AED members urged to engage MPs on right to repair debate

Impact Public Affairs President Huw Williams
Impact Public Affairs President Huw Williams

This summer, equipment manufacturers and dealers should open their doors to provincial and federal policymakers to help showcase why heavy equipment is in a league of its own, according to Huw Williams, President of Impact Public Affairs. 

Williams provided an update on the right to repair debate in Canada during the recent AED breakfast held during the National Heavy Equipment Show.

The right to repair debate has received ample attention at both the provincial and federal levels. While federal legislation hasn’t been tabled, Williams noted the government is studying the right to repair, and KPMG has been hired to research the issue. 

“At the moment, I feel very good about our position. But I can tell you that our objective is to make sure that policymakers on all sides of the of the political spectrum understand that right to repair in your sector is not a good idea,” Williams said. 

However, one of the challenges faced in the right to repair debate is consumers outside of heavy equipment and its related industries. Across North America, politicians are responding to demands from the public to be able to repair a wide variety of products, from mobile phones to automobiles. 

“Consumers are mad as hell that their dishwashers or their fridge or stove breaks down after 18 months or two years, and they can’t get it fixed,” he said. 

Impact Public Affairs is working to ensure politicians understand that an excavator is not in the same realm as an oven. 

“The challenge, of course, is when they apply that lens of appliances and dishwashers to your businesses, which you know, are fundamentally different,” Williams said. 

To emphasize the difference between heavy equipment and consumer goods, Williams urged AED members to work with the association to invite elected officials out to see their machines. He explained the Ontario AED has created a summer program for MPs and MPPs to visit manufacturers and dealers to see their business in action.

“When we get Members of Parliament, regardless of what party they are, out to see your businesses, to see dealers and facilities across the country, it gives them a different perspective on right to repair,” Williams said. 

“That gives all of you an advantage to be involved in the right to repair debates locally with your Member of Parliament, and to share how different your work is.” 

To date, Quebec is the only province to pass right to repair legislation. In October, an Act to protect consumers from planned obsolescence and to promote the durability, repairability and maintenance of goods came into force. 

However, the act doesn’t include new laws for heavy equipment. 

“It’s not part of the mix that they want to focus on,” Williams said. 

While right to repair legislation for heavy equipment isn’t looming, Williams advises it’s worth paying attention. He explained such laws could lead to sharing of copyright and programming information as well as the ability to dictate parts at cost. 

“It’s a slippery slope towards big, big challenges,” Williams said.