Our Success Stories

Implementing Virtual Affidavits

Manitoba’s Law Reform Commission Recommends Implementing Virtual Affidavits

After working closely with the Attorney General’s office in Ontario to bring forward virtual commissioning of legal documents via tele-conference, the CCC’s David Clement was asked to consult with Manitoba’s Law Reform Commission

Specifically, Manitoba was looking for guidance on how they could modernize their legal system and enact similar changes.

On August 31st, the Law Reform Commission released their report, where they made the suggestion that Manitoba should in fact move forward with modernizing their legal system by allowing affidavits to be taken virtually via video-conference.

The Commission acknowledged the CCC in the following way: 

The Commission gratefully acknowledges the following individuals for providing valuable feedback on this project: David Clement, North American Affairs Manager- Consumer Choice Center

The Commission officially made the following recommendation:

The Commission recommends that section 64(1) of The Manitoba Evidence Act be amended to remove the requirement that an oath, affirmation or statutory declaration be taken only in the presence of a person and to enable affidavits to be taken remotely using video-conferencing technology. (p 15)

Removing Sales Tax From Medical Cannabis

BC’s Finance Committee Recommends Removing Sales Tax From Medical Cannabis

Earlier this year our North American Affairs Manager David Clement appeared before British Columbia’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services to discuss cannabis taxation. In his presentation David explained that medical cannabis should be exempt from provincial sales taxes, for the following reasons:

  1. Other prescription medicines are exempt from sales taxes. Removing the sales tax from medical cannabis would simply be treating medical cannabis like the prescription medicine it is.
  2. Taxing medicine is cruel, given that many medical cannabis patients are chronically ill and have limited incomes.

In late August the Committee released their official report to the legislature, which includes a recommendation that BC remove the provincial sales tax from medical cannabis purchases.

The committee acknowledged the CCC with the following statement:

“The Committee also received recommendations to remove the PST on medical cannabis from several organizations, including Consumer Choice Center, Medical Cannabis Canada, and Aurora Cannabis Inc. They described the application of the PST as a barrier for most British Columbians who use medical cannabis, noting that many pay out-of-pocket as Pharmacare and many private insurers do not cover medical cannabis. The Arthritis Society, BC and Yukon Division shared that many individuals with arthritis use medical cannabis for pain management and that the cost barriers could lead individuals to the illicit market.”

The report officially made the following recommendation:

“Examine mechanisms in the taxation system to remove or rebate the PST for medical cannabis.”

Policy Victory Ukraine: Cancelled Tariffs on Imported Fertilisers

The Issue

In May, the Ukrainian government announced it was considering introducing tariffs on imported fertilisers from the EU. Though presented as a means to protect domestic industries, import quotas are not only highly protectionist but, more importantly, they are a sure sign there are some powerful domestic lobby interests at play. In the case of Ukraine and fertilisers, it’s the infamous oligarchs Firtash and Kolomoisky who initiated the review of Ukrainian trade policy. Both own large nitrogen enterprises and have a record of pursuing a monopolistic position on the Ukrainian market.

Small and medium farmers and Ukrainian consumers had the most to lose from the quotas.

The CCC Response

We have responded to the issue by writing extensively in Ukrainian media to criticise such a move. Trade protectionism is damaging and costly and threatens consumer choice. Our European Affairs Associate Maria Chaplia appeared in multiple Ukrainian outlets. 

The Outcome

On June 24th, the Ukrainian government decided against the quotas in favor of free trade. Trade with the EU is especially beneficial to Ukraine as it allows cheaper food production at home in Ukraine and hence lower food prices for Ukrainians. We are very proud that we have played a role in bringing about this consumer-friendly outcome.

4 million consumers, 1 policy victory!

#CHEGADEBARREIRAS


The Issue

In 2011, the former President of Brazil – Lula – signed a law prohibiting telecommunications companies from owning at the same time both the production and distribution of audiovisual content in Brazil.

Unreasonable and undermining the freedom of the consumers choice from the beginning, this law also did not follow the evolution of streaming technologies and the growth of digital media distribution markets.

The integration of telecommunications, advertising, TV operators, internet giants and the entire digital world is a clear and growing trend all over the world, but in Brazil, the synergy of those markets was prevented from deepening due to unclear and anti-consumer choice regulations.

Fast forward to 2019 and the archaic regulation of the Brazilian TELCO market got even worse, threatening to have channels belonging to TimeWarner (p.e Warner Channel) cancelled due to its merger with AT&T (which, in Brazil, controls Sky – the PayTv Provider). The group FOX was also prohibited of selling its channels, programs and other products directly to the consumer.

Observing since the beginning the threat to free market and consumer choice on the Pay Tv market in Brazil, the Consumer Choice Center was called to act by the Brazilian consumers. We believed it was important that policymakers and the laws itself should have adapted to a new, digital world and implemented strategies and structures that made room for the digital markets, giving more freedom of choice to the consumers.

CCC’s Response

Back in June 2019, the Consumer Choice Center started mobilizing consumers and the civil society with the Chega De Barreiras campaign, which brought together online and in-person media strategies.

The landing page Chegadebarreiras.org contained information about the issue to the general public. Our policy paper “How to Prepare Brazil for a Digital Future?” was distributed among policymakers in Brasilia and other stakeholders. Social media posts and videos were created to mobilize and create empathy from consumers.

We successfully showed consumers in Brazil that their freedom of choice in particular their freedom to choose what and where to watch content was being threatened by a outdated law that did not fit the current model of digital market and content distribution. The campaign resonated with millions of people.

In addition to targeting and mobilizing consumers, our Managing Director Fred Roeder and our Brazilian Affairs Manager Andre Freo visited Brasilia, and they spoke with dozens of congressmen and members of the regulatory agency ANATEL arguing about the importance of repealing article 5 of the SEAC law (Audiovisual Communication Services Conditioned to Access Law) and the benefits for consumers and the free market. They spoke with deputies, senators and advisers of the Regulatory Agency, presenting the report and the barriers that the bureaucracy of the law created for the very development of the production and commercialization of audiovisual content in Brazil.

The Impact

Due to the work of the Consumer Choice, the Chega de Barreiras campaign reached more than 4 million people, with a high level of engagement. Our message resonated with consumers in Brazil.

This victory was consolidated in early February, when, in a historic voting, ANATEL’s board of directors relaxed the law and allowed the merger and operation of TimeWarner & AT&T in Brazil ruling it was not against Article 5 of the SeAC Law, opening precedent for new similar rulings on this subject.

Finally after 8 months of consumer activism, the Consumer Choice Center managed to be an integral part of this change ensuring that consumers in Brazil continued to have access to quality and diverse audiovisual content and even opening space for Brazil to break down more barriers to a bigger, better and stronger free market.

Making Ontario’s Legal System More Consumer Friendly


In Ontario, it was previously prohibited for legal documents to be virtually commissioned, or notarized online. At the end of 2019, the Ontario Government asked for consultation on the allowance of both virtual commissioning, and online notarization. In January of 2020, the Province announced changes to the Notaries Act, specifically legalizing both changes to Ontario’s legal system. In the announcement, Ontario’s Attorney General Doug Downey quoted the Consumer Choice Center’s David Clement. Specifically, he quoted the following:

“Allowing for virtual commissioning and notarizing is a positive step for those using legal services. Permitting virtual commissioning and notarizing ultimately makes the system more consumer friendly and more responsive. From a consumer standpoint, this is a welcomed change.”

David Clement, North American Affairs Manager, Consumer Choice Center

The Consumer Choice Center is pleased with Ontario’s commitment to making commissioning and notarization more consumer friendly. 

Big Victory for Cannabis Consumers in Ontario

The Issue

In 2017, the Ontario Liberal government proposed to slowly roll out government owned, and government run, cannabis stores. Under that plan there would be no private retail at all for cannabis in Ontario, making the market highly regulated and unfairly funded by citizens.

The CCC’s Response

In the 2018 general election, the Liberals were swept from power. The Consumer Choice Center took this opportunity to showcase to the new Conservative government the issues and risks for consumers if the government were to only allow for government owned cannabis retail outlets. David Clement, our North America Manager, wrote an op-ed in the Globe and Mail, and did several media appearances arguing that the government to change course, and go with a private, uncapped, retail market for cannabis sales.

The Impact

As a result, David Clement was invited by the government to testify on the regulations in front of the legislatures’ social committee. In that testimony, he passionately advocated for private uncapped retail and its benefits for consumers.

As a result, David Clement was invited by the government to testify on the regulations in front of the legislatures’ social committee. In that testimony, he passionately advocated for private uncapped retail and its benefits for consumers.

The Attorney General of Ontario then announced on the floor of the legislature that the province would be moving forward with a private, uncapped, retail market for cannabis. The Attorney General quoted our North America Affairs Manager, David Clement, and the work of the Consumer Choice Center, in the justification for going with the uncapped model.

There were a few hiccups, and the Government backtracked a bit during this process. They started with a lottery process to give out licenses for retail stores. We were once again doing media appearances asking for the government to keep their word, and move forward with their original plan. We were published in the Globe and Mail saying the government should end the lottery system.

Finally, at the end of 2019, the government announced that as of January 1, 2020, they would be moving forward with an uncapped private system.

To this day, the Consumer Choice Center remains vigilant of the government and the Ontario Province in order to protect and defend consumers’ choice and the free market.

As a result, David Clement was invited by the government to testify on the regulations in front of the legislatures’ social committee. In that testimony, he passionately advocated for private uncapped retail and its benefits for consumers.

The Attorney General of Ontario then announced on the floor of the legislature, that the province would be moving forward with a private, uncapped, retail market for cannabis. The Attorney General quoted our North America Affairs Manager, David Clement, and the work of the Consumer Choice Center, in the justification for going with the uncapped model.

There were a few hiccups, and the Government backtracked a bit during this process. They started with a lottery process to give out licenses for retail stores. We were once again doing media appearances asking for the government to keep their word, and move forward with their original plan. We were published at the Globe and Mail saying the government should end the lottery system.

Finally, at the end of 2019, the government announced that as of January 1, 2020, they would be moving forward with an uncapped private system.

To this day, the Consumer Choice Center remains vigilant of the government and the Ontario Province in order to protect and defend consumers’ choice and the free market.

Two big victories for consumer choice and modernized alcohol policy

The warm months are delivering some great news when it comes to increased consumer choice and modernized alcohol policy across North America.

ONTARIO

The first success story comes from the Canadian province of Ontario, where Premier Doug Ford has announced the end of the province’s exclusive contract with The Beer Store, the beer monopoly.

When announcing the policy, Ontario Finance Minister Victor Fedeli quoted the words of Consumer Choice Center North American Affairs Manager David Clement, who has contributed to the debate to open up beer sales across the province.

This positive move comes on the same day the government announced it would be expanding alcohol sales in LCBO stores across the province, after which Clement says “consumers across the province would appreciate more access to alcoholic drinks over the summer months.

The Consumer Choice Center played a pivotal role is shaping the policy debate in favor of modernized alcohol policy and consumer choice, and will continue to do so across the country.

“Today’s alcohol announcement is a step in the right direction,” said David Clement. “The move helps underserved regions, while maxing out the amount of grocery stores allowed under the Master Framework Agreement (MFA). It is positive to see these changes while the province undergoes the process of scrapping the MFA and allowing for alcohol sales in convenience stores.”

“We are hopeful that the announcement could increase access over the summer months, which would definitely be appreciated by consumers province-wide.” said Clement.

NORTH CAROLINA

Following the positive vibes from the Great White North, the state of North Carolina also had a major alcohol policy modernization pass.

Last Thursday Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 363, the Craft Beer Distribution and Modernization Act. The law will allow craft brewers to self-distribute more than twice was allowed previously without a wholesaler.

That measure will allow breweries to expand and ship more product across the state, giving North Carolina consumers greater access to their favorite craft brews.

I have written about this topic for the Charlotte Observer (here and here) and been interviewed about it on the radio on the Joe Catenacci Show and the Chad Adams Show.

Much like above, there is still a lot that needs to be done to have a true modern alcohol policy in the Tar Heel State. Ending the state’s monopoly of ABC stores (that sell liquor) would be prime, and the next would be allowing distilleries to offer and sell their products on site and for delivery.

Regardless, these are two big victories for consumer choice and modernized alcohol policy, giving consumers more of a say, more choice, and better options!

Public cannabis consumption ban in Ontario was reversed

The Issue On Aug. 13, Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fideli announced the government’s plan for cannabis legalization. The keystone of the Progressive Conservatives’ policy was a reversal of the public retail monopoly model proposed by the former Liberal government, to instead opt for private retail provincewide. Along with the private retail announcement, the government stated that municipalities […]

Effective stand against the FAIR Fees Act

The Issue The U.S. Senate’s version of the FAA reauthorization bill included a provision authored by U.S. Senators Markey and Blumenthal that would have regulated airline pricing. The provision, initially rejected by the Dept. of Transportation, was known as the Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act. Supporters contended the FAIR Fees Act would have benefited […]

Brand freedom in the Republic of Georgia

The Issue In May 2017, policy makers in the Republic of Georgia attempted to push through a branding ban on all tobacco products. Despite the importance of the issue, public opinion was neglected in the debate. The policy measure was triggered by monetary incentives provided by the UK government to the Georgian budget, through the […]

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