Therefore, I will keep the end of my motion, as it is the only part that is still valid: “That the committee write a letter to the FINA Commitee to request additional time to conduct its study of the Infrastructure Bank.”
Allow me to explain this request.
I have, in my hands, a letter which is curiously dated tomorrow, Friday, May 19, 2017 but was sent yesterday to the Standing Committee on Finance. Does everyone have a copy of this letter? It is signed by our chair, who, unfortunately, is not present. What a shame, because I would have liked to hear what she has to say about this.
The letter reads as follows:
Upon your request, the Standing Committee of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities undertook the consideration of clauses 403 to 406 (Division 18, Part 4) of Bill C-44. In doing so, the Committee heard testimony from the Canadian Electricity Association, the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy, the Canadian Union of Public Employees as well as officials from Infrastructure Canada and Finance Canada.
So far, everything is true.
The problem is when the chair speaks on our behalf and says the following:
I am pleased to inform you that the Committee has no recommendations….
I would like for the clerk to confirm whether we all made this decision together, as a committee. To my knowledge, this is not the case, and I do not believe I have missed any discussions about this subject.
The letter continues as follows:
… or suggested amendments for clauses 403 to 406 of Bill C-44.
I don't know whether my fellow members across the table will have the courage to confirm my statement, but I find this very peculiar. This is the first time since I became a member of Parliament that I have experienced such a situation, that someone speaks in my name, sends a letter two days before the date indicated on the letter, which is already a peculiar way of doing things, and decides for me, in the name of all the committee members, that there will be no amendments.
The letter continues:
Please note I invited Committee Members to contact the Parliamentary Counsel and Legislative Clerk assigned to bill C-44 should Members wish to draft amendments on their own initiative and to submit them directly to the Clerk of the Standing Committee on Finance before Friday, May 19, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.
I have searched all of my emails and letter mail without finding anything in writing in either official languages offering me this possibility.
The letter concludes:
The Infrastructure Bank is a big issue. Many witnesses were of the opinion that such a bank was premature. I will repeat what the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy official said: we are putting the cart before the horse.
I want to make clear that we are talking about $35 billion. That's 35 billion taxpayer dollars that will be used to enrich investors, for the most part foreign investors, to the detriment of Canadians. This is simply a way for the government, and therefore taxpayers, to secure the investments of these businesses or foreign investors.
Our committee chair, a Liberal member, is speaking in my name, in a letter dated tomorrow and sent yesterday, to announce that our committee will not propose any amendments. I just cannot believe it. I hope that our discussion is on the record and that it is not taking place in camera. Are we in camera? No, we are not. I want to try to highlight the inconsistency in which we find ourselves.