June 1, 1993

NDP

Lyle Stuart Kristiansen

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lyle Kristiansen (Kootenay West-Revelstoke):

Mr. Speaker, we are dealing with Motion No. 1. It reads:

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"

It was submitted by my colleague the member for Okanagan-Shuswap. It is an amendment to the interpretation section of the bill. It broadly defines exempt transmission apparatus, which is what we are dealing with in the bill before us and in this amendment. This is one of those sections that was amended in committee by government proposal at that time and introduced in the middle of the whole hodgepodge of other amendments and suggestions the government was making after the long gestation period it took to put this bill together. That has caused some difficulty.

In the current bill before us exempt transmission apparatus is defined as:

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 -

-and that is the section we are currently trying to amend. The definition continues:

(c) control of the speed, code, protocol, content, format, routing or

similar aspects of the transmission of intelligence;

Intelligence is defined as:

signs, signals, writing, images, sounds or intelligence of any nature.

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In dealing with the amendment of my colleague, the member for Okanagan-Shuswap, by deleting the references to input and output the CRTC is still provided the authority to regulate the installation and maintenance of inside wiring and wiring located on the premises of a user.

Currently the CRTC, as was mentioned by my colleague, has before it a BC Telephone Company application on exactly the matter that we are dealing with. This amendment would, in our view at least, allow the CRTC to decide whether it wants to continue to regulate inside wiring.

My colleague went on at some length to explain in more detail than I care to do some of the broader implications of what is before us and our own suggestion on it. I would just like to point out to the House and to the minister, who took umbrage a few moments ago in stating that after all the consideration that has gone into this surely it is too late to start considering other amendments at this point, that for a government that brought in so many amendments and so many changes during the time the committee was trying to come to grips with this in clause by clause study is a bit like someone in a glass house throwing stones.

The committee had a difficult time trying to come to grips with exactly what it was dealing with when the ground rules were changing every day.

In this section particularly it was attempting to introduce amendments at the very time that the government was introducing changes on the spur of the moment to what we were trying to amend. It was a very difficult process.

I hope it can be sorted out in votes to come by the adoption or acceptance of some of the review proposals submitted by the Official Opposition or the New Democratic Party, so that we will at least in a reasonably short time down the road have an opportunity to take a second look at what is obviously very important and necessary legislation, at least in the broad context, to the future of one of our most important domestic and export industries.

It may seem like a minor change. However we think it is important in order to provide the necessary flexibility so that in the future the consumers of our communications system will be able to rely on an industry that is

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fully conversant with our needs and adapts quickly to all the changes that are taking place.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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LIB

Joseph Frank (Joe) Fontana

Liberal

Mr. Joe Fontana (London East):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say with respect to the amendment put forward by my colleague from Okanagan-Shuswap that we also agree and support the motion because it tries to accomplish technically speaking what I think the government is trying to accomplish by inserting these two words, input and output, in the bill. That then requires a great deal of complication in the definition section.

Let us face it. The bottom line is that we would prefer to do what the government is attempting to do with respect to the resellers in terms of exemption and through a different way rather than having the government essentially try to do it through the definition stage.

It would have been a lot more open and transparent. We could have accomplished the same thing with respect to the resellers through the exemption stage as opposed to doing it through the definition stage and then requiring all kinds of different definitions such as intelligence, exempt transmission apparatus, transmission facility, and network termination point.

The amendment put forward by the member from the NDP is logical and should be supported.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-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):

The hon. member, it is Port Moody-Coquitlam.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP

Ian Gardiner Waddell

New Democratic Party

Mr. Ian Waddell (Port Moody-Coquitlam):

Mr. Speaker, I know it is getting to the end of the Parliament and I know you are from Edmonton. Are you giving me the chance to just firm that riding up? Port Moody-Coquitlam.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-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):

I know it is Port Moody-Coquitlam. I was just so surprised to see the hon. member. I regret that I did not recognize the hon. member because the riding is very familiar to me.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP

Ian Gardiner Waddell

New Democratic Party

Mr. Waddell:

Mr. Speaker, I should have learned my lesson. They told me in the old football world: Never tangle with Steve Paproski, the member from Edmonton, because you cannot get the ball past him.

This is an interesting amendment because it concerns inside and outside wiring. I want to put it in a bigger context and speak very briefly.

I used to be the communications critic for the NDP and now the job is being ably done by the hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap. In his amendment he touches upon the issue of inside and outside wiring.

I believe there is going to be a decision by the CRTC tomorrow. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is the regulator of broadcasting, some cable fees but not all cable fees, and telephone rates, which are so very important for ordinary Canadians because that money comes right out of their pockets.

There is going to be a big struggle in the future, probably beginning with tomorrow's decision. The struggle is going to be basically over who gets access to these new forms of communication. The new communications technology will be either having the satellite, they call it the death star satellite, or a box on the television with which we will have interactive television. We will be able to begin a new level of television. We will be able to buy groceries, order a pizza or whatever through our television sets.

Polls show that Canadians will pay more money for home entertainment. Goodness knows, they are paying.

Therefore I want to draw to the attention of the House that who should control the wiring is a very important issue. Should it be the present cable companies, led by the great friend of the present government, Mr. Rogers, and Unitel or should it be the phone companies which are probably the only other organizations that could compete because they have phone lines that go into houses? There are cable lines and there are phone lines. One big question will be whether there should be one line rather than two lines.

We are a country that so far has had one of the most advanced telecommunications systems in the world. We were, and I hope still are in many ways, the world leader in communications. We have to keep that. We especially have to keep all our people plugged into and connected to this technology.

June 1, 1993

I have said in the House before one of the things that scares me is when we rely exclusively on competition in the marketplace what might happen is that just those people in the larger markets, in the big cities, will get hooked up to the new technology. The people in rural areas, even in the Okanagan and areas like that, such as the Kootenays which is my friend's riding, will not be plugged in.

Right now we are very lucky in Canada. We have almost everybody plugged into cable. We have a tremendous system. We do not really need Parliament in the same form any more. If we get interactive television we can have people vote through their television sets. On the next vote rather than us standing up voting, we could just ring it up and have 15 million people vote if we wanted to. There are many things we could do. This is a crucial battle.

That is why this bill is very important. Who controls the inside wiring? Is it to be the phone companies led by a group called Stentor, which is BC Tel and Bell Telephone, or is it to be the cable companies through a group called Unitel, led by a whole bunch of other people but basically by the largest one, which is Rogers? These are the big struggles that are going on.

I want to make this point and it will come out tomorrow at the CRTC hearings. If the CRTC says that it is going to require the cable companies to put $200 million into Canadian communications, Canadian TV shows and so on, then who pays that? The people who pay are the ordinary consumers, the ordinary men and women in our ridings. They are the ones who are going to pay, not the cable companies or the phone companies. It all comes from the pockets of ordinary Canadians.

I ask the House to consider the longer term question of how many wires should go into a house. Should it be just the cable companies and the phone companies or should there be one wire? Should it be regulated or should it be nationalized? I think it should be regulated, completely regulated. Now the cable companies get off the hook. They only have part of their charges regulated while the phone companies have all their rates regulated.

In my riding and in your riding, Mr. Speaker, a few months ago they increased cable rates. One brochure that went to the people said rates increased by 43 cents because the CRTC told them to do it and another said

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they changed channels a bit so they were charging 52 cents. I am just picking these general figures.

The third one was $3 because they put in a few more channels. They did not tell the people it was not regulated by the CRTC and that they could have said no. As Nancy Reagan said: "Just say no". The people could have said they did not want to pay an extra $3 and they did not want those extra channels, but they were not told that. It is called negative option marketing.

I made a submission to the CRTC a couple of months ago and I hope in its decision tomorrow it is going to outlaw negative option marketing as was dones in the United States.

In summation on this amendment it is very important with regard to the wire inside the house. It is the future technology. It is going to be linked up by the new ways of marketing and buying and it is a big struggle between the giant telephone companies and the giant cable companies.

In the end it is just the little people like you and me who have to pay. Our constituents are paying for this whole show so we should have a say in how it works.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-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 resuming debate with the hon. member for Prince George-Bulk-ley Valley, 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 New Westminster-Burnaby-Violence against women; the hon. member for Hillsborough-Veterans Affairs; the hon. member for Don Valley East-Housing; the hon. member for Davenport-Environment; and the hon. member for Ottawa West-National Defence.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-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 rise to speak on some of the work my colleague from Okanagan-Shuswap has done on Bill C-62. It is very significant legislation to amend legislation regarding the telecommunications industry in Canada and in particular the amendment he is proposing regarding the input and output of provisions given to the CRTC. I think this is very important. It may not seem so terribly significant here but the implications for some of these regulatory changes are very dramatic in the way

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they affect the household and in particular the question about inside and outside wiring.

I think the amendment proposed by my colleague is entirely reasonable. It is not suggesting the CRTC must act one way or the other. The government would have the option at the very least to continue to give the CRTC the authority to decide whether or not it wants to be able to continue to regulate this. I think it is an entirely reasonable amendment from my colleague and one I hope the government will consider.

One of the implications of a decision like this was mentioned earlier by another speaker and that is the announcement by the telephone company in British Columbia of a number of lay-offs. We may debate some of the politics surrounding deregulation in the CRTC's ruling not to give a rate increase and Unitel's movement and others into the long distance field. That is the reality of deregulation and that is the direction we are seeing with this kind of legislation.

We just have to look to the United States to see what we will end up with. There was a shake down and now the large telephone networks may be firming up their roles in the field in the U.S. Costs have gone up and there is confusion in the marketplace. There are additional costs to the consumers from companies to pay for their advertising.

We think sometimes the beacon of deregulation is going to free up that marketplace for the consumer but where that has been done and we have seen the results of it over the course of time they have been failures.

I guess the best and current example we have in Canada is the deregulation in the airline industry where we were supposed to have a host of airlines. We are now down to two at best and who knows how long they will continue to exist.

I think it is an example of pointing out some of the concerns we have about the moves by the government in this legislation. I think it is a reasonable amendment. I hope the government will consider it.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-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, I have listened with a great deal of interest to the arguments made by my colleagues on the other side with regard to this motion.

I suppose my legal opinion is worth as much as those of my colleagues opposite and my friend from Mount Royal, but I do have the privilege of having access to legal officers who can give me advice with regard to the consequence of an amendment like this.

I can say to the hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap that the motion he is proposing is not necessary. The intention is not to exempt lines from having to be covered under this amendment. As was indicated by my friend from Mount Royal, the goal is to ensure that in cases dealing with resellers or with other people who are legitimately exempted from the provisions of this bill, they would be.

I am told the definition of exempt transmission apparatus is only used to eliminate those companies that should not be regulated and that is precisely what the goal was. My friend from Mount Royal indicated that earlier and I think she was quite right. Once captured as a Canadian carrier, all aspects including the provision of local service are subject to CRTC oversight. The CRTC would decide not to insist that the telephone companies provide inside wiring only if it was in the public interest to do so and only if in the judgment of the CRTC, which is charged with the responsibility of serving as the regulator of our telecommunications system, it was desirable not to require that the companies provide that inside wiring. For my friends opposite to raise that spectre is to create unnecessary fear.

The CRTC is there to regulate industries that are legitimately captured under the bill and it is there to ensure that the public interest is properly reflected at all times and it will do precisely that. This particular bill was intended to deal with industries that were not intended to be captured here and that is what that particular clause does.

My friend's amendment would essentially drop off input and output devices such as keyboards and printers. This would mean they would not be exempt on the

June 1, 1993

strength of having such equipment attached to the line. When we refer to input and output devices, that is what is being referred to here. That is the assurance I have had from law officers of the Crown.

I appreciate the concerns that are raised by my friends opposite and obviously this matter is of concern to them. I am glad to be able to give them that reassurance. I also accept the point that was made by my friends that this is an important bill and deserves serious consideration. That is why pursuant to Standing Order 26(1) I move:

That the House continue to sit beyond the normal hour of

adjournment for the purpose of continuing consideration of Bill

C-62, an act respecting telecommunications.

I believe that motion is non-debatable, Mr. Speaker.

And more than 15 members having risen:

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-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):

Pursuant to Standing Order 26(2), the motion is deemed to have been withdrawn.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP

Raymond John Skelly

New Democratic Party

Mr. Raymond Skelly (North Island-Powell River):

Mr. Speaker, I rise to again express the concerns that have been expressed by the previous speakers on this legislation.

I note that the minister took the time to rise briefly to comment on the amendment proposed by my colleague. That amendment basically sees measures coming forward again to transfer the cost of the basic telephone system from the telephone company to the owner.

The minister rose in the House to try to assure everyone that things are just fine and none of these matters that concern us will come to pass. In reality I think the concerns we have are certainly valid. Other attempts by the government to assure the opposition and the people of Canada that they have nothing to worry about and that this government has their best interests in mind have certainly proven false. It has inflicted great harm in some quarters.

This amendment would allow the suppliers of services to avoid the cost of providing the inside servicing to purchasers of the telephone services. I see this as contrary to what the minister is saying. It is the natural consequence of what this government has done. I think

Government Orders

this government has made sure that Canadian companies will no longer be major players in this as time goes by.

It reminds me a great deal of the Canadian airlines arrangement where this government seems interested in permitting an American carrier to take over control of a Canadian carrier. Within a decade down the road we will be looking at American domination of an air transportation system. Those are the fears of my constituents. That is what my constituents are telling me.

We have watched this government open up the telephone service in Canada to Unitel. Now we have two competing agencies supplying telephone service, a basic public utility. As soon as Unitel obtained that right it sold a major portion of its action to AT&T in the United States, which is probably the largest dominator of telecommunications in North America. I am given to understand it has an enormous surplus of capacity and we will be running that capacity through the United States.

That is bound to create enormous cost problems for Canadian companies providing Canadian telecommunications services. Our telecommunications companies in Canada will attempt to rationalize costs by laying off Canadians and trying to bring their costs down. They will try to stop providing services to Canadians as this motion points out by eliminating responsibilities that those companies previously undertook.

In this motion before us the opposition is challenging the government on its national telecommunications policy. It would stop offences like the bill before us. It would stop the kind of activity where we see Unitel being given access to the Canadian telecommunications system and the AT&T through Unitel being given access to it.

It is a very clear indication that in the telecommunications field this Conservative government is looking at creating a common market in North America that as time goes by will grow and allow the Americans to dominate it. It will turn Canada into another Puerto Rico. We can see the end result of this in the telecommunications system laying off hundreds and hundreds if not thousands of telecommunications workers in Canada and driving up the cost of basic telephone service to consumers.

We have seen this in the transportation system. We have seen this in the North American free trade agreement. This government is selling Canada down the river

June 1, 1993

Government Orders

to the United States. If this government lasts much longer in office we are going to look like Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico may even look better.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
LIB

Mac Harb

Liberal

Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre):

Mr. Speaker, you can see how it could become extremely cumbersome when new definitions are introduced to deal with what is going to be exempt and what is not going to be exempt. I would suggest that if we were to follow what the CRTC is recommending on this particular issue, we would not be in the situation that we are in right now.

To that extent I would agree with my colleague and with the explanation put before the House by the minister and say that maybe the best solution for us is to continue with what we have before us.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-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:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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?

Some hon. members:

Question.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-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):

The question is on Motion No. 1. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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?

Some hon. members:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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?

Some hon. members:

No.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-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):

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

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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?

Some hon. members:

Yea.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
Sub-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):

All those opposed will please say nay.

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