An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in November 2003.

Sponsor

John Manley  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now 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.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

January 27th, 2003 / 3:05 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, while being totally happy about the continuing support we will be getting from the opposition for our legislation, let me indicate to the House the legislative program for the following days.

This afternoon we will continue the consideration of Bill C-20, the child protection legislation. If and when this is completed, we will then turn to Bill C-19, the first nations' fiscal bill in the name of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

Tomorrow we will commence report stage of Bill C-13, the reproductive technologies legislation. On Wednesday we will call report stage of Bill C-6, the specific claims bill. On Thursday we will resume consideration of legislation not completed and add to the agenda Bill C-22, the family law bill. On Friday, my present plans are to call Bill C-3 respecting the Canada pension plan.

Consultations have taken place between the parties. I believe that you will find unanimous consent for the following motion that I would now like to move for a take note debate.

I move:

That, Wednesday, January 29, 2003, a debate pursuant to Standing Order 53.1 shall take place concerning the situation in Iraq and, that after 9:00 p.m. on the said day, the Chair shall not receive any dilatory motions or quorum calls.

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2002 / 10:55 a.m.
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Liberal

Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions between all the parties and there is an agreement, pursuant to Standing Order 45(7), that the recorded division requested on report stage of Bill C-3 be redeferred until Tuesday, January 28, 2003, at 3 p.m.

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2002 / 10:40 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

John Williams Canadian Alliance St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on Bill C-3 and the amendment put forward by my colleague from Lanark—Carleton, who feels that the bill would be improved by the amendment.

I would like to talk about the Canada pension plan in general and the fact that this has been set up for many years to provide pensions to our citizens in the years that they want to call their golden years or sunset years when they can sit at home and enjoy the fruits of their labours.

We have had some considerable concern over the last number of years about the capacity of the plan to do exactly what it was intended to do. Members may recall that the Minister of Finance brought out some new premium structure that would see the Canada pension plan premium rate jump to 9.9% of earnings.

It seems rather strange that he would arrive at the figure of 9.9%. We in the Alliance felt that he was pulling the wool over our eyes, that it would require a substantially higher amount of contributions to sustain the fund as we get into the baby boomer years. He has maintained that 9.9% was that maximum, just a hint and a fraction short of the double digits. I was surprised that he did not go to 9.99%.

I think that the Liberals are pulling the wool over our eyes because we are getting into the baby boomers. We only have to look around this see place and see the amount of grey hair. We are supposed to be representative of--

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2002 / 10:10 a.m.
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Oak Ridges Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, shortly I will address the amendment before the House, but I first want address the Canada pension plan. We and the provinces have been joint stewards of this plan initiated back in 1997 in terms of the reforms. In the early 1990s, the Chief Actuary of Canada questioned the sustainability of the Canada pension plan. This government, along with its provincial partners, heeded that warning and we now have reforms that of course bring forward a schedule of increases in CPP contribution rates. We are building up a larger asset pool before baby boomers retire. As we know, the fact was that the moneys were not keeping up and the pool would have dried up. Therefore, investing in the markets at arm's length is another important requirement, which we have in this legislation. As well, slowing the growth costs of benefits through administrative and expenditure measures is very important.

Hon. members will recall that a key element of the reform was a new market investment policy for the plan, and the CPP Investment Board was established. Clearly the need existed for an independent organization, and I stress that because it is very important to note the independence of the board.

Prior to 1999 when the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board began operations, the investment policy in place for CPP required that the funds not immediately needed to pay the benefits be invested in provincial government bonds at a federal government interest rate. That policy of course resulted in an undiversified portfolio of securities and an interest rate subsidy to the provinces.

Fortunately, now that we have the CPPIB, we have an investment market policy. Since 1999, the funds that are not immediately required to pay benefits and expenses are transferred to the board and are prudently invested in a diversified portfolio of market securities in the best interests of the contributors and the beneficiaries.

I would point out that we have an all star board of directors, with its members recommended by provincial finance ministers in conjunction with the federal Minister of Finance. They manage prudently, as I have said, billions of dollars on behalf of Canadians. The board is fully accountable to CPP members and to governments through annual reports and material on the website, again making sure that although it is at arm's length from government it is accountable to Parliament and to the very people who benefit from the plan.

It is a market investment policy that is of course consistent with other pension plans. One might think of OMERS, the municipal employees retirement system, or the Ontario teachers' pension plan, which some members are familiar with.

It is important that certain assets have remained with the federal government. These assets included an operating reserve of about $6 billion and a large portfolio mostly made up of provincial government bonds valued around $32 billion. Under Bill C-3 these remaining assets will be transferred over a three year period to the CPPIB. That of course is very important. As I have said, we have an outstanding board made up of investment professionals, people who know how to invest money, and they are doing it in a prudent fashion. That again is important for all members to note.

Here we are developing a more coherent policy in terms of investment, which I think is important for those who will benefit from this plan. A point that must be stressed is that it puts it on the same footing as other public pension plans, providing CPPIB investment managers with the flexibility to determine the appropriate mix of investment strategies for the Canada pension plan, which again I think is important. It is also important to remember that the transfer of the remaining assets over the three year period will help to ensure that the transfer is absorbed smoothly by the capital markets and the CPPIB in terms of the provincial borrowing programs as well.Again, this is extremely important.

The amendment being proposed here has to do with section 37 of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act. The issue is one of the foreign property rule. I will not support the amendment, because in terms of government policy the 30% limit strikes a balance between two important objectives that I think the House should be aware of: ensuring that there is a significant portion of tax assisted retirement savings invested in Canada and providing diversification opportunities for pension plans and RRSP owners. The government is conscious of the need to maintain an appropriate balance. The minister certainly is aware of achieving those objectives and making sure that the impact is appropriate. The foreign property limit was increased from 20% in 1999 to its current 30%.

In fact, I will provide some background history for those members who may not be aware of this. During the initial period of the reforms in 1997, as I have said, expanding the foreign property rule was in fact part of those very discussions. It was a key recommendation from the Senate banking committee from its review of the legislation.

We know that initially in the 1971 budget it was at 10%. Of course what has happened over the years is that we have increased it to 20% and now to 30%. I think that is prudent. I think that makes a lot of sense. Again this is in keeping with government policy. I think it provides the objectives we need in terms of the plan.

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2002 / 10 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

moved

That Bill C-3, in Clause 15, be amended by replacing lines 41 to 46 on page 9 and lines 1 to 5 on page 10 with the following:

“15. Section 37 of the Act is repealed.”

Mr. Speaker, I am here to discuss a very important amendment to Bill C-3, which is an act to amend the Canada pension plan and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act.

In general terms the bill is a disappointment, not so much for what it includes, which is on the whole unobjectionable, but for what it fails to include. It fails to include measures that would make the management board politician proof, that is completely secure from political interference, and it also fails to ensure that the Canada pension plan money that is invested through the investment board--and we are talking about an amount that will eventually total something in the nature of $100 billion--cannot be used for any purpose other than maximizing the rate of return for the beneficiaries of the Canada pension plan, which is the only purpose for which pension moneys should ever be invested and not, for example, some of the proposals that have been made in the course of the discussion of this bill.

Pension moneys should never be invested for the purpose of industrial or regional development, or for the furthering of ethical as opposed to other types of investments. If we choose to make the decision, for example, that we want to forbid the investment in certain areas, we ought to make it illegal to invest in certain areas. We ought not to lower the rate of return that the Canada pension plan earns by restricting it from investing in these areas.

These were all proposals that had been made, some of them by the former minister of finance, the member for LaSalle--Émard, who was the author of the bill.

The amendment I am proposing today is designed to eliminate one of these limitations, the most important of the limitations, upon the invested returns that the Canada pension plan can expect to earn through its investment board. This is the provision that forbids more than 30% of the moneys invested through the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board from being invested outside Canada.

Let me explain the technical aspects of the amendment I am proposing. I have referred in the amendment, in section 15 of the bill, to another section of another bill. The way section 15 currently is worded, it makes a series of changes to section 37 of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act, a prior act that was passed several years ago. Section 37 of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act refers in turn to a section of the Income Tax Act which states that pension plans, whether they be corporate, union or registered retirement savings plans, are not permitted to invest more than 30% of their assets outside of Canada.

What I am proposing is to change section 15 of the act currently under consideration to now read, “Section 37 of the Act...”, that is of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act, “...is repealed”, thereby removing the cap on the percentage that might be invested outside of Canada.

The reason for this is straightforward. The Canadian economy represents something between 2% and 3% of the total world economy. When a decision is made to restrict the percentage of the Canada pension plan moneys that can be invested outside of Canada, we make the decision to take that 70% of Canada pension plan money and require it to be invested in less than 3% of the world economy, and not, I might add, the fastest growing 2% to 3% of the world economy.

We make a decision therefore to reduce the rate of return that will be earned by that 70% of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board money. To give a sense of just how significant this is, in committee I asked the chief actuary of Canada, who was appearing as a witness, what the rate of return would be on the three main components of the Investment Board moneys.

The three components are a series of provincial government bonds which earn, quite frankly, a very unsatisfactory rate of return, largely because of a sweetheart deal that was cut with the provinces by the government and the former finance minister in order to secure the support of the provincial governments. This ensures that they will get a preferential, extra low rate of interest on the bonds that they sell to the Canada pension plan. This will result in billions of dollars, which should go into the pension plan and eventually be paid out to Canadian pensioners, being taken out instead and given to the provinces to be used on whatever projects they see fit.

The second component is the money that will be invested internationally. The expectation is that we will get a reasonably good rate of return; about 5.5%. The moneys that are invested in the Canadian equities market are anticipated to get about a 4.5% return. On that component, which is something in the neighbourhood of $25 billion to $30 billion, we should get a 1% lower rate of return out of the total capital per year. In fact, measured by comparison to the 5.5% rate of return, we can see it is substantially lower. It is about a 20% lower rate of return every year, year after year compounding, and therefore this will result in literally billions of dollars lost permanently to Canadian pensioners.

In the end, this will result in either the Canada pension plan having to hike its premiums yet further to well over 10% in order to pay for these benefits; or it will result in Canada pension plan benefits being cut so that pensioners will not get the moneys that they were promised. It may not happen to the current generation of pensioners, or at least those who are fairly well on in their senior years, but it will happen to those who are expecting to retire, as I am, some 30 years from now. They will almost certainly find themselves with a reduced--

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2002 / 10 a.m.
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The Speaker

There is one motion in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of Bill C-3. Motion No. 1 will be debated and voted upon.

Business of the HouseThe Royal Assent

December 12th, 2002 / 3:05 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, my response will not be in prose and verse. I just have not been hit yet with the attack of Jingle Bells , which undoubtedly seems to be striking here and there in the House.

We will continue this afternoon with the prebudget debate.

Tomorrow we shall consider report stage of Bill C-3, the Canada pension plan amendments. If there is any time left, we would then proceed with Bill C-15 respecting lobbyists. I intend to speak to other House leaders about that.

I shall communicate directly with members concerning the order of business, when we return from the adjournment on January 27. This will include any of the aforementioned business not completed, which includes: Bill C-3 and Bill C-15, obviously; Bill C-2, the Yukon bill; Bill C-6, specific claims; Bill C-10, the Criminal Code amendment; Bill C-19, the first nations bill; Bill C-20, protection of children; Bill C-22, the divorce legislation; and Bill C-23 respecting certain offenders.

As members can see, there are lots of items on the legislative agenda.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my best wishes for the holiday season and, of course, a happy new year 2003 to all hon. members, our staff and pages, not to mention the busboys.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

December 5th, 2002 / 3 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, today we will continue with the business of supply. I understand that the votes are scheduled for a 5:15 p.m. bell, followed by the votes of course.

Tomorrow the House will consider the message from the Senate with regard to Bill C-10, the Criminal Code amendment.

In spite of the fact that we have debated it extensively, the government is prepared to offer yet another day, next Monday, with regard to debating the Kyoto protocol.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we will return if necessary to Bill C-10, and if and when completed, followed by Bill C-4, the nuclear safety bill with the possibility of also doing Bill C-3, Canada pension plan amendments, and Bill C-15, the lobbyists registration bill.

While I am on my feet I might as well give the plan for the rest of next week. Next Thursday and Friday, I will be calling the annual prebudget consultation debate.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

November 28th, 2002 / 3:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Even I have to admit that is a good comeback.

This afternoon we will debate the third reading of Bill S-2 respecting a number of tax treaties. Tomorrow we shall consider report stage and if possible third reading of Bill C-4 respecting nuclear safety. If necessary we will continue with this bill on Monday. We will then return to the debate on the Kyoto protocol.

A little later next week we will deal with Bill C-3, the Canada pension plan amendments. Thursday, December 5 shall be an allotted day.

I am in the process of consulting with colleagues and other parties with a view to having one or more take note debates starting early next week.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

November 28th, 2002 / 10:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the first report of the Standing Committee on Finance regarding its order of reference of Tuesday, October 29, in relation to Bill C-3, an act to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act.

The committee has considered Bill C-3 and reports the bill without amendment.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

November 21st, 2002 / 3:25 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, we will continue this afternoon with the discussion of parliamentary modernization. As a result of the great interest by members on all sides of the House and the level of participation in this debate, I will be consulting with colleagues to see if it is possible, notwithstanding the scarcity of time around here, to find more time to debate this motion.

Tomorrow we will consider Bill S-2 respecting a number of tax conventions.

Pursuant to the request of the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, I am pleased to announce that on Monday we will commence debate on the long-expected motion with respect to the Kyoto agreement. I thank the member for his interest. This motion will be put on notice later this day. Given the considerable interest in this matter, I expect it is not impossible that the debate might take longer than one day. Therefore I will also announce to the House that on Tuesday and perhaps other days we will debate the Kyoto motion.

In terms of legislation, I would like to do report stage and third reading of Bill C-4 when it is reported from committee. It is my intention then to call Bill C-3, the Canada pension plan amendments, as legislation following that. Because of the very large number of bills presently before committee, as they are reported to the House of Commons we will bring those forward for debate at report stage and third reading.

Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985Private Members' Business

November 5th, 2002 / 6:25 p.m.
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NDP

Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-226, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985. The intent of the bill is to have an administrator prepare a report each year setting out the social, ethical and environmental factors that were considered in the investment of the money in the fund each year.

I am in total support of this private member's bill and I believe the NDP is as well. The NDP is in solid support of any measures which would strengthen and deepen the transparency and accountability of public pension funds.

Canadians depend on the viability of their pension funds. It is clear and simple. We need them for our old age and for times of vulnerability. Whether it is QPP or CPP Canadians with disabilities depend on these funds to provide them with income support when they are no longer able to work. We must have confidence that the investments which our pension managers are making are effective and we must ensure that they are ethical.

I agree with the member for Drummond that we must have a rigorous and regular reporting on how our funds are being invested because our future depends on it. This is in fact our future nest egg as a nation and as a people.

Recently my colleague from Winnipeg Centre spoke about Bill C-3, the act to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act. He spoke about the alarming state of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. He asked the question which needs to be addressed by all parliamentarians: Is it a good idea for us to be investing on the open market with Canadian pension plan savings?

If we look at the actual experience in the last period of time since the Canada pension plan board was struck and put in charge of investing our hard earned pension contributions, the experience has in a word been terrible. One could have done better by playing pin the tail on the donkey when it comes to the stock market investments it made.

Unfortunately, the investment board chose to enter the stock market at exactly the wrong time. It was seduced by the high earnings in the bubble that took place in the high tech sector when people were getting returns of 20% and 30% per year on their investments. The board wanted a part in that but in fact entered at the wrong time and lost a fortune. It was our fortune.

Originally the board was given $11 billion to invest on our behalf. In the first return that came back it had lost $1.5 billion. Not only did this management board manage our funds badly but it then proceeded to reward the chief administrator of the fund. In the first quarter financial statement the board doubled the CEO's salary even though he lost $1.5 billion in the first venture in the stock market. It also doubled his performance bonus. His performance bonus went from $140,000 a year to over $200,000 a year. If the board rewarded bad behaviour so generously I wonder what it would do if it showed a profit?

We seem to have adopted the worst corporate models in the structure of this board but not the best practices or some of the unique structures that we must have in place now to manage the money of Canadians. This is taxpayers' money being invested on the private market.

The fund has grown not because we have made smart investments but because the rate of contributions has been massively increased. It is now at $53 billion in spite of the fact that at the next quarterly report the board reported a loss of $800 million. In the quarter after that it lost $1.5 billion. In the quarter ending in September 2002 it lost $1.3 billion. The fund is hemorrhaging. We are making bad investments. The people we have put in charge of our retirement savings are investing badly on our behalf.

Whether it is a good idea or not to be involved in the stock market, we cannot argue with the fact that if we had not gone down that road there would be billions of dollars which would not be lost and would at least be sitting there and could in fact be invested in other ways. It could be invested in municipalities, in provinces, or in low interest infrastructure loans that would benefit Canadians. It would not have been invested offshore, which is the experience we have now.

The NDP promotes socially responsible investment of workers' benefit funds, such as the Crocus Fund in Manitoba. We support this bill. We support the call for any regular critique of the social, ethical and environmental considerations involved in the investment of our public funds. We support the idea of an ethical screen for the CPP investment fund through public hearings and consultations with those who have developed ethical screens in the private and cooperative sector. We support the ban of CPP investment in industries that harm people, such as big tobacco industries.

The considerable experience with ethical screening has shown that introducing an ethical screen when making investment decisions does not mean earning a lower rate of return on investment. Experience has shown that ethical investments not only enhance social capital but are financially wise investments as well.

The NDP is committed to continuing a publicly funded pension plan because it works. Our public pension system is the cornerstone of Canada's retirement system. The CPP has brought most Canadians seniors out of poverty and allowed them to retire in dignity.

We support Bill C-226 and the safeguards it would put in place to protect the ethical, environmental and social standards. I regret that so far the bill has not been made votable because it would have a considerable impact on strengthening the public pension plan structure.

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

October 29th, 2002 / 6:50 p.m.
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The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The House will now proceed to the recorded division on the motion for second reading of Bill C-3. The question is on the motion.

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

October 23rd, 2002 / 6:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Discussions have taken place between all parties and there is agreement, pursuant to Standing Order 45(7), to further defer the recorded division requested on second reading of Bill C-3 until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, October 29.

Canada Pension PlanGovernment Orders

October 23rd, 2002 / 6:10 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, sitting in between the two hon. members, it was much like watching a tennis match left and right. My neck is sore from the last five to ten minutes of debate, but at least it was lively.

I am thankful for the opportunity to talk about Bill C-3. I have some concerns with regard to the bill, as do my New Democratic colleagues. There are three main points I would like to talk about.

The first is the lack of rules with regard to pension funds and how they would be administered, monitored and where they would go. The second is that there does not seem to be a comprehensive business plan for such a large investment that is really in a public trust through the Canada pension plan and the historic relevance to Canadians. The third is just outright bad timing, looking at the market right now. If a person's house were on fire, the person would not rush the furniture back inside the house.

This is very bad timing. We have seen tremendous upheaval and losses in markets. They will be rushing public funds, suitcases full of Canadian taxpayers' money, into the fire and making them very vulnerable at a time when the market needs to straighten itself out.

The Canada pension plan is one of those pillars in Canada and in the free world with regard to securing some type of relevance and more important, some type of stability for one's working commitment and then having the ability to retire with security. It is about the ability for a person to pay for his or her housing, food and clothing and to participate in a meaningful social life once the person has completed his or her term of service in the workplace. That is something that is being put at risk with regard to this particular amendment.

That is one of the reasons the timing element is so critical. By 2012 there will be $120 billion to $150 billion that will be put into the basic domain and at risk. That is a concern because that growth is something that should be secured as opposed to potentially put at risk at this particular time.

Today we saw the release of an ethics package by the Deputy Prime Minister. Canadians are yearning for more ethical conduct in Parliament. As well they are looking for more ethical conduct in the business community. We have seen the recent scandals. A few examples are Enron, WorldCom and Arthur Andersen, where there has been clear void of ethics in terms of reporting their financial earnings, what their business plans have been and what their actual profits were. That is a real concern. That is no different from the ethics issue in Parliament.

Canadians feel really uncomfortable with the current conditions and the treatment by the business community in business practices that have cost them earnings that they and their families have worked for. They have put that in the trust of investment and they have not had returns but have had significant losses. I do not think there have been many people who invest in the market who have not been affected by some of these things. Some of it is poor ethical behaviour on behalf of corporations. They have boards of directors too and some of them may not have been aware of all the things that were happening with their prospective businesses.

That brings me to the appointment of the 12 member board. There does not seem to be a clear process with regard to the appointment being independent. It is going to be a patronage system. It is not going to be representative of the public trust, being the actual pensioners and their earnings, citizens or different types of representative organizations. They are going to be appointments. That is not very fair and that is not proper. More important, it is going to lead to some very questionable practices.

Even if the 12 members are selected in earnest, their decisions in terms of the financial investments could have ties with regard to patronage or government contracts, all of those things. Whether it is intentional or unintentional, it casts a cloud of concern or at least ill repute over the whole process. We need to make sure that the Canada pension plan is one that is above reproach.

Canadians want to feel comfortable that their pension and future are tied significantly to a process that is pure, pristine and proper and not one that can be evolved through patronage appointments and basically who the appointees supported and how they contributed. That is the potential element with regard to the process that is underway.

We have had in this last stock market year 14% to 33% losses where normally we would have had 8%. Once again the timing is bad. We know that there is volatility. We know it is not resolved.

We know that the United States is having a difficult time with its economy. The latest projections are that it will actually have to borrow money. It will be in a deficit and it will have to borrow money to give tax incentives back to its citizens. We know that the market might be connected toward its productivity in terms of Canada and that makes us more vulnerable.

One of the concerns we have is the 30% in foreign ownership and once again the lack of rules with regard to the process. I quote from the actual document:

Our legislation specifically prohibits us from engaging in any investment activities other than maximizing investment returns....The policy further states that we will not accept or reject investments based on non-investment criteria.

That is very disconcerting because we could have the potential of no screening of where the money in the funds goes. We could actually prop up businesses as well as products that are harmful to the objectives of the Canadian government and Canadian people, whether it be sweatshops, arms production or any of the child labour situations that we have seen evolve. There will not be that due process and the board will not focus on that either. That will not be a criteria.

If Canadians had the reverse happening to them, where we had other investors propping up investment opportunities in Canada that had significant economic and social impacts on our communities, we would not feel very comfortable about it. I think that role by Canada would be very shameful if we had situations evolve where we had business investments made on the backs of immoral or questionable practices just so that we could extract a couple of percentage points more out of the system.

With regard to the opportunities that are facing the country, the challenges also lead to opportunities. With some of the funds there could be more of a focus on the municipal bonds programs or the Ontario bonds program. I note they do not pay the same rates of return as other opportunities but there is one taxpayer and the fact is that if we do not achieve the full result from the actual investment in terms of maximizing profit with maximized return, we will have stability. There are plenty of infrastructure opportunities to build our economy and to build our business community through the bond system.

I know municipally we have always sold bonds and they have been sold out within a day or two. They present anything from 6% to 7% at times for the actual return which is solid in terms of the inflation rate. It also provides an opportunity for the municipality to retrieve long term vision and goals so that we are able to build society, a community and advance our future business plans as a people.

We have to keep that in mind because there is only one taxpayer. Perhaps in getting a sense of security we would lose a couple of points. We could save because we know that even in the last results the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board lost $1.5 billion on stocks, just from April to June. We know that the money could have been paid off through lending to municipal projects or provincial projects that were actually offering successful rates of return. It is actually a win-win.

There is a real problem with regard to the bill and the lack of public participation. We have a problem with regard to the actual reporting of the board. It has 12 members. We know that they will be selected by the minister and they are going to be above reproach.

We have a situation where the fund will be up to $150 billion by 2012 and there will have been only four board meetings accountable to the public by then, one every two years. We will have $150 billion potentially and the board will only have to report to Parliament and to the citizens of Canada four times. That is incredible. It is an incredible public trust on people who are appointed through a patronage system and I do not think it is proper. It is shameful because it puts this situation at risk.

Canadians are looking for more stability now. We have our situation with our health care, our pensions and with regard to deciding upon where we want to move forward with social planning. We do not want to put things further at risk. For that reason, I cannot support this bill. I believe it should be turned down by the government, especially in the time frame we have right now.