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House of Commons Hansard #121 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was appointments.

Topics

Bell Canada ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to enter the debate on Bill C-57. I want to register immediately that the Reform Party is in favour of this bill.

At the time of rendering that support, however, I think it is essential for us to register that not only will we support the bill but at the same time we encourage the government to recognize that we are not deluded into thinking that somehow a suitable telecommunications policy has been developed for Canada. In fact, as I progress through the remarks that I wish to address to the House this afternoon it will become abundantly clear that the repeal of

section 7 of the Bell Canada Act is really nothing more than teeny weenie, itsy bitsy little bit of a step moving forward but covering all the important parts that really should have been addressed but which are not being addressed by the telecommunications policy of the government.

I hold in my hand a copy of the bill. It is probably the shortest bill I have ever seen. In fact the notes that explain what the bill does are many time longer than the actual words in the bill itself. I commend the government for its efficiency in writing this so succinctly. I wish all legislation was this succinct.

However, we need to move on. The big argument that has been presented with regard to the repealing of section 7 in the Bell Canada Act is to give consumers a choice. While it is true that it will give them choice, it will for once bring about competition between the cable companies and the telephone companies in a common field so that they can now enter into each other's field. That is a good move.

Let us now move into the broader field of communication technology of which this is but a part. I wish here to borrow rather extensively from Don Tapscott who wrote a book on the digital economy. That is probably closer to where we ought to be moving than anything we have heard in the paper supporting the converging technology or other aspects of telecommunications industry in Canada.

The author writes that a decade ago cable and phone companies were seen as totally different businesses, but technology has now brought them into direct competition. This is because all information: audio, tech and video images can now be converted into digits or it can be digitized. It is the same commodity. That is little bytes of data that computers use. Depending on to whom you speak this is enabling the phone companies to encroach on the cable business and is enabling cable companies to poach on the phone business. In fact, in some locales the fight has already begun. The Videotron Cable Company in Britain is successfully offering local services. In Canada, BC Tel snared an exclusive contract with a developer in Vancouver's Concordia Pacific complex to provide all communication services, including cable, to a proposed housing development for 13,000 people.

No matter who builds the highway, the backbone of the system will likely be fibre optic cable running underground from coast to coast. Some of that is already in place. These thin strands of glass use light pulses to convey 5,000 video channels or 500,000 phone conversations per fibre.

That is just one small part. As we go on we will notice that while the fibre optic cables are important, there is something which is far more significant, probably far more dynamic and the change is revolutionary and that is the wireless communication system which exists with the direct broadcast satellites.

To give a little precision to this highway analogy, the band width on which this information is transmitted, the road is shifting from a three foot garden patch which we have had until now to a highway 16 miles wide. However, because that analogy is imperfect we need to move in a little different way. The issue is not just the width of the highway but also how highly and how tightly the traffic can be concentrated or screened on that road. The number of moving vehicles is the significant issue. Using compression technologies that squeeze more bytes through the pipeline, the capacity of the fibre is going up.

Nicholas Negroponte points out that recent research results show we are close to being able to deliver gigabits per second. That means a fibre the size of a human hair can deliver every issue of the Wall Street Journal . I notice that the parliamentary secretary is grasping his hair because he notices that he cannot carry quite as much information as some of the rest of us. This means that a fibre the size of a human hair can deliver every issue of the Wall Street Journal in less than one second. It still means that the parliamentary secretary can carry quite a lot of information.

Transmitting data at that speed, a fibre can deliver a million channels of television simultaneously; roughly 200,000 times faster than a twisted pair. I am talking of a single fibre so if you want more, you make more fibres. After all it is just sand.

Telephone and cable are certainly not the only players in this game. There are also direct broadcast satellites as I mentioned earlier, cellular telephones as we witnessed just a moment ago, low orbit interactive satellites and even high altitude balloons to name but a few. Some electrical companies are assessing their possible role because they have extensive fibre optic systems in place to monitor their electrical grids. Technology is evolving so quickly that it would be rash today for any country to commit itself exclusively to just one or two of the systems. It is from that point of view that I call this an itsy bitsy little step. It is far from clear which technologies and strategies will ultimately be most effective in delivering content at the best possible price.

In the end the total prize for suppliers will be in content, not carriage. At the moment all our long distance tolls are essentially measured in terms of the time you are on the line. As we move into a digital economy, and as the compression technologies advance, the issue will no longer become how much time you were on the line but how much information did you transmit. I suspect that could be another development.

If that says anything about the way the CRTC operates one thing becomes abundantly clear: it is probably the greatest impediment of technological application that this country has witnessed. I think the sooner the CRTC gets out of the business of maintaining monopolies the better off we are all going to be.

I want to use a special illustration. Let us examine for a moment that the CEO of Alcoa wakes up one morning to find that Russia is now dumping aluminium on world markets at half the current price. The first major survey of Chinese people shows that the top priority for two-thirds of the country is to get rich through hard work, whereas only 4 per cent want to continue the revolution. Economist Lester Thurow asked his audience in a recent speech to U.S. business leaders: Who do you think has more high school graduates, the United States or China? If you guessed China-and in fact he has done this study-you are right by a couple of hundred million.

Why should I hire a graduate from a U.S. high school at $30,000 per year when I can get a person with equivalent education in China for $100 per month? Many U.S. businesses have already answered that question with a resounding: "We don't". Millions of so-called virtual aliens are clicking away on keyboards in Shanghai, New Delhi and Hong Kong fully networked and employed as members of the U.S. economy, except that they do not pay U.S. taxes or live in the United States. How are they doing it? Through the Internet.

The bipolar world has become a multi-polar economy. In the 1960s east Asia accounted for only 4 per cent of the world's economic output. Today that region accounts for 25 per cent. At the same time the GNP of the United States has been growing at a not bad 3 per cent annual rate, but the Pacific rim has seen rates that have been more than twice that high. Not so long ago Taiwan and South Korea were low cost countries. Now they find they have to ship to lower cost places like China. The economy for the age of network intelligence is a digital economy. In the old economy, information flow was physical: cash, cheques, invoices, bills of lading, reports, face to face meetings, analog telephone calls, radio and television transmissions, blueprints, maps, photographs, musical scores and direct mail advertisements. In the new economy information in all its forms becomes digital, reduced to bytes stored on computers and racing at the speed of light across networks. Using this binary code of computers, information and communications become digital ones and zeros. The new world of possibilities thereby created is as significant as the invention of language itself, the old paradigm on which all the physically based interactions occurred.

To put this into the context of a child, ask this question: What is technology to a kid? One of the Apple people, Alan Kay, once said that technology is technology only for people who are born after it is invented. Twelve-year-old Niki Tapscott would agree. She is the daughter of Don Tapscott. When asked if she would participate in a consumer of the future panel at a technology conference she lectured her father: "Okay, Dad. I will do it if you want me to, but I do not understand why you adults make such a big deal about technology. Kids use computers to do stuff. We do not think of them as technology. Like a fridge does stuff. It is not technology. When I go to the fridge I want food that is cold. I do not want to think about the technology that makes the food cold".

Lest we get the impression that this is only happening in Canada, a debate is raging and we are concerned about it. British television giants have joined forces in a digital revolution that was announced on February 1. The Financial Post reports the story on the BSkyB. If it is successful in winning the licences for the digitized communication, the shareholders have agreed to meet among them a peak funding requirement of up to 300 million and the company is expected to be profitable within five years.

What will it do? It will offer an initial 15 channels, including subscription channels, from the British Broadcasting Corporation. This is the most exciting development in broadcasting, according to them, since the introduction of colour. We are on the brink of a revolution in entertainment, information and communications. We are not given the details, but we are told very clearly that the digital economy is upon us and we would do well to observe it.

Shaw Cable, which is one of the companies involved in this convergence and is making some telephone offerings, received a licence last Friday. The licence is to provide direct to home satellite service for customers in Canada. This program would be allowed to launch using U.S. satellite space only on an emergency basis. Notice that none of the companies which has applied for direct to home television-and there are four of them now-has delivered any direct to home television programs because they have not been able to secure transponders on space satellites. They will have to migrate back to a Canadian satellite if space becomes available when another satellite is launched. However, they have been granted emergency access to a transponder on an American satellite.

I want to speak on that area in a little more detail. There are examples of this happening in Britain. It is happening in Canada. It is happening all around the world. Let us go into the DTH business a bit.

It is an alternative service to traditional cable. It is off air and large satellite dish television reception. It is an alternative. It differs in that the size of the dish is small. It is approximately 18 inches in diameter. The signal is digital and the number of channels is much higher than on conventional cable. These small dishes and the accompanying satellites that transmit the signals were commonly referred to as death stars a couple of years ago. Today they are being recognized as a way to provide an alternative service that is less expensive than the other way around. The satellites are known as direct broadcast satellites or DBS.

The Americans have a healthy DTH market, but in Canada there is as yet no operating service. We have licence providers, but none is currently delivering signals. This has created a service vacuum since Canadians want the service but have no legal means of obtaining it. The so-called grey market is the result. It contains approximately 250,000 Canadians and some estimate it at 300,000 Canadians.

Canadians are obtaining the hardware, setting up a U.S. postal address either by themselves or through an intermediary and subscribing to service from a U.S. company. The equipment is generally legal. Receiving the U.S. signal is not. Equipment capable of receiving the U.S. signal today may not be able to receive a Canadian signal when one becomes available.

We can see how important the whole telecommunications industry is. We need to recognize other areas that are not being dealt with. Canadian DTH providers would like to be broadcasting but there is currently no available satellite space.

We have four licensed DTH providers in Canada. They are Expressvu of Mississauga, the Star Choice network of Lindsay and Power DirecTv of Toronto. Shaw Communications of Calgary is a fourth company and was just granted a licence, as I indicated a moment ago.

The government continues to erect protectionist walls on culture and issues rather than letting Canadian programming compete on its own merits. I really want to underline this. The Americans refused to play ball vis-à-vis American joint ventures in our orbital slots unless they get concessions on culture, which in turn leaves our DTH providers out in the cold.

The Canadian market is so small it brings into question the economic viability, if you will, of any company trying to launch a satellite service to serve this market alone without then being able to sell excess capacity to U.S. firms for use and service to the U.S. market.

There are other examples. The local multi-point communications system which the hon. member from the Bloc referred to just a moment ago is an excellent service that is available. We can talk about the personal communications system. These are all virtual fibre systems. They are wireless. They use the digitization of information into these compact little bytes of information.

We would do well to listen very carefully to what is happening and we need to be sure that we are ready to take advantage of these developments in technology.

Canada is ahead of the Americans in the technology itself. The chief proponent and developer of the multi-communications system is WIC, Western International Communications. It is the main licencee for the technology in Canada and has pushed R and D to the point where we are to see its introduction on a wide scale.

Direct competition between LMCS licencees and resellers will take place in markets across the country and we will see that developing very soon.

As these various ways of communicating come into existence and as they are appropriately licensed and may compete with one another, that will be a far more significant competition than the sort of competition that is being talked about by this amendment to Bill C-51, the Bell Canada bill.

As far as the remaining spectrum goes, of the local multiple communications systems that have been allocated already, two of the remaining four frequency blocks are scheduled to go to auction in two years or so. The remainder will be disposed of by auction after that.

I should note here that the first of the licences that were granted were granted on the basis of a licence fee and not auction. One would really question whether the best possible arrangement was made and whether the government realized the kind of revenue it could have realized had it gone to an auction system.

We would have preferred something much more forward thinking where the competitive attitude being used in most aspects of this technology would be extended to all areas of the licensing process.

I want to refer now to the Internet. The Internet is one of these very significant applications of the telecommunications system. The Internet enters into all of these discussions in one form or another. All of these take knowledge, from the direct broadcast satellite, the DTH, the LMCS, the local multiple communications or the personal communications all the way to Ma Bell, to which this bill refers, are capable of delivering Internet service. All of them are in varying capacities.

Add the cable companies now and emerging services into the mix and it becomes clear that the Internet or more important, data transmission, is the one key driving factor in today's telecommunications marketplace. Currently the Internet is basically a glorified E-mail network. The worldwide web portion is in its infancy compared to what it has the potential to become. However, in order to reach that potential it must be free from government interference.

The threat of regulation periodically raises its ugly head. Most recently the chair of the CRTC has threatened to regulate Internet in order to promote Canadian content. She has made comments with respect to requiring Internet service providers to obtain licences in order to operate their services. Licence fees would be applied toward a multimedia production fund according to her. Other threatened forms of regulation include stringent anti-crime

and intellectual property provisions, encryption technologies and others.

Let me make it abundantly clear that it is absolutely essential we have privacy provisions so that individuals can have the assurance that information they put on the Internet if it is confidential and personal it indeed can remain that way. There have to be very stringent areas there. Something like that would be far more significant than bringing a bill forward that would release Ma Bell to be able to develop certain broadcast programs.

The net has become accessible to the public and has become a medium for free speech. It has been entirely self-regulating in its policing. No one who has any reasonable knowledge of the net foresees any serious regulatory regime imposed by governments of any form as being either viable or successful. This is the danger of where we are running. The physical structure of the network as a method in which information is transmitted is essentially borderless. One would have to cut off a country's telephone system from the rest of the world in order to shut the Internet out and even that might not work.

Therefore, we are on the brink of a very major concern, not only of individual Canadians and their privacy but rather that of government itself.

In terms of policing the Internet, the most successful methods today have been a voluntary adoption of a code of conduct by providers themselves as well as blocking software for individuals and families. Ratings systems similar to those used in the movie industry are beginning to emerge. Microsoft and Netscape are among the biggest proponents of these initiatives. This gives parents in particular the power to block access to questionable material their children might be curious about.

This becomes a very significant issue because this now puts the onus on the individual. It raises the question of what kind of orientation we would have toward life, what kind of orientation we would have to the values we hold and what are the kinds of things we would like to have influence our lives and particularly our children's lives so that they develop the kinds of attitudes and commitments to freedoms, to freedom of speech and to what is good and just in the way we think they should develop.

The heritage department and its minister are major roadblocks to competition.

In conclusion, I think we should underline this particular issue. It is not the individual or the government that are the intruders here but it is a commission of the government that is acting in an absolute position where it becomes the guardian and has been the guardian for years of a monopoly position in telecommunications.

Industry Canada is wisely adopting an open standards approach to the introduction of new technology like LMCS and PCS. Unfortunately the providers of these new services will require licences in order to start broadcasting and the CRTC will undoubtedly stick its nose in and disturb the competitive process.

I would like to now refer to a recent conclusion that was drawn by one of our columnists in a national newspaper. It was Terence Corcoran who said on November 8, 1995: "The Canadian Roadblock to Telecommunications Competition, CRTC, continues to stand athwart the Canadian information highway, causing much concern and mounting anxiety among its potential builders". He goes on to explain exactly what has happened here. That is where the impediment lies. It is not in repealing sections like section 7 in the Bell Canada Act. Important as that is, it is only a very small beginning.

In the final analysis, the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act as they are now constituted represent the biggest competitive barriers of all. The CRTC simply applies these acts in its deliberations on licences. That is not the only thing; it goes a little beyond that. Amalgamation of these two statutes is desperately needed in order to provide for a more expansive and competitive telecommunications market in Canada.

To get to that point we must conclude that Canadian cultural protectionist arguments of the past no longer work. Witness the current battle pitting the international trade minister and the industry minister against the Deputy Prime Minister. We know that battle is an open one and the conflict is very vicious.

Our current market problems originate to a large degree with those people who consider themselves as cultural engineers at the heritage department and in the CRTC. Canadians can compete with anyone in the world. Our neighbour to the south may be large but it is no further ahead technically, so there is no reason for us to fear it on that score.

The nationality of capital is irrelevant as long as we control how that capital is applied and what it does when it is applied. It is only the behaviour of capital that should be of concern to us and that is the concern we should address. The Canadian government retains the right to determine that behaviour and we must jealously guard that it is in the best interests of consumers where the application of that capital should go. We should be as businesslike, as efficient and as profitable as possible as we enter into each of these areas, not only into the convergence of telephone and cable companies, but into the wireless technologies which could get us all the way into direct to home television and so on.

It has been a teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy little movement here now. It is a good one but we need to go much farther. I encourage the government to move quickly and with dispatch into those areas that will bring us the control we need so we can become true

competitors not only in the communications field but in all of the manufacturing and other services Canadians can provide.

Bell Canada ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I certainly could never be as eloquent and as knowledgeable as the previous speaker, my colleague from the Okanagan, who has gone on at great length about the technicalities and the intricacies of this new technological world we live in.

I caught his point that technology is only applied to the new stuff that arrives. This is not new technology to young kids; this is how the world works. They have never seen a different world than the one we are in today. It is truly amazing to see how they have embraced the new technology as we call it, this electronic world, this wired world we are in.

We of the older generation have a hard time catching up and keeping up with the young folks. At the same time this government has a hard time keeping up with the changing world we live in. The changing world is a competitive world which is the thing this government still has not come to terms with.

Competition provides the best check and balance to any service. Competition in the private sector ensures that it does not matter what product or service you are selling, it ensures that you have the best quality and the best service at the best price. If you cannot do that, somebody else will come along, steal your market and you are gone.

However, the government is hanging on to the CRTC, the regulatory body that looks back to the rules that were created back in the seventies and says that the market has to be apportioned to this player, that player and the next player. It is not just the CRTC; we have seen it in so many other industries.

The opportunities of competition must be allowed. Bill C-57 is a small first step, and I emphasize small. What does Bill C-57 say in its entirety? It says that section 7 of the Bell Canada Act is repealed. That is it. That is the entire bill. One short simple sentence is the entire bill. Therefore, allow me to say that this a very very small step forward. However, we have to congratulate the government in that it is allowing a little bit of competition for Bell to enter into the competitive world. Surely it could have done a lot more thinking and had a lot more initiative to allow the electronic industry to get into the competitive world.

An example is telephone company in the province of Alberta, AGT, Alberta Government Telephones. It was owned by the Government of Alberta, regulated by the Government of Alberta. It had a monopoly. It was told how much it was allowed to charge. Of course, because it was a monopoly it was strictly on a cost-plus basis: this is how much it cost to operate the service, this is how much profit it made; divide that by the amount of subscribers which equalled the charges it would collect. That was the regulated system.

A few years ago Alberta Government Telephones when it was a department of the government had over 12,000 employees. Today we have competition in Alberta and AGT is providing better service today with half the number of employees. I wonder what happened to the other 6,000 whose jobs are no longer relevant because AGT now has to live in a competitive world.

Prices have come down dramatically. I mentioned service. Several years ago AGT sent a bill every month. If it was not paid, the service was cut off. That is simple. It was regulated and had a legal right to do that.

Last week I got a telephone call from AGT's successor, Telus. They phoned me not to say that my bill was overdue but to say: "Let me tell you about our latest offering on how we can save you money on your telephone bill. If you subscribe to this particular package of services, we feel that we can reduce your bill by about 35 per cent every month. The cost of overseas calls is going to drop dramatically. It does not matter what time of the day or night or what day of the week you call because the prices are coming down". Whereas before when it was regulated if someone wanted to call during business hours, nine to five Monday to Friday, they charged an arm and a leg. No sales, no discounts, nothing for high volume, nothing for customer service, nothing to respect the consumer, nothing to respect the person who is paying their salaries. The government allowed them to squeeze it out of the consumer.

Now when there is competition, they are phoning me to offer me a better deal because they know the competition may contact me and do something even better, so they have to be on their toes. I now have a choice. Choice is what ensures that we get value for our money.

Think of the airline industry some years ago when the airline industry was deregulated in the United States. It was said that the planes were going to fall out of the sky, prices were going to go sky high, and the airlines were going to gouge the consumer because with deregulation they could charge what they wanted. But prices dropped like a stone. And I am glad to say that last night I was reading the Economist on the airplane. There was an article on airline safety which said that safety has not been jeopardized in any way, shape or form because airlines have been deregulated.

We have the best of both worlds. Safety has not been compromised. Prices have come down dramatically. Service has been improved. The consumer gets a better deal because the government gets out of his hair.

That again is repeated all through many industries. We just saw the softwood lumber deal the Minister for International Trade struck with the United States. Now we are into the regulation of softwood lumber. Now every mill has its quota and can ship according to last year's shipments. They cannot go out there and say: "Boy, I can reduce my prices. I can do this more efficiently. I

can do a better job than my competitor. I can get some market share". No. Government regulations say they can ship what they shipped last year but they cannot ship any more. There is no incentive for competitive efficiencies.

As we enter into the technological world where competition worldwide is beating down our door, we must be able to respond with high tech research development and be the leader in the world. That is why I find that the responsibility of this government in the last few years we have been here is absolutely appalling.

A few weeks ago we had the mini series on television about the Avro Arrow and how in 1957 Canada was at the forefront of aeronautical technology.

We were at the forefront and the Prime Minister of the day said enough of that, we do not want to lead the world, and we scrapped the Avro Arrow.

The previous government had signed a $5 billion program to buy helicopters. Yes, I know it was expensive, but it was going to put Canada at the front of research and development, at the front of the technology frontier on helicopters in the world. Through that $5 billion investment we were going to be competitive in the high tech industries in the world. Then along came the Liberal government which said "enough of that, we would not want to have that". So we scrapped the $5 billion program at a cost of $700 million. We are going to get nothing for our $700 million other than some cancelled contracts; no research and development, no leading edge technology. Now we are buying some helicopters from abroad so that we lag behind rather than lead the rest of the world. This is a shameful record indeed.

The point I am trying to make is that government has to be accountable. Government has to set the playing field. A government must allow competitive forces to play the game otherwise we will never, ever be able to compete in this world. I can assure members that if we are to maintain our prosperity in this country, if we are to maintain our standard of living in this country we have to be at the leading of technological innovation.

When we look at the developing world it is learning very fast how to build build products on production lines and to send imports into this country that are cheaper and better in many cases than what we can produce. However, we have the advantage of education and if we use that advantage of education to develop our technology, to develop our research, to ensure we are at the forefront, we will have something to sell around the world. We will have something which will provide high paying jobs. We will have something which will give people exciting and challenging careers for the rest of their lives.

Those are the types of opportunities that we should be out there selling rather than an infrastructure program of jobs, jobs, jobs that failed miserably the last time around. These types of opportunities should be grasped, not just with a simple one line bill that states that Bell Canada can now compete in the television industry as well as the telephone industry.

I urge the government to take note that time is rapidly passing it by. The door of opportunity is closing fast. If we are to stay ahead of the world, to lead the world and maintain our standard of living, the high tech industry is something that we must embrace and we can embrace it only through competitive advantage. If we think that some bureaucratic regulator has the key and the knowledge in order to keep Canada at the forefront, this government is wrong. That is why we need to open the doors to more and more competition.

Bell Canada ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Is the House ready for the question?

Bell Canada ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Bell Canada ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Is the House ready for the question?

Bell Canada ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Bell Canada ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Bell Canada ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Bell Canada ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed.)

The House resumed from November 5, 1996 consideration of the motion that Bill C-49, an act to authorize remedial and disciplinary measures in relation to members of certain administrative tribunals, to reorganize and dissolve certain federal agencies and to make consequential amendments to other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Don Valley North, ON

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to welcome everyone back to the House in the new year. I would also like to mention the fact that this month is a holy month for Canadians of the Muslim faith. It is called Ramadan.

This is also my first intervention as a Liberal candidate for the new riding of Brampton Centre. I wish people in Brampton Centre,

my new riding, all the best. I hope I will be given the chance to represent them after the next election, which I hope will be held sometime this year or next. Whenever it comes, we will be ready.

It gives me great pleasure to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-49, the administrative tribunals act. The bill will result in the elimination of some 271 governor in council positions and annual savings to the taxpayers of some $2.5 million.

This is the second bill to introduce changes resulting from the agency review. The agency review, as a whole, will result in the elimination of over 800 governor in council appointments.

The changes that Bill C-49 proposes continue the efforts of the government to reduce the deficit by eliminating duplication and by ensuring standardization of service and accountability to Canadians. These are the hallmarks of this government.

By approaching the business of governing with a business like approach the government is ensuring that Canadian taxpayers are getting the best use of their tax dollars. The savings outlined in this bill reflect the commitment of the government to provide services in a manageable and affordable manner.

Bill C-49 should receive the support of all parties in the House. The Bloc Quebecois should support the bill because it will reduce duplication. The Reform Party should support the bill not only because it will reduce duplication but because it will lead to a reduction in government expenditures which will result in a saving to the taxpayers in every region of the country. All other parties should support the bill because in the end it will mean savings to all taxpayers and a more efficient system for the delivery of government services.

I urge my fellow members in the House to support the passage of Bill C-49. I hope Reform members will stop interpreting the speeches of members of Parliament, discuss the issues sincerely and support the bill.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to this bill on the remedial measures in relation to administrative tribunals. It makes us realize that the government missed a great opportunity to transform the administrative tribunals and ensure their impartiality.

For several years now, whenever decisions have been made, we have realized that maybe people were appointed members of administrative tribunals without having the required qualifications, that maybe they were appointed because of their political affiliation, because of their party background during the years preceding their appointment. With this bill, the government had the opportunity to rectify some important aspects of the administrative tribunals, to clarify the situation and to ensure the independence of members of these tribunals.

At first, one might think that administrative tribunals is a rather uninteresting subject, but when one considers which tribunals are involved and what they deal with, one realizes how important these tribunals are. For example, let us take the agricultural products review board, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, the Competition Tribunal, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission.

Speaking of the CRTC, let us not forget the controversial decisions taken last year, which raised questions about the connections between the government and the companies who were presenting projects, about how they were able to influence the government, to lobby. This example alone should suffice to show that with this bill the government has missed an opportunity to get rid of patronage appointments and restore the independence of these tribunals.

The measures provided for by the President of the Treasury Board are of two kinds. First, they increase political influence on the removal for cause of members of these tribunals, the so called disciplinary measures. It will work this way: The chairperson of a tribunal will request an investigation and make a recommendation to the minister, who will study it at leisure. Nothing in the act compels the minister to go along with the recommendation if certain criteria are met.

There is no such condition, even if there were a recommendation by the chairperson of a tribunal saying that an individual is in a difficult situation because he or she has become incapacitated or has acted dishonourably or irresponsibly, or because his or her responsibilities and other activities were incompatible. Even if such a recommendation were made by the chairperson of a tribunal to the minister, the minister is free to decide whether to act on it or not.

In that sense, the government did not live up to its responsibilities because it did not specify what criteria the minister must use in approving recommendations made by the committees.

So, there seems to be some illusion in this, a little smoke screen to hide the facts, which are that the government still has, and has even increased its political control over the appointment and career path of members of administrative tribunals. In that sense, the government goes directly against the recommendations made by senior officials in the administrative process.

For example, on July 8, 1995, the president of the Quebec Bar Association was very clear in that regard when she stated that "the lack of job security may have an unexpected psychological impact on the decisions of a person who may be more concerned about pleasing the government than about rendering a fair judgment". This quote is taken from Le Soleil of July 8, 1995. It is very easy to read between the lines how the government will continue to use disciplinary measures against members of administrative tribunals

or how it will appoint the presidents of these administrative tribunals. The government has included in the legislation an important subtlety: from now on, tribunal presidents will be designated rather than appointed. Therefore, under political pressure, they could be removed at any time by the government. This clearly is an attack on the independence and impartiality of these tribunals.

In our system, it is also important that decisions be fair and appear to be fair so that it can be demonstrated that they were made in a climate and in conditions that are both desirable and acceptable.

When we look at the list, we see that there are all kinds of administrative tribunals. Some, such as the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, will make decisions affecting individuals who are in difficult situations and who do not always have the ability to defend themselves easily. If those having to make these kinds of decisions cannot act independently of the political power and of the people who appointed them, their decisions may be influenced by policies and political pressures.

I think we have seen in the Canadian federation that the more our judicial system is independent of the political power, the better it can play its role and lead to satisfactory results and decisions.

This decision will also have an impact on the future. When we speak of the Competition Tribunal or of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, it will be crucial to appoint people with unquestionable qualifications, and to avoid all political interference through the appointment of people who get these positions as a reward for their involvement in party politics and not because of their qualifications.

We have seen the consequences of this in the past. Decisions of bodies such as the Canadian International Trade Tribunal and the Competition Tribunal will have a great impact on the future.

Let us take example of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal. Let us say that a person is appointed to the tribunal and that, after two or three decisions, it is realized that the person has the tendency to make decisions that are protectionist in favour of Canada, while the government is a proponent of free trade. A recommendation could be made to the president of the tribunal to the effect that the person has failed in his or her duty, that he or she did not seem to be completely independent.

A recommendation could be made to the minister who would be able to decide according to his government's policy and not only to the relevance of having someone who is competent, who can make honest and impartial decisions and who will prove to be competent in the future. A minister may well be tempted for short term considerations to choose someone who think just like him, who will interpret the laws just like he does.

The role of members of administrative tribunals is not to please the government, but to make decisions according to the spirit of the law and giving satisfaction to the parties involved. Whether they win or loose, they must be told that the decision was based on the legislation and is not the result of some secret negotiations or political pressure, which would be unacceptable.

The Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board is another example of affected organizations. Transportation is an area where people need clear, apparent and impartial justice. The proposed changes will not allow that. These changes will rather have the effect of increasing political interference in these appointments and in the disciplinary measures that can be taken against members of administrative tribunals.

This is particularly true of the second aspect where the government is proposing to designate the chairpersons instead of appointing them. The chairperson of an administrative tribunal is somewhat like the director general of a tribunal. He or she is the person who can most influence the actions of these tribunals. If the chairperson is always worried that his or her decisions could irritate the government, he or she will be in a situation where he or she will tend to make decisions that will please the government, but which, in the long run, will tarnish the reputation of the administrative tribunal.

For all these reasons, I move, seconded by the member for Blainville-Deux-Montagnes, the following amendment:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That" and substituting the following:

"Bill C-49, An Act to authorize remedial and disciplinary measures in relation to members of certain administrative tribunals, to reorganize and dissolve certain federal agencies and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence."

This will give the parliamentary committee a chance to do its homework so that the government can give us a bill that will be more in line with what is needed to ensure the effectiveness of our administrative tribunals.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, this whole aspect of tribunals, administrative tribunals or quasi-judicial bodies, has been the subject of much debate in this House. If one looks to the very near past, one such debate centred around the Immigration and Refugee Board.

A fundamental question has to be asked about the existence of these boards. What they really seem to do is take accountability away from the minister and the department that have these particular types of board.

I know, Mr. Speaker, you were sitting on the other side of the House here and often this debate would rage around the Immigration and Refugee Board and the abuses that took place. Many of the people who were appointed were, to put it mildly, Liberal supporters of the party. They were dumped in there because somebody owed them a favour. That was and still is, I might point out, the whole essence of the Immigration and Refugee Board. It is an entity that should not even exist as far as I am concerned.

However, a fundamental question must be asked regarding the establishment of these administrative tribunals. What is the real purpose of each board and why does it exist?

I have spoken often in the House and asked several questions of ministers. In particular I will reflect on the former immigration minister since I was a critic at that time, and put questions on accountability to him. What would his reply be? His reply was consistently the same. "I am sorry but that quasi-judicial body out there was put into place for a good reason," he said. That good reason, according to the minister, was that he did not have to make the decisions any more. It was just an entity in which he had no say or could make no statement on how an outcome or decision was to be made.

We have seen the decisions that the board has made. Who are the board members? For the most part they are Liberal and Conservative friends. They are owed a favour and are stuffed into this highly paid job. The job pays $86,400 a year. That is $20,000 more than parliamentarians make on their basic salary. There is something wrong with the system when that form of patronage exists.

The decisions and results of the board impact not only on the taxpayer who has to pay the bill but on the whole immigration process. It brings the whole matter into disrepute. In fact, the decisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board bring the immigration policy and process into disrepute.

I will digress from the Immigration and Refugee Board, and address something in this bill. This bill is supposed to be a wonderful, cost saving effort on the part of the government to deal with the patronage issue. However, I do not see it that way at all, not when we look at the availability of the number of appointments that can be made. There are 2,225 available positions to put friends into. Both past Liberal and Conservative governments and again today the present Liberal government have been packing that particular board again with a bunch of friends.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Julian Reed Liberal Halton—Peel, ON

What are friends for?

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

What are friends for, one of my colleagues across the way asks. I guess that is the attitude over there. It shows itself to be that, given the fact that they are all Liberals. Most of them do not really seem to have any other qualifications.

Eighteen hundred appointments have been made into these quasi-judicial bodies by the present government. That is out of 2,225. The bill states that 271 jobs will be eliminated. Wow. Out of 2,225 appointments 271 jobs will be eliminated.

Let us look at the facts. Those 271 jobs were not there anyway. They were vacant positions for the most part. In some cases some of these boards will no longer exist. The fact still remains that too many of these appointments take away accountability from the minister.

Let us get back to the former minister of immigration. The new minister does not say anything really different. I have heard that minister say very similar things when asked about a decision the board has made. "It is out of my hands" the minister will say. Whose hands is it in? Is some non-elected entity making decisions that impact on the taxpayers and in some cases their safety, if we want to reflect to the National Parole Board? That is happening.

Decisions are being made by quasi-judicial bodies because ministers no longer are accountable for those decisions, they say. Let us look behind the scenes now of both the Immigration and Refugee Board and the parole board.

A whole industry feeds off these two boards. The parole board costs $25,163,000 to run. That is just the surface cost. The National Parole Board is not quite as expensive but certainly comes close. It is in the neighbourhood of $70 to $80 million to run each year.

There is the decision process that is impacting on people. Look at the uproar. When Reform first came into the House in 1994 we attacked the parole board because of the decisions that were being made. People were dying as a result of that quasi-judicial body, an unelected group of people who had no concern really for what was happening in the community.

It is only due to the pressure of the Reform Party that anything was changed. Even then the changes were superficial. The Immigration and Refugee Board has been ripped right out of the hands of the public. They have no say on how decisions are being made and no one to really go to and say to the minister: "You made a bad decision there". He says he is not accountable any more.

As a result, there is a great rage that sort of turns around and around in the public's mind about both the parole board and the refugee board operate. They are not doing their job. The refugee board is taking good positions away from individuals who would rather immigrate here and try to go through the process in a legal way as opposed to ones that the refugee board allows. For the most

part, those positions are being filled in an illegal way: people coming here and claiming status knowing full well that they are not legitimate claimants.

In conclusion, if we are to gain any respect or consideration back in Parliament regarding both the parole board and the Immigration and Refugee Board, we could well look at scrapping both of those boards. Their duties should be put closer to the people, the immigration department for the Immigration and Refugee Board and in merit release committees that will deal with parole issues because they would be a lot closer to the community.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add my voice to that of my colleague, the member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, in vigorously condemning the intentions of the Liberal Party now ruling Canada in the spirit of Bill C-49. The act to authorize remedial and disciplinary measures in relation to members of certain administrative tribunals, as written, is very worrisome.

Now that Parliament has reconvened, the constructive criticism of the official opposition will again, I hope, bring home to the public the lack of originality that has characterized the Liberal government since its election in October 1993.

Bill C-49, like most of the bills put forward by the government, shows once again the lack of rigour and transparency that are becoming the trademark of the Liberal Party of Canada. Not only is the government once again getting ready to back the most flagrant cases of patronage, but it will also be giving itself the means to override the application of justice in administrative tribunals.

What we see in Bill C-49 is simply scandalous. The government, through the President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure, will be supporting the contravention of the most sacred of the principles underlying our political system by interfering with the notion of the independence of the judiciary with respect to other organs of government.

We have already seen the Liberals' arrogance and their lack of regard for the precepts of our parliamentary system, but the tabling of Bill C-49 is beyond all understanding and shows the government's unbelievable contempt for the public it is supposed to be serving.

During the holidays, we did a lot of visiting back and forth between friends and family. As my uncle said: "We are going to take advantage of the fact that the member for Frontenac is here". One of my nephews, a student at Laval University, told me how he had read in a magazine last month about a survey of the public's level of confidence in 28 liberal and professional or semi-professional occupations.

They were physicians, lawyers, engineers, teachers, new car salesmen, used car salesmen, architects, businessmen, retailers, farmers, and of course politicians. Do you know that in the poll on how much our fellow citizens trust us, we came second last? We got 4 per cent, just ahead of used car salesmen.

When we look at what the government has been doing for the past three years, I believe that the Prime Minister himself and his cabinet have greatly contributed to the lack of trust in politicians.

We only have to think about the Airbus fiasco. The government tried to sue the former Prime Minister and had to apologize 14 or 15 months later. A first for a government. On top of it all, we are paying the court fees. If you add up Mr. Mulroney's legal fees and the government's expenses, the total bill will be well in excess of $5 million.

Was this a case of political vindictiveness? The question was asked today. Who in the cabinet is responsible for this nasty piece of work which is further discrediting this country's politicians?

We only have to think about the appointment of Quebec's lieutenant governor who had to resign a few months later. Another ill conceived appointment by this government. Every time the government makes a new Senate appointment, my office receives hundreds of letters and telephone calls in protest.

Since the Senate cannot be abolished without their unanimous consent, people would like no new senators to be appointed and, in time, as the population is aging, there would no be no senator left and the government would not be any worse off for it.

And then, there is the Prime Minister's fumbling over the past few years on the issue of the GST and his infamous red book. He said: "I never said that. You did not understand. You read it wrong". They showed him the video tape, they played it back, but he said: "This is not what I meant. You are thick, you never understand anything I say".

And yet, his deputy prime minister had the courage to resign last spring because she had promised she would if the GST was not scrapped within one year. It took some prodding, of course, but she eventually resigned, and getting her re-elected after her mock resignation has cost the Canadian treasury $500,000.

With her quizzes, her famous CIO, the Canada Information Office, and her flag program, the Deputy Prime Minister has done much that explains MPs' drop in popularity in the polls.

Luckily, Mr. Speaker, that is not your kind of politics and you have always acted in such a way as to maintain the public's respect for political figures. I wish this government would mend its ways.

Bill C-49 before us this afternoon is a disgrace. It is outrageous for the government to be allowed to remove people designated to sit on a decision-making board or tribunal. They will appoint yes-men and women and tell them what to do and what to say, like puppets. "Yes, that is right. Yes, 5 per cent. No, say 4.9 per cent instead".

This borders on indecency. When a democratic government has reached this point, there is cause for serious concern and one might wish it would disappear from the political scene.

On two occasions, Canadian voters elected a party that brought disgrace upon this country. Only two members of this party were re-elected. There is no doubt that the Liberal Party should pay for misleading the public with false promises about the GST. And then there was the infamous Airbus affair, an unprecedented occurrence in the annals of politics.

According to historians, never before in Canadian history had the federal government brought biased, unfounded action against a former Prime Minister and so soon after the fact. Proceedings were instituted at the beginning of 1996 while the alleged wrongdoing took place in 1992. That was a first.

I think we must join with the hon. member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup in wishing that this bill be hoisted for at least six months. In the meantime, let us hope that the government will call an election or review Bill C-49.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have the opportunity today to speak to Bill C-49. It is the administrative tribunals act but it should be known as the bill which attempts to deal with patronage appointments to administrative tribunals.

It is important that we set the stage for this debate by looking at the Liberal government's red book promise on how it intended to deal with this area. On page 92 of the red book it is stated:

A Liberal government will take a series of initiatives to restore confidence in the institutions of government-and make competence and diversity the criteria for federal appointments. Open government will be the watchword of the Liberal program.

If Bill C-49 is one step in a series of initiatives designed to address the patronage problem, I suggest it is very much a baby step. If this is the best the government can do to address the policy expressed in the red book, it should be withdrawn and the government should start over again. This legislation is simply another type of window dressing which we see so often in this Parliament. It tends to mislead Canadians into thinking that something is being done when in fact very little is happening.

Let us examine the bill for a moment. It still leaves over 2,000 patronage appointments which can be dealt with by order in council. In fact the government has a special patronage appointment office in the PMO which deals with these appointments. It does not deal with the accountability factor. It reminds me very much of the old administration to which my colleague referred a moment ago, which was the Conservative government of the last Parliament. It was in office for nine years and patronage became very much a way of life, much as it has been for a century in this country.

It reminds me of the story of an MP who represented a riding in western Canada. He was a Conservative member in opposition for four years and then in 1984 he became a government member. One of the local companies in his riding suggested that maybe they could get some of the government's legal work through farm credit and that type of organization. This fellow said: "Oh, no, we would never do that. We are going to be squeaky clean". About two weeks after the government took power he took one of the law firm partners out for lunch and said: "Boy, was I naive. What do you want?" That was it and the gates were open to patronage appointments. We heard what Brian Mulroney said about that in the last Parliament and we are hearing it all over again this time around.

What happened to the process? What happened to the ideal in this country that jobs are awarded on the basis of competence and ability? What is wrong with that kind of process? Nothing at all. It happens in business all the time. It is a very admirable quality that we should try to achieve in the House of Commons.

What happened to the openness of process that was promised on page 92 of the red book? "Open government will be the watchword of the Liberal program". We have not seen much of that happening. What about competition for these jobs? What about fairness of process? It simply is not happening.

During the three years that I have been here I have certainly had my eyes opened as to how the system really works. Let us examine what has happened in the last three years.

A very competent minister of the government, the former Minister for International Trade, Roy MacLaren, was talked out of running again. They asked him to step aside so a byelection could be held. It is my understanding Mr. MacLaren was not very happy about that, but then he learned there was a little reward at the end of the line for him. He could become the British high commissioner. Of course we already had a British high commissioner whose term was not up until July, and this was in January. Poor Roy needed some interim job to tide him over and he was able to get a tidy

little contract with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade just to get him by.

It seemed that it was the foreign affairs area which really got rewarded that time around. André Ouellet, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, one of our colleagues in this House the last time around, was talked out of running again to allow one of those bright stars to come in from Quebec. We are not sure how brightly shining they are right now but that was the idea at least. Mr. Ouellet was talked into stepping aside. Of course there was a little reward for him at the end of the tunnel too: chairman of Canada Post Corporation, which happens to pay $308,000 a year. That seemed like a fairly good amount. There was more.

Some of our other colleagues on that side of the House also got their rewards. They were asked to step aside and take appointments to the Senate, the great Senate, the heaven of patronage-haven, heaven. Jean-Robert Gauthier and former Acting Speaker Shirley Maheu got their rewards. I often tell my constituents that being appointed to the Senate is the only time someone can get to heaven without actually dying. That is what happens here. That is the kind of reward we see in this country.

With that kind of example being set, it is common knowledge that candidates from the Liberals and Tories when they are in power, candidates who may not make it into the House of Commons are also rewarded. They get appointed to the Canadian Grain Commission and every other job we can possibly think of.

It is no wonder Canadians are cynical about the process. We simply must get back to a process of accountability with people who actually have the competence to take these jobs based on past performance in other areas of life. They should not automatically go to people who were former members of Parliament, or people in power, or political candidates. There are a lot of competent people out there who would like a shot at being involved with these judicial boards.

There should be a fair and open process that addresses this issue. We simply do not have it now. This bill should be defeated. It should be scrapped. If the government cannot come up with anything better than this, I suggest it should face the Canadian public at election time. Quit tinkering. Bring something substantive forward or do not bring forward anything at all.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Bélisle Bloc La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the parallel between Bill C-65, which was previously before the House, and Bill C-49.

As the official opposition critic for the Treasury Board and Public Service Renewal, I would like to remind the House that Bill C-65, which was an Act to reorganize and dissolve certain federal agencies, was first introduced on December 14, 1995, and that Bill C-49, debated in the House of Commons in October 1996, deals with administrative tribunals and aims at reorganizing and dissolving certain federal agencies.

Members will remember that Bill C-65 was supposed to change and reorganize 15 federal agencies and dissolve 7 others. The expected changes were to lead to the abolition of 150 governor in council appointments and savings of $1 million, but the federal debt keeps increasing by more that $100 million every day. Bill C-65 was expected to reduce patronage and the waste of public funds; however, as reports published in the Globe and Mail on July 8 and December 21, 1994 indicated, under the Liberal government, political appointments were as rampant as ever.

The savings resulting from the minister's bill, Bill C-65, represented only one-eighteenth of one per cent of the savings associated with the 45,000 public service positions that were abolished.

Why would the minister be interested in reorganizing and dissolving certain federal agencies to realize savings of $1 million a year which have a minor impact on the federal budget compared to the savings associated with cutting 45,000 jobs?

In some cases, eliminating any legal reference to advisory boards in order to reduce the number of political appointments and giving lower levels of authority the liberty to decide if such advisory boards are necessary leave some doubt as to the Liberal goverment's commitment to administrative transparency.

In the case of Bill C-65, which was aimed at eliminating any reference, for example, to the National Library Advisory Board, it seemed that the director of the National Library had every intention of keeping a similar board with more or less the same members. This is just an example. In the case of Bill C-65, there were no savings and a little more power to the director of the Library. Will the House of Commons have the right to examine appointments to such advisory boards, which in fact will no longer be legally constituted? How about administrative transparency in a case like this?

That was Bill C-65, an omnibus bill that created the illusion of transparency and deprived the government of the right to examine appointments to advosory boards which will no longer have legal status. Under the cover of administrative rationalization, this bill reduced the power of Parliament and opened the door to an even greater number of patronage appointments, something the Liberals are very good at.

Coming back to the bill before us today, we can draw a parallel with Bill C-65 which dates back to 1994. Bill C-49, regarding which an amendment has been proposed today, brings major changes to the way administrative tribunals operate.

We are told its purpose is to standardize the disciplinary process in administrative tribunals as well as the procedure for appointing the heads of these tribunals, to dissolve seven federal agencies and restructure or decrease the size of thirteen others, and to standardize pay terminology and make a number of other amendments.

Bill C-49 could have resolved the fundamental problem of partisan appointments to administrative tribunals. Instead, the federal government chose to return to a not-so-glorious past in this regard, rather than modernize the entire appointment process, as the Government of Quebec is getting ready to do.

At a time when the public is so cynical about politicians, the President of the Treasury Board of Canada has introduced even more partisan procedures that will give political authorities increased control over administrative tribunals.

The bill establishes a new mechanism to remove from office people appointed to administrative tribunals by the governor in council. This is in clause 3 of the bill. Also, after certain procedures, the governor in council will have the power to remove these people from office for cause, as specified in the bill.

Only after receiving an inquiry report will the minister have the power to make a recommendation to "suspend the member without pay, remove the member from office or impose any other disciplinary measure or any remedial measure". This is in clause 14 of the bill. The minister's recommendations are entirely at his discretion, regardless of the content of the inquiry report.

All chairpersons of administrative tribunals will henceforth be designated instead of appointed. Such an amendment leaves the chairperson very vulnerable to political pressure from the government, which can simply designate a new chairperson as it sees fit. There is a danger that these new measures will further undermine the credibility of administrative tribunals and in particular leave them even more dependent on the political arm.

It is unacceptable to introduce measures that are such a serious attack on the independence and impartiality of administrative tribunals. It truly runs counter to the transparency the public wants from a modern and progressive government.

The two bills I have compared today, Bill C-65 and Bill C-49, dealt successively with the reorganization of certain federal agencies and of administrative tribunals, but the anticipated annual savings of one million dollars in the first case and a reduced right of review by Parliament and an increase in partisan appointments in the second leave us with the impression of another promise not kept by this government.

I would therefore like to take this opportunity to support the amendment put forward today by the member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, and seconded by the member for Frontenac, which reads as follows:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after "That" and substituting the following: "Bill C-49, an act to authorize remedial and disciplinary measures in relation to members of certain administrative tribunals, to reorganize and dissolve certain federal agencies and to make consequential amendments to other acts, be not now read a second time, but that it be read a second time six months hence".

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Reform

Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-49, a bill which purports to do something about patronage appointments to various tribunals and boards.

My colleague who spoke before me said this bill is typical of the sort of tinkering around the edges that we have seen in most of the Liberal legislation that has come before this House. It just tinkers around the edges of a problem without really getting to the grips of it, without really solving the problem that is there and that is inherent in the whole system. It is typical of the Liberals in government in that regard. Even behind the scenes they cannot make up their minds what to do next.

I mentioned earlier in the day the book Double Vision: The Inside Story of the Liberals in Power . Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether you have had the chance to read the book but it is extremely interesting and revealing. It tells what has happened behind the scenes over the last three years. It points to the exact problem we see in Bill C-49 today, the tinkering around the edges and the inability to come to grips with the problems.

An example in Double Vision was when the previous minister of immigration had to make some decisions about cutting costs in the immigration department. He could not bring himself to cut anything but the fact was he had to for fiscal restraint. Eventually he bought the idea of the landing fee for the immigrants even though he was under attack from some of his colleagues and advisers as being racist for introducing such a fee.

The fee started off for good fiscal purposes to be around $1,500 or $1,800. It ended up that the previous minister insisted it had to be under $1,000 in order for him to accept it. Here is this tinkering around the edges again and not truly coming to grips with the cost saving and accepting something less than ideal.

I could go on all day about examples from Double Vision: The Inside Story of the Liberals in Power because it really does relate to this bill and how it is just tinkering around the edges. I personally think an excellent motion sometime for this House to debate would be that this House recognize the valuable service to Canadian voters performed by the writers Edward Greenspon and Anthony Wilson-Smith in their writing of the book

Double Vision: The

Inside Story of the Liberals in Power, and furthermore, that this House should encourage all Canadians to read the book prior to the next federal election.

I wonder if I could ask the unanimous consent of the House to begin debating this motion immediately.

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6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Is there consent for the hon. member to move his motion?

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

There is no such consent. The hon. member may continue his remarks.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Reform

Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, it was worth a try. We could have gone on to some very interesting stuff coming out of that motion but we will save it for another day.

The hon. member who spoke before me from the Reform Party mentioned the Senate as being one of the great places of patronage. I was actually going to bring up the Senate as a good example of a place where we could begin addressing this problem of patronage. Bill C-49 actually claims to eliminate 271 positions from the patronage appointment list. However, none of those positions are filled. They are all vacant. Therefore, we are eliminating nothing.

A lot of Canadians would feel a lot happier if we could eliminate 271 seats in the Senate, if they existed. I know that perhaps, Mr. Speaker, in a previous time, prior to being a deputy speaker, you may have even hoped that there would be a total elimination of the parole boards. I know that personally you were quite against getting too tough on crime, but that is a story for another day.

As for the Senate, even that is getting to the point where perhaps it cannot be trusted as a place of patronage because I know that Senator Anne Cools-Mr. Speaker, can we use a senator's name in the House?

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

The hon. member will want to be careful that he does not speak disrespectfully of the Senate. I believe that is a rule that he must follow.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Reform

Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Senator Anne Cools is reported in a newspaper article in the Vancouver Sun as departing frequently from the Liberal Party line. I am sure that some of those who were involved in perhaps a patronage appointment in that regard maybe are regretting their past decision.

The article goes on to explain how she has great doubts about the Liberal Party's gun control legislation. According to the report she took part in a shooting exhibition in Edmonton and has the target with suitable bullet holes in it pinned on the wall of her office. Right now she is apparently in opposition to the child support legislation presently before that House. "Life is not so simple as women are angels and men are devils," says Cools, who, somewhat to her surprise, has become a darling of the right for her assaults on the feminist agenda.

Virtue is hers and vice is his. Who could have believed we would have reached that stage in society where public policy making would be made on this basis. She took aim at the Divorce Act which is a bill we have already dealt with and is looking at perhaps derailing that. That is a patronage appointment perhaps that went wrong, depending on which side of the House one is on, so to speak. However, the Senate is a good example of a place of patronage.

Another problem with Bill C-49 is that one does not even need to be a Canadian citizen in order to take advantage of this new bill. It is going to open things up for appointments or arrangements to be made for non-citizens. All one has to be is a landed immigrant. One wonders what sort of situation we are going to end up in with that sort of vague and open policy.

Another area of patronage that is well recognized is the patronage that tends to follow from Liberal nomination tactics during the run up to elections. There is another article which coincidentally happens to be on the opposite side of the page of the Vancouver Sun . It is headed: ``Liberal nomination tactics under scrutiny''. It is almost a full page.

It is about the natural patronage that tends to flow from nomination meetings run by the Liberals. For example, it deals with Mobina Jaffer, who ran run against me in the previous election in North Vancouver. I know that the Liberals felt they had a pretty good shot at it the last time, their best shot perhaps in 20 years, but they did not make it I am afraid. Now Mobina has been rewarded with an automatic appointment to the riding of Burnaby-Douglas which she agreed to take with no competition in return for allowing another party president, Celso Boscariol to go into the riding she had chosen. The rumour in the newspaper is that Mobina will get her reward even if she loses the seat.

The entire article concentrates on the aspect of patronage. I really do not see how Bill C-49 is going to fix that problem because all it does is eliminate positions that did not exist. It is a bunch of window dressing, typical of all of the legislation we are seeing here. We are just not seeing any serious legislation at the moment.

Canadians would prefer us to deal with the Young Offenders Act. They would rather see their taxes lowered. When I go out on to the streets and ask them: "Are your taxes any lower than they were in 1993? Are your streets any safer than they were in 1993? Is the country more unified than it was in 1993?" We can go on and on with a list like that. "Have members of Parliament fixed their gold plated pension plan? Is the GST gone? Is the jobless rate down?". Canadians would much rather see us address those problems than

some sort of half measure on patronage that really does not even address the problem.

I plead with members to vote against this legislation. It is bad legislation. It is inadequate legislation. Let us go back, do the job properly and clean up the whole thing. That was promised in the red book. The Minister of Finance does not believe we should take any notice of the red book. He said he had a hand in writing it but we should not take any notice of it because he knows what c-r-a-p it is. I am sorry to use that word, but it was a quote from him.

Just as a final reminder in closing, if members have not already read the book Double Vision , the truth about the Liberals in power, please read it.