Mr. Speaker, recently the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development introduced Bill C-25, an act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Canada Cooperatives Act, the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, and the Competition Act. The proposed amendments by the Liberals to Bill C-25 stem from a House of Commons committee-led statutory review in 2010, which in turn led to a further consultation undertaken in 2014 by our previous Conservative government.
Stakeholders raised many important and complex points on a number of corporate governance issues during the consultations. After our previous Conservative government concluded the consultations in 2014, we made a proposal to modernize Canada's corporate governance framework in our 2015 budget. For those members in the House who are not aware, let me read an except from page 140 of our previous Conservative government's economic action plan 2015:
the Government will propose amendments to the [CBCA] to promote gender diversity among public companies, using the widely recognized "comply or explain" model.... Amendments will also be proposed to modernize director election processes and communications...to strengthen corporate transparency through an explicit ban on bearer instruments.... Amendments to related statutes governing cooperatives and not-for-profit corporations will also be introduced....
Bill C-25 is the minister's second piece of legislation that he has tabled since being in office now for a year. Just like his first piece of legislation, Bill C-25 came straight from our previous Conservative government's 2015 budget.
I am pleased to see that the hard work our previous government did is continuing through the Liberals, in their need to produce some form of legislation while keeping up the facade that they are hard at work. I do not call this hard at work, and neither do Canadians. However, if the Liberals want to continue taking unpassed Conservative legislation and unfinished work and bringing it forward, they will see our support.
The legislation being brought to the House, overall does not speak well for the Liberal government's priorities. With hundreds of thousands of people out of work in this country, trade deals not signed, pipeline deals stalled, and terrorism on the rise, we have spent days talking about Bill C-18, a park in Toronto, and Bill C-16, about protection of rights that already existed provincially and in the Charter of Rights, and then nearly a week talking about changes to the CPP that will not benefit anyone for 40 years. Soon we will be spending our time discussing whether to make it legal to have anal sex between the ages of 16 and 18.
Seriously, these are the priorities of the present government in the face of serious economic and security circumstances? However, I digress.
If adopted, Bill C-25 would result in changes to the corporate governance regime for reporting issuers incorporated under the Canada Business Corporations Act. The CBCA is the incorporating statute for nearly 270,000 corporations. Although most of these are small or medium sized and are privately held, a large number of Canada's largest reporting issuers are also governed by the CBCA.
The proposed amendments cover several key corporate governance matters: majority voting, individual voting, annual elections, notice and access, diversity-related disclosure, and shareholder proposal filing deadlines. I am pleased to see that the Liberals moved forward with the “comply or explain” model that our previous government had proposed. It has been proven that more diverse boards lead to better overall decision-making, better boards, better organizations, and better economies.
Our Conservative Party has never been on the sidelines when it comes to diversity firsts in Canada. It was the Conservative Party that had the first female prime minister, elected the first female MP to the House of Commons, the first Chinese, Muslim, Black, Latino, Hindu, Pakistani, Japanese, and physically disabled MPs, and, of course, the first female engineer in the House of Commons. You knew I was going to say that, Mr. Speaker. Our Conservative Party believes in merit, not quotas, and I am pleased to see that we are not going to be missing out on talent.
Since the Ontario Securities Commission implemented the “comply or explain” model two years ago, the number of women on boards has steadily increased to 20%. However, looking at Canada as a whole, in larger companies, women make up an average of 34% on boards.
Implementing the widely used model is the first step to seeing these numbers increase. If enacted, that change would affect about 600 of the approximately 1,500 companies on the TSX.
As chair of the committee on status of women, I can say that our next study will be on improving the economic circumstances of women in Canada. This legislation is aligned with what we would like to see as end results, more women in executive positions and on boards, more women in science, engineering, technology, and math jobs, and gender parity in the workforce.
Research into the effectiveness of teams shows that teams who work more harmoniously are 10% to 20% more productive. One of the findings is that adding more women to teams makes them more harmonious. I support all of these efforts to drive us in the right direction with respect to diversity and inclusion across our country.
When it comes to modernizing corporate governance and reducing red tape, our previous Conservative government made massive strides. We believed in fostering an environment in which businesses could grow and contribute to Canada's long-term prosperity. We recognized that businesses play a vital role in creating jobs and generating economic growth, and that strong business strategies are central to a company's success in creating and sustaining a competitive edge.
Changes proposed to the Competition Act will do just that. They will reduce business uncertainty, create a competitive marketplace, and prevent anti-competitive practices. These amendments will also reduce the administrative burden on businesses.
Our previous Conservative government set a precedent, the first of its kind in any country, when we introduced the one-for-one rule. It brought a new level of discipline to how governments foster a more predictable environment for business, through the reduction of red tape. We took a number of steps to reduce red tape for businesses. Since 2012, the red tape reduction action plan has been proven to be a successful system-wide control on the growth of regulatory red tape. Our previous government saved Canadian businesses over $22 million in administrative burden, as well as 290,000 hours in time spent dealing with unnecessary regulatory burden.
Further enhancing the changes we had made while in government, Bill C-25 was to be our next step in modernizing corporate governance. More accountability and transparency are key for any organization or government. A high performance board is accountable.
The right to vote is important for shareholders and fundamental to democracy. I am pleased to see that shareholder democracy and participation will better align with securities rules, and will require corporations under CBCA to hold annual elections, elect directors individually, and use a majority voting standard. This proposal will bring an end to the debate over those circumstances in which an under-supported director could remain on the board.
The proposed amendments in Bill C-25 will further implement many policies and practices that are already addressed under TSX rules and securities laws. Modernizing the acts addressed in Bill C-25 is a welcomed improvement to the federal corporate statute, and a reflection of the need to enhance companies' corporate governance practices.
If the minister wants to continue putting forward legislation straight from the Conservative budgets, well, those are welcomed too. Certainly, I would love to see some that would bring jobs to our country and address the tax burden that small businesses are facing, especially in light of the additional levels of carbon tax being put in place and the broken promise to reduce small businesses taxes. I would like to see the government move in a direction that will strengthen corporations and small businesses, and actually create jobs to address some of the issues we are facing in the nation.
Obviously, as the chair of the status of women committee, I applaud any moves to accelerate us in getting more women in businesses, on boards, and in senior positions. Certainly, I will be working with the whole committee to look at tangible ways that we can do that. I will bring those forward to the government, in the hope that it will implement that legislation, and those recommendations as well.