House of Commons Hansard #73 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was sector.

Topics

Question No. 342
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Since January 1, 2010, for each Minister, Minister of State and Parliamentary Secretary, how many times did he or she travel by government-owned or leased aircraft inside or outside of Canada, and for each trip: (a) what was the departure point and date; (b) what was the arrival point and date; (c) what type of aircraft was used; (d) who owned each aircraft; (d) who accompanied the Minister; (e) what was the purpose of the trip; (f) what is the source of funds and budget that was used to pay for each trip; (g) what was the total cost; and (h) what was the menu for in-flight meals made available to the Minister or other travelers?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 387
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

With regard to the Department of National Defence, since August 14, 2007: (a) how many times has the Minister of National Defence used military equipment for travel; (b) what type of equipment was used; (c) what is the detailed list of each trip; (d) what was the destination of each trip; and (e) what was the cost of each trip?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

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

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill S-5, An Act to amend the law governing financial institutions and to provide for related and consequential matters, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Madam Speaker, before beginning, I seek unanimous consent to split my time with the member for Wascana.

I have the honour to rise in the House to debate Bill S-5, An Act to amend the law governing financial institutions and to provide for related and consequential matters. On the surface, this bill does not seem particularly controversial to me. However, as usual, the Conservative government's way of doing things, its approach and its attitude leave much to be desired. Once again, the government has introduced a bill that it says must be passed immediately. In other words, this government sees no need to consult Canadians or experts. The government would probably tell people that, since it is in power, it can make any decision it likes. It does not matter what anyone else thinks; this bill must be passed right away.

We have known since April 2007 that this act would have to be reviewed. Despite having five years to work on it, the government appears to have been taken completely by surprise. Now it is in a big hurry to get this bill passed in just two months. This bill has to be passed by April 20 because the Bank Act has to be reviewed every five years. Today is February 3.

This government does not even have enough respect for Parliament, the Standing Committee on Finance or the institutions that will be directly and indirectly affected by this review to have introduced this bill with sufficient time to—

Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order. I apologize for interrupting the hon. member, but I just realized that he sought unanimous consent to share his time. I would like to put that to the House.

The hon. member has asked for unanimous consent to share his time. Does the House give its consent?

Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel.

Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Madam Speaker, I was trying to save time. I thought I had received unanimous consent.

On the surface, this bill does not seem to have any major points of contention, as I have already said, but we cannot assume that everyone sees it that way. Financial institutions are a pillar of our economy and have to be treated with more respect. Allowing the Minister of Finance to have veto power over the acquisition of foreign entities by Canadian banks is something that should be analyzed further. The government tells us that this is to allow us to prevent crises like the one in 2008, but is this really necessary? No Canadian bank had problems similar to the ones experienced by the American or European banks and there is nothing to suggest that this could happen in the near future.

Why are the Conservatives imposing this condition in the bill? Do they have a hidden agenda? We do not know. Do they have any studies to support the fact that this necessary? Why do they not leave this responsibility to the real professionals? Representatives from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, who have always done excellent work, would be better qualified for this responsibility. Perhaps we are giving this veto power to the minister simply because the Prime Minister, as we all know, always likes to be in control of everything.

All these questions make us realize one thing: the Conservatives do not like studies. They believe they have the answers to all the problems and they pass legislation without any consultation or debate. In 1995, former finance minister Paul Martin introduced the Bank Act and saw it passed. That legislation was not sloppy or passed at the last minute. We spent a year preparing it before passing it. The Liberal government at the time held many consultations and put a committee in charge of the matter. Public consultations were held, and the Liberals listened to expert advice in order to ensure that the legislation was drafted properly.

The Liberal government of the day had a majority, as the Conservatives do today. Yet it did not impose legislation at the last minute or limit debate; instead, it listened to what parliamentarians and all Canadians had to say. This Liberal legislation saved our banks from the financial collapse of 2008. Now, we have barely two months to pass this bill. The problem is that parliamentarians are not necessarily experts in banking. We use banking services, but we are not experts. Consultations with people in the industry are needed, for instance, with people who receive and provide services, managers and others. And that takes time.

As I said earlier, is it really necessary to give the finance minister more power? Would another person or institution have been in a better position to make these decisions? Is there really a problem?

Since we are taking the time to tackle the question of banks, are there other aspects that we should also focus on, as we heard this morning? Is this the best solution for the problem? These are some of the basic questions that could have been answered with an in-depth study. The last time we reviewed the legislation on financial institutions, in 2006 and 2007, I was chair of the Standing Committee on Finance and we examined Bill C-37. Thanks to the hard work of the Liberal members on the committee, we led consultations that lasted over three months. That diligent work allowed us to find several flaws in the Conservative bill. It is hard to do the same work today.

As I said earlier, the main problem with this bill is not so much its content as the uncertainty surrounding its review, given that the government does not intend to consult the players involved. This problem could have easily been avoided had the government introduced this bill in October rather than in February since, I repeat, the bill must be passed before April 20. The House of Commons simply does not have the time to seriously consider this bill. Even in the Senate, Senator Hervieux-Payette stated that they simply did not have time to thoroughly examine the issue.

What were the Conservatives thinking when they introduced this bill in the Senate on November 23, 2011? The bill was read for the second time on December 6, 2011, just before the long Christmas break. Today, it is February 3 and the government is only now presenting the bill for second reading. Rather than wasting their time abolishing the firearms registry and rushing to pass regressive legislation to imprison our youth, why did the Conservatives not begin seriously reviewing the Bank Act? This is an urgent situation that needs to be resolved because, as I mentioned, the act must be revised before April 20. This should have been a priority but the Conservatives would rather invent threats than take care of real problems.

Another problematic aspect of this bill is the fact that the changes to this legislation would allow a foreign government to own shares in a Canadian bank and thus have voting rights. How does this help Canadian banks? We do not know. Taxpayers who have pension plans with banks do not even have the right to vote, so why should a foreign government? What will the effects of this be? I doubt that we will have an answer before this reformed legislation is passed because we do not have enough time to consider the consequences.

In summary, I am not against this bill but there are still some unresolved issues because this government took its time and did not adequately plan for this review of the Bank Act. A competent government, like the one that existed when the Liberals were in power, would have conducted many studies and allowed parliamentarians to carefully consider this bill. Now, there is not enough time and we will not know all the effects this bill will have until after it is passed.

Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, after listening to the speech by the Liberal Party member and my friend, I believe that we do not live on the same planet. The problems in the financial sector did not start with the Conservative Party, far from it.

Could you explain why, when you were in power, you did not regulate the quality of services provided to consumers by the financial sector with respect to credit cards, interest rates and holds preventing people from cashing their cheques right away? You were very critical of the Conservatives but, when you were in power, you did not take action and you did nothing to protect consumers and people who had mortgages with exorbitant interest rates.

Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I would remind all members that they must direct their comments to the Speaker.

The hon. member for Saint-Léonard-Saint-Michel.