An Act to amend the Competition Act (efficiencies defence)


Ryan Williams  Conservative

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


Dead, as of Nov. 7, 2023

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-339.


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

This enactment amends the Competition Act to repeal the provision of the Act setting out the “efficiencies defence”, which prevents the Competition Tribunal from making an order against any party to a merger or proposed merger if the Tribunal finds that the merger or proposed merger has brought about or is likely to bring about gains in efficiency that will be greater than the effects of any prevention or lessening of competition that will result or is likely to result from the merger or proposed merger.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

April 11th, 2024 / 12:25 p.m.
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Ryan Williams Conservative Bay of Quinte, ON

You can tell by my name tag that I'm not a permanent member, but I'm happy, Mr. Chair, to be here again. It's always nice to be at the finance committee.

Thank you to our witnesses for joining us today.

Mr. Bester, it's great to see you back again to talk about the changes to the Competition Act.

We've had a series of bills to amend the Competition Act in this Parliament. The first was my bill, Bill C-339, to eliminate the efficiencies defence. I had another private member's bill, but that was taken with the last government bill on open banking, which is always great. The government followed our lead with Bill C-56 and Bill C-59.

I know we've had a lot of input from your group into these bills, but I want to start with what's missing. What recommendations did not get included that are really important to this bill and to competition in Canada?

November 27th, 2023 / 11:20 a.m.
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Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

That's a really great question.

Thank you very much, MP Long. I really appreciate your support on this. I am glad that you are seeing that this is a common-sense piece of legislation that really is for the betterment of Canadians and Canadian families.

There are a couple of things I want to touch on.

Attachment is so important. We know that in the first year of life, generally speaking, attachment is very important for parents and baby. Also, adoption and surrogacy don't make it any less important just because it's come about in a different way. Attachment is so important for kids to feel safe, to feel secure, to grow and to have healthy coping mechanisms, especially within mental health. It's all these things. It helps with resilience. Attachment is so very important.

One thing I would like to say is with regard to negativity. I'm not being negative; I'm just being honest and stating the facts of what happened. I don't see this as a win, because it's not completed. I haven't seen any enacting legislation and I don't know if your government has the same intent with this. I don't know if things will be amended. It's been very difficult for me to have two-way communication with ministers and your government on this issue. I've been ignored. I don't want this to be perceived as me being negative; I'm just stating facts.

Also, this kind of proves the point that the Liberals are out of ideas. Numerous private members' bills have been taken from your government. We have bereavement leave; that was actually taken from the previous Parliament by your government. In this current fall economic statement, we've seen a couple of bills—namely Bill C-323 and Bill C-339—including mine, and more, that were taken from your government. I think this proves that the Liberals are out of fresh ideas and are grasping at straws.

Regarding your question about Canadians who have been through adoption and surrogacy, I absolutely think it will be powerful and impactful to hear what those Canadians have to say. I'm sure they're appearing as witnesses here.

I was surprised to find out that members of my own caucus had been adopted. I've heard their stories about how that changed the trajectory of their lives and that they were so grateful for that.

That's just to name a few. I also have adoption in my own family that has been completed and has gone through the process.

Government Business No. 30—Proceedings on Bill C-56Government Orders

November 23rd, 2023 / 6:40 p.m.
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Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Madam Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in this place to join the debate. I will be sharing my time with the excellent member of Parliament for Prince Albert.

Bill C-56 is an interesting bill, and I must give the Liberal government some credit for taking a page directly from the leader of the official opposition's affordability plan and proposing to remove the GST from purpose-built rental housing. This is something that Conservatives support.

I must admit that I was a bit surprised to see the Liberal government admit that removing a tax, in this case, the GST, is a good way to increase affordability, much as I was shocked to see the Liberal government admit that removing its carbon tax on home heating oil is also a good way to increase affordability. If only it would remove its carbon tax on propane and natural gas to increase affordability for all Canadians and not just those in certain regions of the country.

Back to the bill, I also support the proposed amendments to the Competition Act, just as I supported my colleague from Bay of Quinte when he introduced his Bill C‑339.

It is refreshing to see a Liberal government adopt Conservative solutions. I even have to give the Prime Minister a little credit. Removing the tax on goods and services relating to the construction of rental housing means that builders and developers will save money. It means that less money will end up here in Ottawa. We all know how much this Prime Minister likes spending other people's money. Despite reduced revenue, our perennially spendy Prime Minister did not label this an austerity bill—not yet, anyway. Maybe he will change his mind when he reads the bill and realizes he is endorsing Conservative ideas.

Regardless, the Prime Minister has demonstrated remarkable restraint by introducing a bill that will reduce Ottawa's revenue and not calling it an austerity measure.

I pause for a moment, though, to ask this place a question. If the Liberal government is capable of understanding that removing the GST from rental housing increases affordability and that removing the carbon tax from home heating oil also increases affordability, why does it still refuse to remove the carbon tax from natural gas and propane to increase affordability? Do Canadian families who heat their homes with natural gas and propane and who cannot pay their bills not matter?

I have heard the Liberal excuses around this. Home heating oil is expensive and the carbon tax makes it more expensive, so that is why they are giving them a carbon tax break, but the same is also true for those who heat with natural gas and propane. Basically, this government is telling them that they do not matter. This is a Prime Minister who once said, “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian”, but that is no longer true if one heats one's home with natural gas or propane. Sure, one might be on the verge of bankruptcy or hitting the food bank every day, but this Liberal government just does not care.

I know some members would say that I am getting a bit off track, that we should be debating what is in this bill. That is my point. The things in this bill would help, but the things we could do to most help Canadians right now, such as removing the carbon tax from all home heating fuels, we are not doing solely because the government is punitive.

This morning, we read about the Liberals' so-called affordability retreat, where taxpayers got stuck with a bill for $160,000, including rooms that cost anywhere from $1,200 to $3,200 apiece. The very Liberals who stayed in those rooms have the audacity to tell those who can no longer afford to heat their home at the end of the month that they will get no help. Worse, their carbon tax bill will actually be quadrupled. I would simply ask the obvious: Why not do more?

Why not offer Canadians who heat their homes with natural gas and propane the same carbon tax relief as those who heat their homes with home heating oil? Why does this Prime Minister always have to divide Canadians? This time, he is dividing them based on their heating fuel. Canadians have had enough of this.

Every poll sends the message loud and clear about where the Liberals stand, yet the Liberal government ignores that message. To what end? I know there are good people on the government side, but the arrogance of the Prime Minister and his powerful group of unelected insiders is hurting many Canadians.

Yes, the proposals in this bill will help. It is a start, but we seriously need to do more. That is why I talked about doing more. That is why the leader of the official opposition listens to Canadians every day. They are asking us to do more. Polls show they want relief from the carbon tax on their home heating bills.

Farmers want and need a break as well. Here in Canada, we introduced something called “marked gas”. The idea was that farmers could buy gasoline and diesel at lower costs, without additional taxes, because all of our predecessors from all political parties recognized that keeping farmers' costs low was in the public interest. Now the Liberal government is literally driving up the costs for farmers for ideological reasons.

I will share a story of a local small business owner. This small business owner is a value-added food processor. It is very important to this small business owner that, when his goods arrive at local grocery stores, they proudly say that they are 100% Canadian. Here is the thing: When he gets his raw goods, they come from Quebec and Atlantic Canada, and when he has them shipped out via transport truck, he now pays a carbon tax surcharge on the bill.

He must raise his prices to offset the extra carbon tax that he pays. If he were to get the same raw goods out of the United States or overseas, he would not have that same large carbon tax surcharge from goods being shipped across Canada. He might be at that point where the only way he can lower his prices and remain competitive would be to switch because many of his competitors in the same grocery stores cannot say that they are also made in Canada. They are made in other jurisdictions where there is no carbon tax. When times are tough, as they are right now, fewer people can afford to pay extra for goods solely because they are made here in Canada.

I hope the government realizes the long-term structural damage its carbon tax is creating. It would be a different story if our largest trading partners had the same carbon tax and it was a level playing field. The Liberals like to say that they are taking a leadership role with the carbon tax. However, when no one else is following, they are not leading the way.

Some may think that I was not objective in this debate, but when I go home and my constituents ask me what we are doing in Ottawa to make life more affordable for them, I would like to have more to offer than simply saying that I supported this bill. At least I can tell that small business owner and others like him that I shared their stories.

Unfortunately, however, we have a Prime Minister and a Prime Minister's Office who do not care about any of them, unless they use home heating oil, of course.

That said, yes, I will support this bill and I will continue to ask this Liberal government to adopt and better support our Conservative ideas. Let us put all home heating fuels on a level playing field and suspend the carbon tax.

Let us ensure that the carbon tax on farming is gone. Let us all read the Scotiabank report that tells of how government spending at all levels has created over 40% of the rise in basis points from the Bank of Canada. It is not austerity to think like a taxpayer and deliver value for money. What a concept. It is not an app that costs over $54 million or funding the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. How about the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which does not deliver any infrastructure?

Literally every day, we read about a new spending scandal from the Liberal government and appointed insiders funnelling money to their own companies. How could someone not know that was wrong and unacceptable? How are people such as Laith Marouf on the government contract list? Why is there never any ministerial accountability?

Instead of fiscal waste, we should be doing more with what is here. I urge all members of the House of Commons to consider doing more and adopting our Conservative ideas to provide Canadians a carbon tax break on home heating, and let us have a carbon tax carve-out for our farmers.

November 20th, 2023 / 5:05 p.m.
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Ryan Williams Conservative Bay of Quinte, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Minister, for being here.

I want to start by thanking you for taking my private member's bill on eliminating the efficiencies defence. The Competition Bureau hasn't intervened yet, but I promise not to have it intervene. It's great to see that we have some good ideas for competition in this bill.

Minister, I want to start with something you said on September 19 in the House of Commons. You said, “One thing that was clear yesterday with the major grocery chains from across the country is that we must not allow any measure to affect our farmers, the small and medium-sized businesses across the country that contribute to the food chain.”

We talk about competition. We talk about all the elements that add costs up the chain, and this bill is called the affordable housing and grocery act. We have taxes on our farmers, on our manufacturers, on our truckers and on our storage facilities, cold storage specifically, that get added to all the food bills and then get added, of course, to the grocery bill.

Minister, do you agree with a tax freeze on the Canadian food supply chain, yes or no?

National Security Review of Investments Modernization ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2023 / 3:35 p.m.
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Branden Leslie Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-34, otherwise known as the national security review of investments modernization act.

With it being so close to Remembrance Day, I too would like to offer my appreciation for all those who have served and continue to serve, and all the families that support them. I would encourage everybody to make sure they attend a ceremony this Saturday to honour and respect veterans for all of the work they have done.

Speaking of our security, the NDP-Liberal coalition has, for far too long, not taken our national security seriously, so it is good to see some efforts being made through the legislation before us. Unfortunately, our reputation on the world stage has taken a beating over the past eight years. We have seen numerous diplomatic debacles over those years, and a Prime Minister who regularly embarrasses Canada on the world stage. It seems that every time I go on social media, another country's news broadcast is mocking the Prime Minister. It is one thing to embarrass oneself with a tickle trunk of outfits to wear to another country or by wearing blackface more times than one can remember, but the Prime Minister has forced our allied nations to lose confidence in us as a partner.

Just this past July, Dan Sullivan, a United States senator from Alaska, called out the Liberal government for consistently failing to meet NATO’s 2% GDP target for defence spending. What is worse is that the Liberals are cutting $1 billion from our defence budget this year. While the American ambassador played it nice a few weeks ago and said he is not yet worried about our failure to meet our NATO targets, we all know and can recognize how our allies feel about Canada these days. If we had been taking our national security seriously, perhaps Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States would not have separated off from the Five Eyes alliance and created their own strategic defence partnership without Canada.

With regular disruptions to our ports and railways, we are losing the perception of us as a reliable trading partner that can deliver the goods we produce here in Canada to market. With a changing climate, our adversaries see the north as an opportunity. They see a wealth of resources and future transportation routes, and we are increasingly unable to protect our own sovereignty in the north. The sad reality is that under the Liberal government, we have become a bit of a laughingstock on the world stage, and it is disappointing to admit that. However, I cannot think of a single nation around the world with which our relationship has improved over the past eight years.

Given all of the failures internationally, one would assume that perhaps we would want to take care of our domestic economic needs here at home, but we have not done that. Although we are taking a good step with this legislation, after eight years, foreign state-owned enterprises, particularly those connected with the Communist regime in China, have heightened their influence in Canada. I will provide a few examples. In 2017, the government allowed Hytera Communications, a firm with ties to China, to acquire B.C.-based satellite communications company Norsat International. In 2020, Nuctech, a company owned by the Chinese government and founded by the son of a former Chinese Communist Party secretary general, won a bid to, get this, provide security equipment to over 170 Canadian embassies around the world. Imagine that. The government was going to entrust the security of Canadians stationed abroad to technologies linked to the Chinese Communist Party.

I know there are a lot of examples like this, but I will end with one more. Just last year, the CBC revealed that in 2017, the CBSA began using radio equipment and technology from Hytera, the company I just referenced. It was quite literally using the technology at our borders while our main ally, the United States, was indicting the company for 21 espionage charges. It banned the company from operating and doing business because it posed an unnecessary risk to national security. At the same time as our border guards were using the equipment, our American counterparts and friends were kicking the company out of their country.

It seems as though often the current government is focused on political interests and not our national interests. We should not be surprised. We all remember when the Prime Minister alluded to his level of admiration for China's basic dictatorship. It is perhaps why the Liberals have given China so many passes and why they have allowed Chinese-linked companies and agencies to infiltrate our university campuses, co-opt our research and take our technologies that innovative Canadians, innovative students and innovative companies in Canada have been spearheading.

We could talk about all these failures all day, but I want to address specifically some pieces of Bill C-34. I was pleasantly surprised that the Liberals brought the legislation forward, because it is an important idea to try to always enhance our national security, particularly as things evolve and our competitors become our allies and our allies become our enemies in the global world.

The goal in the legislation of amending the Investment Canada Act to protect our national security is not a bad one at all, but I really thought that for once, the Liberals had come up with their own idea. However, looking back to our 2021 platform, I noticed we had pledged to do the same thing: “Canada's Conservatives will: Protect Canadian intellectual property with a strengthened Investment Canada Act”. As the old proverb goes, imitation is the highest form of flattery, and there has been a lot of mimicking going on lately. My first speech in the House was just last month, about the affordable housing and groceries act, which was plagiarism, effectively, of two Conservative bills, Bill C-356 and Bill C-339. Of course we also saw, just last week, a climb-down on the carbon tax for home heating for some Canadians in some parts of the country.

Not all mimicking is bad, but at the end of the day, as my fellow Manitoban colleague from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman said, “The Liberals are tired, they are weary and they do not have anything else to bring forward”. This seems to be the case. While I would prefer an election so we can put forward a strong platform that will include enhancements to the Investment Canada Act, among many other things, I do hope the current Liberal-NDP coalition keeps copying a few of our ideas. It can start with axing the carbon tax in its entirety, but I am not going to hold out a lot of hope.

Overall, Bill C-34 needs to go further. It does not go far enough to address the risks faced by Canadians. By and large, the largest threat we have to investments here in critical services is by state-owned or state-connected enterprises from authoritarian regimes like China and Russia. Canadians are rightly concerned about this problem. Foreign direct investment is a good thing. We should want to draw investment dollars into our communities. However, we should also want to maintain our sovereignty and our national interests. The reality is that we have become a place where people do not want to do business. Investments in our natural resource sectors, among many others, are flooding out. Our counterpart, the United States, which does not have a carbon tax, is more appealing to do business with. Companies would rather go just south of the border, south of my riding, and set up business there.

The bill does not include the ability for the government to create a list of authoritarian countries that are prohibited from owning Canadian companies or assets, which I think it should do. The Conservative team, at the committee stage, did a great job of bringing forward common-sense recommendations for changes to the legislation. Not as many were adopted as should have been, but Conservatives did work hard to fix some of the flaws.

One last issue that is becoming increasingly important and visible, particularly in my area in the Prairies, is the increased buying of farmland by Chinese-linked companies and organizations. Not only does this threaten our long-term food security but it also significantly increases prices for young farmers who are trying to enter an already very difficult industry to get into. It is important that we enable the Investment Canada Act to be broad enough and flexible enough to have cabinet be able to make important decisions on whether a takeover or change in ownership is in the best interest of Canadians. This seems like common sense to me. We know it is something only Conservatives can provide.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

November 1st, 2023 / 4:05 p.m.
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Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 51st report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Pursuant to Standing Order 92(3)(a), the committee reports that it has concurred in the first report of the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business advising that Bill C-339, an act to amend the Competition Act (efficiencies defence), should be designated non-votable.

Alleged Duplication of Private Member's Bill—Speaker's RulingPoints of OrderOral Questions

October 19th, 2023 / 3:25 p.m.
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The Speaker Liberal Greg Fergus

I am now ready to rule on the point of order raised on Thursday, September 21, by the member for Bay of Quinte concerning Bill C-339 and Bill C-56.

Bill C-339, an act to amend the Competition Act (efficiencies defence), standing in the name of the member for Bay of Quinte, received first reading on June 8 and was added to the order of precedence on September 20. Bill C-56, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act and the Competition Act, received first reading on Thursday, September 21, and is currently being debated in the House at second reading.

In his intervention, the member for Bay of Quinte noted that the government had presented a bill which contains the same provisions as his private member's bill. The member sought assurance from the Chair that, if required, he would have recourse to replace his bill with another item according to the provisions of the Standing Orders.

The parliamentary secretary to the government House leader countered that it would be premature to consider the matter until the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business and the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs had completed their work pursuant to Standing Order 91.1 and presented a report to the House.

Bill C‑339 contains only two clauses, which are identical to clauses 9 and 10 of Bill C‑56. Bill C-339 seeks to repeal the provision of the Competition Act setting out the “efficiencies defence”, which prevents the Competition Tribunal from making an order if it finds that the likely gains in efficiency will be greater than the effects of any lessening of competition resulting from a merger.

Bill C-56 aims to repeal the exception brought about by mergers involving efficiency gains, while also establishing a framework to conduct an inquiry, permitting the Competition Tribunal to make certain orders, as well as amending the Excise Tax Act.

It is my understanding that the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business held a meeting on Thursday, October 5, to determine whether the bills added to the order of precedence on September 20 should remain votable or not. While the subcommittee and the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs have not yet made a final recommendation to the House concerning Bill C-339, the official process has not yet run its course. It would therefore be premature for the Chair to make any determination on this matter at this time.

There is an opportunity to resolve the concern raised through the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business and the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which are the designated bodies for considering items added to the order of precedence. I trust that the usual process will be followed in accordance with the rules and practices of the House. If a procedural issue remains after that process is complete, the Chair is open to considering the matter.

I thank all members for their patience and attention.

Affordable Housing and Groceries ActGovernment Orders

October 5th, 2023 / 4:45 p.m.
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James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, indeed I am proud to be here as part of the blue team. It is always an honour to stand in this House and to debate some of the legislation that is before us. Today we are discussing Bill C-56, the affordable housing and groceries act. First of all, I have to congratulate the leader of the official opposition who tabled his bill, the building homes not bureaucracy act, of which the Liberals lifted part and implemented it here through Bill C-56.

I also have to congratulate the member for Bay of Quinte for his private member's bill, Bill C-339, which was to amend the Competition Act by further defining the efficiencies defence under the Competition Act. Of course, that was also lifted by the Liberals and put into Bill C-56.

I guess it is true, as Oscar Wilde used to say, that imitation is the sincerest, and I would say the greatest, form of flattery. For the Liberals to take Conservative legislation and put into their own government bills is a form of flattery, and it is one that I think we should really recognize. This is Conservative ideology that the Liberals are implementing here.

I think it is also important to point out that the Liberal government is all out of ideas. It has been eight long years. The Liberals are tired, they are weary and they do not have anything else to bring forward, so they are now going to be going through all the private members' bills that the Conservatives have laid before this House and they are going to be lifting parts they can use of the great ideas the Conservatives have. They are going to put those into their own legislation going forward.

I am looking forward to what else is going to be coming forward from the government. When it comes down to the issues of grocery prices and housing, they have no ideas, and for the eight years we have been watching, things have gotten harder for Canadian families. It has gotten tougher for Canadians to live that major Canadian dream, which is to own their own home, but millennials and young Canadians just do not have that opportunity.

After eight long years, we have mortgage rates that have now gone up to the highest levels in 30 years. We have seen mortgage rates increase 10 times. The Bank of Canada preferred rate has gone up 475 basis points. Rent in this country on rent a two-bedroom home is going to cost, on average across this country, $2,339 as of last month. Canada now has the most expensive housing market in the world, with some communities like Vancouver and Toronto by far the most expensive places to live, and incomes have not kept up with the cost of living.

It is said that societies often come to the brink of collapse when things like putting food on the table and a roof over one's head exceed 75% of one's disposable income. That is what is happening under those Liberals and their mismanagement of our economy and our government. They are really making it impossible.

We talk about the Canadian dream. When I was 21 years old I took out my first mortgage, under the Liberal Pierre Elliott Trudeau government, and paid a 21% interest rate on that mortgage. It is like father, like son, and now we have again out-of-control interest rates, out-of-control inflation and a government that is running up these massive deficits, contributing to inflationary spending. We are in a situation where those millennials and young Canadians are now not doing what we did, taking out a mortgage and paying it off over 25 years. They are taking 25 years to save up for the down payment to go out and buy that new home.

We always talk about how this is impacting our young people, those millennials out there and the 30-somethings who are still living in their parents' basements. It is also impacting seniors. Edna in my riding wrote to me, and said, “Now, everything costs so much more. Many seniors are suffering and don't have the means to get help”. She was talking about her mortgage and insurance on her house, the meagre life insurance she pays for, all the utility bills and her groceries, and she cannot make ends meet. This is in Manitoba where, compared to the rest of Canada, rental rates, mortgage rates and housing prices are still relatively affordable compared to Ontario, B.C., Atlantic Canada and Alberta, yet she is struggling to get by.

What the Liberals are planning here is to give a GST holiday to wealthy landlords who are going to go out and build more rental units. There is no classification on whether this is affordable housing, but they are going to make sure that these are homes that people can afford to live in on their income. They could have looked at what we were proposing. I welcome the Liberals to plagiarize more of the Leader of the Opposition's bill, the building homes not bureaucracy act.

On top of removing the GST over the next five years on new home builds, why do the Liberals not make it easier for all developers so they can build more single-family homes as well make sure we are out there to support the people who want to buy their first home, not rent, whether it is a condo, a multi-family unit or a single home in a new development? Let us make sure that all developers, not just the landlords who are out there, are going to be able to get the GST holiday.

Let us make sure that we are also taking away the bonuses paid to bureaucrats who are part of the problem right now in creating the red tape. I am talking specifically about the bonuses that were paid out to Bank of Canada and CMHC executives. There was $26 million paid out in bonuses to CMHC executives who, in my mind, are part of the housing crisis as they are not addressing it well, and the Bank of Canada executives got $20 million in bonuses. Again, this is the Bank of Canada that keeps increasing the interest rates to try to balance off the inflation that was created. The Liberals printed more money for this bank to borrow and the government continues to use that money to run up these huge inflationary deficits.

The current Prime Minister has now run up more national debt than all prime ministers before him going right back to Confederation. That to me is a crisis. It is about passing on debt to our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren. We are talking about intergenerational abuse because of the misappropriation of funds by the government and the lack of investment in the future of this country, which is making it tougher for Canadians.

I have to say if we want to talk more about what the Liberals can take and lift out of the Leader of the Opposition's bill, let us make sure we also talk about getting rid of the gatekeepers by incentivizing municipalities to actually build more homes and doing away with all the red tape that is stopping them.

We want to make sure that we take all the excess land and buildings the Government of Canada owns and convert them into housing.

Let us not stop there. If the Liberals want to take another Conservative policy and plagiarize it, I welcome them to axe the carbon tax. If we want to talk about groceries, which this bill has actually nothing to do with, let us talk about taking away the inflationary carbon tax because it is making food more expensive. I am a farmer. My friend from Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa is a farmer. My friend from Portage—Lisgar is a farmer. We were all a bunch of farm kids growing up and are proud of it. When we tax the farmer who grows the food, tax the trucker who transports it to the processor, tax the processor who makes the food, tax the trucker again to get it over to the grocery stores, and then the Liberals not only charge the carbon tax on the grocery stores, but penalize them, fine them, then pass that on to the consumer as well, it means we all pay more for food.

Let us make sure that the Liberals continue to make use of good, Conservative policy, that they do away with all the destructive and wasteful spending on their side and do more to work with our side, follow our lead and take our examples, because then they will make a difference. If they do not, I promise all Canadians they will have a chance to pass judgment on the government, get rid of the Liberals, and bring in the common-sense Conservatives for a better and brighter future.

October 5th, 2023 / 1:20 p.m.
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The Chair Liberal Ruby Sahota

There's a majority at this point who consider Bill C-339 non-votable.

Seeing as how that's the only issue today, I'll move that Bill C-339 be designated as a non-votable item; that all other items considered today remain votable; that the subcommittee present a report listing the remaining items which it has determined should not be designated as non-votable and recommending that they be considered by the House; and that the chair report the subcommittee's findings to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs as soon as possible.

October 5th, 2023 / 1:20 p.m.
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Lindsay Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Like my colleagues, we are fine with following the advice given by the analysts in this. We deem Bill C-339 non-votable and Bill C-352 votable.

Thank you.

October 5th, 2023 / 1:15 p.m.
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Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Yes, it's just Bill C-339.

October 5th, 2023 / 1:15 p.m.
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The Chair Liberal Ruby Sahota

Bill C-339 is non-votable. You're considering just one as non-votable, but everything else is votable.

October 5th, 2023 / 1:15 p.m.
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Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

I agree with everything that the analysts have proposed.

Bill C-352 is votable, and Bill C-339 is non-votable.

October 5th, 2023 / 1:15 p.m.
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Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

I simply want to say that I agree with all of the analysts' recommendations regarding the bills.

They recommend that Bill C‑352 be deemed votable, but not Bill C‑339.

I agree with all of their recommendations, Madam Chair.

Affordable Housing and Groceries ActGovernment Orders

October 5th, 2023 / 11:40 a.m.
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Brad Vis Conservative Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, BC

Madam Speaker, today I will be speaking to Bill C-56, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act and the Competition Act. This bill is divided into two parts to amend the Excise Tax Act and the Competition Act. I will be sharing a few points in respect of why the bill is being tabled at this moment and how it relates to small businesses.

I have one point before I begin. On a per-person basis, real GDP growth has declined for four consecutive quarters. Controlling for population growth, per capita GDP declined by 3.5% at an annualized rate, according to RBC.

In many respects, I would sum this bill up as too little, too late. After eight years of the NDP-Liberal government taxing, spending and putting up red tape, the bill before us is just not enough. Inflation, rising interest rates, unaffordable housing and a sense that everything feels broken have left Canadians wondering if their government truly has their best interests at heart.

Indeed, with tanking poll numbers, the Liberal-NDP government veered from its legislative agenda to table this bill before us today after the summer recess. A recent study by Dalhousie University's Agri-Food Analytics Lab found that over half of Canadians are employing more cost-saving measures at the grocery store than they did a year ago, and more than 86% consider themselves more price conscious thanks to rising grocery prices. However, no one has to ask me. All anyone has to do is go to the Superstore, Save-On-Foods or Costco on the weekend and look at the faces of people when they see prices.

Food Banks Canada recently reported that one in seven of their clients is currently employed. Canadians are going to work and earning a paycheque, but it does not go far enough anymore. This summer when I was door knocking, I met a young mom with three kids at home. Her husband works in the construction industry and also part time as a mechanic, but despite having a pretty good income, at the end of the month it does not add up, and they are using St. Joseph's Food Bank in Mission. It is a sad state of affairs right now.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that it is Small Business Month. For every dollar that is spent at a Canadian small business, 60¢ is returned to the local economy. For big corporations, that figure is just 11¢. Small businesses employ two-thirds of Canadians. They are truly the backbone of our economy. Unfortunately, the government has long held a disdain for small businesses and the people behind them.

In 2015, the Prime Minister said, “a large percentage of small businesses are actually just ways for wealthier Canadians to save on their taxes”. Just recently, the Prime Minister once again showed his disdain for small business owners with his half-baked promise of a CEBA loan repayment extension. The CBC proudly touted that businesses would have an additional year to pay off their outstanding CEBA loans and still receive partial forgiveness. Small businesses were thrilled to hear that they would be given more time to weather the economic storm and repay their loans.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. The fact is that businesses will only have an additional 18 days to repay their loans or miss out on the forgivable portion. That is shameful. I wonder if the Minister of Small Business will stand in this House, correct the record and clearly state that the actual extension date for small businesses to receive the forgivable portion of their loans is only 18 days and not a year, as communicated.

After the last election, the Prime Minister said in this House on numerous occasions that the Conservatives' plan on housing was “to give tax breaks to wealthy landlords”. He typecast all landlords as wealthy crooks while ignoring key barriers to building new affordable rental units, namely excessive taxes as one contributing factor. When the government was elected in 2015, it did indeed promise to scrap the GST on new purpose-built rental housing. Was its definition of a landlord a little different back then?

Members on that side of the House love to misquote me about getting the federal government out of the housing industry. What I have said is that the federal government needs to get out of industry's way so that it can build. Funnily enough, they are finally taking that step today, and I am supportive of the measure on reducing the GST on purpose-built rentals.

I will now turn to another portion of the bill, the Competition Act. The bill would repeal the efficiencies defence in that piece of legislation. Canada, I will note, is the only country in the G7 that allows this type of defence. It permits anti-competitive mergers to go ahead so long as the cost savings outweigh the negative impacts on competition. Cost savings are almost always found through job cuts. Just recently, Canadians watched as the government did nothing to stop the anti-competitive merger of Rogers and Shaw. I am glad this defence will not be able to be used in the future.

Interestingly, this is another idea that was brought forward by a Conservative in recent months. This past June, the member for Bay of Quinte tabled Bill C-339, an act to amend the Competition Act regarding the efficiencies defence. Bill C-339 and Bill C-56 make identical amendments to the Competition Act.

The problem here is that while this is a good idea to promote competitiveness in the broader economy, it would not do anything to stop rising prices at grocery stores or the anxiety Canadians are feeling when trying to feed their families and, in this particular week, planning for a Thanksgiving dinner. The cost of lettuce is up 94% across Canada. Carrots are up 74%. Oranges are up more than 77%.

I will note that part of the reason those prices are up so much is that carbon taxes have been rising. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the carbon tax will cost the average Canadian family between $402 and $847 this year. By 2030, the carbon tax will add an additional 50¢ per litre to the price of gas.

Further exacerbating this is the issue of shrinkflation. I remember a time not too long ago when I could buy two pork roasts from Costco for $18. Now, for the same price, we just get one. When Canadians see the title of this bill, it gives the impression that the government is doing something about grocery prices right now. That is false.

While this is an agreeable change to the Competition Act, it would do nothing to address the immediate needs of Canadians struggling with higher grocery costs and the anxiety that comes with that. As I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, it is too little, too late.

It goes without saying that when we tax the farmer who produces the food and tax the trucker who delivers the food, those costs are going to be passed on to the consumer. If the NDP-Liberal government really wanted to address the affordability crisis right now, it would axe the tax.

While I will be joining my Conservatives colleagues in voting to move this bill forward to committee, it simply does not go far enough to provide Canadians relief from sky-rocketing prices. While it does contain good policies, it would do nothing to fix the real-time and very challenging struggles faced by Canadians in respect of finding an affordable place to live and paying an affordable price for the food they need to feed their families.