Invoking concerns about a police state coming to Canada, the Liberal-dominated Senate voted Tuesday to weaken the government's product safety bill -- delaying the effort to update the country's 40-year-old consumer-protection law until next year.
The dramatic development was part of a last-ditch manoeuvre by Liberal senators to curtail the power of Health Canada inspectors to conduct random safety checks at home-based offices and facilitate toy companies and other distributors of consumer goods to avoid fines for violating Canada's safety standards. The amendments also limit Health Canada's ability to share incident reports with international partners as part of joint safety investigations.
The amendments by senators George Furey and Tommy Banks, introduced at third reading, were approved after several Liberals spoke about the threat to civil liberties if the government's consumer protection bill becomes law.
The amendments prevent government inspectors from conducting spot checks in home offices as part of a safety investigation without first obtaining a warrant from a judge...Another newly approved Liberal amendment proposed by Banks allows businesses to use these arguments to fight a fine.
Instead of becoming law, the amended bill will now be sent back to the House of Commons for consideration...If the tussle between the two chambers drags out, and a federal election is called or Parliament is prorogued in the interim, the bill will die.
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