As I was saying, in 2012, the Harper government gave the banks precedence over everything in the preamble of the Bank Act. The government thought it could shield the banks from the requirements of Quebec's legislation. The Supreme Court, however, wasn't convinced.
Now the government is again trying to get around the court's decision, this time through Bill C-29. It is trying to use the back door to encroach upon civil law, a 400-year-old legal system protected under the Constitution, and is depriving consumers of their rights in the process. This is very serious.
The government can expect to face another legal battle, like the one that resulted in the Marcotte decision, and consumers will be in for years of uncertainty, not knowing which legislation is applicable.
If Bill C-29 is passed in its current form, without our amendments, the banks will be able to do what they want. If a customer is swindled, they will no longer have any real recourse. Gone are the days of customers being able to take advantage of the free and simple complaint mechanism available through Quebec's office of consumer protection. The only place bank customers will have to turn is the office of the banking ombudsman, an organization funded by the banks.
Clause 131 of Bill C-29 as well as the English version of clause 117 raise serious constitutional questions. They set consumer rights back and open the door to legal challenges, while encroaching upon civil law, a coherent legal system that has existed in Quebec for more than 400 years.
For all those reasons, I urge you to adopt Bloc Québécois amendments BQ-2 and BQ-3. I'd also like to hear the officials' views on these amendments, if I could.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.