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

December 11th, 2020 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I take this opportunity to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

I thank my constituents for all of their support. It is a great honour to represent them in the Parliament of Canada.

I welcome this opportunity to express the concerns of my constituents regarding Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.

The challenge I have as a legislator is this: Do the changes to the Broadcasting Act, which was originally enacted under a previous Conservative government, outweigh the concerns of Canadians regarding the steady erosion of free speech in Canada?

When the Minister of Canadian Heritage started talking about hate speech and fake news, it pandered to the less tolerant, the alt-left crowd. Their agenda is to silence the diversity in the voices in Canada. Canadians have every reason to be concerned. The Prime Minister goes to the United Nations and says one thing, and then denies his own words when questioned about his version of the great reset he has planned for Canada. It is not in the best interests of Canadians to turn the CRTC into some kind of censor board beyond the reach of Parliament.

I proudly speak today as a member of Parliament for the Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke riding, which is rife with Canadians and their stories, together with the storytellers. Canadians are proud of our stories. The storytellers want to share their stories with the world. The government claims Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act, would support the Canadian storytellers. We all know that it would not support all Canadian storytellers, just the government-approved storytellers.

What is the price to support these government-approved storytellers? According to the government, the financial price is close to $1 billion, but what about the cost to freedom of expression, regulating the Internet, demanding control over algorithms and restricting foreign programming? Is this really a price Canadians wish to pay to not watch central, committee-approved, bland television productions? If Canadians knew the real costs and consequences of the Liberal bill to regulate the Internet, what they are really were, they would reject it entirely.

There are three things that Canadians need to understand about the bill. First, it is a deception. The Liberals would change the very definition of the words in order to grab some money for their friends. Second, it is an attack on freedom of expression. Mandating speech is the same as restricting speech. Third, in proclaiming to support diversity, the government would reduce the diversity of stories that Canadians have access to, and this would have a particular set of consequences for new Canadians and refugees who speak neither of the two official languages. This is what happens when governments strip our liberties away. The least powerful pay the highest price, but we all bear a cost. That is the reason for this deception. The Liberals cannot be honest about what they are doing, because what they are doing violates the charter. It violates freedom of expression.

We have the deception, the attack on free speech and the attack on diversity. I will begin with the deception, and for that we need to go back to why we have a Broadcasting Act.

Why is there a Broadcasting Act regulating television and radio but not a newsprint act regulating newspapers? It is because newspapers use their own print and paper to express their views. Broadcasters use public airwaves to broadly cast out electromagnetic signals that televisions and radio receivers can pick up. Airwaves are a classic public good. Broadcasters cannot use the same frequency or their signals become lost. Frequencies have to be allocated by the government or else everyone would broadcast on every frequency and nobody would get a signal.

For-profit broadcasters cannot charge customers for the signal after they have already broadcasted out, but the broadcasters were introduced to advertisers, and they all made a lot of money. The government later told these broadcasters that, in return for making huge profits from public airwaves, they would be required to support Canadian storytellers, artists and musicians. Canadians were largely supportive of using Canadian airwaves to support Canadians.

Even when cable came along, the government had a role in regulating cable monopolies for the public good. This arrangement was good for the companies, good for the government–funded, committee-approved storytellers and good for the advertisers. Any Canadian with a radio, TV and some rabbit ears could watch or listen to the free entertainment. The business model was simple: Cast out the programs to the broadest audience possible and then sell the viewership to advertisers.

Canadian consumers of music and stories received quantity over quality. Then the Internet came along and changed everything. It changed everything for advertisers. Just ask the newspapers that, ironically enough, are now lobbying for a newsprint act to bail them out. It changed everything for musicians and storytellers. Just ask Justin Bieber if he would have his globe-spanning career were it not for YouTube. It changed everything for consumers. No longer did they have to sit at a specific time to watch a somewhat decent program. Now they can watch when they want but, more importantly, they can watch what they really want.

For nearly 70 years, the biggest change in broadcasting was colour TV. Then in the last 20 years, everything from production to distribution has been revolutionized. In response to this tremendous revolution in technology, entertainment and opportunities, in response to all this change, the government’s only play is to fall back on 1970s-era protectionist talking points and slap 1930s-era legislation on a 21st-century technology. It is old, it is tired and it is a deception. These companies do not use public airwaves to broadcast out a signal. It is ridiculous to call them broadcasters.

The only reason the government is doing this is to stretch the justification of regulating public airwaves into a justification for regulating private viewing. As I said in my initial remarks, it has to commit this deception to hide the truth. This is regulating expression. It is a limit on speech. Our freedom of speech and our freedom of expression are not just about the right to be heard. It is also about our right to hear, to listen, to see and to understand. It is a human right, not a Canadian privilege.

What is a privilege is to live in a time and place where we can experience stories from any human on earth. The Internet has turned all of us into both broadcasters and receivers. The government seeks to regulate that. It seeks to control it. It wants to put the toothpaste back into the tube and turn the clock back to the seventies. It wants to bring back The Beachcombers, but it is not going to happen. It is 2020 and if there has ever been a year when Canadians appreciate the ability to watch what they want when they want it, it is now.

The government has different plan. It wants to regulate what people can watch. They want to charge a tax on these streamers to even have the opportunity to offer Canadians any kind of programming.

These new taxes and regulations will cut Canadians off from a growing, rich, diverse array of new streaming services from across the world. The Liberal attack on freedom of expression is an attack on diversity. The Liberals claim that this tax will help them fund a new film school of grads with diverse backgrounds, but what about the thousands of diverse Canadians who lose out?

Does the Liberal government really believe an Indian Bollywood streaming service is going to stay in the Canadian market if it is required to produce an unprofitable amount of programming? The grandmother who recently arrived on a family reunification visa had sure better hope so. She might be in luck, due to the millions of Canadians who watch those films, but what about new Canadians from different countries? Will every foreign-language streaming service in every country be required to produce Canadian content?

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

December 11th, 2020 / 10:40 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, Bill C-210, or Bill C-10 is a good piece of legislation to amend the Broadcasting Act. We need to recognize that things have changed since many of the shows the member referenced were filmed. When we factor in the Internet and the importance of ensuring there is Canadian content, the member needs a better realization of how important it is for the Government of Canada to recognize that Canadian content matters to Canadians. The government has a role, and Bill C-10 would ensure there is an ongoing role.

I wonder if the member could be a little more transparent in what she believes. Does she believe that the CRTC and the Government of Canada have any role in ensuring Canadian content?

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

December 11th, 2020 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, my colleague does not realize we are discussing Bill C-10, not Bill C-210, and does not seem to understand either that it is a bit like apples and oranges. The government can pass a law renaming oranges as online apples, but it will not cause oranges to grow in Canada. It is not just the diversity of languages, but the diversity of genres. There are streaming services for anime, horror, documentaries and classic movies. It is going to be quite a challenge for a classic movie service to produce new Canadian content.

The Liberals might be hoping these protectionist barriers will allow Canadian-owned streaming services to start up. They think these Canadian companies will be able to afford the rights to stream all of our foreign shows. That may be for some of the big genres, but they will never have the same catalogues of shows.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

December 11th, 2020 / 10:45 a.m.
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Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his speech on this critical issue.

Bill C-10 has a direct impact on radio and community media. In my riding, there is a co-operative radio station, M105. News stories broadcast during the pandemic showed just how hard this station had to work to survive, but they also proved that this model can work with the help of the government. When I met with representatives from the radio station, however, they talked about how the government invested more in social media than in community media. I would like to hear my colleague's comments on that.

Again in my riding, a journalist from La Voix de l'Est wrote an extraordinary book entitled Extinction de voix: plaidoyer pour la sauvegarde de l'information régionale, which does a great job of explaining the importance of maintaining local news coverage. It helps to preserve our democracy and ensure the survival of local businesses. I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about that as it relates to Bill C-10.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

December 11th, 2020 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise and speak to Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts. Bill C-10 comes out of the Yale report that was filed in February of 2020. There were 97 recommendations in it, which deal with communications in Canada, social media, copyright, taxation, web giants and advertising fees to ensure the sustainability of traditional media. However, Bill C-10 is limited to one portion of that, which is the Broadcasting Act.

We have all sat through this debate and we have talked about it time and again. The last time the Broadcasting Act was amended was 28 years ago. In 28 years, a lot of things have changed. I probably had hair way back then, believe it or not. I was not a grandfather yet, but I was a father.

The Internet was just coming through and I can still remember the sound of the dial-up at that time. Did I get through? No, I am still waiting, and uploading took some time. Amazon was not available. Netflix was not available. We could not dial our phones to call for Popeyes chicken, as my office did just the other day to surprise us. There are a lot of things that have changed.

As Conservatives, we believe this act should be changed and amended to bring us into the modern age. Sadly, what we have seen is that there are a lot of flaws in this piece of legislation. It does not go far enough. Just as we have seen time and time again, we are getting the “just trust us” line. They are saying we will get the amendments through and work together.

I mentioned some of the online companies, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Google. There is nothing to force companies like Facebook and Google to pay their fair share. The bill does not address royalty sharing by these companies for content delivered via their digital platform.

Our colleague from the Bloc mentioned local content. I live in a rural area, and I remember we could turn on CBC Radio and there would be messages from one community to the next about road closures and to families about somebody being sick. Giving a heads-up is what local content is for when one lives in a rural area. That is what our national broadcaster served us in those days.

I remember fondly locally produced movies and television shows, such as The Beachcombers and The Littlest Hobo. Does anybody remember The Littlest Hobo? We are getting away from our roots, and we all believe and know there should be more Canadian content. Bill C-10 just scratches the surface as to what we should be looking at more.

The minister will no doubt argue it is difficult to amend legislation quickly, which I will agree is a tough job to do. As legislators, as the 338 members of this House, we are sent here to do a job. We are sent here to be the voices of those who do not have a voice. We are sent here to ask hard questions of the government, and we are sent here to work collaboratively with the government on issues that matter most to Canadians.

Over the last while in working on the mental health file as the special adviser on mental health and wellness to our official opposition leader, I have been looking at the CRTC closely for the last little while. One of the things Bill C-10 does in this latest iteration is that it would give the CRTC a lot of powers.

I bring members back to 2006. In 2006, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention went to the CRTC and asked for changes to the Telecommunications Act to allow Canada to have a three-digit suicide prevention hotline. I ask members to imagine all the lives we could have saved in the last 14 years. When minutes count, help should be only a simple three-digit number away.

Suicide is a non-partisan issue for me. I have spoken to it in this House a number of times, whether it is related to mental health, mental illness or mental injury. I believe that as parliamentarians, we can do more. We can leave a legacy of action. Legislatures and Parliaments from across the world are filled with shelves of books and studies that just collect dust.

I remember prior to coming to the House in 2015, my predecessor, the former MP for Cariboo—Prince George Dick Harris, told me that we never know how long we are going to be in this role, so we should make it count and leave a legacy of action. I hope people see that that is what we do every time we are here, and every time we speak. We speak with sincerity, and we speak with the passion of those who do not have a voice. We bring their voices to this House.

Now, more than ever, the mental health of Canadians is being tested. Throughout this pandemic, we have seen higher rates of anxiety, depression, domestic violence, substance abuse and alcohol abuse. We are seeing higher rates of suicide and suicidal ideation.

The suicide crisis within our first nations communities is getting close to epidemic levels. I remember my very first emergency debate in this House. It was on the Attawapiskat first nation suicide epidemic. There was a member across the way who said he had been in this House for about 10 years, and sadly, the very first emergency debate that he participated in was on the suicide epidemic in our first nations. His comment was that not much had changed in the 10 years that he had been in the House.

I believe we can leave a legacy of action. I do not believe in doing things in half measures. Bill C-10 is a half measure. The Conservatives believe that there are things we should look at and changes that need to be in place. Ten Canadians will die by suicide today alone. That number is rising. We know the statistics are likely higher. When there is an emergency, dialing 911 is instinctual. We know that. When someone is in need of help, in times of a crisis, they do not want to dial a number and be put on hold, or get a recording.

The same could be said for someone who may not want to end their lives. They may be seeking help. When they are ready to seek help, they should be able to access it immediately. Let us clear up the confusion and give Canadians a simple, easy-to-remember, three-digit number to turn to. That is real, concrete action that will save Canadian lives. Help should only be three digits away.

Now, getting back to Bill C-10, if the CRTC had said yes to the original request to have a three-digit suicide prevention hotline back in 2006, we would have been miles ahead of the United States, our counterparts. They have managed, in the crazy partisan way they have down in the U.S. with their politics, to come to an agreement in a bipartisan way to secure and launch a national suicide prevention hotline, a 988 suicide prevention hotline. However, as I stand here today, 14 years after the very first time it was presented to the CRTC in 2006, the U.S. is ahead of us. I think we can do better.

One of the issues that we have in terms in Bill C-10 is that it does nothing to get social media sites, such as Facebook and Google, to pay their fair share. There is nothing to address the issue of royalties, sharing to media content and sharing digital media. It does nothing to actually provide guidelines to how we are going to increase our French content.

It just skims the surface. As I said before, in 2015 I came here not to do things in half measures, but to do things in full measures. I also believe that we should continue to examine this bill. I hope the minister will accept the various amendments that will be brought forward by all opposition parties. Let us bring 988 to Canada, and let us do better with Bill C-10.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2020 / noon
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Conservative

Eric Duncan Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise to speak to and give some thoughts on Bill C-10, which makes amendments to the Broadcasting Act with respect to changes the government is proposing.

As a parliamentarian, when I first learned of the legislation and began doing research on it, I realized it is important to give some context as to why this act requires amendments. It is 29 years old. To give some context as to what was happening in the broadcasting and entertainment industry back in the day, I was three years old. I do not remember when the original Broadcasting Act came into force in the Parliament of Canada very well. Bryan Adams was topping the charts, and the relevant music was by Paula Abdul and Boys II Men. I am not denying it was great music, just a little older. It was six prime ministers ago.

Three decades later, I think there is consensus among the parties in the House that we need to tackle this legislation and make updates to reflect the reality we are in today. The bill proposes to update a huge part of what was not there in 1991 regarding Internet and social networks. Today, if we go through the list, we have Facebook, Google, Netflix, Crave, Spotify and Apple Music. All these online platforms are new to the rules the federal government must regulate around. They are not the same as the conventional players we had when this act was enacted back in 1991. It is key that we find a balance between conventional media and the new online platforms we have around today.

Having said that, I am disappointed with the government side and not very happy with or supportive of the legislation as it stands today, not necessarily because of the direction it takes regarding some angles, but the lack of direction and answers we are getting on this.

Like many pieces of legislation, I would say there are parts I support and parts that I oppose. There are far too many I am not satisfied with, that would need serious amendments for me to support it in the end. I want to be clear when I say that. The frustration I am sharing regarding Bill C-10 is not because I do not believe we need or do not need to modernize the law; rather it is because of the many shortcomings I am hoping to address in my time here today.

I want to commend our shadow minister, the member for Richmond—Arthabaska, who kicked off the debate on this legislation. As a Quebecker, a Canadian and a francophone, he gave some great context about the importance of getting this legislation right.

In my time today, I want to talk about two things. One is Canadian content. Of course we all want more Canadian content. I also want to talk about the aspect of conventional broadcasters to give my constituents of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry who are watching this clip, or Canadians who may not be familiar with this legislation, the rules and background around it.

There is a rule for conventional broadcasters in this country that anywhere between 25% to 40% of their content must be Canadian. When we talk about conventional broadcasters, it is important to understand who they are. We are talking about CTV, Citytv, CBC and Global. Those companies have an easier time of meeting the requirement for Canadian content because they broadcast sports and have news programming. They also have to contribute a percentage of funds to the Canada Media Fund, which supports the production of Canadian content in this country. As parliamentarians, the challenge we face is that we need to debate and have good legislation on where these online platforms fit into that. Netflix has talked about wanting to create more Canadian content, but it is concerned, and this is where we get into a bit of red tape, that it is harder for it to meet that threshold because it does not have the sports and news programming a conventional broadcaster does.

Here is the crazy part and where the red tape is outdated and needs updating. My colleague, the shadow minister, mentionedThe Decline in his speech, a Quebec feature film that was done in partnership with Netflix, and I believe was filmed in his riding. It used Canadian actors, had a Canadian crew and was filmed in Quebec. The economic impact was that it brought over $5 million in economic growth to the province of Quebec. It checks all the boxes, except it could not be certified as Canadian content because it was financed and produced by Netflix, which is not recognized.

This speaks to where we literally have millions of dollars in economic development and a film based in Quebec with Canadian actors that cannot get recognized with some of the red tape and rules that are in place today. Netflix is trying to make an effort, but cannot get there. One would think that, when we talk about updating Bill C-10 and modernizing some of these laws, it would encompass some of those areas. Unfortunately, from what we have seen to date, without serious amendment, I do not believe it is there.

One of the concerns we have with the legislation before us is that, for a lot of these parts, it would kick the can down the road on a lot of these decisions, saying that there is the intention to do something but will let the CRTC come up with the rules, regulations and deadlines on it. However, as a Parliament, I believe it may be our role to set those benchmarks. As well, there are provisions in the bill that would take away Parliament's ability to scrutinize some of these decisions and give that ability over to the CRTC.

To my colleagues on the government side or any party that, when my constituents ask me what I did to support Canadian content and the industry in Canada, if I were to say that I supported a bill that passed it over to the CRTC to deal with, I do not think they would be very happy with that.

I apologize in advance to the interpretation team because I am still in the process of learning French.

I am an anglophone from the very anglophone Dundas County, where there is not a lot of French-language content. There is a little in the Township of North Dundas and Dundas County.

Nevertheless, I feel that French-language content is very important, and not just for people living in Quebec or for francophones, but for all Canadians. Canada needs lots of French-language content for people like me who want to study a second language, as well as for people who want to get to know French and francophone cultures.

A law like this would mean we would have to pass even more laws. I do not think this law is acceptable because it is not nearly good enough.

One thing we need to do is send Bill C-10 to committee. As we debate the bill in the coming weeks and months, likely with the Christmas recess coming up, I would encourage my colleagues on the government side and perhaps other parties that may be inclined to support the bill to make sure that we are modernizing, that we do not have a piece of legislation to say that we checked a box to make amendments to the Broadcasting Act, but rather have tangible, meaningful ways that update conventional broadcasters in the online industry.

We can all agree that we need modernization of this law. We can agree that we need to have more online platforms, get with the times and understand what is there. However, this legislation as a whole would kick the can down the road and would not address a lot of the key issues that Canadians expect with legislation such as this.

I am supportive of more francophone and French content, LGBT content and first nations content, absolutely, but it is our Parliament with the oversight that we deserve here to hold the government of today and future governments accountable to those rules. We can go back to our constituents to say that we are doing meaningful things, not passing it to another body and not reducing transparency, but making it stronger than ever.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak on Bill C-10 today. I look forward to following the debate in the coming months and, as always, I look forward to questions from my colleagues on the legislation.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2020 / 12:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Eric Duncan Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Madam Speaker, I find myself saying this too much when we have these debates, but I agree with the member for Timmins—James Bay. I cannot believe I am saying this, that we have some agreement on the frustrations.

I go back to the member's point about kicking the can over to the CRTC. Parliament needs to be more active in the promotion of Canadian content and in the regulation of this. I agree with him when we talks about the giant tech companies like Facebook and Google.

The frank reality is that we need to have more tough conversations about these companies and what they are doing. We can talk about MindGeek and Pornhub and what they are not doing from a perspective of revenue and contribution to our Canadian economy, but also from a public safety perspective.

I was horrified to see a story in the last few days, I think it was in The New York Times. It talked about MindGeek and the lack of protections. In the year 2020, for all the advancements we have made in online broadcasting and technology, to still have these gaps from a tax perspective, a government perspective, a privacy perspective and safety against children from being victims of sex trafficking, sex crimes perspective, whatever it may be, says a lot.

I will go back to the same thing about Bill C-10. It does very little to actually resolve the key issues that Canadians want to see addressed.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2020 / 12:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Derek Sloan Conservative Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to speak to Bill C-10. To quote the Minister of Canadian Heritage in the official background documents for the legislation, it states unequivocally:

Canadians have a right to recognize themselves in the music they listen to and the television they watch. We are proposing major changes to the Broadcasting Act in order to ensure online broadcasting services that operate in Canada contribute to the creation, production and distribution of Canadian stories.

I share the minister's support of Canadian music, movies and television, or as I will call it throughout this speech, CanCon. However, the bill may do exactly the opposite of supporting CanCon. It is not about the intent of a bill but about the reality, and I believe we will all see room for some serious concerns on this issue during my talk today.

I would like to point out that notwithstanding any criticisms I make, changes need to be made to rules surrounding production and creation of CanCon. We need to revisit the content qualification rules that specify whether something is Canadian. We heard a great example in the speech just prior to mine about a production in Quebec that did not qualify as CanCon even though it was produced in Canada and told Canadian stories.

There is a real need to look at these thresholds. However, when we dig deeper into what is being proposed by the minister, his commentary about wanting to licence Canadian Internet content producers, the realities of digital content creation and the big tech corporations that dominate the media landscape today, it becomes apparent to me that the bill has serious shortcomings. The bill may lay the foundation in the future for a series of government interventions that have the potential to damage the creative and innovative Canadian media producers in the digital field.

On November 3, the day the legislation was introduced by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, several Canadian media experts spoke out publicly against Bill C-10.

An article published in The Globe and Mail, for example, entitled “Broadcasting bill targets online streaming services”, mentions digital media expert and University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist. I have enjoyed reading his daily blog posts on this issue. It is very informative. He said that the policy foundation behind Bill C-10 was very weak and that the government's claims that the Canadian film and television production industry was in crisis was not supported by evidence.

Mr. Geist said, “The truth is that the market has been working...well as Canada being an attractive place to invest in these areas.” He further stated that what was actually at risk was that some of the largest investors in film and television production would pull back until they had more certainty on their obligation and that new services would think twice before entering the Canadian market.

Perhaps more concerning for the government is that in that same news article, the well-known advocacy group, the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, which specifically promote Canadian content, called the bill “a mess that fails to ensure the companies are subject to specific requirements for using Canadian production teams.”

I am personally concerned by the fact that the legislation does, as mentioned by the member prior to me in his speech, give a vastly enhanced range of abilities to the CRTC. For example, it grants it full enforcement powers, while at the same time providing no fulsome detail as to the guidelines for Canadian content production and future contributions to the Canadian media fund.

Despite asking MPs to vote in support of the legislation, it is hard to shake the fact that the lack of details creates a situation where we have to trust the government and see the details later. We should all find that problematic.

To go back to some comments made by Mr. Geist, the law professor in Ottawa, the primary concern to examine, in his view, is that the policy foundation for the bill is weak. He has stated that CanCon is not in crisis and the level playing field claims are misleading. The example of the CanCon production here is relevant. The minister has acknowledged that foreign-based streaming companies are investing directly into Canada, but the minister wishes to compel such investments to be made mandatory.

In the words of Mr. Geist, this indicates a lack of confidence in our ability to compete and in fact flies in the face of all the evidence. Just hear me out here.

The CRTC chair, Ian Scott, has already said that Netflix is probably the biggest single contributor to the Canadian production sector today. The Canadian media industry has received record amounts of investment for film and television production. Over the last decade, investment levels have nearly doubled. Certified Canadian content has grown, with two of the largest years on record for CanCon television production having taken place within the last three calendar years. Last year was the biggest year for French language production over the last decade.

When we dig down into the available provincial data, we will find further evidence of production levels setting new records. Earlier this year, the Ontario government's agency for cultural creations, called Ontario Creates, announced that it had a record-breaking year for Ontario's film and television sector, with more than $2 billion in production spending for well over 300 productions.

Professor Dwayne Winseck at Carleton University is on record. In his annual review, he finds film and television production in Canada has continuously increased for two decades, most recently driven by massive investments from streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

These facts and figures show that the basis for which the minister claims Bill C-10 is necessary are actually contrary to reality and once again raises the issue of the unintended consequences of interfering in the wrong way in this sphere.

The second issue noted by Mr. Geist is that as opposed to creating certainty, the bill would create enormous short-term uncertainty. For those companies that do invest, they may not know if their investments will count.

I suspect that Amazon, Netflix and these types of companies will keep investing regardless of whether the bill is passed or not. However, many smaller streaming services, BritBox, Spuul, Crunchyroll, are not household names, but are among dozens of streaming services that have emerged in recent years to serve a global audience. Unless the CRTC provides specific exemptions for these niche services, many are likely to forgo the Canadian market entirely, given all the new regulatory costs. Many multicultural markets will be especially hard hit by what will amount to, by the bill, a regulatory firewall in Canada.

Another very interesting point that has been raised by certain critics is the topic of trade threats and retaliatory tariffs. This concern should be on all of our radar screens. According to Mr. Geist, in this case, Bill C-10 violates the general standards in the USMCA. The government is relying on the cultural exemption to allow for this, yet even with the exemption, the U.S. will still be entitled to levy retaliatory tariffs.

Given the claims by the minister that this will generate billions of dollars in financial benefit for the industry, the retaliatory tariffs could be enormous and given the reworked structure of the USMCA, the tariffs the U.S. launches against Canada need not be limited to cultural tariffs. It could target any sector it likes. This is a potential concern that needs to be examined.

The legislation is likely to result in less competition and higher costs. If we generate large revenues, we will face mandated CanCon payment requirements that make no sense given the content. If we stay small, we will still have to comply with disclosure requirements that have no real incentive to grow past the threshold. That is assuming we see an actual threshold as none was listed in this legislation. This will result in less competition and less choice for the Canadian market.

I believe that the Netflixes and the Amazons will continue to invest, but as I mentioned earlier, some of the start-up companies that have specialized content, maybe multicultural content, will not know whether to invest in Canada or not because of the uncertainty around the bill. This will lead to a scenario where they will just avoid investing in Canada. We need to think about what this mean for the future of Canadian content.

My view is that the bill is not protecting Canadian sovereignty. The legislation basically surrenders it to the Internet giants. Therefore, they will keep investing here, but I do not know if it opens up the ability for some of these other start-ups to do so. They will become the dominant funders and purchasers of Canadian content. Canadian broadcasters may not be able to compete for Canadian content, given the desire of the giants to meet their CRTC obligations. This would force big decisions to Amazon and Netflix and leave Canadian broadcasters and smaller streaming services on the outside looking in.

I would ask all of us here to heed the warnings of different experts who have raised valid concerns, whether they be trade or investment related, and let us take a look at amending the bill in a way that will answer those concerns.

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December 10th, 2020 / 12:25 p.m.
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Outremont Québec

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Small Business

Madam Speaker, I am a very firm proponent for freedom of the press and freedom of speech, but after hearing my colleague's comments on Bill C-10, I believe him to be of the view that there should be very limited regulation on the part of the government with respect to the information that is disseminated on the Internet through web giants, as he describes them.

I would ask him if he believes there should be some role for government to play with respect to regulating information that appears online, for example, anti-vaccine campaigns or other information that is not based on science.

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December 10th, 2020 / 12:25 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

The Broadcasting Act is absolutely outdated, and we are trying to move forward so that everyone who benefits from the broadcasting ecosystem can contribute to the production of Canadian or Quebec content.

Bill C-10 is a step forward. However, it completely ignores social media that broadcast content, such as YouTube. I therefore think we need to expand the definition of broadcaster, because if it takes another 30 years to review this new legislation, which is how long it took to review the old one, it will be important to ensure that, regardless of the broadcaster, we can bring everyone who benefits from culture around the same table, so they can contribute financially to producing that culture.

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December 10th, 2020 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, we are here today to speak at second reading stage of Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.

Let me begin by saying that we have some serious reservations about this bill. I will have the chance to talk later in greater detail about the major powers being given to the CRTC, the lack of definition on certain important issues, as well as the fact that it does not fix essential problems that directly affect the broadcast of information and the current more modern context of web giants and social media. I will also come back to the lack of consideration given to French in this new legislation, which was surprising and disappointing coming from the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

First, let's be clear. It goes without saying that we are in favour of reviewing the Broadcasting Act. The last review occurred 28 years ago. The Internet was available on some university campuses and in some spheres such as the Department of National Defence, but it was not part of our daily lives like it is now.

Twenty-eight years ago, anyone who knew a little English may have known what the word “Google” referred to, but that was about it. If, 28 years ago, we had mentioned Facebook to our children, neighbours or friends, they would have given us a weird look and asked what we were talking about. It makes sense, then, for the Broadcasting Act to be reviewed after 28 years.

However, it is disappointing to see that the government is not going deeper on important issues like the web giants and social media platforms. That is disappointing, because we are already going through the bill 28 years later, so we might as well do it right and not put off regulating certain issues, like these ones in particular.

Now, 28 years later, the Broadcasting Act is in need of updating, meaning that it needs to be reviewed and then amended. Furthermore, the Conservatives agree on the principle of fairness regarding the web giants and social media platforms. We need to ensure that people who pay for and use these online services and people who pay for and use so-called traditional services, such as cable, are treated the same way. We need to ensure this process is fair and that taxes are collected fairly.

We are guided by these two principles: The Broadcasting Act must be reviewed and we must address the new realities and respect the principle of fairness. I will now speak to the matters that concern us.

First, let us talk about the French language. Even though the Minister of Canadian Heritage and I may have serious differences of opinion on certain matters, I am in complete agreement with him on one thing: the importance of French. At our request, the House had a take-note debate on this and the minister asked us out of the love we all have for the French language, to defend it and preserve it in Canada. This applies in particular to Montreal where, by its very nature and the fact that there are seven to eight million francophones in a sea of almost 350 million anglophones in North America, it is only natural that French be deemed worthy of always being preserved.

If ever there were a vehicle to help protect the French language, goodness knows it would be broadcasting, the web and communications, and yet, French is somewhat neglected in this bill, which is disappointing. French is specifically mentioned twice in this bill. Before reading it out, however, I will put on my glasses, because no matter how much I speak, I still need to know how to read, and if I am going to read, I might as well read properly. I am 56 years old and I fully accept what that entails. I have white hair, I have wrinkles, and that also comes with glasses. I am going to stop talking nonsense and get serious again.

The one and only measure to improve the place of French can be found in the proposed amended version of paragraph 3(1)(k) of the act, which states that “a range of broadcasting services in English and in French shall be progressively extended to all Canadians” as resources become available. That wording is nothing more than wishful thinking, although the government boasts that it is doing everything it can to protect the French language. It can hardly be said in this case that it is written in black and white and backed by concrete actions.

We think this situation is unacceptable, and it represents a far too vague approach to protecting French.

This is no small thing, given that the debate on the importance of French is currently under way in Quebec and Canada and we are waiting for this government to finally introduce a new version of the Official Languages Act. Rather than honouring and respecting its commitments under the act, the government has decided to publish a white paper. We know what a white paper is: When we read it, there are only blank pages, because it does not propose any concrete measures on the subject at hand.

We would have liked this bill to have a little more muscle. Unfortunately, it is not what we expected. However, we acknowledge and applaud the fact that there are proactive measures regarding indigenous people, racialized individuals and members of the LGBTQ2 community. We agree with all of that.

However, we believe that French would have been entitled to the same attention that was given to indigenous communities. For the benefit of members who might not know my story, in 1984, I started my radio career at CIHW-FM 100.3, in Wendake, so I am fully aware of the importance of radio and broadcasting for indigenous communities.

Therefore, we believe that this does not solve the issue of social media and web giants. Quite frankly, we would have expected some basic guidelines, frameworks and fairness with respect to social media and web giants.

As I said at the outset, and everyone recognizes this, 28 years ago, when someone talked about “the web”, you had to know a little bit of English to know that they were referring to an actual web. The word was not commonly understood in everyday speech. So while the Broadcasting Act needs to be refreshed, the government needs to directly address the issue of social media and web giants.

In this case, we do not feel that this bill resolves the major problems this new reality created. It goes without saying that we agree on what is happening. We have to pay attention and not fool ourselves. We are in no way suggesting that this reality does not exist. We are not against it. It exists, and all we have to do is regulate things properly.

Often, the best regulations are those that create an equitable framework that allows and protects freedom of expression. The rules must apply to each and every one of us. We must not create two classes of news media where some broadcasters have certain obligations while others, like online outlets, are subject to different kinds of regulations. Fairness is important here, but unfortunately, the government came up short in that department.

Earlier, I was talking about the CRTC's inherent powers. We have very serious reservations about that because it gives the CRTC considerable discretionary authority to define what constitutes an online enterprise and to force such enterprises to spend money producing and broadcasting Canadian content.

Of course, we recognize that the CRTC has a role to play in making sure that everything is done properly, but the way the current bill is drafted, we think it has been given far too much power. We have nothing against the CRTC, but if you give the CRTC all the powers, you have to give it the means to do what it wants to do. Also, this provides a structure that means that it takes a long time before results can be implemented. As a result, the common good is not very well served in all of this.

Following this second stage of the bill, a parliamentary committee will study it and propose amendments. Our critic in this area will make proposals to move in the direction we are interested in, which is to freshen up the Broadcasting Act.

We are obviously in favour of fairness, but these two elements still need to be included in the bill. That is not quite what we are seeing right now. We hope that the improvements and amendments that we will bring forward in committee will be accepted by the government.

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December 10th, 2020 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

And the King of Kensington part, too.

Madam Speaker, we have some concerns with the legislation. There are some good things, like all pieces of legislation, but there are certainly things that provide some inequity that need to be addressed. There have been numerous studies done over the years about upgrading the Broadcasting Act.

In fact, just recently there was a recommendation from the broadcasting and telecommunications legislative review, which published a report in 2020. It was appointed a few years ago, and its purpose was to look at the key pieces of legislation that govern our communications sector. In that report, there were 97 recommendations based on the objectives of supporting the creation, production and discoverability of Canadian content, and improving the rights of the digital consumer, amongst other things.

In the report, it spoke specifically, and of course Bill C-10 speaks specifically, to online platforms. It speaks to financial contributions by broadcasters and online undertakings, and an update to Canada's broadcasting and regulation policy. It also gives the CRTC increasing powers.

For us, that is probably one of the most concerning parts of the bill, among some others, the fact that it can impose an administrative monetary policy for violations of certain provisions of the act, such as contraventions of regulations or orders made under the act, broadcasting when prohibited to do so and failing to submit information. There are numerous things that the CRTC will gain power on with respect to this. It also provides for oversight of the Canadian broadcasting landscape.

There are things within the bill that definitely need to be worked on. Here is one of the things that the bill does not address, and I want to spend a considerable amount of time on this. Recently I had the opportunity to meet with Metroland newspapers, which is part of the Torstar group. They were advocating on behalf of online digital content.

As members know, the inequity that is created, the disparity of online digital content is significant for those content producers. Oftentimes many of those stories will end up on Facebook or even Google, and a lot of the ad revenue that is being created does not go back to the content providers. That means there has been a significant change in the landscape of digital content in this country as a result of players like Facebook and Google. Facebook and Google profit significantly from that content that is being provided, but those content producers do not. It is causing a significant problem.

In meeting with Metroland, Shaun and Elise brought to my attention some of those concerns. My hope is, and I am writing a letter in support of their ask, that some of what they are suggesting to level the playing field is actually adopted by the government fairly soon. What the bill would not do is address the concerns of the digital content providers.

Their concern, of course, is preserving a functioning journalism industry. They said at the time that citizens around the globe are demanding high-quality journalism and investigative reporting. Nonetheless, the ability of news publishers to continue providing such critical information is under threat by the market power and preferential regulatory treatment of dominant platforms in digital information. Democratic governments are recognizing market failures in the market for news, and they are now working to implement policies to address them.

Just the other day, I was in a conference Zoom call with the new owners of Torstar, who own Metroland Media. Overwhelmingly, the consensus of the community leaders who were on that call spoke about the role of journalism, the role of truth and the role of providing balance, particularly in the case of local journalism. We had quite an interesting discussion about that because, as we see the evolution of social media platforms, there is a level of disinformation. Therefore, it comes back to a matter of trust in the content being provided by these digital producers.

France, Spain, the U.K. and Australia have already passed regulations. In fact, I am told that just today Australia passed legislation to level the playing field. Again, in the context of Bill C-10, none of this is addressed in this piece of legislation. What the Australian legislation is designed to do is to reduce the effects of the platforms' market power and to restore balance and fairness in the market for digital advertising and digital news distribution, which is exactly what I heard from Metroland representatives when I met with them.

Other countries, including the U.S., are now analyzing how the market is dominated through those digital platforms, and they are developing regulatory reforms and legislation and beginning antitrust proceedings to rectify the platforms' market dominance. The hope is to continue that discussion here in Canada and end up with either regulation or legislation that solves that inequity in the country. When many of our allies, and I do not mean that in a war context but in regard to the countries that we are aligned with digitally, are engaging in that process, we need to start doing that as a country as well.

Consumer demand for news obviously remains high, not just in the local and national content but also digital content. That speaks to the need for more credible and professional news as a result of that increased demand. There was a time when there was no social media, obviously, and as Canadians we received our news from reputable sources and reputable news people. There is an online demand for that news to continue, but in some cases it is not indicative of what is important or what is factual in a lot of cases.

Therefore, supporting that level playing field for the digital content and the producers of it becomes critical in protecting the truth, and that is what the Metroland representatives are talking about. They are, in their words, approaching market failure because of the inequity that is happening. They reminded me that market failure occurs when participants in a market do not produce an economically and socially optimal outcome because of non-market factors. Examples might be the inclusion of regulatory barriers to enter or market power.

Market failures can take several forms and several of them are applicable to the market for digital ads and news in Canada. The most pressing failure that they indicated was the result of the market power of both Google and Facebook, which I referenced earlier. Google and Facebook, they say, are in an effective duopoly over the market for digital advertising in Canada and its peer nations. Those platforms have segmented the market between search, which is Google, and Facebook for social media, which limits the direct competition between the two.

I know I have spent a lot of time on levelling the digital playing field in support of local content producers, but the concern that I have and the hope that I have is that the government will recognize this inequity and will work toward regulation or legislation that allows for these local content producers and the individuals who work for them to be paid fairly, not just from a monetary standpoint in terms of income but also from advertising as well, because that becomes important to the viability, the sustainability and the legitimacy of the news business in this country, going forward.

I would be glad to answer any questions.

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December 10th, 2020 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to engage in this debate, which really does affect Canadian culture, how we see ourselves in the global marketplace and our identity as Canadians.

The Broadcasting Act has not been renewed or reviewed for 28 years, so it is time that we get this done. The problem is that, as is so typical with the Liberal government, it has brought forward legislation that is so deeply flawed that we, as Conservatives in the House who want to get it right, just cannot support it. I am going to go through some of those flaws, because they are significant, but the reason we are even talking about reviewing the Broadcasting Act is because the whole environment in which broadcasting takes place has changed.

We have moved from an environment in which digital forms of communication were mostly unknown to an environment in which we have digital platforms that are, in fact, challenging the role of conventional broadcasters in Canada. We have to get this right, because there is a lot at stake. What is at stake is Canadian content and making sure that we, as Canadians, see ourselves in the products we see on television, on streaming services and in the movies. It is also important that we recognize that there are individuals and companies within Canada that are producing content, really good and in most cases Canadian content, that are actually not being reimbursed and compensated for that content.

I will start by highlighting that this bill, and this is one of the positives in it, will effectively add online businesses to our broadcasting regime. This is to make sure that we capture everything that is happening online of a broadcasting nature, and we include it in the regulations and the legislative regimes that we put in place. We do not want conventional broadcasters, which already operate within a set of rules, to be placed at a disadvantage when we have a whole set of other online content providers that operate either under a different set of rules or, in most cases, in the absence of rules. We want to get this right.

One of the challenges of this bill is that it does not address the monetization of content on some of the largest online content providers, the Facebooks and the Googles of the world. Recently, I met with Ken Goudswaard and Carly Ferguson from the Abbotsford News, our local newspaper. It is an excellent newspaper focused on the local issues that matter to our residents.

I met with them and the first thing they raised with me was the Broadcasting Act and the fact that they operate in an environment where the big players, such as Facebook and Google, take advantage of them. I asked how that happens, although I had an inkling of what they were going to say. They said they are producing 100% Canadian content within our community, the city of Abbotsford. They are the ones who pay the reporters, the layout people and everybody else who works in the newspaper office. They are the ones who pay for all of it. They then put that content online, and Facebook and Google get to then advertise off of that content without compensating the Abbotsford News for any of it. It is, in fact, a freebie.

These are the largest corporations in the world. They are also among the most profitable corporations in the world. They are not sharing their wealth and the income that our local content producers rightfully deserve. That is one of the failings of this legislation. It does not adequately address that challenge.

To Ken and to Carly, I say I am advocating for them. We Conservatives are advocating for them in the House. We want to make sure that those who deliver content, Canadian content, in Canada are also properly compensated for it, and that others do not get rich off their backs.

One of the other considerations is that the bill has a lack of clarity when it comes to the powers that would be granted to the CRTC. My colleague rightfully raised this challenge earlier in that much of the decision-making is vested in the Governor in Council. For Canadians who are wondering who the Governor in Council is, it is effectively the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the cabinet, who can simply, by fiat, say that this is what we are going to do and this is how much will be committed to Canadian content.

As members know, in Canada our broadcasters have to invest in Canadian content. They have no choice. We want to make sure that we, as Canadians, see ourselves in the products of online content, as well as in our broadcast media. They are committed to taking anywhere from 25% to 40% of their content and ensuring that it is Canadian. They also have to contribute 5% to the Canada Media Fund, which is a separate fund that helps Canadian content producers deliver Canadian content in a way that does not bankrupt them.

These support mechanisms are in place for Canadian broadcasters, the conventional broadcasters, but we have this whole other realm of content producers and content streaming services, the online platforms that are not part of that broadcasting regime. We want to make sure that they also play by the same set of rules that our domestic broadcasters have to play by.

Unfortunately, the powers to direct this are vested in the cabinet and the CRTC, but those powers are not clear on exactly what kind of requirements would be imposed upon our online streaming services when they deliver content to Canadians. There is no certainty, and if I were someone who was leading one of these streaming services, I would think that, until I had clarity from the Canadian authorities as to exactly how much I had to invest in Canadian content and how much it was going to cost me, I would probably hold off on any further investments, and that is not good for Canada.

To their credit, companies such as Netflix, Crave and Amazon Prime and others like them do invest in Canadian content already, but they are not subject to the same rules as our Canadian broadcasters and content providers, and that needs to change. What we are doing is levelling the playing field. Unfortunately, we do not know what the rules are for that level playing field.

Effectively, the government is saying to trust it. When have we heard that before from the Prime Minister? The irony here is that we have a Liberal government that is bringing forward Bill C-10 with changes to the Broadcasting Act that are supposed to enhance Canadian content. This is to drive home the fact that we are Canadian, we have a Canadian identity and we want to see ourselves in that content.

However, this is the same Prime Minister who publicly said that Canada has no core identity. Do members remember when he said that? We have no core identity but we want Canadian content. Members can see that there are so many flaws in this proposed legislation. Step by step, we need to deal with the Broadcasting Act in a manner that actually delivers exactly what Canadians need.

The last point I will make is that there is no reference at all to taxing the big boys. The Facebooks and Googles of this world are still not paying taxes in Canada. Are Netflix, Crave, Amazon Prime, Spotify and the others paying taxes in Canada? No, but they are driving major revenue growth from delivering their content here in Canada.

This is all about fairness. Bill C-10 does not deliver fairness, and for that reason we, as Conservatives, will be voting against the legislation.

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December 10th, 2020 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Warren Steinley Conservative Regina—Lewvan, SK

Madam Speaker, how does one follow on the comments made by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands? I congratulate her relative for getting a role in Star Trek: Discovery. I am sure there are a lot of Trekkies out there who appreciate that and will watch with bated breath to see who she is portraying.

It is an honour for me to rise in the House today to join in the discussion of Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.

As the member for Abbotsford put on the table, there are some fundamental flaws with it, one of which relates to the Governor in Council. When we go through the bill, one thing that jumps out right away is the power the Governor in Council will have. There would be a lot of power situated in the minister's office and cabinet when it comes to making decisions regarding Canadian content and broadcasting services, and that is a fundamental flaw in the bill.

What also pops out when reading the bill is the pretty broad definition of “online business”. I think that is what people were looking for.

Another issue my constituents have brought forward to me, which we will have time to talk about more, is the issue of giving more power to the CRTC. When we talk about the availability of online services, broadcasting and the news, most Canadians would like to see less power in the Ottawa bubble and the CRTC and more power throughout the country, as people would like to have more options.

I agree, and I think many members of the House would agree, that waiting 28 years to update a bill is a substantial length of time. The member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry mentioned he was three years old when this act was introduced, and he talked about some of the great music then. Times have changed, and a lot of conversations need to be had now about how we are going to do business using online services with Facebook and Netflix.

What are we going to do? How are we going to do it? The members across the way have talked about what taxes should look like for very big corporations, and the member for Abbotsford brought it up very well when he said that when businesses come to Canada they expect to be treated fairly. That is something we need to keep in mind when we are looking at this legislation.

We talked about having Canadian content and making sure there is a level playing field when it comes to news services. I think the other issue we need to talk about is how smaller online businesses and news services are competing with the bigger online services. That needs to be levelled as well.

Some smaller businesses are trying to compete against taxpayer dollars. The member for Barrie—Innisfil said, very correctly, that some of these small local publications are trying to compete with the CBC online, and the CBC has a good online paper. The member for Saskatoon—Grasswood talked about how it just updated its online presence, which is wonderful, but that online presence is now competing with smaller online papers. It is very hard for them to compete, because they do not have the resources that bigger companies like CBC, CTV or Global have. We need to take that into consideration as well when we are looking at how we will be able to ensure that smaller publications have the ability to compete. A lot of Canadians across the country want to see competition in the online broadcasting field and the ability to have more selection and options when looking at online news and broadcasting.

We also need to have a discussion about how we are going to ensure there is correct information online. That conversation is important in this day and age. Some of the members across the way have brought up fake news, or whatever they like to call it, but I think it is also incumbent upon us to make sure we hold ourselves to a higher level of decorum in the House when debating bills. Let us not bring up issues that are not related to Bill C-10, nor have personal attacks back and forth during these speeches. That is below parliamentarians and below the level that our constituents expect from us. We need a higher level of discourse in this chamber.

I expect that to continue and expect us to raise the bar of decorum in the House to ensure that when we have debates about important legislation, we stick to the facts and the debate at hand. We must leave personal and partisan feelings away from the table when we have these conversations. I will do my best to ensure that there is good decorum in this chamber whenever I am on my feet to talk about important bills.

When we have conversations on Bill C-10, possible situations could arise that are interesting. The long-awaited legislation is the result of the Yale report on the framework for communications in Canada tabled in February 2020. The 97 recommendations of the report deal with social media, copyright, taxation of web giants and advertising fees to ensure the sustainability of traditional media. Bill C-10 is limited to the modernization of the Broadcasting Act, which essentially consists of introducing, as I said earlier, a very broad definition of online business, broadcasting cultural content and giving the CRTC broad discretion to regulate them where it does require a percentage of Canadian content, requires financial contributions and imposes fines to investigate compliance.

There are a lot of recommendations from the Yale report, which Bill C-10 is based on, that have not been implemented, and I think we should take some time to step back. That is why on this side we think Bill C-10 misses the mark in a few areas, especially regarding centralizing the discretion within the CRTC and within the Minister of Canadian Heritage's office, which we think is a big concern. Many of my colleagues have talked about that concern. We need to ensure there are broader consultations about where Canadians would like to see the ability to regulate and where our online business and our broadcasting ideas would come from.

We want more news available, and we want Canadian content within our broadcasting. However, the bill misses the mark on creating some fairness within the broadcasting sector and ensuring that we have space for smaller and start-up publications. There are a couple back home I can think of that would be hurt from not having a level playing field when starting up and competing with the larger companies, such as CBC, Global and CTV. They need to start with an online presence, because that helps.

I know, as do the young staff in my office, that there are not a lot of newspapers in the office anymore. We have our phones and PressReader, and we get much of our information from online sources.

I know the Regina Leader Post and The Star Phoenix have dropping publication numbers in Saskatchewan. They are working hard to make sure they have a large online presence because they realize that more and more people are getting their news from websites and through online services.

We need to allow for room in online businesses so they have the ability to compete. It is not as fair at this point as we would like to see it, and we wish there would have been the ability within Bill C-10 to create a more level playing field.

When it comes to online services, companies such as Netflix and Facebook should pay their fair share, as my colleagues across the way like to say. I think that is a good point, but they need to have certainty so that before they come to Canada, they know what the taxes or fees are going to be when they bring their businesses to Canada. Without certainty, it is very hard to attract new businesses and new tech companies to Canada if they do not know what the fees will be.

Given the uncertainty reasons and the power that is going to be situated within the CRTC and the minister's office, we have issues and concerns. That is why we will not be supporting this piece of legislation at this time.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2020 / 1:25 p.m.
See context

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Small Business

Madam Speaker, I would like to point out that levelling the playing field and taxing web giants is the purview of the Minister of Finance, which is why the Minister of Finance, in the fall economic statement, said that we would be taxing web giants.

With respect to Bill C-10, which was presented by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, I would say, perhaps echoing colleagues from the Conservative Party, that it is high time we modernize the Broadcasting Act. I wonder why this colleague is suggesting that we should delay it further by doing more consultations. We have consulted extensively with the broadcasting sector, content providers and the culture industry here in Canada.

Unlike the Conservatives, who did not modernize the Broadcasting Act when they were in power for 10 years, we are proposing to do that now. It is 2020, and it is time to move forward. Would the member opposite agree?