My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) focuses on Bill C-47, the Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act, which I think is better characterized as the Olympic Corporate Sponsor Protection Act. The column synthesizes my comments from two earlier postings on the bill (here and here), namely that government ministers did not appear particularly anxious to grab the spotlight that typically comes with the introduction of a new initiative, that the bill raises free speech concerns, and that the bill gives VANOC the power to obtain an injunction to stop the distribution of goods that might violate the law without the need to demonstrate irreparable harm.
I conclude by arguing that beyond its substantive shortcomings, the bill raises more fundamental concerns about legislative fairness. Special interest legislation, particularly legislation blatantly designed to protect a select group of corporate interests at the expense of free speech, should have no place in a government focused on trust and accountability. Protecting the investment of Olympic corporate sponsors may be a worthwhile goal, yet there is a price to be paid for eliminating court-ordered safeguards and granting control over generic words to a private entity. Canadian Olympic organizers have pledged to "own the podium" in 2010, yet Canadians might ask whether they must own words such as "winter" in order to do so.