So soon, Mr. Speaker? I knew that the government had little to say, but taking only two minutes to propose ten amendments is rather short.
At 9.15 this morning, barely one hour before the beginning of the debate on the amendments to Bill C-15, we learned that the government had decided to propose a series of ten amendments to its own bill.
We deplore this way of doing things, which has almost become the norm with the government, and which consists in tabling, literally at the last minute, a series of amendments to create confusion in the debate. This has happened before. This morning, we took a very serious look at all the amendments to make sure that the government was not trying to pull a fast one on us. It is unacceptable on the part of a responsible government to resort to such tactics, especially in the case of a measure like Bill C-15, which concerns financial institutions and which is of vital importance to the future of that sector, particularly securities.
I wonder who the Secretary of State and the ministerial assistant think they are. I have the impression that they think they are a bit like Moses, but with ten amendments instead of ten commandments. The difference is that we are in Parliament, where democracy is to be respected, where public information and transparency must prevail. If it had not been for my colleagues' alertness and our research service's technical support, we would have been at a loss with the new amendments being systematically dumped on us.
Let me recall, and this is something we discussed last year, that Bill C-15, previously Bill C-100, directly affects an area over which provinces have exclusive jurisdiction, that of securities, which includes liquid assets, shares, bonds and debentures.
This is an area over which provinces have exclusive jurisdiction under two sections of the Canadian Constitution. The first one is Section 92.13, which provides for property and civil rights in the province. The second one is Section 92.16, dealing generally with all matters of a merely local or private nature in the province.
From the beginning of this debate on the bill relating to financial institutions, we have received only half-answers and half-truths when we asked how it happens that the bill clearly infringes upon an exclusive provincial jurisdiction.
Bill C-15, notably by implementing across Canada a system for the clearing and settlement of payment obligations, infringes on powers already exercised, for example, by the Quebec Securities Commission-the same applies to Ontario and British Columbia-, and by the Quebec inspector general of financial institutions.
This situation results in costly overlaps for taxpayers. Liberals have become masters at it. They add overlap, particularly in the area of securities. Who is paying for that? The taxpayers. The Liberals are adding not only costly overlaps but also administrative inefficiencies, because Quebec financial institutions will be subjected to dual controls.
Why end up controlling an area which is already very well controlled and which has been under Quebec's exclusive jurisdiction for a long time? Why is the federal government showing that much paternalism? Why does the federal government want to monitor the various provincial institutions, particularly the Quebec ones?
We have deplored it, we deplore it today and we deplore most of all the fact that, in these Moses' ten commandments or rather the ten amendments put forward by the secretary of state and assistant to the Minister of Finance, there is nothing that deals with the official opposition's requests and nothing that responds to the criticisms of various provinces with regard to this encroachment by the federal government.
With regard to securities more specifically, the second concern that is not dealt with in Bill C-15 nor in the amended version put forward by the government with these ten amendments is the fact that this is not a partisan issue, an issue of sovereignty versus federalism, but a fundamental issue in Quebec.
Even Daniel Johnson, in a letter dated February 16, 1994, when he was premier of Quebec, stated that it was out of the question for the federal government to encroach on the area of securities-for the federal government was already expected at that time to try to encroach on that area-and that the Government of Quebec would refuse to accept it and would fight tooth and nail to keep its prerogatives in that area.
Daniel Johnson said so, and he is an ally of the people opposite, and too unquestioning an ally at times. He wrote to the intergovernmental affairs minister of the day to remind him of the Quebec consensus-because there is a consensus-on this exclusive jurisdiction over securities. But the government does not even care to respond to its own allies, and it is blatantly ignoring specific sections of the Canadian Constitution.
Besides jurisdictional issues, a third difficulty, as I said earlier, is that financial institutions and even investors in Quebec will suffer from this duplication created by the federal government. Costs will rise, and the securities market will lack the consistency it requires. Let us not forget that all agents on the securities market, like all other financial markets, need clarity and consistency of rules and stability. Everybody knows that financial markets need stability.
Instead of introducing the consistency and stability all financial markets throughout the world require, the federal government comes in clumsily with Bill C-15. It sets out to create its own institutions and let the Bank of Canada and the Canadian superintendent of financial institutions interfere in the securities sector. Such an attitude cannot be accepted.
Last August, the secretary of state for financial institutions appeared before the finance committee. To all our questions on the federal government's infringement upon the securities industry, a field of exclusive provincial jurisdiction especially in Quebec, the secretary of state will have to acknowledge today that he answered
just about anything. He said just about anything. We even had the feeling that the secretary of state did not even know his own bill.
When we referred to specific sections, we got the feeling that the secretary of state had senior officials draft this legislation and was simply providing us with a summary. Every time we told him that the federal government intended to get involved in the securities industry, he said no. Every time we told him that the federal government was paving the way for systematic infringement upon this field, he said: "Come on, where do you see that in the bill?"
However much we referred to specific provisions-