Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise again in this chamber on the right to repair. I thank the member for introducing Bill C-244, an act to amend the Copyright Act, diagnosis, maintenance and repair, also known as the right to repair act. I congratulate the member for Richmond Centre for bringing it forward.
One of the things that is interesting about this is that an evolution is taking place. I originally had legislation in this chamber that passed. It was related to the right to repair, specific to the auto industry, because that was the first time we tackled this.
A common theme within Canada is that we are often treated as a colony when it comes to consumer rights. What I mean by that is the European Union and the United States often enjoy better auto recall, consumer rights, returns and other policies than we do here because we are lax, and our Competition Bureau needs reformation. We see some bills coming forth in this chamber, including from my leader, who also has a bill reforming the Competition Act, Bill C-56, and others that would improve things. Until that time, we still need to work on issues like this.
The right to repair became interesting for me because of the auto town I am in. Even representing auto companies, we still found that we were not getting treated fairly at that time. In Windsor, Ontario, we are across from Detroit, Michigan, and that is only a 2.5-kilometre distance across the border.
In Windsor, I could not get my minivan fixed aftermarket at the time, but I could drive it over the border and get it fixed in the aftermarket in Detroit, Michigan. That is because its environmental protection act and other right to repair legislation protected them much better than our Canadian system protected us.
I went across the country, back and forth a few times, and worked with a number of people. A good example is Scott Smith, who is now with the Chamber of Commerce, and others in the AIA. I worked with them for a legislative change for the automotive aftermarket. We knew that it was deficient in the overall issue, but just touching on that first point was really important because a lot of Canadians did not realize they were getting ripped off and getting treated as secondary citizens. It was unacceptable.
I remember having meetings with the auto companies. One of the executives was testing the waters about this issue, and it was really important. It was in the chamber of the other House before it closed down for renovations. I remember the CEO, after I told him what was going on, asked if it was happening in the United States. They said no, and he told his team to fix it. From that time, we got better players in the automotive aftermarket from some of the large automotive dealers.
Tony Clement was the minister at that time. The bill was going to go to the Senate. We had enough votes. It was a real fight, as is usual in this place, but that is okay. Then there was a decision made by all those involved that they would rather try a voluntary system, which we now have today and was put in place to provide the information for the aftermarket.
Why is that important? The aftermarket provides hundreds of thousands of jobs and is worth billions of dollars. It is also an issue of public safety because vehicles were being driven on the road for longer than they should not have been. Vehicles were emitting things, so it was an environmental issue because they were not tuned the way that they should have been. It was a competition issue because we had people who could not get the service they needed from the garages they wanted to use.
It was also a fairness issue because there were people working in those establishments who were trained. In those places, often some of the more marginalized workers in the industry were going to lose their jobs, not because they were not qualified or did not do all the things that were necessary, but because the industry and greed spoke louder than the people did at that time.
To credit most of those in the industry, they got their act together and created the voluntary agreement. There have been ups and downs all along the way. Even Tesla finally came onto that agreement, I am told. However, until that time, it was voluntary, so we had ebbs and flows all the time about what was taking place. That is why we are seeing legislation come back.
It is not just New Democrats this time. We see Liberals and Conservatives with aftermarket legislation, and that is because it has become habitual. I know the Bloc has also talked about this quite extensively. My colleague who spoke before me has been very effective at committee on this.
We have all grappled with this. We have seen the really stupid stuff with regard to how many plug-in cords we have to have with access to different devices for no technological reason whatsoever, and it is junk that is piling up in our landfills. Aside from the environmental part, there is a cost, and it has nothing to do with innovation whatsoever. It is about dependancy, and those are some of the things taking place.
The aftermarket to fix the different problems we are talking about here is not about taking shortcuts. There is information that needs to be provided to those people, and it would be done with terms and conditions that would be legislated and followed through on.
When my bill went through, we were not asking for shortcuts or interventions; we were asking for the proper training to be made available. What was happening was unbelievable. When there was an update on software, which could literally be a simple and minor thing, it would cripple a vehicle, and it could not be fixed in the aftermarket. Sometimes, after the physical repairs, the vehicle was being towed to another garage just to get a download of a program. It makes no sense.
It does not make sense for the environment, public safety or competition, and it hurts some of the men and women who work in those shops. Again, they are not asking for this information for free. They want a system in place so they can buy the equipment, get the necessary downloads, pay for them and service their customers in a reasonable way.
There are many different ways the voluntary agreement has basically fallen on the edge of a precipice of being ineffective. There can be intentional issues, where some companies do not want to provide information in a reasonable time, or they play games if they want. It might not even be that. It could just be that it is not their priority, because they want to do something else.
This is dangerous. If we look at the auto sector, particularly in rural and other areas, we could not service all our vehicles with dealerships. We would cripple our economy. If we lose the aftermarket for the auto sector, then we are going to lose our capabilities to be effectively moving in transportation, which is changing with the electrification of vehicles.
The problem with my bill is that it did not involve heavy equipment, farm equipment or other things like that. We knew it was a problem in the bill, but we had to at least touch on this and bring an awareness that had not been there. It is why I went across the country on this, because people were just accepting it.
We always hear fake arguments that it is about safety, that people are going to wreck their stuff and other people's stuff. We hear all these different things. Imagine if we had the same attitude when we let the screwdriver go to the public sector and people were able to use a screwdriver at home. What if we could never use a wrench or a hammer at home because it was too dangerous? It is outrageous.
We have been fixing vehicles, electronic equipment and a number of different things, as we have moved from manual to electric and to all the different technologies with computers and so forth. It has been the normal process for consumers with the devices they own, but what is happening and changing is the building in of obstacles.
There is an obstacle when a device is created where one needs a special tool for it. An obstacle is when one puts a type of system in place where one cannot fix a device because there is a technological impediment, such as to performing a simple update on the software.
Bill C-244 is married, in many respects, to my bill, Bill C-231, an act to amend the Competition Act for vehicle repair. There are some problems with the bill, such as that it does not go far enough in terms of the tribunal, as well as a few other elements. However, it sets us in the right direction. I would like to see it amended. I hope the Senate takes a look at more of the possibilities.
We are just simply not keeping up with the rest of the world when it comes to aftermarket connections. There is mounting pressure. We have just seen with Apple that it is finally to make a more standardized version of its cord, which it did not even have in its own products. This is outrageous. Now it is going to move to that. Why is it doing so? It is because the European Union is moving toward forcing these things.
These are the reasons I will be supporting this bill. New Democrats have been supporting the right to repair. As much as it is a consumer issue and an environmental issue, it is also a social justice issue, because many people have spent their time and money to be educated to have careers in the aftermarket in order to provide resources for their families. That opportunity is being denied, not by choice or by their deficiency of skills, but by the greed of large corporations that want to protect it for pure profit at the expense of everyone else. That balance has to be restored, and that is why this is a good bill.