Mar 15, 2008 04:30 AM
Liberal finance critic John McCallum is urging other members of the
House of Commons finance committee to heed the request of a B.C. couple
and hold hearings on why non-bank asset-backed commercial paper was sold
Key opposition members confirmed yesterday they would support his
request and urge their peers to do the same when meetings resume in two
McCallum's notice of motion asks the committee to "hold at least 12
hours of hearings" on the asset-backed-credit crisis, including
testimony from "severely affected Canadians, representatives from the
real estate sector and others."
The hearings should determine "whether federal regulators and other
stakeholders could have done a better job in anticipating the crisis
and/or reducing its costs; and what action the federal government,
federal regulators and other stakeholders are taking so as to reduce the
likelihood of experiencing a similar crisis in the future," McCallum
Committee members are expected to vote on the proposal at their next
sitting on March 31.
McCallum's motion follows a letter from Mike and Wynne Miles of Victoria
this week, beseeching members to hold hearings.
"It gives us some hope," Wynne Miles said in an interview. "We very much
want to have an opportunity to explain to people, especially government
officials, how this freeze of our retirement savings has affected our
She said hearings could give the government "some feeling of the
emotional and financial stress this puts on us."
The Mileses claim to be among 1,400 ordinary investors with savings
entangled in the frozen notes.
Wynne Miles also expressed concern the committee in charge of the
Montreal Accord does not represent the interests of ordinary investors.
The committee, led by Bay Street lawyer Purdy Crawford, is attempting to
convert short-term debt into longer-term notes. Miles said ordinary
folks can't wait seven to 10 years for their money. Crawford has
previously said those who reject the deal would be "on their own."
MPs, however, are increasingly concerned about the plight of ordinary
investors, Conservative Ted Menzies said. "I think we should have a
serious look at this."
Those sentiments were echoed by the NDP's Thomas Mulcair. "These people,
a lot of them are losing everything. And so we're going to try to get to
the bottom of it," he said. "A lot of the individuals, they didn't even
know their (money) was being put into these vehicles."
Meanwhile, the Crawford committee plans to file an application in
Ontario Superior Court under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act on
Monday. It wants the court to call a meeting of note-holders to vote on
its plan to restructure 20 of the affected trusts, involving some $32
billion of notes.
"Given the progress we have made in resolving the outstanding issues,
and the good relations with all stakeholders, we ... are confident we
will be able to submit a plan for a comprehensive and simultaneous
restructuring of all affected ABCP that will be of benefit to all
noteholders," Crawford said yesterday.