The bill is about cryptoassets, cryptocurrencies and virtual currencies. It is truly fascinating because it covers extremely innovative technologies that are being adopted by the more formal economy. We know that cryptoassets and cryptocurrencies are based on transactions authenticated by blockchains. These transactions can take place person to person and on the web, but without any intermediary. It is understandable that those who love technology, especially in the banking world, are fascinated by this and why we can see that there are a certain number of significant risks associated with the development of cryptoassets.
Bill C-249 is basically a bill that promotes cryptocurrencies. One of its main objectives is to ensure the growth of cryptocurrencies. This is one of the fastest-growing sectors, and the market is already doing the work on its own. It is not like Alberta's oil. We do not need public money for it. The industry is self-sustaining.
The bill then talks about the need to lower barriers in a sector to which there are no barriers. This is about regulation. This is an incomplete bill that starts to unravel from the very beginning. The bill then claims we must minimize the administrative burden in a sector where there is virtually no administrative burden.
I do want us to talk about cryptocurrencies. I want us to analyze the sector and consider the state's role and the need for regulation, but this is not a great start. To me, Bill C‑249 sounds like an ad for cryptocurrencies.
This brings me back to yesterday's speech from the Conservative member for Abbotsford. I am bringing this up today because it really stood out to me. Yesterday during the Conservative filibuster, when the member for Abbotsford talked about all the criticisms he made during the prebudget recommendations, I was quite surprised to hear his comment. I was at the Standing Committee on Finance. The committee was discussing the prebudget recommendations and the member for Abbotsford did not make a single recommendation. This year, the Conservatives did not propose a single recommendation. They proposed nothing.
We brought in our witnesses—people from Davie in Quebec City, which still does not have its fair share of federal shipbuilding contracts, our farmers, our community organizations and our businesses, all of whom offered up proposals to stabilize our supply chains—and we made proposals, but the Conservatives had nothing, nothing at all.
Yesterday, the member for Abbotsford said something in connection with Bill C‑249. He said that when parties have pre-budget recommendations—which they did not, of course—they have to set priorities, practise statesmanship and start with what is most important. To me, given the current conditions, the economic recovery, coming to the end of the pandemic and having so much work to do, I am surprised that the Conservatives would use their time in the House to introduce this kind of bill.
Speaking of setting priorities, I decided it was important to get out there and talk to people dealing with the negative repercussions of cryptocurrencies. Such people exist, and I wanted to hear what they had to say. I think it is worthwhile, especially as I also think we need stricter regulations and Bill C‑249 is noticeably lacking.
Consider the Vancouver police, for example. It does not get much more hands-on than those folks. They believe that cryptocurrency ATMs are being used as conduits to move the proceeds of crime. That worries me. The lack of regulations in this area worries me.
As my colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean said earlier, the Toronto police have also indicated that cryptocurrencies in general are problematic. They are known to be a money laundering tool that can facilitate criminal transactions, such as the sale of narcotics and guns, and that is certainly what has materialized.
The member for Calgary Nose Hill was saying that although this is true, any payment method can be used for the same purpose. However, there are varying degrees of ease. Person-to-person transactions without intermediaries and without state regulation make things easier. I am very surprised that Bill C-249, without any hint of a regulatory proposal, comes from the law and order party.
The U.S. Department of Justice has just created a new director position to tackle fraud specifically involving cryptocurrencies. That is in the United States.
In its budget, which was just tabled, Quebec highlights the need to better protect Quebeckers against cyberthreats and expresses the will to combat tax evasion strategies more effectively, which reflects a willingness to do the hard work to ensure that the cryptoasset sector develops in a secure and fair environment for all. That is what the Quebec government is saying, and, in this place, we defend Quebec's interests.
For its part, the IMF, which is attuned to the issue of global monetary and financial stability stated the following:
Crypto assets and associated products and services have grown rapidly in recent years. Furthermore, interlinkages with the regulated financial system are rising. Policymakers struggle to monitor risks from this evolving sector, in which many activities are unregulated. In fact, we think these financial stability risks could soon become systemic in some countries.
Based on what the IMF experts are saying, I feel that they have placed the cart before the horse by introducing a bill that is essentially a tool to promote an industry that is already doing very well.
There is a host of risks for consumers. I like that the title of the bill refers to cryptoassets. We have stopped calling it “cryptocurrency” because it is not really currency and it does not play the same role as currency. It will therefore not replace currency.
Currency is a store of value. Its purpose is to retain value. However, cryptoassets are assets that fluctuate tremendously based on factors such as speculation. This makes the ill-informed investors—if we can call them that—who put their money into them more vulnerable.
Currency is also a unit of account. Until Quebec becomes independent and starts using the Quebec dollar, we will still use the Canadian dollar, which does the job very well. In fact, the value of cryptocurrencies is still assessed against the Canadian dollar. It is also a medium of exchange.
Cryptocurrency also functions as a medium of exchange, but it is a very decentralized medium that can, as I said earlier, facilitate criminal transactions, under-the-table transactions and many others. The fact that it is decentralized makes it all the more important to regulate it. I am worried about that, and so is the Bloc Québécois. We know that we are not the only ones who think that way.
Paul Beaudry, the deputy governor of the Bank of Canada, spoke to us about bitcoin. We know that there are a lot of different cryptoassets and cryptocurrencies, but he told us that Bitcoin was more for speculation than for payment. If we have reached the point where the Bank of Canada is worried about these issues, then perhaps we should be asking the Bank of Canada whether this bill addresses its concerns and meets its expectations. I would venture to say that the bill does not.
I now want to talk about our support for the bill. This bill is at second reading, the stage at which we vote on the principle of the bill. This bill could be improved, and my colleague spoke about that. It could be amended in committee. However, given the need for a framework, for regulations and for consultations with stakeholders, I strongly believe that we would end up having to rewrite the entire bill by making the amendments we would be comfortable with.
The bill would be rewritten so much that I do not think the amendments we would want would even be in order as part of the committee's study of this bill. We therefore think that it might not be a constructive use of parliamentarians' time to send this bill to be studied in committee. For these reasons, the Bloc Québécois will very likely not be able to support the principle of this bill.