Monday, February 18, 2008

Politics More than Usual on the Hill

The Standing Committee on Heritage Committee has just released an interesting Report calling for the following:
The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage recommends that the Government Bill entitled “An Act to amend the Copyright Act” for which notice was given on December 7th 2007, once introduced and read a first time, be referred to a Special Joint Committee made up of members or associate members of the Standing Committee of Canadian Heritage and of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology before second reading.
(emphasis added)

This means two important things:
  1. The Heritage Committee wants a piece of the action.
  2. The Heritage Committee wants to see the referral of the Bill before second reading, which is unusual, and would allow for major additions and alterations to the bill that would otherwise not be possible from a procedural standpoint.
This could mean that, in principle, "anything goes" with the bill. In such as case, the result would be quite unpredictable, but the lobbying would be predictably formidable, especially on the part of those who feel their issue was left out.

I've written before about the potential wisdom of having a special joint committee (rather than the Heritage Committee alone), and as well the need for balanced expertise - i.e. two or preferably three outside counsel to advise the committee members. This will be all the more important if the bill becomes a "free for all" as a result of referral after first reading.


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