Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was billion.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Reform MP for Calgary Centre (Alberta)

Lost his last election, in 2000, with 22% of the vote.

Statements in the House

An Act To Amend Certain Laws Relating To Financial Institutions March 17th, 1997

Like I do sometimes. However, he does think things through. I would like to know, as a taxpayer, will the government be able to achieve what the master of myth, the finance minister, set out in budgets? Where is the government on its $9 billion in spending cuts by departments now? Has it cut anything at all? How much has it cut? What is there left to cut? How much time does he have to get there?

Over a four year period has the government pulled the wool over Canadians' eyes? Has the master of myth led the Canadian taxpayer astray again by not coming clean on where we are on departmental spending?

An Act To Amend Certain Laws Relating To Financial Institutions March 17th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I always listen with great interest when the member for Capilano-Howe Sound takes the time to make a speech. I especially listen when he goes off any written text because I find then he gives us the benefit of what he is really thinking and it comes out a lot clearer.

I would like to get something straight. I have never read that newspaper article to which he referred. I do not have a clue what he is talking about.

Therefore, as an individual MP sitting here, I am hearing for the first time that the government is behind in its departmental spending cuts. It has not made the size or kind of cuts in departmental spending that it had projected it would when it bragged about how it was going to eliminate the deficit. It did that by downloading 25 per cent or 29 per cent on to the provinces. The member for Capilano-Howe Sound told me that we also had to get our spending under control. We are all going to share this equally.

What the member just said is that the government indicated it would cut departmental spending by 19 per cent, which means $9 billion. It has not done that. Nor does it appear that it is going to be able to achieve that. I just want to get this perfectly straight and clear because I know this member does not say things just to win political brownie points like members on the opposite side do. He does not take cheap, political, partisan shots like members on the other side do.

An Act To Amend Certain Laws Relating To Financial Institutions March 17th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I do not appreciate the answer I was given. I asked two questions. On the first issue the member gave a nice political speech about foreign banks and what is not in the legislation.

He said that I am confused. Yes, maybe I am confused. I am confused because the government shoves legislation down our throats, does not even give us a copy of the legislation and expects us to debate it.

The press release to which I referred was issued by the government on February 14. That was four weeks ago. It said what it was going to do. It said that it had listened to everybody. It said that the matter had been reviewed, that it was different from the June 1996 white paper and that it was going to include a new regime allowing foreign banks directly into Canada. That is where I obtained that information. If the government can change its mind in four weeks, maybe it should give all of us notice.

The member did not answer my second question on tied selling. The question was: What safeguards are in the legislation for my benefit as a person who has not had a chance to read the final version of Bill C-82? I wonder how many Liberals have read the final version. What is in the bill that will satisfy the concerns which some Canadians have about the issue of tied selling? What is in there to protect the consumer from undue pressure and coercion? What is in the bill which allows the banks to hold their heads up high and claim they are not doing it? What is in the bill? I would like an answer to that question.

An Act To Amend Certain Laws Relating To Financial Institutions March 17th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a couple of questions of the parliamentary secretary to the finance minister.

One of the amendments to the bill allows foreign banks to branch directly into Canada. I do not disagree with that. It is a good thing. It helps increase the number of service providers. It increases choice which should lead to more efficiency and lower cost of services.

I would like to ask the hon. member, on the other side of the coin, has the government addressed the Canadian banks' concerns regarding what they need? What is the government doing to help our banks compete in foreign markets?

Foreign banks are now allowed to come in here. What have the big banks, if anything, said to the finance committee with respect to their expansion abroad? What has the government done there? That is one question.

The second question I would like him to touch on is with respect to tied selling. In the press release that the government issued, it said that it would introduce tied selling safeguards. I do not think he would argue that there is a difference between tied selling and cross selling, and that one is good and yet the other we have to be careful about. I know that even in my intervention I used terminology which is difficult to understand. If we do not go slowly it is difficult to convey the message we are trying to pass along to consumers.

What specific protection is the government providing for consumers, as the bill stands now? What are the safeguards against tied selling? I assume the member is also against allowing the big banks to do it.

An Act To Amend Certain Laws Relating To Financial Institutions March 17th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, would you add another minutes for this intrusion and please make it 13 minutes and 20 seconds. These people want to rush things through in such a dictatorial undemocratic fashion. They have used closure more times than the previous government, which is not democratic. Now I am off on a tangent which I will take a minute to do.

When you are in opposition you have the rules of the House which are here to protect the interests of the minority. Obviously the Liberals have such a strong majority and they are representing the wishes of those people who put them in here. But for the protection of all Canadians and all provinces the Liberals have to take the time and give us time to be heard. They have to allow us to tell them what we think is right or wrong about a bill. They have to give us the opportunity to point out what we feel on a constructive basis could make the bill better.

If they do not have the integrity or the fortitude to sit there and listen, then they are not really interested in the people of Canada; they are interested in themselves. They have no place to go this afternoon. They have nowhere else to go except for here where they can sit and listen, and that they will do at least while I have the floor for another 11 minutes and 20 seconds.

This is meant to be a democratic institution. I wish government members would recognize that just because they have a majority they do not have the right to trample over our rights in the minority. We have to be heard. We insist on being heard. The games this House leader plays and the way the Liberals fool around with the government orders with no notice, a lack of notice on this bill. Our chief critic is not here. He is not able to tell the people what he really thinks. He has been in the standing committee. He could shed a heck of a lot more light on this bill than I could.

I have some experience with banks and financial institutions so I feel qualified as a businessman to speak on this bill. I will get little

more personal if not as technical on this bill once I have read this letter which was sent by my colleague from Okanagan Centre to the Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions. This is the kind of work that Reform Party members do. It is a sample of the kind of hard work that Reform members of standing committees have done.

My colleague from Capilano-Howe Sound sits on the Standing Committee of Finance and has been our chief finance critic. He has made a number of valuable interventions in standing committee. They have been good, open, democratic and non-partisan suggestions. Here is an example from the member for Okanagan Centre. I hope the government listens to what he has to say. The reason I want to read this into the record is to show Canadians how things work in Parliament. It is not just debate and question period. For the media and for a lot of people it is just question period, it is theatrics. The real work is done right now on debate like this where people get up and put forth their arguments for or against a bill. Then the bill is sent to committee where people come forward as witnesses and argue their points of view, how they feel a certain bill will impact on them. And then there is the work that gets done behind the scenes.

Here is a sample of some work behind the scenes, a letter to the Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions written by the Reform member for Okanagan Centre:

Dear Minister,

As the Reform Party critic for financial institutions, I wish to express a concern that a growing number of small business people and I have with Bill C-82, an act to amend certain laws relating to financial institutions.

Specifically our concern rests with clause 55, section 451.1 subsections (2) and (3).

While 459.1(1) states explicitly that no bank shall impose undue pressure on, or coerce, a person to obtain products and services, subsections (2) and (3) appear to contradict 459.1(1) by allowing the banks to do just that. In our opinion these provisions for tied selling give the banks considerably more power than they enjoy now.

As acknowledged by your officials, the definitions of tied selling and coercive tied selling are numerous. While sectors do practise tied selling or product bundling, we feel caution must be exercised where coercive or pressure tied selling is concerned. Any legislation which could be interpreted as giving the banks the ability to coerce or exert pressure is grievous. Mechanisms such as conditions for preferred rates on loans and/or products and services which unduly influence the consumer to consolidate assets within one financial institution is not prudent in our opinion.

While we understand subsections (2) and (3) are considered to be interpretive and are intended to assist the courts, the Reform Party feels it would ultimately be in the best interests of all concerned to delete (2) and (3) thereby allowing 459.1(1) to stand on its own merits and to remove any chance of misinterpretation which would give the banking sector grounds for unfair advantage. Any resulting confusion can be adequately clarified by the provisions set out in 459.1(5) via the regulatory powers of the Governor in Council.

Barring this amendment, we would like to suggest an alternative amendment to Clause 45 and Clause 55 be deleted.

We are extremely aware of the time constraints inherent in the Bank Act which emphasize a preference for speedy passage of Bill C-82 through the House. The Reform Party does not wish to unduly delay the passage of this Bill. However, since a growing number of small business people, including members of the casualty and property insurance sector, share our concerns, I feel it would be irresponsible of me as a critic to advise our caucus to support Bill C-82 as long as Clause 55 stands as is.

We would like to see an amicable resolution to our concerns and wish to express our support for the merits of this legislation. Our main objective is and will always be to ensure that the integrity of our financial institutions remains intact and the interests of the consumer and the small business person are balanced with the interests of the financial sector.

I ask that you give fair and reasonable consideration to these concerns.

It is signed by the Reform member of Parliament for Okanagan Centre.

As members can see, our main concern with this bill lies in that aspect which controls tied selling and the difference between that and cross selling. One must be very careful when passing legislation and making laws that one does not step on people's toes or infringe on the rights of the corporation or the individual.

Banks are in a position to offer a lot of services. However, when looking at the size of banks and the number of people who are dependent on them, there has to be in anyone's mind some concern that legislation is not passed that allows the banks to have an unfair advantage over smaller or specialized businesses. That specialized business may be a large insurance company which offers just one service. It is not in a position to cross sell its product or offer volume discounts unless a person takes out a bigger life insurance policy or leases a more expensive vehicle or something like that.

When these smaller businesses are involved in their own specialized niche, it is important that when dealing with the banks that legislation is not imposed that gives the banks more power than the other financial institutions and investment dealers raising money, who can be offering chequing services and who cannot.

I have heard arguments from people who are anti-bank or bank bashers who say that the banks can get into any business they want. They can lend money for any purpose they want, provide insurance services or provide leasing facilities or whatever. We should then allow other people like investment dealers or other institutions to get into the banking business.

They do not like that so why not allow that so that we can have these specialized businesses if they have sufficient capital to offer other services? It seems to me that insurance companies have sufficient cash around. They could be in the deposit taking business, chequing business or credit card business which is a big business. We notice in the the Eaton's bankruptcy application that the most successful portion of its business is the credit card business and it is highly profitable.

We are trying to review the Bank Act, trying to make it fair for consumers and, at the same time, not make it punitive for the banks. We have to make sure that while one is applying for a loan for a house and the bank is approving the mortgage, it can suggest

one may need insurance for the house, so while one is there the bank might like to show its package.

The problem is how can one be inside that room or how can we pass legislation that puts one inside the law inside that room? We do not know what the bank manager or the account manager is saying.

The manager is telling the customer that the bank is giving him or her a mortgage. There is a big difference between your mortgage is approved, you have the proper credit facility and you know what, we can offer you insurance. Here is our package and I think it is a heck of a deal. You should take a look at it. That is okay and is cross selling in my mind. However, if the manager says that your mortgage is approved if you also take this insurance policy on the house, they come together, that is tied selling. That is not right. That is coercive. That is undue pressure on the consumer.

I feel that a lot of my intervention today was technical in nature, but I wanted to tell Canadians that a lot of work goes into bills like this. A lot of different people with different points of view make contributions. It is not easy: tied selling, cross selling, the difference, who is inside that room, how do you know.

Although the intent of the bill is is necessary and we agree with the majority of it, the one area that we are still unhappy with is the area of the tied selling in that clause.

Consequently, I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "that" and substituting the following therefor:

"Bill C-82, an act to amend certain laws relating to financial institutions, be not now read a second time; that the order be discharged, the bill withdrawn and the subject matter thereof referred to the Standing Committee on Industry".

We are very concerned about that one area, tied selling versus cross selling. As I said earlier in my speech, the Bank Act must be clear and concise in its language so that people can interpret it without ambiguity.

An Act To Amend Certain Laws Relating To Financial Institutions March 17th, 1997

That is the opinion of the hon. member for Okanagan Centre, who was our chief critic on industry.

I would like to continue, but I notice members on the opposite side are either wanting to take a breath of fresh air outside or they want me to finish speaking.

I want to add that if I would have been given unanimous consent, which Liberal members denied me, I would have finished that four minutes, I would have gone back to my office and I would not be making these people yell "time".

For the sake of clarification and for their benefit, I would like to let them know how much time I have left in this speech. I believe I have another 15 minutes, if I am correct. Will the Liberal members kindly indulge me and allow me to finish my remaining 15 minutes without yelling "time"?

An Act To Amend Certain Laws Relating To Financial Institutions March 17th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise to address Bill C-82. I would like to go over a number of issues and review some of the items that are in the bill which the parliamentary secretary has pointed out.

I would also basically like to submit to the House a lot of the work that was done by my colleague from Okanagan Centre who is our critic for industry and who has been monitoring and following the impact of this bill on Canadians and the four pillars of our financial institutions in Canada. A lot of what I do will be some work that he has done and that he has monitored.

I will express the overall outline of the Reform Party and then explain to Canadians who are watching how standing committees work, what actually is presented at standing committees by various groups and how that has an impact or no impact on final legislation. I will then read into the record a report by the member for Okanagan Centre which he has sent to the Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions. That way our position as a party and our contribution to this debate on this issue will definitely be moved forward.

The Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions indicated that Bill C-82 was really about protecting consumers. In a sense that is right but there are objections I have to that comment. How do we protect consumers when we increase their taxes? How do we protect consumers when we confuse them across this country, for instance, with the harmonized sales tax in three provinces but not in the other provinces? How can we implement tax reform and how do we encourage financial institutions and the four pillars to know what is going on when we have one tax regime in three provinces and a different one in other provinces?

We saw that big flaw. We saw that the direction of the government in terms of taxation was the wrong direction. We saw that in terms of another bill we debated earlier today, Bill C-70, the harmonization tax, the blended sales tax or the tax inclusive pricing which the Senate sent back to the House. I thought we were finished with it.

Although the amendment is headed in the right direction on that bill, tax inclusive prices in three provinces confuses consumers and lenders. The bill does not go far enough. I do not see why the bill should not have had, along with being open and visible, a national harmonized sales tax, not a partial one, and a single rate, not a mid-double digit rate. A lower rate would force the federal government to keep its expenses down and not overspend. There should have been another amendment to allow doctors to claim the GST on input credits.

The Liberals are very lucky they have a Senate and senators who went on a trip. Because of the power they have in the other place they were able to send the bill back to this House. At least they understand the meaning of representation and what is in the best interest of an area or a community. The Liberal premier of New Brunswick also understands the meaning of representation. He puts the people of New Brunswick first and not the Liberals. He puts the people he represents first and not his party. He puts his province first and not the Liberal federal government. Many Atlantic MPs will benefit from that decision.

I said many times that the harmonization effort was not really based on economic benefits for Canadians. I submitted sufficient proof that it bears a high cost. Yet the parliamentary secretary just said on Bill C-82 that he is worried about consumers.

Consumers are taxpayers. Taxpayers have had to pay three provinces $961 million. Taxpayers are consumers. They have a traditional cost in terms of their businesses and government transitional costs of $200 million. They are over a billion dollars now. There will be a huge increase in costs to consumers when the blended sales tax is applied in the three provinces after April to goods and services the provincial sales tax never applied to before. It will represent a 7 per cent tax increase to consumers.

I have read all the news about the government and what the Liberals are doing by introducing this bill and that bill and by jumping back and forth one to another. A new issue has come up that amazes me and disappoints me. The Liberals truly sound like the Conservatives before them.

During the Charlottetown accord Mulroney labelled anyone who voted against his accord as enemies of Canada. Now certain Liberals feel threatened by the actions of the Liberal premier of New Brunswick, Frank McKenna, in terms of the Liberals' re-election chances federally. They are angry he did a flip-flop on the harmonized sales tax. They are angry he did an about-turn and does not support the harmonized sales tax the way it was being shoved down the throats of Atlantic Canadians.

McKenna sided with the Senate banking committee to defer tax inclusive pricing, much to the embarrassment of the Liberal government and in particular the finance minister who claims that he was representing the consumers of Canada, the consumers of Atlantic Canada. Yet he is contradicted by the Liberal premier.

A disgruntled Liberal MP claims that "people are getting tired of his shenanigans", referring to Premier McKenna and his actions. The Liberal MP goes on to state further "on the condition of anonymity". This is a public servant elected by people and he speaks on the condition of anonymity. Does that shows real courage? He says: "I have never seen a premier accumulate so many enemies in three and a half years".

Because a Liberal premier, no less, disagrees with the federal government on what is best for the constituents of New Brunswick, he is labelled an enemy of the federal Liberals. Shame. Arrogance abounds on the government side.

All members of Parliament should be evaluating the consequences of increased taxes. All members of Parliament should be evaluating the consequences of tied selling, allowing banks to get into all businesses and becoming a stronger oligopoly. All MPs should be interested in representing the wishes of their constituents.

Our job as politicians is to represent voters across the country, not just the wishes of the federal Liberal government. If they do not agree with the government they should not be labelled as enemies of the country, as enemies of Canada, or as enemies of the Liberal government. If the Liberal government cannot keep an election promise it is not the fault of those who oppose. Nor should they be labelled as enemies.

I spent some time on the aspect of consumer protection. That is what Bill C-82 is all about. After the review will the bill improve things for the people of Canada, the consumers, as the Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions claims?

Let us look more specifically at what the legislation does for Canada and for Canadians. Some of the more notable clauses in the bill provide that more detailed information be available to the consumer regarding cost of credit disclosure. They require simplified and improved dissemination of information to consumers about basic financial services, low cost options and fees on products and services. They also allow non-deposit taking institutions to opt out of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation and loosen subsidiary requirements. So far so good.

They introduce regulations to allow financial institutions to enter into joint venture agreements and propose changes that permit mutual insurance companies to issue participating shares. They require that large mutual insurance companies remain widely held after conversion to a stock company. They also permit foreign banks to be regulated as Canadian banks.

In terms of foreign competition the Reform supports competition in the financial sector. We support permitting foreign banks to be regulated as Canadian banks. The Reform feels that competition leads to the best service and to a lower cost for the delivery of that service.

There is also an item called coercive tied selling. The whole issue of tied selling is probably the single most controversial aspect of the bill the government will have to address and be held accountable and responsible for. The issue raises serious concerns with regard to tied selling. Subsection 459.1(1) in clause 55 states:

A bank shall not impose undue pressure on, or coerce, a person to obtain a product or service-

Subsections (2) and (3) set out provisions where the banks are allowed to offer loans to persons on more favourable terms and conditions, on the condition they buy other products and services from a particular person. A bank or one of its affiliates may offer a product and service to persons on more favourable terms, on the condition a person obtains a loan from the bank.

Although subsections (2) and (3) are intended to be interpretative clauses for the courts, it is our opinion that they permit tied selling and give the banks considerably more power than they enjoy now.

We recommend that these clauses be deleted. If not, the banks will have the ability to pressure individual and small businesses to consolidate their financial activities and requirements into a single provider. This would not be considered fiscally prudent. Having assets under one roof increases the relative influence of the bank to determine who is granted loan capital and who is denied access.

In order to ensure a balanced system that respects both the interests of the consumer and the integrity of Canada's financial

institutions it is necessary to ensure that legislation such as the Bank Act is clear in its meaning and intent.

We must be prudent in all cases and ensure that access to capital is freely available without constraints of any kind. That point is trying to strengthen the argument that tied selling is a very delicate and potentially divisive issue. It deserves further review and discussion.

Earlier I said I would talk about some items raised in the Standing Committee on Finance in October last year. This is where the issue was discussed and certain groups came before the committee to make representations.

I will read the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Finance of October 1996 under tied selling:

Tied selling occurs when a vendor requires a customer to purchase one produce or service as a condition of purchasing another one. As the white paper points out "concerns have been raised that the special nature of the relationship between financial institutions and their customers renders their customers especially vulnerable to coercion and that market forces and the Competition Act may not provide sufficient safeguards for these consumers".

The committee is concerned that tied selling must not be confused with cross selling. Cross selling, in essence, involves offering a lower price for a particular product or service if the customer agrees to purchase another product or service.

That is like a volume discount. It continues:

Non-coercive cross selling may actually result in savings to customers who often find package sales attractive. As well, banks may find it worthwhile to make small business loans only if other services to that customer are part of a package, and the committee does not wish to discourage lending to small business. It is not always a simple matter, however, to distinguish between tied selling and cross selling.

That gets back to my earlier point that the Bank Act must be clear in its language and in its intent, and I do not believe it is. It goes on:

The Independent Investment Dealers Association brought three specific cases of alleged coercive tied selling by banks before the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. The Canadian Bankers Association has disputed that these cases involve tied selling. Without investigating the details of each case, the committee cannot judge their merits. Suffice it to say, however, the committee remains concerned about the possible abuse of power by not only banks but by all financial institutions and insists that their customers not be subjected to abusive practices involving tied selling.

The Competition Act currently prohibits tied selling by "a major supplier of a product in a market that is likely to

(a) impede entry into or expansion of a firm in the market,

(b) impede introduction of a product into or expansion of sales of a product in the market, or

(c) have any other exclusionary effect in the market with the result that competition is or is likely to be lessened substantially".

The committee does not believe that any of its concerns about tied selling of financial services can be dealt with by the Competition Act prohibitions since undue pressure on an individual customer would not meet the test of substantially lessening competition in that market. Accordingly, arguments to the effect that the Competition Act can resolve this committee's concerns about tied selling are specious.

In addition to the Competition Act prohibitions against tied selling, section 416(5) of the Bank Act states as follows:

"No bank shall exercise pressure on a borrower to place insurance for the security of a bank with any particular insurance company-"

The committee received representations from both the Canadian Bankers Association-and the Independent Investment Dealers Association-on this provision.

The IIDA asked that section 416(5) be amended to read as follows:

"No bank shall exercise pressure on a borrower to purchase or obtain any financial product or service from any particular supplier".

The CBA objects to the use of the word "pressure" as it currently applies, and to the expansion of its prohibition beyond "insurance for the security of the bank" to "any financial product or service".

The committee shares the concerns of the CBA that the word "pressure" is not defined and that many aspects of selling could involve an element of pressure. As stated by the Consumers' Association of Canada, what is important is that the pressure not be undue or coercive. The committee therefore recommends that section 416(5) of the Bank Act be reconsidered with a view to reflecting that it is not just any pressure, but only undue or coercive pressure, that amounts to unacceptable behaviour.

Secondly, the committee recommended that the prohibition in section 416(5) of the Bank Act against undue or coercive pressure should apply to the provision of "any financial product or service" and not just "insurance for the security of the bank". There is no reason why such pressure should be permitted in any instance.

Thirdly, the committee recommends that a provision similar to section 416(5) of the Bank Act as amended above apply to all federally regulated financial institutions. Undue or coercive pressure should not be prohibited only among banks. Recognizing the possibility that constitutional issues might arise, the committee recommends that the government undertake discussions with the provinces with a view to obtaining this protection for consumers of all financial institutions.

Fourthly, the committee recommends that financial institutions would be required to:

designate a senior level officer in each financial institution to implement procedures for dealing with consumer complaints;

provide customers with details on how customers can make complaints; and

report annually on the complaints received and the actions taken to respond to these complaints.

Fifthly, the committee recommends that customers who believe their complaints have not been dealt with adequately by the financial institution concerned shall be informed of their right to complain directly to the Consumer Protection Bureau-under the Minister of Industry, and the CPB shall report to Parliament on such complaints.

Sixthly, in the event the largely self-regulatory regime proposed herein proves inadequate to protect customers against undue or coercive pressure from tied selling, stronger measures should be undertaken.

Lastly, the committee recommends that officials study the laws and jurisprudence in other jurisdictions to assist in determining more precisely the difference between tied selling and cross selling. For example, section 106 of the 1970 Bank Holding Company Act of the United States spells out in some detail the instances of activities of banks that are not considered to be tied selling and which are therefore presumably for the benefit of consumers. Various provincial laws dealing with this issue might also prove helpful.

These are the conclusions drawn by the Standing Committee on Finance based on the submissions given by various witnesses on the issue of tied selling.

One can see how technical this issue is in the sense that it is hard to understand and is hard for anybody to really get it clear in their mind the difference between tied selling and cross selling, when they are going from one by placing conditions into the other where they are just suggesting a better deal or a lower rate and a real benefit if they are offering cross selling.

I would like to read from a document written by the member for Okanagan Centre, our chief critic of industry, who is not here today. It is just a short article that he entitled "It's Time to Stop and Take a Good Look at the Financial Sector". Having read this, I share the general thrust and view of his position on this.

He goes on to write:

[The finance minister] surprised many in his 1996 budget speech by assuring Canadians that banks would not be allowed to sell insurance through their branch networks-this year. This soft ball, so deftly tossed our way, neither assuaged our concerns or addressed the issue.

The real issue is not whether the banks should be allowed to sell insurance or enter into the car leasing business but whether true competition exists within the financial sector and thus whether the consumer and the economy will benefit if banks are allowed to enter other markets.

The banks assure us that their own industry is competitive and not the oligopoly that Canadians suspect. This is difficult to believe when the six largest banks in Canada move en masse to raise or lower interest rates every time the bank rate so much as twitches. The only competition in this case is, who will move first.

The four pillars of the financial sector, banking, insurance, trust companies and securities dealers, have crumbled as deregulation and technological progress has blurred the lines of distinction. The banks have been applying pressure ever since to sell insurance in their branch networks, enter into auto leasing, and increase their interest in the securities market. Further deregulation and the subsequent increase in the size of banks, however, could reduce competition in the financial sector and hurt consumers. These are perennial issues in Parliament particularly when a review of the Bank Act is scheduled. Major reviews are conducted every 10 years, interspersed with minor reviews every 5 years.

1997 brings a minor review but it is a major review that is required. We need to know a good many things: How do our financial institutions interact? How do they operate in relation to other sectors of the economy? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current regulatory structure? Not only will the answers reveal whether or not true competition exists within the banking sector and thus, whether or not they should be allowed to expand into other financial services, the answers will determine the veritable strength of our financial sector as it heads into the 21st century. Until such a review is completed, a moratorium should be placed on making further decisions about financial institutions.

Furthermore, Parliament must be the venue, perhaps in the form of a joint committee of the finance and industry committees. It is the only way we can assure all interests will be recognized and the process will be both accessible and transparent. Canadians must be able to see the process in order to put faith in it.

As lobbyists from all sides pressure members of Parliament to take sides and others to try to frame the issue within the overly political constraints of a war between big and small business, the challenge will be to keep our eye on the ball. That is, to ensure true competition exists and is free to function within the marketplace, that stability is maintained in respect of financial sectors, and a prudent regulatory structure is in place to protect the consumer.

If the bottom line is met, Canadians and the economy will indeed emerge as winners.

An Act To Amend Certain Laws Relating To Financial Institutions March 17th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, a point of order. I have a quick question which I hope you can answer. The Speaker told me as a member of Parliament that I would have the floor after question period for four minutes. That Speaker left and there was a transition when the Speakers changed. If that is what happened I still stand in my place and I insist that I get my four minutes.

An Act To Amend Certain Laws Relating To Financial Institutions March 17th, 1997

I had the floor, Mr. Speaker. My privileges are being denied.

An Act To Amend Certain Laws Relating To Financial Institutions March 17th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege. I had the floor prior to question period. As a member of Parliament, my privileges are that I am allowed to give a speech with a certain allotment of time.

Because question period comes at a certain time and interferes with my speech, I should not be denied my right as a member of Parliament to finish my speech which has four minutes left.

If this government is in such a darn hurry to get on with other legislation without letting me finish my four minutes, this is just another example of the dictatorial power that these-