to preserve a Canadian media establishment beholden for its survival to the Liberal Party. Even if they can't possibly succeed, they want to be seen helping their old reliable friends.

The Liberals get their moment of seedy rapture, wrapping themselves in the red Canadian flag. We get to pay for it.

Let us look at the realities of Canada. We all know that Canada's beginnings were with trade. Remember the Hudson's Bay Company. Over the years and still today our economy is fueled by trade. We have heard often that 83.5% of all goods and services produced in the country head south. It is a fact that our economy is directly linked to the U.S. economy, whether we like it or not. That is a reality check.

To support this position I would like to read parts of a speech given by our international trade minister to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. This took place on February 9 this year.

I quote the Minister for International Trade:

We live in exciting times. Around the world, trade barriers are falling down, opportunities are opening up and the possibilities for Canadians to create better lives for themselves and for their children are greater than at any time in our history.

Technology is collapsing distances, and there is an ever-smaller distinction between international and domestic markets. We are able both to buy from and sell into markets that had previously been closed to us.

For a trading nation such as ours, these developments are to be welcomed. They provide Canadians with rewards for their labour, markets for their products and hope for their future.

First, we have benefited from liberalized trade because our economy is so dependent upon trade. In fact, we depend more upon trade for our prosperity than any other G-7 country.

Forty per cent of our GDP and one in three Canadian jobs depend upon our ability to sell our goods and services abroad.

Between 1992 and 1996, our exports grew roughly four times faster than our GDP. Due in no small measure to this performance, the Canadian economy created more than 1 million new jobs—450,000 last year alone. The connection between our trade figures and our employment figures could not be clearer.

There is a relationship between trade and job creation according to the international trade minister. I continue from his speech:

This is something that we need to stress. Trade is not an abstraction. It produces real jobs for real people and is not just happening on the international stage—it is happening locally, in our communities and in our neighbourhoods.

As a result of earlier rounds of trade talks, we have opened our economy and enhanced our opportunities. And, as country that depends so heavily upon trade and investment, we have benefited from more open markets.

He made one more key point:

The real challenge in trade policy, therefore, is not protectionism versus liberalization—closing or opening our borders—but to recognize our interconnectedness and learn to manage our national differences.

Canada stands today as a trading powerhouse at a time when the world is embracing freer trade as never before. We are in the right place at the right time, and our future has never been brighter.

By experiencing firsthand the benefits of trading abroad, many of the concerns about liberalization are put into perspective. And far from seeing trade liberalization as something to be feared, Canadians have come to see it as something to be embraced.

We can see that our international trade minister understands trade, what an open door policy is all about, what promotion is about rather than protection. Like most Canadians, he knows our economy is based on trade. That is what Bill C-55 is about. It makes no sense. It takes a protectionist approach. I cannot understand why the trade minister has defended Bill C-55 in public. Defending Bill C-55 contradicts his position.

At a meeting I asked the international trade minister if his department had done a risk assessment on this bill. Of course I did not get an answer. Knowing what he does I find it hard to believe this government would not do a risk analysis to consider the potential outcome if the Americans retaliate. In essence Bill C-55 is not about culture protection. It is anti-free trade and it puts Canadian jobs at risk.

I would like to examine some of the myths we have heard from across the way about Bill C-55. The first myth I would like to dispel is that Canadian magazines do not want subsidies. The fact is the Canadian magazine industry receives a postal subsidy of almost $50 million annually, a significant portion of which goes to Rogers and Télémédia, the dominant Canadian periodical publishers. Another fact is that Canadian magazines effectively offer their advertisers a taxpayer funded 45% discount through section 19 of the Income Tax Act.

Myth number two is that U.S. magazines crowd out Canadian periodicals. Often heard is the statistic that foreign magazines capture 80% of the news stand space. This figure reflects the fact that English language Canadian magazines do not rely on news stand sales to generate revenue. Of the top 28 Canadian based English language magazines, only 5% are distributed through news stand sales, 59% are distributed through controlled circulation, with the remaining 36% being sold through subscriptions.

The third myth is that Bill C-55 is needed to protect the Canadian magazine industry. The fact is that a study commissioned by the federal government revealed that small Canadian niche magazines are not vulnerable to competition in a deregulated industry.

Another fact is that Canada's two dominant periodical publishers, Rogers and Télémédia, are large, immensely profitable corporations as evidenced by both their financial statements and their massive Bill C-55 lobbying effort and ad campaign.

In 1997 the magazine publishing arm of Rogers, a $2.6 billion conglomerate, generated operating profits worth 10.4% of revenue while Télémédia, for the nine month operating period May 31, 1997, had operating profits of 11.7% of revenues.

The fourth myth is without Bill C-55 a flood of U.S. split-run magazines will swamp the Canadian market. The fact is that since October 1998 Canada has had no law prohibiting split-run magazines. Yet not a single split-run magazine has entered the Canadian market during that time, at least the ones the government knows about.

The fifth myth is that split-run magazines will discount advertising rates to scoop up advertisers who would otherwise be forced to use Canadian magazines. The fact is Bill C-55 permits Time Canada, a U.S. split-run magazine, to operate in Canada. Far from scooping Canadian advertising revenues, Time Canada charges higher advertising rates and carries fewer advertisements than its major Canadian competitor Maclean's . A comparison of Time Canada and Maclean's reveals that many companies place the same advertisements in both magazines.

Another fact is that magazine advertising as a percentage of total advertising has declined from 11% to 6% over the last 30 years. These advertising revenues have not been scooped by split-run magazines. Rather, advertisers have switched to other media because of a lack of appropriate Canadian periodicals to reach their targeted market.

As a study commissioned by the Canadian government concluded, the major reason for the underdeveloped state of magazines in Canada is lack of available advertisers, titles and little or no Canadian title coverage for many editorial segments. The advertising community will avoid recommending the magazine medium if lack of advertisers and available titles prevents proper execution of plans.

The last myth is that Bill C-55 complies with international trade rules. It is a fact that it does not comply with trade rules.

Bill C-55 is not just about advertising. It is about magazines. Bill C-55 discriminates against foreign magazines, contrary to previous World Trade Organization rulings. It is as simple as that.

The question is why are these publishing giants crying poor while spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to push Bill C-55 through parliament instead of exploring viable alternatives.

There is no doubt that the two trades are heading closer and closer on a collision course. I have been told that negotiations are occurring as we speak.

To put this in perspective, I want to read two letters for the record to illustrate how serious this matter is and to show that Bill C-55 may launch Canada into a trade war with the United States.

The first letter comes from the United States Senate committee on finance dated February 5 and written to Charlene Barshefsky, the United States trade representative.

The second comes from the committee of ways and means of the House of Representatives dated February 9 and written to the Canadian ambassador to the United States, Raymond Chrétien.

I wonder if reading the letters now is a good thing considering we are almost at 11 o'clock.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member will have six minutes if we interrupt at this point in his speech, which the Chair is prepared to do. Perhaps we will call it 11 o'clock and start with Statements by Members. The hon. member can resume his remarks after question period.

Justice
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, Paul Gervais is a child molester and pedophile. Yesterday an Ottawa area judge handed him conditional sentencing for molesting nine teenage boys. These boys will be scarred for life by the horrible acts Mr. Gervais committed. Mr. Gervais, on the other hand, is home free.

That is an affront to all victims of sexual abuse. It is a terrible insult to the children Gervais attacked.

Violent offenders and sex offenders should never, under any circumstance, be given conditional sentences. Before criminals, particularly violent ones, choose to commit a crime they should know they will be dealt with strictly by the law.

We as lawmakers have a responsibility to build and protect the justice system which at the very least does two things, protects victims and deters criminals. The victims in this case have been victimized twice, once by Gervais and once by the courts.

I call on all members of the House to show their compassion and exercise their authority to put an end to conditional sentencing.

Poland
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Stan Keyes Hamilton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, 10 years ago Canada and Poland belonged to opposing military blocs, deploying millions of troops on the two sides of the Berlin wall. Today in a ceremony in Independence, Missouri, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic will make their formal entry into NATO.

Ten years ago the obstacles Poland had to face in the dawn of the post-cold war era seemed insurmountable. Polish citizens had to virtually undo 40 years of history.

Poland is today a perfect example of a thriving and effective democracy. Poland is leading by example in the transformation to free markets among the emerging nations of eastern and central Europe.

Canada has long recognized the potential of the citizens of Poland. Poland is now our most important trading partner in central Europe. Two way trade between our two nations now stands at over $311 million annually, more than double what it was just six years ago.

The over 800,000 Canadians of Polish origin join me in welcoming Canada's newest ally. We commend this government for ensuring that Poland takes its place among the NATO group of nations.

Chris Full
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Parrish Mississauga Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank one of my constituents, Mr. Chris Full, who donated two weeks of his time to review the reconstruction of a sanatorium for children in Vladimir, Russia.

At the invitation of the Canadian Volunteer Advisors to Business he used his skills and Canadian experience to identify and correct mistakes in the design of this facility. He also produced a business plan for completion of the project as well as recommending a list of reliable Canadian suppliers for medical and diagnostic equipment.

Chris is typical of the highly skilled volunteers who donate their time to the Canadian Volunteer Advisors to Business which provided almost 23,000 days of assistance last year to developing nations, emerging market economies and Canadian aboriginal communities. Their volunteers are part of Canada's effort to stimulate development in disadvantaged economies.

Once again I want to congratulate and thank Chris Full for efforts that will improve the lives of children in Russia.

Learning Disabilities Awareness Month
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month, a time when we can come together to focus, direct and strengthen the efforts of all Canadians toward meeting the needs of persons with learning disabilities. These needs include access to education, employment and social development.

It is ironic that the government of Ontario will allow school boards to cut funding for special education by closing schools and denying those with learning disabilities the chance to learn.

This constitutes a violation of their basic and fundamental human rights.

I call on the province of Ontario to do everything it can to keep schools open and provide the proper funding in order to do the right thing for the most vulnerable in our society.

National Kidney Month
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Réginald Bélair Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the month of March has been designated National Kidney Month. During this month, the Canadian Kidney Foundation will once again focus its efforts on raising Canadians' awareness of the importance of organ donation. The kidney is a vital organ. A person whose kidneys have failed must undergo dialysis or a kidney transplant.

More than 20,000 Canadians suffer from kidney disorders. For many, the only option is a transplant. Unfortunately, there is a serious shortage of organs available in Canada for transplant.

I encourage all members of the House and all Canadians to sign an organ donor card and to tell their families of their decision.

Please join me in lending support to the Kidney Foundation of Canada during National Kidney Month.

Endangered Species
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, Endangered Species Day just past, and yet an environmental holocaust is taking place. Every day two to three species of animals, plants and fish become extinct. They are lost forever. The Bengal tiger, the black rhino, the cheetah and, closer to home, the eastern cougar and Vancouver Island marmot are on the brink.

Thirty-four thousand species of flora and 1,100 species of birds are on the brink of extinction. One-half of all species will disappear in the next hundred years.

Canada does not have an endangered species act to penalize offenders and enforcement officers are understaffed.

There are solutions. In South Africa an ambitious program to marry private interests and public interests has saved dozens and dozens of species, expanded habitat and improved biodiversity. We need to look at this model to save the species in our country.

If we save these species we will save ourselves. If we do not, we will surely meet the same fate and we will become Homo sapiens, the exterminator.

Business Investment
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, as hon. members know, under the leadership of the Prime Minister and as a result of the work of the finance minister, Canada has been getting the economic fundamentals right. Just how right and how good Canada's brand name is was once again demonstrated by the release yesterday of an international cost comparison study conducted by the management and consulting firm KPMG.

This international study compared data on typical costs of doing business for nine industry sectors, including manufacturing and service operations in 64 cities around the world located in the G-7 countries and Austria.

The KPMG report is good news for Canada as it demonstrates that among the eight countries Canada offers the most cost effective locations for new business investment. The challenge now for all of us is to spread this good news message to business communities around the world. Fortunately we have a tremendous product to sell.

Bill C-68
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, this Thursday I met with five angry police officers. They are angry because federal funding cuts are imperilling essential police services while hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to implement Bill C-68. They are angry because the money already wasted on a registry of personal firearms would have been more than enough to upgrade the vital CPIC system.

They are angry because the closure of the RCMP training depot in Regina, even if it is only a temporary measure, guarantees that the force will continue to be short-staffed for years to come.

They are angry because underfunding of forensic services means that laboratory results which used to be available in a matter of days now take several weeks.

They are angry because in addition to diverting vast sums that could be used to fight crime, the firearms registry is generating public ill-will which hinders the ability of officers to do their jobs.

Camille Laurin
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, the man who came to be known as the father of Bill 101, Camille Laurin, has passed away after a long illness.

Mr. Laurin did much to enrich Quebec politics. With him, people knew what the sovereignist movement was all about.

As a kind of socio-linguistic therapist, his desire was to make not only Quebec but all of Canada aware of our special position in North America. He knew how to make political choices and stick to them, and contributed greatly to enhancing the worth of the French language.

We respectfully salute the accomplishments of Dr. Camille Laurin, and offer our most sincere condolences to his family.

Social Policy
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Louise Hardy Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, we are told the United Nations deems Canada as being one of the best countries in the world in which to live and the best for food, but not for the aboriginal people living either off or on reserve, not for the poor and not for those living in isolated northern communities.

These are the people who are paying the cost of this Liberal political agenda. The deregulation of airlines and forcing Canada Post to make money has forced up the price of goods in northern and isolated communities. Abandonment of social housing has left off reserve aboriginals to die in the garbage dumps and on the main streets of this rich country.

We expect this government to make Canada the best place for all our citizens and to put homes, health and justice as high on its agenda as it puts the giant world of business.

Canadian Economy
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is good news about the economy this morning.

Statistics Canada announced that the number of jobs increased in February, which means that we are still on the road to economic recovery.

These results follow seven consecutive monthly increases and they bring to 1,620,000 the number of new jobs created in Canada since we took office in 1993.

The unemployment rate remained unchanged from January, at 7.8%. This is the lowest rate since June 1990. It should be noted that we are talking about an increase in the number of full time jobs here.

In short, Canada is well managed. The federal government's economic and financial policies are working. Results clearly show that we must stay on this road to economic growth.

Big Brothers And Big Sisters
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, today I rise in the House to pay tribute to Big Brothers and Big Sisters organizations across the country, and in particular in my home riding of Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough.

It was with great honour that I was chosen to be the honorary chairman of the annual bowl-a-thon in my riding that took place last weekend, which raised over $38,000. Similar events took place across the country.

I am very thankful for my experience as a big brother with Matthew Jardine. For many years volunteering my time to this organization was an important event in my life. In return, Big Brothers and Big Sisters organizations have given me a great sense of community and pride.

Being a big brother is probably one of the most positive experiences a person can enjoy. I feel tremendously rewarded by having been involved in this program.

Today I urge all hon. members of the House to donate time and, where appropriate, money for this worthwhile program. Big Brothers and Big Sisters enriches the lives of all those who choose to make the commitment to be a big brother or a big sister. In this day and age, with so many people facing challenging times, particularly young people, having a stable influence in their lives and a person who cares is what is so unique and fantastic about these organizations.

My main hope is that more people will become involved in Big Brothers and Big Sisters so that the number of organizations will grow throughout the country for the benefit of all those involved.

I wish Big Brothers and Big Sisters continued success as they enrich the lives of so many.

Violence Against Women
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphan Tremblay Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, let me read into the record the opinion of an author quoted by Justice L'Heureux-Dubé, who overturned an Alberta court judgment acquitting a person accused of sexual assault.

One of the myths about rape is the idea that women dream about being raped; that even when they say no, they mean yes; that any woman could fend off a rapist if she really wanted to; that women often deserve to be raped because of their behaviour, the way they dress or their attitude; and that it is worse to be raped by a stranger than by an acquaintance.

As members know, this ruling was the subject of much discussion. However, you will agree that, discuss as we may, the distress of sexual assault victims can never be adequately expressed.

On this International Women's Week, we must take a long look at our collective responsibility regarding violence against women.

The controversy surrounding the Ewanchuk ruling must not obscure the primary message sent by the supreme court on February 25, namely that “no means no”.

Employment
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Sophia Leung Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to share with members of the House the recent Statistics Canada figures for employment.

In October 1993, when the Liberals formed the government, the unemployment rate in my province of B.C. was 9.4%. It is now 8.1%, a reduction of 1.3%. It is clear that job creation is a priority for this government.

Statistics Canada has reported that national unemployment is only 7.8%, which is an all-time low since 1990. This is good news for Canada and for British Columbia.

The United Alternative
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

John Finlay Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, here are the top 10 reasons Liberals love the united alternative: No. 10, seeing John Crosbie at another united alternative convention; No. 9, maybe it will convince the Leader of the Opposition to get a new haircut; No. 8, seeing Reformers fighting amongst themselves; No. 7, more page 1 stories about missed phone calls between the Leader of the Opposition and Joe Clark; No. 6, the sight of the official opposition admitting it can never hope to form a government; No. 5, Reformers begging separatists to join; No. 4, more watering down of Reform blue book principles; No. 3, a wedding proposal and a wedding date, and the Tory bride says no to both; No. 2, we Liberals love seeing Reformers living alternative lifestyles; finally, the No. 1 reason Liberals love the united alternative is that its preordained failure will guarantee a third consecutive Liberal majority government.

Camille Laurin
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, we were struck yesterday by the news of the death of Dr. Camille Laurin.

Sovereignists in Quebec have lost a great leader. His masterpiece, Bill 101, lives on and will long ensure the development of the francophone society in Quebec.

I had the pleasure of sitting next to Dr. Laurin in the Quebec National Assembly between 1981 and 1984 and I recall him as a very cultivated, determined and humanitarian individual, always ready to listen to and support his colleagues.

Passionate about the French language, he has carved himself a place in history with his remarkable work to protect it.

All of Quebec today mourns the loss of this remarkable man. PQ supporters are profoundly affected by his departure, and I would, on their behalf and that of my colleagues, offer my deepest sympathies to those close to him.

Angelo Mosca
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Stan Keyes Hamilton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, with the indulgence of this place may I take just a brief moment to recognize the presence in the Speaker's gallery of football hero, Hall of Famer, former Hamilton Tiger Cat great, generous Hamiltonian and a Canadian by choice, Mr. Angelo Mosca, along with his wife Helen, son Nathan and son's friend Stephanie.

Young Offenders Act
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, seven years ago in Courtenay, B.C., six year old Dawn Shaw was brutally raped and murdered. Her 15 year old killer, Jason Gamache, was a repeat sex offender.

Not even the RCMP were aware of Jason's history of child sexual assault because the Young Offenders Act forbade professionals treating a young offender from discussing the case in public. He was prohibited access to children, but because of the YOA nobody knew about his record. He lived next door to a school and was babysitting Dawn Shaw the night he killed her.

In the new legislation, the public must be made aware of repeat sexual offenders like Jason Gamache if we are to protect our children. We must ensure that the new YOA is drafted to protect our children, to punish the offenders and to make public the names of the offenders and the details of the offences. The new YOA, as presently drafted, does not address these points.

Young Offenders Act
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Gordon Earle Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, yesterday new legislation concerning young offenders was introduced. There was concern expressed about offenders younger than the age of 12 being lost between the cracks with respect to receiving opportunities for rehabilitation.

The minister pointed out that these children would not be lost but would be caught up in the social services and mental health systems. I certainly agree that these would be the appropriate systems for dealing with these young children rather than the criminal justice system.

However, I would strongly urge that the federal government, if it is serious about children, ensure adequate funding for the social service and mental health system so that these young children are not simply dumped on an already overburdened and underfunded child welfare system.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, in one single day Alberta did what the federal Liberals have refused to do for the last six years.

In yesterday's budget Alberta cut taxes deeply and raised health care to record levels. The federal Liberals have done the opposite in the House. Their taxes are at a record high and they have beaten our health care system into submission.

What is the junior finance minister's excuse? Why can the rest of Canada not have the kind of low taxes and strong health care that Alberta has?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member must have been dreaming about the new reformatory party he wants to create when the budget was read. If he had paid attention to it, he would have realized that the government is committed to bringing in over $16 billion in tax relief for Canadians over the next three years.

He should be getting up today and praising us for this, as well as for the fact that unemployment remains at the lowest rate this month in the past nine years. It is the eighth consecutive month of employment growth. Why does he not get up and recognize that? That is something important for all Canadians.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, maybe we should put up somebody from that side who knows what he is talking about.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

The Speaker

I urge the hon. opposition House leader to be very judicious in his choice of words.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be judicious, okay.

One of the smartest things about the Alberta budget yesterday was that it removed any tax discrimination against stay at home parents.

What is so embarrassing for the Liberals is that in order to give families this fairness Alberta had to break away from the federal tax system altogether. It has set up a completely separate, discrimination free tax rate of only 11%.

Will the junior finance minister over there, now that Alberta has spelled it out for them, remove all discrimination from the federal income tax system too?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, in spite of difficult fiscal circumstances we have recognized the need to support families with children.

This is why in the last budget there was $213 for a single earner family in the child tax benefit. This is why we have increased the child tax benefit by $2 billion, to a total now of $7 billion to support families with children.

As we move ahead with further tax cuts it is important to recognize whether we will have across the board tax cuts or whether we will target our tax cuts to particular family situations or a combination of both.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting over here. Alberta is dealing with a surplus, the same as the federal government, and yet Alberta comes up with the answers.

Let us look at what it has done. Alberta ended anti-family tax discrimination. It lowered taxes for everyone. It moved to a simple single tax rate of 11%. It outlawed bracket creep taxes and it increased health care spending at the same time. That is the modern, smart way to run a government in 1999.

We know the junior finance minister's view of stay at home parents is stuck in the 1970s, but why is his tax system stuck in the 1970s as well?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have in my hand a report from the Ottawa Citizen datelined Edmonton which says that the proposals in the Alberta budget are such that they “delay major breaks for taxpayers well into the next century”.

Furthermore the report says “poor economic performance could scuttle the proposal. The province's failure to increase total revenues by $1.6 billion by 2002 would delay all the tax changes, possibly putting them off indefinitely”.

We want tax relief for Canadians now. They are getting it now, not like in Alberta—

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Dewdney—Alouette.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Grant McNally Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister offers doom and gloom about Alberta. It is Alberta that is taking action instead of lip service when it comes to substantive tax relief. In one day it provided tax relief for everyone. In one day it ended tax discrimination against stay at home parents and in one day it reduced its tax system to a much simpler system, and it did this while it increased health care spending.

What is the Liberal excuse today for not cutting its punishing taxes in the exact same way?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, on this issue we have seen from the Reform Party three different proposals within one week.

They range in cost from $4.5 billion a year to $56 billion per year, and not one of its proposals does what it purports to seek, that is tax equality among one and two earner families with children at home.

This is why we cannot afford to make tax policy on the fly. This is why we have referred it to the finance committee for sober and reasoned consideration.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Grant McNally Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party believes in tax relief for everyone and Alberta proved that can be done in a single day.

It is this government that is stubborn and that refuses to provide that substantive kind of tax relief. It continues to pick on stay at home parents with kids. It continues to pick on low income families. Eight hundred thousand Albertans will not be paying provincial tax yet the federal government will continue to wring taxes out of those people.

The working poor are left alone by the Alberta tax man. Why does the federal government not do the exact same thing?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the finance critic for the Reform Party in his questions yesterday showed that the Reform Party's priority was tax relief for billionaires. Our priority is tax relief for all Canadians.

The hon. member has not dealt with the report in the Ottawa Citizen which states that “in the Alberta budget says any tax relief is conditional upon achieving certain economic goals and that if they are not achieved, then there is no tax relief and any changes are put off to the next century”. I dare the member to answer that question.

Cultural Diversity
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Canadian Heritage sees herself as the defender of Canada's culture, but once again, as we have seen this week, she says one thing and does another.

What credibility does she have to claim to properly represent Quebec in cultural terms, when she belongs to a government that is doing everything to diminish Quebec's place internationally and when she goes along with that?

Cultural Diversity
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is important that we continue to work together. It is also important internationally that there respect for a nation's sovereignty.

Cultural Diversity
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Canadian Heritage keeps repeating wherever she is that Quebeckers have nothing to fear, that they will have all the room they need to grow within the Canadian family. That is what she says.

And yet, once again, together with her government, has she not underscored the huge difference between word and deed and that her remarks are completely devoid of meaning?

Cultural Diversity
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, we have a policy on sound recordings that the Bloc supports. We have a copyright act the Bloc Quebecois supports. We have final debate today on Bill C-55 in order to protect Canadian publications, with the support of the Bloc.

Therefore, our action promotes the growth of cultural diversity in Canada, supported by the Bloc.

Cultural Diversity
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week the attitude taken by the Minister of Canadian Heritage concerning Quebec's presence at the meeting on cultural diversity sent a clear message to Quebeckers on how she views Quebec's international role.

Has the Minister of Canadian Heritage not demonstrated very clearly that, if Quebeckers are to take what they consider to be their legitimate place internationally, they have no choice but to become a sovereign country, or in other words to assume sole responsibility for their relations with other countries in the world?

Cultural Diversity
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois is constantly making the point that we must respect constitutional divisions between federal and provincial jurisdictions.

Under our constitution, jurisdiction over international matters belongs wholly to the federal government, and this is the position we always take. If the Bloc Quebecois wants to respect constitutional jurisdictions, it cannot have it both ways.

Cultural Diversity
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, when speaking of areas of jurisdiction, in my opinion culture is a provincial jurisdiction.

With the efforts being expended by the federal government to restrict the presence of Quebec on the international scene to the strict minimum, how can the Minister of Canadian Heritage make any claim to defend the distinct cultural nature of Quebec better than a sovereign Quebec would?

Cultural Diversity
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we always work to help the province of Quebec develop, particularly in the area of culture.

International matters, under our constitution, fall under federal jurisdiction. That is not hard to understand. I wonder why it is so difficult for the Bloc Quebecois to grasp this. It is constantly calling for us to respect federal jurisdictions in other areas. As I have already said, it cannot have it both ways.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, we were told at the recent united alternative conference that the most popular slogan was “PM for leader”, but it was not referring to the Reform leader; it was referring to the finance minister.

We saw Reformers drooling over the Liberal's recent budget. Now we see the finance minister flirting with the flat tax.

Will the government assure Canadians that in his bid for Reform affection the finance minister will not turn his back on progressive taxation?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, I think an even more important question that we have is with the endorsement of Stockwell Day by members of the Reform Party.

Does that mean that they will support him for leader of the united alternative?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the government does not want to address the question about progressive taxation because Canadians woke up to the finance minister's statement that he would look at Alberta's flat tax with a great deal of interest.

The question is: In whose interest? It is certainly not in the interest of ordinary Canadians who would get shafted by the flat tax.

Has the government decided to turn its back on progressive taxation?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, just a few days ago the NDP, under the hon. member's leadership, joined with the Reform Party in an attack on progressive taxation.

Unlike the leader of the NDP, unlike the Reform Party, the Government of Canada is committed to principles that taxes must reflect an individual's ability to pay and that tax reductions must benefit first those who need them the most, low and middle income Canadians.

I think the leader of the NDP should be ashamed of herself for having, in a formal way through a vote, abandoned those principles.

The Judiciary
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the New Brunswick government amended its Judicature Act in order to add a second judge to New Brunswick's Court of Queen's Bench, in Campbellton. This is a strange coincidence, given that a provincial election will soon be held.

I learned today that the Minister of Justice is still not convinced that a second judge is necessary.

What will it take to convince her? That other criminals be released into the community, because of excessive delays in court proceedings?

The Judiciary
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Ahuntsic
Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I will take the question under advisement and bring an answer back to the House.

The Judiciary
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is not the first time I raise this issue in the House.

What more evidence does the minister need? The legal community of Campbellton, the provincial minister of justice, even the chief justice of the province agree that a new judge is necessary as caseloads are tripling. Women forced to leave abusive homes cannot even get a court date to have their properties and their support issues dealt with.

Will the minister announce to the House when she intends to make a decision on the request for a new judge in the court district of Restigouche?

The Judiciary
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Ahuntsic
Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I believe I have already stated that I will take it under advisement and we will bring back our response to the House.

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's changes to the Young Offenders Act were largely cosmetic. For example, the law kept the identities of convicted criminals a secret for fully 99% of all young offenders. Only the names of 1% of the most extreme criminals will have their names published.

Why does the new act still hide the identities of youth convicted of armed robbery, home invasions and sexual assault with a weapon?

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I understand the proposals which have been widely praised by people in the justice community, publication of names of anyone who receives an adult sentence will be permitted. Publication would also be allowed if a youth at large is considered by a judge to be dangerous. These are important steps forward. The hon. member should recognize this.

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately I think the Deputy Prime Minister has the wrong notes. A young person convicted of an assault with a weapon will still be released back into the community without the community knowing. A young person convicted of sexual assault will still have their identity kept a secret. These young criminals will mingle at school and in the parks without anybody knowing whatever happened.

Why does the government not think that sexual assault with a weapon or armed robbery or hostage taking during a home invasion is a serious crime? Why would we hide the identity of 99% of these serious criminals?

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Ahuntsic
Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as was stated yesterday when the minister brought forth her new youth criminal justice act, we are not the party that wants to criminalize 10 year olds and 12 year olds. Ours is a different approach. Ours is a balanced approach. We will deal with this act differently for violent young offenders and non-violent young offenders. We are talking in this act about protecting society through accountability, meaningful consequences and rehabilitation, not criminalizing 10 year olds and 12 year olds.

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Justice once again yielded in a pitiful way to the right by introducing coercive measures for young offenders, a decision that can only please hard-liners.

Will the minister admit to the House, as she did at a press conference yesterday, that her bill does not give any additional leeway to the provinces in the area of prevention or rehabilitation?

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Ahuntsic
Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as Quebec's president of the bar said, our new approach will allow Quebec to continue to do what it has been doing so far.

I should also point out that, at yesterday's press conference, the minister said that the budget of the Minister of Finance provides $206 million for rehabilitation. Let us also not forget that, every year, we have allocated $32 million for crime prevention.

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, as regards Quebec's president of the bar, I cannot wait to see the reaction of the committee of the Barreau du Québec, which examined the issue and contradicted the president of the bar.

Does the minister realize that, by toughening up the act as she did, she is putting undue pressure on the Quebec justice system, thus undermining 25 years of expertise in the area of juvenile crime?

The parliamentary secretary is from Quebec. She should speak up against her minister on this issue.

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Ahuntsic
Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, precisely, I am indeed from Quebec and I am very pleased that the legislation introduced by the minister. Apart from the president of the bar, I want to quote what Guy Cournoyer, a well known Montreal criminologist, had to say. He indicated he “would continue to develop his psychosocial approach, as opposed to the legal approach”.

This is precisely what the new bill that was introduced will allow.

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary shows certainly a knowledge of the legal system but she shows no regard for the issues the public brings forward and its concerns about the Young Offenders Act.

My question is for the parliamentary secretary. Can she tell the House why violent crimes like robbery, sexual assault with a weapon and hostage taking were left out of the new Young Offenders Act? Does she not consider these to be violent crimes?

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Ahuntsic
Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier and as the minister indicated, we are not the party that wants to criminalize 10 and 11 year olds. I keep repeating that.

Our new approach is only one piece of the whole puzzle. The Reform Party keeps forgetting this whenever it asks questions. There are other sections in the Criminal Code that take care of cases like those, not only the present legislation we tabled in the House.

Our approach, I repeat, is a balanced approach, an approach that does want to protect society. That is exactly what we are doing with this new law. We are also talking about meaningful consequence, accountability—

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Calgary Northeast.

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, it was the chairman of the Liberal justice committee who actually pronounced that 10 and 11 years olds should be brought forward as part of the Young Offenders Act, not the Reform Party.

The minister's selection of crimes to suit her purpose is a curious one. She includes aggravated sexual assault, of which there were three in 1996 and 1997, in her list of select crimes, and yet dismisses sexual assaults with a weapon, of which there were 46.

Why does the minister not think sexual assault with a weapon or armed robbery or hostage taking during a home invasion is a serious crime?

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the House will have opportunity to go into all these issues in detail.

In the meantime, according to the Edmonton Sun , Chief John Lindsay, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, said: “We see some very positive things in this new bill. We honestly think this is a more serious response to more serious and violent crime, and that pleases us”.

There is a statement from somebody who knows what he is talking about. He is the chief of the Edmonton police force in the hon. member's own province. The member ought to listen to this voice of reality, reason and knowledge.

Building Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.

Everyone recognizes the importance of ensuring the Prime Minister's safety and this is true for the secondary residence as well. What is surprising is that the work in question was done without going to tender.

How can the Prime Minister's safety be used to justify circumventing the tender process? Are we to understand that all the security features of the renovation of the Parliament Buildings, for example, could be sole sourced because the Prime Minister's safety was involved?

Building Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister built a new home and he paid for it. Also, he had his own private driveway. That is a private matter.

The RCMP is responsible for the security of the Prime Minister. It requested that this firm be hired because it was in the area and for security reasons.

Building Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about a road and a sentry box, not sophisticated security equipment such as an alarm system.

What security reason is there for sole sourcing the construction of a length of road or a shelter for police officers?

Building Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, sole source contracting is acceptable for security reasons.

As I indicated, the RCMP requested that this road be built. As I also indicated, the Prime Minister had another private road of his own. He did not need it but the RCMP requested that this road be built.

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government has allowed another sex offender to go unpunished.

Paul Gervais was convicted of sexually assaulting nine boys. He was tried, confessed and convicted. Because of a legal loophole called conditional sentencing, Gervais left the court house yesterday and went home.

How can the minister continue to defend this Liberal loophole that lets sexual predators go free?

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Ahuntsic
Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I cannot comment on the particulars of this case. I will tell the hon. member what we have already done in terms of conditional sentences.

The minister has referred the matter to the justice committee. There are cases pending before the supreme court and she awaits those decisions. She has stated in the House that if necessary she will change the law.

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it was this Liberal government under Bill C-41 that brought in this law. The Reform Party told it repeatedly to change it then, to amend it then. It would not listen.

When it comes to the use of conditional sentencing, the B.C. court of appeal has stated: “If parliament had intended to exclude certain offences from consideration, it should have done so in clear language”.

I want the parliamentary secretary to clearly answer, yes or no. Will she attempt to convince her minister that the sentencing act should be changed immediately so that violent criminals like Paul Gervais spend time in jail instead of at home?

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Ahuntsic
Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, this is another perfect example of where process is not necessary for the opposition.

We have a process. The minister has already stated in the House that she will take up the matter. The justice committee has always agreed to study it. The Supreme Court of Canada is rendering a decision. The minister has stated again and again that if necessary she will make the necessary changes.

Construction Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services has behaved imprudently to say the least in awarding a contract without tender to a contractor hired privately by the Prime Minister to construct a second residence.

My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. By giving the Prime Minister's private contractor the benefit of an untendered contract, has the Minister of Public Works and Government Services not put the Prime Minister in a situation that is awkward and embarrassing to say the least?

Construction Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in this case the department of public works received a request from the RCMP that this contractor be hired because of security reasons and because he was in the area.

Also it is important to note that this was a second road for the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister had his own private road. He did not need this road. It was the decision of the RCMP for security reasons that this road be put in.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

Concerns have been raised over the state of on reserve aboriginal housing. Poor living conditions and overcrowding problems are occurring on reserves in many parts of the country.

Will the government commit to improving the lives of aboriginal Canadians by ensuring that they have the resources necessary to meet their serious housing needs?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Liberal

David Iftody Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his interest in this very important and critical issue to all Canadians.

I am pleased to report to the House that on March 10, with national Chief Phil Fontaine, the Government of Canada, through my minister, made a announcement of an additional $20 million for housing for aboriginal people on reserve.

This responds to our ongoing commitment, our concern for our first nations people on reserve. It gives them the opportunity to live in housing conditions that are acceptable to all Canadians.

Forest Industry
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, one of the Canadian forest industry's most valued customers is the Home Depot chain of North American stores.

On March 17 Rainforest Action Network is co-ordinating a massive protest at Home Depot stores across Canada and the U.S. to urge people not to buy our old growth forest products. By definition most of the forests harvested in Canada are old growth.

Why is the minister sitting in silence while foreign lobbyists denigrate our forest products?

Forest Industry
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, Home Depot has made it clear that the company wishes to support the well managed, scientifically based certification process. In fact this is a new process that the industry is going through. This being the case, Canadian companies are well placed to continue to compete effectively in the U.S. market.

Forest Industry
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government is not taking this issue seriously. We have heard all this before. The government cannot just cross its fingers and muddle its way through. This is an organized campaign directed specifically at Canadian forest products.

Why is the minister sitting in silence while an orchestrated campaign against our number one export earner is gearing up?

Forest Industry
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the minister is not sitting in silence. The minister and the Minister for International Trade are watching these developments quite closely. They want to make sure that our products continue to have that kind of access into the United States.

This certification process is one that is new to the industry. It is one that will benefit the industry overall. We will continue to have access into that market.

Construction Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

NDP

John Solomon Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, the public contracts awarded to Renald Cloutier, the Prime Minister's personal contractor, not only were untendered, they did not follow other normal rules either.

For example, the RCMP guard post was built in November and December 1998, but the municipal building permit shows it was not applied for until after this work was done. As well, there was no environmental assessment of the road construction even though the Prime Minister's neighbours believe it could contaminate their local water supply.

Can the minister explain why these rules were broken when matters relating to the Prime Minister are supposed to bear the closest public scrutiny as his conflict of interest code says?

Construction Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell my hon. colleague that no Treasury Board guidelines were broken. Policy was followed.

What I indicated previously is the Prime Minister built a home. He had his own private driveway. He did not need this driveway. The RCMP requested the driveway be built. The RCMP requested this individual build it for security reasons. That is why it was granted.

Construction Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

NDP

John Solomon Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government and the ministers continue to insist that Mr. Cloutier was retained for his work since he was on site and met their security criteria. If security was such an important consideration in selecting Mr. Cloutier to work on the Prime Minister's home, then why was Mr. Cloutier allowed to turn around and subcontract the sensitive work to two other companies, Continental Asphalt and Mario Gélinas?

Construction Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, I do not have the details of all the contracts here. What I can tell my hon. colleague is what I told him previously on what the RCMP's responsibility is. It is for the security of the Prime Minister of Canada. That is why the road was built. They requested that this individual for security reasons be hired. He was and we followed government guidelines.

Swissair Flight 111
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

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

The cost of the Swissair 111 investigation has now reached $62 million and is rising. The costs are totally absorbed by the coast guard, the RCMP and the military. As a result, the operations for the RCMP, the military and the coast guard are being reduced. Also they have been denied new equipment because of this, they are told. It has not affected the construction of the Prime Minister's private driveway.

Is the government asking the manufacturers of the aircraft, the airline and the other governments involved to help cover these costs?

Swissair Flight 111
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Thunder Bay—Atikokan
Ontario

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the interesting question.

I would like to point out to the listening public that Canada has an international agreement. We are totally responsible for the costs that are incurred for any safety transportation investigation within the parameters of our domain.

As a result, yes, a tremendous amount of dollars has been devoted to this investigation and there will probably be more. This government has committed itself to keep on, within the realms of human ability and technology, to determine the cause of this terrible tragedy.

Swissair Flight 111
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, that brings up a couple of other questions we should think about.

If there are a series of crashes, what happens to the budgets of the RCMP, the military and the coast guard? If we are not asking the other parties to pay, will the government assure the coast guard, the military and the RCMP that their budgets will not suffer as a result of this crash? Will the government also treat it like the Saguenay flood or the Quebec ice storm and provide the funding for these operations so their services are not compromised?

Swissair Flight 111
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Thunder Bay—Atikokan
Ontario

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I think we can jump to conclusions here and stipulate that as a member of a team, everyone will contribute in their own way.

I would like to point out that Swissair has been most generous with many of the families of the victims. It has contributed quite a few million dollars to this entire enterprise.

As far as the United States is concerned, we do not have any final decisions yet regarding its contribution toward the rental of vast amounts of equipment and technology.

Endangered Species
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, environmental groups across the country this week organized endangered species action days to draw attention to the fact that Canada still does not have an effective endangered species law.

We know that this area involves provincial jurisdictions, but I want to ask the Minister of the Environment what the Government of Canada is doing to protect our wildlife species which are now at risk.

Endangered Species
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Northumberland
Ontario

Liberal

Christine Stewart Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, all those on this side of the House, others on the other side of the House and all of those who demonstrated yesterday on their day of action for their concern about species at risk.

Because of human activity and its impact on the environment, it is obvious that we need legislation to protect species at risk. I hope to bring in legislation before we recess this summer.

In the meantime, I have been consulting with stakeholders across this country, with business and industry, farmers, environmental NGOs, as well as with my provincial counterparts to see how we can build a national safety net of protection for species at risk. Much of the authority falls within the provincial and territorial jurisdiction.

We have laws in place now to protect species but there will be a new law.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, a study by a private Saskatchewan group reveals that since 1984 North Dakota and Montana farmers have received between 50 and 75 cents a bushel more for their wheat than Canadian farmers. These losses amount to billions of dollars to western farmers. What will the government do to make up for these losses? I would say, open the wheat board books and give farmers a choice to market their own grain.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the big city boy will attempt to offer some information about farms.

The authors of the particular report the hon. member refers to have overstated U.S. prices and have understated Canadian Wheat Board prices. The results of that study are inconclusive. The authors used selective vision of each country's grain handling and transportation systems. Their pricing methodology does not allow for an accurate price comparison between the two countries. That is what he is basing his question on.

Building Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, Treasury Board's Government Contracts Regulations are very clear: when a manager awards a contract without a call for tender, he must justify in writing his application of one of the four exceptions provided in the regulations.

If that was in fact done, could the Deputy Prime Minister table in this House the written justification for the fact that a public contract was awarded without call for tender by the government to the contractor who built the Prime Minister's cottage?

Building Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I will look into the hon. member's question. There may be security issues. I will do my best to provide a full response to the member's request.

Highways
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, the controversial Cobequid Pass toll highway in Nova Scotia has undergone another change. Now the financing has been sold to an American company controlled by a Japanese bank. As we know, over $27 million in federal government money went into the Cobequid highway, one of the Atlantic toll roads that use federal funds to turn tidy private profits.

Will the government now admit that our national highways policy is to put roads into private hands and send the profits offshore? What a disgrace. Canadians want to know what the government is going to do about it.

Highways
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Thunder Bay—Atikokan
Ontario

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that we have a definite position regarding toll highways. It has already been clearly announced in the House that as far as the government is concerned, for any highway designated as part of the Trans-Canada Highway, if tolls are to be considered, it must be in conjunction with the Minister of Transport. The final decision regarding that would be made by the Minister of Transport.

The highways are within the jurisdiction of the provincial governments, but whenever moneys go from the federal coffers to the provincial coffers for that purpose, that is for the building of the Trans-Canada Highway—

Highways
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for South Shore.

Swissair Flight 111
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester asked an extremely important question on the coast guard. What the minister did not answer was that the only thing that kept the coast guard's budget from being cut sooner in 1998 was the crash of Swissair flight 111. If this tragedy had not occurred, the coast guard boats would have been laid up much earlier in the fall of 1998.

The issue here is safety. Is it the Minister of Transport's intent to ignore the safety of our fishermen and boaters in the same way the minister of defence ignored the safety of our pilots?

Swissair Flight 111
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for the coast guard. He has made it very clear in the House many times that there will be no compromising of safety with regard to the coast guard. Whether it is the Swissair disaster or any other disaster, the coast guard is there to protect the safety of people and seagoing vessels. We will do that, absolutely.

Trade
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade. Trade negotiations will be started by the WTO in Seattle later this year. Economic sectors and issues of great interest to Canadians will be discussed there. What opportunity will Canadians have to provide their input into the preparation for these important negotiations?

Trade
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk—Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Bob Speller Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada places utmost importance on public consultations. It just makes common sense. On February 8 the Minister for International Trade launched the consultations. The Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food has had consultations with agriculture groups. In a few weeks the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade will be travelling to certain parts of Canada to get people's views on these important consultations.

The Minister for International Trade met with his provincial counterparts earlier this year. They are determined to get the views of Canadians prior to going to Geneva to negotiate.

Trade
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

The Canadian live cattle export industry, which is worth about two and a half billion dollars a year, is already being targeted by the Americans. Senator Baucus and his cohorts in the American agricultural lobby are rubbing their hands in glee at the possibility that they will be able to justify or rationalize a countervail based on Bill C-55.

Why is the minister so eager to sacrifice western Canadian farmers to the greater glory of Ted Rogers?

Trade
Oral Question Period

Noon

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are there for every sector. We are not sacrificing the interests of any sector for any other sector. We are there for all Canadians.

I ask my hon. friend why he is so interested in sacrificing the interests of Canada in support of Senator Baucus and the people of the United States. Why do he and his party not stand up for Canada and show a unified state and not help the Americans to put unwarranted pressure against a policy that is in the interest of all Canadians and all Canada?

Stand up for Canada, Reform Party. Don't act on behalf of the Americans.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

Noon

Bloc

Monique Guay Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, the replies given by the Minister of Human Resources Development in response to our recent questions on the hardship caused by his system suggest that he is already in possession of the evaluation report prepared by his officials and that he is secretly working on the changes that need to be made.

Why is the Minister of Human Resources Development waiting so long to table this much anticipated report? Is it because he is about to bow to our arguments and address the flaws of a system that hurts both the unemployed and the workers?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

Noon

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I can give the assurance that the report is not causing any hardship. Unlike the Bloc Quebecois, which loves to talk about hardship, about victims, about people who are exploited, we do not talk—

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

Noon

An hon. member

Did you look at the report?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

Noon

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Papineau—Saint-Denis, QC

Yes, absolutely. I read the report. It was submitted to me.

I can give the assurance that it will be tabled, as required by law, in the first 30 days of the session, which means by March 19.

But I do not work in secret. I can tell the House one thing: as a government, we make sure we properly measure the impact of our employment insurance reform, the results of which we will soon be sharing with this House.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

Noon

NDP

Gordon Earle Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, the 35 year old Sea King helicopters continue to be plagued with problems causing legitimate concern for the safety of those who fly in them.

I now have parents of a pilot writing to me expressing concern for their son who flies these aircraft.

The minister indicated yesterday that he would bring in a strategy to replace the Sea Kings very shortly. Defence procurement is a very large, complex business with many steps involved.

Will the minister advise the House as to what precise stage in the procurement process is the maritime helicopter project at present?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

Noon

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we are going through all the requirements for the helicopters because whatever we get to replace the Sea King I want to make sure that it meets our operational needs and is cost efficient and affordable for Canadians.

I am anxious to bring this forward as quickly as we possibly can, but meanwhile we will have the Sea Kings with us for a few more years. We will make sure that in fact they are well maintained; they are overhauled as they need to be and as they have been in the past; and they are safe for our crews to fly.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Question Period

Noon

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

The aboriginal human resource development strategy will change the way training programs and services are offered to aboriginal Canadians. Criticism of this includes a loss of services to off reserve aboriginal groups such as the Canadian Métis Council and the Native Council of Nova Scotia.

Could the minister guarantee that both groups would receive funding in the future equivalent to what they received under the regional bilateral agreement?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Question Period

Noon

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to thank the member for supporting our bilateral agreements. They have improved a great deal the situation of aboriginal Canadians it terms of the labour market.

I would like to commend the wonderful work, extraordinary work, of the Secretary of State for Children and Youth who has involved herself a lot in those bilateral agreements.

As to the other group that the member is referring to, I am confident that we will be able to come to conclusions on this very important file shortly.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

Noon

Ahuntsic
Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

I had an earlier question from a member from the P.C. Party on a judge in New Brunswick. I have an answer, if members would like me to read it into the record, that in fact the minister has received a letter from the Attorney General of New Brunswick and that she will be making a decision soon on whether to appoint a new judge in New Brunswick.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

Noon

The Deputy Speaker

I trust the information is satisfactory to all hon. members.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE, parliamentary assembly standing committee in Vienna, Austria, on January 14, 1999.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 60th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding membership and associate membership of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, and I should like to move concurrence at this time.

(Motion agreed to)

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present. The first one calls upon parliament to enact legislation that will reduce our inhumanity to the families of victims, restore some truth in sentencing and stop gambling away lives on the chance that a multiple murderer or serial predator will not attack again.

We believe Bill C-251 will prevent multiple murderers and rapists from getting one sentence for multiple offences and narrow the gap between justice and our justice system.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition I have to present brings the number of names up to 30,000 now. All the individuals who signed the petition indicate that the last sexual assault committed in the community of Abbotsford was committed by a dangerous repeat offender with 63 prior convictions.

Therefore they ask that Sumas Community Correctional Centre officials should have the right to refuse violent, repeat and dangerous offenders who could pose a danger to society and that habitual violent offenders and sexual predators should not be allowed to reside at Sumas correctional centre any longer.

We need more answers to this and government has to address this issue promptly.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by hundreds of people from across the city of Toronto praying that parliament support the immediate initiation and conclusion by the year 2000 of an international convention which will set out a binding timetable for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.

The standing committee has filed a report urging the abolition of nuclear weapons, and I am pleased to present this petition of citizens supporting that position.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the citizens of Laurentides, and the riding of Manicouagan, who believe sincerely in equality between men and women and in justice, I have the honour to table two petitions demanding that the federal government withdraw its appeal against the public service pay equity decision and give effect to the court ruling that it ensure pay equity for its employees.

These petitions combine with those presented this week by my Bloc Quebecois colleagues.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to present a petition on behalf of the people of Dauphin—Swan River.

The petitioners request that parliament repeal Bill C-68 to redirect the hundreds of millions of tax dollars being wasted on licensing responsible farm gun owners and that the money be put into places like women's crisis centres, the prevention of crime and other means of fighting organized crime on the streets.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphan Tremblay Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour today to table a petition.

The petitioners are greatly distressed by the widening gap between rich and poor, and ask Parliament to form a parliamentary committee whose mandate would be to examine Canadian parliamentarians' ability to reduce the gap between rich and poor in the new context created by globalization and to propose specific solutions.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

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

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Discussions and negotiations have been held involving representatives of all parties in the House, and I think that, if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent of the House for the following motion to travel: I move:

That Group “A”: seven members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and of the Sub-committee on International Trade, Trade Disputes and Investment be authorized to travel to Quebec, Montreal and St. Hyacinthe from March 21-16, 1999;

and Group “B”: seven members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and of the Sub-committee on International Trade, Trade Disputes and Investment be authorized to travel to St. John's, Halifax and Fredericton from March 21-26, 1999 in order to hold public hearings in relation to its examination of Canada's trade objectives and the forthcoming agenda of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and examination of Canada's priority interests in the FTAA process, and that the necessary staff do accompany the committee.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Privilege
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, this is a question of privilege of which I gave notice prior to question period. It deals specifically with a communiqué released from the Minister of Public Works yesterday, a media advisory that again bypassed the House on a matter of concern to the membership and I would suggest a matter of real concern, namely the costly renovation of Parliament Hill.

The media communiqué announces that the minister has chosen to name the parliamentary building advisory council, a body that will report to the minister and is a creation of the minister and the government. Yet this body has really no mandate from the House.

In particular, the manner in which it has been presented is again very consistent with the government's approach, that is one in which ministerial announcements are made through the media prior to any notice or any meaningful debate on the floor of the House of Commons.

This has become far too regular an occurrence that we see here every day. There is literally no meaningful debate between government ministers and members of the House on these important matters.

The same occurs at the committee level where most ministers rarely appear and, if they do, they do so armed with an army of departmental officials.

I am sure members will agree that this furthers the marginalization of this House with respect to any sort of meaningful interaction between elected members in opposition and ministers of the crown. I am very concerned that this ongoing trend which is being perpetrated by this government continues.

With respect to this particular communique, the minister announced that “The Council will be composed of senior officials from the main stakeholder organizations, including the House of Commons, the Senate, the Library of Parliament” and the other organizations which are mentioned.

The Senate is represented quite ably by the hon. Sharon Carstairs. I have absolutely no objection to her participation. I am sure she will do an excellent job representing the interests of the senators. Yet there is no elected member on this council.

There is no member of the House on Commons on this body and I would respectfully suggest that that is a breach of the privileges of members of this House. There is not one elected official. This should be of concern to every member of this House. A retired table officer representing elected officers is an affront to this House.

I do not say this to belittle in any way the appointments that have been made. In fact these particular individuals are very able, very honourable and long serving members of this Chamber. However, I would again respectfully suggest to the hon. Chair that it is not acceptable to members of the House that we not be permitted to have an elected official on this council. It is simply not acceptable that there not be a member of this House to at least offset the presence of a member of the other place.

This is yet another botched attempt by the minister. It reflects again, quite accurately, the poor relations which exist between the public service and members of this Chamber.

Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to move a motion to refer the matter of the minister's actions to the committee, if you find that there is a prima facie case, and there is no mandate from this House and no one has the right to represent that they may act for members of this House without specific authority from this House. To do so, I suggest, would be contemptible.

It is not up to the minister to determine who represents this House. This may be an appropriate matter to take to the Board of Internal Economy. We have had difficulties with respect to this entire matter in the past. This ongoing trend of communiques to the press prior to announcements being made in this House, I suggest, is similarly very much an affront to the dignity and the privileges that members of this House should come to expect from the government.

Privilege
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, with the greatest of respect to the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough who raises this question of privilege and in the absence of the minister, I wonder if you might reserve the decision until he has had an opportunity to give his side of the story, if that might be of interest to the Chair.

I can assure the House and particularly the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough that no marginalization was intended by this incident nor by any others previously.

With respect to the question of the dignity and privileges of the House, I think the hon. member who is an officer of the House on the government side, the hon. Minister of Public Works and Government Services, has a record which stands well. He is well recognized for his respect of the House and all its membership.

Privilege
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am quite prepared to deal with the matter immediately. The hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough has raised two issues.

First, he has alleged some kind of grievance that the minister made an announcement outside the House which, in the view of the hon. member, ought to have been made in the House. While many members might express some sympathy with the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough on that point, I do not think it constitutes a breach of the privileges of members of this House in any way. Indeed it has been a common practice for many, many years.

I can recall sitting in the gallery in the sixties, hearing members making exactly the same complaint. While that is about 35 years ago, I do not think there has been any change. If anything, there are more announcements made outside the House today than there were then.

Privilege
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

That's wrong.

Privilege
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member says it is wrong and we can shed crocodile tears about it, but I am afraid that on that point he does not have a question of privilege.

With respect to the second point the member raised as to the representation of the House on this group—and I noticed he referred to it as an advisory committee—it does not appear that it is a group, by its name anyway, which has any power of decision in respect of the premises of this place.

Once again, as the government House leader has pointed out so ably from his seat, he is advising the minister. In the circumstances, since it is an advisory committee, I do not see how the privileges of any hon. member are impinged upon by the appointment of such an advisory committee, no matter what its membership.

Therefore, I do not feel that the hon. member has raised a question of privilege that I can entertain at this time and I decline to treat it as such. If he wishes to raise the matter, I know he can go to the Procedure and House Affairs Committee and I am sure that the patient chairman of that committee will hear him out.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-55, an act respecting advertising services supplied by foreign periodical publishers, be read the third time and passed.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Reform

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is most unfortunate that this government has brought closure to this debate. As we know, there are many members in the House who would like to speak on this matter.

Reform is really the only party that is standing up for working Canadians and for working Canadians who may end up losing their jobs, because we know that Bill C-55 is about putting Canadian jobs at risk.

Previously I had indicated that I would read into the record two letters, one of which was received from the United States Senate. However, there is no time for that, so I will read a couple of paragraphs.

The letter was sent to Charlene Barshefsky, the U.S. trade representative, from the United States Senate and was signed by William Roth, Jr., the chairman, and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the ranking Democrat.

The letter reads:

The effect of the Canadian government's action is twofold. First, if enacted, Bill C-55 would plainly violate the letter and the spirit of the GATT 1994 and the WTO agreement on dispute settlement. The proposed legislation would put U.S. publishers at a distinct commercial disadvantage—a disadvantage that U.S. publishers had a right to expect would be eliminated by virtue of our WTO rights and the Appellate Body's ruling.

Second, it would undermine what many of us viewed, at the time we considered legislation implementing the Uruguay Round agreements, to be the linchpin of the WTO system. It would be ironic if Canada, which has been a leader in promoting a rules-based international trading system, the creation of the WTO, and the current dispute settlement model, were to undermine the benefits of that system for the United States, Canada and other WTO members by blaming the Appellate Body's ruling in this instance.

I would like to read the last paragraph of a letter sent by Charles Rangel, ranking Democrat, and Bill Archer, chairman of the committee on ways and means of the House of Representatives, to our Canadian ambassador to the United States, Mr. Raymond Chrétien.

The letter reads:

Ambassador Barshefsky and her staff have indicated that if the Government of Canada presses for passage of this bill, the United States will retaliate by withdrawing NAFTA trade concessions. While we hope and expect that this issue can be resolved without resorting to such measures, we are committed to ensuring that U.S. publishers have fair access to the Canadian market, just as Canada's publishers do in the U.S. market. Therefore, we strongly oppose C-55 and will support Ambassador Barshefsky's intention to withdraw trade benefits if the bill is enacted.

Surely the banana case in Europe should be an eye-opener for this government. There is a protectionist mood brewing in Washington these days which makes it difficult for the president to get the fast tracked authority he needs for the next round of WTO negotiations for the free trade agreement of the Americas.

The people of this country should know that the last time tariffs were raised during a deflationary period was in the 1930s, prior to the Great Depression. At that time the Smoot-Hawley Act raised tariffs to over 40% on imported industrial goods, adding to already high agricultural tariffs. One nation after another retaliated by raising their own trade barriers. Under the impact of higher tariffs, competitive devaluation and heavy-handed financial controls throughout the world, the flow of international trade shrank drastically in 1931 and 1932. We all know what happened.

We also learned today that the deputy ministers of Canadian Heritage and International Trade are meeting with their counterparts in Washington to stave off retaliation. Why are the deputy ministers of Finance and Industry not involved?

If the government is really serious about the proposals under discussion it should have sent those officials as well. If the government is serious, the involvement of the departments of Finance and Industry are essential.

As we know, the United States' trade representative has at her disposal a powerful weapon for retaliation. That weapon is section 301 of the U.S. trade act. Under this section, the U.S. trade representative can announce a detailed list of areas for trade retaliation with a 30-day period for comment. She can do this when a trading partner presses forward with what she deems unfair trade practice.

The last paragraph indicates that if Bill C-55 is voted on in this House and passed this upcoming Monday, the U.S. trade representative could announce that list on March 15 and retaliation could take effect no later than April 15, which is just over a month away.

The U.S. trade representative also has options under the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement, as well as appeal to the World Trade Organization.

Who in this government will be responsible and accountable if trade retaliations do occur, with billions of dollars involved and with tens of thousands of Canadians losing their jobs?

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today at third reading of Bill C-55, an act respecting advertising services supplied by foreign periodical publishers.

The purpose of this bill is to restrict access to Canada's advertising market to Canadian magazines. The bill would prevent access to the Canadian advertising market by foreign publishers.

It is important to point out, however, that this is not in any way an attempt to prohibit the sale of foreign magazines in Canada. Through Bill C-55, the Canadian government is seeking to protect a cultural sector, in this case, magazines.

The Tassé commission on magazines and Heritage Canada studies have shown that the arrival of split run magazines on the Canadian market would substantially reduce the advertising revenues of Canadian magazines and thus imperil this cultural sector.

The impact on the Quebec market of allowing foreign magazines to supply advertising services would not be as great. The behaviour of Quebeckers in this sector is similar to their behaviour when it comes to television, which is to show a preference for what Quebec produces.

It is true, however, that certain major magazines in Quebec are produced by corporations with large interests in the anglophone sector and that francophone magazines could therefore be hurt indirectly by any weakening of the anglophone market.

The Americans have reacted to the federal government's announcement that it intends to introduce a bill to limit the advertising market to Canadian publishers only by announcing their intention to retaliate with $1 billion worth of measures against the textile, steel and plastics industries, among others. This is of considerable concern to the companies in question.

It must be remembered that total advertising sales of Canadian magazines for 1994-95 were $521 million, of which $385 million was for English language periodicals and $94 million for French language periodicals.

So the Americans are greatly overestimating their potential losses if the measure proposed today were found to be illegal by the WTO and were maintained by Canada, or if it were to become a cultural protection measure under NAFTA, which would entitle the United States to impose compensatory measures if Canada decided to maintain it after such a decision.

Since some of our industries do fear U.S. reprisals, it would be worthwhile determining exactly what mechanisms govern the international trading rules. This is all the more important because there are new developments in this area daily.

At the present time, a trade dispute is going on between the Americans and the European Union in connection with bananas. What is pitting the one against the other involves aspects which might cast some light for us on this periodicals issue.

The U.S. laid a complaint before the World Trade Organization claiming that the European Union was giving its former colonies a preferential tariff in the banana market, contrary to the WTO agreements. The WTO decided for the U.S. in this matter, so the European Union re-examined its measures in order to bring them into line with the international trade rules.

The United States reaction to implementation of the European measure was to impose reprisals against Europe under section 301 of the Trade Act, which allows the Americans to impose trade sanctions on behalf of companies whose business has suffered a negative impact from any such measure.

The European Community is appealing the very existence of this section 301 before the WTO and, according to reports, Canada will be taking the side of Europe before the international tribunal. It will, therefore, be highly informative to see how the WTO interprets section 301 of the American Trade Act. It will also be interesting to see how the WTO dispute settlement panel will rule on the dispute over bananas between the United States and Europe.

Canada too passed a measure, Bill C-103, to protect its periodical sector, and the WTO considered it illegal. Canada complied with the decision of the international panel by withdrawing the legislation. Bill C-55 is, in the opinion of government experts, legislation that will protect this sector and comply with international trade rules.

Obviously, everything must be done to avoid trade wars that benefit no one. The Bloc congratulates the Minister of Canadian Heritage's initiative in proposing this amendment, which provides that the bill will come into force under an order in council.

This legislative provision demonstrates the good faith of the federal government in its negotiations with its American colleagues, and the Bloc Quebecois strongly hopes that American trade representatives seize the olive branch tendered.

Basically, the Bloc Quebecois supports this bill because it is part of the legislative and regulatory framework necessary to protect cultural diversity. Although the measure involves trade, its effect is to protect a cultural sector, that of magazines.

In its statement in support of the bill, the Association of Canadian Broadcasters expressed very clearly its concern that, if Canada were to lose the battle on this issue, of little financial consequence to the Americans, the defeat would mean the beginning of the end of Canadian and Quebec measures to promote culture. It would be the first of a series of measures that would bring the Americans to use their human and financial resources to dismantle Canadian rules on content, on property and on direct and indirect support by the state to the cultural sector. These rules are deemed by the Americans to be harmful to their entertainment industry.

Many observers believe that if Americans are targeting the Canadian magazine sector, it is because their real objective is a different one. This is very obvious. They are acting in this fashion primarily to alleviate the concerns of their voters, who are worried about their very unfavourable trade balance. Many Americans also think that the United States is the loser in the free trade agreement signed first with Canada and then with Mexico.

Moreover, let us not forget that the American entertainment industry has never accepted the cultural exemption included in the free trade agreement and then in NAFTA.

Considering that audiovisual exports rank second in the United States, and that Hollywood producers are major contributors to the election fund of the Democratic Party, it is easy to see why American trade policy officials are condemning Canadian cultural policies so strongly.

Americans may also be targeting the upcoming negotiations of the World Trade Organization, which are scheduled to begin in November, in Seattle. They want France in particular to understand that there is no question of another stunt like the one it almost pulled off during negotiation of the WTO services accord when, because of its insistence that there be a clause in the accord to exclude audiovisual products, negotiations ended without culture being included.

Furthermore, Charlene Barshevsky, the U.S. trade secretary, told Congress in January that the United States' goal with respect to international trade with Canada is access for American magazines to the Canadian advertising market and to other entertainment media or industries on the Canadian market.

The Americans want to see the entertainment sector included in the WTO millennium accords negotiated next fall.

Bill C-55 allows them to get their message across to the world.

However, they already occupy a large part of the world's culture and communications sector. The following is taken from the report of the cultural industries sectoral advisory group on international trade:

In fact, foreign competition dominates the Canadian cultural market. Foreign businesses and products account for 45% of book sales in Canada; 81% of English language consumer magazines on newsstands and over 63% of magazine circulation revenue;

It goes on:

—79% of the retail sales of tapes, CDs, concerts, merchandise and sheet music; 85% of the revenues from film distribution in Canada;

We are talking about $165 million. I continue:

—between 94% and 97% of screen time in Canadian theatres; in fact, it is here that the situation is worst, for Hollywood studios have always treated Canada as though it were part of the American market.

Some people like the former Minister for International Trade have claimed that, in view of a major expansion in cultural exports from Canada, protectionism is no longer in order and we should go ahead and open our borders and review our cultural policies.

But, as the working group on cultural industries of the foreign affairs department has remarked, and rightly so:

If a culture is to prosper, it needs a distribution network and an investment infrastructure. It should also provide a stimulating environment for creators and artists.

Robert Pilon, the vice-president for public affairs of the Association québécoise du disque, du spectacle et de la vidéo, put it more simply at the meeting held in Montreal a few days ago on the Canadian cultural policy “In any economics 101 course, you learn that, before you can export, you have to be able to produce”.

It is this creative capacity that needs to be protected and nurtured in Quebec and in Canada. That does not mean we should refrain from making major investments in the means that the cultural industries in Quebec and Canada need to get a larger share of world markets.

But if we give in now to American pressures, we run the risk of becoming more vulnerable, with the direct consequence that all industries in Quebec and Canada, cultural or otherwise, will be more fragile. We would be left to wonder what the next target would be.

Where culture and communications are concerned, Quebec and Canada hold similar views. Both states are of the opinion that every effort must be made to ensure total freedom for their cultural policies.

It is a pity, however, that in Canada imposing a Canadian identity and culture takes precedence over defending the cultural interests of Quebec and of Canada. Thus the federal government boasts about its lead role in promoting the concept of cultural diversity in the world, yet is unable to recognize the culture of Quebec and to give it pride of place beside that of Canada, both domestically and in other countries.

Instead of the Canadian government bringing all of its human and financial resources to bear on the importance of including a cultural exemption clause in upcoming international trade agreements, thus acknowledging Quebec, which shares its views on this, as a valuable ally in this battle which is far from over, it chose not to allow it to take part in last June's meeting of ministers of culture in Ottawa.

The following is what Lise Bissonnette, former editorial writer for Le Devoir , had to say on July 3, 1998 about the attitude of the Minister of Heritage:

To reduce Quebec to cultural silence while pretending, in empty resolutions in the House of Commons, and in the opportunistic Calgary declaration, that its “culture” lends it a unique character, is to be afraid of one's own shadow—

Allocating special status to Quebec would not even have created a precedent, because it has been acknowledged as a “participating government” for some fifteen years within international francophone organizations, with the agreement of Canada.

It is understandable that France would decline to be represented in Ottawa, when Iceland was given the recognition denied to Quebec. There are limits to how ridiculous things can be allowed to get. If the international network of states is to take concrete form, and move beyond mere empty words, the concept of cultures must be based on reality, not on unrealities such as these.

The credibility of the Canadian government is weakened by its irrational fear of Quebec, and major changes in strategy are called for, if it is to have the credibility to play a lead role.

Instead of changing its attitude and recognizing Quebec culture and its representative, however, the federal government has gone still further this week along the path of ridicule, by refusing to take part in a working session organized by Paris—

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

The debate is still on Bill C-55. Is that correct?

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I must ask the hon. member for Longueuil to focus her remarks as much as possible on Bill C-55, which is before the House today.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Madam Speaker, I would remind the members opposite that I have been talking about Bill C-55 for a while. I am providing facts to permit an understanding of the government's attitude.

On July 3, 1998, Michel C. Auger of the Journal de Montréal , not known as a sovereignist, commented in these terms on Ottawa's attitude to Quebec in the meeting organized last summer by the federal government, and I quote:

There was nothing to prevent Quebec from having the status at this conference of participating government similar to the arrangement at the francophone community summits.

In fact, Canada's position would be strengthened by the presence of Quebec, if only to show pointedly that Canada is not afraid of cultural diversity internally or externally.

However, as usual in Ottawa, they are incapable of seeing beyond the end of the flag. By appearing just slightly more open, the Minister of Canadian Heritage would have struck a vigorous blow for federalism. Because, if there is one thing at the heart of the sovereignist project, it is the right to cultural diversity.

So when globalization questions a number of the classic arguments in favour of sovereignty, there is one argument that takes on added importance and that is the right to defend one's culture and one's right to difference internationally.

I would, in this same vein, like to quote Bernard Descôteaux, the new head of the Devoir , who said this morning, and I quote:

But the presence of Quebec at meetings where cultural diversity is addressed should be a given. This is an issue that has Quebec truly concerned and rightly so. It has some viewpoints to offer and an experience to share in what is constitutionally a provincial area of jurisdiction.

This speaks volumes. Quebec and Canada have reached agreements on crucial issues like immigration, manpower, housing, and, just yesterday, the justice minister recognized Quebec's uniqueness in the way it deals with young offenders. Why is the federal government so intent in ignoring Quebec's culture?

Yet, Quebec's demands in the areas of culture and communications date further back that its demands about manpower and were made by every Quebec government.

In 1996, Daniel Johnson stated that Quebec should make its own decisions regarding culture. This statement was reiterated by Jean-Jacques Bertrand three years later. In 1971, Robert Bourassa asked for a reallocation of powers in the area of culture. In 1991, the Allaire Report released by the Quebec Liberal Party recommended that culture, communications and language should be exclusively under Quebec's jurisdiction.

Once again, I remind my colleagues opposite that I am only quoting from federalists.

In 1991, the Bélanger-Campeau report asked that Quebec be given, and I quote:

—exclusive jurisdiction and responsibility over its social, economic and cultural development and in the area of language.

By refusing to recognize Quebec's culture, by passing it off as a mere regional culture within the Canada mosaic, by light-heartedly mixing the cultural policy with propaganda, the heritage minister and the federal government are giving sovereignists a winning condition.

By stating that only independent nations have the right to attend international events like the one that was held in France, the Prime Minister is providing sovereignists with another winning condition.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The matter of relevance has been raised once already. I am listening to a volley of separatist mythical propaganda as opposed to items relevant to the debate.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I am listening carefully to the speech of the hon. member for Longueuil. I am sure she is about to make a link with Bill C-55.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Madam Speaker, you will see the link very soon. I am getting there.

The federal government wants to become a leader in the promotion of cultural diversity in the world. In order to establish its own credibility, as Mrs. Bissonnette pointed out, it must officially recognize the Quebec culture and give it the necessary means to thrive all over the world. The fact is that the Quebec culture already manages to do that, in spite of all the trip ups of the federal government.

Again, I stress the importance of continuing the fight at the international level to promote cultural diversity. The work has not even begun yet. The next round of international negotiations is to start in November.

Yet, neither in the budget nor in the government's statements did I hear about the urgent need to act or did I see the budgeting of any major initiative to promote cultural diversity and to make sure that the respect of such diversity will become a precondition in the millennium negotiations that will begin in November.

I will conclude with a statement made in Paris by Agnès Maltais, the Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications, on March 10:

In a recent book, a French philosopher wrote that, in the context of globalization, it is in the interest of every country to listen to the nations that have always had to live with the profound and disturbing feeling of their own precariousness. Indeed, there is now a risk of overall levelling throughout the world.

Therefore, all peoples will ultimately feel what francophones in America have been feeling for so long. This is what led Alain Finkielkraut to use this eloquent line: We are all Quebeckers.

Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today again to address Bill C-55 at third reading.

Unlike the government, the New Democratic Party commitment to preserving our culture in the face of American aggression is solid. We support this bill. We support Canadian culture.

We are not happy with the reported government attempts, including its last minute amendment, to delay the proclamation of this bill. We are suspicious that the government will negotiate our culture away behind closed doors, much as the Mulroney Conservatives did in the free trade agreement.

We want stronger cultural protection under NAFTA, under the FTA, under the WTO and under every trade agreement that Canada is party to. These are not my thoughts alone.

I think it is important for us to understand the feelings of Canadians around this bill and about their opinions relating to the protection of cultural from Canadian foreign trade deals.

In the last week of February the standing committee on heritage toured Canada to seek input from interested Canadians on cultural policy and on such issues as Bill C-55. I think it is fitting for me to include some of these comments in this presentation. Anne Manuel from St. John's on February 22 said:

I'm not sure if everyone is familiar with this [bill]. Basically what it is to do, if everything works as planned, is prevent split-run magazines. Currently there are magazines like Sports Illustrated coming out of the United States that have set sizes for their advertising so that when they send the magazine into Canada, all they do is approach an advertiser and say, hey, we've got a half-page ad here, let's slip that Canadian ad right in there. They've already paid for the material to the freelance writer. They've already paid the managing editors and the editors to make sure the article looks perfect, and the photographer to make sure the photo looks perfect. They've already done all of that, so all the bills are paid.

Then they approach Canadian advertisers and they say, well, let's slip that Canadian ad in there and make Canadians think that this is a Canadian magazine”. That's cheating, and that's not helping culture in Canada. That's the sort of thing that really does need federal support desperately. We need the federal government to jump in and say that the foreign publishers advertising services act is a good thing. That's where I really support it.

Mr. Andrew Terris of Halifax is the chair of the Nova Scotia Cultural Network. I think he said it best of many of the presenters who expressed concern over the enormous foreign control of our cultural industries:

Here's what we don't control: 70% of the music on Canadian radio stations is foreign; 60% of all English language television programming is foreign; 70% of the Canadian book market is imported. We don't control 83% of the news stand market for magazines; 84% of the retail sales of sound recordings; 95% of feature films screened in Canadian theatres; 86% of prime time English language drama on Canadian television; and 75% of prime time drama on French language television.

His final comment was that we are an occupied country.

We all know that the Americans would never accept these kinds of numbers in their market. It is imperative that the government of this country take a very strong stand on these issues. These have implications in terms of funding for culture, technology, issues of trade liberalization, globalization, demographics and the role of the federal government. This is the central issue in terms of cultural policy in this country.

In Halifax we heard from Mr. James Lorimer of the Formac Publishing Company. He made some important observations regarding book and magazine publishing. He noted that Canadians are constantly being pushed to the edge by American products.

In book publishing there has been this slow, sort of stealthy retreat from a tough policy that was actually put in place by the Conservative government when Marcel Masse was the minister of communications. By far the biggest book publishing company in Canada is owned by Bertelsmann. The federal government has just allowed this to go ahead in the face of a policy that is supposed to prevent indirect takeovers, to stand in the way of indirect takeovers.

Mr. Lorimer continues to say that on the magazine side, we can see what the Americans are doing with respect to Bill C-55. They are again trying to keep that space open for themselves. They are trying to hold back Canadian publishing in the magazine industry.

Witness after witness spoke to us in profound and moving ways on the importance of having direct government action to protect culture and heritage in the changing world of global deal making.

In Montreal Mr. Peter Sandmark from the Independent Cinema and Video Alliance said:

I had one comment because I haven't heard mentioned the multilateral agreement on investment. Now if that were signed, these co-production treaties that require foreign crews to hire Canadian technicians and so on would be illegal if I understand correctly the interpretation of it, and therefore foreign productions could come in here and would not have to hire any Canadians and could take advantage of tax credits because they would have to be treated like nationals, same thing.

At the same meeting Mr. Robert Pilon, vice-president for public affairs for the Quebec Alliance for the Record, Performance and Video Industries, said:

If Canada gives in on this [magazine issue] today, we will all suffer. If the Americans get a victory on this issue tomorrow they will be attacking our support for the film sector, and the day after that they will be challenging us on books and our Canadian content on the radio.

These are individuals, business people, artists and all are concerned Canadians. Their message to me was not to negotiate behind closed doors. They want the federal government to protect and promote Canadian culture and heritage.

Mr. Pilon had it right, magazines are the line in the sand. We let it slip and we will all do it at our own peril.

Bill C-55 is a glimmer of hope, just a glimmer, that the Liberals will for once follow their words with some actions.

If they are serious about protecting culture they should proclaim this bill. If they want to protect our Canadian industries they should go to the WTO table and do it there. They should go back to our NAFTA partners and get the retaliation sections of the cultural carve-out removed. They should work with the other countries in favour of cultural exemptions, like the Europeans, and take on the world.

Our artists are good at taking on the world. I hope our government will follow the example.

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12:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak to Bill C-55, the foreign publishers advertising services act. It is important for Canada that we protect our publishing industry especially in light of the things that are happening in the industry now with global communications and especially the Internet. Pressure will be enormous on all countries to protect their cultures especially from the United States which is the leader in the Internet revolution.

We agree that the Canadian magazine industry needs to be enhanced and encouraged. On the other hand, we are a trading nation. If we restrict other countries from trading in Canada under the terms of our trade agreements then we must expect the retaliation which is now threatened.

There is a fundamental difference in the way the Americans look at this situation and the way we in Canada look at it. In the U.S. this is just a business deal. It is just part of doing business. In Canada it is a cultural issue. Unfortunately our trade agreements are trade, not cultural. There is a great debate now in Canada on whether the Americans can retaliate against many of our industries. I am not at all convinced that they cannot retaliate against us under the terms and conditions of our trade agreements which we did sign and should comply with. My support for this bill will depend on the assurance of the minister that our industries will be protected. So far I am not at all convinced of that situation.

In my riding we have steel plants, plastics plants, forestry industries and textile factories, all targeted industries. A trade war is not appealing to me or the people of my riding which is an area of high unemployment where it is tough to generate new jobs and create employment. Even though the government has assured us there are protections under the terms and conditions of the agreements, the delays in action by the government send a completely different signal to me and certainly shakes my confidence.

I agree that we should have a negotiated settlement prior to the implementation of this bill so we can avoid any of these trade wars that have been discussed. Canada has responded to other complaints from the Americans and we have had to adjust our trade tariff codes, our postal rates, et cetera.

There is no argument about Canadian culture that it must be protected, but if we sign trade agreements we must comply with those terms. In this case interpretations differ depending on who we listen to. While we must stand up for Canadian culture we must again face the terms and conditions of our agreements. To Americans this is a business deal, to Canadians it is a cultural sovereignty issue.

The minister stood here today and called the Americans bullies. I take exception to that. I do not think they are bullies. I think they are using the tools entrenched in the agreement that we agreed to at the time we signed it. agreement.

In October 1997 the World Trade Organization said Canada was wrong. It told us to change our excise tax and tariffs. Canada was given until October 1998 to get our policy in line with the general agreement on services or face retaliation. We are not always right and in this case we were wrong.

In 1995 the government introduced the original Bill C-103 which did not pass the test. Now we are trying it again with Bill C-55 and there is controversy over whether it will be subjected to the same retaliation and action by the U.S. The U.S. ambassador has threatened a billion dollars in trade retaliation in textiles, steel, plastics and wood.

The assurances by the minister are not very convincing. While she says Canada is safe in this issue, she has already announced a delay in the implementation of the bill in her statements and her officials are marching off to Washington to renegotiate this deal in advance. That makes me very nervous.

The Prime Minister was quoted in the Ottawa Citizen as saying: “We think we can justify it in front of the World Trade Organization”. That does not instil much confidence in me. When he says “we think we can justify it” I think maybe our jobs in steel, textiles, forestry and plastics are safe. It hits home in Cumberland—Colchester because all those industries are represented in my riding and are major employers.

Cherubini Steel is a brand new company but is projected to deliver 90% of its products to the United States. Will it ever get started if this happens? Stanfield's clothing, a brand name known all over the world, has been in business for 100 years.

Many mills have a tradition of shipping their wood products to the United States. Poly Cello Plastics, Ropak Can-Am and Canadian Polymer, all industries in the plastics business, would ship many of their products to the United States. Does the Prime Minister's statement “we think we can justify it” give them confidence? I do not think so. I would not want my job depending on the statement “we think we can justify it”. It is just not good enough.

The Conservatives have been consistent in support of the Canadian magazine industry. We even supported it at second reading of this bill. But my vote will depend on the confidence in the minister, the resulting actions in the next few days and the results of those negotiations in the U.S.

There is another thing that does not instil a whole lot of confidence in me. An article in today's National Post which says that top bureaucrats were dispatched to D.C. to avert a trade war. We have not even passed the bill and we are trying to avert a trade war.

Another statement by the minister of international trade is “We are willing to entertain various options that both protect our mission statement but also address the American concerns. I think we should be doing this”. This does not instil confidence in me. It certainly does not instil confidence in industries in the targeted areas or their employees.

We are not playing games here. This is a billion dollars worth of business. By saying we think we can justify it in front of the World Trade Organization is just not enough.

Again, my support for this bill will ultimately depend on the confidence and the assurances of the minister and the Prime Minister. So far, neither of them has given me the confidence to vote yes on this bill. I am not saying that I will vote no, but so far there has been nothing to convince me to vote yes.

I resent the attitude of the government. The insinuation is that anybody who questions or opposes this is not a supporter of the Canadian magazine industry or is not a supporter of Canadian culture. That is not true. We are talking about a bill. We are not talking about an industry. If we vote against the bill, we are not voting against an industry. We are not voting against Canadian culture. We are voting against a bill which we think was drafted improperly and will result in retaliation.

It is obvious that the government is apprehensive about its position on this just by its actions and concerns. Based on previous rulings against Canada in the World Trade Organization, comments by the Prime Minister that we think we can justify it are not enough.

Regarding any actions by the minister of heritage, again Madam Speaker, I ask you, would you want your job depending on someone saying “we think we can justify it”?

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1 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, ON

Madam Speaker, I listened with a lot of interest to the member across the way. He said that he wanted to hear something that would convince him, that he is not sure.

Two weeks ago, the standing committee on agriculture went to Washington. We met with Congress and the Senate. We discussed with them what we perceive Canada's position is going to be with the WTO.

The member opposite says that he wants to be convinced. I want him to think this way. Right now with the Americans running advertisements through split-run magazines, what they are doing is testing the waters before we go to these trade negotiations. What we are doing right now with Bill C-55 is showing the Americans that Canada is not a pushover. That would be a good reason.

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1 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, that is a reason.

The things that make me nervous on the other hand are that the Prime Minister did not come out and say, “We can defend this in front of the World Trade Organization. We are right on this. We can stand firm”. He said, “We think we can justify it in front of the WTO”. That does not instil confidence in me.

It does not instil confidence in me that today two top bureaucrats were dispatched to Washington to avert a trade war. Two deputy ministers, an almost unheard of precedent, are there now trying to divert an action by the U.S. that has not even been started yet.

I do not know whether this has ever happened before. It certainly does not do a thing to instil confidence in me. In my riding of Cumberland—Colchester, we cannot afford to play games with jobs in the steel industry, the forestry industry, the plastics industry and the textiles industry. We cannot afford to be testing it and saying we think we can justify it. It just is not good enough.

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Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Madam Speaker, following on the vein of that question and the answer from the member for Cumberland—Colchester, has he given serious thought to the way in which the WTO is presently working? Has he seen the way in which the Americans are operating with respect to the banana case and the way in which they are treating the Europeans in picking off one industry after another as a way of advancing their trade interests in a way that does not make the international trade system work very well?

Does he not think that in these circumstances we as Canadians have to stand up and say this is an important cultural issue for us, this is an important dimension of what we are trying to do and tell our American friends, “You would not put up with dumping things in your jurisdiction”. This is a form of dumping magazines into Canada. We are saying to them, “What we are asking for here, putting it in trade terms, is nothing more than a decent level playing field. You talk that way all the time. You ask for a level playing field. Give us a level playing field”. That is what we are saying, yet they do not seem to want to do it in these trade negotiations. They always want to have the upper hand.

I remember that George Will, one of those big correspondents in the United States, said that free trade is something that ranks somewhere between Christianity and jogging, as something much talked about and very little practised. That is the way the Americans approach this. They do not believe in free trade when it is coming into their markets; they believe in free trade when it is coming into our markets or other markets.

This is a very important issue for Canada. I know the member understands that. I would urge him to consider that we should not be put off by the Americans in this respect. I think we will have allies in Europe now because of the banana war. We will have other allies who recognize that this type of hardball tactic that is presently being resorted to will not make the WTO work and in fact will help destroy it.

Would the hon. member give some consideration to that?

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1:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, the Americans are using the tools entrenched in the agreements that we all agreed to. If we are wrong, we are wrong and we have been proven wrong before. I am not saying we are wrong, but I question that we are right.

I was encouraged this morning by the Minister of Canadian Heritage who spoke on this issue. She acknowledged that this was a cultural issue involved with a business agreement. If I remember correctly she said that they were trying to organize a group of countries to start dealing with cultural issues and establish cultural agreements.

That is the problem here. We have a cultural issue in a business agreement, in a business arrangement. We do not have a cultural agreement. If we want a cultural agreement, we should negotiate one. The minister acknowledged and admitted this morning that we have not done that and we do not have one.

With that in mind, we should remember that this is a business agreement and we all have to live up to the terms and conditions of the agreement.

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1:05 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, following up on that, I noticed that during his intervention the hon. member for Toronto Centre—Rosedale was trying to turn things around by suggesting that the Americans in retaliating in the so-called banana war against the Europeans are somehow putting the WTO at risk. I suggest what is putting the WTO at great risk is countries which do not adhere to rulings of the WTO, countries that go completely contrary to the thrust of a ruling.

We as the sovereign nation of Canada enter into trade agreements and a dispute arises. Then the dispute is taken to the WTO for a ruling, as it was in this particular case. The WTO ruled on it and now we try to do an end run around the ruling.

That is what is happening with the case of bananas in Europe and with the magazine issue here which is before the House again in Bill C-55. I suggest that what is really putting the World Trade Organization at risk is countries that do not adhere to the rulings.

Would the hon. member comment further on that?

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1:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

I would say that if we go into agreements which give us benefits, and certainly these agreements have given us great benefits, we sign the agreements. We agree to adhere to the terms and conditions of the agreements. We cannot be sore losers if it is proven that we have contravened the agreements. This happened in the previous ruling on this very issue.

I am not questioning the importance of the magazine industry in Canada or the importance of the cultural issue aspect of this, but we have signed an agreement. We have agreed to the terms and conditions. We would hold them to the terms and conditions of an agreement and we do it every day in tribunals.

What really concerns me is the obvious apprehension on the government side that it has developed a bill that is going to cause a lot of retaliation. We can see it in the government's words and actions. When the government said it was going to delay the implementation of the bill, when it said it was sending deputy ministers to the U.S. to avert a trade war, this screamed to me that we have a problem. Jobs in Cumberland—Colchester are at risk. The government had better make sure that it is right and that we are complying with the terms and conditions and that retaliation will not happen.

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1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest to the member for Cumberland—Colchester. He made a number of comments with respect to confidence and levels of confidence.

I heard the minister this morning speak very eloquently in terms of her position and the government's position with respect to this bill. From my perspective and I think the perspective of many members in this House, it underscored the fact that there is a high degree of confidence and we can proceed in this manner in a way that is meaningful and fitting for all Canadians. That is important to note.

Does the hon. member agree that there are times when we need, from a cultural perspective, to ensure that our cultural interests are defended and ensured? Does the member also agree that in this case the Americans, with bullying tactics, are trying to undermine that cultural perspective?

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1:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, I would hope that the government of my country would use the tools entrenched in the agreement to seek the best possible terms under any agreement we signed. I take exception to the word bullying, or the attitude of bullying. I do not agree that the Americans are bullying. I think they are using the terms and conditions and if they cannot use them, they will be proven wrong.

Our minister and our Prime Minister are not showing confidence in their own positions. Again I refer to the story this morning about two top bureaucrats being dispatched to Washington to avert a trade war over a bill we have not yet voted on. The minister is already acknowledging and admitting we are in trouble on this issue. She has also previously announced that she will delay the implementation of the bill even if it is passed. Why would the government be doing this? Why would the minister be delaying and running scared if we were not in jeopardy?

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1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Madam Speaker, I see there are only another two minutes or so to speak on this matter. I am sorry I do not have the opportunity to speak for a longer period of time.

Let me pick up on the thread of what is being discussed about the trade war aspect of this bill. We have to bear in mind that these are very serious issues being raised in respect of trade matters. This government has a very proactive policy in respect of the trade aspects of it.

Members will recall that last year the minister herself called a meeting of culture ministers from around the world. They met here precisely to discuss this issue, diversity in international trade and how we can keep our cultural diversity in an interdependent world. I think the member will agree with me that this is extremely important as we go into this increasingly integrated world. That is why we have done that.

That is why we are trying to collaborate with other like-minded states in this area. That is why the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade will be having hearings across the country to determine what the interests of Canadians are as we go into these negotiations. The hon. member could sit in on some of the committee discussions to hear from our cultural communities who are telling us we need a stronger stance in international trade.

We recognize that the rules are not what we would like them to be. We have to go into these WTO negotiations recognizing this.

I have met with members of the cultural communities in my riding and across the country. They are saying that the Government of Canada is doing the right thing with Bill C-55. We recognize it is necessary to protect our magazines if we are going to have informed political discussion in this country.

When somebody asks me why I am in favour of Bill C-55 I say I am in favour for the same reason that I am in favour of gun control and of a health care system.

If it were nothing but American magazines being read in this country we would not have either of those measures to protect Canadian citizens because we would not be able to discuss them in the intelligent, in-depth way in which we should have the opportunity. That is why we are in favour of this bill.

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Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Pursuant to order made Monday, March 8, 1999, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the third reading stage of the bill now before the House.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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1:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

All those in favour will please say yea.

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1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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1:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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1:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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1:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the recorded division stands deferred until Monday, March 15, 1999 at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

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1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think the House would be ready to call it 1.30 p.m. so we could commence private members' hour immediately and members could probably go home 15 minutes early.

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1:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Is that agreed?

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1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from March 10 consideration of the motion that Bill C-393, an act to amend the Competition Act, 1998 (negative option marketing), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Competition Act
Private Members' Business

1:15 p.m.

St. Catharines
Ontario

Liberal

Walt Lastewka Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-393, an act to amend the Competition Act.

The hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton who introduced the bill has done Canadian consumers a great service in putting it forward. This legislation would amend the Competition Act to restrict the practice of negative option marketing in Canada.

We are all familiar with the irritation of opening telephone and cable bills or other statements and seeing that we have been charged for a service we did not ask for, we do not need and we do not want.

When we ask about what is going on we are given the impression that we are at fault. We are told we should have read the notice and should have sent in a form saying no.

That is how negative option marketing works. Negative option marketing is a sales strategy by which consumers are required to expressly refuse a product or service to avoid receiving and paying for it.

To put it another way, if there is no action to refuse the service the recipient has bought it. I am sure there are examples where negative option marketing works well and for the benefit and convenience of both the customer and the supplier.

There are book and record clubs where the customer understands and is happy to receive the monthly selection unless the reply card is sent. The key to successful negative option arrangements is making sure the consumer is well informed, has accurate information and is not taken by surprise.

This points to why so many Canadians find negative option marketing offensive. When they enter into an agreement with a service provider for a particular package of services they do not expect that the company would assume it can charge without their consent. They are surprised to learn that companies think it is okay to keep switching and adding services and raising the charges until the customer says stop.

Negative option marketing reverses the customer-seller relationship. It imposes on the customer the requirement to react to avoid the sale. It can take advantage of those of us who with busy lives may find ourselves less vigilant with our financial affairs.

An example can be made with day to day banking. Many of us like to convenience of paying our bill by automatic debit. We do not always take the time to go through the statements at the end of the month. Weeks later when we do notice the charges have crept up there is a good chance that we will let it go. After all, it is only a few dollars. It is not worth the hassle. That is how negative option marketing can take advantage of the average Canadian. Intentionally or not, it can also take advantage of vulnerable consumers.

The member's initiative allows the House to debate this issue. He should be applauded for this. As part of this debate I would like to suggest a few improvements to Bill C-393 that the member may wish to consider.

I first propose that the bill focus on sectors of clear and exclusive federal jurisdiction. This would mean making negative option marketing a reviewable matter with applications with specified regulated industries. The bill would then be broad enough to encompass the major players while minimizing the potential for a perception of overlap with provincial jurisdiction.

Next, in its current form Bill C-393 contemplates making negative action marketing a criminal offence. Members may recall that in September of last year the House approved Bill C-20, an act which also amended the Competition Act. One of the innovations of that was the creation of a civil court process to allow the Competition Bureau to deal more expeditiously with cases involving misleading advertising and deceptive marketing practices.

The government's position is that negative option marketing rather than being subject to criminal law and processes should be a matter reviewable by the civil courts.

Members may recall that in the 35th parliament the same hon. member sponsored Bill C-216, an act to amend the Broadcast Act. That bill was amended on third reading in the Senate to respond to concerns of its possible effects on the viability of French language broadcasting services. We will want to ensure that Bill C-393 is crafted so as to anticipate and resolve these types of concerns.

Another issue is notification. The bill contains provisions requiring companies to send their customers a notice at least once a month for three consecutive months before they can charge for a new service. In the current form it appears that these provisions would require a company to complete the triple notification process and prevent it from charging for the service for three months, even if the customer had agreed to it and signed up for the service right away. I think this is an issue we may wish to review.

The bill addresses several of the consumer issues raised in the context of a much broader review of the financial sector. As drafted, the bill has the potential for conflict with the existing provisions of the Bank Act that deal with services charges and notice requirements. We will undoubtedly address these issues further as debate continues on this bill.

Bill C-393 is a worthwhile initiative that merits debate in the House. It applies to certain federally regulated enterprises, notably those subject to the Broadcast Act, the Telecommunications Act and the Bank Act. It has the potential to touch each Canadian consumer who subscribes to cable TV, uses a telephone or has a bank account.

We look forward to collaborating with the hon. member on his private member's bill. We want to demonstrate our support to consumers and give a positive response to the many Canadians who find negative option marketing offensive and unreasonable.

With respect to the financial sector, the task force on the future of the Canadian financial services sector produced a report that made consumer issues a major preoccupation of its 124 recommendations released to the Minister of Finance in September of last year.

The House of Commons finance committee and the Senate banking committee have studied the report and also conducted public hearings. The two committees supported many of the consumer measures contained in the report and provided some additional recommendations. The government is currently reviewing the advice of these three bodies and will be setting out its response as soon as possible.

The bill addresses several of the consumer issues raised in the context of a much broader review of the financial sector. As drafted, the bill has the potential of conflict with existing provisions of the Bank Act dealing with service charges and notice requirements.

As the bill proceeds through the House and through committee at various stages we should consider how best to resolve the conflicts between the bill's provisions and the existing consumer protection provisions contained in the Bank Act as we debate this bill in the House to make sure we have responded to the hon. member for bringing this bill forward.

Competition Act
Private Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, I compliment the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton for taking the courageous step in dealing with this bill.

This is an issue that many of us in the House have had to deal with among our constituents. Our constituents have been very mad and angry that they have had to be subjected to this bullying by certain companies.

I draw to the attention of the House the issue of the cable companies and the banks that tried through the back door to force individuals, members of the public, to purchase goods and services they were not interested in purchasing.

As the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton so eloquently mentions, the adoption of Bill C-393 will mean that if a person does not respond it means no purchase. I repeat, if a person does not respond to what a company is trying to sell it means no purchase, contrary to the situation we have now where consumers are simply not protected.

The fact that this has never been dealt with before is absolutely tragic. Given the actions by some large companies, cable companies, telephone companies and banks in recent memory, it is all the more important that this issue be dealt with as soon as possible and that Bill C-393 gets expeditious passage through the House of Commons for all the consumers who are not protected by this consumer bullying that has potentially been taking place.

Negative option billing means that if something is offered to a person and they do not respond, they have bought it. Many people do not know this. Sometimes they see their bill and all of a sudden they are paying for things they never asked for. That is the reason negative option billing has to be outlawed. That is why our colleague from Sarnia—Lambton has put forth this extremely important bill that should get expeditious passage through the House of Commons and into law as soon as possible.

I am sure the Minister of Industry will look at this bill very carefully and give it his full support not only in the House but in public.

Negative option billing is also known by other names such as tied selling, automatic renewal contract, all euphemisms for the same thing. One can argue that tied selling actually violates the Competition Act.

Section 52 of the Competition Act says that anyone who promotes a product or business interest through representation to the public that is false or misleading in any material respect is guilty of an offence punishable by fine or imprisonment.

Section 52(4) specifically states that the general impression conveyed by a representation, not just the literal meaning, shall be taken into account in determining whether the representation is false or misleading.

That is why Bill C-393 falls within the realm of the laws we have today. That is why it is a reasonable law to be supported and passed by the House expeditiously.

Bill C-393 also would not apply to companies across the country. It would apply specifically to federally regulated businesses, such as banks, cable companies and telephone companies, companies that have been engaging in or trying to engage in negative option billing for quite some time. I will give some examples.

In 1997 the Toronto Dominion Bank employed a negative option technique to deprive bank customers of their privacy. The National Bank has reportedly used a similar scheme to sell travellers' health insurance to existing customers by debiting their accounts $9.95 a month.

We all know the action that was taken by the cable companies. They told their customers that if they did not hear from them over a certain period of time they were going to be forced to pay for certain services. That was completely outrageous and should never have been tolerated.

Bill C-393 addresses this important issue of the protection of consumers across the country. Industry should not be afraid of this. It should actually be applauding it because it would improve competition. Without Bill C-393, negative option billing allows companies, particularly large companies, to bully their customers. Power is centralized in the hands of those companies. In other words, negative option billing enables the large companies to have greater power over their smaller counterparts. That is not competition. That is called monopolization. And in this country monopolization is outlawed.

Bill C-393 has a number of benefits. It would liberalize trade in this country. It would provide protection for small businesses, not unfairly. It would level the playing field between small and large businesses. Above all else, it would protect the public from being bullied by large companies that seek to add profits to their coffers by virtue of trying to force their customers, through surreptitious means, to purchase goods which they are not interested in purchasing.

Again I would like to compliment the member for Sarnia—Lambton for his leadership on this issue. He is going to get a lot of support from this House. I am sure the Minister of Industry is going to applaud this member for his leadership and work with him to make sure this bill becomes a reality in the very near future for Canadians everywhere.

Competition Act
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-393, an act to amend the Competition Act, 1998 (negative option marketing).

This bill is aimed at prohibiting negative option marketing, which means billing consumers for products or services without their express consent.

In fact, this bill proposes to amend the Competition Act to prohibit such marketing practices by banks, trust companies, credit unions as well as telecommunications and broadcasting companies.

Should this bill be adopted, anyone who commits an offence under the act would be subject to a fine of up to a maximum of $100,000. The director of the Competition Bureau would be required to submit an annual report on this issue. Moreover, the governor in council may, by regulation, exempt any service that needs to be exempted to remain competitive, for example, French language broadcasting services.

I want to emphasize the fact that Bill C-393 is the member for Sarnia—Lambton's third attempt to prohibit negative option billing by cable companies. However, Bill C-393 differs from the two previous attempts in that it goes beyond cable companies.

I would also like to give a brief overview of the history surrounding the introduction of Bill C-393.

In 1994, the CRTC authorized six new English language and two new French language broadcasting services. In 1995, cable companies in English Canada withdrew certain broadcasting services from the basic service and created an enlarged package consisting of the services previously included with the basic service and the new services they were offering, which had been authorized by the CRTC.

Consumers reacted strongly to this disruption of their package. Their reaction was described as a revolt at the time. They did not appreciate the changes, nor did they appreciate the fact that they had to pay more for services they already had and that they had to pay for new services they did not want.

They also did not appreciate having to make known their wish not to subscribe to this new service, or find themselves subscribing by default.

In 1996, the member for Sarnia—Lambton introduced Bill C-216, the purpose of which was to amend the Broadcasting Act so as to prohibit negative option billing in the broadcasting sector.

I would remind members that the Bloc Quebecois was in agreement with the bill in principle, but that we were still opposed for the following three reasons.

First, Bill C-216 represented interference in commercial relations between businesses and consumers, a field of provincial jurisdiction.

Second, the bill was impossible to enforce, there being no technology for providing television on demand. In addition, Bill C-216 would have required the explicit consent of all subscribers for a new channel to be broadcast, which, to all intents and purposes, would have prevented new channels from starting up.

Third, the bill had a particularly unfortunate effect in Quebec, where negative option billing is needed to ensure the widest possible distribution of a broadcasting service, failing which the service would be too expensive or would never get off the ground.

For the record, Bill C-216 died on the Order Paper when the 1997 general election was called.

When a new parliament reconvened, the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton tried again and introduced Bill C-288 on November 25, 1997. Its goal was similar to that of Bill C-216, and its content was almost identical. Unfortunately for him, the bill was not a votable item.

And now we have Bill C-393, which was introduced on April 23, 1998, and is before the House. It also deals with negative option marketing. But, as I said before, it is different from the two previous bills in that it deals with much more than cable television.

The Bloc Quebecois supports of the hon. member's proposal in theory. Let me remind the House that the Quebec government has passed a law banning negative option billing in Quebec.

But the Bloc Quebecois will oppose Bill C-393 for the three following reasons.

First of all, the bill encroaches on Quebec jurisdiction in matters of trade and contracts. As a matter of fact, the Constitution provides that matters of contract, local trade and consumer protection are under provincial jurisdiction.

The second reason we will vote against this bill is that the CRTC already has the authority to ban negative option billing, if it thinks it is in the public interest to use its authority to do so.

Finally, the Bloc Quebecois is opposed to this bill because it will help to reduce the authority of the CRTC and give the Competition Bureau powers that could undermine Canadian broadcasting policy, reduce consumer choice, increase rates and put an end to the development of French broadcasting services throughout Quebec and Canada.

I remind the House that consumers in Quebec made their position about Bill C-216 known to the Senate committee.

In fact, I firmly believe that more than ever French speaking viewers need the protection the CRTC can give them. Members have to understand that Bill C-393 could prohibit every other marketing method except pay per view television and could particularly involve such limited distribution that no new French language service would ever get off the ground.

It could deprive us of any new French channel. But even worse, as my hon. colleague from Mercier put it, the French language media must be allowed to live, not just to merely survive.

For all these good reasons, we will vote against this bill. Still, I want to commend the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton for his perseverance, and he can be assured that the Bloc Quebecois will also persevere in its opposition to his bill.

Competition Act
Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to offer my support for Bill C-393 proposed by the member for Sarnia—Lambton. Negative option billing represents some of the worst corporate behaviour imaginable. By saying that implied consent should allow a company to change the general contractual agreement between a company and an individual we are chucking out a thousand years of common law, the part that says a deal is a deal.

Negative option billing negates one of the fundamental concepts which I have always fought for as a writer and as a legislator, which is that we should always safeguard the public's ability to exercise informed consent when dealing with the world.

I am proud to add that this practice has already been dealt with by the NDP government in British Columbia which amended its consumer legislation to ban negative option billing in that province.

The current bill proposes to amend not the Broadcasting Act, but rather the Competition Act to ensure that negative option billing is prohibited in all sectors under federal jurisdiction, not just those regulated by the CRTC. Banning negative option billing is a way of telling the providers of those federally regulated services that they should never see the public as a pool of cash to be dipped into whenever they need to boost profit margins.

Business should provide a service and if the public wants that service and they can afford it, they can agree to buy it. If a business wants to charge customers for a service it has to ask them first, ask them nicely and make the sale by convincing them that they need it or want it. It cannot change the rules in the middle of the game without permission. It is just not fair.

Sadly we are dealing with this as a result of the other place which sent back a bill just before the last election. As we know, elections are of no concern to the other place. The fact that this took place is a good example of why we need to abolish the other place. The House of Commons said that negative option billing should be banned. The Senate blocked our will. Canadians suffer. The cycle has to go and I believe the other place does too.

I well remember the public outrage in the winter of 1995 when the cable companies introduced new specialty channels and restructured their cable package lineups. I was offended that it was suggested by the companies that they needed this anti-consumer practice to support culture.

Canadian creators produce good work and people want it, so they agree to buy it. Shame on the cable companies for trying to hide behind artists while fleecing the public.

The CRTC allowed the practice in 1995 and this shows how out of touch the CRTC has been.

I support regulation and protection for Canadian culture in the broadcast and telecommunications industries by the CRTC. I support regulation and protection for Canadian culture in broadcasting and telecommunications, but it is evident that the CRTC abandoned its role as a protector of citizens, the consumers, when it allowed the cable companies to gouge Canadians through negative option billing.

This failure also hurt the cable industry. When the new channels were introduced in 1995 it was into a much more hostile environment than the channel originators probably deserved simply because people were so appalled at the negative option billing.

I am pleased to see the measure before us in this parliament and pleased that the member has seen fit to include other federally regulated industries in its scope. I agree with the hon. member that we are also seeing the phone companies and some of the banks testing the waters with these kinds of marketing schemes and it needs to stop now.

We must remember that most federally regulated industries are granted certain privileges to conduct business in a protected way in this country and they provide essential services to the economy and the people of Canada. In return for this privilege, which often means they are guaranteed certain levels of profit as well, they have a higher duty to conduct their business in an ethical way. In some cases, the cable industry for example, the profits are high.

I hope that with the change in focus to the Competition Act we will see the Department of Industry start taking a role in protecting consumers in Canada, not protecting corporate Canada. When I say this I am referring to recent failures of the department and the minister to protect cultural interests.

We have the loss of domestic control of large sections of the publishing industry, a trend apparently encouraged by cabinet. We have also seen unprecedented amounts of corporate concentration in television and other media, all with the applause of Industry Canada. I hope the passage of this bill will encourage a change in the overall implementation of the Competition Act so as to protect Canadian citizens and not just Conrad Black, Izzy Asper and members of the Business Council on National Issues.

I would like to go on record as supporting the previous concerns expressed by the member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre concerning the Competition Act. He expressed his longstanding criticism of the act's ability to deal with pricing in the retail gas market.

With the changing nature of the international economy and the simultaneous trends of increased mergers and acquisitions, but also the growing number of small businesses, we need a much more active competition policy in this country to ensure that the marketplace works well for consumers and for small business owners.

On Monday my leader and I attended a press conference with members of the small business community in Nova Scotia. They raised very grave concerns about the impact of Sobey's assuming control of 75% of the food wholesale market on the east coast. The takeover of Oshawa Group by Sobey's controlled Empire Ltd. would mean that small family restaurants and corner stores will become price takers from one food wholesaler. That will hurt them and it will hurt consumers.

It is a competition issue and it is a consumer issue. I think it is time we made a comprehensive examination of the whole area. As the member from Regina has said, we do not have one-tenth the amount of competition legislation they have in the United States. I am not saying necessarily that more is better but what we have now obviously is not enough. And it is not working for anybody.

To return to where I started this afternoon, I just wanted to indicate my support for the principle in the member's bill. I hope it receives wide support from the House once again, and is not again stalled by the unelected Senate.

Competition Act
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in today's debate on Bill C-393, an act to amend the Competition Act, 1998, with respect to negative option billing.

Negative option marketing is a deplorable practice, and we should all support the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton in his efforts to end this practice. In the case of broadcast services distribution, this practice gave rise to two attempts to amend the Broadcasting Act.

As a result of amendments in the other House, it was established that negative option marketing should not be allowed, except to facilitate the achievement of the broadcasting policy objectives set out in the Broadcasting Act. We do not find the same provisions and safeguards in this bill.

I appreciate that the member for Sarnia—Lambton introduced this bill amending the Competition Act in order to extend its application to banking and telecommunication services. However, there is a risk. Introducing in the Competition Act new regulatory rules that would also apply to broadcasting services may result in conflicts with the Broadcasting Act, as passed by Parliament in 1991.

The Broadcasting Act provides, and I quote “that the Canadian broadcasting system constitutes a single system and that the objectives of the broadcasting policy can best be achieved by providing for the regulation and supervision of the Canadian broadcasting system by a single independent public authority”, namely the CRTC.

Any attempt to deal with a same matter in two different acts with very different objectives can only lead to confusion and court actions. The bottom line is that consumers are those who might have to pay the price.

The Broadcasting Act provides, and I quote “The Canadian broadcasting system should serve to safeguard, enrich and strengthen cultural, political, social and economic fabric of Canada”. Bill C-393 deals only with commercial and economic aspects without any consideration for other cultural, political and social aspects.

The practice of negative option marketing is no longer used by the cable companies. People will recall the fuss raised in the English language market. Consumers simply will not accept this practice, and the cable television industry, which is faced with increasing competition from satellites and wireless systems, simply cannot use this any longer without major loss of business.

However, the bill as it stands would prohibit marketing practices that have been used successfully to introduce a broad range of new French language services to the French language market. Without this flexibility, no new French language service could see the light of day, given the small size of the market.

This experience with the French language market demonstrates two things. First that, when properly used, the marketing practices required for the introduction of new services are supported by consumers. Second, the Broadcast Act states:

English and French language broadcasting, while sharing common aspects, operate under different conditions and may have different requirements.

Bill C-393 introduces a new regulatory power of the governor in council in order to remove certain services from its application for competitive reasons. There are concerns that this new power will not be easily reconciled with the CRTC's licensing powers.

Moreover, since the CRTC's licensing decisions can already be appealed to the governor in council, the latter could find himself in the position of having to deal with a single issue under two different acts with very different objectives.

We must make sure we do not create a legislative dead end that would delay or even prevent the introduction of new broadcasting services that Canadians have a right to expect.

A case in point is the recent CRTC decision to grant a licence to a new aboriginal service called The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. Should Bill C-393 come into effect, I am afraid it might jeopardize the introduction of this service by all cable companies in the country.

The marketing of broadcasting services is an issue that must be dealt with under the Broadcasting Act. This legislation provides all the power and flexibility required to maintain a balance between its objectives and consumer needs.

The bill's previous versions only dealt with discretionary broadcasting services. The current version no longer makes that distinction and could in fact prevent the CRTC from requiring the distribution of broadcasting services under the terms and conditions that it deems appropriate. Incidentally, this provision was the one used by the CRTC to require the distribution of a new aboriginal service, The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.

I listened to the various arguments put forth so far regarding this bill. I agree that we must find a deterrent to the all the practices that were described. However, having read the bill, I come to the conclusion that, in some cases, it does not address these concerns. For example, I do not see how it could prevent the banks from using the negative option or a tacit reply from its clients to provide personal information to a third party.

However, in other cases, I feel that the bill targets practices that it was not meant to target. I am not sure that the intention was to prevent the compulsory distribution of an aboriginal service. Yet, this could well be the end result.

Competition Act
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Reform

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-393, an act to amend the Competition Act with respect to the prohibition of negative option billing.

I would like to recognize the work of the member for Sarnia—Lambton on this issue. I know he has worked tirelessly in the interests of consumers. I respect any member of this House who is prepared to champion an issue despite pressures from within his or her own caucus to be a quiet and dutiful backbencher.

This bill is designed to prohibit the practice by federally regulated businesses such as banks, cable companies and telephone companies of implied consent billing. It would restore the traditional buyer-seller relationship that relies on the consumers' explicit consent before they can be billed for a product or service and would prohibit default billing of consumers who do not absolutely decline a product or service. In other words, it would put an end to what has been called negative option billing.

It is clear that this bill has broad support among consumers frustrated by negative option billing. In particular, there is frustration with cable providers that bill automatically for a new program unless the consumer expressly rejects the service.

Consumer groups have cited senior citizens as examples of people who are often unaware that they have the choice of opting out of the new service and are consequently billed for a program they do not want and cannot afford. This is a source of frustration not simply because of the financial costs but because it is deemed to be a violation of an age-old relationship between buyers and sellers.

It is clear that consumers are looking for protection from negative option billing. The questions are simply: How do we provide this protection? Should it come in the form of Bill C-393, or can this be achieved through market based reforms? I think a balance must be struck.

Bill C-393 had its origins as Bill C-288 which would have amended the Broadcasting Act to restrict negative option billing by cable companies. These companies can currently act with relative impunity as they are federally regulated regional monopolies that are free from the normal constraints of a competitive market. This new version of the bill is broader and instead amends competition laws that apply to all federally regulated industries.

The decision by the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton to use the Competition Act as a means by which to prohibit negative option billing instead of making changes to the legislation that deals directly with the perpetrators of this practice is troubling for me.

Competition laws can profoundly restrict economic freedom and market efficiency. The general move toward strengthening these laws should be approached with caution.

This bill should not be seen as a mechanism by which to restrict attempts made by companies wishing to expand their market share. We must not allow our competition laws to grow steadily more intrusive. We must act vigilantly to create competition through deregulation of our industries in the interest of every Canadian consumer.

The original purpose of this draft legislation in the form of Bill C-288 was to amend the Broadcasting Act. This dealt much more directly with the source of the problem and would be the preferable course by which to protect consumers against negative option billing.

Negative option billing is a practice common to federally regulated industries because they enjoy market protection such that they restrict or limit the consumers' ability to seek alternative providers of a product or service. Therefore the deregulation of federally legislated industries should be the first step to eliminating negative option billing and other practices that do not properly serve consumers.

The Reform Party recognizes the important role of government in creating an economic environment with fair and transparent rules that protect both consumers and businesses. Bill C-393 is a band-aid solution made necessary by policies that assume Canadians will watch anything if it is Canadian, but viewership dictates something else.

Despite the CRTC's pursuing policies which in effect force Canadians to view Canadian productions on cable, viewership for Canadian programs remains about the same. I challenge Canadian producers to offer programming that Canadians and people around the world will want to view.

Competition Act
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Maurice Dumas Argenteuil—Papineau, QC

Madam Speaker, this is the first time I have risen in this House with the name of my new riding, because the name of Mirabel, the former international airport, was added yesterday.

Bill C-393, an act to amend the Competition Act, 1998, negative option marketing, is intended to prohibit this practice, that is invoicing for a good or a service the customer has not expressly approved.

This bill proposes an amendment to the Competition Act and is intended to prohibit this practice in the banking, trust company, co-operative credit association, telecommunications and broadcasting sectors. Contravention of this legislation could result in the charge of no fine to a fine of $100,000.

The director of the competition bureau would be required to report annually on this matter. The governor in council is authorized to make regulations to exempt services that require an exemption to remain competitive, for example, francophone broadcasting services.

This is the background of this bill. C-393 is the third attempt by the member for Sarnia—Lambton to prohibit negative option billing in the cable sector. However, Bill C-393 differs from its two predecessors because it gathers in much more than just cable companies.

In 1994, the CRTC authorized six new English language broadcasting services and only two French language ones.

In 1995, Canada's anglophone cable companies withdrew certain basic broadcast services and expanded the volume to include the services previously distributed on the basic service and the new services offered by the CRTC.

Consumers reacted vigorously to the upheaval in their schedules. Their reaction was described as a revolt, but consumers did not like anyone playing with the schedule, having to pay more for services they had had previously and having to pay for services they did not want.

They did not take kindly to having to refuse the new service, or receive it by default otherwise.

In 1996, the member for Sarnia—Lambton introduced Bill C-216, which was to amend the Broadcasting Act to prohibit negative option billing by cable companies.

Although the Bloc Quebecois agreed with the bill in principle, it was opposed to it for the following reasons: Bill C-216 represented interference in commercial relations between businesses and consumers, a field of provincial jurisdiction; the bill was impossible to enforce, there being no technology for providing television on demand; the member's bill would have required the explicit consent of all subscribers for a new channel to be broadcast, which, to all intents and purposes, prevented new channels from starting up.

The bill had a particularly unfortunate effect in Quebec, where negative option billing is needed to ensure the widest possible distribution of a broadcasting service, failing which the service would be too expensive or would never get off the ground.

The Senate amended the bill in order to protect the francophone market. The bill died on the order paper when the 1997 general election was called.

On November 25, 1997, the member for Sarnia—Lambton very laudably went at it again, this time with Bill C-288. The purpose of this bill was essentially the same as that of Bill C-216 and its objectives were almost identical. At the time, the bill was not made votable.

On April 23, 1998, the member for Sarnia—Lambton stubbornly, and I mean this as a compliment, introduced Bill C-393, another bill on negative option billing.

In the clause defining client, enterprise and service, the member proposes that the bill also apply to banks, trust companies, co-operative associations, broadcasting undertakings, telecommunications undertakings, and insurance companies. The bill says that certain services may be excluded by the governor in council by regulation.

Section 53.1(2) sets out the procedures that will have to be followed by businesses covered under this bill to make sure that the client is fully informed of the nature of the new service, of the date the new service is to begin, of its cost calculated monthly and annually, of the fact that the new service is not mandatory, of the fact that the client may obtain the new service by signing a business reply card, and of any other matter that may be prescribed.

Paragraph ( b ) of this section reads as follows: b ) the enterprise has received the express consent of the client for the purchase or reception of the new service by the client.

Section 53.1(3) says that the prohibition does not apply where the new service replaces another service for which the client has already paid a similar or higher fee, or where the new service is free of charge.

Subsection 53.1(4) deals with offences and punishment. Fines range from $0 to $100,000. This section also provides that officers and directors of a corporation are considered party to and guilty of the offence and liable to the punishment provided for the offence.

Clause 2 gives the Attorney General of Canada the authority to institute prosecutions. It requires the director of the Competition Bureau to report annually concerning the number of complaints received from the public, a description of the complaints and proceedings undertaken under the Act. The report must be tabled in both Houses.

Clause 4 gives the governor in council the authority to make regulations for carrying out section 53, therefore allowing the governor in council to exempt enterprises that would otherwise come under the act, to allow them to remain competitive.

The rest of the bill provides for consequential amendments to harmonize the Competition Act.

I remind the House that, under the Constitution, contracts, local trade and consumer protection are areas of provincial jurisdiction. I must stress this fact.

Under section 93 of the Canadian Constitution, which gives the provinces authority over matters related to property and civil law, contracts, local trade and consumer protection issues come under provincial jurisdiction. These powers enabled the introduction in the Civil Code of Quebec of a provision on contract formulation, attached in part.

The powers given to provinces by the Constitution Act enabled the Government of Quebec to pass the Consumers Protection Act, which prohibits negative option marketing.

I will conclude by recalling the position of the Bloc Quebecois. As I said earlier, our party agrees with the hon. member in theory and points out that the Government of Quebec introduced provisions prohibiting negative option marketing within the boundaries of Quebec.

But the Bloc Quebecois still opposes Bill C-393 as it opposed Bill C-216 and C-288, for the following reasons: this bill intrudes into provincial jurisdiction over trade—

Competition Act
Private Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Unfortunately, I must interrupt the hon. member, as his time is up.

Competition Act
Private Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Parrish Mississauga Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-393. I congratulate the member for Sarnia—Lambton for his dedication to the issue of consumer rights and for his perseverance in bringing the legislation before the House.

Parliament has made substantial changes to the way we conduct Private Members' Business. It is fair to say that it was the passion and commitment of backbench MPs, such as the member for Sarnia—Lambton displayed, that inspired parliament to make those changes.

Like many MPs, my constituents have often expressed frustration at unfair marketing practices that require them to expressly decline new services in order to avoid being charged for them. It is also important to remember that people who pay for services they do not want are often the ones who can least afford it, such as the elderly, young people, recent immigrants and those still learning English or French.

The bill regulates federal institutions, but I will show how insidious negative billing can be. For example, I have two daughters in university who are both charged full fees that include extra health care of $250 a year. Unless they line up at a specific time on a specific day in a specific location and prove they have extended health care through our family, they are automatically charged that money. If they line up they get the money back. Since many of the students are on student loans, federal government money is being sucked up by the universities on negative billing. That gets me very excited and that is why I am in favour of the legislation.

Some minority groups and business people have also come forward to argue in favour of negative option marketing. They offer good reason to allow some form of limited negative option selling to continue.

These considerations deserve to be looked at closely, but this debate also offers the opportunity to consider whether negative option selling is the best method for achieving very laudable cultural objectives. If consumers feel manipulated by negative option practices, this can create resentment toward the cultural product the practice is intended to benefit.

However, it is also clear that current negative option practices are generally unfair to consumers. As legislators we have to do a better job of protecting those interests. Bill C-393 is a very good step in that direction.

Negative option billing relies on the legal concept of implied consent. By not responding the consumer is deemed to have given his or her consent. Some might argue that consumer pressure is enough to end negative option practices. However, as Bill C-393 recognizes, most negative option selling occurs in industries where there is little or no competition. Indeed unfair negative option selling is much less likely to occur in competitive markets because of the threat of losing customers.

I would like to see us all have a pair of shoes arrive from Eaton's, for example, and then be billed a month later because we did not send the shoes back and see how long that practice would last.

Bill C-393 deals specifically with federally regulated businesses such as banks, cable and telephone companies. Those that argue “let the market do its work” are ignoring a central fact of Canadian life. In banking, local telephone service and cable television distribution, consumers are faced with limited choices. Companies in these sectors do not always have to consider consumer pressure because their customers have very few options.

Let us look at the furor in 1995, which has been recognized by other speakers, over the negative option billing by Canadian cable companies. This elicited more phone calls into my constituency office than any other issue has ever affected my riding. Thousands of consumers were outraged. Cable companies backed off at the time. Yet only a few short years later there were reports that they were doing it again, using negative option billing in regional markets.

No one on this side of the House wants the federal government to exercise undue influence over the marketplace, but we have to ask ourselves whether negative option billing further concentrates market share with the dominant players.

It may be time for the legislation. Computer technology has made it much easier for businesses such as the banks to quickly and easily offer new services and change existing ones. Industry Canada's office of consumer affairs pointed out in the 1996 discussion paper that negative option marketing had the potential to be an important tool in the financial services sector. To quote the report:

From a negative perspective these new technologies could allow industry to profit by slipping new charges and services past unsuspecting customers.

However, the report also pointed out:

—responsible service providers operating in competitive markets can enable financial institutions to offer better service more easily and with greater efficiency.

The report also gives examples where negative option marketing has worked reasonably well.

Bill C-393 takes these issues into consideration. It recognizes that there may be situations where a consumer would benefit from a negative option billing arrangement. However, for this to be the case, consumers must be able to make informed decisions and express consent.

Bill C-393 proposes certain steps for a negative option marketing practice to be legal. The bill has received the support of the Consumers' Association of Canada, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada.

There is no doubt that these measures enjoy widespread public support. Consumers feel vulnerable to negative option tactics. When this method of selling is used inappropriately it catches them off guard. They are accustomed to business relationships where no response means no purchase.

They believe they are safe in the understanding that unless they give their consent no one can take money from their account or add a charge to their monthly bill. As I have said, negative option selling is sometimes used responsibly, but in cases where it is used inappropriately consumers are being taken advantage of.

By not responding to a solicitation the consumer is deemed to have given his or her consent. How can the sender be sure that their customer received the solicitation? What if the person is away from home? What if the solicitation simply does not make it into the customer's hands? If it does make it into their hands, how is the consumer approached? Is the negative option included with other information? Is the offer made at the beginning of the document or at the end? Is it clear for everyone who reads it?

These are all good questions. The debate over Bill C-393 offers parliament and the federal government a useful opportunity to explore them.

Since the controversy over negative option billing in the cable industry little has been done to protect consumers from the misuse of this marketing practice. On that occasion and on other occasions consumers have spoken.

They have said they do not want the responsibility of having to thoroughly examine every document they receive in the mail, every business trying to sell them a new product or service.

They do not want to be forced to phone in a response or mail a reply card just to keep their own money. My daughters do not want to have to line up in the cold to get their money back.

There are times when the practice is used appropriately for worthwhile reasons. Let us deal with the misuse of negative option marketing so that consumers can make informed choices.

If consumer resistance is not effective in stopping the misuse of this practice, it is up to the members of this House to act in their interests.

Bill C-393 offers us an opportunity. The member for Sarnia—Lambton should be commended for bringing this issue before the House.

Competition Act
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak on this important initiative on the part of the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton.

He is to be congratulated for bringing to the attention of the House a marketing practice many Canadians find offensive and for giving the House the opportunity to express our concern and support for the rights of Canadian consumers.

Many if not most Canadians dislike aggressive marketing tactics. We dislike pushy sales techniques. It makes us uncomfortable to have to hang up the phone on a telemarketer or to slam the door in a salesman's face.

Aggressive sales tactics often succeed precisely because they exploit our better nature.

The marketing practice dealt with in Bill C-393, negative option marketing, may be a little bit more subtle than the tanned salesman who shows up at your door, but it is just as aggressive and intrusive. Negative option marketing means that a company will send the consumer an offer saying that he must refuse it, otherwise it will consider that he has accepted the offer. It will then send him a bill or, if he are already a customer, add the extra costs to his monthly bill.

Naturally many Canadians find this sales strategy more than a little annoying. There they are sitting at home quietly minding their own business and they are not safely out of reach of businesses pushing products and services they do not need, do not want and maybe cannot afford.

Why should Canadians be required to be eternally vigilant against unsolicited sales?

There are negative option billing arrangements that satisfy both the consumer and the business, for example in certain book or record clubs, but generally these are contractual agreements in which the rights and obligations of both parties are clearly set out and where the consumer has all the information and knows what to expect.

I hope this discussion finds support and solutions from the House.

Competition Act
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

It being 2.20 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2.17 p.m.)