Olympic Timing

Several people have written to note the curious timing of the introduction Bill C-47, the Olympics marks bill (perhaps better referred to as the Olympic Corporate Sponsor Protection Act).  The approach was unusual on several counts.  First, the bill was introduced toward the end of the day on Friday after many MPs had already headed home for the start of a two-week break.  When they return, the Finance Minister will introduce the budget followed by a week of debate.  In other words, the bill won't attract any attention for weeks.

Second, consider who introduced the bill.  The government press release comes from Industry Minister Maxime Bernier, but he did not introduce the bill in the House of Commons.  Nor did David Emerson, the Minister for the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics or Helena Guergis, the Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) (Sport).  Instead, it was left to Jay Hill, the Chief Government Whip.  Not exactly a ringing endorsement from cabinet.

So why the rush to introduce the bill?  In what is surely a coincidence, the International Olympic Committee Coordination Commission visits Vancouver this week to look closely at the progress for the 2010 games.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Matthew Rimmer
    There are interesting constitutional questions regarding such sui generis legislation.

    Back in 1988, in Davis v the Commonwealth, the Australian High Court held that special legislation in respect of the bicentennial celebrations was not supported by the intellectual property: [ link ]

    One of the judgments warned against absolute protection being granted in respect of common words and expressions:

    “The effect of s.22(1) is to prohibit the uses therein specified without the consent of the Authority of symbols evocative of the Bicentenary and of ordinary words, place names and figures which are likely to be used in conjunction in reference to the Bicentenary… The prohibition
    applies in any of the ways specified in the paragraphs of s.22(1) irrespective of the purpose of the use of the symbols and expressions or the context in which they appear and it is apt, as the
    present case illustrates, to inhibit communication about the Bicentenary. Indeed, it imposes an absurd prohibition on the use of “Sydney” or “Melbourne” in conjunction with “1988” (or with “1788” or “88”) “in
    connection with” a business, trade, profession or occupation. Freedom of
    speech may sometimes be a casualty of a law of the Commonwealth made under a specific head of legislative power – for example, wartime censorship – or of a law designed to protect the nation – for example, a law against seditious utterances – but freedom of speech can hardly be an incidental casualty of an activity undertaken by the Executive Government to advance a nation
    which boasts of its freedom. If a special provision were necessary to suppress
    fraud, deceit or the misapplication of Commonwealth funds in the commemoration
    of the Bicentenary, an appropriate offence-creating provision may have been
    supportable as a protection of the organization which the Executive Government
    had set up. But a prohibition on the use of symbols and expressions of communication
    relating to the Bicentenary in the several ways specified in s.22(1) is not a law with respect to a matter incidental to the execution of a power to organize the commemoration; it is not a law which
    protects the efficacy of what the Executive Government has done or may do in organizing the commemoration. It is a law with respect
    to the subject matter of the
    executive power: the commemoration itself. Such a law purports to control the
    commemoration in a manner
    which is beyond the executive power of the
    Commonwealth and which is not incidental to the execution of that power.
    Sections 22 and 23 are not saved from invalidity by conferring an unconfined
    discretion upon the Authority to consent to a particular use of prescribed
    symbols and expressions. The discretion does not change the character of
    those sections. Nor is freedom of speech restored by creating a discretionary authority to allow it.”

    The Australian Olympic Insignia legislation had to be drafted with this previous ruling in mind.

  2. Dwight Williams says:


    Do we dare hope that the Commons have been looking into the Australian experience?