House of Commons Hansard #171 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was lake.

Topics

Canada Transportation Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Transportation Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canada Transportation Act
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12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

Accordingly, the vote on Bill C-11 will be deferred until the end of question period later today.

Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed without debate to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act
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12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act
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12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act
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12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act
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12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?

Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act
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12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act
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12:50 p.m.

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

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.

Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

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
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

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
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

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.