Madam Speaker, my thanks go to the member for Calgary Nose Hill for bringing this bill forward. As others have mentioned, I think this is a really important discussion. Whether we would like it or not, whether people want to be boosters of the industry or critics of it, there is no doubt that this industry is growing, that it is significant and that it is beginning to play a significant role in a number of different financial affairs in a number of different ways. I do think it makes sense to begin having conversations about how we can regulate that space in the public interest.
I appreciate some of the points that have been made about what I might call the aesthetic of the bill, the language that was chosen and the way that it speaks about the industry, but I am going to present a little bit of a different view, I think, in saying that I do not think we should let that get in the way of trying to continue the conversation that was started by this bill just today.
I think we have heard some really important concerns. They are not new. We have heard these concerns out and about, so to speak, about cryptocurrency. We have heard concerns about the way in which it can be used to launder money and the way in which criminal organizations appear to be using cryptocurrency to advance their own illegal agendas. We have also heard concerns elsewhere, outside the debate tonight, about the speculative nature of cryptocurrency and the way it acts for some, apparently, in the way that a gambling addiction does: People get addicted to trying to make quick money off cryptocurrency and exhibit a lot of patterns that are similar to folks who have gambling addictions.
I also want to raise an emerging area of concern in respect to cryptocurrency that has to do with the environment: the amount of real-world energy and real-world costs to the cryptocurrency industry for something that may prove to be fundamentally speculative in value. We are hearing of coal plants and gas plants, for instance, in the United States, that had been heading toward decommissioning but have been given new life and are producing new emissions in order to satisfy the needs of these industries. That is all the more reason that it is imperative for legislators to take on this task sooner rather than later. It is not as though this bill is the gateway to launching the cryptocurrency industry. It is here; it is already active; it is growing exponentially; and it is having real effects.
Oftentimes in this place, we are stuck talking about industries that have been carrying on without any form of regulation, as is the case with this particular industry right now. It is operating, and there are no rules. It is the Wild West. We often talk about things that have been around for a long time that have no regulation. It becomes, as time goes on, even more difficult to regulate in the public interest once the die is cast for industries like this. I think of some of the problems we are experiencing now with social media and some of the attempts that have been made even just recently to try to bring some order to the social media universe and to try to mitigate some of the harms that an unregulated social media space can have for democracy, among other things.
All of that is to say that I welcome this bill, even though I may not like all of the language. Certainly I have been reassured by the debate tonight that if this bill were to go to committee, there would be a lot of people around the table who would have the right concerns and would be interested in figuring out how we can regulate this space in the public interest so that Canadians who wish to do so can avail themselves of whatever benefit there is to this industry. It is reassuring even to have a table where we can talk about what the real benefits are, versus just a kind of participation in a game of speculation in which there are winners and there are losers. I think I am not wrong in saying that predominantly a lot of young men in particular seem to like to invest in cryptocurrency. Some of them have done very well for themselves; some of them lost the shirt off their back, and it will be a long time before they recover from their foray into the world of cryptocurrency.
I think it behooves us as legislators to talk about this. Whether the language of the bill is a little more boosterish than I might like is beside the point. I do not think it is fatal to the project. I would welcome the opportunity to get into this more at committee to ask these very questions, to invoke some of the real expertise from outside this chamber and to help us all learn more about it as legislators. It would also create a forum for the Canadian public, who have a lot of questions about cryptocurrency and what exactly it means, and maybe whether they should invest in it or just ignore it because it is a Ponzi scheme.
I think a lot of Canadians are looking for a credible source of information. A committee would provide an opportunity not only for legislators but for Canadians to follow along to hear from not just industry experts, I hope. I would want to hear from people whose business is consumer protection. They could talk about the impacts I was referring to earlier. They might include addictions specialists who are looking at the gambling aspect of cryptocurrency as experienced by some people. I would also want to hear from people who are watching the environmental impacts of the industry and have something to say about how it ought to proceed. That is not all. I see some heads shaking in the Conservative benches, but that is not about saying no to the industry. I know there is a movement afoot that had suggested how changes to coding language could significantly reduce the environmental impact of cryptocurrency.
For me the real point is that these are things we should be talking about, and we should not be talking about them 20 years from now, as is so often the case with legislatures when it comes to new industries and new technologies. This is usually because it is really hard to find agreement in these kinds of places and we tend to be hypersensitive to the connotation of using this kind of language to describe it as opposed to that. I understand that. I am guilty of it myself. I say “guilty”, but I do not think it is a bad thing in certain contexts. In this case, I really do welcome the opportunity to dive further into this. It is why I am prepared to support the bill at second reading, and I believe my colleagues in the NDP are prepared to support the bill at second reading, in order to try to create a forum to get into these matters more.
There is a real public interest in continuing these conversations, and I am quite reassured by the debate tonight. There are a lot of members of Parliament from all sides of the House who are live to the real concerns and real risks of this industry and also appreciate that there may be some positive potential. We may want to get straight on what that positive potential really is. If we find that this is just a speculative enterprise and it does not add any real value, then perhaps we should be skeptical of it. I do not pretend to know that answer at this point. As a member of the finance committee, I would appreciate the opportunity to delve more deeply into it, and supporting the bill for me and for my NDP colleagues is an opportunity to advance that discussion in a forum where we might hope to make some progress on regulating this industry.
I note that the bill calls for the minister to table a framework. We do not have a regulatory framework in the bill and it does not really authorize anyone to make a regulatory framework. It just calls for a minister in the government, whatever the government of the day may happen to be, to table a document that, as is the wont of this place, will lead to more conversation. There will be more opportunities to criticize. If it is too boosterish, there will be opportunities to criticize that. If it is too heavy-handed from a regulatory point of view and certain people feel that this shuts down the positive opportunity of the industry, whatever that may be, there will be an opportunity to provide feedback on that. Doubtless there will be a government bill at some point before the industry is actually regulated in Canada.
I see this as an important first step in establishing the conversation and taking it seriously here on Parliament Hill. That is why I am pleased to provide my support to the bill today, notwithstanding some of the legitimate criticism that we have heard here tonight.