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

Sponsor

Status

In committee (Senate), as of June 29, 2021

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

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Broadcasting Act to, among other things,

(a) add online undertakings — undertakings for the transmission or retransmission of programs over the Internet — as a distinct class of broadcasting undertakings;

(b) update the broadcasting policy for Canada set out in section 3 of that Act by, among other things, providing that the Canadian broadcasting system should serve the needs and interests of all Canadians — including Canadians from racialized communities and Canadians of diverse ethnocultural backgrounds — and should provide opportunities for Indigenous persons, programming that reflects Indigenous cultures and that is in Indigenous languages, and programming that is accessible without barriers to persons with disabilities;

(c) specify that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (the “Commission”) must regulate and supervise the Canadian broadcasting system in a manner that

(i) takes into account the different characteristics of Indigenous language broadcasting and the different conditions under which broadcasting undertakings that provide Indigenous language programming operate,

(ii) is fair and equitable as between broadcasting undertakings providing similar services,

(iii) facilitates the provision of programs that are accessible without barriers to persons with disabilities, and

(iv) takes into account the variety of broadcasting undertakings to which that Act applies and avoids imposing obligations on a class of broadcasting undertakings if doing so will not contribute in a material manner to the implementation of the broadcasting policy;

(d) amend the procedure relating to the issuance by the Governor in Council of policy directions to the Commission;

(e) replace the Commission’s power to impose conditions on a licence with a power to make orders imposing conditions on the carrying on of broadcasting undertakings;

(f) provide the Commission with the power to require that persons carrying on broadcasting undertakings make expenditures to support the Canadian broadcasting system;

(g) authorize the Commission to provide information to the Minister responsible for that Act, the Chief Statistician of Canada and the Commissioner of Competition, and set out in that Act a process by which a person who submits certain types of information to the Commission may designate the information as confidential;

(h) amend the procedure by which the Governor in Council may, under section 28 of that Act, set aside a decision of the Commission to issue, amend or renew a licence or refer such a decision back to the Commission for reconsideration and hearing;

(i) specify that a person shall not carry on a broadcasting undertaking, other than an online undertaking, unless they do so in accordance with a licence or they are exempt from the requirement to hold a licence;

(j) harmonize the punishments for offences under Part II of that Act and clarify that a due diligence defence applies to the existing offences set out in that Act; and

(k) allow for the imposition of administrative monetary penalties for violations of certain provisions of that Act or of the Accessible Canada Act.

The enactment also makes related and consequential amendments to other Acts.

Elsewhere

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

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 / 3:50 p.m.
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Bloc

Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to emphasize the importance of local radio.

Local broadcasting is essential because local information cannot be covered in national news reports. Local radio stations are needed to cover municipal and school news. They also mean local journalists, local artists who can send in their productions, and local jobs.

These radio stations could be decimated over the next few months if we do not take action. In my riding, there are two radio stations that I love to listen to. They are Radio Acton and Boom FM. What will I tell those stations about targeted support and the more flexible regulations that they need in this time of crisis?

Why is there nothing about that in Bill C-10?

Broadcasting Act

November 19th, 2020 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to have the opportunity this afternoon to speak to Bill C-10. It is an act to amend the Broadcasting Act. Updating this Broadcasting Act is crucially important. The statutes in the act provide the guidelines for everything in our media industry, from how our Canadian broadcasters operate to how we support Canadian content and production.

Updating it right now is particularly important because, as we know, the Broadcasting Act has not really been updated at all since 1991, a long time before Internet companies and online streaming services were competing with Canadian broadcasters.

It is deeply disappointing that the government’s proposals are so incredibly lacking. I am going to focus in on four points today. First, the legislation does nothing to address social media companies, such as Facebook and Google, and their various properties, such as YouTube, to pay its fair share. Second, it does not bring digital platforms, such as Netflix and Spotify, into a system in which they are on a level playing field with the conventional Canadian broadcasters.

Third, it does not provide any details on Canadian content production and media fund contributions by digital broadcasters. Finally, it gives all of the power to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, commonly known as the CRTC, which is a body that is not only ineffective at regulating in its area, but that also often struggles to even enforce its own regulations.

Before I dive into the details of this bill, I want to give some background. A lot of people in the House know that prior to my election, I spent over 40 years as a radio and television broadcaster here in the province of Saskatchewan.

During my broadcasting career, I experienced first-hand the dramatic evolution of those industries and how Canadians interact with their media. When I first entered the industry back in the 1970s, radio and television were the dominant forces of entertainment here in this country.

Over time, as television became more and more accessible and mainstream, demand for radio really declined. More recently, we can look at music streaming services such as Spotify, Google Play Music and Apple Music, which have attracted many Canadians away from radio. This has resulted in many stations across the country being forced to either greatly downsize or shut down entirely. We have seen that here in Saskatchewan.

I will give some details on the radio industry. Right now, a lot of stations in Saskatchewan run for only 12 hours. They will come on at six in the morning and broadcast until six at night. They will then have repeat programming for the next 12 hours. This is disturbing. It is hard to find a live disk jockey or newscast at night because these stations only run 12 out of 24 hours.

It is disturbing because, as a young broadcaster back in the 1970s, that was how one learned the business, by working nights and late nights. That has been taken away from people in this province. It is hard to find a live announcer after 7 p.m. on any Saskatchewan radio station.

Major conglomerates have gobbled up some of the radio industries in Saskatchewan. Stations in places such as Prince Albert, North Battleford, and even the satellite feeder in Meadow Lake, are now part of the Pattison Group.

We have seen a sort of renaissance in the province with smaller radio stations trying to make it on the FM dial, such as Humboldt and recently Assiniboia. This past January, Nipawin got its licence for the first time in the north-east area of Saskatchewan. There was an intervention by one of the big players in the country, but today Nipawin has its own FM radio station. It got approval from the CRTC in January.

I would be remiss to not mention MBC radio, of the Missinipi Broadcasting Corporation. It is Saskatchewan's only indigenous radio station, and it is located in La Ronge. For some 10 hours a week, it broadcasts in Dene, and for another 10 hours a week, it broadcasts in Cree.

With this bill, Bill C-10, this is where I would really like the CRTC to concentrate. We have seen that this station uses Cree along with Dene up in northern Saskatchewan. It is needed. In fact, during the election I caught a 30-second advertising spot by a candidate done in Dene, telling the people up there to vote for him or her. It was kind of interesting. It was really good.

I also had the fortunate opportunity to go to Nunavut just two years ago. I went to eight communities up there. They speak a lot of English. Inuit and Inuktitut are spoken as well. I went up there and saw the people up in Nunavut, including Chesterfield Inlet, Arviat, and so on. That is their way of communicating.

This is my concern today with the CRTC. How is it going to look after this whole Bill C-10, and the Broadcasting Act? It is big. We have a big country. I have just pointed out the needs in Nunavut and northern Saskatchewan. There are many other places in this country. This is a very, very big bill.

Similarly, streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, and even Disney+, are increasingly becoming the default source of entertainment for many across the country. Many television studios are struggling and beginning to downsize and cut costs. We saw that today with the announcement from Rogers.

Much like their radio counterparts, television stations here in Saskatchewan have been forced to make cuts. Many local stations have either been shut down or have really reduced staff. I can tell the House that, as a former broadcaster in that province, I remember when Swift Current had its own television station.

Yorkton and Prince Albert are repeater stations now. Prince Albert rebroadcasts Saskatoon, and Yorkton rebroadcasts Regina. I remember at one time that CKBI, Prince Albert television, had over 80 staff. We do not have that any more, so we can see that the industry is coming down. Swift Current no longer has a TV station. Yorkton basically has two or three people, and the same thing at CKBI Prince Albert.

For a long time, I think that sports was considered the bedrock of television. While television series could always be recorded, watching sports live had a particular importance. No one wanted to miss that big game or have the results spoiled.

However, today even sports, a sector that has long thrived based on live television, is moving away from the traditional broadcasts. Services such as NHL GameCenter, Dazn, Sportsnet NOW, and TSN Direct allow sports fans to watch their favourite teams from wherever they would like. They can flip between games and even watch multiple games at once.

I will make this point. I remember the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The president of Bell Media was in line for the gold medal game, the women's hockey gold medal game. There was a big crowd in Vancouver. No one could get into the game on time, but at that time the game was streamed.

The president of Bell Canada went on his phone and watched the game. He turned to his assistant while he was in line and said that this was the future of broadcasting, and that Bell Canada had to buy it. That was in 2010. Lo and behold, a short time after, Bell reacquired the CTV television network.

The reality today is that the way most of us here in the House of Commons consumed entertainment growing up is no longer the norm. Many growing up today would consider it simply out of date or even obsolete.

Certainly, even though many of these changes have been revolutionary and have benefited consumers, they have created many problems for the Canadian broadcasting sector. Our laws and regulations need to be updated to match the changes of the last 30 years. That raises this question: What exactly needs to be fixed in a modernized broadcasting act?

The Internet giants such as Netflix and Spotify are simply not paying their fair share. These companies do not pay taxes. They are not required to pay into the Canada Media Fund, as conventional broadcasters are today. They are not required to meet the Canadian content requirements that conventional broadcasters are bound by.

As more and more attention is paid to major streaming giants, and they are taking up more and more of the market share, conventional Canadian broadcasters, both at the local and the national level, are being pinched out, and they know that.

The current circumstances not only create an uneven playing field, they also put Canadian broadcasters at a significant disadvantage in having to allocate their resources, when Internet giants simply do not have to do that. The Broadcasting Act clearly needs to be updated for the world that is dominated today by the Internet.

Unfortunately, the legislation that the government has put forward to us today is wholly inadequate in addressing the issues that I just laid out. Let us begin taking a look at what the government's main solution seems to be in Bill C-10. I think they are passing the buck solely to the CRTC. It is unfortunate the government is simply passing off the responsibility to the unelected body that has historically had many issues fulfilling its own mandate, particularly on this issue.

At the beginning of this year, the Canadian Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review panel tabled its report, known as the “Yale report”. In fact, I attended that news conference in Ottawa in January when the panel released its 94 recommendations. That news conference lasted almost two hours. There were plenty of questions directed at the panel, and it was directed by conventional broadcasters.

Many of them expressed concerns about some of the 94 recommendations that were made that day. The objective of the panel was to review the current broadcasting and telecommunications framework and present possible paths forward for Canadian broadcasting.

While I have my own issues with some of the recommendations in this report, one thing that has been raised as a major concern in my meetings with industry stakeholders is that the Yale report makes it clear that the CRTC already has the power to regulate Internet giants like Netflix. That surprised a lot of people.

If the CRTC can already regulate Netflix and its online counterparts, why has it not done so? Let us be clear here. The CRTC, the Canadian broadcasters and the government have all known for years what the impact of the unregulated online market is. It is crushing Canadian broadcasters. The CRTC done absolutely nothing with the power that it has to regulate, despite having had years to act.

One cannot help but wonder if the Canadian media today would be in a much better state if it were not for the CRTC's lack of desire to actually take some action. This bill would not change that. It simply reiterates it. It restates a power that the CRTC already has and has opted not to use, so why would it use it now? There is absolutely no reason to believe that the CRTC is going to change now, when there is no compulsion to do so.

Even if the CRTC decided to finally take the steps that it has had the power to do for years and regulate the web giants, I am highly skeptical that they would bother to enforce them. Sure, the government claims that this legislation before us today would modernize the CRTC's enforcement powers to ensure compliance with hypothetical regulations that the CRTC is not bound to actually make, but we already know that the CRTC does not necessarily use the powers that it is given.

On the specific issue of enforcement, I remember during my time as a broadcaster that when the licence renewal would come up every five years, everyone would be on their best behaviour in the station. Station management would make sure that everything was perfect for its hearings with the CRTC. Once it gave us the licence renewal, we would not hear from the CRTC again until five years later. The CRTC did not follow up to make sure we were abiding by the terms of our licence at all.

I also think about a more recent example of the CRTC simply failing Canadians. Earlier this year, at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CBC decided to pull Compass, its 30-minute local news program in Prince Edward Island. It is the only local news for P.E.I., and CBC took it off the air.

At a time when islanders needed their local news the most, the CBC abandoned them. What did the CRTC do? Absolutely nothing. It was only through the outrage of viewers in that area that the CBC brought Compass and the newscasts back to the people of Prince Edward Island.

If the CRTC is not going to act when Canadians need it the most, how can we expect it to actually act in the best interests of Canadians when it comes to Internet giants?

I remember an instance when Global doing something similar here in the city. In Saskatoon we had a newscast that actually came out of Toronto. The CRTC was unaware of that, but it has since been rectified in the city.

I think everyone here can understand my skepticism today of putting all of our eggs into one basket by dumping this onto the CRTC. However, for the sake of argument, let us pretend it is not an issue. Let us pretend that the regulator has absolutely no issues with fulfilling its mandate. Are there are any other problems with the bill?

Let us start with social media. The legislation does nothing to ensure that online platforms, such as Facebook and Google, that have built their businesses by sharing other people's content are paying their fair share. In fact, the bill absolves those companies from responsibility for content posted on their platforms.

Then we need to consider what measures are being proposed to make sure that conventional broadcasters are on a level playing field with digital platforms. The reality is there is nothing. It gives no guidance or explanation of how the regulations or guidelines should be created or drawn.

Finally, this legislation provides no guidelines at all as to whether or not digital platforms will be forced to meet the same Canadian content production rules or be required to make payments into the Canada Media Fund. All of our conventional broadcasters must still meet these requirements. This sounds nothing like levelling the playing field.

However, we should not worry if this does not go well, because the government is here to save the day. It can settle issues with an order in council afterwards. Instead of being clear with broadcasters and Canadians, the government is going to wait a little longer and potentially implement policy later. That is simply not a plan. Broadcasters cannot prepare for the future while these discussions and regulations are created behind closed doors.

Who could blame Canadians if they begin to wonder what the government is planning to implement that it is not willing to put in today's legislation. What is it hiding? The government has not told us.

Let us review. There is no guarantee that the CRTC will actually fulfill its obligations and produce regulations. It could have before, and it did not. If it does, will it enforce them?

What about the rules for platforms and conventional broadcasters? What are they going to look like? The bill does not tell us. We do not know what the rules around the Canada Media Fund or even Canadian content will be. There is nothing new for dealing with social media platforms.

What do we know? Well, not a lot, actually. What we do have is a lot of uncertainty.

The government is leaving the whole process up in the air with regard to the CRTC. Industry cannot be sure what the government is going to do to regulate in this area because it has totally neglected this in the past. Even if it does, it is going to take months for Canadians to hear anything from the CRTC, and that means months of more uncertainty at a time when our media industry is already greatly struggling.

I want to reiterate my serious concern about the legislation before us today. Canadian broadcasters and creators are struggling mightily. We know that. The government needs to do something to remedy the situation.

The power to regulate companies like Netflix already exists under the CRTC, but it has chosen not to act and this legislation does not compel it to. What reason do Canadians have to believe that the CRTC will bring in new regulations or that they will be enforced?

Broadcasting Act

November 19th, 2020 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have talked to stakeholders and industry people about this, and YouTube is completely unregulated in Bill C-10. It has been 28 years since we last updated the Broadcasting Act. Where do members think YouTube is going to be in the next 28 years? Should we be regulating YouTube? Sure we should be regulating it. That is my personal opinion. It is one thing we have talked to industry and stakeholders about. They are concerned that YouTube is not involved in this.

Only two provinces in Canada have a tax on Netflix. One is Saskatchewan and the other is Quebec. It is being taxed in only two jurisdictions, and I would say that it is getting away with murder in the rest of the provinces and territories.

Broadcasting Act

November 19th, 2020 / 4:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Tony Van Bynen Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by acknowledging this House sits on the ancestral lands of the Algonquin Anishinabe.

Canadians are enthusiastic early adopters of technology. Time and time again they have readily embraced the wide variety of broadcasting services available to them, foreign and domestic. These broadcasting services empower consumers with the ability to watch what they want whenever they want it and however they want it. The same goes for listening to music and hearing the news. Bill C-10 will not limit the ability of Canadians to access the programming platforms of their preference; rather, it will ensure the Canadian broadcasting system continues to meet the needs of Canadian consumers.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is the independent regulator of Canada's broadcasting systems. It requires television and radio stations and cable and satellite distributors to support the creation and display of Canadian stories and Canadian music. These are requirements that have been in place for decades and have resulted in greater investment and promotion of Canadian content and talent, including high-quality journalism, groundbreaking musical artists and compelling and acclaimed programming.

However, in the current regulatory framework, online broadcasters are exempt from most broadcasting regulations. In other words, they are not required to contribute to the Canadian broadcasting system as is required of the traditional broadcasters. This is because the last time major changes were made to our Broadcasting Act was in 1991, before we experienced the new digital age and its challenges. We are well into the digital age now and it is time for our legislation to join us. It is time for online broadcasters to be treated the same as traditional broadcasters.

Bill C-10 would create a level playing field where all broadcasters have a fair chance to compete by ensuring that online broadcasters are subject to the same regulatory framework. Most importantly, it ensures that both traditional and online broadcasters contribute to a healthy and vibrant Canadian broadcasting system. For Canadian artists, this means securing sustainable funding that will allow them to continue telling stories and making music from a uniquely Canadian perspective. For most consumers this means the ability to access more content that will allow Canadians to see themselves, their communities and their stories reflected through different points of view. For Canada it means a stronger cultural unity, a shared national identity and a more inclusive society.

By presenting the content that is representative of different cultures, communities and languages from across Canada, broadcasting provides a window into the diverse experiences of Canadians. Made in Canada content is considered personally important to 78% of Canadians. It is clear that Canadians see value in seeing their stories on the screen and in hearing Canadian artists on the radio.

I am proud to say that the interest in Canadian content exists far beyond our borders. The hit show Schitt's Creek recently brought home nine Emmys, the film Indian Horse won an award at the 2018 San Diego International Film Festival and Quebec native Céline Dion is one of the best worldwide selling artists of all time. The list goes on. Including online broadcasters in the broadcasting regulatory framework could result in online broadcasters being requested to invest more than $800 million in our creators, music and stories by 2023. It could result in more Canadian successes being enjoyed and recognized abroad.

Whether getting traffic and weather updates or learning about the day's events from prime-time broadcasts, the broadcasting system is an important source of news for Canadians. Traditional broadcasters have long supported journalism and the delivery of local, regional and national news. By including a new policy objective that promotes the provision of news, including that produced by Canadians and reflecting Canadian perspectives from a variety of sources, we are strengthening the role of news in the broadcasting system.

Recognizing that a free and independent press is the cornerstone of our democracy, the bill would not contemplate the licensing of news organizations. However, the bill does create an equitable framework for broadcasting that will help safeguard news production. This way, traditional broadcasters who are important sources of news, and particularly local news, would be better able to compete with online broadcasting services.

The bill was also crafted to keep both online and traditional broadcasting services affordable for Canadians. We understand that, every day, Canadians are making difficult choices on how to spend their hard-earned dollars. This is especially true during these trying times.

Bill C-10 provides the CRTC with the ability to tailor regulatory requirements to specific business models. For example, the CRTC could impose mandatory Canadian programming expenditures on services that are already in the business of commissioning and producing content. Requiring services, such as Netflix and Crave, to spend a certain amount of money each year on Canadian content will help us move the needle on directing investments toward programming that is created and produced by Canadians, for Canadians. This will help the CRTC avoid imposing undue regulatory burdens on a particular service that would then result in raised prices for consumers.

These are just some of the ways that Bill C-10 would benefit Canadian consumers, creators and artists. The exemption for digital services was originally put in place to allow for the innovation and development of new online media services. In 2020, when Canadians mostly access programming online, these exemptions no longer make sense.

The inclusion of online broadcasters in the Canadian broadcasting system with regulatory clarity would promote the entrance of new players into the Canadian market. It supports a vibrant and healthy competition in the sector, creating additional pressures to keep costs down. For Canadian consumers, it leads to a wider variety of high-quality content, with a greater diversity of views in which Canadians proudly see themselves and their stories. After nearly 30 years, it is time to modernize our broadcasting system and to safeguard it for the future.

Broadcasting Act

November 19th, 2020 / 4:40 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague from Newmarket—Aurora's speech and I am very interested in Bill C-10 and seeing it get to committee.

The member made the point that this treats the live-streaming digital giants in the same way that we would treat other parts of our economy. I want to ask him if we do not need an amendment to direct that, in the case of outfits like Twitter and Facebook that are actually gutting our Canadian journalism, they be treated as publishers and not this fiction that they are platforms. Then, all the rules of libel and slander, etc. would apply to them.

Broadcasting Act

November 19th, 2020 / 4:40 p.m.
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NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to be here today to talk about Bill C-10, and more importantly, talk about the reality that we need to continue to protect Canadian content in our broadcasting systems, in all of our media. The other part of this conversation is about fairness and acknowledging web giants in this country have been getting off very easy. As they have been getting off very easy with very little content taxes, our people who fight for local Canadian content have been left behind.

I represent the beautiful riding of North Island—Powell River. It is the third-largest riding in British Columbia and it is part of Vancouver Island and is also on the Mainland. I am incredibly proud to represent these voices.

Recently, there was a huge storm in our riding. It was a mix of wind, thunder, lightning and snow, of all things. Snow is very rare in our part of the world. During that time, there were huge power outages and people were not sure what was going on. It was our local newspapers and radio stations that let people know what was happening, and if it was not for them, folks would have been isolated and alone. I can promise the House that none of the big web giants were concerned about what was happening in our riding.

I want to give a special shout-out to the local Port McNeill IGA. When people went without power for a long period of time, it had a beautiful BBQ to feed people. It said that if people had any money to give to please give and it would donate it, but if people could not, to just go there and they could get fed. Those are the people I am so incredibly proud to represent and those are the stories we as Canadians need to hear.

There are local papers in my riding: the Campbell River Mirror, the Comox Valley Record, the Powell River Peak and the North Island Gazette. They are always making sure we know what is happening in our riding. I respect them immensely. They are very small, and they get out there and make sure we record what is happening and let other people within our communities and region know what is happening locally in our community. They remember all of those communities, the little ones like Sointula, Woss, Whaletown, Van Anda, Alert Bay and many more.

Something particularly unique and special about Canada is that we have a huge land base and a small population, and people are living all over the place living important lives. These papers connect us. They work hard to keep us informed on what is going on nationally, internationally, and most importantly, locally. They tell us what is happening.

I think about Remembrance Day this year. It was very different than the Remembrance Day we are used to. Usually people are out together across all the communities. This time, people were waiting for the newspapers to share their recordings on social media. They were waiting to see the pictures. These are important roles, and if they were not there watching, it would not be happening.

The reality is they are facing a huge challenge. They are having to fight every day for their survival. Their huge competition are significantly bigger corporations like Facebook and Google. They are fighting them and trying to survive. All of those local papers use Facebook, which is an important tool. However, more and more people are using things like Facebook and Google to advertise, which means they are not getting the same amount of money that really helped them build their businesses.

I want to say it again, Facebook is not dedicated to our region. It does not show up at all the local events and it does not make sure to keep the history of our community. If people want to know what happened in their community in the past, where do they go? They look at old newspapers. That is where we learn about what happened and get those pictures of our ancestors who did things in the communities. That is an important part of carrying on our history.

We know when COVID came the challenges for our local newspapers only increased. In the middle of a pandemic, our local culture and media folks were worried about keeping their jobs. According to the Yale report, Google and Facebook have received nearly 75% of online advertising revenue in Canada. That leaves our local TV and newspapers only gaining 8.5% of all Internet advertising.

The CBC did a compilation that showed that in 2018-19, Ottawa spent $52 million advertising on web giants. That was five times more than the local Canadian platforms. That is devastating, and it tells us something very important, that we are seeing a decrease of support for local content.

I said earlier that I represent a rural and remote riding, with lots of communities that really need these meaningful jobs. When we see that unfair competition, we see that they are not getting to keep those jobs. This is another thing that we have to start addressing in this country, that rural and remote communities are challenged. We need to have a better strategy so that those economies can grow and blossom. The more we centralize, the less those communities flourish. We have to take some leadership on that. I am waiting to see the government do that.

This bill really punts it down the line. I know the last member who spoke disagrees with that, but we are giving it to the CRTC and saying, “Figure something out.” It has happened in other places. For example, in France, the cultural minister actually stood up and said that if they were going to go there and create content, they would have to pay taxes so that there could be local content.

If all of these web giants are going to be making money, they are going to have to pay their fair share so that our Canadian folks do not lose their jobs and we do not lose the history of our precious country.

Here we are again, discussing, and I did this in the last Parliament, the Liberal promise to make sure that web giants pay their fair share. However, again, this legislation has nothing around fair tax rules. That is what we need. Most people would remember when the Liberals made a big announcement that we were going to get money from Netflix, it would be great, it would be taxed a bit more. What did we all see across the country? Canadian rates for Netflix were raised to cover that cost.

We are talking about actually taking these guys on and making sure that they pay their fair share so that Canadians can remember their own content. We need to protect Canada's unique voice.

In my riding, I am so impressed with the Vancouver Island North Film Commission. Its leadership has been immense and has brought opportunities into our riding. It has really worked hard. I just want to say how much I respect the commission and how important that is. In fact, it locally connected with the North Island College not too long ago. It began training people.

What we are seeing is local people being trained in our local communities, and then working in the film industry in our region. This is so important.

In this country, we need to take leadership and say, “We have this immense country. We have rural and remote communities, and their economies are based largely on the resources. We do not want that to end, but we want to diversify so there is more stability.”

This is a place where resources could go from these big web giants, and make sure that these folks get the support they need to build important content that is Canadian, but also to maintain a diversity of employment, of good-paying jobs, in our regions.

When we talk about addressing these big web giants and their paying their fair share, we know that organizations like Amazon, Apple and Netflix can pay. While the reality in this country is that they are not paying, and are in fact undercutting our local content providers, we are not doing the right thing.

When we work on this bill, and I see some good things and I hear from the government that we should get into committee and make it work, I wish the government would be a little more ambitious. I wish the government would not wait for the opposition parties to tell them what to do.

When we get down to it, we have to protect local content. We have to look at our systems and make sure there is a diversity, so that when we look at our economy, we see that diversification happening across the board so that everybody benefits from it.

In closing I will simply say this, I come from a riding that has built this country. That is what rural and remote communities do. They have their economies that are largely resource-based, and they have built Canada. I want to thank them. We want to see some accountability in this House to make sure that those communities stop suffering and start having a more diverse and stable economy. It is simply time. It is definitely time to make sure those web giants pay their fair share.

Broadcasting Act

November 19th, 2020 / 4:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Lenore Zann Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, as a professional artist myself for 40 years, I am also a member of the Canadian actors' union, ACTRA, and colleagues like Ferne Downey, Theresa Tova and David Sparrow have been lobbying governments for the modernization of Canada's Broadcasting Act, which is now Bill C-10, for years. They say that these proposed changes will help strengthen the industry and lead to increased investment in Canadian content production and, by extension, increased work opportunities for Canadian performers.

My question for the member, therefore, is this. Will she and the NDP be supporting this important legislation? It is a first step in doing the right thing for Canadian performers.

Broadcasting Act

November 19th, 2020 / 4:55 p.m.
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Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr Speaker, it is my pleasure to address the House today from my riding in Toronto on this important piece of legislation. Bill C-10 is a crucial initiative that will bring the radio, television and telecommunications sector into the 21st century.

As we have previously heard in the speeches from many of my colleagues, the last major reform of the Broadcasting Act occurred in 1991. All of us have witnessed an incredible shift in the radio, television and telecommunications sector since that time. Back then the Internet was not even in its infancy: It was the purview exclusively of the U.S. military. I did not even obtain my first email address until about 1994, if memory serves correctly, when I was in my last year at McGill. It is incredible to think that an act drafted around basic radio and television technology, circa 1991, is still regulating the sector today.

Today, as parliamentarians, we are taking an important step forward in modernizing broadcasting regulation in Canada. Nowadays, we know that this sector has remarkably flourished and represents a unique opportunity to access culture. Many platforms have emerged, including Netflix, Disney+, YouTube and Spotify. These provide opportunities to share Canadian culture and content all around the world, also while consuming cultural content here at home that comes from several different countries.

However, online broadcasting services are currently not subjected to the same regulations as traditional broadcasting services. This bill would fix that basic inequality. Canadians greatly benefit from accessing foreign productions, but it is also essential to support our Canadian producers and creators, especially now during a pandemic, when showcasing Canadian content and telling Canadian stories is so critical to the well-being of all of us. This is something that we as a government have always sought to do since coming to power in 2015, by funding our national broadcaster the CBC, and by increasing funding to the Canada Council for the Arts as well as to Telefilm Canada.

However, one issue has remained a stubborn obstacle. How do we support Canadian content in an era when the methods for broadcasting are shifting massively, from radio and TV to online? Bill C-10 would fill this void by providing the CRTC with modern regulatory tools.

Canadians are increasingly using online platforms to access cultural content. For instance, it is estimated that 62% of Canadian households currently use Netflix. This dramatic shift has resulted in an increase of approximately 90% in online video revenues per year for the past two years. Meanwhile, conventional broadcasters have experienced a steady revenue loss of 1.8% per year for the past five years. These alarming statistics clearly demonstrate that the CRTC's regulatory framework needs to be adapted immediately to better support Canadian content producers in order to level the playing field.

Implementing the changes in Bill C-10 would quickly produce clear and concrete impacts. Let me give an example. By creating a new category of broadcasting under the online broadcasting category, Bill C-10 could lead to increasing contributions to Canadian music and stories by as much as $830 million by 2023. This is excellent news for our Canadian cultural sector.

Let me speak about diversity. In addition to levelling the playing field between the traditional broadcasting services and the web giants, by ensuring that web giants contribute to the creation, production and distribution of Canadian stories and music, this bill would also reflect where Canadian society is in 2020. The new regulatory framework outlined in Bill C-10 is focused on building a more inclusive cultural sector as part of the larger goal of building a more inclusive Canada.

Supporting diversity and inclusion is essential, and that it is exactly what Bill C-10 would do. Anglophones, francophones, racialized Canadians and Canadians of diverse ethnicities, socio-economic statuses, abilities, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions all deserve to be represented in our cultural sector. I cannot stop myself from thinking about all the kids out there, including my own brown-skinned South Asian children, who are watching shows and dreaming of their future. They have to know that their dreams can come true and they can achieve everything that they want. Seeing people who look like them in the shows that they watch is undoubtedly important. I know this as a parent. I know this as a racialized parliamentarian.

We know that representation is a key step to reaching better inclusion of marginalized groups. The logic that applied when we decided to put Viola Desmond on the $10 bill to ensure that all Canadians, including Black Canadians, could see themselves represented in our institutions, also applies here in the cultural sector. The more Canadians who can see themselves reflected in our cultural sector, be they religious or racial minorities or others, the better we are as a nation.

I want to also highlight the importance of improved support for indigenous cultures in our broadcasting sector. During the last Parliament, I was privileged to be asked by the Prime Minister to serve as the parliamentary secretary to the then minister of heritage. In that role at that time, I had the chance to work on co-developing with first nations, Inuit and Métis leaders Canada's first ever Indigenous Languages Act. The work I did on Bill C-91 in the last Parliament deeply shaped my own understanding of the need to protect indigenous cultures and languages in order to empower first nations, Inuit and Métis people on Turtle Island.

By including concrete measures in this bill to better reflect indigenous cultures in Canada, Bill C-10 will contribute to that work of the revitalization of indigenous languages by ensuring that indigenous children have access to cultural content in their languages. Let me emphasize that Bill C-10 would have a real impact on the preservation and revitalization of indigenous languages and cultures, which is fundamental to reconciliation.

I am also pleased to see that the broadcasting system will be adapted to the needs of persons with disabilities. There is a lot of work ahead of us in order to build a more inclusive Canada for people living with disabilities. Ensuring that programming on TV, radio and online is accessible without barriers to persons with disabilities is a step in the right direction.

When I speak about my riding of Parkdale—High Park, I know that promoting arts and culture is a very important issue not only for my riding, but indeed for all Canadians. I want to highlight, for example, that just last week Warren P. Sonoda was elected president of the Director's Guild of Canada. I had the opportunity to work with Warren on important roles when I was the parliamentary secretary to the minister of heritage. I am thrilled to see what he will accomplish while holding that position. I want to credit the work by outgoing former DGC president, Tim Southam.

My riding of Parkdale—High Park is known for many people like Warren and Tim. It is known for great artists, wonderful creators and important film and TV producers. I am speaking for example of Dave Forget, currently on the national executive team for the Director's Guild, having previously worked for 14 years at Telefilm. He has spent most of his life working in the film industry, and I am proud to call him a constituent.

Additionally, professor Chris Romeike in my riding did the cinematography on the recent movie The Inconvenient Indian, which was based on Thomas King's bestseller. It explores the cultural colonization of indigenous peoples in North America and was deemed by the producers of TIFF as the one must-see film at TIFF this year.

I want to congratulate so many people: Paul Barkin, Mary Young Leckie, John Turner, David Makin, Alain Zweig, Jasmin Mozaffari and Ali Kazimi, for all of their important and award-winning work and contributions to the film and TV sectors. Ferne Downey, who was mentioned in the context of the previous speech, is my constituent. She was previously the head of ACTRA and is now the head of the International Federation of Actors.

I could keep going much longer, but I will mention one last person: Jeff Churchill, of Jitterbug Boy, an original footwear company in my riding whose shoes are being made for a variety of shows such as the upcoming Batman film. What is important about that last reference is that when we support the Canadian cultural centre, we are also supporting all of the derivative economic benefits that come from supporting film, TV and our content creators. That is what Bill C-10 will enable us to do by better funding the sector and levelling that playing field. This is a critical piece of legislation.

We know that financial support for Canadian content will decline as the revenues of traditional radio and television broadcasters continue to decrease. Bill C-10 is the first step in aiming to fully modernize the broadcasting system in Canada to ensure that both traditional and online broadcasting contribute to the Canadian broadcasting system. Our Canadian producers deserve to be operating in a fair situation where the rules are equal for everyone. Allowing the CRTC more powers to modernize the regulatory framework is important, by imposing more regulations on online broadcasters, as is simultaneously ensuring the regulatory independence of the CRTC.

In conclusion, as I have outlined, Bill C-10 is about ensuring fair and equitable treatment between traditional and online broadcasters. It is about better representation of Canadian society in our cultural sector. I am incredibly proud of our Canadian cultural sector, and in particular the role it is playing in buoying Canadian spirits and easing Canadian anxieties during the COVID-19 pandemic. I know that with the right tools, our Canadian creators will continue to keep producing terrific Canadian content for years to come. Bill C-10 is one of the tools we need to maintain our support for Canadian creators. The work of passing it should not be a partisan issue, nor should it be delayed. We cannot afford to wait 30 more years before modernizing the act. The time to act is now.

Broadcasting Act

November 19th, 2020 / 5:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Vancouver Kingsway for that insight. The most direct application for a place like B.C. and a city like Vancouver or the Lower Mainland is the fact that it already serves as a large centre for film and TV production work in particular.

By creating a bill like Bill C-10, which has the potential of raising almost a billion dollars for a Canadian content production, we can help shift some of that production to localities like Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver, for example. They could attract that work, not just work that is a shipped over production element from Hollywood, for example, but, rather, producing good Canadian content that is Canadian stories and Canadian productions on Canadian soil. The potential of this bill is about that.

There certainly is a lot more work to be done, but I am very appreciative of the tremendous work that has always been done out of Vancouver in the film and TV sector, and we want to promote more of that through a bill like this.

Broadcasting Act

November 19th, 2020 / 5:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, a tremendous number of speakers have spoken to this issue in the last two days. I could ditto what my colleague from Saskatoon had to say. He was fantastic. He knows the industry. There have been some great speeches and a lot of good questions.

Some people may remember when they had to turn the channel on the TV, but let us go back a little further. I can remember when there was one radio station we listened to. At Christmastime, we would gather around to listen to the Queen's message on Christmas day.

I remember radio shows where they started with somebody walking down a hallway, knocking on the door and saying “Who's there? It's the happy gang”. I go back a little ways on that one. We got to listen to the The Shadow. If we were good in school, the teacher turn on the World Series, because the games were not played at night. It was always a treat if a teacher would let us listen to the World Series on the radio.

Then, when we got our first TV, I wondered what all those numbers were around the dial. What was 1 and 13 and all those other numbers? We had one channel. When we turned the TV on, we saw a test pattern for half an hour in the afternoon before a program started. If people think they know about old-time TV, I do not think so.

Let us look at the 1950s in the sense of TV and what happened in September and October 1956 and January 1957. One of the highest rated shows in the U.S. in the 1950s was Elvis Presley on The Ed Sullivan Show. However, we saw censorship for the first time when, in that 1957 show, they were only allowed to broadcast him from the waist up. People did not want to be exposed to “Elvis the Pelvis”. The cry of people was that the world had all gone to hell, because Elvis was on public TV. That was censorship back then, and I think that might be some of the concerns we have today.

Where were people during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962? We were all watching the TV. When we went home from school, we did not know if we were coming back the next day. In 1963, Walter Cronkite and Knowlton Nash covered the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In 1966, we got the first colour television. I remember watching Bonanza for the first time in colour. In 1969, people were glued to their TVs to watch the landing on the moon.

We had an interesting show called This Hour Has Seven Days, with Laurier LaPierre and Patrick Watson, which ran from 1964 to 1966. Why did that show disappear? A lot of people out there would suggest that the establishment could not take the rapid fire from Watson and LaPierre, so that program was cut.

When the Vietnam War came along, I was on both sides of the border, getting my university degrees. When I read the media from both sides of the border, it was like a different war. Which one was right? Was it censorship or was it fake news, depending on which country one was in? I did research for a political science professor who, as a research assistant, later testified in Senate hearings about information that was not in the news. It was interesting.

These kinds of things have been around for a while. We now have a bill that has been moved. Supposedly, it is a whole different era when we talk about all these things. We are just beginning to learn about some of the things out there, such as Twitch and Reddit. I just learned about things like Facebook and Twitter, but now we have new ones like Twitch and Reddit. The younger generation knows them, but most of the people who are a little older or a little younger than me have no idea what they are.

One of the things from the Yale report, which is also in this bill, is talk about strengthening the cultural, political, social and economic fabric of Canada. This is interesting because we have talked about rural broadband for years. The government is talking about getting something done by 2026. It has said that we will have a 50 download/10 upload. In the agricultural sector that is not quick enough. The government talks about it as at the last community, but we need it at the last farm gate.

If we want the economic fabric of Canada strengthened, we need much better than that. We have companies like Telus that are now buying up agricultural companies, which is fantastic. However, what our agriculture sector needs in downloads/uploads is much more than 50/10 if we are to strengthen the economic fabric of our country.

We need to deal with broadband. We need to see how that can be improved or we will not strengthen it, whether it is with broadcasting or not. However, it is part of the social media that needs to be developed in rural areas.

There are other things we need to do. One of the things proposed in the Yale report, and I do not see it in the bill, which is a good thing, was that anyone who sat on the CRTC board had to live in the capital region. What a divisive recommendation, that someone has to live in the capital region to be on the CRTC board. That one did not show up, which is good. A lot of things came out of that Yale report. I hope the CRTC does not pick that one up and implement it up under the regulations. It would not be good.

The Yale report also talked about news and current events being reported in the media. It talked about regional, local, national and international. What did not show up in this bill? It includes local, regional and international news, but not national news. National news and current events have been left out of the Bill C-10, which is very interesting because the Yale report included it.

In recent times, many of my constituents have said that Global TV, CTV and CBC might as well be U.S. channels because they carry more U.S. news than Canadian news. With the appointment of the Supreme Court justice in the United States, we would have thought we were in the United States, given the amount of coverage it received. My constituents have asked me why our national broadcasters do not cover more Canadian news and why they are infatuated with the U.S. It is a good point. There is a lot of local stuff out there, but they are infatuated with what goes on below the 49th parallel apparently.

We can look at the things in the bill and ask if can be strengthened, can it get to the news stuff, will people who work in Canada be taxed. I do not know whether the bill covers this. I do know something about local content. I live in a community of about 15,000 people. Three documentaries have been done on this community in the last 15 years and a proposal for the fourth one is being developed.

The documentaries 24 Days in Brooks, Brooks: The City of 100 Hellos and From Sherbrooke to Brooks have won a number of awards at film festivals. There are great local stories and great local content out there and we need to have those stories told.

As I said, many people have addressed Google and Facebook. The problem I have with this is the federal government is spending zillions of dollars on advertising on these foreign platforms. I only have weekly newspapers in my riding and they cover the real news in my communities. They cover the municipal governments, the school boards and minor hockey. They cover all the events in the communities and they talk about what is happening.

Major newspapers are not going to cover that. Where did the federal print advertising go for local weekly newspapers? It went to the international big guys. The local papers that actually produce the real stories on what goes on in communities has lost that advertising. That advertising has gone out of the country; Canadian taxpayer money has gone out of the country. That is not right. We need that print advertising to support our local papers, which produce the real stories in our communities.

I do not think amendments will fix this bill, but we can try in committee. I have been in a lot of committees where we have attempted amendments. The government, which writes the legislation, is not very friendly to amendments unless it is for itself. Therefore, it will be a challenge to amend this legislation. There are some big challenges with it. It will go to committee, but I do not think it will get fixed.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

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

Liberal

Steven Guilbeault LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the minister for his speech.

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

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

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

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 4:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

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

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

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

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 4:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 5:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé, which is a really beautiful region that I am very familiar with. Is it more beautiful than Richmond—Arthabaska? That could be the subject of another debate.

My colleague has asked a very pertinent question. I will refer again to the program Tout le monde en parle because I watched it. I do not watch a lot of television, but I did on that occasion because it was important and I knew that we would be debating Bill C-10 today.

I spoke earlier about hate speech, freedom and so on. The minister mentioned that he was collaborating with the Minister of Public Safety and with other departments. He skirted the issue of taxation by saying that it was in the hands of the Minister of Finance and he was not the finance minister.

It is very nice that they work with their colleagues when they see fit to do so. They form the government and they can talk amongst themselves in cabinet about how important it is.

The issue of tax inequity has been clearly stated. There are different avenues, including ensuring that everyone pays equally. We could offer to remove the GST for all digital players to make it fair. That is another way of looking at things, but at the very least we have to ensure that it is fair for everyone.

Again, this is an urgent file on which everyone agrees. Even the minister says that this might come up in the next budget. We have to keep trusting them and wait for later. By then there might be an election.