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.