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

Sponsor

Status

First reading (Senate), as of June 22, 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

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 5:50 p.m.
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Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague from Drummond on his most courageous and relevant speech.

I support my colleague and all of his efforts throughout this adventure that was Bill C‑10. I support all the artists on the ground, and I can say that they all agree that we did an enormous amount of work and that the legislation will probably never be perfect, but that we have come up with something that is really solid.

I agree with my colleague that things could have gone better, that closure is not a great idea, but that it was the path we had to take because a great number of artists, creators, writers and playwrights are at home, in their offices, in front of their monitors laying the foundation for the creative industry of tomorrow and its entire economy.

In conclusion, I would like my colleague to share with us just one thing that he would like to say to all the fine people involved in this creative industry on the eve of the deadline for Bill C‑10.

I want to tell all Canadians and all our colleagues listening that there is no reason to further starve creators, who are being severely impacted by the pandemic and who were impacted even before it started. Then—

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 5:50 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to a bill that is important to me. It is not so much the bill itself, but what it will do and the sector it will affect. This bill could really change things in the future.

Before speaking about the principles and general thrust of Bill C‑10, and as we are officially discussing at this time a supermotion to expedite the business and the course of events in the House, I would like to come back to the question I asked my colleague from Drummond a few minutes ago, that is, how did we get here?

How did we arrive at a bill that nevertheless affects our cultural sovereignty, our ability to produce Quebec and Canadian cultural content, and thus an entire industry representing billions of dollars, thousands of jobs and people affected in every region of Quebec and Canada, such a crucial and important industry that we had failed to address for a very long time?

Not only is the bill behind schedule, but so is the government in its management of government business in the House and in parliamentary committees. We have seen it all with Bill C‑10. I have been doing this work for years, but some of these things are unprecedented, including the twists and turns, bad management, communication problems, breaks, questions, notices and many testimonies. I have seen contradictory things and rather odd processes, including this thing done by the Conservatives, which I have rarely seen: systematic filibustering in order to waste the committee's time, including on Conservative amendments. When a member proposes an amendment they usually want to see it passed because they think it will improve the bill. However, the Conservatives had the nerve to filibuster their own amendments. It is rather odd.

Things are coming to a close. Nobody wants an election, but everyone expects one. That means we need to get a move on because we might be on the campaign trail come August or September. That is up to the Liberals.

We could come back and work on the bill. There is a chance that could happen, but all signs point to the Liberals being in a hurry. Now they want to move so fast that they shut down a parliamentary committee. That is just the fourth time in more than 150 years this has happened. This time, they are not limiting debate to 10 hours but to five.

In order to make the best possible use of those five hours, the NDP and other parties agreed to schedule more meetings so the committee could meet more often than originally planned. Last week, instead of meeting twice, the committee met five times, if memory serves. Even so, here come the Liberals with their supermotion to expedite matters once again.

I can only conclude that the government dragged its feet. It said all kinds of things about how important culture and the cultural sector are, but none of that was true. Bill C‑10 was full of holes, things were not clear, the Minister of Canadian Heritage himself was often unclear, and the government did not put Bill C‑10 on the agenda early enough and often enough for it to make any headway.

It is all well and good to mollify artists and tell them we love them, that we support them, that this is important and the bill must be modernized, but now we have a bunch of amendments at the last minute that we did not have a chance to study, even though some of them would have been relevant and should have been included in Bill C‑10.

This is the reality we often face at the end of a parliamentary session. It is too bad. If the Liberal government had been serious about culture and cultural sovereignty, it would have done this long before now, and not just because the Yale report was released in 2018. Bill C‑10 could have been given more attention during House proceedings, but the Liberals chose not to do so.

Why did the Broadcasting Act need to be overhauled? It is because, over time and with changes and advances in technology, it has become completely outdated and obsolete.

In my opinion, it is important to remember that the traditional broadcasters are required by the CRTC to contribute to the production of cultural content, whether Quebec or Canadian, in French or in English. We will talk again about the importance of having works, films, and programs in French. The ecosystem of broadcasting content has changed a lot over the past few years.

One of the things the member for Drummond talked about was Internet access. Some people will remember that it was much harder to get online 10 or 15 years ago. Today, our system is completely imbalanced and unfair, which means the cultural sector is hitting a wall. This is putting the cultural sector in jeopardy. Year after year, cable companies are losing subscribers. Why? Because the technology has changed and the traditional broadcasters are being overtaken by digital broadcasters, who are becoming more prominent and taking up more space. That was the case before the pandemic, but the pandemic has shown us that platforms like Netflix, Disney+ and Crave have taken over.

Let me be clear: The big digital broadcasters, social medial companies and web giants do not contribute to the collective investment that is needed to create Canadian or Quebec cultural content in French or English. That is the problem. That is what the Conservatives and Liberals have been dragging their feet on for years. The Broadcasting Act should have been amended a long time ago.

The NDP is obviously in favour of making new players contribute. They are not so new anymore, but they are big. Traditional broadcasters contribute money to a fund to create Quebec and Canadian cultural content, but that fund is getting smaller and smaller. These new digital players need to contribute so that the industry gets more resources to create new works that will tell our stories, the stories of what is happening in our communities, cities, regions and our villages.

This is so important to the NDP that it was one of the issues we campaigned. I will read an excerpt from our 2019 platform:

Most Canadians now get their news from Facebook, and Netflix is the largest broadcaster in the country - but these web giants don't pay the same taxes or contribute to funding Canadian content in the same way that traditional media do. Canadian film, television, and media is up against a tidal wave of well-funded American content - and the Liberals have refused to take action to level the playing field [this notion is very important].

That's why...we will step up to make sure that Netflix, Facebook, Google, and other digital media companies play by the same rules as Canadian broadcasters. That means paying taxes [which is not in Bill C‑10. It is in the budget, but it seems we will have to wait until next year], supporting Canadian content in both official languages, and taking responsibility for what appears on their platforms, just like other media outlets....

New Democrats will make sure that Canadian talent can thrive on both digital and traditional platforms - here at home and around the world. We think that artists should be able to earn a decent living from their art, and that government has an important role to play in making sure that a diversity of Canadian voices tell our stories.

As members can see, we already knew that the act had to be modernized. Thirty years after it was passed, the act is outdated.

It is true that there is a real and well-founded appetite for such a long-awaited change in the cultural sector, whether it is television, film or music. YouTube is the platform most used for music, so it is really important to include social media platforms like YouTube on the list of entites that can be monitored and regulated.

However, we should not be regulating users, citizens who post their own videos on this platform. We need to target the professional use of this platform for commercial purposes.

I will come back to the questions that arose in the course of the Bill C-10 saga. To ensure the longevity of our cultural ecosystem, the NDP was obviously prepared to work in good faith to improve and enhance the bill, based on the premise that the old existing act had outlived its usefulness because it is jeopardizing this industry, our capabilities and some jobs.

What was the NDP looking for, exactly? We wanted a broadcasting system that remains essentially Canadian, with Quebec and Canadian ownership. We wanted Quebec and Canadian productions that are easily identifiable and accessible. We wanted local shows and content. That is something that we examined very closely.

We also wanted a broadcasting system that clearly recognizes the importance of the French language in this ecosystem. Unfortunately, the Liberal government had a hard time signing an agreement with Netflix a few years ago. We wanted to prevent that sort of thing from happening again, because we never got any real guarantees about the percentage of French-language content that would be produced under the agreement between the Liberals and Netflix.

We also wanted an equitable system without lowering our standards. Just because Canada is calling on web giants and digital broadcasters to participate financially should not mean that traditional broadcasters get a free pass or we will be no further ahead in terms of increased revenues for our artists and cultural production.

We wanted to ensure that there were indigenous language productions for indigenous peoples and for first nations. That was one thing we were watching for and wanted to find in Bill C‑10. Those are the principles that guided us in this work.

Now we are at the end of the process with a flawed and yet well-intentioned bill. This may create a dilemma for us as members and parliamentarians. We wanted to take our time to do the work properly, plug the holes and ensure that the bill could not be challenged in court.

The government has to accept a lot of responsibility for the misunderstandings and legitimate concerns people had about their freedom of expression, a topic I will now get into.

Is freedom of expression being threatened? There was much talk of that, many people reacted, many people called and wrote in and there were articles and editorials on the topic. Experts are divided on the issue, but one group is smaller than the other. The member for Drummond talked about that earlier. In Quebec, we just have to look at Pierre Trudel and Monique Simard, who are strong voices and feel very strongly about this.

It is also important to know that there are already guarantees in three provisions in the act, in sections 2, 35 and 46, that protect citizens' and ordinary users' capacity to publish and broadcast content on social media.

Obviously, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms still exists. We asked the Minister of Justice for a charter statement on two occasions, first before and then again after the removal of proposed section 4.1. In both cases, we were told that the bill was consistent with the charter.

To make sure that this important issue is properly dealt with and that we have all the possible guarantees, the NDP is also asking the government for a Supreme Court reference. That way, we would ensure our citizens' rights to freedom of expression are protected in the bill.

There are the sections of the bill, the overwhelming expert opinion and the two charter statements from the Minister of Justice. In addition, we are asking for a Supreme Court reference, to make sure that users cannot be regulated by the CRTC. That is very important: The CRTC will regulate broadcasting companies, not individuals.

I believe a member also mentioned it, but if I thought there was any possibility that my children or teenagers would be targeted by the CRTC or restricted in their freedom of expression on social media and online, I would be greatly concerned and I would not let that happen.

Why is it so important to take care of the cultural industry, our artists and our artisans? We may want to do it for economic reasons because this industry represents thousands of jobs and these sectors generally work well. Things were harder during the pandemic and it is more difficult for the cultural industry to get out of the crisis. What is more, things are not consistent across the cultural industry. Some sectors are doing well, while others are struggling. I am thinking of festivals, all the performing arts, the theatres and concerts. These sectors will need a little more time to get back on their feet. With regard to television and movies, activities continued, but we need to ensure that our system is sustainable so that we are able to continue creating our television shows and movies, telling our stories and hiring our local creators, artisans and technicians. There is therefore an economic argument because the cultural industry is an important economic driver.

However, the cultural sector is about more than just economics. It also brings us together as a society. It forges an identity, a vision of the world, and it also brings elements of beauty, tenderness and humanity into our lives. That is what makes the cultural sector different from any other economic sector. It changes who we are as human beings and how we see the world. The art that is produced says a lot about a society, whether we experience it through television, dance, paintings, performances, books or poems. Culture can change the world.

Allow me to read an excerpt of a poem written by Jacques Prévert.The sun shines for all mankind, except of course for prisoners and miners, and also for
those who scale the fish
those who eat the spoiled meat
those who turn out hairpin after hairpin
those who blow the glass bottles that others will drink from
those who slice their bread with pocketknives
those who vacation at their workbenches or their desks
those who never quite know what to say
those who milk your cows yet who never drink their milk
those you won't find anesthetized at the dentist's
those who cough out their lungs in the subway
those who down in various holes turn out the pens with which others
in the open air will write something to the effect that everything turns out for the best
those who have too much to even begin to put into words
those whose labors are never over
those who haven't labors
those who look for labors
those who aren't looking for labors...
those who simply rot
those who enjoy the luxury of eating
those who travel beneath your wheels
those who stare at the Seine flowing by
those whom you hire, to whom you express your deepest thanks, whom you are charitable toward, whom you deprive, whom you manipulate, whom you step on, whom you crush
those from whom even fingerprints are taken...
those who scatter salt on the snow in all directions in order to collect a ridiculous salary
those whose life expectancy is a lot shorter than yours is
those who've never yet knelt down to pick up a dropped hairpin
those who die of boredom on a Sunday afternoon because they see Monday morning coming
and also Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday
and Saturday too
and the next Sunday afternoon as well.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 6:15 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his comment and question.

The Conservatives will have to speak for themselves. People have raised legitimate questions. As I said earlier, when the issue is freedom of expression, taking our time, doing the work, checking, listening, talking to experts and getting opinions from the right people is the right thing to do.

However, I have to say that the Minister of Canadian Heritage did such a poor job of justifying and explaining his Bill C‑10 that the Conservatives saw a political weakness they could exploit. They jumped at the chance, hoping to score political points by occasionally manipulating the truth and the facts a little bit. The reason they were so aggressive is that the Liberals were so weak.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 6:20 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a bit of a softball question. I see exactly where my colleague is going with this. It is a fair question.

The minister mismanaged the bill and explained it poorly. He did not take the time to make the bill watertight. Once the genie of doubt is out of the bottle, it is very difficult to put him back in. This is why the NDP agreed to pause the committee to bring in the heritage and justice ministers and to ask for a second opinion from the Department of Justice.

Yes, the minister himself bears a lot of the responsibility for all of the mixed messages and disasters surrounding Bill C‑10 so far, with the gag orders and today's supermotion.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 6:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Saskatoon—Grasswood.

Last week culminated in a devastating assault on democracy as MPs were forced to vote on amendments that were not made public and vote on sections of the bill without any discussion or debate. There was zero openness and zero accountability, and it was absolutely wrong.

How did we get there? Earlier in the spring the Liberals brought forward an amendment to their own bill, which removed a section that originally protected the content that individuals would post online. When that section was removed, of course it caused disarray at committee and a great discussion ensued.

That was the case because Canadians deserve to be protected. They deserve to have their voices contended for and their freedoms established. When that part of the bill was taken out, of course the Conservatives went to bat. The Liberals did not really like that very much, so they moved something called time allocation in the House of Commons, which limited debate at committee to five hours.

This meant that hundreds of pages of material was only given five hours of consideration, after which time members of the committee were forced to vote on the bill, including its amendments and subamendments. Again, those were not made public and no discussion was allowed.

It was not exactly democracy in its finest state. It was a sham, and not how good legislation is meant to be created in Canada. This is not democracy.

Once again, the bill is now in the House. Although the Liberals have not moved time allocation, they have moved to have our debating time restricted again.

From here the bill will go to the Senate where it will be discussed further. My genuine hope is that the Senate will have the opportunity to examine this bill and hear from witnesses. In particular, it is my hope that the witnesses it brings forward include creators from digital first platforms because those individuals have been left out of the conversation despite being impacted to the greatest extent.

Let me back up and explain what this bill does for a moment. There are two things. The first is, as the government argues, it levels the playing field between large streaming companies and traditional broadcasters. The second thing this bill does in fact do, however, is censor the content we place online.

With regard to levelling the playing field, the minister claims this is about getting money from web giants, but if he is concerned about GST being paid, that is already taken care of because there is already an initiative starting in July that will require companies, such as Disney+, Netflix, Spotify, Crave, etc., to start paying GST, which takes care of levelling the playing field.

However, Bill C-10 goes far beyond just levelling the playing field. It is backed up by many lobby groups that are pushing for a 30% Canadian programming expenditure requirement as a share of revenue per year. What this will do is not simply increase the cost to these large streaming companies, it will actually pass that cost down to consumers. According to experts, costs are actually expected to rise by about 50%.

Canadians already pay some of the highest rates in the world, so with Bill C-10, they can expect to be taxed even more. This of course will have a huge impact on them with respect to money coming out of their wallets. Furthermore, the bill will impact the content Canadians can post and access, which brings me to my second point on censorship.

When I talk about censorship, I talk about the government getting involved with respect to what one can and cannot see and post online. I am talking about the government putting an Internet czar in place.

Peter Menzies, the former CRTC vice-chair, stated Bill C-10, “doesn’t just infringe on free expression, it constitutes a full-blown assault upon it and, through it, the foundations of democracy.” That deserves consideration. It is quite the statement.

Bill C-10 is in fact a direct attack on section 2(b) of our charter. Under this section, Canadians have the right to speak and to be heard. Much of that speaking takes place within our new form of the public square, the Internet.

The bill before us would infringe upon the ability Canadians have to post online and to express themselves freely. Furthermore, the bill would infringe upon the rights that viewers have to access that content online, which means that the right to speak and the right to be heard will be infringed upon if the bill passes.

Let us talk about viewers for a moment. Viewers go online in order to access the content they want. They go on YouTube perhaps looking for a video on how to fix a bicycle chain, or they may want to look up information having to do with the war of 1812. They are looking for content that is going to fit their needs.

However, if the bill is passed, they would go on YouTube, and the government would determine what that need might be. The government would dictate the type of material that they would be able to access. The government would dictate this based on how “Canadian” the material is.

The government would curate what we can and cannot see by bumping things up or down in the queue, which means that the content a viewer really needs to access might be pushed back to page 27 of a YouTube search whereas, normally, right now, according to the existing algorithms, that content would probably be found on page one. The government would actually infringe upon a viewer's ability and right to access that information, because it is going to curate and determine that, no, a viewer does not want what is on page 27, but rather what the government is putting on page one. It wrong. It is dictatorial. It is anti-democratic.

Canadians know what they like. They know what they want to watch, and they know how to find it. Platforms such as YouTube are curated in such a way as to point people to more of the content they desire. When a viewer searches for content, YouTube gives it, and then it might suggest more that is similar to it. However, that would not be the case going forward. Instead, the government would steer viewers in the direction that the government wants them to go, and it will do it through the power of its Internet czar.

I will talk about creators for a moment. They are amazing. In Canada, we are punching above our weight in terms of what creators are able to produce, and I am talking about individuals who are using non-traditional platforms in order to gain an audience. They share their talent, skill and ability with the world. Ninety per cent of watch time of Canadian content comes from viewers outside of Canada. That is amazing.

I think about Justin Bieber, and about how much popularity he has gained on the world stage. He started out on YouTube, a non-traditional platform. However, under Bill C-10, Justin Bieber probably would not have risen to the top, because the algorithms that the government would impose through its Internet czar would relegate him to the bottom. Why? Well, it is because his content just would not be Canadian enough to make the cut. Again, it is wrong.

Let us also talk about diversity. This government loves to celebrate diversity, but let us talk about the indigenous digital first creators or those who are members of minority groups. Instead of being able to make a name for themselves and follow the protocols that are already in existence, they would come under government scrutiny and, again, the Internet czar would determine whether or not their content can be accessed.

Now, members might ask who the Internet czar is. It is none other than the CRTC, which is the regulatory arm of the government. Who makes up the CRTC? I can tell members that the leadership of the CRTC is made up of six white men. It would be six white men who would be determining what type of content is Canadian and what content is not.

They would be determining whether or not indigenous first creators can be accessed or not. They would be determining whether visible minority content can be accessed or not. Six white men would be making those decisions on behalf of those individuals who are putting their content out online and on behalf of Canadians who wish to access that content.

I have not seen legislation this dictatorial since my time of first being elected in 2015. It is wrong and anti-democratic, and it is altogether harmful, not only to creators, but also to the millions of viewers who use platforms such as YouTube in order to access information and engage in the public square online.

It is wrong, and I would ask for Bill C-10 to be rescinded, at the bare minimum. When it gets to the Senate, I ask that, please do the due diligence; please research well; and please hear from witnesses who have not yet been heard from, namely the artists.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 6:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, again, I would present to the House, and I am so glad the member is listening, that there are a lot of deaf ears in this place and, for whatever reason, a refusal to listen to digital first creators. I am uncertain as to why that is the case, why this cohort has been ignored, has been erased, has had its voice squelched.

Why are we not listening to these individuals who are making a go for themselves on non-traditional platforms? Why are they being punished through Bill C-10 rather than being celebrated for the tremendous contributions they make to Canadian culture? It is as if we are pitting one group of artists against the other, and it is wrong. It is wrong for the government and it is wrong for the minister.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 6:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise today to speak to the motion at hand, which concerns the government's desire to force through the disastrous bill, Bill C-10, to modernize the Broadcasting Act.

I will step back 40-plus years, when a young Kevin Waugh got into the broadcasting business. There were a lot of opportunities from coast to coast. I started as a midnight disc jockey in Yorkton. I came to Saskatoon. I worked at a radio station and did the summer news. Then I went over to Melfort to do farm news, which I knew very little about. Then I eventually went into sports and news. I was then hired at CTV Saskatoon where I spent nearly 40 years of my broadcasting career.

When the bill was introduced, I jumped at the chance to get involved. The broadcasting business has been talking about this for the last 30 years. We talked about the CRTC, broadcasters, stations going dark, layoffs in the industry. We talked about this for decades and it finally culminated in about the last five years. All of a sudden stations were going dark. Radio, TV, newspapers, everything in the business was turned upside down.

It was interested in what the Canadian heritage minister said a couple of moments ago when he said that they missed something when they introduced the bill in 1990. For the minister, when we look back at the bill if it does get passed, we will look at you and your ministry and say a lot has been missed.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 6:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, I should know better, and so should the Minister of Canadian Heritage. He made the statement that they made one mistake back in 1990 or 1991 when there was no Internet, and now 30 years later we have this bill. It is garbage, really. I talked for two full days. We sat the last two days in committee and we did nothing. The committee chair asked if an amendment should pass but no one knew what it was. We did, but we could not share it with people, and people were watching on the Internet.

It is interesting that the minister would quote 1990, because in my era, people will quote 2021, the worst bill that ever came out of the House of Commons, Bill C-10.

I am going to highlight how really deeply disappointed I am in the Bloc members. They went along with the government. It has been talked about in committee, and we did get along. Then, it went off the rails on that Friday when 4.1 was eliminated. It also went off the rails when the minister himself could not articulate the bill on CTV on a Sunday morning with Evan Solomon. He could not articulate his own bill on national TV in a 15-minute interview. If the minister could not articulate it, how could we articulate it?

It was one of the darkest moments of Bill C-10, because the next day the Liberals had to step it back. All the things the minister said Sunday morning were taken back Monday by the government. However, I am disappointed today with the Bloc members because they put a gag on this.

This bill is 30 years overdue. We have talked about that in the House, but it is a huge bill going forward. However, it is not a good bill, and everybody has talked about that in the last two hours. We are going to pass a flawed bill, then what happens? Who did we miss? Who could we have been helped with decent legislation? Some groups out there today are really going to be affected by the bill if and when it gets passed.

We cannot even talk about it properly in this place, and that hurts. As broadcaster for over 40 years, we all had consultations with conventional broadcasters and creators. We all knew the Internet was a big juggernaut, and we have seen it. However, we did not do our due diligence in committee, and we are not doing our due diligence today in the House of Commons, which is sad. When I look at my broadcasting career, today, half of the people are now laid off, and we have not helped them at all with this bill.

I did my consultations, and Bell, Rogers, Corus, Shaw, radio stations are all affected. We buy one radio station, we try to buy another and then we do satellite radio. All that means is that there are fewer people being employed. We really did not peel the onion on this bill, and now it is the worst piece of legislation I have seen in six years.

As I said before in a question to the NDP, I did not want to put my name on this in committee and I do not want it on the bill when it does come out of the House of Commons. I am embarrassed with the bill. I am embarrassed, because I spent 40 years broadcasting, and now I cannot talk about something that my union members want me to talk about. They are losing their jobs every day, and we never talked about that. We got mired in the weeds, if one so calls it, about free speech. We got tangled up in creators. Quebec got tangled up in musicians and actors.

We have had 14 months of hell with COVID. We understand the issues Quebec is having. It is no different than Edmonton—Strathcona or Saskatoon—Grasswood. We also have musicians. We also have actors. We also have people who are starving from day to day, because they cannot perform. That happens.

Here we are with Bill C-10. As I have said time and time again, it was the government's decision to remove 4.1, and then we went at it. The Liberals claimed 2.1 was the key to success over 4.1. That remains to be seen.

We all know, because we had the Minister of Justice at committee, that this bill is going to be challenged in the Supreme Court. Boy have we done our job. All we have done is taken a useless piece of legislation and given it to someone else to determine. Boy have I done my job. All of us should be ashamed of this bill, including the Minister of Canadian Heritage. That is where it starts. He should be embarrassed by this and the gag order from the Bloc to support it.

Therefore, I move, seconded by the member for Lethbridge:

that the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the words “notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practices of the House” and substituting the following:

Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, be referred back to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage for the purpose of reconsidering all its clauses with a view to protect individual users' content from being subject to broad and vague government powers to regulate their use of the internet, including on apps and social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

I never did have a chance to talk about the CRTC, so that will be for another day.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 6:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Madam Speaker, this is a Canadian issue; this is not a Quebec issue. I can say to the hon. member from the Bloc that we talked to Mr. Péladeau, who owns several stations and media outlets in Quebec, and he is as disturbed about Bill C-10 as anyone in Quebec.

The member may have talked to certain groups that like this bill because they want the money to roll out right away, but this is a Canadian issue. Bill C-10 is disastrous. There are as many people in the province of Quebec who do not like this bill as there are in my own province of Saskatchewan.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 6:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be joining the debate on this bill once again, at a different stage. I am pleased that my colleague from Saskatoon—Grasswood has moved an amendment, so I am going to speak directly to it. It is about sending Bill C-10 back to committee.

Members know that he has had a 40-year career in broadcasting, which is probably longer than that of any other member in our caucus. We actually featured him in something called “member spotlight” at a caucus meeting, noting his 40-year career using different clips from different videos of his time in sports broadcasting and with CTV as well.

I will be splitting my time with the member for Saskatoon—University, another one of our colleagues from Saskatchewan who will be adding to this debate.

I first spoke to this bill on February 5. I warned Canadians then that the contents of the bill were going to attack free speech, were calling into question the difference between users and programming, and were trying to jam the Internet age into a broadcasting act that was meant for before the 1990s, for a totally different time before Internet, Wi-Fi, cellphones and everything else.

At the time, I brought up the example of content creators in my riding. A few of them run YouTube channels. They run very successful businesses. Since I am splitting my time with a member from Saskatchewan and the member who spoke before me is from Saskatchewan as well, I want to bring up one of my favourite Instagram TV shows. It is called Leroy and Leroy. I hope the members from Saskatchewan know these two. There is always something to do, and indeed there is. It is a fantastic online content.

One of the latest very funny videos has a sign in the middle of what seems to me like nowhere, and I apologize to all the members from the Saskatchewan caucus for saying this. It is a parking sign in the middle of nowhere, and these two gentlemen turn around and show us that there is nothing there. It is unclear why there is a sign that allows people to park. I assume they can park if they want to.

They are content creators, and they will fall within the ambit of Bill C-10 and its changes to the Broadcasting Act. All of their programming will. It is not them as users, but them as programming providers, as if they were the CBC, as if they were a show like Kim's Convenience or one equivalent to it. They are incredibly funny comedians. It is great content they are producing.

Every expert I have heard, including those from OpenMedia, Michael Geist, Peter Menzies and other former commissioners, has said the exact same thing: YouTube creators, people on IGTV and all others online who are running shops, creating content and trying to get noticed by perhaps one of the large broadcasters are going to fall within the ambit of this legislation. I warned Canadians on February 5 that this was going to happen, and now it is happening.

The minister completely botched the sale job on this legislation, from the time it was before the committee to the time it got to the committee. The member who spoke before me spoke about the fact that he was unable to explain in 15 minutes, on a national TV broadcast, what the bill was about because the bill is all over the place. As I said, the bill tries to jam together the Internet era, the different content creators and the total democracy that now exists. Anybody can create content and anybody can provide it. The middle man is gone now. Anybody can go out there and entertain others, make music for others, give acting classes or provide a how-to for fixing a Jeep. Everything is out there. However, now all of it will perhaps fall within the ambit of this piece of legislation.

We have gotten to the point now where the government is trying to ram it through the House of Commons before the June sitting days are done, because it has recognized that it has botched the management of the House calendar as well. This is entirely the Liberals' fault. There was no reason to rush this through. If they did not like the fact that members of Parliament wanted to provide amendments and hear from more witnesses at the committee, they should have allocated more time. The Liberals should have run the calendar appropriately to avoid situations like the one today. Now they find themselves trying to ram the bill through using undemocratic measures, hoisting it out of committee to ram it through half finished and sending it over to the Senate side. I shudder to think what senators will think of this bill, incomplete as it is.

There is a great Yiddish proverb for this, and members will know that I find Yiddish a charming language and use it very often. It goes, “From fortune to misfortune is but a step; from misfortune to fortune is a long way.” In the case of the minister, every time he has spoken to the bill he has further confused Canadians or made them fear even more for their liberty of expression and for their ability to communicate with others freely and post their opinions and thoughts online without having the government potentially interfere with them through the CRTC.

It is an open question how the CRTC is going to apply and use these powers. It is that uncertainty that is driving so much fear and so much public attention to this bill. This is one of the bills on which I have received the most emails and correspondence and phone calls in my five and a half years in Parliament now.

The member for Saskatoon—Grasswood, who spoke before me, said this was the worst piece of legislation he has ever worked on. I disagree with him. There is a lot of competition for that title coming from the government side, so I am going to disagree with him.

The great misfortune of the minister is that he has been trying to sell a bill that does not match with his words. He has been talking about anti-hate speech legislation. He has been talking about taxing the big web giants and online content providers. As the member for Lethbridge, who spoke before me, mentioned, that is already covered. That is already coming in July. There is already legislation in the books. There is new legislation the minister is going to add, so he keeps confusing the issue, much to his own misfortune, and it is going to affect the fortunes of Canadians. It is going to affect small-time content creators like the creators of Leroy and Leroy, whom I mentioned, and budding comedians, musicians and artists out there who are just trying to provide a service and trying to advertise for themselves using social media platforms.

It is really unfortunate that we find ourselves in a situation now, in the end days of the session in June, where the government feels the urge to just ram this through, push it through as fast as it can with as few eyes as possible on it.

I am just aghast that the Bloc is helping the Liberals along, that the Bloc is helping the most centralizing, free-spending, abusing-of-federal-spending-power government there is and has been in the last 40 years. It is worse than the Chrétien government and worse than the Martin government in its centralization of power in Ottawa. The Bloc is supporting them.

I will repeat that.

It is shameful to see that the Bloc Québécois supports putting an end to the debate on Bill C‑10, forcing a vote and sending the bill to the Senate. The Bloc is helping the most centralizing government we have had in the past 30 or 40 years, one that is worse than the Chrétien and Martin governments.

It is unbelievable. The separatists are helping the Liberals. I just cannot believe that we were brought to this situation, under the guise of getting through a piece of legislation that is so defective in its content.

I have always been a believer, and I have said it many times in this House, that when the government gets it wrong and it cannot be fixed at committee, we should just send it back and make the government redo the work. There is no harm in having the justice department and the heritage department sit down once again and draft a piece of legislation that this House could support. They could just send it back. There are thousands of civil servants whose sole job is to pre-draft legislation based on stakeholder consultation, based on the feedback that they are supposed to get. That is what they exist to do. Many of them are still working from home, so they could take on this task and bring it back in the fall session. Of course, if we do not have a fall session, they will not have it. Perhaps the government is thinking of toppling itself and ensuring that it can run in an election on the free-spending budget that it had in 2021.

However, now we find ourselves again in a situation where, in the span of just a few days, we are going to rush a bill through to the Senate that is incomplete, that would attack freedom of speech and that would not protect content creators. It would protect them as users, but it would not protect any of their content. What is the point of saying “I have free speech” if I cannot say anything online lest I anger the CRTC, lest I anger people? I do not know who they are. I do not know what rules they create. The very basis of our democracy is supposed to be that we know what the rules are so we can abide by them. We do not know what the rules will be. We do not know what the CRTC will like. I truly hope, if future CRTC commissioners are listening, that they will spare Leroy and Leroy.

This is a great amendment from my colleague. We have to vote for the amendment and against Bill C-10.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 7:05 p.m.
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Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Liberal

Steven Guilbeault LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, I have three questions for the member.

First, is it not true that the very day the Yale report was tabled, the Leader of the Opposition said that he would “throw it in the trash”, without even having a chance to read it?

Second, is it not also true that almost the minute Bill C-10 was tabled, the Conservative Party of Canada said it did not want this bill and it was going to vote it down?

Third, is it not true that the reason there is some controversy is that the Conservative Party created it by fundraising? No one else in this House did that, but you created a controversy, you fundraised on it, and now it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 7:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Corey Tochor Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to enter into debate on this faulty bill. I really hope there is some soul-searching by opposition members before this bill is passed. This bill is ridiculous. The minister has done a terrible job explaining it. He cannot explain it because I do not think he fully understands what this bill would do to Canada.

I am first going to talk a bit about my fears about this bill. Central Canada or any governments that believe they can fix a problem with a solution often create more problems. This is what this bill would do. This bill is garbage. It has to be defeated. It has to go back to committee. I get that there is a gag order on it, and I get that the Liberals are trying to push it through, but opposition members have to start asking themselves why they are in Parliament if they do not stand up to a government that is threatening to take away our freedom to express our opinions online. This is dangerous material.

Governments will try to find a solution to a problem. We know that the CRTC needs updating, and we know that helping artists is a valuable inspirational goal. I get that, but it would question our existence as a country and whether we are truly free. If governments are there to tell us what to say, what we can post, what we can hear, what we can see, we are entering a dangerous stage in our country where I fear what this would lead to.

Failed regimes resort to censorship. This is what this bill is. It is telling the citizens of Canada what they can and cannot post, what will be shared and what, through the labyrinth of programs out there, will be heightened on search engines, on Facebook. This bill is something one would see from a failed regime. This is what we are seeing out of Ottawa lately. If we were to crack open a history book, we would see that failed regimes around the world follow a bit of a pattern, and we are seeing that with this bill. We are seeing it with other things that the Liberal government has done. In our history on this planet, a cornerstone of failed regimes is censorship. Another one would be printing money, and that is exactly what the government is doing. We have seen this story play out and it ends terribly for our society.

Maybe that is why the Bloc is supporting it. Maybe Bloc members are the smartest ones and are laughing to themselves as they support this centralizing of powers because they do not want Canada to exist anymore. That is probably why. If that is their political game in supporting this bill, and the Liberals are willing to take separatist support on this bill because it gets Canada closer to, unfortunately, breaking up, maybe that is why the Bloc is supporting it.

However, why are New Democrats supporting it? This is a troubling trend. I have had numerous calls at my office from people saying they are not supporters of mine but of the NDP, and asking what the heck is going on with Bill C-10. It is not too late for NDP members. Constituents should contact their MPs, if they are NDP members, and explain why they are passionate about this bill not proceeding. That is the only way we are going to slow this bill down.

There are elements of it that can be improved at committee. It can get to the stated goal. That is the thing; the stated goal that the Liberals put forward on this bill is nowhere near what it would actually do for the CRTC, such as where it is reporting: from reporting to Parliament, which means 338 representatives from all over Canada, to reporting to the minister's office.

Who would trust the minister? Who would trust the minister after the way he has bungled this rollout and explanation of a censorship bill? I feel sorry for him, but this has got to get scrapped for the sake of our country. I am very hopeful that maybe the parties of other members here are whipping their support on this. I urge them to take a pause, because it is not too late to have those discussions in caucus.

Members can flesh out what would need to be changed for this to work. There is no need for this to be rushed forward in the dying days of this session before summer. There is nothing in here that requires urgency during the middle of a pandemic to force Canadians to change their ability and right to post what they want.

That is what creates fear for our country. There is this march toward centralized power in the Prime Minister's Office, because that is ultimately where the CRTC will report. It will report first to the minister, but we know that he serves at the pleasure of the Prime Minister. I do not believe the minister will stand up to, and not bend over backward for, the Prime Minister.

What does that mean for Canadians? It means that our rights to share our views and our beliefs will be censored in Canada. I cannot think of a more damaging thing for unity in this country than if Canadian citizens are not able to share their views. It is a fundamental freedom that we have cherished in this country. During a pandemic, the government decided that it would like to rush through a bill that would harm our ability to interact with other Canadians.

A lot of things on the Internet are silly and trivial, but there are some truths. We saw this at the G7 convention just recently. People on different social media platforms might have been embarrassed a bit by the Prime Minister talking about newspapers being used to wrap fish and some of the ridiculous comments he made.

Maybe in the future Canadians will not see that anymore. Maybe that is the point. Maybe that is what the government would like to do. It would like to stop the Internet's ability to share what is going on, be it a finance minister who wears no shoes at an international gathering and is mocked around the world, or someone who has embarrassed themselves by wearing blackface.

This bill gives power to the Prime Minister to stop those stories and stop people from being able to broadcast to anywhere in the world what they are seeing in their part of the country. That is the power of technology that has advanced in the last 20 or 30 years, which is our ability to tell our stories directly without going through the middleman of other broadcasters. The CRTC needs to be updated so that we can make sure that we have a modern act that would cover national broadcasts and make sure that we are modernizing our act to reflect the changes in the landscape. However, this bill does not do that.

I would ask all members to please do a soul-searching exercise and reach out to their supporters and the constituents they represent. They should ask them if they want the government to have more control. That is what this bill would do. It would give the government more control. Those who would lose are Canadians and Canadian stories.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 7:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time this evening with the member for Northumberland—Peterborough South.

Canadians expect that legislation passed through the House has been subject to rigorous and fulsome debate, and that the members they elect to this chamber have had the opportunity to represent their voices and to be heard. It really is unfortunate that we find ourselves here once again with the Liberal government moving to shut down debate. The scary and concerning irony here is that the primary concern that has been raised on Bill C-10 is its implications for freedom of speech. The Liberal government's persistent steps to silence members of Parliament from defending free speech in this chamber certainly do not alleviate the concerns that Canadians have raised with the legislation before us, including many of my own constituents in Battlefords—Lloydminster.

Bringing forward legislation to modernize the Broadcasting Act is not without merit, and we have heard that this evening. In fact, this act has not been updated since its adoption in 1991. I was only a couple of years old in 1991, but we all know that the broadcasting landscape has changed drastically in the last three decades. There is no doubt that the Internet, technological advancements and evolving platforms certainly require some form of modernization. That is why Conservatives support creating a level playing field between large, foreign streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix and Canadian broadcasters, but Conservatives do not and certainly cannot support deeply flawed legislation that would compromise Canadians' fundamental rights and freedoms.

Bill C-10, in its current form, leaves the door open for a massive abuse of power and abuse of the rights of Canadians. This proposed legislation would allow the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, or CRTC, to regulate user-generated content uploaded to social media platforms. The CRTC's regulatory power would go beyond television, radio and digital platforms if this legislation passes. It would extend the CRTC's power to regulate the free speech of individual Canadians on social media.

This legislation at the outset started with clear exemptions for social media that, due to amendments brought forward by the Liberal members on the heritage committee, are no longer included. If the intention of this legislation was not to regulate individual Canadians or to leave the door open to the possibility of restricting Internet content, then what was the motivation to remove the exemptions?

The Minister of Heritage has failed to provide Canadians with a sufficient answer to that question. The minister has also failed to provide Canadians with clear guidelines on how this power would be used. Giving unelected bureaucrats the authority to censor the Internet and regulate what Canadians post on social media is a radical change.

In our modern digital world, social media plays many roles. Social media is a powerful tool. It is a tool to speak truth to power, to raise opposition, to bring attention to issues and so many more items. The freedom to do that should be unencumbered in a free and democratic society. Those actions should not be subject to abuses of power. Around the world, countries that do not share our values may see fit to enforce such restrictions or regulations, but to move in that direction and to enshrine this power grab is simply unacceptable.

As it is currently drafted, this legislation does not belong in a society that values freedoms. It really is shameful that Conservatives are the only ones in this chamber who are fighting this attack on free speech and opposing Bill C-10. However, to be clear, it is not just Conservatives who are deeply concerned by the implications of this legislation.

The former CRTC commissioner, Peter Menzies, has called the Liberals' Bill C-10 a, “full-blown assault upon...the foundations of democracy”.

Timothy Denton, the former national commissioner of the CRTC has also said, “Forget about 'broadcasting': C-10 is clearly intended to allow speech control at the government's discretion”.

Those powerful and informed criticisms are not to be taken lightly. Free speech is a fundamental Canadian right. Why even leave the door open for any sort of abuse? Many of my constituents in Battlefords—Lloydminster have expressed grave concerns to me about the bill. Many have questioned the Liberal government's intention with the bill.

It has been promoted by the Liberals as a levelling of the playing field between traditional and digital broadcasters, but a look at the details reveals that it goes far beyond that. Will the criticisms of my constituents ultimately be silenced if this legislation is passed?

If those with any sort of following express discontentment with the Prime Minister's repeated attack on our energy sector, the government's failure to support our farmers and our farm families, or any other government policy, will they be subject to these regulations?

Ultimately, the question that gets raised in this debate is the question of whether this legislation is simply a tool to allow the Prime Minister to silence opposition and those who reject his agenda. If that is not the intention, why are we not taking the time to amend and draft the legislation so there is no question?

The concerns that have been raised about this legislation are very serious and the potential impact of this legislation's passage is wide-sweeping. Not only is it completely reasonable for Conservatives on this side of the House to want fulsome consideration of this legislation, I would suggest legislation of this magnitude demands it. That is not where we find ourselves.

The motion is not at the end of fulsome debate, extensive consultation and careful clause-by-clause consideration. In fact, we have not even considered the legislation at this stage, yet we find ourselves considering a motion this evening to limit and to once again shut down debate.

We find ourselves once again at odds with the Liberal government members as they act to silence the voices of those who disagree with them in the House of Commons, actions that will in turn give them the ability to silence the voices of those who disagree with them online.

Canadians can be confident that if this legislation is rammed through Parliament with the support of the NDP and the Bloc, Conservatives are committed to repealing it. However, I would sincerely hope that the Prime Minister and his government would recognize the need to withdraw this legislation and not to rush it.

Given this motion before us, it is clear that the Liberal government is doubling down on its efforts to ram this legislation through Parliament. The stifling of debate is becoming an all-too-common practice under the Liberal government.

First, the Liberals shut down debate on the legislation at committee, limiting the committee's ability to carefully consider every individual clause in this comprehensive bill and now without any debate, at report stage or third reading the Liberals are moving a motion to silence opposition to their flawed bill.

This motion pre-emptively shuts down debate on this legislation before this parliamentary stage, allowing only two hours of debate before sending it to the Senate. I urge my colleagues in the House to seriously consider the impact of this motion. I urge them to consider the serious concerns raised with the proposed legislation and I urge them to reject efforts to hurry it along without proper consideration.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 7:40 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, with respect to my Conservative colleague, I did not really hear an answer to the previous question.

I have reviewed this bill's progress through committee, and its report back to the House. There were amendments adopted to the legislation to ensure freedom of expression. There are sections in the parent act that specifically articulate freedom of expression. Even in the original Bill C-10 that was sent to committee, there were sections dealing with freedom of expression.

I will ask the member, again, if she could point to a specific section in this bill that has been reported back to the House that she has troubles with, that sort of backs up all of the points she made in her speech.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 7:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an absolute privilege to rise in debate today. I must say, without commenting on who is or is not in the House, that the government benches have not looked this good in years.

I am happy to speak on Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts. The idea or belief behind this act, and some of the goals that the minister espoused, are laudable. As the member for Saskatchewan said earlier, the Broadcasting Act absolutely does need to be updated, there is no doubt about that, but it infringes upon one of the most sacrosanct principles in our country, and that is our freedom of expression and freedom of speech. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are really the pillars of all the freedoms we enjoy today. I would like to talk a bit about how people have talked about the importance of freedom in the past.

One of my favourite books in the entire world is The Republic written by Plato, the musings of Socrates. Socrates said a couple of things that are critical to this debate. I own a couple of horses. I love horses and think they are beautiful. Socrates talked about a horse in particular and said that someone may have a beautiful, fantastic horse, but in the absence of any type of motivation or being pushed forward, it would lose its strength. Socrates likened himself to a fly that kept the horse swishing his tail, kept the horse moving and getting stronger. That is what the discussion is in many ways on the Internet. It is that fly that keeps people and discussions going, keeps pushing our discourse to be better.

Alexis de Tocqueville, one of my other favourite political philosophers, said, “The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.” This was de Tocqueville talking about the Internet 200 years before the Internet existed. He captured the very essence of our democracy. The foundation of our democracy is the citizens that underpin it. Never before has there been such a democratization of information and the ability to contribute.

When members of other parties chastise Conservatives and say our concerns are not legitimate, it goes to the very heart of who we are. In fact, the reason I am so passionate about this is because I want members of the Green Party, the NDP, the Bloc and the Liberal Party to always be able to express themselves. That starts to be limited and gets pulled away. Oftentimes when we lose our freedoms, it is not in one swift blow. It is often bit by bit. Conservatives stand as the guardians not just for our freedoms, but for everyone's freedoms, including members of all parties in this House.

There is no doubt that there have to be some reasonable restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of speech, but it is my contention that this legislation has gone too far. I have noticed there have been questions recently as to what specifically this bill would do to limit freedom of expression. Let me go through this and explain it specifically to members. This is not just bluster; there are legitimate concerns.

Bill C-10 defines undertakings for the transmission or retransmission of programs over the Internet for reception by the public by means of broadcasting apparatus. This means that we are now including the Internet in the Broadcasting Act. Conservatives are okay with the idea for massive followings with $100 million in revenue or the Netflixes of the world. There is some discussion to be had there, there is no doubt, but for the individual provider, as it says in proposed subparagraphs 9.1(1)(i)(i) and 10(1)(i), among other things to adopt, “requiring social insight such as YouTube to take down content it considers offensive and discoverability regimes.”

What that means is that within this bill, as it is currently written, there is the ability to push content up or down. What does that mean? That means a government, a bureaucracy, the CRTC can say, “This content, we believe, is more agreeable or more Canadian than this other content”.

The reality is that the misnomer in this whole debate is that Canadian content producers are not doing well. The opposite could be true. Canadian content producers are some of the largest producers per capita of YouTube content in the entire world. Our content creators are doing a fabulous job, and we need to reward them for that, not penalize them.

We should not just be pushing people down randomly, and that takes the most positive view. I would certainly hope that, if this legislation ever came into place and the CRTC became responsible for the algorithms pushing content up or down, it would stay non-partisan.

However, sadly, colleagues and all Canadians have witnessed something I thought I would never see in my lifetime. We saw a case where there could have been interference with the independence of the judiciary. That was the SNC-Lavalin affair. What happened there was a potential direction of the Prime Minister's Office to an actual investigation of SNC-Lavalin for deferred prosecution.

This should never, ever happen. In fact, prior to this case, to me the independence of the judiciary was sacrosanct. I did not think that even the Liberal government would consider it, or that it would even be in the realm of possibilities, but we saw that it was.

Seeing that is conceivable, is it then also conceivable that a government of the future could potentially put pressure on the CRTC to favour one particular political viewpoint? I would render to the House that, if in fact a government could potentially interfere with an independent legal investigation, it is completely possible that this could happen. That would be a limitation of our freedom of speech, which would be incredibly dangerous to our democracy. As I said, freedom of expression and freedom of speech are the underpinnings of all our freedoms. They are the shields that protect our freedoms, going forward.

When we get to this, the health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by the citizens. Those were de Tocqueville's words on the importance of democracy.

It is important that we hear from all the citizens, and that includes the House of Commons. Unfortunately, we have had a gag order put in place. The irony of all ironies is that we are here defending freedom of speech, and the government put a gag order on us defending freedom of speech, saying that there is not an issue of freedom of speech. The irony there is just too rich.

We need to go back. We need to peel back the boards here. We need to go right back to the studs and we need to look at this legislation and start over again. It is absolutely flawed. Anyone who heard the minister's interview on The Evan Solomon Show knows that there is a significant problem with this.

Long live freedom, and long live Canada, the greatest country in the world.