Evidence of meeting #19 for Finance in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was business.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

John McKenna  President and Chief Executive Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada
Diane Brisebois  President and Chief Executive Officer, Retail Council of Canada
Terrance Oakey  Vice-President, Federal Government Relations, Retail Council of Canada
David Goldstein  President and Chief Executive Officer, Tourism Industry Association of Canada
Susan Margles  Vice-President, Government Relations and Policy, Canada Post Corporation
Hassan Yussuff  Secretary-Treasurer, Canadian Labour Congress
Bob Elliott  President, Canadian Printing Industries Association
Barry Sikora  General Manager, Classic Impressions Inc., Canadian Printing Industries Association

4:25 p.m.

Secretary-Treasurer, Canadian Labour Congress

Hassan Yussuff

Yes, we believe that it will have a detrimental impact.

May 12th, 2010 / 4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you.

Monsieur Mulcair, s'il vous plaît.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I want to say hello to all the speakers and to thank them for assisting us in our proceedings on Bill C-9.

I'm going to start with Mr. McKenna because his testimony is very important.

By way of a story, Mr. Chairman, we are getting ready for a family trip to Europe this summer for a wedding. My wife and I, our children and their respective spouses and our grand-daughter will be on that trip. For our air tickets, I've realized that this tax literally represents hundreds of dollars. It's incredible. This is the same government that says it is opposed to tax increases. This is an enormous direct tax increase for consumers, introduced immediately before the budget, as though people couldn't understand that it was a trick to conceal the fact that they were increasing it.

You're asking questions. Are these rhetorical questions or not? That's why I ask the question. Mr. McKenna, do you have the slightest indication that anyone is criticizing anything at ATAC regarding its productivity, efficiency or management capability? How do we compare, objectively, to what's being done elsewhere in the world? I know our tax is the highest in the world. The Conservatives tax Canadians more than people are taxed anywhere else in the world for this service. How does this service compare to what's being done elsewhere?

4:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada

John McKenna

I can't answer you with regard to effectiveness or efficiency because we don't have the CATSA data here. We can just compare the charges collected via this tax in various countries. We're waiting. The Minister of Transport has promised a study, a complete review of CATSA activities and efficiency. We haven't had any news since the February 26 announcement.

We would like to be able to compare these things, but we aren't in a position to do so. The only basis on which we can compare is the charges paid.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

That's fine.

4:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada

John McKenna

It's distinctly higher here than in other countries. If you go to England, you'll see that charges of all kinds represent 30% of the price of a round trip ticket. That's 30%, I should say, in addition to the price of the flight.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

The word “flight” refers to what happens to both the aircraft and your money.

4:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada

John McKenna

If you look at the price of the ticket, because I'm sure you travel in economy class since you're a responsible man—

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

With the family, we'll be in economy class, I can guarantee you.

4:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Air Transport Association of Canada

John McKenna

I would say that the pricing component for a flight to England hasn't changed much in 20 years. What has changed are all the additional taxes and charges.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Of course.

Thank you.

Mr. Yussuff, thanks very much for being here and for your testimony. I would like you to be able to continue with the answer you gave earlier. You heard Mr. Elliott make certain statements. I would like you to elaborate further on your position, which we share, that Canada Post may be economically weakened and that there could be job losses. The argument we've just heard from the other side is that jobs will be created if there is competition. I would like you to respond specifically to that in order to provide us with some food for thought.

4:25 p.m.

Secretary-Treasurer, Canadian Labour Congress

Hassan Yussuff

First, I think, we want to state that Canada Post does provide a significant amount of employment to many of our members who work in the postal service delivery and sorting business right now. To a large extent, we think that if you're able to preserve the right that Canada Post has in its mandate, this corporation can continue, of course, to enhance the employment of those people.

If you were able to diminish its broad capacity to do what is currently in the legislation, it's going to have an impact. We believe that Canada Post would then have a couple of choices. It could increase the cost of the service they're providing so they could continue to maintain it across the country, and in addition to that.... Or they have other choices. They can cut the service and the employment at the same time.

It's critical to also address a point that was raised earlier about the remailing business. There are about four or five large companies, really, that are involved in this. It is true that a lot of printing shops do supply services to these international remailing businesses, but on a day-to-day basis they compete for business on a multi-scale across the country as printing shops. It's not just the question of the remailing business. But to suggest that...it is not our view that the employment within the remailing business is as significant as my friends have stated earlier. There is employment, no question about it.

It's also important to maintain that it was the remailers who took the government to court, to a large extent, and lost this decision. They had a choice. I think it's the government's obligation to enforce the law. Simply because they lost their court case, to come back and say you should change the law because we're now doing something that's illegal.... It's been illegal for quite some time. They chose to pursue it in the courts and lost the decision.

I mean, I think we live in a society where the rule of law is supposed to have some meaning, to be fair, and I think it's critical that a government advance its responsibility to uphold and maintain the laws of our society.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

In closing, Mr. Yussuff, allow me to tell you that you have our full support for the withdrawal of part 15 of Bill C-9. As you have seen from the questions by the Bloc Québécois, it also offers you its full support on this point. The fate of part 15 is in the hands of the Liberal Party. When my colleague Mr. McCallum spoke earlier, I saw that there was some openness to the idea. Let's hope it will result in support for the withdrawal of part 15. I believe that will favour maintenance of this essential service.

I'm very pleased to say hello to Ms. Margles and I want to tell her how proud Canadians can be of the workers and of the products and services offered to the public by Canada Post. I hope that can continue and that those products and services won't be left to wither for ideological reasons.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Merci, monsieur Mulcair.

We'll go to Mr. McKay for a five-minute round, please.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It is true that the Liberal Party does have to be the responsible party in the House--

4:30 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Order.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Elliott, one of the more significant arguments that I hear about your issue has to do with rural Canada. That is, in some measure or another, this will have a negative impact on rural Canada because, by some means or another, Canada Post will have to cut back its services, and the service cuts will inevitably fall on rural Canada.

I think I've captured the argument, as Mr. Yussuff would put it.

What's your reaction?

4:30 p.m.

President, Canadian Printing Industries Association

Bob Elliott

My reaction is that it hasn't had an impact on their business either at a union level or at the corporation level for the last 20-some years.

The talk here today seems to have been around lost revenue. They haven't had that revenue for the last 20 or 25 years. If I'm not mistaken, I read somewhere--I wish I had the reference here today--in a previous incarnation of the committee, whatever committee it was, and it might have been the transport committee at the time.... When CUPW was asked directly whether this has had an impact on their membership, the answer was a very clear no. It hadn't had an impact on their membership. I can probably find that reference, but--

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

I take it that your businesses are spread right across the country. They're in urban centres, suburban centres, and rural centres. Is that correct?

4:30 p.m.

President, Canadian Printing Industries Association

Bob Elliott

Absolutely.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Ms. Margles, you have 1% of your business at risk. What particular part of Canada Post business is at risk?

4:30 p.m.

Vice-President, Government Relations and Policy, Canada Post Corporation

Susan Margles

We have some part of this market right now. We have some customers who print and give it to us to deliver to other countries. It's not just the remailers who are in the business; we are also in this business. It is that part of the business I'm referring to.

The truth is this has been in court and disputed for a number of years. It was what I would call a grey area. If the law were changed, it wouldn't be grey anymore. It would be black and white. There probably are some customers who might have stayed with us or who might have considered whether or not to work with a remailer based on the fact it was a grey area.

Our feeling is that if the law is changed, some of those large business customers will move away from us to the remailers, and that's where the estimate comes from.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Yussuff, does your membership not want to compete for that business?

4:35 p.m.

Secretary-Treasurer, Canadian Labour Congress

Hassan Yussuff

We see the post office in a more universal context in its responsibility to deliver services. We don't see the post office simply as where it can compete and how effective it can be. The post office has a mandate to provide universal service to all Canadians from coast to coast regardless of where they live or their economic status in society.

More importantly, I disagree with Ms. Margles. The courts have confirmed unequivocally that it's not a grey area. There is no greyness here. What is before this committee is the desire to change the mandate of Canada Post, and that's fair, and that's what we're here to talk about.

But in the context of competition, we disagree. I think the Canada Post mandate represents a historical bargaining between our country and delivery of the services--