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.

Sponsor

Status

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

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, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

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 19th, 2020 / 11:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an absolute privilege for me to stand in the House today on behalf of the residents of my riding of Davenport to speak in support of Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts. I am truly grateful for the leadership of the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the work that he, his parliamentary secretary, his department and his team have done with respect to the bill.

As I have mentioned a number of times in the chamber, my riding of Davenport in Toronto's west end is home to more artists, creators and those in the culture industry than probably most ridings across this country. They include film producers, writers, directors and musicians, and also art galleries and museums. Anything that impacts the arts and culture sector is of great interest to my riding.

The Canadian broadcasting, film, television and interactive media sectors are also a huge part of the Canadian economy. They contribute about $19.7 billion to Canada's GDP and account for nearly 160,000 jobs. A lot of people do not know this, but the arts, culture and heritage sector is a $47.8 billion contribution to the Canadian economy. It employs over 650,000 Canadians in this country. It is a huge and very important sector, so this type of legislation is particularly important.

We have been promising to update the Broadcasting Act to level the playing field for a number of years now, so I am really happy that Bill C-10 is now before the House.

We mentioned in our 2019 platform that within our first year we wanted to move forward with legislation that would take appropriate measures to ensure that all content providers, including Internet giants, offer meaningful levels of Canadian content in their catalogues, contribute to the creation of Canadian content in both official languages, promote this content and make it easily accessible on their platforms.

We also know that in January 2020, the broadcasting and telecommunications panel released its report entitled “Canada's Communications Future: Time to Act”. It included a number of recommendations and proposals on how to improve our broadcasting system here in Canada, which we now see encompassed in Bill C-10.

What is being proposed in Bill C-10?

The first is to modernize the Broadcasting Act, which has not been updated since before the digital age. My understanding, as my colleague just said, is that the last major reform to the Broadcasting Act was almost 30 years ago, in 1991.

Canada has a long history of supporting the creation of and access to Canadian film, music, television and digital media programming, while at the same time facilitating the access of Canadians to foreign content. Historically, we have had what we call a closed broadcasting system, which has been oriented around Canadian ownership and control of businesses showing Canadian content. However, today, with the increase in programming being consumed over the Internet, the legislative and regulatory framework for broadcasting needs to be modernized. That is the first thing that Bill C-10 does. It clarifies that online broadcasting is within the scope of the act. It is crazy that it took us so long to do this.

As we know, Canadians have more and more access to music and television through online services like Netflix, Spotify, Crave and CBC Gem. We know these online video services have grown their revenues by approximately 90% per year over the last two years, while traditional broadcasters have seen a steady decline of almost 2% per year over the last five years. The shifting market dominance illustrated by Netflix, which is now present in most Canadian households, including my own, generated over a billion dollars in revenue in Canada in 2019.

We also know that online broadcasting services are not subject to the same rules as traditional broadcasting services like over-the-air television, cable and radio. Under Canadian broadcasting laws, online broadcasters are not required to support Canadian music and storytelling, and other important broadcasting objectives. What is the result? We see the revenues of online broadcasters growing, yet they are not required to contribute to Canadian music and storytelling. At the same time, the revenues of traditional broadcasters are stagnating and declining, which means we have an overall negative impact on funding Canadian content and Canadian creators moving forward. Therefore, support for Canadian content is at risk and this bill is hoping to address that issue.

Furthermore, it would also address a regulatory imbalance that puts traditional Canadian broadcasters at a competitive disadvantage compared with online broadcasters. Bill C-10 would update broadcasting and regulatory policy to ensure a fair and equitable treatment of online and traditional broadcasters, so we do not have one set of rules for Canadian broadcasters and another one for foreign broadcasters.

The amendments proposed by Bill C-10 would empower the CRTC to implement a modernized broadcasting regulatory framework that would ensure both traditional and online broadcasting undertakings contribute in an appropriate manner to the Canadian broadcasting system.

It is important to note that while we know this is an important first step, we also know we are going to have to engage in further reforms in order to more fully modernize the broadcasting system and ensure Canada will continue to support the creation and production of audiovisual content in the digital age.

What else would Bill C-10 do? It would also update broadcasting regulatory policy so the CRTC would be enabled to showcase more diverse creative voices in the broadcasting sector, most notably with respect to indigenous peoples, racialized communities and persons with disabilities.

This is a huge ask from those artists and creators in my riding of Davenport, where 40% of them were born outside of the country. For them, it is really important to hear the creative voices from our diverse ethnocultural backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, abilities and disabilities, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions and ages. It is a huge ask from my community, so I want to thank them for their continued advocacy. I am delighted this would be enabled by Bill C-10.

The bill would also amend the act to take greater account of indigenous cultures and languages. To me, this is extraordinarily important because it is part of our ongoing effort to build a new nation-to-nation relationship with Canada's aboriginal people. A way for us to better understand and learn about each other is through our stories.

I am also pleased to say that an updated Broadcasting Act, one that treats online and traditional broadcasters equally, would increase the funding available to Canadian artists and creators. Indeed, it is estimated these changes would result in an increase in contributions to Canadian music and stories of as much as $830 million per year once the new system is put into place.

We should note that how artists and creators receive income has changed. A world that has become increasingly digital has exacerbated the overall issue of how Canadian artists earn their income. Providing some changes to the Broadcasting Act to start addressing this issue is really important for us to do.

I also want to note that we are going through an unprecedented pandemic right now, and arts and culture are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. These types of legislation would help make some of the structural changes and help us create a more healthy and economically viable sector moving forward.

I should mention that what is not included in Bill C-10 is user-generated content, so video games and news media would not be affected by our proposed changes. It is important to note that.

I know my time is coming to an end, so I am going to conclude by saying I am absolutely delighted by the efforts of our hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage to modernize the Broadcasting Act and level the playing field so all our creators have more funding for Canadian stories. I very much favour this bill. It provides us with an opportunity to have a more inclusive broadcasting sector for all Canadians, whether francophone, anglophone or from racialized communities: Canadians of all diversities and statuses.

The bill would ensure the circumstances and aspirations of all Canadians are reflected in the Broadcasting Act. It would result in a more equitable broadcasting system, requiring online broadcasters to contribute their fair share. These amendments would absolutely modernize the Broadcasting Act for the digital age for many years to come.

I would like to end by saying I want to echo the Minister of Canadian Heritage's words yesterday, urging all of my hon. colleagues to support this bill. The sooner we get this bill passed, the sooner we will be able to put a fairer system in place.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2020 / 11:35 a.m.
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NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, we know that the Broadcasting Act of 1991 was brought in to safeguard the cultural, political, social and economic fabric of Canada, but we saw, from 2008 to 2018, 189 community newspapers go under and 36 daily newspapers close down. Now, with the pandemic, many of them are struggling.

We learned from the Yale report that Google and Facebook receive nearly 75% of the advertising revenue in Canada. In comparison, the websites of conventional television stations and local newspapers account for only 8.5%. We know that the government has been meeting a lot of secret lobbyists, and we know that it wants to fix its disastrous Netflix deal of 2017 with band-aids with the bill, but time is running out for this industry and for its workers.

Is it not irresponsible that, in Bill C-10, the minister is moving this problem by punting it down the road to the CRTC? It could take almost a year before we see any change.

I am hoping the member can acknowledge the seriousness of this issue, given the pandemic and the plight of local newspapers, especially in my riding, which are struggling right now. They are reaching out and calling on Parliament to take action on the unfair, plain advantage of Netflix and these huge web giants.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2020 / 11:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to speak to Bill C-10, the broadcasting bill introduced by the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

The Broadcasting Act clearly needs modernizing. The last time it was dusted off and updated was over 28 years ago. At the time, the Internet did not exist. Social media did not exist. There was no such thing as web giants, and we were not permanently attached to our tablets and constantly using apps. The context has most certainly changed. If there is one thing all members of the House can agree on, it is that urgent action is needed. Implementing these measures is important.

Back in 2015, the government promised it would modernize the act. Expectations were high. The government conducted extensive consultations. It made lots of promises. It envisioned a very good scenario in which everyone would have to pay and contribute. Things were going well in that regard. Now, three ministers and over five years later, a bill has been introduced.

Earlier I heard a member from Quebec use a cheese analogy, saying that the bill reminded her of Swiss cheese, because it has so many holes in it. We are looking for the cheese, but all we see are the holes. This metaphor is also apt because we are talking about cheese and the Liberals have delivered a mouse. This is actually a very serious subject, since we are talking about an incredible industry. It is part of our Canadian identity, which includes language, culture and Canadian content.

Unfortunately, the bill does not really do much. Basically, it off-loads all responsibility onto the CRTC, which ultimately will have to take action. There are many things this bill does not do.

We are told the bill makes changes to ensure that online broadcasting falls within the scope of the act. What does that mean? It means that the legislation governing the CRTC will apply to online broadcasters. We know that. My Liberal colleague mentioned how the CRTC can sometimes be a rather cumbersome administrative straitjacket. Things are not easy for our traditional media in Canada.

The minister is telling us that he is going to off-load the responsibility to the CRTC and that a year from now, as another colleague mentioned, slightly stricter rules will be applied to online broadcasting. That is not what the Yale report called for, and it is certainly a far cry from what the industry is asking for.

Web giants like Google and Facebook are not affected by this bill, and yet we know that they are generating major revenues from our society and competing with our Canadian companies.

Bill C-10 also fails to explain how digital platforms and conventional players can compete under these conditions. In a way, the playing field is not level for everyone. The bill also fails to say how exclusive content will be shared on digital platforms. There are no details about guidelines for the production of Canadian content and the famous contribution to the Canada Media Fund. Some companies, therefore, have to make a contribution based on established parameters. Finally, we can see that the parameters here are very flexible. There does not seem to be any apparent fairness in the bill.

As we have seen this week, culture is also a factor. Canadian culture comprises the English language, the French language and Quebec culture. This bill seems to ignore that reality, and as some of my colleagues in the Bloc have pointed out, what's in it for Quebec culture? That is not clear at all.

With respect to copyright, Quebec artists have complained about seeing their works circulated on digital platforms without fair compensation for their own investment. This bill does nothing to address that issue, however.

Ultimately, the bill would essentially subject online broadcasters to the CRTC. The government is off-loading this issue onto the CRTC and waiting to see what happens.

I do appreciate that the bill mentions indigenous culture, persons with disabilities and Canadian diversity. However, it would also be important to mention Quebec and French-Canadian culture, as well as the concept of our country's linguistic and cultural duality.

We need a level playing field here, and we think that policies should account for changing markets. All this bill does, however, is put off to tomorrow what should have been done a long time ago. We would also have liked the minister to find a way to reinject tens of millions of dollars, or even hundreds of millions of dollars, in our system.

For those who are watching at home, section 19 of the Income Tax Act applies to the Canada Revenue Agency and would allow for the full deduction of any money spent on advertising with foreign digital media distributors. That means that, in its attempts to restore balance, the Canadian government is contributing to the imbalance.

The agency has not changed its interpretation of the act since 1996, an interpretation that is based on jurisdictions established prior to that time and that date back even as far as 1935. There was a small loophole, because computers did not exist at that time. The definitions of newspaper and broadcasting do not reflect what is known as the technological neutrality of the Broadcasting Act, which was modernized in 1991, nor do they reflect the tremendous revolution that has occurred since 1996. This small loophole has become a giant vortex.

As a result, foreign companies like Facebook and Google, which represent up to 80% of Canada's online advertising revenues, are competing with our advertisers and our traditional broadcasting and print media while receiving a bit of a leg-up from the government. This situation has been criticized. We cannot encourage foreign companies to compete with our Canadian companies, but the government is complicit in that.

My colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable said that the government's problem is that it is always looking for superficial solutions instead of trying to fix systemic problems. The government needs to fix this problem with Canada's tax system and create a level playing field for Canadian and foreign players by restoring market conditions that do not give web giants an edge.

The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications urged the government to take a close look at the loophole in section 19 of the Income Tax Act, which is contributing to the media's decline. The committee also asked the government to look at ways to make things better for all Canadian companies. The committee's report was tabled a year and a half ago and has just been gathering dust since then.

We heard that message over and over from witnesses representing various segments of Canada's media industry. They told the committee that eliminating the tax deduction for ads on foreign websites could give Canada's industry a much-needed boost.

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting is also strongly advocating for the elimination of this tax deduction. This organization produced a very detailed document on the situation. It argues that closing the loophole would enable the Canadian government to collect more taxes, because companies would not stop advertising in foreign media, but they would have an incentive to choose Canadian media. Companies would not be encouraged to do business with foreign companies. Instead, there would be neutral conditions that would allow them to choose.

The Public Policy Forum shares this view. It says that simply fixing section 19 could produce a revenue stream of $300 million to $400 million a year for the media industry.

The government has presented band-aid solutions even though real solutions do exist. They do not need to look for them, they simply have to stop subsidizing web giants.

The time has come to conduct an in-depth review of section 19 of the Income Tax Act. That is the responsibility of the Minister of Heritage because it goes to the crux of the matter, namely the money that the cultural sector, in this case the media and print media, is losing to web giants.

Companies like Google and Facebook are free to operate in a business-friendly environment like ours, but they are not contributing anything. In this bill, there is a blatant inequality between traditional media and web giants, which, I will repeat, are not covered. That is one of the bill's flaws.

Another flaw is that the bill does not address the issue of disclosure. The bill refers the matter to the CRTC, but there must be some facility for disclosure. How much revenue do the web giants earn? What is the breakdown of their revenue and expenses? We need to know this so that we can make sure they are treated the same as other Canadian businesses. That is something that is also not in the bill.

One journalist said that the web giants burst out laughing when they saw the minister's bill. The Liberal government introduced a highly anticipated bill the day after the U.S. election. I think all members would agree that that is a good time to introduce a bill under the radar.

The web giants burst out laughing because this bill has some huge flaws, some gaping holes. The idea is good: The government wants to regulate the web giants, which are sucking the life out of our media. In reality, however, the bill gives them free rein. That is a problem because, again, web giants like Google and Facebook are in no way required to pay royalties to news media for the content they share.

People use social media to access information, and this information often comes from Canadian media. When people get it off Facebook, Canadian media outlets come away empty-handed. They do not earn anything. The bill does not address this issue that is very important for our media, especially in a pandemic.

The same goes for taxing ad revenue generated by these platforms in Canada. They do not even collect taxes per se, whereas Canadian businesses do. This too is unfair, yet the bill does not address it. Billions of dollars in revenue are at stake for the government, and Canadian businesses are being unfairly treated.

All in all, I would say that the bill unfortunately misses the mark. The most worrisome aspect is that even as the government introduced the bill, we learned that Facebook was already trying to hire the CRTC officials who draft legislation. I can see why the web giants are taking notice, because 70% to 80% of ad revenue in Canada comes from digital and media platforms.

Why is this cozy relationship between the CRTC and Facebook being permitted, when we know that the CRTC will be responsible for enforcing the act? Is this not like letting the fox into the henhouse? That is what troubles me.

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting and others have criticized this situation. As I mentioned, they pointed out that the Broadcasting Act was modernized in 1991 but that there is still some flexibility. The bill seeks to include digital media in the act, but the CRTC already has the regulatory capacity to do that. All the minister has to do is tell the CRTC to apply the provisions of the 1991 legislation rather than undertaking a process that will take another year.

We know that these web giants are continuing to rake in huge profits with each passing week and month, while our Canadian media are in a very precarious situation. The Conservatives are not the ones saying that. It is the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting that are saying that the bill does not definitively eliminate all of the ambiguity surrounding digital distribution.

Ultimately, the bill does not clarify this important issue, which creates a double standard. As I said earlier, the government is taking an approach that addresses issues in an piecemeal fashion.

As a result, new digital media will benefit from a flexible approach while traditional media will be caught in a regulatory straitjacket. The government is not trying to restore balance by loosening the regulatory straitjacket on traditional media but is instead trying to impose it on new players.

The Yale report makes some interesting points. One thing in the report that we agree with is that there is an urgent need to act. Unfortunately, the government is not taking action. It is off-loading those powers to the CRTC, a year in the future, when it could have been quite possible to exercise those powers through regulatory means.

At the same time, they say that the ecosystem needs to be opened up so that the conventional players have room to breathe and are able to compete with the new ones. In this regard, the minister does not seem to be willing to create this breathing room for our Canadian undertakings, which are being smothered under a straitjacket, while there are no rules for the new players. Now they are saying that they are going to start trying to impose things on them. That said, this only applies to digital broadcasters. I would point out that this does not apply to the web giants. That is a major flaw in this bill.

Our friends at the CBC are critical of the fact that the bill is vague about Canadian content. This is fundamental. We see the web giants investing in the production of Canadian content, but we do not know how to define that. It is not at all clear.

The Yale report mentioned the review of CBC/Radio-Canada’s mandate. That is another major flaw in the bill. The report made recommendations in that regard, but again, there is nothing on that.

That is what we are left with in theory. It is not much.

What is even more troubling, given the last few days and weeks, is the minister looking to have an open media landscape where both Canadian and foreign media would be allowed to freely disseminate information.

This brings us to a statement by the minister, who appeared this week on Radio-Canada. He spoke about freedom of speech, and we found his statement somewhat disturbing and quite surprising. He said that the right to express oneself ends where another’s pain begins.

A Quebec commentator, journalist and intellectual asked whether the minister wanted to make information channels subject to the tyranny of sensitivity. For example, if you do not like someone saying something about a community or a religion, can you say that this person needs to be silenced?

Freedom of expression is a fundamental part of our democracy. It is the reason we can express ourselves. As my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent said, freedom of expression does not apply only when we like what we are hearing. There are some things we do not like hearing. That is exactly what freedom of expression is, and we already have laws governing it. Hate speech and statements that incite hatred or violence are not allowed.

If the minister has a hidden agenda, that would be good to know. This is not the first time he has said something fishy. At one point, he wanted to make news media companies get licences, so it is not clear.

In conclusion, this is a major issue for Canada. This week, we saw just how problematic the status of French in Montreal is. Our culture itself is at stake. The question we are asking ourselves is whether there truly is a will to preserve Quebec's cultural ecosystem and recognize it. Just recognizing it would be good, but there is nothing in the bill to suggest that is the case.

Unfortunately, what we saw this week was the president of the Liberal Party saying that legislation to protect the very foundation of Quebec's ecosystem, its language, is oppressive.

Does the government have reservations, some reluctance preventing it from protecting the foundation of Quebec's cultural ecosystem? The bill is silent on that subject.

Other colleagues have stressed this, including our Bloc Québécois colleagues—

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2020 / 12:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Yves-François Blanchet Bloc Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to share my time with the member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix.

I have stated the obvious on a few occasions in the past, and I would like to make it crystal clear today: One nation does not entrust its soul, identity, art, culture, history, dance, music, theatre, cinema and, least of all, language to another nation.

We learned that the Liberals and their NDP butlers will vote against the Bloc Québécois's bill on French-language proficiency. This is proof that one should not entrust one's language to another nation. This is not posturing. It is based on something we can measure and assess over time. Bill C-10 contains two clear examples of the danger of entrusting one's soul, culture, language and art to another nation.

I will start with foreign ownership. This is so blatant that nobody could get me to believe that the government does not know what it is doing. If it does not, it should not be here. Right now, there are rules saying that a broadcasting or telecommunications undertaking must be under Canadian control. This gives some protection to the arts and various forms of expression—Canadian, in this case—from the hegemony of power that dominates global culture today. It makes no sense to give up this protection and replace it with a cheque, as if our soul were for sale to the highest bidder. In our case, that is our next door neighbour.

The idea that one's soul, culture, arts, music, and songs should not be left in the hands of another nation applies to Canada as well. Margaret Atwood is not Californian, and Robert J. Sawyer is not Texan. This surrender, this laying down of arms before American culture is extremely dangerous.

Here is an extreme example: An American web multinational required to invest 30% in Canadian production can mandate an undertaking it bought in Canada to produce a TV series in English only. What is in it for us? This is a serious setback.

The other example, of course, is the percentage of French. In previous programs, particularly the music ones that I am familiar with—I even sat on the Canadian Music Council, which some will find amusing—there were rules requiring a certain percentage of French. Often, in the agreement, it was 40% French. Why was that? Because first of all, it takes a critical mass to provide a basis for professionalizing these sectors. This was true in the music sector for Musicaction, FACTOR or even Fonds RadioStar, among others.

That was before a formal review of the rules, as is now proposed. Today, this obligation must be enshrined into law. This assurance that French-language production has access to basic tools and a minimum of resources must be maintained. It now needs to be formalized.

Let us not kid ourselves. If this obligation is not enshrined into law, then what the CRTC will understand is that, both for Canadian ownership and for maintaining the percentage of French content, Parliament's intention is not to protect, but rather to not protect. Indeed, there is no such thing as a neutral position, and the law is supposed to set out Parliament's intent.

The government said that it did not want to set a percentage for French-language content, for fear that the minimum percentage would become a maximum. I felt a pang, and realized it was true. Imagine Netflix, Disney+, Spotify and Canada deciding one day that they want to invest 45% in French content but they would not dare do so because the minimum was set at 35%. It is as though they do not understand the meaning of the word “minimum”. People are smarter than they think.

This does not have a neutral effect. The call for capital that comes with that 30%, on top of what companies are already able to do under this kind of legislation, is channelled to English-language productions. We have all seen those series produced by Netflix for Netflix, some of which are filmed in the native language and then dubbed in English, but the English subtitles do not match the English words being said. People generally stop watching halfway through an episode because it is completely unwatchable. The lips do not match the words being spoken, and those do not even match the subtitles. It may be because I am not too bright, but I do not find that enjoyable. Others decide to do the series in English right off the bat. Netflix is happy, people are watching at home and everyone is happy.

This does not have a neutral effect. We emphatically stand up for these people. These are actors, singers, authors, performers of all kinds who have the desire, because that is in their soul, to express themselves in French, to bring out what they have inside that needs to come out, because that is what being an artist is all about. They want to express themselves and to do it in French. Some may dabble in other languages from time to time, but that is where their soul is and that is what they want to do.

It is not just the current money or the new money that will be channelled. There is a call for capital to do business and take over the world. Producers are doing business. I used to be a producer and I was not making songs. I was selling the product. Producers want to go and work where there is the biggest market in English, with all the money that is in those web multinationals. This does not have a neutral effect. I tell francophone artists that they must not let themselves be taken for a ride. The resources that are now invested in French-language production will drop. It will not be the same. It will certainly not go up. It will drop, because, without any form of protection, the call for capital will go to English.

I think it is fair to say that the bill in its current form does not make anything better. In fact, it could even make things worse. Everyone is gushing over the French language at this point, but their actions will reveal how they truly feel; before then, however, someone has to stand up and say that this will not do.

If this is corrected and if Canadian ownership and the percentage of French is included in the act, then the modest expertise of the Bloc Québécois, which has occasionally touched on this a bit, will be put to good use.

Otherwise, I wish to inform the House that the Bloc Québécois will take as much time as it takes, but it will never give up its soul, which is first and foremost, like Quebec's, French.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2020 / 12:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Caroline Desbiens Bloc Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the leader of the Bloc Québécois, who is the member for Beloeil—Chambly and a friend.

I am at a bit of a loss. I am a little intimidated by my colleague's eloquence. It is not easy to speak after such a political legend.

I will speak about my personal experience. Arts and culture is a vast field. It includes all forms of creations and inspirations. We could talk about painters, dancers, film, screenwriters, authors. I am not going to be invited to testify at any of the committees because I am an MP, so I will share my personal experience with the House.

I am an artist by vocation. I also work in the hospitality industry at my parents' hotel. I was born to it, as the saying goes. When I was young, my influencers, to borrow the popular term, were the visitors who came to our little hotel at the end of the island, and who enjoyed seeing one another in this intimate setting and would arrange to meet at our place. Sixty years later, nothing has changed. I grew up in a world where Michel Brault and Pierre Perreault would have a chat and later Gilles Pelletier and Françoise Graton would show up with their big dog. These people would sit around the fireplace and talk with my father and mother. I was a child at the time, so I became accustomed at very young age to these profound discussions with these famous Quebeckers, who left a mark on Quebec's history through their art.

People may be familiar with Pierre Perreault's films, such as La Trilogie de l'Île-aux-Coudres and Pour la suite du monde, which earned accolades throughout the francophone world. That experience sparked my desire to write songs. That is my art form. I inherited my mother's big, warm voice and my father's love of words, which means I am comfortable expressing myself in French and in poetry.

After participating in the Festival international de la chanson de Granby, a festival that has launched quite a few Quebec artists and where I got to the semi-finals, I wanted to write my own songs. I had signed up as a singer who covered other people's songs, and all of a sudden, I wanted to write my own songs and share my own messages. I realized that I could make my mark on Quebec's cultural landscape and join the ranks of those who have stopped time for the length of a song, to create something that did not exist before.

I immediately saw the effect this had on people. It was a joyful, beneficial, stimulating effect. Depending on the message we send as creators, when we sit down and put our message to paper, yes, we do influence society. We influence the people we work with, the people we publish with, the people we rub shoulders with. All of a sudden, when a creator hears their song on stage, sees their film in theatres or sees their painting hanging in a gallery, the message gets through, the message is delivered.

We want to deliver our messages in our mother tongue, for that is the language we grew up with, the language we were socialized in, the language that taught us how to say what we want to say to others, if only to pack up and take our songs on the road. Although I am not very famous, I have been lucky enough to travel to Switzerland, France and even the United States to sing in my own language.

Even though people in the U.S. did not always understand what I was singing, they appreciated the energy and passion I put into delivering my message. People bought my CDs, and some told me that they had gotten a dictionary so they could understand French and try to translate my lyrics. These people saw how passionate I was about my message.

That kind of passion really comes out in its mother tongue. That is why I rise today to speak to Bill C-10 and say that we must not stray too far when we make legislation. We need to stick to the basics.

The basics in this case means the content created by artists, artisans, journalists, singers, writers, film producers and many others.

To put this in terms I am familiar with as an islander, the high tide of the online world has surged into our community. This is a good thing in some respects. Not everything is black and white. However, we need to build levees to protect ourselves against the rising tide, or else it will quickly flood the land we have spent years tending to, planting beautiful flowers and all kinds of things. This is nothing new to the people of Isle-aux-Coudres. This is a common occurrence with the arrival of the autumn tides. They do not ask for permission.

If there is no levee to contain the flood tide of the online world, we will lose the essence of who we are, our cultural territory. That is what concerns me about the bill that was introduced by our colleague opposite, the Minister of Canadian Heritage. I get the impression that the government is straying from the basics and drifting off course, to use another maritime term. It is not attached to the very essence of the subject it is dealing with.

That is what I want to bring to the House, an attachment to the subject we are dealing with, namely our entertainment and our culture, which basically describes who we are. Our culture describes our dances, our stories, our songs, our dreams, our ambitions and our values, and it influences who we will be in the future. In order for that to happen, we need to support our creators and find ways to help them keep creating.

The situation was desperate before, but it has become downright alarming since COVID-19. We now see many top-notch artists taking other paths. They are investing their energy in something other than what they did best. Right now, it is very dangerous to rush things and to set aside what is most important because of the urgent nature of the situation.

I urge my colleagues to think about that. Without our content creators, there will be nothing left of our culture. At this moment in time, protecting the French language and the market share held by cultural content producers and companies is essential, as is making sure the House understands the importance of staying on course. The Bloc Québécois will do its utmost to make sure of that. That is what we are here for.

I would also remind the House that Quebec's National Assembly unanimously adopted a recommendation that the government include a percentage in the act so as to protect the francophone character of our culture.

I thank all my colleagues for listening to me. I hope my remarks will put everyone here back on course.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2020 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to be able to join the debate today on Bill C-10, the government's bill that purports to modernize Canada's Broadcasting Act. It raises many issues.

I have certainly enjoyed listening to the debate and seeing the passion that colleagues from all parties on all sides of the House have for Canadian culture and for the particular linguistic or regional identities that animate their corner of what constitutes Canadian culture. I want to start by identifying the objectives of the bill and then highlighting some of the challenges and some of the concerns that we have in the Conservative caucus with respect to Bill C-10.

As I said, Bill C-10 proposes to modernize the Canadian Broadcasting Act and certainly Conservatives recognize the need for change, modernization and updating, but we have some significant concerns about the way the bill fails to live up to its stated objectives. I am struck again and again by this.

I think a particular thing about the government and the way its members speak about their proposals is that they often want to focus on the objectives of what they are doing instead of on the substance of what they are doing. Regularly, government members talk about the objective being this or the objective being that, but it falls to us in the opposition to then point out that good intentions are not enough. It is not the intention but the text of the bill that becomes law, and the failure of the text of the bill to live up to the intention of the bill creates big problems for those who are then impacted by the measures that have been put in place.

More precisely, under the ambit of modernization, the bill confirms that online broadcasting is covered under the act. It seeks to introduce additional provisions for encouraging more diverse content in Canadian broadcasting, including content that is reflective of the experiences of Canadians around gender equality, as well as those of LGBTQ2+, racialized communities, persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples. That is one of the identified objectives.

It purports to create a more flexible approach to regulation that would allow the CRTC to establish rules for all broadcasting services that operate in Canada. I will speak more about this in a few minutes, but, when the government talks about a more flexible regulatory approach while in the process of giving powers to an external agency, this should be a red flag for all of us.

Effectively, what this gets at, in coded language, is the fact that vaguely worded legislation is giving powers to the CRTC. These powers are not as clearly or precisely described as I think most Canadians would expect them to be. The language that the government uses around regulatory flexibility is something that I think we should watch out for and understand what is underneath it.

The legislation also purports to “modernize the CRTC's enforcement powers [and] update oversight and information sharing provisions to reinforce the CRTC’s role as a modern and independent regulator”. What is the context in which we see this legislation, and what do we make of these purported objectives?

One thing that all of us as members of Parliament should think about is how we are defining broadcasting in the world of changing technology. In a sense, as a member of Parliament, I am a broadcaster. While I do not think this speech is being livestreamed on my Facebook currently, although obviously sometimes we do that, it is likely that clips of what I am saying will end up being broadcast to my some 30,000 followers on Facebook, as well as possibly on Twitter and Instagram. Therefore, I am a small broadcaster. There are many people out there who have podcasts or YouTube channels who are using the unique power they have through social media and other channels to broadcast their own opinions. This is really a revolutionary power for everyday citizens to have.

Historically, when we spoke about regulating broadcasting, it was because there was a limited amount of bandwidth in terms of radio and television air waves. Decisions had to be made collectively about who had access to that bandwidth. There was a hope that certain content would be broadcast in that way.

However, now we are living in a world of unlimited broadcast capacity on the Internet, where people can access more of the different kinds of content that they want. That world of unlimited broadcast capacities lowers the barriers to entry in terms of becoming a broadcaster and being a person who is broadcasting their views to a wider and wider audience. This is the new world we are living in.

There are many cases where somebody working out of their basement on their own YouTube channel may have far more views and importance as a voice than certain “mainstream” networks and channels, so how do we define what constitutes a broadcaster? If somebody is running a very popular YouTube channel where they express their own views, are we going to expect them, through the CRTC, to have a certain proportion of a certain kind of content? Is that where we want to be going with modernizing this act?

I think most members would accept that it is not particularly reasonable for that to happen, and that the idea of prescribing parameters around broadcasting is aimed at only the very large producers and purveyors of content, but that is a slippery space to be in. It raises, I think, some questions on the regulations around the parameters of content in a world where the barriers to entry are so low. We are not dealing with the same limited supply of bandwidth in terms of television or radio that we dealt with historically.

Under the label of modernization, this bill brings the online world into the existing legislative framework, but I do not think that it engages enough with this question of whether or not the current frameworks are aligned with the kind of world we find ourselves in today. I would be concerned about the possibility that Canadians who are not running big budget operations, who are just broadcasting their views and making content of different kinds, would become subject to CRTC intervention if the level of public attention crossed a certain threshold.

I want to flag as well a continuing issue concerning broadcast regulation, and that is this issue of market demand and how we define Canadian content. It is my observation and my contention that there is actually a strong market demand for more and more diverse content. There is a great deal of interest among people I talk to in learning more about indigenous culture and indigenous communities. I think there is a real demand for that content, and that is good to see.

I think there is growing interest among people in my Alberta constituency to learn French and consume content in French. That market demand is really necessary for the increasing knowledge of those things, because if there is no market demand for these shows and messages to be produced, then people will not consume them.

It is one thing to say someone may want more diverse content on a major online video platform. The question comes down to, though, whether people will consume that content. If people are eager to consume that content then, presumably, the incentives will exist for there to be increased production of that content. As parliamentarians, I think we all want to see increasing diversity and to see that reflected in media.

I also think we should recognize there is demand for that content and some of that increase in diversity is happening. It will continue to happen, naturally, but I think it is something we should be aware of and looking at. We should be seen putting in place policies to reasonably incentivize that development, without giving the CRTC powers that are excessive, in terms of its intervention.

Then there is the question of how we define Canadian content, or how we define content in terms of whether it is reflective of different diverse communities. Something that I looked at in university was precise definitions of what Canadian content is. It always struck me as a little odd that we could have a story that takes place in California, and that is the film, but then we have an actor who was born in Canada playing a prominent role, or we have a director who is Canadian, or maybe it was filmed in a location in Canada, even though the story purports to take place in California. However, by some definitions, that film is defined as Canadian content because of the national backgrounds of some of the people involved, even though the story that is being told is not actually about Canada.

When we talk about indigenous content, I think there are some questions that perhaps should be looked at by the committee in terms of what is meant by this. If we have an indigenous actor, but the story does not show that character as being indigenous, is that indigenous content? If we have a story that purports to be about indigenous culture, but does not represent that culture accurately, and that particular show was not created through engagement with indigenous communities, does that still constitute indigenous content?

The challenge is that at an individual level we might be able to look at whether a particular representation qualifies or not and come to our own conclusions. When we have regulatory definitions of these concepts, it can raise some significant problems in terms of whether the regulations, in the way they are applied, actually achieve the intended objectives. I think that is something that members need to think about as well, as we study and go deeper into this legislation.

I think there many problems with this vague bill, which seems to be typical of Liberal bills.

The bill is vague with regard to the powers of the CRTC. First of all, it does not guarantee that foreign tech giants like Google and Facebook will follow the same rules as Canadian tech companies. Some people have accused these foreign tech giants of misusing Canadians' personal information and censoring some Canadians' opinions. Unfortunately, this bill will allow the tech giants to continue their unfettered reign over Canadians.

I am also concerned about the lack of specific guidelines regarding Canadian content and the distribution of funding to Canadian media. We know that the French language is under threat in Canada, as my colleagues have emphasized in recent days. Canada is a proudly bilingual country, and our French culture, which has such a strong presence in Quebec, is the key to Canada's bilingual future.

Canadian French-language media outlets have a wealth of unique cultural content. That is why the Conservatives will work to preserve and maintain funding for French cultural programming once we are elected.

I am proud to be speaking in French today, even though it is not my first language. Many people in my province of Alberta enrol their children in French immersion programs because they want their children to proudly speak both official languages.

I am also concerned that this bill does not modernize copyright. At a time when the Internet dominates our lives, it is crucial that content produced by Canadians be protected against unfair use such as plagiarism.

Canadian artists work hard to produce high-quality content, and we ensure that their rights are fully protected. Unlike the Liberals, we Conservatives believe in modernized copyright legislation, new measures to preserve the French language, and protecting Canadians from foreign tech giants that need to assume their responsibilities.

Once our leader is elected prime minister after the next election, our Conservative government would eliminate the GST on Canadian digital platforms to support and promote Canadian media content that showcases the beauty of Canadian culture. We understand that proper CRTC legislation is important for the benefit of our nation and its people, and we wish that the Liberals understood that too.

The Conservative Party is a national party that is there for all Canadians. We are the only party with MPs in every region of the country. We are proud to have Alberta MPs who, like me, stand up the French language, and Quebec MPs who stand up for oil workers. We are the party that unites all Canadians and respects the unique characteristics of each region.

The French language is important not just to Quebec. There is a strong francophone community in my riding in Alberta, and I love working with that community. There are francophones as well as francophiles. There are communities of francophones who have been there a long time, and there are francophone communities full of newcomers.

I invite my francophone colleagues, especially those in the Bloc Québécois, to come to Alberta to discover our vibrant francophone community, as well as to visit Fort McMurray.

I would like to reiterate some of those points in English.

I am very proud to be part of a Conservative Party that is studying these issues carefully, diligently and recommending amendments, identifying problems and looking at the text as well as the intentions. I am proud to be part of a Conservative Party that is serious about uniting Canadians from coast to coast. We have MPs all across the country, Anglophones and Francophones, who recognize and defend the importance of English and French in all regions of the country. Also, we are a party that stands up for jobs and the economy in all regions of the country.

As a final note, I want to briefly touch on this. It is striking to me that the legislation speaks about the representation of people with disabilities, and it is very important it does that. However, people from all kinds of disability organizations are descending on Parliament Hill. They are deeply concerned about how the poorly drafted Bill C-7 entrenches discrimination against people with disabilities.

At the justice committee, so many different disability organizations have spoken out about those problems, calling for real and meaningful changes. The best the government can do for people with disabilities is to include in an amendment to the Broadcasting Act an expectation for representation of people with disabilities.

Sure, that is a nice to have, but if the government were really listening to people from diverse communities facing particular challenges, including people with disabilities, it would be doing far more than including a line in the Broadcasting Act. It would be taking the steps that are necessary, and that groups have been calling for, to support the dignified life for people living with disabilities. It would support reasonable amendments that have been put forward by disability organizations. It would be engaging in proper consultation instead of shutting it off.

I look forward to continuing debate on the bill.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2020 / 1:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, Canada did not happen by accident. Canada is a conscious act of will to create a distinct political, economic and cultural space in the upper reaches of the North American continent. Today we are focusing on our cultural space.

Ensuring the continued vitality of Canadian cultural content is what this bill is all about. In so many ways, Quebec is the model and inspiration for Canada's broader cultural affirmation. It is proof that it is possible to preserve and fortify one's cultural voice against unrelenting pressure, and that it is possible, and indeed a duty to oneself and one's fellow citizens, to build and sustain a cultural realm that reflects, supports and strengthens our collective identity.

Culture is a reservoir of ideas, values, symbols, ways of doing things, and individual stories woven together into shared stories. We need to keep replenishing that reservoir if we want it to remain full and deep. If we do not, it will evaporate over time or be refilled by other sources that no longer reflect who we are or offer up nothing but faded outlines.

Quebec has taken care to sustain its cultural reservoir, and so has the rest of Canada, often inspired by Quebec.

This affirmation of the value of one's culture as an alternative lens through which to view the world accounts in part, I believe, for the long overdue attention now being given to supporting Canada's indigenous languages and cultures, including, incidentally, through the provisions of the bill we are debating today.

As Canadians, it is vitally important that we be able to see ourselves in books, plays, TV shows and films, and hear ourselves in music. When we see ourselves reflected through these media, we see ourselves in motion doing, accomplishing, overcoming challenges and sorting out contradictions and complexities moving forward. We are also witnessing our potential. What could be more invigorating and motivating than that, on both an individual and collective basis?

For well over a century, we in Canada have proved there is no such thing as cultural determinism. There are no foregone conclusions about a culture's ability to survive and thrive, even in the face of powerful outside cultural forces. The strength of a culture, its staying power, is a function of people's determination and ability to craft effective cultural strategies that are continuously adapted to a changing environment.

Whether our culture survives and thrives depends on us, on our desire to keep creating content and to ensure we have the means to share that content. Everything depends on us tuning in and paying attention to the sometimes rapid changes and technological and economic challenges that keep coming our way.

The creation of the CBC was an act of political will. It was a conscious collective response to the challenge of a new medium: radio. Cancon on radio was an act of political will that spawned a homegrown music industry that, 30 years later, conquered global markets in the genres of country, jazz and rock.

The list of studies, analyses and policy initiatives we have undertaken over decades with the aim of shoring up Canadian culture in the face of technological and economic challenges is too long to describe in the time I have, but here is a sample.

In 1929, the Royal Commission on Radio, called the Aird commission, recommended that Canada establish a single national, publicly owned broadcasting system. Not long after, in 1932, the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Act was passed.

In 1936, a parliamentary committee called for a corporation resembling the BBC. Thus the CBC was created and, in 1937, it opened a French-language radio station in Montreal that became the beacon Radio-Canada is today for francophone culture in Quebec, for francophones outside of Quebec and, it should be added, for francophiles across the country, whose numbers increased following the adoption of the Official Languages Act by the government of Pierre Trudeau.

When I think of our cultural infrastructure, which Canada cannot do without, one of the things I think of is CBC/Radio-Canada. We cannot underestimate the crucial importance of Radio-Canada in particular. It disappoints me to hear the Conservatives talk about privatizing CBC/Radio-Canada. In many ways, the Crown corporation is the spring that keeps Canada's francophone cultural reservoir full.

To continue, the Massey commission was created in 1949 and tasked with examining radio and television broadcasting in Canada. In 1958, the Broadcasting Act was passed. In 1959, quotas for Canadian content on TV were instituted.

In 1969, the CRTC noted that cable technology had become a major factor in the Canadian broadcasting system, and it set out rules for the services cable systems were required to carry, which we refer to today as “must-carry” rules.

In 1971, the Canadian content regulations came into force for AM radio music and the CRTC allowed simultaneous substitution, whereby a local TV channel was substituted for a U.S. one on cable if both stations were carrying the same program. This was designed to help local stations keep their local audiences and the advertising dollars that go with those audiences.

In 1983, the broadcast program development fund was created to ensure the production of high-quality Canadian television in the under-represented categories of drama, variety, children and documentary.

In 1984, the Federal-Provincial Committee on the Future of French-language Television was created to examine challenges facing French-language television.

In 1992, the CRTC issued its policy on gender portrayal.

In 1996, the minister of Canadian heritage, Sheila Copps, announced the creation of the Canada television and cable production fund, combining the cable production fund and telefilms broadcast fund.

In 2002, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, published “Our Cultural Sovereignty: The Second Century of Canadian Broadcasting.”

Jumping to 2018, our government created a six-member panel to review Canada's Broadcasting Act, Telecommunications Act and Radiocommunication Act. The Yale report, entitled “Canada's Communications Future: Time to Act”, is the basis of today's bill.

There was a time not long ago when conventional wisdom held that we could not interfere in any way with the Internet, and that resistance to the all-encompassing juggernaut of the worldwide web was, plainly, naive and futile. Partly in keeping with this view, in 1999 the CRTC exempted Internet retransmitters from the requirement to be licensed or regulated under the Broadcasting Act. The decision was reviewed and upheld in 2009.

In 2001, Bill C-48 attempted to bring Internet retransmitters under the umbrella of Canada's copyright regime. However, the bill was amended in favour of a continued prohibition on retransmitters using proprietary content.

In a sense, Bill C-10 is taking care of unfinished business. Bill C-10 will bring online streaming services within the scope of the Broadcasting Act. Internet-based platforms such as Crave, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Spotify will be required to contribute a percentage of their gross revenues to the creation of Canadian programming, as is required of traditional broadcasters.

Furthermore, cabinet will have the power to order the CRTC to ensure that adequate funding is dedicated to French-language programming. In the modern world of mass communications, cultural transmission has become extremely high tech, whether we are talking about radio, television, film, recorded music or online content. This bill will strengthen our modern cultural infrastructure. In order for a culture to thrive, it takes a collective will, as well as resources, meaning money. This bill aims to ensure that the necessary resources are made available to ensure that our beautiful, magnificent culture survives and thrives.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2020 / 1:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Xavier Barsalou-Duval Bloc Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened to the speech given by my colleague across the aisle in support of Bill C-10.

I must say that I personally am very disappointed with Bill C-10. The web giants are still not paying taxes. Now web giants might be required to produce Canadian content, but not French-language content. Of course, Canadian content is not French content.

These are still foreign-controlled and foreign-owned companies. The government's refusal to require the production of French-language content is perfectly consistent with the comments made by the member for Saint-Laurent, who said that French does not need to be protected. It is perfectly consistent with the comments of the president of the Liberal Party of Canada, who said that Bill 101 is an oppressive law. It is perfectly consistent with the government's opposition to requiring knowledge of French for people to immigrate to Quebec.

Rather than shedding crocodile tears, can the member opposite be honest and admit that the Liberals do not care about French in Quebec?

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2020 / 1:40 p.m.
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Toronto—Danforth Ontario

Liberal

Julie Dabrusin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, I am happy to speak to the bill and I will be sharing my time with the member for Milton.

The bill is about building sustainability back into the Canadian broadcasting system and putting Canadian broadcasters on equal footing with their online competitors. The objective of the bill is to ensure that online broadcasting services that operate in Canada contribute to the creation of Canadian content and support the Canadian audio and audiovisual creative ecosystems, just as licensed Canadian radio and television broadcasters have been doing for decades.

Up until the web giants came along, the broadcasting system was managed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, CRTC, as a Canadian regulated sector. To operate a broadcasting service in Canada's protected market, one had to get a licence from the CRTC. As a condition of that licence, these broadcasters had to contribute to the overall broadcasting system. They had to support the creation and promotion of Canadian stories and music. This was the framework of the Canadian regulatory bargain.

This regime worked well for decades as our broadcasting system grew and matured. Over time, Canadians went from receiving two or three TV channels, I actually remember having that clicker on my TV for those, to the hundreds that are available now. As a result of the globalized ecosystem, the CRTC established new rules and regulations to allow some foreign channels such CNN to be distributed on cable and satellite systems in Canada, while ensuring that Canadian operators would remain competitive.

Even as it expanded, the closed licence broadcasting system was maintained. TV stations, radio stations and cable and satellite distributors were largely profitable and film and video creators and musicians benefited from sustained and stable support from the broadcasting system. However, the emergence of multinational web giants has changed the game. Early on, the CRTC chose to exempt those services from licensing in order to encourage the development of innovative technologies and business models. As a result of this, foreign online broadcasters are now able to sell their services to Canadians while avoiding the regulatory obligations placed on traditional broadcasters, including the requirement to support Canadian creators.

However, these online broadcasters do not get a free ride any longer. The revenues of online video services have grown some 90% each year over the last two years, while the situation for Canadian traditional broadcasters has worsened. They have seen a steady decline in revenues of 1.8% per year over the last five years. Not to put too fine of a point on it, the legislation as it stands has been putting our own Canadian companies at a disadvantage. We need to help the home team. For too long, we have been helping the away team.

Traditional Canadian broadcasters are forced to compete against online platforms that are playing by different rules. This needs to change. Bill C-10 would restore competitive balance to the system. It would provide the CRTC with the tools it needs to establish a modern regulatory framework for broadcasting that is appropriate for the digital, online and on-demand era that we live in today.

Importantly, this new regulatory regime would encompass both traditional broadcasters as well as online services. Our approach is a balanced one, which includes strong guardrails. We would be excluding user-generated content, news content and video games from any regulation.

Additionally, while these amendments would apply to online broadcasters, obligations would only be imposed on those that have a material impact on Canada. In practice, this means it would only impact common household name streamers. The very first broadcasting policy objective that would appear in the amended Broadcasting Act would state that all broadcasting undertakings shall contribute in a manner that furthers the implementation of the broadcasting policy for Canada. This would help level the playing field and restore equity and fairness to the system. Online broadcasting services would be required to support the creation and promotion of Canadian stories and music. This would help stabilize funding for Canadian film, video and music creators and establish sustainable support for a new generation of Canadian artists.

Canadians have benefited from the flexibility and choice that online platforms have to offer. Canadian creators, stories and music have achieved international success and reached new audiences through global streaming platforms. When I think about it, I think of people like Alessia Cara or programs like Anne with an E, the TV show that many people have loved.

However, I need to emphasize for hon. members that the intent of this bill is not to restrict the ability of Canadians to access online broadcasting services or to subject foreign online platforms to rules that do not also apply to Canadian broadcasters. The intent is equally not to subject Canadian online broadcasting services to rules that do not apply to foreign ones.

The CRTC, as the expert regulator, would be expected to put in place a regime that does not discriminate and treats similar services in a similar manner. No online broadcaster, Canadian or foreign, would require a licence from the CRTC. The message is that they are welcome to come in and join the game, but must play by the same rules as the other players on the field.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage has indicated that the bill before us is just the first step in a broader approach that the government plans to implement to position Canadian broadcasting for the on-demand online environment. He has indicated that he intends to direct the CRTC to act quickly to ensure that online broadcasters contribute appropriately to the Canadian broadcasting system. The CRTC would be asked to address existing regulatory asymmetries. Regulatory requirements should be flexible, yet predictable, recognizing the amazing diversity of creators Canada has to offer, as well as business models and technologies in the Canadian broadcasting system today.

We need to restore a measure of fairness in the broadcasting system. A lot has changed from the time I mentioned when we had TV sets with a turn dial, and we had maybe six channels. This bill maps a way forward toward a more equitable regulatory framework that would allow traditional broadcasters to compete on a more level playing field. It would have direct impact toward increasing stable and sustained income to Canadian creators.

Bill C-10 would put the online broadcasters on fair footing with traditional Canadian broadcasters, and it is up to us, as members of this House, to pass this bill quickly in order to restore competitive balance to the broadcasting system and give our Canadian broadcasters a fair shot at getting back into the game.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2020 / 1:55 p.m.
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Milton Ontario

Liberal

Adam van Koeverden LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Sport)

Madam Speaker, I would first begin by acknowledging that, while the House sits on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe, I join the House from my community office here in Milton, the traditional territory of many first nations, including the Haudenosaunee, the Huron-Wendat, the Anishinabek, the Attawandaron and, more recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

Major changes to the Broadcasting Act occurred in 1991 and since then, we have seen the rise of the Internet and online broadcasting services, which has completely changed the ways that Canadians listen to music and watch television. The Broadcasting Act has not kept pace with these changes and as a result, online broadcasters have been left unregulated.

Bill C-10 would modernize the Broadcasting Act for the digital age. It would provide the CRTC with the tools it needs to be regulated online and to ensure that they contribute to the creation of Canadian stories and music, just as traditional broadcasters have done for decades. This will mean more funding for Canadian producers, directors, screenwriters, actors and musicians to create high-quality audio and audiovisual content. It would generate more opportunities for them to make their stories and music available to Canadians. It would mean a more fair and flexible regulatory system where comparable services are subject to similar regulatory requirements, regardless of whether they operate online or over the air.

Our approach also includes strong guardrails, where we exclude user-generated content, news content and video games from any regulation. Additionally, while these amendments apply to online broadcasters, obligations would only be imposed on those that have a material impact in Canada. In practice, this means that it would only impact common household names.

This means that Canadian music and stories will be more widely available through various broadcasting services. However, technology is not the only thing that has changed since 1991. Canadian society has also changed.

That is why, today, I want to highlight the important changes that the bill would make to the Broadcasting Act to support greater diversity for women; indigenous peoples; racialized communities; anglophones and francophones, including those who belong to official language minority communities; the LGBTQ2S community; and persons with a disability.

The bill makes it clear that we need to encourage individuals from all of these groups to express themselves and share their stories and music. It also makes it clear that these voices and stories are important and a defining part of Canadian culture.

Broadcasting plays a critical role in sharing cultures, experiences and perspectives. That is why it is so important for creators from more marginalized communities to participate in the broadcasting system.

Broadcasting is an essential medium for sharing our lived experiences with one another. By presenting content that is representative of different cultures, communities and languages, it can help build a welcoming, empathetic, compassionate and inclusive society. Broadcasting can help us celebrate our differences while strengthening the common bonds that unite our society.

Lately it has become very clear that this has become more important than ever. Recent events have shone a bright light on the fractures and inequities that still exist in this country.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls both highlighted the persistent colonial, patriarchal and racist policies that resulted in generations of trauma, marginalization and abuse for indigenous peoples. The #MeToo movement made us re-examine how we support victims of sexual abuse and sexual harassment, and it underscored how important it is for us to work harder to address elements in our culture that perpetrate gender inequity and inequality.

We have more work to do to ensure that all gender identities and gender expressions are recognized and respected. We need to continue to strive for equality and acceptance for all two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual people. The Black Lives Matter movement has drawn attention to systemic racism that continues to result in discrimination, aggression, oppression and violence against the Black community—

Business of the HouseOral Questions

November 19th, 2020 / 3:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my kind colleague for the extremely important and very useful question he repeats every week on the status of parliamentary business.

This afternoon we will continue debate at second reading of Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act. Tomorrow we will resume debate at third reading of Bill C-3, an act to amend the Judges Act. Monday of next week will be devoted to the study of Bill C-8, on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to action number 94. On Tuesday, we will begin our study of Bill C-11, an act to enact the Consumer Privacy Protection Act and the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act, which was introduced earlier this week by my colleague, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

Pursuant to Standing Order 81(4), I would like to designate Tuesday, November 24 for consideration in committee of the whole of the main estimates for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and Thursday, November 26 for the Department of Health.

Lastly, there have been discussions among the parties, and I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That a take-note debate on the status of the French language in Montreal be held, pursuant to Standing Order 53.1, on Wednesday, November 25, 2020, and that, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House: (a) any member rising to speak during the debate may indicate to the Chair that he or she will be dividing his or her time with another member; and (b) no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2020 / 3:20 p.m.
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Vaughan—Woodbridge Ontario

Liberal

Francesco Sorbara LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, it is great to be here in the chamber this afternoon. I will be splitting my time with my friend and colleague, the hon. member for Surrey—Newton.

It is an honour to rise to debate Bill C-10. I want to take this opportunity to discuss an important issue that was raised by several members, namely, the best way to support our creators, including francophone creators.

I want to first remind the House why the legislation is so important. Historically, under the Canadian broadcasting system, traditional broadcasting services, such as radio, TV and cable, were required to fund Canadian content, our stories and our songs. However, the emergence of online broadcasting services, such as Netflix, Crave, Spotify and QUB Musique, which are not subject to the same types of regulatory requirements as traditional services, has resulted in a regulatory imbalance that jeopardizes the future of Canadian content funding.

The bill seeks to ensure that traditional and online broadcasting services are appropriate for Canada's creative sector. Of course these contributions must benefit a wide range of Canadian creators and consumers, including francophones across the country, as I heard from my colleagues in the opposition.

I now want to speak about the issue of support for francophone creators and French-language content produced by francophone minority communities.

First, it is important to recognize that this is a key issue and that the concerns expressed by stakeholders are entirely legitimate. We must not forget about the minority status of francophones in North America, which is dominated by the English world.

Online broadcasting giants like Netflix and Spotify will not necessarily consider the needs of francophones in Canada, whether they live in Quebec or in a minority community in Canada. However, we know that television and radio are vitally important to language, culture and the identity of the francophone minority in North America.

It goes without saying that measures are needed to support and promote francophone history and music. We agree on that, especially now that online broadcasters have turned Canada's broadcasting sector upside down, and the French-language market is no exception.

Online broadcasters present unique challenges regarding the availability and promotion of online content in French, and especially content produced by our francophone minority communities. I want to point out that 47% of francophones watch primarily English content on Netflix. That is a departure from traditional television, where 92% of the francophone market tunes in to French-language programming.

Similarly, the appetite for English-language films and audiovisual productions has been increasing for years, as has funding from foreign investors, but the average budget of French-language productions has decreased, and these productions receive little funding from foreign investors.

On the music and digital platforms front, in 2017 there were just six French Canadians in the top 1,000 most popular streaming artists in Canada.

Obviously we must act, but how? Some have proposed to include quotas or mandatory investment thresholds for French-language content in the Broadcasting Act.

At first glance, this may seem like the best way to remedy the problem, but what is it really? The fact of including a mandatory investment threshold in the act fixes it permanently and, as the Minister of Canadian Heritage rightly pointed out, the minimum is likely to become the maximum.

There is no reason to cut funding for French-language content in this way. A better way to do this is to give instructions to the CRTC, telling it to ensure that an appropriate portion of the funding is devoted to the creation of French-language programming and to take into account the difficulties inherent in the creation and broadcasting of French-language programming, particularly in minority communities.

This is how our government suggests we proceed. Regulation is a flexible tool that allows action to be taken that is in tune with technological advances, the development of industry and the values of Canadian society. It should be noted that the CRTC has long overseen the application of a rigorous regulatory framework of traditional services to support and promote French-language content. The CRTC's record is unambiguous. It has demonstrated a firm commitment to the imposition of regulations that ensure support for francophone creators.

Thanks to the CRTC's efforts, for the past 10 years the volume of French-language television production has been stable and represents 25% of the total volume of Canadian television production. The efforts of the CRTC have also served to promote French-language music. French-language radio stations must devote at least 65% of their weekly programming to this purpose, from popular music to French-language music. The CRTC can be expected to put in place an equally stringent regulatory framework for online broadcasters. It will ensure that it provides fair and equitable support for Canadian content in both official languages and that it takes into account the specific needs of francophone creators across Canada.

We all agree that action must be taken to support francophone creators and French-language content across Canada, its primordial, and also all creators and content creators in Canada. Our bill and the instructions it gives will give the CRTC all the tools it needs to ensure that funding and regulations support Canadian content in both official languages, but also indigenous, multicultural, real Canadian content and just a window into Hollywood.

This is the best approach to ensure that Canada's creators can continue to create audio and audiovisual works that reflect who we are as a country. The creation of content in both official languages is an essential cultural objective. Regardless of technological or other advances in the broadcasting sector, this modern and equitable legislative and regulatory framework will provide unequivocal support to broadcasters, producers and creators across Canada.

I encourage all members of this honourable House to hastily send the bill to committee to be improved and to deliver real changes to the broadcasting sector, which it has been requesting for so long.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2020 / 3:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, we all need to support our local newspapers.

When I was a young individual, I delivered the Prince Rupert Daily News door to door. That was great content for households in the hometown in which I grew up.

Today we need to modernize many aspects of our legislative framework in telecommunications and broadcasting. Bill C-10 is one part of that.

Let us get the bill to committee stage where there can be a vigorous debate. We know that with the world evolving as it is and with technological change, it is very important our legislative frameworks and structures correspond to that and that we continue to update them.

Canadian content is very important for me, for our government and for all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2020 / 3:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, we see the trends for content consumption and the platforms that are utilized. Currently, online undertakings that deliver audio and audiovisual content are exempt from licensing. We want to ensure the regulatory requirements that the traditional broadcasters and platforms have are extended to those online undertakings. We need to ensure a vigorous framework for broadcasters, which is what we are doing with Bill C-10.

I again encourage all my hon. colleagues to get the bill to committee stage so the learned committee members can have a vigorous debate and put forth even more ideas that could potentially improve the bill, and have the process to continue.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2020 / 3:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Surrey—Newton, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Vaughan—Woodbridge for sharing his time and for his willingness to work with other members of Parliament across the nation.

I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act. It is sad that in the digital age in which we are living, the law is rarely able to keep up with technological advancements. This digital revolution, referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, is characterized by a pace of breakthroughs that we have never seen before. Every industry in every country around the world is being disrupted. As a result, it is impacting production, management and governance.

A 2016 paper from the World Economic Forum on the fourth industrial revolution makes one point very clear. The only way for governance and regulation to work in such a complicated environment is to operate with a clear foundation of values rather than playing regulatory catch-up. This is the essence of the bill.

With audio and audiovisual content being offered for mass consumption online over the past two decades, Canada has been exposed when it comes to fostering Canadian content, as has been done for decades through the CRTC. Supporting the telling of Canadian stories, giving a platform to Canadian voices and sharing Canadian perspectives for our population from coast to coast to coast has always been a challenging issue with Canada being located next to the largest producer of content in the world; that being the United States.

The CRTC is unique in that it is not only a regulatory agency but, rather, a key component of our Canadian cultural landscape. It serves as the primary actor in facilitating Canadian content production to the broadcasting sector. It is our path toward preserving local culture as well as our national identity.

Since the Broadcasting Act was last updated in 1991, Canadians' consumption of content has changed dramatically. Millions of Canadians have cut the cable, so to speak, and are receiving their news and entertainment through online platforms. As an example, as of 2019, Netflix is present in 62% of Canadian households, with other streaming services continuing to grow year after year.

To give some context on how large digital content consumption has become in Canada, it is estimated that revenues for Canada's digital media market will hit over $4.7 billion in 2020. This number is skyrocketing when compared to other forms of media consumption, such as television and radio. In other words, updating our Broadcasting Act is long overdue.

The streaming that we now consume in the comfort of our homes carries stories from across the globe as consumers have never had more choices and access to such a diversity of content. However, that also means that Canada's history of promoting and supporting Canadian content must be extended into the realm that so many of us rely upon daily.

We are lawmakers, and we have an obligation to not unduly disadvantage Canadian content creators in the digital era. We have an obligation to do everything in our power to ensure the diverse voices that make up our country, including indigenous peoples, racialized communities and persons with disabilities, have the same ability to share their stories as the international content producers that are so readily available to us now.

This is where the intent of the Broadcasting Act becomes so apparent. As mentioned, our lives are filled with receiving and consuming online content. We might wake up in the morning and check the news headlines on our phones or other digital devices, which of course was a role filled in the past by news publications: independent media.

We might now stream music on our commute to work, as opposed to traditional radio that might have filled our vehicles or headphones. In the evening when we get home from work, we might then search through our favourite streaming service to find a show or movie we can relax to. This is just a very general snapshot of the types of activities and choices of content in 2020.

Of course, this is particularly heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic, where social interaction is now regularly replaced by consumption of this content.

Ultimately, Bill C-10 is defined by the principles of equality, inclusivity and, most importantly, by Canadian content creators and sustainability. While this legislation would modernize the CRTC's enforcement powers and update the oversight and information-sharing provisions it has available, ultimately it is about creating opportunity through collaboration. It is about mandating the streaming services that want access to the Canadian marketplace to meet certain broadcasting obligations that provide financial support to allow for more Canadian content to be produced and consumed.

While members across the House might attempt to characterize this bill as an example of over-regulation or limiting free speech, the reality is far different. Simply put, this is an update to our Broadcasting Act that would allow Canadian stories to be produced. It would allow Canadian consumers to have ample access to such stories and, most importantly, it would allow our unique cultural identities to have ongoing security and opportunity in the rapidly evolving digital world.

In conclusion, I hope this bill is widely supported by all parties in the House as it is an update that goes beyond politics or ideology. For the most part, technology moves far faster than we do as legislators. This legislation is a tool that would ensure we are always ahead of the curve in preserving our diverse voices in the age of digitization. This is about ensuring Canadian content can thrive for generations to come, and ultimately, there should be no party or member in the House who can argue with this fundamental principle.

I am thankful for the opportunity to speak on this important piece of legislation today.