The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has released its report on CETA and ACTA. The report, which is based on hearings that featured Minister Peter van Loan, includes a notable recommendation with respect to ACTA implementation and future trade negotiations, including the ongoing Canada – European Union Trade Agreement discussions. Recommendation #3 states:
The Committee calls on the Government of Canada to ensure that domestic copyright policies are not part of any present or future trade negotiations; that Canada’s commitments to the implementation of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) are limited to the agreement’s focus on combating international counterfeiting and commercial piracy efforts; and that the Government of Canada retains the right to maintain domestic copyright policies that have been developed within the framework of its commitments to the World Intellectual Property Organization and the Berne Convention.
While the Conservatives dissented from all the report’s recommendations on the basis that it believed the issue should not have addressed by the committee, this particular recommendation (as well as another one calling for greater transparency and public input) packs in several issues. First, it effectively calls for the removal of the copyright provisions from CETA and from future trade agreements. Even if the government refuses, this suggests that those provisions could face a rough ride if an agreement is reached. Second, it rightly seeks to limit ACTA implementation to counterfeiting and commercial piracy concerns, which could raise questions about some Internet provisions in the agreement that are outside that scope. Third, it reaffirms the flexibility that exists under WIPO and the Berne Convention and the need for Canada to conform in accordance with our own interests.