NDP MP Charlie Angus has issued a press release calling on Industry Minister Jim Prentice to abide by the government's commitment to table international treaties in the House of Commons before introducing ratifying legislation by tabling the WIPO Internet treaties before introducing copyright reform legislation. Last week, the Conservatives unveiled a new policy that injects greater transparency and accountability into Canadian treaty commitments by pledging to table treaties in the House before ratification (the policy was promoted by Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier during Question Period on Monday). The treaties will be accompanied by an explanatory memorandum and given at least 21 sitting days for debate. The move follows from the 2006 Conservative election platform that states "a Conservative government will place international treaties before Parliament for ratification."
Angus rightly notes that "this government has made a commitment to debating treaties. Clearly Mr. Prentice is bound to bring this treaty to the House for a fair and open debate." I think he is absolutely right on this one. This was a clear Conservative promise that they've now fulfilled. It's a good policy (one mirrored by the UK and Australia) that would be completely undermined if the government were to ignore it within days of its announcement. Before introducing the copyright bill, the government should table the WIPO Internet treaties and the explanatory memorandum in the House of Commons and invite debate from MPs and comments from the general public.