Evidence of meeting #42 for Industry, Science and Technology in the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was vehicle.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Craig Drury  Past Chair, Associated Equipment Distributors
Alana Baker  Senior Director of Government Relations, Automotive Industries Association of Canada
David Adams  President and Chief Executive Officer, Global Automakers of Canada
Sylvain Séguin  President – Fix Network, Canada, Automotive Industries Association of Canada

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Thanks very much. I appreciate it.

Thanks for bringing this bill to us. It's incredibly important as a matter of consumer rights.

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Wilson Miao Liberal Richmond Centre, BC

Thank you.

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Joël Lightbound

Thank you very much, MP Erskine-Smith.

We'll move to Mr. Lemire for six minutes.

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Lemire Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Mr. Miao. Congratulations for your leadership and for the confidence you have shown in defending certain technical aspects of your bill. It's always agreeable to see members care so much about their bill.

Section 41.21 of the Copyright Act enables the Governor-in-Council to make regulations to amend certain anti-circumvention aspects of the act, by providing for other exceptions to the anti-circumvention rules.

When you want to allow someone to circumvent a technological protection measure, or TPM, to diagnose, maintain or repair a product, how would including that in an act be a better way of accomplishing it than simply making regulations? Why legislate? Why do you think the government didn't adopt such regulations?

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Wilson Miao Liberal Richmond Centre, BC

I think both are important. It is very important because right now there is nothing in Canada that protects consumer rights and provides consumers with an alternative to repair, which causes a very serious problem to our environment as well.

This bill would not only allow the circumvention of TPMs; it also has consequences affecting the environment, because consumers face a very strong dilemma when products nowadays are mostly made with planned obsolescence to limit the lifespan of the devices. Even I have had the experience of seeing a product that I might be able to fix easily with a part that I can find, but only authorized dealers carry it. If you get it from somewhere else and you install it, then the device will detect something that is not part of the original and it will say that you can't use this device.

In most cases, consumers will decide that instead of fixing it, they will just get a new one. The old one will end up in landfills or third world countries that don't have the privilege of taking apart these products or recycling them for other uses.

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Lemire Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

That is indeed the crux of the problem and thank you for your leadership.

Your bill also comes up with a very interesting concept, the confirmation that people have the right to repair the property that belongs to them, or to have it repaired.

Do you think your bill is particularly useful for people living in the regions, in rural areas, where it's hard to find people authorized to make repairs?

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Wilson Miao Liberal Richmond Centre, BC

Of course.

An example I would give is someone in the Prairies. Farmers rely on heavy equipment like tractors to provide produce for our nation. Whenever a repair or diagnostic is required, they will have to arrange logistics for the tractor to get to a nearby authorized dealer to carry out the repair necessary. This not only costs more money and more time, but also affects the performance of the agricultural industry. A simple fix comes with consequences at this moment, because heavy equipment like a tractor costs millions of dollars, and a small tamper will void every warranty that comes with it.

Is it justifiable for farmers to do the repairs themselves at this time, or must they go through the hassle of the logistics get it to the dealer to make the repair?

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Lemire Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

That is definitely an issue of territorial equity.

What is your bill telling auto manufacturers and dealers?

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Wilson Miao Liberal Richmond Centre, BC

During our discussions with some in the auto industry, the concerns around safety definitely came as a top priority, and also the advancement of technology. This bill's importance stems from the context of the Copyright Act, which, at the time it was carried out, did not consider the computer programming that is related to a product. In these circumstances, we're not creating legislation just for us to use now but for future considerations as well.

In the automotive industry, there are many concerns. However, the voluntary agreement that is in place right now provides leeway for car owners to fix their vehicles in the local community repair shop instead of travelling far away.

Definitely there is a lot of concern in the industry, but I would say it's also important to consider all other industries across Canada.

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Lemire Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Thank you.

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Joël Lightbound

Thank you very much, Mr. Lemire.

I'm now giving the floor to Mr. Masse for six minutes.

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Welcome to committee. It's good to have you here on the other side.

I want to follow up on Mr. Lemire's good questions with regard to the auto industry.

In 2007, 2008 and 2009, I travelled the country to bring in the right to repair for the auto sector, and I have a subsequent bill now in the House. The CASIS agreement, the Canadian Automotive Service Information Standard, was the settlement after my bill had passed the first round in the House of Commons and was going to a second and third reading. We did the voluntary agreement at that time.

How would this bill affect the voluntary agreement, in your opinion?

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Wilson Miao Liberal Richmond Centre, BC

First, Mr. Masse, thank you for all the work you have done in regard to the right-to-repair framework.

I understand that there have been a lot of conversations surrounding this voluntary agreement since it came into place back in 2009, and especially now. As we move forward with the target of eliminating all gasoline vehicles from the streets by 2035, there will be a lot more EVs on the street. With the current situation, some of the manufacturers are not bound by the voluntary agreement and do not have to provide the option of right-to-repair service by a third party. I believe that is not restricted just to Canadian consumers, but there is a lack of competition in our market because of it.

This bill, I believe, will stand on strong ground and address the unintended scope in the right-to-repair framework that the Copyright Act was never intended to have.

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

There's lots of discussion about the voluntary becoming mandatory. With Tesla in particular, it's ironic that we are putting Tesla charging stations in parks, in Canadian places and so forth, when they've opted out of the voluntary agreement. There are people like me who are asking why they should be able to sell autos in Canada if they can just opt out of the voluntary agreement, circumvent the consumer market and circumvent young people trying to get training and servicing. Then there are the other issues of public safety.

Honda is also another player that has issues.

Do you know if this bill will make that component mandatory? Is that something we may have to look towards changing or amending?

I thank you for your efforts, but that's kind of the thing I'm looking at. We have this voluntary agreement that has been working somewhat, but it seems outdated.

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Wilson Miao Liberal Richmond Centre, BC

I think this is quite important. In changing it from voluntary to mandatory, I'm sure there are a lot of considerations and studies to explore. At the same time, yes, I agree that we should give that option not just to the manufacturer or automaker that is bound by the voluntary agreement but to any manufacturer that wants to do business in our country, because this provides beneficial protection not just to Canadians but to the auto owners who save their hard-earned money to invest in transportation that allows them to further their work and make a living in our country.

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

I have one last quick question.

One of the concerns I have is that if we devolve a lot of this to the province, we could have provinces with different laws and rules. I worked in the past on single-event sports betting, and Mr. Waugh had his bill passed. We worked together on that. It was basically my bill. I took it back off the table, and he brought it forward. They did a great, amazing job, but the problem is that each province now has its own rules, and I've had concerns over how some of that evolved.

What do you say about the concerns about provinces making different jurisdictional decisions related to this initiative?

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Wilson Miao Liberal Richmond Centre, BC

I feel that the important part is that all governments need to work together. The intention of carrying out legislation like this is that it's really what Canadians need and want. Most importantly, I believe legislation carried out in the provinces can be different depending on their location. There's definitely more study required to look into how we can improve this situation and not have diversity in provincial jurisdictions on this legislation.

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Joël Lightbound

Thank you very much, Mr. Masse and Mr. Miao.

It's over to Mr. Vis now for five minutes.

October 31st, 2022 / 11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Brad Vis Conservative Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, MP Maio, for being here today. You certainly give us a lot to think about. It's a minor amendment with major consequences.

This summer I did some consultations with tractor dealers and with the agricultural sector in general with respect to this bill. It's garnered a lot of attention in British Columbia. One of the agricultural dealerships that I was speaking with, Matsqui Ag Repair, is licensed through various tractor manufacturers to repair on their behalf, and one thing they mentioned, which I think is important, is the amount of time, energy and money they have to spend on their staff to keep them up to date with all of the various computer programs to make sure that these modern tractors run. The companies that do tractor repair work invest significantly to do so. I just wanted to put that on the table.

The second point he made is that this bill will have major environmental consequences, negative consequences, because right now fuel costs have gone up substantially for farmers across Canada. He said one thing he's already dealing with under the vehicle manufacturing standards in Canada and maybe under CEPA that still needs to be amended on this front is that farmers are finding ways to cut costs by overriding the computer programs because they can't necessarily afford, or don't want to afford, all of the input costs to harvest their crops.

He gave the example of a carburetor. It's easy in some cases for a farmer to override the software to essentially decrease the efficacy of the carburetor being used.

Have you heard of similar instances in your consultations on the possibly negative environmental consequences of this bill in respect to circumventing computer programs to avoid high input costs?

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Wilson Miao Liberal Richmond Centre, BC

Thank you for sharing your comments.

That's a very good question, because, yes, I did hear about negative impacts related to environmental concerns, but here's my question to you as well.

Imagine this: With a tractor being so expensive, overriding the compressor to have maximum performance and tampering with what I also consider a TPM are considered illegal and would void the potential warranty with the dealership.

If that's the case, what happens with this expensive investment that ends up just sitting there on the farmland and not being used? There is a chance that the farmer might purchase another vehicle. Purchasing another vehicle means we need the raw materials, and we also need all the technologies and potentially investment in research areas to better advance the old piece of technology.

When we come to environmental concerns, yes, we do have those resources under our earth, but at the same time, environmentalists would have the consideration of why we are exploiting more resources when we can recycle the existing equipment.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Brad Vis Conservative Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, BC

Generally, when farmers are making an investment for a tractor, I know they want to use it. The life cycle of that vehicle is quite long. That's a 20-year investment, in some cases, for some of the producers in your riding and in mine, which have similar agricultural products.

In one of the other points you mentioned in your opening testimony, you talked about the legal consequences. Can you point to any court cases or rulings by courts in Canada that we as a committee can examine so that if we look at possible amendments, which you said you were open to, we can see how the Copyright Act has been used in the context that you're trying to address? Do you have any court cases in mind that you could point us to offhand?

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Wilson Miao Liberal Richmond Centre, BC

Thank you very much for that.

I don't actually have any existing court cases in mind, but regarding this issue, there is always the grey area. Parts can be imported from where the product is manufactured, and using them is a repair option for consumers. Fixing that device through an authorized dealer would definitely cost more than it would in a third party repair shop that is probably open in some communities. Is it illegal to do such circumvention?

I think it also comes with a huge consequence for the consumer, because finding a less expensive repair alternative also creates other restrictions on further use of their warranty.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Brad Vis Conservative Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'm going to share the remaining—

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Joël Lightbound

Thank you.

There is no remaining time, Mr. Vis. I'm sorry. The five minutes are up.

We will move to MP Dong for five minutes.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Han Dong Liberal Don Valley North, ON

Thank you very much, Chair.

I also want to congratulate MP Miao for bringing forward his first private member's bill in the House.

This is a very interesting topic. Thank you very much for raising the attention on this issue.

When I study this bill and look at the different backgrounds and analyses, I can't help but think of the importance of striking a balance between maximizing efficiency in our economy while providing an incentive for innovation and at the same time striking a balance between consumer protection or consumer rights protection versus consumer safety and security. Also, privacy concerns nowadays are a hot topic.

I started thinking about this backwards. When the Copyright Act was originally designed and the prohibition was put in place on the TPMs, there had to be a reason for it. I want to hear your thoughts on this. What's your understanding of why the TPMs shall not be circumvented under the current context of the Copyright Act?