House of Commons Hansard #373 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was conservatives.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #985

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion defeated.

The House resumed consideration from January 28 of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the Senate amendments to Bill C-57.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #986

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried.

Vote on the Designation of an Item—Speaker's RulingPoint of OrderGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised earlier today by the hon. member for Montcalm concerning the secret ballot on the designation of Bill C-421.

I want to thank the hon. member for Montcalm for having raised this question.

During his intervention, the member asked that the result of the secret ballot on the designation of Bill C-421, an act to amend the Citizenship Act in regard to the adequate knowledge of French in Quebec, be revealed at the same time as the result of the vote itself. In his opinion, the Chair cannot simply announce whether Bill C-421 is votable, because it is essential that the number of votes for and against be announced to thwart the government's desire to muzzle members.

As the member himself remarked, I issued a ruling on the same question on November 28, 2017. At the time, it was claimed that the procedure for designating a bill did not have to be the same as the procedure for electing the Speaker. Members will recall that in response I stated, at page 15677 of the Debates:

Standing Order 92 does not provide any direction to the Chair which would cause it to depart from that now established practice.

I also invited the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to consider the matter, if it deemed it necessary. Until such time as the House decides to provide new direction on this matter, the Chair will continue to follow the only similar practice that exists in our Standing Orders, that of the election of the Speaker.

Therefore, once the voting is completed at the end of tomorrow’s sitting, I will be provided only with and announce to the House the final outcome of the vote, and nothing more. The table officers will in no way reveal to the Chair, or anyone else, the number of ballots cast on the designation of Bill C-421.

I want to thank the hon. members for their attention.

It being 6 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Credit Card Fairness ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

moved that Bill C-419, An Act to amend the Bank Act, the Trust and Loan Companies Act, the Insurance Companies Act and the Cooperative Credit Associations Act (credit cards), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister keeps telling Canadians that everything is okay, that it is all right, that we are growing and that we are prospering as a country. We have to ask the question: For whom is it okay? The answer to that is him. Right now, Canada's economy, Canada's situation, is okay for the Prime Minister. Why is that? It is because he inherited a family fortune.

Since being elected in 2015, I have had the opportunity to talk with thousands of Canadians from coast to coast and from every way of life. What they are telling me is that life is actually getting more and more expensive. It is difficult to make ends meet. It is impossible to get ahead.

At the end of the month, we know that nearly half of all Canadians are within $200 of not being able to make their bill payments. I am not talking about fancy things. I am talking about food on the table or shelter over their heads, and they are within $200 a month of not being able to make those payments. The margins are tight. Canadians are feeling crunched and they are asking that those of us on this side of the House advocate on their behalf, which is exactly what we will do.

While the Liberals are focused on making life more expensive for Canadians by imposing new taxes, such as the carbon tax, we on this side of the House will advocate for Canadians to be able to get ahead. That is really what the proposed credit card fairness act is all about. We have taken the time to listen to Canadians and we know that they deserve better. Canadians deserve fairness and they deserve transparency surrounding the use of their credit cards so that they can make financial decisions that will empower their households and help them get ahead. Being able to enjoy financial stability and security starts with having access to information so that households can make the decisions that are in fact right for them as individuals. The proposed credit card fairness act would assist.

As Conservatives, we want to find ourselves on the side of those who dream for a better tomorrow, those who work hard, those who stretch their limits, those who are trying to build a new life, those who dream of home ownership, those who call Canada their home. While the Prime Minister is concerned with protecting his family wealth and imposing more taxes on everyday Canadians, those of us on this side of the House will continue advocating on behalf of Canadians and protecting their wealth.

Conservatives understand that the federal government, regardless of the party in power, has two primary responsibilities. One is to look out for the safety and security of Canadians and the second is to make decisions and put policies in place that will help advance our economic state as a nation and lead to economic prosperity for individual households. Sadly, the current government has not done either of these points well, but it is on the second that I will focus my attention today, which is economic prosperity and well-being.

The Prime Minister has proven to Canadians over and over again that he is in fact a hypocrite. He ran on an election promise that he would only take a very small deficit over the course of three years and then in the fourth year he would balance the budget. He promised Canadians that he would balance it by 2019, which is this year.

However, year through year, the Liberal government has taken on one deficit after another, and this year alone it took on $21 billion. According to Finance Canada, the budget will not be balanced until at least 2040, which is a long time away. Let us not forget that this debt load does not just sit there stagnant. It actually incurs further debt because of interest rates. We, Canadians, pay that interest. Everyday, hard-working Canadians pay that interest rate.

Every year that the Prime Minister runs deficits, he is not just spending our money, but he is borrowing money from the next generation, those who come after us, those who are children right now and who are innocent in this decision-making process of the current Prime Minister. That is not just irresponsible but it is cruel. It is cruel to the next generation that has to take that credit card bill from the current Prime Minister and pay it off.

Today, my colleagues and I on this side of the House put forward a motion that said:

That, given the Prime Minister broke his promise to eliminate the deficit this year and that perpetual and growing deficits lead to massive tax increases, the House call on the Prime Minister to table a plan in Budget 2019 to eliminate the deficit quickly with a written commitment that he will never raise taxes of any kind.

We just voted on this motion and the current government voted no. What the Liberals are communicating to the Canadian public in making that statement is that they will not eliminate the deficit and that they do in fact plan to raise taxes.

It is important to highlight this because we are going into a very important year: 2019. It is an election year and Canadians will have an opportunity to make a choice, to exercise their decision-making process at the ballot box. Here is what we know. We know that should the Liberals get another term in government they will not balance the budget and we know they will increase taxes. Therefore, we can be assured that the cost of living for every single Canadian across the country will go up.

The Prime Minister continues to tell Canadians everything is fine, but we have to stop and ask ourselves the very basic question, “For whom is it fine?” When I talk to Canadians from coast to coast, they sure are not fine, but the Prime Minister is fine because he is cushioned by his family wealth. He would like us all to believe him, so he will continuously repeat his statement, as if the more times he says it the more it will become true. However, the reality is that is not how things work. The only way things will get better is with a better government in place.

Thirty-seven million Canadians deserve better. For them, life is becoming more and more expensive. Thirty-three per cent of Canadians have no money left at the end of the month and are unable to cover their payments. That is atrocious. Things are clearly not getting better. The unfortunate thing is that under the current government things are only going to get worse, as they admitted just moments ago, because they are going to impose a carbon tax. The carbon tax starts off small, but grows very quickly. In fact, government documents show us that after the election, which is convenient, the carbon tax will increase by 15 times. That is huge. For a family of four, that could result in an additional cost of $5,000 per year. I do not know about others but for the majority of Canadians I talk to, particularly those in my riding but in other parts of the country, $5,000 a year is a lot of money. That is a lot to put out of their pocketbooks. It is a lot to spend on what exactly?

The Prime Minister continuously tells people that the carbon tax is somehow taking emissions out of the environment, that it is somehow taxing pollution and, therefore, preventing it from becoming a bigger problem, yet at the same time he is allowing the largest emitters in the country to go free. He is letting them off the hook. They will not pay a cent. Meanwhile, shame on those individuals who are driving their children to soccer games or running small businesses or heating their homes in the middle of winter. How dare they? Those individuals are going to be paying a massive carbon tax. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister continues to sit with a smirk on his face because he is cushioned by his family wealth.

I was recently out door knocking and I had the opportunity to knock at one house where an elderly woman came to her door. When she saw the button on my jacket that identified who I was, she smiled a little and invited me in. I came into the front entrance of her home. She ran into the kitchen and I could hear her shuffling through some papers, and then she returned to the door. She had her utility bill in her hand.

In the province of Alberta, we already face the carbon tax, so it is only an indication of what is to come for the rest of the country. In her utility bill is a line that says the amount she is paying for her carbon tax. She circled it for me and she began to share her story. This is an elderly woman, living on a fixed income. She said she has a choice to make, because that line she circled is the same amount that she budgets per month to go out on a weekly lunch date with her friends from the community. She faces the choice of letting that go or not being able to fully pay off her bill. At the end of the day, she is going to choose to let go of those lunch opportunities.

The members of the party opposite are kind of laughing at that. They do not think it is a big deal, but here is why it is a big deal. This is an everyday Canadian. This woman is 76 years old, living on a fixed income and she is forced now to stay in her home. She has become a shut-in, not because she is immobile but because a carbon tax has been imposed on her and no longer can she afford to go out and enjoy a coffee and a bowl of soup with her friends. That is not a laughing matter. That is real life. That is Canadian life.

I understand that those on that side of the House might not understand that, particularly the Prime Minister, with his trust account. I understand that there are others over there who are in a similar situation and have wealth tucked away, but that is not the story of those in my riding, and it is not the story of millions of Canadians across this country.

I would ask that the government do more to support everyday Canadians. Chances are that the Liberals are not going to do that. In fact, they just voted to say that they will not, so it is up to us on this side of the House, and this is where I come in.

I have put forward a private member's bill called the credit card fairness act. Since being elected in 2015, I have had the opportunity to travel across this country and talk to Canadians. They are the ones who are telling me that life is more expensive. They are telling me that fairness and transparency around credit card use matters. They are the ones who are telling me that their household debt load is significant, and they are the ones who are telling me that they want to be treated fairly. Therefore, I am advocating on their behalf. That is what this bill is all about.

Unfortunately, banks engage in a number of deceptive practices that create a debt trap that many Canadians find it difficult to get out of. Sometimes Canadians make unfortunate decisions, and some of that debt is their own doing. I understand that. However, for others, that is not the case. For others, there are changes that can be made to assist them so that they are better served and more empowered to make good decisions that are the right decisions for them.

If passed, the credit card fairness act would do seven things.

Number one, those who make a payment on a bill but do not quite pay it in full would not have to pay interest on the entire thing. It would just be on the amount that was not paid. Right now, that is not the case, and it is not fair. If individuals have a bill for $3,000 but have missed the full payment by two cents, they do not just pay the interest they missed at the end of the billing period; they pay the interest on the entire amount of $3,000 they were originally charged. I do not think that is fair. Canadians do not think that is fair. It needs to be changed.

Number two, if people have a high-interest debt and a low-interest debt, the amount they pay would first go toward the high-interest debt. That is fair.

Number three, the bill would require banks to disclose exactly how much interest the cardholder was being charged in a 12-month cycle. This would help create transparency, it would help create information and it would help people make empowered decisions.

Number four, further transparency is created when marketing materials are giving all the information up front rather than withholding it and blinding people to it and then surprising them at the end. Right now, that is often case. We want to stop that.

Number five, we want to prohibit banks from being able to increase interest rates retroactively. In other words, if an individual spends money on his or her card at an interest rate of 15%, because that is what was signed off on, it is not okay for the bank to then hike the interest rate and send a bill at 21% interest. Right now, that happens, and it is not fair to Canadians, and I will advocate on their behalf.

Number six, this private member's bill would require banks to provide an online mechanism by which individuals who hold cards can cancel their cards. This is common sense. Most of us do our banking online. It is just the way things are nowadays. Most of us have a credit card, because we need it for Uber, we need it for Amazon purchases and we need it to book a hotel room. Therefore, we have a credit card. Sometimes we want to cancel that credit card. We used to be able to do that online. Right now, that is not the case. Credit card companies and banks make people go in and do it. That is not fair. We would change that.

Number seven, and my final one, is to legislate that banks must obtain consent before increasing a cardholder's limit. Again, this simply comes down to basic human decency. If they are going to change the terms of an agreement, they had better tell the individual holding the card, because it is the right thing to do.

I am asking my colleagues on the opposite side of this House to support this bill, but I am going to guess that they probably are not going to. On this side of the House, we will advocate for everyday, average, hard-working Canadians every single day of the week. On that side of the House, they will shelter their wealth, and they will punish Canadians every single day of the week. They just voted on it. They said they were going to hike taxes. They said they have no intention of balancing the budget. That is not okay. We are going to fight for Canadians. They are going to fight against Canadians. We are going win the next election.

Credit Card Fairness ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Jennifer O'Connell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance (Youth Economic Opportunity), Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out the fact that the government in BIA 2 introduced consumer protections. It was the largest package of new measures since the FCAC's creation.

If the member opposite was so concerned about these things, did she involve herself in that process done with consultation and why in the last 10 years under the Harper Conservatives was consumer protection not important? How are we supposed to believe the Conservatives think that consumer protection in banks is important now when they had 10 years to do something about it and did nothing?

Credit Card Fairness ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, if only that question carried weight and was a good question. In 2009, the late Minister Jim Flaherty, who was the finance minister at the time under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, put forward some of the greatest transformations the country had seen since the beginning of the Bank Act.

I would encourage the member opposite to do her research. She can look at those changes that were created in 2009, which advocated on behalf of credit card holders, that advocated on behalf of Canadian consumers, that advocated on behalf of everyday Canadians. The former government did that and that is what this side of the House will always do.

Credit Card Fairness ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for putting the bill forward. This clearly is an admission by the Conservative Party that the state is required to intervene in the private sector with regard to the banks. They have not been in the best interests of Canadian consumers and they cannot be trusted to do this unilaterally. They need regulation, oversight and they need the state to intervene on their market system because they have not been able to complete the job fairly for Canadians and for businesses across the country.

Is state intervention also necessary for the insurance industries or is it just the banks and this one credit card issue that is requires the intervention to ensure the free market system is operating with some accountability, which is not taking place? Is this what the member has heard from Canadians and is this why she has asked for state intervention in the private sector for this model?

Credit Card Fairness ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have travelled to every province across Canada and to Nunavut. Insurance has not come up. Household debt has come up. The cost of living has come up. The expense of the government has come up. The carbon tax has come up. Being able to afford a house has come up. Those are the things that Canadians are worried about. Being able to pay for their retirement has come up. Living on a fixed income within those limitations has come up.

Canadians are concerned about making their next bill payment. That is what they are concerned about. Canadians are concerned about the well-being of their families. They are also concerned about the well-being of their children and the nation they will inherit. That is what Canadians are concerned about.

This side of the House will continue to advocate for those Canadians to ensure that they are empowered to achieve their dreams, that they are given all the tools necessary and the environment necessary for them to steward their talents, their abilities and gifts in order to generate wealth and take care of their families, without being punished by the government.

Credit Card Fairness ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised the subject of insurance did not come up, but again—

Credit Card Fairness ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

We will get back to the hon. member momentarily. We are having a problem with interpretation. It is working now.

The hon. member for Windsor West.

Credit Card Fairness ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I applaud the member for listening to Canadians about the cost and hearing from the banks and credit cards. I am surprised she did not hear about insurance costs, especially if we talk to young people, with regard—

Suspension of SittingCredit Card Fairness ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member again. I did switch over to French. I am wondering if keeping it on the French channel that members are using now we have French interpretation.

We will see if we can get that operational in the next few minutes, hopefully before that. I would ask the hon. member for Windsor West to put those thoughts on hold momentarily. We will suspend until we can get the interpretation working. I appreciate hon. members' patience.

(The House was suspended at 6:24 p.m.)

(The House resumed at 6:26 p.m.)

Sitting ResumedCredit Card Fairness ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I am asking members who are listening on the French channel to let me know if they are getting the French interpretation.

Sitting ResumedCredit Card Fairness ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

An hon. member

Yes.

Sitting ResumedCredit Card Fairness ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

When this happens we can pick up where we left off in terms of the time on the clock. Under Private Members' Business, for example, there is one hour for debate, so this interruption will not take that time away from hon. members in terms of debate on the question.

We will resume with the hon. member for Windsor West, who is in the process of posing the last question in this five-minute round to the hon. member for Lethbridge.

Sitting ResumedCredit Card Fairness ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is great interest in making sure this is translated in both official languages. It is important, because this private member's bill is about two things. The first is economic justice, credibility and accountability for consumers. The second is the mere fact that at different times, private sector institutions, like banks in this case, require regulatory oversight by the state.

I would ask the member if she heard in any of her deliberations whether auto insurance for young people was a concern. I hear that quite a bit. I am wondering if she and her party would agree that if auto insurance is not adjusted by companies, state intervention is necessary in order to make sure there is accountability for consumers in Canada.

Sitting ResumedCredit Card Fairness ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have made quite clear the concerns that Canadians shared with me as I travelled across the country. They largely have to do with affordability and making ends meet.

As I said before, we on this side of the House are committed to helping Canadians, empowering them, and making sure we create an environment of economic prosperity in which they are able to get ahead.

Sitting ResumedCredit Card Fairness ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before resuming debate, I would like to thank the interpreters and everyone who helped resolve the technical difficulties with the system.

Resuming debate, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.