William Herbert JARVIS

JARVIS, The Hon. William Herbert, P.C., Q.C., B.A., LL.B.

Parliamentary Career

October 30, 1972 - May 9, 1974
PC
  Perth--Wilmot (Ontario)
July 8, 1974 - March 26, 1979
PC
  Perth--Wilmot (Ontario)
May 22, 1979 - December 14, 1979
PC
  Perth (Ontario)
  • Minister of State (Federal-Provincial Relations) (June 4, 1979 - March 2, 1980)
February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
PC
  Perth (Ontario)
  • Minister of State (Federal-Provincial Relations) (June 4, 1979 - March 2, 1980)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 2 of 205)


May 24, 1984

Hon. Bill Jarvis (Perth):

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur

May 24, 1984

Oral Questions

Sport. In this morning's edition of La Presse, the Canada Sports Pool Corporation was described as a veritable nest of patronage reserved for members and friends of the Liberal Party of Canada. The article went on to give names and appointments in support of this allegation.

Given that, above all others, any national organization devoted to support Olympics, medical research, and amateur sport, should be free of such allegations, I want to give the Minister the first opportunity to deny categorically the allegations contained in that article. I ask him if he is in a position now to give the House, and the country, that categorical denial?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   CANADA SPORTS POOL CORPORATION-ALLEGATIONS CONCERNING STAFFING APPOINTMENTS
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May 14, 1984

Mr. Jarvis:

McKinnon thin-skinned? Wrong guy.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   REQUEST THAT PRIME MINISTER ANNOUNCE BY-ELECTION DATES
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May 7, 1984

Hon. Bill Jarvis (Perth):

Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday the Minister indicated that the program was abandoned, to use his words, "because of a significant decline in interest rates". Would he tell us in absolute terms what is his interpretation of a significant increase in interest rates, at which time I would imagine that the interest rate program would be reinstituted?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   MINISTER'S POSITION ON INCREASE IN INTEREST RATES
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May 7, 1984

Hon. Bill Jarvis (Perth):

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance and is with regard to Farm Credit Corporation mortgage interest rates. When these interest rates were in the range of 16.75 per cent to 20 per cent the Government, under considerable pressure, instituted the interest rebate program, which was subsequently abandoned, of course. Now that these rates are on the rise again, at what level of interest rate for a Farm Credit Corporation mortgage will that interest rebate program be reinstituted?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT CORPORATION
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May 7, 1984

Hon. Bill Jarvis (Perth):

Mr. Speaker, it is embarrassing to confess that with respect to Bill C-24, an Act to amend the Financial Administration Act, I find myself not only confused but bewildered. I know some of my colleagues might allege that this is a permanent state of affairs for me, but I frankly do not understand what went on in the developmental process leading to Bill C-24. I am the first to acknowledge that we are in what is likely to be the last or penultimate session of this Parliament, what we normally call our pre-election session, when Government has historically been cautious in its legislation, bringing forward only that which it thinks is in its own best political interests. That is understandable. I sometimes deplore it but I think we have been living with that for well

Financial Administration Act

over 100 years and none of us should be too surprised at it. But what confuses me is that I did not think, and I still do not, that there was any political downside to an Act dealing rather substantively with Crown corporations. I do not see where the political risk is. In fact, I think it is a good political issue no matter what side of the House you are sitting on.

In my view, Bill C-24 could have been a very substantive, tough and realistic piece of legislation without any political risk whatsoever. I do not want to be harsh, but I think we are dealing with a cosmetic Bill, one that might be termed, were it dealing with some other subject matter, a political Bill in the last session of the House before an election.

The Government has certainly had lots of time. I can recall that when I first came here 12 years ago, the Government commenced the study of Crown corporation control and accountability. More than seven years ago, this Government promised legislation to reform Crown corporation control and accountability. If, Sir, this is the result of over a decade of Government study, then frankly, to be as charitable as I can, it is extraordinarily disappointing.

There is a multitude of flaws in this Bill. One could take almost any one of a dozen aspects, but time is limited and I want to deal with something that others in the House have dealt with. Because I find it so incredible, I think the point needs reinforcing, that is, Mr. Speaker, the role and responsibility of the board of directors of Canadian Crown corporations. I admit that a Crown corporation has certain unique elements, but if it is engaged in commercial or quasi-commercial activity, then surely it must bear some resemblance to a corporation undertaking the same thing in the private sector. My colleague, the Hon. Member for Calgary South (Mr. Thomson), in opening the debate for our Party said that: "In effect, Bill C-24 would convert board of directors into advisory boards with little or no power". I absolutely agree. If I had any quarrel with that, it would be that the Hon. Member was being a little too charitable to the Government. I am not sure that these boards of directors should really be called in the truest sense advisory boards whose advice would, as a rule of thumb, be given some credibility even if it were not followed. Frankly, an advisory board gains its reputation by its clout, power or prestige, of which obviously there is none in these Crown corporations as proposed by Bill C-24. Frankly, Sir, I cannot see anything very prestigious about the proposed boards of directors of Canadian Crown corporations. The greatest flaw is the inability of a board, Mr. Speaker, to choose the chief executive officer, establishing the tenure and supervise him or her. I have always believed that to be a hallmark of any board of directors. However, in this legislation Cabinet, not the board, appoints the chief executive officer. Cabinet establishes tenure. Cabinet sets the remuneration. With respect to some Crown corporations, Cabinet not only appoints the CEO, it appoints others at the executive level. Also, the election of a chairman of the board is not made by the board from among its members. Cabinet appoints the chairman. Cabinet appoints the auditors as well. Cabinet establishes the dividend policy of the corporation.

May 7, 1984

Financial Administration Act

I suppose the question is, Mr. Speaker: Why the flaws? Again, trying to be as charitable as I can, I presume no one directed his or her mind to the principle of responsibility when the legislation was drafted. If one had started with the Minister responsible for a particular Crown corporation, then I think there would have been a natural flow. The Minister has to be put in the position, if he is to exercise his judgment with any degree of responsibility, of being able to say, "I am responsible, my job is on the line, and I am going to go out and get the very best board of directors I can find". He is not going to give them seven, eight and nine year terms. If they do not measure up to the standard which the Minister needs to protect him or her as a Minister and to discharge his or her responsibility, they should go. That to me would seem to be the logical flow, Mr. Speaker. At that point the board is going to say, "We had better get the best chief executive officer we can find in this whole country to run this Crown corporation. Unless we do, we, the board of directors, are going to be gone". If that had been the starting point, Mr. Speaker, we would never have got into this mess.

As I say, it is inconceivable that there is a downside. I do not understand why any Cabinet Minister would want to proceed in that direction. Obviously there are political appointments and everyone has his input on the Government side, particularly Cabinet Ministers. But when your job is on the line, I would think it not only behooves you, but it is, in the most crass way, in the self-interest of a Cabinet Minister to get the very best board he or she can get his or her hands on and say to them: "You are running this company, so find a chief executive officer and other executives who will make sure that you and I look good". Obviously that was not the starting point. I do not know what was. I do not know whether this was a bureaucratic Bill that no one thought through in a business or political sense. I do not believe the Government has done a good political job here.

I see, Mr. Speaker, that you are signalling that I have one minute left. The analogy to a commercial corporation is not perfect. I understand that. There are no shareholders in the sense in which we know them. One could say that every taxpayer is a shareholder. I do not think that destroys the natural analogy to a company in the private sector. If I were the Minister, I would say that I am the trustee for every shareholder and that every taxpayer is a shareholder. As a trustee I would be very careful because a trustee's responsibilities are even greater than those of a Cabinet Minister.

I see, Mr. Speaker, that you are signalling for me to conclude. I would like to go on for another hour, Mr. Speaker. However, I am not going to ask for unanimous consent to do that. I thank you for your patience. I deeply regret that this Bill, which I thought was very very important, has turned out to be such a disappointment for all of us.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FINANCIAL ADMINISTRATION ACT
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