Mr. Speaker, the legislation we are debating today is Bill , which is important legislation for protecting the integrity of the Vancouver Whistler 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games and also protecting the economic health of the games.
Bill is a relatively short piece of legislation and it is time limited. It contains schedules that clearly identify the various words, symbols and insignia that are protected as an Olympic and Paralympic mark. It also defines the entities that will be protected by the legislation, namely VANOC, the Canadian Olympic committee, the Canadian Paralympic committee and their partners.
I should also add that in the event that Canada plays host to another Olympic and Paralympic Games in the future, the legislation can allow for new marks to be added to the relevant schedules.
The bill provides for two main types of prohibited conduct.
First, it would prohibit persons from using Olympic and Paralympic marks, any translations of such marks, or any mark likely to be mistaken for an Olympic and Paralympic mark, in connection with a business, without the consent of VANOC or, once the games were over, the consent of the Canadian Olympic or Paralympic committees.
Second, it would prohibit persons from using their own trademark or other mark to promote or advertise their business in a manner that misleads or is likely to mislead the public into believing that their business, goods or services are endorsed or otherwise associated officially with the games, VANOC or one of the committees.
What happens if one of these prohibitions is triggered? That is the focus of the bill.
In terms of remedies, one important area where the legislation differs from the Trade-marks Act is in the test VANOC must meet to obtain an interim or interlocutory injunction against a suspected offender. As many members of the House know, the court normally applies the three part test in deciding whether to grant this type of injunction. The parties seeking it 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 the convenience is in its favour.
The bill weighs the onus on VANOC to prove the second part of the legal test and often the most difficult to establish, that of providing irreparable harm. The bill greatly facilitates VANOC's ability to enforce its rights in a fair and balanced manner and will provide certainty to businesses thinking about entering into a partnership agreement with the games.
I should note that due to the timeline of this legislation, it is to cover the duration of the games, period. This exception to the legal test will automatically sunset before the end of 2010.
The waiver of the irreparable harm test is tremendously important. It will make it possible for VANOC to act quickly and effectively in dealing with people and businesses that are infringing on the licensing and partnership program. Make no mistake, there are already many examples of that kind of behaviour. With the legislation in place, the games will have an even clearer protection in law.
Do these protections mean that the Olympic organizers will have a free hand to do what they want, as long as they want? The answer is no. The bill has been drafted very carefully to ensure that it meets the objective of facilitating partnerships for the 2010 games, without adversely affecting the lives of Canadians.
Let me make four points to demonstrate what I mean.
The first point is that Bill only applies in the commercial context. For example, the use of a protected Olympic or Paralympic mark is only prohibited when it is in connection with a business. This “in connection with a business”, a phrase that is a direct quote from the legislation, was taken from the Trade-marks Act and has been interpreted very narrowly by the courts.
This is important because some of the news coverage that we have seen about this bill suggests that it would be used outside of a commercial context to muzzle citizens' right to free speech and prevent people from parodying the games or protesting the games, but that is not this legislation's intent or effect. Therefore, if people want to parody the Olympic games in a sketch, publish an editorial cartoon, make comments on a website or through a newspaper article, or criticize the games in any way, they can refer to an Olympic slogan or include a photo of an Olympic mascot as they see fit.
The second point is that Bill has a time limit aspect to it. All the special enforcement measures it confers lapse on December 31, 2010, with the end of the games' year.
The third point is that the bill contains a grandfathering provision that prevents it from applying to anyone who adopted and began using a protected Olympic or Paralympic mark before March 2, the date of the bill's introduction in the House. As a result, persons or companies that are already using an Olympic or Paralympic mark in connection with a business will continue to be able to do so as they had before.
The fourth point is that this bill contains a number of safeguards to protect the legitimate use of an Olympic or Paralympic mark in the business context. For example, a person may use such a mark in an address, in a geographical name of their place of business, or the extent necessary to explain a good or service to the public.
Finally, I am pleased to inform the House that in its capacity as temporary steward of the Olympic movement in Canada, VANOC has committed to avail itself of the special protection provided by Bill in a disciplined, sensitive, fair and transparent manner and will be issuing public guidelines to that effect in the coming weeks.
I want to comment on one last point on the importance of this debate on Bill , and that is the international context for this legislation. As I said earlier, corporate partnerships have become fundamentally important to major events, particularly international sporting events, and governments have recognized the need to protect the intellectual property rights of the events in order to attract needed corporate partners.
In fact, similar legislation has already been passed in Canada in relation to the 1976 Montreal games. This legislation enabled the Montreal organizing committee to act swiftly in the face of potential commercial misuse of the Olympic symbols, just as this bill does. The kind of legal protection we are proposing in the bill became the norm during the 1990s.
Olympic Games in the United States, Australia, Greece and, most recently, in Italy were all successful by having strong legal protections in place for their intellectual property rights. The coming games in Beijing and London already have passed similar protections into law. Canada can and must provide the same kind of protection through Bill .
People in Vancouver, Whistler, throughout British Columbia and across Canada are looking forward to 2010. We are excited to welcome the world, to showcase our wonderful country and beautiful province to the thousands of visitors and billions of viewers who are eager to see Canadians compete against the world's best athletes and succeed right here on our home turf.
We know, like in Montreal and Calgary before, these Olympic Games will provide an invaluable legacy to our country. Bill would guarantee that Canada would provide the protection that would allow VANOC to attract the corporate support necessary to ensure that the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games are the best we have ever seen.
The games will present Canada in its most favourable light and will energize our tourism industry. These games will inspire a new generation of athletes, the next Pierre Lueders, Cassie Campbells and Beckie Scotts, and provide them with a legacy of world-class facilities so they will become our next great Canadian champions.
Like Montreal and Calgary before them, these games will occupy a unique and enduring place in the hearts and minds of millions of Canadians and citizens around the world.
I urge all hon. members to support the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and our athletes through their support of this very important legislation, Bill .
Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill because this is an bill 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. That is what this bill is going to do.
Bill was introduced, as always is the case when there are going to be Olympic Games in any country, to protect existing trademarks, for words and symbols associated with the Olympics and Paralympics. It was also introduced to prevent unauthorized third parties from advertising in a manner that would suggest a link between their business, goods or services and the games. This is known as ambush marketing. This bill is being put forward to prevent ambush marketing.
The House needs to know that for those of us on this side of the House, especially those of us who live in Vancouver, these 2010 Olympic Games are for us an important moment in the life of British Columbia.
I recall being in cabinet when our government supported fully and whole-heartedly these 2010 Olympic Games. I recall standing there and watching our Prime Minister at the time, Jean Chrétien, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our provincial Premier Gordon Campbell and others, absolutely shouting in glee when we won those games. We have the province, the federal government, business, and consortiums of people in British Columbia and across Canada for whom the 2010 games are an enormous issue for our province.
We know that British Columbia is a gorgeous province. We know that Vancouver is a beautiful city. We all know this. We also know that when Expo came about in the eighties in British Columbia and Vancouver that Vancouver moved from just being a pretty town to being a beautiful lady. We know the 2010 Olympics will actually make this beautiful city of mine a diva on the world stage.
There is huge support from this party, on this side of the House, when we were in government and now that we are the official opposition, for the 2010 Olympic Games. We understand fully and we support fully the principle of this bill that seeks to ensure that the existing trademark protection for words and symbols associated with both the Olympic and Paralympic Games are in fact enshrined.
Having said that, there are a couple of cautionary words that I want to put on the record. When this bill first came to my attention, I thought as critic that I would actually speak with many people within British Columbia, with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, with athlete's groups, et cetera, to see if this bill was fine, if they liked it as it was, or if there were any amendments that they felt would make the bill better.
I heard some things that caused me to have a bit of concern. For instance, I actually talked with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and it had no problem with the bill at the time.
I also spoke to many other people. The Canadian Business magazine had a huge article on this issue. There is some concern that what this bill is doing is actually changing the important part of the legislation. This bill would remove the usual criteria that has been in existence to date wherever Olympic and Paralympic Games have been held. It would remove the criteria that courts usually require if someone were to bring an injunction against a third party to demonstrate that in fact the games or the sponsors would suffer irreparable harm. That has now been removed.
In fact, this is causing some problems because there may be small businesses and other groups who unwittingly might do something that might cause them to have an injunction if they were to have their property and their goods, that they have been selling, seized without first demonstrating that they have caused irreparable harm and allowing them the ability to actually pay for damages that were done.
First and foremost, I think this is a little bit disconcerting to everyone involved, that people are going to be found guilty and then have to prove that they are innocent. It is completely different from the way the laws are applied. The bill would be seeking injunctions against businessmen and entrepreneurs who work in grey areas.
VANOC, to its credit, has said that it is very sensitive to this issue and that it will use its own good judgment and promised not to use this particular new power indiscriminately or without thinking carefully about it. That is good. I am glad to hear that. I have no reason to believe that this will not happen.
There are those who are slightly concerned. For instance, the BCBusiness Magazine was a little concerned about the enforcing of unregistered trademark rights where some general words in the Olympics are now going to be used, words that concern everyone like the simple word “winter”. Used alone, “winter” could be an infringement of a trademark. The simple word “gold”, which is a word that one uses all the time, could be used to infringe on a trademark. The simple word “medal”, or the word “tenth”, may infringe this particular piece of legislation. There are 58 such words and symbols that are going to be brought in and may cause concern.
Many people, especially legal people who have been involved in looking at intellectual property laws et cetera, have asked for some caution. For instance, we have heard from a Canadian research chair in Internet and ecommerce law, from the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, who has said that experience in other countries during an Olympics suggests that this legislation would create a chill for artists, bloggers, and social commentators who fear that their legitimate expression may lead to a date in court.
What does this mean? What is it going to mean to them carrying on their ordinary work and in fact even asking questions about the games in a blog or asking questions in an email about the games? This could infringe on their rights. This could infringe on their ability to simply put forward any kind of social commentary on the games.
Second, because the bill gives VANOC the power to obtain an injunction to stop the distribution of goods that might violate the law, this provision eliminates the traditional requirement, as I said earlier, to demonstrate irreparable harm. Many people are concerned that they will be found guilty before they have even proven that they will not.
We have heard from a UBC professor, who does intellectual property law, who has said that she has a problem with the games because while everyone understands, and we on this side of the House are in full agreement, that one must protect the interests of corporate sponsors of the games, this is going to make it very difficult for the little entrepreneur who does not have the ability to go to court to support his or her claim in terms of not infringing this property right. This is another problem.
I am going to give the House two examples, one of them is quite humourous. In 2005 a small group was trying to get funds in order to save endangered ferrets. This group organized something called the ferret olympics in which ferrets were going to do feats of daring and out of that this group would raise money to protect the ferrets.
As a result of the 2005 U.S. Olympics committee's changes and protection, the organizers could not call their games the ferret olympics so they had to cancel them. We heard very clearly that the decision came as a special disappointment to a ferret named Spaz who was actually hoping to win the gold in the ferret olympics. We can see how this, which was well meaning, can have some consequences. This case is humorous but another case may not be.
I have a pizza parlour in my riding called the Olympia Pizza and Pasta Restaurant. Many Greeks use the word “olympics”, “olympia” or “olympian” because this is a part of Greek tradition and Greek mythology. The owner has been asked to remove signs from his restaurant because of these coming Olympics. It is alarming because we have found in the Vancouver region alone 15 businesses that use the word “olympic” and have been using it for years, ranging from a real estate office to a boat centre, and actually to a local sex therapist who uses the word “Olympics” in the name.
We have to be careful of the unintended consequences of what in effect is a very good bill and one that this side wishes to support. Of all of the principles that it entails, we feel that there are some elements that should be looked at.
We would like to see the bill actually go to committee. We would like to see the committee ask for witnesses to come forward, not only VANOC alone, but representatives of small business, some of the legal teachers and professors who deal with intellectual property law. We would like to see the actual athletes because we have spoken to Athletes Canada and it has told us that it has some concerns.
For instance, an Olympic athlete living in a small town in Canada will have all of the little sharks in the area wanting to help the guy or the girl to get there and win gold, so they raise money to help the athlete with travel and with all of the things he or she needs. In raising that money, they may hold an event in the city, in the little town, and the event may say “Help Joe Smith get to the Olympics” and “Help Joe Smith win gold at the 2010 Olympics”. Right now Athletes Canada fear that it may not even be able to say that because that would be infringing on the trademark. The fundraising that goes on in little communities who are so proud of their athletes may be jeopardized. I am not saying it will be, but I am saying it may be.
I am asking for a bit of caution to occur at committee and that we ask certain groups to attend. Athletes Canada should come and be present as a witness. We would like to ask the intellectual property law people to come and be present as witnesses. We would like to ask small business communities to come and the Federation of Independent Business should come as well as VANOC.
If there are any things that could create negative, unintended consequences in the bill, then we would be able to amend it at committee. Therefore, we will not have some of these negative, unintended consequences, which I know, having spoken with VANOC and having been a strong supporter of the games, is really something that it would not like to see happen.
I do think we would like the bill to go to committee. We would like the right number of witnesses to come to committee, so that this could be dealt with and then we would be able to stand in the House and, in an unqualified manner, fully and completely support an amended Bill .
Right now I support Bill C-47, but with the qualifications that I spoke about. They are simple things to do. With good intentions we can all come to committee and deal with these issues very clearly in an open and transparent manner, get them fixed, get some of the little things that concern people looked at, so that we can be able to finally say that here we go, these will be the best Olympic Games that Canada has ever seen. And of course, Whistler and Vancouver will shine and we will suddenly have everyone wanting to come to a province and to a city, to the most unusual Olympic Games that have ever happened in the history of the Winter Games.
People will come to a place where they can ski on the mountains, and play golf and soccer on the green grass of Vancouver at the same time. I do not think there have been any other Olympic Winter Games anywhere that people could do that because it has always been winter everywhere. People can have winter up in Whistler and come to Vancouver and cycle under the cherry blossoms that tend to bloom in early March and February in my province of British Columbia in the city of Vancouver.
We are proud of the games and support them. We support the intent of Bill .
I would just like to reiterate that we do have some concerns. This did not just come out of the Liberal caucus. We have spoken to business. We have spoken to professors of intellectual property law. We have spoken to many people who would like to have some assurances and some clarification that in fact this will do exactly what it was meant to do, which is to protect the Olympic and Paralympic symbol, but that it will also protect the small business people who are also trying to be part of the games and who want to ensure that their athletes get to do the best they can. They want to join in the support. They want to use with pride some of the things that at this moment they are very concerned that they may not be able to use.
Having said that, I am prepared to answer any questions that anyone may have to ask me and to make it very clear that I hope the bill will move to committee, so that we will get the kinds of problems we are concerned about discussed and amend the bill so that everyone can enjoy what I know will be the greatest Winter Olympics that the world has ever seen. They will be held in a multicultural community having huge cultural and artistic forms of expression, with the aboriginal people of the west coast, a proud people, being there to display the beauty of aboriginal culture along with all of the many other cultures there including the Chinese, Asians, Ukrainians, Scots and Celts, all of whom have a huge role to play in our part of the world.
One of the things that sold us on the 2010 Olympics was that this was not just going to be about winter sports but this was going to be a place where Canada would show that it is the global nation. Canada is going to show that it is a place where everyone from every culture can come together and stand together with common values and experiences while being very proud of that global culture that is theirs. They want to showcase it to the world, to showcase a remarkable city and a remarkable mountain that is Whistler. It can be a winter Olympics at its best with beautiful green grass and flowers as one travels half an hour down from Whistler to see what Vancouver can be like during the winter, green and beautiful.
This is going to mean a lot for Canada. We wish that the games will be successful. We wish to see this piece of legislation being amended in a way that makes it extremely successful.
Mr. Speaker, in regard to the organization of the 21st Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler in 2010, we are asked today in our role as parliamentarians to take an additional step toward the establishment of clear, specific rules applying to all companies that wish to take part in this celebration. As the Bloc critic for sports, I would like to add my voice to all the others debating , introduced last March by the .
I would like to say, first, that this bill will enable the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, usually called VANOC, to comply with the requirements of the International Olympic Committee or IOC, with which it has a contract. In order to abide by the rules in the Olympic Charter, VANOC must agree to take appropriate steps to adequately protect the Olympic words and symbols, failing which it could be subject to IOC sanctions. Chapter 1 of the Olympic Charter states that “IOC approval of Olympic emblems may be withdrawn unless the NOCs concerned take all possible steps to protect their Olympic emblems and inform the IOC of such protection”.
The current Trade-marks Act already protects Olympic and Paralympic marks against fraudulent uses, but in view of the considerable contribution from private partners, VANOC would like the House to pass more narrowly focused legal protection in order to reassure all its partners and the IOC. Parliament already passed similar legislation at the time of the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976. In addition, other host countries over the last few years have met the requirements of the Olympic movement by passing legislation to protect Olympic marks. This was done in the cases of the Sydney games in 2000 and the future summer games to be held in London in 2012.
If used wisely, the new legislation will not infringe on the rights of citizens and athletic associations that want to join in the Olympic spirit but will help companies that commit large amounts of money to the Olympic adventure to protect their investment. In order to ensure that it will still be possible in the future to hold similar events, it is important to establish a climate of confidence that encourages sponsors to become involved.
Bill deals, therefore, with counterfeiters and unauthorized use of the fame or popularity of an event, something that experts call “ambush marketing.”
The main sponsors of the Vancouver Games support the early adoption of this bill, since ambush marketing is a form of parasitism allowing an advertiser to try to associate itself with an event or simply to take advantage of some of the advertising surrounding an event without really taking part in it. By facilitating legal remedies for hijacked Olympic and Paralympic marks, the bill will enable VANOC to guarantee exclusive rights to the authorized sponsors and thus contribute to the funding of the event. In other words, as I said earlier, this bill will assure the companies who are becoming partners in the games that their investment will be respected, and also give VANOC additional leverage to raise sufficient funds.
Although we support this bill out of respect for the players in Quebec’s and Canada’s sports community, I wish to say that we also want to support the small business owners who, without meaning any harm, wish to celebrate the holding of the games in their region. Accordingly I would remind the House that VANOC undertook to use this legislation as minimally as possible, exercising judgment and fairness. Exceptions are also provided for in some cases so as not to hurt companies that may have begun using a term linked to the Olympics prior to January 1998, and the act itself will be valid for only a limited time, that is, it will cease to apply, as provided in clauses 13 and 15, on December 31, 2010.
VANOC also intends to undertake a campaign to educate people about the Olympic mark and it will define clear guidelines pertaining to use of the mark, while encouraging communities to play an active part in the games so that all the potential players in this project, citizens, large corporations, associations and small business owners, feel included in the event and become fully involved in it.
Protecting Olympic and Paralympic marks—including all names, phrases, marks, logos and designs relating to the Olympic movement—guarantees that only authorized sponsors will be able to use them. As a result, no person or business will be able to appropriate them without contributing to the financial support of the games. It is very important to understand that, out of an operating budget totalling $1.7 billion for the Vancouver Games, commercial partners contribute approximately $725 million. Thus, according to VANOC:
Revenue from sponsors and licensees is critical to the successful staging of the 2010 Winter Games, increased funding for Canadian athletes, and sport and cultural legacies for all Canadians.
I would like to take a moment to examine that quotation. The sport and cultural legacy of the Vancouver Games referred to by VANOC also means that we have to give thought to respect for bilingualism, both in the preparations for the games and during the games themselves. I would remind the House that, in October 2005, a cooperation agreement was signed between the Government of Quebec and VANOC in order to promote linguistic duality and the specificity of Quebec's culture and identity. This agreement also provides that the Government of Quebec will support VANOC in its efforts to guarantee the presence of French at all stages of the games, which is also required pursuant to the Olympic charter, since the two official languages of the Olympic movement are French and English.
I would point out that, despite that agreement, in a report tabled in February 2007 entitled Reflecting Canada's Linguistic Duality at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games: A Golden Opportunity, the members of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages stated:
—there are still a number of challenges to ensuring the full and fair consideration of the two official languages at the 2010 Games. The committee feels that concrete and immediate action must be taken to guarantee compliance with linguistic criteria in the selection of host cities, in the provision of adequate funding for French-language organizations in setting up projects for the 2010 Games, in the representation of French-language communities in VANOC and in the cultural celebrations associated with the Games, in the broadcasting of the Games to the entire English and French audience and regarding bilingual signage outside the host cities.
Although VANOC is committed to respecting both official languages, it still has to take the necessary measures in order to keep that commitment. One of the key problems concerns the televised broadcast of the events. We must absolutely ensure that the television viewers are respected, by asking the responsible broadcasters to assure the French and English audiences equal coverage of the events.
These games provide Quebec and Canadian athletes an opportunity to measure what they are made of, their talent, their strengths and their perseverance. For the spectators as well, whether they are attending the competitions or watching them with interest on television, the Olympic Games are important. During this international event they will see themselves in the athletes representing them, they will identify with their challenges and victories and they will be inspired. This sense of identification and pride is achieved by respecting French and its development.
Respecting bilingualism in Vancouver is especially important. Although French has official language status within the Olympic Movement, this status did not stop it from declining on a number of levels during the last games. As Grand Témoin de la Francophonie for the Turin Olympic Games, Lise Bissonnette said, “We should be telling cities which make a bid to stage the Olympics that they must make commitments set in stone when it comes to official languages, and they will have to demonstrate how they intend to meet these commitments”. For now, it is deplorable that the linguistic duality of the cities making a bid to host the games is not considered, whether within the International Olympic Committee or the Canadian Olympic Committee.
Looking beyond the confines of the Olympics, the members of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages also deplore, in their report, the fact that French and English are not accorded the same status in the Canadian sports system. For example, although Canada's sports policy provides for some measures to support bilingualism, this is not the case for the policy on sport for persons with a disability. According to all the witnesses convened by the committee, a great deal of work remains to be done to ensure that athletes are provided services and support mechanisms in both official languages equally.
Also according to the committee's report, Sport Canada acknowledges that there is still much to be done to ensure that francophone athletes have equitable access to high performance sport. Worse yet, in a study published in 2000, former official languages commissioner Dyane Adam stated that the shortcomings of the Canadian sports system with regard to language were detrimental to the overall development of francophone athletes.
If, on a daily basis, the French language is used improperly or neglected in the Canadian sports world, we must be even more vigilant in order to ensure that it is given its due at the Vancouver Games. Ultimately, French must be integrated into the development of Canada's Olympic philosophy.
According to the Olympic Charter, olympism is a philosophy of life exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles. Olympism is more than just an attitude, it is a way of life, a mindset passed from generation to generation. The Vancouver Games will serve to promote sport and develop athletes. The young athletes whom I recently encouraged at the Canada Games were inspired by those who came before them and, in turn, will inspire those competing in 2010.
As well, every year, the Quebec Games make a not insignificant contribution to development of the Olympic spirit. Sports-Québec and everyone who contributes to organizing this great coming together are motivated by a desire to pass on the values of Olympianism to young people. This sporting event, an innovative initiative on the part of Quebec, helps to encourage the emergence of the sports elite of tomorrow. The young athletes who participate are, like the Olympians, motivated by an exceptional desire to surpass their limits. They put all their heart, the best of themselves, into every competition. For them, these championships are the Olympics, on their own scale. These meetings are often where they find the motivation they need to pursue their efforts and achieve ever higher objectives.
Because these games are an important step on the road that leads to the Olympiads, I also want to thank the volunteers who commit themselves body and soul to events such as these, and I am not forgetting the host cities, which put vast storehouses of energy into carrying out their mission. Here, I am thinking particularly of the RCM L'Assomption, which hosted the Winter Games last March, and the city of Sept-Îles, where the 43rd finals of the Quebec Games will be held from August 3 to August 11 of this year. In fact, I will take this opportunity to issue an invitation to everyone who would like to come and witness the vitality and enthusiasm that are the hallmark of the next generation of Quebec athletes
When I think about the Olympic spirit, a few names immediately spring to mind. For the Hamelins who live in Sainte-Julie in my riding, speedskating is more than a sport, it is a fundamental part of family life. Everyone in Quebec is now familiar with Charles Hamelin, who won silver in Milan last March at the short-track speedskating world championships. A few days later, he won the world team championships in the same event. Charles also left his mark in Turin in 2006. It seems that before long the name of his brother François will be equally familiar to sports fans in Quebec.
At the 2006 Soirée des lauréats montréalais, François, who already held the national junior 1000 metre record, was named most promising athlete, while the father of these two champions, Yves Hamelin, was named development trainer of the year. The two brothers started skating at a very young age and have benefited from the wise counsel of their father. This invaluable spirit of emulation is the spirit that the Olympic Movement seeks to promote.
Along the same line, the successes experienced today by Charles Hamelin, François-Louis Tremblay, Olivier Jean and Kalyna Roberge, to name just a few, are not unlike the past successes of the great skater Marc Gagnon, who was recently inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame. Gagnon, a four-time world champion and two-time silver medalist, and a member of the Canadian team since the age of 15, ended his prolific career after the Salt Lake City Olympic Games in 2002, where he became the most decorated Winter Olympics athlete in the history of Quebec and Canada. After participating in three Games and winning five Olympic medals, three of them gold, he overtook Gaétan Boucher, another iconic figure in Quebec sport. Perhaps even more than the impressive number of titles and medals he collected, it is Marc Gagnon’s energy and personality that made him one of the leading Quebec athletes of recent years. It is that spirit that he has passed on to the next generation, so that they can, in a way, carry on the Olympic lineage.
In other disciplines as well, this lineage is very clear. If Alexandre Despaties, a triple god medal winner at the Grand Prix de Montréal just a few weeks ago, is now one of the most highly regarded Olympic hopefuls in Quebec, it is because others have shown him the way. Sylvie Bernier’s victory at the Los Angeles Olympics, in 1984, is linked to the success of Despaties, who recently was presented with an international award as best diver in the world, in recognition of his performance in the past four years.
The Olympic spirit is very much alive in the Quebec sports community. Among the people who exemplify this ideal in a very striking way, I would also like to mention the great wheelchair racing champion, Chantal Petitclerc. Since 1992, Chantal Petitclerc has won 16 Paralympic and one Olympic medal. She is the holder of several world records and continues to campaign for recognition of her sport as an official Olympic event. Since 1995, she has been the spokesperson for Défi sportif des athlètes handicapés, which this year included nearly 3,000 competitors. In addition to being an exceptional athlete, Chantal Petitclerc has a gift for expressing the passion that motivates her, so that she is a much sought-after speaker. She was recently included among the list of most-admired personalities in Quebec not only because of her success in sports but also for her glowing personality. Strength, courage, tenacity, balance, and good humour: Chantal Petitclerc is, outside the sporting arena, an incredible source of inspiration.
Before concluding, allow me to salute Christiane Ayotte and her entire team of researchers who tirelessly devote their efforts to overcoming the devious methods of those individuals for whom gold justifies any means and who do not hesitate to put the health of young people at risk in their search for super-human performances. Thanks to their laboratory police work, the great striving for excellence, in the spirit of the Olympic motto, “Swifter, Higher, Stronger”, can be carried out in a healthier manner.
While couch potatoes are increasingly taking the step to a more active life, we must provide an opportunity for everyone, on a daily basis, to draw inspiration from the examples of courage and perseverance of our athletes. For that reason, we must give VANOC all the necessary legislative tools for completing the colossal task of holding a modern Olympiad, where financial and commercial interests must be blended as closely as possible with environmental, social and, of course, sporting success.
You will, therefore, understand why the Bloc Québécois will support Bill in principle at second reading and we will listen with great pleasure to the witnesses who are called before the Industry committee in order to learn more.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill , which has been introduced by the government to deal with trademark protection for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games. I have been working very closely with my colleagues from British Columbia, because this will be a unique moment in the history not just of our country but in particular of the people of the west coast, and I would like to speak to that.
I feel that it is always incumbent upon politicians to address their biases up front so that the people back home know where they are coming from. There is certainly a tendency for politicians to identify themselves with sports and to be seen with regard to sports, partly because people like sports a lot more than they like politicians, which is I think a good example of how the average person's wisdom tends to be fairly sharp.
When I was a boy in Timmins, we seemed to not exist anywhere on the planet. Culturally we never heard our voices mentioned on national television. We never heard ourselves on radio. The only time we ever saw a reflection of who we were was on Saturday night with the Montreal Canadiens and Frank Mahovlich playing. Frank Mahovlich was from Shumacher. We felt we were someplace on the world map because of Frank Mahovlich or Bill Barilko or the Kreiner sisters, who were such fantastic Olympians.
I cannot claim any share of that great sporting heritage from northern Ontario. I would not claim to be the worst hockey player ever put out in northern Ontario in the city of Timmins, but if we classified the 10 worst athletes ever put out in northern Ontario, I might be one of them. In fact, I remember as a little boy coming home to my father saying that I could not catch a baseball. I could not score a goal. I was pretty good at dirty cheap shots, but I have certainly grown out of that, and I think most of my colleagues will agree.
I remember asking my father why it was that in an area that produced so many great athletes the Angus family was so bereft of the most basic skills of eye-hand coordination. My father said, “Son, it's been like this for generations. When God was giving out eye-hand coordination, the Anguses were in another room getting a drink”.
I feel it is incumbent upon me to at least be honest with the people here and back home. I would never, ever claim any ability to win anything in the world of sports, but that does not mean I do not appreciate it.
When we are talking about the Olympics, we are talking about an event that brings us the best of our young athletes and the best of that spirit from around the world. However, we are also talking about what it does to a city. A city is forever changed by the Olympics. It is changed in the minds of the international community.
Let us think of the experiences in Calgary and Montreal. It will be the same for Vancouver. I think so much about the city of Sarajevo, which was such a symbol of international goodwill and of a cosmopolitan coming together. The tragedy of Sarajevo afterwards was very much marked because of our impression of it through the Olympics and the lost promise there.
The impact that the 2010 Olympics will have on Vancouver and the Whistler area will be phenomenal for the region of British Columbia. It certainly will be an event that will propel Vancouver's place in the 21st century. As government and parliamentarians, we certainly have a serious role to play in ensuring that these games are the most successful possible.
We have only to look back to the experience of the Montreal Olympics. Certainly from Expo but then from the Olympics, Montreal really was identified forever as an international city because of those events. However, Montreal also was remembered, at least in Canada, for Mayor Drapeau's famous baby that he delivered in the form of the massive debt he ended up with.
After that, cities and governments always had to contend with how to ensure that they promote a successful Olympics. How do they compete with every other Olympics? Every Olympics has to be the best there ever was. There is incredible pressure on a country, a region and a city to deliver something that the previous Olympics did not, to deliver so that in this age of 24-7 television and international attention, Vancouver, the Vancouver area and by extension all of Canada will shine.
There is an issue in terms of the financial costs. The costs are enormous. As parliamentarians we have to ensure that we are doing our utmost to make it possible for VANOC to work with the International Olympic Committee and Paralympic Committee to deal with sponsorship issues.
I am going to be speaking to Bill today because I think it is an important bill. We have to deal with the issues of bootleg products and ambush marketing to ensure that there is a good business climate so that people who do invest in the games will not be unfairly undermined.
However, at the same time, as with anything in terms of trademark or copyright law, we have to look at balancing the issues. Legislation is a blunt instrument. When we bring legislation forward, especially legislation that tries to cover off the minutia and the details that this legislation does, we are creating a very large and cumbersome body, and it can have unintended consequences. We see that with any bill that comes forward.
We have to reflect and make sure that we provide the tools to prevent the unfair ambush marketing that will undermine the value of the sponsorships. We are looking at a massive amount of money having to be brought forward by the private sector. The corporations that invest certainly have a right to be protected from the unfair bootlegging of Olympic logos by people who do not want to pay.
At the same time, as I say, in any trademark or copyright issue it is a balancing act. We have to ensure that the legislation we bring forward here will not have unfair and unintended consequences for small organizations and for small mom-and-pop operations. We have to ensure that the legislation we bring forward will not prevent citizens within Vancouver, Whistler or anywhere in Canada from partaking in a debate or discussion without facing unfair litigation or going to court to prove they really were not infringing on trademarks.
We have to look at how we can balance these two issues, because we see an extremely wide array of trademark issues and words put forward as being under protection. There are something like 75 being proposed for the Whistler games while there were only three for Montreal. That is a major change.
Words such as “tenth”, “winter” and “Vancouver” will be subject to a form of trademark protection. How will we ensure they are used fairly? We would understand if the five Olympic rings were being used by some burger chain in competition with a much bigger burger chain that actually paid to use them.
There is certainly an argument to be made that using the five rings and saying, “Come and get our Olympic fries”, would be an infringement. However, what about using specific words like “twenty-first” and “Vancouver”? How do we ensure average and fair use? Fair use is a legal term in any copyright issue. How does this legislation not impede the fair use of words like “twenty-first” and “Vancouver”?.
I am particularly concerned about the logo that was chosen, the inukshuk, which I think is an amazing symbol. It has become a symbol of Canada, but it is primarily a first nation symbol. It comes from our far north. It has become a symbol of the Olympics. Suddenly this symbol from our first nation people has been appropriated, in a sense, as being under trademark protection.
People see this symbol if they travel anywhere in northern Canada, not just in Inuit lands or in the far Arctic. It has become a common symbol. It is a symbol that everyone uses. I am very concerned that it is suddenly being given patent protection as an Olympic symbol when in fact it has been a symbol within the communities of the first nation peoples for I would not even venture to guess how long. I definitely have a concern about that and it has been raised within the NDP caucus.
We have a concern about the overall intent in terms of trying to be so specific. I appreciate the comments made by the Conservative member who spoke earlier and said that this will be applied only for commercial abuse. Public satire, public discourse, blogging, et cetera will not be impeded. This again shows the intent of a balance, but we have to see it in the legislation in order to feel comfortable that we are going after the unfair bootlegging use of symbols that are quite rightly trademarked.
One of the concerns I have is that law is based on precedent and we are setting up a massive tent for a short period of time with a sunset on how long we will not be allowed to use the word “Vancouver”, “tent”, “winter” or “gold”. However, under that tent, we are moving all the yardsticks fairly dramatically on Canadian trademark law and policy. It also affects copyright issues because this would be the single largest change in trademark law in the last 50 years. Essentially what it says is that if there is a perceived abuse of the trademark by someone then that person must stop using it immediately. The onus would then be on that person to prove that he or she was not abusing the trademark.
We saw similar attempts brought forward under the famous Bulte report on heritage in terms of copyright legislation where a suggestion was brought forward that if one felt that a website unfairly infringed on one's copyright material, that website would need to be shut down immediately. The reverse onus on someone to prove that he or she has not done something wrong is troubling. The person could say that he or she was just doing it for the duration of the Vancouver Games and then he or she will fold up the tent and everything will go back to normal, but we have set precedents at that point on how we establish trademark law in this country.
There have been some public critics of Bill who have said that we are looking at creating special interest law for a short period of time and then they will move that tent to another area.
On the larger issue of trademark law and copyright law, I know there has been much debate over the last number of years on where Canada needs to go and whether or not we are some kind of outrageous pirate haven for bootleg copies, as certain lobbyists have attempted to say, or whether we need to start building a 21st century legislative framework to deal with trademark and copyright issues in a digital age. Those are certainly issues that we need to discuss.
I am looking at Bill in terms of the larger issue of how we establish and protect the rights of businesses to invest in something as important as the Vancouver Games and how we also assess the potential impact on a mom and pop operation that wants to have gold and silver coffee at their little coffee shop in northern B.C. and whether or not their rights will be unfairly infringed upon.
We have been promised these rights by the VANOC committee and, I would like to believe, that it will be very judicious in their use, which is certainly comforting. However, it is a question that we would need to ask.
If we provide a large and wide interpretation of anything that could possibly be seen as potential abuse and then expect that it will only be used in certain circumstances, once we have given those rights to go after potential infringers, my sense is that people will go after potential infringers. We need to ensure that what we do with the legislation has a balancing act.
I want to reiterate that it is important to have a framework in place to ensure that the VANOC Games succeed in the way they need to succeed and in the way they are able to generate the revenue necessary. The only way they can do that is to ensure there are certain trademark protections brought into law and that we are very serious about going after bootlegging. That needs to be understood.
The question here is how we balance the rights, not whether or not we support the legislation. The committee will need to do some work to ensure these rights are balanced off and that we are not using a massive hammer to hit the little ants, the very small operations that will, quite rightly, have the ability and the right to partake in the celebration of something as important as the Vancouver Games.
We had the example of the Olympia restaurant in Vancouver and the fact that it already had been for some time using this term. We have had a number of similar trademark law cases in recent years. The famous Barbie's Restaurant was sued by Mattel for an apparent trademark infringement when there had been an established use of Barbie's Restaurant for some time. I believe Barbie was the name of the owner of the restaurant.
Therefore, we have had cases and we have seen how they have played out in the courts. They definitely will help guide us as parliamentarians to ensure that the legislation we bring forth will be balanced to protect the notion of trademarks but also not excessive to unfairly infringe and shut down the fair use of terms like “tents”, “winter”, “Vancouver”, “gold” , “sponsor” or “Whistler”. Those are public terms used in a wide variety of applications.
Whether it is a small mom and pop operation that wants to celebrate the fact that a young woman or man from their community is going to Whistler to celebrate a golden event, and they want to invite people to partake, we certainly do not want to see this law misused in that sense.
I am not suggesting for a minute that is the intention of the VANOC committee. It has done an excellent job so far of promoting the games but with trademark law and copyright law we must be very clear that we are not simply moving the yardsticks one day, popping the tent up and saying that there will no longer be any implications from dramatically changing how we see trademark and copyright , particularly on the issue of reverse onus because it sets a precedent and we will start seeing it in other areas.
As I have said, we have already seen it in some of the suggestions on digital copyright and the attempt to bring in the reverse onus on the use of website materials. This is not related at all to the Olympics but it does concern the issue of creating a precedent. What we are looking at in Bill is the single largest change in trademark law in Canada in 50 years.
Every effort needs to be made at all levels of government to ensure that 2010 is as successful as it possibly can be. One of the lessons we have learned from the Olympic experience is that we need to ensure that at the end of the day the residents of the city of Vancouver and British Columbia are not left bearing the financial costs of staging such a massive event, which is why we work with private sponsorship. Private sponsorship is essential for the success of the Olympics, and so it should be.
However, we need to ensure the balancing act between providing businesses, which want to invest, security in that investment, but we must also ensure that the legislation we bring forth does not unfairly change the basic ground rules for average citizens who want to partake.
As I said earlier, we have been reassured that this strictly looks at commercial interests and commercial use of trademark logos, which is very reassuring to New Democrats because we believe that out of the 2010 games there will be all kinds of public comment. People will participate on their own blog cites. Some people will be against the Olympics, for whatever reason, and they will want to say things. We certainly do not want to have a law in place that shuts down the open and fair discussion and the fair use of phrases.
We are looking forward to seeing where we can go with this bill by working with other parties. I think this is one area where all parties believe that this will be an amazing event for the 21st century and for setting Vancouver on the road to being a world-class city.
We are all coming together at this time but it is very clear that we need to put aside our partisans hats and try to do the best we can so that after the games there are no sour feelings at any level in society that we, as parliamentarians, somehow dropped the ball. At the end of this, it must be fully understood that we brought forward bills that did everything possible to ensure the Paralympic and Olympic Games were the best ever.
Mr. Speaker, I welcome you back into the chair. I am a new member in the House, even though it is over a year, but there are always certain things that when I speak, I go off line, and I thank you for your input. You always give it to me after my speech, the things that I should have done differently. Therefore, I commend you for not only helping the people from , but for helping new members like myself as well.
I am very pleased and happy to be standing here today as a proud British Columbian and to speak to this bill. I feel the Olympic Games in British Columbia are more than just a sporting and cultural event. It is tremendously important to the economic future of the greater Vancouver area, which includes my riding of .
Recently the Vancouver 2010 committee introduced its business plan. I am very proud to say, as should all British Columbians and Canadians, that this presents a balanced budget and a solid contingency plan for cost overruns. It is an amazing achievement when we consider that we are talking about almost $2 billion in expenditures.
I do not think I need to tell anyone in the House that $2 billion spent on a project of this kind requires a great deal of fiscal management. For those on the Olympic committee, this means they have to be as careful as possible about the Olympic and Paralympics brands. It is simply a global reality. There is no better branding than the Olympic brand.
People from Montreal can witness their legacy from 1976. I went to Calgary in 1988. I have seen how important the branding is. People in 1976 and 1988 showed to the world that they were ready. Vancouver and an area like mine, Newton—North Delta, and the greater Vancouver area are more than ready to showcase all we have to offer to the world.
The Economist magazine now rates us as the number one place to live by all measures of quality of life. It is a legacy of the Liberal government. I say legacy of the Liberal government because I came to this country in 1984. I saw where the Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney took this country and what he did to the country. We took it back in 1993 and put it on a sound financial footing.
When it comes to the Olympics, the Liberals were there on day one, we are there today and we will be there until the last minute.
However, in a global marketplace, with more players than ever, more people are looking to make a profit in every way they can. Solid brand identity is crucial. It is a competitive advantage we must take very seriously and protect at all costs.
That is why I support, in principle, all aspects of the bill. The Olympic effort has been years in the making. The Liberal government of the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien was there at the very beginning and we championed the bid from its earliest stages.
Prime Minister Chrétien was out there speaking up for Vancouver and British Columbia, doing all he could do to make this happen. This is not a commitment that we would ever turn our backs on. As the CEO of the 2010 Olympics, John Furlong, recently mentioned, an effort like this requires real leadership at the federal level.
As I said earlier, our federal government should be up front, taking the lead on branding. The pins I am wearing today every MP will be wearing one day and very proudly.
I want to repeat that brand protection is revenue protection. There are high risks involved when we are looking at securing over $700 million in corporate sponsors and funding. That is all the money coming from private corporate sponsors.
I believe federal leadership should have happened faster in getting this bill to the draft stage. Last week my caucus met with members of the Olympic committee. There was a sense of urgency in getting this done. In finally providing real brand protection, an international showcase for Canada like this should not have to do all the groundwork.
In caucus we made it quite clear to the committee that we were there in the beginning for it we are there to give them all the support we can today. We will not turn our backs on it at any time, the way the government turned its back on Kyoto, Kelowna, child care and income trusts. It is a never-ending list of betrayals. In fact, we have made overtures to the government time and time again to move the Olympic agenda forward, as fast and as forcefully as possible.
The response has been, to say the least, disappointing. The government has been in no great hurry to cooperate. Perhaps it has other priorities for Vancouver and British Columbians, priorities that include shortchanging Pacific gateway funding and moving forward on infrastructure development in my area to jeopardize the quality of life, the property values and most important, the environment like Burns Bog in my riding.
Even the Conservatives' own member of Parliament, who I am proud and happy to have as my constituent, does not support that. Priorities that include delivering two budgets have been bad for British Columbia. They have dismantled the support for child care. They have dragged their feet on funding for more police officers, so much so that the mayor of Vancouver has spent more money on new officers to date than the government across the country.
As I said, even faced with this irresponsible mismanagement of British Columbia priorities, we have tried to work with the government to get a bill like this done fast. The Olympic and Paralympic games are too important to waste time on partisan bickering.
As a person with a small business, one of the first lessons one learns is that time is money. Maybe this is a lesson lost on the , who has never had to worry about a bottom line in the same way. The point of the matter is that when we are talking about protecting a brand, the longer we wait, the worse it gets in an international market.
There are some minor points in the bill, as the hon. member from the NDP mentioned, that should still be worked out, points that will require some discussion and debate in the committee. We want to ensure that we are not too heavy-handed, that our decisions will not affect the local small businesses, which are the lifeblood of Vancouver's communities. They are the lifeblood of my community of Newton North Delta. This fine tuning can be done if there is a real will to move this forward.
We have to make sure in our clause by clause approach to everything in this bill that we are as thorough, thoughtful and careful in our consideration of the business opportunities an event like this presents.
Mr. Furlong and the great people on his committee have already proven themselves to be careful and well planned. Vancouver knows, from its experience with Expo 86, that there are many who have said this is going to cost the taxpayers more than they get out of it. However, an event like this will easily prove them wrong with real leadership and protection of the marketing opportunities we have in British Columbia.
Money from brand protection will make it easier for us to make sure that the effort will not have to cut corners and look for profits without careful consideration. Brand protection is like an insurance policy. It means we can really learn from past Olympic success stories that include Montreal in 1976 and Calgary in 1988. We can develop the right model for the taxpayers and the citizens of Vancouver and British Columbia.
We do not have to worry about the mistakes made on housing. I do not think I need to remind this House about what happened in Expo 86, when the new housing that was created raised real estate prices downtown and caused the lower income families to have to move out of the downtown core.
Branding protection is revenue protection. It makes it easier for us to be innovative and proactive. Perhaps we can ensure that the new housing for athletes will actually benefit low income families in the Vancouver area.
The federal government could have that dialogue if of course it displayed the leadership. I am sure there would be the will and the way from the provincial and municipal orders of government if they heard more from this government, if real direction was there from the top.
When we look at the actual percentage of government money committed to this effort, I believe it is a little over 25% and the whole of the money is going into infrastructure projects.
I am not advocating irresponsible spending because we are talking about tax revenues here. I am talking about real leadership for the real investment we are putting in place. I am talking about protecting that investment in the most proactive ways we can.
From my perspective I see no reason why we would want to delay the process in committee. The way the government has blocked and delayed the passage of its own justice bills for partisan gains, and the way it has filibustered in committee on questions of access to information, the Vancouver Olympics and Paralympic Games are simply too important to be sacrificed to such small-minded, partisan interests.
The way I see it, the government has a clear choice: it can finally stand up for British Columbia, and champion and support the tremendous efforts of the Vancouver Olympic Committee to get this bill passed. It can protect the Olympic and Paralympic brands for Vancouver and the revenues that will benefit all hard-working British Columbian families.
The fact is when we have expenditures of $1.6 billion and, as I mentioned, when over $700 million of that must be raised from corporate interests, we cannot jeopardize, in any way, the trust and the commitment that private sponsors will put in this Olympic effort.
This bill is in the greater public interest because of this. The people of Newton—North Delta, the people of Vancouver, and British Columbians and Canadians from coast to coast will watch us showcase what we have to offer to the world. This is why Liberals like myself and Liberals in the British Columbia caucus here in the House have supported this effort from the very beginning.
It is why we are proud to stand as partners and supporters, and why we want to see this bill get through the committee process as soon as possible. We want to ensure that the young people in British Columbia can see how proud we are as members of Parliament by providing Canadians with opportunities for a better future.