Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak. I am pleased to rise in the House here today as a member from Quebec, to speak to the motion brought forward by our colleagues across the floor.
Before I begin, I would like to indicate that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the hon. member for Burlington, with whom I have been meeting for the promotion of the Canadian shipbuilding industry. He came to Lévis last summer and visited the Ultramar facilities where the transshipment of liquids takes place. He also saw the Corporation of Lower St. Lawrence Pilots' Centre de simulation et d’expertise maritime.
My colleague and I have businesses in our respective sectors. Where I am from, for instance, Prévost Car inc., IPL inc., Rotobec, and Etchemins would all like to have access to capital in order to compete with large corporations from around the world. This is why I am pleased to speak to this motion here today.
As we all know, there has been a lot of talk about the Norbourg scandal in Quebec. There has been a lot of talk about the little girls, for instance, whose grandfather had invested some money for them, which was misappropriated in the end. That was the only money, the only financial inheritance, left for those children. And it was misappropriated.
I am pleased to speak about this today. All the members in this House want to find ways to avoid having this happen again, and to ensure that our financial system is reliable and efficient, and that it allows our businesses to raise large amounts of money quickly, without encountering administrative barriers or red tape. We know that is one of the irritants. I owned a business, and I know how many forms there are to fill out.
However, my opposition colleagues did not fully understand what our government wants. We are not talking about a federal regulator, but a common regulator, created in collaboration with the provinces.
Currently, nearly 80% of regulation in the securities sector comes from Ontario. It is important for the regulation to be distributed throughout the country, particularly in Quebec, so that Quebec can have a greater say in decisions that affect it and in the management of national affairs—all, of course, in the context of open federalism.
There are currently 13 statutes, 13 unharmonized responsibilities. There are a lot of barriers to overcome. Sure, the passport system is a step in the right direction, but it does not solve everything. That is why I would like to speak about the initiatives our government wants to take to ensure that the financial system is a tool that helps businesses in Bellechasse, Les Etchemins, Chaudière-Appalaches and Quebec City move forward.
We are facing international competition, and we need to standardize. Take, for example, the Europeans, who are exchanging information through the European Union, enabling them to break down administrative barriers and to standardize. That is exactly what we want to do, in collaboration with the provinces.
It makes sense that it would be easier to do business within a country than it would be with a foreign country. We must also think about demographic weight. Trading is done on the market. We are competing with the Chinese market, the Asian market—these markets have billions of people.
Canada is a major economic force, but we have to put that in perspective. Even though we have access to the entire European and U.S. markets, we have to double our share in those markets to rival, in absolute numbers, what China and India alone are doing. We have to look at the big picture and that is what we are proposing.
Our financial sector is one of the most advanced and most developed in the world. The International Monetary Fund has said so. In fact, it said so just recently when it evaluated the financial sector. The International Monetary Fund said that Canada has what it takes, but there is just one thing missing. It said that our financial system is solid because of its banks and, of course, its cooperative movements.
As a matter of fact, Lévis is the home of the largest financial cooperative movement in Canada, the Desjardins group, which, again this year, has declared record surpluses and dividends that will go into its members' pockets. These Quebec and Canadian financial institutions are in good shape and are well funded. Nonetheless, according to the International Monetary Fund, the system must and can be improved.
When talented people and capital cross borders, market competition becomes fierce. We must improve the system if we want our Quebec and Canadian companies to perform well on the global market. What does the International Monetary Fund say? It says that even though the banking system is in good shape, we are faced with challenges in the midst of the global financial crisis that has been observed since the middle of 2007.
The IMF has recommended adopting a common securities regulation system in order to improve the Canadian system. An international agency has given its advice. It did not say a federal system, but a common system; one that is established with the provinces and allows Quebec to play its full role within Canadian financial markets.
Our government acknowledges that this financial market must indeed be improved if the economy is to become more solid and more prosperous. We want our economy to perform and our manufacturing companies to develop. Among those companies there is one in my riding by the name of Jambette, which manufactures playground equipment. Some of their products are found in early childhood centres, where children go to play. They make quality products but they need investors. In order for these businesses to have access to a capital market, favourable conditions have to be created, and that is why Advantage Canada was created, as a long term economic plan. We also want to ensure that the financial institutions funding the companies in need are innovative and competitive and have a flexible regulatory framework based on recognized principles. Canada wants to ensure that these financial enterprises continue to respond to the need for growth in an increasingly stringent competitive context. This is the reason behind the plan introduced in the 2007 budget for “Creating a Canadian Advantage in Global Capital Markets”, which I invite my colleagues to read. Perhaps even if they read it thoroughly they will decide not to change the contents of their motion today.
This plan for capital markets is designed to achieve increased protection and income for investors, better jobs, more investment and prosperity. There are four elements to it.
The first is to modernize the regulatory system in order to make it easier for a company in Burlington or Bellechasse to knock on one door and be able to expand into the entire Canadian market, with the cooperation of the provinces. It therefore takes into consideration the particular composition of capital markets in Canada, which are comprised of both international companies and small and medium issuers, that is, small businesses. This is why creating a common regulatory body is so advantageous. It facilitates the passage of proportional and principle-based regulations.
The second reason we think our 2007 budget contained an excellent initiative is that we want to protect Canadians' investments. We kept in mind what had happened with Norbourg and the investors who had been left high and dry. These people had trusted the financial institutions and entrusted them with their life's savings. Overnight they found themselves penniless because of those investments. We must make sure our legislation is strictly adhered to and we must attack white-collar crime.
The third component is to increase investment opportunities. I could go on for some time about all the initiatives we are undertaking to ensure that our financial system is indeed highly competitive. This is why we struck a third-party expert panel on securities regulation to provide us with advice. We already have examples of the progress we have made in the past year.
I would point out in closing that we are the only G-7 country that does not have a common regulatory agency. If the economy of Quebec and the manufacturers of Quebec are to have access to capital and to expansion opportunities, it is important for them to have the right tools. That is what we are doing on this side of the House.