MASSE IN THE HOUSE: Final Hour of Debate on Right-to-Repair Bill C-273: Thank you to all who helped

November 17, 2009

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to support this motion.
I want to begin by first thanking the member for Wellington—Halton Hills, the chair of our committee, the industry committee. I think it is very important for people to know that not only on this bill I think our committee is an example of the parliamentary process, for a number of different reasons. First and foremost, the chair provides a fair and balanced approach, which is appreciated for many other pieces of legislation also, as well as this one.
I would also like to thank the member for Saint John who just spoke. It is important to recognize that when this bill went through its first vote in the House of Commons, it passed with a margin of 248 in favour. I thank all those members who considered the importance of this bill, and that is critical.
I would also like to thank the parliamentary secretary, the member for Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, because this has been very much a challenging issue. It has been three years that I have spent on this particular bill trying to get a result, hopefully, for Canadians. If it had not been for working through problems, I do not think we would actually see a solution, which is now the CASIS agreement, as noted earlier. This is a provision that is new to Canada, which is something that is important to recognize. It has been available in the United States. The Americans actually have a different system. They do have a system that is a national automotive service task force, but it is backstopped by legislation.
I believe, though, that this bill is no longer necessary because there has been an agreement reached by all parties involved and I believe there will be enough public pressure on that .
Also, I would recognize the fact that the current Minister of Industry took interest in this file, as well as the previous minister of industry, and I thank them for doing so in order to ensure that Canadian consumers are protected.
I do want to impress upon people the importance of this bill, in terms of what it means. It is important not only just in terms of competition, but it means a cleaner environment and It also means public safety.
What was happening in our country is that we were literally being treated as a colony, in many respects. We were being treated differently from the United States, Europe and other jurisdictions where new technology related to onboard diagnostics, computerization literally of the automobile, was not being successfully passed on to the aftermarket industry. The end result was that Canadians could not get the best service or competitive prices.
What it meant for many of these aftermarket garages, many of which I visited across the country over a number of years across, is that we would literally see technicians in Canada who were better trained than those in the United States who could not successfully repair vehicles because they could not download a program, for example, which is a real quick and easy thing to do. They want to pay for it. They want to ensure it is done within the law. But at the same time, they were not provided it.
Meanwhile, people in Windsor, Ontario, where I am from, could drive their cars over to Detroit, Michigan, and get the same type of service from somebody less trained because the information was being provided by that company. Quite frankly, there were some companies that were better than others. General Motors is better, in general, about providing this information. Ford has recently released more of its information, to comply with the spirit of the agreement which comes into effect later on, but will roll out, I hope, a very successful program. I believe that the minister, in this Parliament, will have a due diligence to ensure that Canadians are treated fairly past this date of this bill.
It is very important when we look at the aftermarket to recognize its significance. It is over 200,000 jobs in Canada. I come from the auto sector, in terms of the auto industry, and Windsor being the auto capital of Canada where a bill like this would be seen with some type of curiosity because why would the member who represents the area of the auto market bring a bill where some of the auto companies were very opposed to it? The reason being that after we sat down and started talking to some of these small shop owners and to the consumers, we saw what was going to take place, that we were going to lose some very successful businesses across this country and that we were going to see people even the rural areas, even though I am in an urban area, have to drive literally hundreds of kilometres further to get their vehicles serviced because of unfair competition, in my perspective, with the unavailability of codes, training and diagnostic equipment that was being provided in other nations across the globe, and particularly the United States, our neighbour.
That is why this bill came about, and I would like to thank my family for putting up with the travelling across the country to promote this. Also, I think of the people who have been part of this, and I do want to recognize a few.
One of the first and foremost is Nancy and Roger Saranyi of Namao Automotive out of the Edmonton area, just outside of Edmonton. It was really interesting. We got a chance to really see the spirit of what was happening. They could not provide the same services they once did. When people go to their facility, it was clean as a whistle. The technicians were trained very well. It had been a family business for many years.
They were slowly losing business related to the aftermarket because they could not get the same codes and equipment that were available before. In looking around facility, not only do we see vehicles that needed repair but we also other vehicles, like a school bus, an ambulance and other types of service vehicles. I saw them in Windsor as well when I went to visit John Sawatski of MSJ Automotive. We would have our Windsor police cruisers and ambulances in there.
The loss of this other business puts these businesses at risk, and subsequently the service of other types of fleets of vehicles that we need a strong aftermarket for because they are not serviced through the normal dealership associations that are available. That is why I brought the bill forward in the previous Parliament, it was called Bill C-425 at that time, and it is now Bill C-273 in this Parliament. It was fortunate enough to be selected high on the order paper.
It has been a great experience because I have learned more about Canadian business and the spirit of competition through this process than I ever thought I would. I would like to thank my staff who have put up with this as well. There is Mohummed Peer, Melanie Namespetra, Darlene Dunn Mahler, Karen Boyce, as well as Kieran McKenzie, and all the volunteers we have because we really worked with a team. This took a lot of extra resources. We worked as a group. Without their constant support, I would not have been able to go across the country.
I think about people I met, like Art Wilderman from the Canadian Independent Automotive Association Bento from Toronto, and John Strikey of Midas Automotive in Halifax, Ron Jones of Mid-Island Automotive in Nanaimo, and Mario Schuchardt of Canadian Tire in Burnaby.
I think about those people and they often represented people who did not have a voice in the previous process. The aftermarket association had been advocating for a change for many years, and in my opinion there had not been the respect paid to the industry that was necessary. Hence, the legislation was seen as the alternative, because they could not go any further.
In particular I would like to thank a number of people from AIA: John Cochrane, Larry Goudge, Marc Brazeau, Deborah Monynes, Mireille Schippers, Patty Kettles, Christine Farquharson and Scott Smith, who I would like to say it is very important to recognize as he worked on this bill diligently and spent a lot of time away from his family as well. As well, from the association there were John Watt, Brad Morris and Mauro Cifelli.
It was an interesting group to work with, because we saw medium and small businesses that banded together to be able to bring forth an issue.
What we get with this agreement, the Canadian automotive service information standard is a voluntary agreement that I am hoping the minister will keep a strong eye on. I am sure it is going to come to fruition. There will now be a process in place for the disbursement of the information, the codes, the technical information for the equipment, as well as the training capability.
It is very important that we recognize that none of this is to be provided for free. That is important because what they are asking for is the right to compete. That is why the bill has come forward. So there is now a process in place to regulate the actual advancement of the codes, the training and the technology. There is also a dispute mechanism, if there is a problem with regard to the releasing of that.
Also, and this is really important, it is no longer going to be a dog's breakfast in terms of which company is going to provide information and when. There is going to be a process in place for fair competition for all Canadians, which is good for public safety, for the environment and for consumers to choose the right to repair.