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House of Commons Hansard #54 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provinces.

Topics

Message From The Senate

10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed certain bills, to which the concurrence of this House is desired.

Parliamentary Buildings Advisory CouncilRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Madam Speaker, I am proud to table this morning a report from the Parliamentary Buildings Advisory Council, entitled “The Hill: Past, Present, Future”.

I am tabling as well the working document, “A Legacy for Future Generations: The Long Term Vision and Plan for the Parliamentary Precinct”.

HealthRoutine Proceedings

May 3rd, 2001 / 10 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to table draft legislative proposals as well as accompanying documents to set the framework for the regulation of assisted human reproduction.

I intend to ask the Standing House Committee on Health for its comments on these proposals.

I believe it is important that members of parliament have an opportunity to reflect upon the draft legislation and to lead a non-partisan dialogue with Canadians in relation to this important issue.

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to five petitions.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Pursuant to the order of reference of Monday, March 26, your committee has considered Bill C-7, an act in respect of criminal justice for young persons and to amend and repeal other acts, and has agreed to report it with amendments.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Ovid Jackson Liberal Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present the second report of the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations on Bill C-14, which deals with the Shipping Act. The bill is presented to the House with amendments and in both official languages.

Sir John A. Macdonald Day And The Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

moved that Bill S-14, an act respecting Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day, be read the first time.

(Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

Patent ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberalfor the Minister of Industry

moved that Bill S-17, an act to amend the Patent Act, be read the first time.

(Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of citizens of Peterborough who would like to see the Canadian Institutes of Health Research modified to better include kidney research.

They call upon parliament to encourage the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to explicitly include kidney research as one of the institutes in its system to be named the kidney and urinary tract institute.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I have yet another petition from citizens of Peterborough who would like to see VIA commuter service re-established between Toronto and Peterborough. They point to the environmental benefits of that, for example, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, reduction of accidents on the highways and congestion.

The petitioners also point to the way this would strengthen Peterborough as a business centre, as an educational centre and as a tourist centre. They call upon parliament to authorize the recommencement of VIA service between Peterborough, Ontario and Toronto as soon as possible.

I would point out that this is a petition which has support in the federal ridings of Haliburton—Victoria—Brock, Durham, Whitby—Ajax, Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge and Markham.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, lastly, if I might, I have another petition related to kidney research. This is from people across Canada who, with Ken Sharp of Peterborough, would like to see more research done in Canada toward developing the bioartificial kidney, which is an implant that would replace kidney transplantation and dialysis as the only means of treating end stage kidney disease.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Tony Tirabassi Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I submit the following petition asking parliament to urge the Chinese government to stop persecuting Falun Gong practitioners and to lift the ban of Falun Gong practice.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Liberal Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am tabling a petition signed by the residents of Val-d'Or and of the Vallée de l'Or RCM, and by workers at the Beaufor and Sigma-Lamaque mines.

This petition states that the government ought to take action to increase its presence and its involvement in resource regions that are having trouble adjusting to the new economy, and to make the rules for its existing programs less stringent and ensure that they are used in the resource regions.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I apologize to the House for being a bit delayed this morning, but I was wondering if I may seek unanimous consent to introduce a private member's bill which would amend the Income Tax Act (volunteers).

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-342, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (volunteers).

Madam Speaker, I thank all members of the House for allowing me to introduce the bill.

The bill recognizes that this is the international year of the volunteer. The bill would amend the Income Tax Act to allow all volunteers, who donate a minimum of 250 hours a year or more to a registered service, charity or non-profit sporting organization, to a tax deduction of up to $1,000. This would be similar to the tax deduction claimed by individuals who give cash contributions.

In my conversations with charity groups across the county, they think they would support the legislation. I look forward to its speedy passage. Again, this is another great idea by the NDP.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Bill C-23. On the Order: Government Orders

April 4, 2001—the Minister of Industry—Second reading and reference to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology of Bill C-23, an act to amend the Competition Act and the Competition Tribunal Act.

Competition ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberalfor the Minister of Industry

moved:

That Bill C-23, an act to amend the Competition Act and the Competition Tribunal Act, be referred forthwith to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

Competition ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Scarborough Centre Ontario

Liberal

John Cannis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Madam Speaker, the purpose of the motion is to provide members of the House with a greater role in preparing legislation through House of Commons committees. It is only the third of three bills referred to committee before second reading in this parliament.

On behalf of the Minister of Industry I am very pleased that Bill C-23, an act to amend the Competition Act and its related statute, the Competition Tribunal Act, will be referred forthwith to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. This will give members of parliament a greater role in the development and passage of legislation. It should also be noted that this government bill was developed on the principles underlying four private members' bills.

The initiatives proposed in the bill would ensure that key marketplace framework laws remain effective and efficient in promoting and protecting competition to the benefit of consumers and the business community.

The Competition Act maintains and encourages competition in order to enhance economic welfare, to ensure that small and medium size enterprises have an equitable opportunity to participate in the Canadian economy, and to provide consumers with competitive prices and product choices.

Last year the competition bureau, with the assistance of the public policy forum, undertook extensive consultations on the principles underlying four private members' bills that proposed amendments to the Competition Act. Stakeholders representing consumers, businesses, and the legal and academic communities were encouraged to provide their views. The bill is the product of that consultation process.

The bill proposes improvements to the Competition Act and the Competition Tribunal Act in four key areas: first, prohibiting deceptive contests; second, broadening the scope under which the tribunal may make temporary orders; third, streamlining the competition tribunal processes; and, fourth, facilitating co-operation with foreign competition authorities.

Let me say a bit about deceptive contests. Accurate information in the marketplace is critical to all Canadians. In 1999 provisions were introduced to the Competition Act to address telemarketing scams. However the competition bureau's crackdown on deceptive telemarketers has caused some con artists to migrate to other technologies such as mail and the Internet.

Deceptive contests involve the mass mailing of announcements which tell recipients that they have won a valuable prize. Sometimes the prospective victim is told that he or she must first pay a fee or taxes before delivery. In other cases the recipient is duped into telephoning a toll number to obtain further details or to claim the prize. In most cases the prize turns out to be worthless or of minimal value. That pales in comparison to the charges the recipient incurs.

The bill creates a new criminal offence to combat deceptive contests sent by mail or the Internet. This new provision will prohibit any person from sending by mail or otherwise material which gives the general impression that the recipient has won a prize and that in order to receive such a prize he or she must make a prior payment of money or incur a charge such as a telephone toll.

I will say a bit about temporary orders. Complex competition cases can often require extensive investigation by the competition bureau before any proceedings are commenced with the competition tribunal. In cases of serious anti-competitive conduct a victim might very well have gone out of business before the issue is resolved.

Effective enforcement of our competition laws calls for powers to put an immediate temporary halt to anti-competitive conduct where circumstances warrant. This type of injunctive power is presently available with respect to alleged offences under the criminal provisions of the Competition Act and with respect to the civil reviewable provisions once proceedings have been commenced before the tribunal.

Except in the case of a merger there is presently no interim remedy available to prevent anti-competitive conduct while the Competition bureau is investigating a matter but has not yet filed a case with a tribunal. The bill would fill that gap by enabling the tribunal to issue temporary orders on application of the commissioner of competition.

Turning to streamlining competition tribunal processes, it is important that the competition tribunal not be impaired in its ability to make timely and relevant decisions. The proposals in the bill would amend the Competition Act and the Competition Tribunal Act to streamline the tribunal processes in three key areas.

First, the tribunal would be empowered to make an award of costs in order to discourage frivolous or vexatious litigation.

Second, the tribunal would be able to summarily dispose of an application without having gone through a full hearing in cases where there is no genuine issue or genuine defence.

Third, a means would be created by which references would be brought to the tribunal on a specific issue. In some cases the outcome of a tribunal case might depend on a single pivotal issue such as the appropriate definition of the market. An early ruling might obviate the need for a full hearing on all the remaining issues. These streamlining measures are consistent with similar procedures followed by most courts.

Facilitating international co-operation is very important. Continuing technological changes and falling trade barriers today have resulted in a rapidly changing global economy. It also raises the risk that the effects of anti-competitive conduct will spill across borders and that the evidence necessary to combat this activity will be located outside Canada. For these reasons we need to be able to exchange information with competition authorities for the purpose of evidence gathering if we are to ensure that our competition laws remain effective.

One of the key objectives of the bill is to provide for enhanced international co-operation on competition matters. There is no better example that I can provide of the benefits that flow from international co-operation than the recent series of cases involving international price fixing cartels. Let me point out that in the last few years there have been over 40 convictions of multinational corporations for price fixing offences under the Competition Act, resulting in fines in excess of $160 million.

These remarkable achievements in anti-cartel enforcement were due to the regime of international co-operation for criminal matters under the mutual legal assistance treaty. A similar tool is now required for the civil provisions of the Competition Act.

Canadians are being well served by our competition laws. The amendment initiatives before us today represent the latest step in a continuing legislative evolution which will ensure that Canadians and Canadian competition laws remain up to date and operate effectively and efficiently.

At this juncture I commend the member for Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge, the member for Kitchener Centre and the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine who worked diligently and hard through their private members' initiatives in shaping these amendments.

I note in closing that the public policy forum concluded from consultations that a consensus on private access might be possible. While there have been significant concerns expressed by some stakeholders on the subject, it has evoked some strong support from other quarters. This motion will give the committee the opportunity to explore the benefits and necessity of such a proposal. I personally look forward to seeing whether the committee can find consensus in this area.

I ask that the bill be referred to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology before second reading. I look forward to hearing the committee's views on the government's proposed amendments.

Competition ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Werner Schmidt Canadian Alliance Kelowna, BC

Madam Speaker, it is indeed a beautiful morning and we have a beautiful piece of legislation to start the day off. I commend the parliamentary secretary opposite. This piece of legislation, although far from perfect, is a piece of legislation that we have to look at with some favour.

As the parliamentary secretary declared, the competition bureau has served Canadians well. Although many Canadians who have made appeals and requests of the competition bureau have not always received the redress they desired, or they were not dealt with as speedily as they should have been, it has served Canadians relatively well.

There were some deficiencies in the act which are being addressed this morning. I commend the government for bringing the bill forward.

For the benefit of our viewers this morning I should like to review some of the things the bill will actually do. First, it would facilitate the co-operation between Canadian and foreign competition authorities regarding evidence gathering or civil competition matters.

This is pretty significant. We are getting into a global economy. Industries are operating in other countries. Certain countries are becoming highly specialized in some areas and other countries in others. There is need for international trade. There is need to recognize our respective strengths and weaknesses and to co-operate in developing how we might do it best.

There is a greed element that comes into society every once in a while. Some people want to sort of dominate, take a dominant position in industry, and make everybody kowtow to their particular desires. We need to recognize that we need protection domestically. We also need protection internationally so that there is a fair and reciprocal exchange of information and that the rules of gathering information are comparable.

It would prohibit deceptive notices of a prize aimed at the general public and sent through the mail or Internet. I am sure all members of the House are aware that there are certain unscrupulous promoters out there who provide prizes. They make people think they are getting something. They receive phone calls congratulating them and telling them that we have won a $50 prize, only to discover that to collect the prize they have to send in $5, $10 or some other amount. Then they are thanked for the $10 and they discover that the prize is not really worth $50. It is a scam. It is amazing how many people have been fooled by so-called prizes. They are not prizes at all.

I remember one case mentioned before the industry committee involving the winning of a prize that was worth roughly $50,000. In order to collect the prize the person had to invest $10,000 and the prize was not forthcoming. This is a very significant amendment to the legislation.

Third, it would streamline the competition tribunal processes by providing the tribunal with a power to award costs, to make summary dispositions and to determine references.

We need to look at three points in this area. Sometimes people feel that some other group is unfairly competing with them when the competition is quite fair. They submit frivolous requests to the tribunal which wastes a lot of time and is not productive. These frivolous requests are added to a long list of other legitimate requests. The provision to avoid frivolous applications to the competition bureau is a reasonable one.

We should also look at the scope under which the competition bureau may issue temporary orders. That scope has now been broadened. I cannot emphasize that enough, because there are times when the competition bureau could deal with something that it is currently not empowered to deal with, simply because it is so restricted as to what it may deal with. Let me read a couple of things that can now happen.

At the present time an interim order can be issued by the competition tribunal only after litigation has begun. This lengthy period of time may elapse before the protective action is taken, with the consequence that the target of anti-competitive behaviour may already have taken place and have driven some people out of business.

That is difficult. I cannot help but refer to a particular case that happened in my constituency. I was able to assist a small company that had annual sales of roughly $3 million to $6 million. The source of material which it distributed was being stopped. It could not be supplied with material any longer because the suppliers wanted it themselves. They did not indicate the last part. They simply said they would not provide the material anymore, which meant they could not do business any longer. There was literally a domination in the marketplace. I think it was three companies that had 85% or 90% of the market. They said they could have the rest of the market, putting them into a monopoly situation.

On principle I object to any kind of monopoly. This particular case went to the competition bureau. The bureau had some difficulty dealing with this case but over time gradually saw the merits of the case and dealt with it. The case went to court and an injunction was issued. The companies that had taken advantage of their dominant position had to supply the material. These individuals are now in business and going forward.

Had the tribunal not been able to act in this case, the company would have been broke today. Had there not been a recognition by the tribunal that some serious injustices were taking place, these poor people would be bankrupt, having sunk a lot of money into their business. They still have not finished. They now have to recognize and claim for damages experienced as a result of the anti-competitive behaviour by these people. It looks like that is going forward. I cannot speak about it any further because it is before the courts. I hope it is resolved in favour of this small company and that it recovers its costs.

Some major changes were made to the Competition Act in 1999. I distinctly remember the debate which took place with regard to fraudulent telemarketing and the business of tied selling. This is when a company puts a condition on a price for a particular article. In other words, to get that price one must buy something else. For example, banks, and sometimes other institutions, say that if one buys a particular insurance policy, it will give it to the individual for a special rate, but to get that rate the individual also has to take a mortgage with the bank.

Also, there is the bundling of services to get a better price. For example, to get a lower price from the bank, a customer would have to take the whole package, such as a savings account, a current account, a chequing account and perhaps insurance. There is nothing wrong with that except when it becomes a condition. It really becomes a judgment call as to when one is a condition on the other.

Tied selling is one of those things that the Competition Act says should not ever be done. I agree with this. The question now becomes one of interpretation or one of judgment as to when it happens.

In my final minute I want to suggest the need for government to recognize that not only should the Competition Act be amended as suggested, it should to go beyond that. There are a couple of other proposals that would improve the Competition Act even further. That has to do with the distinction between criminal and civil cases.

Competition ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, this morning we are debating Bill C-23, an act to amend the Competition Act and the Competition Tribunal Act.

In essence the bill brings together a number of initiatives from MPs' private members bills. It is a bit of a cobble of a number of bills and initiatives proposed by various members on, among other things, the practices and procedures of the competition tribunal.

There are four aspects to the bill. One concerns changes to the procedures of the competition tribunal in order to make it more effective.

Another aspect concerns the interim orders the competition tribunal can issue to prevent situations causing such lengthy prejudice that a corporation, even if it knows it is causing a prejudice, will eliminate a competitor and prevent his or her subsequent return.

The aim of it is to eliminate a practice that could make it advantageous to behave illegally, since it means that competitors will be eliminated and that the price to pay for this is perhaps less than the value of the resultant benefit. The tribunal could have more teeth and greater effectiveness as regards these two aspects.

There are also amendments to facilitate international co-operation. In this age of globalization and rapidly evolving communications technologies, we now know that greater international co-operation is needed to improve the effectiveness of the consumer protection measures in the Competition Act.

A fourth aspect of the bill, which everyone has heard about and which is perhaps the simplest to understand, includes amendments to prohibit deceptive contests, the kind that suggest we have won something and must pay money to receive our prize. The bill contains provisions which make it an offence to send a deceptive notice by electronic or regular mail to an individual suggesting that he or her she has won a price and must pay money to receive it. We know that this kind of practice very often leads to abuses and questionable situations.

I therefore urge everyone to exercise the greatest caution. When people win something and have entered no contest they should be on their guard. There is something very fishy about this and, in general, the problems will be greater than the rewards. There have been so many abuses in this area that the time has come for legislators to send a clearer message that these practices will be dealt with much more severely.

The bill has many laudable goals. We will obviously have to examine it in greater detail in parliamentary committee. Then we will debate it in the House again. We will be able to hear from witnesses on various subjects they feel we should know more about. We will also have to take into account the jurisdictions of the various levels in order to ensure that the bill respects the work already being done by the provinces. I am thinking, for instance, of Quebec, with its Consumer Protection Act.

Before having had the opportunity to examine the bill in detail, one has to wonder how it will ensure that consumers are well protected when a province already has consumer protection legislation to regulate such practices and the federal government gets involved with the Competition Act? There is a grey area but I am sure that the work done in committee will shed more light on this issue.

This is what the bill is all about. My disappointment has to do with the fact that while the government is dealing with competition issues, one of the great frustrations and concerns of consumers right now is the gasoline issue and the behaviour of the oil industry.

If the government is serious about finding tools to improve business and competitive practices, the oil industry definitely deserves greater attention because gas prices are reaching record levels and are constantly increasing. The prospect of paying even more for a litre of gas is a major concern to consumers, to those whose livelihood is dependent on an industry in which transportation is an important component and to those who live in regions where transportation is an unavoidable reality and a major production cost.

That is the case in a region like mine, the Abitibi-Témiscamingue. We have to make heavy use of trucking to get our products out and others in, which adds considerably to our production costs. It affects agriculture and it affects the trucking industry. In the urban centres, it affects the taxi industry. Thus there are many groups affected by the rise in prices. I do not need to list them all but many people are seriously penalized by high gasoline prices.

It is not true that the increase in the price per barrel is the only reason we are paying such a high price at present. The trade practices of the major oil companies are dubious, to say the least, and unfortunately are not being given any specific scrutiny by the government.

We would have liked to have seen action on a number of fronts, such as, first, in the short term, helping out the consumer by doing something about the tax in order to keep the prices down. At the same time, however, something needs to be done about the variables of competition.

There is no way I will ever be convinced that it is normal competitive practice for major competitors such as the big oil companies to always all have the same prices at the same time, for gas stations on four corners of an intersection to raise prices at exactly the same time in one place, while another place only a few kilometres away will have different prices. The transportation variable does not explain these price differences, nor do the variables of competition.

Certain trade practices are used to do in all the little independents. It is very clear that this is the strategy and action plan of the major companies. Obviously it is in their interest, and understandably so; they are in business to make money. If we do not do something they will use these strategies to increase their share of the market.

I cannot believe, and this is a common perception, that the business practices of these firms cannot comply with the usual rules of competition. There is a sort of collusion between these companies. A mechanism must be put in place to continually monitor the conduct of the oil industry. For example, let us give the competition bureau additional means to set up an oil industry monitoring section. Let us ensure that the law makes sentencing or proof of anti-competitive practices easier to obtain. In this regard, I wish the current bill had opened this window.

In committee, we will study the subjects presented. Obviously, people will appear before the committee, but I fear that when we study the bill we will limit ourselves to the subject matter of the bill and not deal with this very important section of the Competition Act or the ways in which competitive practices in the oil industry may be improved.

Here, I repeat remarks shared by many of the members opposite at one time. Over 50 of them signed a report stating that the Canadian market was a real treat for the oil companies. The report also stated that, on average, Canadian consumers were paying 4 cents or 5 cents more for a litre of gas than U.S. consumers, and that taxes should be removed because of competitive practices in Canada where the federal government's approach to promoting the establishment of a strong industry has gone too far, to the extent that this was done at consumers' expense.

I am somewhat surprised to see that only a few still hold this view, that the others have forgotten that they signed this report and that this issue is no longer one of their political priorities even though it is more important than ever to consumers.

I hope that at third reading some substantial amendments will have been made to improve competitive practices in the oil industry and to control these companies somewhat. People can no longer stand to see these companies making huge profits while they are paying exorbitant prices for gas.

This has to stop at some point. We must send the signal that we are concerned about this situation. Even though the bill has some good features, it overlooks an extremely important component in our daily lives, namely the oil industry. I find this difficult to accept.

I hope that in the end the bill will include a clause amending the mandate of the competition bureau regarding the oil industry.

Competition ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Madam Speaker, it is not my intention to take a lot of time repeating the comments of other members that have encompassed the scope of the bill.

I want to read the summary of the bill so the listening public will know what it entails. It states:

This enactment amends the Competition Act and Competition Tribunal Act. The amendments include the following:

amendments to facilitate co-operation with foreign competition authorities for the enforcement of civil competition and fair trade practices laws;

It must have been a hard thing for the government to put in fair trade practices laws, but that is okay. The summary continues:

amendments prohibiting deceptive prize notices;

amendments streamlining the Competition Tribunal process by providing for cost awards, summary dispositions and references;

amendments broadening the scope under which the Tribunal may issue temporary orders; and

some housekeeping items.

A number of areas are being covered throughout the bill that need to be addressed. I want to comment a bit further on the amendments prohibiting deceptive prize notices.

My hon. colleague from the Alliance commented about the number of scams that are out there involving individuals. Toward the end of his comments he also mentioned whether or not something like this should be considered criminal or handled through a civil process.

In that area I am somewhat concerned that we would not look at deceptive prize projects as a criminal act. We are not talking about people being ripped off by a few thousand dollars. In a good many instances tens of thousands of dollars are involved. I know specifically of three people, who do have their wits about them but who got involved in very deceptive scams involving $5,000 to $10,000.

It is disappointing that we are not dealing with scams as a criminal issue rather than on the basis of it decreasing competition. Something seems to be amiss here.

There is another issue that will probably not be addressed in the bill but it is also deceptive. A small business operator in my riding purchased plans on how to access government grants and funding. It was formatted in such a way, and with the coat of arms on it, that it appeared to be something put out by the Government of Canada. It included a number of things that were available through government services by accessing different departments, websites and so on.

One of the toughest things is to know exactly what grants and funding are available through different programs and how to access them. As a member of parliament, I receive a number of notices and often at the last minute. Two days before we can access funding, a government department will send out a notice saying that program funds are available. As MPs we scramble to let people in our riding, who might have some kind of interest in these funds, know that they are available.

In that one instance a small business owner paid $300 for this information. It definitely was presented in such a way that it looked like it came from the Government of Canada. There was a rider enclosed indicating that it had to be returned within so many days or the person lost money. There really was nothing the person could do about it.

The people who are getting caught up in these scams do have their wits about them. They are genuinely looking to benefit from some things. The saying is that “if you are getting something for nothing, chances are you are getting nothing for something”. That is the bottom line with a scam.

I commend the members who were involved in that particular project because it is certainly one part of the legislation that each and every Canadian would be able to feel the impact of personally.

Another major part of the bill deals with co-operation between foreign countries, which is of course needed.

I do not know how other members of the industry committee feel, but apart from not necessarily wanting any more work on our plate at the committee, which was the only thing holding me back from saying that I did not want the legislation to go through, it would be good to get the bill to committee as soon as possible because it does involve a lot of discussion. I hope we get the opportunity to get on to it by September.