Frank Klees, MPP, Second Reading Debates

Finally, I will support the bill, because on second reading it is a vote on the principle of the bill, and the principle of the bill is to provide more consumer protection. I’m in favour of that. But as this bill goes to committee, I suggest to you that there is much work to be done here.


The Legislative Assembly of Ontario
September 23, 2010

Second Reading, House Debates
Private Members’ Public Business
Mr. Frank Klees, MPP

The Committee of the Whole
Second Session, 39th Parliament
Toronto, Ontario, Canada



The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?

Mr. Frank Klees: I’m pleased to participate in this debate. I commend my colleagues from all three parties for the initiative in bringing it forward.

First of all, I want to just express my disappointment that, in bringing the bill forward, they haven’t followed their own instructions to franchisors in terms of giving appropriate notice. It’s interesting that a bill with such significance and impact on such a large part of our economy was given notice of to members a week ago today. If it was tight on time for me to inform myself about the implications of this bill, I can’t imagine what the implication is to stakeholders and to all of the people in this province who have investments in franchises and—

Mr. Bas Balkissoon: They’ll have a chance to stand up—

Mr. Frank Klees: Well, the honourable member says they’ll have a chance. The fact of the matter is it would have been nice to have some more opportunity to consult with them before we got into second reading debate. I’m just simply making a point. This is a very important issue. I think there should have been more notice.

I also want to say at the outset that I do not believe that this bill—I have read it carefully—will have any effect on criminal activity. We can have all of the legislation in the world, but if someone wants to develop a scam, they’ll develop a scam. That’s why we have police officers who help deal with that. The fact of the matter is that there are people, and always will be, who choose to engage in criminal activity. We have them in the banks, with all the regulation in the world. We have them in the high-tech industry, with all the regulation in the world. And we’ll probably continue to see them in this country.

I have three specific concerns regarding this proposed legislation. First is the repetition of certain requirements already present in the Ontario act and regulations. I don’t know how many members have had the opportunity to read the existing act, but I have. I look at the regulations in the existing act, and there are numerous, numerous repetitions that we have in this proposed act that are already within the existing regulations.

Second is a lack of clarity as to what exactly the franchisor is responsible to do with respect to the educational document, particularly as a number of the identified elements proposed for inclusion would be speculative at the very least. I’ve read the document in terms of the educational document that is being proposed, and much of the information that would be there would have to be speculative. If we’re saying that a prospective franchisee should be able to rely on that document to make his or her decision about whether to invest, I’m concerned that we’re actually setting that person up for a fall because we shouldn’t be talking about many of the things that are included in that litany of information in that educational document. It should be factual only without providing for the kind of speculation that’s there.

Third, there’s no indication as to the repercussions of failure to comply with the educational document requirements and whether or not it would broaden the right of rescission under the act. I think that’s very important.

I think that we have here a well-intentioned bill, a well-intentioned proposal, and that is to provide consumer protection. At the end of the day, if one reads the existing act, it makes it very clear—and in fact, one of the line items in the regulations is that prospective franchisees should engage the services of a qualified lawyer and get the appropriate advice relative to the documents and relative to the proposal. So it is buyer beware, and I think that that is, at the end of the day, what we should be sending out as a message to people across this province, regardless of the amount of regulation: Beware. Get the appropriate, professional advice and then make your decision.

Finally, I will support the bill, because on second reading it is a vote on the principle of the bill, and the principle of the bill is to provide more consumer protection. I’m in favour of that. But as this bill goes to committee, I suggest to you that there is much work to be done here. Otherwise, we risk actually undermining a very important sector of our economy; namely, the franchises that serve us.

This document is a verbatim copy of the Official Report of Debates (Hansard):

Copyright (c) 2010
Office of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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