House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was farmers.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Huron—Bruce (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada Post February 23rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the post office is a highly visible federal service and functions as a centrepiece to many rural and northern communities across Canada. With that the minister will understand the public concern over rumours that the moratorium on rural post office closures is to be ended.

Will the minister today assure this House that he will protect rural post offices from being abandoned or closed?

Committees of the House February 14th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present in both official languages the second report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food entitled, “Status Report: Financial Analysis Relative to Meat Packing Companies in the Context of the BSE Crisis of 2003 Phase I”. I should also comment that we have moved now to the second phase of this study, and we have asked for a forensic audit to be done on those packers at another level.

Petitions February 14th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Earlier during the presentation of parliamentary reports the report which I was to present today was not yet in the House. It has since arrived. I wonder whether I could have the unanimous consent of the House to present the report now.

Patent Act February 10th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, that is certainly a very valid question. Given that the member may be new to the House, I can assure him that it was agreed something needed to be done to correct the past mistake. As one would know in the House, all measures and all bills of the House are usually referred to the other place at some time. There was an error in omitting the Senate from this process. This is the first opportunity the House has had to bring this to the point where we can now bring the Senate back into the process where it always should have been.

Patent Act February 10th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, not having been a member of that committee, it is my understanding and my full belief that there was always a willingness to resolve this issue as quickly as possibly, but there was delay, I believe, because of the fact the court had not rendered its decision in the case. That has now occurred. The decision has of course now allowed us to move forward. Taking the decision, we move today that we take the corrective measures which have been recommended. We trust that all opposition members will concur.

Patent Act February 10th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support passage at third reading of these technical amendments to the Patent Act. The matter before us is very simple and straightforward. A court decision has determined that a well known practice followed by the Commissioner of Patents was beyond his authority and jurisdiction. As a result, many of the patent applicants and holders who had taken advantage over the years of the commissioner's practice of flexibility are now seeing the protection of their patent rights being jeopardized.

The bill provides a technical solution. It provides the patent applicants and holders with a 12 month period in which to make top-up payments.

Fees are applied to patents, trademarks and industrial designs. On January 1, 2004, a new fee structure came into effect. On filing an application for a patent, a small entity is required to pay $200 and a large entity $400. On requesting an examination, a small entity pays $400 and a large entity $800.

Maintenance fees on applications filed on or after October 1, 1989, vary according to the amount of time that has passed. For two to four years, for example, the maintenance fee is $50 for a small entity and $100 for a large entity. At the other end of the continuum, a small entity pays $225 to maintain a patent that is 15 to 19 years old and a large entity pays $450.

One can readily understand why an entity would prefer to pay at the lower amount. This is especially the case with individuals and small businesses. Often an inventor must keep a close eye on the expenses. The invention may one day land the inventor a windfall, but until that happy day comes, the inventor may have to scrape pennies to keep the operation going from one year to the next. But as the Dutch Industries case has shown, it is very important that an entity submit the correct fees; otherwise the patent may lapse.

I think it is very important also to bear in mind that the Commissioner of Patents and the patent applicants and patent holders have acted in good faith in these matters. The applicants and holders endeavoured to pay the right fees and sought corrective action by paying top-up fees if they found they had been mistaken in the past, and the Commissioner of Patents acted in good faith by providing the opportunity to take corrective action by paying top-up fees.

It took a court case to determine that this corrective action was beyond his jurisdiction and authority. Notwithstanding the fact that top-up maintenance fees have been accepted by the Commissioner of Patents, the courts have held that it was an improper exercise of the commissioner's discretion and not within his jurisdiction.

On September 24, 2001, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office issued an official notice stating that, as a result of the Dutch Industries decision, the office will not accept any corrective payments submitted after a due date unless the appropriate actions are taken as required by legislation or, in other words, a reinstatement or late fee in the correct amount is submitted with the prescribed period.

While the impact of the court's decision is understood for going forward, the bill allows for redress for those unexpectedly affected by the decision. But those entities that filed the wrong amount before the prescribed period are now in a state of limbo. Unless we take action with this technical amendment, their patents may lapse.

We should not be penalizing the inventors and innovators who mean so much to our economy. We should give them an opportunity to take corrective action by allowing them, for a period of time, to take the necessary action which results from the court decision.

Many inventors and innovators wait anxiously for our action in this matter. By some estimates, there are some 7,000 patents that may have been maintained with incorrect fees. The Dutch Industries case has put the validity of these patents into question, and until we make this technical amendment, the threat of intellectual property litigation hangs over them.

This technical amendment will provide the patent applicants and holders with 12 months in which they can make top-up payments.

I would point out to the House that during the committee phase, the patent agents, through their professional association, the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada, proposed two amendments to the bill. Neither of these amendments changes the fundamental purpose of the bill.

The first amendment of course provides for greater certainty. The bill is intended to apply to all past top-up payments and make them legal, but when one reads the wording of sections 78.1 and 78.4 of the Patent Act, it is not clear that this would be the case. These two sections of course provide that patent applications filed at certain specific dates are to be dealt with and disposed of in accordance with the provisions of the Patent Act as they read on these dates.

The provisions of this bill will not have been part of the Patent Act on those past specific dates. There is a concern that the technical changes before us would not apply to past filings. That is clearly not the intent of the bill, so a new proposed subsection 78.6(5) has been added to clause 2, stipulating that this section also applies for applications for patents mentioned in sections 78.1 and 78.4.

The second amendment deals with a compliance difficulty. In clause 2, certain information is required when applying to make top-up payments. One requirement is the day on which the prescribed fee was paid. Some of the payments may have been made 10 or 15 years ago. While the day of payment for examination fees or final fees is kept on record, the exact day on which a maintenance fee was paid may not be known. The amended bill now before us has deleted the requirement to provide the day on which the prescribed fee was paid.

These amendments improve a bill that is designed to provide tactical amendments to the Patent Act. The bill passed quickly through second reading and committee stage and I see no reason why it should be delayed here at third reading. I hope hon. members will join me in working for a swift passage of the bill.

Committees of the House November 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.

In accordance with its order of reference of Friday, October 8, the committee has considered votes 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 under Agriculture and Agri-Food in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2005 and reports the same, less the amounts granted in interim supply.

Contraventions Act November 2nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to be recorded on Bill C-17 as opposing this motion.

Agriculture October 12th, 2004

Mr. Chair, I would ask the hon. member across the way if he could, in the spirit of federalism, convey to the House the reasons he believes the Government of Canada should divest its moneys to the province of Quebec in different ways than it does to the rest of the country, in other words, give special treatment to the province of Quebec.

What I heard in the member's speech was that had Quebec been alone on this issue, it would not have been subjected to the kind of retaliatory measures that the United States has imposed on the rest of Canada. Trust me, countries smaller than Quebec have been affected by the kind of isolationism that we see happening here. Could the member express to the House, in the spirit of federalism, how the government could in its wisdom deliver its funds to the province of Quebec in a different way and still remain in the spirit of federalism?

Agriculture October 12th, 2004

Mr. Chair, I would like us to reflect for a moment because we have been talking considerably about the government's responsibility to market. As a farmer, as someone who represents an agrarian riding, I know that farmers are great producers. Canadian farmers are the greatest in the world with the best products, but we simply do not know how to market our product. We can get it to the farm gate but we do not know how to return a price for the product that we produce.

Why is it that because it is agriculture we think the government needs to market our product? Why does the agriculture sector not do as the auto industry does, as the aircraft industry does and as so many of our other sectors in the manufacturing field do? They go out and market. Yes we have desks in various parts of the world that help our agricultural communities do that, but we simply do not have frontline professionals who know how to market our product and sell the good of our product. Why is that?

Government should be there to facilitate it but we cannot expect government to sell General Motors cars. Farmers ought to do a better job. I have said that in a kind way, I hope, because that is how I intended to say it.