House of Commons Hansard #140 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was security.

Topics

Business of the House
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

Does the hon. parliamentary secretary have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Business of the House
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the House
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Telecommunications Act, as amended, be read the third time and passed.

Telecommunications Act
Government Orders

October 24th, 2005 / 3:30 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister responsible for Democratic Renewal

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to my colleague. I am not in the position that he is in. He is on the committee and he has followed the development of this legislation with a great deal of interest. I am not a member of the committee.

My question has to do with the status of charities, social services, community organizations, and arts and cultural organizations in all of our communities with respect to this legislation. My understanding is that groups such as that would be exempt from the legislation. They would be able to continue with their normal work and normal practices.

I ask this because it is extremely important for the vibrancy of these often very tiny organizations in our communities that they not be restricted by legislation of this type. I wonder if my colleague could give us some indication that I am right.

Telecommunications Act
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, one of the amendments to the bill that was adopted by the committee had to do with the registration of charities and they would be exempt. The type of registration we are talking about in particular refers to charities that are registered within the meaning of the Income Tax Act. That is the significant proviso. If they are registered under the Income Tax Act as a charity, they would be exempt. That is very significant.

I agree with the hon. member that the lifeblood of many of these charities depends on the ability to solicit by telephone and most people would not object to that.

There was another provision that was accepted by the committed and it had to do with people who perhaps are called by a charity and would wish their names to be registered as not wanting to be called again. The charity would then have to keep that list and not call those people again, but that is a small detail because it does not cover the overall situation. It just allows individuals to make exceptions for themselves for particular charities.

Telecommunications Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Gurmant Grewal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Kelowna--Lake Country for sharing his time.

I am pleased to rise on behalf of the constituents of Newton--North Delta to participate in the third reading debate on Bill C-37. This bill addresses telemarketing calls by enabling the CRTC to establish and enforce a do not call registry similar to ones already found in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Specifically, Bill C-37 would amend the section of the Telecommunications Act that deals with telemarketers by adding the power to establish databases and to make any order with respect to these databases.

It would also also give the CRTC the power to levy substantial penalties against telemarketers and to contract with a private sector third party to operate the service. Penalties of $1,500 per offending call for individuals and $15,000 per offending call for corporations would be imposed for telemarketers who do not respect the list.

Previous to this bill, Canadians have had access to privately operated do not call registries. The Canadian Marketing Association, CMA, would register consumers for their do not call list. However, not all telemarketers are members of the CMA, so this registration did not eliminate all unsolicited telemarketing calls.

In addition, the CRTC required that each telemarketing company maintain their own do not call list. Consumers could ask to be placed on the list, but only after receiving a call. The list was maintained by the telemarketing company for three years.

We have all received unwanted calls from people attempting to sell goods or services. It could be a telemarketing pitch from the local newspaper, a credit card company, a cleaning service, a charity, or even a politician wanting one's vote.

Sometimes we may welcome these calls because they would provide useful information or a product that we are interested in, but other times, they are nothing but an annoyance.

The Conservative Party supports the establishment of a Canadian do not call registry within parameters clearly defined by this Parliament and with reasonable exemptions provided for charities, political parties, polling firms and companies that wish to contact their current customers. In the original version of Bill C-37, these exemptions were not laid out by the government.

Furthermore, the power to determine these details was delegated by the Liberals to the CRTC and its regulatory powers rather than to the elected representatives of the House. In fact, before going to committee, the bill was almost an empty shell, with most of the details left to the regulations.

The bill is extremely light on details. There are no exceptions to the list. There are no details about how the list would be maintained, what information would be required from consumers, how telemarketers would check the list, how often they must check the list, and who would have access to the list or any reporting on how the list would be run.

As a result, we did not know if there would be any exclusions to the list, how much it would cost or who would operate the list and so on. Maybe it would be like the gun registry fiasco, costing $2 billion rather than $2 million. Those things are not clear.

The government habitually introduces shell bills that lack substance, are written in, often, incomplete, general terms and are very vague in intent. So, no substance, no nitty-gritty, no details, but only a shell.

Much of the law that affects Canadians is not found in the Statutes of Canada but in the thousands and thousands of regulations made pursuant to powers granted by acts of Parliament. This leaves the door wide open to put through regulations that define our laws, without the proper checks and balances.

To curtail that, to plug that big black hole in the regulatory process, I introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-205, which in fact was the only private member's bill to receive royal assent. That bill was introduced by the Canadian Alliance. It restored some accountability to the regulation making process because it brought under the umbrella of the government all the quasi-government organizations like the CRTC and many others. They used to make the regulations but they were not under the purview of parliamentary scrutiny.

I plugged that black hole in the regulatory reforms, but still the government habitually introduces legislation without any detail. It leaves all the details to the regulatory process. In doing so, the Liberal government has effectively gutted the parliamentary process of accountability and transparency in the formulation of laws. Parliament is no longer at the centre of the law making process.

The Prime Minister can talk all the talk about regulatory or democratic reforms, but his track record is the weakest in the history of Canada for democratic reforms existing in this House the way that democracy exists in Canada. In fact, in this minority government, I do not see any real democracy in existence, as the House leader of the Conservative Party said earlier.

During second reading debate I outlined all of these concerns. I concluded my speech by saying that:

—the registry, if established, must be “within parameters clearly defined by Parliament and with reasonable exemptions provided for charities, political parties and companies that wish to contact their current customers” and that we must craft a more detailed piece of legislation so both consumers and telemarketers are clear as to how the do not call registry will work.

After second reading, at committee, the Conservative Party members worked to amend the bill and to add several new clauses to the Telecommunications Act. The following are among the amendments passed at committee.

Three years after the do not call list comes into force, it will be reviewed by Parliament.

Next, any person making a telecommunications call must, at the beginning of the call, identify the purpose of the call and the person or the organization on whose behalf the call is being made. This was a Conservative amendment.

Exemptions are being granted to the following: charities, political parties, candidates, the riding associations, et cetera, and surveys, or calls made for the sole purpose of collecting information for a survey of members of the public.

As for individual lists, all the parties that have been made exempt must still keep individual no not call lists. If a person is called by a charity and asks to be placed on the do not call list held by that charity, the charity is forced to comply and is not allowed to call that individual for three years, which is the current time limit. Of course, the length of time could be changed by the CRTC through the regulations once the bill is passed.

All of these were Conservative amendments.

As I have only one minute left, I will summarize. Seniors are not protected under the bill. Telemarketing companies scam seniors, selling gambling, lotteries, et cetera to them. The bill also does not address unsolicited ads on the Internet, the pop-ups. As well, young children, when learning on the Internet and doing their homework, are bombarded with vulgar and pornographic ads. Nothing has been done about this.

To conclude, I would like to say that a centrally administered national do not call list provides the means for consumers to avoid unsolicited telemarketing calls. A well-run do not call list will provide consumers with choice and protection.

The Conservative Party supports the establishment of a do not call registry within the parameters I have clearly defined. I personally still have many concerns. I have tried to allude to them, but my time is up, so let me close by saying that I will be watching closely and will protect the best interests of my constituents of Newton—North Delta and all Canadians.

Telecommunications Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague. I understand that we cannot resolve everything. He will probably agree with me that we need not ask too much of the Liberal Party, which would not want to resolve all the problems. I agree with him that the spam mail we are bombarded with on the Internet will probably become the subject of another bill in this House.

As far as phone calls are concerned, I want to know if my colleague agrees that, just as the bill sets out to do, once the list of organizations to exempt, such as charities, is established, individuals should be given the opportunity to decide whether to be put on the list to no longer receive inconvenient phone calls from all these companies that are increasingly specializing in telemarketing.

Does my colleague agree that once we decide which agencies will be exempt from the do not call list, it would be a good idea to have legislation to allow individuals to sign up on a list to no longer receive unsolicited calls? We have to realize how difficult it is to define the not-for-profit organizations to exempt. There is also the whole issue of political parties, as he mentioned. Once we agree on the agencies that could never be excluded, we should pass in this House legislation allowing individuals, who are fed up with receiving phone calls from telemarketing companies, to no longer be disrupted by that type of call. This borders on harassment, even if, in practice, it is not. We need some type of legislation in this House. Does my colleague agree that we must pass such legislation as soon as possible?

Telecommunications Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Gurmant Grewal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, even though the translation of the member's question was not very clear, I thank the member for bringing forth this issue. I know that the legislation is important and must be passed in the House.

Consumers in Canada deserve protection. They do not want any harassment or intimidation by telemarketers or in other unwanted calls. They should not be forced to receive those calls.

The member is also right. We cannot accomplish everything through the legislation, but we have the responsibility as the chosen elected members to represent our constituents and to raise important concerns relating to this issue on behalf of our constituents.

I brought forward the Internet issue because I have not seen any legislation from the government that would protect our children. The children in my constituency and in Canada deserve protection. They are on the Internet, doing their homework and trying to learn as much as they can, and they are unnecessarily bombarded with those pop-up ads. I am surprised that those ads to which our vulnerable children are exposed are pornographic images.

The government has done absolutely nothing to put into place some sort of measure which would restrict those ads if children are at the computer learning and doing their homework. They are unnecessarily distracted and in fact unwittingly persuaded through those pornographic materials.

In a family set-up, that is not the right thing. We have the violence chip, which can prevent violent movies or other stuff on the TV. Why can we not have the advantage of scientific research put on the home computer so that our children are not exposed to those unwanted, undesirable ads? We do not want to be disturbed by a simple phone call, but how about our kids? They are given all kinds of material that we do not want them to have.

Similarly, there is no restriction on fax lines. The telemarketing companies are going around the law. They are going around the restrictions in the United States, for example, by using fax messaging. The fax message does not display the name of the sender, the company that is sending, or any phone number. What is there in the bill which will make sure that if we get an unsolicited fax message we can put ourselves on a do not call or do not fax list?

Those are important considerations. Otherwise, I am supporting the bill. It is a step forward, but a small step.

Telecommunications Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak today on Bill C-37. I had spoken last week on this bill, beginning that presentation with my story of being solicited at home for a vacuum cleaner, one fine Saturday morning at 9 a.m. I find that these examples are far too frequent in recent years.

We know that the field of technology is evolving. The marketing companies are pushing sales more and more, and their salespersons as well. So we have reached the point where, today, this bill will become a kind of consumer protection act, to protect consumer privacy.

I consider the type of call I was mentioning earlier to be out of place, coming on a Saturday morning or often at dinner time. For salespersons know that, as people are very busy these days, it is often early in the morning, at dinner time or after dinner that they can be most easily reached. This is an infringement of the privacy of consumers.

Ours is a world in which everything is moving faster and faster, where the entire working class is confronted with more and more demands. When anyone who works comes back home in the evening, he or she deserves a little relaxation, a little time to spend with the family. This is important, and we speak often about it. There are all kinds of projects for balancing work and family. In Quebec, this is in fact a very important issue.

Imagine, in the evening, when you are at home, receiving two or three telephone calls like this. Often the people who call are persistent. It is difficult to simply hang up on them. They have a good psychological approach: they are open-minded and very kind. People spend time with them, and finally realize that they are being solicited. The more time goes by, the greater the pressure. Often people hesitate to hang up. They can lose 5, 10 or 15 minutes of their time, of their privacy, at the end of which they may say no. All the same, they will have wasted time to the detriment of their family.

The bill we have before us today protects consumers and privacy generally.

Neither can the do not call principle be applied to everyone. We have understood this. At present, the bill provides that charities will be exempt from its application. That means that a charity cannot be prohibited from calling a certain list of persons. The reason for this is fundamental. As I often say to the community groups and charitable organizations in my own riding, if we did not have these groups, it would be very difficult for society to function.

Everyone knows that public finances are limited, both in the provinces and in Canada. Obviously there is growing pressure on public finances, particularly in the provinces, whereas in Ottawa there is a big surplus. In the provinces there are many restrictions. Consequently the government sometimes withdraws from certain sectors of activity, especially social activity. As a result, it is the community groups that come to the rescue of those who are somewhat more disadvantaged.

I find it totally unjustified to tell the Red Cross for example that it will be on an exemption list and will no longer be allowed to phone a number of people whose names are on a do not call list because they do not want to be called. The Red Cross may be a case in point these days, in light of the earthquake in Pakistan and all that is happening in that part of the world.

I believe that they need funding. We can depend on the governments, but we must also depend on organizations of this type. These are often non governmental organizations, people who go to the rescue of victims who are in a very bad situation. The government is not the only one asked to act; organizations of this type also get involved.

They are also active, on a smaller scale, in our respective ridings. Who does not know of the organizations looking after children or battered women?

Solicitation is very important to them. Cutting their funding by telling them that, in the future, they will no longer be allowed to phone 40% or 50% of the citizens of St-Jean is not helping them. And it is not helping the society at large either.

It is therefore perfectly understandable that the bill provide for exemptions. Charities—registered ones naturally—will be in a separate category and protected, because there are sometimes charlatans in that field as well. Traps are to be avoided. People must necessarily be registered to have their names on the do not call list.

The bill also deals with the issue of business relationships. This week, I visited a very dynamic business in my region. It is a computer company and it markets absolutely fantastic software. I was introduced to the woman in charge of marketing. That is all she does all day long. It is quite usual for companies to solicit bilateral service exchanges or to sell each other services, whether they are in the same field or different ones.

Business relationships are very important. We do not want to suppress them with a bill of this kind. However, I do not think the bill is aimed at that issue but rather at excessive marketing to individuals. Business relationships must continue to be protected. I obviously do not need to spell it all out. It is important for companies to be identified and protected so that all business relationships continue.

There are also political calls. Here we are kind of making our own sales pitch. It is important to preserve this right, which I think is a right to information. I often say to young people or people who do not have a lot of confidence in politics: “You know, everything you do is political. Everything you put on your table, the children you send to school or daycare, when you use hospitals, those are all political issues.

It is important, therefore, for political calls to continue. Otherwise, we would be risking anarchy. Many people do not believe in politics. Nevertheless, we must continue, with the means at our disposal, to make as many people as possible aware of how important politics still are. It is a basic right to information.

The same is true of opinion polls. I am not speaking just of political opinion polls but of opinion polls in general about what people like or do not like about society or how they feel social problems should be addressed. We feel that these polls are a very important right to information that must absolutely be maintained.

I was very happy to arrive this morning and discover before delivering my speech that our Liberal friends had finally agreed to unanimous consent on newspapers. That might seem strange because the opposition members, both in the Conservative Party and the Bloc Québécois, had tried furiously last week to get unanimous consent but could not. Our colleagues must have received some food for thought over the weekend. Maybe they got some telephone calls from representatives of major newspapers such as The Globe and Mail and the National Post saying, “Listen, our Liberal friends, we would like to be exempted from that, too”. However it came about, the result is the same.

So, this morning we found out that newspapers were excluded, just like registered charities and political telecommunications. It is important that newspapers be excluded because, again, we are talking about the right to information. I can say unequivocally that we have some very good newspapers in my riding. Le Canada français is one of them. There are people there whose job is specifically to do telemarketing all day long. If we want our local newspapers to survive, it is important that they be able to go and get subscribers, which are often individuals. It is important to read a newspaper once a week or once a day. I am not talking about advertisement, but about the importance for a citizen to keep informed, both at the local and national levels. So, it is important that the instruments that ensure the survival of these newspapers be protected.

In the end, there was unanimous consent on this issue. I will be pleased to support the bill, which now also includes newspapers.

What is also interesting about the bill is that it provides for a review after three years, to see how things are working out. Some irritants will likely surface, but we will be able to review the legislation three years from now. Such a review is often not included in bills, although it may be less indicated in some cases. However, I think that, in this case, it is perfectly suited to the bill now before us. In three years, we will see if other organizations should be excluded from the scope of the act.

There may be other ways of looking at how the list should be controlled. I will talk about this later on. So, if there is a major problem, we will be able to change some provisions of the act three years from now. This will prevent the government from deciding alone the political agenda, setting the procedure and selecting the issues that come before the House, and from deciding to not present this bill again to the House, even if there are irritants. Such a provision will benefit everyone. It is a safeguard, a protection. If we find out that we erred or that we did not have all the information, we will be able to correct the situation.

I was also surprised to see that the Canadian Marketing Association did not object to the bill. In fact, the CMA president himself said that it was about time we did something. With the deregulation that currently prevails, whereby there are practically no rules in effect in Canada, we are witnessing, as I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, a proliferation of this kind of approach. Frankly, consumers, myself included, are tired of constantly being disturbed. We are also noticing a change, although not for the better, in that there is an increasing number of these calls and companies are becoming more and more insistent. The situation has reached the point where, when I get home, there are always messages on my answering machine. These companies called and they left messages. Out of all the messages that will be waiting when I get home on Thursday, probably one quarter of them will have been left by organizations or individuals doing solicitation and urging me to call them back. Of course, I will not do so. Not only do I not have the time because of my duties as a member of Parliament, but I am also somewhat reluctant to do so because I find these companies to be quite insistent.

So, the CMA too confirmed the existence of a problem that needs to be corrected. It did not object to Bill C-37. I will talk about it in a little while. It wants to be involved to some degree, particularly as regards the registry issue. However, the Bloc Québécois' position on this is quite clear.

Not only is the CMA saying that such legislation was needed, it is also realizing that, in any case, the people whose names will be on that do not call list were not buying from these companies. In its opinion, the impact of such a list will not be that great on its members. So, in the end, it agrees with this measure.

We did not start from square one on that issue. The Americans had a bit of a head start on us. In 2003, they noted the same kind of problem and legislated to establish what is called a do not call registry. It seems to be working. I do not know whether that particular piece of legislation includes a provision like ours for review in three years. One thing that is for sure is that it is already working. Sixty two million Americans have registered. This type of solicitation was bothering them, and they wanted the companies to stop phoning them. The legislation provides for penalties. That is another thing. If we pass legislation, the legislation must not be too soft. It must not be merely an incentive; it should make a real impact. It is important that marketing experts understand that certain conditions have to be met, failing which there will be stiff penalties to pay. This is already in place in the United States. The majority of the 62 million people I referred to earlier are already reporting a sharp decrease in the number of calls received; in fact, 87% reported receiving hardly any calls.

So they are very happy with this legislation. It is time now in Canada to act accordingly.

I want to speak now about the registry and how the CMA wants to become involved. When anyone says registry, of course, the nightmare that people usually think of is the gun registry. I took part in the debate last week. There were a lot of questions about this registry. Let us be very clear. The legislation must be as specific as possible and there must be as much information as possible about this registry.

It would be good if they could tell us every three or four months how much the operation cost for the previous months. We do not want to have the kind of surprise we had with the firearms control registry. It was supposed to cost $2 million a year and now it costs $2 billion. It is the taxpayers who pay for that. This is another scandal. People often talk about the sponsorship scandal, but there is also the gun registry scandal. That is probably the biggest scandal in dollar terms. There is quite a difference between $2 million and $2 billion. A thousand times more. Everyone agrees that this did not make sense.

Our fears are understandable, therefore, when they talk about registries. We want to ensure that there are as many guarantees as possible. But we do not want to throw the baby out with the bath water. We believe that this is important legislation and one way to exercise control is to have a registry. We are in a tough spot, though, because we saw what happened with the gun registry. It cost $2 million instead of $2 billion. On the other hand, we cannot just cast all these kinds of bills aside whenever the word “registry” appears. That is not the way to see things. By the way, there are a lot of discussions every year when the time arrives for requests for budget surpluses to be given to the Canadian firearms program. People do say that they can hardly believe it.

The basic principle was to control firearms. I get telephone calls myself from mothers who lost their daughters in the massacre of students at the Polytechnique. I cannot resist these mothers who tell me that we have to keep the firearms registry. It is useless for me to tell them that it costs $80 million extra; for them, it is not a question of money. For a society to control firearms, for them, it is non-negotiable.

It is always a bit awkward to be asked to vote more funding for a program that has already cost $2 billion, when it was meant to cost only $2 million annually.

The same thing applies here. We have some concerns, but we do believe that the bill is a valuable one. We just need to pin down the matter of the registry to ensure that it does not get out of hand like the last time. I should make that clear, out of the Liberal Party's hands.

Once again, the opposition members are the ones who raised the issue. The Liberal Party was asked at one point whether it did not find $2 billion instead of $2 million to be sufficient. We are not the ones who dropped the ball. All we did was block it so that it did not roll further out of bounds. If we had not, the tab might well have gone over the $2 billion mark by now.

We keep on insisting that the expenditures be reduced to acceptable levels. We will also insist that the registry that is an integral part of this bill be monitored as closely as possible to avoid a repetition of this pillaging of public funds.

We also do not want the registry to be kept by the Canadian Marketing Association. They will certainly not be given responsibility for it. That would be a bit like asking Colonel Sanders to keep an eye on the chicken coop. That is not what we want.

In closing, I will point out that we will need to address fraudulent telemarketing at a later time. The laws on this are very severe in the U.S., thereby driving the phony telemarketers back to Canada. They operate what are called boiler rooms, from which they systematically swindle people.

Unfortunately, the bill before us does not take this into account. I get the feeling that we would have to amend the Criminal Code instead.

Nevertheless, the Bloc Québécois will be supporting Bill C-37. We are, moreover, very pleased that newspapers have been added to the list of exemptions.

Telecommunications Act
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4:10 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's speech was very interesting. He spoke a great deal about the issue of cost. It is a very important issue that affects every hon. member and all Canadians.

However, he did not say what cost he would find acceptable: $2 million? $10 million? $100 million? From his speech, I have no idea. Although I agree with him that the cost should not be too high, I have no idea what he would consider a reasonable cost. He is the one who used the term “reasonable”.

Telecommunications Act
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4:10 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a $50,000 question.

We are talking about a reasonable cost. When the gun registry was established, we felt that the cost of $2 million a year was reasonable. We had agreed to $2 million a year. Now taxpayers are being told that we want to set up a do not call registry. I think $2 million ought to do it. However, I just have one thing to say to my colleague: we do not want this to end up costing $2 billion, which is what happened with the gun registry.

I will talk to my colleagues. They will probably tell me that this amount could be slightly more or slightly less. However, we do not want any overspending. We want tight control. Perhaps there could be a report to Parliament on a regular basis, every quarter. When a reasonable amount has been determined, then we can ensure it is respected. That is how I see things for now. If we had planned for $2 million for the gun registry, then I think we could plan $2 million for the do not call registry.

Telecommunications Act
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4:15 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister responsible for Democratic Renewal

Mr. Speaker, I have been following the debate with great interest because, as I mentioned earlier, I am interested in the legislation but I am not a member of the committee.

It seems to me this is a case where the legislation has been developed in committee, or at least large parts of it have been, and as we know in the current Parliament the opposition has control of the committee. We are dealing with legislation which has been greatly shaped by the opposition and I am pleased to hear that members of the various parties support it.

I asked earlier about my concern regarding charities and charitable organizations. My colleague opposite gave me an answer to that, that they will be exempt in various ways from this do not call legislation.

I am also concerned about businesses, particularly small businesses in my riding. Quite a lot of these businesses have lists which they already phone. For example, I am on the list of the company that services my car. That firm may phone me occasionally about servicing my car. I believe there is provision in the legislation to protect groups like that carrying on their normal practice.

I wonder if my colleague from the Bloc would care to comment on that so that we can have on the record what the situation is for small businesses that have call lists of their own.

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4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. I will go back to the example given by my colleague. If one of his business contacts buys a car from a certain dealer and the car is due for maintenance, the dealer would be entirely justified to call its client to tell him that, based on his mileage, he should come in for a check-up. We have nothing against that.

However, it would not be justified for a car dealership to systematically call people outside its client base to offer them its current specials and urge them to visit it to obtain particular benefits. This can already be seen on television, with the famous ad saying that the product is available to everyone at the employee price. I have nothing against television. Nonetheless, telemarketing consists in calling people systematically in this way and soliciting them, and that is what this bill is about.

Business relations among companies as well as business relations between a customer and his car dealer do not pose a problem. It is like the pharmacist calling his client to tell him he no longer has the necessary medication and inviting him to the pharmacy to renew his prescription. The bill permits this.

In fact, it is important that this be maintained, because otherwise our society would not function. I hope I have answered my colleague's question.