Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act

An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act

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

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act to implement the Port State Measures Agreement, to prohibit the importation of fish caught and marine plants harvested in the course of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and to clarify certain powers in respect of the administration and enforcement of the Act.

Elsewhere

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

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 10:55 a.m.
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Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand in this House in support of Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

Bill S-3 complements our unwavering commitment to sustainable fisheries by ensuring economic opportunities for our fishermen. Throughout our country's rich history, fisheries have always been a cornerstone. In fact, some Canadian communities have been sustained by commercial fisheries for close to 500 years. Our commitment to sustainable responsible fishing both at home and in support of global efforts will ensure that this tradition continues for centuries to come.

The fishing industry is a critical economic driver in Canada's coastal and inland communities, providing jobs and other opportunities for generations of Canadians. More than 80,000 Canadians earn their living directly from the sea, on inland waters, in processing plants, or in aquaculture operations.

The health of this industry is dependent on effective and responsible management of our fisheries. By ensuring sustainable fisheries, our government is investing in the economic prosperity of current and future generations.

To support the fisheries, our government conducts extensive research to make informed fisheries management decisions and activities. For example, our fisheries science and the application of the precautionary approach assist in the setting of catch limits for Canada's fisheries.

We also ensure that Canadians can have their say. We work as closely as possible with industry and other stakeholders to make sure our strategies and plans are practical and effective to ensure both sustainable fisheries and the maximum economic opportunities for harvesters.

We announced as part of economic action plan 2015, funding that will support fisheries, foster trade, protect Canada's environment and create jobs in small communities. As an example of an investment that will support fisheries research, our government has committed $2 million to the Pacific Salmon Foundation to support the Salish Sea marine survival project. As a British Columbian, I was very pleased to see that. Also, our government has increased the lifetime capital gains exemption to $1 million for owners of fishing businesses, which will keep more money in fishermen's pockets and support the creation of jobs in rural and coastal communities across Canada.

In addition to working with industry and conducting scientific research to ensure sustainable fisheries, we also have a strong enforcement system in place to protect our fisheries from those who do not want to abide by the rules, and unfortunately, there are some. That being said, we know that fish do not stop swimming at the 200 nautical mile limit of the exclusive economic zone, which is why Canada must remain engaged with the international community to ensure global fisheries are managed sustainably.

We work with our international partners through regional fisheries management organizations, often called RFMOs, to ensure a consistent, effective approach to the management of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks that traverse Canadian waters and upon which our harvesters rely. However, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, often called IUU fishing, remains a worldwide problem which affects the prosperity of our fishing communities.

This brings me to the amendments before us in Bill S-3 and why it is important that Canada amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. The amendments support two objectives: first, strengthening an already robust regime for Canada's ports in order to further close the net on illegal fishing operators; and second, by doing that, enabling Canada to ratify and implement the international port state measures agreement.

Fish are a major commodity and a source of economic opportunity and trade throughout the world. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, of the approximately 158 million tonnes of fish and other aquatic animals that are wild caught and grown in aquaculture operations each year, 37% are traded in international markets. This is a large share of the total fish production that is going into international trade, especially when compared with 21% of wheat being traded internationally, or only 10% of meat products. The value of the international trade in fish products is almost $130 billion U.S. annually.

As a major exporter of fisheries products, Canada is inevitably affected by international trends, policies, and the enforcement activities of other nations. Canadians are not immune from the economic impact of illegal fishing on international trade.

Around 85% of Canadian fish and seafood products are exported, to the tune of over $4 billion annually in export value. Global illegal fishing activities undermine the livelihoods of legitimate fish harvesters, both in Canada and abroad, by distorting prices and the profits that legitimate harvesters receive. Our industry has to compete in a global market, where illegal fishing activities manipulate international pricing, so we must stand up for our hard-working fish harvesters by supporting the international effort to end illegal fishing.

Canada also imports fish and seafood from around the world, and as a responsible fishing nation, we want to ensure that the fish on our plates comes from legal and sustainable sources, those that respect the environment from which the fish are harvested and that also respect the rights of the crew on board these vessels.

Preventing illegally taken fish and seafood products from entering the market has been a priority for Canadians and is also a priority for Canada's key trading partners, such as the European Union and the United States. Making these changes would ensure that Canada is on the same page as our key partners in this endeavour.

If enforcement on the high seas is lacking in some areas, then strong port state measures ensure that nations can take action in their ports to ensure that illegally harvested fish are not traded. If there is no trade then there is no profit for the illegal fishing operators.

The port state measures agreement creates a global standard for what actions should be taken in ports to combat illegal fishing. This new international treaty aims to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal fishing through the implementation of effective and globally consistent measures. That is a very important point.

In 2009, Canada and other countries approved the port state measures agreement that had been negotiated at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The goal of this treaty is to make it extremely difficult, and ideally impossible, for a fishing vessel to land and profit from any illegal catch. Canada signed this agreement in November 2010 to signal our commitment to the importance of taking strong action in ports to prevent illegal fishing. Passing Bill S-3 is the next step toward ratifying the port state measures agreement.

Eleven countries have already ratified or otherwise become party to the treaty, and another 16, including Canada, have indicated that they intend to become parties as well. For example, the United States is in the process of passing ratification legislation, and it is expected that other countries will soon follow suit. The agreement needs 25 parties for it to come into force.

I am pleased to say that the world has seen the results of strong international enforcement efforts. Recently, a fishing vessel called Thunder was not able to enter nearby ports to offload its catch. It had been identified as possibly fishing illegally in the Southern Ocean off Antarctica, and countries in West Africa, a long way away, agreed to take action once it tried to enter their ports. Facing few alternatives, the vessel was seemingly abandoned by the crew.

It is important to note that Canada already has a robust system in place to manage foreign fishing vessels. The Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and its regulations contain a range of prohibitions and controls in relation to foreign fishing vessels entering Canadian fishing waters and ports. However, in order to ratify the port state measures agreement, Bill S-3 proposes some amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act to further strengthen these important controls.

There are three major groups of amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act proposed in Bill S-3. First, the amendments would ensure that Canada has clear authorities in relation to inspecting, searching and seizing, and other enforcement activities when a foreign vessel is directed to enter a Canadian port by its flag state for enforcement purposes.

The port state measures agreement normally requires that fishing vessels engaged in or supporting illegal fishing be prevented from entering a port, as in the case of the Thunder, for example. However, there are occasions when a flag state might need help with enforcement. As a strong and responsible fishing nation, we do not want to encourage moving the problem to other jurisdictions. However, our current rules under the current Coastal Fisheries Protection Act require a ship to voluntarily apply for a licence to enter Canadian waters. In the case of a ship being directed to port by a flag state for enforcement purposes, it is highly unlikely that it would wish to apply voluntarily for a licence. The bill before us today would resolve this issue by allowing a vessel into port for enforcement purposes at the request of the flag state.

Second, fisheries enforcement relies on sharing information with other appropriate legal authorities. Bill S-3 proposes amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act that would clarify the powers of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to share enforcement information regarding illegal fishing vessels with other federal agencies, with other countries, and with international organizations. This information-sharing would allow countries to recognize offenders and take action to protect their fisheries and marketplaces.

Third, the amendments propose common-sense prohibitions against imports of illegal, unregulated, and unreported fish and expanded powers for enforcement officers. As enforcement for fishing vessels increases, illegal operators might want to transport their harvests by means other than ships, for example. In this regard, the amendments would broaden enforcement powers for fisheries officers beyond fishing vessels to areas where illegally harvested fish could be stored, such as in container ships or vehicles.

Finally, there are several amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act to align domestic legislation with the international agreement, namely in relation to definitions. Furthermore, during the study of the bill in committee, additional technical amendments to Bill S-3 were proposed to further strengthen it.

The first new amendment that was introduced would enable Canada to make regulations that could specify documentation requirements for imports of fish and seafood products from fisheries management organizations to which Canada is a not a party. These amendments would protect the Canadian marketplace from illegally harvested seafood in parts of the world where Canada does not fish but from which it imports. If a regional fisheries management organization in another corner of the world implemented new certification measures for fishery imports, Canada would also be able to require this documentation. This change would further strengthen Canada's import controls and would support its international partners.

The second committee amendment is a technical clarification of the amendments to ensure that seafood that has been seized would not be required to be returned to the offender upon conviction.

It is clear that countries have to co-operate to manage fisheries and oceans resources. Regional fisheries management organizations have been established to meet this challenge. These organizations present a realistic means of governing fish stocks that occur either as straddling or shared stocks between zones of national jurisdiction or between these zones and the high seas.

Regional fisheries management organizations apply global standards to the conservation and management of fish stocks. Canada is active in several regional fisheries management organizations and constantly promotes science-based decision-making and the precautionary approach.

As I have stated, the port state measures agreement has introduced new global standards for the fight against illegal fishing. Regional fisheries management organizations are aligning their port state measures with the agreement as part of their overall fisheries management. In addition, some of these organizations are now developing trade tracking systems, such as mandatory catch documents for key species like tuna.

Canada can continue to play a leadership role in these organizations by ensuring that our domestic port state measures set an example for other responsible fishing nations worldwide.

Canadian communities have a large stake in our fisheries and in the health of our fish and seafood exports. Strong port state measures are one tool in the fight against illegal fishing, but we must and will remain vigilant on all fronts.

Canada is recognized as a global expert in the areas of intelligence-led enforcement and the use of advanced techniques, including forensic analysis, and Canada is committed to working with other countries to share our technical expertise to build global capacity to fight illegal fishing. When we work to combat illegal fishing that takes place elsewhere in the world, it has far-reaching, positive effects here in Canada in the long term.

Our government is committed to protecting Canadians' interests at home and on the world stage. We need to ensure that the responsible harvesters who play by the rules and compete in the global marketplace are on a level playing field.

The bill, along with the additional amendments presented in the committee report on the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act that are before us, will strengthen our ability to protect fishermen's interests. The bill ensures that we have a consistent framework in place to work in collaboration with other responsible fishing nations to fight illegal fishing.

I am proud to be part of a government that is taking action against this global problem and that stands up for fishermen here at home.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

April 30th, 2015 / 3:10 p.m.
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York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I admire the quality of optimism, and I know that hope springs eternal in my colleague's breast.

After this statement, we will complete the motion, pursuant to Standing Order 78, in relation to Bill C-51. After that, we will consider Bill C-46, the pipeline safety act at report stage, and then proceed to debate it at third reading. This bill would ensure that Canada's pipeline safety regime remains world class. That debate will continue next week, on Wednesday.

Tomorrow we will wrap up the second reading debate on Bill C-50, the citizen voting act. The House will have an opportunity later today, I hope, to deliberate on how that will proceed.

Monday, we will conclude the report stage debate of Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. Our Conservative government takes all threats to the security of Canada and Canadians very seriously.

That is why we are moving forward with Bill C-51 and the crucial provisions contained in it to protect our national security. Third reading of this important bill will take place Tuesday.

Thursday, before question period, we will consider Bill S-3, the port state measures agreement implementation act at report stage, and hopefully, third reading. This bill passed at second reading with widespread support, and I am optimistic that third reading will be no different.

I understand that the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities is meeting this afternoon to give clause-by-clause consideration to Bill C-52, the Safe and Accountable Rail Act. This bill would further strengthen Canada's rail safety regime and ensure that adequate compensation is available. If the committee finishes that work today, we will consider the bill at report stage and third reading after question period next Thursday.

At second reading, New Democrats spoke about the importance of passing this bill urgently and therefore I hope that they will see to letting this legislation pass next week, so that the Senate will have plenty of time to complete its consideration of the bill before the summer adjournment.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

April 29th, 2015 / 3:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, in relation to Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

The committee has studied the bill and decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

April 28th, 2015 / 12:40 p.m.
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NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

The witnesses who are here today answered the questions with some reservations. They are doing their best, but I think that it is basically part of our work on this committee to check certain things before sending a bill for third reading to the House, if we see that there could be shortcomings.

Mr. Kamp said that some people looked at this and concluded that there were no shortcomings. As Mr. MacAulay said, people find gaps in bills; there are tonnes of them. There is tax evasion on the order of several billion dollars a year. There are gaps in legislation despite the best intentions of the experts who provide their services to departments.

I don't understand why Bill S-3 will be referred back to the House tomorrow morning. Why can we not simply wait until the next meeting of the committee to hear an expert who will tell me that because of jurisprudence and other elements, my concerns are not justified? I will be very happy if an expert comes here to explain that to me. We will thus have worked properly for Canadians, the people of the fishing industry, and the judges.

It would take 48 hours to make sure that there is no problem with the equation in clause 18.04 and the maximum sentence. How would the fact of examining this over the course of the next 48 hours prevent the bill from working? I do not see why the government absolutely wants to do this quickly.

In fact, I know why. Generally, when you propose amendments, you are completely allergic to the very idea that they be questioned. It should be the opposite in the meetings of the committee, which should be a little more collegial.

For once, could you not show some good will and accept that we obtain answers to our questions? I may be proven wrong. You may find it fantastic if an expert tells me that my concerns are not well-founded. That would be good for you. I am offering you this. If that is what I am told, it would be good for you and not for me, but at least, we would have done our work till the end.

April 28th, 2015 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

That's exactly what I was going to say. I don't know that I see the problem.

I have two comments.

First of all, that's not the point of this particular amendment to Bill S-3. The amendment that's before us is basically because we've now added 5.6(3). Now we need a penalty section that refers to 5.6(3). That's what this amendment is about. Clause 16 does take into account all of 18.

At the very least, we should pass this amendment and deal with the amended clause. I don't see a problem with it. This works just as other legislation, like—as Angela said—the Fisheries Act, where the courts will use the legislation to decide what constraints it's under in terms of what penalties it can enforce.

This gives the courts the ability to impose a fine that's beyond the maximum if they think that the individual has perhaps sold the goods and made $200 million, $2 million, or $100,000 that is already in his pocket.

This is intended to be a deterrent so that people don't just....Some of these IUU fishing fleets know how it works. They're willing to pay the cost of doing business sometimes by paying the fine. This makes it more difficult for them.

It does work that way. While I understand the concern about whether it would stand up, I don't see why it wouldn't. We have some experience with the Fisheries Act and other pieces of legislation in that regard.

April 28th, 2015 / 12:25 p.m.
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NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

I am not a lawyer, but Bill S-3 states quite plainly that there could be a larger fine than the maximum one of $500,000 if a person or organization has derived financial benefit from having sold the proceeds of illegal fishing. For someone to make a profit, the fish has to be sold.

I would be more comfortable if a legal expert told me if my fears are well-founded. Even if I reread clause 18.04, and today's amendment that includes a ceiling, if I think about all that, I see the following scenario unfolding. In the case of an offender who committed a serious illegal act, things can go quite quickly, as my colleague Mr. Godin said. With certain species, with a few cargo loads of illegal fish you can have stock that is worth millions of dollars.

Fortunately, Bill S-3 would allow us to track the offender right into his warehouse. In that case, because the individual would not have had time to sell two kilos of tuna, for example, and because he would not have derived financial advantage from the sale at that point, the maximum fine the judge could impose would be $500,000, if I understand correctly. And yet, that individual would have committed quite a major illegal act.

Mr. Kamp referred to other laws. He said that we could perhaps get organized using other legislation to ensure that this does not happen. I think that our responsibility is to ensure that the aspects covered by the current bill leverage the action of the courts in a case like this one. We should not say that somewhere there is an act that could be used to solve this problem.Saying that this will be settled by other legislation is almost an admission. I don't feel comfortable about it.

Consequently, I agree with Mr. MacAulay, who asks that we invite an expert witness to testify. I am receptive to the argument that other acts contain similar provisions. However, the problem remains the same. Could the scenario I have just evoked come to pass? Could we encounter a situation where someone has committed a highly illegal act involving millions of dollars in potential fines, but the fine is capped at $500,000 because of the addition of clause 18.04 and today's amendment? This seems like a serious problem to me.

April 28th, 2015 / 12:20 p.m.
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Acting Director, Global Fisheries & Marine Governance Bureau, Strategic Policy, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Angela Bexten

Bill S-3 introduces an import prohibition, so we have the introduction here of an amendment to include penalties for those import prohibitions, and the fines are indicated there. Then there is the opportunity, or the potential, for the court to exceed that maximum with the reference to proposed section 18.04.

The amendment that has just been introduced, under proposed section 18.03, is to deal with the new import prohibition that was discussed earlier.

In terms of how this is drafted and the amounts, and in particular proposed section 18.04, that is drafting that we see in other pieces of legislation. It's considered a standard way of expressing the penalties and also the potential for the court to consider the financial benefits and, therefore, to include an additional fine.

What's written there is certainly a standard drafting approach that has been taken in other pieces of legislation.

April 28th, 2015 / 12:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

I don't think I agree with that. I can assure the committee that this has been carefully considered by the Department of Justice, as well as the experts at DFO.

To clarify a question that was raised earlier, Bill S-3 is about amending the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, and although it's true, as Angela said, that the act did not have any import prohibitions in it, it did have prohibitions in it. For example, subsection 4(2) of the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act states:

No person, being aboard a foreign fishing vessel or being a member of the crew of or attached to or employed on a foreign fishing vessel, shall fish or prepare to fish for a sedentary species of fish

and it continues. That's just one of the sections.

So there are the prohibitions about fishing in Canadian waters, obviously, and that's what the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act is largely about. There are penalties similar to the ones we see here in Bill S-3 that relate to those offences. They're in section 18 of the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

We're introducing new prohibitions about importing undocumented fish and putting in place these penalties that are similar, I think. Maybe Angela can comment more intelligently on that. For example, in that section that I just read to you, the penalties section says:

Every person who contravenes paragraph 4(1)(a), subsection 4(2) or section 5.2 is guilty of an offence and liable (a) on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars; or (b) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

Then there are some other penalties that are similar to the $500,000 that we've seen here. I don't see the problem that's being raised here, but perhaps Angela has some additional comments.

April 28th, 2015 / 12:15 p.m.
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NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

The text you pointed out to us largely answers my questions. Still, it says, in black and white:

If a person is convicted of an offence under this Act and the court is satisfied that, as a result of committing the offence, financial benefits accrued to the person…

What I am reading brings me back to my concern. It could be that an illegal catch worth $8 million is found in a warehouse but that those responsible are caught—“fortunately” because of Bill S-3, as Mr. Kamp says—before they can get the slightest financial benefit, because they had no time to sell the catch on the black market, for example.

From what I read here, if the judge cannot show that those people used the black market and made a profit of $2 million, for example, the fine is limited to $500,000. The judge could declare that the profits are illegal and the wrongdoers will unfortunately not be able to profit from it because they are going to have to give the proceeds back to the Crown.

According to what I see here, the judge will find it difficult to apply that argument, which I think is the right one. Instead, we are talking about people fishing illegally, making a profit of $2 million, being apprehended and still having $5 million worth of fish in their warehouse. The judge should not be forced to keep to a fine of $500,000. He should be able to get back the money that was made.

Something in this text seems to limit the judge, in my opinion.

April 28th, 2015 / 12:05 p.m.
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NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Thank you for being here, Ms. Bexten.

I want to make sure I have understood correctly. Before Bill S-3 was introduced, someone importing the products of illegal fishing into Canada would probably not have been fined. Not only does Bill S-3 state that this is illegal, but it also sets a maximum fine of $500,000. I have seen our Conservative colleagues more often opt for minimum sentences. But here we have a maximum sentence.

How can we justify the bill providing for a maximum limit? For a criminal who has done this 20 times in a row in two years and who has created a black market worth millions of dollars, why should the fine be capped at $500,000? Which expert decided on this $500,000 limit? Why isn’t it $800,000 or $1 million? Where did the assessment come from? Why not leave it to the judge, who would be fully competent to decide that, in this or that case, there has been a black market worth several millions of dollars for two years and that the fine will not be $500,000, but $1 million. Where does this come from?

April 28th, 2015 / 12:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

I think the question for Angela is—and I think it's a good question—were there no import prohibitions before Bill S-3 in the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act?

April 28th, 2015 / 12:05 p.m.
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NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

What were the words before in the history? Was there something there? It looked like it's all new starting from Bill S-3.

April 28th, 2015 / noon
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Acting Director, Global Fisheries & Marine Governance Bureau, Strategic Policy, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Angela Bexten

Thank you.

Bill S-3 introduces import prohibitions under subsections 5.6(1) and 5.6(2). The penalties related to that are in section 18. That's in Bill S-3. The amendment that's being proposed is in relation to what was discussed earlier, which was to include a new prohibition that's articulated in subsection 5.6(3). It's a penalty that's being added in relation to that particular import prohibition that's been added.

In terms of the amounts, the amounts for the import prohibition in subsections 5.6(1) and 5.6(2) are indicated in Bill S-3, but there is a doubling provision. The reason there is a doubling provision is that the prohibitions require a knowledge component and normally for a knowledge component there's a higher penalty. For the amendment that was made earlier to section 5.6(3), the penalty provision is the same—but there's no doubling provision because it's considered a strict liability offence.

April 28th, 2015 / noon
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NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

No. What I was looking at was whether there was something before Bill S-3. Or has it just come in Bill S-3 and it's now just to follow Bill S-3?