House of Commons Hansard #112 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was office.

Topics

Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my hon. colleague. He gave an excellent speech that was also very interesting. He broached the topic that I presented this afternoon from another angle, one that was not necessarily taken at committee. I find that rather strange. It is a more down to earth angle, the angle of consequences. I would like to congratulate him and say that I feel very privileged to work in committee with someone who has so much experience and who brings these kinds of ideas to the table.

Given that the committee members had asked for studies, a business case, before going any further in terms of a megaproject or megacontracts, I would like to ask him if he is at all concerned about the solicitation of interest and qualification that appeared this summer? What does he think of that? What does he think of the fact that even the terminology has changed, when the minister had just told us that we would never see professional services disappear from these huge contracts, as well as the fact that the term “professional services” has been changed to “managed services”, which means one might presume that they are simply avoiding the question? How does the member feel about all of that?

Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I share my colleague's concern that the access is becoming more difficult in terms of being able to understand the proposal process. Frankly, many of the witnesses we heard from in the small and medium size business sector said it seems that just as they begin to learn the game, the rules change. Not only is it a difficult and complex process, but it is an ever evolving, ever changing process that makes it that much more difficult to take part in. It becomes a smaller and smaller elite group that has figured out the magic formula. It is like Rumpelstiltskin where one has to know the magic word in order to spin straw into gold.

The terminology changed, and my colleague referred to compounds, the degree of difficulty facing those wishing to avail themselves of these very lucrative and important contracts not only for the continuity of keeping the employees in these companies busy, but growing the companies to be able to hire more Canadians.

As I said, we heard overwhelming testimony. That is not my language; that is the language of the drafters of this report, the researchers, and the language was ratified unanimously by committee members. The committee heard overwhelming testimony that SMEs are frustrated with the federal procurement process, from cumbersome and expensive to complete RFP processes, to the government not paying interest on overdue accounts. Many SMEs have simply given up trying to bid on federal government contracts.

Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's involvement in our committee. He brings forward a lot of good points, especially today when he is talking about cutting taxes. I hope the next time we bring forward a budget that cuts taxes he will divert from his usual practice of voting against and vote for that particular initiative.

However, I thank him for his interest in promoting the idea of lower taxes especially for small businesses as they are one of the major contributors to the Canadian economy. As a matter of fact, they employ many Canadians and they are absolutely the driver of the Canadian economy.

As it relates to a number of things that we heard in committee, I agree with him and I supported the wording, that people were concerned about and frustrated by the process.

I talked to a person who works in a department today. He is working to expand the standing offers for that particular department. It is moving from a case where over the last 20 years there has been a single supplier for a service, essentially a monopoly. The government is actively pursuing additional competitors to that particular contract so that we do not continue to have a single supplier.

I agree with the hon. member. The government responded to the concerns. We see this in action on a daily basis in every department, across departments. Specifically today, I heard of one where it is moving away from essentially a monopoly. I wonder if the hon. member thinks this is a good process.

Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, there certainly has been the widespread belief that some government contracts are structured and bundled in such a way so as to favour one obvious beneficiary and sometimes year after year.

I will use for an example the Royal LePage relocation contract, a multi-billion dollar contract to move military families and government personnel and take care of their real estate needs. It seems like a stacked deck. It is one of those ring toss games on a carnival midway where no one can win. Only the one who has the magic formula seems to get this contract and it is always Royal LePage.

If there is progress in that regard, I would be the first to celebrate it, but I think we have a long way to go. It is not a fair game yet.

Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault Sudbury, ON

Madam Speaker, the member for Winnipeg Centre does such a great job of representing Winnipeg.

I had the honour of sitting on that committee a few times and I heard some of the serious concerns that many of the small and medium sized enterprises and businesses across our great land had to deal with when dealing with the government.

One of the things that I have been actively involved with is the credit card issue. Small and medium sized businesses are being hammered with interchange fees that continue to drive their profits down. We seem to be stifling innovation because they do not have money now to spend on research or for hiring more people.

I can think of some great businesses in my great riding of Sudbury, such as Herold Supply and B & J Music. All of these businesses are--

Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:25 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I regret to interrupt the hon. member but I would like to give the member for Winnipeg Centre 30 seconds to respond. I will soon have to interrupt this debate for other business.

Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Sudbury for raising a critically important issue for small and medium sized businesses.

I should point out that my colleague from Sudbury has been the single, foremost champion on the issue of credit card reform and credit card fairness, exposing the atrocious gouging that takes place in today's marketplace associated with credit cards. It is not only the consumer who is being victimized but small businesses have been stuck with these interchange fees, user fees, et cetera and they are also victims.

We are glad we have champions like the member for Sudbury who is advocating on behalf of ordinary Canadians and small businesses like those he mentioned in his riding.

Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings on the motion at this time. Accordingly, debate on the motion is deferred until a future sitting.

The House resumed from November 5 consideration of the motion.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

It being 5:30 p.m. the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion No. 388 under private members' business in the name of the hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #129

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from November 16, consideration of the motion that Bill C-395, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (labour dispute), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #130

Employment Insurance Act
Private Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Employment Insurance Act
Private Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

It being 6:10 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.