Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Cambridge for that enthusiastic applause and possibly one or two others as well. However, I would be surprised if the member for Cambridge and others actually remembered what I was talking about two weeks ago when question period interrupted the profundities of my speech.
Let me say that we support Bill S-14. We think it is a good bill insofar as it goes. Regrettably, we do not think it goes very far. The thrust of my speech was to link Bill S-14 with Bill C-474, the sunshine bill sponsored by me, which would actually be the evidence base for Bill S-14. Bill S-14 becomes far stronger if one brings in the evidence. As such, one would actually succeed in getting prosecutions.
In my previous remarks I talked about how aggressive the Americans are with respect to prosecutions in corruption. The numbers are something in the order of, for the same period of time, 277 prosecutions in the United States for corruption whereas in Canada we only had two. In this respect, the Americans are world leaders and not only world leaders in terms of the aggressiveness with which they prosecute companies that engage in corrupt activities. They do not shy away from prosecuting some of the most recognized companies in the world that trade on U.S. stock exchanges. Therefore, not only is their prosecution aggressive but their legislative agenda is also aggressive.
They have passed the Cardin-Lugar amendment to the Dodd-Frank bill, which basically states that if mining or extractive companies secure a concession they would have to disclose to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission who they have paid, how much they paid, when they paid it, the frequency of the payments, the currency of the payments, and all other considerations in securing that concession. My sunshine bill, Bill C-474, mirrors that legislation. It is something that both President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron want to achieve at the next G8.
I had summarized all of this and talked about the decline in Canada's reputation and went on to discuss the incongruity of the government's position to, on the one hand, support S-14, which we think is a good idea, and to be opposed to the sunshine bill, Bill C-474, on the other.
My newest seatmate as of today, my colleague from Mount Royal, would say that there is a seeming incongruity with the government's position in supporting Bill S-14. It says that it wants to combat corruption, yet by opposing Bill C-474 it is saying that accountability is not important. I cannot reconcile the disparity easily. Perhaps it lies in the simple fact that Bill C-474 is not a Conservative bill. It is a bill that the parliamentary secretary and other Conservatives have claimed would overburden Canada's extractive sector, leaving our companies at a competitive disadvantage and so forth, when this was in fact contradicted by witnesses at the foreign affairs committee.
I have to take note that a number of mining companies and mining associations have come out and said that they not only support Bill S-14 but they certainly support the principles and indeed the mandatory aspects of Bill C-474. Some Canadian companies have enthusiastically taken up the issue of corporate accountability. Business leaders, such as the president of the Mining Association of Canada, Pierre Gratton, believes that corporate transparency mechanisms are not only the right thing to do but they are also good for business.
All of the investors agree. The last thing that investors want is to be embarrassed as they see their investments decline in value on the front pages of The Globe and Mail. Therefore, industry is on side with Bill C-474. It is certainly on side for Bill S-14. Most responsible extractive companies are on side with the EITI initiative. These are good insofar as they go.
Canada as a nation supports the EITI transparency international initiative, but it has not joined. The Government of Canada has declined to join the EITI, which is quite regrettable because we are the country that is of foremost importance with respect to the extractive sector.
Business, in this instance, is actually ahead of the government in terms of a desire to impose a mandatory regime upon itself. Not only is it a good thing to do, it is good for business. Joe Ringwald of Selwyn Resources said that it is important to become a leader in this and to gain reputational advantage. He also said that Canada has become a laggard on this issue.
Industry has generally taken a favourable tone to this legislation and a number of players want transparency, particularly with many of the projects where there is money going to foreign governments and sometimes more money going to foreign governments than to shareholders. The idea of financial transparency has both public and private sector support. As I say, the industry is certainly on side. The NGOs, as might be expected, are on side. Civil society is on side. I would dare say the public is on side. The only issue that we appear to have here is that the government does not want to legislate in this area.
It is going to be a very difficult issue at a difficult time for the Prime Minister when he goes to Great Britain for the G8. Clearly, Prime Minister Cameron wants a clear, mandatory statement with respect to legislation on the extractive sector. He wants other issues agreed on as well, as does President Obama, who is highly supportive of the Cardin-Lugar amendment. They are binding their own companies to this initiative.
Starting September 1, any company that trades on the U.S. stock exchange will be bound by this legislative initiative. The irony is that if we want to find out about a major gold company, Barrick, for example, including who they pay and what they pay for their concessions around the world to foreign governments, including the foreign government of Canada, we will have to go to the New York Stock Exchange to the Securities and Exchange Commission and look at the published reports to see what and who got paid. It seems to me that Canada as a nation, given its position as the number one mining country in the world, should be a little bit ahead of the curve, instead of behind it.
Internationally, the Prime Minister is going to have to do some tap dancing in Northern Ireland, and explain to his colleagues at the G8 why Canada is not supportive of the sunshine bill.
I see that my time is just about finished. I would like to say in conclusion that the incongruity of the government's position in presenting Bill S-14, which is a good bill, but not supporting Bill C-474 is something that the Prime Minister is going to have some difficulties explaining when he meets with his colleagues this month in Northern Ireland.