June 1, 1993

PC

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

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the subamendment?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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?

Some hon. members:

Agreed.

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?

Some hon. members:

No.

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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

All those in favour of the subamendment will please say yea.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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?

Some hon. members:

Yea.

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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

All those opposed will please say nay.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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?

Some hon. members:

Nay.

Government Orders

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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

Pursuant to Standing Order 76(8), a recorded division on the proposed motion stands deferred.

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Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP

Lyle Dean MacWilliam

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lyle Dean MacWilliam (Okanagan -Shuswap) moved:

Motion No. 1.

That Bill C-62 be amended in Clause 2 by striking out lines 7 to 9

at page 2 and substituting the following therefor:

"(b) the capture, storage, organization, modification, retrieval, or other processing of intelligence or".

He said: Mr. Speaker, this amendment refers to the general interpretation section of Bill C-62. Under clause 2 we find a definition for exempt transmission apparatus:

"exempt transmission apparatus" means any apparatus whose

functions are limited to one or more of the following:

(a) the switching of telecommunications,

(b) the input, capture, storage, organization, modification, retrieval, output or other processing of intelligence, or

(c) control of the speed, code, protocol, content, format, routing or similar aspects of the transmission of intelligence;

It goes on with a number of other definitions.

Subclause 2(b) of that definition I found to be quite problematical. I guess it would be up to legal interpretation. The reason for suggesting this amendment is to get away from what I consider a problematic definition taken in light of what we can call the provision of basic services in the industry.

Take the words input and output. An input device or mechanism or an output mechanism for that matter may or could be interpreted as being the transmission facility or the line carrying that message.

There has been some concern in the industry regarding the whole problem of the provision of services from the telephone company into the private residence such as the line services coming basically from the telephone pole into the commercial or private residence.

My concern is if input and output could be looked at as being the provision of that line facility then by defining input or output as being an exempt transmission apparatus it may alter the obligations of the telephone companies such as BC Tel or Bell Canada to provide, as they

historically have done, these kinds of services to the residential or commercial consumer.

This could well be a topic for debate, but I think that by deleting references to input and output we would still provide the authority to the CRTC to regulate the installation and maintenance of inside wiring and wiring located on the premises of the user in terms of the current provision of basic services.

When a person is constructing a home, for example, the telephone company will come in and provide that wiring. It is part of the service package when the consumer hooks up to the private line or party line whatever the case may be.

What worries me is the telephone companies may say that because this is an exempt apparatus or an exempt facility under the new legislation they no longer have to provide it. Therefore if we want telephone service in our homes we are going to have to pay the cost of the line installation. That cost can range from a couple of hundred dollars for a complex installation to substantially more for a commercial installation. By deleting these references the CRTC would still be provided with the authority to regulate installation and maintenance of apparatus located inside the premises of users.

It is my understanding the CRTC currently has before it an application from BC Tel on this very matter. Telephone companies are trying to cut costs. I do not blame them. They face a difficult situation. I talked earlier about where BC Tel has had to lay off some 820 employees because of the new competitive environment in the long distance market. Granted they were temporary employees, but many of them had been there for a considerable amount of time.

The fact is we now have Unitel coming in and creaming off the profits in the long distance market, forcing BC Tel and other telecoms to lower their long distance rates and therefore lower their profits on long distance rates which have traditionally gone into the provision of local telephone service. The profits from long distance have cross-subsidized for example the cost of providing inside wiring for residential consumers.

It is understandable that businesses like BC Tel or Bell Canada would come before the CRTC and say: "We do not want to have to provide this any longer. We just want to be able to provide the service to the telephone pole closest to the property line". If we in fact encourage that through this exemption clause in the current bill by saying input and output, granted it may be a debatable

June 1, 1993

matter, but my concern is that the legal interpretation of it may be that inside wiring could be looked at as an exempt transmission facility and therefore BC Tel would be quite within its rights to say it is no longer responsible for providing it.

What would that do? To make the matter simple, it would substantially increase costs for the residential consumer. That is not in the spirit of where I want to see the legislation go. We have to protect local services and the provision of those local services, particularly so in our rural and more isolated northern communities.

That is why I have made the suggestion that the words input and output in terms of exempt transmission apparatus be struck from the current clause. Without those definitions it makes the case a little more difficult for the telecoms to say under the new legislation that they are no longer restricted to providing basic service into the residence itself.

I hope the government and our friends in the other opposition party would see fit to endorse this proposal. I simply think it protects the interests of consumers.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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LIB

Sheila Finestone

Liberal

Mrs. Sheila Finestone (Mount Royal):

Mr. Speaker, I listened with a great deal of interest to my colleague from Okanagan-Shuswap. He referred to the potential for escaping the cost of installing services within apartment buildings or installations that normally were covered by Bell Canada or BC Tel. I presumed there were normal costs of doing business that are chargeable to the customer and there were those that were not through precedent, through CRTC decisions or through a variety of ways since the founding of the CRTC some 20 years to 25 years ago.

If his observations on the potential meaning of the words input and output in that sense are accurate, I have no difficulty supporting him. They presuppose that there will be a saving to the consumer of the service. One of the goals under clause 7 or one of the objectives of this bill is to ensure that notwithstanding the market force the consumer shall be protected along the way.

I must say I had an entirely different understanding of the meaning of the clause on exempt transmission

Government Orders

apparatus. It related to the fact that the Government of Canada through the minister made a decision with respect to making absolutely sure the resellers would not be entrapped by the bill. The goal of the bill was not to cover resellers, that is those who were renting facilities and did not have facility bases. They would not fall under the mandate of the CRTC in any way, shape or form.

In the prior bill there was nothing clearly defining the fact the resellers were exempt. The CRTC and the resellers were of the view that we could go the exemption route for the resellers by having this responsibility under the powers of exemption and forbearance of the CRTC. We could have left the definition section alone. Maybe they were right. Maybe they were wrong. Only time will tell.

The department and the minister undertook to include five new definitions, enlarging definitions or motions. They included the definition of an exempt transmission apparatus within which they used the term intelligence that does not have any meaning in law. Therefore they had to define intelligence. Then they enlarged the definition of telecommunications to include the word intelligence to be found in any wire, cable, optical or other electromagnetic system. Further they enlarged the definition of transmission facility so there was no question wired cable and optical was there for the transmission of intelligence between network termination points.

That was key to deciding whether or not one was going to be a reseller or would end up falling under the same regulatory network as Bell Canada. There had to be network termination points, et cetera, to be exempt. They then went on to define network termination points.

Within the broad scope of the amendment my colleague submitted, perhaps there is a variety of interpretations to explain why we felt it was important some time in the foreseeable future. We picked the date of five years. The minister seemed to feel a shorter time or even a longer time might be indicated and did not give us a precise time.

There is much that is new in the bill. Just today, not 10 minutes ago, I listened to my colleague raise the matter of input and output. That indicated to me there was something unclear in the bill and perhaps it is a good idea to tighten it up. I thought it had to do with a

June 1, 1993

Government Orders

computer and the way it is typed in and printed out. Maybe it has to do with the way the wire is put through.

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Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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?

An hon. member:

No.

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LIB
PC

Henry Perrin Beatty (Minister of Communications)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Beatty:

Your legal interpretation is correct.

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LIB

Sheila Finestone

Liberal

Mrs. Finestone:

Sometimes I am right, but it took a lot of learning.

I will rest my case in that way. We have undertaken a variety of amendments and a variety of clarifications for resellers to ensure they will be exempted from the law. Instead of taking an easy route with clarity we have taken a sort of convoluted route.

Maybe my colleague in the NDP who brought in this motion is right. I do not know. Maybe five years down the road we will want to revisit the whole measure. I would certainly support the motion in light of the big question mark that is out there.

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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

PC

Harvie Andre (Minister of State (Without Portfolio); Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Andre:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I want to formally designate Wednesday, June 2, as the ninth and last allotted day for this supply period.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT


The House resumed consideration of Bill C-62, an act respecting telecommunications, as reported, with amendments, from a subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Communications and Culture; and Motion No. 1.


NDP

Neil Young

New Democratic Party

Mr. Neil Young (Beaches-Woodbine):

Mr. Spieaker, there is absolutely no question that Bill C-62 is very complicated in my reading of it. The hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap, our critic on communications, has

been extremely helpful in my gaining a better understanding of the legislation. The amendment the member for Okanagan-Shuswap just introduced in the House raises a concern I have that it changes the whole concept people have of their relationship with Bell Canada and other telecommunication companies in the field.

It is my understanding the bill indicates a consumer or a customer of a telecommunications company would rent equipment from that company's telephone pole in the middle of the street, that is the wire that goes from the pole to the house. Once that wire goes into the house, however, it becomes the consumer's responsibility to maintain the wiring within the house, apartment building, hotel or wherever it happens to be.

That is quite different from how customer relationships have been established over the years with telecommunications companies. If this legislation goes through without that amendment being included in the act, an awful lot of people over the next 10 years or so will have a rude shock whenever they have a problem with the wiring within their places of accommodation and suddenly get a bill from Bell Canada or some other telecommunications company for repairs.

Generally speaking Bill C-62 proposes sweeping changes to the framework surrounding the telecommunications industry. They reflect the present government's philosophy on deregulation and privatization of everything that moves, walks or sleeps.

The complexity of the bill is clearly understood when we consider the number of amendments the government has brought forward to the bill introduced for the first time on February 27,1992. It is my understanding the bill requires such clarification that it has been changed something like 74 times from the time it received second reading to report stage. That is an awful lot of amendments, especially by a government that drafted the bill. Before it introduced it in the House I would have assumed it would have been satisfied the bill met what it intended it to do. That clearly is not the case. Considering the number of amendments that are being moved by members from both sides of the House it clearly is not a very satisfactory bill.

June 1, 1993

I would certainly make an argument that the amendment that was placed before the House 10 or 15 minutes ago deserves full consideration by members on all sides of the House, whether on the government side or not, because it does not seem to me that it offers consumers the protection from those telecommunications companies that they have enjoyed for many years.

If this bill passes without that amendment I will be receiving letters from people in my constituency over the next number of years complaining quite bitterly about how Bell Canada is now charging them for maintenance and repair costs that they never had to pay in the past. I do not think that would do the consumers of Canada any good at all.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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June 1, 1993