Excerpt from the Official Report of
DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(Hansard)


April 10, 2014

Further questions on Bill 15, the Liquor Control and Licensing Aemndment Act

S. Simpson: Just a question in regard to the clarification from the minister. The decision about whether it will be an oral or a written hearing — that's a decision of the general manger? They make that determination?

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S. Simpson: On section 14. Could the minister just give a bit of an overview. It's a fairly lengthy change. Section 20, as it was written in the current act, will be repealed and replaced with the section that is in Bill 15.

Could the minister give a bit of an overview about what changes are incorporated here that are different than what's in the existing act?

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S. Simpson: Could the minister tell us, maybe to remind us, what's new about 20(3)?

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S. Simpson: When I read the existing 20(3), it says that "the general manager must suspend, cancel or order the transfer of a licence held by a person who has been convicted of a prescribed number of prescribed offences under the laws of Canada or British Columbia."

That's removed, and it now says that they must take action against a licensee, and then bases it on the licensee's compliance history, matters prescribed by regulation and other matters that the general manager considers relevant.

Could the minister explain a little bit about what the effect of that change is? The current act seems to say that if you've been convicted of something previously, it's pretty absolute what happens. This, it appears, provides some more latitude to the general manager to consider other factors before taking action. Could the minister explain what the practical result of this change will be?

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S. Simpson: If we had a circumstance where the general manager was taking action against the licensee based on section 3, would it be the requirement of the general manager to provide a written explanation around things like compliance history, other regulatory matters, saying, "I'm taking action X because of," and provide that document in writing to the licensee?

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S. Simpson: I think I got that. I just want a clarification. When the general manager writes back to the licensee and says, "We've made a determination not to approve of the transfer of this, and here are the reasons," and will then document those reasons so the licensee's not just being told, "You've been rejected because you've breached the act," but in fact, "Here are the specifics for the reason that we chose to reject your license," if that was the circumstance.

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S. Simpson: The minister has said sections 20(7) and 20(8) had been regulation and are now being put into legislation. Could the minister tell us what the thinking is for the decision to not have these be regulatory but be legislated authorities now?

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S. Simpson: Section 20 — before the general manager was to take an action against a licensee — has incorporated all of the bits and pieces and rules and the processes that would be followed, laid out in section 20.

Could the minister tell us a little about the expectation of the engagement process for the general manager or their delegate with a licensee before you get to the point of taking action? What should a licensee reasonably expect in terms of engagement with the branch, with the general manager, before they get to the point where an action is contemplated by the general manager?

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S. Simpson: Section (4) in the act here lays out a couple of options. The options are monetary penalties or licence suspension. Is that an either-or situation? Or does the general manager have the authority to, in fact, suspend for a while and put a monetary penalty in place as well?

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S. Simpson: Section (5) lays out the maximums for a monetary penalty: $50,000 for a contravention of section 38(1) — which is essentially the illegal sale of liquor, I believe — and $25,000 for any other reason referred to in this section. Could the minister tell us: are these changes to what the current rules or the current maximums are? Or are they consistent with the current maximums?

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S. Simpson: I appreciate that these are maximums. Could the minister give us some idea of what the averages have been in terms of both those categories? Have they tended to be at this level, or have we had some other level? What has the average penalty been where a monetary penalty has been imposed?

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S. Simpson: I appreciate that. It is my sense that actually it is pretty important to the act to know what people actually pay, so it would be good to get that. I appreciate that the information isn't readily available to the minister and her staff. I'm happy to get it later, but I would appreciate the information.

Section (6) says that if a corporation is liable for a penalty under this section, "an officer, director or agent of the corporation who authorizes, permits or acquiesces in the contravention is also liable to the penalty." Does that mean there could be a penalty applied against the corporate entity and then another penalty applied against the officer or director? Or would it be an either-or situation?

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S. Simpson: So with this, do the same maximums that are noted in section (5) apply? I presume they apply to the corporation. Those same maximums, those same levels of penalty would also apply to an officer, director or agent who was potentially liable for such a fine.

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S. Simpson: Just a clarification. I thought a minute ago the minister said both could be liable, the corporation and the director. Are we saying here there would be a single penalty — let's say it's $50,000, for lack of a better term — and the liability can rest with either the individuals or with the corporation, but somebody is liable for that?

Or does the general manager direct that it shall be the director who's liable or it shall be the corporation? Or does it just say: "Corporation X and all your directors owe us $50,000. You pay it. We're not particularly concerned about whose pocket it comes out of, but you're all liable for it until we get a cheque"?

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S. Simpson: I'll do one more question, and then I think we'll be breaking for lunch.

Section (7) lays out that if the general manager is proposing to hold a hearing and is providing written notice to the licensee, they will put specifics in. Under (7)(b) it says, "specifying the actions the general manager proposes to take," notifying the licensee that they "may waive the opportunity" under section (8). Then section (8) says that they can do all of those things.

The question I have is: do we have circumstances…? If the penalty is X, whatever the penalty is that's proposed by the general manager and laid out in the notice to the licensee, are there instances where the general manager will say, "The penalty is X, but if you waive, the penalty is Y" — i.e., a plea bargain of sorts? Does that occur?

 

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