Mr. Walter Baker (Grenville-Carleton):
Mr. Speaker, the subject matter that is before us during this private member's hour is an interesting one, although when you look
at the terms of the motion before us you find that it is a verry broad one indeed. The hon. member says that he wants a special committee of inquiry on Crown corporations, and the hon. member for Cochrane (Mr. Stewart) as well as the hon. member who moved the motion, seemed to imply that it is to be a special committee of this House. However, as I look upon the motion that is before us, I see that it could be much broader than that in its terms. It could include a special committee such as is brought in for other inquiries. I could think of the Rand Inquiry with respect to certain matters. I could think of the Bryden Committee, one formed for public service matters which, like so many other committees formed by the government, has never yet reported despite the repeated requests of members of this House.
There are many kinds of committees that could be envisaged within the terms of the motion. Unfortunately, the terms of reference are not clear as to what kind of committee the House would be dealing with in the event that it saw fit to pass the motion. However, the hon. member for Lotbiniere (Mr. Fortin) asked a very fundamental question with respect to Crown corporations. He asked: what business has the state in the business field? As I pondered that question I was looking at a document called "The Government of Canada Programs and Services" issued in July, 1972, by CCH Canada Limited. On page 417 of that document there is an appendix which sets forth certain Crown corporations. The list is intended to be exhaustive, but from what the hon. member says I am satisfied that there are many more than appear on this list.
I return now to the question of what business has the state in the business field. When one reads about the various types of Crown corporations, one can see how the state or government has entry into the business world, under the guise of a Crown corporation, in a way that is somewhat frightening. A Crown corporation, Mr. Speaker, is a form of public enterprise which has become increasingly important as this type of institution has developed. As you know, Sir, Crown corporations are established and regulated under the Financial Administration Act which defines a Crown corporation as a corporation that is accountable to parliament, through the minister, for the conduct of its affairs.
Generally speaking, there are three classes of Crown corporations. First, there is the departmental corporation which is a servant or agent of Her Majesty in right of Canada and is responsible for the administration, regulation or supervision of activities that are governmental in nature. I do not think there is much difficulty with that kind of Crown corporation or any problem with respect to intrusion into the private sector.
Second is the corporation which is an agent of Her Majesty in right of Canada and is responsible for the management of trading or surplus operations on a semicommercial basis, or for management, procurement, construction or disposal activities on behalf of Her Majesty in right of Canada. That kind of corporation, I think, has intruded into the business life of the community. Then there is the other type of corporation known as the proprietary corporation, which is responsible for the manage-
January 29, 1973
ment of lending or financing operations or for the management of commercial and industrial operations involving the production or the dealing in of goods and the supply of services to the public. The agency corporation normally is required to conduct its operations without federal appropriations. Whether Crown corporations conduct their operations with or without federal appropriations, they are none the less those kinds of corporations that bring themselves within the parameters of the question posed by the mover of the motion before the House.
Certainly, when there is an intrusion into business life and, more importantly, when this intrusion is occasioned on money provided from the public purse, there ought to be some agency set up for the control of those expenditures, to monitor the activities of those corporations and organizations. Two types of agencies have been suggested in this debate. The first is a special committee of this House or perhaps of both Houses. I hesitate to make this suggestion because the other place has suffered somewhat at the hands of this House. Such a committee is one suggestion. By this means there could be a reporting from time to time on a regular basis and the opportunity to call witnesses. Actually, Mr. Speaker, we have such rights at the moment.
I am a new member of this parliament. I first came to this chamber of January 4, 1973. Before coming I read, in preparation, some committee proceedings involving an agency of government, the National Capital Commission, which is near and dear to my heart and to those in the constituency I have the honour to represent. That commission came before a committee of this House to have its estimates examined. The chairman of the commission, Mr. Douglas Fullerton, and the responsible minister through whom that commission reports to this House were examined by members of the committee composed of representatives from all sides of the House. I admit that that committee examination was not searching because there was general agreement in the community and committee over the objects and methods of operation of the National Capital Commission. So to those who say that this kind of reporting does not take place, I say that it does.
I am satisfied that as a result of the work of the hon. member and his eloquence in putting forward his motion to the House, the matter will be given consideration and these rights will perhaps be expanded. It is not true to suggest, however, with all respect, that there is not examination by committees. The other method of reporting was that put forward by the hon. member for Cochrane who suggested-it was an interesting suggestion, perhaps new in this House-that a Member of Parliament should be appointed to sit on each of the boards of directors of Crown corporations and Crown organizations. He even suggested, and this was indeed a novel departure, that the government of the day-of this day, I assume-ought to appoint a member of one of the opposition parties to sit on such boards.
Let me say that if this is another deathbed repentance or another lesson learned from the election, I as a member of the House and of the opposition welcome the generous suggestion and look forward to an appointment to one of
the boards or commissions so that I may enjoy, with hont members on the other side of the House, the fees, honorariums and honours which would come from serving on the distinguished boards of various Crown agencies. But that has been tried in Ontario. The government of Ontario is in the firmament among the governments of this country; it is known for its progressive legislation.
Topic: PRIVATE MEMBERS MOTIONS