House of Commons Hansard #69 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was plan.

Topics

Bill C-25--Notice of time allocation motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, that type of language does not working necessarily for moving this legislation forward.

It is actually very interesting that the member talks about this because in n the PRPP there can be third party providers and it can be a variety of different agencies. It could be a bank or a credit union. However, when people sit down with that provider, they will have the option of looking at the types of investments they want to put their PRPP in.

Depending on their age, people may be looking at different risk levels as they invest. For example, people who are a little younger may be willing to sustain a little loss and ride through the markets for the longer term. They may want to take on more risk. People who are getting closer to retirement may say that that is their nest egg and will not want to submit it to a lot of risk. They may put it in a portfolio that will actually have very little risk. That portfolio may not be stock market related, it might be government bonds or other things.

The market does what a market does. It goes up and it goes down. We all know that and we have all seen it. We tell our kids that. To try to predict the market is a very dangerous game.

I think people need to work with a good, proper third party person who is an expert in this field and who can help manage that risk so that they can actually get that value out of their money when they go to retire.

Bill C-25--Notice of time allocation motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about confusion, rhetoric and fluff. The member talked about the plan specifically to the official opposition, which was about raising EI premiums, and went on at length about being the job killer that it is, yet earlier this month premiums did just that, they went up.

I was wondering why the member let that happen under his watch if he truly feels that they are job killers?

Bill C-25--Notice of time allocation motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I guess the hon. member was not listening. I was actually talking about CPP and what would happen if we were to raise CPP, which is that it would actually kill jobs. That is why we did not want to see that.

Again, in looking at what was in my speech and what I said, I was very clear. In talking to groups like the Canadian Federation of Independent Business about raising CPP, they actually said that it would reduce jobs. That is why we did not go that route.

Bill C-25--Notice of time allocation motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for clarifying exactly what this is about.

I would like to know, from someone from Saskatchewan, what the importance of portability is in this pension plan where people are able to move from one job to another. Is that important to the people of Saskatchewan?

Bill C-25--Notice of time allocation motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is nice to have a question in regard to the bill. I must commend to member for sticking to the topic, which is Bill C-25, the PRPP.

In Saskatchewan, the importance is very huge. We do see employees change jobs, one to another, especially the younger they are. If people have a job when they are 25 and start a PRPP, they can keep moving that. That versatility is with them as they change jobs or maybe even change career paths. The PRPP is theirs until they retire. That is the beauty of this legislation.

Bill C-25--Notice of time allocation motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Prince Albert will have five minutes remaining for questions and comments when the House next resumes debate on this question.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is great to be back in the House after our Christmas recess and to be able to address and speak with my colleagues.

Just last week in Davos, the Prime Minister was singing the praises of Canada's system of banking regulation. Ironically, this comes at the same time as the government is all too happy to watch an important cornerstone of Canada's regulatory regime weaken due to the failure of the government to force banks to utilize the dispute resolution mechanism of the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments.

In October last year, TD followed RBC's lead in opting out of the OBSI dispute resolution mechanism and instead moved to using a private law firm hand-picked by the bank to resolve complaints that could not be fixed by the in-house resolution system.

The government spins this decision to let banks leave OBSI and deal with disputes through private firms as allowing choice in the marketplace. Choice for who? It is clear it is not investors, consumers or small businesses. These groups are stuck with the dispute resolution mechanism chosen for them by the banks. In fact, it is impossible to find members of those communities who support the government's position.

The Canadian Foundation for Advancement of Investor Rights sent an open letter to the Minister of Finance calling on the government to make the use of OBSI for dispute resolution mandatory saying that:

One single dispute resolution service provider is necessary in order to avoid fragmentation, inconsistencies, serious potential conflicts of interest, complainant (client) confusion and enable the detection of systemic or widespread issues.

The Consumers Council of Canada says that the withdrawal of TD and RBC from the banking side of OBSI:

--threatens the health of the system of dispute resolution and redress that has distinguished Canada during the current period of global economic disorder.

Instead of protecting their customers, the choice that the government is championing is for the banks, and when the banks are confronted with the choice between a comprehensive dispute resolution mechanism or a Bay Street law firm that is more interested in keeping the banks business than in protecting consumers and small businesses, who will it choose?

In October of last year, the same month as TD was allowed to walk away from OBSI, Canada signed a G20 accord on handling banking complaints which stated:

Recourse to an independent redress process should be available to address complaints that are not efficiently resolved via the financial services providers and authorized agents internal dispute resolution mechanisms.

How can the current process be independent if the banks get to choose who hears customers' complaints? Regulation should not be administered by Bay Street law firms on an issue that is as fundamental to the proper functioning of the economy as the banking sector. Consumers and small businesses will never be able to believe that their complaints will be properly addressed if the banks are stacking the odds in their own favour.

It is time for the government to match its words on banking regulation with action. The global economic recovery will rely on consumers and small businesses having confidence in the economy and the banking sector more generally. In order to ensure confidence in the banking sector, small businesses and consumers must have access to a single, independent dispute resolution service like OBSI.

6:30 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as I have mentioned previously in the House, our Conservative government has shown a clear commitment to protecting Canadian consumers, particularly when it comes to financial and banking sectors. We understand that Canadian families use financial products and services every day, be it using a credit card when they are shopping, cashing a cheque, making a deposit at a bank or paying off their mortgages.

We believe Canadians deserve a system that is safe, secure and fair. That is why since 2006 we have enacted numerous measures to support consumers of financial products, measures that, unfortunately, the NDP actually opposed and voted against.

The list includes measures like: protecting consumers with new credit card rules; bringing in a code of conduct for the credit and debit card industry to help small businesses respond to unfair practices; banning negative option billing for financial products; and shortening the cheque holding period. Furthermore, we have made mortgage insurance more transparent, understandable and affordable. We have also created a task force on financial literacy to help consumers make the right financial choices and we have done much more.

In budget 2011, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, we built on that record with more consumer-friendly measures that I will cite: banning unsolicited credit card checks; moving to protect consumers of prepaid cards; and beginning to implement the task force on financial literacy's recommendations. Again, the NDP voted against every one of those measures. In fact, with respect to the issue of the NDP member for Sudbury and what he asks about today, he voted against a very important solution. Specifically, he voted against the Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act.

Currently the Bank Act requires all banks to have dedicated procedures and personnel in place to address consumer concerns and complaints. In addition, it also requires that banks belong to a third party dispute resolution body. However, there is a wide variation in terms of the procedures that are used, a concern shared by many consumers and our Conservative government.

To better protect Canadian consumers, the Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act will force banks to belong to government approved, independent third party bodies, which the member of the NDP failed to recognize. It will also establish uniform regulatory standards for internal complaint procedures and give the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada the authority to monitor and enforce compliance. These are things perhaps the member of the NDP missed when he voted against such an important measure.

This will ensure that consumers receive consistent treatment and the highest level of protection. Despite the NDP opposition, we have passed that landmark legislation and are working to finalize regulations. Perhaps that explanation will allow the member to think more prudently when voting again on topics that might secure some protection for our Canadian consumers.

6:35 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, with all that, I would also like to welcome my colleague back to our usual debates in the evening on this topic.

She talked about a long list of things that the Conservatives have done, but all of those things have been proven ineffective time and time again. However, the OBSI is an organization that has been around for a decade or so. It has already been in existence. The government needs to ensure that this organization, independent from the banks, has the necessary regulation in place so we do not see further banks walking away and so that we can protect our small businesses and consumers when they have a dispute with the big banks.

Right now the government is favouring the big banks by allowing them to choose Bay Street law firms over independent organizations that actually protect consumers and small businesses.

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Through you, Mr. Speaker, I also want to take a moment to say hello to my colleague across the way. Unfortunately, he is a lot further away this time. He used to sit closer to me so we could hear one another very well.

Nevertheless, while the NDP likes to talk about protecting consumers, its record is very clear. NDP members have voted against every measure to protect consumers that has been introduced by our Conservative government. They have also, unfortunately, attacked consumers and families by opposing and voting against every tax cut to help consumers. For example, the GST reduction helps Canadians every day when they make purchases for themselves and their families.

In fact, the NDP wants to take more and more money out of the wallets of Canadian consumers. Even worse, one frontrunner from the NDP leadership, Brian Topp, is touring Canada right now demanding that Canadian families pay more tax. He said:

The only time we ever hear our current political leaders utter the word “tax,” it's immediately followed with “cut.” That has to change.

I hope that this higher spending, higher taxing will stop. That kind of thing will destroy our Canadian families and destroy our economy.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Adjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

NDP

Sylvain Chicoine Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, on September 22, 2011, the government imposed a new communications protocol for the RCMP, which stipulates that all RCMP officers must consult the Minister of Public Safety and obtain his approval for any non-operational communications. For any major operational events, all communications must be vetted by the public safety department before they can be made public.

This makes no sense. One task cannot be separated into parts without affecting another. Communications are an integral part of the work of the RCMP and the government should not be interfering in RCMP business.

When I asked a question about this on November 21, 2011, the parliamentary secretary's only response was that imposing a communications protocol was standard procedure and normal protocol and that I was smearing the noble institution that is the RCMP. That response was completely condescending towards the opposition and towards Canadians.

The problem is that the Conservative government wants to politicize the RCMP, which will now have to follow the political direction given. The RCMP is an institution that defends the rule of law and our democracy. When the RCMP takes political direction, the rule of law is subverted. Instead of accepting the problem and trying to solve it, the government prefers to control RCMP communications to avoid or cover up scandals. This obviously should not be the government's modus operandi. It should instead agree to be accountable and should be prepared to tackle problems head-on and solve them over the long term.

From this point forward, the RCMP must also flag opportunities for Public Safety Canada ministerial events. This protocol is also designed so that the minister can interfere in the RCMP's public events. They refer to this protocol as a ministerial event proposal.

A former assistant to the deputy minister mentioned that this new protocol requires a major shift in attitude within the RCMP. This just proves that this is not a standard policy for the RCMP, which is not used to such political interference.

All Canadians are aware of the latest developments in the RCMP female employee harassment affair. The commissioner must have the independence necessary to show Canadians that the RCMP will be completely transparent and accountable in dealing with this matter. This political interference will just give Canadians the sense that the Minister of Public Safety is trying to hide something.

The Conservative government said that prior departmental authorization, which must be obtained before the commissioner can speak to parliamentarians, is a policy that dates back to the last Liberal government. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Liberal policy simply said that the commissioner had to notify the minister of any statement that might be made before the committee and any discussion that took place during a committee meeting. There was no requirement for the commissioner to seek the minister's permission to meet with parliamentarians.

Is the commissioner free to talk to and meet with people or not? The government has to clarify this for Canadians. Once again: will the minister respect the RCMP's independence and do away with this restrictive protocol?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Adjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Portage—Lisgar
Manitoba

Conservative

Candice Bergen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by saying how much our government respects and honours the RCMP and the work that it does, as do all Canadians. We are very proud of the work that the RCMP does. In fact, there are few symbols that are more recognizable and intrinsic to Canadian identity than the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The main role of the RCMP is to enforce Canadian law and keep our streets and communities safe. However, like any other agency of government, it reports to Parliament through a minister of the Crown, namely the Minister of Public Safety. The public safety portfolio is comprised of five agencies in total. The other four are the Canadian Border Services Agency, CSIS, Correctional Service Canada and the National Parole Board of Canada. This portfolio structure allows the department to achieve better integration among federal organizations dealing with national security, emergency management, law enforcement, corrections, crime prevention and borders.

As is common practice with any such portfolio structure, Public Safety Canada works hand in hand with the portfolio agencies as well as other government departments to ensure that communications are well coordinated, effectively and efficiently managed and responsive to the diverse information needs of our public. Indeed, all large organizations, government or private sector, need to have strong communication policies in place in order to ensure the seamless flow of communication in a timely and accurate manner, as is the case between Public Safety Canada and the RCMP.

Our government takes issue with the attempts by the NDP member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant to imply that we are introducing some sort of strict or unusual communication policy in an effort to “muzzle the RCMP”. That is far from the truth. Far from this being a document that was brought down with a hammer and set in stone, the communications protocol was fully endorsed by the RCMP senior management and clearly sets out in writing the opportunity for ongoing collaboration, monitoring and evaluation. It was put in place to ensure consistent communications for major events, announcements and speaking engagements.

I would suggest that most large organizations and government departments have protocols in place that ensure consistent and timely messaging, as well as an effective strategic communication plan. It is particularly important for an agency like the RCMP which often deals with very sensitive and urgent matters of national interest. This protocol also recognizes that there might be times when the urgency of an event may require a divergence from communications protocol. Again, most organizations have a crisis communications plan in place for just such instances.

In conclusion, this protocol was signed in a mutual agreement between Public Safety Canada and the RCMP. It allows for ongoing dialogue and adjustments, as necessary, and it will serve to support the vital work the RCMP plays in helping us fulfill our commitment to Canadians to build safe, resilient communities. Our government is proud to say that we stand behind our national police force and we will continue to support ongoing efforts to strengthen and modernize this invaluable institution.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Adjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

NDP

Sylvain Chicoine Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, ever since the Conservatives have been in power, transparency and accountability have not really been on their list of priorities. Whether we are talking about the budget or departmental policies or directives, the Conservatives are less and less accountable. They devise their policies in such a way as to appear to answer parliamentarians' questions, but in fact, these policies are so opaque that the result is a total lack of transparency. That is what they are trying to do with the RCMP, by muzzling their communications and preventing them from meeting with parliamentarians.

When the Conservatives were in the opposition, during the sponsorship scandal in particular, the hon. member for Crowfoot, the current chair of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, mentioned the importance of the RCMP's independence from political power. What happened? Now that they are in power, this independence for the RCMP is no longer justifiable? Why does the government want to muzzle the RCMP to the detriment of the government's key policy on accountability?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Adjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are extremely proud of the RCMP and the police forces across Canada. That is why they gave Conservatives a strong mandate last May. We are the only party that consistently invests in front-line police officers. We have taken decisive actions to support the work of the RCMP and to ensure that it has the tools it needs to do its jobs.

The communications protocol between Public Safety Canada and the RCMP is exactly that, an important tool for communicating with Canadians. Effective information sharing between Public Safety Canada and the RCMP ensures that both are well placed to get information to all Canadians.

Let me clear. There is no interference between the government and the RCMP on operational or investigative matters. This would be inappropriate. The accusations of the opposition, somehow implying that, are completely inappropriate and wrong. However, the protocol that we have in place allows the RCMP to communicate in the most effective way possible. We remain committed to supporting the RCMP and to helping keep Canadians safe.