Madam Speaker, I was on a roll until I was interrupted. I was actually saying some positive things about the Conservative Party.
At the end of the day, it is good, healthy legislation. One of the things to recognize is that Ottawa plays a leadership role on the issue of money laundering that is taking place in Canada and on the other types of illegal financial transactions that we see.
We are not the only level of government that has to play this role. We have to recognize that there are provincial and territorial governments that have responsibility for corporations and small businesses in their jurisdictions. We have seen that some provinces have been more proactive in terms of trying to deal with issues such as money laundering, the funding of terrorism and tax avoidance. They have actually already started the process.
It is not like it is an issue that has been overwhelmed by governments around the world. More and more, we are getting attention paid to this particular issue. One would expect that a government, in recognizing it, would want to bring forward legislation, as this government has. It has done a very thorough job in the development of the legislation, and presented it to the House. I suspect that is one of the reasons we are getting the support that we are from all parties inside the House.
There is a scale within the legislation that would enable Ottawa to incorporate the provincial and territorial participation. I believe we have a couple of provinces in Canada, Quebec and possibly British Columbia, but do not quote me on that, that have actually already come forward with legislation. That legislation would complement the federal registry that we are attempting to put in place through the framework that is being established with Bill C-42.
It is a commitment that we made to Canadians quite a while ago. In fact, it was in budget 2022 that we talked about establishing the framework, or, should I say, establishing the bill. We did not know the number then, but it is Bill C-42. It is a commitment that is being fulfilled by the Prime Minister and the government to support the building of confidence in corporations.
I look at the bigger picture. We often hear how important small businesses are, and the biggest corporations often start as small businesses. In the last year, I have been to a number of announcements of small businesses, and even medium-sized businesses, opening up in Winnipeg North. They have contributed to the overall success of our economy over the years. We can talk about small businesses being the backbone of the Canadian economy, creating the hundreds of thousands of middle-class jobs that are so very important.
Many of those small businesses are going to be the medium-sized and larger businesses of the future. They are the businesses that ultimately believe in the importance of issues such as trade and international trade. At the end of the day, as I indicated in previous speeches, trade is very important to Canada.
As a country that is so dependent on trade, it is important that we send a message around the world that we take money laundering seriously. We take the issue of funds that could indirectly or even directly go to terrorist organizations seriously.
By doing that, I would argue we are demonstrating leadership not only from within our national boundaries, but even beyond them. It is not an easy task. As I say, at the end of the day, within this legislation, we provide enough scale to allow for provincial jurisdictions. Those numbers are actually even larger, in terms of the number of corporations and businesses, than what we would have in Ottawa. I suspect, if we were to canvass these jurisdictions, we would find that all of us benefit if we can pool the resources and get everyone onside in the form of a larger national registry, and that is what this legislation is doing.
Corporations do a lot of amazing things. There is no doubt about that in the business community, but there is a percentage of those companies that do a great disservice. Those are the ones that continue to seek out ways, directly or indirectly, to launder money or to cause issues related to real estate, such as speculation of property, tax avoidance or even tax evasion. There is a difference.
We also see the issue of terrorism being financed, all through illegal money. Members should be aware that money laundering takes many different forms. I know British Columbia is a good example of it in terms of the casinos. Illegal money comes in, gets washed and then somehow exits as clean, filtered or cleansed money. That has cost millions of dollars.
We can talk about cryptocurrency. A number of months ago, there was an article in the Winnipeg Free Press on the police department cautioning people about fraud taking place with cryptocurrency. These are the types of things we need to be aware of. That is why we need to be careful.
I know we often mock the leader of the Conservative Party because of his attitudes toward endorsing cryptocurrency. He talks about it being a good way to fight inflation. At the end of the day, we have to be very careful. It is one of those possible tools that can, in fact, be used for unethical financial exchanges.
We are very dependent on our financial institutions and the protections that we put into place to track money that is flowing into Canada, and even money that is not flowing into Canada but has been acquired in an illegal fashion. We need to be cognizant of that fact. That is why, if someone goes into a bank and makes a deposit of more than $10,000, there is an obligation to report it.
There are many outstanding Canadians who work at our financial institutions who are very aware of the types of things to watch out for. We need to watch out for certain behaviours that take place. They also play a critical role in terms of protecting the integrity of our system.
From my perspective, and I would ultimately argue in the best interests of Canadians as a whole, the government takes actions where it can, like it is doing regarding Bill C-42, with the idea of establishing additional confidence in the public regarding corporations.
There is something that I should make a quick reference to, as I felt quite good about it a couple of budgets back. The federal government found that we had a lot of people outside of Canada investing in real estate who were driving the costs up. In particular, cities like Vancouver and Toronto were being subjected to all forms of speculative investments. There were also issues surrounding money-laundering allegations and so forth in real estate, in particular in condo developments. I heard about some of the empty units. Imagine building a unit that is worth $2 million-plus and no one is living in it. After I talked to some people, I found out that a huge percentage of the overall new condos being developed in communities like Toronto and Vancouver were empty. They were sitting empty. One of the measures the government put in place to try to deal with that issue was a special tax for non-residents.
Like many others, I think housing should be all about homes for people. However, they are becoming more of an investment, and a lot of the investments are driving up costs, especially with some of the vacancy rates across the country. It could be that or just a mindset that is often referenced about corporations in general: Corporations are greedy, and there is a lot of corruption, laundering and tax evasion or avoidance. A lack of trust is often found among the public in regard to corporations.
That is why when looking at the very heart of Bill C-42, what we are really talking about is corporate accountability and public trust in our corporate institutions. We see this because of the requirement to have a public, searchable ownership registry. That is at the core of the Canada Business Corporations Act and the amendment the government is proposing today. One could ultimately argue that the industry itself has been saying it wants to see this legislation.
The other day when I was speaking to this legislation, it was interesting. I was one of the individuals expecting to see the legislation ultimately pass unanimously or very close to unanimously. That will depend on what the leader of the Green Party and its other members do. That is the type of support potential it has.
I often suggest that members see the legislation for what it is worth and listen to the comments being made at the committee stage. If members really want to help restore confidence in our corporations, one of the best things they can do is get this legislation passed so we can make a very strong statement. That statement deals with the beneficial ownership that individuals have in corporations, which would have to be part of a registry. Individuals could then find out about ownership when someone has a major portion of that ownership. I know that some want to see a lower percentage and that others might want to see a higher percentage. However, at the end of the day, what we are seeing, which I think is 25%, is an acceptable percentage for now.
At least let us get the legislation through. By doing that, we are establishing the framework. I would then hope to see more discussions taking place at the different provincial legislatures in support of it.
I talked about smaller businesses in our communities and the impact they have. I do not want to in any way try to imply that corporations as a whole need the legislation as much as it is important that the legislation is there to support corporations. We will find that law-abiding corporations and businesses are actually very supportive of the legislation. They understand the need for it. It is the idea that we have a registry that would enable consequential penalties. I would like to cite one in particular. By passing this law, to use a very specific example, corporations that fail to provide their beneficial ownership information to Corporations Canada may be prevented from obtaining a certificate of compliance.
Keep in mind that if they cannot get that certificate of compliance, that has an impact on their ability to borrow funds. If a corporation wants to expand and go to a bank, they will need that certificate, in good part because without that certificate, chances are they will not be able to get financing. This is not to mention exports. Many corporations today are dependent on exports. To get those exports and have the market, these certificates are absolutely critical.
If I look at it from that perspective, I think of my own community of Manitoba and some of the corporations that have done exceptionally well. The other day I talked about Hylife. Hylife is a company located in Neepawa, Manitoba, that creates hundreds of direct jobs, not to mention hundreds of indirect jobs. We can find out who those beneficial owners are, which is really important. It is the same thing with New Flyer Industries. These are in provincial jurisdiction, but some are in federal jurisdiction.
We are talking about millions of dollars in transactions. If we look at New Flyer Industries, a huge corporation—