Mr. Speaker, my leader gave me a new responsibility in May, that of the Liberal advocate for co-operatives in Canada. One of the first things I did in that capacity was to propose the creation of a committee to the House. This committee was created once unanimous consent was given in late May.
In July, the committee held five days of hearings and, on September 17, we tabled a report in the House. We hope to have an answer from the government in mid-January.
One of the six recommendations, which were unanimously supported, involved the need to capitalize co-operatives. A short time later, in early October, I participated in the International Summit of Cooperatives, the most important event of the year for co-operatives, which was held in Quebec City. Three hundred of the largest co-operatives in the world were there, as well as nearly 3,000 participants. We had the opportunity to hear about and examine many of the challenges and great successes of the co-operative community, both in Canada and abroad.
During the summit, an announcement was made that piqued my curiosity. This announcement tied the Government of Quebec and, indirectly, the Government of Canada, to the creation of a $30 million fund for the development and expansion of Quebec co-operatives.
The Government of Quebec contributed $4 million to it, the organization of co-operatives in Quebec invested $1 million and the Mouvement Desjardins put in $10 million, for a total of $15 million. On the federal side, the Business Development Bank of Canada, the BDC, committed $10 million, and the CFDCs and BDCs provided $5 million. Altogether, that comes to a $30 million envelope.
Not long after that, I asked the minister a question, and in response to his answer I requested that the debate be extended. I congratulated the government when I asked my question, because I thought this was a welcome initiative, given co-operatives’ crying need for capitalization, which the committee had identified over the summer.
I therefore asked whether we could expect similar announcements for other provinces of Canada, since the BDC is a federal institution.
I did not receive a satisfactory reply, and so I want to come back to this issue this evening, because afterward, I met with representatives of the Business Development Bank of Canada, who were very affable and very open. They told me about certain restrictions they were having to deal with under their mandate.
And this prompts me to ask the parliamentary secretary who is speaking for the government tonight when we can expect to see a review of the BDC’s mandate.
By law, the mandate was to be reviewed in 2010. I think that if we look to the recommendations made by the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, the banking committee, we would see that there is in fact a need to amend the BDC’s mandate to make sure it is able to do in other provinces of Canada what it has done in Quebec, at least according to the announcement that was made.
That is essentially the reason why I am here this evening. I would like the government to tell me when we can expect it to be reviewing the mandate of the BDC.