An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting)

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

This bill was previously introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session.


Joe Comartin  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Third reading (Senate), as of June 11, 2013
(This bill did not become law.)


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

This enactment repeals paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code to make it lawful for the government of a province, or a person or entity licensed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council of that province, to conduct and manage a lottery scheme in the province that involves betting on a race or fight or on a single sport event or athletic contest.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

March 23rd, 2021 / 11:20 a.m.
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Kerry-Lynne Findlay Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

The NHL voiced opposition to Bill C-290 back in 2012 when I was also on this committee. That bill is similar to the one before us today. I know you touched on this before, but could you explain why the NHL has changed its stance on single-event sports betting?

I'm just giving you a little more time to speak to that.

March 23rd, 2021 / 11:15 a.m.
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Kerry-Lynne Findlay Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

Thank you to all the witnesses for being here. I know you all have very busy lives, but we do appreciate it as we study this bill.

This question is for either of the NHL witnesses to answer.

The NHL voiced opposition—you mentioned this in your opening remarks—to Bill C-290, a similar bill to the one before us. That was back in 2012. I was on this very committee at the time, so I remember it, but that was then and this is now. I'm wondering if you want to take a little more time to explain why the NHL has changed its stance on single-event sports betting.

That is for Mr. Wachtel or Mr. Berberich.

March 9th, 2021 / 12:35 p.m.
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Élisabeth Brière Liberal Sherbrooke, QC

In 2014, the Senate blocked Bill C-290, which was very similar to Bill C-218. The senators felt that there was too much potential for match fixing or for organized crime to infiltrate the world of legal betting by rigging sporting events, including horse racing. One concern was that horses would pay the price for this potential rigging with their health.

How would you respond to these allegations today?

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

November 3rd, 2020 / 5:35 p.m.
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Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Madam Speaker, I look forward to the return of the Nordiques, especially since, in my opinion, Alain Côté's goal was legal.

Having said that, such short, clear and succinct bills rarely generate that much interest and debate. Bill C-218 consists of three clauses. The first tells us its title, the safe and regulated sports betting act. The third and final clause states that this act comes into force on a date to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council. All the substance of the bill is found in the second clause, which states that paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code is to be repealed. It is pretty straightforward. It is simple, but Bill C-218 is like a ghost haunting the halls of Parliament.

It started in 2011. At the time, so during the 40th Parliament, we had Bill C-627. The bill that had been introduced had the same objectives, but it was never debated.

There was a second attempt during the 41st Parliament, in 2013. That was Bill C-290, but it died in the Senate in October 2014.

During the 42nd Parliament, in other words, the last session of Parliament, there was Bill C-221, but it did not pass second reading on September 21, 2016.

Today, under the 43rd Parliament, we are back with Bill C-218. Hopefully, we can finally make an informed and effective decision on this bill.

Unsurprisingly, the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of the bill. It will do so because we have to take reality into account. The bill is in line with the legislative movement in the world. Our American neighbours already have laws allowing sports betting on a single sport. The attempt to end this practice was settled by the U.S. Supreme Court on May 14, 2018, with the Murphy v. NCAA decision. That court ruled that it was unconstitutional for Congress to ban sports betting. Americans can therefore do this.

It is 2020 and people in France and England can place bets online. Earlier, in the lobby, I spoke to someone who made bets on a site based in Gibraltar, so we no longer need to meet someone in our city to bet. Now, it can be done everywhere in the world, and it is even easier in the United States.

Our neighbours to the south are competing unfairly Quebec and Canada in the gaming industry. Quebec has always been somewhat concerned about the pathological aspect of gambling and the use of that money. My Conservative colleague spoke about $14 billion. In Quebec, we are talking about $27 million a year, which is no small amount. What is more, we have always felt that this money should not go into the pockets of organized crime but should instead be replenishing the government coffers.

Quebec therefore set up an institution called Loto-Québec, which manages gaming in Quebec. However, the gaming industry in New York state and the entire online gaming industry are currently competing unfairly with Loto-Québec. It is time for that to stop.

Bill C-218 seeks to regulate gaming and make it safer for the people who engage in it. My intention is not to say that betting is a virtue, but it does exist. It always has and it always will. Our job as legislators is to regulate it as best we can.

I will now go back to what I was saying at the beginning of my speech. The title of Bill C-218 is as follows: safe and regulated sports betting act. In my opinion, we must ensure that this industry is regulated so we can better protect the players. It is a major industry around the world.

We want to avoid unfair competition, regulate gaming more effectively and be part of the global movement.

There was a situation in Quebec less than a year ago, in December 2019, involving an 18-year old man from Laval who racked up an online gambling debt of $80,000. When online gambling debts are controlled by the mob, the interest rate ranges from 3% to 5% a week and the debt increases exponentially. That is a scourge that we need to tackle.

This young many obviously did not have the means to pay that kind of money and ended up committing suicide in his home. He ended his life because he was unable to manage his gambling debt and he feared the worst for the safety of his family and the people around him. The website in question was tied to the Montreal Mafia.

We do not want that. Our responsibility as legislators is to prevent situations like that from happening again. The National Assembly of Quebec decided to tackle this problem as best it could. In 2016, it passed Bill 74 to regulate gambling in Quebec. However, the Superior Court of Quebec deemed the bill to be illegal because it did not fall within Quebec's jurisdiction. According the court, Quebec did not have the authority to prohibit gambling.

Quebec's hands are therefore tied. There is a pathological addiction to gambling among people who play. We want to control this problem, and we have some expertise through casinos and commercial lotteries. However, we need the additional tool of Bill C-218 to prevent situations as sad as the one of this 18-year-old young man.

In Quebec, we are talking about $27 million, but my colleague was talking about $14 billion. No matter how many millions or billions of dollars we leave to organized crime, I think it is a disgrace and that we owe it to ourselves to take back this jurisdiction and ensure that people play safely within a well-regulated framework.

Some parliamentarians opposed to the bill have concerns about cheating. I would just like to point out that section 209 of the Criminal Code already prohibits cheating at play. This risk already exists, and will always exist, even after Bill C-218 is passed, and so I do not think this is a problem that should concern us.

We must instead ensure that people who gamble do so within a safe and regulated framework and that the profits from gambling do not end up in organized crime, but remain in government coffers to benefit the citizens of Quebec and Canada.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

June 16th, 2016 / 5:35 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario


Bill Blair LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to private member's bill, Bill C-221. After carefully considering the bill and reviewing the earlier debate on the subject, I want to advise the House that I cannot and will not be supporting it. The bill would amend the Criminal Code to authorize a province or territory to conduct betting on a single sporting event, which is sometimes called “head-to-head betting”. Bill C-221 would essentially replicate former Bill C-290 of the previous Parliament.

The bill would delete paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code, meaning that the current prohibition on provinces and territories against conducting single-event sports betting would be removed. Currently, section 207 of the Criminal Code authorizes provinces and territories to conduct betting on multiple sporting events, which is normally called “parlay betting”. The current gambling provisions in the Criminal Code criminalize all other forms of gambling, except those that are specifically authorized by the Criminal Code.

I understand that the provinces and territories would stand to gain a substantial increase in gambling revenues if Bill C-221 were to pass. For casinos that have proximity to a city in the United States that has no legal, single-event sports betting, there could be a strong market advantage. Canadian border cities with casinos might see some additional economic development benefits.

While I appreciate the economic advantages that the proposed reform could bring about, the big concern I have to share is the impact that this proposed change could have on individuals and families, the social costs of gaming.

I would like, now, to turn to the very important issue of gambling addiction.

The dangers involved with gambling addictions are serious and profound. Problem gambling is associated with mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and suicide. It can also affect family and marital relationships, work and academic performance, loss of material possessions, and it can lead to bankruptcy and, certainly, crime.

Provinces and territories spend millions of dollars toward the prevention and treatment of problem gambling. They offer a variety of services and treatments that have been derived from many different methods of counselling and therapy to assist those who have a compulsive gambling problem, as well as family members of those who suffer from this problem.

Youth are particularly vulnerable to the problems arising from gambling. A 2014 study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, CAMH, in Toronto, found that 35% of students in grades 7 to 12 gambled at least once in the past year. Another study found that a quarter of Ontario students with gambling problems reported a suicide attempt in the past year, roughly 18 times higher than in the general population.

I believe that if Bill C-221 were to pass, the costs to the provinces and territories would inevitably increase. More important, the cost to individuals, families, and society would increase.

We must also consider the issue of illegal bookmaking. Illegal bookmakers enjoy a monopoly on single-event sports betting. Police report that bookmakers are connected to organized crime.

We know that numerous Canadians illegally bet on single-event games. In my view, even if Bill C-221 were to pass, the vast majority of those who bet with illegal bookmakers would continue to do so. This is because bookmakers extend their credit directly to the bettor, unlike the provinces and territories. Illegal bookmakers also have lower overhead costs and can offer more favourable betting odds. Bill C-221 would do nothing to change the attractions offered by illegal bookmakers.

Sports leagues are rightly concerned to ensure that there is no match fixing. Professional sports leagues previously have strongly opposed similar bills. They have argued that allowing single-game betting would open a Pandora's box of match fixing and social problems associated with gambling. The integrity of sport is critical to maintaining the interest, respect, and loyalty of sports fans.

In my view, while the sponsor's stated objectives are indeed laudable, the proposals would not achieve the desired objectives without doing significant harm to society and increasing the already high social costs of gambling. For that reason, I will not be supporting the bill and do not recommend that it be sent forward to a legislative committee for its consideration.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 19th, 2016 / 5:55 p.m.
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Charlottetown P.E.I.


Sean Casey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am rising today to contribute to the debate on Bill C-221, an act to amend the Criminal Code with regard to sports betting, sponsored by the member for Windsor West.

During my remarks, I will be highlighting the concerns I have with the proposed reforms. The government will be opposing the bill.

As Canadian law now stands, single-event sports betting is illegal. However, provinces and territories may offer another type of sports betting, known as parlay betting, to their residents. Parlay betting requires the bettor to correctly predict the outcome for a number of games in order to win. Parlay betting offers bettors an opportunity to participate in a legal and provincially or territorially controlled betting environment.

Single-event sports betting involves betting on the outcome of one single game, such as a game in the Stanley Cup finals. This private member's bill proposes to repeal paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code, which prohibits betting on a single sporting event. If enacted, the amendment would allow a province or territory to offer this type of betting, if it chose to do so.

In Canada, provinces are responsible for operating, licensing, and regulating most legal forms of lottery schemes. Each province determines the types, amount, and location of this kind of gambling activity within the province. If single-event sports betting were permitted, each province would be left to determine how to implement this reform.

There are a whole host of issues that need to be considered when looking at legislative changes to the gambling provisions in the Criminal Code. The impact of Bill C-221 on issues such as match-fixing and problem gaming would be best examined in conjunction with provinces and territories, which would be responsible for single-event sports betting.

The amendment proposed in Bill C-221 may be familiar to many parliamentarians because the same reform was proposed in former private member's Bill C-290 and before that in former private member's Bill C-627, both of which were sponsored by Joe Comartin, the former member for Windsor—Tecumseh.

During debate and committee study of Bill C-290 in the Senate, senators and witnesses raised concerns with regard to the proposed reform. For example, the Senate Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights considered Bill C-290 in 2011, and it heard that the NCAA, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, and the Toronto Blue Jays, on behalf of Major League Baseball, were all against this proposed reform.

The major concern for these leagues was that the proposed reform could affect the integrity of their games. The government shares these same concerns.

It is possible, as suggested by many sports leagues, that legalizing single-event sports betting could encourage gamblers to fix games, especially in areas where players do not earn a lot of money and may be more susceptible to bribes. The current parlay system of betting makes it unattractive to fix a game, because the only way to achieve a guaranteed payout would be to rig multiple events, which would be much more difficult to accomplish. Single-event sports betting would make a fraudster's task easier, since only one event would need to be fixed.

I believe it is very important to ensure that the integrity of the game is sedulously fostered, and I believe that we should oppose legislation that may significantly affect this integrity.

One of the sponsor's stated objectives is to stimulate the economy and to bring American consumers to Canada. The provinces and territories would stand to gain economic benefits from the proposed reform, but the question arises: at what cost and, specifically, at what social cost?

Studies suggest that 3% to 5% of Canadians are at risk for problem gambling, and 30% to 40% of gambling revenues come from that small percentage. In 2011, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto filed a letter with the Senate committee studying the former Bill C-290 and indicated that the empirical evidence in the field demonstrated that an increase in legal gambling opportunities could lead to an increase in problem gambling. The letter indicated a concern for sports betting in particular.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health reported an Ontario study that found that people with incomes of less than $20,000 per year were the least likely to gamble. However when they did, they were more likely to experience problems than those in higher income brackets.

These statistics indicate that the cohort of Canadians in the lower income bracket who gamble are the most vulnerable for experiencing problem gambling issues.

As well, individuals who live at or below the poverty line have little or no disposable income to spend on gambling. The amount spent on gambling takes a bigger bite out of their monthly budget. For someone making $20,000, spending even $1,000 a year on gambling is a very significant percentage of their disposable income.

Opposing this bill means protecting our most vulnerable citizens.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health also demonstrated that people, now patrons of illegal bookmakers, would likely continue to do so because of easy access to credit, convenience, and better odds.

The suggestion that this reform would be funnelling money away from organized crime and redirecting it into provincial coffers is clearly not strong enough to rationalize supporting the bill. In short, this proposed reform would bring about more gambling and would contribute to the many ills in society brought about by problem gambling.

While I appreciate that many would see these changes as a welcome way to stimulate the economy and to fund provincial activities, I do not believe that it should be supported. As such, I would ask members to join me in opposing this private member's bill.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 19th, 2016 / 5:35 p.m.
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Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

moved that Bill C-221, an act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-221, the safe and regulated sports betting act.

I served in the municipality of Windsor for two terms and have served in the House for six terms. One of the things I have noted as a member of Parliament and formerly as a city councillor is that we often have time, energy, and opportunity to vote about spending in these institutions, including this one. This bill would give us a chance to increase revenues by taking them away from organized crime and putting them into the coffers of the provinces, should they so choose.

I am talking about the underground economy, the organized crime economy, and that of offshore betting that is taking place for single event sports. It is common culture in Canada, North America, and across the globe, but it is not regulated here.

The bill is an opportunity to redirect to the provinces approximately $10 billion which is going to organized crime, and that is a modest estimation. There is another $4 billion from overseas accounts and betting that is unregulated. Some are seeking regulation. The provinces could use that money for health care, education, infrastructure, for public projects that we support. This would dismantle a significant, if not the most profound, basis of monetary support for organized crime.

That is what we are talking about in the bill. It is not just fun, not just jobs, not just the reality that is taking place in other jurisdictions at our expense; it is about taking away the capability of organized crime to affect our society.

The bill was formerly Bill C-290, which was brought forward by my colleague Mr. Joe Comartin, the former member for Windsor—Tecumseh and the former deputy speaker. That bill passed unanimously in the chamber. It went through this chamber, went to committee, came back from committee and went through this chamber again and on to the Senate. It made it to the Senate, but there just was not enough time to pass it into law. We have had to table the bill in the House again to make sure that we get the job done. It is my pleasure to do so.

Things have changed. When we look at illegal gaming globally, it is a $500-billion industry, half a trillion dollars, not only in North America, but also in China and other jurisdictions. It is a trough fund that often goes to organized crime or other businesses that are unregulated and unaccountable. We know taxes have been a big issue in this chamber over the last number of weeks. They are not necessarily paying the taxes that they should. It is important to know that.

Currently, Las Vegas has a monopoly on this product for North America. There is the Super Bowl and other jurisdictional betting that has been taking place. There are around 30 million visitors to that area. There are significant revenues coming from tourism on top of that. It is not just the actual wagering that is taking place, but it is the tourism as well.

The bill would protect our jobs and economy. We have 250,000 jobs directly or indirectly related to the gaming industry in Canada. We are talking about places like Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Windsor, Niagara, Montreal, Halifax, and Charlottetown. Some people think these are just entry level jobs, that they are not significant enough to look at. How more wrong could they be?

There are value-added trained jobs that require education from our colleges and our universities. There is web design. There are slot attendants, cashiers, and blackjack dealers in a casino, and also industries outside that which are related to tourism.

I apologize for my voice, Mr. Speaker, but I was coaching hockey this weekend and it is hard to get 11-year-olds and 13-year-olds off the ice. I would say to my colleagues that it is a lot of fun but it takes a lot of energy.

When we look at the sports information industry itself, we see online sports information, statisticians, odds-makers, journalists, web-tech supporters, and marketing. All those things are so important for our value-added economy. They are also jobs where people can actually have benefits, a salary, and contribute to a pension, something all of us in this House agree should happen. Often there are pensions that relate to the private sector, a growth sector where we need to have pensions for the sustainability of our economy.

This bill has a number of different elements which the provinces could choose if they wanted to. There is nothing in this bill that would make the provinces do anything. It is all about choice. Right now in the federal Criminal Code there is a prohibition to betting on a single event sport or games. To do that, people go to the underground economy, whether it be organized crime or other types of venues, or with the click of a mouse they can go offshore somewhere. Canadians, Americans, and people across this planet enjoy single wager sports.

All that revenue is lost, unaccounted for, and does not lead to the results we need as a country. With that type of revenue stream, we would also have accountability. Most important, we would have the reduction of crimes committed from this unregulated activity. In Canada, that is $10 billion in organized crime and nefarious betting. Offshore we are talking about $4 billion and we do not know where it goes. We take that element and create jobs that have taxable income, that pay benefits, that deliver pensions, that bring in tourism. It would ensure that the billions of dollars of infrastructure that we have in our gaming facilities would be protected.

This is coming to the United States. It is not just Nevada that has a toehold and is alone in this. There are others, like New Jersey, that are moving toward this target, and others will soon follow. There is no doubt about it. Coming from Windsor, I can say that we watched as the province twiddled its thumbs about building a new conference centre, and Detroit went ahead and did it and took our market share quite significantly. We still do well with a good brand, a good industry, and most important, great customer service that creates a number of jobs. However, if we do not do this, we will lose out. We will lose billions of taxpayer dollars in infrastructure. That is not smart.

When we think about having a regulated environment, it is not just somebody in a bar, in a back room, or a basement who collects these bets. We are talking about going to gaming authorities of the provinces that choose to do so where they have age controls. Right now, if people want to make a single sports bet in our country, does anyone think that organized crime, bookies, or agents are carding people to make sure they are 18 years of age? I do not think so. I do not think that is happening. They will prey on those who want to bet. With legalized regulated betting, there are age controls in place, sports security in place, monitoring of lines, and regular wager bets that take place. That is accountability. Gaming authorities across Canada are the largest contributors to player education programs and self-exclusion programs.

People can actually go to the websites of the provinces that regulate this and get face identification. That is important. If people want to opt out of gaming and tell the associations they want to be prohibited from entering into casinos or other betting venues, they are allowed to do that. They can do it in the privacy of their homes. It is a self-awareness protection program. There is staff training that takes place to ensure that does not happen.

The scope of criminal activity associated with organized crime is best detailed by a quote that I have by Detective Inspector L.D. Moodie, who spoke at a Gambling, Law Enforcement Systems Issues Conference. He stated:

Illegal gambling, while appearing to be a minor part of a Traditional Organized, is actually a foundation upon which most other illicit activities are supported. Illegal bookmaking, card dens and video gambling machines are Traditional Organized Crime's main source of revenue. Illegal gambling and related crimes such as loan sharking, money laundering and corruption provide working capital to invest in more legitimate enterprises, thereby strengthening their entire illicit operation.

They use that to transfer the funds to other operations, sometimes legal, sometimes not.

He further stated:

At least 8 murders have been committed in the Toronto area over the past 3 years that can be directly related to Organized Crime members dealing with the illegal gambling industry, whether by gambling debts or turf wars between the different Organized Crime Groups.

Plain and simple, there is a direct correlation. Do we allow this to simply happen, or do we take a stand here today and decide as members that we are not going to spend revenue on an issue. We get a lot of those bills, and that happens, which is a good thing, because they are good issues about changing Canada. That is not a criticism. However, in this unique case, we have found in all the evidence that we are simply shifting money away from organized crime and offshore accounts and putting it toward our public systems that are important.

By the way, the offshore accounts are not insignificant. If we were to google Canadian sports betting sites, does anyone know many hits we would get? We would get 530,000 hits for sports betting sites alone. On Canadian sports betting sites alone, we would get hits including Bodog, bet365, Pinnacle, and Betway.

Even more importantly, if we look at organizations, the NBA, for example, supports a regulated environment. It is saying it wants to be regulated to ensure that the quality of its product is not influenced by illegal factors. Knowing that this is the future, it wants to work with the government to do it. We could go to other sites, like the NHL site DraftKings. We could go on the NHL site right now and actually make a bet on the DraftKings website.

There have been major issues raised in the United States, other provinces, and other jurisdictions around the world that are now concerned with this unregulated environment that has no accountability. Forget about the Isle of Man, the Bahama issues, the Panama papers. We are talking about an annual stream of sports wagering that, if we do nothing, will continue to fester and undermine the intentions of the House and other provincial houses that are asking for this. They are asking for the right to do this. All we are doing is allowing that facilitation.

I do not understand. I can bet on three games in Ontario, which I will most likely lose, because with my betting skill that is usually what happens. I could bet on two games, which again would result in the same situation, I am sure. I can pretty well guarantee the success of an other team because I would pick the team that loses, on a single sports bet. That is, unfortunately, my history.

In all seriousness, it does not make any sense. It was borne from the frustration of dealing with problems from a time long past. Today we need to deal with reality, and that reality has been brought together.

In conclusion, because the bill does not require that money be spent but would create new revenue, it is supported by the Canadian Labour Congress and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. It is very unique, very real, and it would be very wise for us to move it forward.

Concurrence in Vote 1—The SenateMAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16Government Orders

June 8th, 2015 / 6:50 p.m.
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Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question was simply to Bill C-290, not other things. I would like the minister to respond to that. Why has it not passed? It is as simple as that.

Concurrence in Vote 1—The SenateMAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16Government Orders

June 8th, 2015 / 6:50 p.m.
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Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would simply like to ask the parliamentary secretary about a bill that was passed here three years ago in the House of Commons, Bill C-290, the single sports betting bill. It would delete one sentence in the Criminal Code and would allow provinces to, if they wanted to, negotiate to have single sports betting.

The bill has been in the Senate for three years. It was passed here unanimously. It went through the House of Commons. The member actually agreed with it. Why has the bill not been passed by the Senate? It was democratically approved by the House of Commons and is now being blocked by Liberals and Conservatives in the Senate. It is costing jobs, employment and a series of things related to organized crime benefiting, as well as offshore betting, but it has not been passed. It has been three years in the Senate.

I would like the parliamentary secretary to understand and respond to us directly on Bill C-290. Why can he not get that passed in the Senate? Why has the Senate denied it? I would like to know.

Tourism IndustryAdjournment Proceedings

June 2nd, 2015 / 7:45 p.m.
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Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is just phenomenal. It is a simple question about how much is in the connecting America plan, and we still do not have an answer.

All we want to know is what the Conservatives have set aside in terms of public money for the connecting America plan, and they still will not provide that information. That shows us that there is no plan and that there is no commitment to it. We know that the Canadian Tourism Commission has had its budget cut by 27% by the government.

Again, Bill C-290, the single sports betting bill, is something that I specifically asked the minister about. He can throw out all of the numbers that he wants, but why has that legislation not passed in the Senate for three years? It will affect tourism in Niagara Falls. It is going to affect tourism in Windsor. It is going to affect tourism in Essex County.

British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario have called for this measure. All it would do is allow an opportunity for those governments to engage in discussions for a single sports betting game venue, which is taking place in the United States and will usurp billions of dollars of infrastructure that we have had for our industry.

May 28th, 2015 / 11:15 a.m.
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Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON


With regard to the tourism file, I raised the question with regard to Bill C-290, which is in the Senate and it's languishing. It's a real problem for many tourist destinations that we're competing with Americans and they're moving forward on single-sports betting. There was an attempt at the Canadian Tourism Commission at one point to move towards more international visitation. Now it seems that we're going to return to some more strategies on American visitation. Can you maybe highlight a little bit about that?

Red Tape Reduction ActGovernment Orders

January 26th, 2015 / 5:25 p.m.
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Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Surrey North, and I am pleased to do so.

I am pleased to speak about Bill C-21. It is an interesting issue. The vast majority of Canadian businesses are small businesses. They employ millions of people. Some employ just one, sometimes two, and sometimes more. It is a vital part of the economy that we have to take care of.

The government website says it all. It has nice cute little scissors cutting red tape and talking about the one-for-one rule. I want to address that to start with.

What is red tape? Red tape can actually prevent yellow tape, yellow tape being sickness, death, or something else. Regulations have been put on products, services, and the way we go about doing business because of problems or issues. We have seen that most recently with food safety, rail, and aviation.

A number of times we have needed to bring in rules. Some of those rules are important. In fact, I want to point to an example of something I worked on when I first got to Parliament, and that was the tax deductibility of fines and penalties. It used to be the case in Canada that people were able to get a tax credit of up to 15% for a fine or penalty they incurred that went through the judicial system.

For example, if my memory serves me correctly, there was a drug company that got $11 million back from a $40 million fine. That is unfair, not only in terms of taxpayers but also for the companies that are actually following the proper regulations and rules and doing the right thing. It would be akin to getting a speeding ticket going to work and being able to write half of it off.

The reality is that the rule is the rule. If people are caught breaking it, then it is a problem. There are two ends to this. The regulation is in place and it is an issue for some businesses to actually get the paperwork and get the regulation through their process. However, there is also the unfair competition aspect, where people are breaking the rules and regulations, taking shortcuts, and putting people's health and safety at risk, and those people are rewarded for that type of behaviour. We end up paying for that in a couple of ways. We pay for it on the front end, with the loss of revenue that could go to other types of things. We also lose by paying for the damage that the improper product or service led to, whether it be a health care cost or an insurance cost.

This is a problem with the ideology of the one-for-one rule. The one-for-one ideology does not take into account new product development, innovation, and change that is necessary at different times. Look at how far electronic products have come over the last number of years.

We have also had changes in the types of materials we have. Sometimes it has been quite positive. Mercury is an example. If we did not have regulations in place, we would end up with more of it in our landfills.

I would argue that regulations can also protect some of our trade. We know from the work we have done in the industry committee that some illegal products, often those coming from China or other places, do not follow some of the regulations, which ends up costing us. Mercury in batteries is a good example. We end up paying for that, at the end of the day. There are even cases where knock-off products were used in hospitals. If the regulatory process is not in place, it can actually create other problems.

The government can help small business. I want to point to products and services it could actually bring in and implement that would be a benefit for them. On the services aspect of the government, small business is hurting. I will use a couple of examples from my constituency. There has been the closing of mail sorting and the raising of the price of stamps.

Right there we have a significant issue that impacts small business far greater than filling forms. When small businesses do their transactions now, their banking, their outreach to the community, they often use door-to-door delivery. Whether it is a pizza place, or a new business, often those flyers are the ones that hit our doors. The postal service is used for that.

The door-to-door delivery is one of the greatest assets for outreach. If there are five or six people working in a small business, or it is a new pizza place, they do not have time to deliver those flyers. They do not have time to do the outreach. However, the post office delivery system offers an economic alternative and a worry-free service that gets business flyers to somebody's door right away.

The Conservatives will argue those post office boxes will do the same thing, but it is not the same. It is not having a person go there. It guarantees that it gets into the customer's hand.

Sorting the mail in London, Ontario is not helping our small businesses in Windsor, Ontario. We now have a built-in delay system, and we throw all these trucks onto the highways and the 401. They go up to 401, get sorted, come back and get distributed, which is another delay in service.

Another one affecting our area is the closure of the consul general services in Detroit. It used to be we could fly into Detroit and if we needed to come across to Canada, we could get a visa right there from that service. A lot of small and medium-sized businesses arrive in Detroit. When they realize how close Canada is, they want to investigate opening a business. However, they have to go to New York or wait three weeks. Closing that service did not help my constituents and small businesses. It put them at risk.

Another thing employers talk about is employment insurance, not having the proper staffing at Service Canada and delays of cases. That hurts on two fronts. It hurts employers that are trying to deal with employment insurance and the lay-off of people for perhaps the first time. It also delays, in the casework files processing, the person receiving employment insurance being able to get that cheque to buy local groceries, products and services. Those things in particular hurt small business.

There is also credit card fees. Small business has been gouged on credit card fees for many years, and that continues. The government's program has not resulted in any significant reduction in credit card fees. They will finally be reduced a little, but not nearly as much as they should be. They still collect billions of dollars in fees.

Adding new products to the market will help small business, like C-290, which is a single sports betting bill. It has been stuck in the Senate for three years. That would allow convenience stores and other small businesses a new source of revenue, taking it away from organized crime and offshore nefarious businesses and putting that money back into the pockets of Canadians.

Sports BettingStatements by Members

October 28th, 2013 / 2 p.m.
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Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on the issue of Bill C-290, an act to amend the Criminal Code, passed in this chamber and now sitting in the Senate for more than 18 months. There should be no controversy in passing Bill C-290, as it went through the House of Commons without a single dissenting voice.

Bill C-290 would allow provinces to choose to allow single sports bets, similar to Las Vegas and a series of other federal states. Once passed, it would be a serious hit to organized crime and the nefarious offshore betting cabals that rack in billions of dollars each year. In fact, provincial revenue would increase, allowing support for education and health care, for example.

Bill C-290 has significant support from political parties, provincial governments, gaming associations, the Canadian Labour Congress and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. It would also protect billions of dollars in tourism infrastructure and 250 jobs in the gaming sector that are under attack by increased U.S. competition and a higher dollar.

Unfortunately with prorogations, Bill C-290 has returned to the first stage in the Senate, a setback to law and order and to our economy. I call upon the Liberals and the Conservatives to move quickly, and pass this bill, which has been studied and passed all procedures. Every day we delay this change allows organized crime to have another holiday and payday at the expense of Canadians.

Private Members' BusinessOpening Of The Second Session Of The 41St Parliament

October 16th, 2013 / 6:10 p.m.
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The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would like to make a statement concerning private members' business.

As hon. members know, our Standing Orders provide for the continuance of private members’ business from session to session within a Parliament.

In practical terms, this means that notwithstanding prorogation, the list for the consideration of private members' business established at the beginning of the 41st Parliament shall continue for the duration of this Parliament.

As such, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, all items of private members' business originating in the House of Commons that were listed on the Order Paper at the conclusion of the previous session are automatically reinstated to the Order Paper and shall be deemed to have been considered and approved at all stages completed at the time of prorogation.

All items will keep the same number as in the first session of the 41st Parliament. More specifically, all bills and motions standing on the list of items outside the order of precedence shall continue to stand. Bills that had met the notice requirement and were printed in the Order Paper but had not yet been introduced will be republished on the Order Paper under the heading “Introduction of Private Members' Bills”. Bills that had not yet been published on the order paper need to be recertified by the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel and be resubmitted for publication on the notice paper.

Of course all items in the order of precedence remain on the order of precedence or, as the case may be, are referred to the appropriate committee or sent to the Senate.

Specifically, at prorogation there were three private members' bills originating in the House of Commons adopted at second reading and referred to committee.

Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, Bill C-458, an act respecting a national charities week and to amend the Income Tax Act (charitable and other gifts) is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

Bill C-478, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (increasing parole ineligibility), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Bill C-489, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (restrictions on offenders) is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Accordingly, pursuant to Standing Order 97.1, committees will be required to report on each of these reinstated private members’ bills within 60 sitting days of this statement.

In addition, prior to prorogation, nine private members' bills originating in the House of Commons had been read the third time and passed. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, the following bills are deemed adopted at all stages and passed by the House: Bill C-217, an act to amend the Criminal Code (mischief relating to war memorials); Bill C-266, an act to establish Pope John Paul II day; Bill C-279, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity); Bill C-290, an act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting); Bill C-314, an act respecting the awareness of screening among women with dense breast tissue; Bill C-350, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (accountability of offenders); Bill C-377, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements for labour organizations); Bill C-394, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the National Defence Act (criminal organization recruitment); and Bill C-444, an act to amend the Criminal Code (personating peace officer or public officer).

Accordingly, a message will be sent to the Senate to inform it that this House has adopted these nine bills.

Consideration of private members’ business will start on Thursday, October 17, 2013.

As members may be aware, among the items in the order of precedence or deemed referred to committee, there are four bills standing in the name of members recently appointed as parliamentary secretaries who, by virtue of their office, are not eligible to propose items during the consideration of private members' business.

Bill C-511, an act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act (period of residence) and Bill C-517, an act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons) were awaiting debate at second reading in the order of precedence at the time of prorogation.

Bill C-458, An Act respecting a National Charities Week and to amend the Income Tax Act (charitable and other gifts), and Bill C-478, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (increasing parole ineligibility), were in committee at the time of prorogation and, as stated earlier, have been returned there.

This is in keeping with the principle expressed at pages 550-551 and 1125 of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, which provides that bills remain on the order of precedence since they are in the possession of the House and only the House can take further decision on them.

These items are therefore without eligible sponsors but remain in the possession of the House or its committees. If no action is taken, at the appropriate time these items will eventually be dropped from the Order Paper, pursuant to Standing Order 94(2)(c).

Hon. members will find at their desks a detailed explanatory note about private members’ business. I trust that these measures will assist the House in understanding how private members' business will be conducted in this session. The table officers are available to answer any questions members may have.

I thank all members for their attention.

First Nations Elections ActGovernment Orders

June 17th, 2013 / 12:55 p.m.
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Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to contribute to the debate about this issue. It is a very important one for our aboriginal and first nations peoples.

One of the first things I thought about is my good friend who passed away, Earl Scofield, who was a senator. He flew 17 missions in a turret during the Second World War and later on came back to Canada, where he contributed not only socially but politically. He was involved as a founding New Democrat and also contributed many volunteer hours across the community, as a veteran and also as a citizen in our community. I could not help but think about some of the lessons he taught me about inclusion, the importance of listening at times and at times making sure to take the advice of others. Sadly, the government has not done that.

I thought about my own community and its relationship with the aboriginal communities in actually founding this country. There was Chief Tecumseh, who assisted Sir Isaac Brock of the British forces in defeating General Hull in Michigan to ensure our country would be born. There was co-operation. At that time it led to quite a significant quote by Sir Isaac Brock. Talking about Chief Tecumseh, he said, “A more sagacious or a more gallant warrior does not, I believe, exist”. That showed the level of developed maturity and relationship of trust that was created there.

It is important to talk a bit about process and then get into the bill. It is interesting that we have the unelected, unaccountable Senate as the kick-start to the bill, none of whose members has the same type of accountability as those in the House do and as others who are elected in the country do. That is unfortunate because often when bills come through the House it allows the elected body to move the bill through the proper process and channels.

In the past in this Parliament, closure has been moved many times and committees have been moved shorter than would allow for what could be done in terms of analysis. Bill S-6 is now going through this process. That is rather unfortunate.

It was interesting as well that one of the members on the government side said the government has introduced Bill S-6 for this, and meanwhile other bills that have been passed in this chamber, such as Bill C-290, the sports betting bill, languish in the Senate. It was passed with unanimous consent in this House, as no members decided to rise during any of the process to oppose it, to force a vote. It went unanimously to the Senate and it still sits there today. It seems we have our processes backed up and backwards. It is important if the House ever wants to get back on track that we look at those issues and a more balanced approach to processing legislation.

Bill S-6 would create an election cycle longer than two years. That is something important. One of the things we heard was that, when there is a controversy or contestation of an election, a two-year turnaround time is not enough because it could take that amount of time to actually do a full-out investigation. As my colleague pointed out, with the limited resources of the RCMP and the technical nature of these types of investigations, they could take a long time and be very burdensome.

Therefore, moving to the four-year element is something we could support. It has also been something consistent with other types of democracies. For example, in recent years city councils in Ontario moved from a three-year cycle to a four-year cycle, giving extra time for governance. That is important because with the turnover that can take place and the types and intensities of campaigns, they can be quite a distraction from actually getting some of the work done that needs to be done.

I point south of the border, where some of the U.S. elections are held every two years. I know from congress and senate that some of those that are on a two-year cycle for governance are literally fundraising constantly for their campaigns. Therefore, moving to the four-year cycle is something that could provide some greater stability and some improvements, and it is something we do support.

There would also be the ability to have a common election date, giving the minister of aboriginal affairs the power to order the first nations with community-designed elections to adhere to new regimes. It would also provide for election appeals through courts rather than through the department of aboriginal affairs. There would also be penalties for breaking election rules, and penalties are important.

First nations initially supported the bill, but here is the catching point. They asked for some amendments related specifically to the opt-in and other amendments as well. They have decided they cannot universally support the bill now.

The bill is just the beginning of what needs to be changed in the Indian Act.

I want to touch on the three election methods. The first is an election according to the provisions of the Indian Act. I will get into the problems later. The second is a community-designed or custom election whereby a first nation is allowed to adopt its own rules for an election rather than follow the Indian Act provisions if it has always been recognized by the federal government as selecting leaders by custom or if it submits written codes, approved by the majority of band members, for the approval of the department. Last is according to the provisions of a self-government agreement. Therefore, three different styles of elections that can take place.

The first, which was enacted under the original Indian Act, has caused several problems over the years on a wide range of social and justice issues that I cannot even get into, given their degree. They have gone on for many years.

The Indian Act displaces first nations' traditional political cultures and political systems. It actually intervenes in some of the existing cultural systems that have been in place, thus undermining them.

The Indian Act created the two-year election cycle. As I noted, and I think it is important, a two-year election cycle is not a lot of time for members and their councils to work together to create good governing environments. Having four years would be a benefit to all.

As well, right now, the minister and the Governor in Council have a significant degree of power over a first nation's elections and governance structures, including being able to determine the size of the council. It is critical that band councils have more flexibility with regard to the size of the governance structure they want. This is done in other governing systems, whether it be the House of Commons or in municipalities in Ontario. Again, the size can be worked on by the government.

The appeals process is lengthy and lacks rigour. As well, there are a number of other issues for which the Indian Act has not been a proficient and effective way of having these types of relationships.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is opposed to this and have asked for the opt-in process to be changed. Here I would quote Aimée Craft, chair of the national aboriginal law section of the Canadian Bar Association:

[D]ealing with the level of ministerial discretion to include First Nations in the schedule of participating First Nations, this changes the opt-in nature of the legislation. It continues minister discretion to exercise control over First Nations governance and it would result in some First Nations being subjects of the act rather than participants. In addition, the bill lacks clarity as to the standard that the minister will apply in making determinations about what constitutes a protracted leadership dispute that has significantly compromised the governance of a First Nation.

To conclude, it is important to go back to the fact that the Conservative government has not done its due diligence on the inclusion of the aboriginal organizations and first nations that are affected by this act. We have heard from my colleague on the lack of outreach and the fact that it is very difficult to pull people out to meetings, because the trust is not there, the confidence that something will get done is not there, and the actions taken that would affect members of first nations and their families will not be in their best interests. We cannot blame that situation for the evolution that has taken place over a number of years and different circumstances.

I want to thank our critic on this issue for the very important work that has been done. The Indian Act needs extensive work. This type of half-effort is not sufficient for our partners out there who feel that they would like to have some changes. I hope the amendments called for can take place so that we can have more support and buy-in from those affected.