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, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.


James Moore  Conservative


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


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.


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.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2014 / 10:05 a.m.
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Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise to speak to Bill C-8 this morning. I will start off with an example that I think people would be able to relate to on why it is important that we bring forward legislation of this nature.

As everyone knows, Winnipeg had the opportunity to have the Winnipeg Jets NHL franchise. That was just a couple of years ago now. At the time, there was a great deal of hype built around the Winnipeg Jets, what the new logo was going to look like, and so forth. It was kept secret until a certain release date when the new logo was announced.

When that business plan was developed, part of the business plan included the sale of merchandise, wanting to capitalize, no doubt, on the fresh, newly minted Winnipeg Jets. The NHL franchise came up with a very unique and, I suggest, wonderful logo. Within months of the release of that logo, NHL material was authorized, copyrighted, and so forth, and was up for sale. Many would argue the price was a little steep for these NHL freshly minted Winnipeg Jet jerseys, at well over $100 each, but it was the authentic jersey, the real thing, if I can put it that way.

Within weeks of the release of the logo, jerseys started appearing that were not authorized. They were infringements on the copyright. What ended up happening was that it caused quite a bit of a commotion, and I can appreciate why. The NHL and the Winnipeg Jets franchise were quite concerned about how this counterfeit product was being produced in such a quick fashion and being sold to the thousands of Manitobans and many others who were quite fascinated and wanted to purchase some of this merchandise. It had a fairly profound impact in terms of sales and the franchise would argue that, ultimately, it lost a great deal of revenue because of it.

I use that as just an example of why it is that, as a Parliament, we need to provide protections for the copyrights of entrepreneurs and others. That is, in essence, what Bill C-8 is really all about.

It would create new civil causes of action with respect to sustaining commercial activities in infringing copies and counterfeit trademarked goods. It would also create new criminal offences for trademark counterfeiting that are similar to existing offences in the Copyright Act. It would create new criminal offences prohibiting the possession or exporting of infringing copies or counterfeit trademarked goods, packaging or labels.

It would also enact new border enforcement measures enabling customs officers to detain goods that they suspect infringe copyright or trademark 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. It would exempt the importation and exportation of copies and goods by an individual for his or her personal use from the application of the border measures.

It would also add the offence 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 trademark, allowing the Registrar of Trademarks to correct errors that appear in the trademark register, and streamline and modernize the trademark application and opposition process.

My colleague, the member for Toronto Centre, the Liberal Party critic, has done a wonderful job ensuring that the Liberal Party was well represented at the committee stage, getting and providing positive feedback. On occasion, she did propose amendments. Unfortunately, the government did not see the merits of the amendments, which were ultimately defeated. It is somewhat sad to see, given the importance of the legislation, that the government did not allow amendments to pass, whether Liberal or New Democratic.

Yesterday, I was talking about the importance of the committee stage and how we can improve legislation by bringing forward amendments. One of the things we have noticed with the majority Conservative government is that its attitude toward amendments in committee is not positive at all. The government seems to be of the opinion that unless an amendment originates from a Conservative member of Parliament, or more particularly, from the ministry or the Prime Minister's office, that amendment should not pass. That seems to be a general rule that applies to all pieces of legislation, which is most unfortunate given the importance of trying to pass good, solid legislation.

The idea and principle behind legislation going to the committee stage is one of allowing members to participate and be engaged in the process. If members feel they have something to contribute they can bring forward amendments, either on their behalf or behalf of their political party, as the Liberal Party critic attempted to do.

There are a number of things that are worthy of noting. In terms of the actual cost, the RCMP has increased, virtually fivefold since 2005 to 2012, the number of seizures that have taken place. As members can appreciate, we are talking about millions of dollars' worth of product. This really emphasizes the degree to which the RCMP, if they are engaged on the file, are finding that much more counterfeit product being recognized.

We know there is a great deal of counterfeit product coming in through the Internet. There are many different ways in which one could sell product over the Internet. At the end of the day, we suspect there is a great deal of counterfeit product being sold through the Internet. We challenge the government to be more proactive in regard to that particular issue. As an example, I made reference to the Winnipeg Jets. Once could also talk about other consumer products.

The other day someone brought this issue to my attention with regard to purses. If one were to go into some of the more upscale commercial facilities, purses sell in the neighbourhood of $400 to $600. They can be very expensive. Copies provided by someone who is prepared to infringe on copyright and provide a duplicate that is incredibly close to the original are sold for a fraction of the cost. There might be a retail value on a certain type of purse at the upper end, somewhere around $450 to $500, but through unethical organizations or business individuals, they can produce that purse at a substantially lower cost and then undersell the retailer. Instead of $450, they might be able to sell that same look-alike purse for $30 to $40 and still make a substantial profit. These are the types of things we need to be aware of. As more and more consumers look to the Internet to acquire goods, I suspect this is going to be a larger problem going forward.

Today through our border officers and customs agents, we get a great deal of commercial activity. One of the areas that is really growing is the Internet. This is something the government has fallen short on in terms of providing some sort of assurance or protection for copyrighted material.

It is also important for us to recognize that even though the legislation is a step forward in the right direction, as I have tried to emphasize, it could have done so much more. One of the things I want to emphasize is that even though there is more power going to our Canada border control, we need to put that into perspective in terms of what the government has done in recent budgets in terms of cutbacks to border control and customs offices.

On the one hand, we recognize there is a problem with copyright and trademark infringements. A major aspect of that problem comes from international borders where product comes in or is leaving, which is growing every day. On the other hand, we have a government that is reducing the resources that are being allocated at our borders.

I have a difficult time with that. There is a larger problem and it continues to grow. The government responds by saying it has legislation, Bill C-8, which is its attempt to deal with the problem. Conservatives present it and try to appease the different stakeholders by saying they brought in the legislation to deal with this issue, but on the other hand, they did not provide the proper resources for our customs officers and border control people to provide the types of assurances through checks, and so forth, that show we are serious about dealing with it, that we are compensating product and ensuring there is a consequence to those who are trying to illegally bring in material for resale purposes.

Yes, it is great to see that we have legislation before us today and it is a step in the right direction, but we should not try to give false impressions because the legislation is only one aspect of this. The other aspect is to ensure that we provide additional resources to our law enforcement agencies. This is where the government has really fallen short.

As I indicated, the Liberal Party has some concerns with regard to the legislation. We recognize the need to provide new enforcement tools to help strengthen Canada's existing enforcement regime for counterfeit goods. We believe that the Canadian business and industry associations must be protected to ensure the well-being of those domestic businesses and the health and safety of Canadians, as well as the integrity of the Canadian economy as a whole. When we make reference to the issue of health and safety, this is something that quite often gets overlooked.

Whether it is medication or something that might be used for prescriptions, there are many products being brought into Canada, and we do not know if those products are safe for use.

I have emphasized that the Liberal Party would like to investigate how e-commerce may provide a loophole for counterfeit products. That is why I have suggested that the government has missed an opportunity where there may be great deal of potential abuse. I suggest that the government might want to reconsider.

Border officers are not copyright experts. They do their best, and we must compliment them on the fantastic job they do. Having said that, they would be given new and increased powers that are not overseen by courts, which may lead to some illegitimate seizures and violations of the Charter of Rights. To what degree has that been taken into consideration?

There are several further concerns that have been raised. If there are more seizures due to increased powers for border officers and the RCMP, how will the government fund these extensive investigative operations? Should genuine non-counterfeit products be seized and destroyed, how will the government compensate companies and individuals that might have been exploited? Moreover, how will the government protect the information of legitimate importers from potential misuse of the request-for-assistance mechanism? How will the government determine whether importers of counterfeit products are aware that products are counterfeit? These are the types of questions that have been raised. We have found that the government has been wanting in terms of providing the answers.

Why are there no provisions for counterfeit goods being shipped through Canada? That is a bit of a surprise. The legislation does not seem to deal with that issue. We know that counterfeit products will come into Canada and ultimately leave Canada. How big the problem is, it is hard to say. To what degree do we have products coming into Canada, being labelled as coming from Canada, and being sent to other regions? These are legitimate concerns.

There is so much one could say about this particular bill. However, at the end of the day, it is about protecting Canada's economy and ensuring that we bring in legislation that enhances our economic activity. This is something that is important to the Liberal Party as we strive to ensure that the middle class is given the opportunity to grow and prosper. Legislation of this nature, if it is done properly, will actually protect jobs. It will ensure that Canadians are healthy and that the products they are acquiring are legitimate products from the original manufacturers.

If I pay a price believing that I have acquired something that is under trademark or copyright, I would like to think that this is what I am receiving. The Government of Canada has a role to play in that.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2014 / 10:20 a.m.
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Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments on this important piece of legislation. I heard him discuss the inadequacy of the government's actions. During the 12 years of successive majority Liberal governments, what actions did the Liberals take to combat counterfeiting to protect Canadian consumers? Perhaps he could explain that to the House, because I certainly was not here then. What kind of investment did they make in border services to ensure that there was effective enforcement of any goods coming in or going out of the country?

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2014 / 10:25 a.m.
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Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I made reference to the fact that in the last five or six years, we have seen counterfeit products acquired by legal authorities increase fivefold.

I have noticed that in a recent days the NDP members have, as much as possible and wherever possible, taken shots at the Liberal Party. That is fine. I can appreciate that they are a little sensitive in terms of their potential future and what might lie ahead.

Having said that, I can assure the member that there was adequate funding of resources, such as border controls, that was maintained, whether through the Jean Chrétien or Paul Martin governments. The greatest deficiency today is that the government has instituted cutbacks in border control and to a certain degree in the RCMP. That will have a negative impact on protecting us from copyright infringement and from those who choose to break the law.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2014 / 10:25 a.m.
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Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

I am pleased to join the debate today on Bill C-8, an act to amend the Copyright Act and the Trade-marks Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. People watching at home might think this is something that does not really concern them, that it is an arcane piece of legislation that does not affect their daily lives. I want to emphasize to them that, in fact, this is something that affects Canadian jobs, Canadian consumers, and Canadian safety in our homes and in our communities.

In brief, the purpose of the bill is to strengthen the enforcement of copyright and trademark rights and to basically curtail counterfeit goods coming into Canada. Specifically, it would add two new criminal offences under the copyright act for the possession and export of infringing copies. It would create offences for selling and offering counterfeit goods on a commercial scale. It would create a prohibition against importing or exporting infringing copies and counterfeit goods.

It would introduce some balance to that prohibition by creating two new exemptions. One is personal use, and this is important. In other words, a person might have something in his or her personal possession, perhaps in personal baggage, that happens to be counterfeit and he or she does not know it. The second is for items that are in transit control.

It grants new ex officio powers to border officials to detain infringing copies or counterfeit goods. That is a significant policy shift, because until now, border officials required private rights holders to get a court order before seizing or infringing any copies or goods.

There are other measures as well, but let me, in the limited time I have, elaborate a bit on what this means for Canadians. Most of the counterfeit goods that come into Canada today are from China, but some come in from the U.S. and some other countries. How does this affect Canadian jobs? Companies that manufacture here in Canada, that trademark their name on the quality and value of the product people buy, become subject to cheap knock-offs that get sold at discount prices.

Let me give a very specific example. On a cold winter day, all across Canada, we can see many people wearing Canada Goose jackets and coats. Canada Goose jackets have a distinctive logo that is very clear to see. The coats are fairly expensive, but they are super warm and good quality and when people buy them, they know that they are getting that quality. These coats are made here in Canada. They are designed here. They are manufactured here under tight quality controls. Canadian workers make these coats. They do an excellent job and provide good value. For these cheap knock-offs that come in, we have no idea what the labour conditions are. They could be produced in very hazardous conditions. They could be produced by child labour. We have no idea of the conditions that these, or any counterfeit products, are produced under.

Consumers might think they are getting a heck of deal. These are expensive products, and if they can get them on sale online cheaply, why not do it?

Let me quote Canada Goose. It talks about counterfeits of its products that have come into Canada.

Made illegally in factories in Asia, the fake jackets are found on many rogue websites as well as in the flea markets of Shanghai, Beijing and Bangkok. Counterfeiting is illegal. It often funds organized crime and counterfeit factories in regions where labour standards are lax and often employ child labour.

Counterfeiting is not only illegal, but also dangerous.

After analyzing the content of counterfeit jackets, we know that instead of the sanitized, Canadian down used by Canada Goose, counterfeiters often use feather mulch or other fillers. These materials are often coated in bacteria, fungus or mildew, posing significant health risks to unsuspecting consumers. As well, raccoon, dog or other unknown animal hair may be used in place of our functional coyote fur ruff.

Even more frightening is that for a person in cold climate, an authentic Canada Goose parka could mean the difference between life and death. Without real down and fur, the chance of frostbite or freezing becomes a real possibility.

This is one very concrete example of what the proposed legislation is designed to combat.

We also have examples of counterfeit batteries that have exploded. There are a number of cases of children being burned by products that had counterfeit batteries in them. The bill is designed to combat that, and certainly New Democrats support the notion of dealing with counterfeiting.

For those who are concerned about what this might mean for the Internet, the proposed legislation does not deal with websites. It does not block content or take down websites. As I outlined earlier, infringement goods are limited to personal exemption in one's personal baggage.

New Democrats support taking on this issue and dealing with counterfeit goods. However, I will say that it is difficult to understand how a bill like this would be implemented when the Conservatives' 2012 budget cut $143 million in funding from border services. That means that the very border guards who would be required to enforce the legislation would have less resources to do that.

Those budget cuts in 2013-14 meant a loss of 549 full-time equivalent jobs between now and 2015. What is more, under the bill, customs officers would need special training because they would be asked to make highly complicated assessments of whether goods entering or exiting the country infringe on any copyright or trademark rights. This is an assessment that sometimes the courts themselves struggle with, yet we would ask border guards to adequately implement the bill and protect Canadians and our borders without a full complement of staff.

The NDP will be supporting the bill at third reading. We think it is important that we deal with copyright in order to protect Canadian jobs and consumers, and certainly for the health and safety aspects, where we have seen real problems in the past.

The bill speaks to the notion of labour rights and making sure that people have adequate protections in the workplace. However, we do not want to, through shoddy or weak enforcement of the bill, inadvertently be subsidizing counterfeit goods or organized crime that trades in counterfeit goods.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2014 / 10:35 a.m.
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Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her speech. She spoke about many aspects of the bill. Of course, the NDP supports the fight against counterfeiting, but we want to be sure that the measures are balanced for both rights owners and consumers.

She also made a brief allusion to the economic impact that counterfeiting has on the economy in general. Can she explain what this bill does to address that negative impact on the economy?

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2014 / 10:35 a.m.
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Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for that important question.

Clearly, there will be economic consequences if we refuse to allow counterfeit products into the country, and it is difficult to measure the scope of the problem. However, the federal government was wrong not to properly assess the impact that counterfeit products have on the Canadian market.

It is a good idea to try and block counterfeit products because that is how we will defend Canadian jobs and protect our economy.

The fact remains that billions of dollars' worth of counterfeit products are likely entering our country every year, and we do not know the true extent of this problem.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2014 / 10:35 a.m.
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Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Parkdale—High Park for her work as our industry critic and for her work on this file. I know that counterfeit products are a big problem.

The member mentioned cases coming from China, but what she highlighted and what was really important for me was that while the government is coming up with new regulations and laws, and we support them because they are a step forward, in practice the government is cutting resources.

We have seen it happening in transport. We saw it with what happened in Lac-Mégantic, where costs were cut with respect to the organization of Transport Canada and less surveillance. We also saw it with XL Foods, because the government has been cutting inspectors.

What are the impacts of government cuts with respect to the borders? The government is saying one thing, but its actions are saying another.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2014 / 10:40 a.m.
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Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely right. He spoke about rail safety and Lac-Mégantic. Tank cars like the ones that exploded in Lac-Mégantic go right across the northern boundary of my riding every single day. I can tell the member that people are very concerned about the impact of cuts to government offices and inspectors, and the move to self-regulation.

We had a community meeting on this exact issue a couple of weeks back. It was a packed community meeting with residents who were very concerned and who had very basic questions that they were hoping to ask Transport Canada. Sadly, the minister refused to allow any officials from Transport Canada to attend that meeting.

It is really parallel to the enforcement of counterfeit goods. Whether we are trying to protect Canadians from runaway tank cars or food poisoning, or whether we are trying to protect consumers from counterfeit goods, we not only need the laws in place, but we need the staff and the public investment to enforce that.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

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

September 19th, 2014 / 10:50 a.m.
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Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up on one particular part of the bill. I had the privilege of being on the industry committee when this bill was before it and had the opportunity to talk a little with the RCMP and border services officers who were going to be enforcing the bill. One of the questions they were asked is whether there are any numbers on how many Canadian manufacturers have been convicted of importing or exporting counterfeited goods. The superintendent of the RCMP did not have those figures at hand, which is fair enough, so we asked whether he could provide the committee with a written response.

The written response to the committee stated that the RCMP information systems do not capture or track a sufficient level of details in order to provide the number of Canadian manufacturers that are convicted of importing or exporting counterfeit goods. It seemed odd to the committee that we have no way of actually tracking the problem. How do we decide what kinds of resources we need to bring to bear on the problem if we do not know the magnitude of it?

New Democrats moved an amendment asking that Parliament receive annual reports with information on detainments that were made under this scheme. I wonder if the member wants to comment on whether he supports that amendment and why he thinks it is an important one.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2014 / 10:50 a.m.
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Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. I followed her work on the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, a file previously under my responsibility. Industry and trademark issues are very interesting.

My colleague has raised an important question because this is not the only file where the government has not paid attention to elements important to the application of future legislation. The government must give the agencies, in this case the RCMP, the powers and resources they need to do their job.

How can we ensure that the work is done properly if we do not have the ability to monitor progress made in terms of their capacity to detect and seize counterfeit goods or even to improve processes that can help border services officers or the RCMP do a better job?

Data collection is an important aspect, whether in the private sector or, in this case, the public sector. It helps ensure that effective tools are available or that existing tools are improved so people can do a better job. In that sense, it is fine to feel good about a bill that has more teeth, but we must help these officers effectively detect counterfeiting.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2014 / 10:55 a.m.
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Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague on his speech.

He mentioned the fact that this work at the border is vital because it stops the counterfeit goods. However, cuts to the CBSA budget will reduce the number of front-line officers and impair our capacity to monitor our borders.

We will support this bill. However, can my colleague tell us whether this bill will attain its objectives with respect to counterfeiting?

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2014 / 10:55 a.m.
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Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Saint-Lambert raised an excellent point.

Indeed, that point was raised in committee by people such as border officers, who are on the front lines when it comes to enforcing this proposed bill. The border officers' union raised two specific problems, contrary to what the Conservative government has claimed.

The first problem is downsizing. In the coming years, we expect that border services will lose 1,000 positions as a result of cuts. The second problem has to do with training. If there is no stability within border services, meaning that border crossings are being shut down and reopened, as was the case in Niagara Falls, we lose people who were already trained and who would simply need to update their skills, especially when it comes to detecting these goods. We are losing them because they have no job security.

These people eventually turn to other fields. Not only are we losing these resources, but we are also losing the training that was invested in them. We are forced to start from scratch. Those are two extremely relevant points raised by the union that represents border officers and that the government and proponents of the bill have not addressed.

This is very unfortunate, and we have some concerns on this side of the House that do not necessarily have to do with the effectiveness of the bill—even if it does have some flaws that could potentially be fixed—but rather with the ability to implement and enforce this bill properly.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2014 / 10:55 a.m.
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Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, it would be difficult to respond to that in 30 seconds. I think that is all the time I have.

There are improvements to be made to this bill, which is not perfect. A number of criticisms were not considered by the committee. I think that once the bill passes, we will have to ensure that the resources are there to enforce it. That is the most important thing once the bill passes.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2014 / 6:45 p.m.
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Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin.

We are now switching from the situation in Congo, but I want to finish pleading with my colleagues across the way to really consider that issue. If there is one issue that is not partisan, it is this one about what is happening in Congo. I think we can somehow find a way to agree on how to stem the violence in Congo.

The bill that I am now addressing is Bill C-8. Members will know that this legislation has quite a lengthy history. I do not mean just Bill C-8, but the whole issue of copyright and the Trade-marks Act and making consequential amendments to other acts.

This issue requires caution. It requires an understanding of not just the law but enforcement of the law as well.

Many people are concerned about how international treaties and copyright interplay. They are concerned about the fact that we are in the midst of finishing negotiations on CETA and how that agreement would relate to copyright. It is important to note that the international agreement dealing with counterfeiting also comes into play here. Many have noted that while a treaty to combat counterfeiting presently exists, not many countries have signed on to it, about which there is some concern. It is this international context, and how it would apply to this legislation, that we are dealing with.

If we abide by certain rules made by legislation such as this and there are trade deals or other treaties we have to contend with, it is important that we understand what those trade deals and treaties mean. In the case of CETA, it is important to understand how it would apply.

I am pleading with the government yet again to at least tell us what is going on with respect to CETA, because it would affect trademark and copyright legislation. My understanding is that there could be consequences from the CETA deal for copyright and trademarks. I would like to hear about what action the government is taking. I would like to know what success, or lack thereof, the government has had with respect to CETA, and the sooner the better.

Here we are trying to find a way to help people create in an unhindered and legal way, while also making sure that the creative class will be able to access technology and ideas and material and will not be suppressed. The law has to find a balance. By the same token, we want to make sure that what we are creating and what we have copyright protection for will not be usurped or be taken and used without the creators benefiting from their work. It is obviously a delicate balance.

I would like to go over some of the aspects of the bill and what it proposes to do.

As I said, this legislation has a long history. I remember previous Parliaments that attempted to deal with the copyright issue. It should be noted that many of our trading partners have been pleading with us, particularly our friends south of the border, to get this done and get it right. The new ambassador brought it up in a recent meeting with us. He indicated that this was an important issue for the United States because most of our trade is done with that country.

Bill C-8 deals with counterfeiting and infringement, which is important. It proposes to add two new criminal offences to the Copyright Act for the possession of and export of infringed copies. The bill would also create offences for the selling or offering of counterfeit goods on a commercial scale.

There is some contention as to the degree of the export and import of counterfeit goods.

I cite Michael Geist, because he is the expert in the country on this issue. His testimony at committee raised some questions about the extent to which there is counterfeiting. He should be listened to, because he is an expert. He asked this very good question: what is the scope of the studies that are referenced by government and officials? In other words, do we have accurate data?

That said, it is important that we have legislation that would deal with counterfeiting and the trade of counterfeiting materials, as contemplated in this bill.

That is the first part. The bill adds two new criminal offences under the Copyright Act for possession and exportation of infringing copies and creates offences for selling or offering counterfeit goods on a commercial scale.

The other aspect is that it creates a prohibition against importing or exporting infringing copies and counterfeit goods. It introduces some balance to that prohibition by creating two exemptions. One is personal use. As I referenced earlier, it relates to the creative class and those in the knowledge industry. I will use educators as an example.

I come from the business of teaching. As educators, it is important that we have access to knowledge and make it available to students. There is a balance that has to be struck so that we will not arrest teachers if they are just sharing materials with their students to allow them to gain knowledge. That is one of the areas we have to keep in mind.

The other one we have to look for is items in transit control.

Finally, the bill would grant new ex officio powers to border officials to detain infringing copies or counterfeit goods. That is a significant policy shift, because until now border officials required these private rights holders to obtain a court order before seizing infringing copies or goods. The bill grants new ex officio powers to the Minister of Public Safety and border officials to share information on detained goods with rights holders. It also widens the scope of what can be a trademark to the features found in the broad definition of “sign”, which includes all sorts of things: shapes, colours, scents, et cetera. What we want to see on this side is that we strike that balance. These are fairly important new powers that are being given to the government.

I will finish by saying that it is fine to pass laws on copyright and trademark to make sure that we deal with what we are focused on—that is, those who decide to get into the business of knock-offs and use the creations of others to benefit themselves when they have not had any input into the creation of any goods, ideas, or products. By the same token, how do we enforce these measures?

Members will hear from my colleagues tonight about some of the problems we have with the government's cutting of border services in this area. On the one hand, it is fine to give powers to border agents to say, “Here it is; you make sure that you deal with the infringements on copyright”, but on the other hand it has cut the budgets of those who are responsible for dealing with this authority.

This is an issue with our friends south of the border. They are aware of this. We have had issues with our friends south of the border regarding regulations. Let us make no mistake, this is a trade issue. They want to know if we are serious about this issue and will bring in laws that are modern and up to date with current copyright thinking. That means little unless we have an enforcement mechanism, to say the least. It is not only about passing laws; it is also about ensuring that we have resources on the ground to enforce them.

Members will hear from my colleagues and me that we have to get it right and make sure that we do not go too far in terms of infringing on those in the creative class, those in the knowledge business, and those who need to have access to materials, while on the other side making sure that if we bring in new responsibilities for our border agents, we do not cut their budgets. It is important that we give them support and training as to what these new powers mean and how they will exercise them.

At the end of the day, we will be supporting the bill to ensure that we do our bit as a country, that we have a balance in terms of the copyright obligations, that those in the creative and knowledge classes have access to the materials they need to create, and that, on the other hand, we provide our border agents with the proper support that they need in material supplies and training.