While the U.S. claims that ACTA documents are a matter of national security and the European Parliament demands greater transparency, it would appear that the Canadian delegation would favour an early release of the draft treaty. According to a confidential November 2008 memorandum that was prepared for Stockwell Day, the Minister of International Trade obtained under the Access to Information Act:
At the upcoming meeting in December 2008, given its commitment to transparency in international trade negotiations, the Canadian delegation plans to argue for a transparent approach. . . This approach would result in an earlier release of the text, which would serve to alleviate domestic concerns about the scope of the agreement and the perceived secrecy surrounding the process. The draft text could then serve as the basis for broad-based public consultations.
Should there be no consensus among the ACTA partners to make the ACTA text public, the Department will need to develop options to address Canadian stakeholders concerns about the lack of transparency in the ACTA process. Department officials will be working with other government departments as well as departmental experts on consultations and communications to develop options for public consultations that would address the issues raised by civil society groups and industry associations. These options would be submitted for your approval.
Notwithstanding the professed interest in transparency, Canada has secretly been a major contributor to the draft text.
I blogged earlier about its non-paper on institutional ACTA issues and a second non-paper on negotiating procedural issues. The documents now reveal that Canada provided all delegations with draft text for the institutional chapter of the treaty at the December 2008 meeting.
Moreover, last summer I wrote about plans to establish a secret industry consultation group on ACTA. Those plans were confirmed in the speaking notes for the July meeting which state:
"we would like to note that Canada will be establishing an Intellectual Property and Trade Advisory Group (IPTAG) on a number of IP-related issues including ACTA. The group will consist of approximately 18 members from a range of Canadian stakeholder groups and backgrounds, to provide confidential advice on IP and trade policy issues. We plan to hold the first meeting of this group in mid-September, with the first consultation to focus on ACTA, and will be glad to update ACTA negotiating partners as its progresses."
It is not clear whether the IPTAG has formally met.