OTTAWA, ON – Canada could be one step closer to bringing 285,000 accessible books to blind and visually impaired Canadians tomorrow if it chooses, the Senate simply needs to agree with a bill unanimously passed by the House of Commons, says Carleton Member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre.
The Marrakesh Treaty would amend countries’ copyright laws by allowing the international sharing of books in accessible formats for persons with disabilities, such as Braille, large print, and audio books. This would give Canadians with visual disabilities access to 285,000 books in accessible formats. After speaking in favour of Bill C-11, which would ratify the Marrakesh Treaty, MP Poilievre moved that the House of Commons unanimously agree with the bill and send it directly to the Senate. This motion passed, but the bill has been stalled in the Senate.
It will take 20 countries to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty before it comes into force, and Canada could be the 18th if we did so.
“Parliament has within its power the ability to bring 285,000 accessible books to the Canadian market, at no cost to taxpayers, for the over one million Canadians who are blind or visually disabled,” said Poilievre. “All it will take is a final approval of Bill C-11 from the Senate before the bill receives Royal Assent.”
“Parliament’s days are limited before we head back to our constituencies for the summer, so it makes sense to expedite bills that are unanimously supported by all political parties in the House of Commons,” Poilievre said. “I urge the Senate to pass Bill C-11 so that it can receive Royal Assent before the summer recess.”
- The Marrakesh Treaty was introduced in the previous Parliament by the Conservative government (Bill C-65) but it did not receive Royal Assent before the 2015 election.
- The Marrakesh Treaty was re-introduced by the Liberal government as Bill C-11 on March 24, 2016.
- Over one million Canadians are blind or visually disabled, however only 7% of literature is available in accessible formats like Braille, large print, or audio formats.
- The Marrakesh Treaty will amend copyright rules to give these Canadians access to 285,000 accessible books.
- The Marrakesh Treaty was adopted on June 27, 2013 by the World Intellectual Property Organization. 51 countries signed on to the treaty at that conference.
- As of June 8, 2016, a total of 83 countries have signed on to the treaty.
- As of June 8, 2016, 17 countries have ratified the treaty:
- North Korea
- South Korea
- El Salvador
- United Arab Emirates
- Canada would become the 18th country to have ratified the treaty if done so today.
- The Marrakesh Treaty enters into force once ratified by 20 countries.