Combating Counterfeit Products Act

An Act to amend the Copyright Act and the Trade-marks Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Sponsor

Christian Paradis  Conservative

Status

In committee (House), as of June 12, 2013
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Copyright Act and the Trade-marks Act to add new civil and criminal remedies and new border measures in both Acts, in order to strengthen the enforcement of copyright and trade-mark rights and to curtail commercial activity involving infringing copies and counterfeit trade-marked goods. More specifically, the enactment

(a) creates new civil causes of action with respect to activities that sustain commercial activity in infringing copies and counterfeit trade-marked goods;

(b) creates new criminal offences for trade-mark counterfeiting that are analogous to existing offences in the Copyright Act;

(c) creates new criminal offences prohibiting the possession or export of infringing copies or counterfeit trade-marked goods, packaging or labels;

(d) enacts new border enforcement measures enabling customs officers to detain goods that they suspect infringe copyright or trade-mark rights and allowing them to share information relating to the detained goods with rights owners who have filed a request for assistance, in order to give the rights owners a reasonable opportunity to pursue a remedy in court;

(e) exempts the importation and exportation of copies and goods by an individual for their personal use from the application of the border measures; and

(f) adds the offences set out in the Copyright Act and the Trade-marks Act to the list of offences set out in the Criminal Code for the investigation of which police may seek judicial authorization to use a wiretap.

The enactment also amends the Trade-marks Act to, among other things, expand the scope of what can be registered as a trade-mark, allow the Registrar of Trade-marks to correct errors that appear in the trade-mark register, and streamline and modernize the trade-mark application and opposition process.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

June 12, 2013 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-56, An Act to amend the Copyright Act and the Trade-marks Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and that, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2014 / 10:40 a.m.
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NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, this bill touches on relatively complex issues such as copyright, intellectual property, trademark rights and the ethical and legal challenges related to Internet regulations. There are many types of counterfeit products, and depending on the case, Canadians can suffer very different consequences. As with the Criminal Code, some infractions could endanger peoples' lives or safety, while others have economic consequences. When it comes right down to it, counterfeiting is a form of fraud and, like all fraud, sooner or later it will affect Canadians' quality of life.

The International Chamber of Commerce “puts the cost of lost tax revenue and additional welfare spending due to counterfeit goods up to USD 125 billion in developed countries alone. And 2.5 million jobs have been lost as a result of fake products.”

Globalization makes it easier for countries to engage in trade, thus considerably increasing the opportunities for this type of activity. The counterfeit products intercepted in Canada in 2012 and seized by the RCMP were worth nearly $40 million a year. That number has increased more than fivefold in the past 10 years, from $7.6 million in 2005 to $38 million in 2012.

By 2015, the International Chamber of Commerce expects the value of counterfeit goods globally to exceed $1.7 billion U.S. That is over 2% of the world's total current economic output.

The government introduced this bill on March 1, 2013, as Bill C-56. Interestingly, that very same day, the U.S. International Trade Administration published a report asking Canada to adopt specific measures in line with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement to combat counterfeiting in Canada. Specifically, it recommended that customs officers be given the necessary authority to intercept suspicious goods.

The problem is that Canada has not yet ratified the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement despite the fact that it signed the agreement on October 1, 2011. For its part, the European Parliament rejected the agreement, which means that neither the European Union nor any of its member states will be able to ratify the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, the United States and Europe, Canada seems to want to have its cake and eat it too by taking a vague position on the importance of combating this phenomenon without talking about the agreement specifically.

The American authorities can certainly suggest that the Canadian government improve its customs services and give them the authority they need to seize or at least intercept products that they suspect are counterfeit, but nothing can force the government to allocate the necessary resources. Without adequate training for officers and additional resources for inspection services, especially the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and customs, they can write whatever they want.

Not only do officers have to know all of the laws in addition to the Customs Act and details about trade agreements that have a bearing on these issues, they also have to have the expertise to recognize problematic situations and counterfeit goods. However, the government is cutting jobs and the agency's budget the same way it is cutting other departments and organizations.

We always get the same answer: the cuts are not affecting services. However, we must not kid ourselves. Border officers did not have these responsibilities before this bill was implemented, and with the staff cutbacks, there are fewer people doing the same amount of work. The agency was asked to cut back by at least 10%, as were all departments and agencies, which has resulted in a shortfall of over $140 million since 2012. The border officers' union said that some 1,000 jobs would be lost over the next few years as a result of those budget cuts.

In fact, that was one of the main criticisms of the members of the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network, a not-for-profit group made up of individuals, businesses and associations that have joined forces to combat fraud, counterfeiting and copyright violations. In a letter to the Minister of Industry prior to the parliamentary committee's study of Bill C-8, which we are currently debating, the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network outlined five contentious issues in the bill, including the lack of resources.

The letter states, and I quote:

While the Bill empowers Canadian customs officers more than before, we are concerned that insufficient resources may be allocated to allow for effective enforcement by CBSA.

We fully agree that more powers need to be given to border services officers. However, they must know what their rights and responsibilities are, since they will have no legal supervision. The agency must also have the resources needed to train them and properly enforce this legislation.

The Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network is currently fulfilling its mandate by helping to train customs officers and members of various police forces to recognize fraud and counterfeit products. In committee, the group's representative expressed his frustration with staff turnover and layoffs. He said:

I'm continually frustrated by the fact that it's like a drop in the bucket. If we go to the Niagara Falls border and train 50 border guards, as we did last year, and then come back in three months, 50% of them have gone on to other jobs, and we start over again. It's very difficult to maintain a level of understanding of what products look like.

They need some help on their side, and we're willing to help them, but we don't have funding either.

Let us be clear: strengthening the rules and legislation on counterfeiting is a good idea, but we have to put words into action.

According to a number of witnesses, the financial burden that comes with penalties and the administrative costs of a seizure falls to the rights owners, who are already stung by the counterfeiting.They therefore become financially responsible for the legislation put in place to protect their rights. The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology heard from several witnesses about that, including Michael Geist, Wayne Edwards and Martin Lavoie.

At the very least, I would like to cite part of the testimony by Michael Geist, who is well known in the field of digital law and copyright:

Further, detention of goods can be used to harm small Canadian businesses that could find the goods they are seeking to import detained, oftentimes by competitors. The absence of a misuse provision in this bill is particularly notable in this regard.

Those remarks were echoed by Martin Lavoie of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association:

...I would like to raise a number of concerns that we and our members have with the bill in its current form.

One of them is about the responsibility of the right holder—or in other words, the victim of counterfeiting—to pay the fees associated with the detention and destruction of goods. We do not understand the rationale for this.

We believe that the importers should be responsible for these costs, since they are the ones introducing these goods into our country in the first place. They should not be given a free ride. Where is the disincentive [for importers of counterfeit products] in that? Moreover, these costs, which will largely be incurred in court proceedings, are likely to be onerous and difficult to support for smaller companies that are the victims of counterfeiting. I know that you've heard this from other witnesses. We share this concern.

That is a concern that we on this side of the House also share. We are going to support this bill at third reading, but it is important to recognize that the bill still has shortcomings that were not corrected by the committee.

The NDP proposed nine amendments, which were all rejected. The only amendments that were accepted were technical amendments. This happens regularly in every committee when the Conservatives see certain flaws in their bills.

Like all opposition parties, our role as the official opposition is not only to oppose—which will not be the case with Bill C-8 since we are going to support it—but also to point out any significant flaws in the text and any negative effects that the government did not take into account when drafting and examining the bill. We therefore strongly criticize the government for failing to listen to the arguments made by the opposition.

We are going to support this bill, since it is a step in the right direction on the important issue of counterfeiting. Given that trade with our major trade partner, the United States, is fairly free, this is a way to coordinate our efforts in the fight against counterfeiting, a practice for which there is no justification. As I mentioned earlier, counterfeiting is a type of fraud that must be dealt with.

Will the government now put words into action? Will it provide the resources necessary to implement this bill and ensure that border and other officials responsible for identifying and seizing counterfeit goods can do their work effectively?

With regard to funding for these agencies, whether it be border services, food inspection or customs as a whole, the government still has a long way to go to ensure that Bill C-8 becomes law and that authorities have the strength and power to enforce it.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2014 / 8:50 p.m.
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NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to debate Bill C-8, An Act to amend the Copyright Act and the Trade-marks Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, the short title of which is the Combating Counterfeit Products Act.

In fact, I am also surprised to be speaking, because I remember very clearly that the Conservatives have had a lot to say about this issue over the years. In 2007, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology submitted a rather lengthy report that said specifically that counterfeiting and piracy were theft. The committee made numerous recommendations to that effect.

What surprises me this evening is that not one Conservative has spoken on this important government bill. This is a bill that was introduced by the Minister of Industry, which is somewhat rare. As well, during the time for questions after each speech, there have been no questions from the government.

As the member for LaSalle—Émard, when I debate a bill, I always ask myself whether it affects the people in my riding. The riding I have the honour and pleasure to represent is very diverse. It is a residential riding, but it has a very large industrial park. There are a lot of businesses in my riding and a lot of small and medium-sized businesses. When I look at this bill to combat counterfeiting, I wonder what impact counterfeiting has on the people in my riding.

There are numerous examples of counterfeiting that I will talk about briefly and that were discussed earlier. There are certain counterfeit products, and a number of cases in the media have shown this, that affect people’s health and safety. Combating counterfeiting means preventing products that could be hazardous to the health and safety of my constituents in LaSalle—Émard from coming in and circulating, and that is very important to me.

There is another perverse effect of counterfeiting: when counterfeit products are in circulation, there are consequences for our economy and intellectual property owners, Canadian companies and companies from elsewhere, that have invested in research and development to create a product, a trademark or a new product for which they hold the patents and the intellectual property—which they own, in a word. If those products and trademarks are copied, there is an economic loss for the owner of the intellectual property.

That is why I rise today to speak to Bill C-8, a bill to combat counterfeiting. I do it on behalf of the people of LaSalle—Émard.

Let us look a little more closely at what the bill is going to do.

(2.11) It is an infringement of copyright for any person, for the purpose of doing anything referred to in paragraphs (2)(a) to (c), to export or attempt to export a copy—of a work, sound recording or fixation of a performer’s performance or of a communication signal—that the person knows or should have known was made without the consent of the owner of the copyright in the country where the copy was made.

This bill has a long history. As I said, there was the big report after which the Copyright Act was changed. That was a very long process. In the last session, the bill was introduced as Bill C-56. Then it was sent to committee. Now it is Bill C-8.

I have been in charge of several files since being elected. I was the science and technology critic and the industry critic. I was a member of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, where I participated in a very long study of intellectual property. During that long study, we had the opportunity to hear from many experts and many witnesses who talked about the importance of protecting intellectual property. They talked about how we could improve that protection. They also emphasized the importance of intellectual property to the Canadian economy, especially in that it stimulates innovation. Intellectual property is often the result of research and development, which is what can make Canada a leader in innovation.

Over the past few years, unfortunately, Canada has lost ground on the innovation front and is no longer a leader. The Canadian Intellectual Property Council pointed that out recently. It mentioned the importance of having a solid framework for protecting intellectual property.

I believe that the copyright bill and Bill C-8, which we are talking about now, are a step in the right direction toward greater protection for intellectual property. The Canadian Intellectual Property Council also says that it is important for small and medium-sized businesses. In Canada, a lot of them do not exercise their rights. They develop innovations, but they may not be aware that their innovations can be patented and can be considered intellectual property. The Canadian Intellectual Property Council would like small and medium-sized businesses to take advantage of this tool, which can help them continue to innovate and profit from intellectual property.

Bill C-8, which was studied in committee, is a step in the right direction to stop counterfeit goods at the border. Now, how does that work in practice?

We noticed that the bill gives increased powers to border services officers so that they can seize counterfeit products. We stressed that this desire to give new powers to border services officers should not just be put in writing, but should also come with the necessary resources.

Some experts wondered what tools should be given to these officers to recognize counterfeit products and what exceptions exist for these products. Also, will expanding their powers give officers the necessary resources to effectively combat counterfeiting?

It is very important to combat counterfeiting effectively, but we must also provide the means to do so in order to protect people's health and safety. I am not sure the current government is prepared to give the Border Services Agency the necessary means to do that.

What will happen once the bill is passed? Will it produce the expected results? Will border services officers be able to shoulder the burden and effectively combat counterfeiting?

As I mentioned, we support the bill because we feel it is important to the health and safety of Canadians. We do not want counterfeit products to be used in Canada and to affect the health and safety of Canadians. We also recognize the impact of those products on the Canadian economy, on certain businesses, and on copyright violations. However, the necessary means must be available.

It is difficult to get a clear idea of the situation with the data from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, for example, or the Canadian Intellectual Property Council, which produced a document on how to stop counterfeiting in the Canadian market. What types of products cross borders? Which products do we manage to intercept?

The NDP made a very good recommendation in committee on how to measure the impact of this bill. Indeed, after its implementation, we will have to find out whether Canada is really combatting counterfeiting effectively. Unfortunately, that recommendation was ignored.

However, I must admit that when the bill was studied in committee, the government agreed to amendments that would clarify the bill. I commend the government for working with us. This shows once again the importance of studying these bills properly in committee in order to make them better. That was done with this bill when it was studied in committee.

This bill deals with imports and exports. It does not deal with the fact that, without realizing it, a person could cross the border with a counterfeit product for his personal use. This bill only deals with large quantities of goods that would be held at the border when they arrive in Canada. We have to make that distinction when debating this bill.

Recently, when I was researching a bill on a free trade agreement, I took note of Canada's trade imbalance. In the past 15 years, Canada's imports of manufactured goods have been increasing steadily.

There used to be manufacturers in Canada. There were foundries and factories that made industrial machinery. In the region where I was born, for example, there was a manufacturer of large industrial machines. At that time, Canada was much more self-reliant in terms of manufacturing production. Instead of relying on imports, Canada was independent, that is to say it had a very strong manufacturing sector. We made the clothes we wore, and we built the machines used to make telephones and all kinds of parts.

In the town where I was born, there was a die casting plant that made parts for snowmobiles, cars and so forth. We no longer have this large manufacturing sector. We import more and more parts from other countries. The trade imbalance is due to the incredibly large number of all kinds of parts that we import, and this makes it increasingly difficult to know under what conditions they are manufactured. These are things I wonder about.

That is why we need a bill like this to fight counterfeiting. Canada is becoming increasingly dependent on parts of all kinds that are used in the manufacture of the equipment we use. Bill C-8 adequately addresses the problems I just raised. It helps protect us from some of these counterfeit parts, drugs and trademarks.

December 2nd, 2013 / 4:25 p.m.
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NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Thank you.

I support amendment NDP-4 introduced by Ms. Charlton.

During the study of Bill C-56, we noted that it was very difficult to understand the scope of counterfeit products, be it in Canada, the United States or anywhere else in the world. We also wondered whether this kind of bill was necessary. We thought so, but we had no solid evidence. Today, we want to ensure that we especially take into account counterfeit products that endanger people's health and safety.

I think an annual report to Parliament is important so that parliamentarians are truly informed as to the effectiveness of measures in place. As well, detailed data will help us have a better sense of the effectiveness of the measures in place and help us determine whether the problem is growing or diminishing.

That is why I wanted to add my voice in support of this NDP proposal.

November 6th, 2013 / 4 p.m.
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Dr. Michael Geist Canada Research Chair, Internet and E-commerce Law, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good afternoon. I am a law professor at the University of Ottawa, where I hold the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law. I have appeared before this committee on a number of occasions and as in past occasions I appear here in a personal capacity representing only my own views.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you about Bill C-8. While the panel may disagree on certain elements of the legislation, I am sure that all agree that where harmful counterfeiting occurs—particularly involving health and safety—the law should provide all concerned with the legal tools necessary to address the problem. Indeed, we should not forget that the existing law in Canada is regularly used to conduct anti-counterfeiting raids and seizures, that border officials—as you heard on Monday—work with the RCMP and Health Canada on health and safety issues through their MOUs, and that the courts in Canada have awarded increasingly significant penalties in counterfeiting cases.

That said, context within a discussion on counterfeiting is important. It's easy, and rather scary as we just saw, to point to the obvious health and safety issues and, based on that, conclude that any available legal remedy should be adopted in response. Yet I'd argue that it's important to recognize that the scope of the problem remains subject to considerable debate, but even more, some proposed solutions may have unintended consequences that are themselves harmful and should be avoided. Moreover, given Minister Moore's insistence on Monday that the bill is about protecting intellectual property on an international scale, the international context, including the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and the proposed trade agreement between Canada and the EU, merits some discussion as well.

Given that need for context, I'll actually shorten my remarks a bit by focusing on two main issues, first highlighting some of those unintended consequences, particularly those that could arise from some of the proposals for amendment that you just heard, and secondly, briefly discuss the international context of ACTA and CETA.

I should add that I won't be discussing the myriad of trademark reforms in the bill, some of which we just heard about, but I frankly think those are out of place in a counterfeiting bill. If the intent was to introduce an omnibus-style intellectual property bill, it should also deal with other live issues, including access to the blind that was the subject of a new international treaty that Canada actively participated in and was agreed to in June of this year, as well as reform of the Copyright Board of Canada that stakeholders on virtually all sides are increasingly calling for.

Let me focus though, as I suggested, on the potential unintended consequences of Bill C-8. I'll start by noting that the exception for individual travellers, the exclusion of patents and in-transit shipments, and the attempt to avoid application to grey market goods—some of the parallel import issues—I think are positive policy choices designed to ensure that the bill targets bad actors and doesn't allow border seizures to raise consumer costs. That said, there are some real concerns about potential unintended consequences, and I wish to highlight four.

First, as you know, the bill vests enormous power in the hands of customs officials, who are not copyright and trademark experts but will now be forced to assess infringement cases, including determining whether any copyright exceptions apply. The bill opens the door to detention of works if created without the consent of the copyright owner and the infringed copyright. Yet there are many works that are in fact created without consent of the owner, but rely upon exceptions such as fair dealing to do so, and are perfectly lawful. That often results in disputes over whether in fact the works infringe, an issue that is frankly best left to the courts and which even the courts often fight over. With this bill, though, it's now customs officials who are asked to make the determination and send the works to the copyright owner to consider whether they think it infringes copyright.

Some have claimed that the powers in this bill are consistent with international standards, yet the reality is that there are a number of countries—including allies such as Australia and Mexico—that do not have the ex officio powers envisioned by this bill in their laws. Using the courts for oversight is still viewed as a workable, legitimate approach to dealing with counterfeiting. As I mentioned, you heard on Monday how the CBSA works with the RCMP and Health Canada on the safety and security concerns. To vest this kind of power in non-expert customs officials, and to go even further as you've just heard, could lead to unintended consequences.

You have heard only today that some want this legislation to go further, including cost-shifting enforcement to the public, ignoring the costs that are borne by small businesses that import goods and could get caught up in the seizures. In fact, even today others have called for even more expansive powers for customs officials, including destruction or forfeiture of goods without court oversight. In my respectful view, these proposals are enormously problematic and would alter the attempt at balance in the bill by removing both important safeguards, shifting private enforcement costs to the taxpayer, and ultimately raising consumer costs.

Further, detention of goods can be used to harm small Canadian businesses that could find the goods they are seeking to import detained, oftentimes by competitors. The absence of a misuse provision in this bill is particularly notable in this regard.

Second, the bill does include an exception for personal travellers. However, the bill is oddly drafted by speaking of “works” rather than “goods”. Both the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and leaked drafts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership focus on physical goods. By focusing on works, it could also cover things like iPod and laptop searches. In fact, if the exception were removed—and there have been some proposals that the exception could be removed—it could lead to escalated searches of iPods, smartphones, and other electronic devices, on personal travellers when they come across Canadian borders.

Third, there are groups, as we just heard, that are arguing for expanded penalties. The bill already moves copyright and trademark into the world of criminal provisions in a manner that extends far beyond what we've had in conventional IP law. Further, some are looking, and we just heard this, for statutory damages for trademark infringement. With respect, statutory damages for trademark are unnecessary. Rights holders frequently cite the value of their goods and the harms associated with counterfeiting. If the claims are accurate, demonstrating the value for the purpose of a damage award should not be difficult. Moreover, other countries that have moved in this area have run into serious problems. For example, Taiwan actually scaled back their statutory damages for trademarks when they found courts awarding disproportionate awards. In the United States, the use of statutory damages for trademarks has led to what is known as trademark trolls, similar to patent trolling. We would engage in litigation primarily designed to obtain costly settlements against small businesses that can often ill afford to fight in court.

Fourth, as you again just heard in some of the debates on what was then Bill C-56, there has been the prospect of removing targeting in-transit shipments. I'd argue that the bill wisely excludes in-transit shipments, and, with respect, a removal of that would be a mistake. The seizure of generic pharmaceuticals in transit would pose a threat to international trade, development, and public welfare. Experience with such seizures in the European Union led, in 2010, to both India and Brazil filing complaints with the World Trade Organization. They highlighted several incidents of consignments of generic medicines that were being transited via the European Union and being detained there.

In fact, Doctors Without Borders reported that in 2008 and 2009 there were at least 19 shipments of generic meds from India headed for other countries that were impounded while in transit in Europe. In one instance, German customs authorities wrongfully seized a drug shipment of amoxicillin, on suspicion that it infringed the brand name Amoxil. The cargo was detained for four weeks during investigation and ultimately revealed there was no trademark infringement. In another instance, Dutch customs authorities seized a shipment of AIDS drugs that were en route from India to a Clinton Foundation project in Nigeria.

In 2011, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled against in-transit seizures on the grounds that there was no infringement in the EU. A similar approach to exclude in-transit seizures is appropriate here, and any arguments that it should be removed, I believe, should be rejected.

Finally, from an international context perspective, notwithstanding some claims that this legislation is responding primarily to domestic concerns, much of the pressure comes from outside the country. Ms. Sgro asked about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, on Monday. In fact, the United States has not yet ratified ACTA. The only country to have done so is Japan. The vast majority of signatories to ACTA, the entire European Union—all their member states—as well as Switzerland, are out. They have rejected the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement through their votes at the European Parliament. There are doubts that ACTA will ever take effect, as it may not even receive the requisite number of ratifications to take effect. Frankly, even if it does, it now stands as damaged goods and a far cry from the relevant international standard that some had hoped. It elicited an enormous public backlash, and Canada would do well to move on.

Perhaps even more relevant is CETA, which apparently contains border provisions consistent with Bill C-8. The problem, as many will know, is that the government has not yet released the CETA text, so there is no way of knowing precisely what is required under that treaty and whether there is room for change under this bill. It is perhaps consistent, but without the text we can't know if alterations to the bill might still fall within treaty requirements.

Finally, there is also the possibility, indeed, some say the likelihood, of border measures provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is also still under negotiation.

The net effect of these international pressures—and with this I'll conclude—is, I would argue, that Canada would do well to pause for the moment until these international treaties are concluded and our obligations with regard to these kinds of border measure provisions are better understood.

I'll stop there, and I would welcome your questions.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActRoutine Proceedings

October 28th, 2013 / 3 p.m.
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Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The Chair is satisfied that this bill is in the same form as Bill C-56 was in the previous session at the time of prorogation of the first session of the 41st Parliament.

Accordingly, pursuant to an order made on Monday, October 21, the bill is deemed read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee.)

Combating Counterfeit Products ActRoutine Proceedings

October 28th, 2013 / 3 p.m.
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Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-8, An Act to amend the Copyright Act and the Trade-marks Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the special order made previously, I would like to inform the House that this bill is in the same form as Bill C-56 was in the previous session at the time of prorogation.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

MOTION THAT DEBATE BE NOT FURTHER ADJOURNEDBUSINESS OF THE HOUSE AND ITS COMMITTEESGovernment Orders

October 21st, 2013 / 3:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I prefer to take a more optimistic approach to characterizing the work of the people here in Parliament. In fact, our members of Parliament, through the months of May and June, actually sat on some occasions as late as 2 a.m. because we agreed to have extended hours in this House. As a result of that, we did not lose a month of debate; we actually gained more than a month of debate.

Good discussions took place here. People debated bills, and bills advanced as a result of the hard work put in by members of Parliament on all sides of the House, as should be acknowledged. As a result, a number of bills enjoyed support from all sides of this House and were able to go to committee. All we are asking is that those same bills be able to go to the same stage they were at thanks to all that hard work. It was the equivalent of well over a month of additional debate that took place in May and June.

An example would be Bill C-56, the combating counterfeit products act, which was there in May and June. As a result of the support of all parties in this House, that bill passed on a voice vote and went to committee. In fact, the NDP member for Scarborough Southwest said, “...we in the NDP do want to see this bill go back to committee...”.

This is the chance to do that, to acknowledge the work that was done by parliamentarians like him in June and to give effect to it by allowing it to be restored at committee as it was in June. It is a bill that would defend the interests of Canadians and it is supported by all parties. That is the kind of bill we are looking to see restored as a result of government business Motion No. 2.

Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2013 / 3:40 p.m.
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York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, for the purposes of facilitating and organizing the business of the House and its committees in the autumn of 2013,

(a) during the thirty sitting days following the adoption of this Order, whenever a Minister of the Crown, when proposing a motion for first reading of a public bill, states that the said bill is in the same form as a bill introduced by a Minister of the Crown in the previous Session, or that it is in the same form as a bill which had originated in the Senate and stood in the name of a Minister of the Crown in this House in the previous Session, if the Speaker is satisfied that the said bill is in the same form as at prorogation, notwithstanding Standing Order 71, the said bill shall be deemed in the current Session to have been considered and approved at all stages completed at the time of prorogation of the previous Session;

(b) in order to bring full transparency and accountability to House of Commons spending, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be instructed to: (i) conduct open and public hearings with a view to replace the Board of Internal Economy with an independent oversight body, (ii) invite the Auditor General, the Clerk and the Chief Financial Officer of the House of Commons to participate fully in these hearings, (iii) study the practices of provincial and territorial legislatures, as well as other jurisdictions and Westminster-style Parliaments in order to compare and contrast their administrative oversight, (iv) propose modifications to the Parliament of Canada Act, the Financial Administration Act, the Auditor General Act and any other acts as deemed necessary, (v) propose any necessary modifications to the administrative policies and practices of the House of Commons, (vi) examine the subject-matter of the motions, which had stood in the name of the Member for Papineau, placed on the Order Paper for the previous Session on June 10, 2013, and (vii) report its findings to the House no later than Monday, December 2, 2013, in order to have any proposed changes to expense disclosure and reporting in place for the beginning of the next fiscal year;

(c) when the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs meets pursuant to the order of reference set out in paragraph (b) of this Order, one Member who is not a member of a recognized party be allowed to participate in the hearings as a temporary, non-voting member of that Committee;

(d) the Clerk be authorized, if necessary, to convene a meeting of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs within 24 hours of the adoption of this Order;

(e) the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be instructed to study the Standing Orders and procedures of the House and its committees, including the proceedings on the debate held on Friday, February 17, 2012, pursuant to Standing Order 51;

(f) the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights be the committee designated for the purposes of section 533.1 of the Criminal Code;

(g) the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics be the committee designated for the purposes of section 67 of the Conflict of Interest Act;

(h) the order of reference to the Standing Committee on Finance, adopted in the previous Session as Private Member’s Motion M-315, shall be renewed, provided that the Committee shall report its findings to the House no later than Wednesday, December 11, 2013;

(i) a special committee be appointed, with the mandate to conduct hearings on the critical matter of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada, and to propose solutions to address the root causes of violence against Indigenous women across the country, and that, with respect to the committee, (i) it consist of twelve members which shall include seven members from the government party, four members from the Official Opposition and one member from the Liberal Party, (ii) the Chair and the Vice-Chairs shall be the same Chair and Vice-Chairs elected by the previous Session’s Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women, (iii) the routine motions respecting committee business adopted on March 26 and April 18, 2013, by the previous Session’s Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women shall be deemed adopted, provided that it may, by motion, vary or rescind their provisions at a later date, (iv) it have all of the powers of a Standing Committee as provided in the Standing Orders, as well as the power to travel, accompanied by the necessary staff, inside and outside of Canada, subject to the usual authorization from the House, (v) the members serving on the said committee be appointed by the Whip of each party depositing with the Clerk of the House a list of his or her party’s members of the committee within ten sitting days of the adoption of this Order, (vi) the quorum be seven members for any proceedings, provided that at least a member of the opposition and of the government party be present, (vii) membership substitutions be permitted to be made from time to time, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2), and (viii) it report its recommendations to the House no later than February 14, 2014;

(j) with respect to any order of reference created as a consequence of this Order, any evidence adduced by a committee in the previous Session shall be deemed to have been laid upon the Table in the present Session and referred to the appropriate committee;

(k) the reference to “September 30” in Standing Order 28(2)(b) shall be deemed, for the calendar year 2013, to read “November 8”;

(l) the reference to “the tenth sitting day before the last normal sitting day in December” in Standing Order 83.1 shall be deemed, for the calendar year 2013, to read “Wednesday, December 11, 2013”; and

(m) on Thursday, October 31, 2013, the hours of sitting and order of business of the House shall be that of a Friday, provided that (i) the time for filing of any notice be no later than 6:00 p.m., (ii) when the House adjourns it shall stand adjourned until Monday, November 4, 2013, and (iii) any recorded division in respect of a debatable motion requested on, or deferred to, October 31, 2013, shall be deemed to be deferred or further deferred, as the case may be, to the ordinary hour of daily adjournment on November 4, 2013.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of government Motion No. 2, and I look forward to the continuation of what has proven to be a productive, hard-working, and orderly Parliament.

This year alone, from the end of January until the end of June, Parliament passed 37 new laws, matching our government's most productive year in office. This, of course, included a budget that will help fuel job creation, grow our economy, and increase Canada's long-term prosperity. Since the last election and the 2011 throne speech, we have witnessed 61 government bills become law. On top of that, an unprecedented 19 private members' bills received royal assent, heralding a renewed empowerment of individual members of Parliament to bring forward initiatives important to them and their constituents. It is a long way from the days when a Prime Minister derisively described backbenchers as “nobodies”, 50 yards off the Hill.

Yesterday's Speech from the Throne has outlined the government's objectives as being those that matter to Canadians. As a new parliamentary session begins, we remain squarely focused on jobs, the economy, and protecting families, while taking pride in the history and institutions that make Canada the best country in the world. Here in the House, these policy objectives will be given legislative expression in the form of bills that will be introduced over the coming weeks, months, and years. As we look forward to implementing the new initiatives outlined yesterday, we also want to ensure that important, unfinished work from the previous session, whether it be bills or committee business, is not forgotten.

Government Motion No. 2 would seek to facilitate and organize House and committee business for the autumn in view of our calendar and circumstances. Government Motion No. 2 proposes that June's unfinished work, in which all parties have an interest, carry on where we left off. I stand here today asking that all opposition parties join me in taking a balanced, principles-based approached to getting Parliament back to work. The bills and committee work I am today proposing be reinstated are those that have received support and praise from members opposite. It is also work that matters to Canadians.

We are not asking that only items proposed originally by the government be reinstated; we are proposing on behalf of all parties that everybody's proposals and initiatives be restored. It is a fair approach. It is a non-partisan approach. In respect of government legislation, paragraph (a) of the motion sets out a procedure for the reintroduction of government bills that advanced in the House in the previous session. In total, up to seven bills from the first session could fall into that category.

What sorts of bills are we talking about here? They are the type of legislation the New Democrats say they are keen to debate all over again. What are they? Let us consider some examples.

As pointed out in the Speech from the Throne, we are deeply committed to standing up for victims of crime and making our streets safer for Canadians. The former Bill C-54, Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act, was designed to make sure that public safety comes first in the decision-making process regarding persons found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder. It would provide additional security for victims and would enhance their involvement in the Criminal Code mental disorder regime.

During the previous session, the NDP and the Bloc agreed with the government and supported the bill. We hope that they will continue to support this important initiative.

In order to protect families and communities, we must also eradicate contraband tobacco from our streets to ensure that children are not exposed to the dangers of smoking through access to cheap packs of illegal cigarettes. That was the goal of the former Bill S-16, Tackling Contraband Tobacco Act, through the creation of mandatory prison sentences for repeat offenders in the trafficking of contraband tobacco. The bill will not only protect children against the dangers of tobacco, but it will also address the more general issue of contraband tobacco trafficking driven by organized crime groups.

A look at the debates at second reading in the Hansard shows that members of the NDP, the Liberal Party and the Bloc spoke in favour of sending the bill to committee. We are counting on their continued support of this initiative and we will adopt a non-partisan approach as Parliament resumes its work.

Former Bill S-10, the prohibiting cluster munitions act, would implement our government's commitments under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, a significant achievement. Over time, the enactment of this convention will save the lives of many thousands of people around the world and will help put an end to the use of a weapon that has shattered the lives of too many innocent civilians.

In the previous session, support for this bill came from the Bloc and the hon. members for Saanich—Gulf Islands, Thunder Bay—Superior North, and Edmonton—St. Albert. We look forward to renewed support from them on this bill as part of our balanced, principle-based approach.

Our government believes in our national museums and we recognize the tremendous value they hold for all Canadians. As we approach Canada's 150th birthday, former Bill C-49, the Canadian museum of history act, offers an unprecedented opportunity to celebrate our history and those achievements that define who we are as Canadians. The Canadian museum of history would provide the public with the opportunity to appreciate how Canada's identity has been shaped over the course of our history. Canadians deserve a national museum that tells our stories and presents our country's treasures to the world.

This bill received support from the hon. members for Saanich—Gulf Islands, Thunder Bay—Superior North, and Edmonton—St. Albert. We look forward again to their continued support.

Our commitment to improving the lives of Canadians from coast to coast continues. In the case of aboriginals, former Bill S-6, the first nations elections act, would provide a robust election system that individual first nations can opt into. The act will help to create a framework that fosters healthier, more prosperous, and self-sufficient aboriginal communities through stronger and more stable and effective first nations governments.

The bill is the product of recommendations developed by the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and a lengthy national engagement campaign with first nations leaders across the country. As we see from Hansard, that bill passed second reading without the opposition even asking for a recorded vote.

The new parliamentary session will see our government stand up for Canadian families and consumers. This includes ensuring they do not fall victim to counterfeit goods. Counterfeit goods hurt our economy, undermine innovation, and undermine the integrity of Canadian brands, and they threaten the health and safety of Canadians on occasion. This is why I am asking that the NDP and Liberal MPs who stood in the House and spoke in favour of former Bill C-56, the combating counterfeit products act, going to committee will agree to allow that to happen again.

By allowing these bills that received varying degrees of support from across the aisle an opportunity to be reinstated, our intention is to finish where we left off on key pieces of legislation important to Canadians—not to enter into partisan gridlock, not to re-debate legislation that has already received support from parliamentarians, but to reinstate and pass bills so that we can move on to new initiatives and deliver results for Canadians.

As I made clear, government Motion No. 2 is about restoring everyone's business. That includes bills and motions that are important to everyone here and, more importantly, to Canadians.

Many of the Canadians I speak with want their elected politicians to work, make decisions, and get on with the important work we were sent to Ottawa to do. I can only imagine the reaction I would get if I told them we had to spend over a dozen days to have the exact same debates we had already had, to make the same decisions we had already taken, to have the same votes we had already voted on, in many of these cases on bills that we all supported.

It would be a remarkable waste. It would seem absurd to anyone in the real world, where efficiency and productivity count for something, but believe it or not, that is what the official opposition wants to do: play partisan games, hold debates that we have already had, and enter into the kind of unproductive and unsavoury political deadlock just witnessed south of the border.

A news article on Tuesday noted that “the NDP is fundamentally opposed” to the legislative component of our balanced approach to restoring the work of all members of Parliament, yet just a few short paragraphs later in the same article, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley is reported to have said he is “not opposed to bringing back some of the legislation”. Which is it? Are New Democrats fundamentally opposed, or are they actually in favour? Is this a matter of principle, or is it really just a matter of partisan gamesmanship? Is it just that some people like to stand and grab attention? I think the answer is obvious.

Our approach to restoring the work of all members also includes the important work that is being done in our committees. This means continuing our commitment to ensuring that taxpayers' dollars are spent efficiently and in a transparent manner.

That is why we are taking action to reinstate the mandate for the procedure and House affairs committee's study on members' expenses, including a special provision for independent members to participate at the meetings of the committee on this issue. We ask all members of the House to support this mandate so that we can increase accountability and transparency in MP disclosures.

Our balanced, principle-based approach to making Parliament work this session will also mean the reappointment of the special committee on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. There is no question that the deaths and abductions of these women are a tragedy that has caused deep pain for many families. By reinstating this committee's work, we are ensuring that this tragedy receives the careful attention it deserves.

Other uncompleted committee mandates flowing from House orders include a private member's motion that would also be revived.

Finally, some scheduling adjustments are proposed. They include items to reconcile some deadlines to our calendar as well as the usual indulgence granted by the House to allow members from a recognized party to attend their party's national convention.

What I have just outlined to you, Mr. Speaker, is a fair and balanced proposal to get Parliament back in the swing of hard work. Government Motion No. 2 is balanced. It is based on a principle, a principle that we will be back where we were in June and that nobody is prejudiced by our prorogation. It is a non-partisan approach, one that would restore everyone's business regardless of their partisan affiliation and regardless of which side of the House they sit on.

June 18th, 2013 / 11:35 a.m.
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Chief Actuary, Office of the Chief Actuary, Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions

Jean-Claude Ménard

First off, we received the proposal contained in Bill C-45 . In some ways, it's a fairly easy change to make because the total cost of the plan stays the same as far as we're concerned, except for new contributors. That cost, however, will materialize over time.

For the first five years, then, the change affecting new contributors isn't as significant as the change in the cost-sharing ratio, which will go from 35/65 to a 50/50 split. We carried out the evaluations that were asked of us.

June 18th, 2013 / 11:05 a.m.
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Jean-Claude Ménard Chief Actuary, Office of the Chief Actuary, Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions

Mr. Chair, honourable members of the committee, good morning. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.

The primary role of the Office of the Chief Actuary is to provide actuarial services to the federal and provincial governments that are Canada Pension Plan stakeholders. While I report to the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, I am solely responsible for the content and actuarial opinions reflected in the reports prepared by my office.

The Office of the Chief Actuary conducts statutory actuarial evaluations—generally, every three years—on the Canada Pension Plan, the Old Age Security Program, and pension and benefits plans covering the federal public service, the Canadian Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, federally appointed judges, and members of Parliament. In addition, whenever a bill is introduced before Parliament that significantly impacts the financial status of a public pension plan under the statutory responsibility of the Chief Actuary, the office must submit an actuarial report to the appropriate minister.

Following the passing of Bill C-45, the Public Service Superannuation Act was amended to increase the pensionable age—from age 60 to 65 in the case of new participants—for contributors entering the plan after January 1, 2013. Member contribution rates will be increased to bring their share of the plan's current service cost from 35% to 50%, thereby splitting the cost 50/50 between the members and the government. The President of the Treasury Board, the Honourable Tony Clement, submitted an actuarial report on March 25, 2013.

In the second half of the 21st century, we experienced remarkable gains in life expectancy and highly decreased mortality rates. In 1965, average life expectancy at age 65 was another 15 years. This means that someone who was 65 years old back then could hope to receive their benefits for 15 years, on average, until the age of 80. At that time, women lived slightly longer than men.

Today, 65-year-old retirees can hope to live another 20 years on average—with women still living slightly longer than men. However, the gap between the two sexes is narrowing quickly. According to projections, taking into account future mortality improvements—that is, future gains in life expectancy resulting from decreasing mortality rates—we could expect an additional three to four-year gain in life expectancy at age 65. Around 2050, based on our projections, people will reach the age of 88—people who were 65 years old 23 years earlier. Canadians are living longer, healthier lives and are working to a more advanced age.

According to the most recent labour force survey from Statistics Canada, the number of Canadians between the ages of 65 and 69 who are working has more than doubled over the last 10 years, increasing from 144,000 in 2002 to 374,000 in 2012. The number of those aged 60 to 64 who are still working also increased significantly to reach one million in 2012. Overall, the number of workers between ages 60 and 69 has more than doubled over the last 10 years, increasing from 600,000 to 1.4 million.

In any case, whether the focus is on a pay-as-you-go plan or a fully funded plan, a defined benefit or a defined contribution solution, or a public or private sector pension plan, it's clear that increased longevity will continue to put pressure on pension plan financing.

Thank you very much again for the opportunity to appear before the committee.

I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

June 17th, 2013 / 4 p.m.
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NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Thank you, but I am going to continue anyway in order to inform everyone, since there are people entering and leaving the room.

The third possibility is to not consider the bill. If all of the members of the committee had been against Bill C-425, the committee would have had the right to not continue its study, on that basis.

The fourth possibility, which is the topic of the current debate, is to ask for a single extension of 30 sitting days, and provide the reasons for that. That is what is currently being proposed. The request has been justified because of a considerable expansion in the scope of the bill. The scope of Bill C-425 has been considerably broadened, and that is why we are being asked for an extension of 30 sitting days.

The fifth possibility is subsidiary. I hope everyone understands the legal definition of “subsidiary”. It is something that is included by default. If nothing is done in the 60 days following referral to the committee, by default, it may be considered that the bill has been reported without amendment.

Mr. Chair, the problem is that on this side, we are against the 30-day extension period. Bill C-425 may have been unanimously approved, but that is not the case for its amendments. What is being proposed is practically a new bill and a new legal context. During those 30 additional days, in my opinion, it would have been preferable to submit a new bill. The government chose to not submit a new bill, but rather to resort to what one might call a “mammoth” procedure...

June 17th, 2013 / 4 p.m.
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NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Chair, there will be three parts to my statement. The first concerns the text of the motion you have before you. My second point will be about the philosophy of law, and thirdly, I will conclude with an analogy.

Standing Order 97.1(1) lists five distinct elements regarding dealing with a bill. These are possibilities, not absolute obligations. This regulatory text does not state that it must necessarily be 30 days. There are other possibilities, and I am going to discuss all of them, with your permission.

In the first possibility, we must report on the amendments in the 60 days following the reference. Parliamentarians sitting in committee may decide to debate a bill and submit amendments to it, and then send it back to the House in the 60 days that follow. That is where we were heading with Bill C-425 before Mr. Dykstra's motion and the amendments to the bill submitted by the department were introduced. At first, Bill C-425 was heading toward that first eventuality, i.e. that we report the bill to the House, with amendments, in the 60-day period following its reference to committee.

The second possibility evoked in Standing Order 97.1(1) provides that we report without amendment in the 60 days following the bill's reference to the committee. In this case this means that Bill C-425 would have been such a good bill that it would have garnered unanimous consent around the table, and all of the parliamentarians would have approved it without any amendment and referred it to the House; the House of course maintains its right to debate it.

Those are the two most frequent procedures used in dealing with a bill.

June 13th, 2013 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Madam Chair, again, pointing to relevancy on page 1049 of O'Brien and Bosc, I believe the committee recommended to the House on April 23, 2013, that it be granted the power to expand the scope of the bill during its consideration of Bill C-425 . Therefore, the committee is waiting for the decision of the House before further consideration of the bill. Therefore, the motion put in front of the committee is to extend the time in which the bill will be considered in order to accommodate exactly what my colleague is talking about. Therefore, given that she, according to my understanding, is agreeing with the content therein, I would also argue relevancy on her current line of debate.

June 13th, 2013 / 3:30 p.m.
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NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Absolutely, Madam Chair. Maybe I should clarify.

When I'm speaking of some of the items that are identified in the bill and why it's relevant to the motion at hand requesting an extension of further debate and why it's not necessary is that the amendments the government has put forward have changed the scope of the bill. I didn't want to repeat myself because I had mentioned this, and I figured my honourable colleague had heard and understood that part.

When the scope of a bill is changed so dramatically in committee that it doesn't make sense, it isn't necessary to give that extra time because it's deemed to be a different bill. It doesn't make sense for us to debate this new bill that wasn't presented to the House.

The committees are creatures of the House of Commons chamber itself. When a committee receives a bill from the House and the committee decides to.... I know that committees are masters of their own destiny; however, they are creatures of the House. When a committee receives a bill, such as Bill C-425, in its original form and then the committee—because there's a majority of government members and they have introduced multiple amendments that have changed the bill so much that the scope of the bill has changed from the original bill—it doesn't need to report that back. That is why, Madam Chair, it is important for us to have this discussion today and say that it's not necessary for this motion—

Business of the HouseOral Questions

June 13th, 2013 / 3:10 p.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is nice to have that level of civility. I congratulate my friend across the way.

Before asking the usual Thursday question and before the government House leader across the way starts to talk about how he has been able to abuse Parliament over the past week, I would like to make a small observation for all those listening.

Of all the bills I am sure he is about to mention that are important, not a single bill passed through this legislative process in anything resembling a normal fashion. Bills S-8, S-15, S-17, S-2, S-6, S-10, S-16, C-56 and C-60, every single bill we have debated in the past week, operated under time allocation. I might parenthetically add that seven of them came from the Senate. It seems like a strange place for the government to get its agenda: a bunch of unelected, under-investigation senators, but so be it. It is the government's choice.

We tried to work with the government to find ways to allow the House to debate bills and to do so expediently. A good example is the Sable Island as a national park bill. For example, we offered up about five or six speakers who wanted to address the merits of the bill, which would have allowed the passage of that bill after they had spoken. The reaction from the leader from the other side was to move time allocation, which in fact ended up taking up more time in the House than the offer the NDP had made would have taken.

The Conservatives' strategy is sometimes bizarre. In fact, it is hard to figure out whether it is a strategy or not. I would like the Conservative member to enlighten me on this, even though the Conservatives' responses have no merit.

We have spent more than 14 hours debating and voting on time allocation motions in the past two weeks alone. I find it ironic that the government allots only five hours of debate to the content of the bill under time allocation, when the vast majority of our time is spent debating and voting on the time allocation motions and not on the bills. That is the Conservatives' way of doing business.

When will the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons learn that a hammer is not the only tool available for getting the work done?

Could the leader of the government tell us what his plans are for this week and the week following?