Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to discuss Canada's capacity to produce high quality regulation. There have been some comments and I appreciate the member raising this issue.
The regulatory regime in Canada is very competitive with other jurisdictions and regulatory activity has contributed positively to Canada's quality of life and business environment.
The hon. member has referred to a number of statistics, essentially from the Fraser Institute publication, on the cost of regulation in Canada that covers all levels of government. This is one view of Canada's regulatory environment and it is based on some questionable methodology.
Another view comes from the OECD, which has recognized the Government of Canada as not just a worldwide “regulatory reform pioneer” but a “consistent leader and a vigorous innovator”.
Recent independent publications can attest to Canada's record of regulatory excellence. For example, the 2002 OECD report, entitled “Canada: Maintaining Leadership Through Innovation”, praised the Government of Canada's regulatory performance in providing businesses the freedom to prosper, which I know is a very legitimate concern of the member across the way.
In particular, the OECD report acknowledged that Canada appears to have been:
--unusually successful...in pursuing one of the major objectives of successful regulatory policies, being [able] to control overall regulatory burdens, or the trend of 'regulatory inflation' as experienced in most OECD countries.
An assessment of regulatory impact should not rely solely on statistics, but should focus on the fundamentals of regulatory reform. In particular, the Government of Canada's regulatory regime is designed to support our high quality of life and bolster our international competitive economy, both things I know the member across the way is very concerned about.
Evidence of this positive impact of regulatory reform on standard of living and economic performance can be seen in several international comparative studies which assess the business climate in this country, and we score well in these studies.
A study by The Economist magazine's intelligence unit ranked Canada as the fourth best country in the world in which to do business for 2001 to 2005. Recent research by OECD also concluded that Canada has one of the lowest levels of administrative burden among the OECD countries, after the United Kingdom and the United States.
Clearly, Canada has a strong system of regulatory governance but the world is changing. Markets are increasingly integrated, more companies are becoming global, knowledge increases and science advances at a faster pace than ever, and citizens have access to better and more information and are more demanding of government.
In response, Canada is redesigning its regulatory approach to create and maintain a Canadian advantage. The member referred to the 2002 Speech from the Throne, which I will hopefully elaborate on afterward, but it basically says “to accelerate reforms in key areas to promote health and sustainability, to contribute to innovation and economic growth, and to reduce the administrative burden on businesses“, on which both of us I know can agree.
I want to speak a little about smart regulation. Smart regulation will ensure Canada has a regulatory framework that contributes to the innovation environment for the social and economic benefits of Canada at the same time it protects our health and safety, preserves the environment and reduces the administrative burden on business.