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House of Commons Hansard #80 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was banks.

Topics

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, the government is using false pretexts to refuse funding for the next phase of the Alphonse-Desjardins complex. I would like to mention that the facility is not being built for a professional hockey team, but to make Trois-Rivières a hub of sports tourism. The Alphonse-Desjardins complex, as its name indicates, is much more than just an arena; it is an economic lever for the entire region.

Can the minister work with the region's stakeholders, who are putting a great deal of effort into innovations to develop sports tourism?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I clearly heard my colleague, but we also heard loud and clear from the mayor of Trois-Rivières. The mayor addressed every forum in the region—he spoke to the Chamber of Commerce, for example—and said that not only does he want to have a Major Junior Hockey League team in Trois-Rivières, but that he would also like to have an American Hockey League team. I did not say it, the mayor of Trois-Rivières did.

We now have a program that prevents us from investing in professional sports facilities. We were asked to fund the skating rink, not the other facilities of the complex that could eventually be home to a professional sports team.

Air CanadaOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, Air Canada plays a vital role in the Canadian economy, providing both passenger and cargo service to 59 large and small Canadian communities. The current labour dispute between the Air Canada Pilots Association and Air Canada is troubling to many Canadians who are planning to travel or depend on the cargo services of Air Canada.

The Minister of Labour met with both parties in the labour dispute late yesterday. Could the Minister of Labour please give the House an update on the status of the labour negotiations at Air Canada?

Air CanadaOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, our government believes that a work stoppage at Air Canada would be contrary to the best interests of hard-working Canadians and Canadian companies, and to the already fragile economy. As I have said before, the best solution is the one that the parties find for themselves. That is why when I met with the parties yesterday, I told them I would be appointing a third-party mediator and extending their mediation process for another six months, and that in that period of time I wish they would return to the table and commence free bargaining and get themselves a deal.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Lise St-Denis Liberal Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, the chief of the Obedjiwan Atikamekw has raised the alarm with the federal and provincial governments about the lack of funding for public safety. The government has not made a decision about additional funding for this reserve.

In light of the sharp increase in violence and attempted suicides reported by the Sûreté du Québec, can the government respond to the public safety needs of this community, today, by granting emergency funding?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Vancouver Island North B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan ConservativeMinister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the situation in that community is one that my officials will certainly address. They will be having a conversation on that and I will take that question under advisement.

HomelessnessOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, homeless shelters are overflowing. An increasing number of Canadians are homeless. Many organizations rely on the homelessness partnering strategy, which will end in 2014. The loss of this program will be a setback for the fight against homelessness.

Will this proven program, which is meeting the most pressing needs of the most disadvantaged, come to an end in 2014? Will this government finally understand the urgency of the situation and increase funding right now?

HomelessnessOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, of course, we want to help the homeless. That is why we signed five-year agreements with the provinces. For the first time in many years, there was stable funding to help the homeless. We have invested in Quebec and, thanks to our government, there are now more than 600 projects to help Quebec's homeless people.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Trottier Conservative Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we learned that three Canadian doctors arrived in Kiev as part of a medical mission to Ukraine to see former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

For months our government has shown leadership in her case, and we are pleased by reports that she is one step closer to receiving the medical attention she deserves.

Would the Minister of Foreign Affairs please update the House on Canada's latest work in Ukraine?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore for his advocacy in this regard.

I am pleased to report that earlier today three Canadian doctors began their examination of Ms. Tymoshenko. I would also like to thank the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette and many others, including my friend from Wascana, for their advocacy in this regard.

Her well-being should be an issue that is truly non-partisan. Canada remains committed to supporting efforts to build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous society in Ukraine. Again, we are pleased that Ms. Tymoshenko is one step closer to receiving the medical care and assistance she deserves.

Canada PostOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle NDP Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, in my riding, Rivière-du-Nord, repeated admail price hikes have had unfortunate consequences for the Prévost community newspaper. These price hikes have put the paper and dozens of other community papers in Quebec in a precarious financial position that jeopardizes their very survival. Community newspapers are the primary source of information for small communities.

Will the government take action to protect community newspapers? On Valentine's Day, it would be nice of the Conservatives to show a little love for our community newspapers.

Canada PostOral Questions

3 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, we have already taken action. We are working with community newspapers across the country. The member must know that things have changed with consumers and the new electronic media. We are working with these organizations. The member and his colleagues voted against the latest budget. We reinvested unprecedented amounts of money to protect these newspapers. We listened, we reacted, and we will keep going in that direction.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, last week I put a question to the Minister of Industry relating to the Chinese takeover of Canadian resources.

He said I was unfamiliar with the Investment Canada Act changes of 2009. In fact, the Canada Gazette of September 30, 2009 said:

The term national security should be explicitly defined and national security reviews should take place according to concrete, objective, and transparent criteria. This recommendation was not accepted—

Would the minister care to amend his answer?

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture)

No, Mr. Speaker.

It is pretty simple. Following budget 2009, as I said, we introduced a national security review mechanism by regulation in the act. That is what happened. Why? It was to make sure that Canada's national security interests would continue to be safeguarded.

I urge the member to stand up with us in welcoming foreign investment that will benefit Canada, instead of rejecting virtually every single economic opportunity in this country.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would like to draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of the Hon. Manmeet Bhullar, the Minister of Service Alberta.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Oral QuestionsPoint of OrderOral Questions

February 14th, 2012 / 3 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in response to a question from one of my colleagues to the Minister of Public Safety about a bill that was to be and actually was introduced this morning concerning police powers with respect to the Internet and the need to investigate, the minister told all members of the House—including myself—that if we do not support the bill, we stand with child pornographers.

I have three grandchildren, and I find these comments insulting and offensive. I believe that this applies to all members of this House. You cannot say to someone that if they do not support a bill, they are siding with child pornographers.

Does the minister intend to withdraw his remarks and apologize to his colleagues in the House?

We will recall that when the hon. Ed Broadbent and the right hon. Joe Clark left the House they complained about the low level of debate. It goes without saying that I have no problem debating a bill. However, in light of the dishonourable insults addressed to members of this House, I believe that you must intervene, Mr. Speaker.

Oral QuestionsPoint of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I will take the matter under advisement and get back to the House if necessary.

Short Title of Bill C-30—Speaker's RulingPoint of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Further to the point of order raised by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, I would like to provide clarification concerning the introduction of the government bill during this morning's routine proceedings.

Following the introduction of Bill C-30, An Act to enact the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act and to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts, there was an error in a limited number of courtesy copies distributed to the House. These have since been replaced with the correct version. I want to reassure the House that the bill, as introduced, was in its correct form and, therefore, is properly before the House.

I regret any inconvenience this may have caused members.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill S-5, An Act to amend the law governing financial institutions and to provide for related and consequential matters, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Financial System Review ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Yellowhead has two minutes left to conclude his remarks.

Financial System Review ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is important legislation that we have before us. As I only have a minute and a half, I will reiterate some of what I have said. I mentioned how important the financial system is to Canada, how well we are actually doing compared to other countries and that some of the changes are a tweaking and of a technical nature of the Financial Systems Act.

One of the issues I was talking about before the question period break was that no financial institution can invest more than 10% of its assets in another international jurisdiction. That is to make certain that the system is protected and Canadians are not overly exposed. In fact, the Canadian Bankers Association, which we would think would be a bit concerned about this kind of imposition, said that it fully supports it.

We do have a great system in Canada. It is the best in the world. We have the greatest finance minister in the world. We have been recognized by international agencies in countries around the world as having done our job and done our job well. We have low taxes, stable finances and great opportunities. I believe that our best years are yet to be realized in this country if we just continue the course.

This legislation should meet with the approval of all members of the House as we move forward. I encourage everyone to consider this bill for what it is worth and the importance of it so that it can be completed in time for the April 20 deadline.

Financial System Review ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise today to speak to this legislation. The legislation does not make extraordinary changes to the Canadian banking system but I would like to speak to some of the changes that it would make.

I will be sharing my time today with the hon. member for Markham--Unionville.

The reality is that the Canadian economy is doing better than some of the other global economies with which we compete. There are three principal reasons for that. One is the fact that we do have a somewhat stronger fiscal situation than other countries, and I will speak to that in a moment. Second, we are riding a global commodity boom as a country that has a remarkable amount of natural resource wealth in oil and gas and minerals. Third is the prudential strength of our banks and our banking system.

I have heard throughout the debate today the Conservatives taking credit for all three. First, in terms of the fiscal situation, when the Conservatives were elected in 2006 they inherited the best fiscal environment of any incoming government in the history of Canada with a $13 billion surplus. The Conservatives spent through that surplus at a rate of three times the rate of inflation and put Canada into a deficit position even before the downturn of 2008.

Second, it is very hard for the Conservatives to take credit for the fact that we are benefiting as a country from an oil and gas and mining boom. The recovery, as it exists in Canada, is largely focused in a couple of provinces. Over 60% of the new jobs created in the last year were created in one province, Alberta. We know that we are hemorrhaging jobs in other parts of the country. We are seeing a bit of a Dutch disease where a commodity boom is shoving our dollar higher and is driving out and crowding out value added jobs in some of the other provinces, like Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. However, the Conservatives almost seem to be taking credit for the strength of the overall numbers, which would be a little like saying that they were responsible for putting the oil and gas under the ground or the potash under the ground in Saskatchewan. They cannot take credit for that, obviously, and they cannot take credit for the oil and gas under the water off Newfoundland because everyone knows that was Danny Williams.

The fact is that it gets a bit silly in the House sometimes when the Conservatives go on and on taking credit for where the Canadian economy is when they did not really have a lot to do with the decisions made or the good fortune we have as a country in terms of our natural wealth.

The third area where the Conservatives have been doing this throughout the day is when they take credit for the prudential strength of the Canadian banks. It was, of course, in the nineties when Paul Martin, as finance minister, and Jean Chrétien, as prime minister, fought the global trend of deregulation of the financial services sector. At that time, people in the Reform Party were critical of the Liberal government and said that we were missing out on the global trend of deregulation and that--

Financial System Review ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. Someone has left a phone behind again and it seems to be ringing. It seems to have stopped now. If members hear a phone going off again they can bring it up to the front and we will hold it for whomever it belongs to.

Financial System Review ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that, in opposition, the Reform Party fought vigorously against the decision of the Chrétien government to maintain strong regulations around Canadian banks, the very regulations that kept Canadian banks from following the global trend and off the cliff like the lemmings in Europe, in the U.K. and in the U.S.

What did the Conservatives do in government in terms of the prudential management of banks? One of the first things the Minister of Finance did in 2006 in his first budget was to bring in 40 year mortgages with no down payments. This created the loosest approach to mortgage lending in the history of Canada.

Furthermore, in 2007, the Conservatives went further. Under the Liberal government, Canadians needed mortgage insurance if the down payment on their mortgage was less than 25%. In 2007, the Conservatives changed that and lowered the threshold to 20%.

Those were just some of the changes they made to create looser mortgages, looser regulations, which led to, among other things, what many economists are now referring to in Canada as a housing bubble, certainly a personal debt bubble. We have the highest level of personal debt in Canada today, which is $1.53 of personal debt for every dollar of annual income. That is the highest in our history and it is higher than that of our neighbours to the south in the U.S.

The February 4 edition of The Economist magazine states:

When the United States saw a vast housing bubble inflate and burst during the 2000s, many Canadians felt smug about the purported prudence of their financial and property markets.

It went further and cited the Prime Minister at that time boasting in 2010. It then states:

Today the consensus is growing on Bay Street... that [the Canadian Prime Minister] may have to eat his words.

The Economist then said that Canada's housing prices had doubled since 2002. This has coincided with a massive growth in our personal debt levels. We see a great increase in speculation in the housing markets, particularly in some hot markets, such as Toronto and Vancouver, among others, and we see this growth having occurred, in part, in a response to the deliberate decisions by the Minister of Finance to loosen up debt and mortgage regulations back around 2006 and 2007.

The government must be held to account for those decisions, which actually helped create what we hope is not a housing bubble that ends badly but is certainly a personal debt bubble that needs to be managed.

It is important to realize that the Conservative government cannot take credit for the prudential decisions made by the previous Liberal government, and that the current government must be held to account for some of the foolhardy decisions it made as a government to loosen banking regulations and to loosen mortgage rules early in its term.

I want to note a couple of other things about Bill S-5 because some of the changes would have an impact on Canada's incredibly strong banking sector and its role in the world. One change is requiring the minister, in order to approve foreign acquisitions by a Canadian entity, under certain circumstances, for instance if the foreign entity being acquired has equity of at least $2 billion and if the acquisition of the entity would increase the size of the Canadian entity by at least 10%.

Under those circumstances and conditions in this legislation, it would mean that the Bank Act would require the minister to approve the acquisitions of these foreign financial institutions by Canadian banks. That is a change. The previous rules simply required that the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, OSFI, would approve those within the public service, within the bureaucracy.

Recent deals that would have triggered this mechanism of ministerial approval would have been the Manulife John Hancock deal, the TD Commerce Bancorp deal, the BMO Marshall & Ilsley deal and Sun Life. There are other large acquisitions that have occurred in the last couple of years: Scotia Bank bought Banco Colpatria, Colombia's fifth largest bank, and it also bought the Royal Bank of Scotland's Colombia assets as well 20% of the Bank of Guangzhou.

I want to raise as a concern, that the government consider the politicization of these foreign investments by our Canadian banks and the potential risk to the capacity that we have in doing so. The fact is we now have some of the largest banks in the world that are world leaders in terms of governance and success. With the capacity to significantly increase Canada's influence in the world in terms of a very important financial services sector, this politicization could lead to some highly political and potentially bad decisions in the future which would limit the role of Canadian banks in the world.

I raise that as a concern and I look forward to questions from my colleagues.