Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Industry I appreciate the opportunity to speak on the occasion of second reading of the legislation that gives official recognition to the Department of Industry.
I will begin by explaining to Canadians that this legislation provides a streamlined, organized and comprehensive approach to all those various instruments the government has had spread over several departments. It is an effort to bring them all under one ministerial roof.
Under this bill the minister is responsible in Canada for industry and technology, trade and commerce, science, consumer affairs, corporations and securities, competition and restraint of trade including mergers and monopolies, bankruptcy and insolvency, patents, copyrights, trademarks, industrial designs, and integrated circuit topographies.
Also included in the minister's responsibilities are standards of identity, packaging and performance in relation to consumer products and services, except in relation to the safety of consumer goods; legal metrology; telecommunications, except in relation to the planning and co-ordination of telecommunications services for departments, boards and agencies of the Government of Canada; and broadcasting, other than in relation to spectrum management and the technical aspects of broadcast-
ing; the development and utilization generally of communications undertakings, facilities, systems and services for Canada; investment; small business; and tourism.
Never before has there been such a comprehensive revamping. As I mentioned earlier we have put four departments into one. The purpose is to allow the government and all members of the House of Commons to work at creating a very tight focus. This will create an environment for stimulating entrepreneurs and thus will get people back to work.
In these times of a very tough fiscal framework, the debts and deficits at all levels of government are very high. It is therefore incumbent upon all members in this House and all public servants across Canada to do their very best to maximize the use of taxpayers' dollars. By undertaking this massive and comprehensive reorganization the Government of Canada is living up to a commitment made during the campaign and which is contained in the red book. Speaking on the red book for a minute, it has become our compass in the past 10 months as a government. I refer members and Canadians to page 47 where we stated:
A Liberal government will focus on small and medium-sized businesses because they can and must be the determining factor in turning around what has so far been a jobless recovery.
Small and medium-sized businesses are primarily Canadian owned. They are found in all sectors of the economy: manufacturing, services, retail, high technology, low technology, fishing, and farming. Supporting small and medium-sized businesses will benefit all Canadians, but particularly certain demographic groups.
This bill will allow us to put a very special focus on that sector of our economy we believe will ultimately pull this country out of its very difficult economic and fiscal framework.
One thing members opposite have been talking constructively about over the last few months is that we have to reduce overlap and duplication. This bill addresses that point which opposition members have made.
Another thing opposition members have put forward from time to time is that by having many departments sometimes the message becomes scattered and the focus is not as tight as it should be. This is a very large department. We are talking about a department with 6,000 employees all across Canada. Of those employees, 2,500 are beyond the national capital region. In terms of public service, we are talking about 140 access points.
It is important that all our public servants be in tune with this new government thrust. It is important that all members get behind this bill because it essentially meets the request, some thoughts and ideas that opposition members have put forward.
Another important point we have to deal with is that because of our very difficult fiscal framework, government no longer has the resources to put money into program support. Funding support is very tight right now.
As a national institution Industry Canada must have a different presence in the community. It must have the type of presence where it will be like a facilitator. We will lever the government's resources and do many more joint ventures with the private sector. We will be funding less in terms of special projects.
Of course the minister has made some very special exceptions in the last few months. Those special cases involve important issues relating to science and technology and research and development. There are a couple that the House and Canadians should be aware of.
The minister made the commitment to the space station. That was a commitment in excess of $2 billion over time but it is an area where Canada has great brain power. By participating in this program with the United States not only will we be partners but we will be allowing the best and brightest in that sector to grow. We also continue to fund the very special centres of excellence, the 10 of them across the country.
We can see that the minister has not in any way shape or form retreated from the government's commitment to research and development. Research and development is an integral component of any national industrial strategy.
Another very important feature of this bill is clause 5(a):
The minister shall exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions assigned by section 4(1) in a manner that will
(a) strengthen the national economy and promote sustainable development.
This particular clause is something the minister, when an opposition member, fought aggressively to be included in previous legislation but was unable to achieve it. This is a very special feature of the bill. We salute the minister, the drafters and the officials that this is now a part of our national industrial strategy, that this is all going to be done in the light of sustainable development.
In order to make sure there is a discipline on the department we have incorporated the old Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs. The interests and protection of Canadian consumers is within the same department. This means that as we are advancing and developing policy we are going to have consumer protection and interest right there in the room during the evolution and debate on this policy. That will go a long way in making sure that the objective of sustainable development is maintained.
I would like to touch on a couple of other very important areas of responsibility within the Department of Industry. Throughout the day many of my colleagues will talk about this bill and how it impacts on their various regions and communities in Canada.
I would like to highlight the commitment of this government to the tourism sector. Those who watched the Prime Minister's address to the Chamber of Commerce last Sunday will have noted that he highlighted tourism as being a sector of our economy to which this government will make a very special
commitment. As that sector is part of Industry Canada I can happily say we are excited that we are going to rebuild Tourism Canada.
I cannot imagine a member of Parliament in this House not supporting that particular sector. In terms of job creation, after the automotive and forestry sectors tourism creates more jobs than any other sector in our economy. Right now there is close to a $7 billion deficit in that sector.
I hope all members of Parliament will support the government's initiatives. The Minister of Industry will be making an announcement in about three weeks' time on how we can rebuild that sector of our economy.
Another area of responsibility within the Department of Industry is the Federal Business Development Bank. We are happy that this particular government instrument is in the Department of Industry and we are especially happy with the support from the opposition parties on the whole issue of access to capital for small business.
The presence of the Federal Business Development Bank will be reinforced. We will put a tighter focus on that institution and its responsibilities to complement existing financial institutions and target small business operators. By doing this we will fire up the Canadian entrepreneurial spirit, especially with businesses that have 50 or fewer employees. The access to capital problem all members of this House hear about from their constituents is something to which the Department of Industry is sensitive.
As a member of the industry committee I can tell Canadians that probably in two or three weeks our all-party study will be tabled in the House. Most of the things we have been working on will address and support this current revamping and restructuring in Industry Canada.
We would like to think that the Department of Industry is not just listening to members of the opposition parties but that in this particular piece of legislation we are showing we are acting on some of those recommendations and following through on some of the commitments that we made in our red book.
There are so many different aspects within the Department of Industry that I could go on all day. I would like to talk about a couple of other areas where the minister has given very special emphasis and energy during the last few months. It is important for Canadians to know about all the work that has been done on reducing interprovincial trade barriers. The interprovincial trade barriers that exist in this country cost industry close to $11 billion a year.
I am happy to report that the Minister of Industry at the end of June successfully reached an agreement that will reduce many of these tariff barriers in about 10 different sectors. This will go a long way in creating a more efficient economy in Canada. We are not saying at this point that the interprovincial trade barrier document is the end of the pathway, it is just the beginning of the pathway. It is a very tough issue which the minister started on early in this mandate and he was able to achieve a good round of successes in phase one. We state clearly that it is only phase one and we have a tremendous amount of work to do yet. We seek the co-operation and ideas of all members of Parliament in that area.
Another area where the minister has given very special focus and attention is the information highway. The information highway will give Canadians an opportunity to re-establish ourselves as the communications country, the communications state par excellence of any country in the world.
Along with the Secretary of State for Science, Research and Development we are working not just with the information highway advisory group but we are working in partnership with various community groups, with the private sector, and we are working very hard now in creating an environment in which we can pave the information highway.
Last week I attended on behalf of the minister a demonstration. The Queen's masters of business program began the new master of business program which is on interactive television. Now you can be sitting in the Northwest Territories or some place in B.C., or Toronto or Newfoundland and through the technology that has been developed with various corporations you can now get your MBA without going to Queen's in Kingston. This is the first of its kind in Canada but it is a concrete example of how this information highway is turning from theory into real hard reality. This is the type of thing that will make us a more educated country, and a more educated country is a more competitive country.
The other thing we are doing in the Department of Industry is working very hard to encourage our small and medium size operators to become more export oriented. We are doing this through our advice in policy development with the Federal Business Development Bank. We are doing this through Industry Canada officials who are dedicated to helping small and medium size entrepreneurs to shift their marketing strategies from the North American marketing thrust to the Asian thrust, and other parts of the world.
We are doing our best to move this whole restructuring and streamlining of government forward in a way that we believe will show Canadians that we are serious in eliminating waste, that we are serious in developing a co-ordinated approach, a focused approach that will allow the business community of
Canada to develop a renewed faith in dealing with the Government of Canada.
One of the real frustrations entrepreneurs have in dealing with government is that they will go to a department asking for a particular type of advice. The official will say for this particular part of your program you come to Industry Canada but for this other part you have to go to consumer affairs, for this other part you go to the Federal Business Development Bank.
By the time the entrepreneur is finished with the experience he feels that he would much rather avoid dealing with the government.
We are hoping that through this bill, through this streamlining, by putting all of these services-emphasis on the word services-under one roof, we are not only going to become more streamlined but by eliminating duplication we are going to make the experience of business men and women in dealing with their government a much more productive one. That will ultimately rebuild confidence and trust in this institution.
I want to once again say that we are moving quickly in the area of reorganization. We are hoping this bill will receive the support of all members of this House so we can get on with meeting the objective that all of us in this House want, putting Canadians back to work.