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Canadian Chamber of Commerce Testifies on Bill C-27

Canadian Chamber of Commerce Testifies on Bill C-27

On October 31, 2023, our Vice President, Strategic Policy & Global Partnerships Catherine Fortin LeFaivre and Senior Director, Digital Economy, Technology & Innovation Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia, appeared before the House of Commons industry committee regarding the proposed Bill C-27.

On October 31, 2023, our Vice President, Strategic Policy & Global Partnerships Catherine Fortin LeFaivre and Senior Director, Digital Economy, Technology & Innovation Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia, appeared before the House of Commons industry committee regarding the proposed Bill C-27, which is intended to set out a framework for regulating ‘high-impact’ AI systems to mitigate harm. They voiced the Canadian Chamber’s support for modernizing privacy laws and introducing guardrails regarding AI, emphasizing the need to provide business certainty while allowing for amendments. They also expressed the importance of robust consultation processes for AI regulation. Furthermore, they urged for a separate vote on AI regulation to facilitate the progress of privacy legislation and emphasized the global nature of AI regulation, encouraging alignment with international standards.

For a detailed look at their recommendations, refer to the full testimony below.

Catherine Fortin LeFaivre

Good afternoon. / Bonjour.

My name is Catherine Fortin LeFaivre and I’m here as Vice-president, Strategic Policy and Global Partnerships at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

I’m pleased to appear before you alongside my colleague, Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia, our Senior Director of Digital Economy, Technology and Innovation.

La Chambre de commerce du Canada représente au-delà de 400 chambres de commerce et plus de 200 000 entreprises de toutes grandeurs, d’un bout à l’autre du pays, et de secteurs économiques variés.  

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce represents over 200,000 businesses of all sizes, from coast to coast, and in a wide variety of economic sectors.  We also represent more than 400 chambers of commerce across Canada.

Today, we appreciate the opportunity to express our views on Bill C-27, which has generated a great deal of interest among our members since its introduction almost a year and a half ago.

From the outset, we would like to state our support for modernizing privacy laws and for introducing guardrails regarding AI. We welcome the government’s efforts to strengthen data protection for all Canadians, particularly children.

CPPA must move forward to provide business certainty as soon as possible, while allowing for some amendments. There is concern about Canada’s equivalency with the EU and the patchwork of provincial privacy legislation that is emerging in the interim.

Regarding AIDA, we believe that a more robust consultation process is required to properly address AI regulation needs in Canada.

It’s critical that our AI regulations are precise enough to provide important guardrails for safety, while allowing for our businesses to harness AI’s full potential responsibly.

This is especially relevant in the face of cross sectoral skills shortages and SMEs that have dealt with one challenge after another.

Suite à la lettre du ministre Champagne datée du 20 octobre, nous avons été heureux d’apprendre que le gouvernement répondrait à certaines préoccupations majeures liées à loi sur l’intelligence artificielle par l’entremise de ses amendements.

Par contre, nous ne pouvons pas faire de commentaires substantiels à ce sujet avant qu’ils ne soient rendus publics et que nous ayons eu le temps de consulter nos membres.

Through Minister Champagne’s letter to INDU earlier this fall, we were pleased to hear that the government would address some major concerns related to AIDA through their amendments, but we cannot substantially comment on these until they are made public and we’ve had time to consult with members.

Given the House Speaker’s 2022 ruling that voting on parts one and two would be separate from part three (AIDA), we urge the Committee to contemplate how this avenue could allow for CPPA to move forward without delay, while making way for more in-depth consultations and input on the AI Act to take place.

AI policy is indeed complex. Having the Committee attempt to study privacy elements at the same time as quickly changing AI elements doesn’t provide the conditions for good policy to materialize.

It’s impossible to deny that AI regulation has become a global issue that’s evolving rapidly, and it’s imperative that Canada not regulate in a vacuum.

With major AI policy developments happening weekly – including yesterday’s White House Executive Order on AI — Canada must ensure that we’re taking steps to align our regulations accordingly. If not, organizations will have to contend with unique laws, making our country a less attractive destination for business.

I’ll now turn it over to Ulrike.

Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia:

Good afternoon.

Indeed, we have received a long list of C-27 recommendations from our members.

A detailed brief has been submitted to INDU in September and is available on the Committee page.  

Please note that our analysis of the bill is ongoing as new material becomes available, such as the eight government amendments.

As such, we are working with members to produce additional feedback to complement our earlier submission.

I’d like to take the opportunity to underscore a few key recommendations.

Firstly, a core position of the Canadian Chamber is the need for amendments to better define many of the principles and concepts in Bill C-27 and harmonize the bill with the norms and standards found in existing provincial and international law. Interoperability is paramount.

Amongst our recommendations on CPPA, we’re asking that the following align with Quebec’s Law 25:

  • Define the term “minor” with an age.
  • Ensure the definition of anonymize is in line with industry standards.

  • Narrow the scope of the private right of action.

We also want to underscore the importance of legitimate interest exceptions in the current bill.

On AIDA, we were encouraged to see that government amendments would be forthcoming related to:

  • defining high-impact systems;
  • creating clearer obligations along the AI value chain; and,

  • ensuring alignment with the EU AI Act and other advanced economies.

We look forward to seeing the text of these amendments to provide more specific feedback.

However, other matters remain unaddressed thus far, such as better defining the use of the term “harm.”

Our members have also raised serious concerns around the criminal liability element of AIDA, noting that Canada is the only jurisdictions in the world which such penalties.

There is a belief that this provision might discourage businesses developing or deploying AI from setting up operations in Canada, or even force some to leave, based on risk assessment.

Finally, in terms of coming into force, it’s important that our businesses – especially SMEs—have adequate time to adapt to new requirements. We therefore recommend a phased implementation of CPPA and AIDA, over a period of 36 months. Thank you!

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