Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 49

Monday, July 12, 2010
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Jobs and Economic Growth Bill

Sixth Report of National Finance Committee Negatived

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on Bill C-9. I want to thank Senator Day, Senator Gerstein, Senator Murray and all the members of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance for the work they have done. I want to thank them for their dedication and for their work on our behalf.

In 1994, Prime Minister Harper complained about a previous Liberal government’s omnibus bill that stuffed different bits of government business into one piece of overstuffed legislation, in an effort to tie up loose ends. This old Liberal bill was 21 pages long. Bill C-9, on the other hand, is 880 pages long and contains 2,200 clauses. I believe, as do other honourable senators, that Bill C-9 should have been split and the additional bills stuffed into the budget bill separated out.

Honourable senators, I am concerned that many parts of this bill have not even been studied by the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. Last week, Naseer (Irfan) Syed, a lawyer from Toronto who specializes in the field of money laundering, was asked by the committee to offer testimony on the proceeds of crime. Unfortunately, shortly after arriving at the committee meeting, he was informed that the committee would not have time to hear him speak.

Mr. Syed’s testimony was to focus on Part 14 of Bill C-9, a section that addresses the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act. Unfortunately, neither in the House of Commons nor in the Senate has this particular section of the bill been critically discussed.

The Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act has had, for several years now, an unintended negative impact on many individuals, businesses and organizations. The financial institutions seeking to comply with their obligations under the existing Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act are often exercising due diligence in a haphazard and patently unfair manner, for which reasonable and effective avenues for appeal and review do not exist.

The proposed changes contain provisions with many vague and insufficiently defined terms, which may create additional apprehension among financial institutions to deal with certain clients, and may effectively deny these clients banking services.

Therefore, these proposed changes will affect adversely tens of thousands of Canadians, as well as thousands of people overseas relying on remittances. The proposed changes provide substantial new powers and discretion to the Minister of Finance to issue directives to financial institutions for which there appears to be inadequate parliamentary oversight. We have not acknowledged this fact in either the House of Commons or the Senate.

Honourable senators, Part 14 of Bill C-9 should have been split into separate legislation to allow a more thorough examination both of how the current regulatory regime is impacting various people and how the proposed amendments to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act may exacerbate existing problems without sufficient mechanisms for redress.

Bill C-9 is a piece of legislation that would have kept us busy for at least one year, as it includes everything but the kitchen sink. I do not support this bill, as all the acts affected by Bill C-9 have not been studied by us, and I urge honourable senators not to support this bill.