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House of Commons Hansard #60 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was financial.

Topics

Prison FarmsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.

The first petition is signed by dozens of Canadians calling on the government to come to its senses and stop the closure of the six Canadian prison farms. All six prison farms, including Rockwood Institution in Manitoba, have been functioning farms for many decades now. They are providing food to the prisons and the community.

The prison farm operations provide rehabilitation. They provide training for prisoners through working with and caring for plants and animals. The work ethic and rehabilitation benefit of waking up at 6 a.m. and working out of doors is a discipline that many Canadians can appreciate. Closing these farms will mean a loss of the infrastructure and will make it way too expensive to replace them at some future date.

Therefore, the petitioners call on the Government of Canada to stop the closure of the six Canadian prison farms across Canada, and furthermore, to produce a report on the work and rehabilitative benefits of prisoners of the farm operation and on how the program can be adapted to meet the agriculture needs of the 21st century.

Earthquake in ChilePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by dozens of Canadians calling on the government to match funds personally donated by the citizens of Canada for the victims of the earthquake in Chile.

On February 27, 2010 there was an 8.8 magnitude earthquake in southern Chile. The Chilean Canadian community has been having social events since that time to raise money. The question is still being raised as to when the Prime Minister will give the same treatment to the victims of the earthquake in Chile that he did for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti and match funds personally donated by Canadians to help the victims of the earthquake in Chile.

Lawrence Heights Redevelopment ProposalPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of thousands of residents in Eglinton—Lawrence, especially in the area bounded by Bathurst, the 401, Eglinton, Dufferin, and those east of Bathurst going up to Avenue Road. They have expressed great concern at the city of Toronto's emerging preferred plan to redevelop and sell off about 100 acres of Lawrence Heights for private residential and commercial development on lands formerly developed and owned by CMHC.

They are concerned primarily because this is going to create in the middle of their riding and community, a city of 20,000 to 25,000 residents, whose presence will put enormous strain on water and sewage services and cause backup on the services that currently exist. There will be an enormous traffic flow, probably somewhere between 14,000 and 17,000 additional cars on a daily basis in what is otherwise a very quiet neighbourhood.

In fact, they are so concerned that they have taken to petitioning city council, Queen's Park and now CMHC through this House because of the massive increase in traffic congestion, increased exhaust and noise pollution, noisy crowded neighbourhoods, a decrease in safety and security, a reduction in privacy and space and devaluation of property prices.

As a result, they, as residents of Eglinton—Lawrence, call upon the minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to investigate and ensure that the redevelopment under consideration is consistent with the original conditions of land transfer from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to the Toronto housing community and implore that the government engage itself in the most vigorous of fashions in order to preserve and maintain that which they bought into when they became thriving members of a community of dedicated Canadians to developing not only Toronto but all of Canada.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

June 10th, 2010 / 10:25 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the following question will be answered today: No. 226

Question No. 226Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

With respect to the Annex 1 requirements under the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations (2005): (a) what progress has the government made in its ability to detect and respond to potential public health emergencies at the local and regional levels; (b) what progress has the government made in developing a national health surveillance system; (c) what progress has the government made in developing multi-lateral information sharing agreements; and (d) when will the government’s multi-lateral information sharing agreements be completed?

Question No. 226Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, in response to a) The international health regulations, IHR 2005, require that state parties, by June 15, 2009, assess the ability of existing national structures and resources to meet the minimum core capacity requirements for surveillance and response. As a result of such assessments, state parties are expected to develop a plan of action to ensure those core capacities are present and functioning by June 15, 2012. Through a network of IHR champions, drawn from each province/territory and federal department or agency, Canada completed an assessment exercise in May 2009. The results of this assessment exercise were reviewed by the IHR champions at a national IHR roundtable in June 2009. It was concluded that Canada met the minimum core capacity requirements, but there were areas that required strengthening from a national perspective, including information sharing, mortality surveillance and detection of severe respiratory illness of unknown cause. At the last meeting of IHR champions on April 21-22, 2010, a plan of action was developed to address these areas, and work is underway to implement those actions. Provinces and territories, as well as federal departments and agencies, are responsible for developing action plans addressing any issues specific to their jurisdiction. A report describing the capacity assessment process, its findings and the plan of action, will be published before the fall of 2010.

In response to b) A number of notable actions are underway to work towards a 'national health surveillance system', NHSS: i) The Public Health Agency of Canada, PHAC, has laid down, and continues to develop, corporate building blocks--frameworks, policies and tools--that are essential to relationship and trust-building across jurisdictions, in order for an NHSS to take shape and be successful. These include the development and implementation of an integrated framework for surveillance; a data quality framework; a draft privacy management framework; a PHAC policy on the collection, use and dissemination of public health data; a web-based tool for privacy impact assessments; and, a PHAC risk management standard and tools to support implementation. ii) PHAC is currently developing a business plan to modernize the Canadian Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System. This is a significant undertaking to ensure the alignment of notifiable disease surveillance elements, from data collection to reporting, across all jurisdictions. iii) PHAC officials are involved in pan-Canadian data standards work and will increasingly be taking a leadership role to promote the jurisdictional consistency in the use of data standards that will be necessary in the adoption of electronic health records, EHR. iv) Through the surveillance and information expert group of the pan-Canadian public health network, the agency is leading the development of the multilateral information sharing agreement, on which there has been recent progress. Details follow in response to the next question.

In response to c) In September 2009, federal/provincial/territorial ministers of health signed a memorandum of understanding, MOU, on information sharing during a public health emergency. The MOU establishes a framework for the sharing of information between jurisdictions. A formal FPT multi-lateral information sharing agreement is now being developed and will include the details of what information will be shared with whom, when and/or how. Detailed negotiations are underway through the pan-Canadian public health network and conference of deputy ministers of health.

In response to d) Currently, work associated with the multi-lateral information sharing agreement is being integrated within the workplans of the relevant expert groups of the pan-Canadian public health network and the pan-Canadian international health regulations action plan. Canada is required to demonstrate that the core components and functions to support the obligation to report internationally are in place by June 2012. Work on the multi-lateral information sharing agreement will play a key role in assuring that the necessary information for monitoring IHR compliance is available from the provinces and territories. While this work will contribute to the relevance and success of the agreement, detailed negotiations through the pan-Canadian public health network and conference of deputy ministers of health are still required to complete the agreement. Given the complexity of this process it is difficult to determine an exact date for when the agreement will be available for signature by ministers.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 221, 227 and 230 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is it agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 221Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

With respect to government decentralization: (a) since 2006, how many assessments have been completed of government departments or parts thereof, agencies, or Crown corporations which could be relocated from the National Capital Region to other regions of Canada; (b) since 2006, how many proposals have been prepared concerning the relocation of government departments or parts thereof, agencies, or Crown corporations from the National Capital Region to other regions of Canada; and (c) for each decentralization assessment and proposal, which government department, agency or Crown corporation was considered, and when was the assessment or proposal completed?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 227Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

With regard to the Women’s Community Fund and the Women’s Partnership Fund: (a) which organizations or groups applied for funding under each program in 2008, 2009 and 2010; (b) how many organizations or groups received funding under each program in 2008, 2009 and 2010; (c) which organizations or groups were successful in receiving funding from each program in 2008, 2009 and 2010; (d) which organizations or groups were not successful in receiving funding from each program in 2008, 2009 and 2010; (e) what criteria were used to approve funding for organizations or groups and their projects; (f) how much money was granted to each organization or group and project, and how much money has each received to date; (g) which organizations or groups were recommended for funding to the Minister for Status of Women by ministry staff; (h) which organizations or groups that were recommended for funding to the Minister for Status of Women did not receive funding; and (i) what criteria did the Minister for Status of Women use to decide which of the organizations or groups recommended for funding were funded and which were not?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 230Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

With respect to the development of the logic model for the Integrated Relocation Program (IRP), as introduced at the January 29, 2007, meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts: (a) who were the members of the interdepartmental working group who participated in the development of the logic model; (b) how often did the interdepartmental committee meet to develop the logic model and on what dates; and (c) what were the forecasts of the logic model for retaining or selling a house, and what are the results to date for each year of the IRP?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Bill C-469--Royal Recommendation RequirementPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I wish to reply to the arguments made May 6, 2010 by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons regarding my private member's bill, Bill C-469, An Act to establish a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights.

The parliamentary secretary argued that the bill requires a royal recommendation because it would require new spending on the following basis: one, that part 2 authorizes environmental protection actions against the government by enabling Canadians to seek recourse in the Federal Court to protect the environment in relation to any action or inaction by the government which has resulted in significant harm; and two, that part 4 authorizes the Auditor General to review new regulations and bills to ensure consistency with Bill C-469 and to report any inconsistencies to the House of Commons.

I wish first to respond to the argument put forth that part 2, clause 19 of the bill, “would create potential legal liabilities for the government by adding the power to the Federal Court to order the government to pay for the restoration or rehabilitation of the part of the environment, and the power to order the government to pay for the enhancement or protection of the environment generally” and the argument that “clause 19 would result in a potential increase in the government's legal liability since payments resulting from decisions of the Federal Court would be made from the consolidated revenue fund”.

First, Bill C-469 merely establishes standing to bring an environmental protection action against the government. The enactment of this provision would create no immediate or automatic liability on the federal government. In point of fact the overall intent of the law is to encourage action by the federal government to assert its existing jurisdiction and legislated powers to protect the environment in the interests of current and future generations of Canadians.

The bill's purpose is to ensure greater transparency and participation in environmental decision making. The intent is to make the government accountable for the actions it takes or fails to take to protect the environment in the interests of Canadians.

If those broad rights and powers are asserted, then no action would likely be precipitated. Further, if the federal government's powers to protect the environment are exercised with due diligence, then a successful court action against the crown is unlikely. As a consequence, no new liability would arise.

In making his case, the parliamentary secretary referred to, for example, the Senate Speaker's ruling on May 5, 2009, at pages 739 to 740 of the Senate Debates, that Bill S-219, an act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, required a royal recommendation because it would increase the Crown's liability under the Canada Student Loans Act by expanding the range of conditions under which government would have to make good its guarantee of loans under that act.

However, the Senate Speaker in his ruling then went on to quote from the 23rd edition of Erskine May to distinguish those cases that would and would not require a royal recommendation:

While page 888 does state that the Royal Recommendation may not be required if the “liability arises as an incidental consequence of a proposal to apply or modify the general law,” this does not save Bill S-219, since the changes proposed to the student loans regime are not merely incidental to the bill, but its primary purpose.

Based on this analysis, it is submitted, contrary to what the parliamentary secretary has asserted, Bill C-469, which merely provides standing to a defined class of potential litigants to consider seeking a court order would not require royal recommendation. No immediate spending or liability arises from part 2. Any potential liability would arise only as an incidental consequence of an action actually being filed proving failure by the government to fulfill its duties as trustee of the environment, to enforce an environmental law or for violating the right to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment.

Further, the litigant must provide proof of actual or potential significant harm to even file the action. The imposition of new spending by the government is not at all the primary purpose of the bill. No immediate liability arises with the enactment of the bill and most certainly not as a result of part 2.

It may also be noted that Erskine May, 23rd edition at page 888 clearly provides that “Liability on the Crown or local authorities to pay costs, compensation or damages does not require a money resolution if such a liability arises as an incidental consequence of a proposal to apply or modify the general law”.

It is further specified that in the case of widening the jurisdiction of a court, a money resolution is not required even though the proposal may have the incidental consequence of increasing the costs of administration of justice.

The parliamentary secretary referred to the Speaker's ruling on June 12, 1973, that Bill S-5, an Act to amend the Farm Improvement Loans Act required a royal recommendation because it proposed substantial additional liabilities on public moneys.

However, this ruling was subsequently considered by the Speaker on February 12, 1998, on page 3766 in considering Bill S-4, an Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, who held that there was already statutory authority under the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act to make the payments that Bill S-4 outlined.

It may be noted that many federal environmental laws, including the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, already provide that the Crown is bound. According to Erskine May, 21st Edition at page 717, “No further authorization is required for an expenditure covered by an existing statutory authority, including liability to pay damages covered by existing law”.

By way of example, crown agencies such as the Department of Public Works and the Department of Defence have been held by the courts to be liable to pay damages where they have failed to take appropriate actions to comply with the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Further, the provisions in Bill C-469, related to proceedings against the federal Crown, are consistent with the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act, chapter C-5, section 33. Section 3 clearly provides that the Crown is liable for damages for torts committed by a servant of the Crown.

It may be noted that John Mark Keyes in his article, “When Bills and Amendments Require the Royal Recommendation: A Discussion Paper and Guidelines”, Canadian Parliamentary Review, volume 20, number 4, winter 1997-98 at page 8 cites Erskine May, 21st edition, page 717, on cases were a royal recommendation is not needed as including, “Widening the jurisdiction of a court or creating offences although they may have the effect of increasing the costs of the administration of justice”.

Further, any potential liabilities under part 2 of the bill are highly speculative and that they would be substantial is even more so speculative.

For example, government might first avoid a court action or settle such an action if filed by diligently exercising its powers or duties to undertake an environmental assessment or to complete an action plan for a threatened species within the statutorily prescribed timeline or by passing new regulations, or by a myriad of other measures.

Even if an action under Bill C-469 has its day in court, the court is provided a wide range of remedies, including directing the government to implement measures previously announced and budgeted for, or otherwise prescribed by another law. Thus any court-ordered payments under section 19 of the bill are highly speculative and could only occur after the government has made decisions to not avoid or remedy the problem by any other means.

The Speaker similarly rejected such speculation in multiple rulings on September 27, 2006, page 3314; on February 8, 2007, page 6548; and again on February 14, 2007, page 6816. The Speaker found that Bill C-288, the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act did not require a royal recommendation.

The parliamentary secretary's second argument was based on part 4 of the bill. Section 26 requires the Auditor General to examine proposed regulations and bills for consistency with Bill C-469 and to report any inconsistency to the House. It was the parliamentary secretary's assertion that this role differs significantly from the current duties of the Auditor General under section 5 of the Auditor General Act and would require new government spending.

This section requires the Auditor General, in accordance with such regulations as the governor in council may choose to make, to review any new regulations or bills to ensure consistency with the purposes and provisions of Bill C-469, and to report such findings to the House of Commons.

Let us first consider the mandate of the Auditor General as prescribed in the Auditor General Act. The act also establishes the Office of the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development. Section 21.1 prescribes a broad mandate to the commissioner to provide sustainable development monitoring and reporting including on matters reiterated in the preamble of Bill C-469, inclusive of integrating environment and the economy, protecting ecosystems, and respect for the health of Canadians and the needs of future generations.

Section 23 of that act requires the commissioner to make examinations and inquiries considered necessary to monitor the extent to which specified departments have contributed to meeting sustainable development targets and report to the House actions including exercising the authority of the governor in council. Part of that authority includes the promulgation of regulations, and review and authorization of proposed laws.

The Auditor General Act also requires that the commissioner, on behalf of the Auditor General, report annually to the House of Commons on the progress of the federal government in implementing the federal sustainable development strategy and meeting its targets, which would include consideration of new statutes and regulations.

Thus, Bill C-469 would not create a substantially new or radically different mandate than that already prescribed for the Office of the Commissioner for Sustainable Development within the Office of the Auditor General, as provided in the Auditor General Act.

I further submit that section 26 of Bill C-469 is very similar to that considered in the Speaker's ruling on February 8, 2007, at page 6548 on Bill C-288, Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. The Speaker in that instance held that the bill did not require a royal recommendation as the new responsibilities placed on the national round table on the environment and the economy by that bill did not meet the test, to quote the Speaker's words, of “whether some entirely new activity or function is being proposed which radically diverges from the activities already authorized in existing legislation”.

It may be noted that in the same ruling, the Speaker also provided, “Now it might be argued that this would increase the workload of the national round table, but even if this were so, an increase to its budget would be sought through existing appropriation arrangements”.

As the Speaker has clearly ruled, it is important to distinguish between an effect of a bill potentially increasing the workload of a department or agency and an effect of establishing distinctly new activity or function. It is my humble submission that the same logic and same conclusion would apply to part 4 of Bill C-469 regarding the role specified for the Office of the Auditor General.

The parliamentary secretary referred to the Speaker's February 11, 2008, ruling on Bill C-474, Federal Sustainable Development Act; however, in that case, Bill C-474, at first reading, originally proposed repealing the sections in the Auditor General Act concerning the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and creating a new independent commissioner appointed by the governor in council who would not only assess federal progress on sustainable development but also provincial progress.

At committee stage, Bill C-474 was amended to rely on the existing position of the commissioner established under the Auditor General Act and to add the monitoring and reporting duties on federal progress toward sustainable development granted to the commissioner under that act. The Speaker on June 10, 2008, at page 6819, held that the amended bill no longer needed a royal recommendation. It is that amended Bill C-474 that is analogous to Bill C-469.

Finally, in closing, as a private member's bill can proceed through second reading and committee stage regardless of whether it requires a royal recommendation, in whole or in part, recognizing it may potentially be amended in committee or at report stage, a ruling from the Speaker would be most welcomed in advance of the vote at second reading and referral to the committee. This will inform the committee members whether any amendments may be necessary to be considered to avoid any potential need for a royal recommendation and thus maintain the possibility of a third reading vote.

Bill C-469--Royal Recommendation RequirementPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. member for her submissions and I will get back to the House in due course on this matter.

The hon. member for Mississauga South is rising on another point of order.

Standing Committee on Government Operations and EstimatesPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order in relation to the third report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates tabled this morning during routine proceedings on the basis that the matter reported to the House is beyond the mandate of the committee and this report, therefore, should not be admissible.

Standing Orders 108.(1) and 108.(2) lay out the powers of standing committees, the power to create subcommittees, and the additional powers of standing committees. In looking at this, it would appear that there are no general powers of standing committees that would relate to this.

This matter relates to, and I would read from the report:

--a study of the claim that the Member from Scarborough—Rouge River was actively lobbying the Government of Canada,...while sitting as a current Member of Parliament;--

This matter came before the government operations committee. The member for Scarborough—Rouge River and the member for Scarborough—Guildwood appeared at the committee as signed-in members of the committee to deal with this claim and this study that was being proposed. Their arguments why the study was beyond the mandate of the committee are laid out in that meeting.

I would also report that the clerk of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates also advised the committee that the matter was beyond the mandate of the committee, as laid out in Standing Order 108.(3)(c).

I have taken the opportunity to look down and also check, yet again, and can see absolutely no authority whatsoever for this committee to be reviewing the ethical conduct or conflict of interest of a member of Parliament.

Mr. Speaker, I would refer you to Standing Order 108.(3)(a)(viii), regarding the specific or the extra authorities of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which reads:

--the review of and report on all matters relating to the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons.

This committee, it would appear, has the authority to look into any claims related to the Conflict of Interest Code or conduct of members of Parliament, which as you know has happened from time to time.

I understand and I was advised by the member for Scarborough—Rouge River that he had submitted a supplementary or dissenting report, as authorized by the committee, with regard to this third report. It was forwarded to the clerk of the committee in advance of the deadline time and that it was in the proper form authorized by the committee. I note that the particular supplementary or dissenting opinion, and I do not know what it was called because it is not here and it is a secret until tabled, has more information there, I am sure, with regard to what has been reported to the House.

I would also point out that matters dealing with the Lobbying Act and whether there are any breaches there of someone lobbying and not being registered, et cetera, are matters which actually could come under the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. I would note in the Standing Orders that the Commissioner of Lobbying and the Lobbying Act have not been included in the committee's mandate although they were amended in the accountability act. The Standing Orders have yet to be updated.

As well, I would submit that not only is this report inadmissible and incomplete without the dissenting opinion, but the subject matter from which this matter flows, which is the study of the claim that the member for Scarborough—Rouge River was actively lobbying the Government of Canada while sitting as a current member of Parliament, is in fact out of order in that committee.

I submit that this particular study and any activities related to this claim and this matter should cease in that committee as soon as possible. If someone cares to make a claim, I submit that it should be referred either to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, or more appropriately, to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner for appropriate review.

I find it very disturbing and distressing that this has transpired, notwithstanding all the clear evidence that this matter, which is being handled by the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, is not within its mandate and should never have been approved or undertaken by the committee.

Standing Committee on Government Operations and EstimatesPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Eglinton—Lawrence is rising on the same point.

Standing Committee on Government Operations and EstimatesPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, many of us here would be a little confused about what is going on. We are talking about the reputation of one of the longest serving members of the House. He has distinguished himself not only through his study on procedures but also through his input and his dedication to public service.

People would be as confused as I am for a reason. My colleague from Mississauga South is arguing that the report is not in order, is not receivable, and should not be received, because it does not, at the very least, contain the dissenting report submitted by the member for Scarborough—Rouge River, whose reputation is impugned by the study. That such a report would not have that dissenting report is already an admission that we would want to receive whatever it is the committee is doing and that we claim is not within its mandate.

On the other hand, if we do not do that, then we accept what the committee has already been doing. The member for Mississauga South has no personal interest in this other than the integrity of all members of Parliament who are open to study by members of a committee, even if it goes beyond its mandate.

Mr. Speaker, I think it would serve all of us as parliamentarians to have you review the mandate of that committee, keeping in mind that committees, even though they are masters of their own agenda and can do what they wish, are still creatures of the House and must reflect the intent and the operations of the House. Perhaps you would find it well worthwhile and beneficial for all of us to take a look at that mandate and see first, whether, in fact, that report is receivable because it goes beyond the mandate of the committee.

Second, if you find it receivable, whatever your reasons may be, perhaps you will insist that it contain the dissenting report of the member so that his reputation, which is the subject of such a report, can at least be placed in the equilibrium and balance of debate and consideration for all members, current and subsequent, in the House.

Standing Committee on Government Operations and EstimatesPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. members for their submissions. I will take the matter under advisement. I am sure that there will be other submissions on it in due course.

Opposition Motion—Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment orders

10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

moved:

That this House denounce the government's unrelenting efforts to marginalize the Quebec nation, in particular by depriving it of the major economic lever of securities regulation, a matter that is under the exclusive legislative jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces and for which they have established a harmonized regulatory system recognized for its effectiveness by the OECD and the World Bank, among others, and that it demand, along with Quebec's National Assembly and the business community in Quebec, that the government immediately withdraw its draft bill.

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy with the support provided to me by my colleague, the member for Compton—Stanstead, but I would also like to have the support of the hon. member for Macleod. Indeed, I think it is very important to reread this motion from the Bloc, which says the following:

That this House denounce the government's unrelenting efforts—one might even call it pathological obstinacy—to marginalize the Quebec nation, in particular by depriving it of the major economic lever of securities regulation, a matter that is under the exclusive—we emphasize that word—legislative jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces—including that of the member for Macleod—and for which they have established a harmonized regulatory system—and I will come back to this, of course—recognized—internationally—for its effectiveness by the OECD and the World Bank, among others—to mention only those two organizations—, and that it demand, along with the Quebec National Assembly and the business community in Quebec, that the government immediately withdraw its draft bill.

The very important thing is to be aware of the mission of a securities commission. The mission of the Autorité des marchés financiers du Québec, the Quebec financial markets authority, is to enforce the laws governing the regulation of the financial sector, notably in the areas of insurance, securities, deposit institutions, other than banks—as we know, the banks are in federal jurisdiction—and the distribution of financial products and services. I will come back to the word “distribution”, as it is very important.

The Autorité des marchés financiers, like the securities commissions in each Canadian province, provides assistance to the consumers and users of financial products and services; ensures that financial institutions comply with standards; supervises distribution activities; supervises stock market and clearing house activities; and in a program unique to Quebec, sees to the implementation of protection and compensation programs for consumers of financial products and services.

Something that may not be well known is that the AMF has regulations and administers 14 different acts in Quebec. This is really a very broad and very crucial sector. Of course, there is the Act respecting the Autorité des marchés financiers, but there are also acts covering automobile insurance, deposit insurance, insurance, financial services co-operatives, the distribution of financial products and derivative financial instruments, the Mouvement Desjardins, securities, the Caisses d'entraide économique, the Sociétés d'entraide économique, and others. We can thus see that a securities commission is not just an office that one can simply close, or that, looking down from the heights of an Ontario ivory tower, one can simply turn into a branch office, end of story. That kind of thing is just not possible.

The AMF has considerable expertise. It is a Montreal institution and a Quebec institution, and the services of the Autorité des marchés financiers and the securities commissions are provided locally. That is also true of its counterparts in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. It is important that these entities have a good knowledge of the needs in their markets and that they serve their clients in their own language.

The financial sector of the AMF commissioned an independent study that shows that a regulator—and I will come back to the term “regulator” later—is an important component of the financial sector. So, when we say—in the more than 20 questions that we have asked in the past month, and that have not, by the way, been answered satisfactorily—that it is an important component in the financial sector, we are not kidding around. This is not just some authority, it is a part of the daily life of our services.

More than 150,000 direct and indirect jobs in Montreal and Quebec are affected by the financial regulator. That is 7.5% of the jobs in the Montreal region. There are 97,000 direct jobs in Montreal in this field, and the average salary is approximately $60,000. These are significant salaries. It is a major force in the Quebec economy. In Montreal, there are people with expertise in the areas the AMF is involved in. They do business with credit unions and banks, brokerage offices, lawyers and notaries' offices, etc.

Proximity is important. When someone asks a question, they need to obtain an answer in their own language and quickly, and that is done in Montreal.

To make the Canadian government's position look better, some people have said that the Canadian experience has been bad.They have said it was awful to have 13 financial markets authorities, 13 different sets of regulations, 13 different tariffs and 13 different invoices. This is the way it was long ago. In the mid-1990s, the previous government, the Liberal Party, asked the financial markets whether harmonization could be increased, as borders were increasingly porous. The financial market authorities replied in the affirmative to the question from the Liberal government of the day by increasing harmonization. There are no more specific instructions.

My colleague from the Liberal Party who also has personal experience in the financial arena, no doubt remembers the particular instructions from the OSC and the securities commission of Canada. We had Q-21, and on their side, they had something else, in the area of mergers and acquisitions. Now, there are no particular or provincial instructions. The instructions are now national, and cover all of Canada.

I was an issuers' representative. When an issuer paid to issue a prospectus, at the time it had to prepare 10 to 13 different cheques. This was annoying. That is no longer the case. Issuers prepare a single cheque which is sent to CDS, and that is the end of it. People recognized that there was a problem and the financial market authorities came up with a solution.

Now there is a coordinated approach and investors benefit from uniform protection. The current system also allows both regional approaches and local expertise to be taken into account. For instance, in Quebec there are start-up funds and specific workers' funds. The Canadian west has its junior capital pools that work well, and that is a good thing. It is possible to establish regional authorities which together offer harmonized services to the financial community, while taking into account the specificities of our regions.

This system has been recognized by the OECD and I will get back to that later if I have time. Since this system is recognized internationally, why change it? Why destroy something that works very well?

What the government is doing, this interference, this sort of hostile takeover—to use a term from the field—has been planned for a long time. In 2005, some people were mandated to study the advantages of a single regulatory system. The Purdy Crawford group was given the mandate to study the advantages of a single commission. So what's a guy to do, as we say back home? He indeed examined the advantages of having a single system. But the current system functions very well and all the studies show that there is no advantage to be gained from disrupting everything and introducing a single system.

Stubbornness is a factor here, and there are costs to be considered. Since the Conservatives started stubbornly trying to implement this hostile takeover of the provinces' and Quebec's regulatory systems, $317 million has been spent—wasted. These days, people are making political hay with the billion dollars for three days and the $14 million an hour. But for the Canada-wide—also known as centralized, federal or Conservative—financial markets authority, $2.8 million in additional credits was allocated in May 2008; in last year's budget, $154 million was allocated to this, and this year it is $161 million. That is illegal and shameful. The Conservatives do not even know if the Supreme Court will give them the slightest authorization to do that and they have already spent a third of a billion dollars to crush the provincial securities systems.

I was talking about the advantages and disadvantages. In Quebec, we have what is known as a compensation fund. It already exists. Not only did we invent it, we apply it. What is the purpose of this compensation fund? When a financial agent—such as a broker or a distributor of financial products—duly registered with the Autorité des marchés financiers, commits fraud, resorts to deceitful practices designed to lead people astray, or embezzles his clients' money, the clients are compensated. People register with the Autorité des marchés financiers and if brokers commit criminal acts, the victims are compensated. This was done for the clients who were defrauded by Vincent Lacroix. Not everyone was compensated, but 900 of those who had their funds embezzled were compensated. The others were tricked by criminals who were not registered. Now, if a criminal does not register in Quebec, he will not register either with the federal authority. Quebec spent $31 million to compensate 900 individuals who were the victims of fraudulent proceedings in the Norbourg-Lacroix scandal.

The Conservatives' argument refers to people who were duped by Earl Jones. That is misleading and a misrepresentation. Criminals do not register. That was very clear in the case of Bernard Madoff in the United States. The SEC was unable to catch him. Those people, whether or not there are victims, do not register with any federal authority or provincial, so who is going to catch them? Those are the people who deal with crimes. The OECD looked into the people who handle criminals. In the OECD's ranking of countries Canada places fourth, because of its policies and because of the Competition Act, which is a federal statute.

Australia is second, and the United States is first. That is not too bad.

In the area of regulation of the banking industry, and in terms of competition, Canada ranks ninth, and in terms of stabilizing authority, it is eighth. That is not very high. This an area of exclusive federal jurisdiction. The federal government should start enforcing its own laws in its own areas of jurisdiction with respect to the Competition Act and the banking sector; when it does that, we can say it has done its job.

The OECD looked at the regulation of financial systems. Canada overall ranks second. The United States is fourth, the United Kingdom fifth and Australia seventh. Who regulates financial systems? They are responsibility of the financial market authorities in Quebec and the other provinces.

We have been told we have to consider international representation. Apparently we seem crazy to the rest of the world because we are divided into 13. The annual conference of the International Organization of Securities Commissions is taking place right now. Where? The conference is being held in Montreal. International authorities are in Montreal under the auspices of the AMF and the other provinces’ financial market authorities to discuss issues. This is happening in Montreal.

This morning’s newspapers reported that the president of Standard and Poor’s was talking about the International Organization of Securities Commissions. He is there, too. Quebec’s finance minister, Mr. Bachand, who officially opened the public portion of the conference, had the following to say, “All indications are that the Canadian system we have adopted works very well, in part because many international organizations rank it among the best in the world.” I was referring to an article in Le Devoir. Now I am going to talk about an article in La Presse. The article states that even the president of the Securities and Exchange Commission is there. If the AMF and the provincial securities commissions applied their rules in a way that made no sense, would Mr. Volcker or Ms. Shapiro of the SEC be in Montreal? Are those people wrong?

We have produced a long list of people in Quebec who support the Autorité des marchés financiers and are telling the Government of Canada that it is mistaken. We have the Association de l'exploration minière du Québec, the Barreau du Québec, various chambers of commerce, the Fédération des chambres de commerce, the Conseil du patronat, Canam, Quebecor, Jean Coutu, Desjardins, Power Corporation, La Capitale, Transat and Transcontinental. Are all those institutions wrong?

They are not socialists, which is what the Minister of Finance called them two weeks ago when he was a bit tired. This is not a gang of socialists. They are not people from the Bloc. Let them read the other articles and the letters sent on October 2, 2007, by Ms. Jérôme-Forget, who is not a socialist. Desjardins did it in 2008, Allaire and Nadeau in 2009. There is also the study by Secor and Pierre Lortie. Pierre Lortie, no less. Pierre Lortie is a lot of things, but he is not a sovereignist. That is too bad. That is going to take us a while. Still, he produced an excellent report. He said that what the Conservatives are doing is utterly mad.

I have 30 seconds left. Why are spending so much time talking about this issue? Is it because it falls within our jurisdiction? Passports work. Everyone knows that. This is a development and economic ownership tool. These are our jobs and our young people. It is deceptive to say that voluntary adherence will be easy and that that will solve the problem of all the Earl Jones in this world.

Most importantly, whatever is done in Quebec will be done with respect for our language, which would not be the case if the federal plan were to become a reality.