An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2021.



In committee (Senate), as of June 29, 2021
(This bill did not become law.)


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Broadcasting Act to, among other things,
(a) add online undertakings — undertakings for the transmission or retransmission of programs over the Internet — as a distinct class of broadcasting undertakings;
(b) update the broadcasting policy for Canada set out in section 3 of that Act by, among other things, providing that the Canadian broadcasting system should serve the needs and interests of all Canadians — including Canadians from racialized communities and Canadians of diverse ethnocultural backgrounds — and should provide opportunities for Indigenous persons, programming that reflects Indigenous cultures and that is in Indigenous languages, and programming that is accessible without barriers to persons with disabilities;
(c) specify that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (the “Commission”) must regulate and supervise the Canadian broadcasting system in a manner that
(i) takes into account the different characteristics of Indigenous language broadcasting and the different conditions under which broadcasting undertakings that provide Indigenous language programming operate,
(ii) is fair and equitable as between broadcasting undertakings providing similar services,
(iii) facilitates the provision of programs that are accessible without barriers to persons with disabilities, and
(iv) takes into account the variety of broadcasting undertakings to which that Act applies and avoids imposing obligations on a class of broadcasting undertakings if doing so will not contribute in a material manner to the implementation of the broadcasting policy;
(d) amend the procedure relating to the issuance by the Governor in Council of policy directions to the Commission;
(e) replace the Commission’s power to impose conditions on a licence with a power to make orders imposing conditions on the carrying on of broadcasting undertakings;
(f) provide the Commission with the power to require that persons carrying on broadcasting undertakings make expenditures to support the Canadian broadcasting system;
(g) authorize the Commission to provide information to the Minister responsible for that Act, the Chief Statistician of Canada and the Commissioner of Competition, and set out in that Act a process by which a person who submits certain types of information to the Commission may designate the information as confidential;
(h) amend the procedure by which the Governor in Council may, under section 28 of that Act, set aside a decision of the Commission to issue, amend or renew a licence or refer such a decision back to the Commission for reconsideration and hearing;
(i) specify that a person shall not carry on a broadcasting undertaking, other than an online undertaking, unless they do so in accordance with a licence or they are exempt from the requirement to hold a licence;
(j) harmonize the punishments for offences under Part II of that Act and clarify that a due diligence defence applies to the existing offences set out in that Act; and
(k) allow for the imposition of administrative monetary penalties for violations of certain provisions of that Act or of the Accessible Canada Act.
The enactment also makes related and consequential amendments to other Acts.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


June 22, 2021 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts
June 21, 2021 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts
June 21, 2021 Passed Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment — Motion No.22; Group 1; Clause 46.1)
June 21, 2021 Passed Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment — Motion No.18; Group 1; Clause 23)
June 21, 2021 Failed Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment — Motion No.13; Group 1; Clause 10)
June 21, 2021 Failed Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment — Motion No.8; Group 1; Clause 8)
June 21, 2021 Failed Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment — Motion No.5; Group 1; Clause 8)
June 21, 2021 Passed Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment — Motion No.4; Group 1; Clause 8)
June 21, 2021 Passed Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment — Motion No.10; Group 1; Clause 8)
June 21, 2021 Failed Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment — Motion No.2; Group 1; Clause 7)
June 21, 2021 Failed Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment — Motion No.1; Group 1; Clause 3)
June 7, 2021 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 4:25 p.m.
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Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec


Steven Guilbeault LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

moved that Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe.

I am honoured to speak today to Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.

I would like to start by illustrating the situation in which we live to the House. Digital technologies have completely changed the way Canadians discover stories, how they stay informed, how they are entertained and how they learn and share with each other.

From 2011 to 2019, the number of Canadians with Netflix subscriptions has grown from one in 10 to nearly six in 10. The number of Canadians using Spotify to listen to music online has jumped from 2% in 2014 to nearly 30% in 2019. We welcome these innovations that bring so much richness to our lives and so much diverse content. However, prolonging the status quo will only further undermine our ability to tell our own Canadian stories.

If we do not react, funding for Canadian television and music production will continue to decline. What we risk in the long term is nothing less than the loss of our cultural sovereignty. The production of francophone, anglophone and indigenous works and programs will be jeopardized.

That is why we are taking action. The Broadcasting Act was enacted in 1991, before the Internet, smart phones and online platforms. Its regulatory framework is frozen in the past.

On the one hand, we have Canadian companies that play by the rules and invest in our Canadian stories. On the other, we have online broadcasters that operate outside any regulatory framework and make money off the system with no obligation to give back. No, resistance is not futile.

One system for our traditional broadcasters and a lack of for online broadcasters does not work. This outdated regulatory framework is unfair for our Canadian businesses; it threatens Canadian jobs. It undermines the ability of Canadians to tell and hear their own stories.

We are tabling this bill for three main reasons. First, the act will strengthen our cultural sovereignty. Canada is blessed with two official languages and the unique history and stories of our indigenous peoples.

We need to put mechanisms in place to ensure Canadians can tell their own stories and express their own culture, now and in the future.

Second, implementing the new Canadian audio-visual regime under the act will generate almost $1 billion in foreign investment per year in our films, television and music.

That means more quality jobs for our economy, more opportunities for our creators and talent in the production sector, for our artists, designers and authors, and for many other people who specialize in areas in which Canada is internationally renowned.

It means greater stability for the sector. These are the same people who entertained us and made us smile during the first wave of COVID-19, and who are still doing so now, during the second wave we are now in.

Third, the act aims to ensure fairness. Asking online broadcasters to shoulder their fair share of the effort is not a luxury. It is a matter of fairness.

Our government believes those who benefit from the Canadian system should contribute to it fairly. This legislation would provide stronger financing mechanisms and would give more prominence to what is produced in Canada in English, French and indigenous languages. It will encourage better representation at all levels of production for equity-seeking groups: for women, for members of the LGBTQ2 communities, for people with disabilities and for racialized Canadians, including Blacks and people of colour.

In fact, this bill provides Canadian creators and producers with the means of achieving their ambitions. It takes into account the diversity of Canadian perspectives and their contribution to our rich and unique culture. A modernized act would guarantee that Canadians of all identities and from every background are reflected in their broadcasting system and that they can take part in it and enjoy it. In short, our stories and music must have a place in the online broadcasting universe.

In a more practical manner, the bill proposes the implementation of a modern, flexible regulatory framework for the CRTC to apply fair rules to all broadcasters and ensure it has the necessary tools to do its job effectively.

We will also go a step further and will instruct the CRTC on how to use these new tools. This will happen once the bill receives royal assent, as the bill makes amendments that allow for this essential policy directive.

In our direction to the CRTC, we want the specific needs of the French language and Canadian francophones to be recognized in a digital world dominated by the English language. On this point, I would like to add that this is perfectly in line with the throne speech, which states that the government “has the responsibility to protect and promote French not only outside of Quebec, but also within Quebec.” I know that this is an important point for all members of the House and for all Canadians, since the protection and promotion of the French language are essential for everyone.

Let me get back to our direction to the CRTC. We also want to accord special consideration to indigenous communities, as well as greater recognition of their realities and contributions. Lastly, we want to focus on racialized communities to ensure that they are fairly represented in the ecosystem.

The way the regulation currently works is it establishes a minimum investment from Canadian broadcasters into our ecosystem. In effect, this creates a baseline of investment.

With the bill and this intended policy direction to the CRTC, we aim for the CRTC to add an additional mechanism on top of this baseline. We intend to ask the CRTC to implement an incentive mechanism that would encourage behaviours that are inclusive and ensure no one is left behind.

Some of the elements we would like to see being incentivized are: diversity in key creative positions, the role and place of Black Canadians in our system, the retention of our rich intellectual property in Canada and fair and transparent compensation for our musicians.

I would like to point out that we are listening to Canadians. This bill addresses key recommendations presented by the independent expert panel in January. Urgent action was needed to bring online broadcasters into the system.

Our approach is balanced, and we have made the choice to exclude a number of areas from the new regime. User-generated content will not be regulated, news content will not be regulated and video games will be excluded. Furthermore, only broadcasters that have a significant impact in Canada will be subject to the legislation. In practice this means that only known names and brands will be subject to this legislation.

When my daughter opens an online streaming platform, I, like many other parents, want to know that she is being offered the choice to see a Canadian series with her favourite actors, like District 31 with Vincent-Guillaume Otis. I would like her to have the choice to see a documentary on the history of indigenous peoples in Canada, for example. After all, it is our history and it is up to us to tell it.

When my daughter listens to music on another platform, I want her to be presented with a list of local artists and even, why not, someone from my home region of Mauricie.

What we are proposing will allow her not only to take advantage of an international offering, but also to discover Canadian content, which could be funded by contributions from these same digital platforms.

We know how important it is to see ourselves represented in all our complexity, either on screen or in productions. With the modernization of the Broadcasting Act, our francophone, anglophone and indigenous creators, our creators with disabilities, our creators from visible minorities and the LGBTQ+ community will have the means of telling their own stories and, more importantly, of making sure they are seen and heard.

It will be beneficial for both broadcasters and the public to produce stories that resonate with us, that speak to us and that look like us as Canadians and Quebecers.

This bill is part of a larger process. Our government is committed to ensuring greater equity among all Canadians.

The web giants are raking in billions of dollars from our content and our economy. Some of these companies are the most powerful in the world, and they operate outside any regulatory framework.

Time is up. There are no more free rides. It is about fairness. It is about everyone doing their fair share.

We are, in fact, starting to see this across the world. The European Union has adopted new rules on streamers resulting in increased investment, jobs, choice of content and ability to assert one's own cultural sovereignty. The United States has launched legal proceedings against Google for abusing its dominant market position. Australia is tackling a threat that journalism is facing, through a mandatory code of conduct targeted at Facebook and Google. As well, several other countries, including Canada, are concerned about misinformation, online hate and web giants' blatant inability to self-regulate. Voluntary self-regulation does not work.

I will remind the House that most, if not all, of these initiatives have garnered support across the political spectrum around the world. There should not be a left-right divide on these issues. Divisions only benefit large multi-billion dollar companies, not our constituents. That is why I am urging all members of the House to work together constructively and ensure that this important bill passes through second reading hastily, so that the committee can start doing its important work to amend, improve and move forward.

Let us show the world that Canada is united and standing up for itself.

Today, by proposing that we modernize the Broadcasting Act, we are standing up for our culture and forging ahead with essential reforms. We are standing up for Canadian companies and creators by saying that everyone who profits from the system must contribute to the system. We are also standing up for Canadians and Quebecers. We are standing up for indigenous peoples, who have been under-represented for far too long. We are standing up for artists, musicians, directors and producers across the country who want to create their art in French.

These same Canadians, Quebecers and indigenous people want, and expect, to see themselves in the programs they choose to listen to and watch. They expect their stories to be told in their own language and to reflect Canada’s diversity and the rich culture of indigenous peoples.

The Broadcasting Act enacted in 1991 served our society well, but it came into force before the digital era and is ill adapted to today’s reality, a fact we can no longer ignore.

Our regulatory agency, the CRTC, also has few tools in its kit to ensure that the broadcasting ecosystem continues to serve Canadians. It is dealing with a media landscape that has changed considerably in the past 30 years. By introducing this bill, our government is meeting a pressing need, namely to adapt Canada’s legislative framework to today’s digital reality.

In the mandate letter the Prime Minister gave me, modernizing the Broadcasting Act is my primary responsibility. In fact, the Prime Minister asked me to examine “how best to support Canadian [stories] in English and French”. He asked me to “introduce legislation by the end of 2020 that will take appropriate measures to ensure that all content providers, including internet giants, offer meaningful levels of Canadian [stories] in their catalogues, contribute to the creation of Canadian content in both Official Languages, promote [Canadian stories] and make [them] easily accessible on their platforms”, while also considering “additional cultural and linguistic communities.”

The bill our government tabled in the House on November 3 is a direct response to this mandate. It aims to update this important act to ensure the sustainability and vitality of our Canadian series, films and music, as well as of the people who make them and broadcast them.

I hope that the members of the House now understand that, on the one hand, we have Canadian companies that play by the rules and invest in Canadian culture, while, on the other hand, we have online broadcasters that take advantage of the system without any obligation to contribute to it. Having one regime for conventional broadcasters and another for online broadcasters does not work.

That is why we are proposing amendments to the act to support Canadian creators and independent Canadian producers: to ensure the viability of Canadian broadcasting and to protect Canada's cultural sovereignty.

The purpose of the bill is to level the playing field and ensure funding for Canadian stories and Canadian talent. It would allow us to give a higher profile to what is produced in Canada in English, French and indigenous languages, and encourage better representation of racialized Canadians, women and equity-seeking groups at all levels of production.

This bill would truly empower Canadian creators and producers. It reflects the diversity of Canadian perspectives. A modernized act would affirm and strengthen our francophone, anglophone, indigenous and Black identities, as well as all of our country's diversity by helping us to tell stories that speak to our experiences and values.

Bear in mind that we are imposing a number of guardrails. As I said earlier, user-generated content, news content and video games would not be subject to the new regulations. Furthermore, entities would need to reach a significant economic threshold before any regulation could be imposed. This keeps the nature of the Internet as it is. It simply asks companies that generate large revenues in Canada to contribute in a fair manner.

What we are proposing will not impact consumers' choices. It will not limit what any of those streamers can showcase in Canada and it will not impose a price increase. Foreign platforms will benefit from proposing local content that resonates with their subscribers.

These will be stories presented from their perspective and in their own language, or stories that will introduce them to the experiences of their fellow Canadians. This initiative will bring people together and promote social cohesion.

In these increasingly polarized times, having varied content that reflects our different experiences and perspectives across the country, through our shared stories, helps us to understand one another and to listen. Whether the perspective is from an indigenous person, a Black person, a person with a disability or a woman, we all have something to learn from each other.

Through their creative work, artists truly have a way to make us reflect, understand and feel what others feel. Global platforms will invest in local content and, by the same token, will allow our local content a greater reach globally.

This legislation will also generate investment in Canada and create jobs: two important drivers for reopening creative industries and ensuring their sustainability. This is no small feat when we consider that the broadcasting, audio-visual, music and interactive media sectors contribute $20.4 billion to Canada’s GDP and represent more than 160,000 jobs.

I would like to conclude by saying that Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, is the result of a collective effort. It is the result of a considerable amount of work by my colleagues, the public service, a vast array of stakeholders and the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel.

I would like to thank the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry for establishing the review panel, and for putting forward the notion that every participant in the Canadian broadcasting system has to contribute to the creation, production and promotion of Canadian stories.

I would also like to thank the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons for making this bill a legislative priority for our government.

Last, I would like to thank all those who have contributed to this important file.

With this bill, we are taking a step in the right direction. Our government has opted for a step-by-step, targeted approach to modernize the Canadian broadcasting system quickly and appropriately. We recognize that the work is not over. Other measures will come, particularly regarding the important role of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the various funding mechanisms for the audio-visual production sector.

This is a bill about jobs, investing in Canada, equity and what it means, at the very core, to be Canadian. If members do not agree with all of the bill, or if members do not believe in our cultural sovereignty and that we as Canadians, as francophones, as first nations, as Métis and as Inuit are different, they can still support the bill for the jobs it will create.

However, let me reiterate that resistance is not futile. If jobs and investment in the cultural sector are not what members believe in for the future of our country, they should support this bill for its much-needed equity and fairness. We need to re-establish the fact that everyone, including web giants, must contribute to our society.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 4:45 p.m.
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Steven Blaney Conservative Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the minister for his speech.

There is a broad consensus that we must take action and that the status quo is no longer acceptable, especially after the release of the Yale report.

In his speech, the minister spoke a great deal about fairness, but unfortunately, it seems like Bill C-10 gives web giants a free pass. We cannot see how the bill will deal with all of Facebook's revenue from Canadian news sources and from advertising, for example, or with the credits granted to these web giants by the Government of Canada.

Why is the minister ultimately giving a free pass to the web giants, and Facebook in particular?

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 4:45 p.m.
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Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis for his question.

As I said several times, this bill is a first step in this venture of implementing a regulatory framework on the web giants' various operations. I am the first to admit that there is still work to be done. Bill C-10 goes after web giants in the field of broadcasting and streaming music. I committed to introducing another bill that will specifically target the web giants that my colleague just mentioned.

We are working with the governments of Australia and France, which are also in the process of putting these types of regulations in place.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 4:45 p.m.
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Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to commend the heritage minister for this bill, the first bill he has introduced as a minister. Bill C-10 was eagerly awaited. Overhauling the Broadcasting Act after nearly 30 years is no small matter.

As I have already mentioned several times in our discussions, I was expecting something more consistent. However, I would like to ask the minister about paragraph 3(1)(a) of the act, which states that any Canadian broadcasting system must be effectively owned by Canadians. This provision of the act is nowhere to be found in Bill C-10.

I would like to know what the minister intends to do to protect Canada's broadcasting market from invasion by foreign giants.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 4:45 p.m.
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Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

We cannot say that we have to make sure that the legislation and regulations apply to web giants if we do not allow this legislation and these regulations to apply to them. Paragraph 3(1)(a) is precisely what will allow us to ensure that Canadian laws and Canadian regulations apply to web giants.

Paragraph 3(1)(a) is not what ensures that Canadian companies have to be owned by Canadians. That was a CRTC decision in 1997. We are not changing anything with respect to ownership of Canadian companies.

What is more, Canadian companies in the field of broadcasting will still have to obtain licences from the CRTC. Beyond the current bill, there are other safeguards against foreign acquisition of Canadian companies that my colleague, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and I have to consider. There are other safeguards for that.

This paragraph allows us to apply our laws and regulations to web giants. How else could we do this?

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 4:45 p.m.
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Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the minister for his speech and for introducing the bill.

I have a question that may seem a bit technical. In the wake of the Yale report, the goal is to have all stakeholders participate in the ecosystem of Quebec and Canadian cultural production.

If I access cultural content through a cable that is plugged into my TV, the provider must contribute to regional, local, Quebec and Canadian production. However, if I access the content over Wi-Fi, the Internet service provider is not required to participate.

Could someone explain that logic to me?

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 4:50 p.m.
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Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, I have the Yale report right here. Members will recall that the Yale report said that service providers are in the business of infrastructure, so they should invest in infrastructure, and content providers are in the business of content, so they should invest in content. That is the gist of what the Yale report said.

I want to remind the House that for the first time in this country's history, Canada's broadcasting laws and regulations will apply to web giants. That has never been done before.

Earlier I said that this will generate nearly $1 billion a year in investments from these companies, but it is actually more than $1 billion, because if nothing is done by 2023, Canadian productions and Canadian artists will miss out on $1 billion.

On top of reversing the trend, this bill will generate more than $1 billion in investments for our artists and musicians.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 4:50 p.m.
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Paul Manly Green Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. minister for bringing forward this legislation. As somebody who has worked in the broadcast industry for years, with first nations producers, television producers and others who have been marginalized by the mainstream media historically, I think it is really important that the bill comes forward.

I am wondering about the CBC. We have heard from Friends of Canadian Broadcasting that it is disappointed the CBC was not included in the bill. I am wondering if there are plans to amend how the government works with the CBC or if there will be budget changes. Is anything coming up that will improve the situation for our national broadcaster?

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 4:50 p.m.
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Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, the CBC/Radio-Canada is a very important institution to Canadians from coast to coast to coast. The member may recall that it was our government that made a record level of investments in the CBC in our previous mandate.

After 10 years of cutbacks by the Harper government, we have every intention to implement other reforms in the coming months. We could not do this as part of the bill, but we strongly believe on this side of the House in the importance of the CBC and the role it plays in Canada. We will continue to be there for it.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 4:50 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I thank the minister not only for this outstanding legislation, but for his high sense of commitment to Canada's arts and culture community. This is reflected in the bill. He actually met with a group from one of my favourite festivals in Winnipeg, Folklorama, which spends so much energy on arts and festivals and so forth.

Could the minister provide his thoughts in regard to how the bill will not only protect our culture going forward, but provide the needed jobs in an industry that is so critical to our nation?

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 4:50 p.m.
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Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, as I said earlier, this is a very important sector. It is contributing $20 billion to Canada's GDP and 160,000 jobs across the country.

What we are doing by introducing the bill is protecting Canadian cultural sovereignty and these jobs. Of course, some American companies are coming to Canada to film series and movies, service productions. This is great, but unless we intervene, we will lose our ability to tell our own stories.

I watch series from all around the world and I really love them, but first and foremost I like to watch Canadian series and movies and listen to Canadian music. Unless something is done, Canada will become nothing more than a production service outlet for the United States of America. This government does not want that. The bill prevents that from happening and gives us back our cultural sovereignty.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 4:55 p.m.
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The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

Before resuming debate, it is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, Foreign Affairs; the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, Fisheries and Oceans; the hon. member for Langley—Aldergrove, Infrastructure.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 4:55 p.m.
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Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, I would first like to thank the minister for introducing this bill today. I am very pleased to respond on behalf of our party and to take part in the debates that will be held today, tomorrow and in the coming days.

Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts, is quite important. The entire community has been waiting a long time for this bill and for the act to be amended, given the advent of the Internet and the digital players we are all familiar with. I think it is important to remember that the Broadcasting Act has not been amended in 28 years.

This bill is a response to the Yale report. Its main purpose is to subject online undertakings to the Broadcasting Act and to update Canada's broadcasting policy. I think all parties and stakeholders agree that the Broadcasting Act needs to be modernized. There is also a broad consensus among many stakeholders and, I believe, the other opposition parties, about how the bill should have included web giants and social media along with a number of other elements.

We have been waiting for this bill for a long time. I think many of us expected the government to come up with something a little more robust that included all the things I just mentioned. I would also consider print media, which say they are in a state of emergency and are having a hard time surviving at the moment because of how advertising revenue is being divided up.

The minister explained that the Liberal Party's strategy was to split the issues up into several parts and put some of them off until later. We think that is the wrong approach and that things should have been done differently, given the urgency of the situation and the existence of some degree of consensus around moving forward in the right direction.

In principle, this bill should have addressed some of the inequities between the so-called traditional broadcasting undertakings and those that are also online. As I said, there are serious flaws. I would like to point out what is missing from this bill that should have been in it, in our view.

First of all, there is nothing in the bill to force social media companies like Facebook and Google to pay their fair share. Furthermore, this bill does not address royalty sharing by these companies for content that is delivered via their digital platforms. The bill also does not explain how digital platforms like Netflix, Spotify, Crave and others will be treated fairly compared to conventional players.

On top of that, this bill grants the CRTC all the powers to enforce the act and the rules, and we think this is short-sighted. We believe that the legislative responsibilities of MPs and Parliament are being shifted away from us and handed over to the CRTC. The minister will no doubt argue that it is difficult to amend legislation quickly and that when adjustments need to be made in the next few years, it will be much easier to have the CRTC take care of it. However, as we have seen, it is not always easy with the CRTC, and the sector does not necessarily agree with this course of action.

There are no details about guidelines for the production of Canadian content and contributions to the Canada Media Fund. That, too, is placed in the hands of the CRTC, and months will pass before it is all implemented, months in which there will be no investment in Canadian content.

There are also no particulars about a legally required percentage of French-language content. Later, I will list several organizations that are complaining about that. There is also nothing about modernizing the Copyright Act, even though many parties asked for it.

This bill will lead to additional costs for the CRTC because naturally there will be more regulations, more paperwork for businesses and more monitoring. We do not know how much all this will cost. Lastly, in the different reports, we were also expecting that the mandate of CBC/Radio-Canada would be updated. There is not one word about the corporation in the bill.

This bill is being introduced because we have a duty to modernize a 28-year-old law that has not kept pace with an evolving sector and the arrival of the Internet and social media on the market. The major online platforms such as Facebook, Google, Netflix, Crave, Spotify and others are not subject to the same rules as conventional players. Thus, the Broadcasting Act was supposed to be revised to include all of them in the system, which has not been done.

This was supposed to be done with a view to systematically reiterating the will to modernize the act and to find a solution that is fair to all Canadian producers and broadcasters.

The costs associated with Bill C-10 are hard to estimate at this time because the scope of the additional powers that will be given to the CRTC is unclear. For those who are interested, the CRTC's projected budget for 2020-21 is about $71.9 million, which will mainly come from the licensing fees it collects. Naturally, this budget will have to be increased considerably to take into account the new oversight powers that the CRTC will be given. As we know, it is always the same people who pay in the end.

Bill C-10 gives the CRTC extremely broad discretion to define what is meant by an online undertaking and to require such undertakings to spend money to produce and broadcast Canadian content. For conventional broadcasters, this will take the form of a percentage of Canadian content to produce, which is about 25% to 40%, based on the information we have, and an obligation to contribute about 5% of their gross revenues to the Canada Media Fund, which subsidizes Canadian productions.

Broadcasters' contributions to the fund totalled $193 million in 2019-20. That makes it hard to understand how the minister could have come up with the $830-million or $1-billion figure he talked about in various interviews.

Neither Bill C-10 nor the minister's statements about it indicate whether online undertakings will have to make that 5% contribution, nor do they specify the Canadian content percentage they will have to comply with. Even so, the minister announced that online undertakings' additional investments in Canadian content under the act would add up to $830 million as of 2023. We have even heard amounts of up to $1 billion or thereabouts.

However, the minister has not yet responded to our request for information about how that amount was calculated. That said, I want to acknowledge that the request was made at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and that we were told the committee would get that information from the minister and his officials. I would have liked to receive it today before the debate because I think it would have been relevant, but we do not have it yet. We are still waiting for that information, and I am confident we will get it.

Based on the information they do have, affected stakeholders like Netflix are uncertain whether they will be able to abide by the new regulations. Conventional broadcasters can easily meet the content targets with sports and news programming. However, companies like Netflix are telling us that it will be hard for them, since they produce only fictional programs and documentaries and do not have that option.

That said, Netflix also told us about a problem it has that is not addressed in the bill. Netflix is still not able to fund or produce Canadian content. Allow me to explain.

Netflix's library includes the Quebec feature film The Decline, which many here are familiar with. It was filmed in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, was viewed 21 million times in the first four weeks following its released, and generated $5.3 million in investments in Quebec alone. It met six key creative requirements of the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office. However, the film could not be certified as Canadian content because it was financed and produced exclusively by Netflix.

I think this aspect is important. It employed Canadian actors, Canadian crew members and Canadian camera operators, but it was not considered Canadian content because it was all funded by Netflix. Bill C-10 offers no solution to this conundrum.

With this bill, the Prime Minister's government is granting the CRTC vast powers without including clear guidelines on things like the percentage of Canadian content required, contribution fees and expenses, French-language content requirements, and so on.

The bill even limits the oversight powers of parliamentary committees in relation to guidelines and regulations adopted by the CRTC and broadcasters' ability to appeal a decision. The message this bill sends is this: “Trust us, and you will see later.” Understandably, for us, the opposition, that is not good enough. It will take several months for the CRTC to take action, at which point parliamentarians will have only very limited oversight powers.

The bill does nothing to remedy the inequity between digital and conventional media. The regulation of social media, such as Facebook, and the sharing of the advertising revenue requested by traditional media are urgent because the longer we wait, the less there will be, which will be dangerous for our democracy.

Given its minority situation, it would have been more appropriate for the government to introduce a clear bill that set out its approach on all of these issues in concrete terms, rather than just giving the CRTC more discretion and telling us to wait and see what happens next.

I would like to talk about the matter of French in Quebec and in francophone communities. That is also important. We have seen the statements made by several organizations. The only measure to strengthen the place of French involves replacing paragraph 3(1)(k), which currently states, “a range of broadcasting services in English and in French shall be extended to all Canadians as resources become available” with “a range of broadcasting services in English and in French shall be progressively extended to all Canadians”.

I am getting to the matter of French. I even made a few comments to the minister, and my opposition colleagues who were with me during the various briefings asked questions about quotas and benchmarks. The government tried to put us in a tight corner by saying that quotas were not a good idea, that it was unreasonable to ask for such a thing and that we should trust the CRTC.

They also said that imposing a quota was like setting a limit. That is like saying that judges lose their discretionary power when parliamentarians legislate minimum and maximum sentences. I do not believe that. Market forces always work things out. If the need is really there, people will go well beyond any minimums that might be set in order to provide protection.

Naturally, the minister did his job. He published his information on social media, mentioning only those who were happy with the bill from then on. Some organizations said it was a very good bill, a historic bill and so on, but I would like to name some others.

One of them is the Union des producteurs et productrices de cinéma du Québec, the UPPCQ, which would like to see one-third of all production and content on Netflix and other platforms be in French. The UPPCQ is worried about the future of Quebec culture as people's media habits become anglicized under the influence of online giants such as Netflix and Disney.

We know how topical the issue of French is. The Quebec president of the Liberal Party of Canada publicly denounced Bill 101 and whatnot, then deleted tweets and apologized. Plus, we heard the comments made by the member for Saint-Laurent. There was the whole WE Charity scandal involving a unilingual anglophone organization during the pandemic. Then there was the English-only labels during the pandemic. On top of that, the Minister of Official Languages and the Prime Minister refuse to respond to a clear request from Quebec and all opposition parties. The Bloc Québécois, the NDP and the Conservatives are calling on the government to allow Quebec to subject federally regulated businesses to Bill 101, because urgent protections are needed for French.

The people I mentioned earlier are worried about culture and identity. It is one of our greatest assets, and our country is proud to have two official languages. It gives us access to a market of 300 million francophones around the world, to share our culture, our economic expertise, and so on. I think it is normal for us on this side of the House to find it worrisome that the Liberals want to rely solely on the CRTC to protect French.

It is not just the opposition MPs saying so. Some organizations have unambiguously denounced it. Here is the title of an article for you, “Web giants still have the last laugh”. It was not an opposition MP who said that. It was political analysts. The article says:

The Minister of Canadian Heritage chose the day of the U.S. election to introduce his baby. If he was so proud, the minister surely would have chosen another time. In politics, the timing of this sort of announcement is never left to chance.

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting says that the bill introduced by the Minister of Canadian Heritage leaves Canadian broadcasters at the mercy of foreign competition. Friends of Canadian Broadcasting believes that the legislation needs to be more precise and more exact, as we have been calling for by the way, with requirements on the percentage of local content to be broadcast. They maintain that the change enshrines the rights of the web giants into law and neglects our cultural and journalistic sovereignty. Friends of Canadian Broadcasting also condemn the prerogative given to the CRTC to deal with the web giants. Netflix and company will be able to send their lobbyists to Ottawa to negotiate secret agreements with the CRTC, which could sanction them or compel them to comply with the legislation at their discretion.

Once again, it is not opposition MPs who are saying this, but the organizations that are directly impacted.

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting has also pointed out that this bill does not update the CBC's mandate. Bill C-10 makes no substantial changes to the CBC's mandate or governance structure. It does not put an end to political appointments to its board; it does not put an end to the political appointment of its president; it does not specify that its programming must be ad-free; and it does not clarify its obligation to produce local information and news.

The National Assembly of Quebec and Quebec are the beating heart of the French language in North America. The National Assembly asked Quebec to demand that the Government of Canada set fair and equitable quotas for original Quebec and French-language content and that they be included in the Broadcasting Act.

Clearly we are not the only ones disappointed by what is in this bill. We expected something more robust. We were expecting, and everyone agreed on this, new legislation that would modernize the Broadcasting Act, that would ensure that all stakeholders contributed equally, that would protect Canadian, Quebec and francophone content. It was expected that everyone would be contributing equally. That is not what is in the bill, though.

As the minister often points out in his speeches, there are other issues, such as hate speech on social networks and discrimination, that need to be regulated. We were surprised that these topics were not even touched on. That will come in an upcoming bill. I spoke about copyright and certain organizations. There are some urgent problems that could have been solved easily. These organizations are starving, and they were expecting these problems to be solved. Artists, writers and performers were expecting something more satisfying, but they too will have to go hungry.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage made an appearance on Tout le monde en parle to talk about his bill. Naturally, the discussion got off topic a bit. Obviously, it was not a very tough interview with Guy A. Lepage, but the minister talked about hate speech and freedom of speech.

One of the political analysts, Mathieu Bock-Côté, was one of the few who pointed out something that the minister said that was a bit disturbing. When speaking about freedom of speech, the minister said, “Our rights end where another's pain begins”.

I am mentioning this because these issues should have been worked on in conjunction with the whole issue of web giants and social media, which will come in a next step. However, there is a quite a debate going on about freedom of speech. Radio-Canada pulled an episode of La p'tite vie because it was worried certain people would be hurt. In the end, after some pressure was exerted, the episode was reinstated, and it is very funny.

We then hear the minister make this comment about freedom of expression. Where does it end, if that is what our Minister of Canadian Heritage is saying, the one who comes up with the rules and the legislation on such fundamental issues? This means that the moment another citizen is offended, everything we say has to be regulated. Does this mean that we will withdraw all comments and we can no longer allow people to express themselves freely, under the pretext that it could hurt someone? In my view, we are witnessing a shift that could undermine this freedom that we hold so dear in this country.

Let me come back to my analysis of Bill C-10, introduced in the House.

Many issues remain, such as the fact that the CRTC has vast powers, powers that should be in the hands of legislators so they can make important decisions. There is also the issue of Canadian content, which we believe should be safeguarded to ensure its presence among the players in the digital world. I would also add that French is once again being sidelined by the Liberal Party of Canada.

We will continue to examine the bill. I hope the minister will accept the various amendments that will be brought forward by all opposition parties.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 5:15 p.m.
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Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec


Steven Guilbeault LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, I have a lot to say.

I would first like to point out that the party my hon. colleague represents had 10 years to tackle most of these issues while it was in power, but it did nothing. It actually reversed progress on a number of these issues.

My colleague seems to be saying that we are doing too much but that it is not enough and will cost too much, so I am a little confused. I have already answered the question about Facebook and Google, but I would like to read an excerpt from the Yale report, which the member mentioned and the former opposition leader said should be tossed in the trash the day it was released.

Here is what the Yale report says on page 146, in the recommendations section: “The actual percentage that might apply and the conditions relating to it would be a matter for the CRTC to determine after public hearings.” Those are the very same points my colleague raised.

Far from perpetuating inequity, this bill will level the playing field between traditional Canadian broadcasters and online broadcasters.

Speaking of the French language, I want to mention that I was honoured to receive the Impératif français award in 2017. I am one of the few members of Parliament to have earned this honour. French is very important to me, and this bill does even more to protect the French language. In the directive we will give the CRTC, we will ask for even more requirements relating to the French language.

If I understand correctly, my hon. colleague is accusing us of not doing enough for CBC/Radio-Canada. Does this mean that the leader of the official opposition has abandoned the promise he made during the Conservative Party leadership race to defund CBC/Radio-Canada?

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 5:15 p.m.
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Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, first, I would like to congratulate the minister on the award he received. I think that is fantastic, and I say that from the heart. I think that he should go and sit next to the member for Saint-Laurent to show her the importance of such an award and of defending French everywhere. It would surely do us some good on this side of the House to see someone fiercely defending French.

That being said, I want to point out that I am not questioning his willingness to defend the French language and to ensure that his agreement includes French- and English-language Canadian content. However, I think that it could have been more robust and that it could have been included in the act. There could have been guidelines.

I would like to reiterate that it is not the member for Richmond—Arthabaska or the other members here who are saying this. It is the organizations that I mentioned and that are directly affected by this bill. I am not making anything up. I did not give my opinion. I just talked about the people who will be affected by this act.

I hope that the minister will listen to the concerns of these stakeholders and the recommendations that will be made by the opposition parties, including the Conservative Party. I hope that will make it possible for us to come up with a stronger and more substantial bill, rather than trying to avoid these topics and passing the buck to the CRTC in nine months, knowing full well that this bill fails to address a number of issues.