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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

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

IranRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

June 15th, 2009 / 3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The chair has received a request for an emergency debate from the hon. member for Ottawa Centre. I will be pleased to hear him now on this matter.

IranRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to the attention of the House a request to you for an emergency debate regarding the situation in Iran.

As we know, massive protests are increasing in Iran. We heard reports just before question period that there are up to one million people in the streets of Tehran who are basically protesting the regime's response to the election.

On Friday an election was held in Iran. In fact, hundreds of people went to the embassy in Ottawa to vote. The concern is that the voices of those who voted in the election on Friday were not honoured.

This is a critical moment not only for the people in Iran but for the region. The Government of Canada has a role to play as an international player and a member of the United Nations. We can offer support and help to make sure the election that was carried out was one actually done in good stead, and that the people of Iran are going to be honoured with a valid counting of the votes.

Finally, there are calls for a new election or to assess the election that took place. Canada has a role to play in offering itself as an independent observer.

I am making this request for my colleagues to debate this issue tonight in the House of Commons.

IranRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I appreciate the hon. member's submissions and letter on this point.

There certainly are demonstrations taking place, as he has indicated, but I do not sure, despite his argument and the demonstrations, that this constitutes an emergency that justifies the argument for a debate in the House. At the present moment, I am going to decline the hon. member's request for such a debate.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to respond to today's motion, if only to once again deconstruct the Bloc's misguided opposition to our efforts to improve market regulation.

Reading the motion, I am left with the conclusion that the Bloc is blissfully unaware of the global economic crisis and has no clue what must be done to ensure that Canada's financial system continues to rank as the world's best. Given the synchronized global recession, our government believes that we must modernize our securities regulatory framework to protect our economy and the jobs that it creates. We believe that this is a priority, especially during these difficult economic times.

Unlike the Bloc, we have a very good understanding of economic issues. I remind the House of the troubling words of Caroline St-Hilaire, the prominent former Bloc MP from Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, who resigned her seat in the last Parliament. She said:

The economy is constantly a black sheep for [the Bloc]. We are profoundly uncomfortable when it comes to discussing the economy.

Canada's financial system has shown exceptional stability throughout this crisis and has been a global benchmark for best banking practices. We are the new gold standard thanks to consecutive governments. Our system has recently been rated the soundest in the world by the World Economic Forum. President Barack Obama has heralded it. He noted:

--in the midst of this enormous economic crisis, I think Canada has shown itself to be a pretty good manager of the financial system in the economy--

However, the current financial and economic turmoil has highlighted a clear deficiency in the Canadian framework of securities regulation. Canada's security regulation framework urgently needs reform for several reasons. Financial activity is now global and Canada's system must be prepared to regulate the Canadian markets nationally while cooperating with foreign regulators. Canada must also be in a position to promote its interests in the setting of international regulatory standards.

As a recent Toronto Star editorial noted:

Given today's global financial crisis, a national securities regulator may just be an idea whose time has finally arrived in Canada.

A national securities regulator would be in the best position to ensure consistent regulatory quality across Canada and to represent our interests in bilateral and multilateral negotiations on financial standards. Canada deserves to have the ability to more effectively coordinate its actions with that of the international community.

Recently, this point was emphasized at the House of Commons finance committee, of which I am a member. The Investment Counsel Association of Canada testified:

The problem with the Canadian securities regime and why we stand out...is that there hasn't been enough enforcement...it's harder to coordinate when you have 13 different groups and national firms.

Canada is the only industrialized country without a national securities regulator. The current system is cumbersome and fragmented, something even the Liberal member for Wascana, when he was ever so briefly serving as finance minister, quickly realized. He publicly stated that Canada's regulatory framework was “largely fragmented and certainly less sophisticated than that in virtually every other country in the world”.

Indeed, due to its fragmented nature and the need to coordinate decisions across the 13 jurisdictions, it is difficult for Canadian securities regulators to react quickly and decisively to capital market crises. When countries around the world restricted the short selling of certain financial stock as a temporary stability measure during last fall's financial meltdown, Canada's response lagged behind. It is unsettling to witness a coordinated response from countries while there was no coordinated response from within Canada.

Our system of provincial mandates is not congruent with the national response required to address capital market events that are increasingly national or global in scope. It is highly unlikely that multiple securities regulators within Canada will be able to work effectively as part of a national risk management team with its global partners in a timely and decisive manner.

Without question, this will have a detrimental effect on the integrity of Canada's capital markets.

As an editorial in Canadian Business magazine noted:

When it's wrong, it's wrong. That is the only way to describe Canada's patchwork system of provincial securities regulators... There is nothing good about the status quo. Standing out on the world stage can be a good thing, but not when a nation stands out for having 13 securities acts and securities regulators.

Our Conservative government believes that we must act now more than ever to modernize our market regulatory framework to both protect our economy and allow Canada to quickly and decisively react to market events. Since 2006 our Conservative government has been working aggressively to make that happen.

This is not about Bay Street at the end of the day. It is about Main Street.

We are an investing country. Canadian workers, families and seniors invest in RRSPs, tax-free savings accounts, stocks, mutual funds, or are covered under pension plans. These nest eggs represent Canadians' financial future. These nest eggs that represent so much to Canadians are becoming increasingly complex. Canadians deserve the strongest possible regulatory protection for those nest eggs for the future. That is their family's future and their children's future.

That is equally important for Canadians regardless of where they live. It is important in Quebec. It is important in Alberta. It is important in Ontario. It is important right across this wonderful country, and that is the point.

Some have suggested the passport system is the answer, not a national regulator. We respectfully and strongly disagree.

With the passport system, Canada still has 13 securities regulators with 13 sets of laws and 13 sets of fees. What is more, the passport system lacks national co-ordination of enforcement activities, making it difficult to maximize results for this critical part of the system. This is not only inefficient, but it also means some investors and some provinces are better protected than others.

I would suggest that this is in itself inconsistent with the Canadian value of fairness. I would point to the Canada Health Act. I would draw the attention of my colleagues in the House to our commitment to equalization.

The passport system does not meet the longstanding goal of providing Canadians equality regardless of the province in which they reside.

As the Canadian Bankers Association points out:

The passport system is only a second-best solution. All of the same infrastructure costs and fees of the current fragmented regulatory system remain in place, entrenching a potentially confusing and inefficient enforcement mechanism. A Vancouver Sun editorial echoes that sentiment noting that, “The passport system is a poor second-best to a national regulator”.

Canada and its economy deserve better than second-best, especially now. The stakes are too high and the risks are too great to accept anything less.

The purpose in creating a national securities regulator is not to create another bloated bureaucracy in Ottawa, but to work with and for our provincial partners to make Canadian markets work better and move with more confidence.

Why is that important? Better markets will allow more companies to seek more investors, allowing more companies to create more jobs for more Canadians. If the current global economic crisis has taught us anything, it has highlighted how important healthy capital markets and effective regulation are to our prosperity.

A Canadian securities regulator with a clear financial stability mandate would help provide national accountability, reduce overlap and duplication, strengthen enforcement, and better serve the needs of investors. The Bloc does not get that, and that is too bad.

We think Canada deserves the best and we are going to make that happen. That is why we are introducing legislation based on recommendations of the Hockin expert panel on securities regulation in Canada. That is why we are working in collaboration with the provinces and territories as we move forward on this important initiative.

The 2009 Budget Implementation Act, already adopted this past March, provides the legal authority for the establishment of an office which will lead the transition to a Canadian securities regulator and the development of an implementation plan.

The Bloc should also be aware that support for a national securities regulator exists within Quebec. As the Montreal Gazette so aptly put it just this past January:

The federal government should remain on course and move ahead forcefully to get a national securities regulator up and running.

It's absurd, in an era of unprecedented anxiety about all things financial, that 13 different agencies, one in each province and territory, regulate the trading of stocks and bonds and the like in Canada. Around the world there's a serious move afoot to monitor and control companies in this industry in a coordinated international fashion. Yet in Canada, each province still sets - and enforces, more or less - its own rules.

Stephen Jarislowsky, the founder of Montreal investment management firm Jarislowsky, Fraser Limited, said, “A national regulator would be an excellent thing”.

To recap, Canada has a strong financial services sector, one that spans the country from coast to coast to coast providing good high-paying jobs for Canadians. While Canada's financial system has been judged as the soundest in the world, our system of 13 regulators is cumbersome and fragmented. It lacks the proper tools of enforcement.

The benefits of having a Canadian securities regulator in Canada are obvious and accepted, including contributing to the financial stability of Canada's financial sector, providing clearer accountability and more responsive decision making in a rapidly evolving capital market, strengthening Canada's capacity to work with international partners to improve the efficiency of global capital markets for the benefit of Canadian investors and businesses, as well as strengthening enforcement and the fight against white collar crime, and also providing Canadian retailers with wider access to investment products, and making it easier and less costly for Canadian entrepreneurs and businesses to access money from investors across Canada and around the world.

Contrary to the Bloc's assertion, a national securities regulator is not an intrusion of any kind. It is a voluntary initiative. As stated in Canada's economic action plan, our Conservative government has pledged to work with willing partners to establish a Canadian securities regulator that respects constitutional jurisdiction, regional interests and expertise. All provinces and territories are invited to participate with us. Already a critical mass of provinces and territories, including British Columbia and Ontario, have indicated their willingness to participate in the establishment of a Canadian securities regulator.

This is about co-operation, not about jurisdiction. It is about establishing a Canadian securities regulator that will provide clearer national accountability, reduce overlap and duplication, strengthen enforcement, better serve the needs of investors and contribute to the stability of Canada's financial sector.

We owe it to Canadians to put in place a system that better protects their savings. What is more, the evidence suggests that for the most part the political will is present to accomplish this landmark achievement in this Parliament.

The Liberal Party of Canada has long supported the move to a national regulator, especially prominent Liberals such as the current finance spokesperson, the member for Markham—Unionville, as well as the member for Scarborough—Guildwood, who, by the way, was the last Liberal parliamentary secretary to the minister of finance, as well as the member for Wascana, who was the last Liberal finance minister. Indeed, let me quote the member for Scarborough--Guildwood who remarked in this chamber only a few months ago:

We have 13 separate regulators in 13 separate jurisdictions doing, Lord knows, what all.... We think there should be a national securities regulator. The measure provided by the government is a sensible approach to what is a fractured system.... [T]his is a step in the right direction.

This is also an issue upon which even the NDP should be in agreement. We might think that such support would be a given seeing as we have heard strong support from unions like the Canadian Labour Congress, the National Union of Public and General Employees and CUPE.

The NDP caucus chair and the former NDP finance critic, the member for Winnipeg North, called this a worthwhile goal. Even the NDP leader just this past January in a speech to the Toronto Board of Trade said that he would like to see us moving toward national securities regulation.

However, it appears the member for Outremont, perhaps in an attempt to undercut the current NDP leader, has battled his own party and is attempting to shift that party's position. It appears that he wants to be in lockstep with the Bloc and advocates weaker protection for Canadian investors through maintaining our current patchwork approach. I would like to draw the attention of the member for Outremont and his NDP colleagues to the voices of organized labour in this country, like the National Union of Public and General Employees, which recently pronounced:

Canada is the only member of the Group of Seven industrialized nations without a national securities watchdog. It has a dismal reputation at home and abroad in dealing with corporate crimes and wrongdoing.... The issue is important to workers because so many depend on sound financial markets to ensure healthy pension funds.

While speakers may follow after me, this debate is, for all intents and purposes, long over. Canada deserves the best. Canadians will get the best. A national securities regulator will be a reality shortly.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary can probably add my name to the list of those who support a national securities regulator; I have said so for many years now. While I have not had an opportunity to get back into the area of finance, I do understand the importance from a consumer perspective of ensuring that we have one umpire in the country who is able to establish regulations, laws and a process that we can all readily understand. I understand the purpose for which the motion has been brought before us.

The parliamentary secretary seemed to indicate there may be something coming in the not too distant future. In the interim, what would be the problem if we were to have a national securities regulator for which there would be an opt in? In other words, provinces that are already leaning toward this would join the national system and as time went on, others would see the wisdom of doing so and might join. Has the parliamentary secretary given any thought to this? Is this something that he is interested in?

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his support. I know he understands these issues quite well. I am glad to hear that he is supporting this initiative. In fact, we should probably call it more than an initiative because we are in the process of putting this together, but I must repeat that it is voluntary. It is a voluntary process. We are not trying to bully. That would be the last thing this government would want to do. We are working in a coordinated fashion with provinces, encouraging them to actually see the benefits that my hon. colleague has reflected on.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I was listening to my colleague opposite deliver his message that I think is nothing but hogwash. He quoted a former Bloc member who said the Bloc is uncomfortable with economic issues. I would tell him that, on the contrary, the Bloc is very comfortable with its role of representing Quebec's interests and with the idea of defending an issue that was the object of a unanimous resolution by the National Assembly. When he tells us that he does not understand why the Bloc does not want a single securities commission, I believe it is precisely because, as he said himself, Liberal and Conservative members do not understand Quebec. They have a lot of difficulty with that. That is why they have been trying for several years to implement a measure that goes totally against the will of Quebeckers, as evidenced by two unanimous resolutions by the National Assembly, among other things.

I have a question for my colleague opposite. He referred on several occasions to the fact that today's global economy requires national agencies. How can he accept the idea of creating a single securities commission because a national agency is supposedly needed when the Conservatives themselves have recognized the Quebec nation? The Quebec nation has the right to have its own securities regulator. The two ideas are irreconcilable.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend from the Bloc who does seem to have a good grasp of finances because he is a continual contributor at our finance committee meetings.

However, I was simply quoting that former Bloc member who spoke the truth, I would assume. We would have to assume that she was speaking the truth when she said that the Bloc does have difficulty understanding economic issues.

Let me emphasize the fact that it is investors in Canada whom we are very concerned about. It is about protecting the savings of Canadians. Every time at the finance committee when we have had a witness, the Bloc has raised the question that if we had a national securities regulator in place, would the non-bank asset backed commercial paper fiasco have happened. I would argue that there has never been a definitive answer either way.

Our role here is to protect Canadians. If there is anything we can do through this voluntary system, we are obliged to do it.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is Canada already has tough laws to combat fraud and other unfair practices. We simply have to start enforcing the laws that we already have. An example would be the Ontario Securities Commission. The concern of all the smaller provinces is that they are going to be giving up their authority in this area to the benefit of a bigger organization run by Ontario.

Let us look at the record of that big organization. Just because there is a superstructure, a big structure nationally, if the people who are appointed worked for the industry and are basically industry insiders, we are not going to be any further ahead. It boils down not so much to structures but as to who is running the organization and whether those people are committed to stamping out these frauds and investigating complaints and taking action. We have not seen that certainly in Ontario in the last couple of years. I could give a lot of examples of that.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, exactly. That is the reason we need to put in place a regulator that is coordinated all across the country, because there have been failures.

When we talk about corruption and the lack of ability to press charges against individuals who defraud Canadian investors, our record is abysmal in this country. It is partially due to the fact that there are 13 different jurisdictions that do not speak to each other. That creates a problem in itself.

The voluntary system coordinated through one office would improve this.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, for all the reasons that my colleague has stated, the idea of a national securities regulator makes so much sense in terms of moving forward and protecting the public. I find it very strange that we are having this conversation today.

Could my colleague tell me if there is something about the word “voluntary” that perhaps we understand differently? Voluntary to me is voluntary. It should not create this feeling of unease with our colleagues from the Bloc.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, perhaps we should define what “voluntary” is.

The hon. President of the Treasury Board and I understand implicitly what the word “voluntary” is because we have been challenging that within the Canadian Wheat Board for years and we have not been able to accomplish that voluntary process, but I digress.

Voluntary means that each province would be able to contribute, would be able to be part of it and would be able to be part of the jurisdiction, in fact would be able to be part of the process of setting up a Canadian securities regulator. They would have input into this. It would be a coordinated effort and it is to protect Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Macleod gave some information which, in my view, is not quite accurate. He was saying earlier today that we have a solid financial services sector here in Canada and that a single securities commission would give, according to him, better access to financial services.

On the other hand, he then said that the present Canadian securities system was inefficient, that provincial mandates were a patchwork and that the system did not work well. He contradicted himself in his speech.

What does he have to say to the World Bank and to the OECD, which said recently that the Canadian system works very well as it is, that it is efficient and effective and that it gives good results?

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I cannot hear those words often enough because we do have the soundest banking system in the world. That is factually correct and it is backed up by the IMF, the World Economic Forum, and the OECD.

However, what does not work is the environment in which we want investors from outside this country to invest in Canadian companies. If those companies are to operate in more than one jurisdiction, then they have to go through a repetitive process to get approved in each jurisdiction. Many companies will not go through that. They will go somewhere else.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Québec. We are here today to debate the following motion put forward by the Bloc Québécois:

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.

This is not the first time we have discussed the subject of a single securities regulator in the House, as proposed by the Government of Canada. We have been discussing the subject for more than 40 years. During that period, Canada has been trying to create a single set of regulations and a single securities commission. We know very well that the Conservative government is taking the offensive by trying to establish it now. But in 2003 the Liberals were already thinking about it. They put together a panel of experts to study the idea of a single securities regulator in Canada. So, to begin with, it is a Conservative wish and also a Liberal wish. It is extremely important not to forget this element in the debate today.

Ontario never had its own securities regulatory system. It was always the only province that did not have one, while all the other Canadian provinces had provincial securities regulations. So, in 2005, the Ontario government commissioned a panel of experts to look at the benefits of a single securities system. Of course, the report presented by this panel supported Ontario's arguments in favour of a single securities commission.

The 2006 federal budget revisited the idea. The then Minister of Finance announced that the government would work with the provinces and territories to set up a common securities regulator. He reaffirmed that position in November 2006, in his economic update, and also in the 2007 budget. Following a meeting of ministers responsible for securities, the Minister of Finance announced plans to set up a working group which, in 2007, would review the benefits of a single Canadian securities regulator in global capital markets.

However, in September 2007, the panel's mandate was changed so that it would focus on how to set up a single regulatory agency, instead of looking at how effective the current system is. In a sense, we were had. The Conservatives changed the panel's mandate. They quietly did their thing and opened doors. We watched them while believing in this government, in justice and in the government's integrity.

On February 21, 2008, the Minister of Finance confirmed his intention to change the panel's mandate so that it would focus on drafting model legislation to create a single securities commission. The 2008 budget confirmed the Conservative government's intention to set up a single securities commission.

Meanwhile, the Quebec National Assembly, including all its members and ministers, unanimously condemned this federal government initiative and passed a motion to that effect, which read as follows:

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

I should point out that, under the Constitution of 1867, provinces have authority over securities. If the current government decides to set up a single securities commission, it is quite simply interfering with the Constitution. It is violating it and changing it for its own benefit.

The Conservative government ignored the motion unanimously passed by the Quebec National Assembly, and, in his November 2008 economic and financial update, the federal Minister of Finance reiterated his intention to establish a single securities commission.

Following that, in January 2009, the National Assembly passed a second motion asking the federal government to give up the idea of establishing a single securities commission. The National Assembly's motion read as follows:

That the National Assembly reiterate its firm opposition to the Canada-wide securities commission project.

Finally, the minister, always under the radar, earmarked $150 million to implement his national commission project, despite the Constitution and the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces.

The 2009 budget implementation bill, introduced by the Conservatives and supported—I hasten to add—by the Liberals, releases the funding needed to implement this single regulator.

So that everyone knows what we are talking about, securities are negotiable instruments. They can be listed on the stock exchange. They are two main categories: stocks and bonds. There are some others as well, such as investment certificates and share purchase warrants. Securities trading in Quebec is currently regulated by Quebec itself. The other provinces regulate their own trading. In Quebec, the securities business is regulated by the Autorité des marchés financiers. Quebec and the other provinces have to deal with one another. Stocks and bonds are traded through a passport system.

The parliamentary secretary told us a little while ago that this system does not work, but that is not true, it works very well. The World Bank and the OECD have even congratulated us on it. So there is the Autorité des marchés financiers in Quebec which enforces the rules governing the way companies issue shares or bonds.

Earlier, I heard an hon. member, who is probably not very familiar with the subject, ask a question about commercial paper. If we had had a national securities regulator, she wondered, would we have been able to stop the commercial paper fiasco. No, because it happened in the United States or elsewhere in the world and then here. A single securities commission in Canada would not have been able to prevent it.

I want to say as well that the Autorité des marchés financiers has a voice on the international scene. That must be protected as well. Quebec can negotiate with other countries on the international level. If a single securities commission is established, not only will Quebec no longer be able to manage its money in the way it wants, but the federal government will also interfere in an area of Quebec jurisdiction and silence its voice on the international scene.

The Liberal and Conservative members from Quebec are going to have to think long and hard about that. They are clipping Quebec’s wings. Is that really what they want? It is plain as day.

I think they just want to put Quebec down. They do not want it to have a voice any more on the international stage.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for her excellent speech. She spoke with much passion about the motion we put forward today.

She finished her speech by saying that, very clearly, this Conservative government, supported and even preceded by the Liberals, wants to deprive Quebec of its voice on the international scene, but also of the jurisdictions it already has by virtue of the Constitution. Everybody knows that the real aim in depriving Quebec is to transfer some of its jurisdictions to Toronto or to Ontario.

I would like to ask her how people in Quebec react to such a situation. There is a form of unanimity at the National Assembly, but are people in agreement with that? She was talking about the Conservative members from Quebec who will have to think very carefully before supporting the position of the Conservative government. The same thing goes for the Liberals. I would like to hear what she has to say about this.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question asked by the member, who, by the way, is the Bloc critic for finance.

That allows me to say that there are people in Quebec, at least among those who are in favour of seeing Quebec move forward on the world stage, who are perfectly conscious that there is a federalist plot aiming at depriving Quebec of the only voice it has left. I consider indeed that Quebec has no other voice on the world stage.

Quebec has apparently been given a seat at UNESCO, but it is an uncomfortable seat since Quebec can only speak if Canada agrees with what it has to say.

Right now, Canada is building itself. To do that, it must concentrate all powers in the provinces that are not Quebec. All financial powers are being concentrated in Ontario, in Toronto and on Bay Street.

The government did exactly the same thing with the automobile industry. But in Quebec, we have been spared. In fact, the auto industry in Ontario is now facing major problems. We must remember that, in the past, the auto industry in Quebec never received any subsidies.

The same is not true for everybody. I suspect—

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that a lot of the securities activity is of a local nature. We have a Manitoba securities commission that has been very active over many years. A lot of what it deals with are basically local concerns, such as pyramid scams and securities being sold by unregistered people. Who better to deal with that kind of issue than the people on the ground in the local market?

What we are talking about doing here is farming this out to a national organization that I think would be out of touch with the local concerns. If all we are going to do is have a national securities regulator with offices in the same provinces that we have right now, we really have not changed that much in terms of the scope or the size of the entity.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from the NDP is absolutely right. We will recall that every time this Conservative government has done something to standardize some program or other, it has always been a flop.

The best example is the Summer Career Placements initiative. The intention was to standardize this program across Canada, and funds could not be granted based on local needs. It is exactly the same thing when it comes to the securities regulator. I would add to what my colleague said that there is a kind of passport, agreements between the provinces that allow them to provide mutual assistance so there is some justice between them.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois motion put forward today is meant to highlight a very important issue that will have consequences for the Autorité des marchés financiers in Quebec and for its survival.

I have listened to the speeches by the various Conservative Party members who have spoken. They do not seem to understand the impact that a measure like this will have in Quebec and in the other provinces. An NDP member spoke a few moments ago about Manitoba, which has its own regulations for the securities market.

Clearly this debate calls for a response by both the Liberals and the Conservatives. This is not the first time the Liberals have tried to create a single, Canada-wide securities regulator, and the Conservatives have taken up that cause. It is often said that when it comes to certain issues affecting Quebec, the Liberals and Conservatives are six of one and half a dozen of the other, and they want to centralize. The envelope, or the packaging, may be a little different.

The Conservative Party packaging consists of saying that it understands Quebec and recognizes the Quebec nation, but at the same time, it does not give Quebec what it would like to have.

As for the Liberals, they want to centralize things as well. They claim to recognize Quebec and its nation, but at the same time, they do not want to give any more to Quebec and do not want to give preferential treatment. But we do not want special treatment; we want to be respected, and we want to ensure that the consensus of the members at Quebec's National Assembly is respected.

The Bloc Québécois cannot be singled out because it is the only one who is demanding respect for the operations of securities commissions in Quebec, and in the other provinces, it must be said.

It is clear that the Conservatives and the Liberals are all alike, regardless of who is the leader and regardless of the issue in question. Today, we are calling for the government to respect the fact that:

...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.

This goes beyond what is referred to in politics as a major issue.

I want to give a brief history of this issue. The debate over a national securities commission is not a new topic in this House, since it resurfaces from time to time.

In 2003, the Liberals also established a committee of experts to look at the possibility of setting up a single securities commission. In 2006, despite their promises of being more open towards Quebec, as I said earlier, during the January election campaign which resulted in them becoming the government, the Conservatives took up the idea. They said they were committed to working with the provinces and territories. That was during the election. After the election, though, it became a whole other story.

In 2007, the Minister of Finance announced with great fanfare that he was setting up a working group to look at the result, principle and the performance yardsticks that would best frame the regulation of securities and the search for a Canadian advantage in world capital markets.

In its 2008 budget, the Conservative government expressed the same intent again. It did it again so as to create a single national securities commission. From there, a group of experts was mandated by the minister to draft a bill.

We know now that the 2009 budget includes the funds necessary to create a single financial markets authority and the appropriate legislative provisions. Need we point out again that the Liberals seem to support the path taken by the Conservative Minister of Finance?

We also see what this government's empty rhetoric is worth. It says it supports a federalism of openness and wants to respect the provinces. In fact, it is not shy about encroaching on the constitutional jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces or about opposing the unanimous will of Quebec, which is against the creation of a single national securities commission.

Twice—on October 16, 2007, and January 15, 2008—the Quebec National Assembly passed a motion unanimously expressing its clear opposition to the creation of a Canadian financial markets authority. How clear is that? We are talking about the unanimous will of all parties together, the Liberal Party of Quebec, the ADQ and the Parti Québécois. The sovereignists are not alone in wanting it. What do we have to do to get the Conservative government to honour a unanimous motion of the Quebec National Assembly?

In this issue, the Liberals and the Conservatives are revealing the same centralizing vision, the same could-not-care-less approach to the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces, despite their lip service during election campaigns. Clearly, both the Liberals and the Conservatives could not care less about the Constitution of 1867. Like all of the members of the Quebec National Assembly, the people of Quebec oppose the creation of a single securities commission.

We carry today in this House the Quebec consensus, which rests on a number of arguments. We say we are here to defend the interests of Quebec and the consensuses of its National Assembly. We are clearly consistent today. We are defending the same will to protect Quebec's interests.

Regulation of securities is a power that belongs to Quebec and is exclusive to the provinces. That would probably seal the fate of the Autorité des marchés financiers du Québec as well as the securities commissions of the other provinces who sit as members with the right to speak at the International Organization of Securities Commissions. They tell us that, with a single securities commission, the provinces will be entitled to a voice and will be able to make themselves heard. Let me make the link with UNESCO. They said that Quebec would have a place at UNESCO. What we have at UNESCO is not a seat but rather a little folding chair and Quebec has no right to speak on its own behalf. What will happen if Quebec at some point does not agree with the direction a single commission wants to take? They will do what they do at the UNESCO committee on cultural diversity: they will tell Quebec to keep quiet, to sit on its folding chair, and, above all, not to make waves.

So there is cause for concern. We know very well that the Autorité des marchés financiers du Québec now has a voice at the International Organization of Securities Commissions. Each of the provinces has the right to represent itself, without any intermediary, within this organization. Quebec and the provinces must maintain this role that belongs to them at the international level. If the government were honest when it speaks of open federalism, it would understand what that means.

The current system works efficiently and is based on a passport system that works very well. It allows for a coordinated approach to law enforcement and gives uniform protection to investors. They say the provinces have opted for this passport system. I see in a note that Ontario is not party to that agreement. Now they want to create a single securities commission and place it in Ontario. As it happens, that province stands aloof and will be compensated for standing alone for so many years. Meanwhile, our regulatory system is praised around the world. The European Union is taking inspiration from the current model with regard to the passport system under which each province can develop certain priorities and methods of operation. Now, they will no longer be able to work this way.

I would like my colleagues opposite to respond to us. If it works so well, and if people in other parts of the world find the current system in Canada is a good one that works well, why do they want to change what we have?

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the debate we are having today, there is one aspect of the subject we have not necessarily talked about. Transferring a securities commission from Quebec to Ontario would mean a lot of things. First, it means capital being transferred to Ontario and not staying in Quebec. It means job losses. It also means that our Quebec businesses would lose the ability to deal directly with the Montreal Exchange.

I would like my colleague, if possible, to take a minute or two to elaborate on that subject a little more.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was just saying a few moments ago that it would seal the fate of the Autorité des marchés financiers du Québec, which oversees the entire regulatory scheme. We are told it will be possible to decide whether to register with this single securities commission in Canada. At the same time, you know very well what will happen: interest will shift to the single Canadian securities commission. It will effectively seal the fate of Quebec’s way of doing it in terms of the approach that is unique to Quebec and is recognized by a number of European actors in the financial world. In fact, the European Community models its approach to securities regulation on that approach. This is so simple to understand that I fail to see why the government stubbornly insists on diverting interest to Ontario and disappoint a number of other provinces.

Centralization in Canada is not the way to go in some areas. We are witnessing a demonstration of this, of how this Conservative government, which had promised openness to Quebec—and I might also say to the other provinces, but especially to Quebec by recognizing the Quebec nation—does not acknowledge its way of seeing things.