As Industry Minister Jim Prentice prepared to introduce copyright legislation earlier this year, the Conservatives unveiled a new policy that committed to a 21 day House of Commons review period of any treaty prior to the introduction of any ratifying legislation. I argued that this would seemingly apply to the WIPO Internet treaties and that the government was committed to conducting a review before tabling copyright legislation.
The Conservatives have still not tabled the WIPO Internet treaties, yet it has just completed the first treaty review process. To their credit, it went precisely as promised:
- On February 14, 2008, Minister of International Trade David Emerson tabled the trade agreement between Canada and the European Free Trade Association in the House of Commons.
- On April 10, 2008, the Standing Committee on International Trade presented its report on the treaty, noting that "this is the first agreement to be tabled in the House of Commons under the federal government's new policy of allowing members of Parliament the opportunity to review and debate international treaties in the House of Commons for 21 days."
- Today, May 5, 2008, Emerson tabled Bill C-55, the implementing legislation for the treaty. A press release on the treaty again notes that "the Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement was the first treaty to be tabled in the House of Commons for 21 sitting days, in accordance with the new policy for tabling treaties before their ratification."
Note the order – table the treaty, wait at least 21 sitting days, then introduce the implementing legislation. The government is sticking by its policy and must surely do so for copyright as well. That means that the House of Commons should get at least 21 sitting days to review the WIPO Internet treaties before the government introduces its copyright reform bill designed to implement the treaties.