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.