The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement made it to the floor of the House of Commons yesterday as NDP MP Charlie Angus raised concerns about the agreement, the lack of transparency, and questions about whether the recent copyright consultation was little more than theatre given the prospect that ACTA will decide what Canadian copyright law ultimately looks like.
Industry Minister Tony Clement responded by arguing that the ACTA is not law in Canada, stating that it is "subservient" to domestic law. While that is true for the moment, once it is completed the pressure to implement – much like the WIPO Internet treaties – will be enormous. Clement also stated that people interested in the treaty could check out my website to learn more. While I appreciate the shout-out, it should be obvious to everyone that this website is not a replacement for full and frank disclosure on ACTA and the Canadian government's position on the treaty. A full Hansard transcript of the exchange, along with the YouTube version, follows below:
And the transcript:
Angus: Mr. Speaker, the European Union has leaked details of the secret ACTA negotiations in Korea and guess what? It has exposed the industry minister's so-called public consultations on copyright as a total sham, because ACTA will deep six Canada's ability to establish copyright policy. Further, it will strip thousands of citizens from the right to even use the Internet under the idiotic “three strikes and you are out“ policy. The government has no right to negotiate away our domestic copyright laws. Will the minister table in the House the mandate letter that was given to the negotiators to start the ACTA talks?
Clement: Mr. Speaker, despite the hon. member's fear-mongering, the Government of Canada has not adhered to or agreed to anything in the ACTA negotiations. The ACTA negotiations are in fact subservient to any legislation that is put forward in the House. In good faith, I and my colleague, the hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, talked to the people of Canada, talked to stakeholders about a future copyright bill. We are proud of the fact that we have had that consultation because we got some good ideas, even from some NDPers.
Angus: Mr. Speaker, the ACTA provisions read like a wish list for the U.S. corporate lobby because it will override any flexibility for WIPO, it will gut our domestic copyright policies and it will criminalize thousands of Internet users through the three strikes provision. Canada needs a minister who is willing to stand up for the innovation agenda, not a minister who is acting like a hand puppet for the U.S. embassy. Why will the minister not table the ACTA negotiations so we can open it to public scrutiny?
Clement: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member wants to read more about it, he could go to Michael Geist's website. The fact is that anything that goes on in ACTA is completely subservient to what we as parliamentarians decide on this issue. We have gone further in terms of ensuring the public is aware of the issues involved in copyright renewal and reform than any other government and we are proud of that record.