House of Commons Hansard #64 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Securities Regulation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question will indeed be brief.

The Bloc Québécois would have us believe that this is a transfer of funds directly to Toronto. I would like to know if my hon. colleague believes instead that this would give Quebec businesses access to funds to which they would not have had access before.

Opposition Motion--Securities Regulation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, I thought the period for questions was over, since I had been signaled that I was out of time.

Opposition Motion--Securities Regulation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

Can the member repeat his question very briefly?

Opposition Motion--Securities Regulation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to repeat the question.

I wanted to know if, contrary to the Bloc Québécois, which implies that fewer funds will be available for Quebec, my colleague believes that this will give businesses access to many more sources of funds.

Opposition Motion--Securities Regulation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, if I believed that this proposal would deprive Quebec, my native province and the province where the riding I represent is located, of the financial tools needed by the Quebec business community, I would be against it. I think that this will give Quebec corporations better access to equity from elsewhere in Canada.

Opposition Motion--Securities Regulation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the motion. At the outset, I am totally against it.

It is my premise that Canada needs to advance its productivity and prosperity agenda. Canada needs an efficient, effective economical securities regulator that meets the needs not only of the companies both large and small operating in our great country, but also, and perhaps more important, meets the needs of investors looking to invest in Canadian companies rather than non-Canadian companies. My premise is the only way this can be done is through a national securities regulator.

From a geographical point of view, Canada is a very large country. From the population point of view, it is an extremely small country. We have 34 million people spread out across a vast geographical area. I think we comprise between 1% and 2% of the world's equity markets. Right now we have at least 10 different regulators. We are the only country in the world wherein we would find this type of a system. It cannot work, and I do not think it will work going forward. It is disjointed and duplicitous.

From personal experience, what happens is a lot of the smaller provinces rely on the rulings of the Ontario Securities Commission. I happen to come from a small province. We have approximately 134,000 people, and this is a good example. Are we expected to have our own securities commission, our own securities regulator, our own rules, laws and policy guidelines to deal with any securities issue that comes across our desk?

Again, any person would realize that it is not workable not only in Prince Edward Island, but in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. It will not and can not work.

Another issue, which has been written about extensively, is the inability of our securities regulators to adequately enforce the existing rules. We have had a number of scandals over the years where investors have lost a lot of money, and no one seems to ever be convicted.

Perhaps the most grievous example is Bre-X. I believe capitalization in that case reached approximately $3 billion. There is more gold in my hand than there was in that mine. Investors from one part of Canada to the other part of Canada were fleeced of large amounts of money, and as far as I am aware nobody was convicted. This repeats itself over and over again.

The only way the country will move forward, so we have a very effective and efficient system of capitalization of our companies, is to have a national regulator. That is what I would like to see.

We have seen it. We are into an era of globalization. We have one in Vancouver, one in Alberta and in Montreal. Again, it is consolidation. However, if we do not take steps to have a national securities regulator in place in Canada, what will happen in the long run? If the present trend continues, companies and investors will not look at any of the Canadian provinces. They will bypass the Canadian provinces and look to the New York Stock Exchange.

A lot of resource-based companies in Canada rely on the capital markets. A lot of investors and pension funds rely on opportunities to invest their money. A lot of people want to invest in Canadian companies. If we have 13 separate regulators with their own 13 separate sets of rules, laws and regulations, that will create a lot of uncertainty. I do not think it can work in the long run.

This is very close to the productivity and prosperity agenda. I believe everything that goes on in the House should be looked at through the lens of whether it would enhance the prosperity and productivity of our country. With a national securities regulator, there is no question that it would.

As an aside, and this is related to other issues that perhaps are not in the motion, we have the whole economic union issue which calls for a national securities regulator, but just as importantly, it also calls for the reduction and hopefully the elimination of interprovincial trade barriers that exist.

In this particular country, we have 13 separate jurisdictions, and as everyone in this House is aware, there are many barriers put up to the trade of goods, the movement of goods and people, and services across interprovincial boundaries. There are many barriers in the interprovincial sense that are causing many problems with our productivity and prosperity.

It is good to see some of the initiatives being taken by the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. They recognize that. They do have an agreement and hopefully other Canadian provinces will emulate those particular agreements that do exist.

Hopefully, if we look back and we are here in 10 years time, many of those interprovincial barriers will disappear. However, if we have 13 different securities regulators, that in and of itself will be a very serious issue that will be looked at.

As I said previously, Canadians are investing more. This is how people, indirectly through their pension funds, fund their retirements, through RRSPs and other instruments that are available. It is natural that Canadians are looking for Canadian opportunities.

We know the land. We know the companies. We know what resources are out there. We know what ought to work and we know that it might not work, but again, if Canadians do not see that there are proper regulations, laws and policies, they will just move on and they will look of course not only to the New York Stock Exchange but the European stock exchanges, Tokyo, and others.

This relates to a larger discussion on what I call the need for a strong central government. We cannot build a country based upon 10 semi-autonomous jurisdictions with a moat or a firewall around each jurisdiction, each one speaking for itself.

Canada needs and cries out for a strong central government, a government with a pan-Canadian vision, a government that speaks for all people wherever they live, whatever sector they are employed in, and this whole issue of a national securities regulator cries out for that.

I realize there are some jurisdictional issues. I know this is an issue that has been worked on by successive governments of different political stripes. We have not been, as of today's date, successful in our quest for this objective, but I do hope that we move toward that.

I know there are always trifle issues as to where this office is going to be located and where that office is going to be located, what this office does and what that office does, but I am hopeful those issues can be resolved through negotiation.

However, if anyone leaves this debate thinking that this country will benefit through the development and expansion of 13 separate security commissions, with their own laws and regulations, then I submit to this House that they are mistaken.

In conclusion, I say to this House that this motion, in my respectful opinion, does not make a lot of sense. It does not advance the prosperity and productivity agenda of this country. The efficiencies and effectiveness that one would like to see in the system will not be present. I urge everyone to vote against this particular motion.

Opposition Motion--Securities Regulation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague. I am a bit surprised to see that he does not seem to know that the existing Canadian model, which is made up of the financial authorities from each province, has been recognized by the OECD as one of the most efficient in the world. The World Bank says the same thing. I do not think that centralizing those decisions would be a gain.

If the legislative assembly of the member's province had adopted unanimously a motion such as the motion adopted by the National Assembly of Quebec, which calls upon the Conservative government to abandon its project, and if afterward, the finance minister of the member's province had forwarded a similar written request, after the budget, would the member have the same attitude? Would he not have respected the will of the people from the province he represents?

In Quebec, the existing model works well. It has allowed the development of original models such as the Fonds de solidarité des travailleurs and the stock savings plan. It has also allowed, in the case of Norbourg, the prosecution and conviction of people who acted illegally.

It is therefore Quebec as a whole, including the government represented by a federalist party, the Minister of Finance and the other parties at the National Assembly, who express their wish and call unanimously upon the federal government to abandon its project to establish a single system in Canada. What kind of attitude would the member have if he was in the same situation? Would he not do as the Bloc members are doing?

Opposition Motion--Securities Regulation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I see a lot of change going on in international securities regulations and sale. There is a lot of consolidation and globalization.

The point that I attempted to make in my brief remarks is that I do not see any way that 13 separate jurisdictional regulators, with their own laws, policies and regulations, will work.

The hon. member talks about my province. It is a very small province of 135,000 people. It does technically have a director of securities or a securities commission, but I know from personal experience that it basically rubber stamps whatever decisions, whatever opinions, come out of the Ontario situation, which in and of itself is not an effective way to go forward.

This country represents a very small number of people. Thirty-four million is an extremely small number of people compared to the world's population. It needs, it cries out for, one national securities regulator. Whether that will ever happen, I do not know. We do not know in this debate, but as we leave the debate, that should be the goal of everyone here.

Opposition Motion--Securities Regulation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask my colleague if he is the least bit afraid that this will deprive his province of a single dollar. Does he think that access to the entire Canadian securities market will deprive his province or the companies in his riding or province of the funds needed to help companies progress and expand their markets?

Opposition Motion--Securities Regulation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, the short answer is yes, it would. It would depend how it is implemented.

Right now, the way it works is that if a prospectus is approved in each Canadian jurisdiction, there is a fee levied by each province. It depends a lot on the fees implemented by the individual provinces, and that is another issue.

Those fees and taxes would have to be built into any type of a national program and those fees would have to be spread out among the provinces. It would have to be revenue neutral. I think every province would want that. To answer the question, yes, that would have to be built into the system.

Going back to the smaller provinces, it is my understanding that they basically adopt whatever opinions, decisions and directives that come out of the Ontario system. It probably makes a lot more sense in the long run if we would just formalize what is going on in the street at any particular time.

Opposition Motion--Securities Regulation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville.

There is a good reason why the Bloc Québécois tabled a motion today calling on the government to desist immediately from trying to create a common securities regulator. This is a Quebec and provincial jurisdiction. In addition, this initiative has been universally criticized in Quebec.

When I say that there is a good reason, I mean that this is a fundamental issue for us, directly related to the status of the Quebec nation. The Autorité des marchés financiers is currently responsible for regulating securities in Quebec, and the system is working very well, thanks in particular to the passport system shared with the Canadian provinces except Ontario. This is a fundamental issue for us, therefore, because it is directly related to Quebec’s status as a nation, as recognized by all the parties in the House.

It is hard to imagine how the government could recognize a territory and a group of people and give them a certain status only to insist then on taking away a power they already had, especially as we are talking here about a key power that is vital for managing financial products and services within Quebec.

The Autorité des marchés financiers, which is responsible for managing securities in Quebec, has quite a diverse mission. It provides assistance to consumers of financial products and services and ensures that the financial institutions and other regulated entities of the financial sector comply with the solvency standards applicable to them as well as with the obligations imposed on them by law. It also supervises the activities connected with the distribution of financial products and services, supervises stock market and clearing house activities and monitors the securities market. Finally, it sees to the implementation of protection and compensation programs for consumers of financial products and services, and administers the compensation funds set up by law.

It is not immediately apparent, therefore, how the creation of a common securities market would improve a system that is already working very well. There are no doubts at all on the international level about the competence of the AMF or how well the system is working. As a matter of fact, the OECD’s most recent economic outlook puts Canada in second place when it comes to the regulation of securities.

Earlier, I heard the member for Charlottetown say that duplication does not work, to explain in part his disagreement with the Bloc Québécois' position. He said that duplication does not work and never will. I would point out to him that this is precisely why the Bloc Québécois is fighting for sovereignty in Quebec: duplication will indeed never work.

I would add that, in a report on global financial markets, the World Bank considered Canada as a leader in securities trading. This means that, at present, the securities commissions from every province and Quebec are allowed to make themselves heard at the International Organization of Securities Commissions. Given that the Canadian Constitution states that securities fall under the jurisdiction of the provinces, individual jurisdictions can legitimately represent themselves at the IOSCO without going through an intermediary. Quebec has to continue to enjoy this voice it currently has on the world stage.

In February, the government announced that an expert panel would be appointed to draft model legislation to establish a single securities commission.

The Conservative government's intention to create a single Canada-wide securities commission has been confirmed. The Conservatives are prepared to overstep Quebec's jurisdictions and we think that is unacceptable. What is more, how can we accept this intention when we know there has been consensus for a long time and there still is consensus in Quebec against this truly centralist idea of the Minister of Finance.

Following a motion tabled by Pauline Marois, leader of the Parti Québécois in the National Assembly of Quebec, the National Assembly unanimously passed a motion asking the federal government to abandon its Canada-wide securities commission project.

On October 2, 2007, Monique Jérôme-Forget, Quebec's finance minister, said that the Minister of Finance's proposal would drive up costs since this plan adds another layer of bureaucracy. We have enough bureaucracy, but they want to add more.

The Quebec federation of chambers of commerce supports the position of Quebec's finance minister and that of the Bloc Québécois. On February 28, 2008, Monique Jérôme-Forget sent a letter to the Minister of Finance on the creation of this expert panel. In my opinion, this letter sums up quite well the position of Quebeckers and the consensus in Quebec I was talking about earlier.

Ms. Jérôme-Forget said the following to the Minister of Finance:

I have noted the appointment of your expert panel charged with making suggestions and recommendations—

First of all, I reiterate that the existing regulatory system in Canada works well and satisfies both the needs of pan-Canadian participants and the interests of the various regions. Accordingly, I will continue to oppose the implementation of any model leading to the concentration of market oversight responsibilities in the hands of a common or single regulator, regardless of how you call it.

She also said that the passport system works quite well. In closing, she also said the following about the expert panel mentioned and included in the budget bill:

—I note that you have ignored the proposals made to you by the Provincial-Territorial Council of Ministers of Securities Regulation.

I will close by saying that, indeed, it does not make sense to go down this path.

Opposition Motion--Securities Regulation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member will have two minutes left to finish his speech after question period. We will now move on to statements by members. The hon. member for Brandon—Souris.

Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame
Statements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to offer congratulations to Mr. Gladwyn Scott of Carberry, Manitoba, who has been officially named as one of this year's inductees into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

Gladwyn, now best known in Manitoba as one of our provinces hardest working, grassroots volunteers, is also being honoured for his hard work on the national stage. He has served as the vice-president of Baseball Canada and scouted for the Blues Jays and Braves.

If one were to ask, many would say that Gladwyn's most notable accomplishment was his time as a coach with the first ever national baseball team competing in the 1967 Pan Am Games, including an upset win over Cuba. He has also served as general manager of Canada's youth team, winning bronze in 1987.

Gladwyn Scott continues to serve his community and province, chairing the Manitoba Senior Baseball Council and working with the host committee for this year's triple A nationals being held in Brandon.

Gladwyn Scott will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on June 28 and, on behalf of myself, the constituents of Brandon—Souris and, indeed, all Canadians, I offer him our thanks and congratulations.

Magloire Dionne
Statements by Members

March 11th, 2008 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to congratulate Mr. Magloire Dionne on his 100th birthday, which he celebrated on March 2, 2008. Mr. Dionne is a remarkable person who put a lot of time and energy into his family. He currently lives in Saint-Quentin, near his family.

I had the great pleasure of attending the party organized for Mr. Dionne at Manoir Mgr Melanson, along with his relatives and friends and staff of the residence. Like many other people, I was inspired by Mr. Dionne's remarkable courage and energy and his warmth.

On this unique and joyous occasion, the people of Madawaska—Restigouche join me in wishing Mr. Dionne a happy 100th birthday. We hope that he will remain in good health and continue charming us with his vitality and dignity for many years to come.

Organic Honey Company
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Johanne Deschamps Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to pay tribute to a business in my riding called Miels d'Anicet, in Ferme-Neuve. Owners Anicet Desrochers and Anne-Virginie Schmidt recently won the prestigious Renaud-Cyr award, in the artisan producer category.

Created in 1998, the Renaud-Cyr awards honour the expertise of professionals, producers and processors who work on enhancing Quebec products and cuisine. This award is a great honour in the Quebec restaurant community, and will provide more opportunities for this organic honey company. In fact, the entire Antoine-Labelle region will benefit from the increased visibility of Miels d'Anicet products.

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois and myself, I would like to congratulate the producers and thank them for bringing our region's potential to the attention of the rest of Quebec.