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State vs. Citizen
Posted By Senator Elaine McCoy Dec 02 2009 07:57PM

Bill C-6, the Consumer Products Safety Act, emerged tonight from the Senate's Social Affairs Committee quite substantially amended.  At the heart of the amendments was a sincere attempt to balance the power of the state against the rights of citizens, whether they be innocent consumers or innocent entrepreneurs.  


To be fair, lively discussions around the table didn't always emerge quite that lucidly.  A blizzard of amendments came forward and it was often difficult to know just what each specific signified overall.   And several of the senators appeared not to have the benefit of intimate familiarity with legal principles of natural justice and other traditional precepts of the common law.  Most of the votes, clause by clause, broke along party lines but it was fascinating to watch seasoned senators struggle individually with their own sense of where the right balance could and should be struck.  Liberal senators frequently broke ranks, and one Conservative, Senator Segal (ON) also frequently abstained. 


Bill C-6 will now be reported out to the full Senate for debate at third reading.  If it proceeds, it will be sent back to the House of Commons for further debate, giving MPs the opportunity to take a sober second look at how a modern consumer products safety regime might be effectively implemented on behalf of all Canadians.  


One principle we all agree upon – consumer products should be safe.  What is at stake here is how far the state (read civil servants) should be empowered to impose their will upon citizens.  Stay tuned for further developments.


Update: Here is the transcript from the committee meeting


Posted On Dec 03 12:52PM   

Great work by the Senate committee in exposing the many faults and pitfalls of this, nevertheless, important bill.

Here's hoping many of the important amendments stick and are followed through in the Commons as well.

Interesting how many Senators broke from their party lines to express their conscience and put what's good for Canadians above party interests.  This is what makes the the Senate an important space.  You rarely see that in the House.

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