Danielle In The House, November 19: Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act

I’d like to make to this bill in section 3 and section 8. I have the appropriate number of copies that I would like to circulate. I will get it circulated before I speak to it.

The Deputy Chair: So we’ll pause for a minute while we circulate the amendment. This will be known as amendment A2. It looks like most members have their copy. We can proceed.

Ms Smith: We received a letter from the CAODC in support of this bill, so we do recognize that this is something that industry wants, that there are many victims of this type of crime, and they are hoping to be able to give law enforcement the tools that they need to be able to effectively address it. That being said, we want to make sure that we are going after the criminals rather than treating the small-business dealers as if they are criminals.

I think the amendment that the hon. member put forward and that was just passed goes a long way towards addressing some of the concerns that I had, particularly section 3.1, the way it’s reworded:

If a scrap metal dealer or recycler has reasonable grounds to believe that the metal in the possession the of scrap metal dealer or recycler is stolen property, the scrap metal dealer or recycler shall immediately report the matter to a law enforcement agency.

My sense of this is that scrap metal dealers and recyclers want to be able to get to the bottom of those who are committing criminal offences. They don’t want to enable those who are committing criminal offences, and I think they probably have a fairly good radar for when a certain amount of material comes in, whether or not it is something that should be reportable. That’s why I think that with the amendments that were made, some additional amendments should be made just to make sure that we are focusing our law enforcement efforts on the people who are committing the crime rather than those who are the victims of the crime. Let’s face it: the scrap metal dealers and the recyclers are also going to be ones who are potentially victims of this type of crime.

If you look at the amendments that I’m proposing, I’m proposing that now that we’ve got these new amendments in place, we can strike a couple of sections. I would propose striking subsection (5) and subsection (6). I’ll read subsection (5), and hopefully you’ll see as I do the extra burden and difficulty this might create not only for the scrap metal dealer but for law enforcement as well. Subsection (5) says:

Within 24 hours of purchasing or receiving scrap metal of a weight that is greater than a weight prescribed in the regulations, a scrap metal dealer or recycler shall provide the prescribed information collected under this section to a law enforcement agency.

In addition to that, subsection (6) says:

For the purpose of calculating the weight of scrap metal received or purchased as required under subsection (5), any transaction or series of transactions with the same individual during a 7-day period is deemed to be [more than] one transaction.

Now, if we strike these two, the related section that would have to be struck is section 8(e), where we prescribe a weight for the purpose of section 3(5). The problem with these two clauses and the reason I do think that they need to be struck is because we don’t want to be in a position where we’re putting an undue and unnecessary paperwork burden onto our scrap metal dealers and our recyclers. We don’t want to make our scrap metal dealers and our recyclers criminals just because they weighed material wrong and they didn’t report it within the prescribed period of time or they weighed it wrong over a seven-day period and didn’t report it in the prescribed period of time. We don’t want to create reporting crimes with this. We actually want to create tools for law enforcement to go after real criminals. So it does seem to me that with the amendment put in, where if an individual believes that it has been stolen property, then they would use their own judgment to contact law enforcement, I think that’s a better provision than this arbitrary requirement of 24 hours.

There are a couple of reasons why I think this will actually work against our law enforcement efforts if these are put into place. If you, for instance, prescribe that one tonne or maybe 100,000 kilograms is the amount that you determine to be a suspicious amount, then you can well imagine that criminals are going to divvy up the amount of product that they give to a scrap metal recycler so that they are just below the prescribed limit so that they can avoid having this provision catch them. I think that would then create an unnecessary burden on the scrap metal dealer and the recycler, but it would also give guidelines to the criminals about how they can get away with doing this kind of theft because you’re actually prescribing what you think is a suspicious level for each of the different types of metals.

I don’t know how many different types of metals, frankly, are subject to this kind of regulation, but I think if you have this kind of requirement on our scrap metal dealers, you’re going to be spending an awful lot of time filling out forms and paperwork and dealing with the different types of weight: whether they should go up, whether they should go down, amending the amount of weight up and down, looking at the different types of metals up and down. It seems to me that that gets away from what it is we’re trying to do. We’re trying to give law enforcement the tools that they need. If they hear that there has been some scrap metal that has been stolen, then they will be able to proactively go out tom these different dealers and be able to go through their books.

That’s a perfectly legitimate and reasonable portion of this bill.

Turning the onus back to the recyclers and turning the onus back to the scrap metal dealers I think gets us away from what it is we’re trying to achieve with this legislation. We don’t want to treat our small-business owners like they’re doing wrong just because they happen to be in this business. I would hazard a guess that the vast, vast, vast majority of metals and scrap that they deal with is above board, is legal. Yet what you’re doing with this provision is making them potentially guilty of paperwork crimes if they end up recording it wrong, not doing it over the seven-day period, misunderstanding how the regulations are written, maybe not knowing what it is for one piece of metal versus another piece of metal.

Let’s make it easy for our scrap metal dealers and our recyclers to work with law enforcement to be able to enforce this. The onus really should be on the peace officers. The onus should be on law enforcement once they’ve identified that there has been a theft for them to proactively go out to the dealers and look through their books. We shouldn’t be forcing our scrap metal dealers and our recyclers into a position where they’re having to keep reams and reams and reams of unnecessary paperwork, essentially creating a needle in a haystack when it comes right down to it. We want to make it easy for our law enforcement to be able to identify the perpetrators of crime rather than put the onus on our dealers and our recyclers, who I think under this type of proposal would feel like criminals themselves.

So with that, I’m hoping that the hon. member will consider striking out subsections (5) and (6) and amending section 8 to strike out clause (e). If we can do that, I think that this legislation is something that would be welcomed not only by law enforcement, also clearly by companies that have been victims of this kind of theft, but also something that can be embraced and supported by the scrap metal dealers and recyclers themselves, who really are going to be at the front line on making sure that we identify those who are doing wrong and making sure that we can punish them.

Thanks, Madam Chair.