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.