The Industry Committee conducted its first hearing yesterday afternoon on Bill C-47, the Olympics marks bill (the second and likely final hearing goes this morning). With the exception of one Conservative MP who raised the prospect of whether the bill should include criminal provisions for ambush marketing, most of the MPs asked sensible questions and focused on the obvious shortcomings in the bill. These include:
- What about protection for parody? The government's response illustrated how inadequate the bill is – one representative dismissed the question as a hypothetical; the other pointed to the criticism exception.
- How do we know VANOC will use their powers judiciously? The government's response focused on forthcoming guidelines. VANOC representatives acknowledged that they should have published guidelines before the bill becomes law, not after.
- Why waive irreparable harm? This issue came up repeatedly, but never received a satisfactory answer. The government merely acknowledged that the change would remove a barrier to obtaining an injunction, while the VANOC representative said it would speed things up.
- What about blogging and electronic media? VANOC said they would treat electronic media in the same manner as other media, yet the guidelines have yet to be published and the law itself is somewhat uncertain.
Based on yesterday's hearing, it is clear that the committee should amend the bill to address the missing provisions and demand that the VANOC guidelines be issued and reviewed before the bill is passed. Anything less provides a blank cheque to the organizers.