Mr. Speaker, it will be tough for me to hit those heights that the member for Lethbridge just did in standing up for her constituents, but we in the Conservative Party have been standing up for ordinary Canadians for quite some time. That is what this party is all about, our agenda of consumer protecting legislation, of measures to protect ordinary Canadians, which is reflected in the bill, which is essentially the Liberal government taking up our Bill C-62 from the last Parliament and bringing it forward in this Parliament. That is one example of it, but there are many other examples of that.
We did a great deal to introduce more competition, for example, in the wireless sector so that people would pay less. It is an ongoing struggle to do in this country, and it tends to happen in federally regulated industries for some reason, but we did that. We protected consumers when we brought in a ban on biphenyl, BPH, which was a chemical in a lot of plastic materials to make them soft. It was appealing to have in things that babies and children would be chewing on, and of course, it was hazardous. Our government banned that so that children would be protected.
I and other members encouraged a ban on phosphates in dishwasher detergents so that we could protect the health of Lake Simcoe and so many other lakes in which phosphates were affecting water quality, and that was to the detriment of all consumers and ordinary citizens. We did it throughout, with a number of measures under our chemical action plan where we methodically evaluated, one after another, chemicals that were being introduced into consumer environments or into people's homes, to assess whether they were hazardous, what the risks were, if we really needed to have these chemicals in people's homes, and how we could protect Canadians better.
We also did it in some of our rules that we brought in to ensure that there was greater truth in food packaging, again, something to protect consumers. I could go on and on, but that was an agenda where the Conservative Party, in our finest tradition, was standing up to protect ordinary Canadians, to protect ordinary citizens and provide them with the protection that they thought was a legitimate role of the government, of the state.
That is often a question because another element of our Conservative philosophy is that we are great believers in freedom, liberty, and minimizing the role of government. The question becomes what is the appropriate role of government and where is there a place. What many of these things have in common are values that justify the government stepping in where people look to government to play that role. As Conservatives, we understood and continue to understand that difference between when government is the correct answer to the question and when it is not.
In a case like this one, where we are dealing with safety, safety is paramount. There is no greater role for a government than to ensure the safety of its citizens. In this case, when we are dealing with auto recalls, the dangers of something going wrong of a mechanical nature are indeed great. The consequences are great, and that is one reason that suggests perhaps the government has a role, one reason why Canadians expect government to play a role.
Another occasion is where there is an imbalance in information or knowledge between different entities or in power. With automobiles, that is certainly the case. More and more with specializations in society, typical Canadians do not necessarily know how to fix a car, what is wrong with a car, and how to recognize if there is a flaw in a vehicle. They do not have those kinds of resources compared with the very significant multinational corporation that has a lot at stake. That is where people are looking for government to step in on the side of ordinary consumers, and that is what we Conservatives were doing when we introduced the predecessor to this bill, Bill C-62.
As technology changes, as things become more technical—and we have seen that happen in the auto sector with automobiles—again there is a place for us to step in on the side of consumers, on the side of ordinary Canadians to make sure their interests are protected. That is again a legitimate role for us.
I talk about that imbalance. That imbalance when major corporations are involved has sadly and unfortunately been an issue in the auto sector. We have seen that recently. We have seen that on the international stage with some of the European manufacturers who were caught up in this very major scandal to do with diesel emissions and diesel emission testing.
Big corporations found ways to alter their technology so the vehicles “knew” when they were being tested and suddenly changed the way they operated to score better on those tests and then later, on the efficiency test, went back to the regular way of operating. Obviously, that would raise a lot of questions of trust, but it is also a place where the government has to step in to defend consumers and their interests. It meant, of course, that the efficiency and the mileage advertized was not really what was expected by consumers and citizens, and it also meant that some of the other objectives of those emission and efficiency standards were not being achieved.
We also have to ask ourselves why that happens. Why did those companies do that? We see that is also a response to government intervention that the companies went there. Obviously there are important questions of ethics and morality in play and incentives we have to look at, but what is funny is that it puts those two different tensions at play. When the Conservative government brought Bill C-62 forward, the member for Milton was the minister at the time, though there was much work done in the run-up to it by predecessor ministers, but the purpose was to find the right balance in standing up for consumers and making sure their interests were protected.
Earlier today, we discussed recalls in the drug industry and some of the powers of big pharma, another area where the Conservative government was very active in standing up for ordinary citizens and an area where perhaps more still needs to be done to ensure the interests of ordinary citizens are protected. We see a little of that right now with the spreading of the opioid crisis. Have we really looked carefully at whether all of the incentives are right and all of the protections are there for consumers? That needs to be addressed at the federal level and especially at the provincial level. These are all important values at play, but the bottom line for us as Conservatives, people who stand up for their constituents, is that we want to be there for those consumers when they face those imbalances and risks and stand up for them.
With respect to the auto industry in particular, I have had personal experience with recall notices, and some funny things can happen. With my most recent recall notice, I went to a dealership and, oddly, the mechanic working on the car refused to do the recall work, suggesting to me I had to get my car detailed first in order to get it done, because he was not happy with the cleanliness of the area where he would have to work on the airbag. I have a Honda and took it to a Honda dealership here in Ottawa. I had to ask myself why that happened. There was nothing particularly unusual about the situation, but what troubles me is that either there were incentives in place—where the mechanic was being told if he sold 10 car details that month he would win a trip somewhere, he was trying to upsell, and this was his chance to do that—or perhaps there is an imbalance in the pressure on dealerships to provide these recall repairs and they feel they do not have sufficient compensation to do it, which goes to the amendment before the House that the Senate has introduced.
I do not know whether that amendment strikes exactly the right balance, but I do know that amendment obviously addresses what may be a very real issue, and my own personal experience is telling me that it was a real issue. I do not want to leave anybody with the impression that I have a problem with Honda. My car has 470,000 kilometres on it. It has been outstanding and I would buy another Civic Si when the time comes, which is probably relatively soon. It is a high-quality vehicle manufactured not too far from my constituency and that of the hon. member for Simcoe—Grey. It is an outstanding vehicle that has performed very well, but this recall experience tells me that there are still very real problems, that we have to do things to stand up for consumers, to ensure their interests are protected, and that we have to get the balance right. I am of the view that Bill C-62 was a great step forward in doing that. I am also of the view that perhaps some of the initiatives in the amendment that comes from our friends in the Senate may be yet another element in improving that one step further. It is certainly an issue for which we have to find the right answer.
This, to me, is a piece of legislation I have no problem supporting. It is in the long tradition of what we in the Conservative Party have stood for and is, in fact, a bill that we presented in the last Parliament. I am happy to speak in favour of it and vote for it when the time comes.