In the years leading up to Canada’s entry into the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, there was considerable speculation about demands imposed by the U.S. For example, I wrote in 2012 about two reported demands: that Canada was stuck with any chapters concluded before entry and that it would not have any veto authority. This meant that if all other countries agreed on a particular provision, Canada would be required to accept it.
Yesterday, Industry Minister James Moore provided the first official confirmation of at least one other condition of admission to the talks: anti-counterfeiting legislation. Bill C-8, the anti-counterfeiting bill that focuses on providing new border measures provisions such as enhanced search and seizure powers for customs agents without court oversight, is really a bill about satisfying U.S. demands for TPP entry. According to Moore:
“This legislation contributes to a more effective relationship between Canada and the United States on raising Canada to the international standard and meeting the standard that the American government frankly asked the government of Canada to meet in order for us to move forward with our participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations so we think we’ve checked all the necessary boxes.”
While Moore rightly confirmed that Canada will not add in-transit seizures to the bill (as the U.S. is now seeking and will try to get included in the TPP), the admission that the bill checks the necessary U.S. boxes raises the question of who is driving Canadian intellectual property policy. The last copyright reform bill included restrictive digital lock rules at the insistence of the U.S. (and over the objection of the overwhelming majority of Canadians that participated in a government consultation on copyright reform) and now the anti-counterfeiting bill is acknowledged as part of the U.S. price of admission for Canada to enter the TPP talks.