NDP MP Charmaine Borg, the party’s digital issues critic, has written to Industry Minister Christian Paradis to express concern over the draft anti-spam regulations, noting that they appear to circumvent the will of Parliament. The letter cites testimony from Industry Canada officials in 2010, who told the Industry Committee “what the legislation is trying to do is not allow a third party to give express or implied consent on behalf of another person.” Yet despite that position, the department has now proposed a third party referral exception. Borg notes:
After defending their decision to exclude a third party referral exception from the bill, Industry Canada officials, two-years later, introduced the very same exception into the regulations. Yet it was the text of Bill C-28 – explicitly excluding a third-party referral exception – that received multi-partisan support in the House, Industry Committee and the Senate. It appears that in the intervening two years since Bill C-28 received Royal Assent, Industry Canada has decided to regulate around the will of Parliament.
In light of these developments, Borg asks Paradis to respond to the following questions:
1. What caused Industry Canada to change its mind about the inclusion of said exception between November 2010 and January 2013?
2. And, what example does this set for future legislative and corresponding regulatory processes? Will we see the Conservative government continue to use regulations to regulate around the will of Parliament?
As discussed in several posts on this blog, business groups have been actively lobbying for extensive changes to the anti-spam legislation. Borg’s letter provides a timely reminder that further watering down the legislation may cause a significant Parliamentary backlash.