House of Commons Hansard #140 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was border.

Topics

Telecommunications Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

Madam Speaker, the member was a hard-working member of the committee and asked many thoughtful questions and made many very useful interventions. There is one intervention for which we did not receive an answer, at least I do not recall receiving one but perhaps he does. The question has to do with the cost of the registry itself.

It seems that this registry is supposed to be self-supporting in terms of the money that it generates, in that the people who are involved will pay for the services rendered. It is something like a $2 million initial fee to set it up, or something like that, I am not quite sure. The hon. member probably remembers in detail.

Would the member speculate about the possible costs after it is set up? It seems that the firearms registry was originally supposed to cost $2 million, which is a number somewhat similar to the present one, and that one I think has mushroomed to a number that is way beyond the $2 million. I think it is approaching $2 billion now. I wonder if the hon. member could tell us what he thinks will happen to the actual cost of the do not call registry.

Telecommunications Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Kelowna—Lake Country and I have been on the industry committee for a couple of years and I have enjoyed his interventions there as well.

The hon. member has raised a very good point. The testimony we had regarding the cost was vague. Between $1.5 million to $2 million was the suggested cost in setting it up. It does seem eerily familiar in terms of other registries set up by the government. That is why we insisted on an early review of it.

It is very important to note that a big change could happen in terms of some of the charitable organizations or businesses in that their calls may whittled down, but at the same time they will have to pay for this registry. Small businesses are affected by this and they would not necessarily have the same resources in structure or finances to weather the storm of change as some larger businesses might have. It could be significant. That burden cannot be passed on to them alone. There has to be a greater accountability.

The CRTC seemed a little surprised that it would be enrolled through that system. It begs the question, is that the best vehicle for doing this? Will it have the proper support from the government under its current mandate as well as this additional duty to do the job effectively and not pass off a system that might become so dysfunctional or difficult to deal with that the costs escalate quite significantly?

There are two issues here. I spoke extensively about those groups and organizations that could be affected and I will not reiterate that. I would point out that it could lead to a list which is not very good for the Canadian public, if it is not updated as often as it should be, if it is not as accurate as it should be, or if it is not as accountable as it should be. All of those things could lead to greater frustration by the Canadian public about the value of a do not call list. If that happens, there would be an erosion of Canadian confidence in the registry, as we have seen with the long gun registry. There would be further frustration out there.

That is why we should focus on the fact that there has to be reports back to Parliament. That is not sufficient in itself, though it was the reason we insisted upon the three year review.

Quite frankly, this would mean a significant shift in our GDP if there are major changes and businesses and charitable organizations lose access to revenue. It affects not only the employees but also the services in our communities related to funds generated through telephone solicitation.

Once again, the reason that the New Democrats support it and I believe everybody in the House of Commons supports it is that at the end of the day we should have some ability to choose how we are contacted in our homes. That is why we are supporting the bill.

The hon. member raised a very important question in that it can erode the confidence of the Canadian public if the system becomes one that is not sufficiently able to keep up with the workload. We have to ensure that it will be accountable to the taxpayers.

Telecommunications Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, the member mentioned a significant negative impact on charities as a consequence of the bill. I am pretty sure that under new section 41.7, which lists the exemptions, registered charities under the meaning of section 248(1) of the Income Tax Act are exempt.

Would the member care to clarify what he said, that this would adversely affect charities?

Telecommunications Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, I would be happy to clarify that because it is one of the things on which I have frustration with the government. It has separated the charities. Those not registered as charities under the Income Tax Act will have the possibility of being completely denied access to telephone solicitation. We are talking about firefighters associations, police associations, the Lions clubs and a whole series of groups like Greenpeace and MADD. A number of groups and organizations may not necessarily get the exemptions.

We have been pushing for provincial standards. For example, in the province of Alberta they are considered the same. We have another bill related to federal income tax incorporation which eventually will bring these other groups into line with those types of current procedures.

We believe we should not be tiering charitable organizations like that. If the CRTC, when it has its hearings with the company that is procured to do this, blocks some of these charitable organizations out, then we will see them left with no ability to raise funds in the way they have done in the past.

That is important. At times, some of these organizations use telephone solicitation to not only to reach their current donor groups but also to expand them. They can do that through small contracts. They employ a contractor for example to do a region, and they take advantage of that.

I used to work for a telephone solicitation marketing company which did charitable procurement for our firefighters. It was contracted out to sell circus tickets so the firefighters association burn victims program would be able to raise funds. It was able to do that regionally, which was necessary.

I hate to see those types of opportunities denied to these groups and associations, which is the potential with the bill. There are anomalies that could affect those groups and organizations. That is why the review is important. We could have a series of groups and organizations that have lost their stream of revenue or that cannot expand upon their system coming back to Parliament. That is a reality we are dealing with in the bill. Having the differentiation between them is the reason for that.

Telecommunications Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I have found the debate so far to be very constructive. I am pleased that all parties appear to be in support of Bill C-37, the do not call list legislation, for the obvious reasons. Canadians are absolutely fed up with the intrusions on their personal lives.

I will comment briefly about the bill and then address the issue about registries and the relationship some members have drawn between the firearms registry and the do not call registry. As well, I will comment on the point raised by the member in his speech with regard to the impact of Bill C-37 on charities, which is not exactly a fair reflection of what we are talking about. These organizations are not for profit and are not registered charities. They do not issue receipts but fundraise for charitable purposes. That is the difference.

Based on polls cited by Industry Canada, 97% of Canadians have a negative reaction to these kinds of calls. Anyone with a valid telephone number will get a call and it will come at the worst possible time. All hon. members have received those kinds of calls.

Under the existing regulatory framework, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is responsible for this area. The CRTC definition of telemarketing is the use of telecommunication facilities to make unsolicited calls for the purpose of solicitation where solicitation is defined as selling or promoting a product or service or soliciting money or moneys worth whether directly or indirectly and whether on behalf of another party. This includes solicitation for donations by or on behalf of charitable organizations. That is the way the law exists today.

As many members have noted, the industry committee has made a number of changes. These substantial changes have been highlighted on the reprint that came back from committee.

Current CRTC regulations state that telemarketers must remove a customer's name and telephone number from their calling lists upon request. Most members are well aware that it is pretty difficult for someone to get a word in edgewise with a telemarketer. If an individual has not given some indication that there is some interest in listening to the rest of the message, that call is terminated fairly quickly. Clearly something had to be done.

Under the current regulations, telemarketers who fail to comply with that regulation or other regulations can have their service suspended or disconnected by the telecommunications service provider. Penalties range anywhere from $10,000 to $250,000.

Telemarketing is a very lucrative business. About 18% of telemarketing calls result in some business being done. That is the reason why many telemarketing businesses are opposed to the legislation. It will impact their business.

The commission observed specifically that there would be better enforcement if the commission itself imposed appropriate fines on telemarketers that breached the rules. This is included in the bill. There also is the ability for the commission to delegate various administrative duties. It means that another independent organization could be established to administer the operations and administration of the do not call list. This is yet to be determined. I know a number of questions have been raised about the operations, the administration and certainly the cost.

As indicated at committee stage, a number of changes were made. When one thinks about it, the bill would establish a do not call list and would provide the legislative framework for the creation of the list and the administration of a national do not call list. This is important because now we would provide a one-instrument vehicle in which Canadians could say that they wanted to be on the list because they did not want to receive unsolicited calls from people trying to sell them goods or services for profit.

The major changes that have been made to the bill by the committee have to do with exemptions. The member who spoke previously talked about the exemptions, most significantly the exemption for a registered charity within the meaning of section 248 of the Income Tax Act.

We all understand the importance of charitable giving. I also have received a number of interventions from charitable groups and organizations that have registered charities, have a licence number and are able to issue receipts to Canadians who patronize their organizations, whether it be the local hospital, the Red Cross, the Terry Fox campaign or whatever it might be. These kinds of things the committee believe, and I think Canadians would acknowledge, are very significant instruments which have been used by the charitable sector to seek support for their charities.

The member who just spoke stated that there would be some impairment on the charitable sector. That is not exactly the case for a registered charity. We are talking about not for profit organizations that may very well do what would be characterized as charitable work or community service work. He mentioned, for example, the local Lions Club or Mothers Against Drunk Driving, et cetera. These organizations are not registered charities. They would not be exempt and would have to apply.

They are eligible, however, to apply to register as a charity and to have the full exemption that other charities enjoy. To the extent that traditional telemarketing techniques are a principal source of their revenue, it may very well be in their interest to register as a charity pursuant to section 248(1) of the Income Tax Act.

Three other exemptions that have not been talked about very much are also important. Political parties would be exempt. This probably will not excite a lot of the public because that means political parties will be able to continue to utilize their broadcast calling techniques for support purposes. A nomination contestant, a leadership contestant or a candidate of a political party also would be exempt, as well as an association of members of a political party. Therefore, the local riding associations would be exempt.

Under the Canada Elections Act, we have laws which try to enhance and promote our democratic electoral system. It is extremely important. I know members have come across the situation from time to time where they meet resistance. It might be a superintendent of a particular apartment building who says that he does not want anyone disturbing the residents. Under the elections law, candidates have the legal right to access the electors. It is here to complement existing law and it received the support of all parties.

Although it may seem like an exception that maybe Canadians were not thinking about, I very much expect that they would understand that it is important that those who seek to represent them at any political level of government have the ability to communicate with people using the telephone and why it would not be prohibited under this act.

The bill contains substantial definitions consequential to the exemptions that I mentioned. There are some administrative, monetary penalties that I am not going to go through. Members have already handled this very well.

The issue of funding has come up as well. The registry is expected to be funded on a cost recovery basis from the telemarketers themselves. As I have indicated, about 18% of the calls they make do generate revenue for them. It is a very substantial business and obviously there has been a reaction to this, but there appears to be considerable support for the do not call list. In a survey that Environics did on behalf of the Government of Canada, 79% of the respondents queried on telemarketing supported a national do not call list and 66% of the respondents said that they would likely sign up for this service.

There are a number of important priorities to balance. Obviously, it is important for telemarketers to be able to do their business, but there does come a point in time in which there is an intrusion which is beyond reasonable. Anybody who is in political life knows that prime time is during the dinner hour. This is when most people will get their calls. I am not sure what others' experiences are, but I consider phone calls to my home to be important. I ensure that I answer the phone within a reasonable period of time and it is quite a disappointment to be called away from dinner or from my family to answer a call from somebody who cannot pronounce my name.

I would mention that there is a proviso under the bill which says:

Any person making a telecommunication referred to in subsection (1)--

That means people who are entitled to do this.

--must, at the beginning of the telecommunication, identify the purpose of the telecommunication and the person or organization on whose behalf the telecommunication is made.

Therefore, even with regard to those who have an exemption under this, people are going to get, for the first time, information about who they are being called on behalf of and what this is all about. I think that is extremely important because often it starts off with “Hi, how are you” and a few other things to find out whether or not this is possibly a reasonable time to get our attention.

It is part of the marketing technique, but it is very clear that if people know right off the bat who they are being contacted on behalf of and the organization is identified, even from those who are authorized to make these calls, it will give Canadians an opportunity to indicate whether or not they are interested at all and to get off the phone and back to their families or their meal.

I suggested that some telemarketers did not support this legislation. There were some comments made by them. One suggested that the current rules for telemarketing are sufficient to regulate marketers, through voluntary means or company specific do not call lists that had been an industry standard for years among legitimate firms. That is an interesting statement for someone to have made, but the fact remains that 97% of Canadians have said they are annoyed by receiving these calls, so the current regulations are not working. This is not a valid position to be taken by the telemarketing industry.

It was further argued that being on a do not call list removes a customer's chance to learn about new products and services that could improve their lives in some way. It removes a business opportunity to reach a consumer direction.

I am sure that it does remove an opportunity, but all of a sudden now there is this balance between a consumer's right not to be effectively harassed. It seems that most people who have a need for a product or a service have ample opportunity, through the flyers in the various newspapers or that are deposited in their mailboxes or through the yellow pages or through the advertising that happens on television or radio or whatever, to apprise themselves of who is in the business and where they can get it. I really do not believe that is a compelling reason for this do not call list to proceed.

Some of the commentators have pointed out that there is an alternative to adding more regulation or more bureaucracy. When called by a telemarketer, an individual may request to be put on the company's do not call list and then hang up. In fact, that is the current regulation. Someone can make a specific request and under the current CRTC regulations telemarketers must do that, so I am a little concerned that even the telemarketing industry for some odd reason does not understand that these arrangements are already in place.

There are a number of organizations, particularly the Canadian Marketing Association, which support this legislation. It also represents the telemarketing group as well. Looking at what is necessary here, there is probably ample evidence that even the industry itself realizes that there is a balance to be maintained and that it should be self-funded by the telemarketing industry, and that there should be penalties for those who do not follow the legislation.

Let me conclude with regard to the costs. A number of members have suggested that while we know how bad registries can be, look at this terrible national gun registry and how much it costs. It was only supposed to cost $2 million and it actually cost $2 billion. However, when someone hears that, it seems to be incredible. How could that possibly happen? What they do not say, and watch the temperature of the water go up in here, is that there was a very significant backlash to establishing a national firearms registry. Handguns had been registered since 1966, I believe.

The additional registry was to register long arms. Let me suggest that long arms were in fact the addition to it. I was here at the time when Alan Rock was the justice minister. It really surprised me that criminal activity using long arms was actually greater than for handguns. I know that today criminal activity due to the use of long arms actually is half of what it was prior to the gun registry coming into effect.

I know that over 90% of the applications to register firearms under the new registry were deliberately submitted with errors on them to the extent that we could not have them processed electronically. This meant that human resources had to be hired in extensive numbers to process them manually and to contact all of the registrants.

I would suggest that when the lobby against having a national gun registry counsels gun owners to falsify information or to make mistakes on their registry applications so that it messes up the system, it is going to cost more money. It is like the demonstrators in the Los Angeles riots. The local people were trashing their own neighbourhood and said, “there, take that”. Well, yes, it did take more money to do it.

What are the consequences? We do know that long arm crime has gone down. We do know that front line policing officers consult and go to the national firearms registry on an average of 5,000 times each and every day. That is over 1.8 million consultations with the national gun registry. Furthermore, one would ask, why is it that front line police officers would want to go and look at the national firearms register?

I can think of some examples. For instance, if I am a police officer and I am called to a particular address for an incident of some sort, I want to consult the registry to find out whether or not there is a firearm in that home and whether or not I should take specific precautions. I also want to know that if I find guns, whether or not I can find out whether a firearm has been properly registered and, if not, whether additional charges are to be laid.

When we objectively look at this, we can say that Canadians support it. I know that in my riding, when we did a survey, we had over 75% of the constituents, and in fact in Ontario, supporting a national firearms registry for safe communities, for safe streets and to protect Canadians.

The national firearms registry has nothing to do with some grandiose plans to somehow run away with everyone's guns. All I know is that we have a national firearms registry that is consulted at least 5,000 times each and every day by front line policing officers.

I know that gun owners can continue to collect firearms today. I know that target shooters and sports shooters can continue their hobby. I also know that collectors can continue to collect and to hunt. Nothing has changed. The cost of registration for individuals was not an enormous amount of mone; it was a reasonable amount.

Probably the most important feature of this national registry is in terms of its operating costs. Costs are now being limited to a maximum of $20 million a year. It has been demonstrated to Canadians that there are rules to the game and responsibilities of owning a firearm. People have now properly registered their guns and been properly trained. Gun owners properly store their guns and their ammunition, and use it appropriately in terms of transportation and use.

Having said that, it is very clear that Canadians now are familiar that gun owners who are registered owners are really the responsible ones and Canadians as a whole feel more comfortable knowing that firearms are being used more responsibly. That is the benefit of the national firearms registry system. That is why this government supported it back then and that is why we support it still today.

Telecommunications Act
Government Orders

2 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

The member will have time for questions and comments after question period.

London Police Service
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise in the House today to speak about an important part of my city of London's history.

This year marks the London Police Service 150th anniversary. Among the Service's greatest achievements was its expansion and its modernization. This is because of a growing population and also because we all know that the technological and scientific advancements have factored into our modern day police work. The Service actively took up these challenges and has evolved today to be a very distinguished organization that we are all proud of.

Londoners of 1855 probably could not have imagined the work that is being done now and what the future had in store for their police service. The changes may have seemed incomprehensible and non-recognizable but not everything would be different.

Today, 150 years later, constables still march their beats, following in symbolic paths of their predecessors, both men and women, who have met the challenges through the generations.

We congratulate them and we thank them.

Agriculture
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

Madam Speaker, over the past four years, farmers in my constituency have experienced two droughts, one devastating frost and now a flood.

Extraordinary levels of rainfall this past September have basically wiped out another crop for farmers in my riding. The CAIS program and other federal farm programs provide absolutely no relief.

Historically low commodity prices, a rising Canadian dollar, record high fuel prices and BSE have simply created a perfect storm for our agricultural producers.

Farmers have nowhere to turn. They can only hope that the Liberal-NDP coalition government will come to their assistance. The Liberal-NDP coalition government must take immediate and effective action to help our farmers.

If the Liberal-NDP coalition continues to ignore the problems of Canadian farmers there is only one choice. We will need an immediate federal election that will bring to power a new Conservative government that is committed to standing up for Canadian farmers.

Philippine Heritage Band
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Kadis Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, this weekend I had the great pleasure of attending the 25th anniversary celebration for the award winning Philippine Heritage Band.

In offering a unique blend of English and Filipino music, this world-class marching and concert band adds vibrancy and energy to countless events in Thornhill, Vaughan, Ontario and internationally. I congratulate it heartily on its outstanding efforts which have won it best band and community leadership awards.

I applaud the band's distinct and consistent determination to have youth and adults working together for the betterment of the community and itself.

The band exemplifies the very best of Canada in terms of talent, volunteerism and strengthening the multicultural fabric of our country.

I wish the band great continued success in the next 25 years.

Bernard Voyer
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Louise Thibault Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, “We need only to surpass ourselves.” That phrase summarizes in a nutshell the philosophy of Bernard Voyer, who was given an honourary doctorate by the Université du Québec à Rimouski last Saturday, October 22.

This recognition, following on so many others such as the National Order of Quebec, the Order of Canada, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society gold medal, and being listed as one of the 50 greatest Canadians, clearly reflects how proud the university and the people of all of eastern Quebec are of Mr. Voyer.

Mr. Voyer, that model of determination and commitment, does indeed surpass himself continually, although benefiting from the presence of the companions in his adventures. When faced with what seems to be an insurmountable obstacle, his reaction: “I will find the energy I need in the challenge itself and in my desire to succeed”.

All of my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois join with me in congratulating Mr. Voyer on his achievements and thank him for his example to us all, both young and old.

Durham District School Board
Statements By Members

October 24th, 2005 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Judi Longfield Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, grade 5 students from across the Durham District School Board were invited to submit a 500-word essay on what it would be like to be a police officer.

After reviewing hundreds of essays, the Durham District School Board brought forward five finalists. These finalists came to the Durham Regional Police Headquarters on September 29 and read their essays in front of a community panel.

Ten year-old Vanessa Foran, a grade 5 student at Florence M. Heart Public School in Whitby, was chosen the overall winner.

After swearing her oath of office on October 17, Vanessa Foran took up her new duties as chief of police for the day. Wearing her personally tailored chief's uniform, “Chief Foran” visited several units to learn more about policing. Vanessa's special day also included a helicopter ride on Air 1.

I ask all members to please join me in congratulating Vanessa Foran, a spirited young woman who has shown what one can accomplish if one is prepared to just give it a try.

Gordon Russell
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, for over 50 years, Gordon Russell and his wife Frances have helped to create positive outcomes through athletics for many of Edmonton's troubled youth and they founded the Gordon Russell Crystal Kids Youth Centre.

Gordon, member of the Order of Canada and Native Counselling Services of Alberta, Citizen of the Year and inductee into Edmonton's Sports Hall of Fame, is also on the honour roll of the City of Edmonton's Boxing and Wrestling Commission.

Gordon passed away very recently at the age of 79.

At his funeral, young and old, from all walks of life, paid tribute to this person who left this world a much better place. A boxing ring bell rang 10 times; the boxing legend was finally down for the count.

Gordon Russell played his life as he played sports: a humble man with courage, dedication and fair play.

Gordon Russell, truly a humble hero, will be missed.

Entrepreneur of the Year Award
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mike Wilson, president of Atlantic Industries Limited in Dorchester, New Brunswick.

On October 6, the Minister of ACOA presented Mr. Wilson with the 2005 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for Atlantic Canada.

With more than eight plants in Atlantic Canada and sales offices and distribution centres all across North America, Atlantic Industries provides high quality service and innovative solutions in the field of steel structures.

I have personally visited Atlantic Industries and I have seen its impressive workforce, leading edge technologies and outstanding products.

Mike Wilson comes from a distinguished family of entrepreneurs and community leaders. He is not only an outstanding business person, but also a dedicated and generous benefactor to numerous good causes.

If there were more Mike Wilsons, the rural areas of New Brunswick would be better off.

On behalf of the Government of Canada, I thank him and Atlantic Industries for their contribution.

Chatelaine Magazine
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, back in 1960, Chatelaine magazine began, with articles encouraging women to develop their full potential.

The magazine is turning 45 this year. To mark this event, it has decided to devote a 300-page October issue to the theme of happiness.

No hearts and flowers here. They are looking at happiness from a scientific point of view and the analysis of a professional survey. Women from age 10 to 100 are included, women who are in good health and women who are not. In short, it is an examination of the living conditions of women both here and elsewhere.

The Bloc Québécois salutes Chatelaine for the aptness and usefulness of its articles. Women readers are not the only ones to benefit, society as a whole. does as well. The anniversary issue is a great read.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, for the first time in 50 years a Canadian has been nominated as president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. I am pleased to congratulate Janet Davidson on this achievement.

Ms. Davidson's experience is exceptional. She is the chief operating officer of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, the largest regional health authority in Canada. Her achievements include serving as president of the Canadian Red Cross, as vice-president for the Americas and as vice-chair of the standing commission, the highest level of governance in Red Cross/Red Crescent.

Janet Davidson superbly exemplifies the qualities of dedication, compassion, ability and the internationalism that Canadians so highly prize.

Her nomination is an honour for Canada. We wish her the best in her quest to become the president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.