The House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology has started hearings on Bill C-8, the Combating Counterfeit Products Act. On Monday November 4, 2013, Minister of Industry James Moore appeared before the Committee. Also in attendance were witnesses from the Department of Industry, John Knubley, deputy minister, and Paul Halucha, director general of the marketplace framework policy branch. They were joined by Martin Bolduc, the vice-president of the operations branch Canada Border Services Agency and Superintendent Eric Slinn, director general, support services for federal policing from the RCMP.
Minister Moore led off the hearing with remarks that included the following:
Again, Mr. Chair, I want to thank you for inviting me to appear to speak about Bill C-8, Combating Counterfeit Products Act, and our government’s work to stop pirated goods from entering the Canadian economy.
As the committee well knows, our government worked hard to modernize Canada’s intellectual property laws in order to bring them into the 21st century. We promised to modernize the Copyright Act, and our government delivered on that promise. We introduced and passed a bill that balanced the needs of creators with those of consumers, but this was only part of the solution that was needed…
We are no longer simply trading goods and resources with a few close allies on our continent. In today’s modern economy we are trading physical goods and intellectual property to more countries and more people and more often. With this increased trade comes great opportunity and reward, but in trying to maximize these opportunities, we cannot ignore increased risks, namely those presented by the theft and resale of Canadian intellectual property. We have taken the necessary steps through the Copyright Modernization Act to bring our domestic—and that’s, of course, the key word, “domestic”—copyright laws in line with international standards.
As the committee well knows, however, having studied this issue on several occasions, work still remains in ensuring that goods which violate the Canadian intellectual property laws not be allowed into this country for commercial resale. Not only do such goods undermine the business success of legitimate Canadian companies, but they also represent a threat to the health and well-being of our families. I have here, by the way, a number of examples of counterfeit goods that have been captured coming into Canada, such as counterfeit batteries, counterfeit clothes, a counterfeit Sidney Crosby Olympic jersey, and a number of items that cross boundaries, not only in terms of national identity, hollowing out the intellectual property of Canadian companies, but also items that bring with them a degree of public safety concerns that need to be taken into account, such as circuit breakers, batteries, extension cords, etc., that are counterfeit and would not meet Canadian standards for sale…
In today’s world intellectual property rights are a constant risk. Counterfeit and pirated goods are increasingly finding their way through our borders and into the Canadian marketplace. The retail value of counterfeit goods seized by the RCMP has steadily increased from $7.6 million in 2005 to $38 million in 2012. That is a 400% increase just in the past few years, and that’s money and jobs that are being taken away from Canadians.
To give you a context for how counterfeit goods are affecting Canadians, I’ll give you some examples. First of all, counterfeit goods threaten the safety of Canadians. We are not only talking about counterfeit Gucci bags that are sold on the street, but these pirated goods can be real threats to our daily lives. There have been many reports of counterfeit airbags, counterfeit toothpaste, children’s toys as well as food and beverages that put the health and safety of our families at risk.
Second, counterfeit goods often have been linked with serious organized crime. Criminal groups use the profits from pirated goods to fund criminal activities about which we all are very concerned.
Third, counterfeit and pirated goods are a threat to economic growth and jobs in Canada. When counterfeiters steal intellectual property for commercial purposes, it is Canadian businesses that are most affected. This is not just through the lost revenue from products gone unsold, but also through the damage done to brand integrity. When criminals bring counterfeit and pirated goods into this country they are looking to make a quick profit, and they can very easily tarnish the strong reputations forged by quality Canadian brands…
The need for the bill is quite clear. In order to help stop the spread of counterfeiting and piracy this legislation gives Canadian rights holders and law enforcement agencies the tools they require to confront this threat at the border and to take action against those who profit from the commercial trade of counterfeit and pirated goods…
This bill was created to respond to the concerns of consumers and stakeholders and to ensure the security of our economy. The health and safety of Canadians and also to help stop criminal activity that is profiting from this trade are central to this legislation as well.
Mr. Chair, I want to thank the committee again for taking the time to study this important bill and I would urge all members of the committee to return this bill to the House as soon as is possible so that we can ensure Canadian rights holders, customs officers and law enforcement agencies have the tools they need to fight counterfeiting and piracy domestically at our borders.
Minister Moore also informed the Committee that Minister Blaney, the Minister of Public Safety, will also appear before the Committee. The hearings continue on Wednesday November 6, 2013.
For more information about the Copyright Modernization Act or Bill C-11 or copyright reform, see Change and the Copyright Modernization Act.