Media Release

Friday, March 20, 1998

Liberals confront bank merger controversy -- or do they?

OTTAWA - Delegates to the national Liberal Party convention have a golden opportunity to express the widespread concern Canadians feel about the proposed Royal-Bank of Montreal megabank merger. Will they rise to the challenge?
 A hard-hitting resolution on financial institutions from the party’s Quebec wing urges the government to:

* consider the impact on consumers of any concentration of domestic chartered banks;
* establish a percentage of bank lending to be allocated to small businesses;
* establish a system that requires banks to seek permission to raise service charges;
* ensure that banks adequately inform their clients of their service charge options; and
* set a maximum rate of interest on credit cards in relation to deposit rates.

 The Quebec resolution echoes three priority resolutions from the Alberta, Quebec and Nova Scotia party associations that were passed by delegates at the Liberals’ 1996 national policy convention in Ottawa.
 However, this resolution is just one of 12 resolutions concerning economic development that will be considered Friday afternoon  -- only one of which will make it to the convention floor for the Sunday morning vote.
 “Delegates have a terrific opportunity to express the anxiety which Canadians feel about the megabank merger, and their frustration about high service fees and credit card charges,” says Duff Conacher, Chairperson of the Canadian Community Reinvestment Coalition (CCRC). “It’s also a great chance for Liberals to send Finance Minister Paul Martin a clear message: the government must use its power to ensure that banks do a much better job of meeting consumer, small business and community needs.”
 None of the convention priority resolutions directly touch on banking issues, although aboriginal and northern economic development resolutions name lack of access to capital as a major hurdle for aboriginal business and economic development.
 “We urge Liberal delegates to reflect the will of the Canadian majority and make sure that the Quebec wing’s financial institution resolution comes to a vote, and is passed,” adds Mr. Conacher.

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Canadian Community Reinvestment Coalition
P.O. Box 1040, Station B, Ottawa, Canada K1P 5R1
Tel: (613) 789-5753
Fax: (613) 241-4758
Email: cancrc@web.net
Copyright 1998 Canadian Community Reinvestment Coalition