The House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology studies and reports on legislation, the activities and spending of Industry Canada and its portfolio members, and other issues related to:
industry and technology capability;
scientific research and development;
investment, trade, small business and tourism; and
rules and services that support the effective operation of the marketplace.
The industry portfolio is comprised of the following members:
Prior to 1986, the Standing Committee on Miscellaneous Estimates dealt with issues of science and technology, along with a variety of other subjects. Following recommendations made in the 1985 Report of the Special Committee on Reform of the House of Commons, several new committees were established, including the Standing Committee on Research, Science and Technology. At that time, the Committee’s mandate was to monitor the activities of three organizations reporting to the Minister of State for Science and Technology: the National Research Council of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the defunct Science Council of Canada.
In 1988, the Committee was given responsibility for monitoring the activities of a new department, the Department of Industry, Science and Technology (later known as the Department of Industry), and two regional development bodies – the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Western Economic Diversification Canada. The Committee’s name was changed to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, Regional and Northern Development to reflect its new responsibilities. From then on, the Committee’s activities were closely linked to the portfolio of the Department of Industry.
In 1994, at the start of the 35th Parliament, the Committee’s name was changed to the Standing Committee on Industry. In February 2001, the Committee was renamed the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. At the beginning of the 38th Parliament in 2004, the Committee was renamed the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology. In 2006, at the beginning of the 39th Parliament, the Committee transferred its natural resources responsibilities to a newly created committee and was, once again, renamed the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.
In the execution of its functions, each committee is normally assisted by a committee clerk, an analyst and a committee assistant. Occasional assistance is also provided by legislative clerks and lawyers from the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel. All of these individuals are non-partisan and serve all members of the committee and representatives of all parties equally.
The clerk performs his or her duties and responsibilities under the direction of the committee and its Chair. As an expert in the rules of the House of Commons, the clerk may be requested to give advice to the Chair and members of the committee should a question of procedure arise. The clerk is the coordinator, organizer and liaison officer for the committee and as such will be in frequent contact with members’ staff. He or she is also responsible to invite witnesses and to deal with all the details regarding their appearance before the committee.
The committee assistant provides a wide range of specialized administrative services for, in particular, the organization of committee meetings and the publishing of documents on the committees’ website. The committee assistant works with the clerk to meet the needs of committees.
The Library of Parliament’s analysts provide authoritative, substantive, and timely research, analysis and information to all members of the Committee. They are part of the Committee’s institutional memory and are a unique resource for parliamentarians. Supported by research librarians, the analyst works individually or in multidisciplinary teams.
Analysts can prepare: briefing notes on the subjects being examined; detailed study plans; lists of proposed witnesses; analyses of an issue with a list of suggested questions; background papers; draft reports; news releases; and/or formal correspondence. Analysts with legal training can assist the Committee regarding any substantive issues that may arise during the consideration of bills.
OTHER RESOURCES AVAILABLE AS REQUIRED
Within the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, Parliamentary Counsel (Legislation) are available to assist Members who are not in Cabinet in the preparation of private Members’ bills or of amendments to Government bills or others.
At various stages of the legislative process, Members may propose amendments to bills. Amendments may first be proposed at the Committee Stage, during a committee’s clause-by-clause review of a bill. Amendments may also be proposed at the Report Stage, once a bill returns to the House.
Once bill is sent to Committee, the clerk of the Committee provides the name of the Parliamentary Counsel (Legislation) responsible for the drafting of the amendments for a particular bill to the Members.
The legislative clerk serves all members of the Committee as a specialist of the process by which a bill becomes law. They are available to give, upon request from Members and their staff, advice on the admissibility of amendments when bills are referred to Committee. The legislative clerk organizes the amendments into packages for committee stage, reviews all the committee amendments for procedural admissibility and prepares draft rulings for the Chair. During clause-by-clause consideration of bills in committee, a legislative clerk is in attendance to assist the committee concerning any procedural issues that may arise. The legislative clerk can also provide Members with advice regarding the procedural admissibility of Report Stage amendments. When a bill is sent to committee, the clerk of the committee provides to the Members the name of the legislative clerk assigned to the bill.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO)
The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) has a mandate to support Parliament and parliamentarians in holding the government to account for the good stewardship of public resources. The Federal Accountability Act of 2006 mandates the PBO to provide independent analysis to the Senate and to the House of Commons regarding the state of the nation’s finances, the government estimates and trends in the national economy.
The enabling legislation also provides the PBO with a mandate to provide analytical support to any committee during its consideration of the estimates, as well as provide advice to any Member of Parliament regarding the financial cost of proposals.
In this report, the Committee observed that provincial tax credits have allowed the entertainment software industry to experience substantial growth in Canada. However, this growth faces a number of challenges, including a shortage of skilled and experienced workers, fiscal competition from foreign jurisdictions and access to early stage funding. In addition, companies operating in Canada should be encouraged to create domestic brands and original intellectual property.
This report summarizes the testimony heard by the Committee and is organized into six chapters according to the following themes: the current IP landscape; increasing awareness of the IP regime among Canadians; university-industry-government partnerships; strengthening and streamlining the IP protection process in Canada; fighting counterfeiting and piracy; and, the comprehensive economic and trade agreement and intellectual property protection in the Canadian pharmaceutical industry. The Committee’s recommendations focus on ratifying certain international agreements; studying the barriers, in terms of cost and time, for SMEs to register, affirm or defend their IP; achieving the proper balance between incentivizing innovation and fostering competition in the marketplace; providing ex-officio powers to customs officials; and, introducing civil and criminal remedies for trademark counterfeiting
This report summarizes the testimony and organizes it around the following themes: the e-commerce situation in Canada; obstacles to investing in e-commerce platforms, including cost and methods of payment; and e-commerce opportunities for Canadian business. The report also contains 16 recommendations for the Government of Canada that focus primarily on reducing red tape for business; modernizing payments systems to ensure a fair, safe, competitive and world-leading system in Canada; and improving digital literacy.
The Committee’s study reviewed Canada’s foreign ownership restrictions under the Telecommunications Act, the Radiocommunication Act and the Broadcasting Act. In this report, the Committee recommended that the Government clarify the legal interpretation of the “control in fact” test and remove foreign ownership restrictions in respect of satellite ownership or operation in Canada. Four supplementary opinions were attached to the main report.
Section 136 of the Statutes of Canada, 2001 (Chapter 14), which is a stand-alone section of a bill passed in 2001, calls for a review of the provisions and operations of the Canada Business Corporations Act by a committee of the Senate, of the House of Commons or of both Houses. This review was to take place five years after the coming into force of section 136, and within every ten years thereafter. A review was due to take place in 2006, but was delayed. After hearing testimony from various stakeholders, the Committee recommended that a broad public consultation on selected issues, including executive compensation, shareholders rights and governance and securities regulations, related to the Canada Business Corporations Act be conducted by the Government of Canada within two years of the report’s tabling.