House Debate, Question Period, Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Canada

A year later, you've done absolutely nothing, and people like Les and Terry Stewart are paying the price of your inaction. When will your government listen to these small business owners and introduce legislation to guarantee fairness in the franchise industry in Ontario?

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Legislative Assembly of Ontario
September 16, 1997

House Debates, Question Period
Oral Question
Tony Martin, MPP

The Committee of the Whole
1st session, 37th Parliament
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

FRANCHISE BUSINESS

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. We've been trying to get you to take action to guarantee fairness in franchise operations for over two years now. You make promises that you're going to do something, but then nothing happens. I've introduced a private member's bill. You said you would table legislation. I've brought franchisees before this place who are now out of business.

Today courageous franchise operators Les and Terry Stewart appeared at a news conference here at Queen's Park to tell their story. They're in the members' gallery now to hear your answer. They say the legislation I've been calling for would give them at least a fair chance. For them and other small operators of franchises in Ontario, will you act to protect small business and families in this province?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I have to point out, first of all, that this is a government that believes in and supports small business. We've cut a lot of red tape, left, evidently, by the other parties. We've introduced a number of changes that really will support small business, but I'm not going to dwell on that.

We have been working on franchise legislation. We have been working with both franchisors and franchisees to come forward with a consensus piece, something that will address the concerns of franchisees and at the same time ensure that we continue to support business in Ontario.

Having met with both the Canadian Franchise Association and the Ontario Franchisee Coalition, they've identified a number of concerns, including disclosure requirements, a code of ethics and the right to associate. These are all parts of upcoming legislation that we support.

I think what's important here is that we're bringing forward legislation that really is coming forward as the consensus from the industry as a whole. Second, I think it's important for us to bring forward the right solution for Ontario, and this is what we're doing.

Mr Martin: This is a bit of déjà vu all over again. This is a huge and growing issue. The only reason we don't hear more stories about this is because of the intimidation and gag orders that stop franchisees from speaking out. It's especially important to large numbers of new Canadians who put their savings into franchise businesses when they come to this country and are often at the mercy of the franchisor. There is a role for government here.

When I asked you about this a year ago, this is what you said: "I've asked my staff to restart their efforts to get moving on franchise legislation. I think it's very important." It seems to me that's what you said again today. A year later, you've done absolutely nothing, and people like Les and Terry Stewart are paying the price of your inaction. When will your government listen to these small business owners and introduce legislation to guarantee fairness in the franchise industry in Ontario?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I don't agree with the characterization that we've done nothing. We've been working with franchisees and the franchisee organizations to come forward with legislation that will have an impact that they're looking for.

I know the member is well intentioned, but I think he has forgotten a lot of the high jinks that have occurred in this Legislature which have delayed the passage of good legislation.

I agree with the member when he said that this is déjà vu all over again. I will remind him that back when their government was in power, the then Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, the member for Riverdale, said in 1993: "If, when the Liberals were in power, they had moved ahead with legislation, possibly the problem we're looking at now wouldn't be happening. The issue is that even if we passed legislation today, it wouldn't resolve this specific problem."

Yet, in the two years you had after that, you did nothing. At least we're moving forward with the franchisees, trying to come up with something that makes some sense.

This document is a verbatim copy of Hansard, the official record of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. To review the original transcript:

http://hansardindex.ontla.on.ca/hansardeissue/36-1/l230.htm

Copyright (c) 1998
Office of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


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Risks: Tony Martin, Les Stewart, Canadian Franchise Association, CFA, Intimidation, Gag order (confidentiality agreement), Intimidation, Immigrants as prey, Political champions, Old-fashioned idea that politicians are relevant, Ministry of Consumer and Commerical Services, Ministry of Consumer and Business Services, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, Ministry of Government Services, Ontario, Canada, 19970916 Oral Question

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