Combating Counterfeit Products Act (Bill C-56)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a treat to have someone speak to a bill for which he advocated before political life.

I am curious about some aspects of the bill and I wish we had more time to deal with it. I agree it is important legislation and the goals of the bill are laudatory, but the bill would give customs officers powers that we really only would see in the hands of judges. Customs officers will have to make quick determinations at the border about what is counterfeit, what is legitimate and what might be a parallel import. They will have to do it on the spot and they will have to get it right.

What are the recourses available to an honest importer whose goods are seized by a customs officer with the increasingly large and quite complex and difficult responsibilities?

Erin O’Toole: Mr. Speaker, I find that when I am speaking late at night in the House, the hon. member from Saanich—Gulf Islands is always joining me with intelligent comments. However, as leader of her party, she should really speak to her House leader about her House duty hours. It is potentially that, or else she works very hard. It could be the latter.

She raised a very good issue. This will be a new series of powers, but we are also not dealing with human crossing of the border. These are esoteric rights in intellectual property. However, they are important rights and the determination at the border can be made by trained officials using a registry that allows intellectual property rights holders to register their marks. It would also put a new burden of seriousness on importers to get their bill of lading and their importation documents correct.

I think sloppiness could lead to a slowdown in goods coming in. However, this being intellectual property and a border issue, there would always be recourse through our federal courts.