MASSE IN THE HOUSE: Masse's Speech at the 2nd Hour of Debate on Bill C-273, Right-to-Repair

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I first want to start by thanking all members for participating in this debate at first and second readings. I am bringing their thoughts forward as well. It is an important part of what has been happening.
This issue has been around for a number of years. It did not just happen now. In fact I have had this bill for a couple of years, researching it, going across this country and looking at it. The former minister of industry is joining us here today. He took an interest in the bill and I am sure if he would have remained as minister of industry, perhaps Bill C-273 would not have been necessary.
We are here today because there is a problem with our current system and if we continue to ignore it, it affects the environment, it affects consumer choice and it also affects public safety. That is what Bill C-273 attempts to address.
I want to touch upon a couple of things that are important to outline which have been part of the debate here but on which we need to be clear. There are voluntary agreements in the Canadian automotive industry right now, but they are all still based on the Consumer Protection Act. This is about bringing a bill forward that is actually going to be specifically addressing the issue through Canadian government legislation.
We have to be clear. In the United States, under the EPA, because of its environmental laws, it created an operating agreement with the original manufacturers, so there is a clear definition there. The United States legislation creates the operating agreement for its solution there, which still needs some work on it and has some issues but at least it is available to them. In Canada, we do not have a voluntary agreement. We do not have a legislative agreement. We have nothing.
I know that NATA, the National Automotive Trades Association, has promised to have a solution, but it is important to recognize that all they can do is promise that they might have a voluntary agreement, and they are saying by 2010 at best. It is not worth the paper it is printed on. It is worthless because at the end of the day, there could be manufacturers that opt in or opt out at different times and resolution processes are not actually available through any type of legislation.
It is also very important not to forget that the automobile industry right now is revolutionizing in many respects. There are also the new entrants into the market. How can we have a voluntary agreement that would be based upon a group of businesses right now that are all foreign companies? They would have no Canadian legislative backstop to deal with any types of problems. There will be other ones, for example, in China as they emerge into the Canadian market with the Chery. China has over 100 different automotive assembly companies. Not all of them will get into our market but some will, and they could decide not to get into some type of agreement.
What it does is dissipate the reality of having a rules-based system that is fair, open and transparent. The Competition Bureau would then be the arbitrator. The rules could be applied and there would be fairness. There is a whole process in place that could evolve.
That is why we want to see this get to committee. We want to see Canadians have the same opportunity. It is really important for Canadians to understand that right now, as things stand, one would get different treatment in the United States than in Canada, and it is based on nothing more than the fact that they have just chosen not to bring this forward to the Canadian public at this particular time.
It is interesting to note, when we look at our Canadian technicians in the after-market, that those men and women have the same training as those in the dealerships, unless they get additional training later on. They have to go through the same type of schooling that is available.
In fact our standards in Canada are better. Ironically, one could be taking a trip to the United States, have something go wrong with the car and go to a facility to have it repaired by a technician with fewer qualifications than one in Canada. We are denied that because they cannot download the proper program,or some type of schooling or training is not available because the company chooses not to provide that.
That is not fair. That is not healthy and that is one of the reasons that we want to deal with this. It is for the environment, to make sure vehicles are going to be clean and well maintained. It is for public safety, that they are going to fixed and in good operating condition, especially in rural communities where they have to drive hundreds of kilometres to get to an actual facility. It is also for the consumer's right to choose.
Therefore we are hopeful that this will go to committee. I appreciate the fact that there has been a lot of input both from those who have concerns about the bill and those who are supporting it, and I look forward to working with everyone to make sure we have a fair, rules-based system based on Canadian legislation that protects Canadians.