POLITICS
05/27/2014 02:51 EDT | Updated 07/27/2014 05:59 EDT

Giant Tiger CEO calls on Tories to scrap part of budget bill

Conservative MP Scott Reid may want to avoid talking politics while on the family barbecue circuit this summer.

The current head of the Giant Tiger discount store empire founded by Reid's father, Gordon, is calling on the government to scrap its proposal to revamp Canada's trademark laws.

In a May 22 letter to Finance Minister Joe Oliver, Giant Tiger CEO Andy Gross warned that removing the requirement that trademarks actually be in use to be registered could result in "tens of thousands" of applications filed "for enormous lists of goods and services, almost overnight."

He also pointed out that the government's proposal "includes no limits on the rights of registrants," which could let these "over-broad registrations" block new applications and "threaten infringement."

"The situation is akin to the early days of domain names," Gross noted, "with the same potential for pirates and profiteering."

The younger Reid, the MP for Lanark-Lennox and Addington, Ont., "no longer [has] a significant interest in Giant Tiger Stores Ltd.," according to his filing with the ethics commissioner last fall.

Changes would hurt small business: CEO

Gross predicted the changes "will particularly prejudice small and medium businesses that have not yet had the chance to devote valuable start-up resources to trademark protection."

His proposed solution: the immediate removal of all trademark provisions from the spring budget bill "pending further study," followed by the formation of a special committee to look into "modernization" of the existing law. He suggests that committee include representatives from industry, government, the legal professional and "expert practitioners."

"Only with true collaboration, which regrettably has not occurred to date, can such important legislation be crafted to best suit the needs of Canadian businesses both now and in the future."

The NDP provided a copy of the letter to CBC News.

The proposed amendments to the current Trademarks Act are included in the spring omnibudget bill, which is currently undergoing clause-by-clause review by the House finance committee.

While Reid filed the notice of material change last fall with the ethics commissioner to say his interest in the store is no longer significant, his most recent public declaration of assets, filed a year earlier, still lists him as a director of the company. The public declaration of assets says he expected to receive "employment and dividends income" over the twelve months following its filing date, November, 2012.

Gordon Reid stepped down as CEO in 2010, but remains chairman of the board of Giant Tiger.