Links to 1997 Federal Government Study of Credit Card Interest Rates

On February 6, 1997, the federal House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry began a study of credit card interest rates.  The Industry Committee never issued a report or recommendations because it shifted focus to reviewing draft legislation and then in mid-April 1997 then-Prime Minister Jean Chrétien called an election, suspending the Industry Committee's study.

No federal government institution has studied credit cards since 1997, despite ongoing concerns among millions of Canadians that they are being gouged by excessively high credit card interest rates.  In early 2002, as the new Secretary of State (Financial Institutions), Liberal Cabinet minister (and former Royal Bank economist) John McCallum said that he thought credit card interest rates were "grotesquely high" -- but he has said very little since about credit cards. 

Instead (as all Finance Ministers and Secretaries of State (Financial Institutions have done in the past 20 years), John McCallum did nothing to evaluate, audit or regulate the credit card divisions of the banks to ensure that they charged fair prices and interest rates and did not gouge Canadians.

Set out below are the links to the hearings held by the Industry Committee in 1997, in chronological order:

February 6, 1997 hearing (Witnesses: from the Department of Industry - Jean-Baptiste Renaud, Analyst, Office of Consumer Affairs; David Waite, Senior Analyst, Office of Consumer Affairs; Vinita Watson, Director General, Office of Consumer Affairs)

February 11, 1997 hearing (Witnesses: from the Bank of Montreal - Robert W. Pearce, Senior Vice-President, Electronic Banking Services; from the Canadian Bankers Association - Raymond Protti, President and Chief Executive Officer and Mark Weseluck , Vice-President, Banking Operations; from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce - Paul Vessey, Executive Vice-President, Personal Lending Products; from the Royal Bank of Canada - Jane Fershko, Senior Vice-President, Card Products, Card Services and Point of Sale; and from the Toronto-Dominion Bank - David Livingston, Senior Vice-President, Card & Direct Services.

February 12, 1997 hearing (Witnesses: from the "Association coopérative d'économie familiale de l'Outaouais" - Gilles-André Paquin, Coordinator; from Consumer Aid Services of Shawinigan - Madeleine Plamondon, President; from the Consumers' Association of Canada - Rosalie Daly Todd, Executive Director; from Democracy Watch and the Canadian Community Reinvestment Coalition - Duff Conacher, Coordinator; from the Federation of Co-operative Family Economics Associations of Quebec - Ronald O'Narey, Member of the Executive)

February 13, 1997 (Witnesses: from the Retail Council of Canada - Bruce Clark, Alan Goddard, Robert Hogan, Stephen Knight, Marco Marrone and Peter Woolford, Senior Vice-President)

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