House of Commons Hansard #268 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was goods.


Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

11:55 p.m.


Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the NDP House leader for his remarks as we approach midnight tonight. I am glad he mentioned hubris, because that concept was coming to mind during his remarks.

Specifically, he addressed the need for training and CBSA needs in relation to some of these changes. He may not be aware that such training is already taking place between intellectual property rights holders, border officials and law enforcement officials. I was personally involved in some of those efforts. However, those are impossible to later act upon without a registry of intellectual property rights or a request procedure, given the volume.

Therefore, I would ask him to comment on whether his party agrees with those provisions of the bill and whether that agreement would change if there were several more weeks of debate on this.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

11:55 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are under time allocation. There are not going to be several more weeks of debate on this. We are under time allocation for everything.

My friend suggests something that is quite critical. I can read all sorts of quotes and citations from experts on intellectual property regimes that suggest that the ex officio powers being granted to border officials are not now being met with the training required to perform those powers. That should be a concern to my friend and the companies he used to represent, as it should be to all Canadians. We cannot give people new powers over a whole and sophisticated regime without giving them the training to do that, and the experts agree.

In terms of the debate on the bill, he will not remember, because he was not here, but I remember Conservatives in opposition, and Reformers before that, decrying when the Liberals invoked time allocation after a few weeks of study. We are getting time allocation before we start debating a bill. The Conservatives cannot have it both ways. If this place is meant to work on the idea of exchanging new perspectives, on trying to improve legislation, on challenging the government, that is a good thing. They should not take it as a threat; they should take it as an opportunity.

We are challenging them on this aspect. We are saying that their spending priorities do not match up with the priorities they are saying are so important at the border. They should take that challenge on as an opportunity and rethink the spending priorities for the border. Maybe cutting $145 million and 349 FTEs is not a great idea if we want a border that is more efficient and more able to do the job we ask of it. That is all. That is how this place works, and it works well when we allow it to do that work instead of shutting down debate almost 50 times now, breaking the record, by almost double, of any government in Canadian history.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

11:55 p.m.


Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to continue along those same lines, because this is a bill I have been waiting for since it was introduced on March 1, 2013. A study was conducted on intellectual property.

We met with a number of stakeholders who mentioned the importance of a bill like this one in its current form. Since March 1, I have been meeting with people who raised questions about the enforcement of this bill and about whether all of the right protections have been proposed, namely protecting consumers and the rights of copyright holders.

I would like to ask my colleague about the work done in committee. We are coming to the end of the session. I would like him to talk about that and about the important role committees play in studying bills.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

11:55 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, we can see what the government does: it waits a month and a half to talk about certain priorities. We are just about to adjourn for the summer and the government decides we need to pass this bill. It is impossible to pass all of the bills in the time we have left. The government says it wants to get out of Parliament right away. It wants to leave as soon as possible. That is what it is saying. At the same time, it is saying that we have to pass this bill. The government is saying that it would like to adjourn right now, except all of a sudden we have these priorities. It will have to make up its mind. It is one or the other. It cannot have it both ways.

This is not a priority or a plan. It is panic. That is to be expected with a government that has no plan and that does not like to plan for anything, including the economy, investment or industry.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, Midnight


Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is great to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-56. I want to thank my colleagues from Durham, Vancouver South, York Centre, Kitchener—Waterloo and Don Valley West who also commented on the bill.

I will agree with my colleagues from the NDP that this has been a very good debate tonight. It is an interesting debate on an interesting bill. Even though I do not serve on the industry committee, it has been—

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, Midnight

An hon. member

You want to now.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, Midnight


Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Yes, I might want to go to the industry committee now.

However, it is really an interesting bill. Before I get into some of the details of the bill, when I was in my consulting realm, I always talked about the change imperative for companies and the reasons for bills and why they were so important.

We have had a bit of discussion about counterfeit products and foods. We have discussed a number of things in the House tonight. We have talked about the level of problems with counterfeit worldwide. Some have estimated it at $250 billion and some at $400 billion to $600 billion. A significant percentage, or at least a good percentage of that, is tied to organized crime, which has to be a concern to the House as well as to the citizens of Canada.

I represent one of the largest potato-growing areas in Canada, with two large McCain french fry plants. There is a significant amount of intellectual property that goes into the development of new potato breeds and those types of things. As well, there is a lot of research into foods. McCain Foods does a tremendous amount on its french fries worldwide. All of this is very important intellectual property for these industries.

Innovation is alive and well in many of our industries. Many of those who represent forestry and agricultural ridings know it is the same for them as well.

The proposed combating counterfeit products act is the latest in our government's ongoing efforts to strengthen and modernize Canada's intellectual property laws. It will help confront the realities and challenges presented by large-scale commercial shipments of counterfeit goods. It will also respond to concerns raised by Canadian consumers and job-creating innovators and will provide a made-in-Canada approach to fighting counterfeiting that is compatible with the approaches of our allies.

Counterfeit goods are more pervasive now than ever before. Seizures of counterfeit goods by the RCMP increased fivefold between 2005 and 2012. Not only is counterfeiting increasingly pervasive, it is increasingly dangerous to Canadian consumers and costly to our economy.

Anything can be the target of counterfeiters, from everyday consumer goods to car parts. We have heard about brake parts and hockey jerseys. Earlier today we heard about Canada Goose, face wash, shampoo, batteries for cars, golf clubs and even wine.

This disturbing trend affecting Canadians' health and safety needs to be addressed right away. Over 30% of counterfeiting now involves harmful products, compared to 11% in 2005. Without these robust measures, these products will make their way into our homes and our children's playgrounds.

As was said earlier tonight, a lot of these products are getting harder and harder to identify. Being an avid golfer, I can speak to the fact that somewhere in the area of two million counterfeit golf clubs enter the market every year, as well as wine. It gets harder and harder to pursue these types of things because it is hard to tell the difference between what is counterfeit and what is real.

The government takes counterfeiting very seriously, and this bill would give Canadian rights holders and law enforcement the tools they need to combat this growing problem that exists at the border and domestically and to target those who profit from the commercial trade of counterfeit goods.

Specifically, the bill would give the authority to the border services officers to detain suspected shipments. Border services officers would have the authority to detain suspected counterfeit goods that were imported into Canada or that were exported from Canada on their own initiative.

When I was talking before about some of the golf clubs and wine and how hard it was to even trace some of these things, I looked at the website of a company that now provided the scanning tools to try to identify some of these types of things. It is interesting that it was talking about the wine industry and how it was taking counterfeit product and putting it into original-type bottles to be sold. There were 17,000 bottles which were deemed to be counterfeit. It was estimated that it would take 7,000 hours and $1 million for this to all be assessed.

I know there are many people in the House of Commons who would love to be in on that project and on the committee responsible for assessing these 17,000 bottles of wine. I can think of all kinds of things at midnight that would be interesting to see.

When we talk about the golf club industry, counterfeiting is so pervasive that the industry is actually investing to help the border services officers in the U.S. get the training to identify counterfeit golf clubs. This is because they have a different regime from the one we have in terms of responsibility.

Once the suspected goods are detained, border services officers will have the authority to communicate with the copyright owner or the registered trademark owner to inform them that a suspected shipment has been encountered. This bill would also allow for the creation of a new process, called the “request for assistance”. It would allow the rights holders to seek assistance from border services officers by supplying information about their copyright and registered trademarks. The request for assistance would also facilitate communications between border services officers and rights holders.

The bill would provide rights holders with new tools to protect against counterfeiting and to take civil action against infringers. The new civil causes of action would target manufacturing, distribution and possession with the intent to sell counterfeit goods. Currently, counterfeit goods must be sold or offered for sale before a rights holder can initiate a civil action. With the combatting counterfeit products act, rights holders would be able to initiate a civil trial earlier in the supply chain, before these goods reached the market where they could deceive and harm Canadians' and steal Canadians jobs.

The bill would add new criminal offences to help combat counterfeiting for the purposes of trade. These target the sale of counterfeit goods, as well as manufacturing, importing, exporting and processing counterfeit goods, if they are intended to be sold or distributed on a commercial scale. The bill would also add new offences for exporting and possessing pirated copyright goods. These offences are meant to complement the existing criminal offences in the Copyright Act, such as the sale, rental and importation for sale or rental of copyright-infringing copies.

I really appreciated the comment that was made by my colleague from Durham with respect to his background and experience in this field. He gave us some real context for the House on this debate tonight.

The bill would recognize newer practices, such as applying counterfeit labels just before sale. Sophisticated counterfeiters want to ship goods separately from labels so as to avoid being caught. To deal with this, new offences would target the sale of counterfeit labels or the manufacture, importation, exportation or possession of counterfeit labels for the purposes of trade.

In addition, the bill would introduce minor amendments to the Trade-marks Act, which has not been modified since the 1950s. For example, the bill would remove unnecessary paperwork requirements for businesses during the trademark application process, would modernize the language found in the act and explicitly would allow the registration of non-traditional trademarks, including sounds, scents and holograms. Overall, the bill would improve the Trade-marks Act by aligning the legislation with modern business practices.

The problem of counterfeiting is not just a Canadian problem. It is a global problem in which Canada is one destination among the many for counterfeit goods. As I indicated earlier, there are estimates that the counterfeit market could be $250 billion, but that does not count some of the DVDs and similar items that are pirated as well. That could take it to well over $500 billion.

This bill would provide a domestic response to a global problem. It is a made-in-Canada solution that would ensure our intellectual property enforcement regime would be compatible with global standards. It is a domestic approach that draws on the best practices of peer countries.

Let us take a moment to look at border regimes in some of the other countries, because that is important.

In the EU model, customs authorities have ex officio authority to temporarily detain suspected infringing goods. They cannot take ownership and seize or destroy the goods.

In the EU, rights holders may apply to customs authorities for enforcement of their IP rights at the border. In these cases, it is the rights holders who assume all the costs of the border enforcement process, possible ensuing civil action and the storage and disposal of suspected IPR infringing goods. In return, they will be informed of any resulting border detention.

However, in the EU, when the action of IP rights infringement results in the violation of public laws—for example, criminal fraud or a threat to public safety—the state can also commence criminal investigations and prosecutions, the cost of which is assumed by the government.

In the U.S. model, it is the federal government that is primarily responsible for enforcing IP rights at the border. In particular, the U.S. customs and border protection is responsible for detecting, seizing and disposing of counterfeit and pirated goods found at the U.S. border. If an importer takes issue with the seizure, it is customs and border protection and not the courts that decide the issue, making administrative determinations on the existence and validity of IP rights. Customs and border protection has the authority to impose administrative fines for violations. It also absorbs all the costs of the IP rights enforcement process, ensuing litigation, storage and disposal of goods.

In terms of the overall approach to IPR enforcement, Bill C-56 proposes a made-in-Canada approach, an approach that is appropriate and well-suited to Canada's needs. The bill reflects the fact that the enforcement of intellectual property rights is primary the rights holders responsibility, while acknowledging some role for federal agencies.

For example, to temporarily detain suspected counterfeit goods and inform rights holders and in the area of criminal enforcement, which will be worked out between them and the RCMP, the determination of whether goods are counterfeit is ultimately left to the courts.

The new request for assistance process will allow border services officers to use information provided by rights holders in their request for assistance document in order to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the shipments contain counterfeit goods. If there is a suspicion, the border service officer can detain the shipment and notify the rights holder of a suspected shipment. The rights holder is then given a period of time to decide whether he or she will pursue the matter in civil court.

The RCMP and Health Canada will be given the chance to decide whether the shipment at issue may be a criminal or a health and safety matter respectively.

The detention of suspected goods allows the RCMP or Health Canada to pursue the matter criminally and the rights holder to pursue the matter civilly.

The border services officer does not make a final determination on whether the detained goods are counterfeit. Only a judge in a court has the power to do that. That is a departure from some of the questions that have been asked tonight, because that is the court process. I know I will get some questions on this with respect to the financial aspect of CBSA. That is important for us to know.

Since the tabling of the bill in March, many stakeholders have been in support of the bill. These include the Canadian Intellectual Property Council, the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, Electro-Federation Canada, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada and Food & Consumer Products of Canada.

While the bill is supported by a majority of stakeholders, some misconceptions have been heard. I will take the opportunity to address these concerns.

Some have suggested that the bill grants border services officers more power without judicial oversight, in a sense expecting these officers to be copyright and trademark experts. This is simply not true. As I mentioned before, they would have the authority to detain goods based on a reasonable suspicion that the goods were counterfeit. The ultimate authority to determine whether goods are counterfeit can only come from a judge in a court.

Some members may have heard the misconception that the bill was the result of international pressures to change our laws. In fact, the bill was developed in response to repeated calls by Canadian stakeholders, including innovative businesses, which we have talked about tonight, that employ Canadians.

As early as 2006, the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network released a position paper on the need for legal reform in Canada to address intellectual property crime. In 2007, it released another report on counterfeiting and piracy in Canada. It was also in 2007 that two parliamentary committees, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology and the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, both heard several stakeholders on this issue.

Since 2009, the Canadian Intellectual Property Council has also released reports asking for legislative changes in the area. More recently, in 2012, the standing committee that this will be referred to also heard from many witnesses about the issue of counterfeiting. Many others have met with or written to government officials with their concerns. Canadian stakeholders have been clear about the economic and health and safety issues associated with counterfeiting. This bill shows that we have listened.

There should be no concerns that Canadians will have luggage and their personal music devices searched for counterfeit goods and pirated copies. I am glad we have consensus on that. With everybody who spoke to that, it is very clear in the bill that this is not an attack on individuals personally for bringing things across the border.

Personal baggage will not be searched for counterfeit or pirated goods upon entering Canada, nor will personal music devices be searched. In fact, Bill C-56 clearly identifies such goods for personal use to be outside the scope of the legislation. The bill would provide the tools to pursue those who aim to profit from commercial counterfeiting activities: those who manufacture, possess, import, export or attempt to export for the purpose of sale and distribution, as well as those who sell or distribute counterfeit on a commercial scale. We are going after the core of the problem, the criminals, often highly organized and sophisticated, who prey upon unsuspecting Canadian customers.

Intellectual property legislation is always about creating a balance between owners and users. Bill C-56 provides a carefully balanced approach to protecting Canadians against the effects of counterfeiters. A strong intellectual property rights regime is central for any knowledge-based economy such as Canada's in order to foster an environment that promotes innovation, attracts new investment and stimulates economic growth.

As the committee moves forward with the bill, our government remains committed to working with Canadian rights holders as well as our international partners in fighting against counterfeiting. The bill will send a clear message to those who aim to profit from counterfeit goods that what they are doing is against Canadian law.

In conclusion, counterfeiting hurts jobs, threatens growth, and it exposes Canadians to health and safety risks. With this bill, our government continues to stand up for the economy, the rights holders and for all Canadian consumers. I thank all my colleagues in the House and all my colleagues from the opposition parties for their willingness to support this at second reading to send it to committee.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 12:15 a.m.


Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member who just spoke. He gave a rather exhaustive overview of the bill.

He mentioned the resources, as we did, and the techniques available to detect counterfeiting, since it is becoming increasingly complicated to do so.

Does the government plan on giving the Canada Border Services Agency this type of technology and investing in the kinds of resources needed to properly, effectively and accurately detect counterfeiting?

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 12:15 a.m.


Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. It is very complicated and I understand that very well.

I also would like to mention that the department is very committed to ensuring that the CBSA has the tools to ensure it can do this work. We have a bit of a difference of opinion on what it will take to do that.

As my colleagues who spoke before me said, there will be some new tools that this legislation will provide, which will be very important for the folks at the border.

The other thing we need to understand, in my view, is that our border officers, who do tremendous work at our borders, face a lot of challenges, depending upon the safety conditions. However, they also currently have the ability to seize commercials goods and those types of things, which they do every day, at least at the border crossings in my riding and I know in the other folks' ridings as well.

However, what I also think is important for us to really understand is that the department is going to complete the mandate and it is going to take the steps to expedite and improve efficiencies at the border, as well.

However, the copyright owner has a lot to do in this in framing the copyright and what it is. Appealing to the courts through civil action will determine that.

That is where I see the difference with the U.S. The U.S. would to need have significantly more tools because it has the responsibility to determine that copyright when it comes to the border, which is why I used the example of the golf clubs. The actual companies are providing money to the government to train its border services officers because it is important to the industry to do that.

Therefore, there are some things going forward that I think will be good for the committee to discuss. However, I have a difference of opinion as to whether it will take a lot more resources to do that.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 12:20 a.m.


Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Tobique—Mactaquac for particularly focusing on a large employer in his riding, McCain Foods. I can assure him that I regularly support the economic development of that important employer, probably a tad too much.

It is key to recognize that these intellectual property rights are held by employers and that loss and erosion of these rights erodes economic development and jobs in our communities, whether it is in New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec, or elsewhere.

I would like the member to address what employers, like McCain Foods in his riding, feel about our new measures that would allow them to exert their intellectual property rights, protect these, particularly for a large and important Canadian exporter like McCain Foods.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 12:20 a.m.


Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is very important to look at these large multinational corporations, especially McCain Foods which has plants all over the world in many different countries and is able to shift production around. When they start shifting this production around, they start introducing new risks to the model of intellectual property as they are working in different countries and different people could get an opportunity to get their hands on their intellectual property.

Therefore, companies like McCain Foods are hugely grateful and that they will be beneficiaries of this. It will be very important for anybody is actually doing research, who holds these patents and copyrights. It will also be very important for business from the standpoint of not eroding its profits in the future, especially when it comes to the food industry.

Another concern I have, and it has not been discussed a lot here tonight, is pirated foods which come in without the safe qualities that we demand of our foods in Canada. In the absence of that, we are setting ourselves up for some very unsafe conditions, and that will be a huge issue.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 12:20 a.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I greatly appreciate the speech of my colleague. Certainly, it is security that we need to worry about.

My question is particular to the fact that the OECD has made it very clear that there is a need for better data when it comes to counterfeiting. Both under the Liberals and the Conservatives, there has been a big gap.

With respect to this legislation, perhaps my colleague would tell me what the government's plan is with respect to collecting better data and the proposed plan as to how it will actually do this.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 12:20 a.m.


Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, there will be details ironed out in this. However, with the new trademark process, it will make it much easier for companies. The bill would streamline the process for the application of these trademarks and patents, which would make it better for business as well.

The unknown question might be the level of counterfeit that will hit the borders. It is a good question. It is hard to tell what types of shipments and that type of thing will hit the border, what level of information that will be required and how much would CBSA have to do.

Relative to the U.S., Canada is a smaller market, so the U.S. obviously has bigger challenges. Those will be the things that we will have to ensure, that CBSA keeps its commitment that it will put the teeth into the bill and that it will be prepared to carry it through.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 12:25 a.m.


Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Tobique—Mactaquac for his comments. I wanted to say his riding name, which I think is very interesting.

The member gave us a lot to think about in committee, as did his Conservative Party colleagues.

How many committee meetings does the member think it will take to address the points he and other committees raised? I think it will take at least three or four, if not more.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 12:25 a.m.


Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. As the member would know, and I would be the first to say, the committees are the masters of their own destiny. I can speak to the committees that I am on, and we work fairly well with the opposition in trying to get things done, most of the time.

From my standpoint, the desire for this bill has existed for quite some time. There have been a number of things embedded in it from previous reports and committee reports. They are now in this bill. We have achieved a lot of things. With regard to a number of the questions I have heard tonight from the member for Halifax West and others, questions with respect to the cost, it is already in the bill. Therefore, some of the things that individuals were talking about needing to be amended I do not think need to be amended.

As for the protracted discussion on the costing and the idea that we should put another $140 million back into CBSA, that is not the right answer. It is a matter that CBSA is committed to carrying this out within its existing mandate. I am not going to argue about the numbers, but net there are more border services officers than there were in 2006, and they have more tools. They are using tools like e-manifest and other things for bills of lading and those types of things that go through borders now, which make their process much more efficient. Simply because there are new processes does not mean there must be new money and new people.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 12:25 a.m.


Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I can barely contain my emotions as I rise in the House because I know that the entire nation is hanging on my every word as I weigh in on this important debate.

I would like to begin by quoting a 13th century French poet named Rutebeuf. Some 700 years ago, Rutebeuf wrote:

What has become of the friends
Whom I held so dear
And loved so much

One could paraphrase his words today:

What has become of the principles
That I praised so highly
And boasted of so much

I am, of course, talking about the Conservative Party and the bitter disappointment it has inspired among its supporters.

For years, while it was in opposition, this government said that it would clean up Ottawa, bring change and act according to the following principles: integrity, transparency, freedom of expression and enabling parliamentarians to do their work.

What has happened since the beginning of the Conservatives' majority mandate? Parliamentarians are being prevented from talking, debating issues and making suggestions. The government is imposing time allocation. It is forcing committees to work behind closed doors. It is doing exactly the opposite of what it promised Canadians.

It is good that we are debating Bill C-56, An Act to amend the Copyright Act and the Trade-marks Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, the Combating Counterfeit Products Act today. What we are seeing is counterfeit debates. Democratic freedom is being undermined and parliamentarians are being prevented from doing their work.

With this bill, that makes 47 gag orders. Forty-seven motions to limit members' speaking time on government bills. This evening, the leader of the Government in the House of Commons came to announce another gag order. A 48th gag order is coming.

I think that the Conservatives are aiming for 50 before the session ends. They must want to end on a round number or something like that. It must be as simple as that.

However, these are the same Conservatives who would tear their hair out and shout whenever the Liberals dared impose time allocation after weeks of debate. Once in power, these same Conservatives today put their principles behind them and can impose time allocation after an hour or two of debate by saying that it is a matter of urgency and that the bill absolutely must be passed because it is of vital importance.

In the meantime, they tell reporters that the NDP should give consent to adjourn Parliament and go home. It is one or the other: they cannot have their cake and eat it too. They cannot say that a bill urgently needs to be passed and then complain that the NDP is keeping them in Parliament and forcing them to work and answer their questions.

Let me come back to the bill. I come from a family that is well-rooted in the cultural community. My father is a writer and my brother is a musician, so copyright is very important to me. I know that this bill is about more than just copyright as it relates to artists, but it can have consequences for that.

It is important because copyright and intellectual property are related. These are fundamental to respecting creators and people who develop products, whether we are talking about cultural products, merchandise or high-technology products. This evening we talked about pharmaceutical companies and many other things.

This debate is important to the NDP. We believe that this bill is headed in the right direction. However, members will understand that I will probably raise a concern in a few minutes. The Conservatives often do not walk the talk, as people used to say when I was young. However, this bill does have good intentions.

We have to recognize the importance of innovation in economic development and the fact that the creators of these innovations are entitled to the resulting profits. We must not allow third parties to copy what they have developed, built or imagined and abscond with the fruits of their labour.

That is outright theft of the revenues generated after a product, good, idea or concept is created and developed. It is rather difficult to know what happens surreptitiously, under the table. There are estimates but, in this case, we only have the value of seizures of counterfeit goods by the RCMP. It says that seizures increased from $7.6 million in 2005 to $38 million in 2012. That is significant.

As my colleague pointed out earlier, it is probably just the tip of the iceberg. That is just what was seized. There must be a lot of counterfeit goods in the world.

I think that if we have an opportunity to travel around the world, we will see all these young people in tourist areas who sell brand name watches that are fakes. This is just one of many examples of what we can see when we travel around the world.

In 2009, the OECD estimated that the international trade in counterfeit and pirated goods could be valued at up to $250 billion. I think it is worth studying this issue and doing what is necessary to solve the problem.

Bill C-56 is a step in the right direction but the official opposition would be much happier if we had the resources to serve our ambitions. We are not just talking about the loss of money but a risk to Canadians and Quebeckers. We learned from the testimony of several witnesses that counterfeit goods often pose a risk to the health and safety of consumers.

We heard this evening about counterfeit electrical components that can be dangerous and can cause short-circuits, as well as about poor quality counterfeit winter jackets or vests with unsanitary stuffing that do not do the job. Counterfeiting is of even greater concern to us when it has an impact on the health and safety of our constituents.

However, I must admit that I am sad and disappointed. This bill is so important for Canadian companies and consumers that we would like the Conservative government to allocate the resources needed to enforce it. For the time being, we still do not know where the funding for the enforcement regime set out in Bill C-56 will come from. That is not just a minor detail.

This bill imposes significant new duties on Canada Border Services Agency officers at a time when budgets are being cut. That is where the Conservatives' true colours shine through because we know full well that they are imposing an additional burden, additional standards and additional rules on the CBSA. They are proposing measures and then turning around and cutting $143 million from the CBSA'S budget. The Conservatives are giving the CBSA more work to do and telling them that the work needs to be done, but then they are not giving them the resources they need to do that work.

According to the Canada Border Services Agency's report on plans and priorities, 549 full-time jobs will be cut by 2015. Of course, some of those jobs will be border officer positions. The CBSA will therefore have fewer financial resources, more work to do and fewer employees to do it.

What we heard the immigration minister say this evening was wonderful. Every time we try to show the practical implications of the Conservative government's blind cuts to public services, the Conservatives tell us that our figures are inaccurate and that they are going to give us the facts.

What is funny is that last year they announced $4 billion in cuts to services for Canadians. They said they would cut the cost of bureaucracy, red tape and photocopies, but that this would not affect services for Canadians. They said they would cut 19,600 positions, but that this would not make a difference or have any impact.

In its report on plans and priorities, the Canada Border Services Agency itself says that 549 jobs are going to disappear, yet the Conservatives say no, that is not true. That happens every time we provide an example. According to the Minister of Immigration, the real numbers show that the budget is going to increase by 27%. He needs to talk to the President of the Treasury Board.

When the President of the Treasury Board announced his budget reduction plan, he said that there would be cuts of 5% to 10% across the board, that no one would escape. However, every time we mention job cuts and the impact on services, the government says that it is not a question of cuts, that there will actually be an increase in funding. There will be more border services officers and the budget will increase.

If every budget cut has turned into an increase, I want to talk to the Minister of Finance. How will he get rid of the deficit in time for the next election in 2015?

The government cannot talk out of both sides of its mouth. It cannot say that it will increase resources for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, for example, and then put it on the chopping block, as it has done with every other government agency and department.

Last year, I found the first few pages of the budget to be fascinating. They contained an additional $51 million allocation to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. In subsequent pages, where the bad news is usually found, the government's three-year budget reduction plan reduced the agency's budget by $56 million. I went to see a finance department official to ask whether the $51-million allocation or the $56-million reduction was right. He told me that both were right and that they would result in an overall reduction of $5 million.

The Conservatives obviously do not like to adjust the good news figures they want us to believe to reflect the reality of the cuts being made. We are seeing that, in several departments and in organizations such as Service Canada and other agencies, the Conservatives' budget cuts hurt.

This bill has good intentions, but in practical terms, on the ground, it will reduce services for Canadians. As the Conservative member who spoke before me said, if the government does not give teeth and real resources to this bill, border officers will have to be bold and do the work that the government does not dare do, without the resources that the government does not dare give them. This will be an additional burden on border officers.

That is a concern of ours. Once Bill C-56 is passed, customs officers would be asked to make highly complicated assessments on whether goods entering or exiting the country infringe on any copyright or trademark rights. Such an assessment for pirated copies would include, for example, consideration of whether any of the exceptions under the Copyright Act would apply to a product such as the CD or DVD that the officer is looking at. That is something with which the courts often struggle. We would be asking border officers to do sensitive, detailed work without providing them with enough employees, training or resources to do the job. That is worrisome.

Would traffic at our border crossings into the United States be slowed down? Would that mean that people will have to wait even longer because the border officer has to check the contents of a truck filled with boxes and ensure that those are not contraband or counterfeit goods? In addition, although there used to be two of them to do the job, now there is just one officer. That will increase the burden on border officers, make their task harder and increase their workload, and that is what concerns us.

I would like to talk about the lack of respect the Conservative government has for border officers. The Canada Border Services Agency is in the process of negotiations, and yet, for the first time in the history of Canada's public services, the Conservative government will try to impose a collective agreement based on recommendations published by the public interest commission on June 5.

Once again, the government is not showing respect for free collective bargaining. It wants to increase their workload. It is not even honouring their ability to freely negotiate their contract and collective agreement. Furthermore, the government wants to impose a new contract that would contain salary increases that are lower than what other public servants have obtained or are obtaining.

I want to put this in perspective, because it is absolutely one of the consequences of the Conservatives' attitude towards workers. I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the government's lack of respect for the border officers in how it is handling the renewal of their collective agreement.

I also want to remind members of the Conservatives' attitude towards intellectual property. Earlier this evening, my colleague from Timmins—James Bay said that the assistant to the minister who is now the President of the Treasury Board went to Ottawa to ask that Canada be put on the 301 watch list because of its poor record on protecting intellectual property laws. This list includes countries that are as effective as Yemen and North Korea at protecting intellectual property.

By the Conservatives' twisted logic, being on the black list, being one of the bad guys, being among the world's worst offenders when it comes to protecting intellectual property rights, would actually give us an incentive to enact appropriate legislation. As if we need the whole world to see us as incompetent, unable to protect our own creations, our own inventions, our own innovations. As if we need to be compared to Yemen or North Korea before we can take action.

The funny thing is that, after the President of the Treasury Board's top official intervened, it worked. A few weeks later, Canada was on the list. Everyone here should be ashamed of the fact that our country is on the same list as countries that care so little about such critically important issues as copyright and protecting intellectual property.

I know it is late, but I would like to thank all of my colleagues for their speeches this evening. They were all excellent, and so were the questions. I would also like to thank all of the people who work behind the scenes, people who work for the caucus and the leader's office and who are here to support us and help us do our work even if that means working until 1 a.m.

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 12:45 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

It being 12:47 a.m., pursuant to order made earlier today, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill now before the House.

The question is on the motion.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 12:45 a.m.

Some hon. members


Combating Counterfeit Products ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 12:45 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2013 / 12:45 a.m.

Nunavut Nunavut


Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

moved that Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Health.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House this evening on an important piece of legislation for the health and safety of our communities.

The respect for communities act puts into legislation the high bar set by the Supreme Court for supervised consumption sites and makes sure communities have a say in any decisions made.

We are all well aware of the terrible consequences that drug abuse can have on drug addicts, their families and communities, and Canadian society as a whole. The production and trafficking of drugs not only supports organized crime but feeds the cycle of drug addiction, putting the health and safety of Canadians at risk.

In Canada, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act imposes necessary restrictions and controls on substances that can alter mental processes and harm the health of both individuals and society when diverted or misused.

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act has a dual purpose. It provides access to controlled substances for legitimate purposes, such as medical or scientific research, while keeping in place prohibitions to minimize the risk of diversion.

Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is a constitutional safety valve. It enables the government to provide access to controlled substances in exceptional but legitimate situations. For example, I have authorized section 56 exemptions to the Red Cross so that it can have access to morphine for natural disaster relief efforts.

Exemptions from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act can be granted if the exemption is necessary for medical or scientific purposes, or is otherwise in the public interest. Most of the exemptions granted in Canada are for routine activities, such as methadone treatment, clinical trials and university research. These exemptions are for controlled substances obtained through legitimate, or what the bill refers to as "licit", sources, such as a licensed manufacturer, pharmacist or hospital.

In Canada we have approved only a very small number of exemptions to use controlled substances obtained through illegal, or what is referred to in the bill as "illicit", sources. Virtually all the exemptions for illegal drugs are for law enforcement, so that they can use these drugs to train police dogs to detect drugs.

Another one is for the well-known facility called InSite, located in a downtown east side neighbourhood of Vancouver. InSite has been operating under a section 56 exemption since 2003.

On September 30, 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered a decision in a case regarding InSite. In its decision, the court upheld the constitutionality of the possession and trafficking prohibitions of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The court also found that a unique set of circumstances existed in the Vancouver downtown east side, and it ordered that I grant InSite an exemption under section 56.

The court was clear that the Minister of Health maintains the discretion to grant or deny such exemptions. The court stated that this decision was not an invitation for anyone who so chooses to open a facility for drug use under the banner of a safe injection facility.

The court also outlined five factors and evidence that the minister must consider when reviewing such application of section 56 exemptions.

When we are talking about controlled substances that have been obtained illegally, we need to ask tough questions. We need to know what impact a supervised consumption site will have on the local crime rate, what the local conditions are that led to the need for such a site, what regulatory structure is in place to support the site and what resources are available to support the maintenance of the site. Finally, we need to take into account the position of the community where this site will operate and whether there is support or opposition.

Our government has built upon these five factors in the proposed legislative approach that is being debated here today. For the majority of applicants who are applying for an exemption to use controlled substances obtained through legitimate sources, the process will not change.

For example, the exemption process for individuals applying for a section 56 exemption for clinical trials or other scientific or medical purposes involving licit drug substances will remain the same. While substances obtained through licit sources are potentially harmful when abused, they are developed in controlled environments where activities are regulated through federal or provincial law. They are also not supporting organized crime.

What we are proposing now is to add a new section to the legislation, section 56.1, which would deal specifically with controlled substances obtained through illicit sources. We know that these substances can seriously harm individuals as well public health and safety. They are often unregulated, untested substances produced in uncontrolled environments. They could contain impurities and additives that add to the harmful effects. We also know that substances obtained illegally may support organized crime. For these reasons, the legislation would put in place a separate section in the act to deal with exemptions for illegal substances for medical, law enforcement and other prescribed purposes.

In addition, there would be a specific section relating to exemption applications that involve the use of illicit substances at supervised consumption sites. In this specific section, all the factors outlined by the Supreme Court of Canada have been detailed in the legislation to make clear what information would be required from any applicant seeking an exemption involving the use of illegal drugs at a supervised consumption site. This section would lay out the criteria that must be addressed by the applicant in order to have the application considered by the Minister of Health.

The proposed legislative changes would ensure that applicants address all of the new criteria, which are based on the Supreme Court's decision and would ensure that communities have a voice in the process. This would provide the Minister of Health with relevant information to make an informed decision that balances public health and public safety in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Let me take this opportunity to walk members through how the process to apply for this kind of an exemption would work under the new legislation.

First, applicants would have to demonstrate that they have addressed all of the criteria set out in the legislation in their application. In some cases, the information would have to be provided by the applicant before an application would be considered by the minister.

For example, the applicant would have to provide a letter from the provincial or territorial minister responsible for health describing his or her opinion on the proposed activities, how the activities would be integrated into the provincial and territorial health care system, and any treatment services that would be available for individuals who would use the site. Until this letter is provided, the Minister of Health would not review the application. The applicant would have to provide information on security measures, criminal record checks, record keeping and the establishment of procedures for the safe disposal of controlled substances and anything that facilitates their consumption. Until this information is provided, the Minister of Health would not review the application.

For some of criteria, information would have to be submitted by the applicant only if it existed. For example, an applicant would not be required to undertake new studies to create information on crime or public nuisance near the proposed site. However, if the information already existed, the applicant would have to provide it. The Minister of Health would also have the opportunity to ask the applicant to provide additional relevant information as required to help in making a decision.

Given the importance of understanding the impact that supervised consumption sites may have on the communities in which they exist, there is a heavy emphasis on public consultation. Our government recognizes the importance of consulting with relevant community groups about a proposed supervised consumption site. We need to hear from those who are already present on the ground in that community and who know the specific characteristics of that community that may or may not be affected by the presence of a supervised consumption site.

The proposed legislation includes a requirement to provide letters of opinion from public health and municipal officials. The act requires that all perspectives from law enforcement, public health professionals, provincial/territorial or municipal governments to the public would be taken into account.

In addition to these requirements, the act also allows the Minister of Health to post a notice of application regarding a proposed supervised consumption site for a 90-day public comment period. This provides a clear chance for Canadians to provide their thoughts on any proposed application directly to the Minister of Health. Any relevant feedback would be taken into account in her consideration of an exemption application.

This is why the short title of this legislation is the “respect for communities act”. This consultation will be an essential part of the application process for a supervised consumption site. We need to know what those living, working or going to school near the potential supervised consumption site think of the proposal.

The changes in the legislation would also require the applicant to consult with a broad range of relevant community groups to ascertain their opinions on the proposed site and provide a report outlining their views and describing how the applicant would respond to any relevant concerns raised during the consultation. This information is crucial, as well as other specific and clearly defined application criteria meant to balance public health and safety consideration.

This new legislation provides greater transparency concerning the application process for exemptions to use controlled substances at supervised consumption sites. It also provides the minister with the necessary information to balance public health and public safety concerns in accordance with the charter when considering an exemption application for activities where illicit substances are at a supervised consumption site.

As I have mentioned, one of the main purposes of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is public safety. As part of the application review process, there will be a pre-inspection to verify that the information provided in the application is accurate. For example, if an applicant states that specific security measures exist on site, this will be verified.

Given the inherent threat posed to public health and safety from controlled substances obtained through illicit sources, it is common sense that exemptions to undertake activities with them should be limited to rare or unique circumstances.

When an exemption granted under the new regime is set to expire and the applicant applies for a new exemption, the applicant would have to address all legislated criteria. In addition, where possible the applicant would have to provide the following information, dating from the time the first exemption was first granted, to the time of the most recent application: information on any change in crime rates in the vicinity where the site is located, and information on any impacts of the activities at the site on individual and public health.

This new approach will bring greater clarity and transparency to the way in which future applications to establish supervised consumption sites will be assessed. The proposed approach provides the legislative structure needed to properly address public health and safety concerns. Most importantly, it allows the public and key community stakeholders to have a voice.

By supporting these changes in our laws, we can help to protect public health safety. I urge all sides of the House to support the bill.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 1 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

That concludes the time we have for debate, leaving 10 minutes for questions and comments at the resumption of debate.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Supreme CourtAdjournment Proceedings

June 13th, 1 a.m.


Jean-François Fortin Bloc Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, on April 15, during question period, I asked the government about the political involvement of Supreme Court justices in the 1982 patriation of the Constitution, which historian Frédéric Bastien addresses in his book entitled La bataille de Londres.

I would remind the House that Ottawa referred to a Supreme Court ruling in order to force a constitution on Quebec that it still refuses to sign to this day.

Mr. Bastien lays out evidence that former Supreme Court chief justice Bora Laskin provided the governments of Canada and Great Britain with privileged information about the court's deliberations on the legality of the patriation of the Constitution. The fact that the chief justice at the time was providing privileged information not only to the Government of Canada but also to the Government of Great Britain about the Supreme Court's deliberations raises a serious issue about the fundamental principles of separation of powers.

This is such a serious move that it undermines the legitimacy of the Supreme Court's ruling and, accordingly, the legitimacy of forcing the Constitution on Quebec. This is not merely a breach of elementary rules, it is a violation of the principles forming the very basis of our democratic institutions.

In our opinion, the Prime Minister must show some statesmanship, launch an independent public inquiry and commit to releasing all the unredacted documents that can shed light on these events.

Despite repeated requests from the Bloc Québécois, all members from the National Assembly of Quebec and the people of Quebec, most of whom are calling for this inquiry, it is still impossible to find out more about the circumstances surrounding this pivotal time in Canadian and Quebec history.

In light of the allegations surrounding this saga, the only thing that is clear is that the Conservative government, with the complicity of other federalist parties, continue to refuse this legitimate request by Quebec.

Under pressure, the Supreme Court did a cursory verification of its own documents, but did not find anything, it said, to confirm the point made by historian Frédéric Bastien.

Not surprisingly, any entity investigating itself in such circumstances tries to avoid the controversy that this type of revelation provokes.

The perception the Government of Quebec and Quebeckers have of the highest court in the land is heavily laced with scepticism. No less that 39% of the people polled during a recent survey said that the Supreme Court is not neutral and independent. The government must take note and act accordingly by taking its responsibilities and allowing this dark time in Quebec's history to be clarified as quickly as possible.

When will this government take the opinion of Quebeckers into account and stop encouraging the culture of secrecy and absolute confusion surrounding a significant and defining event for Canada?

The 1982 repatriation of the Canadian Constitution is a defining event in our political history. Although it may not be of interest to the Prime Minister and the Conservative government, this event is very significant. The rules of the game were changed without the consent of Quebec, which, ever since, has been trapped by a framework that was created without an acknowledgement of its refusal to be a party to repatriation. This is the position of Quebec's federalist and sovereignist parties alike, which, regardless of their political allegiance, have always refused to add Quebec's signature.

Unfortunately, my presence here proves that the crux of the matter remains unresolved. Given the facts brought to light, I believe that a national inquiry is vital to a proper understanding of the events surrounding the 1982 repatriation of the Constitution. It is clear from recent developments that Quebeckers are asking for frank and honest answers. As long as this government represents all Canadians, it must respond to this legitimate demand for an independent inquiry with full access to the documents.

Supreme CourtAdjournment Proceedings

June 13th, 1:05 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Pierre Lemieux ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, as this government has stated before, we have no interest in reopening old constitutional debate.

Our government continues to focus its efforts on the real needs of Canadians: a stronger economy, job creation and the initiatives needed to balance the budget.

While the member opposite continues to attempt to reopen these debates, Canadians can rest assured that our government's focus will be on their real priorities.

Supreme CourtAdjournment Proceedings

June 13th, 1:05 a.m.


Jean-François Fortin Bloc Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a very short answer.

However, the government's vision also ignores the fact that the September 1981 ruling of the highest court allowed for the repatriation of the Constitution without Quebec's support.

The judges basically said that the unanimous consent of the provinces was not necessary to repatriate the Constitution. Nevertheless, this was a defining moment. This ruling allowed the repatriation to occur.

The government is constantly saying that this request to reopen an investigation and shed some light on this issue is stirring up old quarrels. However, we see that the government was very enthusiastic about putting its energy into and spending public money on the commemoration of the War of 1812, which was considered a defining moment for the government.

Is there another more defining moment than the controversial repatriation? In our opinion, the government has no choice but to acknowledge those troubled times and look into these serious allegations by creating an independent commission of public inquiry that will have access to all the relevant documents, including those of the Privy Council.