Madam Speaker, I have to be very sympathetic to our translators. They do a phenomenal job, ensuring all members can understand what is being said. I apologize for any popping noise that I might have caused.
In regard to the legislation, and as I was listening to the debate this evening, I was reflecting on a couple of points. One was the Conservatives' opposition to the legislation and the tactics they used to try to frustrate the House, and ultimately mislead Canadians on the second reading debate of the legislation. I can recall at least a good portion of that debate back then.
I realize I somewhat date myself as a parliamentarian now for about 30 years, both at the provincial and national level, but a lot of things have changed. When I was first elected, I had a Compaq computer. I think it was a 256 kB, and it had a five-and-a-half inch disk on which to back things up. To get on to the Internet in downtown Winnipeg, at the Manitoba legislature where my office was as an MLA, I would have phone into the Internet. I would get the long dial tone, a ding-ding sound and then I would be on it. It sure was slow as was the computer.
Things have changed. When I compare that to where we are at today, a couple of things that come to mind. We have underestimated for decades the impact the Internet has on society in many different ways. With regard to the legislation, for the first time we are taking steps forward to address that huge gap, those decades of doing nothing.
We have a Prime Minister who understands that technology has changed and he has mandated the Minister of Canadian Heritage to bring forward this legislation. Members within the Liberal caucus have been waiting very patiently for the legislation. We were glad to see it not only introduced, but get to second reading and then ultimately pass out of second reading. It has been long overdue.
Today, we have Wi-Fi. We can forget the telephone-dial-in type of Internet in downtown Winnipeg. We cannot even draw comparisons to the speed. I am learning this thing about music with the iPad and iPhone. It is called Apple Music, and I have acquired some music from that service. It has millions of songs. I suspect that if I were to start to listen to one song after another, I would be long gone before all the songs were played. In other words, any song one could possibly imagine can likely be found in its library. It is truly amazing what we can get on the Internet.
There are shows from the past like The Andy Griffith Show, or Three's Company orWKRP in Cincinnati. These are all shows from the past, and were fairly dominate outside of Canada. I remember The Beachcombers from British Columbia. There were many different kids' programs. I think of programs with great Canadian content. At one time, I suspect the rules sufficed, that they protected the industry, the consumers, our arts and culture and ensured we had a sense of Canadian identity.
As I have pointed out, over the decades, things have really changed. We can be very proud of some of the programs we have seen over the last number of years in particular.
I did not hear of Schitt's Creek until it won all those wonderful awards. A number of my caucus colleagues talked about the program, so I binge watched it. One gets a sense of pride that this is a first-class Canadian production. There is a very strong Canadians perspective to it.
When I think of programs of a Canadian nature, I think of Corner Gas from Saskatchewan and some of the personalities in that show. I think of some of the music industry stars such as Celine Dion and Anne Murray, just to mention a couple with whom I am familiar, as I am not really the most musically inclined.
However, Canada is rich in our heritage and in the arts, and we need to do what we can to protect that into the future. In good part, Bill C-10 is all about that. It is the part that interests me. I am very much concerned about Canadian content going forward and the opportunities for future songwriters, scriptwriters, musicians, actors, performers and the people who manage the stages. A healthy, vibrant industry exists and it needs to be supported. One of the ways we can support that industry and protect, in good part, our Canadian identity going forward is to support Bill C-10.
I find it amazing that the Conservatives have taken a hardened approach to it. I asked a question earlier about freedom of speech. I asked the member to be very specific, to provide me with a quote. A former member mentioned a couple of clauses, which I will have to take a look at, but the member I asked the question of did not even attempt to answer the question. I do not think she had any idea what it specifically was.
The Conservatives are very good at spinning things. I have been getting emails, as I am sure others have, about concerns with freedom of speech. It was even brought up at one of my virtual town hall meetings. A lot of Conservative spin out there is amplified for a wide variety of reasons. The skeptic side of me might say it has something to do with the Conservatives fundraising machine. Another reason might be that they are frustrated with other issues related to the pandemic, such as the government's performance in its work with other levels of government and Canadians and how reasonably well things have gone on that front, so they are trying to find something to complain about.
Based on today and what I heard coming out of committee, the Conservatives have definitely found something, and that is Bill C-10 and freedom of speech. I still do not understand the connection.
I do not remember the date, but the Prime Minister said:
Mr. Speaker, just as Canada's analysis confirms that Bill C-10 remains consistent with the charter's guarantee of freedom of expression, Bill C-10 aims to level the playing field between creators and web giants.
It requires big, powerful foreign streamers to provide information on their revenues in Canada, to financially contribute to Canadian stories and music, and to make it easier for individuals to discover our culture.
The bill explicitly says that obligations apply to web giants only: not to Canadian users. Web giants have gone unregulated for far too long. Our government has chosen action over reaction.
I appreciate that there have been some amendments, changes and modifications, but whether it is the Prime Minister or the Minister of Heritage, they have done a fantastic job representing what the legislation would do, considering the degree of support it is getting. I believe the National Assembly of Québec, listening to the minister, unanimously said that Bill C-10 was good legislation and it should be passed.
It surprises me that when Bill C-10 was in committee, the Conservative Party was determined to prevent it from moving out of committee. I genuinely believe that if it were up to the Conservative Party, Bill C-10 would never have left committee.
Some members say that they feel ripped-off because they did not get the chance talk to the amendments, because the government put time allocation on the amount of time the committee had for the bill. I would like to remind my Conservative friends that, as a minority government, for us to successfully put in any form of time allocation, we require at least one other opposition party to support that initiative. We cannot ram it through committee stage.
It seems to me that the Conservatives feel their rights have been walked on if the government brings in a motion for time allocation and gets passed. However, for the government to have the time allocation motion passed, it has to have an opposition party onside, and in this situation the Bloc Québécois provided the government the numbers necessary to ensure that Bill C-10 would get out of committee. If it were not for the desire to move this legislation forward and get the support to do so, it likely still would be in committee today.
Many members, including myself, would have thought the New Democrats would have supported that move. Those members are not what I would classify as naive. They understood what was taking place in committee. They seemed to understand what the Conservative Party was attempting to do with Bill C-10. However, we were able to move the bill out of the committee stage and get it to report stage and then third reading so we can get it passed. As I pointed out at the very beginning, this is critical legislation.
I have been in opposition in many governments for 20-plus years, and I have had the good fortune of being a part of a majority government. Typically, when we get to the month of June, hours are extended and we look at passing important legislation before the summer.
It is no different this time. We attempted to bring in extended hours and we were successful, but not because of the Conservatives. That is the reason why we are debating this legislation right now. We were able to get support, not from the Conservatives but from other opposition members, so that we could actually sit longer to debate the legislation we are debating right now.
Ironically, Conservative Party members would argue that they do not want extended hours. They did that. Let us remember that last Thursday the Conservatives tried to adjourn the House. They did not even want us to sit on Thursday. It is because the Conservative Party has no interest at all in seeing any legislation pass at this point. Conservative members will do what they can to filibuster and prevent the government from passing legislation. On the other hand, they will be critical of the government because they say we are trying to limit the amount of time in which they can speak to legislation. However, they were denying the opportunity to speak by having extended hours and by actually sitting as opposed to trying to adjourn debate for the day.
Just as the Conservative opposition continues to be a destructive force on the floor of the House of Commons, as it attempts to frustrate the government in trying to pass legislation such as our budget, the Liberal government will continue to be focused on Canadians and on ensuring, as much as possible, that we have legislation like our budget, Bill C-10, Bill C-6 and other progressive pieces of legislation that other progressive parties will see the merit of passing. This is as opposed to buying into what the Conservatives want, which is to prevent at all costs any legislation from passing in the House of Commons.
This legislation is good legislation. It is good for Canadians. It is good for the industry. I highly recommend that all members of the House support its passage.