An Act to amend the Payment Card Networks Act (credit card acceptance fees)

Sponsor

Linda Lapointe  Liberal

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

Status

Second reading (House), as of Feb. 26, 2016

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-236.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Payment Card Networks Act to confer on the Governor in Council the power to set a limit on the credit card acceptance fees that a payment card network operator may charge a merchant.

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.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

November 6th, 2017 / 11:25 a.m.
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NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Bill C-236 but with some significant caveats I would like to propose to members.

While I accept the premise that Charlottetown is the birthplace of Confederation, we in the NDP think it is imperative that Confederation be framed as a process and not as a finite, singular event. The relationship of which the member for Malpeque spoke is among Canadians, among provinces, among territories, and among indigenous communities that make up this amazing country. It is an ongoing process, therefore. We are in this marriage together, and we must continuously work on improving that relationship, which is the foundation of our country.

Yes, the process of Confederation began in Charlottetown, and that is indeed worthy of celebration, yet there were several vital steps that occurred and must therefore be part of this narrative as well. Other steps and other places deserve credit in the creation of our country. Specifically, Quebec and New Brunswick both played important roles in this process, and one would be remiss not to mention that fact. This legislation may give the impression that Confederation was conceptualized and executed all in Charlottetown. That was definitely not the case.

I would also like to spend some of my time speaking about the way indigenous people were so wrongfully ignored during this process. We are all aware of the colonial context in which our country was created a century and a half ago. Just as each of us as individuals is a product of our historical context, so too is Canada. I implore the government to ensure that recognition of Charlottetown does not lead to a sort of celebration of colonialism.

Including indigenous people, especially the Mi'kmaq population in and around Charlottetown, in developing heritage and tourism materials for the cradle of confederation is a critical component of this celebration and this understanding. A better understanding of our history is one important step toward reconciliation. The glaring omission in our historical narrative of the essential contribution of indigenous peoples must be redressed. A celebration of the birthplace of Confederation must include them going forward as part of our country's narrative.

We must be careful to acknowledge indigenous peoples' presence in the concerned territory prior to this particular agreement. We must acknowledge that they were not included in the negotiations about their future and the future of the very lands they had occupied from time immemorial.

It is also important to support indigenous people as they represent their own historical narratives. Confederation is not the Canadian story; it is a Canadian story, one of many that represent our collective history. Let us not make the same mistake those who came before us made by ignoring other cultural historical narratives.

With this in mind, let me return to the matter of Charlottetown and how to best define its role in this process. Recognizing Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation is, for many Canadians, a foregone conclusion. The province is already promoting itself as the cradle of Confederation, and most of us arrive on the island by means of what is called the Confederation Bridge.

I understand that there has been a little contention, though. A recent 2017 New Brunswick tourism campaign had the slogan “Celebrate where it all began”, so I understand the sponsor's tenacity in seeking to get Charlottetown formally recognized. If I am not mistaken, a similar bill was put forward a couple of years ago, and I am also aware of a former Liberal prime minister making a proclamation to express this sentiment.

Let me start by addressing one argument I have heard to discredit Charlottetown's role, which is that Prince Edward Island did not join the union of British North America colonies until 1873. However, the proposed bill recognizes Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation, irrespective of P.E.I.'s participation in the union, so I do not consider the province's initial withdrawal from the proposed union as grounds to oppose this legislation in any way.

I alluded to my following point in my short preamble, but I want to reiterate: with respect to this legislation, Confederation should not be considered a static event.

Complicated unions and political manoeuvrings often have many moving parts. The British North America colonies union is certainly no exception. The initial conference was held September 1, 1864, in Charlottetown, and then New Brunswick governor Arthur Hamilton Gordon was instrumental in its organization. The role Governor Gordon played in getting parties to the conference is certainly worthy of recognition in the story of Confederation, because without his insistence on the initial conference, perhaps things would not have come together as they did. However, we must remember that he had proposed the initial conference to achieve a maritime union among P.E.I., New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Shortly after the conference began, Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier persuaded the delegates from the east to abandon their original proposal and consider a greater British North America colonies union with those who called themselves the Canadians, who hailed from what is now Ontario and Quebec.

Historian Shawn McCarthy, at UNB, has convincingly explained that New Brunswick governor Gordon had hoped to assemble a maritime union and invited P.E.I. and Nova Scotia to discuss the proposal. Since this was not the union that took place, he promptly withdrew from the conference and headed home. Therefore, at the Charlottetown conference, the idea of a maritime union was essentially scrapped, and the union of the British North America colonies was born.

While many items were agreed to in spirit in Charlottetown, such as the idea of creating a federation, with a federal and local or provincial government, the details were confirmed in Quebec City at the famous Quebec City conference, in October 1864. Therefore, Quebec City played no less of an important role. It just does not necessarily have the title of the birthplace of Confederation. There was a subsequent conference in London as well that undoubtedly also played a significant role in finalizing the proposed union.

The BNA Act received royal assent on July 1, 1867. I hope hon. members will see why I have asked that Confederation be considered a process instead of a singular event.

In some ways, the Confederation process is a very Canadian story. It is filled with compromises and the genius and emotional intelligence of key players drawn from various backgrounds from various parts of this land. When one considers these prominent figures and their roles in arranging both the Charlottetown and Quebec conferences, it is easy to see that both New Brunswick and Quebec played a huge role in the ultimate success of the union. It is certainly my contention, however, that Charlottetown was where the union of what we now call Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia was conceived.

Professor MacDonald, from the department of history at the University of P.E.I., states:

...the process began in Charlottetown in 1864. It was at that conference that a congruence of pressures, fear of the Americans, the colonial office wanting us to unite and the needs of Canadians came together in an agreement in principle to a confederation. This was a huge, watershed moment, and I use that term advisedly. All things flowed from that agreement in principle to a confederation

He said that everything flowed from the conference in Charlottetown, so that is absolutely critical.

There has not, however, always been a positive role in Confederation in respect of indigenous peoples. That has to be recognized as well as we try now, finally, to build a nation-to-nation relationship. We must ever be mindful of the way the first peoples were treated in our country. That is why, in the preamble of the bill before us, its talks about Charlottetown forming “part of the basis for the nation of Canada”. I strongly agree. The population of indigenous peoples, the Mi’kmaw population in particular, have to be front and centre as we celebrate this initiative.

Therefore, I call on the government to not pay lip service to the calls for action in the truth and reconciliation commission report. In particular, I draw its attention to call to action no. 45, which calls on the government to not only reconcile aboriginal and crown constitutional orders to ensure that aboriginal peoples are full partners in Confederation but also to “adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.”

In conclusion, the NDP supports Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation. We acknowledge that the long process began there, but we call on the government to recognize and acknowledge the important role indigenous peoples should have played in the negotiations and to work with them to create a new narrative for Canada going forward.

Consumer ProtectionAdjournment Proceedings

April 5th, 2017 / 8:30 p.m.
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NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today about the dynamic, entrepreneurial culture we enjoy here in Canada. Small business is the real economic driver in our country. More than three-quarters of all new jobs across this land are created by small business. In fact, more than one-third of the GDP in our country comes from small business. One would think that with that kind of economic impact on our country, the government would listen to small business.

Small business owners have been asking the government to reduce and regulate credit card merchant fees. Why? It is because credit card merchant fees in Canada are among the highest in the world. Only the United States pays more. Other countries, such as Australia and the U.K., have regulated credit card merchant fees because they recognize that small business needs government support.

In 2013 the Competition Tribunal of Canada ruled that the fees charged by credit card companies were excessive, and the tribunal called on the government to regulate the industry. What is the government doing? The Liberal member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles introduced a private member's bill that would empower the Minister of Finance to limit credit card merchant fees, but the government keeps delaying debate on the bill. In fact, it is now eight times that debate on Bill C-236 has moved.

When I raised this issue in question period, the Minister of Finance said: “The previous government put in place an agreement with the credit card companies that we have reviewed. It appears to be working.” It is clear from his response that the minister and his Liberal government have no intention of bringing fairness and transparency to the payments industry in Canada.

Each month, small business owners review their credit card statements from the bank to see how much money they paid the bank for credit card transactions. Meanwhile, banks are enjoying record profits. This March the Bank of Montreal said it had made about $1.5 billion in the first quarter. Royal Bank profit is up 24%, at $3 billion, and CIBC profits were up 13%. Banks also compound the impact of merchant fees by relentlessly pushing consumers to use credit cards for their everyday purchases, enticing consumers with offers of double and triple reward points. Perhaps the Minister of Finance was referring to the banks when he said credit card merchant fees are working.

These merchant fees raise the price of goods for consumers and prevent small businesses from growing and creating jobs. Instead of paying these exorbitant fees, small business owners could and would use that money to pay higher wages and invest in innovation and recapitalization. The evidence is clear: credit card merchant fees are too high in Canada.

I urge the government to immediately move to cap credit card merchant fees to a reasonable rate. We must protect our small retailers. I will continue to press the government to live up to that responsibility.

February 16th, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

You talked about consulting businesses. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has over 109,000 members. They rank it number one, lowering small business taxes. It was a promise made by this government. The government hasn't honoured the promise.

I knocked on the doors of over 300 businesses in my riding, with over 70 volunteers, and it was number one in my riding too. I just want you to take note of that.

Another significant cost of doing business is, of course, credit card merchant fees. It's an issue that the NDP has been raising for years. There are some clear, concrete actions the government can take to help lower these costs and make them more predictable. Of course, our colleague Madame Lapointe has Bill C-236 on this issue. I think it's been moved 10 times. Hopefully the House will eventually debate this. With CETA coming on board, we know that some of our counterparts in Europe have rates as low as a fifth of what we have here in Canada.

I'm wondering what action the government is prepared to take on credit card merchant fees.

National Anthem ActPrivate Members' Business

May 31st, 2016 / 6:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very proud to rise today to speak to bill C-210, an act to amend the National Anthem Act regarding gender. The bill proposes replacing the words “thy sons” in the English version of the national anthem, with the words “all of us”, in order to make it gender neutral.

Before I continue, I would like to explain why I really wanted to discuss this important bill today. Originally, according to the Order Paper, today I was supposed to introduce my bill, Bill C-236, regarding credit card acceptance fees for Canadian businesses. Instead, my bill will be introduced for second reading on September 19, 2016.

It was really a no-brainer for me to give up my place for my colleague, the member for Ottawa—Vanier, as he courageously fights Lou Gherig's disease.

During the first hour of debate on Bill C-210, I was really disappointed by the lack of empathy shown by our colleagues in the official opposition, who chose not to drop the debate and instead to force a second hour of debate for clearly political reasons.

There are times when we must set politics aside and show some humanity, compassion, and openness.

The sponsor of the bill, the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier, has spent his entire career working tirelessly to promote justice for all, and I would like to highlight some of his remarkable achievements. His determination to introduce this bill yet again is just one example of his steadfast commitment to fairness.

A staunch defender of human rights and strong advocate for official languages, he inspires every one of us. I first met my colleague from Ottawa—Vanier when I became a member of the Standing Committee on Official Languages, and I had the great fortune to work alongside him. The status of official languages is an issue that matters very much to me too as the member for the Quebec riding of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.

My colleague elucidated the reasons that justify the change, which I wholeheartedly support. There must be no gender bias in our national anthem. This is a change we need and want because, yes, esteemed colleagues, it is 2016.

This bill holds personal meaning for me as the mother of four children, two boys and two girls. My children are the reason I became involved in politics. This is a dream I have always had for our country and my family. I want my girls to have the same opportunity to achieve their full potential as my boys.

In my opinion, the words in all thy sons command may have reflected Canadian society in 1913, but our society has evolved considerably in the past century.

When the lyrics of our national anthem were written, women could not vote for or against a bill. In fact, they could not vote at all. Before 1929, they were not considered persons. It is essential to modernize the words of our national anthem to reflect the social progress made by Canadian men and women. Again, this is 2016.

For decades, the Government of Canada has been committed to promoting gender equality here at home and abroad. Many bills have been introduced to recognize the contribution of women who, alone or in groups, contributed to making Canada the strong, creative, and inclusive country that it is today.

I am not saying that we have achieved perfect gender equality in Canada, but we have quite certainly improved things. Our government remains determined to build a country where our boys and girls will be equal participants in all aspects of society.

Allow me to mention some of the measures taken by the Government of Canada to recognize the vital role played by the women who contributed to building our Canada of today.

In budget 2016, our government announced investments that will increase capacity at Status of Women Canada. In fact, a $23.3-million investment over five years beginning in 2016-17 will support local organizations working in gender equality and women's issues. These new funds will also support the creation of a dedicated research and evaluation unit within the agency to provide evidence-based, innovative research on women's issues.

This year, we will be proudly celebrating the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote in Manitoba. This event gives us another opportunity to highlight the remarkable achievements of activists who have fought for women's equality and gender equality.

Canada's commitment to promoting gender equality and women's rights is central to our foreign policy and makes us proud. The Minister of Status of Women announced in March 2016 before the UN Commission on the Status of Women that Canada is running for a seat on the commission for the 2017-21 term. This would allow our country to play an even greater role in creating a better future for women and girls in Canada and around the world.

The amendment that my hon. colleague is proposing would change only two words, but this small change would be a significant gesture that would ensure that women are no longer excluded from our national anthem. That is why it is important for me to allow my colleague to take my place so that he can present his bill, which is so important to him.

As we prepare to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, our support for Bill C-210 would give us an opportunity to ensure that this important national symbol continues to reflect our values and inspire pride and a sense of belonging in all Canadians. In 2017, at Canada's 150th birthday celebrations, I hope to hear a national anthem that reflects Canada's modern reality.

In closing, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for introducing this bill. By supporting it, we will send a clear message to Canadians and the entire world that we stand and will continue to stand for gender equality and that we value the significant contributions that women have made and continue to make to our country. It will serve as yet another example of the government’s resolve to promote the equality of all Canadians.

My dear colleague from Ottawa—Vanier, I thank you on behalf of my two sons and my two daughters.