Hon. Jerry Pickard (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to begin the process of the report stage debate on Bill C-37, an act to amend the Telecommunications Act.
The bill would augment the powers of the CRTC to establish a more effective regime to protect the consumers against unsolicited telemarketing while protecting their privacy.
The bill provides the legislative framework for the creation of a national do not call list.
The bill enables the CRTC to do three things: first, impose fines for non-compliance; second, establish a third party administrator to operate a database; and third, give the ability to set fees to recover costs associated with maintaining the list.
Bill C-37 has been reviewed in detail by the Standing Committee of Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology. In its report to Parliament, the committee recommended amendments to the bill, including an exemption from the national do not call list for survey and polling firms for the sole purpose of collecting information from the general public
The committee's recommendations also required a caller to identify the purpose of the call and the person and organization on whose behalf the telecommunications are being made.
The committee recognized the importance of the survey and polling firms in collecting opinions of all Canadians to support research and to allow companies and organizations to make sound decisions.
However there are unintended consequences of these amendments for survey and polling firms that could possibly create unrepresentative samples of the Canadian public created by unreliable survey results. If survey and polling firms do not have the ability to contact all Canadians, this could create a misleading survey. The survey results would be, at best, a subset of Canadians, the opinions of individuals who are not on the do not call list, instead of capturing the views that represent all Canadians.
In addition, if a survey and polling firm has to identify on whose behalf the call is being made, the possibility of biasing the survey exists.
I am proposing the following amendment that further clarifies an amendment adopted by the committee by adding a new subsection 41.7(5) that would read:
notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, subsections 3 and 4 do not apply in respect of a person making a telecommunication referred to in paragraph 41.7 subsection 1(f).
As originally intended by the committee, survey and polling firms would be exempt from the do not call list and would continue to be allowed to collect information from all Canadians.
Also, there are a few housekeeping matters that need to be addressed. Section 41.1 of the bill, as introduced at first reading, stated “sections 41.2 to 41.5 create a legislative framework for a national do not call list”.
In its report to Parliament, the committee recommended amendments to the bill by adding new sections, sections 41.6 and 41.7. During the reprinting of the bill, section 41.1 was not updated to reflect the new sections added at committee.
Lastly, we are proposing administrative amendments to improve the French terminology for the national do not call list. I am proposing to amend section 41.1 to accomplish that. This amendment simply acknowledges the new sections of the bill adopted by the committee.
I urge the hon. members to support the amendments to the bill so that we move forward to give individual Canadians an easy way to curtail intrusive telemarketing while protecting their privacy.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: Telecommunications Act