Joe Hueglin's Corner PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 03 December 2009 20:24
The media report news. Passage of Bill-C6, the Consumer Products Safety Act, by the House of Commons was not newsworthy for all Parliamentary Parties supported it.

The Senate's Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology considered amendments to be necessary and reported them for adoption by the Senate as a whole.

Adoption of the amendments would return the Bill to the House of Commons.  The possibility of this occurring being newsworthy  several articles were written this past week. In them the Health Minister seeks to ascribe motives to the Senators proposing the amendments..

Toy makers' pleas turn tide on safety bill in Senate is the headline of the most recent one. The Minister argues the amendments were being made to serve business interests.  Toward its end the Committee Chairman is quoted as saying "“We were looking for the balance and I think we found it”, the balance being between the powers of government agents on the one hand and individual liberties we take for granted on the other.

Read the article as a prologue to what follows: the views of the Minister; the view of a Senator; the amendments; and the debate within the Committee which presented them to the Senate for acceptance.

Read what follows and make your judgement: are the amendments in aid of business or protecting citizens from government agents having overly great arbitrary powers of stepping into individuals lives?

Balance between Government and Individuals or Serving business

Health Minister Aglukkaq considers the rationales offered for the amendments proposed by the Senate to be nothing but "fearmongering". .

She argues the changes would "considerably weaken the bill". Asking "whose concerns the senators were responding to." she answers her own question, "Liberal senators have put industry interest ahead of consumer safety with changes to a proposed product recall bill " .

Senator Elaine McCoy's in a post entitled "State vs Citizen", presents a greatly differing view, one which is shared by others including the Progressive Canadian Party: "Bill C-6, the Consumer Products Safety Act, emerged tonight from the Senate's Social Affairs Committee quite substantially amended.  At the heart of the amendments was a sincere attempt to balance the power of the state against the rights of citizens, whether they be innocent consumers or innocent entrepreneurs."

The intent and effect of the amendments do not introduce changes to the product recall bill that "diminish safety" as Aglukkaq says . Rather they meet concerns about powers granted to the state setting "A Dangerous Precedent: Bill C-6 "

Following are the Report of the Senate Committee, debate within the Committee concerning the amendments and Bill C-6 as it was passed by the House of Commons. Read them and determine whether in your view the amendments aim at bringing needed balance or are narrowly serving business interests

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has the honour to present its TWELFTH REPORT

Committee Minutes
The Standing Senate Committee Dec .. 2 Minutes (Unrevised) here

Bill -6
Click here for the entire document (476Kb)

Table of Contents



 There is a new law being introduced in Canada right now, this law will enable anyone from the Canadian government to enter the property of citizens, not only that this new law enables the Canadian government to take the property, houses or anything they want to without help from the court.

Is there no protection under the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) such that without passage of Bill C-6 deaths may well occur?  If so government has been remiss for the 40 years the Act has been in force. In point of fact powers exist to issue "Interim orders" (HPA 27 (1) )  with severe penalties for non-compliance "a fine not exceeding one million dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both." (HPA 28 (1) (b) ).

What is a primary difference between HPA and Bill C-6? Under the HPA actions by the Minister and officials are subject to judicial review or Parliament.  Under Bill C-6 such is not the case.

Overall the powers of the Executive branch are enlarged at the expense of private citizens, the Judicial branch of government and the Legislative branch, Parliament.

Though generally unreported to this point (and therefore unknown to the general public ) the power shifts as enumerated below raise this question: the Ministry of Health would have enlarged powers to watch for dangerous products as Bill C-6 has been passed by the House of Commons and to take action, but with the removal of judicial oversight gone Who watches the watchers?

Shifts in powers to the Government have come about removing judicial review through the replacement of the Hazardous Products Act by the at this point not yet law Bill C-6, the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, .

The shifts are enumerated in a discussion paper found at a summary of which follows.

The real change brought about by Bill C-6 is not that it protects consumers, as the current law already grants the State significant powers to protect safety. Rather the real change is the abolition of procedural safeguards citizens currently enjoy
Bill C-6 abolishes the law of trespass thus allowing the State access onto private property without any legal recourse.

Bill C-6 for the first time in Canadian history allows warrants to be issued to search private homes without evidence of criminal wrong doing.

Bill C-6 allows the State to seize property without a Court order, without reporting the seizure to a Court, and for an indefinite period.

Bill C-6 allows the State to assume control over the movement of private property without a Court order and without a safety concern.

The search and seizure powers in Bill C-6 are probably unconstitutional for violating the right found in section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

Persons can be fined and have property forfeited to the State for administrative violations. Persons so charged have no right to have a Court determine their guilt or innocence. Guilt is determined by the Minister. There is no defence of due diligence or of honest but mistaken belief.
There does not have to be a safety risk to be charged with an administrative offence. The Minister who determines your guilt or innocence can keep seized property if he/she finds you guilty.

All businesses manufacturing, selling or distributing consumer products are saddled with additional red tape and expense regardless of whether or not there is a safety concern.

Retailers and distributors of consumer products become liable for product labelling and instructions.

Some consumer products such as sporting goods may have to be removed from the market for violating the safety provisions of the Bill.

The Provinces are allowing the Federal Government to regulate in the Provincial area of property and civil rights.

The federal cabinet can incorporate documents from foreign governments or organizations as law by referring to them in regulations. This will remove Parliamentary scrutiny on issues that could fundamentally change the ground rules for the consumer product industry. If foods and Natural Health Products were added to the ambit of the Bill by amending Schedule 1, this would allow for the implementation of foreign standards such as CODEX by passing a regulation.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 December 2009 13:26