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

Sponsor

Status

In committee (House), as of Feb. 16, 2021

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-10.

Summary

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.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 16th, 2021 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy with the outcome of the two motions adopted earlier. If you seek it, you will find unanimous consent of the House:

That, notwithstanding any standing or special order or usual practice of the House, the amendment to the second reading motion of Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, standing in the name of the member for Regina—Wascana, be withdrawn; and that the motion for second reading of Bill C-10 be deemed adopted on division and that the bill be referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 10:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be joining the debate on Bill C-10. There is a Yiddish proverb that says when one sweeps the house, one finds everything. I am not sweeping this House, as I am sure it is the cleanest house in Canada right now. I am sure the staff is doing amazing work.

In reading the legislation now before the House, I had to sweep over articles of what the minister and the government believe Bill C-10 would achieve, especially as conditions have changed over the past four weeks. I hope to demonstrate to the House that the intent of the government, with Bill C-10 and what it hopes to achieve, is confounding two different issues.

There is a role for the government to play in ensuring that regulations and laws are in place to offset disinformation and attempts by foreign governments, or entities with a nefarious purpose, to spread disinformation with the objective of achieving discord or chaos in our country, or causing economic harm.

I do not think there is as much of a place for the government to deal with misinformation, because Canadians are excellent at dealing with it themselves. A headline about an interview the Minister of Canadian Heritage gave states, “Regulation of online hate speech coming soon, says minister”. This is regarding Bill C-10, the legislation that was suggested. Hate speech is already banned by the Criminal Code. There is a way for police to monitor and go after individuals who spread hate speech. Nobody on this side of the House, or any side of the House, agrees with hate speech. I do my best to make sure that when I see it online I address it, whether it is directed at ethnicities or religions, and whatever the purpose is behind it.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage also said that the government wants to block messages on the Internet and social media that might undermine Canada's social cohesion. It is a lofty goal for the government to want to do these things with legislation like Bill C-10 and the vast extension of government powers that it is allowing. I will go through some of the proposed government powers that I find questionable.

I question whether ensuring the social cohesion of a country is the right role for the government to be taking on. Our citizens, NGOs and civic organizations do the job of protecting our civic virtues already. It is not the job of the government to be proposing such legislation as I see here. What I see in Bill C-10 is the government opening the door to state regulation of the Internet. While people define the Internet in different ways, we interact with it every single day, whether by watching steaming services online or interacting with others on different platforms. This is an area that I think the government is erring by getting into.

The same minister went on to say that he wanted to prevent media platforms from sowing doubt in the population with regard to public institutions. I find the government does an excellent job of sowing doubt in public institutions itself. We were told months ago that vaccines were going to be distributed and everybody was going to be vaccinated by September 2021. Then we saw an announcement for AstraZeneca vaccines from a facility that is not even built yet. It will be finished in July, and then we are supposed to believe that in two months somehow this facility will save the day, and also that Pfizer vaccines will be available now that its facility has been upgraded.

It sows doubt among people in my riding who trusted the government at the beginning, who had faith in public institutions and public servants and believed that the government had a handle on this. They do not believe that anymore. I had a digital town hall yesterday and the majority of the questions I had to field from over 600 constituents back home, at one point, concerned the government's dribs-and-drabs approach to the travel restrictions that it has introduced, and how confusing they are. To be honest, I am just as confused as everybody else.

The government does enough of a job of undermining public trust in public institutions. When it botches the rollout of the vaccine to the provinces and introduces random restrictions, it does not need legislation like this. I will go into some of the aspects of what this legislation would do that give me concern.

First, I am concerned that the bill chooses to limit the oversight powers of parliamentary committees with respect to directives and regulations that would be adopted by the CRTC. At the end of the amendments to the Broadcasting Act, the bill states that it would go around the powers Parliament rightfully has to oversee what is being done. I get constituents asking me, all the time, to intervene in the actions and regulatory activities of the CRTC. I have concerns about this.

The Broadcasting Act says that broadcasting undertakings include distribution undertakings. The proposed legislation would add online undertakings. About a dozen people in my riding have successful YouTube channels, such as toy channels and travel channels, when travel was easy to do. YouTube is one of those platforms I think the government is targeting for regulation. YouTube is both a streaming service and a platform. It is sort of a commons area like this chamber, for people to put up videos, whether funny or serious, and share their opinions. Whether or not one likes their opinions is totally secondary.

This is an expansion of what the government is trying to do. A lot of independent media are saying they are very concerned that they are going to be regulated directly by the government. Who gets to decide what is misinformation? What I see happening, mostly from parties on the left but all over the spectrum, is that misinformation is now whatever someone does not like, or whatever opinion one does not agree with.

A lot of Liberal caucus members have opinions I disagree with, but I do not want to censor them. I want to debate them, preferably on the floor of the House. I do not want to do it over Twitter. To me, Twitter is one of the lowest of all platforms. It is where people get attacked, mobbed and treated like second-class citizens. When I talk to constituents about it, I generally refer to Twitter as a sewer with its activities. Bots are all over the place, and there are vicious attacks on both Liberal and Conservative politicians. I think all members have been victims, at some point, of nasty online commentary, either calling for violence or treating the members very poorly. We can all agree that this is something awful and unique to that particular platform.

Another part of the legislation I am worried about would amend a portion of the intention behind the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It reads, “the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as the national public broadcaster, should provide broadcasting,” which is the new amendment, “services incorporating a wide range of programming that informs, enlightens and entertains”. I have a hard time believing that a lot of the material being broadcast right now by the CBC, or its online platforms, informs, enlightens or entertains, unless it is a high form of satire it is producing in its news section.

Bill C-10 does not achieve the modernization of broadcasting, which was the idea the government had months ago when the bill was tabled. Generally, many members agree with that idea. In my lifetime, with the advent of the Internet, we have seen a lot of people migrate away from cable providers. Cable used to be the “it” thing in the 1990s. I would not know, as I never had cable. My family could not afford it.

Everybody has migrated to online services. The government is catching up to regulate these, but it is going way overboard and has missed the mark. This is not the way we should go about regulating it, nor should we take away from Parliament the ability to question and oversee regulators such as the CRTC.

I consistently get complaints about the CRTC and I do not think more government power over what Canadians share online, the discussions they are having at home and online, is an area the government should be getting into. It does not have the wisdom or the ability. It will always be catching up to society and civic institutions not attached to government. The government is erring, and I will not be supporting this particular legislation.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 10:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, as I was saying, I am a bit confused. The member spoke at length about a bill that has not been tabled, which is a bill that will be dealing with online harm, such as child pornography, incitement of violence and terrorism. It seems the member has not read Bill C-10, which deals with how the government wants to legislate to ensure that online platforms do their fair share when it comes to cultural investments in Canada. It has nothing to do with online harm, which is a very important subject, and in fact, many members of the opposition have asked us to—

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 10:15 a.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

I must admit that I am wondering whether my colleague actually read the bill, because there is nothing in there about online hate. However, I was struck by his comment about how people are able to distinguish fact from fiction on their own.

I am wondering if my colleague remembers what happened south of the border on January 6. Does he think that those events could have been the result of the dissemination of misinformation? I would like to know what he thinks about that. I would also like him to tell me what evidence leads him to believe that people can distinguish between accurate information and misinformation. That being said, this does not pertain directly to Bill C-10, which is before us today.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 10:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, I am pleased today to give an overview of some of the inadequacies of Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.

The Liberal government has once again said one thing in its messaging and preamble about what this bill would do, in contrast with what the content of the bill actually enacts. Its message to Canadians is that the bill would ensure online broadcasting is covered under the act. It indicates that the bill updates broadcasting and regulatory policies to better reflect the diversity of Canadian society and that it modernizes and provides the CRTC with new enforcement powers through an administrative monetary penalty scheme.

Updating and modernizing the Broadcasting Act is very important, as it has been almost 30 years since any significant change has been made to Canadian broadcasting regulations. Many of my younger colleagues have commented during their speeches on this topic on how old they were when changes were last made to the Broadcasting Act, even speaking to the fact they were but a glimmer in their parents' eyes.

I cannot say I was there when Maurice Cole was the essence of radio, but I do share a birthday with CKSW, a country music radio station in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, which serves southwestern Saskatchewan and first began broadcasting in 1956.

I grew up enjoying Saturday morning cartoons with the Flintstones, the Road Runner and Bugs Bunny. Saturday nights we watched Hockey Night in Canada, and on Sunday evenings we had popcorn for supper as we were entertained by Red Skelton and Carol Burnett. Movies filmed a detective as he slowly crept along an entire block, and advertisements for headache relief lasted a full 60 seconds. We do not know what we have until it is gone.

That being said, boy, do I love getting to watch what I want, when I want and as much as I want. That is where we are at today, in the blink of an eye. However, that is enough of precious memories. We will move on to the task at hand.

This act provides the guidelines for everything in our media industry. It is a crucial vehicle for determining fairness in the way the industry is regulated, while ensuring it is vibrant and growing with opportunities for Canadians. The Broadcasting Act covers everything from how our Canadian broadcasters operate to how we support Canadian content and production.

The arrival of the Internet and online streaming services has been a reality for a long time now, and they have been competing with Canadian broadcasters on an uneven playing field. Unfortunately, Bill C-10 does not meet the need to set the policies and standards required to level that playing field. The bill is vague. It does not address important aspects of issues important to industry stakeholders, such as ensuring that the web giants Google and Facebook have to compete under the same rules as Canadian companies. It does not explain how digital platforms and conventional players would compete on an even playing field.

Bill C-10 also does not require broadcasters to contribute to the creation of Canadian content or the Canada Media Fund, as is currently the case for Canadian broadcasters.

In the previous majority Liberal government, the then minister of heritage championed the decision of Netflix to support Canadian content with a $5-million commitment. However, I could not help but notice that this generous contribution was immediately followed by an increase in monthly consumer fees, which smacks of Canadians paying outright for this supposed act of generosity and appreciation for investing in Canadian content.

The issue of proprietary content that is shared on digital platforms is also not addressed. The bill does nothing to address the inequity between digital and conventional media; the regulation of social media, such as Facebook; and the sharing of advertising royalties demanded by traditional media.

As well, the absence of language guidelines in the bill disadvantages francophone communities by failing to ensure that online broadcasters create content in both official languages. There are no guidelines to regulate French content, and the specificity of Quebec culture is not mentioned.

The one and only measure to increase the place of French language is the reference in paragraph 3(1)(k) of the act, which states, “a range of broadcasting services in English and in French shall be extended to all Canadians as...[means] become available”.

This is to be replaced by simply removing that last part so that it will now read, “a range of broadcasting services in English and in French shall be progressively extended to all Canadians”.

This does not better reflect the diversity of Canadian society. It changes it, for sure. However, it is unacceptable and represents a much weaker approach than the act provides for aboriginal, racialized and LGBTQ content. It is important to note I am not saying that their content should be minimized in any way, but simply that there is not an even playing field here, even within the act, for French and English content. It is important we do this.

I have children who home-school, and they watch French-language television to increase their French capabilities, which is something I wish I had had the opportunity to do as I was growing up. It was much more difficult for this lady who shares a birthday with a radio station.

The bill also does nothing to modernize the copyright law. With Bill C-10, the government has introduced a broad delegation of powers to the CRTC, without including clear guidelines, on the percentages of Canadian content required, fees and contributions, expenses, French content and so on.

The CRTC's powers have not even been clearly defined at all. In fact, the bill even chooses to limit the oversight powers of parliamentary committees with respect to the directives and regulations adopted by the CRTC. It also limits broadcasters' ability to appeal a decision. This is not acceptable. The message the government is sending is for us to trust it, and we will see it later. The government will, therefore, wait several months for the CRTC to act, and with very limited parliamentary oversight.

This is very poor governance on behalf of Canadians. Canadians expect and deserve accountability in and oversight over their government, and any and all laws, regulations and public institutions governing their opportunities as individuals and peoples. Taking authority away from committees' capacity for oversight and from the Auditor General, and increasing state control of information and conversation is regressive, not progressive. It is a serious overreach by the Liberal government.

In a minority situation, it would have been much more appropriate to come up with a clear bill, detailing in concrete terms the government's approach to all of these issues, rather than simply giving the CRTC more discretion and telling Canadians to wait and see how it would be exercised.

Stakeholders have outlined the many shortcomings I have mentioned today, and in their defence, Bill C-10 is not supportable without significant amendments in response to those requests. I can only hope that the Liberal government has been listening to our stakeholders.

Media has changed forever, and Canadians have changed how they gather information and find entertainment. They have also come to realize that there are no limits on the opportunities to choose where they go for their content.

Apparently I am having trouble with my audio. This is something I deal with all the time, and I apologize. Saskatchewan, for connectivity, comes and goes. I am very frustrated with that. I want what I have to say to be heard.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 10:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Gerald Soroka Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise today to address Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts. In short, Bill C-10 would create a regulatory mess of our streaming and broadcasting industry in Canada.

I understand that one of the main reasons the bill is being brought forward is because it has been so long since our broadcasting regulations have been updated and our current policies are extremely out of date. Therefore, we need to update the Broadcasting Act. However, Bill C-10 as it currently stands is a regulatory mess. Real harms could come from the legislation, and I will use my time today to focus on how the bill is far broader than many realize and certainly broader than the minister has claimed. This has led to a lack of understanding of the consequences of the bill as it relates to the general public.

I will start with addressing the limitations that the government claims are integrated into the bill so that it is not too overreaching.

The minister said in the House of Commons, “user-generated content, new 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 can be imposed." This claim by the minister is false, as no specific economic threshold would be established by the bill, which means that all internet streaming services carried in Canada, domestically and foreign-owned, would be subject to Canadian regulation. This means that if someone has Canadian subscribers, this law would apply, regardless of where the service provider is located.

The limitations the minister is referring to are that the bill would give the CRTC the power to exempt services from regulation. It would also leave it entirely up to the CRTC to establish thresholds and regulations once the bill is enacted. However, members should make no mistake; handing this half-baked legislation to the CRTC is not a fix or the same as claiming that the bill contains significant economic thresholds.

It is probably fair to say that the CRTC will not limit its regulatory approach to companies that generate large revenues in Canada as they will want to generate more tax revenue in order for the CRTC to determine who might be exempt. It is only likely to require that smaller foreign service providers register with the CRTC and provide it with confidential subscriber information, revenue data and whatever else the CRTC may ask for.

This policy could have unintended consequences and internet streaming services thinking about entering the Canadian marketplace could put their plans on hold until the legislation has been implemented for some time and until they have a better understanding of what they will face from the regulatory perspective. This could lead to less competition, less choice and an oligopoly market where Canadian consumers are overcharged.

Further on this economic threshold, the bill would leave the CRTC open to establish its own thresholds. Then what happens if they establish a high threshold that limits it to targeting a handful of large companies like Netflix, Prime Video, etc.? These are American companies, and the policy then would invite a trade challenge.

As I quoted earlier, the minister said that there would be exemptions for user-generated content, news content and video games and that none of those would be subject to new regulations. There is a reference to the user-generated content in the bill, but it covers the individuals, not necessarily the sites themselves.

YouTube, as an example, is only exempt if it limits itself to user-generated content. Once it moves outside that realm and has subscription services, as the site currently does, then it would be caught by this legislation. Therefore, there would not be as many sites and services that are 100% completely excluded from this legislation.

Maybe now members can see what I am getting at when I say the bill is a regulatory mess.

Continuing to the video game side, there is no reference in the legislation, just an assurance by the government that video games will be exempt. However, we have heard assurances from the Liberal government before and know its assurances do not carry much weight.

On the issue of news content, the minister said that would be excluded too, but once again that is not the case.

Online sites that offer news in video and audio format fall into this grey area, where they could be interpreted to fall under the bill. The language surrounding news content in the bill is confusing to say the least.

For example, it says that news sites that do not predominantly display text are not captured by the act. What it does not say is that those same news sites that rely on audio and video would be regulated by the act. The potential scope of news site regulation under the bill is wide-ranging as it covers everything from small local media sites to podcasts. Therefore, when the minister said that news content was excluded, that is just not true.

Whether we are talking about Rebel News, PressProgress or anything in between, it is important that online news not be affected by regulatory burdens intended to target large companies. That would be doing the exact opposite of levelling the playing field as the government claims this bill is supposed to do. Regulating Internet content in any way sets a dangerous precedent and is a threat to the freedom of expression. We must ensure the bill would not do that.

I have only a few minutes left and I have not even begun to address the massive costs associated with the implementation and enforcement of Bill C-10. I am sure some of my colleagues will go into further detail on the costs, so I will leave it with them. However, the massive cost of this program will no doubt be passed along to the consumers.

Since the legislation was introduced to the House, several of my constituents have emailed my office expressing their concerns with the legislation. Constituents fear that in attempting to level the playing field, the government would only make things worse. They say, “All [Bill] C-10 will accomplish is further entrenching the power of the legacy media companies who already benefit from today's rigid CanCon/Canada Media-Fund structure, while leaving small and indie new media Canadian creators without meaningful government support.”

I absolutely agree that it is important we level the playing field. I think most members have the same sentiment. However, how we do that is where the Conservatives differ from the Liberals. As always, the Liberals want to bring in more taxes and punish ordinary Canadians who like to unwind and watch TV and movies. The Conservatives, on the other hand, have a leader who is committed to levelling the playing field, but to do so by eliminating the goods and services taxes on subscriptions to Canadian digital platforms.

The government needs to step up and make clarifications in some of the areas I have outlined. As I have said, it seems we are trying to achieve the same goal here, but have different ideological approaches on how we get there. It is important that the legislation define the term “significant economic threshold”, and stop passing the buck to the CRTC.

I welcome questions and comments from my colleagues, and hope we can work together to pass a bill that would benefit the majority of Canadians and does not have unintended consequences.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 10:45 a.m.
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Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Liberal

Steven Guilbeault LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, there seems to be a confusion. The broadcasting bill deals with cultural issues and has nothing to do with issues such as online harm or disinformation. The member for Yellowhead talked about the increase in cost. Netflix has increased its subscription in 20 different countries. Does the member think that increases in subscriptions in those 20 countries are a result of Bill C-10?

The previous Conservative member spoke at great length about how the Conservatives really liked the Australian model. Believe it or not, the Australian model has regulators to enforce the legislation. I have in fact spoken with those regulators. I would like the member to tell me the difference between what Australia is doing, by using regulators, and what Canada is proposing. How is that different?

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Madam Speaker, this is one of my first times speaking over Zoom, so it is a new experience for me. I appreciate much more being able speaking physically from the House, but given the pandemic, that is not possible, so here I am speaking in the House in the Commons from northern Alberta. It is kind of a weird thing. Nonetheless, I have seen many of my friends on Zoom, who are all smiling, so I know they must be doing okay around the world.

Bill C-10, I must admit, is a tough bill to get through given that it amends a whole bunch of other pieces of legislation. It always drives me a little crazy when we are dealing with stuff like this, because there are all of these little chunks of law in the bill that amend this act and that act. It takes a long time to pull it all together and get a full picture of what we are all trying to achieve. What is clear is that it is giving the CRTC new powers and new responsibilities.

I do hear a lot of frustration about the CRTC, about its not doing what it is supposed to be doing and doing other things that people do not appreciate. This is going to be interesting one way or the other. I know that with Internet installation and whoever is bringing the Internet to certain communities, the CRTC gets involved and many times whenever that is happening, there is paperwork to be filled out, phone calls to be made and folks get frustrated with how the CRTC responds, like they do with many other government organizations, such as the CRA. Folks end up in my office saying that the government is not doing what it is supposed to be doing. I have to sort all of that out. Regardless of where this bill goes and how it ends up, there will be more folks showing up in my office complaining about the CRTC's doing something or not doing something when it is supposed to be doing something else. I know that will be a challenge going forward.

Bringing Canadian content to Canadians has been an ongoing challenge. We live next door to a media giant, the United States, which has the budget, the population and Hollywood. They are able to bring content to the world. I do not think this is a unique problem to Canada. Although we are very close to the United States and our culture is similar to theirs, I would imagine that the entire English-speaking world is dominated by American media. We often end up with American content on our local channels, because it is easy and we can get it for a relatively low price.

What is interesting about this is that we do have a national broadcaster dedicated to Canada, paid for by our taxpayer dollars. Over a billion dollars a year goes to the CBC. Canadian content sometimes is very minimal. I never watch the CBC, but I do listen to it on the radio in my pickup. Often, American politics and American stories take up the majority of the news cycle on our national broadcaster. I always find that fascinating. Nevertheless, I do listen to the CBC in my pickup. I have to admit that. I am Dutch. I know that I am paying lots of money to fund the CBC, so for as long as I can stomach it, I listen to the CBC because I think I should get something for all of that money we are paying for the CBC. The CBC comes up in this bill from time to time and I hope that it will be a part of it as well.

The bill talks about the CBC, our national broadcaster, playing a role in our Canadian content. I know that is an important piece of what the national broadcaster is there for and I hope that we start to see a culture change at the CBC so that Canadian content, Canadian topics and Canadian interests are covered and that 75% of the news cycle is not American stories. That drives me a little nuts, to be sure.

I am a unique member of Parliament in the fact that I live hundreds of kilometres from the American border. Many Canadians live within 100 kilometres of the American border and I live nearly 1,000 kilometres from the border, so I do not necessarily have as much to do with Americans every day life as maybe other Canadians do. I am not sure how much interaction the rest of Canada has with the United States, but I know that when I went to university in B.C., in the Fraser Valley, when I lived in Abbotsford, people could spit and hit the American border, as I would always says. We could see it. On the weekends, there would be a long line-up to buy milk and gas just up the road from where I lived, as it went across to the United States. For those living in the Lower Mainland of B.C., interacting with the United States was a common occurrence.

Where I live, the interactions with the United States probably come in the form of Amazon and the things we order having to come across the border. Every now and then we have to pay a little more money because something happened to the package at the border, such as agents opening the package, having a look at it and then charging $12 when we picked it up. That is more typical of the interactions we have due to our relationship with the United States.

I do see a need for local content. The billion dollars we spend on the CBC could definitely be put toward that. The CBC infrastructure where I live, in many cases, is the only radio station people can pick up. That is the repeater infrastructure across northern Alberta. I value that. People do not have cell service for stretches when driving, but they do have CBC radio. It could be that we would have more regional content.

We talk a lot about the Laurentian elite. The CBC is very good and very representative of eastern Canada. It tells the stories in the voice of a central Canadian. Even when they are telling the story of the perspective of northern Alberta or the territories, it is always in the voice of a central Canadian. I do not think it is necessarily intentional, but that is the way it is. There is a central Canadian feel about it. Ironically, I do not think central Canadians even understand what that is, in the same way I do not necessarily know what a western Canadian is or does and an eastern Canadian does not necessarily know what an eastern Canadian says or does from the other perspective. I would love to see the CBC definitely speak with a western voice.

It comes down to the way that we talk and think about things. We see that often. I do not know if it is because the journalism schools are located out east or what the deal is, but we get the general sense that even when our stories from northern Alberta, northern Canada or the territories are being told, it is told in an eastern voice, if that is even a thing. I am not sure an eastern voice is a thing, but it is a term I am going to use that I like.

I am excited to see that the government is going to try to encourage national content. I am always concerned, however, when the Liberals get involved in trying to encourage or discourage anything. That usually means taxing and subsidizing something, which is always a fascinating thing. I think there is something to the effect that if there is a successful company, it should be taxed, but when it is struggling, it should be subsidized. There is a story about that. We have watched that over and over again. The oil sector here in Alberta was doing great—

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 12:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Peace River—Westlock for his speech, in which he spoke about the importance of local content and a strong regional press.

During the pandemic, my colleague from Drummond and I have met with local media representatives and representatives from a co-operative radio station. They shared their concerns with us, including concerns about community media.

Although Bill C-10 has its flaws, we look forward to it being studied and worked on in committee. We want this to move forward because the concerns remain.

I just had a request for another meeting, along with my colleague from Drummond, because representatives from local media have some suggestions for us.

How can the GAFAM of the world pay their fair share and how can local media get adequate funding?

We all recognize that local media is essential. It is important to move forward and send Bill C-10 to committee. I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on that.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Madam Speaker, I am proud to speak today on Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act.

While this bill has some serious technical aspects, which I will get into in a moment, I would like to begin by highlighting the fact that at the end of the day, even though we are talking about regulations and broadcasting rules, we are ultimately talking about Canadian jobs. Today we can even look at some of the job losses. This morning we heard of the additional 213,000 job losses in Canada in the month of January, which once again has increased our unemployment rate, so while we are having this discussion we have to also focus on what this is all about, which ultimately is about people working here in Canada.

I also want to look back for a moment at what we have seen here in my own riding of Elgin—Middlesex—London and highlight some of the work that was being done here prior to the pandemic.

I remember the excitement in the community of St. Thomas when it was announced that Jason Momoa—and I probably said that wrong, as I am one of the few people who has not watched Aquaman—was coming to our area and that Apple TV was going to produce a show right in our own backyard at the psychiatric hospital here in St. Thomas, or actually in central Elgin, for those who are from here.

These are really important things to our community. Sean Dyke, who is our economic development agent for the City of St. Thomas, had talked about other companies coming to our area. Most recently, the Amazon movie The Boys was being filmed here, and Guillermo del Toro did Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Many people are choosing locations right here in our own backyard in the City of St. Thomas, and also in the community of Port Stanley. I know the village of Port Stanley has been used for sites, and I can think of Bayham in the Port Burwell area as well.

These are really important parts when we talk about productions. We have to look at what is being done in our communities and how talent is being drawn to our communities, whether through production or acting, and how that is highlighting some of the great things we have in our own communities.

I talk about this with a lot of excitement because my son, who is an actor, has been part of multiple productions for Netflix, and this is an opportunity for actors to get their foot in the door. Many other companies are now coming in and producing well-connected dramas and shows in our areas, and we are receiving economic development from them.

I am not going to speak specifically on the infrastructure of the bill and what that looks like. The reason I am not is basically because of its lack of clarity. I am finding it very difficult to understand, so I have to just look at the impacts of Bill C-10 here in Elgin—Middlesex—London and how we can move forward from this.

I know that conversations about economic growth have unfortunately been falling on the deaf ears of the government for a while, and we know that many of these productions will not be able to get back in order until there are rapid tests, vaccines and the tools needed to get people back to work so they can resume the great work that is being done.

I am not trying to advertise for any of these movies or shows, but Bill C-10 will have a tangible impact on how the content will be classified. Filming movies and TV shows in the heart of my riding, within the Canadian economy and with Canadian actors, actresses and crew members, cannot be classified as Canadian content, because all of the financing and production is handled by American companies. That is why I talk about the clarity of this bill, the idea of Canadian content and what CanCon actually looks like. I will tell members that every single cheque my son brought home in 2020 was from an American company, yet he was a Canadian actor acting in Toronto, so what is happening in our own communities has to be looked at as well.

These massive companies are also not contributing back into the Canada Media Fund and are not being taxed in the same way as Canadian corporations. This is inherently unfair for local producers, small papers and broadcasters working to highlight Canadian content and provide reliable content for Canadians.

I want clarity in this bill so that I can read it and understand the impacts of what the Liberals are putting forward. There have been barriers in the past, and this is why it is really important to have this conversation.

While it is definitely important that we modernize the Broadcasting Act and introduce some fairness to the industry, including requiring web giants and social media to pay their fair share, we have to remember that getting this wrong can directly impact Canadian jobs and that over-regulation or lack of clarity in the rules will ultimately lead companies to film elsewhere, causing Canadians to lose out on these new opportunities. The more barriers we have, the more likely it is that people will wonder if it is worth doing in Canada.

I am not saying that there should not be some fair ground here; I absolutely believe that there needs to be, but I do want to put into this debate today the fact that the clarity just is not there.

Another worry I have from Bill C-10 is that it has placed limited abilities on parliamentary committees to oversee the directives and regulations that are being adopted by the CRTC. I do not have to remind everyone of the government's dismal record on accountability. I know I speak for many of my colleagues when I say that it seems that the government's overwhelming priority, even in the middle of this pandemic, is to avoid accountability.

Without even getting into the political reasons for its completely unnecessary prorogation, we have seen by time and time again the government running from accountability, filibustering committees, covering its tracks on things such as the WE Charity and covering for a Prime Minister who would rather hide at Rideau Cottage than face the music. The fact that there is not going to be accountability here in Parliament for these powers being given to the CRTC is an issue. We do not want to see the unintended consequences without a thorough debate.

The government has not earned the trust of Canadians when it comes to broadcasting. Let us not forget that this is the same heritage minister who seems to have no problem in demanding that news organizations be licensed. I want to talk about that because I can share my own concerns on this issue.

There was a situation that happened here in Elgin—Middlesex—London with a person I know who is a journalist in our region. His concern is whether putting online publishers under the same type of broadcast regulations lays the groundwork to regulate online news content in the same way that television and radio content is being governed by broadcast regulations.

The government says news publishers will not be affected by these changes, but the problem is that the government has a limited definition of who qualifies as news and as media. According to the legislation, paragraph (i) specifies 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.” Once again we are establishing so many unknowns, and once again we need clarity on this aspect.

Just prior to when this legislation came out, Andrew Coyne, a writer with The Globe and Mail, wrote:

If that sounds paranoid, consider the weight the government puts on its assurances that online broadcasters would not have to be “licensed”. That's true, as far as it goes. They would just be obliged to “register” with the CRTC, subject to certain “conditions of service,” enforced by “fines.”

We can talk about the fact that there will not be these limitations, but we have to look at some of the other language being used. This is very concerning, because at this time right now, it is really important that we have proper news agencies and proper news reporting and that we are ensuring that we are getting all sides of the story.

Finally, the bill does not provide any benchmarks to legislate the percentage of French content. We have heard from many of our members today, specifically from Quebec. I have been working on my French recently and I hope to one day enjoy the bounty of wonderful content filmed and produced in Quebec in French, but this bill does nothing to help French language content.

I know some serious modernizations are needed to help our Broadcasting Act here in Canada, but I do not believe that the bill exactly does this. I am very concerned with the bill, as I said, and I hope there will be much more clarity in it. I believe we do need to find a balance between our big corporations and our smaller corporations, the new players on the field and the players that have been there for years, but let us make sure that we are doing it with all players on board, because I believe we are missing out.

I am now happy to take any questions.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Nelly Shin Conservative Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, in my past life before politics, I was an independent recording artist. I was inspired by the music of Dan Hill, Anne Murray, David Foster, Céline Dion and Shania Twain. I discovered them on radio and television. I do not think it is a coincidence that most of my favourite musicians are Canadian; we have a lot of talent here, but the stars whom I mentioned found their big break in the U.S. instead of Canada. I shared this story because I want to affirm the symbiosis of Canadian content creators and Canadian broadcasters in the lives of Canadians and the value of protecting these institutions to allow Canada's cultural and artistic identity to thrive.

Bill C-10 is important in spirit because it seeks to modernize a 28-year-old law that does not take into account diversified broadcasting platforms with the arrival of the digital world, including Internet, social media and streaming. It is critical to acknowledge the reality of new and growing digital platforms and the implications of a global market and of foreign players entering our system, and we must do so with consideration for the long-term sustainability of Canadian content and Canadian broadcasting platforms. This requires adapting the CRTC's mandates to maximize the success of Canadian entities in the broadcasting ecosystem for the furtherance of Canada's heritage and economic prosperity.

We cannot ignore the impact of the broadcasting, film and music sectors on the Canadian economy. Based on a November 2020 report on Canadian Heritage's website, the GDP impact of broadcasting was $9.1 billion, with $16.9 billion in revenues and 41,901 jobs; the GDP impact of film and video was $4.3 billion, with $13.39 billion in revenues and 71,027 jobs; and the GDP impact of music and sound recording was $637 million, with $577 million in revenues and 8,986 jobs.

The trend is also clear. Over the last 10 years, Canadians have increasingly moved toward Internet streaming services for programs, while moving away from paid-subscription TV. These are both viable avenues for viewers today. The implications of these trends plead for a modernized Broadcasting Act. That is the intent of Bill C-10, but I am not fully convinced that the proposed amendments would accomplish what the bill purports to do. I hope to address these issues today.

Canadian content producers and broadcasters have a vital role in the production of quality Canadian drama, reality shows and news. Property Brothers, Schitt's Creek, Kim's Convenience and Wall of Chefs are top-notch Canadian shows that have garnered global attention. We are living in an exciting time for Canadian content, but content requires funding.

Canadian content creators have expressed concern that the proposed amendment to paragraph 3(1)(f) of the Broadcasting Act reflects a weakening of the crucial position of Canadian creative resources in the act. As the act currently stands without amendments, it does so under the assumption of a closed system wherein Canadian controlled and owned broadcasters hold a monopoly. Paragraph 3(1)(f) currently reads:

(f) each broadcasting undertaking shall make maximum use, and in no case less than predominant use, of Canadian creative and other resources in the creation and presentation of programming,

Bill C-10 excludes the phrase “maximum use, and in no case less than predominant” and other conditions. The amendment reads:

(f) each broadcasting undertaking shall make use of Canadian creative and other resources in the creation and presentation of programming to the extent that is appropriate for the nature of the undertaking;

Canadian content creators are concerned that this amendment would diminish the critical position of Canadian creators in the Broadcasting Act. My concern about proposed amendment to paragraph 3(1)(f) is its overall lack of clarity and accountability on the role of all broadcasters, whether traditional or modern, in contributing to the creation and presentation of Canadian content. I agree with Canadian creators that the amendment would undermine the value of Canadian content in the Broadcasting Act. In a time when Canadian stories are beginning to find larger audiences and are defining our artistic identity, the amendment to paragraph 3(1)(f) is a little disappointing.

I would like to add that the lack of copyright and intellectual property safeguards in the amendments in the midst of the current international environment does not reflect modernization. Writers, composers, publishers and other copyright holders depend on royalties for their livelihoods. It is already difficult for Canadians with artistic vocations to make ends meet. Many domestic talents move to the U.S., Europe or Asia to find a viable path. The lack of intellectual property protection in the growing and complex digital world and globalized markets is unacceptable in this age. The Broadcasting Act needs to include a modernized copyright law. If Canada does not work toward optimizing the environment for creators to thrive, our cultural identity suffers. Canadian content is not just a means to help Canadian works to reach audiences; Canadian content should be protected and supported to help our arts and culture sectors help establish our heritage and Canadian identity.

Bill C-10 is important in spirit because it seeks to safeguard equitable programming. Bill C-10 amends the Broadcasting Act to, among other things, update the Canadian broadcasting policies set out in sections throughout the act by providing, among other things, that the Canadian broadcasting system should provide opportunities for aboriginal peoples to provide programming in aboriginal languages that reflect aboriginal cultures, and to provide programming that is accessible to persons with disabilities and free of barriers while serving the needs and the interests of Canadians, including Canadians from racialized communities and ethno culturally diverse backgrounds.

The bill amends the CRTC's mandate to require more content in aboriginal, disabled, racialized and LGBTQ2 people. However, the bill does not address any guidelines to regulate French content. There is no provision of a benchmark to legislate the percentage of French language content. Equitable programming needs to also modernize the Broadcasting Act to ensure that French and Quebec culture content are given adequate opportunities to thrive.

Broadcasters are critical to fostering Canadian identity in the role they have with Canadian content. Whether they deliver Canadian news, reality shows and drama, or contribute to the Canada Media Fund to produce Canadian content, they are critical to our cultural identity, everyday life and our economy. However, in the current Broadcasting Act there are obligations and content regulations that mean well to safeguard Canadian content creators, but inadvertently put them at risk of losing in their competition with foreign digital players who have access to Canadian consumers with little regulation at this time. If Canadian broadcasters fall down, then their support for Canadian content also falters.

The broadcasting system is a delicate realm that requires a delicate balance for all to thrive. Providing an even playing field with foreign Internet broadcasters like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney, Apple TV+ will certainly help alleviate the unfair competition. Foreign companies should also contribute to Canadian content, but with that should also come the right balance of regulations so that all players, domestic and foreign, can flourish. If they thrive, their investment in Canadian content creation and presentation will inadvertently benefit the fostering of Canada's cultural identity and economy.

In an age when many entities are competing for audiences in the digital world, Canadian news broadcasters are suffering from the added drop in ad sales caused by the economic downturn from COVID-19. A fair and modernized Broadcasting Act would benefit Canada's broadcasting sector. However, Bill C-10 is too vague and does not ensure that web giants like Google and Facebook are obligated to compete under the same rules as Canadian companies. That does not explain how digital platforms and conventional players will compete on an even playing field. It does not explain the guidelines that will be put in place for the production of Canadian content and contributions to the Canada Media Fund.

It would be incumbent on the CRTC to enforce regulations to reflect a modernized act. However, the role of the CRTC is vague. The lack of clarity raises concerns for all stakeholders as to how the CRTC will interpret its role. Will the CRTC over-regulate and stifle Canadian broadcasters among foreign digital counterparts? Will it over-regulate foreign players and shut them out of the system and thereby lessen opportunities for the relaying of Canadian content?

Based on the way the bill is written, it feels like the Liberal government is passing the buck to the CRTC for all decisions. They will then need at least nine months to undertake the first regulatory phase. In this COVID environment we need broadcasters and Canadian creators to have an assurance that they will survive and hope to thrive among international players.

I would like to refer to a conversation I had with one of my constituents, Rob, who owns Gearforce, a pro audio company that supports live concerts. He said that many of his technician friends in the entertainment industry are struggling not only because they are financially hurting because of shutdowns, but also because they are not putting their skills to work. They are afraid they will lose all of the skills they honed over their lifetime. There is a certain standard of excellence that circulates in the arts and culture sector, whether among writers, composers, artists, artisans or technical workers, who have had to work hard to get where they are in a sector where opportunities are very competitive.

A Broadcasting Act that is modernized with the right amendments is a small step forward to helping Canadian arts and culture sector workers and artists find their place in life. However, an ambiguous bill can be more damaging because of potential misinterpretations. If Bill C-10 passes second reading, I hope there will be fulsome discussions at committee to amend the bill.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Chris d'Entremont Conservative West Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise virtually today to speak to Bill C-10.

Like many of my colleagues, I appreciate this opportunity to speak to this bill. I am an Acadian, and this bill will have a profound effect on the survival of our wonderful Acadian culture and community, which is very important to me. It deserves being promoted and protected.

Digital media is bigger than ever, and the 28-year-old Broadcasting Act is in urgent need of modernization to address the evolution of the Internet and the overwhelming emergence of social networks and online services like Facebook, Google, Netflix, Crave and Spotify, among others.

Modernizing the act does not necessarily mean erasing the past, forgetting how it has shaped our history to this day or failing to take it into account in the future. We need to ensure the continuity of our past and our Acadian culture and preserve them for always.

In its brief to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission during the CBC/Radio-Canada licence renewal process, the Société nationale de l'Acadie, the SNA, noted that it has had to intervene repeatedly to get Radio-Canada to support Acadian culture and to remind the broadcaster about the obligations in its mandate.

As a proud Acadian, and on behalf of all Acadians, I want to point out that all Acadians, just like all Canadians, help fund CBC/Radio-Canada. That funding, together with the broadcaster's mandate, are all that guarantee these services, which must be not only preserved at all costs but also respected. To make that happen, we need effective enforcement measures to be very clearly indicated in Bill C-10, which is not the case.

The SNA is the official representative of all Acadian people. It promotes the rights and interests of Atlantic Acadians. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the SNA for its hard work and its efforts to preserve our magnificent Acadian culture.

The bill seeks to amend the Broadcasting Act in several ways, such as by adding websites that broadcast or rebroadcast programs as a separate category of broadcasting undertaking. It also seeks to update Canada's broadcasting policy set out in section 3 to, for example, provide indigenous-language programming for indigenous people that reflects their culture.

I believe that Bill C-10 needs to go even further to ensure the presence and preservation of certain cultures, such as Acadian culture. I absolutely agree that the act needs to be modernized, just as the Official Languages Act needs to be modernized. On this side of the House, we want to be able to vote on a bill that will be fair for Canadian producers and broadcasters.

For several years now, Canadians have been expressing concerns about how unfair it is that Netflix does not pay any taxes in Canada. The goal is to find a balance between conventional media and digital media, as well as with content.

I completely agree with that goal. The francophone population of Nova Scotia, which listens to the Radio-Canada station out of Halifax, is upset about the fact that they hear more updates on traffic jams in Montreal and on the Samuel de Champlain Bridge than they do content from Nova Scotia artists.

It is important to point out that the case of the Atlantic provinces is unique. There is only one television production centre, supported by three radio production centres, to serve the four provinces. We want more local content to reflect the unique nature of Acadia and to promote and protect Acadian culture.

Unfortunately, when the CBC does not keep its commitments, even when complaints are filed with the CRTC, it is generally not penalized because it is not subject to the same rules as other Canadian broadcasters.

In 2021, it is unacceptable that this exemption still exists. It needs to be removed through Bill C-10. It is vital that the percentage of Canadian content is respected to the letter and that each region of Canada can enforce its local cultural content quotas.

The Conservatives want an equitable regulatory framework for digital media and conventional broadcasters. My Conservative colleagues and I will only be able to support the modernization of the Broadcasting Act if it includes additional, clear, non-negotiable francophone content requirements.

During the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's licence renewal process, the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse noted in its brief presented on January 13 to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission that Acadians in Nova Scotia did not get access to a French-language elementary school education until 1981. It took a legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada for them to finally, in 2003, get access to a French-language education in a system of homogenous secondary schools. Without that education in French, Acadians in Nova Scotia became assimilated at an alarming rate. Between 1981 and 1996, the number of French-speaking Acadians in Nova Scotia went from 80,000 to 42,000,

In the spring and fall of 2019, the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse consulted extensively throughout the province on linguistic insecurity. Participants all reported experiencing language insecurity, discomfort or reluctance to express themselves in French, or even a feeling of inadequacy in French. I am quite saddened by these results. The lack of familiarity on the part of the broader Canadian public when it comes to Nova Scotia's Acadian community contributes to this linguistic insecurity.

Local content must be created so people can see themselves reflected in the media. The one and only measure to improve the place of French is to replace the reference in section 3 that weakens it further. This step backwards is completely unacceptable. It represents a much more vague and, more importantly, a much weaker approach than the act provides for indigenous content, for example.

This is another example of the Liberal government's contradictions. The government is further weakening an essential piece of legislation that is already weak, while making francophone communities across Canada believe that it will introduce a bill to modernize the Official Languages Act, which would focus on the promotion and protection of the French language for all minority francophone communities. That is nonsense.

In light of all these points, there is no way I can vote in favour of this bill without a firm commitment from the government to thoroughly review all the amendments needed to improve it in order to ensure that Acadian and francophone Canadian content has the kind of future it deserves.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 1:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Kram Conservative Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure today to speak to Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.

This has to be one of the most enjoyable debates I have had the opportunity to participate in this chamber. With such a vast and diverse country like ours, it is interesting to see the different local content from the far corners of our country.

This is near and dear to my heart, not just because of the content on the screen but because of the experiences of the persons who are involved in creating the content. That includes the background extras.

I had the very good fortune of being a background extra in several productions in my hometown in Regina, in the surrounding area. It all came about by chance, but it really did open my eyes to the so-called gig economy that has been in the news much more lately during the pandemic.

I was walking through the mall one day in Regina and I saw a guy, who has since become a good friend of mine, sitting at a table and a sign that said, “Sign up here to be in TV shows”. I asked him what it was all about. He was the casting director for a local company called Partners in Motion, which makes movies and TV shows in Regina and in southern Saskatchewan. He told me that I looked like a police officer and he had a spot for me in the documentary series called Crime Stories. They needed background extras to re-enact these crimes and they could cast me in the role of a police officer to arrest some criminal for the documentary series. It sounded like fun and a good way to make minimum wage on the side, so that is what I did. It really opened my eyes to how many people in my community had hobbies or gig jobs being background extras in TV shows.

Over the course of the following months and years, I arrested many different people in that crime series. I got to be a soldier in war. In a particularly memorable experience, I got to be a background extra in Corner Gas: The Movie. People tend to talk about Corner Gas, the TV show, but there was a major motion picture a few years ago, based on all the characters in Dog River, Corner Gas. It was certainly very memorable to walk up and down Main Street in Rouleau, Saskatchewan. I played towns person number seven in that movie. Much to my dismay, I was not nominated for an Oscar that year, but in the sequel perhaps my name will come up.

I have not seen anything in the bill to address the gig economy and people who work in the industry on a casual basis. I strongly suspect that this is something not specific to Regina, Saskatchewan, but specific to people who work in the industry all across our great country.

I think we could do Canadians a lot of good by withdrawing this bill and rewriting it from scratch to ensure that everyone is included in it and to ensure we have the best legislation we can for Canadians.

Therefore, I would like to move the following amendment. I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That'"and substituting the following: “Bill C-10, An act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, be not now read a second time but that the order be discharged, the bill withdrawn and the subject matter thereof referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.”

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

December 11th, 2020 / 10:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, we are debating Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act.

I want to wish everyone in the House and those watching a very merry Christmas.

The bill that we are debating today is a potential gift for all Canadians, something we all hold dear, and there needs to be a timely change to the Broadcasting Act. Things have changed so much in the last few years with digital content that change is something I think we can all get behind.

Being as it is a potential gift for all Canadians, I tried to consult the expert on gifts for all Canadians at Christmastime. Who did I try to get in touch with? It was Santa Claus. I have to say that it was a little more difficult this year. I want Santa to know that I tried to get in touch. I am wearing my favourite Christmas tie that he gave me and I want to thank him very much. It reminds me of Christmas. I wanted to get Santa's opinion on this bill, because this is a potential gift for all Canadians.

As kids around Canada are watching this debate intently, I want them to know that Santa is working hard this year. He is making sure the elves in the factory are kept very safe. He is following all of the protocols. He wants people to remember the Christmas message of being kind to our neighbours, to reach out to somebody who may be in need, and that this is a time about love and community. This year has certainly been a tough year, so I think all parliamentarians can get behind that statement.

Because I could not get in touch with Santa, I have to give my own opinion on this bill we are debating today. As I said, I would love to be able to support it because it is a great gift, but I think I am going to have to give it a lump of coal, unfortunately, that might increase greenhouse gases too. Because there are so many faults in this bill, it really is very difficult for me to figure out where exactly I can start.

Maybe I will start with last night. Like many Canadians, my wife and I were at home doing things that Canadians do. We were not drinking Sortilège and eating tourtière. I think everybody would like to be doing that, but we were streaming a series that my wife likes. We were bingeing on a series called Virgin River. It is a very interesting romantic drama series, a series I would normally not want to watch, but when wives say they want to watch a romantic drama series, it is really important that their husbands pay attention to that.

I was watching the show and I suddenly realized I knew actors and actresses. It was set in northern California, but it was beautiful.

As we were sitting around binge-watching, I thought I recognized what I was seeing. I googled it and I found out this show Virgin River actually has numerous Canadian actors and actresses in it and takes place in British Columbia. I thought how appropriate it is we are actually debating this bill, because Netflix is a company that already knows the quality of Canadian actors, sets and scenery. As far as it doing business in this country, there are not a lot of rules.

I have listened to some of the debates, and some of the parliamentarians here feel that big giants like Netflix are actually the bad guys. I actually think it is a great business. If someone had asked me a few years ago how I would watch TV, this was not the way I thought we would be doing it. It is the new way. If we can attract more of its investment in this community to take Canadian scenery and Canadian actors and actresses and spread it out around the world, would it not be wonderful for Canadian culture?

In this House, I think most of us disagree with the Prime Minister when he said that Canadians have no core identity, we have no distinct culture, we want to be the first post-national state. We are proud of our culture and we want to make sure going forward in this new technology, this new digital format, we will be winning in the world and not being set behind.

For companies like Netflix, one of the reasons I cannot support this is because this bill is not clear on the rules. We know Canadian providers need to have 25% to 40% Canadian content and participate with 5% of their profits into the Media Fund, but new technologies need new rules and this legislation falls short.

I want to talk about the vagueness of this bill. It is really important to have fairness and equity put into our system, but this bill would not ensure web giants such as Google and Facebook, for example, would have to compete on the same playing field as Canadian companies. Because it does nothing to address the inequity between digital and conventional forums, it is very difficult to support this bill.

On decision-making, while other countries have an arbitration board, decisions would be made with orders in council. In other words, the Prime Minister and his cabinet would be making decisions on this bill. Right now, Canadians are a bit edgy about the government making all these decisions.

This bill would also allow the CRTC new broad powers, with no clear guidelines, which increases the uncertainty. Like I said, for Canadians to flourish in this new environment, they need certainty. Investors need certainty. When we are competing around the world, if Australia has its system figured out but Canada does not, where do we think these large international platforms are going to be doing their work?

I want to talk about fairness. In the last couple of weeks I was contacted by the local newspapers in my riding. There are two really great local newspapers in Oshawa. One is The Oshawa Express, run by sisters Kim Boatman and Sandy McDowell. It is a great entrepreneurial business run by women. The other one is Oshawa This Week, and I was contacted by Barb Yezik.

They were talking to me about this legislation and how important it is to get it right. Right now with COVID, these businesses are struggling. We need to make sure when we implement a new piece of legislation we get it right, but also that it is done in a very timely fashion. They explained to me that the primary issue is how their business model is disrupted by the web giants like Facebook and Google.

For example, Oshawa This Week and The Oshawa Express are not paid for their content. As far as the process of which they are a part, it really is not transparent on revenue sharing and advertising splits. A statistic that really concerned me when I heard it, and I think it concerns all of us in here, is that Facebook and Google pocket up to 80% of the ad revenue in Canada. Think about that. That is a huge amount of money that goes outside of this country. It is huge, and especially during this time of COVID, it is affecting them more severely.

The Oshawa Express and Oshawa This Week basically have their bricks and mortar in my community of Oshawa. They pay their local taxes, pay their national taxes and pay reporters to go out and get these stories.

It is so important that we support these small businesses, these entrepreneurs. Right now we are stuck with so much uncertainty and lack of traditional income. I am really happy we are acting on this, but again, this bill does not provide a framework or certainty as to how these businesses are going to be able to continue. We need to make sure they are viable, because it is local media that really tells the truth about our communities. They come out to our events. They support Canada and Canadians in everything we do in our communities.

I only have one minute left, but I want to mention that I think yesterday Australia passed its legislation. That has given businesses that operate in Australia clear guidelines and a way to arrange their competitiveness not only in Australia, but to get an idea of how they will be able to compete around the world, because the world is getting smaller every single year.

We wanted this bill to talk about fairness, competitiveness and how it would ensure content producers are treated fairly. Unfortunately, we do not have that.

Madam Speaker, I would love to talk a bit longer, with a bit of time to talk about Santa Claus, but with that, I wish a merry Christmas to you and all of my colleagues in the House.

I am available for questions.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

December 11th, 2020 / 10:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Kenny Chiu Conservative Steveston—Richmond East, BC

Madam Speaker, I am glad the government has finally brought this long-awaited modernization of the Broadcasting Act, also known as Bill C-10. Too often government regulations have fallen far behind human innovations and progress, such as those for unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, and various forms of the sharing economy, and it is definitely encouraging to see, 15 years after its founding and 10 years after YouTube reached one billion views, that the act is being updated for social media platforms. However, my initial excitement was doused with a bucket of cold water when I saw some of the half-hearted measures and the complete abdication of responsibility. We missed a great opportunity to genuinely reform the act for the 21st century, and I therefore find it challenging to cast my support for it.

Let me explain. In my research preparing for this speech, I came across Dr. Michael Geist's criticism of the faults of the proposed changes in Bill C-10. In fact, there are so many problems, he has a daily blog called “The Broadcasting Act Blunder”. Allow me to mention a few highlights from this blog.

First, Bill C-10, as a broadcast reform bill, could spell the end of Canadian ownership requirements by removing Canadian ownership and control requirements from the Broadcasting Act, yet the heritage minister says the bill would safeguard cultural sovereignty. Second, the bill in no way prevents online streaming services from operating in Canada or requires them to be licensed. It instead requires registration, which may result in nondescript additional regulations and conditions that are “virtually indistinguishable from licensing requirements”.

When the Liberals claim it ensures that online broadcasting is covered under the act, why is it covered in such indecisive terms? The bill creates uncertainty, increases consumer costs and creates a risk for tariffs and blocking content from Canada. However, the government calls the bill a matter of fairness.

Michael Geist is not one of those regular Canadians who the elitist government looks down upon. He is a Canadian academic. In fact, he is the Canada research chair in Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa and a member of the Centre for Law, Technology and Society. He holds multiple law degrees from prestigious institutions and has taught around the world. It would be fair to take his misgivings on the bill seriously.

Let us take a closer look at fairness. The Liberals say they are updating broadcasting and regulatory policies to better reflect the diversity of Canadian society. How is it fair to virtual signal with much empty aspirations about gender equality, LGBTQ2+ people, racialized communities, persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples without specifying how the changes will help them? Is it fair to arm the CRTC with new enforcement powers through an administrative monetary penalty scheme that, when translated into English, means government's overreach could potentially end in a windfall of cold hard cash?

Speaking of cash, is it fair that the government has used the pandemic to repeatedly seek more unchecked power for itself, all the while drowning Canadians in a projected $1.2 trillion in national debt? That is a credit card debt of more than $63,000 for each of Facebook Canada's alleged 19 million registered users in this country. Estimates indicate that if online broadcasters are taxed for Canadian content at a rate similar to that of traditional broadcasting, the new framework would create an $830 million government windfall in three years, by 2023.

In addition to power grabs, the government also wants a cash grab, but the obvious other side to this is increased costs. When someone is going to pays for fees that are projected to run into hundreds of millions of dollars, it is only obvious the burden will fall on Canadian consumers. None of this is fair to Canadians, and Bill C-10 follows a pattern we have become all too familiar with this year: bold intentions, little clarity, empty promises and a failure to deliver meaningful changes.

I, for one, am tired of seeing our government feeding Canadians word salad for every meal. It is past time for a meaty and substantial policy to be put forward.

Bill C-10 would hand massive new powers to the CRTC, Canada's telecommunications and broadcast regulator, to regulate online streaming services, opening the door to mandated Canadian content, also known as CanCon, payments; discoverability requirements, even though we have no issue discovering Canadian content on any capable search engine today without it; and confidential information disclosures, all backed by new fining powers.

Many of the details will be sorted out by the beefed-up CRTC bureaucracy long after the legislation is gone. The specifics will take years to unfold, meanwhile leaving Canadians in uncertainty and insecurity. Some are estimating it will take nine months alone to undertake the very first regulatory phase.

Thankfully, from where I am sitting, it appears that Canadians are not being fooled this time. They are calling for beneficial legislation that would tax multi-billion dollar foreign corporations such as Google and Facebook. They realize the bill would kick the legs out from under small content creators. They know the bill would be the surrender of any meaningful priority.

My office has been receiving notices from online campaigners asking to compel the CRTC to regulate online broadcasters, update the CBC mandate and governance structure and make sure social media companies are responsible for the illegal content they broadcast. They say, “Any updated Broadcasting Act that doesn't tackle these key issues isn't doing enough to defend Canadian broadcasting, culture and journalism.”

The bill also lacks definitions to clarify applications for social media services and user-generated content. For example, if a friend of mine sets up a subscriber-funded online broadcasting app to live-stream programs of Canadian current affairs and commentaries, unlike the author of this act seems to assume, he is doing this on his own and not relying on any of the big box social media platforms. His single-operator platform would be subjected to CRTC's mercy to allow his exercise in freedom of expression and speech, at best, or it would get buried out of business under the mounds of bureaucratic red tape, at worst. It is clear Bill C-10 does not meet the concerns of regular people.

I believe government control should be adequate and not overarching. As Andrew Coyne writes in The Globe and Mail, “But just how far the state's regulatory tentacles will now extend will depend in large part on how the CRTC interprets its new powers—and the bill's language gives plenty of room to worry.” I agree.

He is not alone in holding this view, though. Laura Tribe, executive director of OpenMedia, an Internet watchdog group, has issued an urgent warning, saying, “[The minister] has created an artificial sense of crisis around Canadian cultural content—content that is surviving and flourishing in the 21st century.” Amid all the other crises we have experienced this year, I hardly think now is the time or place to be manufacturing a new one to hive that policy.

When it comes to bills, like Bill C-10, that make claims as bold as they do, I agree with Andrew Coyne when he says, “You can lead a horse to culture, but you can't make it watch.”

On the last sitting day of the House, I wish you, Madam Speaker, and every member of the House of Commons a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah and happy holidays.