June 8, 1993

LIB

Derek Vincent Lee

Liberal

Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough-Rouge River):

Mr. Speaker, I want to address a few remarks today with reference to both the government's attempt to impose

Government Orders

time allocation and some remarks in relation to this bill at report stage.

A number of speakers have noted, and I want to reinforce those notations, that this bill sat on the Order Paper for over a year before it made it back into this House a short time ago. It was very regrettable.

The government has shown us now that this bill is important enough to it and to Parliament and to Canadians to warrant the imposition of time allocation but it was not important enough a few months ago in terms of the cabinet table and the order of priorities that cabinet was attaching to the many pieces of legislation before this House. I suggest that signals and manifests a problem at the cabinet table. We will not have to worry about that for too much longer because this Parliament is coming to a close.

The same problem that existed with this bill in terms of it apparently not being important enough to do anything with it over the last year existed in other areas at the cabinet table. I point out the very important sentencing bill that was in the hands of the justice minister that sat around similarly for a year. It was introduced and sat for 11 months until about a month ago at which point, almost simultaneously with the communications minister here, the justice minister decided that we must get this bill through and pushed it through with a flurry of other legislation.

Fortunately due to the good sense of members on this side and on that side of the House that particular bill is not proceeding. It was flawed. It was a very important bill but because we did not have enough time to deal with it well the members on both sides of the House consensually agreed that the bill would not proceed.

I gather we have been waiting around for 75 to 80 years for amendments to the old Railway Act. Finally we have a bill. I think there is a consensus that we must get a bill passed. The point I am making is that I really regret we all have been forced into an 11th hour scenario when we really had about 13 months to deal with this bill.

In any event we have it now. As much as I regret the need to impose time allocation, for whatever reasons, I cannot accept that the opposition is responsible for the need to impose time allocation because I detect a sense on both sides of the House that we need a bill.

However we have it and I am disappointed. This is the 30th time that this government has found the need to impose time allocation in this House. I hope it does not impair our ability to produce a good bill.

There are two items here at report stage that I think require attention. One of them is the recommendation for a five-year review. This concept of a five-year review has been used in other legislation and legislation with significant impact across the broad spectrum of Canadian society.

In these modem times I do not think there is anything that could have as broad an impact on Canadian society as this telecommunications bill. We are purporting to do things, we are planning to make changes to the law and procedures that will undoubtedly have a significant impact.

I have had calls from constituents about things that are dealt with in this bill. The five-year review gives this House representing all Canadians an opportunity to bring to bear a collective perspective on how the bill has fared over the five years.

It is a very useful vehicle. It was used recently in the justice area to review the child sexual abuse provisions of the Criminal Code. I gather that report should be coming back to Parliament within a day of so. It was used earlier in this Parliament in a five-year review of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service Act. I do not see why it should not be used for this bill.

Without the provision enabling a five-year review the act simply drifts on into the future without a specific opportunity for the House, for Parliament itself, to deal with the bill. Certainly officials in the department can deal with it. They can address concerns. They can make memoranda that are exchanged among bureaucrats but that will not provide an opportunity to the House to necessarily deal with these things. I do recommend that that amendment is made to the bill here at report stage.

There is another area of concern to many Canadians and I hope we can amend it here. Maybe the government will not support this but there is this vast area of what we call junk faxes or junk communications where individuals in business are making use of telephone communications or fax communications. They are even making use of the

June 8, 1993

services of the post offices in creative ways to communicate with prospective purchasers of goods or services. The problem with the fax machines, as everybody knows, is that it sits there passively and accepts whatever anyone sends to it. As long as it is turned on, and most owners of fax machines leave them on 24 hours a day, it must receive whatever commercial material is sent out. That is a bit of a problem.

We know that the CRTC has jurisdiction over this. This bill would authorize the CRTC to look at the problem but in our view it does not provide sufficient definition to the CRTC to enable it to act clearly, precisely and decisively in dealing with some of the problems that will undoubtedly crop up. We all know what happens when this House enacts imprecise legislation. What happens is that all the lobby groups and people out there who are able to afford lawyers jump in and begin litigating.

That costs the litigants lots of money. People do not think that it costs the government and the taxpayer much money but believe me it does. It uses up the resources of the justice ministry. It also from time to time causes the government to bring in outside expert counsel. With those types of initiatives we spend an awful lot of money-too much money-on outside lawyers. With all due respect to my colleague in the profession, we spend a lot of money on it.

By enacting an imprecise definition we simply create a field that is ripe for further litigation in front of the CRTC and in front of the courts when we do not really have to provide so much elbow room for our colleagues in the profession.

I would recommend to the House that we adopt a definition as proposed by the member for Mount Royal. It is a definition that is clear and more precise and narrow. It gives the CRTC a better ability to deal with this field of junk faxes.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
NDP

Nelson Andrew Riis (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Riis:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I simply want to say that for many days we have debated legislation in this House without the minister responsible for the legislation being present. I simply want to acknowledge the fact that in spite of our opposition and perhaps our different debating points we do appreciate the fact that the Minister of Communications has made time to be in the House when his legislation is being debated.

Government Orders

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

Is the House ready for the question?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
?

Some hon. members:

Question.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

The question is on Motion No. 6.

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

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
?

Some hon. members:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
?

Some hon. members:

No.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

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

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
?

Some hon. members:

Yea.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

All those opposed will please say nay.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
?

Some hon. members:

Nay.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

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

The next question is on Motion No. 7. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
?

Some hon. members:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
?

Some hon. members:

No.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

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

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
?

Some hon. members:

Yea.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

All those opposed will please say nay.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
?

Some hon. members:

Nay.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink

June 8, 1993