Arthur Ponsonby and the Canadian DMCA
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Sunday January 27, 2008
Arthur Ponsonby, the British Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the 1920s, is best known for establishing a principle regarding Parliamentary oversight of international treaties. In what later became known as the Ponsonby Rule of 1924, he indicated that his government would table every international treaty before both Houses of Parliament for 21 sitting days before moving forward with ratification (ie. in the period between signing a treaty and ratifying it, Parliament would be given 21 sitting days to review and debate the treaty before formal ratification).
On Friday, Canadian Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier announced that the Conservative government was, effective immediately, implementing the Ponsonby Rule into Canadian practice. The release notes that under the new policy, the House of Commons will be given the chance to examine, debate, or vote on new treaties before ratification and that "the government intends to table all international treaties in the House of Commons before taking further steps to bring these treaties into force." Citing with approval the UK model, the release notes that the Clerk of the House will distribute the treaty and an explanatory memorandum to every MP. It will then observe a waiting period of 21 sitting days before taking any action to bring the treaty into effect. When legislative change is required, the release says that "the government is committed to delaying the legislation until the 21-sitting-day period has passed."
I mention this welcome policy because it would seemingly apply to the WIPO Internet Treaties and the move to ratify them via Industry Minister Jim Prentice's Canadian DMCA.
Prentice has consistently stated that the primary purpose behind the legislation is to bring Canada into compliance with the WIPO Internet Treaties. Those treaties have never been put before the House of Commons and this new policy commits the Conservative government to do so before ratification.
Update: The new policy was raised during Question Period in the House of Commons yesterday. Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier appeared to limit the policy to new treaties, yet that is not what the Conservatives promised in 2006. According to their election platform, "a Conservative government will place international treaties before Parliament for ratification." That is precisely what is at play with WIPO as the government moves forward with plans for ratification.
Sunday January 27, 2008
We want to enhance competition and investment in this country, and this is why we adopted this policy back in 2008 for the AWS spectrum. Let me say that the price went down by an average of 11% since then, and we will continue this way with the 700 megahertz spectrum. We launched consultation with the industry to make sure that we enhance competition and provide better choice and better rates for our consumers.
Last week I wrote about the National Post seeking $150 licences for posting short excerpts online. It appears that the paper has now dropped the system.Mar.12/13Comments (1)