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Evidence of meeting #6 for Finance in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was students.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Pierre Le François  General Director, Association nationale des éditeurs de livres
Claire Morris  President and Chief Executive Officer, Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
Darryl Smith  President, Canadian Dental Association
Bob Harvey  Member, Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, Certified General Accountants Association of Canada
David Bradley  Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Trucking Alliance
Pierre Sadik  Senior Policy Advisor, Sustainability Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation
Nathalie Bourque  Vice-President, Global Communications, CAE Inc., SR & ED Tax Credit Coalition
Peter Look  Vice-President, Tax, Nortel, SR & ED Tax Credit Coalition
Carole Presseault  Vice-President, Government and Regulatory Affairs, Certified General Accountants Association of Canada
Susan Mullin  Vice-President of Development, Association of Fundraising Professionals
Margaret Lefebvre  Executive Director, Canadian Association of Income Funds
Chris Tabor  Manager, Queen's University Bookstore, Canadian Booksellers Association
Michael Atkinson  President, Canadian Construction Association
Gerry Barr  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Council for International Cooperation
Amanda Aziz  National Chairperson, Canadian Federation of Students
Mark Yakabuski  President and Chief Executive Officer, Insurance Bureau of Canada

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

Thank you.

Go ahead, Monsieur Mulcair.

November 27th, 2007 / 4:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

First of all, I'd like Mr. Harvey to give us more details. I agree with him: harmonization of the rules governing the profession and the free movement of services are things we don't think about often enough. The Treaty of Rome, which was the basis for what, at the time, was called the European Economic Community, provided for the free movement of services. That is one of the ways the Europe of today was built.

So, what effort was being made by the profession to be given the right to practice general or public accounting in all the provinces? Is the CGA title the same all across the country, and does it still correspond to the title “comptable général licencié” [Certified General Accountant] in Quebec?

4:25 p.m.

Member, Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, Certified General Accountants Association of Canada

Bob Harvey

I would like to request that my assistant, Carole Presseault, who is our vice-president of government and regulatory affairs, address this particular issue.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Thank you.

4:25 p.m.

Carole Presseault Vice-President, Government and Regulatory Affairs, Certified General Accountants Association of Canada

Thank you, Mr. Mulcair, for your question. I will start with your second question.

The title in Quebec—and Mr. Pacetti can confirm this—is still “comptable général licencié” [Certified General Accountant]. As part of the festivities surrounding the 100th anniversary of the CGA title in Quebec and Canada, the Ordre des CGA du Québec is currently in the process of changing the name, but that work is not yet completed. In English, it is: Certified General Accountant.

As regards the right to practice general accounting, there were two exceptions in Canada. Ontario and Quebec have always restricted the practice of general accounting. In Ontario, a legislative framework is about to be adopted. Two weeks ago, legislation was tabled in the National Assembly to provide full access to general accounting to individuals with the CGA or CMA designation in Quebec.

The fact remains, however, that CGAs in Quebec had certain rights with respect to practising general accounting—for example, for non-profit organizations or public sector corporations, such as municipalities. The problem has still not been resolved in terms of the interprovincial trade agreement, but it is our hope that legislation has already been tabled in the National Assembly to that end.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Thank you. So, you can do general accounting for the City of Montreal, but you cannot do it for a fast-food stand in an arena.

4:30 p.m.

Vice-President, Government and Regulatory Affairs, Certified General Accountants Association of Canada

Carole Presseault

For the cities of Sherbrooke, Quebec and Montreal, there is a different legislative framework. As you can see, it is very difficult for consumers to figure all of this out. We are very interested, particularly because…

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

I was responsible for this file for years in Quebec, as President of the Office des professions du Québec, and I do think it's high time we let the market decide these things.

Now, I would like to address a question to Mr. Sadik, of the David Suzuki Foundation. What you have described is an example of cost internalization, a major principle of sustainable development. Do you not think that the problem in Ottawa is the fact that, rather than having a law which applies to all the departments as regards sustainable development, every department is responsible for developing its own sustainable development plan?

Ms. Brundtland always said that a commitment has to be made at the most senior levels of government, and that a sustainable development strategy and principles are needed that will apply to the public administration as a whole. In Ottawa, however, each department is free to do what it likes. Consequently, we have trouble relating to those principles, for lack of a reflex to apply them. Is that not part of the challenge we are facing?

4:30 p.m.

Senior Policy Advisor, Sustainability Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation

Pierre Sadik

Yes, Mr. Mulcair, the absence of a common sustainable development strategy nationally is an impediment to making progress on a number of environmental fronts. Canada promised at an international forum in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa, and on several other occasions to introduce a national sustainable development strategy. By strategy, I mean a legislative framework—ideally for sound environmental governance. From that would flow a host of environmental benefits, because the environment, as it's trite to say, knows no borders. A host of environmental benefits could flow across the country and be coordinated. That's certainly something in the way of a policy that's been long overdue and long promised in this country.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Do I have any time left, Mr. Chairman?

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

A minute and a half.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Bradley, you are taking wonderful initiatives. For people who know anything about congestion on the Island of Montreal, the vagaries of geography are such that there is not one 18-wheel from Ontario or the West en route to Quebec or the Maritimes that does not pass directly through the Island of Montreal, either on Highway 40 or Highway 20. We are beginning to understand what urban smog is all about. So, yours is an interesting solution.

Also, to be fair, isn't the fact that the federal government removed certain rail transportation subsidies over the same period part of the problem? The fact is, it is much less polluting to move the same goods by cabotage—for example, on the St. Lawrence or by rail.

Do you agree that we should look at these other things, particularly the possibility of reducing smog, which is effectively produced by diesel trucks?

4:30 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Trucking Alliance

David Bradley

No, I would categorically reject that for a couple of reasons.

One, you talked about the fact that this has somehow been caused by a loss of subsidies. The fact of the matter is that rail, for what it does, is probably about 15% cheaper than trucking now. So it's not a price issue, or an issue of subsidizing the price, but a service issue. The railways are simply not equipped to be able to provide door-to-door, flexible service the way trucks do.

The other thing I reject is the notion of these diesel trucks.... Trucking is the only freight transportation mode whose emissions from fuel are regulated. Part and parcel of the new smog-free truck was that in November of 2006 we went to a new ultra-low-sulphur diesel fuel, with five parts per million. If you compare that with railway diesel fuel, the latter is extremely dirty.

Because of what the railways do, hauling bulky products over—

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

You have to wind up, as we're very, very tight for time.

4:35 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Trucking Alliance

David Bradley

—long distances, they're able to say, oh, aren't we great on GHG. But they're spewing more bad stuff into the air.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

Thank you very much.

Mr. Pacetti, you have five minutes.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I just want a quick answer. I'm going try to ask a cross-question of Mr. Sadik.

What do you think about the proposal from the trucking alliance on the enviro truck? You have a little bit of expertise in this field. What's your opinion of this?

4:35 p.m.

Senior Policy Advisor, Sustainability Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation

Pierre Sadik

From what I've heard here today, it sounds quite useful and as though it would be quite helpful. I'm very pleased with the criteria for contaminants that Mr. Bradley was talking about, the reduction of NOx and of the particulate matter.

The give and take between rail and truck is going to continue to exist for the next little while. In the meantime, we ought to clean up trucks further and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from trucks.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Just because I saw you nodding, and my time is limited, I'm wondering why you wouldn't work more closely—you spoke about the environment affecting the economy and the reliance on it—with some of the groups like the trucking alliance. Would that make more sense? Some of the presentations would.... It would be easier for us to help make recommendations to the government.

4:35 p.m.

Senior Policy Advisor, Sustainability Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation

Pierre Sadik

I'm setting out why we think putting a price on carbon is important for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. By the same token, we heard Mr. Bradley today say that he'd like to remove a tax from diesel. So to some extent, we don't see eye to eye on all issues.

But on those issues—

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

You have helped us. That's what my point is as well. You have the expertise; we don't necessarily have the expertise, and because we have the various groups, it's tougher for us.

I thank you for your presentation.

4:35 p.m.

Senior Policy Advisor, Sustainability Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation

Pierre Sadik

I take your point.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Thank you.

Mr. Bradley, is the accelerated CCA that was in the last budget going to help your industry?

4:35 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Trucking Alliance

David Bradley

No, not at all, because our equipment was left out, which is so often the case. Although we're a key part of the supply chain in the manufacturing process, we don't get the same sort of accelerated capital cost allowances that other sectors get. In fact, our capital cost allowance allows us to write off a truck in about twice the time it would take in the United States, for example.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Is the rise in the Canadian dollar affecting your business?