Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add my comments to the debate on Bill C-273.
I might just say that with respect to the issue of relevance, I did a little research the last time I heard the Chair suggest that we give a lot of latitude. The relevance issue is there because the time of Parliament is very important and valuable and should be used for the purpose for which it is intended. That is why there is an order paper. It is really up to the members to keep relevant. Unfortunately, sometimes members like to push the envelope a little further. However, I think we had better ensure that the important points about a piece of legislation before the chamber are known to all members who are going to have to vote on it. It is actually a little more difficult now, given the recent developments within the auto industry, and that is what I want to talk about.
So that everybody knows what we are talking about on Bill C-273, the member for Windsor West has introduced a bill to amend the Competition Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. He had a bill in the last Parliament, and the bill is back now, and it has received a lot of attention. It is one of the reasons I wanted to speak to this. Auto repair shop owners in my riding of Mississauga South have spoken to me many times over the last number of years about this problem, that as the automobile technology changes, the normal work done by automotive repair shops that are not associated with a car manufacturer gets a little more difficult. They need the manuals to know how to work on the equipment they are going to deal with. They also need the diagnostic equipment, in some cases, and they need some of the specialty tools. Without those they cannot service the automobiles. If they cannot service the automobiles, repair shops will find themselves in jeopardy with regard to staying in business. That is their argument.
The other part of the equation is the automobile industry itself. The dealers are in the business of selling cars, but they are also in the business of servicing them. If they continue to provide the full cycle of maintenance and service for automobiles, that is good and healthy for the automobile business. The technology is amazing. A 10-year-old car, as I recall, pollutes 37 times more than one of the brand new cars. It is phenomenal. All of this is because of the changes in technology. It makes this debate and this bill more relevant because it has to do with the consumer, with small businesses and with big businesses and how the interests of those parties are reconciled.
In the last Parliament, the debate might have been different because the automobile industry was not in jeopardy. Now the automobile industry is in jeopardy. There is going to be a massive rationalization of the auto industry. There is going to be a massive rationalization of dealerships, of plants, of places for people to get their automobiles serviced. The neighbourhood auto repair shop may become much more important than it has been in the past simply because there are not going to be as many dealerships to go to anyway. The debate in the last Parliament would have been different from this one. Now we have to balance the interests.
I have often thought that the best arrangement for consumers is to ensure that there is healthy competition within the service and repair sector so that they can choose. That would help to keep the costs fair and reasonable. Right now there is not that choice to the same extent there would be if the independent repair shops had access to the information, the diagnostic equipment and the tools they need to properly and professionally repair the vehicles and to maintain them. It is a dilemma.
The industry in the United States adopted a voluntary agreement to provide, and the right to repair is the generic name. In the United States there has been a facility whereby shops can have access to this. It is done on a voluntary basis; it is not legislated. We are talking about a bill that wants to legislate it. It appears with all of the dynamics that have occurred in the auto sector with the rationalization and changes yet to come, the industry has reached some agreements with regard to voluntarily providing the information, tools and diagnostic equipment, although I do not know to what extent because I have not seen all the details.
This issue is evolving. I wanted to bring to the attention of the House that this matter seems to be fairly fluid. There is a lot going on. We do not have the latest information but I think it is important that this bill survive and that it go to committee so that we can get the representations from the auto industry as well as the after market businesses that provide services.
We have to look at the impact on people and their jobs. This is a very important aspect. We have to look at the other implications of competition law and the rights of a person, organization or legal entity. We have to look at the implication of that person, organization or legal entity being forced to release that information to another so another can take business away. This is a very interesting problem. There is a model in the United States which I think is useful to look at.
With only two hours of debate in private members' business it is very difficult for all of the information to get out. My recommendation to my colleagues is that the bill go to committee. I would like all of the information to be brought to the committee so it can study it carefully to determine whether or not the voluntary deal that is evolving and may be taking place in Canada is the best thing on behalf of all stakeholders, whether it be the industry, the after market suppliers and the consumers.
We want to make sure there is a balance. I think this is our opportunity to look into this because how we approach this problem probably will be the same way that we approach similar problems in other sectors.
Having said that, I congratulate the member for bringing the bill forward. I know the auto sector is very important in his riding and that it is a very difficult time for the auto sector. There is a great deal of work to do. This is part of it. Let us send this bill to committee.