House of Commons Hansard #54 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was debate.

Topics

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

November 25th, 2011 / 12:05 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the following question will be answered today: No. 177.

Question No. 177
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

With regard to the purchase of insured mortgages by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC): (a) how many mortgages purchased by CMHC have defaulted, broken down by (i) relative value of the mortgage, (ii) date of default; and (b) how many mortgages purchased by CMHC are in arrears, broken down by (i) relative value of the mortgage, (ii) number of months in arrears?

Question No. 177
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, CMHC, has been at the forefront of mortgage securitization since 1986, when the corporation introduced National Housing Act mortgage-backed securities.

During the global economic crisis in 2008, it was harder for major financial institutions to secure short- and long-term financing and for Canadian consumers to obtain mortgage financing for property purchases. To help Canadian financial institutions raise longer-term funds and make them available to consumers, home buyers and businesses in Canada, in October 2008 the federal government introduced the insured mortgage purchase program, IMPP. Under this program, CMHC purchased securities consisting of pools of insured residential mortgages from Canadian financial institutions. These were high-quality assets backed not only by the overall strength of Canada’s housing market but also by the government’s own guarantee of the insured mortgages.

The total program envelope, initially $25 billion, was increased to $75 billion in November 2008 and then to $125 billion when budget 2009 was tabled. Thus CMHC, on behalf of the Government of Canada, was authorized to purchase up to $125 billion in National Housing Act mortgage-backed securities from Canadian financial institutions. The National Housing Act allows CMHC to make investments of this nature as part of its commercial activities.

When the IMPP came to an end on March 31, 2010, CMHC had expended $69.4 billion of the up to $125 billion available for purchase of mortgage-backed securities. This program was instrumental in moderating the impact of the global financial crisis on credit conditions in Canada and helping ensure continued access to credit for Canadian consumers and businesses.

All of the National Housing Act mortgage-backed securities purchased by CMHC under the IMPP are backed by high-quality residential mortgages that are insured through CMHC or private insurers, Genworth Financial and Canada Guaranty. As a result, there is no additional risk to taxpayers or to CMHC. This was an efficient, cost-effective and safe way of providing secure and reliable long-term funding to Canada’s financial institutions that benefits Canadian households, businesses and the economy.

To date IMPP has not incurred any losses on its National Housing Act mortgage-backed securities purchased investments from Canadian financial institutions.

In response to (a), there were approximately 662,948 mortgage loans backing the National Housing Act mortgage-backed securities when they were originally issued, which were purchased by CMHC under the IMPP, and there are approximately 332,762 mortgage loans remaining. Of the total number of mortgage loans purchased by CMHC under the IMPP, 2,595 have defaulted. However, mortgages that CMHC purchased under the IMPP are insured against mortgage default, either by CMHC or one of the private mortgage insurers. As such, any losses on defaulted mortgages can be claimed against their mortgage insurance policy. CMHC is compensated by the mortgage insurers and as a result has had no losses under the IMPP program.

CMHC is unable to provide the additional information requested under (i) and (ii) as the data are held, in part, by third-party private insurers.

In response to (b), the percentage of loans in arrears by three or more months under the IMPP is 0.478%, which is comparable to the Canadian Bankers Association arrears rate which, in August 2011, was at 0.40%.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

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

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Closure and Time Allocation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform you that I will share my time with the hon. member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor.

I find it a little sad that, with this government, we always start with the end instead of the beginning. Regardless of what we may think, this government does what it wants and cares little about parliamentary procedures and tradition.

Since the last election, we are seeing too much abuse. This government is abusing its majority, thinking that with the support of 39% of Canadians it can do anything. And this is an inflated number because it does not include the 40% of Canadians who did not vote. So, it is not even 30% of Canadians who supported the government. Therefore, it should at least respect the opinion of all Canadians. It is not the first time that we raise this issue.

Today, we are talking about the government cutting debate short after introducing a bill, and not even after several hours of debate. This government has shown repeatedly its contempt for our institutions. In the case of Senate appointments, it has also shown that it does not respect its own promises. Indeed, the government had committed to appointing only elected senators. However, two weeks after the election, the Prime Minister not only appointed to the Senate individuals who had lost their election, but he did so without consulting the provinces, as he had promised to do.

Recently, we saw that this government had even set criteria to appoint an officer of Parliament. I am not going to get into details, but there were two basic and very simple criteria to select the Auditor General. First, the individual had to be an accountant and, second, he or she had to be bilingual. This government ignored the fact that the appointee had to be bilingual and it hired an accountant who had some experience in a small province. We can already see the abuse of power.

As we have seen so far, there is always a double standard with this government. We believe the government is abusing its power by constantly resorting to closure to avoid debate. That is the only motive we can find today. It has already done it close to ten times over a period of a few weeks, when none of the bills involved were urgent.

We have seen time allocation invoked on six out of 10 bills. That does not mean time allocation has been invoked 6 times. It means time allocation has been invoked on 6 bills at different stages. Just so that listeners are aware of how many stages a bill would go through, normally a bill would go through second reading, report stage and third reading. If we multiply six bills times three, that would be 18 times that the government could potentially invoke time allocation. To date, we have a calculation of about 10, so we can look forward to seeing more of these bills undergoing time allocation for the next few steps.

The government House leader has stated that the issues on the government's legislative agenda so far this session have been discussed in detail since the government took office. I do not understand it.

The point is that during the elections the Conservative government made promises. However, if we look at the makeup of the House, at least 40% of the members are new parliamentarians, so this debate never took place. Also, what was said during the election campaign was not necessarily in a legislative format. Our job as parliamentarians is to debate these pieces of legislation.

That brings me to another subject, one that is not necessarily tied into the debate today. I am a member of the scrutiny of regulations committee, and we see that if legislation is not properly worded, then a lot of this legislation and, in turn, a lot of its regulations get bogged down. We then have things that are not necessarily clear, Canadians are not happy with how the legislation is worded, and the courts have to get involved. It is all just a churning of bureaucracy and a waste of money.

The claim that the government has already consulted Canadians is far from what the government has actually done. It has not consulted Canadians.

It is saying that three or four hours of debate it is sufficient for a bill. However, let us look at some of the bills that have been tabled. As an exaple, the budget is made up of 600 pages of legislation. It is a government omnibus bill. As a lawyer, I sat in on some of the committee hearings and I can tell members that it was not the easiest thing to follow. I just cannot imagine how a couple of hours of debate would suffice for a proposed bill that is going to affect all Canadians, not just the criminals. It will affect all Canadians, because one day they will have to deal with these issues, and if they do not have to go before a court of law, they will have to at least pay taxes to pay for all the costs that are going to be incurred in trying to monitor these pieces of legislation and put them into force.

We are trying to avoid just passing these pieces of legislation blindly. We are trying to ensure proper vigilance before these pieces of legislation are passed; however, that does not seem to be a valid argument for the government.

We in the Liberal Party are trying to do our job, but the government is making allegations that we are obstructing and we are using unreasonable amendments. I can understand the government's point of view, because sometimes the NDP acts irrationally and tries to filibuster and makes ridiculous amendments. However, I think the Liberal Party has made pretty reasonable amendments up to now. We have been first up to bat on making amendments on proposed bills. I think that we have done our job, but the government refuses to allow us to continue to do our jobs. We want the public, whether it be experts or third parties who are affected by these bills, to come forward to testify and make suggestions so that we can actually make these bills work properly.

Let us look at some of the bills for which time allocation has been introduced. The budget implementation bill was introduced and read for the first time on June 14; there was time allocation at all stages, and it was voted on June 15.

This is nothing new. Budget implementation bills are introduced twice every year, plus the budget. The budget implementation bill is not a partisan issue. It is normally the bill that introduces the legislation to put the budget into application.

Usually it is technical. It requires people affected by the budget to provide us with their input and tell us what changes they would like to see; if there are no changes, they at least come forward to give us their interpretation of that particular bill.

In the past, whether it was a majority government or a minority government, we have always been able to get consensus on how many hours of debate we needed in the House and in committee. However, the government seems to be using its majority at will and is just punching the legislation through. It has done that for the two budget bills, Bill C-9 and Bill C-13.

On Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill, the Conservatives invoked time allocation not only in the House but in committee as well. I was there. They suddenly said that they did not want to hear what we had to say. They had made up their minds. It was impossible that they would need opinions from experts. They did not even have to hear from the bar association. They did not even have to hear from the provinces.

Even though members from the province of Quebec had numerous valid amendments to introduce into the bill, the government had already decided it was not going to listen to anyone. I understand that the NDP had numerous amendments that were not relevant to the case and had to be rejected, but my colleague, the member for Mount Royal, introduced some pretty important amendments that were backed up by Minister Fournier from the Quebec government. We are going to have report stage next week, and I am hoping that the government can change its mind and adopt some of the amendments.

With regard to the Canadian Wheat Board, it was not a matter of procedure. Again, that was just rammed through. These farmers are working, and they do not have the time to come here and be notified because everything has to be rammed through.

I see my time is up. I am hoping that I will have some good questions and that I can continue.

Opposition Motion—Closure and Time Allocation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned the budget implementation bill, Bill C-13. Within that bill there are some terribly important measures that we have to get passed, including EI improvements and accelerated capital cost allowance for business, as well as work sharing.

He also implied that bringing this budget bill to a vote to finally get it implemented is somehow something new. Bill C-13 has had more hours of debate at second reading than the average budget bill over the last two decades, and more than any Liberal majority budget bill during that time.

Here we are a few days away from the end of 2011, and we are debating the implementation of budget 2011. Does my colleague not think it reasonable that we should implement budget 2011 in 2011, rather than letting it slide on into 2012?

Opposition Motion—Closure and Time Allocation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate you on the nomination to your new post. I hope you are getting at least a fraction of what the real Speaker gets. You should be justifiably compensated for your work.

That is a great question from the member. This is one of the areas in which I probably both agree with the government and actually disagree, because they probably allotted too much time on second reading.

I love to get these bills to committee and I love to consult with Canadians. I am not a fan of time allocation, but I am not opposed to it. If there is ever a time that a government should use time allocation, it should be at second reading, in order to get the bills out of the House and sent to committee so that they can really be worked on there.

Ways and means is one way to introduce things that are urgent in the budget. There other mechanisms. A budget implementation that has important items in it does not have to be passed overnight. If there are items that need to be passed overnight, they can be put in a ways and means motion and the House will vote on them right away.

Opposition Motion—Closure and Time Allocation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, with respect to our parliamentary democracy, does my Liberal colleague agree that we are dealing with a very fragile construct that exists only by the collective will of the people to maintain the integrity of a system of governance that is the envy of the world when it is working well? It is a tragedy to see it diminished or undermined.

Is my colleague concerned, as am I, that we may in fact be witnessing permanent and irreversible damage to the institution of Parliament as we allow ourselves to stray from the stipulated rules that we have committed ourselves to, which is respecting the roles of both the government and opposition sides in this Parliament, testing the mettle of the legislation put before us through robust and vigorous debate? Is he concerned, as am I, that we may never get the genie back in the jar if we let it erode and diminish any further?

Opposition Motion—Closure and Time Allocation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Winnipeg Centre always makes his questions much more animated than they need be. However, I understand and agree with the gist of his question. I do not agree 100% with it but I agree that we are eroding the traditions of Parliament slowly but surely. It is a little sad to see that some of the government backbenchers, as they are called, do not stand up for some of the things that should go on in committee and do not listen to Canadians.

I think there is room for change. I think that after a couple of years the government backbenchers will be on the backbenches realizing that they are not doing anything and at one point or another will need to react because they will need to account to their electorate.

I think the government is treating Parliament more as a nuisance than an actual voice for Canadians. That is the troubling part in all this.

Opposition Motion—Closure and Time Allocation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I serve on the finance committee. When we went through clause by clause of Bill C-13, we did that pretty quickly. I believe it took a couple of hours. The time that took the longest was the section where we would stop taxpayer money from going to the election process.

The argument is that if there is such a concern, why was there not more time taken in committee where we would expect to see that dialogue take place?

Opposition Motion—Closure and Time Allocation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member. If there is time that is needed to be spent on a bill to make it perfect it probably should be spent in committee because that is where we can actually have third party, people who are interested and actually have the minister come forward. I agree with the member that there should be more time.

Bill C-13 was a 600-page bill and there were a lot of technicalities. More time should probably have been given to the witnesses to prepare so that they could come forward at committee.

Opposition Motion—Closure and Time Allocation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexandrine Latendresse Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague made a very interesting speech. The motion today proposes a non-partisan measure. The members on the other side of the House said that there were many good reasons to limit debate. All we want to do is to give this power to the Speaker.

I wonder if their opposition to our motion has to do with the fact that they do not think they have enough reasons to convince the Speaker to accept their closure and time allocation motions. I would like my colleague to comment on that.