Hon. Lorne Nystrom
Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. He has referred to the importance of a written guarantee from the Canadian banks. That would be a good idea. I am pleased that the Bloc Quebecois did this some years ago.
He has spoken of three things, jobs being one of them. It is important for Canadians to have jobs, and it is important that they have a guarantee of jobs. If two or three major banks in Canada merge, it is virtually certain that some people will be laid off. I have often seen this happen in Canada when major companies, regardless of sector, are merged.
We must not lose sight of the fact that the big banks hold a very special position in Canada. In fact, they hold charters from the Parliament of Canada which involve certain obligations to the public. This makes the major banks very special indeed, and is why we should follow the very wise advice of the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot about having a guarantee in writing from the Canadian banks before the merger.
Another important point concerns services. I have often spoken of the services offered by the major Canadian banks. I come from a little place in Saskatchewan called Wynyard. It has a population of only 2,500. Now we have the good fortune to have two or three banks, one of these a credit union, the equivalent of the Caisse populaire in Quebec. There are choices and I want a guarantee that those choices will remain in future.
There are five major banks in Canada at present. These are: CIBC, Royal Bank, Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, and National Bank. The latter started out in Quebec, but we have a major branch in Regina.
If there were a proposal to merge the big Canadian banks, it would be essential to have a guarantee of services in all regions of Canada. We have had a lot to say about the importance for the first nations, the aboriginal groups of our country, to have access to capital. It is also very important to that segment of our population.
The third point is interest rates. At the present time there is a big difference between interest rates in Canada and those in the United States. It is good for Canadian banks to have a higher interest rate than the Americans, because they will make large profits. At the present time, and historically, the difference between our two countries is very great.
I agree with the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. It is a good thing to have promises, commitments in writing, from financial institutions.
Subtopic: Committees of the House