June 1, 1993

NDP

Lorne Edmund Nystrom

New Democratic Party

Hon. Lome Nystrom (Yorkton-Melville):

Madam Speaker, just a few words about the sad passing yesterday of Mr. Barrett, the former member for Lincoln. He was one of the class of '68. When I was first elected in 1968 there were 96 of us and Mr. Barrett was a member of Parliament at that time. He served one term, from 1968 to 1972.

I remember him as a member of the House who was well liked. He was a very congenial person who had friends in all three national political parties. He was very active in the committees of the House, very concerned about his constituents and concerned about his country.

On behalf of our party I want to extend to his family our very sincere condolences.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   THE LATE GORDON "CHUB" BARRETT
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GOVERNMENT ORDERS

TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT


The House resumed consideration of Bill C-62, an Act respecting telecommunications, as reported with amendments by a subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Communications and Culture.


SPEAKER'S RULING

PC

Andrée Champagne (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Madam Deputy Speaker:

Following intense deliberations and consultations, the Chair is now ready to render its ruling on all the amendment motions proposed at report stage of Bill C-62, an Act respecting telecommunications. I wish to thank all members of this House for the patience they have shown in this matter.

There are 50 amendment motions on the Order Paper for report stage of this bill.

Government Orders

Motion No. 2 standing in the name of the hon. member for Mount Royal is now before the House for debate and will be voted on separately.

Motion No. 1 standing in the name of the hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap will be debated and voted on separately.

Motions Nos. 3, 9 and 15, standing in the name of the hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap, and Motion No. 19, standing in the name of the hon. member for Mount Royal were considered in committee. Therefore they will not be selected.

After consultation, Motion No. 4, standing in the name of the hon. member for Mount Royal, and Motion No. 5, standing in the name of the hon. member for London East, will not be selected.

Motions Nos. 6, 7, 8, 10 and 11 standing in the name of the hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap will be grouped for debate and voted on separately.

Motions Nos. 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21 and 23 standing in the name of the hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap and Motion No. 22 standing in the name of the hon. member for Mount Royal will be grouped for debate and voted on as follows:

a) A vote on Motion No. 12 will apply to Motion No. 14;

b) Motions Nos. 13, 16 and 17 will be voted on separately;

c) A vote on Motion No. 18 will apply to Motion No.

20;

d) An affirmative vote on Motion No. 21 obviates the question being put on Motion No. 22;

e) A negative vote on Motion No. 21 requires the question to be put on Motion No. 22; and

f) Motion No. 23 will be voted on separately. [Translation]

Motions Nos. 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30, standing in the name of the hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap,

will be grouped for debate and the vote on Motion No. 24 will apply to Motions Nos. 25 to 30.

Motion No. 31, standing in the name of the hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap, will be debated and voted on separately.

Motions Nos. 32 and 34 standing in the name of the hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap will be grouped for debate but voted on separately.

After consultation, Motion No. 33 standing in the name of the hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap will not be selected.

Motion No. 35, standing in the name of the hon. member for Mount Royal, will be debated and voted on separately.

The purpose of Motion No. 36, standing in the name of the hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap, is the same as the purpose of Motion No. 35; therefore it will not be selected.

Motions Nos. 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41, standing in the name of the hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap, will be grouped for debate and the vote on Motion No. 37 will apply to Motions Nos. 38 to 41.

Motion No. 42 standing in the name of the hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap will be debated and voted on separately.

Motion No. 43 standing in the name of the hon. member for Mount Royal will be debated and voted on separately.

Motions Nos. 44, 45, 46, 47, 48 and 50, standing in the name of the hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap, and Motion No. 49, standing in the name of the hon. member for Mount Royal, will be grouped for debate and voted on as follows:

(a) The vote on Motion No. 44 will apply to Motions Nos. 45, 46, 47, 48 and 50;

(b) If Motion No. 44 carries, it will not be necessary to vote on Motion No. 49;

(c) If Motion No. 44 is negatived, it will be necessary to vote on Motion No. 49.

June 1, 1993

We will now resume debate on Motion No. 2.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEAKER'S RULING
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MEASURE TO ENACT

PC

Steve Eugene Paproski (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

The hon. member for East Kootenay-Revelstoke has seven minutes remaining in his debate.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP

Lyle Stuart Kristiansen

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lyle Kristiansen (Kootenay West-Revelstoke):

Mr. Speaker, that is Kootenay West-Revelstoke, but we forgive you again.

I had been engaging in a few remarks on Motion No. 2 before us which is:

That Bill C-62 be amended by adding immediately after line 36 at

page 3 the following new Clause:

"Review of an Operation of Act

4. Five years after the coming into force of this Act, and at the end of every five year period thereafter, a comprehensive review of the provisions and operation of this Act including the effect of those provisions shall be undertaken by such committee of the House of Commons as may be designated or established by the House for that purpose".

I had been commenting just before the luncheon recess on a number of the problems surrounding the earlier consideration of this bill and the various amendments before us on which the Speaker has just ruled.

The problem we had in committee and the problem we see now is that the government introduced 51 amendments during clause-by-clause consideration in committee. It placed all committee members in a state of some confusion in trying to sort out just where they were in the process and what they were dealing with.

Normally members operating on a committee during the period of clause-by-clause study have some idea of what they are dealing with. But in this case the government used a very odd procedure, particularly on a bill that is so complex.

The bill deals with an industry wherein the volume of the rapidly changing technology affects it greatly. It makes the whole matter so complex that we really wonder where we will be a couple of years down the road in terms of whether or not this legislation as envisaged and put together will do the job expected of it.

This industry not only is one of the largest domestic service industries, it is also one which is so absolutely

Government Orders

crucial to our international trade, both in terms of the hardware and the export of technology and expertise we have been engaged in. I am sure in the future it will consume even more attention of those in industry and government.

The motion before us asks for a review after five years. We feel that in the special circumstances which have developed during consideration of this bill that is perhaps too long a period, especially initially, to determine whether what we have done in this place and in committee will stand the test of even that relatively short period of time.

In order to give ourselves, the government and the industry and all interested parties in the country an opportunity, I would like to move a subamendment to Motion No. 2. I move:

That Motion No. 2 be amended by replacing the word "five" with

the word "two".

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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LIB

Peter Andrew Stewart Milliken

Liberal

Mr. Peter Milliken (Kingston and the Islands):

Mr. Speaker, this particular amendment and now the subamendment that I am technically addressing are of interest. Really it is part of the mismanagement the government has engaged in, in respect of this bill that has caused these amendments to be brought before the House.

After nine long Tory years this bill has been introduced by a government that said it was going to try deregulating things. This was one of its big promises in 1984 and again in 1988. It was going to take the monkey of regulation off the back of business. It seems the only regulations it wants to forgo for business are those respecting the award of tenders for contracts for the friends of the government.

This is a case where the government might reasonably have lifted some regulation and moved on it rather quickly after the election in 1984 but it delayed this whole thing for nine years. Now in the dying days of this government's mandate we are confronted with a bill that was introduced in this House in a very flawed form.

The bill originally had 138 clauses and my understanding, although I was not on the committee that considered this, is that over 50 amendments were made at the committee stage to this bill. In other words the members of the committee, which included opposition members as

June 1, 1993

Government Orders

well as some government members turned out changes to this bill that indicated it was very seriously flawed.

We in the opposition have sought to bring forward amendments to improve the bill and make it more realistic and sensible. My very distinguished and capable colleague, the hon. member for Mount Royal, has proposed this amendment that would have Parliament review this bill after a five-year period. I cannot understand why the minister would not stand up at once and agree to such a sensible amendment to this bill.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Henry Perrin Beatty (Minister of Communications)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Beatty:

That is what happens when the hon. member is not in the House to listen to my speech.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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LIB

Peter Andrew Stewart Milliken

Liberal

Mr. Milliken:

He says it is because I was not here to hear his speech, but he should agree to this at once and the reason is patently obvious. We have had reviews of government legislation in this House before. I can recall three or four specifically that came up at House leaders' meetings. Committees were established to review government legislation that had been passed by this Parliament and it was then gone over with some care by a special committee.

The minister knows as well as I do that if a committee is not established to do that no committee is going to sit down as he tried to suggest and spend its time whiling through this bill just for the fun of it. Parliamentarians have lots of things to do and without a specific reference, the job simply will not get done in a reasonable period of time.

Five years is a reasonable time frame and the amendment is being moved by the NDP members to show they are active and not for any particular purpose. Having gone through the act in such detail at this stage it hardly seems appropriate that we go through it in two years. I think five is an adequate time and I am sure the minister would agree that five is an adequate time.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP
LIB

Peter Andrew Stewart Milliken

Liberal

Mr. Milliken:

If he suggests two why does he not move an amendment to make it two? If the minister is going to support the subamendment, great, but let us get on with it and get the bill improved. The fact is that unless we have a specific reference to a committee we are not going to review this bill. The hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap knows that and that is why he is supporting this amendment.

I urge the minister to have another look at this. If the bill was so flawed when it was brought in and so many amendments were agreed to in a committee, surely an amendment as reasonable as the one moved by the hon. member for Mount Royal could be considered by the minister.

The minister has been the minister in his department now for two years and it has taken a long time to get this bill forward. I have no doubt it would have taken a lot longer if this minister had not been the minister. I know he is diligent and has not had to go off gallivanting around the country on a leadership campaign which no doubt has slowed down progress in several other government departments.

We are sorry in a way that the minister is not in the leadership campaign but from the point of view of getting legislation passed in this House we are delighted that he is able to be here because that is very helpful for the conduct of the legislative agenda.

I urge the minister to meet with his officials who I know are waiting with bated breath for him in the lobby to hear his views on this. Tell them he thinks the five-year review is a very sensible thing and that he and the government members should support this very sensible amendment and urge his officials to check the drafting, make sure it is all right and if it is satisfactory pass the amendment.

If there are technical changes in the wording of the amendment that would improve it, make it clearer or bring it into conformity with other similar clauses in other bills I am sure the hon. member for Mount Royal would be pleased to assist the minister and agree to anything that is necessary to make this change work.

The opposition is keen to have this work. We expect to be the government the next time. We are quite prepared to have a parliamentary review of this legislation and I suggest the minister put it into the bill so it is guaranteed at a certain time.

I hope the minister will consult. If he has to go back to his cabinet colleagues to get agreement for such an amendment I urge him to do so. I know he may have trouble getting hold of the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of National Defence. Who knows where they are today. Surely they come to Ottawa once in a while, at least to cabinet meetings where patronage is being discussed so they can get their friends appointed to all the right posts as we saw earlier today. If they can

June 1, 1993

do it for the patronage surely they can come to discuss the minister's bill and changes to the bill. I hope he will urge them to come to Ottawa and discuss these changes with him so when the voting comes on this amendment the minister and his colleagues will support it.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Steve Eugene Paproski (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

Before I recognize the hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap, the subamendment moved by Mr. Kristiansen and seconded by Mr. Nystrom is in order.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP

Lyle Dean MacWilliam

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lyle Dean MacWilliam (Okanagan-Shuswap):

The subamendment to the amendment posed by my colleague the member for Kootenay West-Revelstoke is simply a recognition of the fact that the process of bringing this legislation through the House has been nothing more than a sham.

This government has had nine years to bring forward a major piece of legislation on telecommunications policy. This particular bill, as I understand it, was initiated by the previous Minister of Communications and has been in the mill for some time. The government has had more than adequate opportunity to flesh out the rough edges and fine tune the bill. The process that was involved over the past few days under great duress with all participating members of the legislative committee was simply an absolute and unmitigated disaster.

As I understand it the government brought in about 75 amendments. The minister corrects me and says there were 51 but I do believe further amendments were also made above those 51 amendments by the minister's representatives.

We had a situation where the opposition in all good faith was attempting to amend the bill that was being changed before its very eyes. It was amending a bill that was no longer there because the minister had come in with no fewer than 51 initial changes-and correct me if I am wrong, Mr. Minister, because everybody lost track of just what was being introduced-and even more changes afterward. During the process when we were discussing amendments other changes were being suggested and brought in.

Government Orders

The process was extremely frustrating and extremely difficult to follow. Because of this I fear there are a lot of weaknesses in the bill that simply have not been caught because it was humanly impossible to do so.

This government has had nine years to bring forward this legislation and only sees fit to ram it through in the dying hours of this dying session of this tired and listless old government. It is trying to get this telecommunications bill through because it has received marching orders from the corporate community to do so.

I have a problem with it because there are so many loose ends that remain untied in terms of many issues that remain unaddressed in this legislation. There is the mere fact that the legislation does not address the whole issue of technological convergence.

The government seems to have missed the complexity of the fact that our technology has moved ahead of our legislative ability to deal with it. New technologies have been developed such as fibre optics cable. Traditional lines of communication such as broadcasting as opposed to telecommunications and telephony are coming together through the use of fibre optics cable. Thousands of signals, audio digital and video can come together and be mixed and then separated through the magic of high technology.

This bill has simply neglected that whole area to great detriment in terms of the immediate future policy making initiatives of this government and the ability of both the government and the regulator to have some authority in terms of this new technological jurisdiction. This is why my Liberal counterpart, the hon. member for Mount Royal, has brought in the recommended change that the legislation would be subject to a review every five years.

I was sitting here in full support of the member's suggestion and thinking it was something we did not discuss in the legislative committee. It is an idea that has to be supported in light of the many loose ends we have here.

June 1, 1993

Government Orders

The minister himself suggested if we were going to recommend a five-year review why not make it two or three years. Why not have the review even more frequently? I had to agree with him. I thought for once the minister was making some sense.

This subamendment to the amendment has come through because of the minister's suggestion although it may have been said in jest. I think he was perhaps inadvertently on the right track. The idea of having a review every two years is quite appropriate.

This legislation takes us from the horse and buggy days of the Railway Act which was 100 years old, to the 21st century. It moves us in one quantum leap legislatively speaking from almost a century ago into this technological revolution we are undergoing today. It is a quantum leap in terms of the legislative initiative that this bill tries to accommodate. There are some good things in this bill that we in opposition have no difficulty whatsoever supporting.

There are other very worrisome concerns such as the whole idea of deregulating the market. As you know Canada's telecommunications market has been under regulatory authority since the telephone was brought into this country and the first lines were run along sections of the eastern seaboard and central Canada. This government in one quantum leap is moving us away from that regulated market structure and opening up the process of the competitive marketplace in the field of telecommunications.

In many ways this legislation dovetails into the provisions of the North American trading agreement. We can see we are getting into a situation where a century of regulated market structure is now being unravelled. In some cases it has led to some innovative changes in the industry. Nobody will deny that. In other areas it has led to job losses. In British Columbia we lost 820 workers in BC Tel as a result of the recent CRTC decisions to allow competition in the long distance marketplace.

In summary there are things happening today and things allowed for in this bill that we do not have a full grip on. I think we should have a provision for a review every two years to make sure the legislative recommendations in this bill can be fine tuned as the realities of our technological evolution continue to unfold.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Henry Perrin Beatty (Minister of Communications)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Perrin Beatty (Minister of Communications):

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has simply demonstrated how frivolous the motion of the NDP is.

The hon. member conceded the NDP missed its opportunity in committee to propose that a review provision be put into the bill requiring it to be brought before the parliamentary committee on a regular basis.

Having discovered when the bill came into the House of Commons that the Liberal members were proposing a review clause, the NDP members decided they would try to outbid them and instead of five years they would propose two years. That would mean that every two years, by law, a parliamentary committee would have to review all the procedures of this bill.

That is simply frivolous and an abuse of the time of this House. I do not think Canadians will take that seriously. We are dealing with the replacement of a bill here that dates back to 1908, the Railway Act, which is regulating Canada's premier high-tech industry. Instead of a serious attempt by the NDP to suggest constructive improvements or to be helpful in terms of bringing us into a more modem age, we see simply blind opposition.

I listened with great interest to my friend from Kingston and the Islands with his generous comments about the possibility of my running for the leadership of my party. I am awaiting his cheque and I will be glad to reconsider my position when it arrives. It may have gone astray in the mail but I am prepared to receive it at any time.

It was fascinating for me to listen to my hon. friend when he said he fully expects that the Liberal Party will form the next Government of Canada. However, he says that the parliamentary committees, which would have a majority of Liberals on them and which would have Liberal-appointed chairmen, would not work. They would not sit down to review this bill unless there was a provision in the law that instructed them that they had to do so. This is notwithstanding the fact that the rules of the House and the rules of the committees provide that any committee at any time can study any relevant subject matter that it wishes to. For my friend for Kingston and the Islands, the only way that one could persuade a Liberal-dominated committee to do its job was if it was

June 1, 1993

written into the law and mandated by law that it had to be done.

I do not think that is good enough either. I think that Canadians have a right to expect that when we pass legislation in Parliament, parliamentary committees will do their jobs. If a member of Parliament honestly believes that a piece of legislation is deficient in some way, then he or she should be taking an initiative to sit down and start a review.

Certainly from the point of the government I can commit the government to constantly be reviewing legislation as passed by government to ensure that that legislation still serves the purpose for which it was intended. When the member for Kingston and the Islands says that the only way a Liberal committee would do its job is if it was mandated by law to do so and it was compulsory to do so, then I believe that is simply an abdication of responsibility on the part of that party.

This motion is frivolous. It deserves to be rejected. I think that the industry, consumers across Canada and people working in the industry all have a right to expect that this Parliament will move ahead and pass this legislation without more frivolous delay.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP

Brian L. Gardiner

New Democratic Party

Mr. Brian L. Gardiner (Prince George-Bulkley Valley):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and say a few brief words on Bill C-62 which is a major piece of communications legislation that has been brought before Parliament today. I would just like to say something with the greatest of respect to the minister from the government who introduced I do not know how many amendments to this legislation in committee. I was not in the committee. For the minister to suggest today that the amendments being brought forward by members of the opposition are frivolous really I think is begging a point.

I think that this minister is not one to normally take that approach in debate. I hope he will give serious consideration to our subamendment and if not the subamendment from my colleague in the New Democratic Party then certainly from the Official Opposition. I think it is important to give the discipline to any government-it does not matter what party-to ensure that the regular kind of review for legislation is guaran-

Govemment Orders

teed as important as that which is governing the telecommunications industry.

It is perhaps a cliche to talk about how the regulatory process has been slow to catch up to the changes in the telecommunications industry, but I think that is a point we all know. That industry has to be regulated. It is very difficult for any legislation to try to keep up to the changes.

I suggest that the amendment and the subamendment go some distance in applying discipline on the government or any government to ensure that those changes are made. When the minister suggests that his government is prepared to review legislation at any time, one just has to look at the promises made by the Minister of Finance about getting this government's books in order and the deficit under control. I might suggest that there is a reason to have an amendment to this legislation for some kind of review. It gives all Canadians, consumers and the industry that the minister talks about the time frame for knowing when formal legislative and regulatory changes will have to take place. This is opposed to sitting and waiting for Parliament just before an election when obviously the government wants to get some of its legislation passed.

I would ask the minister to give serious consideration to the subamendment and the amendment. They are both reasonable and something the government should consider supporting.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Steve Eugene Paproski (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

Is the House ready for the question?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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?

Some hon. members:

Question.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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June 1, 1993