An Act to amend the Bank Act (bank mergers)

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.

Sponsor

Lorne Nystrom  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Not active, as of Feb. 6, 2001
(This bill did not become law.)

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Parliamentarians' Code Of ConductPrivate Members' Business

March 15th, 2001 / 6 p.m.
See context

NDP

Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak in favour of Motion No. 200, tabled by the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, which reads:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should introduce legislation establishing a code of conduct for Members of Parliament and Senators, based on the March 1997 final report of the Special Joint Committee on a Code of Conduct of the Senate and the House of Commons.

The House of Commons, this exquisite Chamber of vaulted ceilings, carved wood and coloured glass, is the heart of our democratic system. Yet, when Canadians watch us in question period on TV they see us caterwauling and jeering. They see our junior high antics and some very low grade behaviour. We all know that does not serve us well.

If they see this place as a sideshow, as a zoo, by extension they see us, their representatives and their members of parliament, as objects of scorn and derision. That is something we have to clean up. We have to clean up our act, real or perceived. We have to make sure that this place does not suffer from the shame of bad behaviour.

That brings us back to the motion and the idea of a code of conduct. It is not the first time that the House has grappled with the issue over the years. On December 16, 1999, the House debated Bill C-226, an act to establish a parliamentarian's code of conduct, brought in by Gordon Earle, the former NDP member for Halifax West. That bill would have gone a long way to move this item along on the agenda.

In that debate Gordon Earle stated that the bill would in fact be realistic and would reflect in the provincial legislatures and in other nations' assemblies. This code of conduct would raise the level of integrity of our parliament. The bill was rooted in very practical and legitimate concerns that Canadians hold about their parliament.

His bill was based on the following principles. Parliamentarians should have the highest ethical standards so as to maintain and enhance public confidence and trust in the integrity of parliamentarians and parliament. Parliamentarians should perform their official duties and arrange their private affairs in a manner that would bear the closest public scrutiny. Parliamentarians should avoid placing themselves under any financial or other obligation that may influence them in the performance of their official duties. Parliamentarians upon entering office should arrange their private affairs to prevent real or apparent conflict of interest. If such do arise, it should be resolved in a way that protects the public interest.

As well, under that bill all parliamentarians would have to disclose all official travel when the cost exceeded $250 in cases where the trip was not completely paid for by parliament or by one of the few officially recognized sponsors.

No parliamentarians would be permitted to be a party to a contract with the Government of Canada under which the parliamentarian received a benefit. Parliamentarians would be required to make a disclosure of all assets once every calendar year and would be required to make public disclosure of the nature although not the value of all assets each year. Finally, to ensure that the public interest and the highest standards were upheld, there would be an ethics counsellor to advise parliamentarians on any question relating to conduct.

I am pleased to say that Gordon Earle's private member's bill was reintroduced yesterday by our leader, the member for Halifax. She reintroduced legislation to establish a code of conduct for MPs and an ethics counsellor who would report on an annual basis directly to parliament, not to the Prime Minister's Office.

If such a code already existed, Canadians might have been spared the unseemly spectacle of the Shawinigan situation and the whole controversy surrounding the opposition leader's defamation suit and how it was handled financially.

In closing I would say that it is time we re-addressed the erosion of public confidence in parliament and in parliamentarians. It is time to help MPs deal with complicated ethical issues, to restore their faith in the institution of parliament and to provide them with a clear rule book on issues of ethics and conflict of interest.

I thank the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough for moving the motion and providing me with the opportunity to speak this evening on this important issue.

Parliamentarians' Code Of ConductPrivate Members' Business

March 15th, 2001 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Madam Speaker, first, I commend the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough for bringing forward Motion No. 200.

The motions reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should introduce legislation establishing a code of conduct for Members of Parliament and Senators, based on the March 1997 final report of the Special Joint Committee on a Code of Conduct of the Senate and the House of Commons.

As we can see in the motion, the initiative of our colleague from Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough is based on the March 1997 report by the special joint committee on a code of conduct of the Senate and the House of Commons and urges our institution to introduce a much stricter code of conduct than the current one.

We can only commend the hon. member for an initiative that would essentially provide for more openness and integrity in the governance of our nation. So it would be in order, as I said, to thank and commend the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough for his motion.

However, I am always surprised when I see my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House, putting a damper on the whole issue of a so-called code of conduct, because I am sure everyone knows that it is not the first time that such an issue is put before the House.

Our former colleague, Gordon Earle, introduced two bills on this issue: Bill C-488, during the first session of the 36th parliament, and Bill C-226, during the second session. Unfortunately both bills were not made votable.

But on December 16, 1999, we had the opportunity to discuss the last version of the bill introduced by Mr. Earle, that is Bill C-226. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House came up with the same arguments as before, with lots of euphemisms, to say how important it is for members of parliament to have a code of conduct, and that parliamentary practice has over time led to the establishment of certain rules, and that it would therefore be utterly pointless to enshrine such a code of conduct in the legislation.

Instead, he asked us, as he did earlier and as he did in 1999, to take a close look at the rules that we have given ourselves over time, to make sure these rules are respected. However he remained totally vague regarding how the rules would be applied, who would be responsible for their implementation and what the sanctions would be, where appropriate.

Of course there are rules. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons is right when he says that, over time, a number of rules were put in place through the various acts, rules of the House and established practices, but have these rules prevented some rather dubious things from happening here in recent years? Of course not.

We are currently in the midst of a scandal that has come to be known as Shawinigate, and the Prime Minister himself refuses to lift the shroud of suspicion by tabling documents that would prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not in a conflict of interest.

If, today, we are once again forced to discuss such issues and confronted to this kind of situation, it is obviously because the current rules do not achieve the objective pursued. We must therefore give ourselves more compelling rules. There is no doubt in my mind about that.

Yesterday the hon. member for Halifax tabled another bill, Bill C-299, to establish a code of conduct for members of parliament and senators. We will know later if this bill will be approved by the subcommittee on private members' business, so that it can eventually be put to a vote in the House after having been selected as a votable item through the luck of the draw.

The fact is that the members opposite do not seem very eager to debate this type of issue. Just recently the government defeated a motion brought forward by the Canadian Alliance, the official opposition, in which it was simply asking the government to honour a promise made by the Liberal Party in the 1993 red book, which reads as follows:

A Liberal government will appoint an independent Ethics Counsellor to advise both public officials and lobbyists in the day-to-day application of the Code of Conduct for Public Officials. The Ethics Counsellor will be appointed after consultation with the leaders of all parties in the House of Commons and will report directly to Parliament.

There is another promise that has fallen by the wayside, because the government voted against the motion. It no longer agrees that the House should appoint an ethics counsellor who would oversee the application of a code of conduct adopted by the House and who would report directly to the House.

The government got itself elected in 1993 by telling Canadians that it would bring in the necessary reforms so as to restore their confidence in public institutions and in the integrity of politicians.

What has this government done since it took office? Absolutely nothing. On the contrary, it had the opportunity to bring in major changes to the Canada Elections Act. What did these important changes turn into? They turned into a large number of changes, certainly, but mostly technical and cosmetic changes. It could have undertaken major reforms to help Canadians and Quebecers find their way though our electoral system, but it has not seen fit to do so.

It could have changed the rules governing the financing of political parties. We can understand that a political party generously funded by corporations, which takes the power and finds itself in front of the pork barrel, may feel an obligation to return favours.

The present rules governing the financing of political parties are an invitation for the government to fail to respect the highest standards of integrity.

I understand the motives of the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough for introducing his motion. That being said, I think I must reiterate what I said during the debate on Bill C-226 introduced by our colleague, Mr. Earle, and that is that it may be somewhat premature to consider adopting a code of conduct for members of parliament and senators.

We should start by looking into a code of conduct for people around the cabinet, the members of cabinet themselves, parliamentary secretaries, senior civil servants, people who have access on a daily basis to privileged information, people who spend taxpayers money on all kinds of subsidies and who, if we put together the refusal to reform the Canada Elections Act with respect to the financing of political parties and the refusal to adopt a code of conduct for ministers and members of cabinet, could put themselves in rather embarrassing positions.

Since my time is almost up, I will conclude by saying that we would have hoped that, contrary to what the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader suggested in his remarks, the government would be more open to such a reform. Since it has shown very little openness so far to electoral reform, parliamentary reform, the introduction of a code of conduct and the appointment by parliament of an ethics counsellor who would be accountable to parliament, we should not be surprised by the remarks made this afternoon by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

Bank ActRoutine Proceedings

February 6th, 2001 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

NDP

Lorne Nystrom NDP Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-226, an act to amend the Bank Act (bank mergers).

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important issue. The bill would amend the Bank Act with regard to mergers among our big banks. It would allow mergers to take place on two conditions. The first would be that if one bank were to become insolvent then, of course, a merger could take place. The other condition would be that a merger applicant would be successful only if the application passes in the House of Commons by virtue of a resolution of the House of Commons, whereby we collectively make the decision, not the Minister of Finance.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)