House of Commons Hansard #100 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was banks.

Topics

Motion in Amendment
Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is an issue called relevance.

The claim that Jean Chrétien's government wanted to deregulate banks is completely false. I was part of that government. I would like us to render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's. We are in this situation because a Liberal government protected our banks so that we did not become a copy of the American model.

Motion in Amendment
Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

First of all, I thank the member for Bourassa for his intervention. The second part of his intervention related more to debate on the facts. I would say, however, and this has been a point of possible interest through the course of the day today, that the debate, the question before the House today, is on the amendment. It is perhaps an opportunity to remind hon. members that while they have great freedom to explore these ideas around the question that is before the House, they may wish to tie those ideas together in terms of how they are in fact pertinent to the question before the House.

The hon. member for Windsor West.

Motion in Amendment
Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will keep that advice in mind and return to the amendment.

It was part of the larger framework that we were dealing here, which is why I was trying to connect the two. The assumption or proposition of the banking industry is that they have basically propped up the Canadian economy with their wisdom, whereas if we look at history, there was clearly an attempt to actually to do something different.

However, I will go back to the amendment and the issue related to transparency, which I think is really important. It is important for the bill itself because it shows that there was an attempt to get an amendment that would clearly define where there would be some transparency for the banking industry related to transactions. The bill does actually have some interesting points related to foreign investments and a series of different things.

However, again, it speaks to the point that we have this small amendment that has been denied, whereas the banking industry in its entirety has not been dealt with in this chamber. That is a real problem.

I started my speech here today by noting that the banking industry affects consumers and businesses, and I would like to move to that point, especially the business point because I am not sure it has been addressed here in the chamber. This is a missed opportunity on credit lending and rates, and transparency is important in regard to that, because we need to have real decisions made about the lending practices and percentages.

Let me give an example. We have a successful automobile plant in Windsor that produces Ford products. It has been very good, even during the auto downturn, at expanding itself. It actually feeds into supplier markets and supplier chains that have very important jobs. These jobs are critical because they have value-added elements, but they only pay $15 an hour. In terms of an auto supply market job, their profit margin is very small. The workers make around $15 an hour and get some benefits. Here is the real connection to the banks, because these supplier have had to rely upon government lending versus their own bank, because the bank interest rate margins are so high they actually eat into the profit margins of the auto suppliers so much they actually lose money.

Here is an auto plant that produces parts for the Ford Focus in particular. It has automated itself and has workers that do some manual labour and some industrial labour related to servicing of those, including everything, from windows to doors and a series of things, and it only pays people $15 an hour, along with some modest benefits. There is also low management overhead. However, they are losing money if they have to borrow from the Canadian banks, despite the fact they made $25.5 billion in profits this past year. They have to rely on going to the Canadian Business Development Bank or Export Development Canada to actually borrow the money necessary.

What we are saying here, to conclude, is that we see this as a missed opportunity in the House of Commons to reform our banking industry. It is important for consumers. However, it is also important for the small and medium size businesses that are providing value-added work for the Canadian economy that we are missing out on and losing to the United States and other places right now, because we have a poor financial system that actually does not provide borrowing capacity at the rates necessary to survive in this industry.

Motion in Amendment
Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know that my colleague still had quite a bit to say, so I am going to give him a bit of time to speak some more.

Certainly this is a bill that is moving in the right direction. Maybe my colleague can elaborate a little more on some of the amendments we have attempted to put forward, the one that we actually put forward, and why we need to move down the road of transparency and accountability. This is about democracy, not only for today but tomorrow.

Motion in Amendment
Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the amendments on transparency even pertain to avoiding some lawsuits based on the legal systems we have and making sure we do not get caught up in the courts. It is a very modest approach to make sure that we do not spend more money in the legal system for the banking decisions and disclosures that may be necessary for transparency.

I think Canadians want transparency. Right now I am dealing with the Panama free trade agreement, for example, and having transparency in that agreement is one of the things we are seeking to get from the government and the Panamanian delegates. We want them to have financial records that are accountable, so that we can see there is no money laundering or issues related to drug transfers and a whole series of things.

We want transparency. I think most Canadians support that concept.

Motion in Amendment
Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I notice that the Toronto Dominion Bank has just recently told seniors that their accounts are no longer free. They have to pay bank fees.

The Royal Bank started it. Now the Toronto Dominion Bank is doing the same thing, which means it has basically told seniors that it is no longer interested in giving them services. That is really unfortunate.

I wonder what my colleagues think about this, that seniors, after serving this country for all these years, are now told they have to pay extra bank fees?

Motion in Amendment
Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a TD customer since 1986, I am shocked. I did not know that.

It is unfortunate. One has to look at that extra cost, which will not be recovered in the economy. We know the bank is not going to apply that back into the economy but to its profit margin. It will not have the same impact as seniors being able to spend their money on groceries, on day to day living expenses, on prescription drugs and a whole series of things. Those things are now going to be lost to the overall economy.

Seniors' personal budgets are going to have to be stretched, but local economies are going to be stretched as well. We have not seen recent investment out there in regard to the banks' profits. Those profits have not gone back into the Canadian economy by any means.

The user fees are pretty incredible when one thinks about them. User fees are non-value added and are out of control. One of the lower hanging fruits we can actually provide to the Canadian economy is to lower the user fees and expensive service fees, which do not add value, and give them back to workers who are on the ground.

Motion in Amendment
Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member says he is against bank profits. Incidentally, his party is also against oil companies making profits. That is a great populist battle cry.

At the same time they claim to be in favour of the pensions of unionized workers. The problem is that pension funds for unionized workers in Canada are overwhelmingly invested in banks and oil companies, which can only pay profits or returns back to those unionized pension funds out of their profits.

Therefore, when the NDP proposes to hammer the enterprises with higher taxes, they are really proposing a tax on the pension funds of the unionized workers they purport to defend.

How does the hon. member reconcile those two conflicting points of view?

Motion in Amendment
Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to intervene on this. The hon. member just said I was “against bank profits”. I would ask you to check the blues and come to the House about that. I did not say that in my speech, as the transcript will indicate.

I would ask the hon. member to apologize for that. He said I said something that is not true. That is being espoused fictitiously in the House of Commons.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for your ruling on that, because I am tired of those types of things being used against me. If there is specific language that a member is going to quote me as having used, then please provide that language.

Second of all, I would just conclude by saying that I am not against bank profits; I am against banks gouging. The balance has been lost, and that is what we on this side want to fix.

Motion in Amendment
Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

We are going to resume debate, but on the member's question I think it is really just a matter of debate on the facts that have been exchanged here this afternoon.

Resuming debate, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary for Status of Women.

Motion in Amendment
Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

London North Centre
Ontario

Conservative

Susan Truppe Parliamentary Secretary for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I truly appreciate the opportunity to lend my voice to today's debate in favour of the timely passage of Bill S-5, also known as the financial system review act.

While very technical, this is very important legislation. Today's bill is not only the right thing for Canadians but the right thing for Canada's economy. More broadly, Bill S-5 builds upon and complements a range of initiatives that our Conservative government has introduced.

I will discuss some of those initiatives. The housing sector warrants particular attention in light of its role in the 2008 financial crisis and the ongoing pressures arising from the U.S. housing bubble that are still being felt by the American financial system and which have slowed that country's economic recovery.

In order to protect its housing market from the worst excesses seen abroad, our Conservative government has acted repeatedly and decisively to ensure its stability, especially with regard to the mortgage financing. Mortgage financing plays a key role in providing a reliable source of funds to prospective Canadian homeowners. Prudent mortgage lending standards and mandatory mortgage insurance for high ratio loans allowed Canada to avoid the housing crisis that occurred in other countries, especially in the United States.

Since 2008, our Conservative government has taken prudent and measured steps to ensure that this system remains stable over the long term. while maintaining economic growth. In 2008, 2010 and again in 2011, our government took proactive steps to protect and strengthen the Canadian housing market, which included reducing the maximum amortization period for new government backed insured mortgages to 30 years, requiring a 5% minimum down payment and a 20% down payment on non-owner occupied properties, lowering the maximum amount lenders can provide when refinancing insured mortgages to 85% of the value of the property, requiring buyers to meet a five year fixed rate mortgage standard and withdrawing government insurance backing on home equity lines of credit.

Those measures underline our government's continued action to protect the stability of the economy by ensuring lenders' practices are sustainable and the investments of Canadian families in their homes are secure. This would decrease the interest payments of Canadian families by tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a mortgage, helping to improve the financial well-being of Canadian households.

It is important to note that, because of measures like those, Canadians do not face mass foreclosures on their homes and our banks did not require taxpayer bailouts. That is why it is no surprise that Scotiabank chief economist, Warren Justen, said, “...when you look at what exists in Canada, this is still the best country in the world to be in”.

The measures in today's legislation would ensure that Canada's economy remains strong in this time of global economic uncertainty and would give it the flexibility to adapt quickly and easily.

Motion in Amendment
Financial System Review Act
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Order, please. The hon. member for London--North Centre will have seven minutes remaining in her speech when the House next resumes debate on the question and the usual five minutes for questions and comments.

Elmira Maple Syrup Festival
Statements By Members

March 27th, 2012 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, since 1965, the community of Elmira has attracted tourists from around the world. Since then, hundreds of volunteers have devoted thousands of hours to put on this event and to raise funds for our community.

In 1965, organizers hoped for 2,500 attendees. They were overwhelmed by more than 10,000.

The Guinness Book of World Records recognized the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival as the world's largest maple syrup festival after recording crowds of more than 66,000 in attendance in 2000.

This year, the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival will occur on March 31.

Once again I look forward to activities, like the pancake flipping contest, which I have yet to win, hayrides and games. I look forward to this rare opportunity where even a dentist indulges his sweet tooth. Most of all, I look forward to a day with the friendliest, most community-minded constituents any MP could be privileged to represent.

I extend a sincere invitation to all hon. members to join me on March 31 in Elmira.

Human Rights
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, on March 31, India will end its quasi-moratorium on the death penalty by hanging Balwant Singh Rajoana.

Canada has an unwavering commitment to human rights, especially against the death penalty. Canada should seize this opportunity to reiterate our stance and encourage India to move in the right direction toward greater respect for the human rights of all its citizens.

A state-wide general strike has been called for March 28. We are now seeing media reports indicating that border security forces have been deployed in Punjab as the situation is growingly increasingly tense.

While death sentences continue to be imposed by Indian courts, no execution has been carried out since 2004. If this goes ahead, it would be the first one in eight years.

I call on the Prime Minister to urge India to abide by the United Nations moratorium on the death penalty and abolish this brutal and archaic practice that allows the state to take a human's life.

Living Tree Metaphor
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, in two days' time, I will be publishing a paper on the living tree metaphor, which originated in Lord Sankey's 1929 ruling in the celebrated “persons case”.

In recent years, the ruling has been misunderstood as a justification for the courts to redefine words or phrases in the Constitution to reflect the context of contemporary values.

March 29 seems an appropriate publication date as it will be the 30th anniversary of the granting of royal assent to the statute that created the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The living tree was actually intended by Lord Sankey to refer to the non-justiciable usages characterized by Albert Venn Dicey as constitutional conventions. Lord Sankey held that the written Constitution has a fixed meaning, which is a natural limit on the growth of the living tree of usage and convention. Thus, he ruled that nothing in the Constitution Act had ever prevented the appointment of women to the Senate, even though such appointments were contrary to 60 years of usage and convention.

A more accurate reading of the persons case and, therefore, of the living tree metaphor, will lead, I hope, to a greater respect for the original meaning of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as Lord Sankey would have done himself.