House of Commons Hansard #200 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was branches.


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10:05 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec


Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

moved that Bill C-67, an act to amend the Bank Act, the Winding-up and Restructuring Act and other acts relating to financial institutions and to make consequential amendments to other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

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10:05 a.m.

Willowdale Ontario


Jim Peterson LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-67 at second reading stage, I hope with the support of this House that this bill will go to committee.

We are moving forward on second reading today to allow foreign banks to establish certain types of commercially focused branches in Canada. Establishing this branching regime will undoubtedly enhance competition for banking services within the Canadian market. This will help to provide a wider and better range of financial services for all Canadians.

The essence of Bill C-67 is that it will remove unnecessary regulatory barriers by allowing foreign branches to offer specified services in Canada through branches rather than requiring them, as at present, to set up a separate subsidiary in Canada with all of the regulatory implications and capital implications that that involves.

The major benefit that we will be giving to the foreign banks coming to Canada is that they will be able to draw on the capital base of their parent. They will be able to draw on their global capital in order to back up their Canadian lending operations.

They will be spared as well the expense of having here in Canada a separate board of directors and the different committees that are required by our regulators to ensure that they are compliant.

This will give to foreign banks greater flexibility in how they structure their Canadian operations. We believe this to be a useful step to help stem what has been over the years a withdrawal of foreign banks from Canada.

Yes, there has been a reduction in the number of foreign banks in Canada since we allowed them to come in here in a subsidiary form in 1980.

The cost-effectiveness of foreign banks operating in Canada is noticeably lower than that of the Canadian banks. The reason given most often for this difference is the cost structure relating to the activities of foreign subsidiaries.

But it must also be acknowledged that our Canadian banks are truly competitive worldwide, and this may well be the real reason.

A considerable number of foreign banks have cut back on Canadian activities, or pulled out of Canada altogether. Between 1990 and 1998, the number of foreign banks with subsidiaries in Canada dropped from 57 to 45.

I do not believe that this is something we should ignore. Any unwarranted damper on the ability of foreign banks to maintain a presence in Canada runs counter to our efforts as a government to encourage competition in the market for financial services. We want and need this competition in order to ensure maximum choice and value for consumers of financial services in Canada.

We believe that maintaining the status quo would likely rule out the prospect of more new foreign banks establishing operations in Canada. Simply put, they have plenty of opportunities throughout the world to expand their efforts and their operations. Their investment choices and decisions will be made on the basis of where they can get the best return on their capital. Removing some of these impediments will enhance the capacity of these foreign banks to develop higher returns because of the lighter regulatory burdens.

I would also point out that not only throughout the G-7 but throughout the entire banking world, there are only two countries today, and unfortunately Canada is one of them, that do not permit this type of foreign bank branching in the host country.

In order to remedy this, in February 1997 the government announced its intention to allow foreign banks to open branches in Canada. The following September, it published a consultation paper on the foreign bank access policy, followed by extensive consultations with all interested parties, as well as an examination of the regimes other countries had put in place in connection with foreign banks.

The regime set out in Bill C-67 is the outcome of these consultations. The key parameters of the proposed framework are similar to those of our main trading partners. The proposed regime will enable foreign banks to set up subsidiaries in Canada which would focus mainly on commercial banking activities and lending operations of a more general nature.

The regime would offer two options to foreign banks wishing to establish branches in Canada. They could establish either a full service branch or a lending branch.

Let me begin by explaining that neither type of branch would be permitted to take retail deposits. That would mean they would be limited to deposits of $150,000 or more. There is very good reason for this. If foreign bank branches were allowed to take retail deposits, then we could not offer them as attractive a regulatory regime. We would have to impose the full measure of regulations in order to protect those depositors.

In any event, foreign banks already have the option in Canada to take retail deposits by setting up a fully regulated subsidiary. This option remains open to them. Let us recognize right from the start that most foreign banks will not set up retail operations. They have indicated that their interest is in expansion in the commercial wholesale banking market.

Accordingly, these foreign banks would not be permitted to take retail deposits and since there would be no Canadian retail depositors' funds at risk they would naturally face this lighter regime of regulations.

Looking at the two types of branches that we are allowing, lending branches and full service branches, it is only the full service branches that will be permitted to take deposits of greater than $150,000. The lending branches will not be permitted to take deposits, large or small.

As well, the lending branches would be restricted to borrowing only from other financial institutions. As the name implies, the lending branches, the most lightly regulated of these branches, would be in the business of providing loans to Canadians.

The availability of two options for branches will make the regulatory framework more flexible. Regulatory requirements may be adapted to the nature of the activities of foreign banks in Canada.

Since lending branches will not be able to accept any deposits, they will be subject to fewer regulatory requirements than the full service branches.

Foreign banks choosing to operate lending branches will not be able to operate either a deposit branch or a full service branch. However, they will be able to operate other types of financial institutions that do not take deposits, such as insurance companies or other financial services. Foreign banks choosing to operate full service branches will also be able to operate deposit taking branches.

These options should be attractive to foreign banks already operating in Canada and those perhaps contemplating setting up here. I have had indications from a number of foreign banks that, with the new Canadian system, they will consider setting up business here.

The manoeuvring room associated with these options and the more flexible regulatory requirements adapted to each category of activity should reduce the costs to foreign banks of operating in Canada.

What does this mean for Canadian consumers of financial services? Since the foreign bank branches would be prohibited from taking retail deposits they would not be competing with fully regulated foreign bank branches or domestic banks in the retail deposit market.

However, we believe that they can make a positive contribution to the Canadian market in terms of lending to small and medium size businesses, corporations and some areas of consumer lending such as, for example, credit cards.

We believe in addition that the domestic banks stand to gain from liberalization. More often access to the Canadian market helps to promote fair and open treatment of our Canadian banks abroad and from 1980 when we allowed foreign banks to come into Canada this of course was always the main—

Bank ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have to rise on a point of order to ask my hon. friend a question. He just said that this new legislation will provide many opportunities in the retail banking sector, particularly for small business. How can he say that with a straight face?

Bank ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am afraid the hon. member for Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys knows that is not a point of order.

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10:15 a.m.


Jim Peterson Liberal Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have seen how foreign competition such as the Wells Fargo operations directed at small business have actually sparked some lending in Canada to small businesses which is not based on balance sheets.

We have seen how foreign operations through electronic banking here in Canada have encouraged Canadian banks to get into all of these areas. We have received indications from a number of these foreign banks that the areas they will concentrate on are certainly commercial; big companies of course, but also hopefully the smaller businesses that may not have options under existing regimes.

Let me talk about the conditions for entry. I emphasize that the government will maintain control over which banks will be allowed to enter our market. Let me highlight some of the standards they will be required to meet.

A foreign bank must obtain the approval of both the Minister of Finance and the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. As a condition of establishing a branch in Canada, the foreign bank must be regulated in its home country in a manner satisfactory to the superintendent. Furthermore, we will be looking to see whether it has sufficient size, experience and financial health to support its branch operations in Canada because, above all else, we do not want to see banks in Canada going under, even if they are not taking retail deposits.

More specifically, a foreign bank wishing to branch into Canada must generally have a proven track record in international banking, must have demonstrated a favourable financial performance over the last five years and must be widely held. These are the guidelines which are in place. In addition, foreign banks wishing to set up a full service branch must have a minimum of $5 billion in worldwide assets.

Safety and soundness in the financial sector is our top priority. Let me explain how these banks would be regulated. First, they would be required to maintain a minimum deposit with an approved financial institution in Canada. For full service branches the deposit would be the greater of 5% of the bank's liabilities or $10 million. Since lending branches would have no depositors but would only be permitted to borrow from other financial institutions, they would be required to maintain a lower minimum deposit of only $100,000.

The only way to establish a foreign bank in Canada is by establishing a subsidiary, not a branch, and presently the minimum deposit is $10 million. The bank's parent is naturally incorporated in another jurisdiction and its primary supervisor would be the authorities in its home jurisdiction. However, its business in Canada would be supervised by the superintendent. OSFI would be given adequate regulatory powers to carry out this role, including the ability to order that a branch maintain specific additional access with an approved Canadian financial institution if this were deemed necessary to protect depositors and creditors of the branch.

In the case of insolvency, OSFI could take control of the assets of the foreign bank which are in Canada. If the proceeds from any liquidation that might occur were not sufficient, the depositors and creditors could seek recourse from the liquidator of the foreign bank in its home jurisdiction. While foreign bank branches would be exempted from many regulations, I emphasize that they would be subject to all of the rules that we have in place for the protection of consumers, such as regulations on disclosing the cost of borrowing, interest and other charges.

I will touch briefly on four technical changes contained in the bill. First, if the foreign bank is a member of the World Trade Organization, then it would no longer have to seek our approval to establish individual branches in various different locations in Canada. In other words, we would remove one regulatory impediment to their further expansion.

Second, there are proposals to eliminate the reciprocity provisions in the financial institutions statutes to reflect the most favoured nation principle of the WTO. Under this principle, parties to the agreement must not discriminate among financial institutions from different countries and must grant most favoured nation treatment. This means that Canadian firms can expect to receive the same treatment in other jurisdictions as those host countries offer to any other foreign institution coming to them.

A third amendment will be that OSFI can accept delegated legislation or regulatory responsibility from the provinces in Canada. We are trying to harmonize a lot of the regulatory laws and rules governing financial institutions in Canada and this is a major thrust in that direction.

There are federal rules and there are provincial rules. This causes unnecessary red tape. We will continue to try to eliminate this overlap and duplication, this totally unnecessary burden, by offering to take over the regulatory functions of provincial regulators so that we have one regime.

We are working to encourage the provinces, where they do not want to give up regulatory control by delegating it to the federal government, to at least harmonize provincial laws among the 10 provinces and territories and with the federal government so that at least people can understand that there is only one regime they need comply with.

Last, an amendment to the law would provide authority to OSFI to make regulations restricting the disclosure of supervisory information by financial institutions.

We are attempting to enhance the competition in our financial services sector. This is in accord with what the MacKay task force recommended, with what the Senate committee recommended, with what the House committee recommended and with what the committee chaired by the hon. member for Trinity—Spadina recommended. We are proceeding with this and we look forward to this law being passed.

Let me conclude by saying something about the entire banking structure in Canada. Our domestic banks are in favour of this legislation. It will subject them in certain areas of business to even greater competition from abroad. That is a sign of the confidence which they have in their own future.

I want to put on record very clearly that I could not be prouder than to be the secretary of state dealing with Canada's financial institutions. By all objective criteria, Canada's financial institutions are among the finest in the world in terms of the service they offer their customers and in terms of what they have contributed as an industry to our country.

Our banks, for example, employ directly over 200,000 Canadians. That does not include the thousands upon thousands of other jobs which they generate, such as those found in marketing, accounting and in other areas. They are the most highly taxed industry in Canada. Forty per cent of the their income comes from abroad. They have penetrated foreign markets throughout this world.

In spite of the fact that 40% of their income comes from abroad, fully 85% of the global taxes they pay are paid right here in their home jurisdiction, Canada. Ninety per cent of their global jobs are in Canada.

I would defy members of this House, if they wanted to set up a new industrial strategy for Canada, to find an industry which is contributing more in terms of exports, taxes and jobs than our banking sector.

Maybe it is in fashion to criticize our institutions. I am not saying that they are perfect any more than I am perfect. However, this does not mean that we will renounce our obligation to continue to work with all groups in Canada to make sure that our banks provide not only world class service, but that they are world class players.

Let us look objectively at what the banks have achieved in Canada and around the world. Let us give them the credit that is their due.

I look forward to the comments of members, to the bill going to committee and to its eventual passage into law.

Bank ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Val Meredith Reform South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to be speaking to Bill C-67 which amends the Bank Act to permit eligible foreign banks to establish branches in Canada. The bill also amends the Winding-up and Restructuring Act and a number of acts relating to financial institutions, and makes consequential amendments to other acts. In plain English, Bill C-67 would allow foreign banks to open branches in Canada but under strict regulation.

The bill was required as part of the commitment Canada made to the World Trade Organization. We are happy to support the efforts of the government.

I will be splitting my time with the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca. You will find unanimous consent for me to do so, Mr. Speaker.

Bank ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the House give its unanimous consent so that the hon. member may split her time?

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10:30 a.m.

Some hon. members


Bank ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Val Meredith Reform South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, we will not be seeing foreign banks on every street corner as we do our Canadian banks. The new full service foreign banks are restricted to taking deposits of $150,000 and up, so that will eliminate the everyday person who does not have that kind of deposit to make. Basically that is out of reach for the vast majority of Canadians. They would cater to those individuals who receive the largesse of the government.

New lending banks will not be permitted to accept deposits or borrow except from other financial institutions. It is hoped that these foreign banks will serve as sources of funds for both small business and credit card users.

Both the full service and lending branches will be allowed access to Canada's clearing and settlement system with the approval of the Bank of Canada. An analysis of the bill would show that there will be more choice, but for the most part choice is limited to businesses and wealthy Canadians.

The reality is that few foreign banks have any interest in coming to Canada to set up expensive brick and mortar branches on the main streets of our communities. In today's world of e-commerce banks want to compete electronically. However the average retailing banking customer will benefit from the trickle down effect.

More banks will be fighting for business customers which means that more money will be available for customers. If the banks lose some of their small and medium size customers they will be more competitive going after the average private consumer.

Most other countries in the world allow direct foreign banking. The Liberal government has been promising the same for Canada since February 1997. It has taken two years to introduce the legislation. We are pleased to see it is finally here today.

As mentioned the World Trade Organization has been the impetus for these measures as there is a June 1999 deadline to comply with the agreement.

Some of the most ardent protectionists believe that we must protect Canadian banks. They believe that Canadian businesses cannot compete without protection. This attitude has been one of the factors in the drop in Canada's productivity over the last 20 years. In today's global economy it is crucial for all sectors of the Canadian economy to compete internationally. That includes facing foreign competition at home.

It was less than 20 years ago that foreign banks were allowed to have any access at all to the Canadian market. However these banks have had to set up separate Canadian subsidiaries that were not connected to their parent banks in terms of capital, governance and accounting.

There has not been a steady growth in foreign banking activity in Canada. In 1987 there were 59 foreign banks operating in Canada. Last year there were only 45. In 1990 foreign banks had a 12% share of total banking sector assets. Last year that was down to 10%. This means that Canadians and Canadian businesses have been deprived of a large pool of capital. How will foreign banks react to the legislation? Only time will tell.

While the protectionists rail against the entry of foreign banks, we in British Columbia have been living with the largest subsidiary of foreign banks for over a dozen years. The Hongkong Bank of Canada was incorporated in Canada on July 1, 1981. It rose to prominence in western Canada in 1986 when it acquired the Bank of British Columbia. With this acquisition the Hongkong Bank of Canada went from being the 20th largest bank in Canada to the 9th largest bank.

In 1988 the Hongkong Bank of Canada bought Midland Bank Canada and in 1990 it acquired the Lloyds Bank Canada. These last two acquisitions provided the Hongkong Bank with retail branches across most of the country.

Despite the name, the Hongkong Bank of Canada is a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings of London, England, the fifth largest bank in the world. The Hongkong Bank of Canada is the largest bank in Canada and is headquartered in British Columbia. Both the chief operating officer and the senior executive vice-president were educated at the University of British Columbia. Thus many British Columbians have more attachment to this bank than they do to the Canadian banks headquartered in Toronto.

The Hongkong Bank of Canada is a good corporate citizen. In British Columbia some of the events it sponsors include the Whistler Winterstart Festival, the Okanagan Wine Festival and the Yuletide Lights of Hope fundraiser for the B.C. Children's Hospital.

More important, it has generally provided good banking services to its customers, both individuals and businesses, but what is most intriguing about the Hongkong Bank of Canada is that it has gone international with offices in Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. This is the future of banking, banks that transcend borders in a global economy.

In summary, the official opposition supports the legislation even though it took the government more than two years to get it before the House of Commons. We support it because in the long term the presence of foreign banks in Canada will benefit all Canadians. Canadians should never fear foreign competition. We should have enough confidence to realize that we can compete in today's global economy.

If we could just get the Liberal government to dump its high taxation policies, Canadian business could be at the forefront of the global economy instead of trailing along behind. Bill C-67 is a good step in the right direction, but the government has a long way to go.

Bank ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure today to speak to Bill C-67. I thank my colleague for allowing me to share her time.

Bill C-67 was necessary to bring competition into the banking sector in our country. We have had for quite a few years banking centralized in the hands of a very few number of large banks which were subject to decreasing confidence in the eyes of the public. There is an increasing amount of scepticism as to what they are doing and whether they are servicing the Canadian public well.

By introducing these smaller banks or banks from other countries we are introducing an element of competitiveness that will actually decrease the monopolies we have had in the country for a long time. By doing that we will be able to hopefully decrease the cost to the Canadian public.

At the end of the day this is about trying to improve service and decrease costs to the Canadian public and to enable our economy to move in a much more aggressive and competitive fashion.

Unfortunately the new banks will be forced to receive deposits of more than $150,000. This is unfortunate because the banks will not be accessible to the average member of the public. That should have been changed in the legislation. Any new bank that comes into the country should be able to compete on a level playing field with other banks. All Canadians should have access to those new banks, not just small and medium size businesses and large corporations which will be able to derive benefits from them.

In the last 20 years the number of banks in the country has diminished. In the last 10 years the number has gone down by 10%. We do not think that is correct. Bill C-67 will increase competitiveness and thereby give companies a greater choice. As I mentioned the government could have and should have made a level playing field for the new banks so that the average Canadian would have access to this increased competition.

We applaud the regulations that there has to be the approval of the Minister of Finance, that there has to be an established customer compliance procedure, that all services have to be disclosed and so forth. However, I wonder whether or not the checks and balances the government is putting in place are good enough to ensure the solvency of those banks in their home countries.

We have seen banks in other parts of the world, particularly in Southeast Asia, collapsing because of gross mismanagement. We do not want those types of banks to be allowed into this country. I have not seen whether or not the appropriate checks and balances are there to ensure the banks coming into our country are not some fly by night institutions or institutions that are on shaky economic and fiscal ground. This is information the government will have to bring to the House to ensure a clean passage of the bill.

The hon. parliamentary secretary has made some very cogent points about the banks in Canada. There are a lot of myths surrounding banks, both positive and negative. The negative myth is that the banks are not paying taxes, that they are somehow taking money from the public and that they are not employing many people. The fact of the matter is that the banks provide a lot of taxes for governments. Some 80% of the taxes they pay are paid in Canada and 90% of the people they hire on a global basis are here.

However all Canadians have seen service charges go up. They have seen the banks introduce things such a tied selling. This is bullying and is an unfair practice. If the banks want the confidence and the support of the Canadian public, they better do a far greater job than what they have been doing in terms of letting the Canadian public know that it is giving good service for its money.

With the downsizing which is taking place many individuals who frequent banks have found services to be decreased. They are not happy with that. If the banks want the increased confidence of the Canadian public, as the international community has in them, they better been seen to be acting in the best interest of the public. Anything less will prevent them from having the things they want in the future such as bank mergers.

The banks aggressively lobbied the House and the Minister of Finance for the government to introduce and approve legislation which would allow them to merge. They did not do a good job of explaining to us and the public how the public would benefit from bank mergers. We want them to be internationally competitive, as the secretary of state mentioned.

However, the banks must explain to the Canadian public how the average person is to benefit from their expansion into mega banks. We want them to compete internationally but not at the expense of the Canadian public.

Bill C-67 is rooted in globalization and free trade. Again there are a lot of myths around free trade. The last Conservative Party leadership race showed clearly that putting forth the argument that free trade is bad for Canada resonates well among a significant part of our population, but is it the truth? We have actually benefited from free trade.

However, Canadians could have benefited more if the government had be able to give our Canadian companies a level playing field with other companies from around the world. The high taxes we have, the overregulation and the culture of dependence that governments instituted and supported within our country are having a deleterious effect on Canadian companies to compete on a level playing field with other companies from around the world.

If Canadian companies had that level playing, the benefits to Canada in terms of employment and a healthier economy would have far exceeded what we are seeing today. Unfortunately the government only did half the solution. It opened up international and domestic markets to free trade but did not do the other side of the coin which would have enabled companies to be competitive in that environment. >It opened up these companies to competition but at the same time tied one hand behind their back.

We have often heard in the House about the need to lower taxes, to decrease rules and regulations, to provide financing for education and to do innovative things to ensure our students will have the skills to be competitive in the future.

Finally, I would like to talk about the international financial institutions. The government, along with representatives from the IMF, should look at ways to deal with short term capital flows which were so destabilizing to the international economy last year. This will happen again. We need some kind of check and balance to make sure short term capital flows across the world will not have the destabilizing and destructive effect to not only economies but to people around the world.

There are some innovative things being done now. I challenge the Minister of Finance and the secretary of state to bring these ideas to the House now so we can have and support internationally a comprehensive plan to limit short term capital flows. Forty per cent of short term capital flows are moved in and out of countries within two days or less. In 48 hours large term capital can flow in and out of a country that can have a massive negative effect not only on the economy but on the people of that country. These can be long lasting.

Another issue concerns international financial institutions providing money to countries that are unstable and engaging in actions that profoundly affect international security. There are over 45 countries right now that are engaged in bloody, brutal conflicts where individual civilians are caught in the middle and pay the price 80% of the time. What fuels those conflicts and the purchase of those arms? It is cold, hard cash. Most of these countries rely heavily on international aid and moneys from international financial institutions.

By providing money through these organizations to countries that are purchasing arms to commit atrocities on certain groups within and outside their borders, we are actually providing the fuel that fires the wars and conflicts.

If we are able to deal with these conflicts, if we can prevent the situation in central Africa, the situation in Sierra Leone where people are having their eyes gouged out and their arms chopped off, the situation in Angola where the diamond producers and purchasers are fueling a conflict that is costing hundreds of lives every day, if we are to continue to support the regimes in the Sudan that are supporting a war that has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, then we are almost as guilty as the people who are pulling the trigger in those countries.

If we are to deal with these situations in a pre-emptive way, if we are to prevent the bloody conflicts that are occurring around the world, we have to ask our representatives at the international financial institutions to prevent those moneys from going into the hands of those people who would purchase arms to fuel a fire to create international instability and conflict, death and destruction.

The last point I want to make is with respect to the United States. The United States I believe will not be paying up its dues to the United Nations as of May 1999. The money it owes is essential for the United Nations to function. If the U.S. does not pay up in May 1999, the U.S. will lose its vote. If the U.S. loses its vote, one can argue that it is a very unfortunate thing because it is a powerful country. More important, the billions of dollars that the U.S. owes to the UN will probably not be paid. What we will see is a potential significant collapse in the ability of the United Nations to engage in peacekeeping, peacemaking and international humanitarian operations in which it is engaging now that save millions of lives around the world.

I strongly advise the Minister of Foreign Affairs to work with the Minister of Finance and the Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions to bring up these issues on the international stage. If we do not do that, all of us will pay a price not only internationally in increased demands for a defence budget and an international aid budget but also at home. When conflicts brew and take place half a world away, they come home to roost right here at home, because there is an egress of refugees, some of whom will ultimately come to our shore, and there will be an increased demand on our own social programs.

It is not to say that we are somehow against individuals coming to our shores, but certainly people would like to live in their own homes, in their own countries and in their own culture rather than come to a world that is alien to them.

The failure to deal with this now will cost all of us millions if not billions of dollars and potentially the loss of human lives and probably Canadian lives too.

I implore members and ministers on the other side to deal with these issues internationally and do it now. We cannot continue to fail as we have in the past. It is resulting in increasing international instability and increasing destruction to economies around the world, which also affects our economy.

In closing, we will support Bill C-67. I will ask again that the minister look at the international implications of this bill to make sure that the small banks, the banks that are coming here, will have checks and balances to make sure that those banks are solvent back home. They should make sure that without a shadow of a doubt, banks that are on unstable grounds do not come into this country and somehow create great instability within our own economic system.

Last, they should ensure that the banks ultimately will be able to provide better, cheaper service to the Canadian public, because at the end of the day the thing that counts the most is to make sure Canadians will benefit from this bill.

Bank ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Speaker

I am told it is the turn of the hon. member for Sherbrooke to speak. Since statements by members are about to begin, perhaps the hon. member could wait until after oral question period.

The FrancophonieStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Francophonie is a modern language, a culture that evolves, a sense of belonging and exchanges between the various communities in Canada that share a common language and culture.

Young people represent the future of the Francophonie and it is important to recognize their desire to live in French.

The Liberal government is counting on young Canadians to make a valuable contribution to the debate and to get involved in projects that will stir people into action, so as to protect and promote the French language and culture in Canada.

Highlighting the economic benefits related to the French language for businesses that are part of the Canadian and international francophone community, finding a niche for French in the world of technology, encouraging those who will take over, such are the goals.

ImmigrationStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Grant McNally Reform Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, the immigration system is broken and the minister of immigration either cannot or will not fix it.

Honduran drug dealers are posing as refugees to sell crack cocaine on Vancouver streets. What is the government's response to the problem? The Liberal government says there is no problem and when the issue is raised by the official opposition it calls it nonsense. I guess any issue that involves B.C. is nonsense to these arrogant Liberals.

Yesterday the Liberals voted against shutting down refugee drug dealers in Vancouver. The Liberal member for Vancouver Kingsway voted against stopping bogus refugees from selling drugs to children in her community. She toed the party line and voted against her constituents once again.

British Columbians are concerned about the situation. The attorney general for B.C. is calling for action from Ottawa. The RCMP, Vancouver police and community leaders are all calling for action. Unfortunately no one in the Liberal government is listening and it wonders why it needs a western alienation rescue team, or should I say WART.

André FréchetteStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, last week former chief page André Fréchette added another remarkable achievement to his career. Many colleagues will recall when we bid a happy retirement to my good friend in December, 1994 after 42 and a half years of service as a page.

Some 42 months later André bowled the perfect game, hurling 12 straight strikes for a score of 450 at five pin bowling in the Vanier Francophone Centre. He also achieved a triple of 1,000 points and even won the 50:50. Tonight he will be awarded some prizes but he says the best prize was making his grandson David proud of him.

David is celebrating his eighth birthday today and his grandfather says David is also becoming a good bowler.

André says he misses this place but he has been enjoying his retirement, including time for another favourite hobby, picking berries and turning them into jams and jellies.

Happy eighth birthday, David. Please give your grandfather a hug from his old friends here in the House of Commons and make sure he uses the number 42 on any lottery tickets he buys.

St. JosephStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday last many Canadians of various cultural backgrounds, including Mr. Speaker, came together to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, the feast day of the patron saint of Ireland.

Today, March 19, is the feast of St. Joseph, the patron saint of Canada. He is also the patron saint of fathers and the patron saint of workers.

His feast day has special meaning for all those who do work, both paid and unpaid, for all fathers and indeed for all Canadians.

St. Joseph has been honoured in Canada since the early days of our history, most visibly through the work of the Sisters of St. Joseph. They have built hospitals and nursed the sick for more than a century. They have taught young boys and girls in elementary schools but they are most famous for the education of young women in both high schools and universities.

Several women in this Chamber are products of the education provided by these dedicated nuns.

On the occasion of his feast I wish the Sisters of St. Joseph and all Canadians a happy St. Joseph's Day.

Rights Of ChildrenStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the European Network of Ombudsmen for Children urges governments to establish independent institutions to promote and protect the rights of children. This network welcomes the trend toward creating special offices to monitor and support the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Children need a special office like a national children's commissioner to protect their human rights. Children lack a political voice as they do not have the right to vote. Children are particularly vulnerable. They are more affected than adults by the conditions under which they live and by the action or inaction of government. Canada's children need a national children's commissioner.

Elimination Of Racial DiscriminationStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Gordon Earle NDP Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, racism wounds. It hurts, it stunts lives, it weakens us all.

Sunday, March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The United Nations declared this day in 1966. Canada was one of the first countries to show its support for this declaration.

I am saddened to stand in this House, the first black MP ever elected from the province of Nova Scotia, knowing that discrimination on the basis of race still exists today and that it has negatively affected so many people in so many ways. We see it in legislatures, in our law firms and in our schools.

I am heartened however to stand in the House knowing that people all across my riding, my province and my country are working hard to end racial discrimination, especially young people like those working with the Youth Against Racism project in Nova Scotia. I also commend the organizers of the Harmony Brunch being held at the East Preston Recreation Centre in Nova Scotia.

The March 21 campaign for the elimination of racial discrimination aims to make Canadians aware that the scourge of discrimination exists in our communities. It also serves to inspire each of us to take action against racial discrimination.

Let us all strive to do our part, not just on special days but every day of our lives.

SherbrookeStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with pride that I rise in the House today to point out that Sherbrooke is the best place in all the G-7 countries to locate a business.

With its highly competitive labour force and the many competitive advantages it affords businesses in all categories, Sherbrooke offers great potential as a business site.

In fact, a study of G-7 countries ranks Sherbrooke first among 64 cities in which industrial corporations are likely to locate. This study, which was released last Thursday in Ottawa by the internationally acclaimed KMPG, was submitted to the Minister for International Trade.

This is excellent news for all residents of the riding of Sherbrooke, including myself. Such recognition can only be a plus for the economic future of our lovely region.

Once again, I say bravo to the people of Sherbrooke.

Elimination Of Racial DiscriminationStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, Sunday will mark the 10th Canadian campaign for the elimination of racial discrimination.

Although acts of ignorance, intolerance and racism are the sins of a few, their destructive nature plagues society as a whole. For this reason we must all play a part and take personal responsibility to fight the evils of racism.

All members of society, whatever their age and ethnic background, must be allowed to take their rightful place. This sends a clear message: Canadians reject discrimination in favour of respect, equality and diversity.

As a first generation Canadian, I have lived the enriching experience that is Canadian pluralism. While some individuals in this nation are quick to emphasize what divides us, I prefer to view diversity as Canada's greatest strength.

Only when we are able to live harmoniously in our own country will we be able to serve as a model internationally.

Canadian Pacific RailwayStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Lee Morrison Reform Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, Canadian Pacific Railway has donated 1,600 kilometres of abandoned railway right of way to the Trans Canada Trail Foundation and is basking in the warm glow of its public spirited gesture. Time for a reality check.

Thanks to the gravel topped grade that runs down the centre of the land, thousands of tonnes of cinders dumped on it during the steam age and contamination from a century of leaching of toxic wood preservatives, the gift is essentially wasteland. For tax purposes CP valued it at $40 million and received a $13 million tax break. That break alone is three times the market value of the land and the company is relieved of its responsibilities to pay real estate taxes, suppress weeds and so on.

CP tries to justify the high price by referring to urban segments in Nova Scotia and B.C., but they are minimal. Shame on Revenue Canada for approving this scam.

St. John's HarbourStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Charlie Power Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, today alone, as was the case yesterday and will be again tomorrow, more than 120 million litres of raw sewage and municipal runoff will be dumped directly into the harbour of St. John's, Newfoundland.

The chemical and bacterial cocktail being thrown daily into St. John's harbour is really a national disgrace that could be corrected if government would demonstrate the political will to tackle this problem.

The waste water treatment system so urgently required by the city of St. John's could reduce phosphorous and nitrogen loadings by up to 80%, biochemical oxygen demand materials by up to 90% and bacterial loadings by greater than 99.9%.

I and my colleagues in the Progressive Conservative caucus applaud the efforts of the St. John's Harbour Atlantic Coastal Action Program. We join with the concerned citizens of the capital city of St. John's, as well as the city of Mount Pearl and the town of Paradise in urging the government to immediately draw attention to this environmental disaster.

The FrancophonieStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Mark Assad Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Francophonie is alive and well in Canada and throughout the world.

Spanning five continents, it comprises 400 million people in 52 countries. French is the official language in a number of countries and is spoken in bilingual countries such as Canada and Cameroon and multilingual countries such as Switzerland and Mauritius.

Through the years, the Francophonie has grown. It now encompasses language, culture, cooperation, the economy and politics. French culture is diverse and all the richer for it.

I want to thank all those who work hard to promote the Francophonie on the national and international scene.

Royal Canadian Air CadetsStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Janko Peric Liberal Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to welcome the 85 member 296th Royal Canadian Air Cadets Cambridge Squadron who are visiting from my riding.

Formed in 1943 as the Galt Squadron, this select group of youth originally devoted their time to preparing for the day when they would serve as aircrew members of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Fostering leadership, responsibility, discipline, good citizenship and loyalty to country, today's cadets train weekly and participate in special training sessions at Canadian forces bases during the summer.

The Royal Canadian Air Cadets are supported through a partnership between the Canadian forces and the Air Cadet League of Canada.

I join all members in welcoming the 296th Squadron to our nation's capital.

Crime RatesStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, there has been a reduction of 14.2% in the overall crime rate in the Hamilton-Wentworth region.

The Regional Hamilton-Wentworth Police Services Board announced this week that not only have violent crimes gone down, including murder, but also that property crimes and auto thefts have been significantly reduced.

Homicides went down 54.5% in 1998 compared to the previous five year average. Property crimes have decreased by 16.6% as compared to the previous five year average. There was also an 18% decrease in the number of fatal accidents last year.

I want to congratulate the chief of police, Kenneth Robertson, and the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police for their continuing and diligent efforts to make the streets of Hamilton and the surrounding areas a safer and better place to live.

Indeed, local police forces across the entire country deserve our congratulations and our support for all the work they do to keep the crime rates down.

Journée Internationale De La FrancophonieStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, March 20, we will celebrate la Journée internationale de la Francophonie.

To belong to the Francophonie is to be part of a rich geopolitical group of 500 million people in 49 countries and governments with French as a common language.

It is absolutely vital for Quebec to belong to the Francophonie, since our proximity to the American giant is a reminder that our culture, although rich and vibrant, is always at risk.

The defence of Quebec culture is the responsibility of the people of Quebec and not the federal government, which does not recognize it and tries in every way possible to bring it under the maple leaf.

I invite every Quebecker and all the francophones of the world to join in the festivities marking the Journée internationale de la Francophonie to celebrate their membership in this vast global community based on the use of the most beautiful language in the world, French.