House of Commons Hansard #89 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was application.

Topics

Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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Some hon. members

Yea.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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Some hon. members

Nay.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
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Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded divisions at the report stage of the bill.

Call in the members.

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred until the end of government orders today.

The House resumed from November 20, 2007 consideration of the motion that Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canada Post Corporation Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

When we last discussed Bill C-14, there were 10 minutes left for questions and comments for the hon. member for Hamilton Centre. Questions and comments?

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

Canada Post Corporation Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise in this House today to support Bill C-14, an Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act, on second reading. This bill recognizes the reality that international remailing companies have been operating in Canada for several decades.

Why should we punish these small businesses that play an important role in our economy? As I will try to show this afternoon, it would be preferable to examine the bill in committee than to defeat it, as some members of the House would like to do, without hearing from experts and those who will be affected.

This bill seeks to address an existing weakness in the Canada Post Corporation Act. A difference in the wording of the English and French versions of the provisions of the Canada Post Corporation Act dealing with the exclusive privilege of the corporation has allowed other companies to deliver mail to people in other countries.

Acting on this difference in wording, the Canadian International Mail Association has been able to collect and distribute letters weighing up to 500 grams addressed to foreign recipients for 20 years—I repeat, for 20 years. Recently, Canada Post decided to exercise the exclusive privilege giving it a monopoly over mail to foreign addresses.

International remailers have been in operation for more than 20 years. They operative almost exclusively in three large metropolitan areas—Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. The revenue of these international remailers here in Canada is estimated at about $50 million per year, which is less than 0.8% of Canada Post’s annual revenue. There is no competition in other areas. They do not compete for distribution of mail in small rural communities where Canada Post may be an important employer, if not the most important. Nobody competes with Canada Post for the role of the standard bearer of our presence in Canada, a contact point between government and citizens all across the country.

This sector has prospered for more than 20 years. Obviously, its success is not so great as to significantly affect Canada Post’s revenue. Last year, Canada Post generated total revenue of $7.3 billion. While the postal delivery sector was stable, remailing companies did not take in much more than $50 million. One can see that they do not represent a Trojan horse for Canada Post, despite what the corporation and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers may say. I am a former member of that union. In fact, I was a shop steward.

As my hon. colleague, the member for Eglinton—Lawrence, put it so eloquently in his speech in this House on this very bill on November 20, 2007, and I quote:

As members of the House of Commons, our first obligation is to ensure that no legislation goes through the House that damages the potential available to any Canadian and, concomitant with that, the obligation to nurture an environment that gives Canadians that same opportunity.

Indeed, members of the Liberal opposition and I have been aware of the potential impact killing this legitimate business, killing this legitimate competition, and its impact on Canadians. We have been working hard to remedy the situation.

I would like to give a little history of what Liberals have been working on, on this issue. On March 22, 2007, the member for Etobicoke Centre wrote the Minister of Transport as the then Liberal critic for crown corporations. He insisted in his letter that the government make the necessary legislative changes to continue to allow these firms to operate. If I may just read the actual letter:

Dear Minister: I am writing to you about the ongoing concerns of members of the Canadian International Mail Association who face difficult challenges due to pressure being applied by Canada Post Corporation to eliminate competition in the international mail market in Canada.

It is my understanding that the government supports the maintenance of the competitiveness of the international mail delivery market and has indicated its intention to make the necessary legislative changes to enable these firms to continue to operate.

I note that during question period on October 26, 2006, you stated that:

And my colleague is referring to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities:

“many members from all sides of the House have indicated support on this issue. Indeed, the new government supports small businesses and competitive economic conditions needed to ensure their survival. This is why the government will be coming forward in a few weeks with substantive steps to deal with the issues regarding international re-mailers”.

Then my colleague from Etobicoke Centre goes on in his letter to say:

Please be assured that should you introduce this important legislation, there would be significant support from the opposition members.

Respectfully,

Member for Etobicoke Centre

Critic for Crown Corporations

That is not all. On October 17, 2007, the Leader of the Opposition affirmed this support in a letter to the president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Ms. Deborah Bourque. He explained that while Liberals supported international remailers, we do not support the deregulation of Canada Post. I would like to read that letter dated April 17, 2007:

Dear Ms. Bourque: On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our Liberal Caucus, I am pleased to have this opportunity to respond to your letters and clarify our position in regard to international re-mailers and the deregulation and privatization of Canada Post. I regret the delay of this response.

As you can appreciate, this complex matter has stirred much debate in the past few years from all affected parties. After careful consideration and study of the issue it is our intent to support the continued operations of international re-mailers within Canada.

Although I understand your concern in regard to this issue, it is important to note that international re-mailers have been operating in Canada for several decades now. The Liberal Party does not believe that hurting these small business owners would be in the best interests of Canadians.

That said, it is also important to note that the Liberal Party does not support the deregulation and privatization of Canada Post.

As your correspondence and related material will also be of interest to...the Liberal Critic for Crown Corporations, I have taken the liberty of forwarding a copy of our exchange for his consideration. I am certain that he will be happy to provide a more detailed response to your concerns.

In the meantime, I hope the above helps to clarify our position on the issue. Thank you for taking the time to write, and please accept my warmest regards.

Leader of the Official Opposition

Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

As early as March and then in April 2007, official spokesmen on behalf of the Liberal parliamentary caucus and the leader of the official opposition and Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada made it very clear that Liberals would support and do support maintaining the right of international remailers, and that we do not support any move to privatize or to deregulate Canada Post. I hope that no one in the House will try to mix both issues, because they are separate issues.

Let me go on and continue to provide a little of the history.

So, on May 9, 2007, the hon. member for Eglinton—Lawrence, as Liberal critic for transport, infrastructure and communities, brought forward at the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities a motion which I think would settle the issue between Canada Post and the remailing companies. After several hours of discussion, my hon. colleague's motion was passed, as amended, by a vote of eight to three.

On May 18, the motion put forward by the hon. member for Eglinton—Lawrence, on which other Liberal members of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities had worked, was introduced in the House of Commons as part of the fifth report of the committee. The report stated, and I quote:

That the Committee recommend that Government issue a directive to the Canada Post Corporation pursuant to the Minister of Transport's authority under Section 22 of the Canada Post Corporation Act and in accordance with the Financial Administration Act, stating that:

i) The Corporation shall, at its option, either discontinue, withdraw or consent to a judicial stay of proceedings in respect of allegations or judicial findings that entities have or continue to violate the exclusive privilege in Section 14 of the Canada Post Corporation Act with respect to letters intended for delivery outside of Canada and, where an injunction has been issued with respect to letters intended for delivery outside of Canada, the Corporation shall consent to an application brought to dissolve such an injunction, until the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities has the opportunity of reviewing the matter and formulating recommendations to the Government and Canada Post.

ii) The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities conduct this review of section 14 of the Canada Post Corporation Act by end of 2007.

The government drew inspiration from this fifth report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities for its Bill C-14, introduced on October 19, 2007. That is the bill we are debating today.

I also heard from people working in this sector in my own riding. On October 24, five days before the minister actually tabled government Bill C-14, I wrote to the Minister of Transport requesting that he take such action on this important issue. I would like to read my letter into the record. It states

Dear Minister...

I recently met with a representative from Spring Global Mail, an international mail delivery service company, which has an office in my constituency. The representative from Spring informed me about the deep concern he had for the international mail service industry in Canada. As of November 2004, Canada Post was granted a permanent court injunction to enforce its monopoly powers over this sector, thereby making this industry slowly disappear.

This simply is not right as it would dissolve a growing Canadian market that not only includes international mail delivery companies but small and medium sized businesses, as well as some of Canada's largest corporations in printing and financial field[s]. It would be a shame to lose a twenty year old sector of our country's economy to unequal economic practices.

I support equal economic opportunity for all Canadian businesses and would completely disagree with Canada Post having full jurisdiction over this sector. Fixing this injustice is simply the right thing to do. I would support legislation that would revitalize this industry and reverse the court injunction so as to stop the bleeding.

I signed it “Sincerely”, with my name, as member of Parliament for Notre-Dame--de-Grace--Lachine, with a certified copy to Mr. Stephane Forget of Spring Global Mail.

I think this makes it quite clear that the issue of international remail delivery has been something that Liberals have been active on, as I am sure other members sitting in the House have been, and which I believe needs to go to committee.

As I said, there are people in my riding who have been working in this sector and who have been working legitimately in this field for over 20 years. Should Canada Post and CUPW succeed in their efforts at painting this as an issue that impacts rural mail delivery and succeed in having the bill killed before it truly can be examined, it will not help the honest Canadians in my riding and in other ridings in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, the centres where these companies are located. These centres are not located in rural ridings. They are not even located here in Ottawa. They are located in three main urban centres: Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

I am assuming, but I could be wrong, that the NDP may be supportive of Bill C-14. I hope it is supportive, but it would not surprise me if the NDP is not. Should Canada Post and CUPW and the NDP succeed in killing this bill, they will also be killing the jobs of many hard-working Canadians. To attempt to claim that this has anything to do with rural mail delivery is simply false.

I worked for Canada Post. I was a shop steward for Canada Post. I am a defender of rural mail delivery. I can tell members that Canada Post's efforts in its study on rural mailboxes, for so-called health and security reasons, are going to endanger rural mail delivery much more than international remailers will ever do.

I would say that anyone, including CUPW, the NDP and Canada Post, that attempts to link this to the protection of rural mail delivery or to privatization or deregulation is simply not stating the facts and is trying to fearmonger. This has absolutely nothing to do with any of those three issues.

I would beg colleagues in the House not to attempt to make that linkage, because it is a tenuous one at best and that is putting the best spin that I can on it. It is simply not true.

I will end there and say that I urge members in the House to support Bill C-14 being referred to a committee and also to protect our honest, hard-working Canadians in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver who depend on those companies for their jobs.

Canada Post Corporation Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Order, please. It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, Guaranteed Income Supplement and the Budget; the hon. member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, Manufacturing and Forestry Industries.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

Canada Post Corporation Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine and the congratulations that she offers to the minister, the Prime Minister and this government for bringing forward this legislation.

Indeed, I have three questions for her. First, is it true that there are approximately 10,000 jobs in the industry, which is what has been represented to me, that those jobs indeed would be lost in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver if this legislation is not brought forward? That is the first question.

Second, why did the Liberals not bring forward legislation to correct this particular issue during the period of time they were in government and this was an ongoing issue? It took this government to do so.

Finally, her seatmate two seats away, the member for Halton, has advocated privatization of Canada Post. Although this government is clear that we are not taking any steps that way, does she agree with the member for Halton that privatization of Canada Post would be in the best interests of Canadians? We certainly do not believe that is the case.

Canada Post Corporation Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

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

I will begin with the last question first.

I read the letter from the Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada that was addressed to Deborah Bourque, the president of CUPW. In it, our leader makes very clear the Liberal policy. The Liberal parliamentary caucus and the Liberal Party are opposed to privatization and deregulation of Canada Post. It is clear. No, we do not support it. N-O.

In terms of the second question the member asked, about the representation that approximately 10,000 Canadian jobs are dependent on the passage of Bill C-14, I believe the member is correct in that figure. I believe that is the approximate number of jobs. These jobs are located principally in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. That is why I made the point that I did. When certain elements attempt to fearmonger and say that should the international remailers be given the legislative authority to continue to compete on that little slice of Canada Post business it will somehow put into jeopardy rural mail delivery, it is simply not true. It is not.

Shame on anyone who attempts to make that argument. If it is CUPW, shame on CUPW. I am a strong unionist, but it is not because one is a unionist that one is without error and that one's argument is always right. And it is certainly not because one belongs to the NDP that one is always right. I would say it is more that one is usually wrong.

Canada Post Corporation Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I recognize the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé, but I would like to point out that other members would also like to ask questions. We have six minutes remaining.

Canada Post Corporation Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will ask my question quickly.

I understand that the Canada Post Corporation is not in a deficit position; it is currently making a profit. I live in a rural area, and I am convinced that the postal service there has not improved in many years. Post offices have closed, meaning that people in rural areas must now drive several kilometres to pick up their mail.

This proposal that we are debating seeks to take $48 to $50 million of Canada Post Corporation's profits. I am almost certain that this would have an effect on rural areas and mail delivery. It would eat into the revenues. We typically never reduce the postal services in Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver. It is usually the rural areas that feel the cutbacks.

Citizens are currently very unhappy with postal services. I do not think that this bill will improve these services.

Canada Post Corporation Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I will answer very quickly.

In 2006, Canada Post had revenues of $7.3 billion, with a net profit of $320 million. The remailing industry has been around for more than 20 years. This industry is not what has hurt rural mail delivery.

I worked at Canada Post and I was unionized. I can say that this has nothing to do with remailing. It is simply Canada Post's desire to make its deliveries as cost effective as possible. Canada Post did not even think that it had exclusive rights over international mail. So it has never challenged the existence of this industry.