The House met at 11 a.m.
The House resumed from December 4, 1997, consideration of the
The really important word in all this is informed. Informed
means that when you arrive at a conclusion all the facts have
been before you. Based on those facts you decide what is in your
best interests. What this motion is suggesting is that we are
going to short circuit that process and we, in this House, are
going proceed to determine what is in the best interests by
requiring that toys be labelled.
What is the evidence before us. The evidence is that a group
called Greenpeace has said that phthalates in toys, when children
chew or suck on them, somehow enter into their bodies and this is
unsafe. Greenpeace bases that on a couple of scientific studies,
one of which came from a Dutch group and the other from a Danish
group. The problem is these studies are now being refuted. The
Danish environmental protection agency in April 1997 recommended
that certain types of teething rings be withdrawn from the
market. In July 1997 the Dutch health ministry suggested to toy
retailers that they should withdraw some soft vinyl toys from the
market. Those recommendations were made after a meeting with
What has happened since that time is the results of the Dutch
study cannot be duplicated. They did some kind of scientific
study. When they tried to come up with the same conclusions on
the same data a second time, they could not. In the case of the
Danish study, any scientist who has looked at the methodology
used has said that this is not a study at all but a conclusion
reached on certain data given. In terms of scientific
methodology is is not acceptable. No scientist could form a
conclusion based on the kind of evidence that was being used.
It really is not germane to us in this House if in Denmark or in
Holland governments have been pressured by groups such as
Greenpeace to make a move based on evidence that is not sound,
that is not scientific, that is not replicable, that is not
acceptable. That is a decision made in those countries.
Let us remember that in Europe there is something called the
European Union which makes rules with respect to a number of
issues on a regional basis. It makes it for those member
countries. As recently as February 17, almost a month ago, the
European Union's scientific committee looked at the evidence that
was provided by Denmark. It looked at the evidence that was
supplied by Holland. It looked at the evidence supplied by
It said it could not make a decision. There was not enough
evidence. There is no science in any of this. This is a group of
experts. This is a group of people who make objective,
dispassionate, scientific decisions. They said they could not
make a decision. They also pointed out in their decision that
there was no urgency in any of this.
We would ask why is there no urgency if, as is being
suggested by Greenpeace, this is affecting the health of
children. The answer is that phthalates are the most widely
researched chemical polymer going. Manufacturers in this country
do not include on purpose components in toys or in their goods
that are in some way going to affect or harm the lives of
children. There is some suggestion that this is a direct attempt
or that they are being reckless. That is not the case.
On February 6, 1998 Health Canada had a meeting with
representatives of the industry to discuss this matter because
the industry was concerned about the allegations being made by
The industry met with Health Canada and said it was responsible
and that it wanted to deal with it. In that meeting, Health
Canada agreed to take a lead in this matter.
I suggest to all members present that if Health Canada is to
compile a group of scientists to examine and study this in order
to reach a conclusion it would be terribly premature for us in
this place, acting on a hunch from Denmark, Holland and
Greenpeace, to come to the conclusion that parents are going to
make an informed decision because we are going to require
manufacturers to stick a label on toys which states the product
There is a community of scientists within the government
supported by the industry that is going to look at and analyse
the data and reach a conclusion.
The industry has gone one step further and has said it is happy
with the process. It is glad that some independent third party
is going to come in and look at it. The industry will support
the protocol as established, will support Health Canada and will,
most important, support any conclusions reached by Health Canada
in this respect.
We have a duty and an obligation in this place that when we
start passing motions or enacting legislation with a scientific
basis, where we can look for a cause and an effect, that we have
the scientific data and all the evidence before us that will
allow us to draw that correlation.
If we are to start reaching conclusions we need some type of
scientific evidence that allows us to go from point A to
point Z, being the conclusion.
What we are being asked to do by this motion is to go from point
A to point Z but we do not know why. It is based on a hunch, a
suspicion and it is being driven by a group that has no evidence
but still wants to propel this matter because it thinks it is in
some sort of environmental interest.
In the end I think this motion must, as a result, be defeated.
The only thing we are going to end up doing is creating a problem
in the minds of parents because there will be the suggestion that
when they buy a toy there is something wrong or something in this
toy that may, according to the proponents of this motion, be
harmful. However, the only evidence, I suggest, is the direct
opposite. There is no evidence that will lead us to this
It is for that reason that I would ask members of this House
that when this is voted on to vote against it and defeat it.
The Bloc Quebecois and all of the other parties in the House
support this motion, unlike the Liberal government, which has
refused to do so until now.
Moreover, my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton, who has just spoken,
has given us one more example of how out of it his government is.
Most of us here are parents or grandparents. As
parliamentarians, we are, or should be, abreast of the latest
developments, but how many of us know what serious health hazards
phthalates represent for our children and grandchildren? I
congratulate and thank the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst for
raising this matter.
If this motion is passed, parents will be able to tell whether
plastic toys contain phthalates. And what are phthalates? They
are chemical agents containing lead or cadmium, which are added
during the manufacture of plastic toys to make them softer or more
malleable. These substances are also found in a number of products
made of vinyl or polyvinyl chloride, commonly called PVCs.
If we make a brief list of the commonplace items we have in
our homes, we shall see that PVCs are common in consumer products
such as plastic tableware, food packaging, furniture, floor
coverings, plastic bottles, backpacks, even rainwear. What worries
me even more, however, is the frequent use of phthalates in the
manufacture of toys and products for infants, such as nipples and
pacifiers, teething rings, and other soft objects specifically
intended to be mouthed by infants and toddlers.
The danger to health lies in the fact that the phthalates do
not bind with the PVC or vinyl, which constitute the basic material
of the toys. They remain freely mobile and can separate themselves
from the PVCs. What happens when a child exerts pressure on a toy,
when he sucks or bites on a teething ring? It is simple; he could
directly ingest phthalates.
Some of the soft PVC toys tested by Greenpeace contained up to 40%
of their weight in phthalates. Yet, there is no mention of, warning
about or label indicating the presence of hazardous substances. Should
we not err on the side of safety instead of taking chances with the
health of children?
It has been shown that prolonged exposure to phthalates can cause
cancer, liver and kidney damage, and even infertility. It is very
strange that, in Canada, such substances are labelled as harmful when
shipped in barrels but considered harmless, and even safe for eating,
when used to make toys. That is a paradox, which must be denounced.
A more recent study revealed that this substance might also
imitate, although slightly, oestrogen, an hormone which plays an
important role in regulating development and metabolism. Finally, lead,
which is one of the ingredients in phthalates, is often found in PVC.
Lead poisoning is widely recognized as one of the most serious threats
to children's health. Exposure to even extremely low doses causes
permanent damage to the nervous system. Let us not forget that young,
growing children are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of
these substances. In many cases, the harm caused is irreversible.
In fact, European countries like Denmark, Austria, Belgium and the
Netherlands have warned the public against the risks of playing
regularly with these toys. Certain major toy store chains have decided
to take certain toys off the market.
In addition, Denmark and the Netherlands have banned the use of
phthalates in all plastics and, of course, in toys.
The Liberal government is dragging its feet on this issue, Health
Canada having decided not to take PVC plastic toys off the market in
spite of the fact that a study commissioned by the department showed
that lead concentrations were considerably higher than they should
Can you believe that, out of the 24 products tested by the
department, 17 exceeded a level of 200 parts per million, even though
the Canadian standard, which is one of the most stringent in North
America, is 15 parts per million?
But the department refuses to regulate toys. Yet, it recognizes
that lead is a neurotoxin that can cause irreversible and permanent
damage to the brain, even when a person is only exposed to small doses.
Again, there is a flagrant contradiction.
Lead is regulated, but only for paintings, ceramics, glass and
artists' pencils and brushes. Nowhere is there mention of the lead that
can be found in toys.
I believe Health Canada is trying to downplay the dangers posed by
lead, considering that the levels of lead detected in certain toys
during the study can cause irreversible neurological disorders in
In order to reassure the public, the department released the
results of a risk analysis. However, it is recognized within the
scientific community that a risk analysis is based on an approximate
exposure to chemical products, so as to draw some conclusions. According
to experts, this method can be highly inaccurate in assessing actual
In fact, Dr. Richard Maas of the Environmental Quality Institute,
at the University of North Carolina, said that the methodology of this
extremely superficial study was clearly biased to arrive at a negative
conclusion about the risk involved.
Instead of legislating, the department is proposing the
implementation, on a strictly voluntary basis, of its strategy to reduce
the levels of lead in products for children and other consumer products,
which will come into effect in the year 2001. This strategy relies
solely on the industry's good will. The government did not provide any
incentive to protect children.
Of course, the best way to avoid any risks related to the ingestion
of phthalates would be to eliminate PVCs in all malleable toys. However,
this is not the purpose of the motion before us, which only asks the
government to enact legislation mandating manufacturers to label toys.
This would allow parents to make an informed decision when buying
products for their children.
We cannot oppose a preventive measure. We cannot refuse to provide
To my knowledge, phthalates have always been considered a toxic,
carcinogenic substance under the Canadian Environmental Health
The Liberal government is once again sitting back and letting
things happen. Yet, it said, in its throne speech, that “the experiences
of Canada's children, especially in the early years, influence their
health, their well-being, and their ability to learn and adapt
throughout their entire lives”.
This motion is asking the government to be proactive. It is a
government's role and duty in the area of public health. Will the
government wait until tragedies occur before taking action?
Phthalates are chemical agents put in plastics to soften them.
These very widespread agents are present in plastic lids,
cellophane paper and children's toys. Studies have shown that
these materials can cause cancer, damage the liver and lead to
Growing children are more susceptible to these harmful
effects. Phthalates are released from toys and ingested into
children's systems. Even more alarming, phthalates are released
from common toys such as pacifiers and other soft toys that
children put in their mouths.
I have a two-year-old daughter and this situation frightens
me. It is something that should be taken seriously. It is
infuriating that the Liberal Party does not consider this a serious
matter. I should not say the whole party, because we have been
informed that a number of Liberal members support this motion, but
it remains to be seen whether or not they will really support it
when it comes to a vote.
We know that new European studies resulted in store chains in
Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Argentina, Spain, Belgium,
Germany and Italy taking a great number of toys containing
phthalates off the market. This is a matter of protecting our
children, as well as a consumer-rights issue.
In Canada right now, parents who are concerned about this
issue have no way of knowing whether the toys they are buying
contain these chemical agents. As lawmakers, we must take a stand
on these issues that have not already been debated in Parliament,
particularly when it is a question of protecting our children's
interests and health.
It is also a question of raising public awareness. This is a
very serious matter, when one considers that any young child has
plastic toys he puts in his mouth. I cannot stress enough that we
are talking about our children and grandchildren.
All that we are asking is for these objects to be identified
so that parents may decide whether or not to buy them. We are not
asking for them to be pulled off the shelves. We are asking for a
study to be carried out and for there to be labelling in the
meantime. Some countries have already withdrawn them. We are not
imagining things. This is real. It has happened, regardless of
what any hon. member may say to the contrary. What has already
happened cannot be changed.
This motion is all the more important because of its proactive
nature in preventing long-term health problems. Prevention is
important because it will protect our children from liver disease,
cancer and infertility. It will also impact upon the future costs
to our health system.
If we can prevent devastating and costly diseases such as cancer
now, our already overburdened health system will benefit.
This is not the only instance where this is happening. Many
decisions being taken across this country are very costly to our
health system. We are making people ill. We are not giving proper
care to our people in hospitals. We are shipping them back home
before they are ready, and they end up costing the system more as
a result. Some in this country end up paying a still higher price,
as needless deaths occur.
All we are asking here is for these items to be labelled so
that parents can decide whether or not to purchase them. I think
what we are asking is very reasonable. There are some doubts being
expressed about these products presenting a problem, that they are
making our children sick.
I cannot imagine that this House cannot reach agreement on such an
We are asking for assurance that our children will not fall
ill as a result of our buying products that are not identified in
the stores. It is a sad thing that the Liberals are playing
politics at the expense of our children's well-being. This is
We are not asking for the moon and the stars, here. We are
just asking for a little label on products that make our children
sick. One might well wonder which companies with certain political
affiliations are going to be hurt by this labelling requirement.
A stop must be put to this. People must come first, ahead of
scoring political points, when such important issues are at stake.
I stand today speaking on behalf of this motion. This is
something that is very dear to my heart. I have children at
home. I have a two year old that puts everything she can find in
her mouth and here we are talking about substances that can make
her extremely ill. All we are asking is to identify those
I could go out there today and buy those products. I do not
know which ones they are. We are asking to protect our children,
not asking for the moon or the stars. We are asking to keep our
young children healthy. That is all we are asking.
This motion was introduced following Greenpeace's allegation
about additives in vinyl toys. They alleged that phthalate
esters, a common family of chemical products, represented danger
to children. However, they have been used safely for over 40
years in toys as well as health sensitive applications. These
include blood bags, catheters, IV tubing and surgical gloves.
As they are used in a wide range of products, no other
plasticizer has been subject to the same level of scrutiny and
Last fall Health Canada released a report conducted by the
product safety bureau, Environmental Health Directorate, that
concluded that the lead and cadmium present in these vinyl
consumer products does not pose any significant risk to children.
Health Canada has undertaken a risk assessment of phthalates and
will be releasing the results later this spring. It is in the
best interests of parents and children to wait for Health
Canada's risk assessment. The decision to label toys should be
based upon sound science.
At present there is no scientifically validated evidence that
show DINP is presently posing a health risk. The significance of
labelling could be seriously undermined as a responsible way to
inform parents about toy content.
Our party respects and expects the health safety of our children
to be foremost when buying products. We must be sure that there
is a clear and very present risk to warrant labelling. However,
our party will be the first to approve appropriate labelling
should the scientific and regulatory agency state that this
chemical family presence presents any sort of risk.
The recent Danish studies cited by Greenpeace have been
discredited; one, for producing unrepeatable results and the
other for false methodology. Standards must, however, be put in
place by Health Canada's product safety bureau. There needs to
be a regulatory standard for intake just as the European Union
has already taken the authority to put in place a maximum daily
intake of DINP.
We cannot support this motion until the necessary scientific
protocols have been established and Health Canada has in place
regulatory powers under Health Canada's product safety bureau.
In light of the general concern over any potential threats to
children's health, and that is a concern shared by all Canadians,
and our common interest to see that appropriate measures be taken
to address these threats, I want to use my time in this debate to
highlight some of the more effective means the government is
currently employing to protect the health and safety of Canada's
Two of the most effective tools at the government's disposal are
the Hazardous Products Act and the hazardous products toys
regulations which are both administered by the Products Safety
Bureau of Health Canada.
Under the legislation, certain toys are banned from sale and
other toys can be marketed only if they meet specific safety
requirements. It should be noted it is the responsibility of
manufacturers and importers to ensure that products comply with
the regulations of the act and regulations before they are
imported or marketed into Canada.
Product safety officers routinely monitor the marketplace and
take appropriate enforcement action on any toys that contravene
The mission of Health Canada's product safety bureau is to
prevent product related deaths and injuries. Legislation, safety
standards and consumer information are elements of the bureau's
activities to ensure safer products for children and to promote
their safe use.
These activities dovetail with the department's national
information and education program. Child safety and injury
prevention in the use of consumer products is one of the major
programs and major goals of that particular area. I can say that
as a former educator with the Waterloo County Board of Education
I certainly understood fully the kinds of goals that were to be
achieved by that particular educational program.
The federal government will continue to look after the
interests of all Canadians.
Unfortunately, no matter how much safety is built into a
product, children continue to die or suffer injuries from
improper use of products.
The direct aim of Health Canada's information and education
program is to reduce that number of accidental deaths and
injuries to children in Canada. The program reaches out to
children, parents, caregivers, day care centres and schools with
useful safety information such as safety awareness campaigns,
posters, pamphlets and videos.
Within Health Canada the health protection branch works to
eliminate health risks associated with the natural and man-made
environments that can lead to illness or death.
Its principal responsibilities involves assessment and control
of the nutrition, quality and safety of food; the safety and
effectiveness of drugs, cosmetics, medical devices,
radiation-emitting devices and other consumer products; the
identification and assessment of environmental hazards; the
surveillance, prevention and control of diseases and the
provision of specialized laboratory services such as those used
in the testing and assessment of plastic products containing
potentially hazardous phthalates.
It is important to point out, contrary to what has been said in
this House this morning, that phthalates do in fact bind to PVC.
There is no evidence that long term exposure to DINP causes
concern and liver damage. There simply is no proof in that
regard. It is a groundless assertion.
I also want to point out with respect to lead that 15 parts per
million referred to for lead is not a government standard. It is
a proposed strategy. In fact, the lead strategy is still being
reviewed and under consultation with the stakeholders and indeed
the focus groups are meeting next week across Canada with respect
to that very important issue.
One of the common threads which bind these various programs
together in the health protection branch is the government's
concern for the health and safety of Canadian children. Health
and safety is paramount, it is important and is something with
which we are very concerned.
This concern is shared with parents and care givers, public
health workers, manufacturers and retailers across Canada. By
pooling existing resources, knowledge and expertise and by
working with those partners across society, the government is
indeed taking effective ongoing measures to address potential
health threats to Canada's children. It is important that we
continue in that vein and do the right thing for all our
children, and for all Canadians.
When I was doing my research for this, I had an analogy which
came to mind. I remember many years ago driving on an Alberta
highway. At one place there was a corner and a sign which said
you must slow down. I forget what the speed was but it was in
the old days when we had miles per hour. It said slow down to 35
and so I did. I realized that was an incredibly slow speed. It
was not an accurate evaluation of a safe speed to travel that
Over time, travelling that same road, I just kept my usual speed
of 60 miles an hour and I could do it in total safety even though
there was this little yellow information sign that said I should
for safety reasons slow down to 35. It was unrealistic.
Unfortunately, there is a sign on an exit which leads to the
road where I live. It indicates that the maximum speed is 80
kilometres per hour. Drivers come off the 100 kilometre per hour
freeway on to the exit which is at 80 kilometres. However, if
drivers take that corner at more than 40 kilometres they wind up
with their wheels in the air. The sign is not meaningful.
In one case the sign says “Go slow, but you do not have to”.
In the other case the sign says “Go 80”, but it should be
slower. If the driver does not make the adjustment when he or
she actually sees the turn of the exit, it will not be a safe
That principle applies to this bill. This bill asks for the
labelling of a product. That label had better be accurate. There
are a couple of reasons for that.
If the label says “This is a dangerous product” when in fact
it is not, that has two important implications. One is that it
is an unnecessary cost. It is an economic handicap to the
companies which manufacture the product. The second is that it
makes the consumers immune to the warning, just like the sign
which said I should drive slower than was really necessary.
If the label on the product says “This is a dangerous product”
when it fact it is not, it is like crying wolf. It means that
people will not respond when they see a label which in fact
should be a legitimate warning. That is what happens if, in
fact, the product is not dangerous.
On the other hand, if the product is dangerous, perhaps there
should be more than a label. Maybe the product should be banned.
If it really is dangerous, and if it has been proven to be so,
then we should ask ourselves: Is it sufficient simply to warn
people that if they buy this product it will be dangerous? For
people to buy that product is not a wise decision.
Our labels must be meaningful. There must be solid scientific
evidence when we put a label on a product which says it is
dangerous that it is dangerous. Then Canadians will be able to
trust labels. Otherwise they become meaningless and there is a
danger of economic hardship and lost jobs for no reason if in
fact the science is wrong.
I would like to take another tack, that is the companies which
manufacture these products would be totally foolish to use
products which are dangerous. What would be in it for them? Why
would a company produce a product which, over time, will end up
causing harm to or the death of people? It does not make any
sense. No company in our present society would do that willingly
I am sure my NDP friends will say that I am attributing too much
morality to private corporations. I happen to believe that the
morality is there. I have not yet encountered a corporation,
except perhaps the tobacco companies, which would do this.
Of course, in the case of tobacco companies there is valid
scientific evidence. Perhaps we ought to take stronger
approaches to the curbing of the use of tobacco and smoking and
wrapping our young people into that habit.
I would like to see solid scientific evidence. I believe that
Health Canada has a role to play in this. It is currently
conducting a study. It is my understanding that the results of
the study will be out shortly. If the scientific evidence
indicates there is no real danger, then it would show how badly
conceived this bill is. If it comes up with the conclusion,
soundly based on scientific evaluation, that the products which
are manufactured in this way are dangerous, then we ought to do
something more than simply label them and take further steps.
My argument is very simple. We need to make sure the labels are
They must not be based on emotion nor on the crusade of some
group that has no scientific evidence. They must be based on
sound scientific health evaluations and research. When that
occurs the Canadian government has a role to play to protect our
young people and our population.
When I first reviewed this motion I could not pronounce the word
phthalates and I think most Canadians on seeing the word might
have the same difficulty. I undertook not only to learn the
correct pronunciation but also to try to understand what was
being proposed and why it was being proposed.
I want to thank the people at Health Canada for sharing with me
the evidence, information and work they have undertaken.
Health Canada has the responsibility for ensuring the safety of
products. I am convinced the department will take appropriate
action as required to safeguard our children. I say that not
just as a member of the House of Commons but as a grandmother. I
have three grandchildren under the age of three and a half who
also put things in their mouths. If they are putting things that
are hazardous to their health in their mouths then I do not
believe a label is adequate protection. That is why I have some
concerns about the private member's motion before us today.
Health Canada has been concerned about phthalates since the
1980s. Last fall the environmental organization Greenpeace
released a report on a group of chemicals. These are
polyvinylchlorides or PVC plastics. PVC and plastics are
contained not only in toys but in many things found in our
everyday lives, from the seats in our cars to coverings on
notebooks. The Greenpeace report actually set off the latest
round in what is a longstanding debate on the potential hazards
of PVCs in children's toys and elsewhere.
Today I would like to review the Greenpeace claim and inform the
House of Health Canada's activities in response to this concern.
I have been listening very carefully to the debate and I believe
that every member of this House shares the concern about the
safety of our children and our grandchildren. We also want to
know if substances which we come in contact with in our daily
lives have hazards that we should be aware of.
The history of phthalates is very important. According to the
Greenpeace study eight of the 63 toys it tested were purchased in
Canada. The report claimed that four of the six toys contained
phthalate concentrations ranging from 20% to 39%.
Health Canada obtained a copy of the Greenpeace report and
departmental officials have studied its findings. It is extremely
important to note that the assessment was done in co-operation
with international experts in this area. It is not just Canada
and the United States but the world is interested in products
which may have harmful contaminants.
Officials at Health Canada conducted a field survey and found
that 63 toys mentioned in the Greenpeace report were available in
Canada. All 63 toys were made in the United States and 38 of the
toys are available in Canada.
Health Canada's health protection branch conducted its own tests
on three of the four products that Greenpeace had identified as
having significant concentrations of phthalates. The tests
revealed a similar concentration of phthalates as the tests done
by Greenpeace with levels ranging from 3.9% to 26%.
It should be noted that the phthalate identified in both studies
is the one known as DINP. This chemical was introduced by toy
manufacturers in the United States six years ago to replace
another phthalate, DEHP. Why is the difference important? DEHP
was thought to be potentially harmful and hazardous to children
and was voluntarily taken from the marketplace and replaced with
Following its usual precautionary approach to potential health
hazards, Health Canada expanded its testing and assessment of PVC
plastic toys to an additional 30 products that were not on the
Greenpeace list. With the exception of an unknown phthalate
found in one sample, the only phthalate detected was DINP. Eight
additional samples were then bought and tested. Only DINP was
detected with very small amounts of DEHP.
These results support my view that private member's Motion No.
85 is premature. I believe it is premature because the
scientific evidence is not in and available. I also believe that
if the evidence showed that the phthalate DINP is a hazard to
children, then labelling would be inadequate. Therefore, I do
not believe we should proceed with this motion. It is my
understanding that the research will be concluded this spring.
The evidence will be there and will be evaluated.
I am convinced that Health Canada will remain vigilant in its
quest to ensure that potential health risks which are posed by
PVC plastic toys and others will be brought to the attention of
all Canadians in an appropriate manner. If it is a health hazard
it will be banned and not simply labelled.
The department is continuing to monitor the situation. It is
testing plastic toys. As the minister has indicated, Health
Canada and this government will take whatever action is necessary
to protect the health of Canada's children.
It is important for us to have these debates in the House. One
of the concerns I have is that we not unduly alarm people about
potential hazards when there is no evidence to support those
findings. I await the results of scientific evidence. I would
urge all members of this House to make sure they get the facts
straight when we are having this debate.
Should the investigations indicate that these additives in vinyl
products pose or are likely to pose a risk to young children, I
believe the department will not and should not hesitate to take
necessary corrective measures. However, it would be
irresponsible for us to act without the evidence to suggest that
our children are in danger.
Just to put this motion in perspective, members will recall that
the motion was debated before Christmas. The member was
endeavouring to have the toys removed from the shelves during the
Christmas rush. We are on the second hour of debate and we are
now endeavouring to see if we cannot get some action taken before
next Christmas rolls around.
It is also noteworthy that it seemed in the initial hour of
debate last December two of the other opposition parties in this
place were supportive of the motion. However, they seem to have
changed their minds, listening carefully to the debate this
I want to make note of what this motion attempts to do. It
recommends that the government introduce legislation requiring
manufacturers to indicate on the label when a toy contains
phthalates so that parents can make an informed decision before
buying products for their children.
As has been noted several times, we are particularly concerned
about young children at the teething stage who want to put soft
malleable toys in their mouths. We are concerned about it because
phthalates have been proven to cause cancer, infertility and
As I speak on this motion for the first time it alarms me to
hear people say that the evidence is not in yet, that more
studies must be done, and that Health Canada is doing more
studies. Note that Health Canada has been busy laying off
scientists right, left and centre. One wonders when and where we
will get the scientific evidence referred to by the previous
speaker. One hopes it will be this spring. We will wait to see.
A number of other countries have taken varying degrees of action
on the issue of phthalates. Some of those countries are Denmark,
Sweden, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Belgium
and the Philippines. We are studying the matter.
I suggest to members opposite that we should not be throwing the
baby out with the bath water on this issue. We should be heeding
what other countries are concluding in this area. An ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is better to err on the
side of safety and wait until the studies are completed. It is
better to take the necessary preventive action, put labels on the
toys and children's clothing such as raincoats. Put the labels on
now. If when Health Canada completes its tests it concludes
there is no reason for alarm, then we would proceed accordingly.
It is better to be safe than sorry, especially with the youngest
and most vulnerable in our society.
In the Health Canada study, of the 17 products tested, 12
contained lead at levels higher than Health Canada's guideline.
All of these products were in the range of between 295 parts per
million to 17,714 parts per million. High levels of cadmium were
also present in the products that were tested and two products
exceeded the guideline for Health Canada's extractability which
is 90 parts per million. Despite that evidence Health Canada has
concluded to date that there is not a problem.
We believe some bona fide criticisms can be made in this area.
Testing 17 of the many thousands of vinyl products on sale in
Canada every year is not the comprehensive testing program others
have done. Certainly there is the Greenpeace report.
Only one type of extractability test was done for the Health
Canada report. Health Canada did not do a surface lead test on
brand new products, nor did it do an ultraviolet light
degradation study. This is particularly problematic since a lot
of products are sold for use outdoors. The majority of products
tested by Health Canada exceeded its guidelines for total lead
content. We fail to understand why this is not deemed to be a
The motion before us today is very important. I urge all
members of the House to support this motion when it comes to a
Far be it for me to be at variance with my colleague from
Thornhill, but she did mispronounce the word phthalates. She is
from Toronto, and being from the upper Ottawa valley, from the
great riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, we have our own
Ottawa Valley vernacular. I would ask my hon. colleague from
Thornhill to forgive me for the way we pronounce it and the way
we say Toronto or the big smoke. We do not enunciate Toronto.
Having cleared up that issue, I am very pleased to address the
motion before the House on phthalates in plastic toys. The
potential health hazards of polyvinyl chloride or PVC in plastic
toys is not a new issues. It is one that Health Canada has been
involved with since the mid-1980s. Probably the member for
Calgary Southeast would not remember it being brought to Health
Canada in the 1980s. He was probably in diapers at that stage of
his illustrious career.
I take this opportunity to provide the House with some
background information on this important children's health issue
and to review Health Canada's ongoing response to it.
The department has taken a strong leadership role over the past
12 years in assessing and acting upon potential PVC health risks
to children. The issue of phthalates in children's products,
especially a potentially hazardous phthalate known as DEHP, has
been investigated by Health Canada and other foreign governmental
agencies for a number of years.
In the early 1990s Health Canada took an active role in ongoing
research over children's PVC products, specifically pacifiers.
The department shared its concerns about DEHP and its research
with the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the United States.
In 1991 Toy Manufacturers of America voluntarily decided to
discontinue the use of DEHP. In early 1992 Health Canada
conducted a survey to confirm the toy manufacturers' statement
and found that the majority of children's products made of PVC
contained only trace amounts of DEHP which were well below
maximum acceptable levels. Building on this progress, Health
Canada maintains contact with scientific organizations and
governments around the world to obtain the latest information and
research on potentially hazardous phthalates.
Last June the department investigated a Danish report indicating
a potentially hazardous substance in a teething ring. Immediate
tests showed no scientific evidence of DEHP in the rings.
However, the department is doing further evaluations to determine
the potential risk of other phthalates in these and other types
of plastic toys. The testing is in line with Health Canada's
policy of investigating toys or products brought to its attention
as potentially dangerous. While the department is not aware of
any incident in which a child has ever had an adverse reaction to
phthalates, including the discontinued—
The House resumed from February 24 consideration of the motion
that Bill C-19, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code (Part I)
and the Corporations and Labour Unions Returns Act and to make
consequential amendments to other acts, be read the second time
and referred to a committee.
First, Bill C-19 erodes a couple of Canada's highest political
values, both democracy and freedom. Second, Bill C-19 causes
division not only between employers and employees but also
because it creates two classes of citizens in Canada.
Specifically the legislation sets the rights of people who ship
grain above the rights of those people who, for instance, might
ship other commodities like those of their neighbours next door
who grow something like alfalfa.
I also point out that the legislation has been roundly
criticized by a number of people. It is not just me who holds
the legislation in low esteem. For instance, we note in the last
parliament that the Liberal dominated committee which examined
the legislation found cause to criticize a number of aspects of
the legislation. At that time it was known as Bill C-66. In
part the legislation died going into the last election. Liberal
senators wanted to take some time to look at it and as a result
the legislation died.
It has been reintroduced as Bill C-19 and I want to explain to
the public and to my colleagues in the House why I strongly
oppose this piece of legislation.
The first thing that concerns me is the fact that the new Canada
Industrial Relations Board, the replacement for the Canada Labour
Board, would be allowed to certify a union on virtually any
pretext without a democratic vote. That is completely
anti-democratic. It stands opposed to everything that Canadians
as democrats truly believe in. I am offended that the government
would choose to introduce this now and to allow that to happen.
If my colleagues doubt for a moment the impact of that type of
provision, I refer them to what happened recently in both Ontario
and British Columbia where provincial legislation allows labour
boards to essentially go ahead and certify unions either in
opposition to what workers have decided themselves in a free vote
or in some cases allowing labour bodies to go around the idea of
having a vote at all.
One of the best examples is a Wal-Mart store in Nelson, B.C.,
where recently the British Columbia Labour Board disallowed a
vote because “an employer told an employee he would not benefit
from the union”. People at the labour board in B.C. have
determined that someone's right to free speech, to persuade
employees, is somehow wrong. Therefore they disallowed the idea
of a vote. It was absolutely unbelievable.
This type of sweeping power would be granted to the new labour
board the government is forming now under this new legislation.
It is anti-democratic and as democrats we must stand against it.
The second big reason we need to oppose the legislation is that
the jurisprudence of the Canada Labour Relations Board would lead
us to expect that the new CIRB would deem the use of replacement
workers to be unlawful conduct. This causes me grave concern.
Under the current legislation federally regulated industries can
use replacement workers to keep their operations viable. In some
cases they have to do that if they want to survive as a business.
The new legislation will give the board the power to say that
they cannot use replacement workers. This is extraordinarily
dangerous. It is a step backward.
To all those people out there who understand that in a very
competitive global economy these days we need provisions of all
kinds to keep our businesses going, they understand intuitively
that this will work against that principle and in fact will
endanger the livelihoods of the very people who should be
benefiting, the employees, if a business is able to keep going.
We stand opposed to that.
I note that my colleagues in the Senate raised it as an issue
they were very concerned about, as they did also about the issue
of the decertification and certification of unions without a
vote. It was absolutely unbelievable. They raised these as
issues they were very concerned about. I point out that these
are Liberal and Conservative senators by and large.
A third point concerns me very much. I know we do not have a
lot of time to speak on these issues. Under this new legislation
the Canada Industrial Relations Board can order an employer to
release to a union representative a list of the names and
addresses of the employees who work off site. There is
absolutely no provision for obtaining the employees' consent to
do that. That causes me concern.
My friends in the Senate were concerned about that as well. They
have raised this issue. We know the Sims task force preceded
Bill C-66. It provided the basis for some of that legislation.
In addition to raising concerns about things like replacement
worker provisions the government was proposing and about the
proposal to go ahead and certify a union without a democratic
vote, it raised concerns about the issue of people's right to
privacy. The senators pointed out that if people did not want to
be hassled by a union it should be their right.
The privacy commissioner also said that people should not have
to be hassled by a union if they do not want to be hassled by it.
There could easily be provision for people who work off site to
be informed of what a union is proposing, if they give their
consent to the employer to release their names and addresses.
That is private information. We should not be putting into
legislation provisions that allow unions to go ahead and contact
people at home, at their place of work or wherever, when they do
not want that to happen. It is important for people who believe
in that fundamental freedom, that right to privacy, that we
oppose this piece of legislation. Those are things people have
talked about in a lot of detail up until now.
I want to talk about one particular aspect of the legislation
which affects my riding. It is the provision that would allow
service to grain vessels to continue in a strike or lockout
condition but would not allow other types of service for other
types of commodities.
This is of particular concern in my riding where five plants
produce dehydrated alfalfa. When there has been a shutdown on
the west coast, in the past those plants have lost millions of
dollars in sales. It is a $100 million a year industry. Farmers
who grow alfalfa will not get their product from the port to the
ship but grain producers will.
We do not want to take anything away from grain producers. Their
gain is wonderful. By allowing that essentially what happens is
that the bargaining position of alfalfa producers and shippers is
weakened. They can no longer combine with the politically
powerful farmers who want their grain shipped to markets across
the ocean. They are set aside in the legislation. It creates a
two tier system and we think it is absolutely wrong.
I stand with my colleagues in the Reform Party and strongly
condemn the government for Bill C-19. We believe it is divisive,
anti-democratic and works against the principle of freedom. I
encourage colleagues around the House to work with their
colleagues in the Senate to oppose the legislation. We think
Bill C-19 is wrong.
This is an anti-democratic bill which overrides the privacy
rights of workers and collective bargaining, properly conceived.
Let me say at the outset that the Reform Party has, since its
founding, supported the principle of collective bargaining. We
believe that workers, by joining together democratically through
an appropriate, open, transparent and democratic process, may
decide, quite legitimately, to negotiate collectively and bargain
collectively with their employers. That is a fundamental
economic right which is recognized in every liberal democracy and
which is also recognized by the Reform Party.
What Bill C-19 seeks to do, by amending the Canada Labour Code,
is to change the legal framework within which those collective
bargaining rights are exercised by people who work in industries
regulated by the federal government.
This bill changes the name and the powers of the Canada Labour
Relations Board to the Canada Industrial Relations Board. The
cosmetic change of its name reflects a significant change in the
powers which will be given to the board.
One of the principal objections I have to the bill is that the
new board will have, as my colleague from Medicine Hat mentioned,
the power to ban replacement workers in federally regulated
industries. That means that a company which has done its level
best in fair negotiation to provide a fair deal to its employees
but which finds that the union leadership, for one reason or
another, decides to strike, will be held ransom. Its livelihood
and ultimately the livelihood of its workers will be held at the
whim of the union leadership. This company will not have the
right, if proscribed by the Canada Industrial Relations Board, to
replace striking workers with people who can continue to provide
those goods and services. In other words, the economic viability
of various companies and indeed various industries can and may
very well be threatened by this bill if it is passed.
As the hon. member mentioned, the government recognizes the flaw
in empowering the CIRB to ban replacement workers by exempting
those workers employed in the area of grain shipping and handling
at the ports. In the past there have been several instances when
those workers have gone on strike and caused enormous economic
turmoil for prairie grain farmers because of their inability to
export overseas the grain they have produced. These amendments
do not really solve that problem. The ability to hire
replacement workers will not necessarily mean that grain will
move. What it does mean is that we are creating a double
standard for workers, one standard for those who do not work in
the grain handling unions and one standard for those who do.
If banning replacement workers is wrong in the grain handling
situation, then it is wrong for those who do not handle grain,
those who handle other commodities, those who provide other goods
and services, those who are as essential to the Canadian economy
as our grain workers.
We would seek to remove the provisions of this bill which, in a
discriminatory way, create a double standard with respect to
Another serious concern I have with the bill is its treatment of
the certification issue. This bill would empower the CIRB to
certify a union local at a particular place of business even if
the majority of the employees at that place vote against
My colleagues will correct me if I am wrong, but I thought we
were living in a democracy. I thought that in a democracy the
majority, or at least a strong plurality, prevailed. However, in
the case of the amendments to Bill C-19 the government is saying
that the principle of democracy can be marginalized.
If a bunch of appointed members of this board, likely Liberal
patronage hacks, decide that a particular local place of business
is to be certified, it will be certified by that board even
against the overwhelming objection of the people who work there.
My colleague mentioned the recent case of a Wal-Mart store in
Nelson, British Columbia, which has similar legislation to that
being introduced here, where the B.C. labour relations board
ordered that the Nelson Wal-Mart employees be unionized even
though they voted against it in their certification vote. A
similar thing happened at a Wal-Mart store in Windsor, Ontario.
We could see the same thing happening across the country in
federally regulated industries if these amendments are passed.
We are also concerned about the question of privacy. This bill
would undermine the privacy rights of union workers. This is a
very serious consideration. People are often forced into a
union. We are talking about a labour regime of closed shop
unions where the board can force the people to be in a certified
union. Now we are saying their privacy rights are to be
compromised by this bill. This is really big brother manifest in
this kind of legislation and that is why we are opposed to it.
What we ought to do is look at a fair, open and transparent
regime for regulating labour unions. We have no objection to
people legitimately exercising their collective bargaining
rights. However, this bill would create a double standard, would
jeopardize the privacy rights of workers and would jeopardize the
livelihoods of many businesses and potentially some industries
through its treatment of replacement workers.
Finally, this bill would override the principle of democracy
which should govern the treatment of unions in the certification
process. Frankly, I think it is an exercise of statist tyrannical
power to tell a majority of workers that they are going to be
forced into a union and forced to pay dues against their will.
That is simply wrong.
We ought to look at bills like this at the level of first
principles. So often we get buried in the details of technical
amendments like this and we lose sight of first principles. One
of the principles of liberal democracy is freedom. I know it is
a quaint notion to some of my friends opposite on occasion.
However, that notion dictates that people cannot be coerced by
the state to surrender their freedoms without their consent. Bill
C-19 would seek to circumscribe the economic freedoms of workers
to not be unionized, not certified and not forced to pay union
dues if they choose not to.
We ought to put Bill C-19 and these amendments back on the
drawing board. As the Senate committee suggested, we ought to
start all over again and listen to the business groups across
this country that are speaking out against this. I have received
several phone calls, letters and faxes from different businesses
and business organizations that say this bill constitutes a very
real threat to the competitiveness of the Canadian labour force
and our labour markets.
I would ask all my hon. colleagues, including those on the
Liberal side, to look beyond the spin they are getting from the
labour department and look at the first principles behind this
bill and vote against Bill C-19.
The Liberals in the previous House allowed the amendments under
Bill C-66 to die in the face of business lobbying. Some Senate
opposition and Liberal tradeoffs to push other bills through
before the last election prevented Canadian workers from having
the representation and legal rights they should have and that the
revisions to the Canada Labour Code will give back to them.
Part I of the code creates a framework for collective bargaining
by the federal private sector and applies to approximately
700,000 workers. In June 1995 the Minister of Labour established
a task force to conduct an independent review and recommend
The task force report was released a couple of years ago and the
minister met with representatives of labour, management and other
interested parties to hear the views on the task force
recommendations. Bill C-66, the previous bill, reflected the task
force's recommendations and these consultations.
Support for revisions to the code are long overdue. Although
they do not go far enough we think it is certainly worthy of our
I listened with a great deal of interest to the member for
Medicine Hat and the member for Calgary Southeast talking about
this bill and parading themselves as friends of ordinary
Canadians and working people, which is anything but what the
Reform Party is all about.
The hon. member's leader is opposed to government regulated
minimum wage laws. I am sure the member would support him. He is
on record saying that minimum wages should be linked to supply
and demand and not to government regulated minimum wage. We know
the member for Calgary West comes from the National Citizens'
Coalition and worked on something called citizens against
enforced unionism when he was a member of that not so august
In speaking to the bill I was particularly struck by the
amendments introduced last September by the member for Wetaskiwin
who I believe was then and is still now the Reform Party's labour
critic. He introduced a number of motions at that time and I
wanted to go through some of them to give people listening a
sense of what this party thinks.
In any event, I am now referring to the comments made by the
hon. member for Wetaskiwin last September 24. Motion No. 4 at
that time said government should support rights for all Canadians
and young people in particular to enter the workforce and achieve
their potential. This sounds very innocuous, very laudatory.
Motion No. 5 states:
We go back to the Ontario Public Service Employment Union and
Merv Lavigne in the 1980s, aided and abetted by the National
Citizens' Coalition, on this whole question, and what Justice
Bertha Wilson had to say about it and the awarding of costs to
She went to the Americans because they have similar legislation
to what is being proposed by the member for Wetaskiwin. The
following is what Supreme Court Justice Bertha Wilson had to say:
Among American workers Madam Justice Wilson noted that it had
gone from a 35% rate of unionization in the United States in the
1940s to barely 20% by 1980.
It is our view on this side of the House that Canadian unions
would meet the same fate if we had similar legislation adopted in
This is the area of attack the Reform Party makes against
working men and women in close concert with the National
Citizens' Coalition and the Fraser Institute, both of which are
good friends. They are in favour of making closed shops illegal.
We have heard some of that, new laws to undermine effective
strike action and paramountcy of private property over collective
rights. We certainly have heard that from the two previous
speakers of the Reform Party.
I think the official opposition party and their friends in the
National Citizens' Coalition and the Fraser Institute could be
counted upon to pursue any goals toward deunionization in the
country. In fact the Fraser Institute, the research arm of the
Reform Party, has dedicated $250,000 for such work over and above
the cost of hiring a co-ordinator for a new five-year plan called
towards a new millennium.
They plan to publish a right to work, how to guide on
establishing right to work in Canada, more conferences in
jurisdictions sympathetic to right to work, contrasting
U.S.-Canada labour laws, blaming Canada's high unemployment on
what they perceive to be unfair, unbalanced labour legislation.
I think it could be summarized no better than what the previous
Reform member, Herb Grubel, who is now happily back working with
the Fraser Institute, had to say some time ago:
When the member for Crowfoot suggests that we do not know what
we are talking about when it comes to the Reform Party and its
views on labour, we think we do know a thing or two.
We think that what they are trying to establish here is Alabama
north. It is a race to the bottom, who will do it for the least
amount of money. We reject that wholeheartedly and we urge that
this bill be passed into law as quickly as possible.
With great respect to the previous speaker, the member for
Palliser, I learned a long time ago that in fact there are
certain issues that we are going to agree to disagree on. It is
philosophical. I will not convince the hon. member for Palliser
to think in my direction, nor do I expect that he can convince me
to think in his direction.
However, in saying that, there are a number of differing views
with this piece of legislation. I will go back to a piece of
legislation that I am very familiar with. I look at the
parallels of the Canadian Wheat Board Act, Bill C-4, and this
I raise this because both pieces of legislation were flawed when
they came to this House.
There was and is a great deal of controversy with both pieces of
legislation. Both pieces of legislation were introduced in the
previous Parliament and both died on the Order Paper. They
essentially came back with very few, if any, changes or
amendments although the government at that time had the
opportunity to listen to the people who would be affected by both
pieces of legislation.
In the case of Bill C-4, western Canadian farmers would be
affected. Bill C-19 would not only wrongfully impact the
business community in Canada but also the unions in Canada. It
is a very divisive piece of legislation that will not resolve any
of the current outstanding issues.
I would say to the member for Palliser that I am not a unionist,
I never have been, nor have I embraced the philosophies.
However, I am a fair individual who believes that there is a need
for labour unions. I have negotiated across the table from
labour unions and I believe very strongly there is a need and a
right to have fair management-labour relationships as well as
negotiated settlements in any type of labour contract. I
honestly believe that, and it can be achieved.
I also believe there is a need for balance which must be there
in order for both parties to put their prospective positions on
the table and to come to a negotiated agreement. Bill C-19 does
not provide the balance. It has, unfortunately, taken the
balance and given it to one side of the equation, one side of the
argument. I believe the hon. member would have spoken against
the legislation because there was an unfair balance if it would
have come forward such that it changed the balance in favour of
management and corporations.
There is an unfair balance in this legislation. There is
substantial controversy out there. I wish the government would
have put forward a well thought out, logical piece of legislation
that incorporated that balance.
I will read some headlines from several local papers: “Business
anxiety is mounting over the proposed changes to the Labour
Code”; “Liberals ready to duplicate ill-conceived Ontario
labour law”; “Shippers fear scheme will increase labour
strife”; “Grain ports law angers B.C. business”; “New labour
code rules benefit unions”; “The higher unemployment bill”,
referring to Bill C-19; “Closer examination reveals flaws in
rewritten Labour Code amendments”. After having read these
articles, I understand there is a great deal of divisiveness in
the business community.
Our party has already spoken about a number of concerns with
this legislation. Without question our first and foremost
concern is with the replacement workers clause in Bill C-19. It
is unfair. When the Sims report was tabled, this was one of the
areas that was not agreed to in the report. There were some
serious concerns about it and a minority report argued against a
general ban on the use of replacement workers. It changes the
balance of power to the unions as opposed to having that balance
between management and labour.
There is another area of concern that is very real and serious
with respect to Bill C-19, that of the offsite workers. This is
an invasion of privacy, an invasion into a person's ability to be
employed in Canada without having others access your employment
ability on offsite workers from a particular corporation. It is
a travesty that the government would put this forward in this
We are also concerned about certification not requiring the
majority vote of the employees. It is very serious when others
can dictate to the majority what it will have to do according to
the minority speaking.
Another area of concern is that of the work stoppage at ports,
the shipment of grain and other commodities. I have some mixed
feelings about this particular clause in the legislation. I
believe very strongly that for too long western Canadian farmers
have been held hostage by unionized workers in the ports and the
railroads. They are always held hostage at the time of year when
it is most vital. The transportation of the grains should be
allowed through to the ports so that our reputation as Canadian
producers is not going to be impacted by not having just in time
delivery with these commodities.
I have mixed feelings that this particular clause in the
legislation is a good clause. However, I would not like to see
this clause changed to benefit labour. If it is good for grain,
it should be good for other commodities. All commodities should
be treated equally. If it is good enough for grain then there
should not be work stoppages because the ramifications of the
position in the world marketplace.
Other commodities should be given the same co-operation. Those
other commodities are in most cases directly related to
production of agriculture. Fertilizers should be given the same
opportunity. We have other commodities such as coal and potash.
We have major commodities that should be given the same
opportunity in this legislation as what is given to grain.
However, I would not like to lose the clause that speaks to the
grain component if that whole clause was going to be rewritten.
Our party is on record as saying that we will be opposed to Bill
C-19. My preference would be for the government to see the error
of its ways and take this legislation off the table. It should
take it back to the Canadians, the business community, as well as
the labour unions to try to negotiate and work out a fair and
balanced approach to the changes to Bill C-19.
It should have been done with Bill C-4 where there was such a
backlash with the legislation. In fact, when the legislation is
being approved, it will not solve or resolve any of the problems.
It should be done with Bill C-19. The government should learn
from past mistakes to take the legislation back and bring forward
to this House a balanced piece of legislation that will ensure
that all sides of this equation and argument will be satisfied.
What else does this bill do? The member for Palliser commented
very strongly on support of the union particularly on the west
coast. I would like to make it clear that the NDP, the member
for Palliser and the rest of his colleagues have at heart only
the interests of the unions. The Reform Party has the interests
of unionized workers and the non-unionized workers such as
farmers in western Canada. It is this kind of an approach that
is required when bringing legislation before this House.
Serving only the interests of the big unions on the west coast
is a dramatic hindrance to the economic performance of this
country and it is a dramatic hindrance to agriculture in western
We only have to look at some of the problems that arise for
farmers in the west to see that every dollar counts.
In the past couple of years we have had the transportation
problems with grain moving to the west coast. Over the years
there have been many strikes and grain sales were held up. The
problems I am referring to in the past years have ended up
costing farmers in the neighbourhood of $100 million between
demurrage costs, lost sales and those kinds of thing.
When legislation is brought forward in this House, we have to
look at whether or not it is good overall in the sense that is it
80% to 90% good for everyone, or is it really just good for a
small segment of workers. Good legislation should not
disadvantage to a great extent any one group in Canadian society.
As an example, a piece of legislation which comes to mind as good
and which everyone can support is the RCMP superannuation act. It
is legislation where everyone wins.
Bill C-19 has some good points. However in the whole it is
insufficient to pass a bill that does only a little good and a
whole lot of harm. It certainly does good. If there is an
elevator terminal on the west coast full of grain and a strike
happens, the people who move the grain from the elevator on to a
ship are required to go back to work to put that grain on.
However, as the days drag on in a strike and if the elevator was
empty or was not necessarily full at the start, what happens
then? This legislation will not enable the agriculture products
from western Canada to continue moving because there will not be
anything to move. What is the solution? Certainly labour has to
be treated fairly and properly. There are mechanisms by which
this can be done.
The Reform Party has very clearly come out with a plan that
would enable the unions and the workers to be treated fairly.
They would receive good compensation for the work they do. It
would also protect those people who do not have protection under
legislation, for example the farmers in western Canada and other
small businesses that move their products through ports.
I would suggest as put forward by the Reform Party that a labour
dispute settlement mechanism such as final offer selection
arbitration would be useful on the west coast. It would ensure
that labour is treated fairly, that it is properly compensated
for its efforts and that farmers in western Canada continue to
have their grains and other products moved.
Strikes in the public sector differ from those in the private
sector because of the monopolistic nature of most public
services. Final offer selection arbitration gives labour and
management the tools to resolve their differences. It does not
favour one side over the over. It eliminates government
interference in the negotiations.
The Reform Party believes that final offer selection arbitration
would provide protection from back to work legislation in a
strike or lockout situation.
We only have to look back a few weeks to see the mess we were in
during the post office strike. In that case both union and
management knew that the House was going to have to do something
eventually. Therefore they had no incentive to get together to
come up with a good solution. As a result many Canadians suffered
drastically as that strike went on, primarily small business and
My friends to the left in the NDP represent only the big unions.
They have no balanced approach to represent all Canadians. I
agree the unions have to have the right to organize, the right to
bargain, but their right is not supreme over the right of all
Canadians. That is the point I make in that regard.
I will quickly comment on how this final selection arbitration
would work. If and only if the union and employer cannot make an
agreement by the conclusion of the previous contract, the union
and employer would provide the minister with the name of a person
or persons they jointly recommend as an arbitrator or arbitration
panel. The union and employer would be required to submit to the
arbitrator/panel a list of the matters agreed upon and a list of
matters still under dispute.
For disputed issues each party would be required to submit a
final offer for settlement. The arbitrator/panel selects either
the final offer submitted by the trade union or the final offer
submitted by the employer, all of one position or all of the
other position. The arbitrator's decision would be binding on
As the member for Brandon—Souris commented, this legislation is
exactly like Bill C-4. Nobody but those with a narrow little
interest wants to see this legislation go ahead. As a result I
cannot support this bill.
I support the Reform Party's position that we want to see unions
treated fairly. We want to see non-unionized people treated
fairly. I believe the plan we have put forward will do that.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am particularly glad to have this
opportunity to introduce Bill C-20, which will modernize the Competition
Act, and make one of our most important economic framework laws more
suitable for the information age we live in.
This updating is particularly needed in light of a major problem
addressed by these amendments, that of deceptive telemarketing.
Telephone scam artists have become a contempory electronic
Law enforcement officials conservatively estimate total losses to
Canadian victims and lost sales to legitimate business to be in
the order of $4 billion per year.
These predators use the anonymity of the telephone and their
skills of deception to sound plausible. They persuade their
victims to trust what seem like reputable businesses or
charities. Sometimes high pressure and abusive sales tactics are
used to convince consumers to give up their money or give out
their credit card numbers.
And the term consumer includes businesses as well as
individuals. Whenever a business purchases goods or services
from another firm, it too becomes a consumer. Small and medium
sized businesses are frequent targets of telemarketing scams.
All sorts of ingenious tactics and schemes are used. A
potential victim might be told that he or she has won a valuable
prize or gift, but must pay a fee, or “taxes”, before delivery.
Then, the prize turns out to be worthless, or non-existent.
Sometimes a plausible mailing or advertisement pitches an
attractive job opportunity. All the victim has to do is call a
900 or 976 number for further details and be kept on hold or
listening to a long recorded message while expensive phone
charges mount up.
Scam might be piled upon scam. Often con artists call people
who have already been victimized once and pose as professionals
who can recover their losses, for a fat fee of course, which is
never seen again.
Dishonest telemarketers might prey upon businesses and charge
inflated bills for minimal, unnecessary or non-existent supplies
Although deceptive telemarketers target all groups in society,
they tend to focus on those who are most vulnerable, such as
The Competition Bureau has prepared a public awareness video
which shows one scam artist boasting of cheating mothers and
daughters, fathers and sons. This individual is shown outlining
an international telephone routing scheme that he used to provide
fictitious testimonials for his bogus investment plan. He also
described plans to target a family's entire savings, including
their paycheque, their pensions and even their children's
These despicable cheats are bringing an entire legitimate
industry into disrepute.
In addition, given the nature and capabilities of communications
media these days, telemarketing scams cross multiple
jurisdictions and make cooperative enforcement particularly
One credit card scam, for example, was run through a corporation
in British Columbia, by telemarketers in Ontario who targeted
victims in the U.S.. This is why, at the recent meeting of the
United States Attorney General and the Solicitor General of
Canada, the topic of telemarketing fraud was an important part of
Telemarketing fraud also came up at the April 1997 meeting
between the Prime Minister and the President of the United
States. As a result our two countries established the
Canada-U.S. binational working group on telemarketing fraud which
delivered its report to the Prime Minister and to the President
last November. That report made several recommendations,
including that the “governments of both countries and their
respective agencies clearly identify telemarketing fraud as a
At present the Competition Act prohibits the use of materially
false or misleading representations to promote the supply or use
of a product or the promotion of any business interest. The act
also contains provisions relating to promotional contests.
However it does not specifically forbid certain practices
associated with deceptive telemarketing. The current law is also
not specific enough to nail con artists who do not actually make
any representations over the telephone. These inadequacies
needed to be addressed.
The amendments to the Competition Act will create a specific new
criminal offence for deceptive telemarketing.
It will apply to the use of interactive telephone communications
for the purpose of promoting the supply of a product or a
Persons engaged in telemarketing will be required to disclose
certain types of information during their phone calls. The law
will also prohibit a number of deceptive practices, such as
requiring consumers to pay money as a condition to receive a
prize, or to require advance payments for products sold at
grossly inflated prices.
Special provisions will expand the responsibility of
corporations, their officers and directors, for ensuring
compliance with the law. It will become easier for the courts to
issue interim injunctions to halt suspicious activities.
Penalties will be stiffened.
Indicted offenders will face prison
for up to five years, and/or a fine at the discretion of the
For summary convictions the maximum penalty will be a fine of
$200,000 or a year in jail or both.
In certain cases law enforcement officials will be able to
intercept private communications without consent after obtaining
judicial authorization. This new provision will be used to
gather evidence of deceptive telemarketing and will apply to the
serious crimes of conspiracy and bid rigging.
While this provision is not expected to be widely used, in some
cases it may be the only way to gather evidence effectively. The
director would be required to follow the normal procedures of the
criminal code to obtain authorization.
These measures against telemarketing fraud are part of a total
package of amendments to the Competition Act. To put these
changes in context, we should recall that the Competition Act
contains both civil and criminal provisions. Criminal offences
under the act include price fixing, bid rigging, predatory
pricing, retail price maintenance, misleading advertising and
other deceptive marketing practices. For these, the crown must
prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an offence has been
committed, and the new telemarketing provisions will fall into
this criminal category.
But the Competition Act also contains civil provisions, whose
benchmark is the civil law's less demanding requirement for proof
on a balance of probabilities. In civil matters, the Director of
Investigation and Research has the option of applying to the
Competition Tribunal of Canada for remedial orders to deal with
the anti-competitive conduct in question.
Misleading advertising and deceptive marketing practices are
criminal offences because they can have serious economic
consequences; consequences that can merit a criminal sanction.
They hurt both consumers and competitors who are engaged in
honest promotional efforts.
However, studies since the mid-1970s show that criminal
sanctions alone are an incomplete response to misleading
advertising. Criminal prosecution has a number of drawbacks. It
is not an effective way to stop misleading advertising quickly,
and the criminal law process is expensive and intensely
consumptive of time and resources.
The changes before us will create a combination criminal-civil
regime to address misleading advertising and deceptive marketing
practices. They will foster quick and efficient compliance
through a series of measures that allow a great deal of
flexibility. This flexibility will enable the competitive bureau
to tailor its approach and use the tools that are most effective
for each different situation. Criminal sanctions will remain in
place but only for the most serious cases of misleading
Most existing misleading advertising and deceptive marketing
offences will fall under the less cumbersome provisions of the
civil law as reviewable matters. Remedial orders could be
granted by a judicial member of the competition tribunal, by the
Federal Court of Canada or by a provincial superior court.
Remedies available to the court would include cease and desist
orders, interim cease and desist orders, administrative monetary
penalties, information notices and consent orders.
Taken together, and combined with the Competition Bureau's
existing and strong education program, these measures will permit
the Competition Bureau to take a pro-active and preventive
approach to anti-competitive practices which go against fairness
in the Canadian marketplace. They will expedite decision making
and ensure that it is done consistently.
Most of these types of cases would be brought before the
Competition Tribunal, rather than the criminal courts.
These amendments would also change the title of the Head of the
Competition Bureau from Director of Investigation and Research to
Commissioner of Competition.
This new title of commissioner will better reflect the
responsibilities of the position, putting it on a par with those,
for example, of the commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted
Its other most important changes concern prenotification of
mergers, regular price claims and prohibition orders. For
mergers an effective prenotification process is essential to
allow the competition bureau to determine in advance whether a
transaction would have a negative effect on competition. The
proposed amendments will make the prenotification process more
efficient and clarify the law concerning certain types of
Information requirements would be revised and outlined in the
regulations instead of in the act. There would be greater
flexibility to waive the requirement for prenotification or for
some of the information required under certain circumstances.
Longer waiting periods will provide sufficient time to review
proposed transactions thoroughly. Conditions for obtaining
interim orders will be relaxed so that the commissioner will be
able to delay the closing of a merger that raises competition
issues until an inquiry can be completed.
The regular price claims provisions of the act will be amended
for greater clarity and to better reflect what consumers and
retailers understand by them. The legitimacy of regular price
claims would be determined by an objective standard, a test based
either on sales volume or the pricing of an article over time.
Consumers will benefit from this clarification of the rules and
merchants will have more freedom of choice in selecting pricing
strategies and will be encouraged to innovate in ways beneficial
to consumers and retailers alike.
The other major area of impact of these amendments concerns
prohibition orders. Courts will be given more tools to address
criminal conduct. They will be able to issue orders to require
those accused to take certain steps, or engage in certain conduct
to prevent the commission, continuation or repetition of an
The amendments will establish a more cost-effective, enforceable
instrument for alternative case resolution, in matters where
there is no need for criminal penalties, and where the parties
can agree on the terms of an order.
Let me emphasize as strongly as I can that these amendments do
not mean more leniency for those who engage in serious
anti-competitive behaviour. When a reasonable solution cannot be
reached for civil matters, be it consent orders or other means,
the commissioner has stated that he will not hesitate to take the
matters to the tribunal.
He has further stated that in cases where there are egregious
and serious violations of criminal proceedings or provisions, he
will not hesitate to refer cases to the attorney general and
recommend prosecution with the full rigour of the law.
The amendments before us today will give the bureau an expanded
range of tools to ensure full conformity with the law. Its
continuum of measures begins with education and goes up the scale
to guidelines, advisory opinions, information contacts, voluntary
codes, settlements, consent orders, charges and fines all the way
These amendments are based upon partnership and consensus among
stakeholders—often, stakeholders whose positions might vary
widely. The last major revisions to the Competition Act were made
in 1986, an age ago, given the pace of modern business. The
changes we are making are long overdue.
They will modernize the Competition Act in ways that have been
recognized as needed by consumers and by their representatives,
by the business and legal communities, and by academia and law
They will help protect Canadian consumers from telemarketing
fraud. They will help the competition bureau foster the fair,
efficient and competitive functioning of the Canadian marketplace
for the benefit of all of society.
In light of these changes I hope they will find swift passage in
If anybody doubts the importance of the legislation they should
have watched the Goldhawk exposé last night on CTV. It was very
clear in the case of a lady who had been approached by fraudulent
telemarketers who bilked her for $38,000. It was no small amount
for a retired lady to pay to deceptive telemarketers. That is the
flagship part of the legislation. It is high time it was
introduced in the House.
The specific provisions in the legislation are interesting. I
support them completely. First, telemarketers must identify who
they are representing. Second, they must disclose the price of
the services or product they are proposing. Third, they must
tell why they are calling. Those three provisions are presently
omitted. A telemarketer can get along making all kinds of claims
without ever saying who he represents, what the price might be or
what the reason is for the call.
The minister made a point about saying how large the
telemarketing business is. He referred to the joint meeting
between the two heads of state, the President of the United
States and the Prime Minister of Canada. In 1997 the estimate of
that business was somewhere around $500 billion, with the
fraudulent part of it accounting for about 10% or about $50
billion. Canada is roughly 10% of the United States, which makes
it $5 billion in Canada.
The minister suggested that the cost to Canadian taxpayers is
somewhere around $4 billion. I am not prepared to debate whether
it is $4 billion or $5 billion; $1 is too much.
It is refreshing to see this kind of legislation before us at
this time. While I support all of its good provisions, there is
a significant omission to which I will refer later.
I will focus on the reason for changing the present Competition
Act. The Competition Act dealt with a time when things were not
as fast as they are today. A lot of things are happening today.
Change is happening more quickly. Information technology has
advanced dramatically. The network alluded to by the minister a
moment ago would not have been feasible several years back. There
is a changing world out there. Electronic commerce makes
possible and makes necessary this kind of legislation.
Let us review briefly what the Competition Act actually does,
not only these amendments but the act itself.
I would like to do this particularly because many of my
constituents, perhaps many constituents across Canada, would like
to know exactly how the Competition Act works.
First of all, a tribunal is set up. The tribunal is headed by
the director, now the commissioner of competition. He deals with
the aspects of the act that are not being observed by the
participants or players.
The act contains both criminal and non-criminal provisions. The
criminal provisions include conspiracy, bid rigging,
discriminatory and predatory pricing, price maintenance,
misleading advertising and deceptive marketing practices.
The issue of telemarketing falls under Bill C-20 provisions and
other areas that fall under the act are reviewable matters such
as mergers, abuse of dominant position, refusal to deal,
consignment selling and tied selling, market restriction and
I draw attention to tied selling. Tied selling is becoming a
very significant part of our economy today, particularly as it
relates to financial and other institutions.
Tied selling, while not the focus of this bill, not the focus of
the amendments here, will become a major issue as far as
consumers and business people are concerned.
When the bureau becomes aware that there is a possible
infraction or some sort of competition offence, the facts are
examined, first of all, for whether there is a concern under the
act. If the director believes there is reasonable grounds or if
he believes that it could be committed very easily, inquiries can
The minister may also initiate concern, and six Canadians may
get together and complain to the director and the matter will be
Although the director can use formal investigative tools to
gather information, in cases where the director believes a
criminal offence has occurred, matters may and are referred to
the attorney general.
The minister has just assured us that that is indeed what the
intent of this legislation is and that it is one of his servants
who will cause this to happen. I commend him for that. I think
that is good.
Bill C-20, which we essentially support as the Reform Party,
enhances the current Competition Act. It makes it stronger. We
are pleased to see, for example, the issues of misleading
advertising and deceptive marketing being enhanced and the issue
of deceptive telemarketing being addressed in particular.
Let us go into deceptive marketing. Bill C-20 provides for a
much more effective means of punishment and is an improvement in
our opinion. If consumers find themselves the victims of
deceptive marketing, for instance false advertising, the bill
sets out new provisions that will make the system more effective
both in terms of administration and cost. That is commendable.
Under the current act where infractions are committed, criminal
prosecution is obligatory. That is a cumbersome, expensive and a
long, drawn out process. The new bill creates a dual regime of
civil and criminal offences.
In serious cases involving repeat offenders or fraud, for
example, a criminal regime will be maintained. In less serious
cases where an individual or corporation is unaware of the law,
the amendments will allow for the infractions to be addressed
through civil court by means of fines, cease and desist orders
and information notices.
I can speak from personal observation of cases that I have
worked on which have been worked through the previous session of
Parliament that it is essential that we have these kinds of
provisions in the act.
To the credit of the competition tribunal, one case that I am
very familiar with was resolved in favour of the client and the
persons who appealed to the competition bureau, so the
competition bureau does work. This makes it work more
effectively and we support that.
What about deceptive telemarketing? I have already indicated
the three things a telemarketer must do if he is going to
approach an individual for money.
We can all attest to the telemarketing industry, somewhat
I wonder who in this House has not had dinner or some other part
of their day interrupted by a telemarketer wishing to sell a
product or a service. It might even happen twice during supper.
In my case I am thankful that we have an answering machine. When
supper time comes the answering machine takes over. Let the
telemarketer talk to the machine if they want. There is no way
they are going to interrupt my supper hour.
Whether we appreciate the work of telemarketers, it is a
legitimate business. It is the fraudulent use of telemarketing
we are objecting to. The serious concern is in that area.
There are rules of logic which we should all follow in the
buying and selling of products over the phone. For instance, it
is wise to be suspicious of anyone who might offer money or a
grand prize over the phone for a small fee. “You can have a
prize if you give me money”. We should all be suspicious if
someone says something like that.
We should also be suspicious if someone asks us for our credit
card number. Some people have advised us to never give anyone
our credit card number over the telephone.
I recall, rather interestingly, wishing to make a hotel
reservation not too long ago. I wanted the assurance that the
room would be available for me without my having to give them a
credit card number. I said “I do not want to give it to you”.
They said “then your room will not be there for you”. Who will
win? It is a very interesting question which we need to look at.
More and more we are using the telephone to conduct our
activities. We have e-mail. We have electronic commerce. The
whole question of the decryption of messages becomes a very
significant issue. The old rules simply do not apply any more.
In many cases there are no rules.
Is it any wonder that many consumers are confused? Do I or do I
not provide my credit card number? Do I or do I not talk to this
The only solution is to ensure that laws exist to address
unscrupulous practices. That is what this bill attempts to do.
In order for both the industry and the consumer to benefit the
consumer needs assurance that the marketplace is being monitored
to ensure fair and legal practices. Where telemarketing is
concerned a sound competition policy not only means a confident
consumer, it requires an educated consumer. If it was ever
necessary for consumers to educate themselves about what is going
on out there it is today. By setting out what is required to
conduct fair telemarketing practices Canadians will know they can
demand from any person who is conducting a financial transaction
over the telephone who it is that is calling, on whose behalf
that person is calling, how much it will cost and why they are
I wish to move into a broader context and address the entire
area of competition. I mentioned earlier that it is important to
keep discussion on competition open in order to ensure its
effectiveness and efficiency. However, the issue of competition
has taken on a broader context over the last few years. Global
competition now plays a direct role in determining the economic
policies of Canada.
Competition has become the mantra of the 21st century.
Governments around the globe promote its merits and its value in
generating wealth and contributing to innovation. Competition
dictates policy in everything from free trade in softwood lumber
to the information highway and whether we have direct to home
If we look closely we will see that competition is the reason
given by governments to explain many things, including why they
must spend money on business subsidies and infrastructure
programs, for example. It seems the notion of competition has
dominated every policy paper, federal budget, government
initiative, piece of legislation, committee report, study and the
countless conferences which we have seen since this government
came to power. The emphasis is always on the need to become
Sometimes, it has to be said, this is the umbrella under which
are hidden euphemisms for political patronage and vote buying.
This bill has been pushed aside. Since 1996 other bills have
taken precedence and amendments to the Competition Act have had
to wait, and yet competition is the thing which drives our
It must be very confusing to the average consumer if this is the
They ask questions. Can competition be good if the result is
downsizing and the loss of jobs? Can competition be good if it
means lower wages? Is competition good when the success of the
new Wal-Mart means the closure of the local business down the
Is all competition good? Is uncontrolled competition good?
Obviously not. That is why we need an act of this type. The
average consumer should not apologize for being confused, or for
asking questions, or for feeling some anxiety. For too long
voters have been left out of the economic process. The answer
that it is good for competition hardly suffices in their attempts
to understand which government policies are sound.
The truth is that fair competition is a good thing but notice
there is a very significant adjective there, fair. Competition in
and of itself as an end in itself is not sufficient. Fair
competition is integral, however, to sound economic policy.
The Reform Party is a strong supporter of the competitive
marketplace. However, we are very aware that competition alone
is not enough to ensure economic stability, nor will it alone
create the kind of marketplace that builds strong industries and
businesses and protects the consumer.
Reformers do not accept that in order to have competition it
must come at the expense of the taxpayer. Reformers believe in
competitive strategies that have substance. We believe that
there are ways in which we can increase competition by allowing
the taxpayer to function freely in the marketplace without
compromising the interests of the consumer or create costs to the
In fact, our definition of a competitive Canada would not only
save the taxpayer money but provide economic stability. For the
sake of good and fair competition, we would take the politics out
of economic decision making in Canada. We would not use
competition as an excuse for the unreasonable waste of taxpayer
money spent on business subsidies. We would eliminate grants and
subsidies to businesses. Businesses would be able to survive, as
businesses should be able to survive, on their own merits.
Taxpayers should not support inefficient and ineffective
For the sake of good and fair competition, we would support the
removal of all measures that insulate industries, businesses,
financial institutions, professionals and trade unions from
domestic and foreign competition. That would mean dropping
Canada's internal trade barriers once and for all.
I think the minister is only too well aware of how intrusive the
internal trade barriers are to trade within Canada. In order to
realize fair and good competition, Reform would orient federal
government activities toward the nurturing of physical and human
infrastructure. We would give greater priority to the
development of skills, particularly those that would provide
future job flexibility within a co-operative training government.
We would base physical and infrastructure spending on economic
criteria rather than on the basis of artificial temporary job
In order to realize a fair and competitive marketplace, we would
invest in basic scientific research and ensure grassroot
investment in research and development in order to keep Canada on
the leading edge of innovation.
If Canada is to be truly competitive, we will see a better
Canada where the entrepreneur is valued, the small business
person is free to grow, where our children are educated and
provided with the skills they need to succeed, where families are
relieved from an unfair tax burden, where Canadians are free from
worrying about their futures, each one empowered to reach out and
grasp every opportunity that comes their way. Competition must
mean something to the average citizen, not just the bureaucrats
and the policy makers.
Canadians must see real evidence of competition in their
everyday lives and feel the effects that a truly competitive
society provides. That means things like direct to home
satellite. It means fairer and freer internal trade. It means
prudent regulation of our financial institutions. It means
reasonable interest rates on our credit cards which means fair
prices at the grocery store and the gas station.
I would like to now refer to another major section which I
believe is an omission in Bill C-20. It should have dealt with
this but it did not. It has to do with mergers.
There is a reference to mergers and there is a more sensible
approach to them. However, it fails to deal with a major issue
that has come to the attention to virtually every Canadian within
the last six months, the proposal to merge two major banks. It
is conspicuously silent about this merger.
Let us examine the details of the provisions of the Competition
It then goes on to specify these. That sounds very good and
that is the provision of section 92 and that is great. That must
Let us look at section 100. It is clause 24 in the proposed
bill. The proposed bill says that an application to the
commission certifying that an inquiry is being made under
paragraph 10(1)(b) and in the commissioner's opinion more time is
required to complete the inquiry of a merger, the tribunal finds
that the absence of an interim order a party of the proposed
measure or any other person is likely to take an action that
would substantially impair the ability of the tribunal to remedy
the effect of the proposed merger on competition under section 92
because that action would be difficult to reverse.
The provisions are rather clear and rather far reaching except
that in section 94 of the Competition Act we read that the
tribunal shall not make an order under section 92 in respect of a
merger substantially completed before the coming into force of
this section, or an amalgamation or proposed amalgamation under
section 255 of the Bank Act or an acquisition or proposed
acquisition of the assets under section 273 of the Bank Act.
Section 255 of the Bank Act is rather clear. Section 255 of the
Bank Act specifically states that that section which deals with
competition and with mergers states that in lieu of the relevant
sections in the Combines Investigation Act, the Trust Companies
Act, the Loan Companies Act, the Canada Business Corporation Act
and conspicuously absent, the Competition Act.
The Minister of Finance, when the Royal Bank and the Bank of
Montreal announced that they were proposing to merge, said that
this will be investigated by the Competition Bureau. He may do
that and I would commend him if he did. He wants the tribunal to
investigate this but the competition tribunal has absolutely no
There is nothing in the existing Competition Act that would
allow them and direct them to investigate this. They may if the
Minister of Industry agrees with his colleague the Minister of
Finance, to go ahead, get resources, personnel and time to
investigate. The Competition Act exempts Section 255 of the Bank
Act from them considering this particular merger.
That I think is a very serious omission. Why do I think it is
such a serious omission? Because a merger of a major bank will
affect virtually directly or indirectly every Canadian if not
now, certainly in the future.
I think there is a major issue here that should have been
addressed but was not. It is not too late to bring an amendment.
I hope the minister and the Minister of Finance will see fit to
introduce an amendment that will bring about this kind of
jurisdiction to the Competition Act. It is in the interest of
Canadians that this be done.
While there is much that has been done in this particular act
there is a lot of direction that we would commend.
In summary, I would like to review a couple of those. First,
this act creates a new criminal offence for deceptive
telemarketing, the maximum penalty being five years in jail or a
fine in the discretion of the court, or both.
Second, it allows for the judicially authorized interception
without consent of private communications, that means
wiretapping. Neither party needs to consent to the
wiretapping. The RCMP may do so to combat the most serious
cases of deceptive telemarketing, as well as price fixing and
bid rigging. That is a good provision.
Third, to require those engaged in telemarketing to disclose
certain information, which I have already covered, and prohibit
practices such as required payment prior to delivery for products
offered for sale at prices grossly in excessive of their fair
Fourth, the enactment of a special provision to expand the
responsibility of corporations and their officers and directors
to ensure compliance with the law.
These are good provisions and we would support them. The bill
should pass speedily through the House. I suggest to my
colleagues that there is an omission in this bill that should
have been included. With that, I commend this bill to the House
and would like to encourage its passage and its support with
Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Madam Speaker, I am
pleased to rise in the House and speak, on behalf of the Bloc
Quebecois, to Bill C-20. If all the bill contained were provisions
relating to fraudulent telemarketing, there is no doubt that we
would be pleased to give it our strong support.
But this bill, which deals with fraudulent telemarketing, has
many other provisions. In some ways, it resembles an omnibus bill,
or an important overhaul of the Competition Act. We have very
serious reservations about a number of the amendments and would be
unable to support the bill at this time.
I would like to begin by stressing the importance of a law to
promote competition. In both the United States and Canada, at the
time of the industrial revolution, there were large social
movements calling on governments to prevent trusts and large
corporations from getting together and doing what they wanted.
Support for real competition was the beginning of social
conscience and of public social conscience. This support came not
only from consumers, but also from small businesses, which often
suffered from agreements made over their heads and often against
I would remind the House that the Canadian Competition Act is
two years older than its American counterpart. I would also remind
it that the first prison sentence under the Competition Act in
Canada was handed down on September 9, 1996 following a driving
school price war between 1987 and 1991 in the Sherbrooke region.
Mr. Justice Paul-Marcel Bellavance of the Superior Court was
quoted in Le Journal de Montréal the following day. This is what
he had to say “In order to underline the objective seriousness of
this kind of crime, which is not always taken seriously by the
businessmen of this country, the court adopts the recommendation
made by the crown—the crown meaning the federal attorney—that a
prison sentence be handed down, even though I agree with the
probation officer that what we have here is not an individual who
lives off the proceeds of crime, and that the risk of recidivism is
minimal, although he has a legal record that must be taken into
Let me continue by quoting excerpts from the judge's ruling. He
said “The difficulty in discovering the crimes of which the accused was
found guilty justifies harsher penalties than mere fines. Indeed, fines
are often paid by the corporate body, which lowers the degree of respect
required to ensure the proper application and effectiveness of the
The judge added “In fact, the supreme court recommended imposing
penalties that will force Canadian business people to understand that
unduly lessening competition and using threats to unreasonably raise or
lower prices are prohibited.
The interest of Canadian society requires an exemplary and appropriate
A little further, he said “The financial, physical and
psychological distress of the competitors who were subject to the
threats of the accused, and the fact that half of the driving schools
that were then in operation had to shut down following the accused's
actions—with their competence not being an issue—are also
Earlier, the minister reminded us that consumers are businesses
that need products made by other companies, as well as ordinary
It is important to remember the purpose of the Competition Act, as
amended in 1985. Why do I go back to it?
Because we can already see some possible contradictions that explain why
I have many questions for the minister, for the Bureau of Competition
regarding the changes they want to make to the Competition Act.
The current act reads as follows “The purpose of this Act is to
maintain and encourage competition in Canada—” So far so good. But it
goes on “—in order to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the
Already, this may lead to questions of interpretation. The purpose
of the act also includes the following “—in order to expand
opportunities for Canadian participation in world markets while at the
same time recognizing the role of foreign competition in Canada, in
order to ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises have an
equitable opportunity to participate in the Canadian economy—”
That is not all: “—as well as with a view to ensuring competitive
prices and product variety”.
It is understandable that these four key objectives may on
occasion appear to be contradictory.
The efficiency of the
Canadian economy plays a considerable role in the evaluation of
mergers on competition, and the act itself—this may sound like
gobbledygook but these are the prohibitions or conditions for
application—states “The Tribunal shall not make an order under
section 92 if it finds that the merger or proposed merger in
respect of which the application is made”—even in the case of the
two major banks that want to merge, just listen to this “—has
brought about or is likely to bring about gains in efficiency that
will be greater than, and will offset, the effects of any
prevention or lessening of competition that will result or is
likely to result from the merger or proposed merger and that the
gains in efficiency would not likely be attained if the order were
Basically, what this means is that there are two kinds of
There is, for instance, the competition between two banks in
Canada, and the effects it may have on small business loans, for
instance, and on Canada's competitive position with respect to
foreign businesses. It is therefore understandable that there are
at least grounds for interpretation here.
The purpose of this review is to indicate just how important
the Competition Act is, and how it also needs to reassure
consumers, the public, small and medium size businesses, about the
efficiency of the competition bureau and the mechanisms in place.
It is important to keep in mind that the federal government is not
the only one with a competition bureau.
It is important to keep in mind that the provinces have also
looked out for their consumers.
Quebec passed a consumer protection act a number of years ago in
response to public demand. Several of the provisions in the
federal legislation are also found in Quebec's law.
How can these two provisions co-exist? Because, as the House
knows, Quebec, as a province of Canada, has authority for civil
law. Canada has authority for criminal law. It is also
responsible for interprovincial provisions. So I have to say that
yes, here again, Quebec's legislation contains many of the
provisions found in the federal legislation but that, so far, the
way in which the federal law has been implemented has not resulted
in overlap, or very little, which will not be the case or, at
least, we will be in a very good position to ask questions with
respect to the legislation as the government is proposing to amend
I repeat: the provisions regarding deceptive telemarketing
should be passed. If these were the only provisions, we would be
happy to see them passed, because of what we have seen, as quickly
as possible. But, while this bill creates a new criminal offence
in the case of deceptive telemarketing, something we support, this
bill also decriminalizes the present competition act and numerous
offences under the existing legislation. Decriminalization would
give the commissioner, who is now the bureau's director, very
extensive authority, including the authority to make out-of-court
rulings and to agree on orders, on what companies must do to comply
with the legislation.
We have a great many questions. There is a lack of logic.
We are talking about a system in which companies could be subject
to criminal charges, depending on the bill's provisions.
We find ourselves with a system where, in the future, the
commissioner will be able to make deals concerning the enforcement of
orders. We cannot look at that and applaud. There is a lack of logic in
there, which will definitely not reassure the public, especially in
these times we are going through.
Perhaps this is not what the government intended, but the
enactments before us are certainly likely to have the impact I just
The wording of the amendments is all very politically correct. But
when we look at their implications, it is quite another story indeed.
The bill is said to be intended to improve the merger notification
process and to reduce the regulatory burden of businesses.
I can understand that. Under the existing legislation, business
people who agree to a merger without notifying the competition board
face imprisonment. This provision has been eliminated. In the future,
there will be a $50,000 fine. Even the notes from the research branch
It is fair to say that the regulatory burden will be reduced. But
a few explanations are required here. Why was a system designed to show
businesses that it is important to comply with the Competition Act
replaced overnight by one that is said to be more expeditious? What
assurance do we have that it will be as effective in convinving
businesses to comply?
Not all businesses deliberately break the law, but we all know that
there are some that take great glory in it or commonly do it.
The documents proposing speedy passage of this bill further state
the following: “Ensure quicker and more efficient action against
misleading advertising and deceptive marketing practices”. What they
fail to say is that, with regard to misleading advertising, while there
is still a provision under which charges could be laid under the
Criminal Code, conditions that did not exist previously and which have
significant implications are being added in the new legislation.
I will quote a passage from the legislation “No person shall, for
the purpose of promoting, directly or indirectly, the supply or use of
a product or for the purpose of promoting, directly or indirectly, any
business interest, by any means whatever”—and they add three words
“—knowingly or recklessly, make a representation to the public that is
false or misleading in a material respect”.
It is quite something to add these words.
Currently, all documents from the Bureau of Competition provide
that those responsible for misleading advertising, when it is
misleading, even unintentionally, are liable to penalties, including
jail sentences and huge fines.
So, the Bureau of Competition and the government are recommending
that we amend the Competition Act, on the grounds that issues will be
solved more quickly and efficiently. However, the bill almost totally
changes the spirit of the act.
From now on, businesses will no longer be taken to court for a
number of offences that used to be criminal offences. The commissioner
will go before the Competition Tribunal—or another tribunal of his
choice—but for what purpose? To have the court determine that a
person is engaging in or has engaged in reviewable conduct. Members will
agree that this is much nicer than to be accused and found guilty of a
From now on, a person might be found guilty of having engaged in
reviewable conduct. In such a case, the court may order that person to
do or not do something specific.
At worst—and this is something new which I am sure academics
will look at very carefully—instead of being fined or even sent to
jail, the person will be ordered, under clause 74.1(1)(c), “to pay an
administrative monetary penalty”.
Why go that route? Let me try to explain. In Quebec, the same
provisions are included in the Consumer Protection Act. The province can
impose penalties in civil actions, something which the federal
government cannot do through the Bureau of Competition and the tribunal.
Therefore, it is trying to find another way to do something it cannot do
Mr. Speaker, you are signalling me that I will have to continue
after oral question period, which will, I am sure, be calm.
The Speaker: I thank the hon. member. Indeed, you will have about
20 minutes left.
We will now proceed to Statements by Members.
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
WINTER PARALYMPIC GAMES
Mr. John Cannis (Scarborough Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
today I rise to congratulate all the Canadian athletes who took
part in the 1998 Paralympic Games in Nagano last week. After 10
days of action-packed competition, the games wrapped up this past
Robin Lagacé, who lives in my riding of Scarborough Centre,
competed as a member of the Canadian Men's Ice Sledge Hockey
team. Going into the games Canada was ranked third out of seven
competing countries. After a surprising win over the tournament
favourite, Sweden, Canada went on to the gold medal game against
Today I am proud to say that the Canadian Men's Ice Sledge
Hockey team will be bringing home the silver medal from Nagano.
The Canadian team's goalkeeper, Pierre Pichette, had the honour
of being named top goalkeeper of the tournament.
I say congratulations to the team on its success in Nagano. The
team truly captured the spirit of the Olympic games and proved
once again that Canada indeed has a wealth of world class
athletes. We as Canadians are very proud of them. Good job,
* * *
RAINMAKERS BASKETBALL TEAM
Mr. Mike Scott (Skeena, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, on Saturday,
March 7 all the hard work of Prince Rupert's Secondary School
basketball team paid off.
I would like to congratulate the Rainmakers for their 81 to 61
win over J.L. Crowe from Trail, B.C. to claim the AA basketball
Described as quite likely the best basketball team Prince Rupert
has produced in a very long time, this is the Rainmakers' first
provincial championship in 34 years.
Justin Adams scored 33 points and picked up 15 rebounds in the
final game and was named the most valuable player. Colin Yates
scored 18 points despite spraining his ankle in the second
According to Rainmaker coach Mel Bishop, every member of his
squad stepped up for their game. He says it takes more than a
few players to win the AA senior boys provincial championship
against teams from bigger schools.
Congratulations Rainmakers for this great achievement. You
worked hard, you got along and you won. You have made the city
of Prince Rupert proud.
* * *
Ms. Elinor Caplan (Thornhill, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise
today to congratulate black ice double gold medalists at the
precision skating national championship on March 8.
Precision skating, one of the newest and fastest growing
disciplines of figure skating, consists of a team of skaters
performing various footwork formations in unison.
Last week the senior team successfully defended its title on the
way to the second consecutive Canadian championship. The junior
team, in its first year in competition, also took first place
In April the 27 member senior team is off to Bordeaux, France,
to defend its title at the World Challenge Cup.
Now entering its sixth season, Black Ice continues to work
toward its goal of representing Canada at the 2002 olympic games
where precision skating will be included for the first time.
I ask all members of the House to join me in congratulating
Black Ice and wishing the senior team the very best of luck as it
heads to France for the World Challenge Cup next month.
* * *
Mrs. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ): Mr. Speaker, recently the
Canadian government marked the anniversary of the inauguration in
1848 of responsible government in Canada. In its letter of
invitation to the ceremony, the government committed a major
historical error. It implied that the rebellions of Upper and
Lower Canada took place in 1848, whereas they occurred 10 years
In a Citizenship and Immigration brochure intended to give
information about the history of Canada, the government has
committed another historical faux pas.
Instead of telling young people that Canada was created by the
British North America Act, it tells them the Act of Union was our
founding document. Let us recall that this Act of Union abolished
the use of French in our institutions.
While the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is busy
boasting of his desire to rectify historical facts and tell
Quebeckers and Canadians the truth about our history, his own
government seems incapable of presenting the most significant
events in Canadian history properly.
* * *
Ms. Beth Phinney (Hamilton Mountain, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
March is nutrition month and this year's theme is “Make
nutrition come alive—it's all about you”.
This campaign, spearheaded by the dietitians of Canada, is aimed
at helping consumers make healthy food choices that fit into
their personal lifestyle.
In the Hamilton area including my riding a luncheon was held and
the proceeds of this event went to the Hamilton community
foundation school nourishment fund.
These nourishment programs are planned initiatives which make
food available to school children in a safe, non-stigmatizing
environment. These programs support healthy eating practices and
help children maximize their learning potential.
Nutritionists have organized local events across Canada. They
encourage all Canadians to participate, making nutrition come
alive for themselves.
* * *
Mr. Guy St-Julien (Abitibi, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the employees
of northern Quebec's short line railways and trucking companies are
wondering about the good faith of the Government of Quebec. It has
made the study of the impact of the tractor trailer load limit
increase, from 59,000 to 62,500 kilograms, available solely for
consultation, and only in the offices of the CRD, or regional
development council, and the Quebec ministry of transport in the
regions of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, Haut-Saint-Maurice and
This decision deprives people living at a distance from these
offices of access to this document, which is of great importance to
Quebec's minister of transport, Mr. Brassard, and the mayor, Mr.
Munger, of the CRD are afraid to discuss highway safety and the
environment with the public, or to provide mayors and elected
members for these regions with copies of their study, which was
kept confidential for a very long time.
It is time to get up and do something about this.
* * *
SEARCH AND RESCUE
Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
members of the Canadian forces yet again proved themselves as
During this past weekend two men found themselves adrift in a
small, sinking boat off the coast of the Bahamas and had probably
given up hope for survival.
Our sailors searched for hours for the two men, and minutes
before their boat became swamped with water our submarine, the
HMCS Okanagan, came to the rescue.
Two Bahamians, Edmond Johnson and Alvin Wilson, are alive today
thanks to the valiant and dedicated efforts of our sailors. These
men have a great deal to be thankful for and so do we as
Canadians. Our Canadian forces have done us proud.
* * *
Mr. John Finlay (Oxford, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on Friday
afternoon, March 13, the federal Minister of Health came to
Tillsonburg, a town in my riding, to announce officially
regulations for the growing of industrial hemp in time for the
1998 growing season. This will be the first time in over 60
years that industrial hemp can be grown legally in Canada.
Every part of the hemp plant can be used commercially: the
seeds for oil and food; the foliage for medicine; and the stems
for fabric, paper, fuel, paints, construction materials and auto
Hemp does not need pesticides in order to grow well and should
assist us in saving our forests because a relatively small
acreage can produce vast amounts of paper on a sustainable basis.
I thank the Minister of Health and members of the Liberal rural
caucus from both houses of parliament for working hard to make
this announcement a reality. I look forward to keeping the House
apprised of the development of this incredible crop.
* * *
SEMAINE NATIONALE DE LA FRANCOPHONIE
Mr. Raymond Bonin (Nickel Belt, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, today the
Government of Canada is inaugurating the Semaine nationale de la
We affirm Canada's linguistic duality and note that there are
over one million francophones living in provinces other than
The Semaine nationale de la francophonie is also an occasion
to reaffirm that the Canadian government has primary responsibility
for promoting the official languages in its points of service
Canada plays a major role in the French-speaking world, taking
part in the decisions of institutions as important as the
Francophone Summit, including the one to be held in Moncton in
Canada will continue to assume its leadership role with
respect to la francophonie internationally. It is well aware of
the challenges awaiting us in the new millennium with respect to
the principle of freedom to express oneself in both official
languages in Canada.
* * *
Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, the department of fisheries is threatening to destaff
Pachena light station, the lightkeeper who guided the minister to
The minister is promoting this destaffing initiative by his
bureaucracy simply by saying nothing. He is more concerned about
salvaging his yachting pride than dealing with this issue. Eighty
per cent of British Columbians want keepers on the lights.
The minister and a crew sailed a racing yacht from Hawaii to
Victoria. Near land they ran into heavy rain and 45 knot winds.
He radioed the lightkeepers who guided him to safe haven at
Bamfield, 75 miles away from their destination.
The minister shrugs this off with a combination of yachting
vanity and political expediency as a no risk non-event when in a
storm he ended up in a completely different harbour from where he
People on the west coast know this is nonsense.
* * *
THE LATE BILL REID
Mr. Stan Dromisky (Thunder Bay—Atikokan, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, Canadians were saddened to learn of the death of Haida
artist and sculptor Bill Reid on Friday. Canada has lost not
only one of its greatest artists but an inspirational cultural
leader among the First Nations people.
For roughly 40 years Mr. Reid created numerous works
incorporating traditional Haida Gwaii carvings and designs. He
is credited with the revival of Haida art in British Columbia,
which coincided with a renewed pride among First Nations people
in the province.
Bill Reid brought the rich, proud history and culture of the
Haida people to the rest of Canada and to the world. For this we
are very grateful.
Mr. Reid's art work is internationally prominent. At the
Canadian embassy in Washington, D.C., his Canadian canoe
sculpture “Spirit of the Haida Gwaii” is a source of pride to
First Nations people, British Columbians and all other Canadians.
Let us remember Bill Reid. I urge Canadians to see his work and
take pride in what he has given to all of us.
* * *
Mr. Rick Laliberte (Churchill River, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
today Canadians join over 200 groups in North America, Europe and
Asia in a worldwide declaration against government plutonium
The Liberal government is opening Canada's borders to accept
this waste without an environmental assessment, without a
transport or emergency policy, without parliamentary debate, and
without public consultations with the communities through which
this highly toxic substance and weapons grade plutonium will
Canada does not have an adequate nuclear waste plan and the
Liberals want to burden our children with more waste. Can
Canadians trust the government and the AECB to protect the health
and safety of our workers, our communities and our environment?
Today the world is aware of the dangers and is calling for
action to protect our lands for future generations. Will the
Prime Minister listen?
* * *
SEMAINE NATIONALE DE LA FRANCOPHONIE
Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Semaine
internationale de la francophonie provides an opportunity to recall
that French is a language shared by over 125 million people.
The Government of Quebec has played a key role in the
development of international organizations to ensure that the
French language, and French cultures and economies flourish
The Bloc Quebecois wishes to pay tribute today to the
contribution made by Canada's francophone and Acadian communities
to the enrichment of the international French-speaking world. The
community life of these francophones, who are holding on in the
face of myriad difficulties, is an expression of the vitality of
these communities and of their desire to conduct their lives in
their own language.
Finally, the Bloc Quebecois hopes that the French-speaking
world will continue to encourage ties of solidarity between
industrialized nations and developing countries.
* * *
THE LATE YVES LANDRY
Ms. Shaughnessy Cohen (Windsor—St. Clair, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, this morning Canadians learned with great sadness of the
sudden passing of Yves Landry, chair, president and CEO of
Mr. Landry, a constituent of Windsor—St. Clair, was truly a
great Canadian: a federalist, a leading industrialist, an
officer of the Order of Canada, chair of Canada's millennium
scholarship fund, a leader in our Windsor community and in the
Yves Landry made a personal commitment to many causes. More
important, he brought the Chrysler corporation to the table with
him. The environment, the education and training of Canadian
youth, and health care were among the causes he championed.
To the families and friends of Yves Landry we offer our
condolences. His was a vision of Canada which we must work to
* * *
FARM SAFETY WEEK
Mr. Rick Borotsik (Brandon—Souris, PC): Mr. Speaker,
safe farming is smart farming. That is the theme for Farm Safety
Week in Manitoba which began on March 11 and will end on March
A recent study by Statistics Canada revealed that from 1991 to
1995 almost 72% of all farm deaths in Canada resulted from
working with or around agricultural machinery.
Without a doubt a farm can be a dangerous place to work and
live. On average, 100 work related fatalities occur on farms
StatsCan also revealed that the three prairie provinces have a
much higher rate of injuries than those in eastern Canada. That
being said, knowledge, experience and technical advances in
safety are crucial to reducing farm incidents in the future.
I hope this week that Canadians will take note and further
educate themselves to the realities of farming life. It is vital
that we do our best to make farming communities the safest they
* * *
THE LATE YVES LANDRY
Mr. Jean-Guy Chrétien (Frontenac—Mégantic, BQ): Mr. Speaker, it is
with great sadness that we learned today of the death of Gaétan Yves
Landry, the president of Chrysler Canada.
Mr. Landry, who was born in the region which I represent, more
specifically in Thetford Mines, had a career marked by commitment and
His energy and know-how earned him the respect of his friends, but
also enabled him to become one of the most prominent leaders in the
business community in Quebec and Canada.
My colleagues in the House of Commons join me in expressing our
most sincere condolences to Mr. Landry's family.
* * *
Mr. Carmen Provenzano (Sault Ste. Marie, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, team Canada trade missions really work, and a Sault Ste.
Marie architectural firm has the contract to prove it.
On the most recent team Canada mission to Latin America, Ellis
and Pastore Architects Incorporated was engaged to design a $30
million hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Partner Franco Pastore said the trip was a phenomenal success.
He told a local newspaper that the presence of high level federal
representatives improved his company's credibility and gave it
This is a good example of what can happen when we match the
entrepreneurial spirit of Canadian business people with the job
creation techniques of the federal government.
I say thanks to the Prime Minister and the rest of the team
Canada delegation for helping to bring this contract to Sault
* * *
SEMAINE NATIONALE DE LA FRANCOPHONIE
Ms. Diane St-Jacques (Shefford, PC): Mr. Speaker, Canada's
linguistic duality is one of our greatest assets and we must celebrate
it, particularly during the Semaine nationale de la francophonie.
The Canadian francophonie is alive and vibrant, and we should all
be proud of it. Beyond its borders, Canada continues to play a leading
role in promoting the francophonie at the international level.
In addition to its involvement in the summits and in the Agence de
la francophonie, Canada is a major player in promoting the use of French
on the information highway.
As we approach the new millennium, we must support the advancement
of the French language all over the world and particularly at home.
ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Mr. Preston Manning (Leader of the Opposition, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, earlier this month the Prime Minister appointed Ross
Fitzpatrick to the Senate. Besides being a B.C. Liberal
fundraiser and campaign chairman, Fitzpatrick once hired the
Prime Minister to serve on the board of his company, Viceroy
Last week the Prime Minister told the House that he received no
remuneration for that work. According to insider trading
reports, Fitzpatrick gave the Prime Minister a sweetheart stock
deal worth over $45,000.
How does the government explain the contradiction between what
the Prime Minister said in the House last week and the insider
Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, as I understand it, the Prime Minister was addressing the
question of whether he received remuneration as a director.
Directors are not paid by shareholders, they are paid by the
company. So there is no contradiction whatsoever.
The insinuation in the hon. member's question is totally
Mr. Preston Manning (Leader of the Opposition, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, it sounds like more creative Liberal accounting. That
explanation does nothing to clear the air.
Ross Fitzpatrick gave a lucrative stock deal to the Prime
Minister. That private stock deal gave the Prime Minister a
$45,000 profit in one week. The Prime Minister owed him a
favour. Now the Prime Minister gave Ross Fitzpatrick a B.C.
Does this not leave the impression that Senate seats are for
Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, this will leave the impression only in the mind of the
hon. member. I cannot account for what is in the mind of the
hon. member, but it is not supported by the facts.
At that time the Prime Minister was in private life. He was
entitled to engage in business transactions. He left his
directorships when he began in 1990, years later, to seek the
leadership of the Liberal Party. At the present time all his
assets are in a blind trust.
Surely this is an indication of totally proper conduct.
Mr. Preston Manning (Leader of the Opposition, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, the Prime Minister told the House that he received no
remuneration from Viceroy Resources Corporation. But the insider
trading reports say he received $45,000 or more in a sweetheart
Ross Fitzpatrick first denied selling shares to the Prime
Minister, then he changed his story. The public does not know
what to believe but is left with the impression that Senate seats
are for sale. All of this shames an already discredited
Will the Prime Minister now cancel Fitzpatrick's shady Senate
Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, if the hon. Leader of the Opposition thinks that there
is something shady in what is going on, he is making an
allegation of improper conduct. I challenge him to put his seat
on the line and go outside the House and repeat the allegations
in front of the cameras. If he cannot or will not do that, then
I say that what he is saying is nothing more than Reform rot,
Reform rubbish. It is a sickness in the mind of the hon. member
to make these allegations.
Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I
will tell the government member what is sick, a Senate that just
condones this kind of behaviour and a Liberal government that
thinks it is okay.
Ross Fitzpatrick has a company. The Prime Minister last Monday
replied to me in question period that he received no remuneration
from working at Viceroy Resources. That is simply not true. Ross
Fitzpatrick has absolutely agreed that, oops, maybe he did get
$45,000 on this sweetheart deal.
There are two stories here. We want to know what the real story
is. Who is telling the truth, the Prime Minister or Ross
Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, they are both telling the truth. The Prime Minister, as
I understand it, did not receive any remuneration from Viceroy
Resources for serving as its director.
The transaction question was between Mr. Fitzpatrick, a
shareholder, and the then Jean Chrétien who later became Prime
The insinuations are unwarranted. The allegations are
unwarranted. The hon. member ought to be ashamed of herself for
engaging in more Reform rubbish. She already has been found not
to know her facts. Now the same sickness, the Reform rubbish,
The Speaker: With respect, my colleagues, please do not
refer to each other by name.
Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
the Deputy Prime Minister accuses us of not having our facts
Three times last week we asked questions in this House. Three
times they said we had our facts wrong. Three times they had
their facts wrong. It is a hat trick.
There are two problems here. First, the Prime Minister denied
that he got any remuneration. Second, it is perfectly acceptable
to ten years later pay back your political buddies and put them in
the Senate. It looks like a real sweetheart deal from both
Will the Deputy Prime Minister ask the Prime Minister to stand
up as soon as he returns and say he is going to cancel—
The Speaker: The Hon. Deputy Prime Minister.
Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, unlike the hon. member, the Prime Minister is a stand-up
guy and he is going to stand up and confirm his behaviour was
perfectly proper, unlike the unwarranted assertions of the hon.
member. She ought to apologize again for her Reform rubbish.
* * *
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the
Minister of Finance repeatedly denied that the huge surpluses in the
employment insurance fund were being used to reduce the deficit.
Over the weekend, however, he stated that this money was included
in the government's budget and belonged to the taxpayers.
Does the Deputy Prime Minister recognize that this statement by the
Minister of Finance amounts to an admission that he did reduce his
deficit on the backs of the unemployed?
Hon. Jim Peterson (Secretary of State (International Financial
Institutions), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that we have cut cash
transfers. At the same time, one must realize that we have increased the
value of tax points. Increased equalization payments and lower interest
rates have saved the Province of Quebec approximately $350 million over
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, that
was a nice answer by my hon. colleague, but to the wrong question. He
did not answer the question. I do not understand his answer, but that is
indeed his right.
In the light of these surpluses of between $6 billion and $7
billion a year, which will reach $25 billion by the year 2000, is it not
time my hon. colleague realized that the government can afford to
substantially reduce premiums and to improve benefits to the unemployed
in order to preserve the very nature of the plan instead of using it as
a tax on jobs?
Hon. Jim Peterson (Secretary of State (International Financial
Institutions), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we have done. We
have already cut taxes by $1.4 billion. That is a huge amount.
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les
Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, excessive premiums—in the words of
management and the employees themselves—significant cuts to
benefits and restrictive eligibility requirements enable the
government to pocket a surplus of $135 million a week.
With the arrival of the so-called spring gap, a period in
which many unemployed workers will be short of funds because
cheques will no longer be coming in, how can the minister
responsible for the unemployed in this country allow the Minister
of Finance to siphon off the surplus in a fund that should be the
responsibility of the Minister of Human Resources?
Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources
Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government has been fiscally
responsible and it makes sure the reforms it undertakes serve all
As part of this reform, we have invested a lot in active
measures to help the unemployed return to the labour market and we
are pleased that there are a million more jobs in Canada today than
there were four years ago. Many people in the regions with the
highest unemployment have adapted well to the new reform.
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les
Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, there are still 1.3 million unemployed,
and, with a surplus in the employment insurance fund of nearly $14
billion, how can the government politically allow the accumulated
surplus in the fund to head blithely toward the sum of $25 billion
in the year 2000 while it causes misery in the regions to Quebec
and Canadian families?
Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources
Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, our government is acting
responsibly. This is why we have lowered employment insurance
premiums every year for the past four years.
We are lowering it in a responsible, fair and cautious
fashion, but that is where we are headed.
What we can say is that, if the economy were to slow down this
year or next—it will happen one year or another, the later the
better—we will not be obliged to do as we have done in the past,
which is raise premiums at the very moment they should not be
* * *
MULTILATERAL AGREEMENT ON INVESTMENT
Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister and it concerns the
multilateral agreement on investment which, he will know, is
currently under negotiation in Paris.
Despite the speculation that there might not be an agreement by
April 1998 as planned, will the Deputy Prime Minister commit the
federal government to engage the Canadian public in discussions
and consultations on an MAI agreement before its finalization?
Will the Deputy Prime Minister commit the government to that
kind of process on the final agreement should there be one as a
result of negotiations in Paris?
Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, there has already been and continues to be a wide range
of consultations. There were extensive hearings held by a
parliamentary committee which issued a report. There are all
sorts of meetings and discussions going on and I do not know how
the hon. member expects us to give him a more concrete answer to
what he asks because at this point we do not know if there is
ever going to be an MAI agreement.
We have said that if there is not the right deal for Canada we
are not going to sign it.
Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, if there is an agreement that the government is willing
to sign, will the government commit to bring it before Parliament
and to engage the Canadian public in discussions and
consultations? Or does the Deputy Prime Minister intend to speak
against this resolution this weekend at the Liberal Party
convention, because what I read to him was a resolution out of
the Liberal Party resolutions booklet?
What is the position of the government with respect to the
Liberal Party's own resolution that he just dumped on?
Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, the hon. member is pleading for a call to join the
Liberal Party. If he files his application we will consider it.
* * *
Mr. Rick Borotsik (Brandon—Souris, PC): Mr. Speaker, on
March 9 the Prime Minister during question period told me: “The
hon. member should go back to Winnipeg and look at the budget
of his provincial colleagues, the Tories, who reduced taxes but
did not add one cent to medicare”.
Unlike this government, the Manitoba government has a another
commitment of $100 million to health care, has balanced its
budget for four years in a row and cut taxes.
Will the Deputy Prime Minister stand up in the House, retract
the statement and apologize both to the premier as well as all
Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of
Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member will know that
the Prime Minister was right on the money when he made his
comments in the House of Commons in the past. He knows it and he
knows of the actions of his own provincial government. He knows
as well of the commitment of our government and the commitment of
my colleague, the Minister of Health, who has been doing an
outstanding job to protect and promote health care in Canada.
Mr. Rick Borotsik (Brandon—Souris, PC): Mr. Speaker,
that did not sound like the apology I was looking for. The
premier of Manitoba also sent a letter to the Prime Minister
dated March 11 in reference to his comments on Manitoba's health
care: “I hardly think it can enhance co-operative federalism for the
Prime Minister to place this misinformation on the record in
Is the Prime Minister's idea of co-operative federalism blaming
the provinces for the problems this government has created?
Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of
Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, quite the contrary. In a few
days we will have a vote in the House on Bill C-28 to increase
the amount of the CHST floor.
I ask the hon. member and his colleagues to show their support
for health care by voting in favour of Bill C-28. I am waiting
to see how they will vote.
* * *
Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
the Prime Minister's office has a strange view of what it means
to look Canadian.
The Seaforth Highlanders were replaced as the guard of honour at
the APEC summit conference because in the eyes of the Prime
Minister's office they did not look Canadian enough. Worse, the
decision to fly another regiment to Vancouver cost Canadian
Can the Deputy Prime Minister explain to the House why one of
the oldest and proudest regiments in Canadian history is not
Canadian enough in the eyes of the Prime Minister's office?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, the very proud regiment of the Seaforth Highlanders
did play a major role at the APEC meeting. They piped in the
leaders. They provided honour guards and a number of very
important functions. We are very proud of the work they did.
Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
the minister is not aware that the regiment that was flown in was
from the province of Quebec at a cost of $210,000. The Prime
Minister's office insulted the Seaforth Highlanders, he insulted
British Columbians and he insulted the Canadian taxpayers by
footing that bill, all because of some crazy idea of what it
means to look Canadian.
My question again is to the Deputy Prime Minister. When is the
Deputy Prime Minister going to apologize to the Highlanders and
British Columbians for this ridiculous decision?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, once again the hon. member displays the parochialism
of the Reform Party. The fact is that the hosting of APEC was a
Canadian initiative. We had regiments from across Canada, we had
a delegation of the mounted police and we had the Seaforth
Highlanders from the west coast to provide a very important part.
We wanted to present the face of Canada to our guests from Asia.
* * *
Mrs. Maud Debien (Laval East, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for
the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
On Tuesday, three Palestinian workers were killed by Israeli
soldiers. Since then, the fighting has resumed between Palestinians and
Israelis, and Israeli journalists have started criticizing the army's
attitude. As for Chairman Arafat, he urged the international community
to provide protection for Palestinians.
How does the Minister of Foreign Affairs intend to respond to the
call for help from the chairman of the Palestinian Authority?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member will know, the Prime Minister of
Israel has already taken this matter in hand. He is asking for
an inquiry and investigation into the event that took place, in
particular the actions of the Israeli defence forces. The matter
is being handled by the Israeli authorities.
In terms of the larger question, after my visit to the Middle
East before Christmas, I am now working with my colleagues at
CIDA and in other areas to establish a special initiative on
refugee problems so we can help the peace process in the Middle
Mrs. Maud Debien (Laval East, BQ): Mr. Speaker, we are witnessing
a resurgence in the fighting and the minister is telling us about
possibilities and investigations by the Israeli government.
I am not asking the minister what the Israeli government is doing.
I am asking him what the Canadian government intends to do in response
to Chairman Arafat's appeal.
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I answered the question. I said that I met with the
president of the Palestinian Authority and various leaders in the
Middle East. The one area of competence that Canada has a
special responsibility for is helping in the reunification of
families and dealing with refugee problems. We have undertaken
to provide a major initiative in the Middle East on this matter
and I hope to announce it in a matter of days.
* * *
Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, when
asked last week where he got the money for his new millennium
scholarship fund, the Prime Minister told the House: “Yes
indeed, we have two and a half billion dollars available at the
end of the year”. In other words, what the finance minister was
saying before about there not being a surplus was wrong according
to the Prime Minister. The real story is finally starting to
Given the glaring contradiction between what the Prime Minister
said and what the finance minister said, how can we trust any of
the numbers in this budget?
Hon. Jim Peterson (Secretary of State (International
Financial Institutions), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, talk about
cooking the books.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Hon. Jim Peterson: When this government took office, we
found billions of dollars of undisclosed liabilities. We vowed
to end that practice and we have.
Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
those words are his, cookin' the books.
The auditor general does not trust the government's accounting,
neither does the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.
They all say that there are problems. From one day to the next
the Prime Minister and the finance minister cannot keep their
My question is when will the government give Canadians a full
and frank accounting of the government's financial position
without the game playing that has become the finance minister's
Hon. Jim Peterson (Secretary of State (International
Financial Institutions), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party
does not criticize us for the first balanced budget in 29 years.
They are not criticizing us today for the $2.5 billion that we
are investing in Canada's young people.
No. All they can do is use complex accounting arguments to show
that we federate up what our books disclose. This opposition is
not opposing, it simply does not have an issue.
* * *
SEMAINE NATIONALE DE LA FRANCOPHONIE
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the President of the Treasury Board.
In its last bulletin, entitled Info-parents, the Commission
nationale des parents francophones said, and I quote “What is
apparent is that, in 10, 15 or 20 years, unless things change, we
are headed for a situation in which there will no longer really be
a pan-Canadian francophone presence. The presence of francophones
from coast to coast is at risk”.
In his speech to inaugurate the Semaine nationale de la
francophonie, why did the President of the Treasury Board not
propose concrete measures to support la francophonie outside
Quebec, given the very precarious situation in which it finds
Hon. Marcel Massé (President of the Treasury Board and
Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first
of all, I must say we are very proud to celebrate the Semaine
nationale de la francophonie. It emphasizes the dualistic nature of
Canada and the fact that we have two official languages, a fact of
which we are proud and which is part of our national identity. I
thank my opposition colleague for pointing this out.
The Treasury Board has adopted a series of measures to enable
the federal government to respond and provide service to clients in
both official languages, and we are going to try to perform this
duty more effectively in the future.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères, BQ): Mr. Speaker, speaking
of measures, will the minister undertake to ask the English
speaking provinces to provide their francophone minorities with the
same rights and benefits as Quebec provides to its anglophone
Hon. Marcel Massé (President of the Treasury Board and
Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there
is no doubt that the way provinces treat their linguistic
minorities must reflect the obligations that the federal government
has itself undertaken to fulfil vis-à-vis minority linguistic
groups in each province.
In Quebec, the anglophone minority is usually very well
treated. I think that this is recognized by everyone. In all the
other provinces, the federal government is fulfilling its
responsibility of also providing francophone minorities with the
excellent treatment they are entitled to expect.
* * *
YOUNG OFFENDERS ACT
Mr. Jack Ramsay (Crowfoot, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, after one
year in her portfolio, the justice minister has failed to bring
in a single amendment to the Young Offenders Act. I would like
to ask if she will commit to increasing the maximum penalty from
three to seven years for those convicted of serious violent
Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General
of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, let me say that the hon.
member has his math a little bit wrong. I do not believe I have
been minister of justice for a full year.
I should remind this hon. House that in fact my predecessor
brought in important reforms to the Young Offenders Act and I
have indicated that I will be bringing forward this government's
response to the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs
report on the Young Offenders Act. I intend to do that in a
timely fashion in the coming weeks.
Mr. Jack Ramsay (Crowfoot, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, we have
heard from Canadians all across this country for years crying out
for changes to the Young Offenders Act, including the attorneys
general of this country. She has failed to move on this until
now. In fact, all we have heard are whispers through the news
media as to what she intends to do.
I ask the justice minister specifically if she is prepared to
reduce the minimum age from 12 to 10 years for violent young
offenders so that society can be protected and these young people
can get the rehabilitative care they require?
Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General
of Canada, Lib.):Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to discuss
reform of the Young Offenders Act and the renewal of the youth
justice system with my provincial colleagues in Montreal in
December. I can do no better than repeat that I intend to
respond to the standing committee's reporting in a timely
fashion. I look forward to working with the hon. member when that
report is tabled.
* * *
Mr. Daniel Turp (Beauharnois—Salaberry, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
It seems more and more unlikely that a dialogue between Kosovo's
Serbs and Albanians will solve the current crisis, but the Serbian
government is refusing to let the international community get involved,
on the grounds that the conflict is an internal issue. The United
Kingdom proposed international mediation, while Canada and the United
States seem in favour of sending a peace-restoring force.
Can the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell us whether he agrees with
the British government's proposal for a mediation team?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.):
Yes, Mr. Speaker.
* * *
MULTILATERAL AGREEMENT ON INVESTMENT
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Brampton Centre, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, my question is for the Minister of International Trade.
As Canada continues to negotiate the MAI with our economic
partners in Paris, would the minister tell this House what kind
of action he is taking to guarantee the services of health care
and the preservation of our social safety net from foreign
Mr. Julian Reed (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for
International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, three weeks ago the
Minister of International Trade laid down the concerns of
Canadians very clearly in a public statement. I can assure the
hon. member that nothing will be negotiated that will interfere
in any way with Canada's ability to run its own house.
* * *
YOUNG OFFENDERS ACT
Mr. Paul Forseth (New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby,
Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the Liberals gave Canadians a flawed
Young Offenders Act in the 1980s and since then have only
tinkered with and not fixed their mistake. Two successive
governments have had endless consultations since 1992 as the YOA
has gained little public support.
I ask the minister if she is open to real change: no hiding of
names, no hiding of records, no day camps for murderers? Will
she finally commit to doing it right this time and make these
long sought after changes?
Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General
of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, let me first reassure
Canadians that we on this side of the House understand that youth
crime cannot be dealt with through a simplistic approach.
Therefore, we in the government will be tabling a response to the
standing committee's report that acknowledges the fact that not
only must we protect society but we must prevent youth crime and
rehabilitate young offenders.
* * *
Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay—Columbia, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
the question is: What do Canadians get for $40 million?
After two years of spending on fancy prestige offices for 30
people sitting at expensive desks, they get a pointless tourism
program and a redundant website.
From the word go, Canadians have questioned the need, use or
function of the Heritage Minister's Canada information office
where they have blown away millions for nothing. Now having
fired the top CIO bureaucrat, can Canadians hope that the
minister will do the right thing and shut down this Liberal
Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, as usual the facts claimed by the hon. member are
* * *
Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, the Minister of Industry rammed through drug patent
regulation changes late last week which will continue to push up
the prices of medications.
Conveniently, when the cabinet decision was announced, Merck
Frosst had all their paperwork ready to block a new generic heart
drug from entering the market.
What is the link between the industry minister and the
pharmaceutical lobby? Why does the industry minister always
grant the pharmaceutical industry protections not granted to any
other industry at the expense of the health of Canadians?
Hon. John Manley (Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, it is very hard to say that the changes to the patent
drug regulations were rushed through. They were pre-published
back in January. There was a public consultation period that
lasted 30 days and ended on February 23. We heard submissions
from all sides. The changes were put before the special
committee of council in the normal course for regulations last
week and then were signed and proclaimed after they were passed.
There were no surprises here.
What we have done is achieve an appropriate balance between the
interests of the two sectors of this industry.
Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, the minister is right. There were no surprises. The
minister once again supported the pharmaceutical drug lobby.
Today representatives of the generic drug industry and seniors
do not agree with what the minister just said. They in fact
called for the resignation of the Minister of Industry this
morning because in their words “he is nothing but a servant of
foreign owned multinational drug companies”.
Will the minister do the right thing and allow competition by
the generic industry as in any other industry, or will he do as
seniors and the industry demand and resign?
Hon. John Manley (Minister of Industry, Lib.): Not
today, Mr. Speaker.
What is very peculiar is that we already have the most pro
generic pharmaceutical policy in the developed countries. We
have permitted exceptions which allow generic drugs to get to the
market quicker than would otherwise be the case. These
exceptions are not generally offered in other developed
We have devised a system which we think achieves the correct
balance between giving effective 20 year protection, as is our
obligation under international treaty, and enabling generic drugs
to enter the market as soon as the 20 years has ended. That is
the appropriate balance.
* * *
Ms. Diane St-Jacques (Shefford, PC): Mr. Speaker, the federal
and provincial ministers responsible for social services met last
Thursday to discuss provincial provisions in the new child benefit
system. Among other topics, they discussed increasing the child
care support the provinces could make available to low income
I would like to know from the Minister of Human Resources
Development what happened to the federal government's commitment to
a national daycare system. Where are the 150,000 daycare places
promised in the red book in 1993?
Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources
Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, indeed, last Thursday we
continued working with our provincial colleagues on the national
child benefit system. Our commitment at the time to child care did
not receive provincial approval.
Since child care is a provincial responsibility, under their
jurisdiction, we have found another way to help families, including
those with a low income. This is why, over the next three years,
we will be increasing the child tax credit by $1.7 billion. The
effect of this will be to give the provinces manoeuvring room to
implement child care systems.
Ms. Diane St-Jacques (Shefford, PC): Mr. Speaker, we
recognize the federal government's efforts in the child tax
benefit, be we consider them inadequate. One of the weaknesses of
the credit is its lack of protection against inflation. It is only
partially indexed and thus considerably reduces Canadian families'
In 1996, the government fully indexed seniors' pensions. It
is just as necessary to protect the value of benefits today for
families and children. Why then is the government refusing to
index the benefit fully? Is it because, unlike seniors, children
Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources
Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, with each new budget, our
government tries harder, but our commitment of $850 million this
year and a further $850 million over the next two years for a total
of $1.7 billion seems eminently reasonable.
It is a commitment that goes far beyond indexation at this
point and that will be of significant value to low income families.
* * *
PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Ms. Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul's, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, two
weeks ago Canada was recognized by the United Nations for its
work on persons with disabilities. However of the 55
recommendations in the report of the Scott task force on persons
with disabilities only eight have been implemented so far.
Is the government intending to implement the balance of the
recommendations? What specific action is being taken and when
can the people of Canada with disabilities expect some action?
Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources
Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, our government is moving
forward on many fronts to help persons with disabilities
particularly in relation to the recommendations of the Scott task
Just last week we reached an agreement with the provinces to
create the new employability assistance for persons with
disabilities program. That program will give a clear focus to help
people with disabilities integrate into the workforce.
The 1997 budget extended $30 million to the opportunities fund.
The Government of Canada also invests $12 million a year in
support for non-governmental organizations.
The Speaker: The hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill.
* * *
CANADA PENSION PLAN
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, nearly three years ago the HRD department discovered
that 90,000 Canadians were shortchanged on their CPP benefits.
One poor guy was owed a hundred grand. Today we have access to
information documents showing that 40,000 of these pensioners
still have not been paid. Why not? When will the minister send
these people their cheques?
Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources
Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I will look into the matter
when I return to the office this afternoon. If some of the
cheques have not reached our clients, this is something we will
* * *
YOUNG OFFENDERS ACT
Mr. Michel Bellehumeur (Berthier—Montcalm, BQ): Mr. Speaker,
the federal Young Offenders Act costs Quebec over $80 million
Despite the original 50-50 cost-splitting rule, and despite
the fact that one quarter of the young people are within Quebec,
Ottawa pays Quebec only 18.3% of the budget allocated to this
The Minister of Justice is talking about amending the Young
Offenders Act in order to satisfy the Reform Party, but who will
end up inevitably paying the increased costs of applying this
Will the minister not admit that it is time Quebec was paid its
fair share in this area?
Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General
of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I want to reassure all hon.
members that our renewal of the youth justice system is done on
behalf of Canadians and at the request of Canadians.
The other thing I want to reassure the hon. member in relation
to is that we will continue our negotiations with the provinces.
The administration of youth justice in this country is cost
shared between the federal and provincial governments. Yes I
would concede there have been some reductions in our funding to
the administration of youth justice but we continue to work with
the provinces in a co-operative way to deliver—
The Speaker: The hon. member for Bras d'Or.
* * *
Mrs. Michelle Dockrill (Bras d'Or, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.
When asked to confirm the existence of a plan to shut down
Devco, this government claimed to know nothing about it. Today I
ask the government to confirm the existence of a new 15 month
shutdown plan for Devco.
Is it just a coincidence that this 15 month plan dovetails
perfectly with that secret cabinet memo on Devco? Will the
government release this plan to the House so that Cape Bretoners
can know what this government plans for them today and not after
the polls close in Nova Scotia next week?
Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of
Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the
opportunity to respond to the hon. member. She has asked that
question on the floor of the House on numerous occasions.
The subject has been raised here. I want her to know that her
questions will be duly noted. The Minister of Natural Resources
will endeavour to respond to her at the earliest opportunity with
* * *
Mr. Jim Jones (Markham, PC): Mr. Speaker, Ray Thornton,
Royal Bank vice-president for risk management, says he cannot
imagine any corporation surviving if it is not year 2000 ready.
Executive members of Canada's other leading banks agree that if
companies do not get with the program before it is too late, they
do not have a chance of surviving. It is a fact that companies
that are not year 2000 compliant may not be here in the year
My question is for the Minister of Industry. Is there one person
in this government who will be accountable and responsible to
make sure that our country will be ready for the 21st century?
Hon. John Manley (Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, the hon. member asks a very important question. In
fact, we did take action to establish the year 2000 task force to
provide a central point of information and motivation for the
Jean Monty, the chairman of Task Force 2000, together with his
group have taken the initiative with the government to support us
in our efforts to call attention from coast to coast to the very
serious problem that Canadian businesses face.
Action was taken as well by the Minister of Finance in the recent
budget to ensure that the tax treatment is clear for action that
is taken by companies which need to comply with year 2000. Our
hope is that efforts such as those the member has cited will—
The Speaker: The hon. member Parkdale—High Park.
* * *
Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale—High Park, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In light of recent newspaper coverage and an incident concerning
a constituent of mine, can the minister tell this House what
discussions he or his officials have had with the United States
administration regarding the apparent heavy-handed treatment of
Canadians at the Canada-U.S. border?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I would like to report to the hon. member that
during the visit of Secretary of State Albright we had very
extensive discussions on the whole matter of border issues and
how we could work together and co-operate to facilitate movement
without any undue interference.
On the specific case as referred to, we have also raised this
matter directly with U.S. authorities.
I can state very clearly to the House that no U.S. official in
any preclearance situation has the right to search and seizure of
a Canadian citizen. We maintain that. We are asking for an
investigation into the facts of this particular case.
Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the
slaughter continues in Kosovo. On Friday our defence minister
suggested that we may have to send troops to that area.
It is critical that we be part of the contact group if we are
going to send soldiers to that area. Can the Minister of Foreign
Affairs tell us whether or not we are on that group? Yes or no?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, first let me indicate that we take with great
concern the developments in Kosovo. We are in constant
discussion with a variety of allies, at the NATO meeting and at
the steering board meeting. We had a very extensive meeting with
Secretary of State Albright.
I raised the issue of membership in the contact group. We have
not received satisfaction on that matter yet. We are using the
NATO and steering board meetings as well as our bilateral
meetings. I can indicate as well that we will be reviewing very
quickly the ongoing situation. As the minister of defence said,
if other contingencies are required we are certainly prepared to
* * *
Mr. Michel Guimond (Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, BQ): Mr.
Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport.
Subsequent to the Aéroports de Montréal decision to change the
use of Dorval and Mirabel airports, the Government of Quebec struck
the Commission sur le développement de la région de Mirabel.
Chaired by Guy Tardif, the commission is in operation at the
Why does the Canadian government, which is still obligated to
keep Dorval and Mirabel airports operational, safe and in
compliance with the standards for major international airports,
still refuse to appoint a representative to the Tardif commission?
Hon. Martin Cauchon (Secretary of State (Federal Office of
Regional Development—Quebec), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, concerning
Mirabel Airport, a commission has indeed been set up.
What we have said in this connection is that the Government of
Canada would participate when information or documents were
requested. Although the Government of Canada is not a presence as
far as a seat on the commission is concerned, it will participate
when information is requested.
That said, it must also be understood that Aéroports de
Montréal has worked toward the creation of a development plan for
the Montreal airports, Mirabel in particular. The plan in question
addressed freight, vacation charters and also focusses on—
The Speaker: The hon. member for
* * *
Mr. Chris Axworthy (Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Industry. It arises
from the proposed merger of two of Canada's largest insurance
Bearing in mind that these mergers always end up with Canadians
losing their jobs, they end up in reduced competition and we do
not get better services and better prices as a result, would the
minister not consider the advice his government gives to
youngsters? We tell them to say no to drugs because they are bad
for them. Will the minister say no to these big mergers because
they are bad for Canadians too?
Hon. Jim Peterson (Secretary of State (International
Financial Institutions), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in our review of
this proposed merger we will be looking at the competitive
aspects. Those are very important. We will be looking at the
impact on consumers. We are very concerned about the impact on
All of these things will be taken into consideration. I can
assure members that we will be working with caucus members as
well as the affected parties.
* * *
POINTS OF ORDER
ORAL QUESTION PERIOD—SPEAKER'S RULING
The Speaker: I wish to address the incident that occurred before
the House adjourned Thursday, February 26, 1998.
I also wish to speak of the subsequent related events, which appear
to have overtaken this House.
As the House knows, when asked to rule, Speakers usually
restrict their comments to the four corners of the specific
incident before them. However, in this case, the original
incident has been so distorted that it has virtually been lost
sight of while controversy rages around matters which were not
originally at issue. Under the circumstances, then, I ask that
you bear with me while I address the salient points that have
arisen in and around this case.
First, let us recall the original incident. During oral question
period on February 26, the hon. member for Rimouski—Mitis was
recognized. Before she even had the opportunity to begin her question,
a disturbance among some members prevented her from proceeding any
further. Once some measure of calm had been restored, the hon. member
went on to ask her question.
After oral question period, the House leader of the Bloc Quebecois
raised a point of order about this disturbance and several other members
also intervened to give their views on the matter.
The recess and the ongoing deliberations of the House leaders
allowed me to reflect carefully on the disorder that day and on the
issues that were raised as a result. Although I have been ready to rule
since the return of the House, I wanted to give the House leaders ample
time to resolve this situation.
It seems to me that there is a simple, fundamental principle at
stake here: the duty of the Speaker to maintain order and decorum
in the House.
Simply described, our Parliament works this way. First, members
have a right to speak. Second, the rules and practices of the
House determine how that right is applied so that all members are
treated fairly. Third, the Speaker is charged with maintaining
order in the Chamber by ensuring that the House's rules and
practices are respected.
As cited on pages 50 and 54 of Beauchesne's sixth edition:
In other words, the Speaker must balance the competing claims of
Regardless of how dramatically our opinions may diverge or how
passionately we hold to convictions that our political opponents
do not share, civility must be respected in the House of Commons.
This means that each member is entitled to speak and each member
can expect a fair hearing, whether or not we agree with what they
say or what they stand for.
The issues that face the nation and that are debated in this House
are formidable. During debate, emotions can run high and, in the heat of
the moment, behaviour can sometimes stray beyond the bounds of what is
acceptable. When that happens, the Chair must be vigilant in bringing
the House back to order and insisting that our practices be respected.
I have looked carefully at practice here in the House of Commons
and in other Canadian legislatures: in the House of Commons of the
United Kingdom and in other Westminster-style Parliaments. Everywhere we
have looked, we have found that the orderly conduct of business is
fundamental to parliamentary practice.
Here, in their own vigilant defence of orderly proceedings, my
predecessors have consistently ruled out of order displays or
demonstrations of any kind used by members to illustrate their
remarks or emphasize their positions. Similarly, props of any
kind, used as a way of making a silent comment on issues, have
always been found unacceptable in the Chamber.
Regrettably some of the media coverage of this incident and
subsequent events seem to have missed the point. Pundits are
indignant, claiming that the issue is whether the Canadian flag
has a place in this Chamber. One newspaper went so far as to
state in a lead editorial “decorum be damned”. I think this is
a foolhardy comment that betrays a sad misconception of the
nature of parliaments and the way they work. If it is to
function effectively and constructively, this House, like any
other deliberative assembly, must rely on the respect of
In a ruling given on March 24, 1993, Speaker Fraser eloquently
captured what order and decorum means in an assembly like ours
when he stated:
—the institution and our country has to take precedence over our
own convictions when it comes to remarks in this place—there
has to be reasonable order. When I say reasonable order, I say
that because without it, there is no free speech and that is
(fundamentally what) this place is all about: the right to speak.
Standing here today before the House, with a flag of Canada on
either side of the Speaker's chair, I can agree without
reservation that there is no better place than the House of
Commons for our flag, the symbol of our nation. Similarly we can
take pride in the relatively new practice of the singing of the
national anthem before we begin proceedings on Wednesdays.
But this ruling is not about the flag. It is not about the
national anthem. It is not about patriotism. It is not about
the rights of one political faction over another. As I said
earlier—and it bear repeating—the basic principles at issue
here are order and decorum and the duty of the Speaker to apply
the rules and practices of the House.
Our law guarantees the right of all duly elected members to speak;
our practice guarantees their right to be heard. It is the duty of the
Speaker to guarantee that those rights are respected by guaranteeing
that the House's rules and practices are respected.
Today, my duty for which I have taken an oath as Speaker
requires me to uphold the rules, precedents and traditions of
this House that have served us so well during the last 130 years
of parliamentary democracy in Canada. The events during question
period on February 26 were clearly out of order, according to our
parliamentary rules and practices. I therefore rule that such an
incident must not be repeated.
However, I have been challenged to show my colours as a
patriotic Canadian by allowing the unfettered display of flags in
the Chamber. This would constitute an unprecedented unilateral
change to the practice of the House of Commons, a change, my
colleagues, that no Speaker has the authority to make. So,
whatever pressure that I have to do so, I cannot and I will not
arrogate such authority to myself. Unless and until the House
decides otherwise, no displays will be allowed and current
practice will be upheld.
I trust, indeed I expect, as all hon. members have the right to
expect, that when the Chair recognizes a member to speak, the
House will extend to that member the courtesy of a respectful
hearing of all Canadian members of Parliament. I ask all hon.
members to govern themselves according to the House's existing
rules and practices which the Speaker is bound to uphold.
We owe it to the constituents who have elected us to make every
honest effort to maintain what has been—for the most part—civil and
* * *
THE LATE MR. ALFRED HALES
Mr. Jean Dubé (Madawaska—Restigouche, PC): Mr. Speaker,
Alfred Hales retired from the House of Commons in 1974 after a
full parliamentary career which was similar to those of many who
served in the House.
He worked hard to protect the interests of his constituents and
his community. He was chairman of the public accounts committee
where he worked to promote economy in public expenditures. He
lived up to his belief that community service is the rent we pay
for space on earth. Had that been the sum total of Alfred Hales'
parliamentary career, we would be justified in saying well done.
However, Alfred Hales has left a legacy to the House of Commons
and to Canada which for over 25 years has returned great
dividends to parliament, to Canada and to hundreds of people who
have gained a unique insight into parliamentary life in Canada.
It was Alf Hales who gave leadership to the establishment of the
parliamentary internship program which operates under the
auspices of the Canadian Political Science Association. That
program has been mirrored in other parliamentary assemblies in
As a new member of Parliament who has benefited from the work of
an intern, I consider it an honour to be able to salute Mr.
Hales' vision and to express my thanks for his work which
continues to bear fruit every day in parliament.
To his family, Mrs. Hales, his wife of 62 years, their children,
grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I offer the sympathy of my
colleagues in their personal loss. I hope it is a comfort to
them to know that Mr. Hales was one who truly made a difference.
The rent has been paid in full and more.
Mrs. Brenda Chamberlain (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister
of Labour, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is with sadness that I rise
now to commemorate a great citizen and a former parliamentarian,
Alfred Hales, who passed away on Saturday, February 28.
Alf Hales was a long time Conservative member for the riding of
Wellington South, now my riding of Guelph—Wellington. On
Saturday, March 7 many people gathered in Chalmers United Church
in Guelph, Ontario to say goodbye.
We said goodbye to a man whose involvement and drive for a
better country and community was endless. His story is one we
can look to for inspiration and one we can be proud of. His
story is how a local boy gave so much to home while reaching the
highest elected position in the land, a federal member of
Born in 1909, Alf Hales attended Guelph public and high schools
and graduated in 1934 from the Ontario Agricultural College, now
the celebrated University of Guelph.
In 1936, during the depths of the Great Depression, he married
Mary Gertrude, a marriage that lasted 62 years, right up until
the day he died.
Alf Hales launched his impressive career playing football for
the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL before becoming director of the
Guelph YMCA. He also joined the navy reserve at the outbreak of
World War II.
In quick succession, he joined the Guelph Chamber of Commerce,
the Guelph Kiwanis Club and, long before environmentalism was
popular, joined the Grand Valley Conservation Foundation which is
still going strong today.
His political career started with his election as alderman for
the city of Guelph and quickly changed to member of Parliament
for Wellington South. He was the member from Guelph for
seventeen and a half years, an impressive feat by anyone's
Prior to his retirement in 1974, he held a number of prominent
positions such as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
Labour and chair of the public accounts committee. He was known
around the House as someone who was honest and a good source of
quotes for the press gallery.
One of his most important accomplishments in the House of
Commons was the establishment in 1970 of the parliamentary
internship program. After his retirement from active national
politics, he continued to receive important appointments to
committees needing the wisdom of his experience. At the same
time, he continued to give with vigour and energy to the
community he had already given so much to.
He joined the Guelph historical society. He was a member of the
Colonel John McCrae Society and he was the first non-Italian
inducted as an honorary life member to the Guelph
Alf Hales' life is a testimony to selfless giving to the
community. As a volunteer he helped co-ordinate the fundraising
committee for the Puslinch community centre. Upon completion he
handed over the key to the centre to the reeve of Puslinch
township without one cent owing.
The list of Alf Hales' accomplishments and contributions is
long, longer than I have time for here today. I will close by
saying that Alf Hales will be missed by his wife of 62 years,
Mary, his children and grandchildren and by all the people whose
lives he touched.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I rise
today to pay tribute to Alfred Dryden Hales, a former member of
this House, who recently passed away. I did not have the
opportunity or the pleasure of meeting Mr. Hales, but in his
biography I discovered a number of points we have in common.
He was born in Guelph, Ontario, in 1909 and earned a diploma
in agricultural sciences in 1934. Before becoming active in his
community in Guelph, he played football for the Toronto Argonauts,
between 1934 and 1936. This is the first point we share, as I am
an avid football fan.
He started his political life as a candidate for the
Progressive Conservative Party in the 1953 federal election, but
was defeated. He was elected for the first time in 1957
representing the riding of Wellington South in the House of
Commons. He was re-elected in every election thereafter until his
retirement from political life in 1974.
In 1962, in the Diefenbaker government, he served as
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour. In opposition,
he chaired the Standing Committee on Public Accounts from 1966
He was responsible for the creation of the parliamentary
internship program. In 1965, he tabled a motion in this regard.
Four years later, Parliament welcomed its first interns.
As a former intern at the National Assembly, I can testify to
the importance to an institution such as ours of the parliamentary
internship program and I think we owe a debt of gratitude to Mr.
Hales' innovative spirit and vision.
I would therefore like to offer my sincere condolences and
those of all my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois to his family and
Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I rise to
pay tribute to a man of character who believed in the importance
of family, the community and service to others.
On February 28 of this year Mr. Alfred Hales died at the age of
88, leaving behind his wife of 62 years, Mary Hales, three
children, nine grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
I note that Mr. and Mrs. Hales had two sets of twins, one of
them deceased. I can imagine what an exciting family it was when
the children were young.
In reading about the life of Mr. Hales, one is quickly struck by
his sense of community and passion for causes he believed in. It
is truly refreshing to read of a man who took great satisfaction
from attaining goals not for himself, but with an understanding
of the greater impact on those around him.
Mr. Hales was quoted in an interview at one time, commenting that
community service is the rent we pay for space on earth. That was
a motto with which he lived his life and, as has already been
mentioned, the rent was paid in full.
In 1956 Mr. Hales had his first taste of community service by
way of politics. He served as an alderman for the city of
Guelph. He then went on to federal politics. He was elected to
the House of Commons in 1957 and re-elected seven times. I do
not think anything speaks more highly of the character of a
person than his constituents choosing to re-elect him seven
During his 17 years as a member of Parliament, he served as
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour. He served on
many committees and was actively involved in a number of foreign
It is, however, the parliamentary internship program which
stands out as one of his greatest accomplishments. In 1970 the
House of Commons, thanks to the work of Mr. Hales, saw its first
class of interns. This program, still in place today, gives
students from all over the country the opportunity to learn about
life on the Hill.
Politics was not the only rent that Mr. Hales chose to pay.
After 17 years as an MP, he retired and began to look for other
ways to give back to the community. Although he was active in
public causes before and during his time in Ottawa, it was
following his retirement from politics that Mr. Hales took a more
local approach to issues, jumping into Guelph community
activities with both feet.
According to his daughter, he felt deep roots in the Guelph
community because a long line of Hales' generations had lived
there. That is why he worked so hard for the city, serving on
the Guelph police commission, founding the Guelph prayer
breakfast, fundraising for and building a community centre,
preserving the history of Guelph through the historical society
and serving on innumerable fundraising projects for charities.
He also had time for his four-legged friends in the community,
serving as the law representative on the Ontario Veterinary
Although Mr. Hales took on his activities out of a sense of duty
and responsibility, he was recognized by his peers for his
generosity. He was made a Paul Harris fellow by the Guelph
Rotary Club. He was inducted into the University of Guelph
sports hall of fame. He was awarded the certificate of merit for
outstanding service to the Red Cross. He was awarded a
commemorative medal on the 125th anniversary of the Confederation
of Canada. He was made a Mel Osborne fellow by the Kiwanis
Club of Guelph.
Although I did not know Mr. Hales personally, I believe it would
be fair in the reading of his life to comment that his greatest
awards and rewards were not those which I have mentioned were
given to him.
Instead, in the words of his son, it was strong beliefs that
drove him to work so hard for others.
His son, David, is quoted as saying “father believed very
strongly in family, community and his church. He was committed
to all of these”.
Although many awards were given to Mr. Hales for his service, I
believe it is those who have been touched by his generosity that
have been truly rewarded.
We express our sincere condolences to his wife, Mary, and all
the family. May they find comfort in the memory of his life well
Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I am honoured to join with other members in the House in
expressing the deep condolences of all members in the New
Democratic Party to the family and friends of Alf Hales and in
particular to express our heart-felt sympathy to his wife, Mary,
their three children, nine grandchildren and seven great
As has been mentioned by other members, Alf Hales was a member
for Wellington South for 17 years and felt very deep roots in the
Having been born and raised in a community very close to Guelph,
a place called Winterbourne, Ontario, I feel a particular sense
of loss at hearing the news of the passing of Alf Hales.
But mostly today I single out the fact that Alf Hales was the
founder of the federal parliamentary internship program. He
conceived of the idea in 1965 and although it was not until 1969
that the House agreed to implement the federal parliamentary
internship program, it became a reality and has been with us now
for almost 30 years. That took incredible foresight, vision and
courage and in fact a lot of persistence that is so evident in
the career of Alfred Hales. He in fact had a private members'
bill before the House year after year until finally it was agreed
to and became a reality in 1969 with the first group of interns
being established in 1969-70.
I rise not only as a member of the House but as a former
parliamentary intern, in fact the only parliamentary intern to
end up pursuing a career in federal politics. I am deeply
grateful for his pioneering spirit and the contribution he has
made to so many in the country.
I speak today on behalf of all federal parliamentary interns,
past and present, whose lives have been enriched by this program.
It has offered an incredible opportunity for so many young people
over the years to combine practical learning with academic
analysis, helping us all to pursue our respective careers in a
more effective way.
In fact it was in 1972, and I quote from an article in
Time magazine, that we get the true reason or sense of this
program from Mr. Alfred Hales own words when he said: “The
experiment brings the interns out of the ivory tower and puts
them into a world of reality”.
By founding this program, Alfred Hales has done a great service
for the country and helped ensure a high calibre of young people
prepared to make a great contribution to the country.
I suggest that we can best honour the life and work of Alfred
Hales by remembering our own roots, our roots in family, in
church and community but more specifically by pledging to ensure
that the federal parliamentary internship program continues as a
part of this institution and an integral part of our
The Deputy Speaker: I want to thank all hon. members for
GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS
Mr. Peter Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the
Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to
Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official
languages, the government's response to 10 petitions.
* * *
Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to
Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both
official languages, the report of the delegation of the Canada-Europe
Parliamentary Association to the session of the Council of Europe's
parliamentary assembly, which was held in Strasbourg, France, from
January 26 to 30, 1998.
* * *
EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les
Basques, BQ) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-377, an act to amend
the Employment Insurance Act, 1997.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and honoured to table this bill,
which is the result of thorough consultations with all the groups
protecting the unemployed and with all Bloc Quebecois members.
The bill includes the Bloc Quebecois' proposed amendments to the
Employment Insurance Act, which we feel should be made at the earliest
(Motion deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
* * *
EXPORT DEVELOPMENT ACT
Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.) moved for leave to
introduce Bill C-378, an act to amend the Export Development Act.
He said: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to require
the decisions made under the Export Development Act to be made in
accordance with the principle of sustainable development. I
welcome the seconding by the distinguished member for Etobicoke
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and
* * *
CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.) moved for leave to
introduce Bill C-379, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act.
He said: Mr. Speaker, with the support of the distinguished
member for St. Paul's, I am glad to introduce an amendment to the
Canada Elections Act, the purpose of which is to give voters the
option of indicating on their ballots that they choose not to
support any of the candidates listed on the ballot.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and
* * *
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Brampton Centre, Lib.) moved for
leave to introduce Bill C-380, an act to amend the Interest Act
and an act to amend certain laws relating to financial
institutions (mortgage prepayment and consumer disclosure).
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to present this bill in
the House today. The purpose of the enactment is to ensure the
right to redeem a mortgage by a payment of no more than three
months interest penalty or a percentage of the principal
outstanding as has been previously agreed to by the parties, even
if the term of the mortgage is less than five years. I look
forward to a debate on this subject very soon.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and
* * *
Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
am pleased to present a petition to the House which is signed by
a number of Canadians, including constituents from my own riding
of Mississauga South.
The petitioners draw to the attention of the House that police
officers and firefighters are required to place their lives at
risk on a daily basis. When one of them loses their life in the
line of duty, the employment benefits do not often provide
sufficient compensation to their families. The public also mourns
that loss and wishes to support, in a tangible way, the surviving
families in their time of need.
The petitioners therefore call on Parliament to establish a
public safety officers compensation fund for the benefit of
families of public safety officers who are killed in the line of
* * *
QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Mr. Peter Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the
Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I suggest
that all questions be allowed to stand.
Mr. Guy St-Julien (Abitibi, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in early
December 1997, I tabled my questions about an RCMP detachment that
was being built to the tune of several million dollars just to
accommodate one secretary in Rouyn-Noranda, but the 45-day period
has long gone by.
Will I be receiving answers to Questions Nos. 53, 63 and 64
Mr. Peter Adams: Mr. Speaker, I can only apologize to the
member. He has been very persistent and patient in his own way
waiting for this reply. Again I assure him I will do my very
best to produce the reply as soon as possible.
The Deputy Speaker: Is it agreed that all questions
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-20,
an act to amend the Competition Act and to make consequential and
related amendments to other acts, be read the second time and
referred to a committee.
The Deputy Speaker: Going into oral question period, the hon.
member for Mercier had the floor. She now has 19 minutes left to
complete her speech.
Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Mr. Speaker, just before
oral question period, I was saying that Bill C-20, an act to amend
the Competition Act and related amendments to other Acts,
introduces a new criminal offence relating to fraudulent
The Minister of Industry described in great detail why this
new offence and the clauses in the bill which relate to it had
become necessary. I added that we would be pleased to support the
bill, if this were all it contained.
I pointed out, however, that the bill before us, although
stressing—as do those defending it—the clauses relating to
fraudulent or abusive telemarketing, in reality conceals numerous
other clauses with which we cannot agree. Not all the other
clauses, but a sufficiently large number to prompt us to ask
pressing questions and to disagree with the principle of the bill.
It is important to point out that the bill decriminalizes a
number of former offences. Although the bill introduces a new
regime which could be termed civil, it in fact creates new
provisions, some aspects of which are questionable to say the
After an investigation has been conducted under several provisions
of the act, after the case has gone before the competition tribunal, it
may be determined that the business has engaged in reviewable conduct.
For the purpose of hearing such a case, the competition tribunal
would be made up differently: you would not have a judge, a counsel and
other interested parties, so to speak, but just a judge.
When the conduct of a business has been determined to be
reviewable, this business may be ordered what to do or not to do,
depending on the offence and the evidence.
It would face what constitutes, as far as I and the individuals and
lawyers I consulted know, a new penalty called an administrative
monetary penalty, which is similar to the penalties imposed previously
under criminal law, but which seems to be a new, civil version of what
the government no longer wants to do.
There is no doubt that the evidence rule has been changed. What
paragraph 74(1) provides is that evidence should be considered as
convincing prima facie, which, on the face of it, is surprising. The
least we can do is to question this.
But there is a more serious concern in that the current director of
the competition bureau is the only one authorized to investigate the
businesses and ask the tribunal or another court of his choice to make
a determination of reviewable conduct.
This is to say that this is a complex bill, but behind this
complexity is the concentration of power in the hands of the competition
bureau and its director, who actually becomes a commissioner under this
These provisions are also intriguing to say the least. In Quebec,
the consumer protection act contains provisions similar to those found
in the Competition Act with respect to misleading advertising, to
conspiracy, and Quebec, which took action in civil matters, is doing
quite well in that area. What will businesses do? Will they not, in
Quebec at least, be subject to two systems? Are they compatible or not?
These are certainly important questions that need to be answered.
The bill is touted as providing the courts with new means of
dealing with crime through orders on consent and orders including
prescriptive terms upon what I described earlier as prima facie
As I have said, these means cannot be requested except by the
commissioner, who has total discretionary power. One could assume
he will choose to go before the Competition Tribunal.
Moreover, it was stated during the inquiries and committee
sittings that the Competition Tribunal has limited means at its
disposal. It is, therefore, not surprising that only the
commissioner can act in this connection.
The cost of this decriminalization is that powers are
centralized in the hands of a commissioner who is, and I must again
emphasize this point, a federal public servant answerable only to
When the commissioner applies for an order from the
competition tribunal, he gives the person whose conduct is to be
reviewed 48 hours' notice. This in fact allows plenty of time for
an out-of-court settlement to be reached. During these 48 hours,
the commissioner and the party may reach an agreement on the terms
of the order, including the possibility of their being taxable. The
order will be filed for immediate registration.
We are moving from a system of criminal offences to one that
is not only decriminalized but can end up completely sidestepping
the criminal system with out-of-court settlements.
Some may argue that this is more efficient.
What must be asked is whether this system includes everything
necessary to ensure that the spirit of the Competition Act is
respected by all businesses, not only small and medium-sized ones,
but large ones as well.
I will close by saying that one addition was made on deceptive
telemarketing after introduction of the first bill, C-67. Deceptive
telemarketing—and this may be essential, but was not included in
the first bill—may, under sections 45 and 47, be subject to
electronic surveillance. This was not in Bill C-67.
The Canada-U.S. report on deceptive telemarketing, dated
November 1997, recommended that the matter be studied in greater
depth before a decision was reached on the use of electronic
surveillance to gather evidence on major offences related to
A number of questions need to be asked in connection with the
application of this bill.
For instance, according to the Parliamentary Research Branch,
deceptive telemarketing costs consumers $60 million. That is
It is far from the losses that the same research branch estimates
at $40 billion in the United States.
The reason we must target deceptive telemarketing is that this
misleading advertising by telephone is generally aimed at defenceless
people, including the elderly, who stand to lose a lot of money. We have
seen tragic cases of people who lost just about all their savings.
The advisory committee was not in a position to make concrete
recommendations, but it agreed that the bill should go ahead with this
This bill includes worthwhile, innovative provisions, but its
review of the Competition Act does not fully satisfy consumers—in the
broad sense used by the industry minister this morning, which includes
businesses as consumers. Indeed, based on the consultations I have held,
the administrative monetary penalties may very well be challenged. Some
practising lawyers and others in the education sector told me that, on
the face of it, they were practically convinced that this provision
would be challenged before the courts.
Since we have just started second reading, we will have to insist
in committee on finding out what kind of studies were conducted.
In addition, the potential for duplication and overlap with Quebec
consumer protection legislation is extremely troubling and warrants
Finally, there may be some concern over decriminalization
aimed at centralizing powers in the hands of one official. I have
no quarrel with that person's ability. However, he will have
absolute discretionary power opposable only by the minister, to
whom he is accountable.
In this period of worldwide economic upheaval, the
negotiations on the multilateral agreement on investment are
worrying many people. While the underlying intentions are
laudable, there are other intentions that are of huge concern, and
it is not clear that even Canada will approve, given the exceptions
sought, in the field of culture, for example.
When negotiations of such importance are being conducted, it
is vital the government reassure the people that competition will
be maintained. Too many small businesses and thus consumers could
be deprived of opportunities and, worse, heavily penalized. We must
take a hard look at mergers and doubtful and fraudulent business
practices, and consumers must be assured that the minister and the
commissioner will not be tempted to enter into agreements that will
result in two justices: one for ordinary individuals and one for
businesses, including major corporations, that would always put
them above suspicion.
For reasons of overlap and because of questions about the
spirit of the Competition Act and its application, the Bloc
Quebecois cannot support the bill in principle at second reading.
Mr. Chris Axworthy (Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I am pleased to rise to participate in the debate on
Bill C-20, an act to amend the Competition Act. It is important
to recognize what this piece of legislation is intended to do and
then to assess the changes which have been proposed in that
The purpose of the legislation has been, for a long period of
time under whatever name the legislation has had, to ensure that
the Canadian marketplace is as competitive as possible in the
interest of consumers. It ensures that consumers have a wide
range of products available at competitive prices in
circumstances in which sellers do not use practices which are
unacceptable, misleading and deceptive to attract sales.
It is in the interests of consumers to ensure that various
assertions about the quality a product or a service might
possess, about the price at which that product or service might
or might not have been sold in the past and about various
qualities of that product or service be truthful. In that way
consumers know what it is they are comparing so they can make
efficient and sensible consumer decisions.
It is also plainly in the interests of competitors to ensure
that all businesses within the marketplace abide by the same
rules and pursue honest, clear and open business practices. If a
competitor is able to generate a sale as a result of a misleading
practice, then competitors who are adhering to proper and honest
business practices will suffer losses accordingly.
It is in both the interests of consumers and the business
community that we have effective competition policy. In that
regard the legislation approaches these practices in the
marketplace in both criminal and non-criminal ways. It deals
with conspiracy, bid rigging, discriminatory and predatory
pricing, price maintenance, misleading advertising, with which
many people are familiar, and deceptive marketing practices.
The courts have the power in those areas to impose fines, to
order imprisonment and to issue orders to stop the practice in
question. They also have the power to issue interim orders to
stop the practice in question and to administer a wide range of
In addition there are issues which at first blush are not so
close to home to consumers but which have a significant impact
covered by the act. These primarily deal with restrictions on
competition, mergers, the abuse of a dominant position in a
marketplace, refusing to sell to someone because of some of their
selling practices and essentially dealing with the more macro
issues rather than the ones that affect consumers precisely.
This legislation and legislation before it sets out the rules
and regulations of the marketplace. This piece of legislation
can be divided into two or three segments.
The first deals with deceptive telemarketing. With the growth of
telecommunications and the reduction in price of telephone
services, by using the telephone it is now very easy and
inexpensive for a marketer in one province or country to sell to
a buyer in another country or province. As a result we have seen
a growth both in legitimate and illegitimate telemarketing. In
order to protect those who pursue this activity legitimately, it
is necessary to deal with those who bilk millions and perhaps
billions of dollars from Canadian consumers. It is also important
to protect those Canadian consumers.
This bill should be applauded in that it sets out much more
explicitly what the crime of deceptive telemarketing will be.
If enforced effectively, the legislation will serve to reduce the
abuse of Canadian consumers across the country.
As every member of the House will know, the kinds of people who
have been the target of telemarketing are very often those who
are most vulnerable in society. Seniors, at least in my
estimation, are trusting. They generally believe that people are
telling them the truth because that is the way they conduct their
affairs. If the evidence is correct, and I believe it is, they
tend to believe what telemarketers tell them. When they are
offered the $10,000 prize, if they would only send $500, $600,
$700 or $800 to cover taxes and other incidental expenditures,
they believe they will in fact receive the $10,000 prize.
To many of us it is an incredulous idea, but we know from the
evidence that maybe hundreds of thousands of Canadians and
perhaps millions across North America have been taken in, in this
way, and for significant amounts of money. I have met many
Canadians who have been tricked in this way.
Part of the bill is very significant. We have done little about
this criminal activity, this defrauding of Canadian consumers,
mostly older Canadians, to the order of $4 billion. Making
something a crime is only part of the story. We have to be sure
that we can enforce the sanctions which flow from making
deceptive telemarketing a crime.
To date there is a very small police department headquartered in
North Bay, Ontario, called Operation Phonebusters. At last count
it had one person who knows the area intimately, Staff Sergeant
Elliot. He has done a terrific job on this question. Many of us
in the House will have spoken to him and to his very small staff
attached to that operation in North Bay. They are dealing with a
criminal activity which is costing the most vulnerable Canadians
perhaps $4 billion a year.
Let us match that with the resources we spend across the
country, province after province, to deal with drivers who speed,
with people who break windows and with street crime. The
mismatch of resources attached to and applied to this kind of
criminal activity is so obvious that we have to ask the solicitor
general and the government to make sure they commit adequate
resources to deal effectively with this matter. It is not enough
to have a small joint OPP-RCMP force in North Bay to try to deal
with these cases across the country.
Without that commitment the legislation will mean very little to
ordinary Canadians who have been bilked and are likely to
continue to be bilked if the kinds of people that engage in
deceptive telemarketing, those who are not likely to stop just
because the House says it will be a crime, carry on in the way in
which they have been carrying on.
We absolutely need a commitment from the government. Maybe the
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry will be able
to commit today to ensuring that the legislation is effectively
enforced. It is important to recognize and to support the
government in acting on the telemarketing fraud that exists.
Much of this fraud is centred in Montreal. A small number of
people are using very sophisticated telephone and marketing
techniques across the country into my province, my district in
Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, on a regular basis, making billions
of dollars off other Canadians.
We must ensure that Quebec authorities effectively deal with
this question even when a loss has not occurred in the province
of Quebec. We have to make sure we co-ordinate activities across
the country to put an end to this kind of activity.
Let me summarize that point by saying that I support the
government in its measures in this regard. I hope it will commit
resources to make sure that the legislation is adequately
enforced and that Canadians are adequately protected.
We need to do a little work on informing consumers. Last year,
faced with complaints in my riding, I provided a telephone
security tip brochure which people could put by their telephones
telling them what not to do and what they might do to protect
themselves from telemarketing scam artists.
Let us see some commitment on the part of the government to
enforcing the legislation. Although it is late, I think we
should congratulate the government for introducing the
On another part we have some serious questions which arise as a
result of what I indicated in the beginning. The legislation is
designed to ensure we have a competitive marketplace in Canada.
Separate from issues like health care and education which we and
Canadians believe should fundamentally be largely outside the
markets and administered in a separate way in the public
interest, things should be bought and sold in the marketplace in
a competitive environment. The actors in the marketplace, the
sellers and the providers of goods and services, should also act
in a competitive way.
We can also support dealing with changes to trade practices and
misleading advertising to provide the government with a number of
different ways to approach this problem. Making something
criminal is not the only way to attack an issue. That has been
made clear. We need a mixture of criminal, civil and
administrative measures to ensure that consumers and competitors
are best protected.
Let me come to the point where I have some difficulty, the
merger part of the legislation. Canada has one of the weakest
anti-merger pieces of legislation in the world. Of any developed
country we have not treated the question of larger mergers
seriously. Only one has perhaps ever been seriously called into
We are now faced with merger mania, with big banks merging and
with big insurance companies merging. I believe we are just at
the beginning of merger mania. Many of our large corporations
will be telling us that it is in their best interests to have
less competition in Canada so that they can compete in the world
I am sure members have heard in their ridings that Canadians
simply do not buy that argument. They do not want big mergers to
take place. They do not want the Royal Bank and the Bank of
Montreal to merge. They do not want big insurance companies to
merge. They do not want their fellow Canadians to lose their
jobs and they do not want to have less competition. They want to
have more choice, not less.
What does this merger legislation do with regard to these
questions? Essentially it does not do anything. It leaves our
whole structure, our whole process, pretty darn weak. It does not
ensure that we will have serious review of bank mergers,
insurance company mergers or any others.
Does anybody seriously think that the merger between the Royal
Bank and the Bank of Montreal is anything other than a foregone
conclusion? Is there any expectation across the country that
because of the power of those two big banks and our weak merger
legislation this merger will go ahead? We would be foolhardy to
think this was not essentially a foregone conclusion. We can
work as hard as we can to stop it because Canadians do not want
it. Many of these mergers are not in the public interest.
Because of the legislation, because of the approach the
government takes and because the approach of the Conservative and
Reform parties and those parties that tend to support big
business, there is unlikely to be anything significant in this
regard without a major change of heart.
We see The Bay and K-Mart merging. Is anybody going to ask any
questions about whether it is in the public interest? I do not
think so, from those three parties I mentioned. Indeed the
public interest seems to be the last thing anybody cares about in
pro-business parties with regard to mergers.
Canadians want better, deserve better and should have better.
They should have merger legislation which puts proposed mergers
to the test. It would require those who want to merge to show
why it is in the interest of Canada that they do so.
Nothing in the bill requires any accounting by the Bank of
Montreal and the Royal Bank. We know jobs will be lost. The
presidents of those two organizations have made sure they will
not lose their jobs, but the cashiers in the branches in our
communities will not be there and the branches will not be there
because of the merger. That is not good enough.
Passing legislation of this sort is an opportunity to beef up
the legislation so the interest of Canadians can be protected, so
we have an economy that is getting more competitive and not less,
and so we have an economy that acts in the interest of Canadians
and not just in the interest of large banks, large insurance
companies and large retailers. It is unfortunate that the
government did not take the opportunity to do what it
philosophically says it wants to do, that is enhance the
competition inherent in Canada's marketplace.
Perhaps some would find it odd that it has to be a social
democrat who asks why we do not focus on a competitive
marketplace. Why do the Reform Party, the Tory Party and the
Liberal Party say they do not give a damn about competition? They
would rather have these big mergers taking place. They would
much rather have a policy of deregulation, privatization and
monopolization, which is exactly what has happened in Canada over
the last few years.
It is time we had merger legislation that is actually in the
interest of Canadians and not just in the interest of those who
want to merge and consolidate their own power, their own prestige
and their own ability to control the rest of us.
There are good parts in the legislation. I applaud the
government's move on fraudulent telemarketing. It is very
important to commit adequate resources to ensure these crimes can
be effectively policed and Canadians can be effectively
However, on the merger part, which in an odd way is kind of
combined with the telemarketing legislation, much more could have
been done. The government deserves significant criticism, as do
those who support this weak merger regime that we have in Canada,
for not taking strident measures to make sure we have a more
competitive economy in Canada rather than a less competitive one.
Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
I thank the hon. member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar for his
comments. He suggested that the Reform Party together with
others were opposed to competition in the banking sector. I
would like to correct the record. The Reform Party has said that
it would only approve the proposed merger of the two large
chartered banks if we had a more competitive banking regime.
I would like to ask the hon. member about what happened to his
social democratic principles. I grew up in Saskatchewan down the
road from where Tommy Douglas was first elected. As a high
school student I read the Regina manifesto, the glorious
socialist vision of our friends to my far left in this Chamber.
It said among other things that the CCF and its progeny, the NDP,
were committed to no competition in the banking sector, not to
more competition but to none, to nationalizing the banking
I wonder what this hon. member has done with his socialist
principles. Did he lose them along with his psychedelic
Volkswagen bus in 1968?
Mr. Chris Axworthy: Mr. Speaker, I never had a
psychedelic Volkswagen bus in 1968. I always bought much more
enjoyable cars than that. Maybe the member for Calgary Southeast
Times change. If we look around the world, the most effective
governments with regard to growth in the economy are not the
governments looking back to the past, to the 19th century as the
Reform Party does on economic policy, but looking forward to the
I am sure the member is aghast at the prospects of a social
democratic government in Germany. That will make 14 out of 16
developed countries in Europe with socialist governments. All of
them deal with the most important issue which is to provide an
economy that ensures people can earn a decent living, raise their
families and look forward to the future with some kind of
confidence and expectation that they will be doing better rather
Looking around at the Canadian economy and Canadian society, it
is not predominantly the social democrats who take economic
ventures into public ownership. There is much more public
ownership of the economy in the province of Alberta than there is
in the province of Saskatchewan. Incidentally, Saskatchewan also
has the lowest per capita cost of government than any other
province. It is much lower than in Alberta. There are
significant lessons to be learned by looking left instead of
The important element of the social democratic economic strategy
is that we work in partnership. Business, governments, workers,
aboriginal peoples and communities all work together to build a
vision for that economy. We all undertake certain
responsibilities within the performance of that vision.
It is not difficult to understand if we look at how the
Saskatchewan government under Premier Roy Romanow has built that
province. It has the lowest unemployment rate in the country and
the best indexes of economic growth of any province because it
works in partnership.
Saskatchewan is now growing in population. Only last week I
learned that last year 1,000 Manitobans moved to Saskatchewan.
That has not been normal in the past. We are required to bring
Canadians from across the country because that economy is
booming. We have full employment. We have skill shortages. We
need people for existing jobs and we cannot find them.
This is a successful economic strategy. It is a modern economic
strategy. Social democrats are looking forward to the next
century, not like the Reform Party which is looking back
hankering after and longing for the 19th century.
Mr. Werner Schmidt (Kelowna, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the
hon. member was so eloquent about mergers when he said that he
was opposed to mergers and that sort of thing. I do not think he
listened very carefully earlier this morning when we talked about
this. I want to leave that aside and ask the member whether he
would be as opposed to the merging of co-operatives as he is for
the merging of private enterprises.
Mr. Chris Axworthy: Mr. Speaker, it is not a question of
being opposed to or in favour of mergers. It is a question of
what is in the public interest. If a merger is in the public
interest, then of course I and my colleagues would support it. It
is not a matter of some ideological fixation that someone is
automatically in favour of these large organizations, as I think
the member for Kelowna would be. Neither is it a matter of being
automatically opposed. In this modern world we have to be
pragmatic. Socialists are as pragmatic as anybody else. We are
supportive of things that are good for Canadians.
The member raises the question of co-ops. Let us look at the
Canadian Wheat Board. That has been a huge success story for
Canadians. The Reform Party is opposed to it even though it
works because philosophically Reformers do not like it. It does
not suit their philosophy. It does not suit their 19th century
view of the world. Therefore they do not like it. But it works.
Canadian farmers know it works. That is the way that New
Democrats across this country are approaching our economic
challenges. If it works, we do it. If it does not work, we do
not do it.
Mr. John Herron (Fundy—Royal, PC): Mr. Speaker, in
terms of referring to an actual economic philosophy based upon
less debt and less tax, I actually take exception to the concept
that an economic philosophy based upon less debt and less tax and
putting more disposable income back into Canadians' pockets is
considered to be a 19th century philosophy.
If anything, over the last 10 to 15 years we have learned that
governments cannot spend their money any better than individual
Canadians do. The only economies that actually have any
consistent growth are the ones that have less debt and less
Looking at the initiatives in other countries such as Ireland or
the Netherlands, when they made substantial reductions in terms
of their personal taxes what was the result? The result was more
growth in their economy.
The Canadian domestic economy is at its lowest compared to the
other G-7 countries. The reason is that there is not the amount
of disposable income in Canadians' pockets so that they actually
have an opportunity to spend money and get the economy going here
in Canada. Any growth we have is based on our export industry.
Will the member at least admit that the only economies that have
actually had any consistent growth among the G-7 countries are
the ones based upon less debt and less tax?
Mr. Chris Axworthy: Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether
the member for Fundy—Royal is running for the leadership of his
own party or switching sides to the Reform Party, but certainly
they sound pretty much alike to me.
Let me make one response to the member's question. The United
Nations has said that Canada is the best country in the world in
which to live. The Financial Post, not very often a friend
of the New Democratic Party, said that applying those same
criteria, Saskatchewan was the best province in which to live.
That was the Financial Post, their buddies, not mine.
What we need in order to make our economies work is a balanced
approach. If all they want to do is reduce taxes for the
wealthy, that will not generate the economic growth and economic
opportunities for ordinary people. They have never done that. In
fact their tax policies would ensure that ordinary Canadians do
not get a break at all or are in worse shape than they were
In addition, they might reduce taxes but what are they going to
do about health care? They are going to make Canadians pay for
that. What are they going to do about Canada pensions? They are
going to make Canadians pay for that.
What we need is a balanced approach, one which is pragmatic, one
which answers the questions Canadians are concerned about. We do
not need one which is based on some old fashioned ideology which
this country threw away and which most sensible people around the
world threw away centuries ago.
Mr. Jim Jones (Markham, PC): Mr. Speaker, it is my
pleasure today to speak on a bill that is important to the
success of business competition in Canada. It is a bill that
introduces amendments that will modernize regulations for the
Canadian business environment. The amendments in Bill C-20 strive
to guide business in a fair and more equitable fashion.
The Canadian Competition Act was last substantially amended in
1986. These amendments gave Canada a powerful law that served
the business community well. However with the huge changes in
the technology of doing business and the rapidly evolving
marketplace, the law is long overdue for revision and review.
We understand that in 1995 the director of investigation and
research released a discussion paper which had been sent out to
1,000 interested parties. About 80 responses were received
regarding the proposed changes to the Competition Act. We also
understand that the director set up a consultative panel whose
mandate was to discuss the comments made within the discussion
paper and to hold indepth reviews with concerned parties.
Over a year later in April 1996 the report of the panel was
released and provided the basis for Bill C-67 which died on the
Order Paper in the last Parliament. Almost another year later we
finally get to debate Bill C-20 which is essentially the same as
However through my own consultation with concerned parties,
there are segments of this new bill that are radically different
than those existing in C-67. The addition of amendments that
have not passed through the same rigorous debate with the
consultative panel has me concerned. Is this government trying to
slip these through discreetly?
There were four main amendments that existed in Bill C-67 which
have not changed. These will require adjustment.
I would like to focus on these aspects of the bill: misleading
advertising, ordinary price claims, pre-merger notifications and
deceptive telemarketing practices.
Misleading advertising practices can and do have serious
economic consequences especially when directed toward large
groups or done over extended periods of time. Misleading
advertising is detrimental to both competitors who follow the
rules and engage in honest promotion and to consumers themselves.
Covered under the act are such promotional tricks as double
ticketing, where the higher of the two ticketed prices is
charged, pyramid selling, and bait and switch selling when a
product is advertised at a bargain price but a reasonable supply
is not available.
Proposed amendments to the Competition Act relating to
misleading advertising are intended to change the focus on the
misleading advertising and deceptive marketing practices
provisions from punishment to quick and effective compliance.
In discussions with key members of the Canadian marketplace, I
believe this amendment is acceptable. We are supportive of this
amendment in philosophy. The creation of a dual criminal-civil
system is expected to result in the majority of cases involving
misleading advertising being dealt with through civil means,
including such remedies as cease and desist orders, corrective
notices, consent orders and where needed, administrative monetary
The competition bureau will then have to create a set of
guidelines which clearly explains to retailers and businesses
what types of misleading advertising will result in civil
penalties and which will result in criminal enforcement. We
strongly urge the competition bureau to have full public
consultations regarding these guidelines as this issue is very
Ordinary price claims is a powerful marketing tool used by
retailers and businesses. It is the representation of
significant savings by the reduction of a regular price.
Consumers often wait for items to go on sale before purchasing.
Many companies will say that their product is on sale when in
fact a number of these businesses usually sell that item for that
Section 52.1(d) currently prohibits materially misleading
representation to consumers regarding the price at which items
and similar products are or will ordinarily be sold. There are
certain criteria which must be met for a business to claim that
an item is at a discounted price as opposed to its regular price.
The current provisions in the act do not clarify sufficiently
the circumstances which determine whether a retailer is making an
ordinary price claim properly. The competition bureau listened
to concerned members of the retail industry who asserted that a
significant number of businesses could not comply with a test
based on sales volume and that a time based test would be better
suited to their situation.
Through discussions with the consultative panel, the competition
bureau and the members of the retail industry, it was agreed that
the amendments represented in Bill C-20 for regular price claims
are fairer and more equitable. The test for ordinary selling
price will now consist of two parts: a substantial volume of the
product that has been sold at or above the claimed regular price
within a reasonable period of time before or after the making of
the representation, or the product has been offered at or above
the claimed regular price in good faith for a substantial period
of time or immediately after the making of the representation.
Although some of the terms in the testing prescriptions are
ambiguous, members of the retail and commerce community which I
have spoken with feel that the setting of rigid tests would not
be in the interests of Canadian businesses or consumers.
Stringent tests would not allow retailers to act and respond
according to competitive initiatives and other market dynamics.
We are comfortable that the guidelines as they exist in the
amendments will effectively eliminate some of the confusion
around the regular price claims and that setting guidelines in
this area will also help businesses understand the parameters for
effective pricing policies, yet there is flexibility for the
exercising of judgment.
The one area that should be excluded from the regular price
claims arena would be the critical issue of clearance sales. We
urge the government to look into this aspect of pricing and
ensure that the scope of the ordinary price claims provisions
explicitly excludes clearance pricing.
Pre-merger notifications is another area I would like to
address. Companies are obligated to notify the Competition Bureau
of a proposed merger when two thresholds set out in the
Competition Act are met. However, the consultative panel and
many of the business community recognize that a vast majority of
transactions that are subject to pre-merger notification do not
raise serious competitive issues. This concern can be mended by
raising the thresholds in sections 109 and 110 of the Competition
Act and by creating additional exemptions.
Raising the pre-merger notification thresholds and creating
additional exemptions is now more essential than ever. As of
November 1997 there was a substantial fee of $25,000 plus $1,750
in taxes imposed with pre-merger notification filings. Because
so many transactions are caught due to the low thresholds, we
believe that raising these thresholds would not only alleviate
the number of cases the bureau would have to review, but it would
also allow the thorough research of the cases that are truly
detrimental to competitiveness in Canada.
The increases that have been suggested to me from key members of
the business community include raising the size of parties and
their affiliates' threshold in section 109 from $400 million to
$500 million. I believe when this came out it was $400 million,
but through inflation that is equivalent to $530 million, so $500
million is reasonable. Raise the size of transaction thresholds
in section 110 from $35 million to $50 million, and in the case
of amalgamations from $70 million to $100 million.
The recommended increases in the above noted thresholds are
particularly warranted in view of the fact that these thresholds
have caught substantially more transactions than initially
There is little risk of substantially lessening or preventing
competition by increasing the size of parties and their
affiliates' thresholds because, one, the director has the ability
to challenge a merger up to three years after its completion.
Two, this fact clearly leaves merging parties, where there is any
material overlap between their operations, to submit a
significant amount of information to the bureau in support for a
request for some type of comfort that their transactions will not
be challenged subsequent to closing by the director. Finally, in
any event, only a handful of mergers each year raises serious
In addition to raising the thresholds, we are looking also at
the possibility of reducing the burden of information that the
bureau requests for pre-merger notification. The amount of time
and effort it takes for a member of the private sector to prepare
the pre-merger notification is not justified.
We believe that the bureau receives information not pertinent to
mergers and that the filing of this information is time consuming
for the companies giving notice. We suggest that this burden
could be reduced by streamlining the amount of information
required to be filed. This streamlining is likely to be
accomplished through the joint operation of the proposed
amendments of the act, which would transfer the information
required currently in sections 121 and 122 of the act to the
notifiable transactions regulation and the proposed revisions to
the regulations. However, those revisions will substantially
increase the amount of information required for long form filing
imposing a substantial burden on merging parties.
Clause 31 of Bill C-20 still allows parties to have a choice
between filing either a short or long term form. The
commissioner, formerly the Director of Investigations and
Research, would have the discretion to require a long form filing
if the short form filing is considered to be insufficient. The
information that is required for these filings would be set out
in the regulations rather than the act, as is currently the case.
Due to the information requirements being moved from
legislation, which would receive full public review before
amendment and being transferred to regulations, there are many
parties concerned that the final wording will be decided by the
commissioner alone. We have some serious concerns that we will
present in the committee stage as amendments to Bill C-20 as we
see fit and what has been suggested to us by those outside the
Department of Industry.
Everybody is concerned about deceptive telemarketing practices.
We recognize that telemarketing is now a $500 billion business in
Canada and in the U.S.
In recent years, total telemarketing sales in Canada and the
U.S. have exceeded $500 billion per year. While most
telemarketing activities are legitimate, unfortunately some are
The report of the Canada-U.S. working group on telemarketing
fraud highlights that telemarketing has become one of the most
pervasive and problematic forms of white collar crime in Canada
and the U.S. It is estimated that this form of crime accounts
for as much as 10% of the total volume of telemarketing. In
Canada that would mean $4 billion annually.
There is no doubt that telemarketing has seen an increase in
deceptive marketing practices. However, it must also be
recognized that telemarketing has its place in today's
There are some specific concerns that members of the marketplace
have expressed regarding the wording proposed to define what
telemarketing is. Subsection 52.1(1) defines telemarketing as a
practice of using interactive telephone communications for the
purpose of promoting a product or any business interest. This
definition requires either a greater clarification or the
addition of exceptions to ensure that the provision is not
amenable to an overly broad application to entities whose
services are not meant to be targeted by the legislation.
We suggest that it be made clear in the legislation that the
provisions be confined to live voice communications. We would
like to see the words “live voice” placed before the words
“interactive telephone communications” in the wording of
Other changes to the current act will require the disclosure of
certain matters either at the outset of the telephone
communications or in a fair, reasonable and timely manner.
The item which many want to see expressed outright in the
telephone interaction include the identity of the person on
behalf of whom the communication is made, the nature of the
product or businesses being promoted, the purpose of the
communication, and in the case of price of the product being
promoted and any material restrictions or conditions applicable
to its delivery.
We request that there be a particular exception made with regard
to instances where the price of the product cannot be determined
at the time of the telephone call. For example, in the case of
mutual funds and other securities whose prices may not be known
until the end of the day, we ask that the required disclosure be
made within a reasonable period of time subsequent to the
determination of the item's price.
We recognize that telemarketing fraud is a serious crime and
needs to be identified as such. We will not stand by and allow
there to be $4 billion in losses a year in Canada because of this
type of behaviour.
However, the competition bureau tells us that it intends to seek
permission to use wiretapping in cases of egregious behaviour.
There is some uncertainty as to how this wiretapping will be
used. This is an extremely sensitive area for the business
community and yet it has been given no discussion.
The proposal in Bill C-20 which deals specifically with
permitting judicially authorized interception or wiretapping
concerns many individuals, corporations and members of the retail
and commerce groups across the country. This segment of Bill
C-20 was never brought before the consultative panel, was never
reviewed in discussion papers or made its way into any panel
report. The government has decided to slip in this amendment.
Why does it exist in Bill C-20? The proposal in Bill C-20 will
amend section 183 of the Criminal Code to allow wiretapping
without consent of private communications in connection with
investigations under the conspiracy, bid rigging and deceptive
telemarketing offences of the act.
The conspiracy provisions in section 45 of the Competition Act
set out two points that must be proven to convict of conspiracy.
First, there must be an agreement and, second, the agreement must
be anti-competitive. Wiretapping only proves the first point of
the two necessary to convict under the Competition Act. However,
in most cases this point is not the one that makes or breaks a
What must be proven for a conviction in most cases is the second
point and this is not provable with a wiretap.
Most cases are lost solely on the point of trying to prove that
the agreement was anti-competitive. Given the broad definition
of telemarketing that currently exists, we are concerned that
wiretapping powers could be used in a wide range of situations
that most Canadians would not consider to be justifiable.
We need to clarify what situations will warrant wiretapping.
There must be stringent administrative filters and strict legal
procedures that will limit usage to what is only absolutely and
We do not feel a need to push this provision through at this
time and would like to have a further round of consultation on
The amendments to the Competition Act are long overdue. I look
forward to reviewing Bill C-20 in committee and working with
other members of this House to come up with a bill that is
practical, understandable, equitable and fair to all, a bill that
does not give unnecessary and overly evasive powers to the
government where private ventures are concerned.
Competitiveness is essential to a successful Canadian
marketplace and the Competition Act has served all Canadians well
for decades. Now we must work to keep it moderate and
The Deputy Speaker: Before I
call for resuming debate, it is my duty pursuant to Standing
Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised
tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon.
member for Davenport, Alternative Fuels Act; the hon. member for
Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup-Témiscouata-Les Basques, Employment
Insurance; the hon. member for Bras D'Or, Cape Breton Development
Corporation; and the hon. member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac,
Mr. Walt Lastewka (St. Catharines, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
today the House is considering amendments to one of Canada's most
important pieces of framework economic legislation, the
The Competition Act provides basic principles for the conduct of
business in Canada. It is, therefore, vital to the functioning
of our economy and in some way, directly or indirectly, touches
the life of virtually every Canadian every day.
One of the major purposes of the act is to promote competition
and efficiency in the Canadian marketplace. This, in turn, leads
directly to innovation, a wide variety of consumer choices that
are quality goods and services, competitive prices and greater
The Competition Act was last revised in a significant way in
1986. Clearly, Canada's Competition Act must be kept up to date
and remain suitable to economic reality in the 21st century. That
is why we are considering the amendments that are before us
They are a carefully crafted series of measures that reflect the
views of a very wide spectrum of stakeholders who expressed their
opinions over the course of extensive consultations. The bill
includes provisions that would create a strict liability criminal
offence to deal with deceptive telemarketing.
It would allow the law enforcement officials in certain
circumstances, and after the authorization by a judge, to
intercept private communications without consent to fight
deceptive telemarketing, as well as conspiracy and bid rigging.
It would provide for the quicker and more effective resolution
of instances of misleading advertising and deceptive marketing
practices and revise the law regarding regular price claims by
retailers. It would improve the prenotification process for
major transactions and the mergers review process.
In addition, it would revise and increase the flexibility of the
prohibition order provision to make it a more effective tool for
promoting compliance with the law.
Telemarketing predators put this entire industry at risk when
they cheat Canadians out of sums of money that law enforcement
officials estimate to be a minimum of $76 million in 1996.
These amendments will create a new criminal offence of deceptive
telemarketing which will carry criminal penalties for those who
break the law.
The new law will also require that telemarketers provide
consumers with information on the purpose of the call, the
product being promoted and any material, conditions or strings
attached to such products. Amendments to the Competition Act
will also address misleading advertising and deceptive marketing
We are all aware that advertising is one of the most important
and universal tools for business success. Fairness and
truthfulness in advertising by all players is essential for a
healthy, vigorous marketplace.
The approach of the current Competition Act is too cumbersome
and inflexible. Moreover, experience has shown that criminal
sanctions, the only remedy available in relation to these
offences under the act now, do not always respond well to the
problem. What is needed is a range of responses that can be
applied to fit the nature and severity of the deceptive practices
Better tools could stop misleading advertising quickly before
there is an adverse reaction in the marketplace. More flexible
tools would also have greater scope to foster business compliance
and voluntary resolution of problems.
The bill retains criminal provisions for flagrant cases of
deceptive marketing practices. It also introduces a range of
civil remedies that can be applied promptly so the alleged
misleading advertising does not continue while lengthy criminal
prosecution winds its way through the courts.
The courts and the competition tribunal will be able to issue
orders requiring parties to stop misleading advertising.
Advertisers who fail to exercise due care may be required to
publish information notices to alert the affected public of the
nature of the deception.
These amendments will also facilitate voluntary measures to
correct the deception that has occurred and provisions will allow
such a resolution to become registered and enforceable as a court
or competition tribunal order. The area of regular price claims
is another where the present act needs updating.
The retail industry has changed dramatically in recent years.
Comparative price advertising is more than ever a critical means
by which retail competes. Moreover, consumer purchasing patterns
are closely linked to sales advertising. Both consumers and
retailers have commented that the current law does not reflect
the current marketplace reality.
Provisions in the new bill will clarify a critical area of
advertising law for business and provide clearer guidance for
consumers about the meaning of price comparisons. Two
straightforward tests will provide simple criteria for defining a
genuine regular price. One test will be based on sales volume
and the other pricing over time.
As a result of these and other changes to the Competition Act
the changes before us take into account business realities,
shifting consumer behaviour and attitudes and the marketplace
developments that affect law enforcement.
I am confident that these are worthy of the support of all
members of the House. The discussions that will be coming up in
committee will be very interesting as we all have additional
information that we can add to and improve on the legislation now
before the House.
Mr. Werner Schmidt (Kelowna, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I want
to thank the hon. parliamentary secretary for his comments and
also his party for bringing this bill forward. I am wondering
whether the hon. parliamentary secretary could talk to us a bit
about what he sees in this bill that would actually come to grips
with the question of competition and the misleading advertising
or fraudulent pressure should e-commerce become an issue.
Electronic commerce, as the hon. member I am sure recognizes, is
a growing field. More and more merchandise, services and
products are being offered via electronic commerce. The transfer
of funds, the incurring of loans and the making of deposits and
things of this sort are all part of the various agencies that are
covered under the Competition Act.
I am wondering if he could address this part of the bill because
my reading of the bill would suggest that perhaps this is not
covered in the bill. Does he have some opinions about the
fraudulent or competitive abuse of electronic commerce?
Mr. Walt Lastewka: Mr. Speaker, I want to first thank the
hon. member on his remarks earlier. I know that his items will
be considered within the industry committee and I am sure will
have some discussion.
The hon. member brings up a very good point on e-commerce. This
is still a developing area, an area on the global scene, and
there is more and more discussion going on. I believe there will
be a stage when we get more global understanding of what
e-commerce is, how it is going to operate, how it is not going to
operate and the basic rules of e-commerce which need to be
established on the global scene. Those items will then have to
be rolled into the Competition Act as we move forward.
There are other items in the Competition Act which will make it
very important for us to consider, the telemarketing of today and
the telemarketing of tomorrow, as the member opposite has brought
forward through the e-commerce.
It is important that those items be considered in committee in
order to detail how these things are going to happen in the
future. I thank the member for his remarks. I know he is
looking down the road at additional things in terms of how the
world will change. That is the situation we find ourselves in
with this Competition Act. We need to bring it up to date. It
has been brought forward since 1986. We need to get the best
information we can in relation to the Competition Act so we can
prepare ourselves for the future.
Mr. Werner Schmidt: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the
response. The hon. parliamentary secretary might go one step
further and talk about another dimension of electronic commerce,
the privacy component or the security of information that is
transferred from one point to another. I am concerned in
particular with the encryption of information so it cannot be
side tracked by someone getting into the communication
inadvertently or by design, actually stealing the information.
Then there is decryption which allows a person to get into that
system and make the information sensible.
I am sure the hon. member knows that it is the way in which the
information is coded and then decoded, which is really what we we
are talking about here, that is fundamental to this whole
business. Perhaps he could answer that question.
Mr. Walt Lastewka: Mr. Speaker, the member brings up some
very good questions. He is basically talking about a code of
conduct that we need to put in place and about how e-commerce is
to operate around the world. More work needs to be done in that
area. I do not have all the details that he would like at this
time but I am sure those are the types of questions that will be
referred to during the industry committee's deliberations. I am
sure these deliberations will take some additional time because
of the complexity of this type of legislation.
Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am going
to use my time to point out that the Standing Committee on Industry
will have its work cut out for it. As I see it, there are really
two different things involved. On the one hand, there are the
provisions on deceptive telemarketing, where consensus will rapidly
be reached on all the provisions. On the other hand, there are the
remaining amendments to the legislation.
Starting immediately, I think the committee will have to take
the time required, since it took all these years to come up with
proposals that would eventually take the form of a bill. The
advisory committee's report leaves many questions unanswered.
I asked some, as did others, and according to the people who were
consulted, this bill does not enjoy unanimous support, far from it.
Once it is amended, this Competition Act will have to reassure
Canadians and Quebeckers. We are going through a period of
transformation somewhat like the industrial revolution at the end
of the 19th century. We therefore cannot do without a strong
I therefore ask the parliamentary secretary, who has always
been very open-minded, whether he is aware that there are actually
two kinds of proposals going to committee.
Mr. Walt Lastewka: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for
her remarks. It is a major piece of legislation. Many
stakeholders and groups were involved in the preliminary work.
The Competition Act and the changing world around us are part of
what the committee will have consider in depth.
I have three pages of people who have provided input. Some of
the provinces have participated and some have not. Some
departments in the provinces have participated. I believe very
strongly that the legislation before the House today, the
Competition Act, will require an in-depth study by the Industry
Canada committee. It is something that touches everybody in
Canada in one way or another.
We will have to take our time as we go through the industry
committee to make sure we have heard from Canadians from all
provinces and territories to understand how lives will be
affected and how lives will be protected at the same time.
Whether it is $4 billion or $5 billion made from telemarketing
fraud, the numbers are very high. People have lost their
complete life earnings as a result of telemarketing fraud people
who do not care at all and want to get as much as they can. We as
a committee have to make sure we have laws in place to stop it.
A Canada-US working group has spent a lot of time on it. There
are a number of items in the Canada-US working group that both
countries need to address. This legislation is trying to address
our portion of it.
There are other areas that need to be looked at. As previous
speakers said, there is a lot of work to be done to try to make
the legislation we have reflect the changing world around us
Ms. Angela Vautour (Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NDP): Madam
Speaker, I am happy to rise today to join the debate on Bill
As members will know, this is a bill which seeks to modernize
the Competition Act to respond to a changing business environment
by increasing flexibility in the administration of the act and
efficiency in its enforcement.
I would like to focus my speech today on what New Democrats see
as the two main parts of Bill C-20. The first part of my speech
will deal with the aspects of Bill C-20 which are aimed at
getting tough on telemarketing fraud. New Democrats support this
part of Bill C-20 without any reservation.
In the second part of my speech I will talk about Bill C-20 as
it changes the administration of the merger notification process.
This is where New Democrats have reservations with Bill C-20.
I want to begin by talking about the serious problems of
telemarketing fraud in Canada. We know that it is a $4 billion
industry in Canada and it is growing. We know that after being
chased out of the U.S. by aggressive law enforcement efforts, the
scam artists started moving north to Canada. Offering prizes,
cheques, trips and more, these silver tongued artists have
targeted Canada in their latest wave of greed. Victims are
usually people in a vulnerable position, most often seniors and
even sometimes people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
I point out that I will be sharing my time with my colleague
While we should all applaud and encourage the efforts of our
police to catch and prosecute these offenders, I believe it is
important that we also try to make members of our communities
I may have been a victim if I had not caught on. I got a phone
call at 11 o'clock at night to say I had won a trip to Florida.
All they needed was my cheque number so they could get some
money. During that same week people unfortunately did get caught
in that scam. We have to make sure people are phone smart so
that they are no longer in danger of being victimized.
This time last year New Democrats launched a public information
campaign in our ridings to educate the most vulnerable members of
constituencies about telephone fraud. New Democrats included in
their householders a quick reference card entitled be on guard
which could be hung by the telephone.
New Democrats also went around to senior residences in our
ridings and handed these cards out personally.
A few minutes ago I said that I would talk more about the
efforts of the police in tackling this awful crime. I want to
single out a certain OPP force which is dealing specifically with
the crime of telemarketing fraud. It is called Operation
Phonebusters and is a joint OPP-RCMP clearing house.
Several New Democrats have had the opportunity to work with Mr.
Bob Elliot, the OPP officer heading up this effort called
Operation Phonebusters. I want to express to the House the
tremendous job Mr. Elliot is doing, and with limited resources I
The hard work of Mr. Elliot can be seen directly in Bill C-20
and the changes which will make it easier to prosecute these con
artists. I do however feel the need to express to the House and
all hon. members the concern that Operation Phonebusters has
become virtually a one person operation. While its prosecution
record is impressive, its limited resources means that there is a
serious delay between the reporting of a crime and the laying of
charges. In some cases this allows the offending operation to
bilk seniors, close its doors and move on before prosecutions can
I encourage the solicitor general to provide the much needed
policing support by bolstering the federal government's
commitment to Operation Phonebusters.
I also encourage the solicitor general to instruct the RCMP to
take a leadership role in fighting this fraud on a national
level. We cannot tackle this problem on a city by city basis
because these guys will just pick up their shop and move to the
next city. With just a handful more full time RCMP officers, we
can send a clear message to the con artists and those who would
steal from the innocent, that Canada is not open for that kind of
business and is working hard to pull the plug on phone fraud.
There is some urgency in taking a hard line on this type of
crime. In fact, it seems kind of silly to me that it has taken
the government so long to realize that this is a serious crime.
The problem in my mind has been very serious since the 1980s when
lower cost telecommunications offered crooks a cheap, effective
way of picking pockets.
The victims with whom I have met in my riding are truly the
honest and the innocent. They should be able to answer their
phones with the confidence of knowing that they are protected by
law, especially since the laws are in place to protect them.
New Democrats support any effort which leads to a harder line
approach against this type of crime. Canada has been without a
national strategy to fight telemarketing fraud for too long. New
Democrats are willing to work together with the government to
Before I finish, I want to stress that telemarketing fraud is a
very important part of the bill. It is a serious problem. I
think we all know somebody who has either been or almost been a
victim. We can also relate that to where one lives.
At a time when I was a seasonal worker I was told I had won a
trip to Florida and thought is was great. They target areas
where people are vulnerable and will go for it. It is very easy
for some people to get access to phone numbers, even private
phone numbers. It is scary how easily some groups access such
Mr. John Bryden: Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to be
able to join in this second reading debate on what I think is
very important legislation. I heard the parliamentary secretary
indicate that the government is very anxious to hear all ideas on
I must say that I very much support the legislation. It is very
timely and indeed overdue. It addresses a serious problem that
affects some of the most vulnerable in society.
I particularly like the provision in the bill that blends
criminal penalty with civil penalty.
One of the problems with the existing Competition Act is that too
much of it is done through the Criminal Code, a pretty heavy
instrument to use on what can be in some instances relatively
minor infractions in the area of misleading advertising. In the
case of telemarketing it would be the same. We need to have a
blend of penalties.
However I have significant reservations about one area of the
bill. The bill, while very well intentioned, will miss the mark
when it comes to applying the provisions for improper
telemarketing against organizations which wish deliberately to
carry on deceptive practices and wish to evade the law.
There exists in the legislation an ideal way for organizations
to evade the intent of this law. I refer to clause 12 of Bill
C-20 which will amend section 52.1 of the original Competition
Act. This is basically the clause which applies the bill to the
various entities that may be affected by it. The clause states
that no person shall, for the purpose of promoting, directly or
indirectly, the supply or use of a product, or for the purpose of
promoting, directly or indirectly, any business interest by any
means whatsoever, knowingly or recklessly make a representation
to the public which is false or misleading in a material respect.
I submit that there are two problems with that clause. First,
it refers to the supply or use of a product. What happens if
there is no product involved and what in fact is being
telemarketed is a campaign? What if it is fund raising for a
Then we go on a little further and it states for the purpose of
promoting, directly or indirectly, any business interest.
Unfortunately a non-profit organization or a charity, either of
those two separate entities, by definition are not engaged in a
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): I am sorry to
interrupt the hon. member, but we are now in the time allotted
for questions and comments. Are you speaking on debate, sir?
Mr. John Bryden: Excuse me, Madam Speaker. I had
presumed I was speaking on debate. I did not know we were on
questions and comments.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Are there any
questions or comments?
There being no questions or comments I will recognize the hon.
member for Palliser on debate.
Mr. Dick Proctor (Palliser, NDP): Madam Speaker, I am
happy to rise today to join the debate on Bill C-20. I was
waiting for the previous speaker to get to his question, but I
guess we will hear it later.
The bill seeks to modernize the Competition Act to respond to a
changing business environment. It seeks to accomplish that by
increasing the flexibility in the administration of the act and
by improving the efficiency of enforcement.
The hon. member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac spoke about the
telemarketing aspects of the bill. That is a section of the bill
which we in this caucus strongly support.
I will focus my remarks on the administrative changes in the
merger notification process about which we in the NDP have
However, before I do that, since it has been raised by the hon.
member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar and the hon. member for
Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, I want to talk about the be on guard
telephone security tips which were sent out last year.
Because of the kind of television audience we often get it is
worth running through the list. I believe every member of the
House would want to ensure that citizens, particularly senior
citizens, do not get caught up in some of the scams out and about
these days on the telephone.
I acknowledge a resident of Regina, a gentleman named Al Knox,
who spoke to me about this matter last fall. His story was that
he was at the post office one day when an elderly woman came in
and wanted to send a money order for $2,000 to a company in
Montreal. She had just won a prize and she had to send the money
in order to collect it. He was there as a customer of the post
office. Another customer and the postal agent who was also there
tried to talk this woman out of buying the money order and
forwarding it, all to no avail. She was so convinced she had won
the prize that nothing or no one was going to be able to put a
stop to her desire to get that prize.
There are a number of dos and don'ts. I will read them into the
record because they would be useful for people who may be
listening: don't believe that everyone calling with an exciting
promotion or investment opportunity it trustworthy; don't be
fooled by a promise of a valuable prize in return for a low cost
purchase; don't disclose information about your bank account or
credit card, not even a credit card expiry date; don't be
pressured to send money to take advantage of a deal; don't be
afraid to hang up, a very important one; don't purchase or invest
without carefully checking the product, the investment and the
company; and don't be afraid to demand more information from the
Finally I will refer to a couple of dos: do demand the name and
the phone number of the caller; do contact your local fraud squad
if you believe that is what the call is all about; and remember,
perhaps most of all, that if you have really won a prize it
shouldn't cost you a dime.
Those are important things to remember about this telephone
scam. I am pleased the government has moved ahead in this area.
I want to talk about the merger notification process. As I
indicated it deals with the administration. This is where we
have some reservations. It is our opinion that if the
notification of merger process is to be changed, it should be
done so in a way which strengthens the legislation, not weakens
it, or keeps it at the status quo level. The changes we see to
this notification of merger process in Bill C-20 are simply
I would like to take the few moments available to me to lay out
some of our concerns. In the implementation area the changes in
Bill C-20 are not necessarily the problem. Rather the problem is
implementing what the bill seeks to achieve.
Rarely has a merger ever been sent to the review tribunal and
actually been reviewed extensively. We all know what happens
normally. The head of the tribunal, who after Bill C-24 passes
will be known as the commissioner, has the two parties join
together and tells them what needs to be done in order to make
the merger a successful one. This is ridiculous and will
certainly not work. The provisions of Bill C-20 in my mind will
never really be enforced when they certainly need to be and
should be enforced.
Turning to the sanctions, failure to give proper notification in
the past has left the government with the option to pursue
criminal charges against the parties involved. Under the
provisions of Bill C-20, the bill before us this afternoon, the
criminal sanction elements of the previous bill are being dropped
and being replaced with a fine which has a maximum of $50,000.
In the great scheme of things with megamergers of banks and
insurance companies, $50,000 is simply peanuts and will not act
as a deterrent in any way, shape, or form. We think of the Bank
of Montreal and the Royal Bank merger talks. A total of four
insurance companies are now involved. Two are merging and
another two are proposing to merge. We are talking multibillion
dollars and $50,000, as I indicated, is peanuts for them to pay
any kind of a deterrent fee if they wish to go ahead.
On the job front, this is perhaps the most important element of
our concerns. There is nothing in the bill that deals with job
losses as a result of a merger. There is absolutely nothing by
way of offering to protect the workers from job losses in huge
takeovers and megamergers.
We know from newspaper and media reports that as a result of the
proposed Royal Bank-Bank of Montreal merger that roughly 10,000
Canadians will experience job losses. It is noteworthy that CEOs
of these banks, Mr. Matthew Barrett and John Cleghorn, have
refused to commit that the workers in their two respective banks
will not have to bite the bullet as a result of this merger
proposal, which in all probability as the member for
Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar said earlier, will go ahead earlier
this year despite the fact that Canadians are very much opposed
to the two banks merging.
With Bill C-20 the government had the opportunity to and should
have instructed the commissioner of notification of merger
process to take into account the significant number of job losses
when considering any merger. We believe that Bill C-20 fails to
order the commissioner to consider the public interest in
megamergers and New Democrats believe that the public interest
must prevail over megamania.
New Democrats do not see these megamergers as good for Canada's
community of workers. In our opinion, Bill C-20 does not make
the merger notification process any stronger. That is why the
New Democrats oppose this portion of the bill. We will have to
decide whether the government will break up this bill and allow
it to be looked at in its various entities, otherwise it will be
a dilemma for many of us as to whether to support or oppose it.
We certainly support the attempts to reduce telephone scams, but
on the merger aspect of it we have major reservations.
Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Ref.): Madam
Speaker, I appreciate the comments made by the NDP member.
As my colleagues have already mentioned, the Reform Party always
supports vigorous measures to ensure the successful operation of
the marketplace such as promoting competition or competitive
pricing, strengthening vigorously and enforcing competition in
I would ask the member to throw some light on the duopoly and
monopoly situation in certain areas in the market. He said he
likes to support the bill, as I am doing. I would like him to
comment on certain monopolistic and duplistic situations in the
Mr. Dick Proctor: Madam Speaker, I would be happy to but
I would like to ask the previous speaker if there were some areas
that he was particularly interested in.
Mr. John Bryden (Wentworth—Burlington, Lib.): Madam
Speaker, I appear to have wound up dividing my time quite
inadvertently but nevertheless as I said earlier I am very happy
to be a part of this debate because it is an opportunity to offer
some constructive criticisms and comments on this legislation.
The bill is deficient because of a deficiency that already
existed in the Competition Act. This act describes the person
who is affected and constrained by this legislation as a person
having a business interest. It also restricts the scope of the
activity to the production or the promoting of a product.
The problem with this is it lets fall through the net entirely
any organization that is a not for profit organization which
could be on the one hand a not for profit organization registered
as a non profit organization under corporate Canada legislation
or as a charity registered under the Revenue Canada definitions.
In both these instances, both types of not for profit
organizations by definition are not engaged in business
interests. If a telemarketer that is deliberately engaged in
scamming or wishes to promote in a way that circumvents the
spirit of this act, that organization can simply reconstitute
itself as a not for profit organization.
It can either seek charitable status or, on the other hand, it
can be a registered non-profit organization. That organization
or telemarketer would then fall completely outside this
legislation. It could engage in any kind of practice it pleased.
The other aspect of the problem is that telemarketing is very
much a transborder phenomenon these days. What is happening is
that when you receive that phone call, often from a charity I
might say, often from organizations that are soliciting funds,
that phone call may in fact be emanating from the United States.
Indeed, some of the very large telemarketers are based in either
Pennsylvania or Maryland and are using transborder trunk lines
to telemarket anywhere in Ontario or in Canada.
However, the other side of it is that while we have to be
worried about organizations that will deliberately evade the law
by becoming non-profit organizations, we also have to be very
concerned about charitable organizations that may be engaged in
what are very unethical activities, at least in the context of a
for-profit industry when they are engaged in raising funds.
We may say that if it is a charitable organization surely it
would not be engaged in any form of misrepresentation, be it
misrepresentation by advertising or telemarketing or whatever you
may have. The Internet provides us with all kinds of wonderful
information. I was surfing the net, as they say, and I came
across an article from the Professional Marketing Research
Society which did a study of a practice engaged in by charities
Apparently frugging involves charities that deliberately through
telemarketing phone up and say they are doing a survey on perhaps
social welfare, or tastes in tea, whatever it is. Or they might
be doing a survey asking if there should be homes for battered
women and this kind of thing.
The article from the Professional Marketing Research Society
pointed out that often the surveys are really false surveys which
are not a very transparent attempt to draw the client, the donor,
the victim or the target into a survey which is really just a way
of raising funds.
Two organizations are cited in the article as being engaged in
the false survey activity. It is misleading. It is
misrepresentation and there is no getting around it. One was the
Coalition for Gun Control which did all kinds of surveys trying
to get people to say they did not like firearms and that kind of
thing. But really it was actually a way of promoting support.
Another organization cited by the report as being engaged in
questionable survey practices, which was really another way of
fund raising or getting the message out there, was the National
Anti-Poverty Organization. It was asking all sorts of questions
and said if the recipient responded to the survey a letter would
be sent to the Prime Minister.
Behind many of these false surveys is simply misrepresentation
for the purposes of fundraising. That is the kind of thing that
When it comes to telemarketing, charities are not very clean in
some respects. Telemarketing is a very popular feature with
charities now. A lot of organizations are turning to
telemarketers. I think everyone in this House, and everyone in
Canada, has received phone calls from people soliciting their
donations by telephone. That would be all right so long as the
representations are indeed honest. What is said by the
telemarketer is not honest.
I refer you to a program that was done by CBC's
Marketplace about a year and a half ago, I think it was, in
which the theme was telemarketing. The thrust of the
Marketplace show was to demonstrate that many of these
charitable organizations that use telemarketers where so much of
the donated money goes to paying the for-profit telemarketer that
very little actually goes to the charitable activity. It may be
as little as 10% and often in the outset of a telemarketing
campaign it is 0%.
Nevertheless, the reporter interviewed the president of the
Canadian Haemophilia Society. Her name is Durhane Wong-Reiger
The reporter challenged her.
The telemarketer in setting up the Canadian Haemophilia Society
said that he was proud to say that by putting your gift on a
credit card—this is what the telemarketer says—over 87% of your
donation would go directly to the Haemophilia Society.
The president of the Haemophilia Society did not even reply to
the reporter's question. She could not reply. Very obviously,
87% of the donated dollar is not going to the charitable
Therefore, we have a case where there is an absolute
misrepresentation by a telemarketer speaking on behalf of a
charity. The problem is, as Bill C-20 sits now, because it does
not cover charities or non-profit organizations, the Canadian
Haemophilia Society will have been seen to have done no wrong.,
There is nothing to be done about it. Imagine. It is a blank
cheque to every non-profit organization, be they charity or
not for profit organization, to engage in telemarketing
practices, to misrepresent or mislead as much as they please.
Telemarketing does not work in isolation. This is another flaw
with the bill. Telemarketing usually works in co-operation and
in tandem with a direct mail campaign. In fact, what we are
talking about here is not just telemarketing at all, but direct
marketing. It is the whole business of sending flyers through
the mail and that kind of thing.
People will find that wherever there is a telemarketing campaign
or a media campaign, a fundraising letter will come through the
mail as well.
Again, it is a deficiency of the bill because in fact, as the
Competition Act stands now and with Bill C-20, it does nothing
whatsoever about misrepresentation through direct mail
advertising if it is a charity or a non-profit organization.
I have a great example. As members in this House will remember
recently, there was a hubbub in the press about the seal hunt. It
was the International Fund for Animal Welfare that had conducted
a major campaign under another title to claim that seals were
being wantonly slaughtered on the ice floes.
I think every one of us received form letters cut out of the
newspapers from our constituents. They were to protest the seal
hunt to their MP.
Quite apart from that, much of the literature produced on the
seal hunt by the International Fund for Animal Welfare was false.
What was going on simultaneously with this campaign was another
campaign called Pet Rescue.
I have some documents here. I cannot show the actual pictures
here but Pet Rescue was a direct mail campaign actually launched
out of the United States. This is coming from the United States,
as most telemarketing does.
Pet Rescue was about how all these animals were being tortured
and being kept in facilities that were really awful and that kind
of thing. There are pictures of poor cats that were in
We see a title here “Your support saves lives”. This is
really a fundraising promotion by the International Fund for
Animal Welfare at the same time as the seal hunt protest.
Here is what we have. This promotion literature says “Here is
how you can help stop the cruelty: `Seventy-nine cents of every
dollar spent went toward animal welfare during our 1996 fiscal
year, so you know your contributions are helping to stop
suffering. The International Fund for Animal Welfare—”'.
I submit that this is absolute misrepresentation and that, if
the International Fund for Animal Welfare was indeed a for profit
company, if it was indeed engaging in a business interest, if
indeed it was doing something other than fundraising, it would be
subject to penalty under the law and rightly so.
My feeling with respect to Bill C-20 is that it is a step in the
right direction, even though that step is incomplete. We have to
recognize that with telemarketing spreading across the country
and direct mail becoming increasingly an avenue of fundraising,
telemarketing and direct mail advertising is a costly way of
Seventy per cent to eighty per cent of the actual dollar goes to
the cost of telemarketing and direct mail solicitations, much of
which come from the United States. This bill can do nothing even
if it is a for profit direct mail advertiser or telemarketer
operating out of the United States.
I hope the government and the committee will very carefully
consider taking the opportunity Bill C-20 gives us to widen the
catch of the Competition Act so it includes not for profit
organizations as well as for profit organizations.
I have two suggestions. In clause 52(1) we could insert the
words “or fundraising and any fundraising activity” after the
words “any business interest”. Second, we should make
charitable and not for profit organizations responsible for the
activities of the telemarketers they hire. At present, if a
charity hires a for profit telemarketer and the telemarketer
misrepresents the charity, under Bill C-20 only the telemarketer
can be caught. I believe that if it is the intent knowingly and
recklessly of a charity or a not for profit organization to use a
telemarketer or a direct mail advertiser to misrepresent that
charity to the public then the charity itself or the not for
profit organization should be subject to the same penalties under
the law. I hope the committee will consider these thoughts.
Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Ref.): Madam
Speaker, I listened to the point of view of the member from the
government side. I am prepared to support Bill C-20 as long as
this act achieves its intended objectives to modernize and amend
the Competition Act and to make consequential and related changes
in other acts.
I have two brief questions for the member. One is about
telemarketing. We know that Air Canada is tripling its call
centres in Canada, in particular in Winnipeg. It is tripling its
staff in the Winnipeg call centre. Banks, credit unions and
other financial unions are vigorously promoting and pursuing the
operation of call centres across the country.
Some businesses operate by selling lottery tickets to senior
citizens normally in Canada and abroad, Lotto 649 and so on. From
time to time they sell emotions to seniors. It is gambling sold
over the telephone. Can the member tell the House if this bill will
restrict selling gambling or pressure selling over the telephone?
We all receive a certain type of unsolicited mail which we
define as junk mail. We sometimes receive car keys with the
message that we have won an automobile. Sometimes we see nicely
printed certificates that indicate we have won millions of
dollars. People usually perceive these as scams. Can the member
tell the House if these things are being taken care of in this bill? As
a member of the government side could he throw some light on
that? Can we restrict these types of scams?
Mr. John Bryden: Madam Speaker, I am not a lawyer but my
interpretation of the bill is that it aims at transparency. If
the telemarketer or the direct mail campaign tells the truth then
it is up to the person who receives the solicitation to make a
decision. The bill is aimed at misrepresentation. My problem is
that if that misrepresentation is for a product or for business
interests then all the penalties of the bill apply. It is the
law. You could go to jail under this bill.
It is unfortunate that if a charity or a not for profit
organization like the Canadian Automobile Association does the
same thing, the bill will not catch it.
These organizations can misrepresent as much as they like and the
bill does not catch them. That is why I think an amendment is in
order to the bill itself.
Mr. Chris Axworthy (Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, NDP):
Madam Speaker, I would like to ask two brief questions of the
member. He talked in glowing terms about his support of this
I would like to focus on two points, the first being the meagre
enforcement measures which have been dedicated to deceptive
telephone canvassing in this country. We have perhaps $4 billion
or $5 billion worth of crimes being committed with one very small
unit headquartered in North Bay that is dedicated to dealing with
What steps will the member take with the solicitor general to
make sure that there is adequate policing resources available to
deal with this significant crime?
What is there in this bill that would deal with assessing the
desirability to Canada and Canadians of the mergers between The
Bay and K-Mart, the Royal Bank of Canada and the Bank of
Montreal, and the insurance companies of Mutual Life and
Metropolitan Life? What is there to suggest in this bill any
commitment to a competitive market economy in Canada?
Mr. John Bryden: Madam Speaker, on the first point, I do
not think there is any question that this bill is well aimed at
the deceptive telemarketers because of its provision for
One of the problems with telemarketing as it exists now is how
does one get the evidence if one did not receive the phone call.
I believe this is the reason why the government has put this
provision in the bill. It is a very controversial provision and
I would hope there is considerable debate in committee on it.
However, at this glance I do support the provision.
Second, very clearly the bill is aimed at deceptive
telemarketing by providing Criminal Code penalties for deceptive
telemarketers. Again, not to repeat myself, I just wish the bill
were designed so that it would catch not for profit organizations
as well as for profit organizations.
Finally, there are difficulties with the mergers of major
corporations. It is a heartbreak when a store closes down and
people are put out of work. However, it is very dangerous in a
free enterprise society for a government to intrude with the
rights of the marketplace to sort out the weak from the strong.
Usually in a merger environment what is happening is that there
has been change in public taste and because of that certain
businesses and industries have weakened. Insurance and retail
shopping are two classic cases where there have been major
changes in public taste and public purchasing. The ultimate end
to that is that there is a consolidation of the industry which
leads to mergers which, I do regret, leads to the loss of jobs.
Mr. Werner Schmidt (Kelowna, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I
always enjoy the comments of the hon. member who just spoke. He
always provides another perspective and impresses me with the
research he has done. He did not disappoint me today either. It
I would like the member to get off the charitable and
non-charitable organizations and get into another area which is a
rather significant one. It has to do with the business of tied
selling, offering a product or service on the condition that one
buys another product or service from the same organization. It
is one of the ways a business actually forces a customer to do
something. While it is not misleading advertising or deceptive
in some way, it does restrict completely the competition between
one business and another one.
I wonder whether the hon. member could make a comment about
Mr. John Bryden: I certainly agree, Mr. Speaker, that
this issue of tied selling is a very difficult one because it
pertains to the freedom of competition. I do not have the answer
and I do not know if this bill really addresses it in any
I know the minister and the department have been looking at the
issue of tied selling for years. I wish I could offer the member
an easy answer as I can with respect to my own hobby horses. I
thank him for the question because I believe it is very
Mr. Howard Hilstrom (Selkirk—Interlake, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, my question is with regard to the criminal offences that
have been mentioned in this act. I would like to know if the act
amends the Criminal Code to have these criminal offences
designated under the Criminal Code for the purposes of the
proceeds of crime legislation. Can the moneys be recovered under
the proceeds of crime legislation? Are there provisions made
Mr. John Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I wish it were the
parliamentary secretary on the spot instead of me. Again the
hon. member takes me out of my area of expertise. I would prefer
to give him a simple answer but he is now looking at the issue of
the legal impact of the legislation as it sits before us.
I am saying in a longwinded fashion that I cannot reply to the
hon. member's question. What really is key here is that when we
debate legislation, we can only debate it in principle. It is
for the lawyers afterwards and before committee to look at the
Hon. Lorne Nystrom (Qu'Appelle, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I want
to say a few words on Bill C-20 before the House this afternoon,
specifically on the part that deals with the administration of
mergers and merger notification process. I do that for only one
reason. Very recently back in January we had a blockbuster
announcement which surprised everybody in this country, namely
the proposed merger between our largest bank, the Royal Bank, and
our third largest bank, the Bank of Montreal. The concern that
we have seen across the land since then should make us think
seriously about strengthening the competition policy in this
country, particularly with the administration of mergers.
I submit to the House that what has been done in Bill C-20 is
very weak in terms of what it does with merger legislation in
Canada. This is one of the few opportunities we have to talk
about mergers and why we need stronger competition policy in this
country. It is important to put that on the record today.
The case in point is the one everyone hears about on coffee row
no matter where they are in the country, the two largest banks.
The banking industry in this country has been very protected over
the years in terms of content rules. No individual can own any
more than 10% of an individual bank. That rule has been very
clear. We have five or six very large banks and there has been a
policy that large does not buy large or big does not buy bigger.
Despite the fact that an individual may have a lot of money, he
or she cannot buy more than 10% of any particular bank. This of
course applies to my friend from Palliser or my friends from
anywhere else. One cannot buy more than 10% of a bank in this
What we have here is a real surprise. Our largest bank, the
Royal Bank of Canada, proposes to merge with the Bank of
Montreal. The two of them have stock market value of around $40
billion. The largest merger to date in the history of this
country is a merger of two companies worth about $14 billion.
This merger is three times bigger than anything we have ever had
in the history of this country. It is a very large proposition
in terms of merging. The assets of the two banks are worth about
Four hundred and fifty-three billion dollars is a lot of
money. It is a major proposal between two large banking
institutions in this country that would lead to the creation of a
Yet in this country we do not have competition policy that is
strong enough to adequately, in my opinion, look at a proposition
of this sort.
The banks announced this very quickly. They took the Minister
of Finance off guard. Since the announcement of the merger we
have had skyrocketing in the share value of not just these two
banks but the other banks as well.
In many ways the banks are saying to the Minister of Finance
“We dare you to say no. We dare you to stop this merger”.
They are saying to the competition bureau “We dare you to stop
Unless we have stronger legislation or political will in this
country, a domino effect will occur very shortly, by the fall of
this year. Not only will there be the merger of these two banks
to create a large mega bank, there will be other mergers as well
which will lead to the great consolidation of banking in our
country. If that happens there will be a couple of large
These banks want to merge because they want to have access to
foreign markets. Mr. Cleghorn and Mr. Barrett have made that
very clear. Mr. Cleghorn is the president of the Royal Bank of
Canada and Mr. Barrett is the president of the Bank of Montreal.
They have made it very clear they want to be large on the world
scene so they can compete in Europe, in Asia and in third world
countries. If they have access to markets in other countries,
then of course as a quid pro quo banks in other countries will
want to have access to the Canadian market. Today they do not
have that access. If our banks are to have that access, then of
course the argument goes that our doors will be open for their
All of a sudden we will lose control of the financial industry
in this country. If that happens there will be immediate pressure
to get rid of the 10% rule. If the 10% rule is gone, we will see
the buying of Canadian banks by foreign banks and there may be no
Canadian owned banks left. That is why this is such a vitally
It is important that we flag this issue in the debate on the
competition policy bill before us today in terms of mergers and
acquisitions. We can change forever the direction of the
country, the financial independence of the country, the autonomy
and the sovereignty of our great country of Canada. I am sure
members would agree with me that it is a very important issue.
It is not only the sovereignty, the integrity and the
independence of our country which concerns me. I am also
concerned about service to ordinary Canadians. If we look around
the country we will find that there are a lot of bank branches.
In fact these two banks themselves have about 2,800 branches
stretching across Canada. In a consolidation of this sort it is
almost certain that a large percentage of those branches will
In fact the day in January on which the merger was announced I
was in the small town of Outlook, Saskatchewan. Besides the
credit union there are two banks. They are both on Main Street.
One is the Royal Bank and the other is the Bank of Montreal. I
could imagine the tellers in those banks looking across the
street and wondering “Do you go or do we go?” Which one will
go? There will be a consolidation and some branches will
disappear. Many Canadians will no longer receive the service.
I am not just thinking of the rural people in small towns such
as Outlook or Esterhazy, Saskatchewan, or indeed any town across
the country; I am thinking about the metropolitan areas as well,
the large urban centres. A lot of neighbourhoods will not have
bank branches. Bank branches will be closed down in the inner
cities because it will not be profitable to have all of these
branches once there is a large, centralized mega bank in place.
From a competition point of view it is important that we look at
strengthening the merger legislation in terms of service to
ordinary Canadians. It is a great concern.
Another concern I have is the loss of jobs due to the merger.
Some 92,000 people work for these two banks. Mr. Barrett and Mr.
Cleghorn would have us believe that there will not be a loss of
jobs, that jobs will be maintained. They have told us not to
worry about the jobs.
Look around the world where banks have merged. Look in this
country where banks have taken over trust companies and other
financial institutions. What has happened? Around 20% to 30% of
the jobs disappear. People are laid off. The same thing will
happen with the merger of the Bank of Montreal and the Royal Bank
of Canada if it is allowed to go ahead.
I am not only concerned about the ordinary workers in the banks.
These two banks have head offices. What will happen to the jobs
in the head offices when they consolidate? What will happen to
the jobs of the people who run the technological systems and the
information services as those two banks consolidate into one
That is another argument why we need a strong competition
policy. It is so when people are concerned about an issue like
this one have recourse in terms of going to the competition
bureau. We can do that today. I hope there are people who will
take the initiative to go to the competition bureau and demand an
investigation. I hope that happens. Even more importantly, what
this country needs is some very strong legislation to make sure
that does occur.
As I said before, it is a question of jobs. It is a question of
service to rural communities. It is also a question of the kind
of financial future we want in terms of our financial
institutions. If this occurs, we are opening a whole new can of
worms, a whole different future in banking and financial
institutions in Canada.
It seems that these two big banks think they have the Minister
of Finance on a leash. They have ambushed him. They believe he
is going to give in and listen to the big bankers on Bay Street.
The Minister of Finance is saying “Let us wait a while”. There
is a financial services task force looking at banking in this
country. It is headed up by a very fine gentleman from Regina,
Harold MacKay. That financial services task force has now been
under way for quite some time. It is looking at all these
important issues. The task force is going to report sometime in
the month of September. After that the Minister of Finance is
saying that the finance committee will look at the report and
what is going to happen in the future of banking.
Mr. MacKay's task force is not looking at this particular
merger. It has no specific mandate whatsoever to look at this
particular merger. It is looking at all the other questions in
terms of the future of financial institutions in Canada. For
example the task force is looking at the issue of whether or not
banks should be allowed to get into a full array of financial
services in this country; whether or not banks can buy up
insurance companies and sell insurance throughout their branches;
whether or not banks can get into the auto leasing business. That
is what the task force is looking at.
That is why we need right now a committee consisting of members
of Parliament from all five parties in this House to look at the
wisdom of this particular merger. That is why I am rising at
this time to say that when we deal with competition policy we
should be talking about the most important merger proposition in
the history of this country, one that is so large that all the
others pale in comparison.
The banks have been lobbying for years to sell insurance. The
banks want to sell insurance. The insurance industry has been
lobbying against the banks selling insurance. The Minister of
Finance was very close to saying yes before the last federal
campaign but the election was too near. Finally he said no, the
banks cannot sell insurance.
The banks have been lobbying since then. They have engaged a
very prominent lobbying firm which is based in Toronto and Ottawa
to do the blue chip lobbying for them to allow them to go ahead
and do their mergers, or to sell insurance, or to buy up
insurance companies and to get into the auto leasing business.
The more I talk about this, the more important issues there are
that we have to deal with as parliamentarians.
In the last few years the banks have bought up brokerage firms.
The only brokerage firm now of any size in this country that is
not owned by a bank is Midland Walwyn. The rest are all owned by
the banks. The Royal Bank has a large brokerage firm. The Bank
of Montreal has a large brokerage firm. They both have trust
companies. They are getting bigger and bigger all the time. Is
that the right way to go?
We are supposed to represent the people of this country in this
House. All of us. We are all elected as equals to represent the
people, yet we do not have a parliamentary committee looking at
the very important issue of the mergers and the future of banking
and the financial service industry. That is absolutely and
We should turn this debate into a debate on a big specific
issue, the merger of banks. I hope other members will get in
this debate today and talk about this issue.
I want the Minister of Finance to do a very simple thing. I
want him to strike an all party committee that has the power to
travel this country, to hear witnesses, to hear input from the
Canadian people about whether or not this merger should go ahead.
What is happening is the majority government across the way is
being lobbied by blue chip lobbyists who say that the merger
should go ahead. They say that the banks should have more and
more power, the banks should have the right to buy and sell
In fact some of the banks are getting into what is called tied
selling. There was an example of that last week. If you bought
certain items from the bank or if you wanted a loan or a mortgage
from the bank it was expected for example that you would shift
your RRSPs to that financial institution. Those are the kinds of
things that are happening.
The member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre has just made a
comment about how they expect the whole family to be involved. We
bring our whole family into that bank. How big do these people
want to be? They are like the big sumo wrestlers. They get
bigger and bigger all the time.
An hon. member: Only sumo wrestlers are prettier.
Hon. Lorne Nystrom: Well, I do not know if sumo wrestlers
are prettier. That is in the eye of the beholder I suppose, but
that is what these banks are like.
The irony of this whole thing is I know how lots of members of
the Liberal Party feel about this. They have a caucus committee
which is looking at the merger. We in the NDP are doing the same
thing. I assume members of other parties are concerned as well.
Why do we not get together and have a parliamentary committee
look at it formally? We could subpoena the banks to come before
us and give the Canadian people a chance to come here or we could
go out to the provinces and territories and hear witnesses. Why
do we not do that?
Why are we content as members of Parliament to be controlled by
the Prime Minister's office all the time? Why do Liberal members
not get up on their hind legs and say enough is enough? Let us
have a democratic parliamentary institution where we can have a
parliamentary inquiry into one of the most fundamental issues we
are facing in this particular Parliament, the future of our
I see a Liberal member across the way and I know he agrees. I
can hear his head shaking all the way across the floor. He
agrees with me. He thinks there should be a parliamentary
committee. I am sure the Reform Party feels the same way.
I am sure that the Bloc Quebecois also wanted a parliamentary
inquiry on the future of our country's financial system.
If Parliament is not to debate important issues of public
policy, then why in the devil is Parliament here in the first
place? Why are we here if we cannot debate these issues, if we
cannot have public hearings across the country, if we cannot
subpoena witnesses and allow the people to speak their minds?
That is what Parliament should be all about.
I know the member for Windsor—St. Clair certainly agrees with
me. She is rising to her feet. Now she is smiling. She wants a
parliamentary inquiry. She wants a chance to go after these mega
banks. She does not agree with these large mega banks, but what
can she do? She is muted. She cannot say a word. If she wants
to be a cabinet minister, she does not dare speak out as the
Prime Minister might get a little upset with her, and she will
not be a cabinet minister. That is the kind of parliamentary
system we have. That is why we have to reform this place and
change it to make it more relevant to the people of Canada.
I suspect if we took a vote in the House we would find that the
overwhelming majority of members of Parliament are concerned
about this proposed merger. The Reform Party probably is.
Liberal members are. The Bloc is. I assume the Tories are. And
what are we doing about it? We make one or two speeches in the
House. Let us turn this debate into a debate on this particular
issue right now.
The banks have engaged a lobbying firm which is lobbying like
mad to make sure the banks get their way. The banks across the
country are advocating what they want and campaigning to have the
right to merge. We are giving the banks a free run. That is
exactly what is happening. As parliamentarians we are sitting
here like a bunch of bimbos on our butts and not doing anything
about it in terms of striking a parliamentary committee.
Let us turn this place into a relevant institution and have a
parliamentary investigation into the wisdom or lack thereof of
However the Minister of Finance will not do it. He wants to be
prime minister of the country. Who will he side with? Will it
be the bankers of Bay Street or ordinary people? The member for
Windsor—St. Clair has re-entered the House. I know she does not
side with the bankers of Bay Street, but what about the Minister
of Finance? Does he side with the bankers of Bay Street?
What does he do? He is afraid to face the music and have a
parliamentary inquiry. I am surprised Reform Party is not up in
the House demanding a parliamentary inquiry. I know it is a very
conservative right wing party. It has more and more friends in
the corporate elite. It falls in love with the Conrad Blacks of
the world. Perhaps that is why its members are silent in the
House about an inquiry into banking.
I see the member from Calgary, the revenue critic, shaking his
head. I can hear that from here too. That is why the Reform
Party does not want a parliamentary inquiry. I thought it was
supposed to be a people's party, a grassroots party, speaking on
behalf of ordinary people. It is not. It is becoming a party
reflecting the corporate elite. It would not know a worker if it
Why are Reformers in a coalition with the Liberal government?
Why do they stand four square with the Minister of Finance and
the Prime Minister in terms of the way they are handling the
banking issue? They should be out there saying let the people
speak, let the people decide, let us have a parliamentary
inquiry, let us have a parliamentary investigation to see if this
is good for Canada or not.
Today we have a new opportunity with the bill before the House
to talk about competition policy and why we have to strengthen
it. We have the case in point today to deal with, the merger of
the Royal Bank of Canada and the Bank of Montreal.
Mr. Speaker, I know if you were a member on the floor of the
House you would be getting up to make the same kind of speech. In
fact you are applauding me there in the chair right now.
The Deputy Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt the hon.
member. I was not applauding. I was simply indicating to him
that his time has expired.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Brampton Centre, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I enjoyed the comments of my colleague in the NDP.
I have to inform the House that soon after an offer was made by
the Royal Bank and the Bank of Montreal I sent out a
questionnaire in my riding. The response was four to one in
opposition to the merger.
Based on that response I wrote a letter to the Financial
Post in which I said the situation reminded me of the
Titanic. It was big too at one time but once it hit the
iceberg it sank, taking 1,500 people with it. The point I was
trying to make was that we were not ready. That is why we have
debate in the House, to make sure we are prepared if it ever
Would the hon. member agree with me that when the recession hit
us in the 1930s no Canadian bank ever went bankrupt? That was
because we had laws to protect consumers, unlike the United
States and now as we see in southeast Asia. If we have no
protection for the consumers we will go the same way. However,
the way it is we have lots of protection for consumers. I do not
think we will be hit or that it will happen the same way it
happened in southeast Asia.
Is the protection we have for consumers enough to protect us in
case we are hit by an iceberg?
Hon. Lorne Nystrom: Mr. Speaker, I am very happy the
member sent a survey out to his riding which came back four to
one in opposition to the merger. I believe that tells us what
the Canadian people are thinking.
I guess my question back to him is whether or not he would agree
with me that we now need a parliamentary inquiry, a parliamentary
committee, so his constituents and my constituents have a chance
to speak out publicly on how they feel about that particular
It would be very helpful if some members of the Liberal Party
would rise and say publicly that we need a parliamentary
I also want to say to him that I do not believe the consumer
legislation is strong enough for ordinary people. That is why we
want to strengthen the competition bill. That is one reason for
the particular debate today.
Historically our banks have been a very protected sector of our
economy. That is why they have an obligation to be more
forthright with Canadian people. That is why they have an
obligation to reduce bank service charges, for example. That is
why they have an obligation to be more generous in terms of loans
to small businesses and farmers. I am sure the member agrees
I believe we need stronger competition policy to protect the
consumer, but I also invite him to rise with me in the House and
ask the Minister of Finance in a very polite way for a
parliamentary committee investigation right now made up of all
five parties and not just Liberal backbenchers having hearings
behind the scenes. That is not a parliamentary democracy.
Mr. Howard Hilstrom (Selkirk—Interlake, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, it is very interesting to hear the discussion regarding
wanting to keep both the Royal Bank and the Bank of Montreal in
Outlook, Saskatchewan. I would like to contrast that kind of
thinking with the Reform type of thinking that happens to come
out of my constituency and out of Reform country, which is most
of western Canada.
We are quite pleased when one of the banks happens to pull out
of town because one of our local credit unions walks right in and
opens a branch. The first thing we know the credit union that is
owned by our small farmers and the union people who work at
various unionized shops in my riding get together and put
together a credit union that then provides banking services. We
keep the profits and all those good things at home. That is
Does the member support the big banks or does he support the
little guy as he is supposed to?
Hon. Lorne Nystrom: Mr. Speaker, that is like the chicken
lecturing Colonel Saunders, a Reformer supporting the
co-operative movement and credit unions.
For my whole life I have been involved in the co-operative
movement. I guess the member does not know my background, about
my family being farmers. They have always taken their wheat to
the wheat pool and have been members of the credit union. I am a
member of the credit union.
An hon. member: Wheat board.
Hon. Lorne Nystrom: I said “wheat pool”. Somebody does
not know the history of co-operatives in western Canada.
If the merger goes through, it opens up a great opportunity for
credit unions. We will see the closure of a lot of branches. We
will see the opening of more and more credit unions. If this
happens, I certainly encourage the credit union movement to get
out into more communities and to expand existing credit unions. I
support them all the way.
It is refreshing to hear a member of our most conservative far
right wing party, the Reform Party, actually supporting credit
unions. I am really pleased to hear that.
Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
I too am shocked with the support the hon. member for Qu'Appelle
has given to the big banks. It is terrible that the NDP has not
only turned its backs on the Regina manifesto's clarion call to
nationalize the banks, this party of markets and competition, but
now it wants banks to populate small town Saskatchewan. The
member wants all the big banks to go into small prairie villages.
I grew up in the little town of Wilcox, Saskatchewan, with a
population of 220 on the Sioux line between Drinkwater and Yellow
Grass. When the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce shut down
three decades ago, a local credit union emerged. It was a local
co-operative bank established by the farmers and workers in that
That member does not like it because he would rather have the
millionaires from the Bank of Commerce running the banking
business in Wilcox, Saskatchewan. I say shame on the hon. member
standing up for his friends with the big banks. I will point out
he did suggest in his remarks that the Reform Party was friendly
with the big money people on Bay Street.
The Reform Party more than any other party, with the exception
of our socialist friends, relies more on the contributions of
individual donors than corporate donors. Three dollars to one is
what we get in terms of individual contributions to corporate
contributions. There is a good reason the NDP does not get any
business contributions. It is because businesses know it is not
in the best interest of Canadian workers to support its kind of
Could the hon. member comment on what happened to their policy
to nationalize the banks? Even Ed Broadbent used to talk about
nationalizing one of them. Did that just sort of flitter away
with their other socialist principles?
Hon. Lorne Nystrom: Mr. Speaker, I say to my socialist
comrade from Alberta that talking about turning away from this,
my friend from Alberta used to be the executive assistant to the
now minister of agriculture when he was a Liberal. He knows all
about turning away from things.
An hon. member: Was he not kicked out of the Liberal
Hon. Lorne Nystrom: No, he was not kicked out of the
Liberal Party. He saw the light but he went the wrong way and
went right instead of left.
My friend from Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre obviously must be
thinking of somebody else.
The president of the Credit Union Central of Canada is a fellow
named Bill Knight. Bill Knight used to be a member of Parliament
for the NDP Saskatchewan riding of Assiniboia. I know that my
friend from Alberta knows that, because the former leader of the
Liberal Party in Saskatchewan was an MLA from that riding when he
worked for that particular MLA.
Bill Knight, as member of Parliament for our party and now the
head of Credit Union Central, will be trying very hard to make
sure we establish more and more credit unions across the country.
I support the credit unions as the people's bank. It is
grassroots and owned by the people. It is a co-operative and the
profits are shared by the people.
It is not like the friends of my friend from Alberta who stands
in the House and says that Conrad Black pays too much in taxes
and that millionaires are overtaxed, which is what he said in the
House last October. That is not our philosophy. We support the
credit union and the co-operative movement.
Mr. Werner Schmidt (Kelowna, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I found
this to be a most interesting diatribe out of both sides of the
mouth at the same time. I am wondering if the hon. member has a
Hon. Lorne Nystrom: Mr. Speaker, I think the revenue
critic for the Reform Party would have a point of order when he
is being accused of talking out of both sides of his mouth.
Mr. John Solomon (Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I just want to say a very few words. Bill C-20
respecting the Competition Act is a bill I have had some
experience with in the past.
There are a couple of good things in it. I will get the good
things out of the way quickly because I want to provide some
suggestions as to how we can improve the bad things.
The telemarketing fraud section is a good amendment. A number
of seniors in my constituency in the province of Saskatchewan
have been the victims of telemarketing fraud. As a matter of
fact, it has been such a problem in western Canada that we have
had to undertake to educate as many seniors as possible by
sending out householders in my constituency to alert them to the
potential problem of telemarketing fraud and what sort of action
they can take if they receive calls or have been victims of this
very nasty approach by suspicious so-called business people.
I also remind people that on CTV National News last night,
David Goldhawk, a very well known crusader for many issues that
are important to Canadians, in particular seniors, told a story
about a senior citizen who was bilked out of a fair amount of
money through telemarketing fraud. Through his intervention he
was able to salvage most of the money she had been fraudulently
bilked of. I wanted to mention that in my remarks.
With respect to the other parts of the bill with which I am not
so happy, they pertain mostly to the merger notification process.
It is my view that the merger notification process in the bill is
inadequate and very weak. It does not address the real problems
that I think Canadians want addressed. It is my view that it
should be done in a way which strengthens the legislation as
opposed to weakening it as it now does.
I want to make a very brief comment about the changes in Bill
C-20 that are not necessarily attractive to me when it comes to
mergers. Right now, as my colleague from Qu'Appelle outlined,
the big bank merger before the country and parliament is an issue
very near and dear to the hearts of many Canadians. Many people
bank with those two institutions and have a lot of friends,
relatives, neighbours, acquaintances and so on who are employed
there. These mergers could potentially cost jobs.
I am wondering whether the government of the day, which has put
forward these recommendations, has given any consideration to
this aspect where mergers result in fewer jobs. As I read
through the bill and through the accompanying notes of the
minister, I found that this issue was not addressed at all.
I want to make reference in particular to how Bill C-20 deals
with the Conrad Black and Hollinger takeover of Saskatchewan
newspapers. In essence they purchased the Leader-Post, the
Star-Phoenix and the Yorkton Enterprise, basically
all the daily newspapers in the province.
Under the Competition Act, which we are now debating, this was
The purchaser of the newspapers, Mr. Black from Hollinger Inc.,
would sit down and say “Here are the benefits of a merger”. In
fact, the Competition Bureau would sit down with them and say
“Here is a process in which you can undertake to accomplish the
Other than that, they have no responsibility to ensure that
basic services are required or that some of the employees who
will lose their jobs should be provided with alternate training
or some sort of severance arrangement, enabling them to gain
employment in other parts of the country.
I am very concerned about this in relation to jobs in particular
because mergers, whether the newspaper mergers of Conrad Black
and his company Hollinger Inc. or the bank issue before the House
of Commons, will result in significant numbers of families being
It is estimated that for the bank merger alone, somewhere
between 15,000 and 30,000 jobs are potentially at risk. I think
that is a serious enough implication of a merger that the House
of Commons and the Government of Canada should be taking a review
of this matter.
I join with my colleague, the member for Qu'Appelle, in calling
for a parliamentary committee to ensure that the mergers (a), are
necessary, and (b), are going to be beneficial to the country
that provides them with the charters to bank in the first place.
It is my sense that the resulting review of the merger situation
does not provide satisfactory evidence and that it will benefit
Canadians and people working in Canada if the merger is allowed
to proceed anyway.
Maybe we can provide other people who will provide banking
services to Canadians with the charters that they are due and
entitled to under the Bank Act.
Of course where these jobs will be lost will be all over Canada
but mostly in rural Canada, in small town Canada, particularly in
communities where both the Bank of Montreal and the Royal Bank
I wonder, when we are considering a merger and we have the
commissioner of the mergers reviewing the merger, why we cannot
have a commission and a Competition Act that asks merging
companies how many jobs the merger will create in this country as
opposed to how many jobs will be lost. There should be some
regulation about that.
Maybe we should have in this Competition Act some sections that
call for a community reinvestment act. That would be a novel
idea. It means that if they are going to merge or move an amount
of capital around, they should be answering about how many
dollars should be reinvested in the communities where they made
their profits. That would ensure there is certain economic
activity and that they were returning some of those profits to
the community where they were earned.
People in parts of Canada say “This is just another left wing
idea”. It is not that left wing. It is actually in existence
in many countries in this world. The home of free enterprise and
capitalism, the U.S.A., has a reinvestment act, the Community
When the Bank of Montreal bought the Morgan Bank in Chicago just
a few years ago, before the purchase of the Morgan Bank was
allowed to proceed under U.S. regulations, the Bank of Montreal
had to commit $497 million to reinvestment in Chicago and
district alone because that is where the Morgan Bank was
It had to commit $497 million over a period of time. I believe
it was over five years. They had to invest in small business, in
low cost housing and in other areas where they were getting a
return. It had to commit that amount of money to reinvest in
Why can we in this Competition Act which we are debating today
not have sections that would encourage, if not provide, an
opportunity for a reinvestment act in this country? I think
Canadians would welcome this. They would embrace this act. I
would assure the government opposite that the NDP would certainly
support that initiative.
I want to leave these recommendations with the government. I
think they are very important. I also want to say that the
Competition Act should also consider the MAI, the Multilateral
Agreement on Investment.
The Multilateral Agreement on Investment will affect the
If the Competition Act is in law and is operating in this
country, will the MAI supersede an act of this Parliament with
respect to competition? We do not know the answer to that. I
hope the government will respond to it. Although the Competition
Act is fairly weak, we should be mindful of the opportunities and
the challenges which the MAI will provide with respect to this
The final point I want to make pertains to the lack of teeth in
this bill. I have brought forward issues in the House of Commons
such as gas pricing, where the competition bureau reviews
superficially gas pricing practices in this country, but does not
have the authority to go into corporations to look at documents
like it used to be able to do under the Combines Investigation
Act, which was abolished by the former Conservative government of
That legislation was abolished because, from the large
corporations' perspective, it was intrusive. Of course intrusive
meant that the anti-combines people could in effect look at
mergers or the purchasing of companies to ensure that the public
interest was defended and protected. Consumers were protected
and defended. Now that legislation is gone and we have the
Competition Act, which is a shadow of its former self.
Even the United States of America has anti-combines legislation
on its books to this day. There is more powerful legislation in
the homeland of capitalism, in the land of free enterprise, than
we have in the so-called social democratic country of Canada.
An hon. member: Social democratic country?
Mr. John Solomon: I am referring to the governments of
Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Yukon and Quebec which have
introduced social democratic policies.
It is my sense that the Competition Act, before the amendments
were put forward, was a shadow of what it used to be. The new
proposals will not strengthen it that much. It will be a little
better in terms of responding to telemarketing fraud. However,
it is a total failure when it comes to defending consumers, small
business and jobs in this country. As a result of that, I am
looking forward to the government making some amendments in those
areas so we can support the bill.
Hon. Lorne Nystrom (Qu'Appelle, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
thank the member for his fine speech. I want to ask him if he
could be a little more precise and elaborate a bit more on why he
thinks the Competition Act is not strong enough today to deal
with the bank merger which we face in this country.
I repeat that these two banks have a stock market value of
around $40 billion. They are very large. They have assets of
$453 billion. By far and away this is the largest proposed
merger in the history of the country. The largest merger before
this involved some $14 billion, if I am not mistaken, which was
the merger of TransCanada Pipelines and another gas company.
I would like him to elaborate a bit more as to why he thinks the
Competition Bureau and the Competition Act are not strong enough
to deal with this merger. I certainly do not think it is. I
believe we have to strengthen it. With the existing legislation
it would just get snowed under.
I think it is very important that he elaborate on this very
Mr. John Solomon: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member
for Qu'Appelle for his question.
This reminds me of question period when a Liberal backbencher
stands to ask a question of their Liberal colleague. There does
not seem to be a lot of opportunity to discuss issues because
they are all very busy people. Likewise, the members of my
caucus are very busy, so my colleague has asked me a question
with respect to how we should enhance this legislation so it can
be effective when dealing with bank mergers.
There are a number of ways in which it can be strengthened. The
commissioner should have the power to ask these questions when
considering a merger: What will be the benefits to Canada if the
merger proceeds? How many new jobs in Canada will be created if
the merger proceeds? Will the banks commit a percentage of their
deposits to reinvest in the communities in which they are
If those three criteria were dealt with, discussed and met, and
there was generosity in co-operation with the Canadian
Competition Bureau, as there has been with the Bank of Montreal
in co-operating with the Chicago Morgan Bank and the U.S.
regulations to invest money in their communities, then I believe
that Canadians would look at this in a broader way.
These are three very quick things off the top of my head in
answer to the member for Qu'Appelle. I would be happy to
entertain any more questions from my dear colleagues in the
Mr. Chris Axworthy (Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the member. He will know, as
we all do in this House, that large corporations contribute
significant numbers of dollars to the Reform Party, the
Conservative party and the Liberal Party.
I wonder if he has any comments or thoughts on whether or not
there is a link between the opposition of the large corporations
to the significance of pro-competitive merger legislation, and
the support of the Reform, Tories and Liberals for this present
situation and present legislation which really does nothing to
enhance competition in Canada?
Mr. John Solomon: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for
Everyone knows that the reason the Liberals, the Reform and the
Conservatives support the bank merger is because the Liberals,
for example, received on average between the two banks, the
Montreal and Royal, $150,000 in political contributions, in the
last year available to us where we have the records that are
public. That is $150,000 from two individual companies to
support the Liberals.
The oil companies that support the Reform Party give substantial
contributions. Imperial Oil and Shell give substantial
contributions to both the Liberals and the Reform. Each of those
big companies give the Reform Party about $50,000 or $45,000,
depending on the year. Pan Canadian also makes substantial
contributions. This should not surprise anybody because lo and
behold, all the legislation that we have seen the Reform and the
Liberals support has been to reward these particular companies.
The other sector that seems to get rewarded for their generous
contributions to both parties is the pharmaceutical industry.
Bill C-91 provides monopoly protection for 20 years to the
pharmaceutical industry, to charge whatever they want for
prescription drugs. Lo and behold, those huge corporations
financially support substantially the Liberals, the Reform and
the Conservatives Parties.
The Reform and the Conservative Parties get substantial
contributions from the banks, the oil companies and the
pharmaceuticals. Guess what? In all the legislation, we have a
specific bill for the pharmaceuticals that gives them monopoly
protection. I wonder what effect the Competition Act, Bill C-20,
that we are debating today in this House, will have on Bill
C-91? I bet it will not have any affect. It will actually
ensure that Bill C-91 is there forever.
Whether it is the banks, the oil companies or the
pharmaceuticals, who tend to be gouging consumers and defending
only their shareholders outside of Canada rather than Canadian
consumers, they are the ones who are always getting the benefit
of legislation from these three parties that happen to embrace
this legislation with both arms.
Mr. John Herron (Fundy—Royal, PC): Mr. Speaker, I have
a question for my colleagues here on the left, the New Democrats.
They have spoken a fair amount, from a competition perspective,
with respect to the potential bank merger which we may or may not
see in the coming weeks.
The questions that I have for the hon. member relate to the bank
merger. Given the fact that there are nearly 92,000 jobs that
actually come into play, does he not think that there is actually
some kind of a moral obligation on behalf of the government to
ensure that this decision is actually done in a reasonably
A little while ago two insurance companies that merged were
London Life and Great West Life. When that was done the
government was able to make some kind of a rapid analysis of
whether it met the criteria for the Competition Act.
Given the fact that on February 14, 1997 a WTO ruling made the
banking industry open to foreign competition, is it the hon.
member's assessment that the finance minister should be surprised
that the other banks would actually be talking at some time or
The Deputy Speaker: I am afraid that the hon. member will
have to wait until the next time this bill is debated for his
A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to
have been moved.
ALTERNATIVE FUELS ACT
Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my
question deals with the implementation of the Alternative Fuels
Act which was proposed by Senator Kenny and adopted in 1995. It
requires federal departments and agencies to select motor
vehicles capable of operating on alternative fuels.
The act takes a flexible approach in defining alternative fuel
as a fuel that is less damaging to the environment than
conventional fuels. Widely available alternative fuels include
ethanol and ethanol gasoline blends, propane, methanol and
The Alternative Fuels Act requires the shift to alternative
fuels by the federal government to occur in three stages. The
first phase requires 50% of the fleet in the fiscal year that
began in April 1997. The second phase requires 60% of the fleet
by the fiscal year that will begin on April 1. The third phase
requires 75% of the fleet for the fiscal year commencing April 1,
1999. For every fiscal year thereafter there will be an
There are good reasons to switch to cleaner fuels. The question
now is whether the right example is being set. In some cases we
are setting a good example. I am told that the Minister of
Natural Resources and the deputy minister of that department use
vehicles operated by propane and ethanol blends. The President
of the Treasury Board uses an ethanol blend. The minister and
deputy minister of the environment use propane in their vehicles.
The deputy minister of finance uses an ethanol blend.
However, I am told that the Minister of Finance is not yet using
alternative fuels. The minister and deputy minister of national
revenue use gasoline vehicles. The minister and deputy minister
of fisheries and oceans use ethanol blends only “where available
and cost effective”. Neither the minister nor the deputy
minister of health uses an alternative fuel vehicle.
As for the departments, I am told that National Revenue operates
588 vehicles but only 12 use alternative fuels. This is in spite
of the fact that there are 423 propane stations, 48 natural gas
stations, 97 ethanol stations and 6 methanol stations within 10
kilometres of the fleet operated in various locations by this
The Department of Health has indicated that in the fiscal year
1997-98 it will purchase 75 vehicles. I am told that not one of
those vehicles will operate on alternative fuels. In reply to a
question on the order paper in the Senate presented by Senator
Kenny the Department of Health said that it has 575 vehicles in
its fleet, with none operating on alternative fuels.
I was told that the Department of the Environment would purchase
30 vehicles in the upcoming fiscal year and that 20 of these
would run on alternative fuels. However, of 657 vehicles
currently operated by Environment Canada only 60 are run on
There are at least 17 refuelling stations offering alternative
fuels within 10 kilometres of this House. These stations provide
propane, natural gas, ethanol and methanol, four of the most
commonly available alternative fuels.
I have a few words about cars running on gasoline. Here the
departments could give leadership by using a gasoline ethanol
blend. When it comes to adding new vehicles to their fleets,
departments can show leadership by ensuring the engines can run
on propane. Using propane makes a lot of sense because it is
less expensive than gasoline and other fuels.
My question for the President of the Treasury Board is what
progress will be made in implementing this important legislation
and, in particular, is half the federal fleet operating today on
alternative fuels as required by the Alternative Fuels Act?
Mr. Ovid L. Jackson (Parliamentary Secretary to President of
the Treasury Board, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government has
undertaken a number of actions to facilitate the use of
alternative fuels and emissions in our fleets. We have provided
the departments with the tools to make assessments of the
potential of each vehicle. We have established and demonstrated
a project in the showcase to alternative vehicles and we have
provided environmentally friendly policy frameworks.
With all this the assessment is that a limited number, in fact
only 6% of the existing vehicles in the fleet, would be cost
effective to operate on alternative fuels. The results of this
limitation include the restricted selection of vehicles available
in 1998 models offered by manufacturers. Only six trucks and
vans and three sedans are available.
The lack of cost effective components by suppliers to convert
the vehicles is another impediment. Limited infrastructure for
alternative fuels in some parts of our country is severely
limiting our applications for alternative fuel vehicles in the
If gasoline remains a primary fuel for most of our fleet we must
find other ways, in addition to alternative fuel measures, to
reduce emissions. This can be done primarily by reducing fuel
consumption through the use of efficient vehicles.
Our analysis indicates that 53% of the fleet travels less than
20,000 kilometres and 24% travels less than 10,000 kilometres.
Under the new policy emission reductions will come from greater
use of alternative fuels combined with greater efficiency in the
use of the Canadian government fleet.
We are well aware of my colleague's exploits in the
environmental field and the Government of Canada is continuing to
pursue methods to ensure we have clean air for Canadians.
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les
Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, on February 12, 1998, following the
report on the first year of the EI reform, I questioned the
minister as to the short term action he intended to take, given
that this report, which I would call a rather rosy one, made no
recommendation concerning the EI amendments.
The minister had been saying for a number of months that he
was following the reform very closely and that we must wait for the
first-year report to see if any changes were required.
The report itself contains no recommendations. It even claims to
have been unable to really evaluate the effect of the EI reform.
Unfortunately, those in the field have already seen the
results of this punishing reform only too well. They will see it
even more clearly, unfortunately, in the coming days and months
with the so-called spring gap. This is the period when those who
have not been receiving EI benefits long enough to carry them
through to their next job, particularly seasonal workers, will have
a difficult six, eight or ten weeks with no income.
It does not take an extensive report to understand the reality
of the situation, and we would like the government to do something
about this quickly.
In response to my question, the minister talked about how
successful his economic policies have been in creating jobs. But the
minister gave the wrong answer, as what is being assessed is the success
of social policies.
This has been clearly demonstrated by the distinguished economist
Pierre Fortin. He has established beyond a doubt that, in Quebec alone,
200,000 individuals who have been forced onto welfare since the EI
reforms were implemented would still be receiving EI benefits if the
basic rules had remained the same. Not only is the loss of income
substantial, but individuals are also marginalized by being moved from
the employment system to the welfare system. The minister's EI reform
policy is an abject failure.
In that sense, what I would like the parliamentary secretary to
explain to me is how they can possibly accumulate a surplus of $135
million a week in the employment insurance fund and allow eligibility
requirements to marginalize and impoverish people when it has been
clearly demonstrated that people do not abuse the system.
The fact is that only 3% of claimants defraud the system. This
percentage is no higher than that of people who try to cheat the tax
system or who exceed the speed limit. Yet, they are improperly,
disproportionately penalized. The facts speak for themselves. The
decisions being made even encourage them to drop out of the labour
Could the parliamentary secretary provide some clarifications and
give me the assurance that changes will promptly be introduced by the
government, now that the report has been considered by the parliamentary
committee, among others?
Mr. Robert D. Nault (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is nice
to be back in the same place at the same time.
The hon. member knows very well that the new Employment
Insurance Act requires that we monitor and assess the impact of
the reform on individuals, communities and the economy. He knows
that the first report had to be tabled in early 1998.
Given the magnitude of the reforms, the limited time some of the
changes have been in place and the time required to obtain and
analyse complete information, the 1997 report gives a preliminary
assessment of the start-up year of the reform.
This is the first of five reports. It lays the groundwork for
subsequent reports that will take a more comprehensive look at
how people are adjusting to the reforms. We have already
demonstrated that we will respond to concerns. Last year we put
in place adjustment projects to address concerns that the reform
had created a disincentive to work.
That is why the monitoring and assessment process is so
important. It ensures that we are gathering and assessing
information on an ongoing basis and enables us to respond when
there is a need to do so. However, we will not abandon the
reform on the basis of the hon. member's exaggerated claims.
Even though we have preliminary results, there are encouraging
signs that people are adjusting to the reform and an improved
economy is helping them to do that.
I want to say that we are on the right track. The fact that we
are not wasting our time in committee presenting a report to the
House of Commons on a preliminary report is a good use of our
time as a committee. For the member to suggest that we should
review the monitoring report in committee and spend weeks talking
to people about it is rehashing what we did last year in
committee when we brought in this report. I think we should get
on with the business of seeing that Canadians get employment and
the economy continues to progress the way it has.
CAPE BRETON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
Mrs. Michelle Dockrill (Bras d'Or, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
just over a month ago, on February 4, I stood in this House and
asked the Prime Minister to explain a document that had come into
my possession that detailed a government plan to shut down the
Cape Breton Development Corporation.
This plan, stamped “secret” on every page, included a precise
chronology for the privatization of Devco. Then, in the likely
event that privatization would be unsuccessful, the government
was told exactly which parts of Devco could be sold off, parts
like the Donkin mine. Most important, the plan told the
government what it had to say to convince the people of Cape
Breton that the destruction of their jobs, of their traditions
and of their communities was a good thing.
When I revealed this document the Prime Minister would not
answer my question. He passed me off to the natural resources
minister who had not even been paying attention. That is how
seriously this government takes the voice of Cape Breton Island.
The Prime Minister had advance notice of my question and he did
not even bother to brief his minister.
It took a week for the Liberals to respond to my release. It
took them a week to come up with a line to explain away written
proof of their underground strategy to destroy the Cape Breton
coal industry. The best they could do after a week was to say
that the plan they had authorized at cabinet level had never been
presented to the cabinet.
This defies belief. Is the government asking us to believe that
when the cabinet requests a study it simply disappears? If the
cabinet tolerates civil servants behaving that way then our
country and this government are in more trouble that I thought.
Eventually the Liberal spin doctors decided this line was a
little too unbelievable as well because they dropped it and said
that yes, there had been a plan but that it was abandoned because
of the pressure applied by the island's Liberal MPs David
Dingwall and Russell MacLellan.
A cabinet minister who was explicitly mentioned in the cabinet
memorandum as being a key player in implementing the
privatization or shutdown was suddenly transformed into the
saviour of the corporation.
Even better, Russell MacLellan, a backbencher, was supposed to
have input into a cabinet document that he could not have known
This explanation insults Canadians. Any grade 10 political
science student knows we have a parliamentary system that relies
on cabinet confidentiality as one of its central pillars. So if
a backbench MP is getting access to secret cabinet documents,
then at least one cabinet minister should be forced to resign.
This fudging of answers has reached a fever pitch as the Nova
Scotia election gets closer. The backbench Liberal MP turned
Liberal premier struggles to convince Nova Scotians that his
total lack of activity on their behalf over the past two decades
is not due to his total lack of ability. Paul any economic
recovery will bypass Cape Breton Martin and Jean your out of luck
Chrétien are singing Russell's praises in trying to pretend that
they actually remember who he is. But this will not work.
The people of Cape Breton are still waiting for the Liberals to
answer the question I asked last month. We do not want any
promises, we just want the truth. If the truth is that the
government has tried and failed to make Devco commercially viable
and has tried and failed to privatize it, why will it not be
honest with the people of Cape Breton Island?
The Deputy Speaker: The Chair must remind the hon. member
that in referring to members of this House, she must not refer to
them by name but by title or by constituency. I would urge her
to comply with the rules in that regard in the future.
Mr. Gerry Byrne (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
Natural Resources, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to see
you poised between those two very very beautiful Canadian flags
that should be presented in this House.
The future of the Cape Breton Development Corporation or Devco
is a very serious issue for miners, the people of Cape Breton and
not the least to the Government of Canada. Coal mining and Devco
contribute to the economic well-being of many families in many
communities in Cape Breton and provides opportunities for all
As we all know workers at the corporation are dealing with
geological issues and technical uncertainty about the future of
the Phalen mine. It is in this context that I am concerned the
hon. member may be politicizing the matter which provides
disruption to the community, to the workers and to the
corporation which is trying to support jobs in that area.
I would not want the hon. member to have to live up to the
editorials that are coming down about her within her riding. They
basically suggest that the spin of the hon. member for Bras d'Or
is ignoring the facts.
The government's position with respect to Devco has been very
consistent. Therefore I appreciate the opportunity to clarify
the government's position on this very important crown
Devco must be commercially viable. Nothing more, nothing less.
It is worth repeating that we believe this is a necessary step
toward ensuring the survival of both the corporation and the coal
mining industry in Cape Breton.
In the context of the hon. member's question from this afternoon
and from previous questions, let me assure this House that there
is no secret plan to privatize Devco nor is there a 15 month
shutdown plan for Devco. The hon. member's frequent assertions
that such a plan exists appear to be based on a draft document
that was never presented to cabinet. Instead, as we all are
aware, a decision was made to focus on commercial viability.
The only approved plan that exists for Devco today is Devco's
business plan. Based on this plan the government has made a
decision to continue to provide financial support. The
government has confidence in the management and the employees of
the corporation. These people will work toward the goal of
Ms. Angela Vautour (Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I once again would like to bring attention to the River
Glade to Moncton toll issue. In short, I disagree with tolls
charged on highways because highways are basic public goods
needed for economic and safety reasons.
Since the New Brunswick government announced its secret deal
with the Maritime Road Development Corporation to build a new
highway between River Glade and Fredericton, I have opposed the
deal. The process by which negotiations were conducted between
the provincial government and Doug Young's company should not
have been secret but instead should have been open to public
scrutiny before any contract was signed.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Ms. Angela Vautour: I know the Liberals hate to hear this
because it is the truth and that is why they are all complaining
at this point.
Highways should be paid for by our income tax which lets people
pay for services based on a percentage of their incomes instead
of tolls which are unfairly applied at the same rate to both poor
and rich citizens.
In addition, I oppose the tolls on the Trans-Canada section
between Riverglade and Moncton to MRDC because this section
should not be part of the deal. The section in question has
already been paid for by our taxes, both provincially and
federally. The highway is part of the Trans-Canada, a national
symbol which links Canadians from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
This section is the only highway linking residents of the riding
with health care needs which they can only obtain in Saint John
or Moncton. The federal government has double-dipped in the
pockets of Atlantic Canadian businesses.
This toll tax on the main corridor between the maritime
provinces and the rest of Canada will result in an increase in
the cost of goods and services imported and exported from the
maritime region. The tourist trade will also be directly
In addition, the people of New Brunswick will be looking at a $2
billion tax increase.
In 1995 the Liberal government eliminated the Atlantic Canada
freight rate subsidies, promising to invest $326 million over
five years to modernize the highway system in Atlantic Canada and
eastern Quebec. Where did it go?
In Atlantic Canada freight rate subsidies existed to help
Atlantic Canadian businesses compete with central Canadian
businesses which were favoured because of lower transportation
costs. This represented thousands of dollars in subsidies every
year for many Atlantic Canadian businesses.
Now the toll highway, already paid for by tax dollars and the
savings of the subsidies eliminated, is costing these businesses
more than before. It does not add up.
For example, a company which used to pay $1,000 to ship its
products to Ontario would get a rebate of $250. Now they have to
pay the $1,000 plus an extra $110 fee per day to travel.
In closing, I would like to say that the Trans-Canada Highway
should be toll free from coast to coast. In the words of Ruth
Jackson, present mayor of Salisbury: “A toll on any part of the
Trans-Canada Highway is a breach of trust to the citizens of
Canada, removing them from the freedom of unifying transport
across this country. Any tolled road, be it provincial or
private, must be separate and distinctly not part of the
Trans-Canada Highway system. If this toll is allowed to proceed,
all geography east of Moncton will be denied the freedom of
national highway access to any commercial transport”.
Mr. Stan Keyes (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the hon.
member that highways, including those segments which make up the
Trans-Canada Highway, fall under provincial jurisdiction. Both
the existing and proposed Fredericton to Moncton highways are the
responsibility of the province of New Brunswick. This means that
the Government of New Brunswick decides on their alignment,
design, construction standards, tendering process, financing, as
well as subsequent operations and maintenance.
The decision to establish tolls on these highways is exclusively
a provincial decision.
The federal government had co-funded some of the completed work
under existing federal-provincial cost-shared agreements. The
total federal contribution toward the completed work was $32
million. Of this, $16 million was spent on the 23 kilometre
section between Riverglade and Moncton, which will become part of
the toll highway.
New Brunswick has not included the federal contribution in the
cost base that was used for establishing tolls and the annual
provincial payment for the remaining capital cost. In effect,
the federal funds have reduced the capital cost of the total
The federal government entered into cost shared
federal-provincial highway agreements because it wished to
accelerate the construction of safer and more efficient highways,
and this objective was met.
Once project construction is completed to the satisfaction of
both parties, the federal role ceases.
Past and current agreements contain no provisions preventing the
establishment of tolls or requiring the agreement of the federal
government. The government has no legal basis to prevent
provinces from imposing tolls on provincial highways, including
those which have received federal contributions.
The Deputy Speaker: It being 6.55 p.m., the motion to
adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted.
Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10
a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 6.54 p.m.)