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House of Commons Hansard #156 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was history.

Topics

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson Conservative St. Croix—Belleisle, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Here we go again. With regard to the production of papers, again that has been in the hands of the government for a number of weeks on a very sensitive and very timely issue. Why does the government delay the production of papers necessary for members of Parliament, myself included, on a very important issue? Why the delay in producing those papers? We need that information to do our jobs to hold the government's feet to the fire.

Why the delay? What is the government trying to hide on the LNG issue, possibly the fact that the Prime Minister of Canada is in a conflict of interest on that issue?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, again, you had provided a very gentle admonishment to the hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest that perhaps this matter should be taken up at the procedure and House affairs committee if he wishes to change the Standing Orders with respect to the appropriate deadlines, the appropriate amount of time.

Mr. Speaker, you might like to remind the member again, but perhaps in a more stern way.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

4:35 p.m.

The Speaker

It sounds to me as though the hon. parliamentary secretary has already done that. Perhaps we will consider the matter closed since there does not appear to be a point of order here. This is simply a sort of mini debate.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

John Williams Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with regard to two issues within the supplementary estimates (A), 2005-06, which I believe are not properly before the House.

As Madam Speaker Sauvé said on June 12, 1981 at page 10546 of Hansard , “it matters not whether the amount spent is a large sum or simply one dollar.”

Going back as far as 1971, members of this House have objected to the government's use of the estimates as a vehicle to amend legislation and to seek authority to spend money on programs that have not received legislative authority. Your distinguished predecessors have consistently ruled in support of these arguments by striking votes from the estimates on March 10, 1971; March 22, 1977; December 7, 1977; March 25, 1981; June 12, 1981; June 21, 1981; March 21, 1983; and March 21, 1984. You yourself, Mr. Speaker, protected the rights of the House in the matters of supply on November 22, 2001.

I will first deal with the funding for Service Canada which appears to be a new government department, perhaps. Order in council P.C. 2005-1609 issued on September 8, 2005, appointed Ms. Maryantonett Flumian as the “Deputy Minister of Service Canada” with that style and title.

The Financial Administration Act assigns important powers directly to deputy ministers such as Ms. Flumian. The specific responsibilities include: ensuring an adequate system of internal control and audit, subsection 31(3); establishing procedures and maintaining records, subsection 32(2); providing the required certification to authorize any payment to be made, section 34; maintaining adequate records in relation to public property, section 62; and preparing a division of an appropriation or item included in the estimates--and note that one Mr. Speaker--subsection 31(1). Where are her estimates?

Deputy ministers also hold other directly assigned authorities including personnel management in the public service and the Official Languages Act.

So where is the department and her estimates? We know Ms. Flumian has been appointed as Deputy Minister of Service Canada but is being paid by HRSDC. Are you getting a little confused, Mr. Speaker? I am.

Also, according to Service Canada's website, it employs over 20,000 staff, serves 32 million Canadians per year, has 320 offices across the country, handles 14 million website visits per year, and answers over 50 million calls per year. It definitely sounds like a ministry to me, so where is the legislation authorizing this department and where are its own estimates as required by the Financial Administration Act to cover these costs?

I draw your attention to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, on June 12, 2003 at page 7221 of the debates. You said:

--the Chair is troubled by the current case which is an example of a persistent problem that I have had occasion to comment on before, that is, the adequacy of information provided to Parliament regarding estimates. Committees have always been dependent on being provided with complete and accurate information concerning proposed public spending. In light of the size and complexity of modern government, this is all the more true....If that documentation is inadequate, then members seeking clarification have no recourse except, as the hon. member for St. Albert did, to raise a point of order in the House.

Here I am again, Mr. Speaker.

I would also draw your attention to an article by Kathryn May from the September 27, 2005 edition of the Ottawa Citizen where she noted:

--senior officials say Service Canada is intended to be different from other departments. They argue it makes sense to experiment before setting the agency's parameters in stone with legislation. It is expected that legislation will eventually be drafted once ministers and bureaucrats figure out how best to run the agency.

Is this a department that is halfway through its gestation period and already spending money without authorization? Surely this is a new concept for the House. She also writes:

Service Canada is being put together using orders-in-council, memorandums of understanding and other contractual arrangements. Over the coming months, it will have agreements with about 12 departments--

It still sounds like an independent department, Mr. Speaker, does it not?

I find this to be a grave situation. We have unnamed senior government officials stating on the record that the government is using taxpayers' money to run an unofficial department that has no parameters in legislation, but will be formally created “once ministers and bureaucrats figure out how to best run the agency”. This is an affront to Parliament.

I next seek the Chair's indulgence to raise the issue of one-dollar votes to transfer funds from the Department of National Defence to Parc Downsview Park, Inc. There are a number of votes which deal with this in the supplementary estimates (A) 2005-06. Vote 4a of National Defence, in the amount of $1, forgives a debt owed by Parc Downsview Park Inc. amounting to $15,059,000. Vote L11a of the Office of Infrastructure seeks to complete a transfer of land to Parc Downsview Park Inc. in the amount of $2.49 million. Vote L13a of the Office of Infrastructure is another $1 vote, seeking to establish a borrowing authority of $100 million for Parc Downsview Park Inc.

Marleau and Montpetit state at page 733:

The inclusion of one dollar items in the Estimates also gave rise to the issue of using Estimates to “legislate”....

Marleau and Montpetit continue on page 735, stating:

Speaker Jerome stated in a ruling: “...it is my view that the government receives from Parliament the authority to act through the passage of legislation and receives the money to finance such authorized action through the passage by Parliament of an appropriation act. A supply item in my opinion ought not, therefore, to be used to obtain authority which is the proper subject of legislation”.

The government is required to legislate in another way and Parliament grants funds through the estimates process.

Madame Speaker Sauvé also ruled on March 25, 1981, at pages 8600-8601 of the Debates that eight one-dollar items in that case were out of order.

Other references that may be of assistance include the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts of the 35th Parliament, First Session, which discusses the issue of legislative authority and the estimates.

A succinct case study of the Parc Downsview Park Inc. is contained in the report of the Auditor General tabled in the House yesterday. Chapter 8, at pages 22 and 23, states:

[The government]...informed us that the ministers concerned intend to seek Parliament's approval for the transfer through the supplementary estimates process in the fall of 2005. The intent is to transfer the lands at their current book value, which is the normal practice for transactions between related government entities. The book value of the lands to be transferred is $2.49 million. The request for approval of this appropriation will also indicate that the fair value of the lands being transferred is estimated to be $152 million according to a recent appraisal.

This type of transfer should be accomplished in a manner outside the estimates process, but instead they have sought to subvert the estimates process for this transaction.

It is clear that the government is seeking to transfer land into the crown corporation, Parc Downsview Park Inc., in a manner not consistent with our parliamentary rules and traditions. Estimates are for Parliament granting supply to the government. Transfers of land from one department to another should not form part of the estimates.

I am therefore asking you, Mr. Speaker, to rule these votes out of order because they seek to accomplish a goal which is not consistent with the estimates process.

Finally, it is rumoured that Parliament may be dissolved for an election soon. During election periods, the government may pass special warrants to appropriate the necessary funds until Parliament returns.

In your response to this point of order, Mr. Speaker, if you find that it is legitimate, I would ask that you indicate in your ruling that it applies to special warrants as well as any estimates before this House, and, if you do not have the time to rule prior to Parliament's dissolution, that you find a way to communicate to the government that special warrants should not circumvent the rules of the House.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member obviously has done a considerable amount of research and has prepared for this very important point of order. We had no notice of his intention to raise this important matter. I would ask that you allow us time to review carefully his comments, prepare the necessary response and get back to the House in due course.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

The Speaker

It is obvious that the hon. member for Edmonton—St. Albert has a huge number of authorities that he has referred to in the course of the preparation of his remarks, so I can see that the government House leader and his parliamentary secretary are going to be up late tonight reading all of these in order to provide a suitable response to the hon. member. Yes, I am prepared to leave the matter for a time for the hon. parliamentary secretary to arm himself, if he wishes, with arguments in respect of this matter.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and I think you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practice, Bill C-71 be deemed to have been concurred in at report stage and read a second time in order for consideration at third reading later this day and Bill C-57 be deemed to have been concurred in at report stage in order for consideration at third reading later this day, and that at the third reading stage of each bill, after no more than one speaker from each party has spoken for not more than five minutes, the question shall be deemed put and deemed carried on division.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:50 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

4:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

(Bill C-71. On the Order: Government Orders)

November 22, 2005--The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development--Consideration at report stage and second reading of Bill C-71, An Act respecting the regulation of commercial and industrial undertakings on reserve lands, as reported by the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development without amendment.

(Bill concurred in at report stage and read the second time)

(Bill C-57. On the Order: Government Orders:)

November 18, 2005--The Minister of Finance--Consideration at report stage of Bill C-57, An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to financial institutions, as reported by the Standing Committee on Finance with amendments.

(Bill concurred in at report stage)

Bank ActRoutine Proceedings

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Williams Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. In my point of order I referred to an order in council. I have it here and would like to table it in both official languages.

Bank ActRoutine Proceedings

4:50 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to table the document?

Bank ActRoutine Proceedings

4:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Barrie Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Liberalfor the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

moved that Bill C-71, An Act respecting the regulation of commercial and industrial undertakings on reserve lands, be read the third time and passed.

First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd St. Amand Liberal Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak in support of this bill, the first nations commercial and industrial development act, a logical, sensible and progressive piece of legislation with a wide range of benefits for first nations and for Canada.

I would like to discuss the benefits of the bill in some detail. The bill is intended to remove the impediments that stand in the way of major commercial and industrial projects on reserve for first nations.

The existing barriers to development on reserve come in the form of inadequate federal legislation adopted under a different set of economic circumstances. Today, as first nations pursue complex large-scale commercial and industrial development projects with enormous potential to improve their quality of life and economic prosperity, it is up to us as legislators to facilitate that development.

It is instructive to look at a concrete example of a major industrial development project which is likely to be realized under this legislation. Fort McKay First Nation in northern Alberta is developing a multi-billion dollar oil sands project in partnership with Shell Canada, but the dollars themselves generated through projects like this are not the only benefit to first nations such as Fort McKay. Increased revenue and economic growth lead to other tangible, measurable and positive outcomes.

The projects would, for example, improve the quality of life through ensuring industry-wide standards in environmental protection, public health and safety. They would also create more jobs on reserve. At the same time, such projects offer first nations unprecedented opportunity to build capacity for the future. The new jobs that are created bring along with them education, training and skills development.

All of the short term benefits that first nations citizens will enjoy from new jobs, such as higher incomes and better skills, for example, over the longer term will result in access to other opportunities that would previously have been out of reach.

For first nation communities as a whole over the longer term, revenues generated from large-scale commercial and industrial development projects can be directed to upgrading road, water and sewer infrastructure as well as building playgrounds, schools and medical centres.

It is because first nations themselves see the significant benefits that are possible under this legislation that five partnering first nations have been front and centre in developing and advocating it. They are Fort McKay First Nation and Tsuu T`ina Nation in Alberta, Fort William First Nation in Ontario, Squamish Nation in British Columbia, and Carry the Kettle First Nation in Saskatchewan.

These partnering first nations, all of whom are considering proposals for major commercial and/or industrial development projects, have designed this initiative as an important tool to help them access engines of economic development on their reserve lands. They have all shown their support for this initiative through band council resolutions and they have been engaging other first nations and first nations organizations across the country to build further support. In fact, the flexibility of this legislation will allow first nations in all parts of Canada to enjoy its benefits.

Closing the gap in socio-economic conditions between first nations and other Canadians is the principle objective of this legislation. I call upon all members of the House to support this legislation, which fills the regulatory gap that has to this point hindered first nations economic development for far too long.

First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak in favour of Bill C-71, the first nations commercial and industrial development act.

The reason I feel so privileged to speak to this on behalf of the Conservative Party is because of the work the Conservative Party has done to bring the bill forward in the dying days of what has been a very frustrating legislative period.

We had lots of opportunities throughout this Parliament to bring this forward. The critic for the official opposition, the member for Calgary Centre-North, recognized that this legislation had virtually stalled in the House. It was through his efforts that it has been brought forward and we are likely and certainly hopeful to see the bill passed.

I also need to recognize the amount of effort put into this and the background work done by the specific first nations named in the bill. I will read the names out because I think it is most important to recognize the efforts of the first nations in bringing this forward. These are forward-thinking nations who understand that the present Indian Act is not working for them and not working for any of the first nations in this country. Accolades go to the following first nations: the Squamish Nation of British Columbia, the Fort McKay First Nation, the Tsuu T`ina Nation of Alberta, the Carry the Kettle First Nation of Saskatchewan and the Fort William First Nation of Ontario.

I would like to bring it to the House's attention that the Tsuu T`ina Nation, which is within my riding, is a very proud, individualistic group that have put forward some of the best initiatives that, frankly, we have seen. Not only does it have one of the most beautiful reserves within my riding, it has an incredible view to the west of the Rocky Mountains, second to none in this country, of course.

I have spent a great deal of time working with these people and have a great deal of respect for them. I am very proud to say that they were one of the main proponents of bringing the bill to the position it is at today. They recognize that they have great opportunities ahead of them. Therefore I strongly endorse the legislation so they will actually have the opportunity to seek a better future for their children. We all seek that but this old Indian Act that we are dealing with and have been dealing with for years is outdated. It does not allow these people the opportunity to plan for their future.

The other one that needs to be recognized is the Fort McKay reserve with a $4 billion project in conjunction with Shell oil sands. This is one of the shining lights in Alberta, and I am sure the House is well aware of it. However this opportunity will not be within the reserve's grasp if we do not move the legislation forward, which is why we on this side of the House were so concerned that the bill had been stalled and why we are pushing it forward to actually get it to move ahead. Certainly some other pieces of legislation have not made it quite that far.

We would strongly encourage all sides of the House to support this legislation. It is a great opportunity for all of these first nations to actually seize their future and to control the future of their nations and their children.

First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Cleary Bloc Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on Bill C-71, An Act respecting the regulation of commercial and industrial undertakings on reserve lands.

The purpose of Bill C-71 is to correct what the government calls “regulatory gaps”. This is an expression it uses to cover up the absence of an appropriate legislative and regulatory framework to encourage and regulate economic development on aboriginal reserves.

The Bloc Québécois is in favour of Bill C-71.

Quebec, like the other provinces, moreover, already has a legal framework governing commercial and industrial activities, but the division of powers under the Constitution means that some of those standards do not apply on reserve lands. This results in inequalities that put aboriginal people at a disadvantage.

The purpose of the bill, therefore, is for the federal government to inaugurate on the reserve, at the request of a first nation, regulations similar to the legislation of Quebec or of the province in which the reserve is situated.

Although the genesis of this bill came from five first nations—the Squamish nation in British Columbia, the Fort McKay first nation and the Tsuu T'ina nation in Alberta, the Carry the Kettle first nation in Saskatchewan, and the Fort William first nation in Ontario—none of the first nations in Quebec were consulted. Bill C-71 will have repercussions on Quebec and it would have been better to consult more with the aboriginal peoples concerned.

The Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador asked the chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development that the Quebec communities be consulted so that they might examine the bill and analyze the specifics of applying such legislation. It is regrettable that the government once again broke its promise to consult the first nations.

Several years ago, Quebec adopted an approach based on respect for aboriginal peoples. The Bloc Québécois is proud of this direction and recognizes aboriginals as a distinct people entitled to their culture, language, customs and traditions and their right to develop their own identity their own way.

The Bloc Québécois recognizes that in order to do this, aboriginals must have the tools they need to take charge of their own economic development. That is why the Bloc Québécois hopes to review Bill C-71 with the first nations of Quebec, since it affects this important aspect and needs to be analyzed thoroughly with the first nations.

Although passing this bill will engender improvements, the federal government must do a lot more for aboriginals. The housing conditions, education and health of aboriginals are inferior to those of the rest of population.

On the reserves, most families—65%—live in substandard housing. The Bloc Québécois deplores the fact that the lack of affordable housing of adequate size and quality for aboriginals has consequences beyond simple housing standards.

Various medical and social problems are linked to poor housing conditions and quality of life. The Government of Canada must make the effort needed to correct the situation without simply handing over the problems to the first nations.

Ways and MeansGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Barrie Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll LiberalMinister of International Cooperation

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 83(1), I wish to table a notice of ways and means motion to amend the Income Tax Act and descriptive documents pertaining thereto. I ask that an order of the day be designated for consideration of the motion.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-71, An Act respecting the regulation of commercial and industrial undertakings on reserve lands, be read the third time and passed.

First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2005 / 5:05 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to represent the position of the NDP in the House today. Our critic and spokesperson for aboriginal affairs, the member for Winnipeg Centre, was not able to be here as he is at the aboriginal conference. I know he has worked very hard on the bill, as he has with all other initiatives, to pursue equality and rights for aboriginal people in Canada.

We support the bill. The fact that it is being given speedy passage through the House is necessary and important. We want to ensure there are no barriers or obstacles to economic and industrial development for aboriginal people on reserve. From that point of view, the bill is important and we certainly want to see it go through.

I would also make a note that from our perspective it is important to provide aboriginal people with the tools and the resources that are necessary. As others have noted, the socio-economic status, the environment in which aboriginal people live is appalling. The government's record of not dealing with the abject poverty that exists is appalling.

We have many issues before us in terms of the aboriginal peoples who have not been dealt with. However today we have an opportunity to at least get this bill through to provide some support, the resources and the necessary tools and regulations. On that basis, the NDP of course is supporting the bill as are other parties.

First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

Pursuant to order made earlier today, the question is deemed put and the motion is deemed carried on division.

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

Bank ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Barrie Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Liberalfor the Minister of Finance

moved that Bill C-57, An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to financial institutions, be read the third time and passed.

Bank ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Etobicoke North Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to Bill C-57 at third reading.

In budget 2005 the government committed to introduce the proposals in this bill, which now fulfill our government's commitment to bring the governance standards for financial institutions up to the levels adopted in 2001 for other federally incorporated companies. Bill C-57 also proposes to update certain governance standards that are unique to financial institutions.

I am told by my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, that the members on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance worked very constructively and collaboratively on this initiative. We want to thank them for doing that.

There is little doubt of the important role that financial institutions play in the lives of Canadians. They provide services above and beyond what we most often think of as banking services, services such as chequing and savings accounts, and mortgages.

Financial institutions, though, are much more than that. For example, they provide the capital necessary for new or existing businesses. They sell insurance and can administer estates, trusts and agency contracts. In addition, they play a key role in helping governments and corporations to raise capital, as well as offering individuals an opportunity to invest in stocks, bonds and other securities.

The financial services sector is more than a provider of services. It is a critical part of the infrastructure of our economy, employing over 600,000 Canadians with a yearly payroll of over $35 billion. I can say that where I come from in Toronto, the financial services sector is a hugely critical employer in the business activity in the area. Let us not forget also that the financial services sector contributes approximately $13 billion in taxes to all orders of government.

I think everyone would agree that for Canada to continue its economic success, we must think beyond our borders. The same is true of Canadian businesses such as financial institutions. Let us face it, the reality is that we are operating in a global context and in global capital markets, but in order to compete in such an increasingly competitive global marketplace, the financial services sector needs to have a modern and up to date regulatory framework.

It is in this spirit that the government has taken action in recent years to ensure that financial institutions have the up to date regulatory framework they need to compete in today's global economy. In fact, this framework is reviewed every five years. Bill C-57 builds on those initiatives. It equips financial institutions with the modern governance tools that they need to compete in a global economy.

I would like now to quickly outline the five main elements contained in this bill. First, the financial institutions statutes recognize the importance of an effective board of directors. Bill C-57 contains proposals to clarify the role of directors in carrying out their important functions, for example, by explicitly allowing for a due diligence defence and clarifying the conflict of interest rules. I am particularly proud to see that. My first private member's bill called for the defence of due diligence for directors of corporations in Canada incorporated under the Canada Business Corporations Act.

Second, shareholders have certain rights, such as the right to participate in the major decisions of a financial institution in which they have an interest. The proposed legislation enhances those rights. For example, once this bill is passed, shareholders would be permitted electronic participation in meetings using technology such as video conferencing.

Third, Bill C-57 recognizes the importance of good governance in the well-being of a financial institution. As such, the government's framework needs to be kept up to date with best practices in this area.

Fourth, the legislation proposes to strengthen a number of governance elements in the regulatory framework, including improving the flow of information to the regulator. It also harmonizes various governance standards within and across the financial institution statutes.

The fifth element relates to changes in the policy holder governance framework for insurance companies. These changes would work to increase disclosure in respect of participating in adjustable life insurance policies.

We do not have time to go into any more detail on this particular piece of legislation, but it is an important piece of legislation that would affirm the importance of our financial institutions in Canada and would give them the tools necessary to compete in this global economy.

Bank ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Charlie Penson Conservative Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-57. The Conservative Party will be supporting this bill. We believe in strong corporate governance and rules around that sector. We believe they are essential to ensuring that shareholders' rights are protected, that consumers are served properly, and that Canada's financial sector is able to be strong and vibrant.

The Conservative Party will continue to look out for the best interests of consumers and shareholders while ensuring that the regulatory environment contributes to a strong financial sector.

This bill would bring the financial sector under the same rules as other business corporations that are currently under the Canada Business Corporations Act which took effect in 2001.

However, this Liberal government should walk the talk. While it is busy bringing in Bill C-57 on corporate governance, cleaning it up and making it transparent, what do we see from the government itself? Canadians have been subjected to another year of false projection, junk accounting and misleading government spin. The Liberals continue to hide behind phoney numbers and false forecasts.

The Liberal budget of 2005 projection of $3 billion was a lowball figure, as we now know. The government would have presented a budget surplus of $6 billion if it had not been engaged in unbudgeted spending and junk accounting which served to reduce the surplus numbers close to what the budget projection then was.

Parliament's numbers, the work done by the four forecasters hired by the finance committee to check on what the projections were from the finance department and, more important, the finance minister, revealed early on that the Liberals were sitting on billions of dollars more than the budget 2005 projections that were claimed.

In April Parliament's numbers projected a surplus of $6.1 billion and most recently, in July, a surplus of $.64 billion. Now those same fiscal forecasters are continuing on and we hope to get a budget for them to continue their work.

This points out the Liberal government's questionable budgetary practices that underscore the need for a parliamentary budget office, as was presented in the new Conservative federal accountability act. Canadians deserve honest and independent forecast projections, so that Parliament can engage in a debate as to how surplus money should be allocated and in fact, whether those kinds of surpluses should be allowed to build up. In any event, maybe we need to lower tax rates, so we do not run those massive surpluses. We see sometimes that the government gets carried away just before elections and all kinds of crazy spending is coming out most recently.

We are in agreement with this. It would help several sectors. It would help The Co-operators, I know, which is a big cooperative financial institution. We have some concerns for other sectors, like the chartered accountants. We are willing to explore those further. I think it is important to get the financial sector under the same rules that other corporations are under in this country and that shareholders have the transparency they need to make investments in the sectors that are involved under this legislation.