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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Banking, Trade and Commerce

Issue 20 - Evidence - December 4, 2014


OTTAWA, Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, to which was referred Bill C-8, An Act to amend the Copyright Act and the Trade-marks Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, met this day at 10:32 a.m. to give clause-by-clause consideration to the bill.

Senator Irving Gerstein (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Good morning, and welcome to the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. Today is our the third meeting on Bill C-8, An Act to amend the Copyright Act and the Trade-marks Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Known as the Combating Counterfeit Products Act, the purpose of Bill C-8 is to combat counterfeiting by strengthening enforcement and creating new civil causes of action and criminal offences. We have heard from Industry Minister James Moore, departmental officials and yesterday from a number of outside witnesses.

Today we will be doing clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. At the conclusion of the clause-by-clause, I would like to take the meeting in camera to quickly discuss two items.

With that, is it agreed —

Senator Massicotte: Chair, before we go into clause-by-clause, would it be worthwhile to have to a general discussion about our reaction to the witnesses and discuss approach?

The Chair: I have no objection. I think we have to keep a framework on it, but I would be happy to have you raise any points you would like.

Senator Massicotte: Maybe I can share my thoughts with you so we can decide how to take this down the road.

What we heard, or at least the impression I have, is that the proposed legislation has a lot of good merits. The proposed legislation does take us some way down the road towards significant improvement from a situation where we were on a black list and not doing very much. In fact, we are doing it partly because our free trade negotiations are forcing us to do this. We have a lot of catching up to do. As one witness said, the advantage we have now is to sort of catch up from other people's benefits and practices.

I share with you that I fully support the proposed bill. I think it's an improvement in the right direction, but, from the witnesses we heard, I also have significant concerns about whether it's good enough. In other words, the proposed bill is very good, but I'm not sure it's good enough. We heard concerns about three issues, in my mind.

One is what I call the burdensome and costly procedures for rights-holders to evidence their authority. In other words, if there are counterfeit goods at the border, then they share the information with the border patrol, but they then have 10 days to start a lawsuit. That's very costly. Unless it's a significant importer, most companies will not take that effort to initiate those actions. It's very costly to use the court system to evidence your authority and your rights as an intellectual property owner. That issue is there.

There is also an issue with in transit. We heard different opinions on this issue. It does seem odd that we're passing legislation where not only do we do nothing, but we're actually passing something and amending existing legislation to make it legal to basically be in possession of counterfeit goods. In other words, not only are we doing nothing, but we are actually doing something contrary to having some form of recourse to counterfeit goods held in the bonding area. That's an interesting subject. We're being told that other countries are not doing that, and my own research suggests that other countries, including the Americans, are not doing that. They are taking actions on counterfeit goods in transit where they can. I have an issue there.

We also heard that none of this legislation deals very well with Internet sales and small Canada Post imports, and I can appreciate that. We're probably all guilty a little bit and import all kinds of goods. It's tough to manage that.

In all these respects, we heard that other countries, Europe, possibly the United States and Australia, have practices in place that maybe are more effective against those issues and weaknesses, but we don't know. The conundrum we have is that the legislation is very good, but not good enough, so what do you do?

In my own opinion, it's pretty tough to amend legislation. It's tough to get legislation through. I would highly recommend we approve the legislation, but add an observation to it alerting the minister, saying that it's pretty good, but that we have these issues and concerns and that therefore our committee is quite concerned about it and we specifically request that, within a two-year period, the minister or ministry come back to us and say how good this bill was relative to their objectives. Is it good enough? With two years' experience, we'd find out how good we're doing, because we're speculating a little bit on a complicated issue. I would ask the minister to come back to us within two years and say —

The Chair: Senator, if I may, thank you very much for your opening statement. I would like to move to the bill, and I will assure you we will come to a point where we will consider exactly what you are raising.

Senator Massicotte: Sure.

The Chair: Is it agreed that the committee proceed to clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-8, An Act to amend the Copyright Act and the Trade-marks Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall the title stand postponed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall clause 1, which contains the short title, stand postponed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Honourable colleagues, is leave granted to group clauses and consider them in groups of ten? I might add that we can study a clause individually if it's required.

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall clauses 2 to 11 carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall clauses 12 to 21 carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall clauses 22 to 31 carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall clauses 32 to 41 carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall clauses 42 to 51 carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall clauses 52 to 61 carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall clauses 62 to 63 carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall clause one, which contains the short title, carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall the title carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall the bill carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Now, as I indicated to Senator Massicotte, I understand we might want to consider appending an observation to this report. I would like to suggest that the committee proceed in camera to discuss the text of observations for consideration to attach to the draft report. Agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(The committee continued in camera.)