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Right to Repair bill failed, but Liberal Ontario MPP wants to push to take it federally

The ‘Right to Repair’ private member’s bill failed in the Ontario legislature, but its sponsor, Liberal Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament Michael Coteau, is convinced the bill will get a second life at the federal level.

“There was a lot of awareness and a lot of support for the issue. I reminded the members in the legislature that there was a reason we were there and it was to participate and place the province in a better position in the future,” Coteau told MobileSyrup during a phone call shortly after the bill failed.

The bill was introduced in February. On May 2nd, the Ontario legislature voted against it with a voice vote.

Coteau explained that if the bill goes to a second reading and if voting is done through a voice vote, the only way that the bill can be challenged is if members stand up to challenge the assumption of the Speaker. Voice votes are judged by members of parliament audible saying “yea” or “nay.”

In the case of Coteau’s private member’s bill, only the Liberal’s stood up while the NDP and Conservatives sat.

Coteau said he mentioned the bill to other policymakers in all levels of government but has not formally done any type of correspondence with the House of Commons in Ottawa.

He added that considering the timeline for the introduction of any new business now might be too late, especially since a federal election is imminent.

“I would wait for the outcome of the election and advocate for it nationally at that point,” he said.

Coteau explained that most of the debate was on intellectual property and cybersecurity. He added the Conservatives “aligned with the big corporations and it was around the fact that it would compromise intellectual property.”

Coteau’s bill would have given consumers protections and give the right to repair their phone with the necessary tools. It would also eliminate electronic waste, and give access to original parts and tools to third-party retailers that repair phones.

It was also the first time this type of bill was introduced in Canada. Similar bills have been introduced in the U.S. on multiple occasions and have failed.

“I think that [in the future] more prep work [needs to be done] making sure people know…the legislation would not…compromise IP, [it] can be protected and cybersecurity is not compromised by giving people parts and manuals,” he said.

He added that in the future he intends to also work with larger companies on helping them understand how this type of legislation would benefit them.

“I had a corporate lawyer from Apple and I had the legal department from Samsung visit me and they were aware of what was going on and they were very concerned with the legislation and didn’t agree,” he said. “There needs to be some education on their side as well.”

Industry is already changing: Mobile Klinik

It’s worth noting though that the CEO of Mobile Klinik, a third-party phone repair company, said that even if the bill didn’t pass the industry was already evolving and finding ways to outsource repairs.

Tim McGuire had told MobileSyrup that the legislation had brought on more attention to what the industry has been facing for the past three years and that the change was already happening.

At the time he said: “It’s happening, all of it hasn’t happened yet and…if the legislation went away tomorrow, nothing would change in the evolution that’s going on. The industry gets it and it’s going to change.”

OpenMedia intends to push the issue to federal government

Other organizations, like OpenMedia, have also been advocating for the change to legally take place.

For a while now the consumer advocacy organization has been fighting for the right to repair legislation to be passed.

According to its website, over 10,000 consumers have signed a petition for the legislation to be sent to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains.

Rodrigo Samayoa Figueroa, a campaigner for the right at OpenMedia, said that the organization was going to advocate for the right even if the bill has failed.

“Going forward, [Coteau] is right in continuing to push for this. It is a growing issue across North America and even Europe,” he said in a phone call.

“It would be good for Canada to get ahead of this and become a leader in this,” he added, noting that OpenMedia will be pushing to speak with MPs and get it on their radar for the federal election.

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