Bill C-47 (Historical)
Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act
An Act respecting the protection of marks related to the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games and protection against certain misleading business associations and making a related amendment to the Trade-marks Act
This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.
Maxime Bernier Conservative
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
Message from the Senate
June 22nd, 2007 / 12:20 p.m.
The Speaker Peter Milliken
I have the honour to inform the House that when the House did attend Her Excellency the Governor General in the Senate chamber Her Excellency was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
Bill S-6, An Act to amend the First Nations Land Management Act--Chapter 17;
Bill C-277, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (luring a child)--Chapter 20;
Bill C-18, An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA identification--Chapter 22;
Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (adoption)--Chapter 24;
Bill C-47, An Act respecting the protection of marks related to the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games and protection against certain misleading business associations and making a related amendment to the Trade-marks Act--Chapter 25;
Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Quarantine Act--Chapter 27;
It being 12:23 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 17, 2007, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).
The first session of the 39th Parliament was prorogued by royal proclamation on September 14, 2007.
Message from the Senate
June 22nd, 2007 / 12:05 p.m.
The Speaker Peter Milliken
I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed the following bills:
Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act
June 14th, 2007 / 1:40 p.m.
Ed Fast Abbotsford, BC
Mr. Speaker, I am a little disappointed to hear my colleague from Burnaby—New Westminster speak about all of the doom and gloom, how terrible things are going to be, and all the budget overruns.
I was encouraged by my colleague across the floor, the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, because he spoke with great optimism, which is exactly what our government is doing. The Winter Olympic Games in 2010 in Vancouver and Whistler are going to be a huge opportunity for Canadians. It is not about doom and gloom. The only doom and gloom we had from the NDP was 10 years in the wilderness in British Columbia when successive NDP administrations drove the provincial treasury into the ground.
It is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-47 which actually protects the trademarks and licensing rights for the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 winter games.
As we know, the 2010 winter games will be an event with enormous impact in British Columbia but also in Canada and around the world. Consider these numbers. There will be 5,000 Olympic athletes and 1,700 Paralympic athletes and their officials. More than 80 countries will participate in the winter Olympics and 40 countries will participate in the Paralympic games. There will be 10,000 media representatives present at those games and over three billion television viewers around the world.
To ensure the success of the winter games the Vancouver organizing committee, which we refer to as Vanoc, needs a solid legal and financial foundation. Bill C-47 will meet our government's commitment to the International Olympic Committee to protect the Olympic and Paralympic brands. It will allow Vanoc to raise the sponsorship money from the private sector necessary to complete the games and to make sure that they finish within budget, are successful and leave a significant legacy for Canada.
Consider the Calgary Winter Olympics of 1988. Even today, almost 20 years later, athletes from around the world still descend upon Calgary to use its Olympic facilities, which are an abiding legacy of those games.
Is this bill important? Of course it is. John Furlong, who is the chief executive officer of Vanoc, has said that the organizers need resources of about $1.87 billion to stage the games. One of the most important sources of funding for those games are corporate sponsorships. In fact, approximately 40% of revenues will come from partnerships and licences.
The value in those partnerships and licences comes from two main factors. First, the sponsors and licensees need to receive great public exposure and marketing advantages from their association with such a positive, high profile public event like the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler. Second, the nature of the 2010 winter games is unique. There is no other event like it in the world. There is no other event in the world that year that is likely to draw as many TV viewers or capture as much of the world's attention and that is value. That is why we get sponsors for the Olympic games.
Under Bill C-47, if an unauthorized person or company tries to profit from the 2010 winter games, Vanoc will have the legal tools to protect its rights and the rights of its partners and licensees effectively and quickly. The current Trade-marks Act provides some protection, but it is not enough. There are concerns that it may not fully address the legitimate needs of the organizers of the Olympics in responding to threats against their marketing rights.
There are also concerns that the current legislation does not allow emerging threats to be dealt with. This is particularly true of so-called ambush marketing, in which companies find ways to falsely associate their business with the winter games in the public's mind. Bill C-47 addresses these concerns by allowing Vanoc to use legal remedies when necessary, yet maintaining a balanced approach to the issue.
I do not have time to comment on each part of this bill, but I do want to take a few minutes to remind my colleagues in the House of some of the bill's key measures.
First, the Olympic and Paralympic marks act explicitly defines the words, symbols and other marks that are to be protected against fraudsters. The bill protects the rights of Vanoc, the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee to defend these marks. They can use the remedies under the bill and can consent to assign those rights to their various partners, where appropriate.
What are some of those marks? I have a list of well over 60 here. Canadians will be familiar with the five Olympic rings and also the Olympic torch, or the official symbol of the 2010 Olympic games, the inukshuk. There are many more words and symbols that are synonymous with the Olympic games and these are officially being protected under the bill we have before us today.
The bill goes on to set out two main types of conduct that will be prohibited.
First, no one can use an Olympic or Paralympic mark in connection with a business without the agreement of Vanoc. That lasts until the end of 2010.
Second, the bill prohibits so-called ambush marketing, which I referred to before. It prohibits people or businesses from doing business in a way that is likely to mislead the public into believing that those businesses or those persons and their products and services are linked to the winter games, when in fact they are not and they have not paid for that right.
Beyond that, the bill also provides for a number of exceptions and sets out the various remedies available in the event that these rights are not respected.
One of the reasons we have introduced this bill is to specifically address ambush marketing. Some of our viewers may wonder what that is exactly. It is an attempt by an unauthorized person or business to act in a way that causes the public to believe that they are connected to the 2010 games. As I mentioned before, that will now be prohibited.
Unfortunately, the courts can often take a long time to adjudicate those kinds of disputes. In fact, it is very difficult to convince a court to issue an injunction and to stop the alleged illegal use of a trademark before a trial is finished. Such delays would be a huge problem for the 2010 games in Vancouver-Whistler, since the games would be over by the time the trial is complete. The damage to the games would already have been done and there would be little, if any, chance of recovery of those damages.
That is why Bill C-47 allows Vanoc to put a stop to ambush marketing without having to prove that the games will suffer irreparable harm. That irreparable harm standard is the greatest obstacle to convincing a court to grant an injunction in trademark cases. Our legislation removes that obstacle until the 2010 games are over. When the Olympic flame goes out in 2010, this aspect of the legislation will also be extinguished.
The reality is that very few of these situations will actually end up in court. This bill actually gives Vanoc the authority it needs to deal with these kinds of fraudsters.
Bill C-47 also gives the designated Olympic organizations the authority to protect the Olympic brand from unauthorized and illegitimate use, but we have been careful not to bring in legislation that is too broad or oppressive.
As members know, this bill has gone through many amendments to reflect the concerns of key stakeholders and committee members. For example, Bill C-47 exempts Canadian businesses that were using trademarks before March 2 that could possibly be in conflict with the Olympic marks. They cannot suddenly start using an existing mark for a new purpose to cash in on the Olympics, but they can continue their existing uses. For example, if people have an “Olympic Pizza” in their town, we are not going to shut them down unless they suddenly start using the word Olympic to promote other services and products.
We are not targeting mom and pop shops. We are not targeting Canadians who have been using these marks in the past. We are simply being reasonable.
The bill also provides clarification that this bill is not intended to curtail freedom of press or to muzzle those who are critical of the games. My colleague from West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast also made that point. We do have protections in Canada. We as Canadians pride ourselves in the freedoms that we enjoy and defend in our country, and those freedoms will continue to be protected under our bill.
As I mentioned earlier, our new Conservative government is a committed partner in making the 2010 winter games a big success. The big winners will undoubtedly be the people of British Columbia and the rest of Canada, and some of our contributions are quite obvious. We as a government have committed $552 million to make the winter games a reality, including $290 million for sport and event venues.
Some of the contributions we are making are less tangible but not less valuable, and this Bill C-47 to protect the Olympic trademarks certainly falls into that category.
The bill is a balanced piece of legislation that is in line with what other host countries have put in place in the past. It is a necessary piece of legislation to ensure that the winter games are a huge financial success and that we as a country, and the organizers, can leave behind an enduring legacy for generations to come.
The world is waiting to rediscover Canada. Our communities across British Columbia and Canada are looking forward to the economic opportunities and new sporting facilities that the 2010 winter games will deliver. Let us not disappoint them. I encourage all members of the House to ensure quick passage of this very important bill.
Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act
June 14th, 2007 / 1:25 p.m.
Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise on behalf of the NDP caucus to speak in support of Bill C-47 as amended by the NDP.
We raised some concerns when the bill was initially brought forward. I will come back to that in a moment. Subsequent to that, we had yeoman's work done by our industry critic, the member of Parliament for Windsor West. As a result, some of the issues about the bill have been addressed. The bill has certainly been improved through the intervention of the NDP which offered the most amendments in committee.
Bill C-47 is something that touches people from British Columbia, but also touches people from coast to coast to coast across Canada. We are all impressed with the principles of the Olympic movement. The athletes train for many years through extenuating circumstances and often are impoverished while working to attain that ideal in sport. We have seen from the Olympic movement the principle of athletes driving themselves to perform at their maximum. This is something that all members of this House admire and respect.
In particular, one of the improvements in the Olympic movement in the past few years has been the involvement of Paralympic athletes. Increasingly we see people with disabilities who in a very real sense show their competitive spirit and show to what extent they can push themselves to excel. The Olympic movement has clearly been improved by the inclusion of people with disabilities in the Paralympic movement. That is something which over the last few years has deepened the respect that people around the world and across Canada have for the principles of the Olympic movement.
We believe in the principles of the Olympic movement. We believe in the principles of the Olympic movement as expressed by Paralympians. We believe in the principles of the Olympic movement that we see expressed through athletes pushing themselves to be the best possible. We are extremely proud of the athletes from Canada from coast to coast to coast who have excelled in the winter Olympics and the summer Olympics. We have much to be proud of in Canada, particularly our Olympic athletes who prove through every Olympic Games to what extent they are willing to push themselves to their maximum to excel for their country.
We support those principles, but our role as New Democratic Party members in this House is also to closely scrutinize legislation and to make sure that what is proposed is actually achieved. That has been the role of the NDP historically since the foundation of our party. We have always been the party of sober second thought.
That is why when Bill C-47 came forward we supported the principle, of course, for reasons I will come back to later. We had concerns about Olympic cost overruns, but we wanted to see clear improvements made to the legislation itself.
We believe that the legislation should have exempted electronic media for example. We also believe that a sunset clause had to be very clear about the extent of the number of terms that are used. The Vancouver Olympics, the 2010 marks, are quite extensive. Seventy-five terms are included within that very broad use of copyright terms. We wanted to make sure as well that there is a very clear sunset clause that would take effect at the end of the year 2010.
We also wanted to make sure that aboriginal and not for profit groups would have an opportunity to have no cost licences through the Olympic movement. In that way they would be able to contribute in some way and receive some benefit from the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. We also wanted to make sure there was an appeal process in place.
We brought forward those amendments, more than all other parties put together. We closely scrutinized the legislation. My colleague from Windsor West, very eloquently as always, brought forward those amendments in committee.
We were able to achieve two of the four improvements that we wanted to see in this legislation as a result of the NDP's interventions in the industry committee. Now as we bring this NDP improved legislation into this House, we see that electronic media is exempted from the bill.
We also have achieved the sunset clause, the date of December 31, 2010, to make sure the protections that are offered through Bill C-47 are temporary in nature only.
We are hoping as well, and we certainly directed the Vanoc committee to do this, that the regulations take into consideration the fact that there are many local businesses that have existed for many years in the Lower Mainland and throughout British Columbia. We anticipate that Vanoc, the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee, will respect those historic trademarks and those historic presences through the regulations that will be drafted after the bill is passed into law. We expect that will happen.
We are disappointed that the amendment regarding aboriginal and not for profit groups that was co-authored by the NDP was not accepted by other parties in the House. We certainly believe it would have been an improvement to Bill C-47. We offered it and unfortunately it is not before us today.
We also wanted to see an appeal system to make sure that individuals and small businesses were not caught in the kind of bureaucratic machinery we often see as members of Parliament. We have in Bill C-47 some real improvements brought forward by the NDP.
Let me get back to the principle. This is an important element. We believe there must be some copyright protection because we are concerned about the extent of Olympic cost overruns. The B.C. auditor general spoke to this just a few months ago, in September 2006. I will read into the record the CanWest news service article on the B.C. auditor general's report into Olympic spending.
It is very relevant and pertinent that we seek to ensure that Vanoc has the ability to get the sponsorships that will reduce the taxpayers' burden of the Olympic Games. In the B.C. legislature, Harry Bains, who is the provincial NDP Olympics critic, has been front and centre in ensuring there is that accountability and that we try to reduce what could be a substantial taxpayers' burden if things are not handled with due diligence.
As we all know, the NDP has the best fiscal management record of any party in Canada. I am not the one saying that, it is the federal Ministry of Finance. It did a 20 year study and compared from actual fiscal year end returns how Conservatives managed money, how Liberals managed money, how the Parti Quebecois in Quebec and Social Credit managed money and how NDP provincial governments managed money.
It came up, after 20 years, with the conclusion that the worst fiscal manager was actually the Liberal Party. Most of the time Liberal governments actually finished their year end, regardless of what their projections were, with a deficit.
Conservative administrations, be they provincial or federal, were actually the second worst. Two-thirds of the time Conservative administrations actually showed up in deficits.
The best by far were NDP administrations. Most of the time when surpluses or balanced budgets were projected, they actually came out as balanced budgets or surpluses in the year end fiscal returns.
The NDP has a proud history of being the best financial managers in the country. That is understandable. We are a party composed of ordinary working families and working Canadians who have to manage with fewer resources. As a result of that, they are much better at managing resources than anybody else. A single mother who is trying to raise children, that Canadian woman knows how to manage with very few resources. As a result of being a party of ordinary Canadians, we have achieved what is undoubtedly, according to the federal Ministry of Finance which is certainly not an NDP affiliated organization, the best record of financial accountability.
We are providing the same oversight that we do in this Parliament and in provincial legislatures across the country to the issue of the Olympic Games.
I come back to the CanWest news service article. It is dated September 15, 2006 and states:
The 2010 Olympic Games will cost B.C. taxpayers nearly $1 billion more than the provincial government previously indicated, according to the province's acting auditor general.
In a hard-hitting report released Thursday, Arn van Iersel pegs the true cost of the Olympics at a minimum $2.5 billion, of which $1.5 billion will come from the province.
The B.C. government insists its total commitment to the Games is $600 million. But van Iersel says that figure ignores key Olympics-related costs....
The government, he says, needs to come clean with the public.
“Given the province has the ultimate responsibility for the financial outcome of the Games, we feel there should be regular and complete reporting of the total Games costs to the taxpayers,” the report states. “To date, the province has only reported to taxpayers on the $600 million envelope it established; however, there are many other Games related cost[s] that are not being reported as such by the province.”
The 65-page report also highlights significant problems with the management and marketing of the Olympics, and warns that costs could go even higher. Van Iersel found, for instance, that the province lost $150 million in projected revenue from broadcasting and international sponsorships by failing to adopt a routine “hedging strategy” that would have protected them against fluctuations in the dollar.
He found, too, that the government will have to wait six years longer than expected to launch a marketing campaign, because it didn't realize the International Olympic Committee restricts such campaigns until the previous Olympics are over. B.C. had planned to start its campaign in 2003, but now will have to postpone it until after the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing. Van Iersel said the delay could hurt the province's plan to reap $4 billion in economic spin-offs.
The auditor's report also notes that the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) has transferred construction risks for many of the venues to other partners. But if rising costs make it impossible or those partners to finish the job, “there is a risk the province will have to contribute more funding to VANOC to get the projects completed,” the report says.
The province has set aside $76 million for such unexpected costs, but the auditor general also questions whether that emergency fund will be enough.
NDP critic Harry Bains said the report shows B.C. risking a financial disaster on par with the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.
“All you have to do is go back to what happened in Montreal, and then go back to what happened in Athens,” he said. “We don't want to see that kind of stuff happening here, but the way this government is going, the direction this management is going, I think there's a real risk of going in that direction if we don't stop it now.”
A federal report, also released Thursday, confirms the auditor general's warnings about rising construction costs....
“Escalation continues to run rampant in British Columbia as a result of higher material and labour costs, and the lack of competitive bids and skilled trades people, especially in the Lower Mainland,” the report says.
That comes from the Victoria Times Colonist. It underscores our concerns.
We are profoundly supportive of the ideals and the principles of the Olympic movement and Paralympic movement. We are profoundly supportive of our athletes. In fact the NDP throughout its history has called for more support for Canadian athletes, there is no doubt about that. However, we balance that off with real concerns about the cost overruns that are apprehended with these Olympic Games, and both at the provincial legislature in Victoria and here in the federal Parliament we are raising those issues on a regular basis.
We saw Bill C-47 as a bill that would help to address in part those apprehended Olympic cost overruns. We want to make sure that the Vancouver Olympic Committee can do what it needs to do to ensure that there are as few obligations imposed on taxpayers as possible.
We would like to make sure that the B.C. provincial government does its job to ensure that additional funds are not required. However, we are generally concerned, as is B.C.'s auditor general, with the direction the provincial government is taking.
We support in principle Bill C-47 and we constructively brought forward amendments that improve the bill, so that the bill actually does address some of the concerns that people have raised about it perhaps going too far.
There is no doubt that the sunset clause will make a difference. The exemption on electronic media will make a difference, and there is no doubt about that. We have certainly sent a very clear message to the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee that we want to make sure the regulations keep with the spirit of what the NDP offered at the industry committee and what we are saying here in the House.
We want to make sure that these games proceed smoothly and that in the end all Canadians and all British Columbians will be happy and content with how the games actually came about and will feel some sense of pride that we had in the Vancouver-Whistler area in 2010 an Olympic Games that really showed the ideals of the Olympic movement and also the ideals that we all have as Canadians.
Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act
June 14th, 2007 / 1:10 p.m.
Luc Malo Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC
Mr. Speaker, after a serious study of Bill C-47 in committee and after hearing stakeholders including companies, athletes and lawyers, we are here to debate Bill C-47, the Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act, for the last time.
This new legislation meets the International Olympic Committee's requirements and will be the responsibility of VANOC, which from our first meetings in February promised to make judicious and sparing use of the legal remedies at its disposal. No one wants this new legislative tool to hamper anyone who wants to be part of this common effort.
After all our work, I still have some slight reservations about using the criminal courts to punish small businesspeople who inadvertently violate the law. I wish that, during her testimony before the committee, Susan Bincoletto, director general of Industry Canada's marketplace framework policy branch, had been able to tell me how many small businesspeople in other countries had been prosecuted using legislation similar to Bill C-47. Ms. Bincoletto was unable to say, and that concerns me a little.
However, as the CEO of VANOC, John Furlong, explained when he appeared before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, 85% of businesses that want to get involved in the events around the Vancouver and Whistler Olympics do not have malicious intentions.
Ultimately what we must realize is that the vast majority of businesses that believe in the Olympic values are motivated by the desire to do something constructive for athletes, communities and youth in general. We presume that there will be no lawsuits launched. After all, what advantage would there be to sacrificing one's reputation for the passing satisfaction of being fraudulently associated with the Olympic Games? Talk about this with athletes who have lost their medals after a positive drug test: would they not do otherwise if they had it to do over again?
We must also realize that VANOC's reputation is at stake when legal action is taken. Consequently the image of the Olympic movement must not be tarnished by unwarranted legal action. It is all a question of balance.
That is why it is up to VANOC, to the Canadian Olympic committee or the Canadian Paralympic committee, to take legal action, and not up to businesses that may feel they are harmed by the unauthorized use of Olympic marks. These businesses will have to apply in writing to VANOC, which will have 10 days to render a ruling, determine whether or not there was harm and if there is cause for legal action, and inform the business. If, and only if, VANOC does not reply within 10 days, the business may take legal action itself.
Important clarifications and additions were made to the bill in committee and I would now like to point them out.
First, the bill does not apply to an artistic work. The work of creation must be able to be carried out with peace of mind as indicated in clause three of the bill:
For greater certainty, the inclusion of an Olympic or Paralympic mark or a translation of it in any language in an artistic work, within the meaning of the Copyright Act, by the author of that work, is not in itself a use in connection with a business if the work is not reproduced on a commercial scale.
The second important point is that athletes with sponsors other than the official sponsors may maintain their relationships with these businesses that contributed in no small way to their success. Athletes were concerned about this aspect of the original bill. However, VANOC officials reassured them by stating that their intention was not to compromise their personal sponsors. The legislator included in the new version of Bill C-47 an explicit guarantee modelled after that found in the Australian legislation passed for the Sydney Olympic Games.
Long-term relationships between sponsors and athletes make it possible for athletes to develop their talents every day. Sponsoring athletes gives them the means to achieve their goals and also helps to give people positive and inspiring role models. It is important not to discourage sponsors who, without being official Olympic partners, have participated in the development of Olympic athletes.
It is important to remember that athletes who are members of a federation are often economically vulnerable and unfortunately do not all benefit from sufficient financial support. Support from sponsors enables young people to concentrate on what they have to do rather than scrounging around for funding between training sessions or competitions.
The support provided by the sponsor enables athletes to pay for training and travel expenses. What is more, it is quite often both partners of the agreement, and not just the sponsoring company, that benefit from increased visibility.
Members will recall that at the Olympics in Athens, McDonald's, sponsor of Alexandre Despaties, launched an advertising campaign which no doubt greatly contributed to making him a household name. He has since become a favourite and has found his way to the big screen.
A relationship between a sponsor and an athlete can extend over a number of years, and may even continue after the athlete retires from competition. This is important, since we know that for many athletes, the transition into retirement can be difficult to manage. Sylvie Fréchette, Olympic champion synchronized swimmer, was sponsored for a number of years by the National Bank, which even offered her a job after her sports career ended. Just one year ago she once again participated in an activity organized by the National Bank as part of its diversity week, which shows the extent of the relationship still maintained between the institution and the Olympic champion.
However, the National Bank has not sponsored any athletes directly since 1998. Instead, it decided to create a scholarship program to help promising young athletes and to help athletes return to their studies when they are ready to retire from sports. This is another way, and one that is just as praiseworthy, I think, to contribute to the development of organized sports.
Closer to home, RONA, which is one of the official partners of the Vancouver Games, has also established the “growing with our athletes” program, through which the company will provide financial support for five years to 100 Olympians and Paralympians, including Meaghan Benfeito, Roseline Filion and Émilie Heymans, all divers who are Quebec's Olympic hopefuls for the upcoming summer games in Beijing.
Alcan and wheelchair racing champion Chantal Petitclerc are another example of a lasting partnership. Alcan has been Chantal Petitclerc's sponsor since 1998 and has contributed significantly to her success. In exchange, Chantal Petitclerc has paid many visits to the employees of Alcan and represented the company at numerous public events. In 2001, when the company renewed its commitment to the champion until 2005, that is, one year after the Athens Games, Chantal Petitclerc stated:
It's unusual for a company to have such a long-standing association with one athlete. But even more remarkable is a sponsorship agreement signed so far in advance of the Olympics. Athletes must have access to financial assistance for years, not just during the six months prior to the Games, in order to train well enough to be competitive.
Chantal Petitclerc made it abundantly clear: a long-term relationship between an athlete and a sponsor is a precious thing. As such, it is important to reiterate that Bill C-47 does not call into question that kind of relationship, even if it involves a sponsor other than the official partners of the Vancouver-Whistler games, as clarified in this clause, which the committee added:
Nothing in subsection (1) or (2) prevents [among other things,] the use by an individual who has been selected by the COC or the CPC to compete, or has competed, in an Olympic Games or Paralympic Games, or another person with that individual's consent, of the mark “Olympian”, “Olympic”, “Olympien” or “Olympique”, or “Paralympian”, “Paralympic”, “Paralympien” or “Paralympique”, as the case may be, in reference to the individual's participation in, or selection for, those Games.
When building a society, we need citizens to get involved. Of course, volunteers and individuals help our society move forward, but businesses also have an essential role to play. We must encourage them to participate in sporting events because events like these have a positive impact on participation in sports and good lifestyle habits.
We have to create the kinds of conditions that facilitate this. As I have already said in this House, it is not enough to put the ball in an individual's court and expect him or her to find long-term solutions to problems of poor physical fitness and obesity. It is high time we took action right in people's environments, and that means that we have to encourage businesses to get involved. Sponsorship is not the only way for businesses to contribute.
From a broader perspective, in order to remedy the harmful effects of physical unfitness, we have to make sure that the companies that want to adopt good practices and put in place conditions enabling their employees to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives are not discouraged.
I am thinking here about the good practices adopted by many employers to help their employees acquire healthy lifestyles. Employers are now aware of their responsibilities and many of them are proposing concrete solutions.
I am thinking, for example, of Sainte-Justine hospital, which since 2002 has been making gymnasiums available to its employees for the modest fee of $10 a year, offering them very affordable classes and organizing activities for them. According to the head of health and safety at the hospital, these measures have done a lot towards improving the work atmosphere and decreased the stress levels felt by employees.
Likewise, all Mouvement Desjardins divisions now offer sports and physical activity programs for their employees, and those who join athletic clubs or sign up for physical activities can count on their employer’s financial support. These measures have notable positive effects on the staff turnover rate, absenteeism and smoking.
Ubisoft offers a voucher worth up to $500 a year to its employees to help them purchase sports equipment, in addition to providing them with free access to a gymnasium. Employees who are in better shape work better and the action taken by Ubisoft also works to the company’s advantage.
Louis Garneau Sport, a well-known Quebec company headed by the former cycling champion, also stands out for its sense of initiative. A few days before Environment Week, Louis Garneau Sport held an activity to encourage its employees to bike to work, thus contributing to an improvement in their physical fitness and to conservation of the environment.
I will end my list of inspiring examples here since, although work may continue until 10 o’clock tonight, your role, Mr. Speaker, is also to remind me that I only have a few minutes to state my point of view, and I would also like to have the time to talk about the third major aspect of the bill, pertaining to freedom of expression.
As clause 3 of the bill now states, following the passing of a motion moved in committee, and I quote:
For greater certainty, the use of an Olympic or Paralympic mark or a translation of it in any language in the publication or broadcasting of a news report relating to Olympic Games or Paralympic Games, including by means of electronic media, or for the purposes of criticism or parody relating to Olympic Games or Paralympic Games, is not a use in connection with a business.
However, I must point out that when I asked in the standing committee whether special editions of certain magazines that run during the Olympic Games could fall under the new legislation, no one was able to give me a clear answer. On that matter, it seems we have to look at this on a case by case basis and editors will have to remain vigilant, as always.
In closing, I would like to come back to some of the concerns I have already expressed in this House during debate at second reading. I am talking about respecting bilingualism. Last May, I referred to some of the findings in the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Official Languages, entitled, Reflecting Canada's Linguistic Duality at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games: A Golden Opportunity.
According to members of the committee, there is still a lot of work to do to make sure we fully and equally take into account both official languages in organizing the 2010 Games. During the June 4 meeting of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, the hon. member for Trois-Rivières referred to the same findings and asked John Furlong, the CEO of VANOC, whether any progress had been made. Mr. Furlong told her that for now, 25% of the employees working on the Games spoke French and that a significant effort was being made to ensure bilingualism. What areas of VANOC do these employees work in? Is there francophone or bilingual staff in every one of the divisions that take part in the Olympic adventure, in the offices, and in the stadiums?
Sometimes time runs out before we can get answers to all our questions. However, we will remain vigilant and lend our support to VANOC and wish it all the best in realizing this colossal project and pulling off the Olympic Games.
Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act
June 14th, 2007 / 1 p.m.
Blair Wilson West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC
Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, which includes 6 of the 11 venues for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and Paralympic Games, it gives me great pleasure to rise in support of Bill C-47, an Act respecting the protection of marks related to the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games and protection against certain misleading business associations and making a related amendment to the Trade-marks Act.
I am very proud to speak to the bill today. The Olympic Games are more than just a sporting and cultural event. They will show to the world and to ourselves what Canadians can do. In less than three years, Vancouver, Whistler and the whole Sea to Sky corridor will host the world's largest event.
More than 20,000 employees and volunteers will put on the games. We will welcome more than 6,000 athletes and officials and more than 80 countries, and the competition will be covered by 10,000 members of the media and witnessed by more than three billion people worldwide.
The 2010 games will showcase our province, our culture and our people to the planet. They will create a lasting legacy of facilities for our athletes and immeasurable goodwill around the globe. They are Vancouver and Canada's time to shine.
Vanoc has delivered a business plan that will give us the games on time and on budget, despite being hit with skyrocketing construction costs and facing massive logistical, strategic and diplomatic challenges. Vanoc's accomplishment is a tremendous testament to Canadian know-how and business savvy and will not pass unnoticed abroad.
This sort of project requires a great deal of fiscal management. For Vanoc, this means that it has to be as careful as possible about the Olympic and Paralympic brands. There is no better branding than the Olympic brand and, without appropriate safeguards, many would try to take advantage of the goodwill created by the games.
We need to protect the words and symbols of the Olympic brand with special legislation to ensure that Vanoc has the tools it needs to prevent abuse. The confidence created by strong protection for the Olympic brand will improve Vanoc's ability to negotiate sponsorship agreements with businesses interested in associating themselves with the Olympic brand and provide important funding for the games.
This protection also will create the confidence which will ensure that sponsors are committed to the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic movement for years and years to come.
The Liberal Party support for the Olympics has been longstanding. The Liberal government of the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien was there at the very beginning and we championed the bid from its earliest stages. We supported the games with our words and, unlike the Conservative foot-dragging, Liberal governments have always provided the resources that were required on the federal side to support our athletes and support these games.
Long before I was a candidate for the Liberal Party, I took a leadership role in securing the Olympics for Canada by organizing the 2010 rally on Robson Street. Working directly with Mr. John Furlong and the 2010 bid committee, we organized a grassroots movement rally on the streets of Vancouver that was attended by over 50,000 Vancouverites in support of our bid and, as everyone knows now, we were lucky enough to secure it.
Providing enhanced protection for the Olympics has become a standard part of hosting the Olympic Games. The United States, Australia, Greece and Italy all have strengthened the legal protection for Olympics-related intellectual property rights. The upcoming games in Beijing and London are already the subject of such protection in those host countries.
Although existing intellectual property law in Canada arguably could be used to protect Olympic symbols and marks, the sheer volume of possible violations within the short period of the games creates a need for extra protection.
Ambush marketing, which has been spoken of here in the House, is a major concern for the host of any international sporting event. It is simply too easy to take advantage of the goodwill created by the games and mislead consumers into thinking that a company has a business association with the games when in fact it has nothing of the sort.
Bill C-47 would prohibit persons from using the Olympic and Paralympic marks for anything that could be mistaken for those marks in connection with a business without the permission of Vanoc or, after the games are over, the consent of the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committees. It would also prohibit people from promoting or advertising their business in a way that misleads the public into believing that they are officially associated with the games.
With normal trademarks, the courts apply a three-part test in order to allow an interim or interlocutory injunction against a suspected offender. The plaintiff must establish, first, that there is a serious issue to be tried, second, that it will suffer irreparable harm if the offending conduct continues pending a trial, and finally, that the balance of convenience is in its favour.
Bill C-47 waives the onus on Vanoc to prove the most difficult part of the legal test, that of proving irreparable harm. This will allow Vanoc to act quickly and effectively to stop abuse of its brand. John Furlong and his team have emphasized that this speed is essential because the impact of ambush marketing is immediate and the response has to be immediate as well.
I believe that there is widespread support in the House for the aims of this bill. The devil, of course, is in the details. My colleagues and I have examined the bill see if it meets the critical test of basic common sense and fairness. Let me speak to several points on fairness.
The bill grants specific and clear exemptions to allow for freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of commentary. Some news reports have suggested that it would be used to crack down on dissent. These reports are wrong. Bill C-47 specifically exempts news, criticism and parody from the restrictions.
The aim of this bill is limited, of course, to commercial uses. Bill C-47 will not affect the non-profit community at all.
It is also particularly important that the bill not adversely affect our athletes. I welcome an amendment by the committee which ensures that companies sponsoring our Olympic athletes are able to advertise that fact. Being an Olympic athlete is part of who one is and the amendment ensures that these athletes will be able to say who they are, even in the commercial context. Former Olympian Jeff Bean testified before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology that the spirit of the bill does not impede the rights of athletes.
The bill also has a grandfathering provision to prevent existing businesses that use an Olympic or Paralympic mark from being unfairly disrupted. Anyone who adopted and began using such a mark before March 2, 2007, will be able to continue using that mark for the same purpose and will not have to change the name of the business, but if someone wants to open a business today and use that mark, that individual would have to come up with a new name.
The terms safeguarded are well chosen in that they are limited to terms that refer directly to the games. There has been some confusion over whether words like “winter” or “Vancouver” are prohibited, but this is not in fact the case.
Bill C-47 also contains a number of safeguards that will protect the legitimate use of the Olympic or Paralympic mark in a business context. For instance, businesses will be able to use geographic names to describe their market or to explain their services.
The Intellectual Property Institute of Canada has expressed concern that the bill gives sponsors the right to sue independently, arguing that Vanoc or the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee are the ones that grant sponsorship and so they should be the ones to control access to the courts. The institute worries that this will lead to inconsistent applications of the bill. This is an issue that will have to be monitored closely as time goes by.
With these sensible features, Bill C-47 has found widespread support. Vanoc, the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee support it. So do the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Own the Podium, Athletes CAN, and others.
It is time for the House to stand up for our athletes and champion and support the tremendous efforts of the Vancouver Olympic Committee to get this bill passed. It will protect the Olympic and Paralympic brands for Vancouver and the revenues that will benefit all hard-working Canadian families.
Let us make these the best winter games the world has ever seen.
Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act
June 14th, 2007 / 12:50 p.m.
Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to begin third reading debate on Bill C-47. This bill is a little different from most in that its passage is needed to ensure the success of a single momentous event, the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver and Whistler.
The size and scope of this event defies the imagination, with over 5,000 Olympic and 1,700 Paralympic athletes and officials, hundreds of participant countries, 10,000 members of the media and three billion television viewers worldwide. To ensure Canada takes full advantage of this tremendous opportunity to showcase itself to the world, it is imperative that the games be properly supported by government, including financial support.
During committee examination of Bill C-47, John Furlong, the chief executive officer of the Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee, Vanoc for short, estimated that approximately $1.87 billion will be needed to ensure the success of the games.
Canada's new government will do its part in this regard by providing $552 million, $290 million of which will be devoted specifically to sport and event venues. However, the government's financial contribution is only one part of the funding puzzle. As with most events of this magnitude, the participation of the private sector is absolutely crucial if the games are to be financially viable.
For this to happen, Vanoc estimates that nearly 40% of the games' funding, $725 million to be precise, must come from partnerships and licensing agreements with the private sector entities.
In order for Vanoc to reach this objective, Canada needs to live up to the commitment it made to the international Olympic committee during the bid phase of the 2010 games to have marketplace framework laws in place to protect the Olympic brand. Bill C-47 fulfills that commitment.
I would like to talk about the partnership context. In 2006 alone, Vanoc reported signing partnership agreements worth $115 million. Under Bill C-47, when a person or company seeks to profit improperly from the 2010 Winter Games, the legal framework will be in place for Vanoc to protect its rights and the rights of its partners and licensees quickly and effectively.
The current Trade-marks Act offers some of that protection, however, there are concerns that the current legislation does not allow emerging threats to be dealt with. This is particularly true for so-called ambush marketing in which companies find ways to falsely associate their business with the games in the public's mind.
Bill C-47 responds by making the will of Parliament very clear on the protections that we want Vanoc to have and the legal remedies that Vanoc should be able to use when necessary.
I would like to now take a few minutes to remind my hon. colleagues of some key measures in Bill C-47. What is in Bill C-47? The Olympic and Paralympics marks act explicitly identifies the Olympic and Paralympic words, symbols land other indicia that they are to be protected.
The bill protects the rights of Vanoc, the Canadian Olympic committee and the Canadian Paralympic committee with regard to these marks. They have recourse to seek the remedies that the bill provides and may consent to assign those rights to their various partners where appropriate.
Bill C-47 goes on to set out two main types of conduct that would be prohibited.
First, no one can use an Olympic or Paralympic mark in connection with a business without the agreement of Vanoc until the end of 2010 and after 2010, without the agreement of the Canadian Olympic or Paralympic committees.
Second, the bill would prohibit so-called ambush marketing behaviour that I mentioned earlier. It would prohibit people and companies from actions that are likely to mislead the public into believing that they or their products or services are linked to the games, Vanoc, or the Canadian Olympic or Paralympic committees.
Beyond that, the bill provides a number of exceptions and sets out the various remedies available in the event it is not respected.
I will now briefly touch upon some of these areas, the first being exceptions. As we have seen, Bill C-47 would give the designated Olympic organizations the authority to protect the Olympic brand from unauthorized and illegitimate use but the government has been very careful not to bring in legislation that is too broad or oppressive.
Bill C-47 would exempt businesses that had and were using trademarks before March 2, 2007 that might possibly be in conflict with some Olympic marks or works. The provisions apply only to businesses that suddenly start using an existing mark for the new purpose of cashing in on the Olympics.
The bill also protects businesses that are using legitimately what would otherwise be a protected term, such as a business address if it happened to be 2010 Olympic Avenue, for example.
As well, the bill allows athletes to use protected words such as “Olympian” and “Paralympian” to promote themselves.
It is important to remember that Bill C-47 applies only in a commercial context. Thus, the bill contains a “for greater certainty” clause, which serves to confirm that it is not intended to curtail freedom of the press or to muzzle those who wish to criticize or parody the games, nor are artistic endeavours on a non-commercial scale prohibited by Bill C-47.
Finally, Bill C-47 is time limited. All the special enforcement measures it confers lapse by December 31, 2010.
One important area in which this legislation differs from the Trade-marks Act is the test Vanoc must meet to obtain an interim injunction against a suspected offender. The court normally applies a three-part test in deciding whether to grant this type of relief. The party seeking the relief must establish that there is a serious issue to be tried, that it will suffer irreparable harm if the offending conduct continues pending trial, and that the balance of convenience is in its favour.
Bill C-47 waives the onus on Vanoc to prove the second part of the legal test and often the most difficult to establish: that of having to prove irreparable harm. This will greatly facilitate Vanoc's ability to quickly enforce its rights and will provide a degree of comfort to businesses contemplating entering into a partnership agreement in anticipation of the games.
However, this is not an unlimited power under the bill. It will last only for the duration of the games. When the Olympic flame goes out in 2010, this aspect of the legislation will soon follow. The reality is that few of these situations will end up in court precisely because of the impact of this legislation.
Bill C-47will give Vanoc the authority it needs to deal with people and businesses that are using marks they do not have the right to use. It gives Vanoc the authority to deal with companies or organizations that try to link themselves to the Olympics without having earned that privilege as others have.
In conclusion, as I mentioned earlier, the Government of Canada is a committed partner in making the 2010 winter games a big success. Some of our contributions are obvious. As I mentioned earlier, we have committed $552 million to the winter games, including $290 million for sport and event venues. Some contributions are less tangible but no less valuable. Bill C-47 certainly falls into that important category.
Bill C-47 is a reasonable, balanced piece of legislation that is in line with what other countries have done and are doing when they host similar kinds of international sporting events. This legislation is necessary to ensure that the winter games will be a success and that the games provide an enduring legacy to Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada as a whole.
The world is waiting to rediscover Canada. Our communities are looking forward to the economic boom and the new facilities. Our children deserve their share of the Olympic dream. We should not disappoint them.
The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-47, An Act respecting the protection of marks related to the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games and protection against certain misleading business associations and making a related amendment to the Trade-marks Act, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.
Extension of Sitting Hours
June 11th, 2007 / 4 p.m.
Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC
Mr. Speaker, we have before us a motion which asks, pursuant to Standing Order 27(1), that commencing on Wednesday June 13, 2007, and concluding on Thursday June 21, 2007, the House shall continue to sit until 10 p.m.
The Bloc Québécois will support this motion because we are determined to see Bill C-52, the budget implementation bill, passed before we adjourn for the summer. As you know, this bill contains some significant transfers for Quebec. They do not correct the fiscal imbalance, but they will make it possible to relieve the fiscal and financial pressures Quebec is experiencing.
The Bloc Québécois set the bar at $3.9 billion in additional transfers to Quebec, the third year, to be satisfied with the budget. As you know, there is $3.3 billion. More remains to be done, especially when it comes to post-secondary education, but we think that with $3.3 billion for Quebec in the third year, an important step has been taken to relieve Quebec's financial pressures.
Once again, this does not correct the fiscal imbalance. A solution to the fiscal imbalance will take negotiations to transfer tax points equivalent to the transfers for post-secondary education and health care to Quebec, to prevent Quebec from being at the mercy of unilateral decisions by the federal government. In the mid-1990s, for example, when the former finance minister and former Prime Minister decided unilaterally to cut transfers to the provinces in order to solve the government's problems, this created problems for the provinces. It is therefore extremely important to us that the budget be adopted before the summer recess.
In addition, I do not completely share the opinion of the House leader of the official opposition that we are referring to 2006-07 when we are talking about closing the books. It is true that when the books are closed in September, they will be the books for 2006-07. But if we have not disposed of the budget surplus, if we have not decided how the surplus is to be used before the books are closed, that money could well be used simply to pay down the debt.
I have an opinion here from the Library of Parliament that supports what I am saying. I would like to read a short excerpt from it:
If the budget were adopted before the end of the fiscal year but the Budget Implementation Act creating the trust [we are talking here about the Canada ecotrust] were adopted later in the 2007-08 fiscal year but before the government's books were closed, for reasons related to the parliamentary calendar, a portion of the 2006-07 surplus could no doubt be deposited in the trust.
It is very clear, then, that if we do not dispose of the budget before the House rises for the summer, that money will no longer be available for the Canada ecotrust, because the books will be closed in mid-September. This is also true of certain amounts for the health trusts.
We cannot take that risk. That said, the Bloc Québécois had another extremely serious concern. When the government talked to us about the possibility of introducing this motion, we indicated that what was important to us was the budget—and we are going to work to get it adopted as soon as possible—but that we also wanted an amendment to the notice of ways and means motion concerning the Bankruptcy Act and protection for workers' salaries when their employer goes bankrupt. We told the government that this was imperative for us.
As I was saying, we will support this request for extended hours. It is a priority not only to ensure that the notice of ways and means is tabled and corrected by taking into account the unanimous motion of the National Assembly, but also that the government agrees to fast tracking this bill to amend the Bankruptcy Act so that wage earners are protected—which is what all parties in this House now want—and that the laws of Quebec and the Civil Code of Quebec are respected.
Earlier, in response to a question that the Bloc Québécois asked and that I myself asked the Minister of Labour, we were assured that sometime tomorrow an amended notice of ways and means, taking into account the unanimous motion of the National Assembly, would be tabled with a bill. I think we will have the unanimous consent of all the parties in this House. I do not see why the New Democratic Party or the Liberal Party would oppose the will expressed so many times by the government and the Bloc Québécois
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate my colleague for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, who worked so hard on this and who never stopped hounding the entire Conservative government—especially the Minister of Labour—to achieve today's result. With these two guarantees, we feel comfortable knowing that Bill C-52 will be adopted before the summer break. This will ensure that Quebec receives the transfers it needs even though this bill does not close the debate on the fiscal imbalance. This will also put workers in Canada and Quebec on the list of preferred creditors, thereby giving them new protection when businesses go bankrupt. The creation of a wage protection fund will give them a chance to be compensated should their employers be unable to pay their wages. We think that this is extremely important.
As my colleague mentioned earlier, one of our priorities is Bill C-51, which would cede certain islands that are currently the property of the federal government back to Inuit nations. This is a request that dates back a long time, and it seems that everyone is in agreement. That is also the case for Bill S-6, An Act to amend the First Nations Land Management Act. We think it is very important that this bill be passed to bring justice to the first nations of Quebec. There is also Bill C-59, which would make using digital cameras to make unautorized recordings of movies a new offence under the Criminal Code. Unfortunately, Canada, Quebec and even Montreal have become hotbeds of this kind of piracy, which is a threat to the development of the Montreal region's very prosperous film industry.
This idea has already been raised in committee by the hon. member for Hochelaga. If my memory serves correctly, he also introduced a motion adopted by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. We feel it is important that this bill is passed before we break for the summer, which, incidentally, is not all vacation time. We have many appearances and meetings planned in our ridings. It is, however, a time for festivals, and we have many in the Lanaudière region. I invite all members to come and enjoy them. Furthermore, I would like to take this opportunity to once again ask the government and the Minister of Canadian Heritage to unfreeze the money, to ensure that these festivals can continue to provide relevant programming, not only this year, but also for years to come. She does not seem to be conscious of this. If, for financial reasons, one festival or another shows a deficit, that would jeopardize the survival, the development and the future success of that festival or those festivals. In that regard, it is very important that the government unfreeze the money immediately. I also think that common sense dictates that we focus our attention on bills, such as Bill C-47, for instance.
The Olympic Games will be held in my former riding of Vancouver. I think it is important to cover all aspects dealing with the legitimacy of all trademarks surrounding these Olympic Games.
For all these reasons, we support the government motion to extend the sitting hours to 10 p.m., beginning on Wednesday until Thursday, June 21.
I will close on another note, because I have not often had the opportunity to speak in this House, since I became the House Leader of the Bloc Québécois. Indeed, I had more occasions to address this House when I was the Bloc Québécois finance critic.
I would like to thank Catherine Lacroix, who works in the whip's office, here behind the scenes. She will be leaving us a few days from now, after working here with us for many years. All the members of the Bloc Québécois—and I am sure this is also true for many members of all the parties—have appreciated her finesse and her ability to work well under pressure, while always keeping a smile on her face. She plans to travel for a few months, in Europe, particularly.
Like Ulysses in Homer's The Odyssey, I hope she gains wisdom and fulfillment from her travels. I have no doubt that she will always be successful in all areas of her life. I would like to thank her and wish her all the best.
Extension of Sitting Hours
June 11th, 2007 / 3:40 p.m.
Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK
Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the government, in proposing this motion today, has chosen once again to maintain its habitual lack of consultation and reluctance to attempt a collaborative approach to organizing the business of the House.
On more than one occasion, as I think the Chair will remember, I asked directly whether the government intended to make use of Standing Order 27. As other House leaders can confirm, the reply was, “probably not”. I do not think we would be off base in the opposition in expecting that if that were no longer the case, if the government had in fact changed its mind, that it would have decently given us a heads-up that it was going to propose this motion today, at least given us that notice some time earlier than around one o'clock this afternoon.
Frankly, as we saw the government House leader making his travels across the floor of the House, I will not say where he went, the heckling and yelling as he departed the chamber obviously indicates the kind of demeanour of which we have to deal.
I do not see what there is on the order paper at present that this motion will get through the House any more quickly than would have otherwise been the case. I presume, judging by the government House leader's remarks, that the government is principally concerned with Bill C-52, the budget bill.
It has represented to the House and to the public that the government is now extremely concerned the bill will not receive royal assent in time for certain expenditures to be booked in the appropriate fiscal year. Let us be clear. The fiscal year the Conservatives are talking about is 2006-07, and that is the point.
The issue is retroactive fiscal bookings for the last fiscal year, not the future fiscal year, as members would have gathered from the remarks of the government House leader. If there is concern about the lateness of the date, the government really has only itself to blame.
Usually federal budgets are delivered in or about the third week of February, which then permits the introduction of a budget implementation bill by the end of that month. If things are properly managed, this would permit the bill to be in committee before the end of March and to be passed at all stages by the end of May or, at the very latest, the beginning of June.
This year the government chose, for its own partisan reasons, to delay the budget until the third week of March. We did not even see it until then. Then it unilaterally interrupted the budget debate. Then having finished that, belatedly, it interrupted, again, the second reading debate on the budget implementation Bill C-52. That interruption lasted for three full weeks, getting the bill to committee only in the middle of May.
As a consequence, the government then bulldozed the bill through the committee, breaking procedural agreements, denying many interested and informed citizens and groups the right to testify on the bill. Let it be clearly understood that any procedural issue on Bill C-52 is a direct result of government breaking the agreement on the process, which had been fully settled by members of the committee.
Nevertheless, the bill is now only in its third day of debate at third reading and there is every indication that the third reading and final stage would come to an end in debate in the House by the end of business tomorrow at the latest.
It is important to underscore what these dates are with respect to the budget. Remember that the House resumed in the final week of January. The budget was not presented to the House until March 19, fully eight weeks into the parliamentary sitting. That was followed by a ways and means motion and the introduction of the budget bill, but that was delayed because the government interrupted its own budget debate on the financial principles of the government.
Its budget was late, the budget debate was unilaterally delayed by itself and then it finally got around to introducing the budget bill on March 29, which was debated at second reading for the first time on March 30. It was then debated in a haphazard, sporadic fashion, brought forward to the floor by the government, until April 23, and then it was hoisted altogether. The House did not see it again until May 14, full three weeks later.
Finally, it went to the committee, not as a result of any filibuster by the opposition or any party in the opposition. The delay was entirely the procedural mismanagement of the government. It was there for less than two weeks and one of those weeks was a break week when Parliament was not even sitting.
It finally passed through the committee, rather expeditiously, thanks to the cooperation of the opposition, and it was brought back to be debated at report stage on June 4. For how long? One day, that is all the report stage took. Now it is at third reading where there have been three days of debate, and probably a conclusion could have been arrived at very easily by the end of the day tomorrow.
This is why I made the point at the beginning of my remarks that there really is nothing on this order paper that could not be dealt with in the ordinary course of business without the measure the government House leader has introduced. Obviously it is a tactic to blame the opposition for the delays that lie entirely within the control of the government.
What is it then? If it is not Bill C-52, what is it that causes the government to move the motion today? Despite frequent requests for the government to outline its realistic legislative priorities before the summer, all we have heard repeatedly from the government House leader and from others on the government's side is a flow of partisan rhetoric. Legislation has in fact been moving along through the House and through committees, despite the government's erratic management of its agenda.
In fact, the most controversial bill on the order paper, and this is what gives me perhaps a little hope here, is probably Bill C-30, the clean air act, as it has been revised by members of Parliament. Significantly, only the government has been stalling it up to now. However, now we will have some extra time, some extra hours of sitting every day beginning on Wednesday.
Can we then conclude that the extra time the government is seeking is to facilitate the work of the House in consideration of Bill C-30? I certainly hope so. It is in this fervent hope that I indicate to the House that my party, the official Liberal opposition, will support the minister's motion for the extension of hours.
In the time available, in addition to Bill C-52, which will probably be done tomorrow, and in addition to Bill C-30, which I hope the government has the courage to recall and put before the House once again, the official opposition also looks forward to making progress on Bill C-11, lowering freight rates for farmers, on Bill C-14, dealing with foreign adoptions, on Bill C-23, dealing with criminal procedure, on Bill C-29, dealing with Air Canada and the use of official languages, on Bill C-35, dealing with bail reform, on Bill C-47, dealing with the Olympic, on Bill S-6 and Bill C-51, dealing with land claims and on Bill C-40, the private member's legislation that would provide free postage for mail from Canada to our troops in Afghanistan.
Then there is an item that was referred to in question period today. This is the bill we are anxiously awaiting to see, the one dealing with wage earner protection. I hope the government will follow through on the commitment given in question period, that it will table the bill in amended form so it can be passed at all stages and brought into law before Parliament adjourns for the summer recess.
Let me mention one other matter, which is outstanding and which should be dealt with by the House, or at least dealt with by the government when the House is sitting. This is the examination undertaken a few weeks ago by Mr. Brown in connection with the matters that have been of great concern to Canadians in respect of the RCMP pension fund.
As we understand it, there is a report due from Mr. Brown on June 15. That was the original undertaking given by the Minister of Public Safety. It would be very important for us to know that the examination is on time, that we will hear from Mr. Brown on time, and that the Minister of Public Safety will take the step that he promised to take and make that report public immediately.
Perhaps the government might also consider, in whatever time that remains before the summer recess, reforming its approach to the mood in the House. The mood could be improved if the government would refrain from certain of its more hostile practices. For example: no more gratuitous attack ads, no more broken agreements on how witnesses will be heard, no more manuals about dirty tricks for disrupting parliamentary business, and no more devious games to misuse Standing Orders of the House. A little good old fashioned good faith could change the mood for the better.