Harper crackdown on imports of unsafe toys in effect next year



Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces Canada’s new food and consumer safety action plan.


« Canadians shouldn’t have to worry about the toys they’re putting under the tree.»

The federal government is overhauling its consumer laws to crack down on the importation of unsafe toys, but the move comes too late to ensure the safety of kids’ gifts tucked under the tree this year.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a parent himself, talked yesterday about the worries of "toxic toys" as he outlined his government’s reaction to the raft of recent recalls that have left parents fretting about the contents of the toy box.

"Canadians shouldn’t have to worry about the toys they’re putting under the tree. They shouldn’t have to worry about the food they eat. They shouldn’t have to worry about drugs that may do more harm than good," he said.

Speaking at a Salvation army toy depot in the nation’s capital, Harper unveiled the "Food and Consumer Safety Action plan," a revamp of existing consumer protection laws that he said are at least 15 years out of date.

Since the government already has powers to recall unsafe food and drugs, the focus of the new laws expected to come into force next year will be toys and other consumer products.

The Prime Minister said the proposed legislation would allow the federal health department to enforce mandatory recalls.

"That legislation will allow the federal government for the first time in Canada’s history to order the withdrawal of certain products if companies do not take the required measures to meet the legitimate concerns of consumers," Harper said.

"Canadian companies that take product safety seriously shouldn’t have to compete with fly-by-night operators out to make a quick buck no matter what the consequences," he said.

The government is also promising broader inspections of imports and much higher fines — up to $1 million, up from $5,000 now for corporations that break the rules.

Liberal consumer affairs critic Dan McTeague accused the Conservatives of dragging their feet, noting that the promised action comes too late to safeguard toys bought this holiday season.

recent recalls

  • In August, Mattel recalled 900,000 Chinese-made toys in Canada — almost 19 million worldwide — that contained lead paint and small magnets.

  • Last month, retailers pulled a popular Chinese-made toy, known as Aqua Dots, off the market after discovering that the toy’s coating metabolized into the "date rape" drug if swallowed.