Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting)

Sponsor

Brian Masse  NDP

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

Status

Defeated, as of Sept. 21, 2016

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-221.

Summary

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.

Elsewhere

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

Votes

Sept. 21, 2016 Failed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

September 21st, 2016 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to order made on Friday, June 17, 2016, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-221, under private members' business.

The question is on the motion.

The House resumed from June 16 consideration of the motion that Bill C-221, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Food and Drugs ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2016 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for Brampton East for a very good intervention, which also touched on several complicated issues related to this agreement.

I was also pleased to hear the discussion around CBSA. What I have raised on Bill C-13 is the question of organized crime, and particularly the goods that get into our country. The ports only check 4% of goods that come into our country, and they will be mixed, including now, with new types of materials and other things that are going to other countries.

Organized crime is one of the things that I have been pushing against with a number of different things, including my bill that will be voted on this Wednesday, Bill C-221. The bill would help eliminate $10 billion in organized crime from single-event sports wagering. We have British Columbia, Ontario, and other provinces onside to diminish organized crime in this country.

I ask the member if, in his opinion, CBSA would get enough resources to tackle the potential of organized crime, basically using Trojan horse trade coming in to allow other goods and services of contraband, which should not be coming into Canada, to go to other countries.

Food and Drugs ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2016 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River.

I would like to thank my hon. friend from Windsor for all his work on Bill C-221. It is an excellent proposal and I look forward to voting on it on Wednesday.

Today, I am pleased to have the opportunity to talk about the organization that made the agreement on trade facilitation, known as the TFA, happen: the World Trade Organization.

The TFA is the first multilateral agreement concluded since the creation of the WTO over 20 years ago and is a notable success for both the organization and the multilateral trading system.

As an export-driven economy, one in five Canadian jobs depends upon exports and over 40,000 Canadians companies abroad. The WTO has played an important role in helping to liberalize trade, and trade liberalization remains vital to Canada's future.

For these reasons, Canada has been a key player in the development of robust international trade rules since the 1947 beginnings of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which later became the WTO.

The WTO remains a cornerstone of Canada's trade and investment policy and serves as a backstop against protectionism. The continued enhancement of global trade rules benefits Canada and the international community as a whole.

The WTO provides an important and effective forum for settling trade disputes, which has dealt with 500 cases in just over 20 years.

Today, 98% of global trade takes place under the WTO rule book, and the WTO's 164 members actively monitor each other's trade measures against those rules in order to improve transparency and avoid protectionism.

It is a system that continues to deliver results, as evidenced by decisions in Canada's challenge of the U.S. COOL rules; that is, country of original labelling.

The WTO delivers results in other areas too, such as the Nairobi package announced at the 10th WTO ministerial meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, late last year, which included discussions on issues important to developing and least-developed countries, including the elimination of trade-distorting export subsidies and conclusion on the expanded Information Technology Agreement, the ITA.

Once implemented, the ITA will eliminate tariffs on certain information technology products that represent around 10% of global trade, which is about $1.3 trillion annually.

The Minister of International Trade participated in the 2015 ministerial conference, where she talked about the importance of inclusive growth and shared prosperity for both developed and developing countries. We want trade and opening up of markets to help raise standards of living, empower women, and protect the environment.

The WTO better helps to integrate developing countries into a global trading system and ensures that they derive real, tangible benefits from it. The WTO also provides the technical assistance required to help improve their trading capacities.

The TFA, a multilateral undertaking, was successful in large part due to the flexibility it allows in the way new commitments are taken on, which has proven to be a crucial ingredient for the WTO's recent successes. It allows developing WTO members to implement commitments in ways commensurate with their capacity.

Under the TFA, developing members are able to divide commitments into those they can implement immediately, those for which they will require extra time, and those requiring both additional time and technical assistance. Developed economies are to facilitate the provisions of technical assistance.

Canada is well positioned to assist developing WTO members in implementing the TFA's provisions and has been refocusing development programming to promote trade facilitation reforms.

Key examples of our efforts include contributions to the World Bank's trade facilitation support program and the new Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation.

The World Bank's trade facilitation support program is a multi-donor program that helps developing countries implement trade facilitation reforms in a manner consistent with the World Trade Organization's TFA. Canada donated $2 million to this worthwhile initiative.

The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, launched in December 2015, is an innovative public-private platform to ensure effective trade facilitation reforms in developing countries measured by real-world business metrics.

The key innovation of the alliance is to leverage private expertise to identify, validate, and support practical reforms that simplify customs procedures, reduce border wait times, and reduce trade costs—to which Canada contributed $10 million, as a founding donor.

The TFA has attracted widespread support from Canadian and international stakeholders, including the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, and a large number of agriculture and agri-food business associations.

The TFA will only enter into force once two-thirds of WTO members have ratified the agreement. Some 92 members have already ratified the TFA. This includes our major trading partners—the United States, the European Union, China, and Japan—and Canada is expected to follow suit expeditiously. An additional 18 ratifications are required for the TFA to enter into force.

The statutory amendments contained in Bill C-13 are required to allow Canada to ratify this agreement. These amendments are designed to protect the health and safety of Canadian consumers and workers, as well as the environment, in the event that goods in transit are diverted into the Canadian market, and to clarify practices related to the treatment of rejected goods.

Canada is committed to making the world more prosperous and helping the poorest and most vulnerable reap the poverty-reduction benefits of economic growth. Canada can do its part by ratifying the TFA as quickly as possible.

I urge all hon. members to support the legislative amendments contained in Bill C-13 that will enable Canada to do our part to bring this agreement into force.

Food and Drugs ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2016 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, I actually did not raise the TPP during my speech, but I would be happy to answer.

The concerns the NDP members have raised, and they are concerns brought to us by many stakeholders, not just here in Canada but at the beginning of the discussions on the TPP, were that they were done in private and created an agreement that, basically, we cannot amend right now.

Let us imagine that someone went to buy an automobile—my personal preference, in terms of my riding, would be a Pacifica—and in trying to negotiate the sale was given a contract, with the only option being to sign that contract.

Later on, when there were discussions and hearings, as we are having, we heard concerns that people were not consulted during the creation and have no avenue to deal with the issue.

I would continue to at least look at some of the benefits and some of the challenges we have. On Bill C-13, I have talked a lot about organized crime and the exposure of our ports, with goods and services coming into Canada, which would expand, as would the problems we have with organized crime.

Interestingly, we are going to have a chance in this chamber very soon to deal with a bill on organized crime. It is my private member's bill, Bill C-221, which is up for a vote on Wednesday. That bill alone will end a $10-billion annual benefit, in cash, for organized crime in Canada alone, and $4 billion in Canadian money that goes offshore.

We can affect things right here, right now. This bill, C-13, will have further challenges if we want to tackle organized crime.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

June 16th, 2016 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby South, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-221, an act to amend the Criminal Code on sports betting, put forward by my colleague, the MP for Windsor West.

Before I start, I would like to say a few things about the MP for Windsor West.

I cannot think of a better champion for his or her community than that MP, the dean of the NDP caucus. Not only is he a voice of reason in our party and in the House, but he is also a tireless defender of his community. This bill shows he has a deep understanding of how his region works, the needs of his region, and is prepared to put forward positive ideas and proposals to make the local economy better.

This bill, in brief, proposes to modernize the Criminal Code to allow provinces to regulate single-event sports betting. In doing so, the member argues, in putting his bill forward, that it would add economic benefit to not just his community, but many Canadian communities, and reduce the influence of organized crime.

I will speak a bit about those two points. I am supporting the bill for a different reason, which I will share shortly.

Bill C-221 would amend the Criminal Code by deleting a section in it which explicitly prohibits provinces from allowing wagering “...on any race or fight, or on a single sport event or athletic contest”. The bill would allow for wagering on the outcome of a single sporting event, and many Canadians are probably confused that we do not already have this. This is a throwback law that has been in place for a long time, and in a lot of people's views, unnecessarily.

There has been a shift in how betting laws are regulated in Canada. The federal government has decentralized a lot of this control to the provinces over the years. Provinces are currently responsible for operating, licensing, and regulating all legal forms of gambling, including the lottery schemes. This is really because each region, each province, has individual needs and, of course, different cultures for gambling and related events.

Perhaps there are different views among the populations that have to be reflected in provincial laws, which makes sense. It is not as if we do not have unregulated betting at all. It is handled by the provinces.

There was too much regulation at one point, and now we are kind of reaching a point that we have decided that the provinces will take care of all of this. Therefore, each province determines the type, amount, and location of gaming activity that is available in their jurisdiction, which seems right to me.

Since 1985, gaming facilities have been established in most provinces, offering a diverse range of options, including slot and video machines, card games, and games of chance such as Roulette and Craps. In greater Vancouver, we have seen a kind of flourishing of the gaming industry, but a moderate flourishing. When this started, a lot of people thought it would be a very bad and intrusive industry that would change the very nature of our communities. However, it does not seem to have had that impact, although it has had both positive and negative impacts.

The key is that at least it is regulated now. At least the provincial governments get a significant amount of revenue from these industries. Not only provincial governments but municipalities and charities also receive a significant benefit from gambling.

Gaming is one of the oldest activities in the world. It is proper to regulate it, again, much like marijuana. It is something that happens, and government involvement is important. Also, it would lead us to recover some of the revenue so we could help support things like addiction services and counselling when people have trouble with these activities.

Oversight in this industry has been decentralized to the provinces, but the Criminal Code still applies to some aspects of the gaming industry, including single-event sports betting. Therefore, if this proposed law were in place and single-event sports wagering were permitted, each province would determine how and if it would be implemented.

It is not like passing this law would all of a sudden open up single sports betting right across Canada. It would still be up to the provinces to decide if they were going to allow it and what the laws would look like in each province.

The public is not losing control of this industry or oversight of this industry, it is just being decentralized to the provinces, who, I would say, are in better shape to make decisions about those more localized communities.

We heard some arguments today about the economics of this industry. Gaming is an important contributor to the Canadian economy. It is the largest segment of the entertainment industry, and supports more than 128,000 full-time jobs, with another 283,000 indirect jobs. It generates almost $9 billion in revenue for government and community programs. It is nothing to sneeze at, and it is something to take very seriously.

I am glad my colleague from Windsor West has brought the bill forward. It allows us to have these kinds of debates. Again, it puts pressure on the government to consider if, indeed, we are regulating this industry in the correct way.

The reason why single-event sports betting is important is that it would give the Canadian gaming industry an edge over the American gaming industry. In British Columbia, where I am from, although there are local casinos, most people talk about going to Las Vegas. Lots of British Columbians fly to Las Vegas to bet down there. One reason is single-event sports betting, which is allowed in Las Vegas but not in British Columbia.

One could imagine the reverse flow of residents and gamers if this were allowed in British Columbia, starting here with this law and then regulation by the province. It would reverse the flow of that money. That is an important consideration. We all know we are in tough economic times. This would be important.

Now in Vancouver, with a fairly robust economy, maybe this would not make a huge difference, but in some communities along the border, this would make a difference, especially from what I am hearing from my colleagues in Windsor. No other states have legalized single-event gaming operations, so this would give Canadian gamers an edge. My colleagues have said it very well, that this is occurring. These betting activities are occurring, but mainly illegally in Canada. What this allows us to do is capture the revenue that we are losing.

Again, the government has made the same claims about legalizing marijuana, saying that when it is an illegal substance it is only dealt with in an illegal way and all the profits remain in the hands of organized crime. That is why they are arguing they should legalize marijuana. It would allow the government to regulate and capture this revenue. The same case could be made for single-event sports betting.

We have heard opposition from the other side, and we have heard a number of Liberals say that they are not going to support the bill. They have in the past, and I am hoping that they again reflect on what they are denying Canadians by voting against the bill.

In terms of organized crime and the effects of organized crime in this area, illegal sports wagering includes both illegal bookmakers and illegal Internet betting companies operating in North America. It is hard to estimate the size of black markets, but according to the American Gaming Association, Americans spent almost $140 billion on illegal betting last year. In Canada it is harder to get a sense of what illegal gambling brings in, but it is estimated that it is between $14 billion and $15 billion, only on single-event sports betting.

One can imagine the amount, if this entire industry were regulated, in two ways: first, if we were able to capture revenue on the $14 billion to $15 billion, and second, if we were able to attract some of the American betters.

I am not a huge fan of gambling. It may seem strange to say that after this speech but I have talked to my constituents. I opposed a mixed martial arts bill that came from the Senate in the last session. However, I voted for it because my constituency told me loud and clear that this was what they wanted. The same applies to this bill. I have talked to a number of people in my constituency, elected officials and local residents. They have said they want me to support the bill, and that is what I am doing.

I am standing up today to support my colleague from Windsor West and his private member's bill. I hope everyone here in the House will as well.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

June 16th, 2016 / 5:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-221, also called the safe and regulated sports betting act.

I would like to thank my hon. colleague and neighbour, the member for Windsor West, for introducing this bill. It is an important piece of legislation. It seeks to delete paragraph 207(4)(b) from the Criminal Code, which explicitly prohibits wagering on any race, fight, or single sports event or athletic contest.

The bill may sound familiar, and for good reason. It was previously introduced by my friend, Joe Comartin, the now retired member for Windsor—Tecumseh. He did more than just introduce it, though. His bill was debated in this place, passed in a vote at third reading, and sent to the Senate. Unfortunately, it languished in the Senate for years before dying on the Order Paper with the dissolution of the 41st Parliament.

It is shameful that the Senate did not do its job and that it prevented the passage of legislation that was passed by elected MPs in the House. Therefore, I thank the member for Windsor West for choosing to reintroduce his former colleague's bill and for his continued work serving his community in the region of Windsor-Essex.

As I mentioned, Bill C-221 would remove the clause in the Criminal Code that prohibits betting on “on any race or fight, or on a single sport event or athletic contest”. Betting on sporting events is not illegal in Canada. Since 2005, Canadians have spent around $500 million annually betting on sports legally. What this bill would do is make betting on a single event legal.

Right now, individuals are required to bet on at least two events. In Ontario, the minimum is three. This so-called parlay system is under the jurisdiction of the provinces, as is all operating, licensing, and regulating of legal gambling. Bill C-221 would simply allow for single sports betting to come under the purview of the provinces as well.

The safe and regulated sports betting act is very relevant to the people who live in my riding of Essex. A large employer and attraction in our region is the world-class Caesars Windsor casino. People come from all over southwestern Ontario and the American Midwest to visit Caesars, both for its entertainment purposes and to enjoy the many other tourist attractions of the Windsor-Essex region. Local residents know how much Americans love coming over to Caesars. All anyone has to do is look at the border traffic on any weekend in Windsor.

Americans choose to come to Windsor-Essex even though Detroit casinos may be more convenient for them. They like coming to Canada, especially now with the lower dollar. The legislation before us today would give casinos like Caesars a competitive advantage over their competition south of the border. This is good for Canadian jobs, tourism, and economy.

Currently, only Las Vegas, Nevada, offers legal single sports betting in North America. Think about that. If people want to place a legal wager on the Super Bowl, the Grey Cup, or a Stanley Cup finals game, the only place they can do so is Las Vegas. For the Super Bowl weekend alone, there are estimates that nearly $116 million were generated.

There is tremendous economic opportunity here. Gaming is the largest sector of the entertainment industry. It directly supports more than 128,000 full-time jobs and generates $8.7 billion in revenue to governments and first nations groups. A Canadian Gaming Association study estimates that the introduction of single sports betting would generate $70 million in revenues and nearly $31 million in ancillary revenues to the Windsor-Essex region. Other border regions with casinos would similarly benefit.

Many communities stand to gain from this new source of revenue that would be returned, in part, to the community. It has been estimated that allowing single sports betting could create 100 direct jobs at Caesars Windsor. This is huge for my region, which has stubbornly high unemployment rates. Over the past decade alone, it has lost well over 10,000 good manufacturing jobs. The region needs new opportunities. This is why my colleague's bill has widespread support, including from the city of Windsor, the city of Niagara Falls, the Canadian Gaming Association, and the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.

A delegation came to Ottawa earlier this year to encourage parliamentarians to support this bill. Representatives came from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Gaming Association, and others. Despite the bill's broad support, the government has said it opposes Bill C-221 because it could potentially have negative impacts on those who struggle with gambling addictions. This is a serious concern and something to which I am very sensitive. Addiction is a serious problem, one that can destroy the lives of people and families in our community. Let us not underplay that.

However, I do not see any evidence put forth by the government to support its claims that Bill C-221 would encourage gambling problems. It is important to note that single sports betting already happens in Canada, but it is illegal and unregulated. In fact, it is estimated that the size of the market is in the $14 billion to $15 billion range. It is operated by illegal offshore gaming companies or organized crime rings. These are unregulated and unsafe venues. Yet, every day, people hand over their credit card information to these offshore websites and incur big amounts of debt. These organizations will not hesitate to prey on the vulnerable and they do not help to provide services that benefit the public.

Simply continuing the prohibition on single sports betting, as the government seems to favour, will do nothing to stop these organizations from profiting off of Canadians. According to reports by the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, bookmaking exists in all regions of Canada, and gambling, including sports betting, is used as a funding tool for organized crime. A legal and regulated single sports betting industry would undermine the client base of illegal gambling venues. Legalization would not only reduce their profits by providing customers with a legal alternative, but it would also protect law-abiding citizens.

For those who currently participate in single sports betting by dealing with criminal groups, a regulated industry would provide a safe alternative. This safe alternative would be of greatest benefit to those suffering from an addiction to gambling. As I have said, we need to support those who need our help, and continuing this prohibition on single sports betting impairs our ability to do this. Instead of being exposed to the opportunities and services available to them in a safe, legal, and regulated environment, those suffering from gambling addiction are forced to interact with predatory and criminal enterprises. This is dangerous to their personal safety and financial health, and also detrimental to their ability to heal. Do members think organized crime groups are contributing money to anti-addiction efforts, supports, or services? Of course not. The provinces do this.

Measures are in place to support people with gambling addictions. In Ontario, there is a Responsible Gaming Resource Centre operated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. The one in Caesars Windsor is open seven days a week between 10 a.m. and 2 a.m. These centres provide people with information about community services available to help them fight addiction and also help them learn about safe gaming practices. According to the website rgrc.org, over 170,000 people receive services from these centres.

There are other resources available to those who wish to seek help with their addiction. These include Ontario's self-exclusion program, where individuals can request to be denied access to OLG facilities; and also the playsmart.ca website, which is full of excellent resources. It is incredibly important to have a strong network of services to support people with these addictions.

Bill C-221 would not legalize something that does not already happen. Single sports betting happens every day in Canada. What we are talking about here is providing the opportunity for the provinces to be able to regulate and co-ordinate in a safe environment. We know and believe that moderation is the key to responsibly enjoying other forms of gaming. This principle should be applied to single sports betting.

Let us take the money out of the hands of criminal groups and put it to work for our communities. Providing a safe and legal environment for Canadians and providing the vulnerable with better addictions services absolutely deserve all of our support.

I want to encourage my colleagues to give serious consideration to supporting this bill at second reading. I urge all members to vote in support of the safe and regulated sports betting act.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

June 16th, 2016 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

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.

The House resumed from April 19 consideration of the motion that Bill C-221, an act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActStatements By Members

June 16th, 2016 / 2 p.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, later today my Bill C-221 will be debated in the House of Commons for the second time before going to a vote. I would like to thank the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley for his support for this bill.

This bill would allow single-event sports betting, which is critical for the Canadian economy. Most important, it would take away $14 billion of money to organized crime and unregulated offshore betting taking place right now in a market that induces our youth. The money it supplies to organized crime can be rerouted to public infrastructure, health care, education, gaming addiction, and a number of different priorities that Canadians want.

Sports analysts across the world are coming to the conclusion that regulation is necessary for this activity. This bill, to be clear, would allow the provinces to do this if they so choose. It would not make them do anything. Why would Liberals be opposed to the province of Ontario? Are they listening anymore?

Opposition Motion—Internal TradeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2016 / 11:30 a.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for a great intervention on the issue, because a lot of what we do now with regard to the motion will be in the interest of moving interprovincial trade forward. Therefore, we have to ask if the motion actually accomplishes that goal. I will get to that a little later.

Many Canadians are very much in favour of regular trade among Canadians. We have witnessed a wonderful phenomenon now taking place with small business development in our country that is key to neighbourhoods and communities. I see that type of energy and robust innovation being applied beyond communities and provinces to other provinces.

Locally, we have a new cycling manufacturing industry that is now branching out in Canada and to other places across North America, and even internationally.

The Windsor—Essex region has also grown from having some of the earliest wineries in Canada. A number of them, including Colio, Pelee Island, and others, have led us to be one of the greater wine regions in Canada. I believe that at last count there were 19 wineries in the Windsor—Essex region, predominantly in the Essex—Chatham area. It has become a tourism attraction and a good opportunity for the horticultural industry. It is also a flag bearer for Canadian content, which is being pushed beyond our region and beyond our country.

We see these things happening. That is one of the reasons I have tabled a private member's bill on lowering the taxation of beer produced by microbreweries to allow them to create and develop their businesses, because often they are small ventures. I proposed a tiering system in the bill, but I will not get into the details. What is important to note about the craft brewing industry is that it has rehabilitated old neighbourhood buildings or facilities that were underutilized. Brewers have often revitalized historic landmarks, which has led to greater community development. I think many members have witnessed this in their communities.

I know that a lot of younger people have gotten on the ground floor with these innovations and exports.

The member has a record of having pushed for a number of issues related to this, and successfully so. The mass production and distribution of spirits, wines, and beers beyond local markets is a relatively new phenomenon. Over the last 100 to 200 years, we saw more mass production and distribution than ever before, especially in the last 50 to 60 years. The key elements of trade along these corridors were there for many decades. Now we see a bit of a rejuvenation.

Does the motion today lead to an improvement in the convoluted situation with regard to interprovincial trade? It focuses on wine at the moment, but at the same time, it will get us an opinion on other types of trade that could happen within our country.

As we move to more online purchasing as consumers, we have barriers that are artificial.

Just yesterday, the New Democrats celebrated with the government and the Conservatives the passing of the Marrakesh Treaty on barriers to persons with disabilities in accessing larger print and alternative-to-print books. We are one of the leading nations in this effort. It is very much a non-partisan effort and is one step in the process. It was basically the system that created the barriers we are tearing down now.

This is similar. We created these barriers in the past that are not relevant to our economic well-being and success in the future.

We have seen numerous efforts on the government side and even by opposition members on various political sides to try to move provincial trade to the forefront and get this addressed. We are back to why the member has put this motion forward. Is it the best vehicle for this? Perhaps not, but at the end of the day, when I look at the motion and the intent of the member, I have to say that this would actually be a net benefit for Parliament and for Canadians.

I want to read the reasons in the motion, because there are some key elements that need to be explained. It might even help the minister in trade discussions. As my colleague mentioned, many of these discussions have been held without any type of accountability, because they were held behind closed doors. We are simply supposed to trust that. That is something we cannot do. I think we would not be following through on our parliamentary responsibility as opposition members.

The member talked about the constitutional right of Canadians to trade with Canadians. That is an interesting discussion, because basically, the provincial divide trumps, not Donald Trump, thank goodness, the rights of Canadians. I do not think that is right. I have often said, when I have argued against some of the U.S. notions of Canadians from abroad being threats, that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. Whether people have immigrated as children or just recently, they have been vetted through our process and they are now equal among us. The same thing is true with that suggestion.

The Constitution Act is interesting, because it says, “All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces”.

I am not a lawyer. I know, though, that the words “shall” and “will” are interpretative words in law that become quite complicated. In fact, I got a motion passed, in agreement with the Conservative government at that time, because we had a substitution in that very debate of “shall” and “will”. In fact, it was a very special occasion that required Parliament to briefly resume, and then we adjourned Parliament for the summer. It was on the International Bridges and Tunnels Act. My former colleague, Joe Comartin, who is a lawyer, played a pivotal role in that, and the differentiation between “shall” and “will” and the interpretation of “strength of law” was in that.

We also have the recent court case on the constitutional clarification of section 121. It could be applied to other types of trade than we are talking about right now.

My job here is to advance Canadians and to make sure that the government is held to account. It does not have to be done in a hostile way. I understand the government's interpretation. I use the example of my private member's bill, Bill C-221, the single event sports betting bill. Unlike the minister saying that it is a regional thing, this is actually a Canada-wide thing that gives provinces a choice.

For that reason, I will support this motion, because it advances the cause of domestic trade for Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Internal TradeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2016 / 11:15 a.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, at the end of the day in this discussion, this debate, what is necessary is the trust required to go ahead with the general Liberal approach. The minister is claiming that his negotiating strength with the provinces, trying to get them as a collective to work together, would be compromised to some degree versus that of going to the Supreme Court and getting an opinion on a piece of legislation that is more encompassing than this one particular matter. However, in my opinion, that would also give us and Parliament some worthwhile information.

The difficulty I am having with the government's position on this “trust me” file is that, my private member's bill, Bill C-221, with respect to single event sports betting, has all of the provinces in agreement that it allows the provinces to choose what they want to do and does not force them to do anything. Multiple ministers and provinces have asked for this. However, it requires one line in the Criminal Code to be eliminated. The Liberal government is opposed to that choice of the provinces, yet we are supposed to believe that, in this case, its path is true and clean, versus the action we can take here with this motion, which would merely give us information for the future should negotiations fail and not be comprehensive, and which might also lead toward the courts anyway.

Therefore, I ask the minister this with respect to that contradiction. When the provinces specifically write, lobby, and ask for something to be a choice for them versus that of getting an opinion, how can they have it both ways?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

May 10th, 2016 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, a specific example of an election broken promise is that Liberals in my area promised that my single events sports betting bill, Bill C-221, would be put in the budget. It would become a regulated industry under my bill and would allow money to be shifted away from organized crime. It would provide jobs and new revenue sources for the government in terms of accountable funds. My bill is still out there. It could have been put in the budget. That was a promise made by the Liberals during the campaign.

Many of the economic studies that have been done related to this have shown that it would benefit small business. The redistribution of those funds from organized crime would affect tourism in a positive way, economic development through the management aspect with regard to single events sports betting, and also protect our billions of dollars' worth of infrastructure from the United States. That would take that industry allocation out of the equation. It would also provide desperately needed resources for public expenditures and investment opportunities. It would provide a revenue stream for those who have gaming problems.

We have all of that versus allowing $10 billion going to organized crime and its associations per year, and another $4 billion offshore that they do want to have a regulated environment that is not coming back at all and is not accountable. That is one specific example that would affect all of us in a positive way and it would reduce the revenue that organized crime depends upon every single day.

May 10th, 2016 / 4:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

That's interesting.

Before I get into my second question, I want to thank the Chamber of Commerce for working with me on Bill C-221, the single-event sports betting bill. The elimination of crime and costs from that bill is one thing, but the jobs will also be very important in allowing this product to be chosen by provinces if they want to. It's been interesting to have the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Labour Congress supporting a bill. That's been very important to me.

One of the things I struggle with a little is that we talk a lot about small business and helping them, but we can't forget some of the larger businesses. Some of them now are foreign owned, so it's hard sometimes to justify some type of a subsidy or tax relief. I'm very much more for training, for example, or moving toward some type of environmental stewardship. Those are public policy goals, to support the infusion of some capital from us. But what's the case for us not to forget some of the larger organizations, even if some of them are actually foreign? What's the decision-making for R and D and stuff like that, which can help other businesses? I open that to both of you because I think it's important for us not to forget.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 19th, 2016 / 6:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Georgina Jolibois NDP Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak to Bill C-221 today, an act to amend the Criminal Code. This bill would modernize the Criminal Code by allowing provinces to properly regulate sports betting. If single event sports wagering were permitted, each province would therefore determine if and how it would be implemented.

The Canadian Criminal Code, which is enacted by the Parliament of Canada, sets out the parameters of legal gaming in Canada. However, since 1985, as a result of a federal-provincial agreement, the federal government has given up its right to conduct lottery schemes. Sports wagering is defined as lottery schemes in the Criminal Code and explicitly prohibits provinces from allowing wagering on any race or fight, or on a single sports event or athletic contest. This bill calls for the deletion of this section of the Criminal Code.

The bill would help modernize the Criminal Code to recognize the jurisdictional responsibility and reality of gaming throughout the country. If provinces were able to provide a legal, regulated sports wagering product, the economic impact would be significant, particularly for communities with casinos. A recent report by the Canadian Gaming Association on the impact of sports wagering on Ontario border casinos highlighted the benefits of offering a legal, regulated sports wagering product in the Ontario border casinos of Windsor and Niagara Falls.

Another thing that Bill C-221 would allow us to do would be to reduce the influence of organized crime. Illegal sports wagering includes both illegal bookmakers and illegal Internet betting companies operating within North America. While the exact size of the illegal bookmaking market is not certain, published reports by government and law enforcement officials suggest it is substantial. For example, based on a review of the annual reports of the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, bookmaking exists in every region of Canada. According to the reports, gaming profits provide revenue to organized crime groups to fund their illegal and legal activities.

Once more, while the size of the illegal bookmaking market in Canada is unknown, it is thought to be significant. It has been estimated that Canadians illegally wager between $14 billion and $15 billion annually on single sporting events. Bill C-221 would allow the provinces to police this unregulated market, and in so doing return the economic benefits to our communities and reduce the influence of organized crime. It would afford the opportunity for bettors using illegal systems to use the safety, security, and surety of the government regulated betting regime.

I would like to mention that much support has been expressed for Bill C-221. Many validators, such as municipalities, associations, and corporations, have already supported this bill. Among those, there is the Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation, the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, the municipality of Windsor, the Attorneys General of Ontario and British Columbia, and the Canadian Gaming Association.