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House of Commons Hansard #75 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jurisdiction.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think that my NDP colleague is absolutely right. I would even add something that I have not mentioned in my speech, notably that the World Bank and OECD recognize that the present system works well and is effective.

There is no need to question a system that works, especially in an economic recession. Both sides of the House assure us of their desire to help our businesses and workers. However, instead of doing so, right in the middle of the isotope crisis, they are devoting their energy to duplicating areas of jurisdiction which are exclusively under Quebec's responsibility. It is disgraceful.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative member for Lévis—Bellechasse entertained us quite a bit when he quoted Clément Gignac earlier. He did not mention it, but Mr. Gignac used to be the chief economist of National Bank Financial. He left National Bank Financial to work for the minister of Finance of Canada. Of course, he had to take part in those discussions. To earn his salary, he had to be in favour of creating a single securities regulator.

However, more recently, Mr. Gignac decided to be a Liberal candidate in a Quebec provincial by-election. He will replace former Minister Monique Jérôme-Forget in her riding, that is, if he wins, of course. When asked about the matter, Premier Jean Charest said to everyone that Mr. Gignac agrees with the position of Quebec and of the Liberal Party of Quebec. That position is to be against establishing a single securities commission. Of course, the member could have chosen a better quote.

As a Quebecer and as a member representing a region of Quebec, how would he feel if his party forced him to go against the interests of Quebec, against the interests of the National Assembly of Quebec, against the interests of all the parties in the National Assembly, against the interests of the whole Quebec financial system, against the Fédération des Chambres de commerce du Québec and against everything which has an interest in the world of finance? How would he feel? Would he be able to rise in this House and vote against Quebec or, as the Liberals will do, to sit on their hands? What would he do?

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member asks an important question. Bloc members are not here to make a career in politics. They are here to defend with conviction Quebec's interests and needs. There lie our values and our ethics. We do not expect to form a government or to obtain a position at the cabinet table. That is not our objective.

Quebec members are applauded by their colleagues from other provinces when they vote against some measures. That was the case on the official languages issue. Those members voted against the bill on the bilingualism of judges. That is unbelievable. Members vote for a budget that gives $2.7 billion to western oil companies but that contains nothing for the manufacturing and forestry sectors. That is shameful.

In the same vein, I think that if we defend Quebec's needs with conviction, we cannot vote for a proposal by the present Conservative government that the National Assembly said it was unanimously opposed to. The great majority of Quebeckers are also against the proposal. Members would thus be voting against the social and economic development of our communities. It is incomprehensible.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, what a fine lead-in to my speech. I want to tell you at the outset that I am going to vigorously oppose this motion, which is against Quebec’s best interests. I want to tell you that I have listened to some of the speeches by my colleagues who spoke before me. I invite them to do the same, to listen to me, if they wish. If they want to talk, they can go outside the Chamber.

What struck me in their speeches is that at no time did an opposition member from the Bloc Québécois say what was good for business in Quebec. That is what is behind this motion. They have forgotten where the interests of Quebec businesses lie. The only thing they are thinking about is the Bloc ideology of a Quebec turned inward on itself and a regressive vision of Quebec.

I do not hold with that vision, I believe in an open and generous Quebec, a Quebec that takes its place in the Canadian federation and the world.

I have some names of companies that want to go on the Exchange: I am thinking of Rotobec, IPL, Prevost Car Inc., Exceldor, Côté, Knox, Poulies Maska, companies that need access to a capital market, a stable market. For that, they do business with financial institutions and the big banks. The other financial institutions, cooperative institutions, like the largest Canadian cooperative movement, Desjardins, have rules, and it is our role, as the government, to oversee them.

At the federal level, we have the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. That regulatory framework produces very good results, to the point that last week the 15th International Economic Forum was held in Montreal, with organizers that included Economic Development Canada, which provided financial support for that major global meeting. What did we see there? We saw the International Monetary Fund recognize that our financial system is one of the soundest on the planet.

Certainly we must not put our head in the sand and rest on our laurels. It is our responsibility to identify weaknesses in our system, to roll up our sleeves and work to improve it. One of the weaknesses in our financial system is that we have a system for securities regulation that is fragmented, that is divided among 13 different agencies.

Although the International Monetary Fund recognizes that we have a very sound financial system, the flaw it identified is our system for securities regulation. In that, it agrees with the large majority of observers, who recognize that the best solution lies in a single regulatory system that applies a single securities law. It must be agreed, we certainly do not set out to create crises, as is often the case with the Bloc, particularly in Ottawa, who love to create crises. That even seems to be one of their formulas for stirring the pot.

One thing that stands out as important, when it comes to creating the securities commission, is that we take a Canada-wide approach that respects jurisdictions and that is done in collaboration with the provinces. This is the complete opposite from what the Bloc Québécois is proposing and from what it has said this afternoon. It is a point of view shared by other provinces. In our 2009 budget, we insisted on the fact that we wanted to work with the provinces and territories on a Canadian securities regulator that respects constitutional jurisdictions. There is a difference between a Canada-wide commission and a federal commission that will respect regional interests and expertise. All the provinces are invited to participate in this transition toward a national securities regulator.

Some provinces have already supported this process. Ontario says that it would be important to improve the competitiveness of Canada's economy, but also, at the other end of the country, British Colombia recognizes how important it is to work together on this project. This province's finance minister, Colin Hansen, was quoted in the Vancouver Sun as saying that British Colombia “believe[s] that the objective of national regulation is the right objective”.

A national securities regulator would help give our companies greater access to a capital market. We hope that over the next few months, other provinces will work with us, will take the Canadian government's offer and will join in on the project, because during this economic recession we must take action that will give our manufacturing companies an advantage and make them more competitive.

As has been said, Alberta, Manitoba and other provinces have stated that a single regulator is not necessary because of the passport model. I am happy to talk about that this afternoon. First, I realize that it is a worthy initiative that has made it possible to reconcile regulatory differences and to harmonize and simplify securities laws. The initiatives are important to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of Canada's regulatory system.

Through these initiatives, the provinces have indicated that they wanted to work together, respecting all jurisdictions, as part of a clear commitment to improve our securities regulatory system.

Even though those initiatives are laudable, they do not go far enough and fast enough. We must take one more step. In fact, with the passport system, which is a move in the right direction, we still have 13 sets of laws, 13 types of legislation and 13 organizations, all for one country.

That does not serve the Canadian market well. It is a well known fact that companies in Quebec, Manitoba and the Maritimes are often small companies and the regulatory inefficiencies hit them relatively harder because the relative costs to access new markets are higher for them. The passport system limits the capacity of small and medium-sized companies to exploit the possibilities of all the financial markets in Canada. Moreover, that structure imposes high costs on them.

In its presentation to the expert panel on securities regulation, the Canadian Bankers Association insisted on that. The association pointed out that if these companies tried to raise capital in 13 jurisdictions instead of just one, the costs associated with regulations would double to 16% of capital for a business that wanted to raise $1 million. A company must therefore spend $160,000 on red tape to raise $1 million. That is the situation now. That is 4% for a company that needs $10 million. That hurts our small manufacturing companies that look for capital in a larger market. That is what we should remember when we analyze legislation adopted here in Ottawa in the interest of Quebec and of all Canadians.

Businesses in other countries do not have the same kind of burden, which puts Quebec companies at a competitive disadvantage on today's world markets. It is here, in Ottawa, that we can take concrete measures to help Quebec companies.

Janet Ecker, president of the Toronto Financial Services Alliance, said that at a time when the entire international financial system is engaged in a race to create co-ordinated, standardized regulatory systems, we cannot even create a national system. She said that if Canada wants to be taken seriously on the international financial stage, it has to have a national system. Our colleagues in the Bloc obviously do not care at all about Canada’s competitiveness on the international scene because they are so busy trying to isolate Quebec by separating it or fomenting political crises.

According to Bloc ideology, the European common market is often seen as a beautiful utopia. In actual fact, the Europeans are trying to harmonize their sovereign countries and lower tariff barriers. We are currently negotiating with them because we want to open our markets. We know that this is what enabled Quebec businesses, under a Conservative government, to access the U.S. market and markets throughout the world. Their pork is exported to Mexico and their aircraft to China, for example. People realize that we need to standardize our ways of doing things, rather than erect barriers. We need to lower the barriers around Quebec, rather than raise them.

What is important is to have a Quebec that is open to the world and able to do business, and that goes through Ottawa, through federal legislation that is suitable, respects the various jurisdictions, and takes Quebec’s interests into account.

What the passport system lacks is a national mechanism to coordinate law enforcement. As a result, it is hard to get maximum benefit from this crucial aspect of the system.

This defect was highlighted by the Royal Bank in its submission to the expert panel. Its representatives stated that, as a result of insufficient resources and the difficulty of co-ordinating investigations among a host of different agencies, compliance with the securities legislation in Canada was perceived as slow and most effective when non-compliant parties declared their violations on their own.

This perception hurts Canada when it comes to the enforcement of the regulations. Trade can easily move to other countries and capital raised there if law enforcement here is perceived as lax.

This is also important for Canada on the national scene. The International Monetary Fund recognized that Canada is one of the engines of the G20 and helped institute the measures that are enabling the global economy to emerge from the crisis. It is important, therefore, for Canada to be able to play a leadership role as well on international financial markets.

According to the Investment Industry Association of Canada, which is a national sectoral association, this failure is costing us some fine opportunities. The IIAC says that our process for approving new products and new rules and market structures is obsolete because it requires a consensus resulting in long delays.

It is important therefore for Canada to be one country with mechanisms to ensure that capital can circulate adequately within it and without barriers to overcome every time a business person wants to access capital from another province.

A Canadian securities regulator would not only increase Canadian markets' competitiveness, but would facilitate the development and marketing of new financial products, and the adjusting to the evolving international situation. And this is precisely the most interesting aspect for Quebec businesses.

Some also claimed that a Canadian securities regulator would be a centralized body that would not take into consideration regional specificities. It is our role as parliamentarians, here in Ottawa, to ensure that this Canada-wide body reflects regional disparities and interests. For example, we can think about investors from the Atlantic region, who do not necessarily want to come to Ottawa, or to Toronto, to do business. In the study that was conducted, the transition office said that the regulator would have a regional specificity. Let me explain.

In its report, the expert panel recommends that regional, provincial and local offices be maintained, and that these offices “would support implementation measures taken locally, would serve as contacts for complaints regarding faulty actions of a regulatory nature, and would provide general services to meet the needs of participants in local and public markets”.

The media reported that those opposed to a Canadian securities regulator claim that it would not take into consideration the specific sectors of each province. It is just the contrary. Indeed, the transition office precisely hopes that the regulator will cooperate with the provinces to establish a Canada-wide market.

The expert panel recommends that local offices be maintained in certain regions of the country to deal with these specialized markets. The report points out that British Columbia could specialize in the mining sector, Alberta in the oil and gas industry, Ontario in the financial service sector, and Quebec in derivative financial instruments.

The Montreal Exchange, which has already developed a specific niche in derivative financial products, immediately comes to mind. We would simply want to concentrate all these activities in Montreal, Quebec, for the whole country. This means that Quebec would manage all financial instruments derived from securities, and we know that there is a huge potential for growth in this area. In other words, Quebec would manage that specific area for the whole country.

As we can see, it is important, in the implementation of this Canada-wide system, to take our rightful place, so that Quebec can fully assume its role and benefit from it.

At first, the staff of regional and local offices should include mostly employees from existing provincial regulators. We must recognize the excellence and skills of those who provide similar services in all the provinces, and particularly in Quebec, and we must keep these regulatory skills and provide uninterrupted regional and local services.

By having decentralized offices with such regional specificities, this system, by its very nature, takes into consideration our country's specificities and can thus become an excellent tool indeed to establish a single system across the country and to allow businesses to have access to a service that is geared to their needs when they go to an office.

As I mentioned, the current recession was triggered by systemic problems in the financial structure. In recent months, Canada and its G20 partners have been working very hard to restore financial stability throughout the world. However, the international community continues to feel the effects of this financial crisis. Canada, like all the other countries, has learned that a systemic risk can come from any part of the financial services sector, and not only from the banking sector. So, we are talking about the financial market.

The Bloc members unfortunately voted against Canada's economic action plan, and they said they were going to vote against the spending estimates on Friday. They would rather go to the polls and hand out pamphlets at the Old Orchard campgrounds and beaches than invest money in getting our economy moving and creating jobs. That is a fact.

Our government's economic action plan included a series of measures to bolster financial stability, including increased powers for the government and the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation and the creation of an office to facilitate the transition to a Canadian securities regulator for participating provinces and territories. We are therefore making structural investments to eliminate and break down barriers so that Canadian companies can have broader access to more capital.

Bringing all the financial regulation stakeholders together at the same table will improve policy coordination and make Canada's regulatory framework more responsive to global challenges. It will make us better able to identify emerging risks and to work together to mitigate them.

Far from being an intrusion into a provincial jurisdiction—I explained that we are working with respect for jurisdictions and in a way that puts companies first—the creation of a Canadian securities regulator is a giant step for Quebec's and Canada's financial markets and investors. Everything is being done with respect for jurisdictions, regional interests and expertise. This is a concrete example of a Quebec that is developing and playing its role within the Canadian federation in a united Canada.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened very closely to the speech by the Conservative member opposite.

He got a few good ones in, even though we are not laughing. I was surprised to hear him say, first of all, that international organizations are asking Canada to create a single securities regulator for us to be taken seriously. That is hard to understand when the OECD places Canada second in the world for the quality of its securities regulation. If there is one organization that can be called international, it is the OECD.

Second, the member said that the plan to create a Canada-wide securities regulator respects the constitutional jurisdictions of the provinces and Quebec. I would like to know if his party consulted the Government of Quebec on this issue. It seems to me that Quebec's National Assembly unanimously adopted two motions stating that it rejects the idea of a single securities regulator. In addition to being unconstitutional, the matter falls under provincial jurisdictions.

I fail to grasp how the member can say that Quebec is turned inward and does not take businesses into account. Is the member suggesting that each and every member of Quebec's National Assembly representing every region in Quebec is not concerned about the businesses in his or her riding? That makes no sense.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain for his question.

First, it is important to remind my colleague that, according to the International Monetary Fund, the flaw in our financial industry lies within the securities regulation system. If the member had listened to my speech, he would have realized that.

Second, I would say that our role as parliamentarians is to represent and defend Quebec's interest and the interests of Quebec businesses and to do what is right for them. l believe it is possible to cooperate in order to put a system in place that will eliminate barriers and facilitate access to capital everywhere in Canada for Quebec companies.

This is my answer. I would be pleased to answer other questions.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member seems to be unaware that this is a government with minority status. The Conservatives are trying to attack more or less a constitutional problem, a constitutional issue, when they are in a minority position. So I wonder what the end game here really is about. There must be better activities for the government to engage in at this time than this particular exercise. It is not only Quebec that does not like this proposal and passed a resolution in its national assembly, but also Alberta and Manitoba are opposed.

This issue did not just start recently. I remember it being discussed 10 years ago when I was an MLA in Manitoba. We can talk about Quebec all we want, but all the provinces act the same when their jurisdiction is being challenged in what they see as a constitutional area. So what is the surprise there?

When this discussion came up in Manitoba 10 years ago, our position was very simple. We saw it as a constitutional issue. We were not going to be pushed around by the federal government.

We wanted to have our authority in our province, and we knew that if we were to agree and acquiesce to this, it would become basically just an Ontario securities commission.

Let us face it: The securities market is very heavily concentrated in Ontario. It is no surprise that the people of Ontario would be supporting this, because it means more jobs, more influence, more power for them. It should come as no surprise that Manitoba, Quebec, Alberta, or any other province would be opposed.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I share my colleague's point of view: respecting provincial jurisdictions is important. One of our government's commitments is to practice open federalism and to work in partnership with the provinces to give our businesses the very best we have to offer. This will help each of our provinces' economies, his and mine, to have access to capital, to develop and to shine on the world stage.

Allow me to quote the vice-president and chief economist of one of our very own organization, the Montreal Economic Institute. Marcel Boyer, Bell Canada professor of industrial economics, said, “A single securities commission with a strong regional presence would favourably resolve the complex issue of regulating securities in Canada.”

In a nutshell, he said that if provincial and federal governments worked together instead of putting up barriers and squabbling over everything, we would be doing the work we were elected to do here in Ottawa: helping our businesses move forward.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Lévis—Bellechasse accused us of having no vision and of creating crises. He said that only the Conservative government has the big picture. There is one thing that he has difficulty understanding. Even if he says the Conservative party has a vision, I believe that some Conservative members from Quebec do not have a vision for Quebec. Fields of jurisdiction, self identity, and the desire to help corporations mean nothing to them.

There are 125 members in the Quebec National Assembly. Unanimously, they said “No.” Alberta and Manitoba also said “No.” How can he claim to be the only one who understands the needs of all Canadians? Even though he comes from Quebec, he appears not to understand them. The Liberal party will give its support by abstaining from voting on the fact that the Constitution recognizes this is a field under Quebec’s jurisdiction. They would refer it to the Supreme Court. We know they are like the Tower of Pisa; they always lean to one side only.

Why do the Conservatives claim they can do this when they know very well that it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government?

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague often speaks to me about Quebec. Perhaps one day he will want to make a career there. At present, we have chosen to make a career here, in Ottawa, to defend and act in the interest of the people we represent, in my case, the people of Lévis, Bellechasse and Les Etchemins. I am proud to say this afternoon that there is a manufacturing base in Lévis—Bellechasse and Les Etchemins that is one of the most dynamic in the country. These are companies that work very hard. They are owners who invest their own money. It is a family structure and these are people who respect others, who work and create jobs and wealth, and who pay our salaries. Our first duty when we are here is to think of those people and to ensure that we remove barriers instead of engaging in constitutional disputes.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois. I would like to congratulate all my colleagues who have spoken, all these men and women who are the only ones truly standing up for Quebec in this House.

Today's remarks by the Conservative member for Lévis—Bellechasse and by a number of Liberal members from Quebec who will not even venture to vote on this motion crucial to Quebec are further proof. It is also very important for my hon. colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska and myself to point out that I will be sharing my speaking time with him. I did not want to steal the floor from him and prevent him from speaking on such an important motion.

Let us go over this motion quickly to ensure that the Conservative and Liberal members from Quebec fully appreciate the weight of responsibility associated with voting against this motion. It reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of the House, securities regulation falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces and that, therefore, the federal government should reject, once and for all, the idea of creating a single securities regulator for all of Canada, thereby respecting the unanimous will of the National Assembly of Quebec.

As I said earlier, when the National Assembly of Quebec speaks with a single voice, it is 125 Quebec MNAs saying no. They are contending that this is an area which falls under Quebec's jurisdiction and they want to protect the system which has been in place for many years and is working well.

That is why the 49 Bloc members who are here to defend the interests of Quebec are also speaking out against this Canada-wide securities commission.

As I indicated, the National Assembly is unanimous. Securities fall under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. I also mentioned earlier that two provinces have come out and said that they wanted to keep their own securities regulators. Establishing a common regulator would jeopardize the very survival of trading in Montreal and promote financial market concentration in the Toronto area.

I do not know why the Conservative members, including those from Quebec, continue to say that this is the best thing to do, when the World Bank and the OECD find that the current system works well, that it is efficient and effective. Efficiency and effectiveness do not mean quite the same thing. The Conservative Party is living proof of that. It is not effective and not efficient. Efficiency means doing things well, and effectiveness means doing good things. It does not know how to implement good things and when it does, it is not effective.

Some Conservative members have told us from the start of the day that the Bloc did not understand the economy. History, however, will confirm what I am going to say. For years, the Bloc alone has said how there would be a surplus, how things would react and what the increases in economic development terms would be. If all of the policies proposed by the Bloc Québécois had been implemented, we would not be in this crisis today in Canada and especially in Quebec.

Without pretension and with no offence to the humility of the member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain, our finance critic today, or that of those who preceded him, either Paul Crête, who left this House to represent us in the National Assembly, or Yvon Loubier— they are all competent individuals who know the economy—I would refer to the hon. member for Markham—Unionville. I am sure everyone knows he was the chief economist at the Royal Bank between 1994 and 2000. He was a professor of economics at McGill and at the Université du Québec in Montreal and a professor at Simon Fraser and the University of Manitoba. Since 1976, this kind gentleman has called himself an economist. During all that time, what did he do when he was speaking to students or to heads of business? Did he never say this was a matter of Quebec's jurisdiction? Did he ever wonder if it could be changed by this government? Some have been talking about it in strong terms for 40 years. In 2003, the issue was revived. The Government of Ontario went so far as to do studies in support of its arguments for a single commission.

This afternoon, the hon. member for Markham—Unionville told us there is a legal uncertainty. Our arguments are based on the fact that this is a Quebec jurisdiction and that the system is effective and works well. The hon. member said that there is some constitutional uncertainty over whether or not this jurisdiction belongs to Quebec and the provinces. As a result, the Liberal Party will abstain. That is totally absurd. The Quebec Liberal members are going to abstain. As the old dictum goes, “Silence is consent”. In other words, silence signifies consent to the government’s policy of a single, Canada-wide securities commission. That is contrary to the interests of Quebec and to the responsibilities assigned to it and to all the provinces. It jeopardizes everything. We must face up to this because Ontario’s intentions are clear: it wants only one regulator. It did not participate, however, in the passport system. It is purely in its own interest, therefore, that Ontario wants a single, Canada-wide securities commission in opposition to Quebec and other provinces such as Alberta and Manitoba.

As things currently stand, the securities commissions of Quebec and the provinces can speak before the International Organization of Securities Commissions. The Constitution says that securities are a jurisdiction belonging to Quebec and the provinces, which are therefore all entitled to appear directly before the International Organization of Securities Commissions without any intermediaries. Quebec and the provinces must preserve this right to speak on the international scene. We do not want it to become like Quebec’s seat at UNESCO. As we said before, it is more like a folding chair or even an ejection seat. If we do not agree with the federal government, we no longer have the right to speak.

The Conservative members are solidly in favour of the Canada-wide securities commission. I am talking mainly about Conservatives from Quebec. The Liberal members from Quebec are going to abstain. Some members will vote for Quebec’s economic priorities, values and savoir-faire, and some would rather not. As we have already seen, the Montreal stock exchange was sold to Toronto. An English Canadian was made president of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. There have also been cuts to the not-for-profit organizations with an economic mandate. The Government of Canada is mounting a direct, frontal assault on Quebec’s economic interests. We have to stop it because the situation in Quebec and even in some other Canadian provinces is being seriously undermined.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have always thought that the securities commissions were there to protect the public from being taken advantage of by improper business overtures, not merely to save the business community some money on compliance costs.

The clear message we have received from the government all day is that it is all about compliance costs and the desire on the part of the government to streamline the system so businesses will only have to file one prospectus with this super securities regulator rather than thirteen of them in different jurisdictions across the country. All the time, while it is trying to save the companies a few dollars in compliance costs, it is forgetting that it is all about protecting the public.

I submit that it is securities commissions, like the Manitoba Securities Commission, that protect the public and do a very good job over the years to get on top of issues a lot quicker than the national organization would be able to do.

Could the member comment on that?

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the NDP member for his comment.

Of course, when an organization such as the Autorité des marchés financiers, which used to be called the Commission des valeurs mobilières du Québec, regulates the market and registers companies at the stock exchange, its first concern is to protect the interests of investors. It is obvious. To say that a single Canada-wide commission could solve all the problems is a deceptive statement. Such a commission would not be a panacea.

As long as we will have regulating systems such as the ones regulating financial products, attempts to circumvent the rules will be made. It is somewhat like computer science nowadays. Even if you invent something to keep undesirable people away from computer systems, those people will come up with something else. It is a perpetual motion. There must be a refinement, a change of processes and of regulations. Quebec has proven that it is able to make adjustments to protect the interests of investors and the interests of its population, as far as the economy in general is concerned.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, in one country, there are 13 different jurisdictions, that is, 13 sets of laws and 13 legal authorities.

Is it normal that a business in his riding of Sherbrooke should be faced with more administrative barriers and tariffs within one country than there are in a group of countries like the European Union for example? We can see that the passport system is not perfect. It is almost like walking with crutches.

Why would we not want to offer the best conditions to a Sherbrooke company, that is, a complete Canadian package? Does the member have a better idea than a national system based on cooperation with provinces and respecting their areas of jurisdiction? Is there a better deal on offer, since this seems to be the best solution for his company?

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, any securities commission, be it the Autorité des marchés financiers or any other, must obviously remove as many irritants as possible for all those with whom it does business. We understand that. That is not the biggest issue today. The federal government wants to interfere in areas under Quebec's and the provinces' jurisdiction. Can that issue be settled once and for all?

They pretend to practice open federalism. It is more of a conquering style of federalism since they want to control everything. And what does it change if we have 13 securities regulators in Canada? There are also two nations in Canada. Once of them wants to have control over areas under its jurisdiction and to manage according to its way of doing things, which is unique to Quebec. We want to keep this area under our jurisdiction and regulate securities through the Autorité des marchés financiers. We have the ability, the competence and the expertise to do it, and the desire to continue doing it. We are telling the federal government to mind its own business.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Sherbrooke for agreeing to share his time with me in the context of this very important issue, one so important that the Bloc Québécois has made it the theme of its opposition day.

This motion has been moved for very specific reasons aimed at ensuring that Quebec's interests are respected. I can list those reasons: the Quebec National Assembly is unanimously opposed to the creation of a Canada-wide securities regulator; securities fall under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces; the creation of a single securities regulator would jeopardize the survival of trading activities in Montreal and would favour the concentration of financial markets in Toronto; and the World Bank and the OECD have reported that the current system works well and is both efficient and effective.

Perhaps we should not be surprised by the Conservatives' decision to go ahead with this despite the unanimous consensus in Quebec, both politically speaking and in terms of the financial markets, concerning their idea to create a single commission. As we know, it is a centralist party. With this, the Conservatives are flouting the will of Quebec.

I am seeing another example of “Ottawa knows best”. I even heard a member from Quebec, the hon. member for Lévis—Bellechasse, who rose a few moments ago in this House to try and justify a single securities commission, even though it goes against everything that is being called for, not only by the Government of Quebec, but by all parties in the Quebec National Assembly and those responsible for Quebec's financial markets. Our Conservative colleagues might be interested to know that other provinces are also completely against a single market and a Canada-wide securities commission.

Some members are rising here today to speak out against the will of Quebec and in favour of a single securities commission. I would prefer to refrain from commenting. The people of those ridings will be the ones to judge the decision made by the Conservative members from Quebec.

The Liberals once tried to do the same thing. In 2005, they brought down a budget that called for a single securities commission. Today, though, I have been quite surprised to hear members from Quebec say that they are going to abstain from voting. They are going to sit on their hands. That is something they did fairly regularly with their former leader, but I am surprised that they are still reluctant to take a stand. This issue clearly comes under Quebec's jurisdiction, and the Government of Quebec and the National Assembly of Quebec do not accept this decision by the Conservative government.

The Liberals just came up with the idea that it is up to the Supreme Court to decide. A specific section of the Constitution Act says that Quebec and the provinces have jurisdiction over this issue. Suddenly, the Liberals want to refer the issue to the Supreme Court, wash their hands of it and avoid making a decision. We should be very worried for Quebec, because these people want to form the next government.

The new Liberal leader is telling his troops not to vote on a decision that could have serious consequences for Quebec. Moreover, this will mean that the Conservative government will be able to go ahead. Only the Bloc Québécois and the NDP have decided to stand up and respect the provinces' jurisdictions.

The Liberals may think they are going to put things off by calling for the issue to be referred to the Supreme Court, but it seems to me that the Liberal leader is going to great lengths to avoid taking a stand. This is going to come back to haunt him, just as it is going to haunt the Conservative members from Quebec. When they travel around their ridings, they will have to face the anger of the people in Quebec.

The Conservatives are clearly going against Quebec's decision. The Liberal position is not as clear-cut, but the result is the same. They do not have the courage to vote, and they are making it possible for the Conservatives to defeat our motion, which reflects the will of the Government of Quebec.

What is at stake here, is respect for the will of the Government of Quebec, the will of the entire National Assembly of Quebec, the Quebec financial sector, the Fédération des Chambres de commerce du Québec, and others. My colleagues mentioned in their speeches that the National Assembly of Quebec had unanimously condemned this federal initiative.

The National Assembly of Quebec unanimously condemned this federal initiative. On October 16, 2007 it passed a motion that stated:

That the National Assembly ask the federal government to abandon its Canada-wide securities commission project.

This request was reiterated not so long ago, on January 15, 2009. A motion asked for help in dealing with the impact of the current economic crisis and also stated that the National Assembly reiterated its firm opposition to the proposed Canada-wide securities commission. Twice, not once, all parties in the National Assembly declared that they were opposed to the idea.

The former Quebec finance minister, Monique Jérôme-Forget, vigorously opposed the federal government's proposal. She explained her arguments against this single securities regulator in the October 2, 2007 edition of Le Devoir. I will read a few excerpts. The title of the article was “The Arguments of the Federal Minister of Finance Simply Do Not Cut It”. She named the Minister of Finance but you know that I am unable to do the same here, Mr. Speaker. As for the federal government's arguments with respect to protecting investors, Ms. Jérôme-Forget rejected them outright. She said:

A 2006 study by the World Bank and Lex Mundi ranked Canada in third place in terms of protecting investors, while the United States and the United Kingdom ranked seventh and ninth, respectively. In its 2006 report, the OECD also ranked Canada second in securities regulation, ahead of the United States, which was fourth, the United Kingdom, which was fifth, and Australia, which was seventh. With results like that, it is surprising that the federal and Ontario governments continue to disparage Canada's regulatory system both here at home and abroad. That is what I call shooting oneself in the foot.

We have been hearing rather less from her since she resigned, but she never minced words. She told Canada's finance minister to mind his own business and stay out of areas under her jurisdiction. She made no bones about it. That is just part of the article that appeared in Le Devoir.

My colleagues quoted from a letter that Ms. Jérôme-Forget sent to the Minister of Finance. The situation is clearer than clear. According to Ms. Jérôme-Forget, the federal finance minister's position would increase costs because he is proposing a single entity with offices in each province and a head office in Ontario. In other words, he claims that he will cut costs by adding another layer of bureaucracy. That does not make sense.

The Minister of Finance also claims that financing costs are higher in Canada. That is not true. The total average direct cost of a small Canadian issue of between $1 billion and $10 billion U.S. is lower than that of an American issue. It is 15.98% in Canada and 17.99% in the United States. The direct cost for larger issues, those in excess of $100 million U.S., is similar in both countries. That takes care of some of the arguments we have heard from Conservative Party members today.

The 2008 budget brings back bad memories because it confirmed that the Conservative government intended to create a single Canada-wide securities commission. In the 2009 budget, the government went even further by allocating $150 million to set up a committee to implement the recommendations in a report by an expert panel appointed by the Conservatives. Obviously, people on the panel were in favour of the single commission. The 2009 budget implementation bill, which was introduced by the Conservatives and supported by the Liberals, allocated the necessary money and put in place the necessary legislative provisions to create a single authority.

I will conclude on that note. The Conservatives have ignored all of Quebec's demands. For 40 years, the government has been talking about creating a single securities commission, and for 40 years, Quebec has been opposed to the idea. Other provinces are also opposed to it. I am very surprised to see members from Quebec, from all parties—not the Bloc Québécois, of course, because we defend Quebec's position, but Conservative members and Liberal members from Quebec as well—stand up in this House and either speak against Quebec's position or decide to abstain. It is appalling. I take exception to that, and Quebeckers will as well.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I guess I am really surprised at the Conservative government. I would expect it from the Liberals because historically they have been a very big centralizing type of party. However, the Conservatives have taken a different approach over the years from the days of Joe Clark, suggesting that perhaps there should be a little more local autonomy.

What has happened to their position on local autonomy in this case, particularly when it is not really clear that this is a good idea?

If this were such a great idea, we would think the previous Liberal government would have been able to bring it to fruition 10 years ago. It is not just Quebec that has been actively opposed to it. It is other provinces as well. It is Manitoba and Alberta. I think there were more in the past.

I do not see why we have to tinker with a system that works reasonably well. If there were some overpowering reason, I think there would be a collective understanding and a collective movement by all the parties to get together and make this successful.

Obviously, there is no such consensus.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the NDP member for his question. I do not see any logic in that either, except maybe this. It is an hypothesis that I will share with members.

The finance minister is an Ontario minister who was once a member of the Ontario government. Rumour has it that he would be interested in running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Ontario. I think this Conservative Department of Finance is run in part by Bay Street. The current finance minister is influenced by these people. He wants to please them. They have been wanting a single securities commission, and the jobs that go with it, for a long time.

The Montreal stock exchange has already been weakened. A lot of activities have now been centralized in Toronto. This will simply kill Quebec's financial market. All the decisions will be made in Toronto. I think the finance minister already had that plan in mind before becoming finance minister. He managed to convince his colleagues, even those from Quebec, which is absolutely ridiculous.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on his excellent speech.

He referred to the member for Lévis—Bellechasse, because he had heard him make some rather inconsistent statements. I heard the same thing. But one thing surprised me in that member's speech: when he said, arguing in favour of a single securities regulator and telling us how wonderful it would be, that he completely agreed, for example, with putting British Columbia in charge of regulating and controlling securities in the mining sector.

Everyone knows that Quebec is very well represented in the mining sector. It seems as though the member for Lévis—Bellechasse completely forgot about the Quebec mining sector, which needs its own regulator, currently located in Quebec, that defends the sector perfectly well.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, who is doing an exceptional job as the Bloc Québécois finance critic. I do not believe it comes as any surprise to him that we had an opposition day on this issue today.

The mining industry and other industries are examples of how Quebec's financial sector has decided that our way of doing things is excellent. That does not mean there can be no improvements. That is why we have the passport system, which is a kind of harmonization. The Government of Quebec has been and is always open to improving things. However, we want to carry on doing what we are doing and keep our own securities commission system.

Earlier, the member for Lévis—Bellechasse talked about the IMF report and said that there was a shortcoming. The IMF report was excellent. It praised Canada's existing system, including Quebec's, highly. It raised some shortcomings, which the passport system corrected. The other provinces agree. Some provinces may decide that they want to do things some other way, but that is exactly what we are arguing today. It is an area that falls under provincial jurisdiction, under Quebec's jurisdiction. It is up to them to decide.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the motion put forward by the Bloc member.

This issue has been around for quite a number of years. It has provoked a lot of debate and emotion on the part of people in the chamber and all across the country.

It is not so much about what the final structure of the proposed organization would be, but more about how the people who would be running it would make decisions that would help people in this country.

For example, Ontario has a big securities regulator. In the last couple of years it has had a grand total of two convictions. However, the regulator in the United States managed to get convictions on 1,000 cases or more over the last couple of years.

It is interesting to note that Conrad Black, who is doing time in a Florida prison--maybe not for long, but he is there now--committed his white collar crimes here in Canada, but it was not the Canadian system that took action against him; it was the American system that took action and put him in prison for the crimes that he committed here in Canada.

If this exercise is all about centralizing the activities of a national securities commission in Ontario as the Bloc member has suggested, if it is all about a few more jobs for Bay Street, and if it is all about saving a few dollars on compliance costs, then we would be better off staying with what we have.

Manitoba has a small securities commission which works very well. There are members in this chamber who know that the system in Manitoba works well. The people on that commission are local and they know what is going on in the local market. If someone complains that somebody is selling securities without registering a prospectus with the securities commission, that activity bubbles up in the smaller jurisdiction and the information gets to the securities commission and it acts.

That is what the system is supposed to accomplish. It is all about protecting the public, making sure that members of the public are not get taken advantage of, that they do not lose money because of people involved in shady practices.

This is not about saving some compliance costs and making it easier for a big company to file one prospectus rather than 13. This is not about creating a few more jobs for some Bay Street people. This is all about having a system in place operated by people who believe in enforcement, people who actually do their jobs. This is not about taking people from industry and putting them into positions of regulatory authority.

We saw what happened recently with Bernard Madoff in the United States. Harry Markopolos delivered the entire case against Bernie Madoff to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and nothing was done. Why? Because the whole commission was run by former salespeople and executives of the very investment companies the commission was supposed to be regulating. That is the real problem.

The public would be better served if we had an effective structure, one that looks out for the public instead of looking out for the businesses it is supposed to regulate.

We have this problem throughout society. It is not just peculiar to the securities industry. We have it in all sorts of businesses wherever the government is trying to regulate. I hate to keep picking on the insurance industry, but there is a regulatory body with respect to the insurance industry. It makes some sense when government makes an appointment to a board that is governing that industry, that it tries to get somebody who knows something about the industry. It would be nice to appoint a bunch of people who have a blank mind on the issue, but that is not what happens. The government tries to get some people on the board who know about the industry.

What happens is that the people who are chosen come from the industry. At the end of the day, there is a regulatory body made up of people who, in essence, are trying to keep tabs on and regulate their friends. That is why we have so many difficulties in this whole regulatory environment.

We have to deal with this from a different perspective. We have to deal with it from the standpoint of protecting the consumer and getting people whose motives are pure, whose motives are direct, who want to enforce the law and want to make sure that the public is protected. That is the bottom line.

I have less concern about the area of provincial jurisdiction than some members here, particularly the members who introduced this motion.

Having said all of this, the government is embarking on an exercise where it is trying to enforce its views in a situation where it is a minority government and we are dealing with constitutional issues. We all know where constitutional issues have gotten us over the years. Some of us went through the Meech Lake debate and the Charlottetown debate. We should have learned enough from that process to know that it is best to leave these issues alone.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It being 6:15 p.m., pursuant to order made earlier today, all questions necessary to dispose of the opposition motion are deemed put and the recorded division is deemed to have been demanded and deferred until Tuesday, June 16, 2009, at the end of government orders.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I think if you were to seek it, you would find there is consensus to see the clock at 6:30 p.m.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Is there unanimous consent to see the clock at 6:30 p.m.?

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.