House of Commons Hansard #90 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was families.

Topics

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-36, An Act respecting the safety of consumer products, be read the third time and passed.

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Before statements by members, the hon. member for St. Paul's had for the floor for questions and comments consequent upon her speech. There are six minutes remaining in the time allotted for questions and comments.

I therefore call for questions and comments and recognize the hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga.

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will resume the question that I began just before question period.

I agree 100% with a statement that was made by the previous speaker. She said that partisan politics deserve no place when we are discussing the safety of Canadians. I want to applaud her for acknowledging that fact.

If she really believes that, why would she have used 99% of her speaking time to engage in partisan politics? In fact, roughly 98% of her time was spent reading a letter that was written by someone else who was pointing out some previous actions. Why would she not instead have used her time to point out some of the positive elements of the bill: a general prohibition against the manufacture, importation or advertisement for sale of consumer products that pose an unreasonable danger to human safety; orders for corrective measures or recall; mandatory reporting of incidents, all of these positive attributes of the bill? She failed to inform Canadians about those actions.

Why would she not have used her time to let Canadians know about what this government is doing to improve the safety of Canadians?

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, the role of the official opposition is to comment on not only what we do but how we do it.

The minister went into tremendous detail about what the bill would offer Canadians. We are concerned about the lack of timeliness in terms of what the government had at its disposal and in terms of being able to get this bill done much more quickly. Ten months later, from the time it had passed, we were still waiting for the bill.

For the minister to be heckling throughout the whole of my speech was totally inappropriate. It behooves the minister to take this much more seriously in that she knows the allegations in the letter from Senator Cowan are absolutely true. He is still waiting for a result from her. It is inappropriate for the minister to blame the other House for the government's inability to get this important piece of legislation through both Houses and implemented for the safety of Canadians.

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's speech and it is unfortunate that Canadians had to hear such a partisan rant. It displays the Liberal Party's confusion when it comes to talking about health care.

We are in the House of Commons. The member spent her entire time talking about the Senate. Now that she is the Liberal Senate spokesperson, I wonder if she could let us know if the Liberal Senate will be supporting this bill. There is some confusion. The last time, all of us saw Liberals stand up in this House unanimously and support it. The whole House sent the bill to the Senate, yet when it arrived there the Liberal Party voted against it. This time around, I listened to the member's speech but I have to wonder whether there was any indication in it about the Liberal position.

History repeats itself. The bill went through the House and went to committee where it was passed unanimously. All opposition parties worked together on this important bill. Nowhere in the member's speech did she say whether the Liberal Party would support it or vote against it. Is this just another indication of the Liberal Party's confusion on health care? We have heard positions by the official critic, the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca. We just do not know.

This is an important issue for Canadians. Canadians do not want this to become a partisan rant. They do not want it to be divisive. We are talking about consumer product safety, but the member brought up other bills.

We just want clarification. We do not want partisanship. Could she be clear? Does she support the bill or not? Do the Liberals support this important piece of legislation?

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, what the member opposite and the minister have failed to acknowledge is that the problems pointed out by the Liberal senators on the previous Bill C-6 have been adopted in the renewed legislation, Bill C-36. If it had not been for the Liberal senators there would still be these gaps of not understanding that products in people's homes would still be at risk, even if they were stored for personal use.

On the idea of permission to get into people's houses, there is no question that Bill C-36 is better than Bill C-6 only because of the scrutiny of the other chamber.

The minister can wave her hands all she wants, but she has to acknowledge that she accepted the changes that were proposed by the Liberal senators.

In speaking with Liberal colleagues in the Senate, we have applauded them for their due diligence and the fact that the government is taking most of their recommendations with respect to the Privacy Act as well. It would behoove the government to thank the other chamber for its due diligence in making the bill better than it was before. This is the best of Parliament. We can protect Canadians and the companies that are producing these goods even better because of the good work of the other chamber.

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are now at third reading of Bill C-36, An Act respecting the safety of consumer products. We were debating it at second reading not even a month ago. My colleagues in committee really worked together to properly study this bill and to agree on amendments that would clarify certain aspects related to the protection of personal information. Clarifying these aspects is absolutely necessary, since the public expects the government, institutions and the legislation to ensure that their personal information is protected.

I cannot help but smile though. We went through the whole process two times already, the first time with Bill C-52 and the second time with Bill C-6. I have to wonder whether, now that we are so close to the goal, the Prime Minister will call an election or prorogue Parliament. That is what he did the last two times.

The members opposite find that funny. I think that the Minister of Health will talk to the Prime Minister to ensure that nothing like that happens and that Bill C-36 will make it through. The minister keeps saying, as we have been doing, that the current act is 40 years old and that it is time to update it. The Auditor General produced a report four years ago that revealed several problems and also highlighted the risks related to consumer products. We cannot wait any longer to move forward with this bill.

Canada is not the only country to be tightening up its legislation. I want to talk about what happened south of the border, in the United States. On August 14, 2008, the then president, George W. Bush, signed the Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act. This act set new, modern standards and strengthened the legislation on toy safety. Thus, the American agency responsible for overseeing the safety of consumer products was given measures that enabled it to have better control over toys. This legislation assigned more responsibilities, expanded authority and granted related powers to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the CPSC.

Since 2009, the agency has gradually been requiring that manufacturers and importers certify that their products meet the new standards, requiring that companies have their products tested by an independent third party and imposing harsher sanctions for non-compliance with product safety requirements. The law also proposed an increase in the agency's budget every year until 2015, as well as an increase in staff of at least 500 employees by 2013 in order to effectively enforce the new safety standards.

On September 10, 2009, the chair of the CPSC, Inez Tenenbaum, testified before the Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee, saying that she intends to make her agency a world leader in consumer protection.

With that statement in mind, I hope that it is also the government's intention, following the passage of this new bill, to see to it that we, too, are leaders in terms of consumer protection by ensuring that our consumers are buying safe products.

Throughout my speech, I will refer to elements that have been included in the American legislation to ensure that there is no shortage of money or inspectors to enforce this law. That is what we also need to see on this side of the border to ensure that we can do the important work of strengthening the current law, which dates back 40 years.

Now I would like to read the bill summary because it serves to explain the scope of this new legislation, which I hope will be passed quickly.

This enactment modernizes the regulatory regime for consumer products in Canada. It creates prohibitions with respect to the manufacturing, importing, selling, advertising, packaging and labelling of consumer products, including those that are a danger to human health or safety. In addition, it establishes certain measures that will make it easier to identify whether a consumer product is a danger to human health or safety and, if so, to more effectively prevent or address the danger. It also creates application and enforcement mechanisms. This enactment also makes consequential amendments to the Hazardous Products Act.

That is the scope of the bill.

At second reading, I made several statements and asked a number of other questions that must be answered by meeting with officials and talking to the minister so we can be sure this bill really meets the needs and expectations we expressed when we supported Bill C-52 in principle a few years ago.

Speaking of what led to Bill C-36, there was Bill C-6, and before that, Bill C-52. The same bill has come up under three different numbers. I would invite those watching to reread my speech at second reading because I reviewed all of this to explain why the Conservative government took so long to bring this bill forward.

As I said earlier, the committee members worked well together. At this point, I would like to thank my colleague from Repentigny, who worked with me to ensure the Bloc Québécois' presence in committee and who asked excellent questions. Among the answers to the questions the committee had are some questions from the member for Repentigny and the answers provided by officials who appeared before the committee.

When we discussed Bill C-6, a number of people wrote to us to express their concerns about whether Bill C-36 was constitutionally acceptable. I will read the answer provided by Diane Labelle, general counsel, legal services unit, Health Canada, during her appearance before the committee:

As you are well aware, the Minister of Justice is tasked with reviewing each bill in order to ensure that it properly reflects the government's obligations pursuant to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That review was done by the minister and the Department of Justice. Moreover, a bill is also examined to see whether it is well founded, i.e., whether Parliament does indeed have the power to adopt such a bill. In fact, we can confirm that we have conducted such a review and that the bill falls within Parliament's authority regarding criminal matters and properly reflects the government's charter obligations.

Another concern that some of our constituents had a number of questions about was the fact that Bill C-36 could apply to natural health products. They did not want the bill to regulate natural health products any differently. That is clear in subclause 4(3) of the bill, which I referred to in my speech at second reading. I would like to quote it again:

For greater certainty, this Act does not apply to natural health products as defined in subsection 1(1) of the Natural Health Products Regulations made under the Food and Drugs Act.

I thought that was relatively clear in the bill, but I asked the government officials about this anyway. I will now quote myself, which is unusual, but I will in this case:

Could there be a way around this provision so that the bill applies to natural health products?

I was referring to Bill C-36. This is the reply from Athana Mentzelopoulos, the director general of consumer product safety directorate at Health Canada:

No, there is no way. There is a way, but it would have to come back before Parliament to be amended so that the scope of the legislation would be changed—for example, to remove the provision in subclause 4(3). So yes, there is a way, but certainly it would be the purview of parliamentarians to do so.

In response, I asked another question.

But the version we have before us, i.e., Bill C-36, in no way affects natural health products. Is that correct?

In response, Diane Labelle added the following explanation, addressing the chair of the Standing Committee on Health:

...evidently, neither the Governor in Council nor the minister could amend the wording of the legislation. Parliament alone has that authority. Therefore, the wording of the legislation cannot be amended as regards natural health products.

What we can deduce from this is that if Parliament wanted the bill to apply to natural health products, a new bill would have to be introduced in Parliament to amend subclause 4(3), as Ms. Mentzelopoulos indicated.

Another question we raised a number of times during consideration of Bill C-6 and Bill C-36 is whether the number of inspectors is sufficient. As I was saying earlier, the U.S. has truly taken responsibility and considerably increased the number of inspectors. They want to ensure that their legislation has enough teeth to be properly enforced. To the Bloc Québécois, it is clear that we cannot leave it up to industry alone to ensure that the products it puts on the market are safe within the meaning of the law. In committee, we asked whether the number of inspectors was sufficient, and this is what Athana Mentzelopoulos said:

Essentially, there was a recognition that we needed more resources amongst our cadre of inspectors. We have done the analysis to ascertain, for example, where we have.... We want to go where the work is, essentially.

In my own travels recently, as the new DG, I visited with the regions. We do not necessarily have a uniform number of inspectors associated with each region. In British Columbia there is a lot of volume with imports, and we need to make sure we are resourced appropriately. It is the same in Ontario; a considerable extent of industry is found in Ontario. Obviously we would have—and this is the case—more resources in Ontario than we might find in areas where, for example, there is less industry, less import activity. In Quebec as well we have obviously larger numbers; it correlates to going where the work is and making sure that we are addressing the need.

Robert Ianiro, Director of the Consumer Product Safety Bureau, Health Canada, provided the following information in response to our question.

I think part of the answer also is that we've been focusing a lot around solely increasing our capacity of inspectors, which is clearly very important. We are doubling that capacity. By the fifth year of the action plan, 2012-13, in fact we will have overall doubled the entire complement in consumer product safety. We actually will have increased by about 125 employees.

I think it's important to recognize that we also are hiring more analysts to do testing and verification at our laboratory. With the introduction of the general prohibition, there's going to be a lot more research, hazard evaluations, hazard assessments, risk assessments. We're bringing in mandatory incident reporting. We need to have people sitting behind computers triaging the data, analyzing the data. These are all individuals beyond and in addition to the inspectors.

So it's a fairly broad complement of new employees. Inspectors are obviously very critical. We have those who would be devoted to risk assessment, those devoted to standards development. I think also a very critical piece, given the post-market regime of consumer product safety in Canada and worldwide, is the critical importance of outreach. There are also resources and new staff devoted to outreach. That includes outreach to industry in terms of understanding their obligations, as well as outreach to consumers, since we all have a role to play. As regulator, obviously, as government we have a role to play. Consumers have a role to play. Obviously manufacturers and industry have a role to play.

So it's much, much broader than just inspectors.

Based on Mr. Ianiro's comments, it is clear that we will stay on top of this issue. We will make sure that it is not government funding that determines the number of employees responsible for inspections and for proper implementation of the bill, but vice versa. And once we know what is needed on the ground in order to do the work correctly, we need to ensure that the division carrying out the organization and implementation of inspections has enough staff.

As I said earlier, the entire burden cannot be put on the industry. It is obviously in the industry's interest to not have any products recalled or any nasty incidents reported, but the government has the primary responsibility to ensure that this legislation is adopted by Parliament—and quickly, I hope—so that it can be correctly enforced.

I will not have time to talk about two other questions that we had asked about the government's interpretation of the preamble, notably concerning the precautionary principle.

In any case, I would invite citizens who wish to enquire about these answers to do so by visiting the parliamentary website and consulting the transcripts of the committee debates concerning Bill C-36.

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, this bill has been a long time in the works.

Members have spoken about the old legislation being around for 40 years. As usual, we seem to be behind the United States in this kind of development.

The hon. member would be aware that the government was opposed to a comprehensive system for labelling consumer products containing hazardous materials. It seems to me that this is something we should certainly have. For example, there are a lot of hazardous materials and products out there, unsafe electrical cords and so on that the public should know about. The government said that this would be too expensive and cumbersome to try to implement. There was no consensus to develop an alternative.

The question is whether the hon. member agrees that labelling, which the government did not deal with, is an important point. Another area that was left out is counterfeit products, which is a huge developing area. Still another is cigarettes. The cancer society has made presentations, but cigarettes were left out.

The question, then, is whether the hon. member thinks the bill is as good as it should be, given that the government left out what I think are three important product areas.

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
Government Orders

October 29th, 2010 / 12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.

It is true that when we were studying Bill C-6, some witnesses appeared before us to discuss that particular aspect. During the health committee's work last spring, we spent only one meeting examining the whole issue of nanotechnology, its growing use and the repercussions this new technology can have on human health. This is definitely something that needs to be examined further in committee. I did not get the impression that any parliamentarians, from any of the parties, were against the idea of examining these matters further.

Of course, when we were studying Bill C-6, some people expressed certain concerns that were not addressed in the bill, but at that stage, it was important to update the 40-year-old legislation. So this bill updates the legislation. The committee and this Parliament will have every opportunity, I have no doubt, to make other improvements through other means. For instance, the member mentioned counterfeit products. There is also the question of labelling, in order to ensure that when consumers purchase a product, they know exactly what is in it. I think all parliamentarians agree on that issue.

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Trinity—Spadina pointed out in her comments on the bill that the European Union, California, and Vermont were three jurisdictions that mandated labelling telling consumers which products are hazardous. We were wondering why those jurisdictions would have that feature and we would not have dealt with it.

I was also happy to hear something on the issue of natural health products. I can recall being approached as an MLA two or three years ago on this issue. People were concerned that natural health products were going to be included. Of course, it is good to know they are not being included.

The other area I want to ask the hon. member about is enforcement. Maybe the hon. member, who is on the committee, has a better idea what the eventual regulations will be.

Does the hon. member have confidence that the government is committed to resourcing this area properly and making tough regulations? Would the government be willing to enforce the act and its regulations stringently?

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague once again for his question. I made reference to that when I spoke about how a sufficient number of inspectors would have to be hired, not based on the allocated budget, but based on needs.

When I asked that question much more directly in committee, I was told that new budgets had been developed and allocated to ensure that all of the measures in this bill would have the strength and power required to be enforced and to be binding. It would be shameful and unfortunate if this bill—on which there is a broad consensus in this House—were passed and we were not able to actually reap the benefits, simply because the Treasury Board did not give the department the resources it needed to carry out the new requirements of this bill.

Unfortunately, at this stage, I cannot say that all my concerns have disappeared or abated. The government has entered a phase of cutbacks, and it is doing everything it can to try to make the poor and the unemployed pay for the deficit. However, the answers that the officials gave me lead me to believe that the government is willing to ensure that the bill meets Parliament's expectations.

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up on the member's response. Just two days ago, October 27, there was an article in the Globe and Mail regarding Lieutenant-General Leslie's mandate to trim about 5% of the Canadian Forces' $19 billion budget immediately. The article refers to immediate cuts affecting reservists and other areas, possibly including base closings. The government is clearly in a cost-cutting mode right now. I wonder if that is going to extend to other areas of the government, including initiatives such as this.

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, the example given by my colleague is directly related to my own concerns. I unfortunately cannot answer that question for the government.

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to this bill, because it means that it is one step closer to becoming law.

The NDP has advocated for consumer protection for years. Judy Wasylycia-Leis, my former colleague, the former member for Winnipeg North, has been on this file for years, advocating for stronger consumer protection. I know that our leader has raised it with the Prime Minister, and in the 40th Parliament, this session, the member for Sudbury has been a strong advocate for changes to consumer protection laws that would actually result in protection for consumers.

As we have heard a few times in this House, the previous legislation is 40 years old. It is time for a change. It is time to catch up and modernize. All parties are in agreement that this legislation is desperately needed.

However, that does not necessarily ensure that product safety is going to be ensured in Canada. This legislation is going to need to be enforced in order for it be effective. As the member for Elmwood—Transcona has said, there are serious questions about whether or not enforcement is actually going to happen and whether or not sufficient resources are going to be put into this bill.

This is a good bill. I am proud to support it. Our party is proud to support it. I am proud that it is going to the other place and may soon get royal assent. We are hopeful that it will be soon. However, we need to stop and think critically about whether this bill is just a shell being carried into effect for show, or whether it will actually provide protection for consumers.

There are a number of reasons to think that the government might abdicate its responsibility on this bill, should it be passed through the other place. The reason is this: despite the fact that the legislation is their own, and despite their repeated statements that this legislation is important to them, the Conservatives have dragged their feet. There is no other way of putting this. They have dragged their feet in introducing this legislation to the session. Previously, they prorogued Parliament and killed similar legislation, not once but twice. There was significant delay in getting this to first and second reading.

Now we are rushing it through. I think that is fair. We know what is in this bill. It has been to committee before. We have debated it before. However, it has taken a long time for us to get to this point.

Even though we are at third reading now, we have to ask why has this process has taken so long. Why has the government not acted quickly on this legislation, when there have been many opportunities to do so? I think it demonstrates a level of unwillingness to emphasize the safety of Canadians. It is disconcerting that so much time and energy, resources and effort, were put into trying to eliminate the gun registry, while product safety was put on the back burner.

The member for Portage—Lisgar is driving around in a minivan saying “End the registry”. In fact, that minivan was idling outside of Confederation Building the other day, so clearly they do not care about the environment either. There is no minivan saying “protect consumers”. There are no flyers going into other ridings, no radio or TV ads saying that we should protect consumers. All we get is foot-dragging.

Over the last month, we have received alarming reports about Health Canada's failure to warn parents about the risks of cadmium in children's jewellery. Health Canada testing showed unacceptable cadmium levels much earlier than we had previously known. Some of the products that they tested had cadmium levels of 93%, and yet the government delayed letting Canadians know about this. This is children's jewellery, and we all know what children do with small objects. It goes right in the mouth.

Health Canada has actually stated that cadmium is more toxic than lead. Testing that revealed unacceptable cadmium levels occurred in the 2009-10 testing cycle. But that was not the first time it was discovered. The previous testing cycle also revealed unacceptable cadmium levels. Health Canada advisories until now have not mentioned any of these test results. It is hard to imagine. These tests were on children's jewellery.

Our children were at danger of ingesting cadmium from these products because of the government's lack of transparency on testing and a lack of public education on cadmium's dangers. This is just plain wrong. It is irresponsible. I cannot understand why the government would not have mentioned these test results, especially when there was a 93% level in some products containing cadmium. The risks were inherently clear.

How can we trust the government to be the guardians of public safety under this new regime that Bill C-36 offers, when it failed to warn the public that its own tests were revealing cadmium in children's products?

The bill is good, but it is going to require significant resources in order to be effective. It is going to require an adequate number of inspectors and a team that is able to respond effectively to product safety concerns. They will have to respond in such a way that every Canadian will be kept safe from dangerous products.

It goes without saying that the government has done poorly on similar files, like food inspection. We should be questioning the Conservatives' willingness to fund product safety protections adequately. So it is a step forward, but without teeth. Without the systems in place to carry out the intended functions, it is going to be a colossal failure.

We will see the government trumpet the bill's passage and send a message to Canadians that their products are safe, but this message needs to be backed up with funding. It needs to be backed up with resources. Otherwise, we will be giving Canadians a false sense of security.

I stand here representing the voices of consumers from coast to coast to coast. I thank the government for finally bringing in this legislation, and I ask that they commit the resources to enforce it. Otherwise, the bill will be meaningless. I desperately hope that two, five, or ten years from now we are not lamenting a failure to act and saying “I told you so”.

I was reading the newspaper today and there was a quote by James Orbinski. It was not about this bill. It was about the access to medicines regime, Bill C-393. It was brought forward by my former colleague, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, but is now being handled by my colleague from Windsor West. Bill C-393, if passed, would facilitate selling developing countries generic drugs still under patent. It would fix the 2005 regime that was created by the Martin government. The bill should be supported by all members who believe in justice and fairness.

James Orbinski is the co-founder of Dignitas and a world-renowned health activist. In referring to Bill C393, he inadvertently said something related to Bill C-36: “Right now CAMR is a rhetorical success and a practical failure. Bill C-393 is an effort to make CAMR a practical success”. I read that and thought of Bill C-36. We must not let it become a rhetorical success but a practical failure. We need to ensure that there are resources in place.

I talked about justice and fairness. The bill should also raise levels of justice and fairness for low-income Canadians. It goes without saying that dangerous products touch the lives of socio-economically disadvantaged Canadians proportionately more than the rest of society. Cheap products rely on cheaper manufacturing processes, and these products are wreaking havoc on the lives of people who cannot afford better choices. These people are poorly positioned to deal with health consequences or with wages lost due to taking time off from work to care for themselves or their loved ones.

I believe strongly that product safety should not just be the prerogative of the rich. This issue goes to the heart of the equality principles held by Canadians, and product safety legislation should play a central role in moving toward economic justice in our country.

I would like to touch on an issue that I do not think has been raised in the House very often. Sometimes when I am out in the community I am approached by people who say that they have problems with Bill C-36. They see some constitutional issues they would like to see addressed; they are worried about the constitutionality of this legislation.

Recently, the member for Sudbury raised this constitutionality issue with lawyers who appeared at committee, asking whether we had to worry about this. According to the lawyers, there were no constitutional problems with this bill, nothing really to worry about.

The last time around, when this bill was called Bill C-6, it made it through the House and was then sent to the other place. When senators considered the bill at committee, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre made a presentation on this specific issue. It is not only important for members of the House to understand some of the constitutional issues that were raised, but also some thorough analysis would show, that we really do not need to worry about.

For background, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre is a non-profit organization that was established in 1976. Its mandate is to enable the representation of ordinary and vulnerable consumers when decisions are made concerning the important products and services they obtain. Of course, they are a natural organization to turn to when we consider product safety, whether it is legislation, regulation or action.

PIAC made a formal written presentation to the senate committee and I will read from the memorandum it submitted. I reads:

It is particularly disheartening to find the oppositional posture to this Bill presented as a matter of protection of the civil rights of business and property owners engaged in the sale and distribution of the consumer products that are the subject matter of this bill. Such individuals are amply protected by the provisions in the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and possible civil remedies for government behaviour that exceeds the ambit of its protective statutory mandate. Monetary loss, embarrassment and hurt feelings are regrettable, but nonetheless compensable in the event of improper government conduct.

On the other hand, harm caused to public health and citizen livelihood may only be imperfectly remedied. What will be the explanation given to a parent grieving the loss or permanent injury of a child caused by the use of a product irresponsibly brought to market, when the reason is the lack of, or delay in application, of proper enforcement tools by the responsible authority caused by these amendments? There is no guarantee that even an inadequate remedy of compensation may be available in the event of a breach of health and safety requirements that is of such widespread effect that it is ultimately financially ruinous of the supplier.

The rights of defendants in circumstances where criminal and/or quasi-criminal related behaviour may be involved are important, particularly in relation to the consequences that may be visited upon a defendant. But it is decidedly inappropriate to expose innocent Canadian consumers to potentially negligent market behaviour because of the fear that government inspectors may lack either the appropriate motive or skills of enforcement. It is a grievous misallocation of the Senate's legislative superintendence to cater to the misplaced fears of a few over the real health and safety concerns of the many potentially at risk. PIAC urges the Senate to reject the amendments of the committee and adopt Bill C-6 without change.

Michael Janigan, the executive director of PIAC, has his name at the bottom of the memo. That is a good positioning of the two sides that we have to balance here. We need to look out for the consumer protection of Canadians. We need to ensure that people can rely on the fact that their products are safe. It is absolutely imperative. I think he did a great job of showing the balance that has to be struck between the two and where, ultimately, how justice would bring us to the one side.

It is a great summary of the constitutional arguments and I really do support the perspective of PIAC. Thanks should be extended to PIAC for getting involved in this issue and contributing to the discussion in the other place.

I am strongly supportive of Bill C-36. It is an excellent framework. We need to move forward after 40 years of old legislation that is not modern. Ultimately, we cannot make this a rhetorical success but a practical failure. We need to ensure that the government puts adequate resources behind this bill to ensure it is a success for all Canadians.