Mr. Speaker, in my role as critic, I rise today to speak to Bill C-244, which was introduced by the member for Richmond Centre. As we mentioned, this bill is a carbon copy of Bill C‑272, which was introduced in the last Parliament by the member for Cambridge, who sits beside the member for Richmond Centre. The House studied the former bill before the election was called, and members will recall that the Conservatives supported Bill C‑272 up to clause-by-clause consideration.
Therefore, I wish to inform the House that the official opposition will support Bill C‑244 at second reading so that it may be studied clause by clause at a parliamentary committee, where all viewpoints will be heard, which is logical and part of our job. There are some exciting, interesting and appealing views on this bill, as well as other views that provide a different perspective and a better understanding of the situation, and that also reveal flaws that can be corrected by a parliamentary committee, if necessary.
Bill C‑244 is essentially about copyright, but in simpler terms, it is about the right to repair.
We have all developed new habits as consumers. We buy electronics. Usually, if there is a problem, we open the case and try to figure out what is going on. If we cannot figure it out, we throw out the item and buy a new one.
In the not-too-distant past, whenever we ran into a problem with a household device or appliance, such as a toaster or washing machine, we would open it up and, with a little imagination, we might be able to repair it or at least find a solution. Now, though, these things get thrown out.
One positive outcome of Bill C‑244 would be that people would be allowed to repair things themselves. In addition, the bill would prevent broken devices and appliances from being sent to landfill because the owners are not able to repair them themselves. This is an environmentally friendly approach.
The study of Bill C‑244 is part two of the debate that took place in the House two years ago. In preparing for this speech, I read what my colleagues said at that time, and I want to point out that the members for Cypress Hills—Grasslands and Peace River—Westlock made some very good observations based on their own personal experience.
Earlier, my colleague from Saskatchewan, a very young man, reminded the House that he grew up on a farm and that his father, his grandfather and his family worked directly with machinery. When the machinery broke down, they repaired it. In those days, we repaired things. In those days, people helped each other. They would get on the phone and call the local store, which would suggest another local store where the replacement part could be found, and then they would replace the part themselves.
Today, it is much more difficult. When we look under the hood or check out a part, there is often a computer, an integrated circuit or microchips. Not everyone can repair those things themselves or reprogram the equipment.
Many people will bypass this computer or high-tech device and try to repair the item, but doing that could potentially create even more problems.
This is why there must be a good framework surrounding the practice of the right to repair, not only for citizens, for consumers, but also for businesses in our communities. They do not necessarily have a direct connection with the product manufacturer. That is where the nuance lies, and the devil is in the details. This is why we must ensure that Bill C‑244 is drafted properly.
We understand that the digital world of the 21st century presents new challenges, but we must allow people to continue to have the right to repair and not always be held hostage to the original manufacturer by having to send the product back for repair at the consumer's expense. The manufacturer can assume total control by permanently sealing its product, but this choice takes away the consumer's first recourse and hurts regional or local businesses that could help fix the problem.
This is the second time the subject has come up in the House. It is the second time because there was an election. I will not get into that because we are trying to be positive, constructive and non-partisan today.
I should point out that the House of Commons in Ottawa is not the only place people are talking about this. As the member for Richmond Centre, the bill sponsor, said earlier, nearly 20 states in the United States are also bringing in legislation about this and European countries are doing likewise, so Canada really needs to look at the best way legislation can address this issue.
It is also important to understand that right to repair is a provincial matter. That is why it is important to be careful here. We must ensure that we are not interfering in provincial jurisdiction. Rather, we need to make it possible for provinces to change their laws to allow the right to repair if that is what they want to do. We are opening the door for them to do that in accordance with the framework set out in Bill C‑244, so it is important to make sure the bill says exactly that.
Now let us talk about the impact this will have on warranties. By law, when someone buys a product, it must come with a warranty. To what extent does the warranty apply if the consumer takes the item apart, especially if they take the computer apart? We need to ensure that the impact on warranties is carefully considered, that the impact on provincial laws is examined and that there are no adverse effects on people who tinker with the insides of a product.
Obviously, there are many concerns that need to be clearly defined in this bill. That is why, when we were debating this in the previous Parliament, it got a little heated at times because not everyone agreed, which is just fine. That is a good thing. That is called democracy, and that is what it means to get to the bottom of things to avoid problems in the future. Without wishing to make a pun on the bill before us, once a law is passed and locked down, it has to come back to the House if it needs to be changed or amended. Once it is voted on, we have to live with it, so we have to make sure we do not need to fix it too often along the way.
That is why, over the past few years, some people have spoken out against the approach of the previous bill, Bill C‑272. Representatives from the equipment manufacturers association, a very powerful group in the agricultural sector, said that it was a fundamental issue for them and that the bill was far too vague. I presume that, during clause-by-clause consideration, we will have the opportunity to hear these dissenting voices, which are telling us that the bill is too vague and that there is too much room for interpretation. We will have to fix this and ensure that the bill is not too vague.
I want to quote the CEO of Brandt Tractor. He said that this is a terrible legislation and that this kind of legislation kills all dealers like Brandt Tractor and hurts manufacturers.
Certain industry groups directly affected by this bill have also warned that it is a little too vague and that it will have a direct impact on all the small businesses currently working in this area.
I repeat that the official opposition agrees with the principle of this bill at second reading. We will move forward because we understand that there are positive impacts for Canada's rural communities if farmers, among others, are allowed to continue repairing their equipment without any fear of repercussions. We also understand that this has environmental benefits. It is preferable to repair equipment than to throw it away. This can give an item a second, third or fourth life instead of it being thrown in the garbage right away, with all the environmental impact that can have.
We are also aware of the impact the bill will have on industry, on how things are done and on local businesses, and we must consider that. If we see that certain clauses of the bill need to be amended, added or removed, we will be open to doing that.