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

Bill C‑12—Time Allocation MotionCanadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 1:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Madam Speaker, is this not a strange set of circumstances? When the government House leader said that we would be debating Bill C-12 last week, I foolishly assumed he meant the actual bill. Multiple times last week it looked like maybe Bill C-12 would be debated, but no. The Liberals say that we Conservatives are delaying. Unfortunately, instead of debating the bill today, we are debating a motion to shut down debate on the bill because the government cannot seem to manage the House agenda at all. To say this bill is urgent after not calling it for months, and indeed after proroguing the House and delaying everything, is the height of hypocrisy. Therefore, here we are.

This is not the first disaster of management on this legislation by the current government. Indeed, it is just the most recent in a long list of failures relating to the bill. I would like to go through some of those here.

When the bill was first introduced, I stood in the House and said I would support the bill. That is true and on the record. However, at that time, I made the mistake of taking the minister at his word: that he was willing to work in good faith with opposition parties. Very quickly I was disabused of this notion.

The first domino was when the government pre-empted the bill entirely. It ignored its own promises and appointed the advisory body. The minister had committed to working with us and with the oil and gas industry to develop the advisory group. In fact, the Minister of Natural Resources said, “We're not reaching net-zero without our oil and gas sector in this country. We're not reaching it.” I agree with this minister and expected direct representation from this critical industry on the group advising government. Unfortunately, instead, the minister appointed a body with no direct oil and gas representation. It was full of people devoted to the death of that industry and the jobs and prosperity it brings.

There were some choice quotes and statements from various members of the advisory committee. One tweet thanked Greta Thunberg for calling on the Prime Minister to stop all oil and gas projects. Another rejected that fossil fuels could co-exist with climate action, rejecting the industry and its workers entirely. Another advocated for stopping all fossil fuel exports and another said, “Tomorrow, I'll join thousands gathering around Canada to call on premiers to act on climate and reject pipelines.”

Members may think that I am done, but I am just getting started because all those were from one person: Catherine Abreu of the Climate Action Network.

Another board member, Kluane Adamek, again quoted Greta, advocating abandoning the fossil fuel economy. Simon Donner from UBC, another board member, called to halt all new oil sands projects and asked if we should cap production entirely.

To be clear, I am not saying that these people are not entitled to their own opinions and beliefs. We are a free country with free speech, until Bill C-10 passes I guess. However, the minister chose these people who are actively anti-oil and gas and put them on this group to tell him what to do in regard to policies relating to oil and gas.

We wanted to work with him on this advisory group and felt it could represent expertise in which Canadian industry excels. Instead, the minister would much rather reject industry entirely, so I for one have no interest in supporting his crusade or his legislation. It has become clear that the minister is completely focused on destroying Canada's oil and gas sector and all the people it employs.

Even knowing all that, we went into the committee process in good faith. I met with many groups from across the ideological spectrum, did a lot of research and worked to create productive and relevant amendments that would improve the bill. What did we find at committee? As many more people watch the House and committees, despite being wonderful entertainment, I will let those at home know what exactly occurred.

Initially, when the bill came to us at committee, all parties worked together to create a timeline for consideration that would have allowed enough time to hear witnesses, receive briefs and review the bill. However, when the committee next met, the Liberal members dropped a surprise motion to reverse all that had been agreed to in order to fast-track the bill and get it through as fast as possible. At the time, Conservatives warned that this schedule would make it difficult to properly conduct our important work, and how right we were.

The Liberals, with their NDP allies, were able to speed things up, so we started the study immediately. Witnesses were due the next day, so everyone had to scramble to do their best. Witness testimony was essentially limited to two days. We did hear some particularly good testimony from a variety of witnesses, yet on something clearly this important to the Liberals, why would they not want more evidence? It would become clear soon enough.

Many people do not know that when committees study a bill, there is a deadline to submit witnesses and amendments. As well, drafting amendments takes a couple of days. The incredibly hard-working staff, who assist in drafting these, are amazing to work with, but writing law takes time. The deadline for amendments in this sped-up Liberal-designed process was immediately after we heard the last witness testimony, so there was not much time to formulate ideas and get them ready. Even worse was how it affected the written submissions. This is what really gets me.

As soon as the bill got to committee, we put out a call for written briefs. These are quite common: Generally experts or interested Canadians send in their opinions on a piece of legislation. They are an essential aspect in ensuring that Canadians can feel included in the process and feel heard. I spoke to witnesses who, when invited to the committee, were told the deadline for submitting a brief was the day they were invited. These briefs are often technical and professionally researched articles. How is an expert supposed to write a submission with literally zero days' notice? The answer is they cannot.

Additionally, as we are a bilingual nation, all of the submissions had to be collected and translated before being sent to members of the public. All of this led to the farce that we saw at the environment committee on the study of Bill C-12. When amendments were due on a Friday before we started clause-by-clause review, only a small number of briefs were available to members. The next week, there were dozens of briefs. Over 70 were posted and then made available. That means that due to the Liberals' single-minded focus on passing the bill as fast as they could and limiting the witness testimony as much as they could, the vast majority of public opinion on the bill was not available until after amendments were due. This is a completely disrespectful act conducted by the Liberals and their allies in the NDP to ignore public opinion.

Ontario Power Generation, Fertilizer Canada, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the Canadian Nuclear Association and the Canadian Electricity Association all sent briefs after amendments were due. Even environmental groups were hurt by this. The briefs from Ecojustice, Citizens' Climate Lobby, Leadnow, the David Suzuki Foundation and the previously mentioned Climate Action Network all were not available until after amendments were due.

Perhaps the most egregious impact of the Liberals' behaviour on this bill is that no indigenous witnesses were heard from during the study. As par for the course, the brief from the Assembly of First Nations, as I am sure everyone has guessed, was available only after amendments were due.

Additionally, there were a great many briefs from individual Canadians who worked hard to have their voices heard. Thanks to the Liberals, they feel ignored. I heard from one Canadian who said she worked hard on her brief and was excited to have her voice heard, yet when she learned that amendments were due before her brief could even be read, she was totally disenchanted with the process. Our responsibility as elected officials is to ensure that Canadians feel heard, feel included and feel a part of something. What the Liberals and their NDP allies did during this process is disgraceful, and it is a terrible mark on the history of this place.

Now I will get to the clause-by-clause study itself. Despite all I said, we still went in with productive amendments and hoped for the best. Indeed, the minister said he was willing to work with all parties to make the bill better. Again, that turned out not to be true. It became clear very quickly that, instead of there being a willingness to debate or even engage on good ideas, the fix was in. The Liberals and the NDP made a deal to approve their own amendments and reject everyone else's, no matter how reasoned or reasonable.

Before I get to our proposed amendments, I just want to share an example that shows how ridiculous the whole process was. At one point during the study, the Green Party proposed an amendment that was identical to a government amendment. The Green Party's amendment came up first, and the Liberal and NDP members opposed it even though it was exactly the same as their own amendment.

It is clear that their strategy was to reject literally every other suggestion, regardless of what it was. For context, the amendment in question would have required emissions targets to be set 10 years in advance.

People who are familiar with the workings of Parliament and committees can probably guess what happened next. If an amendment is rejected, any subsequent amendment that says the same thing is automatically removed from the list because the committee has already expressed its will on the matter. The Liberals and New Democrats are so staunchly opposed to any amendment other than their own that they ended up killing one of their own amendments.

What followed was an absurd exchange during which the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley proposed a new amendment that would require targets to be set 9 years and 366 days beforehand, instead of 10 years. I am not giving this example to poke fun at the Liberals and the New Democrats, even if it was funny, but because it shows to what extent they were reluctant to consider changes that were not theirs.

What were some of the reasonable changes we proposed? I think Canadians would like to know.

First, we think that solving the very real problem of climate change must be done through a whole-of-government approach. The federal government is famous for operating in silos. One group or department that is responsible for a problem or a particular issue does not usually work with others, or does not coordinate with them. I am sure anyone who has worked in Ottawa or for the federal government has many stories about this. That cannot happen when it comes to tackling climate change. Everyone must work together.

Of course, Environment and Climate Change Canada is the key department, but it also needs to coordinate with the departments of industry, finance, natural resources, employment, crown-indigenous relations and many others. We therefore proposed a series of straightforward amendments to remove the powers to set targets, create plans and approve reports from the Minister of Environment alone and include the entire cabinet. The Minister of Environment would recommend policy to cabinet, but cabinet would ultimately decide how to move forward. This is not exactly reinventing the wheel.

That is generally how policy is made in government: Silos are broken down as much as possible and other departments are included.

Perhaps the Minister of Environment did not consider the impact on industry, jobs and indigenous peoples. Bringing together cabinet to make decisions about these objectives and plans is the right thing to do. Unfortunately, the Liberals and the NDP even refused to debate, and they rejected every amendment we proposed for that purpose.

In their dream world, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change is an omnipotent figure who dictates every policy by decree. That is not how the Conservatives want to manage things. We believe in collaboration and the importance of working together, especially on the issue of climate change.

Another set of amendments that we proposed would have added that, when objectives were set or plans formulated, the minister would be required to balance social and economic factors, including the impact on employment and national unity. Climate change is real, and we absolutely need everyone to work hard to address it.

We cannot accomplish this by blowing the top off Canadian industry and the well-paying jobs that support Canadian families. We need to look at the big picture and make decisions that will improve the lives of all Canadians. That includes Canadians in the regions that will be most affected by these policies. Our country is stronger together, and we must do all we can to keep it that way. A government that is bent on destroying a region's main industry is not a government that knows how to build a nation. Therefore, it seems to me that examining how these policies will impact these factors would be a good idea.

However, the Liberals and the New Democrats refused to so much as debate the subject and rejected all the amendments, which, frankly, surprised me. The government loves to talk about how the green economy will create so many jobs. If that were true, our amendment would allow the government to brag about it, would it not? Instead, they rejected it. Why? Because it came from the Conservatives.

We then suggested that the progress report include the greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration from non-anthropogenic or non-human factors. This would include the amounts sequestered by our vast unmanaged forests and prairies and emissions from such things as forest fires and methane releases from melting permafrost. I personally feel that we cannot make a plan unless we have the full picture. Canadians often ask me what impact our forests have on emissions. Although this information is available in some places, it would be much easier for Canadians to have access to it in the main reports. Again, this seems like an obvious thing to include, but the Liberals and the NDP voted against it without debate.

After that, we proposed another great addition. As people know, Canada is a federation, and the provincial governments control many of the policy levers that are needed to achieve our climate goals. They manage the resource sector, the electrical grid and the building code.

We wanted the assessment reports to include a summary of the measures taken by the provincial governments to achieve the national greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Again—

EthicsOral Questions

June 21st, 2021 / 2:35 p.m.
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Honoré-Mercier Québec

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, can my colleague tell me when the Conservatives will stop blocking the budget? Can he tell me when they will stop blocking Bill C‑10 so we can get the web giants to start contributing? When will they stop blocking Bill C‑12 so that we can continue working for the future of our children and grandchildren? When will they stop blocking Bill C‑6, on a process that harms our youth and the LGBTQ+ community?

When will they stop blocking these progressive bills, and when will the Bloc Québécois and the NDP stop supporting the Conservatives' antics and start helping us and all Canadians?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedBroadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 6:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, here we are again to talk about the infamous Bill C‑10. We know that this bill has a direct impact on freedom of speech.

We were surprised to see that the bill originally contained a fundamental provision, clause 4.1, which clearly defined the terms of freedom of speech and clearly indicated that this bill would not affect those working on social media when it came time to produce and post music or cultural activities.

Unfortunately, the government withdrew that amendment. Members will recall that the second opposition party asked for that clause to be reinstated three times. When we proposed that amendment, the government and the second opposition party opposed it.

How can the government introduce a bill that does not protect freedom of expression as it should, particularly since that protection used to be set out in the bill in black and white?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedBroadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 6:45 p.m.
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Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Liberal

Steven Guilbeault LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his comments. I would like to remind him of certain facts.

First, several members of his political party asked us to go even further with Bill C‑10. We heard the same thing from an impressive number of stakeholders from across Canada, who told us that now that a company like YouTube has become the biggest distributor of music in Canada, it has to be included in Bill C‑10. We did that.

The Department of Justice's highly independent and competent officials testified before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. They carried out an analysis that demonstrated there are no issues with freedom of expression and Bill C‑10. In the bill, there are elements that provide for freedom of expression, freedom of creation and freedom of the press. My colleague opposite is also very aware of that.

Furthermore, the CRTC is not above Canadian law. The CRTC must also comply with Canada's many laws, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedBroadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 6:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, through you, I want to thank my hon. colleague across the aisle for his question and for his party's support for Bill C‑10.

He is quite right. This bill has the unanimous support of the Quebec National Assembly and the vast majority of artists. In fact, several thousand artists and organizations representing hundreds of thousands of artists in Quebec, of course, but also across the country, signed a petition in support of Bill C‑10.

My colleague is right about the wait. Every month that goes by deprives artists of $70 million. Some say that even if Bill C‑10 were to pass, it would not come into force immediately. I agree, but every month that the implementation of Bill C‑10 is delayed means $70 million less for our artists and arts organizations.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedBroadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 6:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, ever since the minister introduced Bill C-10 in November, everyone has been trying to improve it, despite its flaws. It did not address copyrights or CBC/Radio-Canada's mandate, and it was missing a lot of things to protect Canadian businesses and domestic French-language and Canadian productions.

Everyone tried to compromise to find a solution and improve the bill up until one Friday afternoon when the minister withdrew clause 4.1, which was supposed to be added to the Broadcasting Act, going after the content of social media users.

My question for the minister and the Liberals is quite simple. Despite the gag order that the government imposed on us in committee and the fact that the Chair called the government to order by ruling many amendments out of order at committee stage—amendments that we will be voting on this evening—will the government agree to vote in favour of reinserting clause 4.1 into the legislation to protect the content of social media users, whatever it might be?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedBroadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 7 p.m.
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NDP

Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it seems that the minister may be quite confused. He keeps saying that he does not quite understand the NDP position in not voting with his government to push this through Parliament. The New Democrats have been clear. We are very supportive of getting help to our artists and we are supportive of Bill C-10. However, perhaps what the minister does not understand is the role Parliament plays in our parliamentary system, similar to the way the minister did not seem to really understand how broadcasting worked or, in fact, how his own bill worked before he tabled it.

We can be supportive of legislation and also find it very problematic to watch the way the minister has managed this file and is now trying to shove it through Parliament without giving parliamentarians time to get this bill right. I have offered time and again to work through the summer, to do whatever we need to do to get this bill through, and the minister just keeps asking why we will not support the Liberal time allocation. How is that respecting Parliament?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedBroadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 7 p.m.
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Liberal

Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, there are two things I would like to answer for the hon. colleague. The first is that I was with the leader of the Bloc Québécois and the leader of the NDP on Tout le monde en parle, during which all three of us committed to work together to ensure Bill C-10 would be adopted. Right after that, the NDP changed its mind, after committing in front of millions of Quebeckers and Canadians that the NDP would work with us to ensure that Bill C-10 would be adopted. Was that a lie to the Canadian public and to the viewers of this show, I do not know.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedBroadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 7:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, the Conservative Party's position was that the bill did not go far enough, that we needed to do more and include, according to some of the member's colleagues, companies like YouTube. Then it decided to move the needle and said that it was about freedom of speech. Then when the justice department said that there was no issue with freedom of speech, the Conservatives moved the needle again and said that it was about net neutrality. When it was explained what net neutrality was and the fact that Bill C-10 had nothing to do with net neutrality, they moved the dial again and said that it was these secret amendments.

Every time we have spoken about the bill, the Conservatives have been against it. They have clearly decided that they are siding with Google, Facebook and some of the wealthiest companies in the world. We have seen the contempt, which are not my words but the words of many artists, that the Conservative Party has shown to artists and our cultural sector.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedBroadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 7:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Mr. Speaker, what is interesting is that in the minister's reality, this is all about artists, but to the real world, the non-Liberal world perhaps, to everybody I talk to about Bill C-10, it is about censorship, it is about what people can post on the Internet. It is the fear of government interference. We have seen big tech already clamping down on free speech. People are terrified of what Bill C-10 will bring.

I was giving a talk to a grade six class, and those children are worried about it. It seems like the whole world knows that this is all about censorship, but the minister thinks it is all about artists. We love artists, but this has nothing really to do about artists. The fear is censorship.

What would the minister say to these grade six children who are worried about their free speech because of the bill?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedBroadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 7:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his advocacy as a member of the heritage committee and also as an artist himself for many years.

The member is absolutely right. There is this idea that the only people concerned with free speech in the country are the Conservatives. Artists have for decades, if not centuries, defended freedom of speech. The idea that they would all of a sudden forget about this just because they are in favour of Bill C-10 makes absolutely no sense. There are a number of safeguards in Bill C-10, and we have heard from Department of Justice, as well as in the body of the laws and regulations we have in Canada. The CRTC is not above the law.

Bill C-10 would not apply to individuals, and it says that very clearly in the bill right now.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedBroadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 7:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is good to be able to ask the minister a couple of very important questions. First, I would ask him to correct the record because it has been made very clear that not all artists support Bill C-10. In fact, I have heard from many, and I know that other colleagues have, including those who have reached out to the minister directly, that they do not support Bill C-10, so that is misleading and incorrect rhetoric that he is speaking to.

Further, I would suggest that the minister should be careful how he references things because we saw time and again how he might say one thing on Sunday afternoon television and then his office would have to clarify and correct the record the next day. He would say one thing in question period and another thing at committee. I am curious which minister is actually speaking to us today, because there seems to be a lot of confusion from his office or from himself regarding Bill C-10.

There is one question I would really like to get an answer to. He talked about the example of Kim's Convenience being an epitome for Canadian success, whereas a recent report suggested that anti-Asian stereotypes were perpetrated through the production and what was in part government funding of that sitcom on Canadian television.

Does the minister support that sort of stereotypes being a part of Canadian culture and in his approach to legislating culture in this country?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedBroadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 7:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Mr. Speaker, I asked the minister a question again in the House on the topic of Bill C-10, unfortunately not dealing with the subject of Bill C-10, but dealing with the issue of ramming it through the House.

Recently, we saw the government guilty of trying to ram through a bunch of amendments, much to the surprise of many of us here who respect the process, respect committee work and yet again, we see the government time after time simply trying to sidestep the parliamentary process. We saw that example today again in the House, where the health officer who was supposed to produce documents as requested by the House still refused to do it, on the advice of the government.

With such an important bill as Bill C-10, why does the minister feel he needs to ram it through the House?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedBroadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 7:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the committee has had months and months to study Bill C-10 and in fact, before the Conservative Party started filibustering the work of the committee, things were going pretty well, but at one point the Conservatives decided that they would prefer to side with Google and Facebook instead of supporting Canadian artists, and then it was impossible to move the bill along. We could have had six more months of committee work and we would not have been able to get through Bill C-10 at the committee.

As I reminded members earlier, every month that passes deprives our artists and cultural sector of $70 million that is kept in the pockets of some of the wealthiest and most powerful companies in the world.

Motions in amendmentGovernment Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act

June 21st, 2021 / 9:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to rise after you presented the long list of amendments to all parliamentarians and the people who are watching at home. Canadians are interested in Bill C-10 and the whole saga surrounding it since its introduction.

I will not go back over all of the amendments that you just read, but I would like to talk about the key amendment, which seeks to reinstate protection for the freedom of expression of social media users. The government tried to attack freedom of expression, as many law professors and legal experts across the country have pointed out.

Before I talk about this key amendment, it is important to explain to people how we got to where we are today and why members will spend so much time this evening voting on many amendments.

The story began last November, when the Minister of Canadian Heritage introduced a bad bill in the House. Members of the House all wanted to pass legislation that would strike a balance between Canada's digital and conventional broadcasters.

Everyone put a little water in their wine. We found ways to allow all members who had concerns to have their say. This allowed us to get information from the various groups involved around the country. Some people may not know this, but the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage even unanimously agreed to form a pre-committee so as not to slow down the process at the beginning.

There was a willingness to find ways to improve this bad bill because it did not take into account the role of CBC/Radio-Canada nor the issue of copyright. There were several flaws and Canadian companies had no protection. We wanted to ensure that francophone and Canadian content was protected by certain safeguards, standards or basic criteria. There was nothing. If I remember correctly, the parties proposed more than 120 amendments, not counting the ones they added later.

Although the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons kept telling us that committees were independent, the minister, who is not supposed to interfere in committee business, suddenly decided on a Friday afternoon without warning to withdraw clause 3 entirely, which included proposed section 4.1. That removed the protection with respect to user content, including of small companies that use social media.

There is a lot of talk about YouTube, since that is something people understand. However, according to a memo from senior officials, this bill will affect all social networking platforms. Older people, and I would include myself in that group, since I have a few grey hairs, know about YouTube and TikTok, even though these networks are for younger people. However, this bill affects all of the other platforms young people use that we do not know about, such as social media games or all of the social networking tools that are not mentioned anywhere in the bill.

The real problem is that the government targeted freedom of expression. The minister and his Liberal members on the committee did everything they could to stop the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Justice from testifying in committee and explaining why they wanted to withdraw clause 4.1. Work at the committee was stalled for two or three weeks as a result of members filibustering to force the government to explain itself and give us proof that freedom of expression was not in any jeopardy.

After three weeks, the Liberals on the committee ended up agreeing to have the ministers testify. Unfortunately, all we got was an explanatory document, not the legal opinion the motion had requested. That was yet another way the Liberals failed to honour the committee's wishes.

I think that the NDP members tried different ways of protecting freedom of expression, even if they did support Bill C-10. One NDP member, whom I am not allowed to name, but I forget the name of her riding, even suggested we work during the summer to improve this bad bill.

However, we suffered another serious blow when the government, with the support of the Bloc Québécois, which is important to point out, decided to impose time allocation for a bill whose core element was freedom of expression. Worse still, the time allocation imposed on the committee, which is supposed to be independent, was not even properly applied. The committee members, apart from those belonging to the Conservative Party, decided to reverse the decision of the committee chair, who was only reporting what the Speaker of the House had said, that members would have to vote in favour of the bill without even reading the 40-some amendments that were missing.

Therefore, we voted on the amendments one by one, without even reading them. The people who were interested in this controversial bill heard members say “yes” and “no” without even knowing what they were voting on. What a crazy story. This was completely contrary to what the Speaker and the House had decided.

In a dramatic turn of events, when the report was tabled in the House, we informed the Speaker that the committee had voted to overturn the Chair's ruling. The Chair agreed with us and overturned the 40 amendments we had voted on.

This means that we now have a bill in which some 40 amendments that attempted to correct its shortcomings were struck down after the vote. We are 48 hours away from the end of the session, and the government is trying to cram 20 or so amendments from several parties down our throats in just one hour of debate.

How will this play out? This bill will move on to the Senate. For the people who are listening to us, the Senate will not stand for this, as it is supposed to be independent. The Senate will therefore begin to study the whole matter from the beginning to make sure it was done right, because the government did not do its homework, because the government waited six years to introduce a bill, because the government did not listen to the recommendations of the various groups, because the government played partisan politics and suggested there was a war between the cultural community and freedom of expression and made the Conservatives look like the bad guys. Even members of the Green Party and the NDP spoke out against some of these tactics by the government, which, as we all know, with an election coming up in the fall, wants to play tough.

What is happening right now is really sad. We are being forced to rush votes on more than 20 amendments, some of which had already been rejected, and on the reinsertion of clause 4.1, which is the most important part. I hope my House of Commons colleagues will agree to vote in favour of that amendment at least. It will protect content created by social media users, which is what a number of former senior CRTC executives pushed for.

Law professors from several universities across the country condemned this bill. I hope people will listen to them, because we are headed for disaster. This will get hung up in the Senate, it will never get to a vote, and the legislative process will never be completed because of the fall election. The Liberals are setting us up for failure, and this will be challenged before artists can even get the help they have been asking for for so long.

Motions in amendmentGovernment Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act

June 21st, 2021 / 9:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague who sits with me on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and who works very hard, as we all do. To answer her question, unfortunately I do not at all agree with her.

At first, we agreed on the principle of Bill C‑10. The bill had several flaws and we were in a hurry to find common ground, but sadly, the government amended it along the way. I believe that is where the problem lies. The government, without notice and despite a pretense of collaboration, was paving the way so that social media could become official broadcasters with all the consequences that could have.

Even worse, the government's willingness to play partisan politics, by framing the issue as being between freedom of expression and the artists themselves, offended many people. Under no circumstance could we let the Liberals get away with that. We will always work to protect freedom of expression.

Motions in amendmentGovernment Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act

June 21st, 2021 / 9:35 p.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 Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, it is a shame that I only get 10 minutes to speak to this legislation, with all those amendments. I will try to be as concise as I can and provide some thoughts in regard to the last speech and, in particular, that last amazing question from the Conservative member.

It is important to recognize at the beginning that the very core of Bill C-10, from my perspective and I believer the way my caucus colleagues look at it, is to promote Canadian music, storytelling and creative works. The bill is about fairness and getting American web giants to pay their fair share and contribute to our cultural sector. That is absolutely necessary.

Before I expand on that, it is a bit much to hear the Conservatives refer the legislative agenda and say that it has been mismanaged. It is somewhat ridiculous that the Conservative members would even suggest such a thing when they are at the core of the problem. The Conservatives will say that they do not have enough time to debate and will ask why the government is bringing in different forms of time allocation, yet it is the Conservative Party that consistently wastes time on the floor of the House of Commons. Last Thursday, we were just getting under way and the Conservatives tried to adjourn debate for the day, they wanted to stop debate. They did not want to work anymore, and we were only on a Thursday morning.

What about the motions for concurrence the Conservative Party continuously raise? What about the raising of privileges and points of order as a mechanism to filibuster on the floor of the House of Commons? Government business, unlike Private Members' Business or opposition days, has a process that makes it very vulnerable to opposition parties. Whenever there are 12 or more members, it makes it very difficult for government to pass legislation if one of those opposition parties wants to make it difficult.

The Conservative Party of Canada members in the House of Commons have made it their mission to prevent the government from passing anything. We have seen that destructive force in the House of Commons. I do not think they have a case whatsoever to complain about debate times on pieces of legislation. We tried on numerous occasions to bring certain bills up or to extend hours to facilitate their needs, but the Conservatives have said that if they cannot get what they want, they will waste time. The government then has to bring in some form of closure or time allocation or nothing will ever get passed. We have seen that, and Bill C-10 is one example. They need to wake up.

The minister has done a fantastic job of bringing forward to the House legislation that would modernize an act that has not been modernized for three decades. Is it absolutely perfect? There was some need to make some modifications. Some of those modifications have, in fact, occurred. However, the spin that the Conservatives put on this is that it is terrible legislation that should never, ever see the light of day. We know the legislation would never be able to pass if it did not get the support from at least one opposition party.

It is not the Government of Canada ramming the legislation through. Often it feels as if it is the Government of Canada pleading and begging opposition to recognize the value and try to drum up support within the House. Fortunately, once again, at least one political party is prepared to see this legislation advance. I truly do appreciate it.

Bill C-10, as I said, is, at the core, promoting Canadian music, storytelling and creative work. The Conservatives argue against it, that somehow it limits freedom of speech, and they cite a number of examples. However, the Department of Justice has done an analysis of the legislation and has clearly indicated that it is consistent with the charter guarantee of freedom of speech, and that is coming from civil servants.

I wish the Conservatives would recognize that the bill would ensure that the act would not apply to users of social media services or to social media services themselves for content posted by their users. However, to listen to what the Conservatives are saying, one would not think that, because it does not fit their narrative.

The bill aims to update some critical elements of the broadcasting policy for Canada. For example, it would ensure that the creation of Canadian content is reflective of Canadian society and accessible to all Canadians. The bill would also amend the act to ensure that there is a greater account for things such as indigenous cultures and languages. It would also recognize that Canada's broadcasting system should serve the needs and interests of all Canadians, including racialized communities and our very diverse ethnocultural backgrounds, socioeconomic status, abilities, disabilities, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions of age.

I can tell my Conservative friends, in particular, that things have changed since the act was really updated. The Internet was in its infancy. When I first got the chance to speak to the legislation, I made reference to the fact that when I was first elected 30-plus years ago as a Manitoba parliamentarian, the Internet was accessed by dialing up through the telephone, and I think it was on a 256-kilobytes Compaq computer. Actually, I started off with a small Apple computer that I put floppy disks into. Contrast that to what the Internet is today and how advanced technology continues to push us. We, at least on the government benches, recognize that this is change that needs to take place.

Unlike the Conservative Party, we recognize the true, intrinsic value of culture and heritage, and Canada's diversity continues to grow on a daily basis. We need to modernize the legislation. It is there for all Canadians, which is the reason this government is bringing forward this legislation, as well as other important legislation, whether it is Bill C-6 or Bill C-12.

This is solid, progressive legislation that is going to make a tangible difference, and this is why it is so sad at times when we see the unholy alliance of opposition parties trying to frustrate the government in getting through a legislative agenda that we can all be proud of before the summer break, which is something that is done all the time in June when government gives that final push before the summer break.

I would ask members to get behind this legislation and do what I and my Liberal caucus colleagues are doing: support it, and let us move on to more legislation.

Motions in amendmentGovernment Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act

June 21st, 2021 / 9:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, there are a number of amendments on the table. I understand there was somewhat of a filibuster, but a great discussion that occurred at the standing committee. I do not want to say that I know all of the details per se, but what I do know is that, all in all, this is good, solid legislation. At the end of the day, it is legislation that is needed, and the vast majority of Canadians would support it. We have seen examples, from the Quebec National Assembly to not only the government of the day, but also at least one and possibly even two opposition parties. Once again, the Conservatives seem to be on the outside. They are trying to frustrate the government from being able to pass any type of legislation, especially Bill C-10.

Motions in amendmentGovernment Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act

June 21st, 2021 / 9:55 p.m.
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Green

Paul Manly Green Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise to speak today to Bill C-10 on behalf of the constituents of Nanaimo—Ladysmith and the Green Party supporters across Canada.

It has been 29 years since the Broadcasting Act was updated, so this legislation is long overdue. I have decades of experience in music, film and the television industry, so I have a keen interest in seeing this update done correctly. However, Bill C-10 was critically flawed from the beginning.

More than 120 amendments were put forward to fix this bill, including 18 from the government itself. I submitted 29 amendments to Bill C-10. Two of these amendments passed, and another two passed with subamendments. The focus of my amendments was to ensure that industry stakeholders outside of the big media conglomerates are properly represented in the act. This included non-profit community broadcasters; independent producers who work outside of the traditional broadcasting system; small, independent production companies that create much of the content that we watch on the big networks; and independent networks, like APTN, which are not part of the media conglomerates like Bell, Rogers or Shaw.

Some of the key amendments I put forward ensured that the community element is recognized under the Broadcasting Act. The community element consists of hundreds of non-profit community TV and community radio stations across Canada. In Nanaimo, we have CHLY radio, which is a community-based campus radio station with a non-profit mandate that supports local, commercial-free programming.

When I started out in the broadcasting industry, there was a large network of community TV stations across the country, which were originally tied to the local community cable companies. As those small cable companies were swallowed up by Bell, Rogers and Shaw, the community broadcasting element was slowly pushed out. As the cable giants became more vertically integrated, buying up channels and production companies and expanding service into cellular, they started to use their community stations as a way to promote their own products.

Community media plays an important role in a free and democratic society. These stations are not owned and controlled by commercial interests, and their mandate is to provide a platform to community voices that would otherwise be squeezed out of commercial radio and television. It is important to have the community element recognized as the third major element of broadcasting in Canada. I was glad to have some of my amendments regarding the community element pass, although it was disappointing to see the term “non-profit” removed from the definition, because that is precisely what the community element is, a non-profit element of our broadcasting system.

There has been a lot of talk by the government about the objective of this bill being to level the playing field and protect Canadian cultural producers in their relationship to large Internet giants. According to the Yale report, which was presented in committee, the playing field also needs to be levelled in the contractual agreements between independent production companies and large broadcasting or streaming services.

Much of what we watch is created by small, independent productions companies that bring their program ideas to the big companies. There is a power imbalance in the system that needs to be corrected. Two amendments I put forward were recommended by the Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the Alliance des producteurs francophones du Canada, and the Canadian Media Producers Association. Had they passed, those amendments would have created market-based solutions to a market-based power imbalance.

The U.K and France both have similar systems in place, which are working quite well. After the British Parliament passed legislation, the U.K. regulatory agency required negotiations of codes of practice between independent producers and the public service broadcasters. Every code of practice agreement was worked out by the players themselves, rather than dictated by the regulator. The result was a tripling of the size of the domestic production industry in under a decade. France implemented similar measures, with the effect being that the volume of independently produced productions has continually increased, including those commissioned by web giants like Netflix and Amazon.

In Canada, the CRTC has never attempted to directly regulate the commercial relationship between producers and broadcasters. It has always taken the position that codes of practice should be negotiated by the market actors concerned. It is essential, however, that the CRTC be given explicit authority in this area so that it can require players to negotiate codes of practice between themselves. Unfortunately, those amendments, which would have provided more protection to small producers, were opposed by both the Liberals and the Conservatives and did not pass.

There is no doubt that the Broadcasting Act needs to be modernized and we need to level the playing field to ensure that digital giants pay their fair share. For decades now we have had a system in which the broadcasting industry supports the creation of Canadian content, and this should extend to the Internet giants.

Currently, the streaming and social media giants get away with not paying their fair share of taxes in this country. They also contribute nothing to the creation of content except that which they choose to produce.

The Conservatives have been busy sowing a great deal of confusion about what is and what is not Canadian content and how that is determined. Our Canadian content rules are very straightforward. For music to be deemed Canadian content, there is the MAPL system.

To qualify as Canadian content, a musical selection must generally fulfill at least two of the following conditions: M, or music, means that the music is composed entirely by a Canadian; A, or the artist, is for when the music or the lyrics are performed principally by a Canadian; P, or performance, is when the music selection consists of a live performance that is recorded wholly in Canada or performed wholly in Canada and broadcast live in Canada; and L, is when the lyrics are written entirely by a Canadian.

If we fulfill two out of those four categories, we have Canadian content. It is pretty straightforward. Canadian content rules have made stars out of some great Canadian bands such as The Tragically Hip, a band whose lyrics are distinctly Canadian. Tragically, The Hip never made it big in the U.S.A., but it is great that they have become such Canadian icons, thanks to Canadian content regulations that led to the production of films that were later picked up by Canadian broadcasters and went through the procedure of having the film certified as Canadian content.

It is an attestation-based process where one makes a declaration, and it may or may not be audited in the future. There is a point system where people have must score six out of a possible 10 points. They get two points for a director, two points for the screenwriter, first and second lead performers at one point each, and points are awarded for production design, art design, the director of photograph, camera chief, camera operator, musical composer, etc.

The Conservatives spent a lot of time filibustering at committee asking how anyone could figure out if a production is Canadian or not. In question period, the member for Lethbridge wanted to know if Canadian Bacon was a Canadian film based on the name and one of the lead actors, John Candy, being Canadian. However, Canadian Bacon was produced and directed by Michael Moore, an American, and it was produced mostly with an American crew.

Yes, John Candy was one of the stars, and there was another lesser known but also great Canadian actor Adrian Hough in the film, but other than that, there was a long list of American stars like Alan Alda. According to the formula, Canadian Bacon was not a Canadian film, but it is a very straightforward system.

Social media users are exempt from Bill C-10 and the Broadcasting Act, but the content they upload to social media platforms would be covered under the act. It should be noted that under current CRTC rules, productions under five minutes or less do not require certification as Canadian content. TikTok videos and Instagram videos, which are all less than five minutes, would not fall under the current regulations for discoverability as Canadian content.

Can regulations under the act change? Yes, they can. Does the CRTC think it is a good idea to regulate TikTok and Instagram videos for Canadian content discoverability? I really doubt it. There is an ongoing debate about whether freedom of expression is protected under the Broadcasting Act. In the 1991 Broadcasting Act under part 1, the general interpretation, it states, “This Act shall be construed and applied in a manner that is consistent with the freedom of expression and journalistic, creative and programming independence enjoyed by broadcasting undertakings.”

This part of the act still stands. The CRTC is going to have to respect our constitutional right to freedom of expression under the act. That is just a fact. If it does not, then there will be grounds for a legal challenge to the bill, and it seems pretty clear that freedom of expression will be respected.

In conclusion, Bill C-10 is still flawed and there could be a lot more in the bill to protect small, independent producers and production companies, and to ensure that independent networks such as APTN get their products on those streaming services, so we need to do more to protect Canadian producers and defend them in their relationship to the big companies, and not just the big Internet companies, but also the big Canadian broadcasters.

Motions in amendmentGovernment Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act

June 21st, 2021 / 10 p.m.
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NDP

Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, it was a pleasure to work with the member on Bill C-10. He obviously cares about the Broadcasting Act, the broadcasting landscape, our creative producers in Canada, our artists, our writers and our community broadcasting stations. That was something that I was fighting for at committee, so we were often working hand in hand on some of that work.

However, that was not the case with all members of our committee. In early spring, we saw the Conservatives begin to filibuster, and I believe that was as a result of the minister's mishandling and inability to defend his own legislation. Does the member think that the Conservatives actually found an opportunity to fundraise off this? Does the member think that is why they in fact stopped being productive and stopped trying to fix the legislation and just obstructed the legislation?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act

June 21st, 2021 / 11:45 p.m.
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Toronto—Danforth Ontario

Liberal

Julie Dabrusin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on the third reading of Bill C-10, a bill that would modernize the Broadcasting Act. This bill fulfills our government's promise to artists and creators, and will make Canada's broadcasting system more inclusive, accessible and equitable for all Canadians.

The Broadcasting Act has not been updated for 30 years. During that time, foreign web giants have stepped into the void. They have made money in Canada without contributing to our cultural creative industries. Bill C-10 seeks to modernize our broadcasting system and to level the playing field between our traditional broadcasters and these foreign web giants.

A modernized Broadcasting Act is urgently needed. It puts in place the right framework to support Canadian creators, producers and broadcasters to maintain the vitality of Canadian content creation and diversity of voices in the creative industry at large. It ensures that foreign web giants and streaming services contribute fairly to the Canadian broadcasting system, like our domestic broadcasters have for decades, and strives for fairness in the new digital world.

Even before tabling the bill, we heard from people who worked across the entire spectrum of the broadcasting sector about the importance of modernization. In June 2018, our government appointed a panel to review the broadcasting and telecommunications legislative framework. We received over 2,000 written submissions and heard directly from many people through conferences across the country. The Yale Report was released in January 2020, making recommendations based on this intensive study that created the framework for Bill C-10 and the modernization of the Broadcasting Act.

I want to underline this point. The consultations leading to this bill includes the work done by that esteemed panel that produced this report. Even before second reading, the heritage committee agreed to a pre-study and it ultimately took on the study of this bill. There were suggestions that we heard from people working in the industry as to how the bill could be improved. We have listened to these concerns and we took action.

Government and opposition parties proposed amendments. In many cases, more than one party proposed pretty much the same amendments, which were moments when there was better collaboration as we worked through them. In other moments, we had very heated debate and ultimately a Conservative filibuster, which kept members from being able to discuss improvements that could be made. Ultimately, the parties were able to work through the stack of amendments we had before us and to present an amended bill to the House.

Bill C-10 would level the playing field, supporting community broadcasting, inclusion and diversity and providing the CRTC with the proper tools to fulfill this modernization. The modernization includes bringing social media companies, and not their users, into the framework. This is because social media companies, for example, Youtube, have become major distributors for music in our country.

Users uploading content to social media are specifically excluded and the CRTC powers over social media companies themselves are restricted to only the following: first, request information from social media companies about the revenues they earn in Canada; second, require that they contribute a percentage of those revenues to cultural production funds; and third, make our Canadian creators discoverable on their platforms. I will break that down.

The first is to request information from social media companies about the revenues that they earn in Canada. Right now, we do not even know how much revenue these platforms such as Youtube generate in Canada. This seems like a reasonable step to take. I cannot see why the opposition parties, such as the Conservatives, want to let foreign platforms continue to operate in Canada without having to disclose this information. This is money made by foreign companies right in Canada.

The second requires that social media companies contribute a percentage of their revenues made in Canada to our cultural production funds. This goes to the core of supporting our artists. Broadcasters and radio pay into FACTOR or Musicaction to support our artists under the traditional system. It is time for these web giants, which have been getting richer during the pandemic, to pay into these funds as well.

The third is to make our Canadian creators more discoverable on their platforms. I would like to clarify on this point that the discoverability requirement is not the same as the one that applies to traditional TV and radio broadcasters. Social media companies do not need to show or play a proportion of Canadian shows or music. The discoverability requirement for social media companies is only to make our creators discoverable. This simply means to include them as suggestions in playlists, for example, or something of that type.

I would like to make one more point on the CRTC's restricted powers regarding social media companies. The CRTC will not have any powers relating to broadcasting standards that could be imposed on social media. Its only powers for social media companies are the three I have listed.

In debate at committee and in this place, there has been much that was raised about freedom of expression, and I want to address this point. The Broadcasting Act includes a specific clause that it must be interpreted in a way that respects freedom of expression and journalistic and creative independence. That has been there for the past 30 years.

At committee, we added a further clause that repeats this protection specifically for social media companies. The charter statement and amendment analysis from justice confirms that Bill C-10 does not impinge on freedom of expression. Bill C-10 levels the playing field and requires web giants to contribute to Canadian shows and music. It does not infringe freedom of expression.

Today, we are discussing a bill that will improve the representation of all Canadians in the programs that they watch. When most of the programming available to Canadians does not reflect their actual lived experiences, something needs to change.

That is why Bill C-10 makes advances to ensure that the Broadcasting Act promotes greater diversity. Programming that represents indigenous people, ethnocultural minorities, racialized communities, and francophones and anglophones, including those who belong to official language minority communities, the LGBTQ+ community and people with disabilities will no longer only be provided as resources become available. The offer and availability of such programming is essential for self-actualization.

The policies set out in the Broadcasting Act will ensure that our broadcasting system reflects Canadian society and that diverse and inclusive programming is available to everyone. That is essential so that the Canadian broadcasting system can help broaden people's perspectives, spur empathy and compassion for others and celebrate our differences, while strengthening the common bonds that unite our unique Canadian society.

Many of these aspects of broadcasting that have been simply migrated online have happened, and we need to bring them into the Canadian fold. It does not cover the whole of the Internet, as some might say. Bill C-10 includes clear authority for the CRTC to exempt certain classes of undertakings from regulation and to avoid regulation where such an imposition would not contribute in a material manner to the implementation of the broadcasting policy objectives.

Much debate has occurred about social media. Social media has clearly become an important tool for self-expression for Canadians. The bill would not interfere with the lawful use of this medium to express one's self.

The Conservatives stated that they would oppose this modernization of the Broadcasting Act even before changes were made at committee. While they raised issues about freedom of expression, which I addressed earlier, it seems like the objection from the start, and to this time, was about something else. A member of the Conservative caucus called artists who received support “niche groups”, that all of them must be stuck in the early 1990s because they had not managed to be competitive on new platforms and were producing material that Canadians just did not want.

I wonder if the member for the Conservative opposition was referring to shows from Alberta, such as Heartland, or Little Mosque on the Prairie, or maybe successful Canadian shows like Murdoch Mysteries, Kim's Convenience, Corner Gas, or Canadian musicians like Jessie Reyez, Gord Downie and the Arkells, all of whom received support through our cultural production funds.

Our government has crafted a carefully considered bill, and Bill C-10 would ensure our distinctively Canadian stories continue into the future.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act

June 21st, 2021 / 11:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, I find it troubling that we are being forced into closure, once again, on a debate that many have raised the concerns of censorship. It seems that the government is more worried about Conservative opposition to this than actually fixing what is deeply flawed legislation.

The minister has said that all artists support the legislation, and that is patently false. I have heard from some in my constituency and others across the country as well as those who I know have reached out to the minister directly, saying that they have concerns.

I am wondering if the member is willing to correct the record and acknowledge that there is not universal agreement from artistic communities on Bill C-10.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act

June 22nd, 2021 / midnight
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Conservative

Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Mr. Speaker, Toronto's CN Tower is a Canadian landmark that is known worldwide. When it was completed in 1976, it was the highest free-standing structure in the world. It is 553 metres tall, or about 1,800 old-fashioned feet high. That is the length of five and a half football fields. It has actually been named a wonder of the modern world, right up there with the Golden Gate Bridge and the Empire State Building. The CN Tower gets a lot of attention, and tons of people visit it: two million a year.

Some of those visitors got more than they bargained for on July 16, 2001. On that day, two radical activists decided to do a dangerous illegal stunt. The two men scaled the outside of the tower and unfurled a banner. That banner bashed the Liberal government and the U.S. government for allegedly being killers of the planet. Not doing enough to fight climate change was the charge. The men had to be rescued by firefighters, and they were later charged and convicted for their dangerous stunt. The court heard that the whole ordeal cost CN $50,000, but the two men only had to pay $3,000 in fines in total. I guess the punishment did not quite fit the crime.

Who were those two men who created such havoc and made headlines worldwide? They were both Greenpeace activists. One was a British guy, Chris Holden. The other fella has really climbed to new heights. He is now a Liberal cabinet minister, the heritage minister. Two decades after his last dangerous stunt, this radical guy is pulling another one. In some ways, it is even more dangerous than his first stunt. He wants to censor our online free speech.

By now many Canadians have heard of Bill C-10. It is actually interesting that hundreds of bills are discussed in the House and most people do not pay attention. If we mentioned a random bill, the average Canadian likely would not know what it is about and probably would not care. We realize that a bill is controversial when regular folks know about it and know it by name and number. I did a virtual meeting with students from a grade 6 class a couple of weeks back and they knew about Bill C-10. They were very concerned about it. They should be.

I have a special interest myself in Bill C-10. I worked as a journalist for three decades in radio, TV, newspapers and news magazines, so free speech is in my DNA. For many years I was an opinion columnist for the Toronto Sun chain. Opinion columnists at Sun Media were the lifeblood of that organization. Every survey we did showed that many people bought the newspapers, and sometimes just to read one of the regular columnists.

I am not going to bore anybody by dissecting the intricate legalese of Bill C-10. Lots of lawyers and legal experts have argued the finer points in detail. I know the government will tout this bill as being all about supporting Canadian content. It has already done that. It claims it is not out to stop free speech in any real way, but I do not believe it. Most Canadians do not either. It is no wonder that we do not believe it. The government has earned a reputation, and it is not a good reputation. It cannot be trusted. I do not trust it and Canadians do not trust it.

The Prime Minister and his Liberals have a long string of botched files, ethics violations, broken promises and cover-ups. They failed to quickly close our borders when COVID hit. Then they failed on quickly getting Canadians vaccines. They tried to do a deal with the communist Chinese regime to get vaccines. Of course that failed miserably.

The Liberals have failed on many, many fronts: the SNC-Lavalin affair, the WE scandal, cash for access, cancelled energy projects, disgraced cabinet ministers and MPs, blackface, the trip to the Aga Khan's private island, no serious plan to open our international border and cover-ups galore. Ler us consider a recent one. It is about the Winnipeg National Microbiology Lab and a refusal to provide vital documents to a key parliamentary committee. Look for that to be in the headlines for a long time.

Is it any wonder that Canadians do not trust the Liberals? Is it any wonder they cannot be trusted with something so sacred as free speech? Is it any wonder that people do not trust the minister proposing Bill C-10, a guy with a radical past, a guy who got hauled off in handcuffs and was convicted by a court of law?

We have already seen censorship raise its ugly head on the Internet. It is already happening at an alarming rate. I bet every Canadian with a computer knows someone who has had a social media post flagged or deleted by big tech. It could have been for something as simple as a personal opinion about COVID rules. I bet many of us know people whose social media accounts have been suspended or even shut down by big tech. It is ridiculous that some self-appointed 20-something is a judge at a big tech firm like Twitter, Facebook or YouTube.

It also seems like conservative voices are the ones often targeted by these censors. It is strange how that works. Can members imagine what kind of censorship will happen if the Liberal government controls our online speech? I shudder to think of it.

Some people might say that since I am a member of the official opposition, of course I will slam any Liberal bill. Well, it is not just the official opposition. There are a lot of people against this Big Brother bill. Every constituent I talk to wants me to fight against the bill. I cannot recall one person coming to me to say, “Hey, Kerry, you have to support Bill C-10.” In fact, I have heard so much opposition to the bill that I decided to start an online petition against it. I was inundated with people signing it. I told them that I would send a letter of protest directly to the Prime Minister on their behalf, and that is exactly what I did.

Speaking of opposition to Bill C-10, members should check out what Tim Denton said. He is a former national CRTC commissioner, and he is also the current chair of the Internet Society Canada Chapter. Mr. Denton had this to say:

C-10 is clearly intended to allow speech control at the government’s discretion. Ignore the turn signals, look at where the wheels are pointed. They are pointed at your right to communicate freely by means of the internet.

This is scary stuff. Who would members trust to pass judgment on this bill, our heritage minister, with his radical past, or Mr. Denton? I know who I would trust.

How about the comment from Peter Menzies? He is a long-time journalist and former CRTC vice-chair. I worked in journalism with Peter. He is a good guy, a smart guy. He has summed up the Liberal bill really well. He said that Bill C-10 “will place the internet under the control of the...CRTC. Its nine unelected, unaccountable commissioners will decide if your Facebook post or Youtube video is appropriate internet content.” My former colleague goes on to point out that the heritage minister “has promised more legislation to establish another regulatory panel to oversee what sort of things people may say on social media. All of this constitutes an outrageous abuse of government authority”.

We can see where this legislation could go. Maybe a person does not like a government program or a policy or a politician and speaks out. Maybe they will get blocked or cancelled. There is a lot of cancel culture out there to go around, and the legislation before us would only make things worse.

The bottom line is that the Liberal government cannot be trusted with our free speech. The minister, with his radical, checkered past, cannot be trusted with our free speech. Our free speech is too sacred to be imperiled by this terrible, dangerous legislation. Canadians are saying that loud and clear. Bill C-10 must be defeated. Our very democracy in Canada is at stake.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act

June 22nd, 2021 / 12:10 a.m.
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NDP

Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I did notice the member spoke almost not at all about the bill, which is interesting because that is why we are here. Since I am sure he has read the bill and has read the act, he knows there are numerous places in both the act and the bill where freedom of expression is explicitly protected.

While the Liberals may not be trustworthy, members will recall that the Bloc, the Green Party and the NDP also support this legislation. New Democrats have always stood up for freedom of expression. They have a long history of that, and they have always stood up for net neutrality. The only party that is against this legislation is the Conservative Party.

I have heard from one Conservative MP that he has raised over $3,000 by fearmongering abound Bill C-10 in his riding. Would the member share how much money he has raised in his riding by fearmongering on Bill C-10?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act

June 22nd, 2021 / 12:10 a.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague's speech, and I must say that it was shockingly chock full of fearmongering. I have seldom heard anything like that. On top of that, these words are from a former journalist. He himself said that he had been a journalist for 30 years.

I remind my colleagues that facts are important in journalism. They have clearly chosen party lines over the facts in this debate.

My colleague mentioned a few times that he was interested in Bill C‑10 and that he was fairly familiar with it. My colleague from Edmonton Strathcona said that there are numerous places in Bill C‑10 and in the act where freedom of expression is explicitly protected.

Could my colleague explain exactly which clauses in Bill C‑10 could potentially undermine freedom of expression? What are the specific sections he is referring to?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act

June 22nd, 2021 / 12:15 a.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have finally reached the end of this bill on which many people have worked very hard in the past few months. I commend the members of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage who have been working hard since Bill C‑10 was introduced.

As we have said many times, this bill was not perfect when it was introduced. I used a metaphor, comparing this bill to a brand new paint by numbers. We had a lot of work to do.

The way it works is that we all vote in favour of a bill and agree to send it to committee. The House of Commons speaks and democracy does its job. At that point, it is our responsibility to work on improving the bills that are introduced and that must be studied in committee, and we made the decision to work on this bill, even though the task was, quite frankly, monumental.

We decided to do this work even if the task was altogether daunting. We committed to do it and we did. It was going relatively well until the withdrawal of clause 4.1 gave the Conservatives the opportunity they had been waiting for. It was the perfect opportunity to speak out against a possible attack on freedom of expression.

The support of various experts who already did not have a very high opinion of this bill, which obviously had an impact on web giants, was all it took for the Conservatives to come down on Bill C‑10 like a ton of bricks by pointing out all of the problems with the bill and demonizing it as much as possible.

I am rather pleased that we are in the final stages of this bill, particularly because we have pretty much covered all of the arguments and the list of witnesses and experts on which the Conservatives based their fearmongering.

My colleagues have said this repeatedly, and I will reiterate that the Broadcasting Act and Bill C‑10 contain several provisions that specifically exempt social media users, regular people like us and the people we care about, from the Broadcasting Act regulations.

The provisions in Bill C‑10 apply only to broadcasting undertakings. However, if entities that use social media sites like YouTube also engage in broadcasting, we have to regulate those broadcasting activities.

That excludes the activities of users who share content and little videos with each other or who have somewhat more organized channels that might even earn them an income. This does not apply to those people, as specifically stated in Bill C‑10.

The campaign of fear has run its course. It has slowed the progress of this extremely important bill since April, with what is commonly known as organized filibustering. Who will pay for that? The artists, creators, culture and the cultural community in Quebec, but also in Canada. The only ones to profit from it are the Conservatives, who oppose the bill, despite the fact that the other parties of the House are working hard to improve it and move it forward. I remind members that this bill was imperfect, but certainly not as bad as what the Conservatives have been saying for weeks and weeks.

There is another principle that I would like to revisit. I am reminded of the mother who watches a military parade go by and notices that one soldier is walking in the opposite direction, against the parade. Upon realizing that the soldier in question is her son, she wonders why everyone else is marching in the wrong direction. That is kind of what this reminds me of.

Sooner or later, when someone realizes that they are the only one who thinks something and nobody else thinks what they think, they might consider a little open-mindedness. They might accept that they have expressed their point of view, that others disagree, that we are all working in a democratic system and that the majority is supposed to rule. They can tell themselves that they fought hard and that, even though they tried hard to defend their point of view, they now have to be a good sport and stop trying to sabotage things.

That is not what happened, however. This attitude prevailed to the very end. We saw the filibustering, at times very disgraceful, and we have reached a point where Bill C‑10 may be in jeopardy. We will have to keep our fingers crossed. I intend to stay hopeful until the end, but I think this could have gone better. We could have done much more and been more noble in what we needed to accomplish. Again, it is our artists and culture that are at stake.

The web giants are earning billions of dollars on the backs of our creators. It is only fair to subject them to the same rules as broadcasters operating in Canada and Quebec.

How many times have the Bloc Québécois been criticized for throwing up their hands and supporting closure with the Liberals? It is awful. I must say that we had to swallow our pride since we are against the use of closure motions. Nonetheless, it is a parliamentary tool that exists. It is not perfect and it is certainly not noble, but neither is systematic filibustering.

Sometimes, the only way to respond to a questionable tactic is to employ another tactic that may also be considered questionable. It definitely is frustrating to come up against a gag order. We have been there as well. However, a bill for artists, for culture and for the industry deserves the right tools. If someone is standing in the way, we will use the procedural moves at our disposal.

The Conservatives will probably take the heat for a long time for scuttling the bill, if it were to fail. Quebec's motto, on all of its licence plates, is “Je me souviens”, or “I remember”. Quebec artists and those who have a lot of influence in the cultural sector will remember.

Culture does not cost anything. In an interview with a local paper in her riding, the member for Lethbridge said that Quebec artists were outdated, that they were stuck in the 1990s and that they were reliant on grants because they produce things people do not want. That is not true. Canada's cultural industry generates billions of dollars in economic spinoffs every year. The industry costs nothing; it brings in money. The industry is valuable, and not just in terms of money. We are talking about our identity here.

I will end my speech on a positive note. Just now, we voted for something positive.

Bill C‑10 was not perfect, and the Bloc Québécois believed that it was important not to wait another 30 years to amend the Broadcasting Act.

This evening, we voted to include a sunset clause in the bill, which ensures that the act must be reviewed every five years. We live in a world that is evolving at an incredible pace. Where will technology be in five years? We have no idea.

It is very important to set a limit and to give ourselves shorter deadlines for a mandatory review of the Broadcasting Act. It should be reviewed more frequently than every 30 years. In my opinion, it is one of the best ideas that we have had. We will have the opportunity to review the bill every five years and to correct whatever flaws may remain in the legislation, if it is passed.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act

June 22nd, 2021 / 12:30 a.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate this evening on such an important issue.

I just complimented my colleague from Drummond, and I also have some kind words for my colleague from Edmonton Strathcona. She did a masterful job on Bill C‑10 at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. Her assistant, Laveza Khan, also worked very hard on it, and my assistant Samuel Fortin-Pouliot worked very hard too. I commend everyone. They truly put in the work, as they say.

I agree that we absolutely needed to amend the Broadcasting Act. It has been 30 years since that act was passed. It had become completely archaic and obsolete, and it still is. It does not fit with today's reality and the current context with the new digital broadcasters. I think we need to keep that in mind when we debate this bill.

That is why the NDP has always worked and remained in touch with various actors and stakeholders in Quebec's cultural sector, in particular the Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and also ACTRA, Unifor and Music Canada. They have always counted on us. We worked with them to try to improve this very important bill.

Since the Yale report was released a few years ago, we have come to understand how necessary it is to update the Broadcasting Act and bring it into the 21st century. As progressives and New Democrats, we agreed with the broad strokes of the Yale report. It is so important, because it is a matter of cultural sovereignty. What we need to do is ensure that major new digital broadcasters participate, invest and contribute to the production of original Canadian and Quebec content. That is not what is happening.

It is vital to understand the ecosystem that we have been dealing with and continue to deal with, in the hope that it can change, and why the principle of this bill is so important in the first place. We have a system based on conventional broadcasters and cable companies that contribute to a fund to ensure we can invest in telling our stories on television, in film and other media.

However, big players, new players who are no longer quite so new today, had not contributed at all. It is great to be able to bring them to the table and force them to contribute to the growth and development of Quebec, Canadian and indigenous culture in general, just like conventional broadcasters.

Unfortunately, the bill that was presented to us was botched from the beginning. The NDP was prepared to collaborate. We have always been prepared to collaborate, to make amendments and improvements, to resolve the problems with the bill so that it best meets the needs of the cultural industry and our artists, artisans and technicians. We also want to make sure it best meets the needs of the public, because we need cultural content that brings us together and that we have some control over so that we can tell our stories, which our fellow citizens in Quebec and Canada love to hear. Think of all of the big television, movie and music success stories that we know of.

Unfortunately, we had to deal with very bad communication from the Minister of Canadian Heritage, who on numerous occasions could not for the life of him explain his own bill.

He was attacked under various pretexts by the Conservative Party and was unable to reassure the public and to continue in a constructive and positive direction for this bill.

Obviously, there has been a lot of talk about freedom of expression. It is an important issue, and we are not going to sweep it under the rug and say we do not care about it. As members of the NDP, as New Democrats and progressives, if there were a bill on the table that called into question the freedom of expression of people, of Canadians, we would obviously be very concerned.

The NDP has a strong track record when it comes to protecting freedom of expression and the rights of Canadians. This is not something we take lightly. We did our work in committee, as well as in the media, in the public sphere and in the House, to raise these issues and to take the time needed to get legal opinions, to hear from experts and to get the notices of compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms from the Department of Justice. Those notices actually came twice, before and after the removal of clause 4.1.

We have always been in favour of the principle of the bill. We hope it will pass because our cultural sector will benefit when Internet giants contribute to and help fund the production of original works that tell Canadian and Quebec stories.

We did our work. We were open to arguments because we wanted to be absolutely sure we were protecting freedom of expression. That is what we did, and the NDP is committed to supporting the cultural sector and our artists, artisans and technicians. At the same time, we wanted to be absolutely sure everything was charter compliant and would in no way interfere with individuals' right to keep expressing their opinions and posting whatever videos they wanted on social media. Doing that work was very important, and we did it in a reasonable and responsible way. Unfortunately, there were some closure motions that prevented debate in some cases and violated our rights as parliamentarians.

The way the Liberals have been managing this bill strikes me as rather strange. They imposed closure on a committee, which has only ever happened three times. Despite this gag order, they had to resort to a supermotion. The Liberal government treated this bill as if we had neglected it and taken it lightly, while it was too important for equity in our Canadian programming ecosystem and for the defence of programming and content in French, as well as in indigenous languages.

We want our television, film and musical artists to have the chance to pursue their activities and be properly paid for the work they do, especially musicians on YouTube, and we want them to continue to tell our stories. It is a question of jobs and a very important economic sector. The cultural sector accounts for tens of thousands of jobs across the country.

What is more, culture is what defines us. It says who we are, what our vision of society is, how we approach the issues, social discussions and debates. It also gives us a chance to change our perspective and world view, and a chance to change the world.

I find it sad that on June 21, we still have to talk about this. The Liberals should have managed their agenda better.

However, I think that this bill does ultimately achieve the objectives that matter to our cultural sector, our artists and our artisans. The NDP will always be there to defend them.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act

June 22nd, 2021 / 12:40 a.m.
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NDP

Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have watched my colleague in meetings with stakeholders. I have watched him in the House. I have watched him in the media, and he really is a friend who is fighting hard for the cultural sector in Canada. The work that he has done to stand up for our artists and our writers and folks who are in the creative sector is outstanding. While I am disappointed by the Conservatives' attempts to derail this legislation, I am not surprised. We know that they have never been friends of the cultural sector. That has been very clear all the way along. I am surprised by how badly the Liberals have managed this.

Could the member speak a little more about what he would have done to make sure this legislation was treated with the urgency and the importance that I know he thinks Bill C-10 has?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act

June 22nd, 2021 / 12:45 a.m.
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Green

Paul Manly Green Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and privilege to rise again tonight to speak to Bill C-10. It is always an honour to speak from the unceded traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, and to serve the community of Nanaimo—Ladysmith within the traditional territory of the Snaw-naw-as, Snuneymuxw, Stz'uminus and Lyackson First Nations. Hych'ka Siem. It is National Aboriginal Peoples Day today, a day to celebrate the rich cultural heritage, the languages, the governance structure and the traditions of the indigenous people of Canada.

I spoke to many organizations about this bill. As an independent party called the Greens, we do not have the same ability to question witnesses in committee, so I held my own meetings and asked my own questions. One of the meetings I had was with APTN and indigenous producers. I want to talk tonight about the importance of indigenous voices in our broadcasting system. If we left this content up to the United States, our views of indigenous people would continue to be the Disneyfied view seen in Pocahontas and spaghetti westerns. It is really important that indigenous voices are heard.

In the early 1990s, my father found a letter written by a woman in 1898 named Elizabeth Shaw. She wrote a scathing 18-page letter about the residential school system and the abuses that were happening at the Port Simpson school. We made a documentary film about her and a number of indigenous people were involved with it.

Afterward, indigenous people told me about some of the other experiences they had and they wanted to make films as well. I said that it was not really for me to tell their story. That is what they should be doing and I helped facilitate it. I worked with a lot of indigenous producers, young people and older people. These people were interested in getting into media production, and I facilitated training and mentorship so they could tell their stories.

What came out of that? I worked with a young guy, Don Claxton. I worked with his sister Dana Claxton as well, who is an indigenous artist, and played music with their sister, Kim Soo Goodtrack. They had an idea for a show. That was in the late 1990s and, lo and behold, APTN, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, was born. We produced a pilot for the first preschool show on APTN. I worked with them, a whole bunch of first nations and an indigenous technical crew, who we trained, to create 64 episodes of a show called Wakanheja.

The idea behind CanCon is to hear these important indigenous voices. We need to make sure that the independent producers creating Canadian content have access to the Canada Media Fund when they are producing for social media streamers like Netflix and others, rather than just for the Canadian broadcasters, because that is where a lot of this production is going.

I heard a lot of discussion about freedom of expression and that some YouTubers have to go down because Canadian content goes up, that somebody has to go down because somebody is going up. I do not know how many times I heard that at committee during filibusters. A Conservative member gave a great example of somebody they know who does coupon clipping and gives how-tos, and that is great. I looked at the top 100 Canadian YouTube producers and there were people doing nails, gaming commentators and spoof videos. There was lots of content that could be produced anywhere. People knew it was Canadian because they would drop an “eh”, say “get 'er done” or say “about” wrong, but that is not what the idea behind CanCon is all about.

This commercial content drives advertising dollars, and that is what the commercial Internet giants are all about: selling advertising. That is what the algorithms are designed to do. What is important in CanCon is indigenous voices, stories from Canada's north, Canadian documentaries, stories of new Canadians and emerging Canadian musicians. These are the programs that need to be discoverable, and that is what discoverability is about. It is about learning about each other and about Canadian stories, not being inundated by American culture or the dominant culture.

I missed my late show tonight. I want to talk about a Canadian story that needs to be shared and understood. In recent decades, Canadians have learned more and more about our former government's attempt to commit cultural genocide, to commit genocide, to wipe out indigenous cultures through the residential school system. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has reported extensively and provided a path forward with 94 calls to action.

What most Canadians are unaware of is a parallel set of institutions, the racially segregated Indian hospital system operated by the federal government between the 1940s and 1970s, and those hospitals have their own horror stories. I first heard about the Nanaimo Indian Hospital about 15 years ago, and many people in my community have no idea it ever existed.

In 2013, I was commissioned to produce a film for the Hul'qumi'num Health Hub about cultural safety in the health care system within the Hul'qumi'num speaking areas. Part of that film was to give health professionals an understanding of the history of institutional racism in health care and why indigenous people did not seek help when they needed medical attention.

I interviewed elders who spoke about the trauma they experienced in the Nanaimo Indian Hospital. I heard about painful treatments and I heard about people going into the hospital who were never heard from again. As part of the research for the film, I spoke with researcher Laurie Meijer Drees, who is the co-chair of the First Nations Studies Department at Vancouver Island University. She has documented the oral stories of people who have been in these hospitals, and wrote a book entitled Healing Histories: Stories from Canada's Indian Hospitals.

Of course, not all these stories were bad. Some people went to the hospital sick, were given antibiotics and returned home feeling better, but the horrific legacy of the Indian hospitals was based on treating all indigenous people as wards of the state. Consent for medical treatment only came into being for the general public in the 1960s. However, as wards of the state, indigenous people were not asked to consent for their hospitalization or treatment. The system patronizingly viewed them as lacking the capacity to give consent.

An indigenous person could be arrested by the RCMP for not going to the hospital if instructed to do so by a doctor. That twisted, racist mentality facilitated and led to women being sterilized without giving consent and patients being subject to experiments with medication without their prior knowledge.

These hospitals were underfunded and understaffed. Family members and communities were not updated on loved ones in the hospital. People died, children were shipped off to residential school or adopted out and family members were never informed. Some children were taken to hospital and years later no longer knew who they were, what their real names were or where they came from.

Most of what is known about this dark history comes from oral accounts told to researchers and shared through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but the medical files are locked and researchers have not been granted permission to access them. Apparently the reason given is that those records contain personal information. It is important to protect personal information, however, we do not need to expose personal information to get to the bottom of what happened.

To heal from those past traumas, we need to know the truth. The truth is sealed in those medical records, and it is incumbent upon the government to give researchers and independent adjudicators appropriate clearance, access and analysis of this data to conduct a full independent inquiry. I am looking forward to a first nations producer, an indigenous producer, creating a documentary about this and having members of this place finding this through discoverability on YouTube. These are stories we need to hear. These are the truths we need to hear. We also need to hear about the rich cultural heritage of indigenous people.

Let us talk about censorship. We are worried about censorship. The real concern about censorship is these large corporations. On May 5, red dress day, the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, family, friends and loved ones were posting about their missing loved ones. Thousands of those posts disappeared.

Right here in my community, I know Lisa Marie Young went missing years ago. What happened to all these posts? They were all pulled by Instagram. This is happening with other things like Black Lives Matter, Israel and Palestine, Sheikh Jarrah and SOS Colombia. I heard one of the Conservatives say that their posts were missing, right-wing posts, but this is clearly not Conservative posts.

Freedom of speech is important to me and we need to uphold it, and this bill would do that.

Bill C‑30—Time Allocation MotionBudget Implementation Act, 2021, No. 1Government Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 12:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, unfortunately, for the second time in only a few days, the government will shut down debate to keep parliamentarians, the elected representatives of the people, from doing their job and participating in a fair and balanced debate where every point of view can be properly heard. Once again, as it did with Bill C‑10, the government is shutting down debate on Bill C‑30, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget.

It is never a win for Canadians when the government does this. Unfortunately, it has done this twice: last week on Bill C-10, which is an attack on freedom of speech; and today, on a main issue of the government, which is the debate on the budget.

Why did the government not do its homework?

Why did it not let us debate Bill C-30 when required? Why did the Minister of Finance move an amendment last week in the House when she very well could have done so at the parliamentary committee?

Budget Implementation Act, 2021, No. 1Government Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 1:40 p.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 Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to address this issue this afternoon. There are a couple of aspects that I would like to provide some comment on, but first and foremost is the idea of Bill C-30, now at report stage, and how important passing it is to all Canadians.

The other day, I talked about a progressive agenda. The Government of Canada has put forward a very strong, healthy, progressive agenda that includes today's bill, Bill C-12, Bill C-6, Bill C-10, Bill C-22 and Bill C-21. Of course, I often make reference to Bill C-19 as well. All of these pieces of legislation are important to the government, but I would argue that the most important one is the bill we are debating today, Bill C-30.

The budget is of critical importance for a wide variety of reasons. I can talk about the benefits that seniors would be receiving as a direct result of this budget bill, in particular those who are 75 and over, with the significant fulfillment of our campaign promise of a 10% increase to OAS for seniors aged 75 and above, and a one-time payment coming up in the month of August for that group. During the pandemic, we have been there for seniors, in particular those 65 and over, with one-time payments closer to the beginning of the pandemic, and even an extra amount for those who were on the guaranteed income supplement. That is not to mention the many different organizations that the government supported, whether directly or indirectly, to support our seniors, in particular non-profit organizations.

We have done a multitude of things, many of which are very tangible. The Minister of Finance made reference to the extension of some of the programs, for example, which we brought in so we could continue to be there for businesses and real people. This was so important. At the beginning of the process, the Prime Minister made it very clear that this government, the Liberal Party and the Liberal members of the House of Commons were 100% committed to working seven days a week, 24 hours a day to ensure that the interests of Canadians in combatting and fighting the pandemic were going to be priority number one.

As to that priority, we saw the establishment of a large number of new programs that ensured money was being put directly into the pockets of Canadians. One was the CERB, which benefited somewhere around nine million Canadians. Virtually out of nowhere this program came into being, in good part thanks to our civil servants, who have done a tremendous job in putting in place and administering the many different programs.

We have seen programs to support our businesses in particular, whether it is the Canada emergency wage subsidy program, the emergency rent subsidy program, the emergency business account or the regional relief and recovery fund. We recognized what Canada needed. The Government of Canada worked with Canadians and with, in particular, provinces, non-profits, territories, indigenous leaders and many others in order to make sure that Canadians were going to be protected as much as possible. All of this was done with the goal of being able to get us, as a nation, out of the situation we are currently in.

We have put ourselves in a position where Canada will be able to recover, and recover well. It is interesting to hear the Conservative Party asking about the debt. Many of the things I just finished talking about are the reasons why we have the debt. The Conservatives in many ways are saying we should be spending more money, while the Conservative right is saying we have spent too much money or is asking about the debt. Some Conservatives are talking about the creation of jobs. The most recent Conservative commitment was that they would create one million jobs.

Between 2015, when the Liberals were first elected, and the election of 2019, we created over a million jobs. We understand how important jobs are. Jobs are one of the reasons it was important for us to commit to businesses of all sizes, and small businesses in particular, to get through this difficult time. We knew that by saving companies from going bankrupt and by keeping Canadians employed we would be in a much better position once we got ahead of the pandemic.

I am actually quite pleased today. I started off by looking at the national news. A CBC story said that when it comes to first doses Canada is now ahead of Israel, according to a graph that was posted. When we think of populations of a million or more, Canada is doing exceptionally well. We are ahead of all other nations in dealing with the first dose.

I am now qualified to get my second dose. Earlier today I had the opportunity to book an appointment for a second dose on July 7. Canadians are responding so well to the need for vaccination. We understand why it is so important that we all get vaccinated. We need to continue to encourage people to get those shots.

It goes without saying that we need to recognize many very special people who have been there for Canadians. The ones who come to mind immediately are the health care workers here in the province of Manitoba. They are a special group of people that not long ago, in a virtual meeting, the Prime Minister expressed gratitude for in a very strong and significant way.

Our health care workers, whether the nurses, doctors or lab technicians, and people in all areas of health care, including those providing and sanitizing facilities as well as a whole litany of people, have ensured that we have been there from a health perspective.

We can look at workers involved with essential items such as groceries. Whether it was long haul truck drivers, people stacking groceries or collecting money for groceries, or taxi drivers who took people where they needed to go, whether to the hospital or the grocery store, they were there. Public institutions were there. I think of Winnipeg Transit bus drivers who opened their doors not knowing who was walking onto their buses. They were all there.

This legislation we are debating today is a continuation of getting Canada in a better, healthier position to deal with the coronavirus. We needed to bring in time allocation because of the destructive behaviour of the official opposition. We wanted to work and the Conservatives wanted to take time off. There was an excellent indication of that last Thursday, which was the biggest day in terms of debate for government. The Conservatives attempted to end the session only moments after the day got under way. It is not right that the Conservatives are playing games. We need to pass this legislation. I would ask all members to vote for it.

Government PoliciesStatements by Members

June 14th, 2021 / 2 p.m.
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Conservative

David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Madam Speaker, energy security should be a concern for all Canadians. Distribution of Canadian energy through networks of pipelines is paramount to withstand shocks from a wide range of sources, like natural disasters, geopolitical conflicts and other merging threats. Energy distribution like Line 5 potentially being shutting down will initiate shortages, causing astronomical increases in the cost of everything.

The Liberal government's lack of understanding of the importance of ensuring reliable and cost-effective energy has put Canada at a huge disadvantage compared to other nations. As the Liberal government continues to spin the narrative of our economic standing globally, it is only countered with the facts.

Thanks to the pending Bill C-10, the Liberals will be able to shut down what we can hear and see, just like North Korea. Canada was once a nation that embraced freedom of speech, but I guess that will be a footnote in history if not censored by Bill C-10.

Bill C-10Statements by Members

June 14th, 2021 / 2:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Rob Moore Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, the priority for Conservatives is getting Canada’s economy reopened and back on track. The Liberal government’s priority is ramming through Bill C-10, its Internet censorship bill.

I have heard from constituents across my riding who want to see this bill scrapped. New Brunswickers in Liberal-held ridings are frustrated by their MPs' failure to commit to opposing this bill, a bill that fundamentally would alter how the Internet would operate in Canada. Canadians are even more bewildered by how the government is so focused on Bill C-10 rather than pressing issues that impact their health and the economy.

I will not support Bill C-10, a bill that puts freedom of expression in peril. The government should listen to Canadians who are telling it to abandon this poorly thought-out bill that is focused on political power rather than protecting the freedom of speech that Canadians so rightly enjoy.

Admissibility of Amendments in the Fifth Report of the Standing Committee on Canadian HeritagePoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

June 14th, 2021 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order.

The point of order concerns the report that was just tabled: the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage respecting Bill C-10. I would respectfully submit that several of the amendments contained in that fifth report must be struck out because the committee exceeded its authority.

Last Monday, June 7, the House adopted a time allocation motion limiting committee deliberations to only five further hours. The part of the House's order that is relevant to this point of order says, at pages 104.3 and 104.4 of the Journals:

That, at the expiry of the time provided in this order for the committee stage, any proceedings before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on the said bill shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

At the committee's second meeting, on Thursday, June 10, those five hours had expired and the Canadian heritage committee proceeded to the disposal of the committee stage of the bill, in accordance with the House's order.

The chair of the committee, the hon. member for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame, informed the committee that, by the terms of the House's order, the amendments that had been placed on notice could not be moved and therefore could not be voted upon by the committee. The Liberal-Bloc-NDP majority on the committee, however, then overturned the chair's ruling, thereby forcing the committee to consider these amendments without any debate, without any opportunity to question expert witnesses from the department of Canadian Heritage and without any opportunity to hear the wording of the amendment read aloud.

Those events are recorded in the relevant minutes of proceedings for the committee's second meeting on June 10. The amendments subsequently considered by the committee are recorded in those minutes of proceedings, as well, for the committee's meeting on Friday, June 11. Both sets of minutes, as noted in the comment in the fifth report immediately preceding the chair's signature, have been laid upon the table, among others.

House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Third Edition says, at page 779:

Since a committee may appeal the decision of its Chair and reverse that decision, it may happen that a committee will report a bill with amendments that were initially ruled out of order by the Chair. The admissibility of those amendments, and of any other amendments made by a committee, may therefore be challenged on procedural grounds when the House resumes its consideration of the bill at report stage. The admissibility of the amendments is then determined by the Speaker of the House, whether in response to a point of order or on his or her own initiative.

That is why I am rising today on this point of order. In overturning the committee chair's ruling and forcing amendments that had not been properly moved to be voted upon, I respectfully submit that the committee exceeded its authority by contradicting the House's order, which required that “every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.”

To be clear, the questions necessary to dispose of the clause by clause consideration of the bill are questions on the clauses themselves, not amendments that have simply been placed on notice.

The Chair has previously considered a similar case, from which I believe in the current circumstances a distinction may be drawn.

On November 29, 2012, Mr. Speaker, one of your predecessors, the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, made a ruling at page 12,609 of the Debates, concerning the proceedings of the Standing Committee on Finance respecting Bill C-45, the Jobs and Growth Act, 2012. In that case, the committee had adopted a time-tabling motion concerning its study of the bil. It contained language that was similar to that which the House adopted last week in its time allocation motion concerning Bill C-10.

In the case of the finance committee, the chair made a similar ruling to the one made by the hon. member for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame and, again, the committee had overturned that ruling.

Following a point of order in the House concerning the finance committee's report on the former Bill C-45, the former Speaker did not set aside the committee's report on the bill. The distinction between these two cases, I would argue, is that the finance committee was interpreting a motion that the committee itself had adopted. In the current case, seven members of the Canadian heritage committee substituted their own judgment for how an order of this House, voted upon by the entire House, should be interpreted.

We often refer to committees as masters of their own proceedings, but Bosc and Gagnon put that in a very important context at pages 1057 and 1058, which state:

The concept refers to the freedom committees normally have to organize their work as they see fit and the option they have of defining, on their own, certain rules of procedure that facilitate their proceedings.

These freedoms are not, however, total or absolute. First, it is useful to bear in mind that committees are creatures of the House. This means that they have no independent existence and are not permitted to take action unless they have been authorized or empowered to do so by the House.

While the case of former Bill C-45 was of a committee majority preferring its own interpretation of a committee motion, the current case of Bill C-10 is of a committee majority seeking to override the House's instruction. It was, to borrow the words of Bosc and Gagnon, taking an action that it was authorized or empowered by the House to do. Therefore, I would respectfully submit that the amendments made to clauses 8 through 47 of Bill C-10 must be ruled out of order and therefore struck from the fifth report.

I would further ask that the committee's consideration of amendments after the proceedings had been interrupted under the provisions of the time allocation order be disregarded by the Chair for the purposes of applying the note attached to Standing Order 76(1)(5) respecting the criteria considered by the Chair in the selection of motions at the report stage.

I do not make this point of order lightly. In fact, one of those amendments that I refer to was sponsored by my own party and several others were voted for by my colleagues, but that is beside the point. Our rules must be followed. Parliamentary procedure is not a body of play pretend rules that can just be set aside at the first moment of inconvenience. It does not matter whether these flawed decisions were taken by majority vote or even with unanimity because the rules of the House must be followed.

The hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, in a different ruling on May 1, 2014, at page 4787 of the Debates, concerning Bill C-30, the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act, found that amendments that were adopted by the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, without procedural objection and without dissent, had to be struck from the bill because the committee had acted outside of its authority in adopting them, commenting:

The Chair has no difficulty agreeing with the parliamentary secretary that the amendment is relevant to the subject matter of the bill. Indeed, as a fellow Saskatchewan MP who represents a large number of grain producers, I can certainly agree on the importance of this issue. As Speaker, however, not only can I not simply act according to my personal beliefs, I must respect House of Commons precedents which, in the case before us, are only too clear.

The correct place to put forward the amendments to clauses 8 through 47 of Bill C-10, in light of the proper application of a time allocation order, is at the report stage here on the floor of the House.

Additionally, and in the alternative to the matter I have already raised, I would also draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the amendment known as amendment LIB-9.1 that was made by the Canadian heritage committee to clause 23. The Chair ruled the particular amendment out of order for exceeding the scope of the bill and that it breached the so-called “parent act” rule, which is explained by Bosc and Gagnon at page 771, by proposing to amend a section of the Broadcasting Act which was not touched by the provisions of Bill C-10. The committee, however, voted to overturn the Chair's ruling in that regard as well.

In that particular case, the Chair may simply have to regard the fifth report and note that the amendment on its face does something which the committee was not permitted to do and therefore should be ruled out of order and struck from the fifth report.

The solution for the government here is, like the case of the former Bill C-30, to propose an amendment at third reading to recommit Bill C-10 to the Canadian heritage committee so it may, once properly instructed and empowered, make Liberal-9.1 amendment in the proper manner.

Freedom of SpeechPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 14th, 2021 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, the eighth petition is about Bill C-10. It notes that the CRTC already has sweeping regulatory powers over traditional forms of media. The original mandate of Bill C-10 was to expand those regulatory powers to include online platforms, but Liberal members have since used their position on the heritage committee to amend Bill C-10 to include social media platforms and other Internet platforms. This would amount to a significant attack on freedom of speech.

The petitioners want to see the government reverse its position on this and defend the freedom of speech of all Canadians. This petition calls on the government to respect Canadians' fundamental right to freedom of expression and to prevent Internet censorship.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 4:35 p.m.
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Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Liberal

Steven Guilbeault LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, if we really want to understand where we are, we have to look at where we started.

Bill C‑10 came out of the work of the Yale commission, which worked on this for nearly a year and a half. The commission was created by my predecessors. It travelled across the country gathering input from experts and stakeholders, including groups representing people in music, visual arts, television and film.

The Yale commission received close to 2,000 briefs and submitted its report in early 2020. We took that input from the consultations and feedback from a group of leading Canadian experts, including the former director general of the CRTC, Ms. Yale, and started working on Bill C‑10. We worked hard to do what the previous overhaul of the Broadcasting Act in the early 1990s did when the Conservatives modernized it. The act was created to protect Canadian artists, organizations and businesses from the American cultural invasion.

We all know that the American cultural invasion is powerful and that it can steamroll any culture on the planet. I have discussed these issues with ministers in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Many countries worldwide are currently dealing with the issue of cultural sovereignty.

This is the spirit in which we tabled Bill C‑10. At the time, I was the first one to say that the bill could be enhanced, improved and amended. I would remind members that the last time the Broadcasting Act was amended, the government of the day overlooked one very important issue: the ownership of Canadian broadcasting companies. The act was amended in the early 1990s, and the Governor in Council issued an order in council a few years later, in 1997, to protect the ownership of Canadian broadcasting companies, because this had been overlooked.

All of this is to say that, when we propose a bill, we do our best to make sure that it represents the best of our intentions. I would like to remind all of the members in the House that Bill C‑10 was praised by cultural organizations across the country. According to many, its passage was a historic event.

Not only was the tabling of the bill saluted from coast to coast to coast, but the National Assembly of Quebec voted unanimously in favour of Bill C-10. It said that we need Bill C-10 and that it is a good piece of legislation. Among other things, it would help the French language, French producers, French artists and French composers to better perform in this environment. Another feature of Bill C-10 is that it would also further help and support indigenous creators, indigenous artists and indigenous producers in ways the previous incarnation of the bill unfortunately did not do.

This bill is not about content moderation. The CRTC, in its decades of existence, has never said to Shaw, CBC or TVA that they can do one program but cannot do another program. The CRTC has never had that power.

I heard one member talking about the sweeping powers of the CRTC. The CRTC is not above Canadian laws. It must comply with our bodies of laws and regulations, and it is a regulator. We have many regulators in different sectors, and the CRTC, from that point of view, is no different than existing regulators. What Bill C-10 wants to do is to ensure web giants pay their fair share.

As I have said many times in this House, as well as at the heritage committee, the independent, professional civil servants at Canadian Heritage estimate that, by asking web giants to pay their fair share, we would be adding revenues in excess of $800 million a year for our creators, artists, independent producers and musicians. That figure is an estimate, not an exact figure, as we would have to adopt the bill and implement the regulations to know exactly how much it would be.

I want to point out that, initially, when the heritage committee started working on the bill, things were going really well. The committee was able to go through roughly 20 amendments at every committee meeting. What has been really challenging to understand is the Conservative Party.

By and large, we have four parties in this House that recognize the need to modernize the Broadcasting Act and agree on the goals. We do not agree on everything, but between the Greens, the NDP, the Bloc and us Liberals, I think there is vast agreement on what needs to be done.

Frankly, I am trying to understand the position of the Conservative Party on this, as it has been a moving target. Initially, the Conservatives criticized the bill for not going far enough because we were not going after YouTube or integrating these really important companies in the bill, so we changed it. Then, all of a sudden, they changed their minds. It was not good enough. Not only was it not good enough, but they disagreed with their initial position.

Then they started talking about this idea that somehow the bill would lead to censorship, which was proven wrong by the independent professional civil service of the justice ministry. The deputy minister came to testify at the heritage committee to that effect and produced analyses that showed Bill C-10 did not go against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In fact, there are elements within Bill C-10 and the CRTC's own laws that state that the CRTC has to abide by the Charter of Rights.

Because of that, the Conservatives claimed that it was an infringement on net neutrality. We tried to explain what net neutrality is and what it is not. Basically, net neutrality is about telecommunications. It is about the hardware and the ability of people to have access to networks. Bill C-10 does not do that. It is not about telecommunications at all.

I think we are now faced with the fact that, because of the Conservative Party, we have lost months of work on Bill C-10. For every month that passes, artists, creators, musicians and technicians in this country lose roughly $70 million per month, so we must proceed with the adoption of Bill C-10. Artists, musicians and organizations across the country are asking us to do so.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 4:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, the member for Kingston and the Islands is absolutely right. That is exactly what Bill C-10 is about and exactly what it aims to do.

As we know, web giants are taking more and more of the share of how we listen to music, watch TV and watch movies. Unless they are brought into the Canadian regulatory framework, then the very reason why we created those modifications in the early nineties will disappear, and we will lose our cultural sovereignty. That is precisely why Bill C-10 was brought forward and why we want it to be adopted as quickly as possible.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 4:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Mario Simard Bloc Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, earlier the minister used a generic statement when he said that if we really want to understand where we are, we have to look at where we started.

I like this kind of statement. It reminds me that it took six years for us to even get Bill C‑10. It also took 120 amendments. My Conservative colleague alluded to this, but it seems as though we have the Bloc Québécois to thank for this. The Liberals did not seem very enthusiastic about working on Bill C‑10 until we intervened.

My question for the minister is the following: What inspired the Liberals' enthusiasm for working on Bill C‑10?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Warren Steinley Conservative Regina—Lewvan, SK

Madam Speaker, I find it funny for the minister to be asking what happened to the Conservatives. We always have stood up and always will stand up for free speech. We believe that citizens across the country should not be censored on what they put on social media, like Facebook and YouTube. We believe people have a right to their own personal thoughts and opinions, unlike three-quarters of the front benches of the Liberal Party who want a basic dictatorship. Conservatives will always stand up for free speech and Bill C-10 curtails that. We will stand with all Canadians and their right to have their own opinions and own independent thought process.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 4:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to be speaking today. Earlier, I listened to the Minister of Heritage talk about Bill C‑10, which he tabled, and I almost choked several times.

He began by pointing out that it was important to look back at the past to understand where we are now. I will give another version of the facts for everyone out there watching, and I would invite everyone to fact-check me by consulting the unedited transcriptions, the “blues”, of the various discussions at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. People will be able to check if what I am saying is accurate and well informed and if it reflects everything we have gone through during the saga of Bill C‑10 leading up to the present day.

The minister was right to say that he had all the resources he needed to table Bill C‑10 for more than a year and a half and garner a unanimous response from the outset. The minister is confusing things, talking about web giants and insinuating how he will handle them and make them pay their fair share. The ultimate goal was to produce an act that ensures a level playing field between digital broadcasters such as Disney Plus, Spotify and Netflix, and conventional broadcasters such as TVA, CBC/Radio-Canada, Global and CTV.

The minister even chose to ignore the important elements that everyone wanted to see, including copyright issues and CBC/Radio-Canada's mandate, explaining that he divided these challenges into three parts and was only introducing one in the House of Commons so that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage could work on it.

When he introduced the bill, the committee worked diligently and co-operatively to improve it. This bill was clearly imperfect even though the minister had had a lot of time to draft it with his experts. More than 120 amendments were proposed by all parties. Surprisingly, these amendments were moved not just by the Conservative Party, but also by the Green Party, which had been given authorization to move them, the Bloc Québécois, the NDP, Liberal members of the committee and even the government. In fact, the government and the Liberal Party moved almost 30 amendments, not to mention all the amendments to the amendments along the way, to try to address all the shortcomings of this bill.

As the minister pointed out, the committe's study of the bill was moving along relatively well, which I can vigorously and honestly confirm. We even worked with the minister and his staff, who were telling anyone who would listen that the Conservatives were slowing down the process. That was completely false. All the committee members even agreed to do a preliminary study and use that evidence in the committee's official study, to avoid holding up the work.

At no point in the legislative process was the bill delayed, despite what the minister and his aides implied. I am saying so in all honesty, and I challenge everyone to take the time to read all the speeches and everything leading up to that infamous Friday when the minister, surreptitiously and without warning, withdrew clause 4.1 that he was proposing to add to the Broadcasting Act. This made the bill altogether different by including social networks, which had originally been excluded.

Why do I say that? It is because, when we did our job in good faith as Parliamentarians, each party had the opportunity to call witnesses to testify about various aspects of Bill C‑10. That gave us the opportunity to obtain as much information as possible to do the best we could, based on the knowledge of every member and staffer, to formulate proper opinions during our study of the bill in order to improve it. That is our job as legislators, of which I am extremely proud.

The problem is that the Minister of Canadian Heritage left social media out of the original version of Bill C‑10. Furthermore, despite the minister's assertion from the get-go that it is a historic bill, to my knowledge, only one organization has said that. The other organizations highlighted the bill's good parts and said that it was indeed time to modernize the act and to align the way we deal with digital with the way we deal with what we call conventional broadcasters. However, I met with all the organizations the minister mentioned, and every one of them pointed out several frightening provisions in Bill C‑10.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage said that the Conservatives delayed and filibustered. I am sorry, but it was not the Conservatives who did that. The Conservatives have merely given a voice to a number of organizations, individuals and experts who wanted to point out the flaws in Bill C-10. The minister can go ahead and play his partisan games in the run-up to an election to try to scare everyone into believing that the Conservatives do not support the cultural community. However, it is all complete and utter nonsense, pure theatrics, a show worthy of our Prime Minister, who is a great stage actor.

The heritage minister should stop with the games, because nobody is against culture. On the contrary, we are against censorship, against this attack and the way the minister undermined freedom of expression one Friday by removing section 4.1, which was supposed to be added to the Broadcasting Act.

That is when we began what could indeed be described as filibustering or slowing down the committee's work. We are talking about a maximum of three weeks during the six-plus years the Liberal government has been in power. Those three weeks have allegedly been catastrophic, but the Liberals are filibustering in many other committees with regard to the corruption scandals they were involved in, whether we are talking about the former justice minister, SNC-Lavalin, the WE Charity or the Standing Committee on Health, where we have been requesting access to the vaccine procurement reports. The Liberals have definitely done their share of filibustering.

Why have we been filibustering for approximately three weeks? The heritage minister was right. Let us give some background on all of this. It is important to understand it, so that people know how we got to where we are today, muzzled by the Liberals with the support of the Bloc Québécois.

By amending the bill one Friday afternoon, the heritage minister set off alarm bells all over the place. During the weekend, law experts and university professors sounded the alarm, telling us to look out because the government was doing something that would undermine freedom of expression.

What did the Conservatives do? We just asked to hear from the heritage minister again and get a legal opinion from the Minister of Justice stating that the rights guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms were not violated by the removal of clause 4.1.

In response, the Liberals objected incessantly for more than two weeks until the member for Mount Royal moved a new version of the motion asking for exactly the same thing we had proposed, which was to have the justice and heritage ministers come explain the situation and answer our questions, as well as an opportunity to hear the other side of the story from experts who had concerns about Bill C‑10.

They ended up appearing, and we were finally able to put an end to the committee's three-week-long standstill. That is the truth about the delay that has the minister up in arms.

I have to wonder whether the minister really wants to pass Bill C-10, because the reality is that the work of the House will be over in just 10 days' time. When the bill is passed by the House at third reading, it will have to go to the Senate. The Senate will have to examine the bill, although 40% of the amendments will not even have been discussed by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. It is pretty preposterous to hear the minister lecturing us, given his behaviour.

Earlier, the minister said that some 30-odd organizations from across the country had highlighted the importance of the bill for the cultural community. They are right, it is an important bill for the cultural community, but that does not release us from the obligation to make sure we protect freedom of expression. I can already picture the minister pointing out that the Minister of Justice tabled his report with his experts. I am sorry, but what he tabled was an explanatory document, which was not in the motion we had presented.

We did not get any answers to our questions, and people started to wake up. The committee heard from former CRTC officials including Timothy Denton, CRTC commissioner from 2009 to 2013, Konrad von Finckenstein, CRTC president from 2007 to 2012, Peter Menzies, the CRTC's vice-president of telecommunications from 2013 to 2018, Michel Morin, the CRTC's national commissioner from 2008 to 2012, and Philip Palmer, legal counsel at the Department of Justice and senior counsel at the Department of Communications from 1987 to 1994. The heritage minister never names them, but all those individuals said that what the minister was doing made no sense.

Peter Menzies went as far as to say that this was a full-blown assault on freedom of expression and the foundations of democracy. He said it is difficult to understand the level of hubris or incompetence, or both, that would lead someone to believe that such an encroachment on rights can be justified.

When the minister attacks the Conservatives, he is also attacking all those individuals, not to mention the thousands of Canadians who support us and have said they want us to keep up the pressure on the minister about his bill and his encroachment on their rights.

These are facts, and I have not even mentioned Michael Geist, who is very often referred to as a professor emeritus of law at the University of Ottawa. His expertise is so sought after that even the Liberal government supports his research in this field. He was one of the strongest critics of the Liberal government's attitude, and the Bloc Québécois's as well since it supported the Liberals' gag order. Imagine: a gag order that has not been used in 20 years, that the Conservative Party never used during its 10 years in power, a House of Commons gag order that the government imposed on a committee when the House leaders keep telling us that committees are independent every time we question them.

Given what the Liberals just did to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, they can never again say that a committee is independent. This is something unique. Even when people used this measure in the past, they granted a minimum of 10 hours to work on the document in question. All we were given was five hours.

This law professor, Michael Geist, is not alone. There are others from other universities. I do not have the documents with me, but I have quoted them several times. People can go and check.

I therefore want to reiterate that, when the minister attacks the Conservatives, he is attacking all those who spoke out via social media, press releases, written correspondence, speeches and interviews with the media and who said that what the minister was doing did not make sense.

Does this mean we are against culture? No, absolutely not.

Does it mean that the minister made a mistake with his bill? The answer is yes.

If the work had been done properly to begin with, we would not be where we are today. It is because of all the delays that we are dealing with this mess, which will certainly not ensure a level playing field between digital broadcasters and conventional broadcasters.

My NDP colleague's question to the minister was entirely justified. That is what happened. Those are the facts.

Back when we started studying this bill, the government made a big show of saying that this was to be a partnership, so it is pretty funny that the opposition parties did not get so much as a phone call to let them know that clause 4.1 was being removed from the bill. That was the event that triggered this crisis.

No other conversations about collaboration raised problems when they were in the Liberal government's interest. I cannot talk about them because they happened in private, but I was involved in those conversations several times.

It is sad that things have come to this. It is sad that the minister is now stooping to partisan behaviour and attacking Conservatives over this file. As I said, we are just speaking on behalf of all these industry stakeholders, the ones who wanted to protect net neutrality and freedom of expression and avoid these flaws that will almost certainly be challenged in court.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission now has more powers, even though former CRTC commissioners and chairs say that giving the CRTC that kind of power is not a good idea. I am not kidding.

At the beginning of his speech the minister talked about $70 million a month, which was an approximate amount, with the calculations planned for later. People deserve to be told the truth. The CRTC now has nine months to tell us on what percentage it will base the calculations, because no one knows. The only response from the minister is that if the CRTC uses the same calculations as conventional broadcasters, the amounts will be somewhere between $800 million and $1.1 billion, which leaves a margin of $300 million. We do not know anything about it, however, and neither do we know whether the CRTC is going to use the same rules. Once the bill passes we will no longer have any control over this.

That is the current reality of this bill. Time allocation was imposed, and over the past week we have been forced to hold many votes on amendments without those watching us having access to the text of nearly 40% of them. Imagine that scenario, where the only thing the audience heard was the number of the amendment, preceded by the abbreviation of the party proposing it and followed by the question on whether members of the committee were for or against it. What transparency. The Liberals said that the people would have access to the text at the end, when it was all over. It will be too late by then and we will not be able to move forward.

The minister says that we delayed the process, but I would have him know that the committee agreed to hold as many meetings as the chair wanted. We even held meetings every day of the break week, when we were meant to be working in our ridings. Some meetings were extended to four or five hours, on barely an hour's notice. That is the truth, but the minister never mentions that when he talks about his bill.

That really stings, because these kinds of politics hurt us all. The session is ending in a few days. We know full well that the Liberals will call an election before the House comes back. All the minister is trying to do here is play politics. He wants his bill to make it into the election platform, since he knows perfectly well that he will not get it passed in time.

The Bloc Québécois helped the Liberals out of some hot water. I do not recall ever seeing an opposition party support a government gag order. The Bloc members are proud of it. They are boasting about supporting a gag order. It is crazy to think about it.

At times, I found myself wondering what was going on. The minister was weaving a story that did not make sense and that was looking like a horror story for a while there. We have tried our best to do our jobs as legislators, but it has unfortunately been extremely difficult.

The minister, through his work, has attacked net neutrality. He has created a breach. It may not be a big breach, but it is a breach nonetheless. It will be challenged, that much is clear. On top of that, the CRTC is also being given increased powers. That is the reality.

If people listening right now think that my story is not true and that I lied, if they think, as the Prime Minister has implied in the House, that I misled people, I invite them to go back and look at the record, because it is all there.

People know that that is how it happened. They know that everyone started out in good faith, until that Friday when the Minister of Canadian Heritage removed clause 4.1 without any warning. Everyone knows what happens when something is done on a Friday. It means they want to slip it through quietly. After all the theatrics to try to make people believe we do not support the arts community, which is not the case, because it is censorship that we oppose, here is what the Liberal government did instead: It censored us by imposing time allocation.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 5:15 p.m.
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Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Liberal

Steven Guilbeault LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, let us start at the beginning. On November 18, 2020, Bill C-10 had just been introduced when the member for Richmond—Arthabaska said this during oral question period: “There is nothing in it that would regulate social media or platforms like YouTube.” That seems pretty clear to me. The member himself was criticizing the government, saying that Bill C‑10 did not go far enough.

I am somewhat surprised, not to mention amazed, to hear an experienced parliamentarian like the member opposite say that the minister did such and such a thing in committee. I would remind my colleague that the Minister of Canadian Heritage does not sit on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. I was invited to testify on several occasions, and I went every time.

The member says that there were 120 amendments and that that means the bill is a mess. That is a great way to try to mislead people, because it is perfectly normal to have many amendments. I could cite Bill C-69, another bill the Conservative Party opposed.

Finally, the member says that he is speaking on behalf of many people. I would like him to say on whose behalf the Conservative Party was speaking when the member for Lethbridge said that artists were a bunch of outdated people living off government handouts. Her comments were widely panned. On whose behalf—

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 5:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska. I know that he has been very emotionally involved in the issue of freedom of expression on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in recent weeks.

After clause 4.1 was removed on that fateful Friday in late April, we were interrupted by the Conservatives, who saw a potential violation of freedom of expression, the important principle that all of us here respect and cherish. At the request of my Conservative colleagues, we invited experts to speak. The Conservatives called their own experts, and we heard from attorneys. The other parties called other experts with a completely different opinion. Some credible voices said that Bill C‑10 did not infringe on freedom of expression and that it contained provisions protecting it.

My question to the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska is this: If this is not an ideological matter, what would the experts have had to say to finally convince the Conservatives that Bill C‑10 does not infringe on the freedom of expression of Quebeckers and Canadians?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 5:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I will now get back to the premise of my speech, the 2019 campaign in which every Bloc Québécois candidate made a serious promise to voters, a commitment made solemnly and with conviction: Whenever we are in the House, we will make decisions, take a position and support bills and motions that defend Quebeckers’ interests and values.

Even today, it is still the question we ask ourselves when it comes time to choose which direction to take, either here or in committee. A time allocation motion, closure, a gag order, whatever we may call it, there really is no good word for it and we find it chilling, because freedom of speech, parliamentary privilege, is fundamental. It is something we deeply respect and will defend at all costs, like we did with this morning's motion, which just squeaked by.

The Bloc Québécois has fervently defended this idea since its inception, 30 years ago tomorrow. I think that we supported a time allocation motion more often in the past two weeks than in all the 30 years of my party’s existence.

Sometimes, situations force us to step on people’s toes to defend our values, and sometimes that is justifiable.

The parliamentary toolkit contains another tool that is just as questionable, in my opinion, and many of my colleagues probably agree with me. It is the filibustering of debates, either here in the House or in committee. The filibuster consists in droning on endlessly, taking up debate time to prevent a vote or to prevent something that is against our convictions from happening. At that point, the other move that is just as questionable, time allocation, becomes equally justifiable.

In recent months, we have supported time allocation for Bill C‑6 and for medical assistance in dying, an extremely sensitive issue on which Quebec has reached a consensus. People were waiting for the bill. They were waiting for a decision from the House of Commons. They were enduring unbearable suffering and they wanted the freedom to decide when they could end it.

At that point, we asked ourselves the same question. We asked ourselves whether we were going to accept closure if it reflected the will, the values and the interests of Quebeckers. Since it was a simple question, and the answer was yes, we believed we were duty bound to do whatever was necessary to have these bills and motions adopted.

Bill C‑30 is also important for businesses. It is important for the economic recovery, since it will allow entrepreneurs in our regions to get back on their feet after the pandemic. Obviously, we would have preferred that the democratic process take its normal course but, when it is clear that someone is trying to delay the process by every means possible for reasons that are often purely ideological, in order to please their base or collect funds by plucking at the heartstrings of certain groups of Canadians, we believe that it is our duty to counter these manoeuvres using another parliamentary tool. We believe that, in those circumstances, it is reasonable.

That was the case with Bill C‑10. How did we get here? My colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska talked about that earlier. It is true that, at first, when the bill was tabled, we found a lot of holes in it. There were more holes in it than there are in Swiss cheese, like in a brand new paint by numbers. It took six years' preparation to come up with a bill and there was still an enormous amount of work to do.

I do not want to lay blame on anyone, but I think that, from the moment the bill was introduces, the opposition parties were unanimous in thinking that there were too many things missing for it to be acceptable. The industry was happy because a bill was finally being introduced to amend the Broadcasting Act, which had already been obsolete for several years and which was enacted in 1991, at a time when we were recording songs broadcast over the radio on four-track cassettes.

Since we were considerably behind, it was not surprising that the industry applauded the tabling of a bill to review the Broadcasting Act. It should have been reviewed 20 years ago, it should have been reviewed 10 years ago; it should be reviewed on a regular basis.

We soon realized how much work there was to be done. In a way, when a member of the House decides to vote in favour of a bill so that it can be studied in committee, that member is making a commitment to say that certain elements of the bill are not very good and need to be worked on. That work falls to us. It is unfortunate, but we have to do it. We have to improve Bill C‑10 because the cultural industry, our media and the field of broadcasting in Canada have drastically changed. Today's broadcasting industry is nothing like what it was in 1991, when the last version of the Broadcasting Act was passed. I was working in radio at the time. When I walk into a radio studio these days, in 2021, I am completely lost and I have to be shown around because I do not know what anything is. Everything is different today, except for the mike, which has not changed much.

When we agree to work on a bill in committee, we are committing to making improvements. That is how we ended up with more than 100 amendments. At first, there were about 120 amendments proposed by the NDP, the Green Party, the Conservatives, the Liberals and the Bloc Québécois.

Before proposing these amendments, we consulted people. We heard from people who were interested in sharing their concerns with us. A lot of people wanted to talk about the Broadcasting Act, because it affected a huge number of stakeholders, including community radio and television stations, broadcasters, cable companies, artists and online companies. A lot of people wanted to share their concerns and remind us to include certain things in the bill.

Independent broadcasters also depend on online companies, as well as conventional broadcasters, such as the traditional cable companies, to broadcast their content. In short, there were a lot of witnesses to listen to. We came to realize that this would be a monumental task. There is a reason there were 120 amendments: because there was a lot of work to do. We did it.

I met with representatives of the cultural industry. We exchanged many messages, emails and calls and held many meetings. These people represent more than 200,000 artists, creators, artisans, authors and other people who earn a living from the cultural industry, which has significant spinoffs. Canada's cultural industry generates billions of dollars in economic spinoffs. That is no trivial matter, and we cannot let an industry like that down. We love culture, the arts, our artists and our distinct culture, but we also like money. This is a profitable industry that does not cost us a fortune. Far from being a millstone dragging us down, we benefit from it. It sets us apart and identifies us. There were 120 amendments, but they were serious amendments. They were important. We worked hard, but then came the events of late April.

Did we do things the best way possible? In hindsight, that is a reasonable question. Was it right to eliminate clause 4.1? Maybe not. Is the result what the Conservatives say it is? It is not.

Bill C‑10 contains provisions that clearly protect social media users. As important as it was to protect social media users, it was also important to regulate social media platforms, which play a role in broadcasting and are involved in broadcasting. Social media has an impact on the broadcasting system. YouTube is the largest online music broadcaster in Canada.

We would have had to tell Apple Music that it was going to be regulated, but that YouTube was not because it also has a social media service. That makes no sense. Apple Music would have been right to tell us off, saying that we had done a horrible job and that we needed to go back to the drawing board.

We had to be able to regulate social media for their broadcasting activities, while protecting their users. That is what is clearly stated in the bill, and that is what will come out of the revised Broadcasting Act in the end.

There was never any question of limiting Quebeckers' and Canadians' freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is a value that Canadians of all stripes hold dear. Let us not compete to see who loves freedom of speech the most. It is fundamental for us, for Quebeckers and for Canadians. Of that there is no doubt.

What party in the House would have blindly voted for a bill that would actually limit freedom of expression? It does not make sense. It is merely a question of ideology. It is merely an attempt to fan the flames, to offend sensibilities. Perhaps it will pay off, I do not know.

When the problem arose in committee and the question was raised, the Conservatives said that we absolutely had to hear from the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Justice. These ministers had to issue a charter statement. They had to see what was going on. We needed a guarantee from the minister that the bill complied with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and if we were going to do that, we should hear from experts. The Conservatives wanted to invite experts back.

We were wasting time on a bill when we already did not have much time to spare. We wondered what we should with that. Having reflected on it, I am convinced that what is in the bill will protect freedom of expression and social media users, in other words individuals, people. We decided that if there was any uncertainty, we needed to get to the bottom of it, and we had a duty to do so. It was early May, and we were running out of time, but no matter, we had to get it done, and that is what we did. We heard from the experts that the Conservatives wanted us to invite. We heard from law professors and people who believe that this bill goes against this provision of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and who claim it jeopardizes freedom of expression. I want to listen to all sides before I form an opinion.

However, we also heard from experts such as Pierre Trudel, a professor of law who is renowned across the country. He, too, is a leading authority, and he had a completely different opinion. We heard from Ms. Yale, the chair of the major study that resulted in the Yale report almost a year and a half ago. She also testified and shared her views. Ms. Yale also did not think there was a threat.

There is nothing wrong with expressing doubts and saying that some experts have a certain view. However, at some point, we must respect the democratic process. We listened to everyone and showed good will and good faith. Other experts expressed different views before the committee. Through a vote, the committee decided that we would finally move forward and that there was no threat. The democratic process can come down on either side and we must respect it. Our Conservative colleagues decided to continue filibustering the committee by giving interminable speeches, and we saw things get out of hand.

I was really disappointed by the comments made by the member for Lethbridge in the Lethbridge Herald. She described Quebec artists as being a niche group who are stuck in the 1990s and unable to adapt, so they have to make a living off government grants. I spent 30 years working in the media, in radio and in television, surrounded by artists, being part of their community. If I had had more hair to begin with, I think whatever is left would have fallen out. That took my breath away. I cannot believe that we did not hear a heartfelt apology in the House, either from the leader of the official opposition or from the member herself. I found her comments, which have been denounced by arts organizations, beyond sad and terribly unfortunate.

When we started studying Bill C‑10, I decided that I would do exactly what the Bloc Québécois had promised to do during the 2019 election campaign in Quebec. My colleague from Jonquière once told me that if I really wanted to connect with and be attuned to my constituents' realities, I should lace up my shoes, hit the streets and listen to what my constituents want me to support. That is exactly what I did.

I have been in contact with the cultural sector from the beginning, especially in Quebec, but also, by extension, Canada, since the associations that represent the artists and the industry in Quebec also represent the industry across Canada.

We also listened to francophone communities outside Quebec, which were also needing the protections offered by this bill. We listened to them, we moved forward and we proposed amendments to protect francophone and Quebec culture, and most of these amendments were accepted.

We worked hard to improve this bill. As we were approaching the end of the road, or in this case, the end of the session, and we had made some major gains for the cultural sector, we knew that it was not the time to give up and call it a day because there would not be enough time.

This industry suffered during the pandemic. It has been waiting for a bill, a review of the Broadcasting Act, for far too long. Remember what things were like in 1991. We did not have high-speed Internet. We could not always connect. We had to listen to a sound like a fax machine for about seven minutes. When we managed to connect, we could not just download a photo. If we wanted to do that, we had to start the download the night before in order to see the photo in the morning. We were far from streaming music, downloading videos and watching shows online like we do today. The Broadcasting Act has been completely out of touch with reality for a long time.

As I was saying, we do not have much time left to finish working on this bill, which is so important for the cultural industry, the cultural community, broadcasters, independent broadcasters and creators, as well as for the unique identity that we have here with our culture. Whether we are talking about Quebec or English Canada, we are not the same as the United States and there are marked differences between our culture and American culture.

What should we do? Are we going to allow the web giants to rake in billions of dollars when we are not asking them for much? Are we going to say that it does not matter if they do not produce our shows, that it is a free market and that we should let them set up shop here with their billions of dollars and their means of production and let them do what they want? Come on. That is completely ludicrous.

The Yale report mentioned this last year, and it is just as relevant today: We must act quickly. When action is urgently needed, we must do what it takes to get results and achieve our goal.

The Bloc Québécois made an unusual but necessary decision in supporting time allocation for Bill C‑10 in committee. It is a rare measure and I hope we will not have to take it again, but it was necessary. We made a commitment to work for Quebec, the cultural community and our media. We are also committed to keeping our culture alive. In Quebec, we have been in the habit of fighting for our culture for quite some time. That is perhaps the difference: We have been rolling up our sleeves for a longer time now. We will not give up the fight.

Contrary to what our Conservative colleagues think, this bill is essential and it is urgent. We owe it to our cultural community, as well as to Quebec and Canadian media.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 5:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I disagree with the member on some aspects of Bill C-10, but what I really want to ask him about is democratic norms and democratic process.

It is fair to take the position that the member does on a bill, and we can have debate about the bill, but what ended up happening, as a result of decisions made by the government as well as by the Bloc, is that we had amendments that were put forward and not read at committee, no opportunity for subamendments, and then a vote on amendments that had not been read. There was no opportunity for further discussion or consultation on the particular implications of individual amendments.

Of course, it takes time at committee, but when we are talking about over a hundred amendments, each of those amendments matters. It matters for artists, it matters for freedoms and it matters for Canadian society as a whole. As someone who works in international human rights and foreign affairs, I just think it sends a terrible message to other countries, to developing democracies, about what democratic decision-making is supposed to look like.

Could the member share his reflections on whether he thinks this is an appropriate way to proceed? It is fine to agree or disagree with the bill, but is this an appropriate way to proceed in a democratic legislature? What message does this send to the rest of the world?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

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

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite‑Patrie for his question.

I want to remain focused on Bill C‑10 and I would say that things could have been done far more effectively a long time ago.

If you ask me, there was a bit of foot dragging at several stages in the process. In terms of time allocation, my leader made a proposition on the May 16 edition of Tout le monde en parle, which nearly everyone in Quebec saw. The government has been slow to act. If it had accepted the Bloc Québécois's olive branch on May 16, or the day after the Bloc Québécois made its unusual proposal, we might have avoided several of these delays. There may be a domino effect here.

Indeed, Bill C-10 could have benefited from a little more of the government's attention from the beginning.

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.
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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.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 8 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

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.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 8:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague from Kingston and the Islands' opinion. I am on page 16 of Bill C‑10, specifically subclause 8(10), lines 7 to 14 of the English version, which states the following:

(4) Regulations made under this section, other than regulations made under paragraph (1)(i) or (j), do not apply with respect to programs that are uploaded to an online undertaking that provides a social media service by a user of the service — if that user is not the provider of the service or the provider’s affiliate, or the agent or mandatary of either of them — for transmission over the Internet and reception by other users of the service.

My interpretation of that provision is that, if Videotron uploads content to YouTube, the company is subject to CRTC rules, but ordinary users who do likewise are not. I see no attack on freedom of expression there. Does my colleague interpret that provision the same way?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 8:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

What could be more fitting for a bill that could limit the free speech of Canadians across the country and what they can see online, than a government trying to use tactics to limit debate in Parliament? I have heard, loud and clear, from my constituents in Kelowna—Lake Country, and we have heard, loud and clear, from experts from coast to coast to coast how poor Bill C-10 is.

Canadians do not want this deeply flawed, speech-limiting, online-viewing-limiting legislation. It is truly shocking that the government would attempt on more than one occasion to limit debate on a bill that has been so divisive. The government keeps raising the bar on what divides us. If the Liberals cannot even tolerate dissenting views in committee and in this House, how are Canadians supposed to expect them to act differently and respect their views online should this legislation come into force?

Back in May, I addressed this chamber through Statements by Members, outlining the overwhelming opposition to this troubling bill from my constituents in Kelowna—Lake Country. I outlined how hundreds, and by now hundreds more, have written me with their valid and real concerns. Residents in Kelowna—Lake Country have strong reservations about the government's attempted overreach to regulate individual Canadian Internet users and what they can hear and see online, concerns shared by University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist. Dr. Geist is not just some newcomer to the field. He is the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law. Not only could he be considered an expert, he is a vocal and non-partisan critic who has been fighting for the rights of Canadians by speaking out against this dangerous legislation.

Dr. Geist has outlined how, despite the empty words on the part of government claiming otherwise, this legislation, “represent[s] an exceptionally heavy-handed regulatory approach where a government-appointed regulator decides what individual user generated content is prioritized”. Dr. Geist has also called the recent manoeuvring by the Liberals at the heritage committee to effectively cover this legislation in a dark cloud of secrecy “disturbing”, when the committee began to vote on undisclosed amendments without any debate or discussion.

All of this came on the heels of the Liberals' teaming up with the Bloc earlier this month to severely limit debate by using an archaic parliamentary process, manoeuvres that have not been seen in over 20 years in this House. The Liberals may claim that this legislation is to modernize the Broadcasting Act, but that has not stopped them from using procedures to ram Bill C-10 through Parliament without proper debate or discussion. We heard in debate today, from my colleague the member for Saskatoon—Grasswood, how 40% of Bill C-10 was not even discussed or debated at the heritage committee with respect to other recommendations.

The voices of my constituents will not be silenced. Residents of my riding in Kelowna—Lake Country from all walks of life have written to me ever since the introduction of this draconian bill, stating, “Censoring free speech or shutting down debate is not acceptable.”

Another wrote that, “People should be able to speak freely on all platforms”.

One wrote that, “It is shocking that the current government has the audacity to even propose something as limiting to free speech as Bill C-10”.

Further comments were also expressed: “We must not tolerate this kind of censorship of free speech in a free country”; and, “Bill C-10 is the most appalling assault on free speech we have seen from any democratic government”.

I agree with my constituents of Kelowna—Lake Country, and that is why I am here today.

This legislation is an unacceptable attempt by the Liberals to target the freedoms of individual Internet users in Canada. It raises significant concerns about the ability to preserve net neutrality, which is an important principle that ensures free flow of content and that no content on the Internet is favoured over another. Net neutrality is basically the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications, regardless of their source and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites.

The bill before us would give the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, CRTC, absolute control with no clear parameters. Furthermore, this legislation would give sweeping powers to the CRTC to regulate the Internet, including individual users with no clear guidelines for how that power would be used.

What are Canadian creators saying about this proposed legislation?

Well, J.J. McCullough, a well-known Canadian YouTuber, recently wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post. Mr. McCullough has nearly 300,000 followers on YouTube and, by his own research, he says that this makes him the “1,483rd most popular Canadian YouTuber”. I would say that provides a pretty clear picture of the success that Canadian content creators have online. He goes on to note that there are “...well over 100 Canadian YouTubers with subscriber counts surpassing 3 million — a combined audience larger than the population of Indonesia”. He mentions how well Canadian YouTubers have done without this legislation. Mr. McCullough also notes with real concern that “If Bill C-10 passes, satisfying the needs of audiences — the formula that has produced countless Canadian YouTube success stories...may soon take a back seat to satisfying government regulators”.

His trepidation is justified, as the Liberals rejected an exemption to individual users who upload videos to social media and even took it a step further by promising to introduce a new amendment to regulate apps. We have also heard that digital first creators have not been consulted. It is smoke and mirrors to say that Bill C-10 is about charging big Internet companies to get tax dollars.

On Bill C-10, Conservatives propose to protect individual users and small players in the market by exempting streaming services and social media users with lower revenues. The Liberals rejected this common-sense compromise. The minister ignores these concerns despite the stated purpose of the bill being to promote Canadian content and support, not burden, Canadian creators. However, if history is any indication, the minister does not care about factual and thoughtful points such as these. His party only cares about shutting down debate so its members do not have to listen to the mounting evidence against this proposed legislation.

It is not just the residents of Kelowna—Lake Country, Canadian content creators or Dr. Geist who are speaking out against Bill C-10. A former commissioner of the CRTC has said in an interview that 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”. This was from a former CRTC commissioner, and if anyone can speak on how the CRTC could interpret its new powers, he would be the one to ask.

The government claims that Bill C-10 is a priority and that is why it is using the tactics that it has chosen to employ. My Conservative colleagues and I will not apologize for doing whatever is necessary to defend the right to free speech and free viewing of the content of Canadians.

I think it is important that we examine exactly what has taken place in this Parliament leading up to this moment. We must not forget that it was the Liberals who prorogued Parliament to escape scrutiny for their ethical scandals. When it is something they want, they will ram it through in any way they can using procedures like the one we recently saw around Bill C-10, which we have not seen used in the House for over 20 years. There were amendments at committee that were never even read and debated. The Liberals had four years as a majority government and have been in power in this Parliament for almost two more.

We will be back here in September as, after all, the Liberals definitely do not want an election, right? So, I will not apologize for standing up for Kelowna—Lake Country and I will not apologize for standing for free speech and for net neutrality. This is deeply flawed legislation that should be deeply troubling, and it is troubling to the core to each and every one of us to consider here today.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 9:05 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, the parent act, the Broadcasting Act, has three sections that specifically articulate freedom of expression. The version of Bill C-10 that was passed by the House at second reading specifically had a section that protected anyone who is uploading programs for transmission over the Internet. Then when the bill was at committee, there were four specific amendments adopted to ensure freedom of expression; one from the Liberals, two from the Green Party and one from the Conservatives.

With all of those sections that are specifically articulating freedom of expression, why are they all together not enough for the member to be satisfied that it is, in fact, protected?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 9:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise on behalf of the free-speaking riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

When I spoke on Bill C-10 last December, I called this bill a fraud, an attack on freedom of expression, and a particular danger to the rights of Canadians speaking minority language. Since debate at second reading, this bill has become so much worse. The bill was already an assault on freedom of expression, but the process to ram this bill through Parliament is an assault on the foundation of parliamentary democracy. Undemocratic means have undemocratic ends. In the end, what we have is a bill so flawed, so regressive, so illiberal, the government must cut off all debate.

When I spoke against the Internet censorship bill at second reading, I highlighted how this bill is an offence against Canadian values. It is an attack on freedom. It is an attack on truth. It is an attack on multicultural heritage. Even before this bill was made worse in committee, it was an affront to freedom of expression. By removing the clause protecting social media, the Liberal government has made the violation so clear that every Canadian is now aware of the threat to their freedom.

This bill offends Canadians' sense of honesty by perpetuating a fraud and claiming video delivered over the Internet is the same as a video delivered by broadcast. Internet video streaming has more in common with video rental stores, movie theatres or book stores than they do with broadcasters. Internet video streaming, movie theatres and book stores sell a product to Canadians. Broadcasters turn Canadians into the product and sell them to advertisers.

One business model sells the work of cultural expression to Canadians. The other business model uses works of cultural expression to sell Canadians to big business. Broadcasters sell Canadians to advertisers using publicly owned airwaves and regulated cable monopolies. The federal government has the authority under the Constitution to regulate broadcasters. Movie theatres, video rental stores and book stores fall under provincial jurisdiction, even if they are foreign owned.

The bill is unconstitutional even before it attacks the charter. Canadians are already fed up with Super Bowl commercials being substituted. How do Liberals think they are going to like the idea of their favourite YouTube streaming video being substituted by some CRTC-approved Canadian video? They would never try this with books or movies.

Canadians are not forced to buy a Canadian book to read A Game of Thrones. Canadians are not forced to watch a Marvel movie filmed in Vancouver to attend a foreign film festival. If the Liberals tried this with books or theatres, it would be clear that this wrong. However, the problem with this bill is the violation to freedom is more subtle, at least it was until the government removed section 4.1. That is when it stopped being a subtle attack on a freedom of expression and became a full on assault.

The government will claim it has no interest in censoring Canadians' cat videos, but that is not the concern. The concern being expressed, since the removal of section 4.1, is not that the CRTC will take down YouTube posts, it is that YouTube would take down or de-prioritize videos in order to comply with regulations. A counter argument that we should not worry about cabinet putting its thumbs on the CRTC scales because of the regulatory system takes a hit when one considers that Bill C-10 streamlines the process of cabinet giving directives to the CRTC.

That is not to say the Prime Minister would go around ordering YouTube posts to be taken down. It is just the limitations on what any future cabinet could do is reduced. Deleting parliamentary committee oversight of cabinet directives to CRTC may not be Orwellian, but it is what an Orwellian-minded government would also do.

I do appreciate the attention being drawn to regulations because that is where the original threat to freedom of expression lies. Compliance with these regulations comes with a relatively fixed costs. For Netflix that cost can be spread out over seven million Canadian households, but for a smaller streaming service, that cost may be spread over 700,000, 70,000 or 7,000 households.

As the popularity of the type of expression decreases, the cost to receive it increases. The only cost to receive any broadcast expression is the cost of a receiving device, but streamers charge end users. The whole point of having that freedom is not to protect the majority or popular expression, but the minority or unpopular expressions. This is not to say that web giants cannot be regulated, but fundamentally they are not broadcasters and cannot be regulated as such without impacting freedom of expression.

As I said earlier, Internet streaming services are more akin to movie theatres and bookstores, both of which are currently restricted under provincial registration. Is that closure a limitation of freedom of expression? It sure is. Is that reasonable in a free and democratic society during a pandemic? Ultimately that will be for the courts to decide, but at least there is a public purpose other than to grab some cash for the well-connected.

The point is that movies, bookstores and Internet streamers can be regulated, but it has to be in the public interest and by the appropriate level of government. Just as we have regulations that say someone cannot build a bookstore made out of dry kindling, someone cannot build a digital service that threatens to burn down democracy and not expect some public interest.

Any opposition to Bill C-10 is being framed as opposition to Canadian culture or logically extending to opposition of the Canadian content system. It only furthers the attempt to force a new digital world into an old analog paradigm, which also cuts off discussion on how to update the Canadian content system to the digital world. The whole idea of needing a system to feature Canadian artists to Canadians comes from a time when we were culturally insecure, but we are not that country any more.

We are the most diverse country in the world. We import culture and we brag about it. We are a proud, confident country. We do not live next door to the United States on the Internet. We live next door to everyone online. Canadians are amazing and our artists are awe-inspiring.

At the end of the day, cutting through the government rhetoric about Bill C-10, it is not about protecting culture or online harms. It is about money and rent-seeking. The government needs money and needs industry interest groups with euphemistic names to say nice things about them in French.

Until now the cost of this rent-seeking was largely borne by advertisers or CRTC-inflated cable bills. The government likes to claim that it will go on to fund artists, but it really ends at the money going to producers and their lobbyists.

The difference now is that the costs will not be paid by web giants, but by consumers. The methods to collect the money are media fund levies, regulatory compliance costs, a new digital service tax and HST on top of all of it. Together this adds up to a massive regressive excise tax. There is an HST credit to offset the regressive nature of that tax, but there is no rebate for the GST or the Canadian content media levy.

The government is not forcing web giants to pay. It is forcing low-income Canadians to pay and to pay the most. It does not have to be this way. We can regulate online businesses in the interest of public safety, and we can do it without threatening freedom of expression.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 9:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I honestly do not know where to begin. I am trying to find something relevant, interesting and enlightening in my colleague's speech, but honestly, I cannot find any such thing.

For months, I have had the so-called “pleasure” of working on Bill C‑10 at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. Now I wonder, because I am hearing falsehoods. It is said that if a lie is repeated often enough, people will start to believe it. An argument can even be built on a false foundation.

I would like to know what my colleague thinks we can do to protect Quebec and Canadian culture and all its diversity. I am talking about protecting indigenous content, francophone content in Quebec, but also outside Quebec, in francophone communities across Canada. How does my colleague plan to protect this identity in a bill that is essential and that is recognized as such by every industry player? How does she think we can get there, when what I am hearing does not make much sense?

I would like her response and her idea of what exactly should be done to protect the Canadian broadcasting system, which needs protecting and should have been protected long, long ago.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 9:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Eric Duncan Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise for the second time in the chamber to debate Bill C-10. I had the opportunity to debate it back in December at second reading.

I will be splitting my time with the member for Carleton.

Bill C-10 will be remembered as an iconic piece of legislation if it is passed, but not for the reasons the government would want. We have seen over the course of the last seven months a terrible rollout, terrible communication and a terrible committee process. As a result, we are in the House of Commons in person and virtually across the country going until midnight or later because of the desperation of the government trying to ram this legislation through.

I will state tonight that on all the issues we have dealt with on Parliament Hill, in the House of Commons, I have heard from constituents the most on this issue and a lack of trust for the government's actions on Bill C-10. The actions that we have seen take place at committee over the course of the last couple of weeks has only exacerbated those concerns even more.

Comments were made earlier about how the Minister of Canadian Heritage had handled this portfolio. I listened with interest earlier tonight when he spoke about how proud he was of this bill, how proud he was of the consultations that were held not only by himself, but by his predecessor to bring forward this legislation. We should ask why we find ourselves in this situation. There will be university professors teaching political science students in years to come, using Bill C-10 as an example of what not to do to build public confidence on an issue and have a bill successfully pass through Parliament.

If the consultations by the previous minister and the current minister were so well done, why did the government introduce a bill that, when it got to committee, and at one point I lost track, over 100 amendments were proposed, many from the industry and stakeholders. If they consulted and listened so well, why were they not included in the first place? The minister was on CTV's Question Period, as a prime example, and CBC's Power & Politics. His interviews were absolutely disastrous.

People ask why that matters in terms of legislation and policy. If the minister responsible for the bill cannot even give a decent performance in defending the merits of the bill, certain sections and concerns, that should tell us something. Not only were those media appearances terrible in explaining and trying to justify Bill C-10, on Monday morning the Prime Minister's Office had to issue retractions, saying that he did not mean that and it needed to be clarified. When that happens, it shows us what is happening with Bill C-10.

We are here tonight, and it is an absolute embarrassment for the government. I listened with interest to my other opposition colleagues from the Bloc Québécois and the NDP. They said that the government had done a terrible job with the legislation, that it did not consult properly, that it should have done it sooner, but they would back the government up to ensure the bill was passed. It does not matter how bad the bill is or what is not in it, they want to pass the bill to say they checked off a box.

Many of my colleagues spoke tonight about problems and concerns with the legislation. I want to elaborate and be specific. I want to take part of my time tonight to focus on an organization that is not very popular in the country these days, and for good reason: the CRTC.

In this updated legislation, the government and opposition parties have ganged up to take out the part that regulates individual content. The CRTC would have the power to take down content by individuals, and we would have no way of knowing if there were other amendments.

I want to thank a Canadian who I did not know of, but we have heard a lot about him in the debate on Bill C-10, and that is Michael Geist. I am kind of jealous of him. He has about 87,000 followers on Twitter now and has been an eminent voice, talking about the concerns with Bill C-10. If the government is so proud of its work and the bill before us, I want to read two tweets from Mr. Geist. He is a law professor and Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa. I would suggest he is an expert who is probably pretty well versed on this subject.

He has been following committees for weeks and weeks on end, many of those committee meetings being filibustered by the government. He has said two things.

He said, “The committee just passed a Liberal amendment to Bill C-10 that has never been made public. Committee is just reading amendment numbers with no information provided. Chair says he cannot given any details. Literally secret law making.”

He followed that up in frustration right afterward, “Having spent hours watching Bill C-10 committee hearings, I’m out. MPs are voting on amendments that have never been made public, no experts to ask, no discussion, no debate. This is what Liberals, NDP and Bloc voted for. This is not how laws are supposed to be made in Canada.”

I will agree with the NDP and the Bloc Québécois. The government has had six years to get this right. There is not an MP in the House who believes the Broadcasting Act of 1991 is still relevant in today's day and age. Back in the day when that law was passed, I was four years old. I was not watching it too attentively when it was passed under a previous government. To show members how outdated it is, I will do this again. Bryan Adams was topping the charts. Whitney Houston, Madonna, Boyz II Men and Vanilla Ice were some of the other names and, as my colleague from Kingston and the Islands says, we could only listen to them by radio back in 1991.

There is no denying that we need to update the Broadcasting Act, but I go back to the arguments that are technical and important. If this bill is so well-organized and if this bill is so wonderful, why has the government resorted to shutting down committee, ramming the legislation through and putting in amendments when we do not even know what they are. The government was mocking us earlier when we were raising our concerns and frustrations about the bill and the process. I have specified the role of the CRTC and I will get into that in a moment. However, it is hard to know what is in the final bill, because there is a gag order by the minister. I do not even know what the status of some of those parts and pieces are. That speaks volumes to this.

I want to take some time to speak about the CRTC. I have seen this before, and there is a perfect example. My colleague from Carleton is in the chamber and will speak to this after me. He asked the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry a couple of weeks ago about the recent CRTC decision by the chair, Ian Scott, on wholesale internet rates in the country. The CRTC reversed its commitment to lower ISP rates around the country. It was a huge controversy with huge frustration.

I have heard it from small Internet service providers in my riding. I want to give credit to Birket Foster of Storm Internet in Chesterville who has spoken about this. The CRTC is singlehandedly spiking the cost of Internet affordability in the country. I asked the minister about it. He said that was the CRTC and that he was working hard and trying, but it was the CRTC. The same thing is going to happen with this legislation.

We see vague definitions like Internet regulation, what it means for users and all this chaos and confusion. The government is handing over, it is kicking the can down the road to the arm's-length CRTC to make decisions based on vague wording and poor legislation. Then what happens is that the Liberals will say that it is not them, that it is the independent CRTC. I have said this before in the chamber and I will say it again. It is our job to get the details right. We all support Canadian content. With the Internet and the tools available to us, we do not need to protect Canadian content as much as we need to let it flourish.

I believe in our Canadian artists. We have seen examples through YouTube. We have seen numerous creators across the country use those platforms, make a living and elevate Canadian content. My constituents do not want to search something on YouTube based on what the government thinks they should see. They want to do it based on algorithms that show what other Canadians and other people who are interested in like-minded subjects see. We have seen the success that this can happen.

The government's approach is wrong. The Liberals know it is wrong. That is why they are going through a secretive committee process and trying to ram this through before the summer. Canadians are getting more and more concerned by the day on this.

I appreciate the opportunity to, once again, put on the record my strong opposition to the bill and to this process.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 9:55 p.m.
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Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Liberal

Steven Guilbeault LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I think it is fair to say that the debate on Bill C-10 went completely off the rails tonight. The Conservative Party is giving us a demonstration, and a fine one, unfortunately, that it has become the party of conspiracy theories.

To hear the Conservatives tell it, Bill C‑10 will take away every liberty we enjoy in Canada. The CRTC, one regulator among many in Canada, will be above all the laws and will be able to decide all sorts of things. The House will please forgive me for saying so, but it really feels like we are in a bad B movie. In a country like Canada, we might show a bad B movie on the big screen or on Netflix, but it would still remain a bad B movie.

Several members from various parties of the House have shown numerous times how many sections of the bill exclude individuals and protect freedom of expression, freedom of creation and journalistic freedom. Despite that, when the Conservative Party decides it has stumbled upon a fundraising gold mine, misleading people is no big deal.

The previous member talked about something absurd. What I personally find absurd is that we are allowing there to be two regimes: one that imposes rules on broadcasters, on independent Canadian producers and on all the companies that already exist, and another regime that imposes no rules on the web giants, on the world's biggest and wealthiest companies.

The Conservatives do not see that as a big deal; so be it. The Conservatives do not want those companies to invest in Canadian artists and talent. They want those companies to make money here but without paying their fair share. For a party that claims to be there for the people, for the middle class, for small and medium-sized businesses, I find this to be a complete aberration.

We have heard all kinds of arguments, including that emerging artists, those who are prominent on platforms like YouTube, were not consulted and no one spoke with them.

The Conservative Party claims to stand up for the French language, so I would refer it to the French-language article that appeared in the newspaper Le Devoir two weeks ago, on May 26, for which several vloggers were interviewed. Fred Bastien, a vlogger with 34,000 subscribers, talked about something that really bothers him. If nothing is done to make French content discoverable, he believes it will get lost in a North American ocean of people who essentially speak English. In his opinion, Bill C‑10 absolutely must get passed.

I could quote the great Canadian artist, Damhnait Doyle.

She was recently interviewed as well, and I think what she said is important. She said:

We are forgetting what happened 50 years ago. Fifty years ago, Canadians could not get played on the radio. It was all American music, it was all British music until the government stepped in and made sure that Canadians were played on Canadian radio. If it wasn’t for that, we wouldn’t have the Tragically Hip, we would not have Sarah McLachlan.

This is exactly what we are trying to do. Unless we modernize the Broadcasting Act, it is all going to be about American artists. Some Canadian artists will manage to emerge, but the vast majority of them will be forgotten. It is the same for French artists. It is the same for indigenous artists, who are just starting to emerge. We are going to quash their ability to do that. For those who are already successful on platforms like YouTube, Bill C-10 would not change anything.

I would like to quote Jean Yoon, Umma of the amazing Kim's Convenience series on CBC. She says, “My impetus as an artist has always been the creation of original Canadian work, from a culturally diverse perspective. That is always my preference as an actor in terms of film and television, to work on Canadian shows.” What she says next is really important. “A nation that doesn’t tell its own story doesn’t know who it is.”

That is really what is at stake. It is our cultural sovereignty, our capacity to continue telling Canadian stories. I watch American shows.

I really enjoy Scandinavian and South Korean series, but I think that as a country we have an interest from a cultural, artistic and certainly an economic perspective to continue to have the capacity to tell our own stories, to ensure that our creators are suitably compensated for the content that they broadcast on these platforms. That is what Bill C‑10 does.

The CRTC, contrary to what we have heard several times this evening, has never moderated content. It has never told a radio or television station that it can broadcast one program but not another. The CRTC will not acquire that power through Bill C‑10. We are told that experts say that if Bill C‑10 is adopted it will be the end of the world as we know it. Some Conservative MPs have even compared what Canada is doing to China and various dictatorships.

I would honestly and sincerely invite those members to go and see how things work in a dictatorship. To say that Canada is a dictatorship is ridiculous. It is pathetic and it misleads Canadians. It is completely false. The CRTC is not above our laws. The CRTC needs to follow the laws of Canada. Some parts of Bill C‑10 specify that the CRTC must respect freedom of expression and freedom of creation.

The law governing the CRTC specifies what the CRTC needs to do. As a regulator, the CRTC has some wiggle room, as do all regulators, but the CRTC must act within the limits of Canada's laws and regulations. The CRTC is not a state within a state. It is not a state that is above the state. That is absolutely ridiculous. I think that what we are seeing tonight is all the contempt that the Conservative Party has for our artists and Canada's arts.

The member spoke earlier about the excellent heritage critic, the member for Lethbridge, who had to publicly apologize for saying that artists, particularly those from Quebec, are outdated, stuck in the 1990s and out of touch with today's reality.

I think it is great that young entrepreneurs are able to succeed on YouTube. That is wonderful. Are the member and the Conservative Party telling us that that is what art is in Canada, succeeding on YouTube or nothing? That is not diversity. So much the better if some people are doing it.

I have had discussions with my counterparts in France, Germany, Ukraine and Scandinavian countries, and their governments are doing the same thing. They look at Bill C‑10 and say that is an excellent idea. They want to do that too. These are not Anglo-Saxon countries, except for Canada where obviously there is French and English, as well as indigenous languages. If we do not protect our linguistic and cultural minorities, Canada will become nothing less than a branch of the United States and Hollywood. I think it is great that major American productions are filmed here. It is great, but it is not Canadian artistic creation. It boosts the economy and puts people to work. It is great. However, the arts in Canada, support for the arts, the development of the arts and Canadian artistic creation represent much more than foreign productions that come here because we have skilled labour and it costs less.

Bill C‑10 is a bill for our artists. Our artists asked for it. Thousands of people were consulted on this bill. I have talked to more than 4,000 people over the past few months about Bill C‑10 and the Yale commission received 2,000 briefs.

The idea that the Liberal Party let the cat out of the bag with respect to Bill C-10 is false. The Conservatives have always opposed the bill. Even when the Yale report was released, they said that they opposed it. The report was over 200 pages long. Barely one hour after it was released, the then leader of the opposition said he would throw it in the garbage.

As soon as Bill C‑10 was introduced, the Conservative Party demanded that it be withdrawn immediately. The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Conservative Party's contempt for the arts sector is long-standing. We saw it under the Harper government. Members will recall when he said that everyone knows that artists and all those people go to cocktail parties.

I have news for the Conservative Party. Canadian artists earn $24,000 on average. They are far from being ultrarich jet-setters. Some are wealthy, and I congratulate them, but that is not the reality of most artists. That is why government support is important.

Rather than talking about these grand conspiracy theories that we have heard about tonight, the Conservatives should be honest with Canadians and with the cultural and arts sectors. They should admit that they do not believe in those sectors.

As I mentioned earlier, I spoke with more than 4,000 people. If there was one thing I did not hear once, it was the idea that the Conservative Party was there for them. I heard that about all the other parties. Out of over 4,000 people, no one told me that the Conservative Party was there to support them. I will not repeat in the House what I heard, but it was at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 10:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, there we have it again: It is all about YouTube. If people perform on YouTube, we consider them to be artists. If they are not performing on YouTube, we think what they are doing is simply no good and does not deserve our time of day, nor support from the state. For those who are already successful on YouTube, Bill C-10 would not change anything. Hopefully for them, they will continue to be successful.

What we want with Bill C-10 is for the web giants to pay their fair share. That is all we are asking. I thought if there was one thing the Conservative Party would be in favour of, it would be for everybody to pay their fair share, but it seems that no, they have decided to side with some of the wealthiest and most powerful companies in the world instead of supporting our artists.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 10:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the topic of freedom of expression was debated in committee, the majority of the expert witnesses said that Bill C‑10 was compliant and that it did not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I have already said this publicly, and the member for Richmond—Arthabaska knows this: There are some people who should not be subject to any rules on the Internet. I recognize that. That is not the position of the majority of the parties in the House, it is not the position of the majority of the members in the House and it is not the position of the majority of Canadians. Study after study has shown that the majority of Canadians, nearly 80%, believe that the web giants should contribute their fair share.

There are some Canadians who disagree. We have seen this with the Conservative Party, but that is not what the majority of Canadians think and it is certainly not what the majority of—

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 10:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, that was a really important question. In fact, the member is correct. APTN and many other indigenous organizations that are involved in artistic creation in the production sector are supporting Bill C-10 for the very reasons he outlined. Basically, if we read the Broadcasting Act as it stands now, we are asking for broadcasters to invest in indigenous productions if they can. It is sort of an option. We want to make it mandatory to invest a certain percentage of the revenue that is generated in Canada into indigenous productions.

We have just invested $40 million in the last budget for an indigenous screen office, for the first time ever in this country.

That is a really important question that goes to the heart of Bill C-10.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 10:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and, from what I am seeing from the current government, possibly a privilege to be able to rise and speak to Bill C-10. I rise representing the good people of North Okanagan—Shuswap.

I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill.

Bill C-10 is the Liberal government's attempt to have the online streaming giants contribute their fair share to Canadian content and the retention of Canadian culture, but it has gone terribly wrong. World wars have been fought to protect our rights and freedom of speech, and we must never let those rights and freedoms be eroded. Freedom of expression must always be protected.

How did this bill go so terribly wrong? When the minister and the current government introduced Bill C-10 last November, the Minister of Canadian Heritage told the House that the bill's amendments to the Broadcasting Act were aimed at benefiting Canadian artists and musicians by forcing web giants to increase investments in Canadian content. That is something I think we all agree on. This initial commitment seemed reasonable, especially considering the need for our Broadcasting Act to be modernized in light of the major changes in where and how we now source music, television and film entertainment.

A couple of weeks later, the minister told the House that Bill C-10 was aimed at film, television and music-streaming services, like Netflix and Spotify, and that the government was committed to introducing another bill aimed at social media platforms, like Facebook and so on. At that time, the minister also stated that user-generated content would not be subject to new regulations.

Despite these assurances, the bill's progression took a sudden turn on April 23, when the Liberal members at committee suddenly amended the bill to extend its powers to the regulation of user-generated content on social media platforms. A bill originally presented as essential to protecting and ensuring continued Canadian content suddenly became a government bill seeking to regulate what Canadians say and share on social media. Smart phone apps were also added to the purview of the proposed regulations.

These amendments prompted strong reactions from my Conservative colleagues and me, but they also sparked a strong reaction from social media experts and Canadians. I have heard more from my constituents in North Okanagan—Shuswap about their concerns regarding the freedoms they could lose through this amendment and this bill than about any other topic in recent history. That is how concerned Canadians are for their freedom of expression.

What we see all around the world, and here in Canada today, is that social media has rapidly become the central platform used by citizens to express their rejections or protests against injustices, including those of government. The proposals of Bill C-10 open the door for the federal government and its regulatory agency, the CRTC, to undermine our ability to continue exercising our critical democratic freedom of expression. After 14 months of living with pandemic restrictions, many Canadians isolated at home and relying on social media for information, connectivity and entertainment, I strongly question why the government has chosen this time to radically change how Canadians can use social media.

I would also like to speak tonight about unintended consequences. It is something we have seen far too much of recently from the government, the unintended consequences of poorly drafted legislation. The case I want to tie into this debate tonight is the poorly drafted legislation in the government's Cannabis Act, Bill C-45, and how it is now having an impact on my constituents in North Okanagan—Shuswap.

I have now heard from constituents who are no longer able to get residential home insurance. Why? Because of poorly crafted and passed legislation. It has been disastrous for these constituents.

One man living on disability and trying to do things by the book was paying $1,000 for his home insurance. That bill then went up to $4,000 per year, then $5,500, then $6,500 and now more than $7,000 per year for a man living on disability. Why? Because he grows cannabis under a medical licence, but he grows more than four plants. Four plants is the maximum allowed under the government legislation. His insurance company has basically raised his rates to the point where he has to almost mortgage his insurance payments because the legislation has made it too costly for him to get insurance and pay for it up front.

He is not the only one. Another couple contacted me. They each have medical cannabis licences. Because the two of them grow more than the four permitted plants, they cannot find insurance.

This is just one example of how the government has failed to look at unintended consequences.

I will also tie in some of the experiences I have had on other committees in dealing with unexplained, non-scientific decisions of the government. It may seem unrelated to this, but I am trying to point out that this legislation is poorly drafted and should be taken back or at least have the proper time spent at committee to correct it.

Tying this to the fisheries committee, there was a regulation regarding the prawn harvesters in B.C., that had been in place for about 50 years. Everyone was operating under those rules. All of a sudden, the government decided it was going to reinterpret those regulations. Basically, it was going to shut down a huge portion of the spot prawn harvesters in British Columbia, simply by a reinterpretation of the regulation that had been in place for 50 years. There was no explanation, no working with the stakeholders to try to figure this out for the future. It threw the whole system into disarray because of unintended consequences of an decision that had not been researched or had any background.

I sat in on the heritage committee last week when it was going through the amendments, those that could be talked about. I tried to bring forward some of these issues about unintended consequences and the Liberal members on the committee tried to shut me down. They tried to censor what should have been my freedom of expression at that committee, pointing out the errors that the government continued to make. The member for Calgary Nose Hill was also in the committee at that time and witnessed how that took place. She may tie that session at the committee into her speech momentarily.

It was interesting to see how quickly the government seemed to want to censor Canadians, especially us parliamentarians by shutting down the debate at the committee stage of this bill to the point where amendments could not even be read aloud by the chair. They simply had to be listed by number and then voted on. Nobody could discuss what the amendment would do, the benefits or disadvantages of it, none of that. All of this was shut down by the government, trying to censor debate on this bill. Now the Liberals have limited the time we will have to debate it in the House, and it is a shame. Something as serious as freedom of expression deserves full and uncensored debate.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 10:30 p.m.
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NDP

Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke about the fear of freedom of expression being constrained, so I just wanted to check with him. I am sure he has read the Bill C-10 legislation, but I am not sure if he has read the act itself. The act still says, in section 2(3), “This Act shall be construed and applied in a manner that is consistent with the freedom of expression and journalistic, creative and programming independence enjoyed by broadcasting undertakings.”

In subsection 35(2), it states, “This Part shall be interpreted and applied so as to protect and enhance the freedom of expression and the journalistic, creative and programming independence enjoyed by the Corporation in the pursuit of its objects and in the exercise of its powers.”

Then it says, again, “The Corporation shall, in the pursuit of its objects and in the exercise of its powers, enjoy freedom of expression and journalistic, creative and programming independence.”

Does the member know that is in the act, and it is still in the act?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 10:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I heard my hon. colleague and a number of Conservative colleagues say how terrible it is to force closure on the opposition and pass Bill C‑10 under time allocation.

I would just like to remind my Conservative colleagues that one government used closure more than any other government in the history of their country, of Canada, and that was Stephen Harper's government. During his final term in office, a majority government from 2011 to 2015, he beat Jean Chrétien's record for 1997 to 2000, which had broken Brian Mulroney's record for 1988 to 1993.

Here is my question for my hon. colleague: Why was it okay for them to do it then and even break the all-time record for closure motions, but it is not okay now?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 10:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is hard to believe that less than 10 years ago the only way to get around if people did not own a car and they wanted something outside of public transit, was a taxi. Then all of a sudden, something called Uber came along and it disrupted the taxi industry, so there was a large change in the market. The taxi industry reacted. Its members lobbied municipal, provincial and even the federal government to try and ensure that the status quo was protected.

We always want to ensure that people have jobs. When there are major disruptions in technology or industry, it should happen with order and discipline. However, Uber was always going to enter the market. It was a fact and it brought wealth and jobs, and it took away the gatekeepers of the taxi industry, the taxi licences and made that profession more accessible to many other people.

What we are hearing tonight is the federal Liberal government wanting to take away the ability of YouTubers, Facebookers, Instagramers, influencers to make a living, uninterrupted and unmitigated by the federal government, in favour of the cable companies, what I like to call the cultural industry.

I was out with a friend and we were talking about watching a show. She wanted to know what I had watched recently that was good. We were talking about where a show was streamed, and they asked if cable was even a thing any more. Cable has been disrupted because of streaming services. Newspapers have been disrupted because of digital technology. The market has been disrupted. Rather than recognizing that reality and recognizing the new wealth and new voices that have come into play, the new platforms that have come into play, the Liberal government is trying to save the status quo for the benefit of the gatekeeper and to control the voices of Canadians. That is just the reality of it. That is what is happening here tonight.

We are in the House of Commons tonight debating this late at night because we do not want the bill to pass. The bill puts Canada in the dark ages. It silences. It has the power to silence the voices of many Canadians and it is obvious that the government is trying to do that with Bill C-10. We are fighting it with every action we possibly can because of the impact it is going to have on free speech as well as an entire industry in Canada.

I will give a brief history of time. Canada has always been preoccupied with ensuring that it is culturally distinct from the United States, because of the influence the American entertainment has had on Canada. Certainly when I was born in the early 1980s, when we only had radio and television and a certain type of content producers, that was the thing. We wanted to ensure Canadian voices were heard on the radio and TV. That is when existing Canadian content creation laws and programs came to be. It was to ensure that when a Canadian content creator, or specifically a French language content creator, was trying to put something into the market, it could compete with the Americans.

The Uber-style disruption in the market of cable television and things like that has levelled the playing field with zero dollars of government interference. It levelled the playing field. Voices that could never have the reach all of a sudden have a reach.

I want to give a shout-out to my cousin and her account Coupon Cutie on TikTok. She has 250,000 followers on TikTok where she teaches Canadians how to coupon. She wanted me to tell the Liberal Party that she does them a favour because she helps Canadians spend money, which the Liberals then spend on nothing. A shout-out for the Prime Minister from my cousin. She is equally as feisty as I am. She would not have had a voice. She would not have been able to go to Bell Media and get that type of a platform because she lives in rural Manitoba. She is a young woman.

These are the types of voices that are excluded by the big lobbying industries. The lobbyists and the telcos, the same people that jacked cellphone rates in Canada, the same people that protect our market such that we cannot have the same rates as Americans do, are the ones who gate-keep on the news on what content can be created. Of course, they do not want the government or my cousin and other people to have this type of reach because it challenges their artificial hold on the market.

Now the government wants to put these other voices to the side for the benefit of these big lobbyist groups. Does anyone think my cousin has a lobbyist? Does anyone think she could afford a $500-an-hour GRPR specialist to come and advocate for her? No, and she should not have to.

Why is this bill in front of Parliament? I am just going to call a spade a spade. This is about votes, and it is about votes in Quebec. It is. I fully believe that Quebec content and French-language content should be at the forefront of things we do in Canada. It is important for the French language to have a prominent place in the content that Canadians consume. All these platforms have done that.

Earlier today, a member of Parliament, in questions and comments, said that they had looked at the top 100 YouTube accounts and they kind of look American. They thought we should ensure that Canadian voices are heard. What does that mean?

What that is code for, and what the Liberals are doing, is that they want to be able to pick and choose who has a say. That is what it is. Members of the Liberal Party will want me to point to one area of the bill that I would like to see changed. There was a provision in the bill that specifically excluded individual social media accounts from the bill. What did the Liberals do? They removed it from the bill.

Over and over again the Liberals are saying that nobody can tell them what is wrong with the bill, but there it is. When I asked the minister why he did not include that, and why did he remove it, he could not answer. This bill is to the benefit of really rich and entrenched lobbyists who benefit from funding programs that are 40 years old, instead of people who have intersectional voices and people who have not had platforms.

Anybody in Canada could pick up their phone and have a voice. What the federal Liberal government wants to do is to give the regulator, the CRTC, the ability to say who gets to be seen, who gets to be seen in the Facebook algorithm or the YouTube algorithm or maybe at all. That is what this bill does.

The other thing Liberals are saying tonight is that it does not do that. I encourage people to go to the Toronto Star. On the weekend there was an article that asked if the CRTC was too cosy with the big telco companies. The Toronto Star was saying this. Of course they are, because the big telco companies benefit from the monopoly that is entrenched in Canada's regulations.

We are so archaic. We are so behind in Canada. Instead of further entrenching the status quo, we should be unleashing the ability of Canadians to create content. Frankly, at this point in time and at this juncture in our nation, why are gate keeping content creation funds through the government bureaucracy? We could do quadratic financing, a fancy way of crowd sourcing content creation funds for anybody in Canada.

Why are we still so focussed on that with CBC or the big telcos? It is actually, in some ways, racist, misogynistic and not inclusive. The Liberals are entrenching a system of gatekeepers. The CRTC is run by six old white guys. I am tired of this.

If this bill was so great for social media users and would not influence individual social media users, then why did the Liberals remove that position? This bill has to be stopped. Individual Canadians, regardless of how they vote, know that no politician in this place should be putting a chill on freedom of speech and content creation in an industry that is being disrupted the way that this bill is.

The Liberals are moving everything. They are trying to ram this bill through the House of Commons against the advice of experts at a speed we have never seen them move at in this Parliament. It is because they are preparing for an election, and they want to appease their masters that gatekeep these industries. That is to the detriment of French language creators in Quebec. It is to the detriment of every person who has a platform in Canada.

Enough with the censorship and enough on freedom of speech. Bill C-10 needs to be stopped. It needs to be repealed. The leader of my party has said that if we formed a government, we would repeal it, but I would like to stop it here tonight. I appeal to all of my colleagues of all political stripes to wake up and understand that this bill is not in the best interests of any Canadian.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 10:50 p.m.
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NDP

Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have been in the House for some time listening to the debate tonight, so it is an honour to finally stand and speak.

This past year, we have seen the very best and the very worst of government in our system of democracy. When all parties were working together as the committee of the whole to address the COVID-19 crisis, we saw how well the government could work together. I am going to talk about some of the ways it worked well before I get negative and talk about the ways it has not been working.

I want to make it clear it is not that all opposition party members supported everything the government did during the COVID period. I, for one, have stood in this House many times repeatedly challenging the government to do better, particularly when it came to protecting Canadians from COVID-19 and all of the detritus that came with it. I stood in the House to make sure there were public health rules in place, that there was sick leave, that Canadians could stay home if they needed to, that there were things in place to help fight the virus in Canada and around the world without having to choose between their own well-being and the health of others. I will keep doing that. I will keep standing in this House of Commons as an opposition member to urge the government to do a better job taking care of Canadians. I will stand in this House and get it to close loopholes in its legislation.

There is a company in my riding, Cessco Fabrication. I have brought up probably a dozen times in the House that the government's wage subsidy program is being used to pay for scab labour so that this company does not have to negotiate with its workers. I have brought it up time and time again, and I will continue to do that.

It is really important that I push for students, seniors and people with living with disabilities.

One thing members have heard me say so many times is that if we do not vaccinate people around the world, none of us is safe, and that I am disappointed in the government's response to that.

The government itself adopted many of the opposition solutions that were offered. The government did bring forward the 75% wage support, the CERB was $2,000 a month and there was limited support for students and paid sick leave. This is how the government should work. The government should propose and opposition members should make it better. I am proud, as a new parliamentarian, that I was able to do that. I am honoured to have been part of that effort.

However, this has not been the case with Bill C-10. In fact, the entire process, including the debate this evening, is an example of the worst forms of democracy and government. It started with an extremely flawed bill that the minister himself could not explain. When the bill was tabled in November, it was immediately apparent to everyone, the government included, that it was a flawed piece of legislation. The Yale commission clearly identified Canadians' concerns with how web giants were dominating our broadcasting and culture, but were excluded from the current Broadcasting Act and, thus not subject to oversight, not held to the same standards as Canadian companies and, worse yet, not contributing taxes or funds to the Media Fund. The bill, as it was tabled, ignored all of those issues and I stood with my colleagues in the NDP and said on the day that bill was tabled that this was going to be problem and we needed to fix this.

Facebook, YouTube, companies that make billions of dollars in revenue from Canadians and Canadian content were excluded from the bill. For anyone who was worried about what that proposed section 4.1 was, it was excluding social media. It was letting Facebook and YouTube off the hook. It was saying that they could use Canadian content and they did not have to pay for it. It was selling out our cultural sector. We needed to fix that legislation.

I was worried because we know that Facebook has lobbied the minister and the department over 100 times. Their incessant lobbying seemed to pay off. Representatives met over and over again and then, all of a sudden, they were not in the bill. The minister floundered in responses to questions about the bill and the lobbying. He was unable to answer questions about his own bill to Canadians, unable to answer questions about its application in committee and unable to defend its rationale from critics.

The result was a committee review process that at the very best of times was disorganized and at the worst was completely dysfunctional. I know that because I was there. I was on that committee.

Immediately, 121 amendments to the bill were filed. The minister has said that perhaps this is a normal number of amendments for a bill of such of complexity and the breadth and depth of this legislation means it is not surprising, but what was surprising was the number of government amendments filed. The government knew this legislation was flawed, so it was a clear indication the bill was not ready when it was tabled and that the minister was not ready to endorse and oversee it.

Still, and this is the most important point, Canadians need a broadcasting act. We have heard it time and time again in this House from everybody but the Conservative Party. We have a 30-year-old Broadcasting Act. It is well overdue for us to have legislation in this country that will fix the holes in the Broadcasting Act. Canada desperately needs an updated Broadcasting Act.

Canadian broadcasters, media companies, producers, filmmakers, writers and artists all need an updated Broadcasting Act. Canadians who value Canadian news and Canadian content need and want a broadcasting act as well. It was absolutely vital that we roll up our sleeves in committee and we fix this bill to create a broadcasting act that would work for Canadians. It was an excruciating process, because instead of working with my colleagues, many of whom I admire and who worked very hard in this committee, politics kept getting in the way.

Again, this is what I mean when I say the worst of government and democracy. The Conservatives saw a weak minister with a flawed bill, and rather than roll up their sleeves and do the work that needed to be done so we could fix this legislation, they smelled blood in the water and attacked. They took advantage of the committee process and the flaws in the bill to spread disinformation about the bill far and wide, and then they filibustered the committee so we could not even get to the amendments that would fix it. We could not even fix the things they raised as concerns because they would not stop filibustering the committee to allow us to do that.

All across Canada we were hearing the most outrageous accusations about the bill. I had one constituent tell me he had read that individual Canadians' tweets would not post until they had been reviewed for Canadian content by the CRTC. The things that were being told to Canadians by the Conservatives were absolutely outrageous.

I listened to the member for Lethbridge yell “freedom” so many times that I was in a panel with her and I thought maybe I was on a panel with Braveheart. All this did was waste time and confuse Canadians, and with a minister who could not adequately explain his bill, the disinformation campaign found oxygen it never should have had.

It brought us here to this evening to the last-second attempt to rush this bill through before the session ends. The government had six years to update the Broadcasting Act, and in the end, it served up a flawed bill that took so much work for us to fix.

As a member of the heritage committee, I worked very hard with my fellow members to close the Liberal loopholes and fix problems in the legislation. I voted in favour of a Conservative motion for a second charter review to ensure the Broadcasting Act would not infringe on personal freedoms of expression, and that review was done.

I supported a motion to force the ministers of justice and heritage to appear at committee to address concerns over freedom of expression. I proposed that the committee meet more often and for longer hours. I proposed to extend the deadline so more work could be done. I voted against closing debate and I even put forward a motion asking the committee to debate the bill through the summer months so we could get this work done. All the parties voted against that.

In the end, the Liberals closed the committee debate and we were forced to vote on amendments without even discussing them. It is not my idea of good government.

I fully welcome the attention that Bill C-10 has aroused in Canadians. The Broadcasting Act affects us all on a daily basis, and I am heartened to see so many Canadians engaged in the legislative process. It is true that many Canadians are profoundly misinformed about the bill, which is, of course, in no way their fault. I would say it falls very much on the shoulders of some of our members of Parliament who have taken great joy and have done an awful lot of fundraising off the idea, the misinformation that they are spreading and the fear that they are sowing among Canadians.

The issues addressed in Bill C-10 are complex and every country in the world is grappling with those issues right now, attempting to find a way to protect their own citizens, their own content, their own identity and their own media platforms from web giants that do not have to follow the same rules as everyone else, web giants that pull in hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue without giving anything back and companies that leave a swath of local and national media and entertainment venues languishing in their wake.

While I am dismayed by the disinformation permeating the debate on this bill, some of it coming from the web giants themselves in an attempt to resist and avoid regulation, I will vote for Bill C-10 because I worked so hard to fix this legislation. I worked so hard to make sure that people's freedom of expression was protected and that in the end web giants were held to account and that they were contributing to our broadcasting sector.

I have said it before and I will say it again: It is vital that we modernize the Broadcasting Act. The current version of the act was updated in 1991, before the Internet and before streaming services. The Broadcasting Act cannot, as it stands, address the new landscape. It cannot protect Canadians or Canadian content and it must be updated.

For me and my fellow New Democrats, the goal has always been to make sure that we had a bill that would make web giants like Facebook, YouTube and Netflix follow the same rules as Canadian companies and contribute to Canadian content just like Canadian companies are required to do. We have fought both to protect freedom of expression and to ensure that web giants are on an even playing field with Canadian companies. Canadian media and content are under extreme pressure and the web giants have a competitive advantage right now. That competitive advantage must end with this legislation.

Thanks in part to the amendments offered by all parties, Bill C-10 now would utterly protect individual rights to freedom of expression on all platforms. The CRTC powers are limited by this bill to broadcasters and the bill specifically excludes individuals from regulation. Users who upload content to social media services would not be subject to the act. In fact, the bill now contains four sections specifically exempting individuals from the act, and this bill would protect Canadian culture and heritage.

Arts and culture are at the heart of who we are. They are what make us Canadians. It is how we listen to and understand each other better. It is how we connect across the vast distances in our country and it is how we celebrate our identities. It is how we share our incredible stories with each other, in both official languages and with the entire world. We must protect our heritage and support a strong, independent arts and culture industry. Without that protection, Canadian talent will not thrive. We need Canadians to succeed on both digital and traditional platforms. Here at home and around the world, Canadian artists should be able to earn a decent living from their art, and this bill has an important role to play in making sure that the wide range of Canadian voices with stories to tell are those stories that we see on platforms.

When Bill C-10 is enacted, the next step is to increase the funding for CBC and Radio-Canada to help reverse the damage done by decades of funding cuts and unequal rules that have favoured foreign competition.

Our public broadcaster has a remarkable legacy of connecting all points of our country, and it needs a stronger future to help make sure Canadians have access to accurate, relevant information no matter where they live and no matter what language they speak.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 11:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague from Edmonton Strathcona on her speech.

We have the pleasure of serving together on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. She and I have managed to move the bill forward and improve it, sometimes with opposing views, sometimes converging views, sometimes through excellent co-operation. It needed a little help to become a good bill.

Over the past few weeks, after the removal of clause 4.1, which actually had been strengthened with other provisions to ensure that social media users were protected, we have seen a slew of Conservative Party pundits suddenly take an interest in Bill C-10, although we have been working on it for months now. This is a complex bill that takes time to understand. It must be properly analyzed, and it is important to have a good grasp of the subject. Nevertheless, over the past few weeks, we have had a number of experts come to us to give their opinions and tell us that we have done our job all wrong.

I would like the member for Edmonton Strathcona to comment on this. How should we take this wave of insults from colleagues?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 11:10 p.m.
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NDP

Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting to me that we are told that there are experts. I have a letter here that was written by 14 lawyers who have said that Bill C-10 would do none of the things that we have been accused of doing to it. We have gone through the legislation tooth and nail, and I have a document here that outlines every single time freedom of expression is protected. I could tell members exactly where in the act and where in the bill; if they want me to name it, I can. I know that is not the case with most of the members in the House this evening, but I can certainly tell them exactly how freedom of expression is protected, and I am deeply offended that any member of this House would think that my priority would not be to ensure that Canadians' freedom of expression is protected at all cost.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 11:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Warren Steinley Conservative Regina—Lewvan, SK

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from my colleague for Edmonton Strathcona. I believe her heart is in the right place and I always enjoy listening to her speeches.

We are talking about the amendment. I am wondering how she felt about the amendment put forward that says to delete all words after “notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice 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....”

I believe that the member is very studious. Does she think there should be a bit more conversation around Bill C-10? I have heard a lot from constituents in Regina—Lewvan and from across not only Saskatchewan, but western Canada, who have some concerns. I believe that the member is honest and forthright and that she takes those concerns seriously.

Would it not be right to have a bit more conversation around this bill? I know my colleague for Saskatoon—Grasswood said 40% of the amendments were not even discussed at the committee. Could there be some more work for the committee to do?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 11:15 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for Edmonton Strathcona for her amazing work on this bill. When I look at how the discourse around Bill C-10 has been so poisoned, I draw a parallel to the subject of climate change. We can look at Conservative discourse on climate change over the last decade. There was also a recent Angus Reid poll from April that showed only 41% of Conservative voters believed climate change was a threat compared with 90% and above for all of the other parties. The Conservative Party bears a lot of responsibility for that number because of the way it has spoken on this important subject.

Does my colleague see a parallel with the Conservative discourse on Bill C-10? The Conservatives bear responsibility for how poisoned it has become and the incredible amount of misinformation. Does my colleague see any of those parallels or have any thoughts on that particular comparison?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 11:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Greg McLean Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, I am splitting my time tonight with my hon. colleague for Langley—Aldergrove.

It is my honour to address the House this evening and to address another faulty bill being pushed through Parliament by the Liberal government: Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts. To begin, let us look at the title of this bill, which says “to make related and consequential amendments”. They are consequential in that they have consequences.

In this case, it is safe to say that this bill, if passed as written and subsequently amended at committee by the government, will have serious consequences for Canadians. We could have a discussion about net neutrality, which Canadians have enjoyed largely in their online consumption choices these past decades. This bill would, in fact, seek to upend the very nature of what Canadians can do on the web. Of course that is not the intent. No, it could not be. It has merely been written that way, and amended and partially changed through a process Canadians became aware of through the efforts of stalwart parliamentarians: my colleagues in the Conservative Party in the House of Commons and the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. They identified the intrusion in not only the use of the Internet for uploads and downloads, and the overreach in regulating this activity, but the consequences it would have on the very notion of freedom of speech, one of the rights Canadians have enjoyed—

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 11:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Greg McLean Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, we were talking about the very notion of the freedom of speech Canadians enjoy, one of the rights Canadians have enjoyed since being introduced by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in 1960 and embedded in Canada's Constitution in 1982. Freedom of expression in Canada is protected as a fundamental freedom by section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The charter also permits the government to enforce reasonable limits.

I would say from experience that a large amount of Canadian communication between parties, individuals, businesses and organizations of all types, even governments and their agencies, happens via the Internet. Where does the problem arise in this legislation? Bill C-10 creates a new category of web media called “online undertakings” and gives the CRTC the same power to regulate them that it has for TV and radio stations. What is an online undertaking? Whatever one uploads onto the web is an online undertaking, such as videos, podcasts, music and websites. It is a huge regulatory stretch. However, Canadians should not fret as the CRTC will not act in the way the legislation is written, or so it has said.

Let us look back at that notion of freedom of expression and how we as legislators are supposed to ensure the legislation we consider abides by this fundamental piece of protection embodied in our constitutional bill of rights and freedoms. The Department of Justice Act requires the justice minister to provide a charter statement for every government bill that explains whether it respects the charter. The charter statement for Bill C-10 directly cites the social media exemption in its assessment that the bill respects this part of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Then, poof, at committee the Liberals removed the cited exemption from the legislation. When my Conservative colleagues rightly asked for a new assessment based on the new wording of the legislation, the Liberals decided to shut down debate at the committee.

At this point, I think Canadians would ask where the Minister of Justice is on this issue and why he will not seek and provide the legislative charter statement from his department. I have watched the Minister of Justice and let me illustrate how he operates in my opinion.

Regarding Bill C-7, an act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), admittedly no bill is perfect, yet this bill passed through committee here in the House of Commons and members from all parties voted in a free vote to pass the legislation. The legislation passed with the input of witnesses who wanted to respect the rights of disadvantaged Canadians and it worked through this House. The minister, despite that democratic process, manipulated the legislation with an amendment at the Senate and forced an amended bill back to this House, a bill that disrespects the input he received through witnesses and parliamentarians in the process. It was pure manipulation.

Regarding Bill C-15, an act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, after one hour of debate on a bill that my indigenous constituents are asking for clarity with respect to the defined terms in Canadian law and how it affects them, the Minister of Justice shut down debate, saying it had been debated enough.

Perhaps it is unparliamentary to state openly here that the minister's remarks are completely disingenuous. I have watched him during question period while he brazenly denies that his judicial appointments have nothing to do with Liberal Party lists. That is disingenuous. I know why Canadians are losing faith in governments.

Now we have this, the refusal to provide an updated charter statement. Shame on the minister.

Coming back to the bill, if passed, Canadian content uploaders will be subject to CRTC oversight. Yes, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission will be looking at uploads all day long. That is in fact who is writing the bill and in fact the government organization trying to gain some relevance with it, but Canadians do not have to worry because it will not enforce the law as it is written.

Let me quote Timothy Denton, a former national commissioner of the CRTC, who now serves as the chairman of the Internet Society of Canada, who stated:

...their fundamental [principle here] is...that freedom of speech through video or audio should be in the hands of the CRTC — including Canadians’ freedom to use the internet to reach audiences and markets as they see fit.... The freedom to communicate across the internet is to be determined by political appointees, on the basis of no other criterion than what is conducive to broadcasting policy — and, presumably, the good of our domestic industry. As always, the interests of the beneficiaries of regulation are heard first, best, and last. Consumers and individual freedoms count for little when the regulated sector beats its drums.

Finally, let me congratulate the government on this one step. We have been through 15 months of an unprecedented time in our modern history, with lockdowns, economic dislocation and devastation, and literally a pandemic. The press does not cover what happens in the House and the myriad mistakes the government has made because governments make mistakes in unforeseen, unprecedented times. Canadians have given the government some benefit of the doubt about these mistakes and so do all people of goodwill, but it is our job in opposition to do our utmost for the country in oversight and to provide solutions to make our outcomes better.

I thank all my colleagues for the work in helping Canadians during these unprecedented times. I should thank the Liberal government for providing a coalescing issue that has Canadians from all backgrounds and political beliefs in my riding united in reaching out to make sure the bill does not pass. The bill and the government's responses to reasonable amendments to protect Canadians' rights show its ambivalence to Canadians and their rights.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 11:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Tako Van Popta Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Madam Speaker, I guess it should not have come as a complete surprise that the Liberal government would make strategic procedural moves to limit my freedom of speech as a member of Parliament wishing to speak up on exactly that topic: freedom of speech. I have heard from so many of my constituents that they were shocked at the government's attempt to limit their freedom by regulating the Internet, which, until now, has been a new-found tool of freedom of expression. People are starting to understand what the term “net neutrality” means and they want it protected. They are also starting to wake up to the prospect that their government wants to regulate this forum, the new public square.

The government members say they want to level the playing field. Canada's Conservatives support competition between large foreign streaming services and Canada's broadcasters, and we champion Canadian arts and culture, but a Conservative government would do so without compromising Canadians' fundamental rights and freedoms. We are calling on the Liberals to withdraw Bill C-10 or to amend it to protect freedom. If this is not done, a Conservative government would stand up for Canadians and repeal this deeply flawed legislation. While the NDP and the Bloc may be willing to look the other way on the freedom of expression, Canada's Conservatives will not.

What went wrong? The deeply flawed draft legislation, Bill C-10, became even more problematic after the Liberals had their way at committee. We have heard them say in this chamber on many occasions that user-generated content would not be regulated under the legislation, and they refer us to proposed subsection 2(2.1), which specifically exempts users from the new limiting regulations. However, proposed section 4.1 would have exempted social media sites like YouTube and TikTok, which consist of only user-uploaded programs, except that in committee the Liberals voted down this very important freedom of speech protector, even though their original draft legislation contained it.

Where does that leave us? Well, people using the Internet, speakers, are exempted, but the platforms they use are not, so the freedom really becomes illusory. That is what people are upset about with Bill C-10, and that is why Conservatives are fighting hard against it.

We have heard the Liberals say also that they just want big tech to be paying its fair share. In principle, we support that. The Conservative members of the heritage committee proposed an amendment to Bill C-10 that would have limited these limiting regulations to online undertakings with revenue of more than $50 million a year and 250,000 or more subscribers in Canada. If that amendment had passed, Bill C-10 would apply only to large streaming services, but the Liberals rejected it. I do not know why. This is a common-sense compromise put forward by the Conservatives to save the initial intent and the integrity of this legislation while still protecting Canadians' freedom of expression.

We have heard quite a bit about this. The idea of the CRTC regulating traditional media for Canadian content is deeply entrenched and widely accepted in Canadian culture, so why not the Internet too, which arguably is becoming the new preferred media? At first blush, that may make sense, but here is the problem. The legislation would regulate Canadian content by means of discoverability regulations that would require social media sites like YouTube to change their algorithms to determine which videos are more or less Canadian, all depending on a bureaucrat's opinion as to what is sufficiently Canadian.

We say, let the market decide. This is not what the Internet is, and it is not what Canadians want. We are hearing “hands off”. We are hearing about the democratization of the freedom of speech. The Internet is a new invention and it has given people, anybody with a computer, anybody with an iPad, anybody with a smart phone, the ability to publish on the Internet and to be heard, and it has led to the success of many, many artists, including Canadian artists.

Does that mean that the Internet and the contents posted on it should not be regulated at all? Of course not. The Internet is subject to all laws of general application, such as laws against promoting hatred and laws against inciting violence. There are laws for the protection of children, and there are laws against slander and libel, just to name a few.

Our freedom of speech, as protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is not unlimited. As my law professor explained on the first day of constitutional law, freedom of expression does not give a person the right to yell “fire” in a crowded movie theatre. Section 2(b) of the charter says everyone has the fundamental freedom of expression, but section 1 of the charter says that those rights and freedoms are subject to “such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

Until the Liberals started talking about Bill C-10, that is what everyone understood to be the nature of this new medium called the Internet. The laws of general application should apply. Every other free and democratic country in the world understands that to be the case, and only Canada would go so far as to tell user-content social media platforms what to promote and what to demote. Therein lies our contention with Bill C-10.

We do not stand alone. This is what Peter Menzies, the former commissioner of the CRTC, had to say about Bill C-10 in its current state:

It’s difficult to contemplate the levels of moral hubris, incompetence or both that would lead people to believe such an infringement of rights is justifiable.

University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist stated:

In a free, democratic society we don’t subject basic speech to regulation in this way. Of course there are limits to what people can say, but the idea that a broadcast regulator has any role to play in basic speech is, I think, anathema to free and democratic society where freedom of expression is viewed as one of the foundational freedoms.

With the support of experts such as these, the Conservative Party has been promoting its opposition to Bill C-10 aggressively and, I might say, effectively. What is the government’s response? It is to shut down debate. Last week, with the help of the Bloc and the NDP, the Liberal government shut down debate at committee, and now it wants to shut down debate in Parliament. One has to love the irony of that. Here we are debating free speech and the government is aggressively shutting down parliamentarians’ right to be the voice for their constituents: Canadians who have come to appreciate the freedom, flexibility and effectiveness of having their voices heard on this 21st-century platform. Social media platforms are the new public square, and free speech on those platforms in the form of user-generated content must not fall under the regulatory purview of the CRTC.

Only the Conservative Party is standing up to protect this fundamental right that all Canadians enjoy. The government has misled Canadians about this bill. Exempting user content was a key part of Bill C-10's limitations. It was something we accepted and that helped get it through the parliamentary reading stages and committee without more dissent, but removing that exception at the very last minute makes Bill C-10 unacceptable. It is the most breathtaking power grab over online speech we have ever seen in Canada. The Liberal government wants to limit our rights to fight against that, and that is why Conservatives are standing up.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 11:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Tako Van Popta Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Madam Speaker, the Green Party is representing its constituents very well and effectively in Canada's Parliament.

Bill C-10 was better before, because it was more effectively protecting individual users and their content. With the amendment that removed section 4.1, it took a lot of that freedom away. A lot of the benefits of this act have been destroyed because of that, and we would be better if that were put back in. The freedoms the minister keeps talking about are illusory. It is one thing to say content providers, people who add content to YouTube and platforms like that, are not being regulated, but if the platform is being regulated, then that freedom is illusory.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 11:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Gerald Soroka Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, tonight I will be splitting my time with the member for Regina—Lewvan.

On February 5, I spoke to Bill C-10 before it was referred to the heritage committee on February 16. Here I am speaking to Bill C-10 again, a few months later, now that the bill has returned from committee. Most times when a bill returns from committee, we see a couple of amendments here and there to fine-tune it before passing it along to the Senate, but with BIll C-10, it is not a vew changes here and there. This bill is completely different than its previous form.

What is even more abnormal about this is the fact that so many of the amendments came from the Liberals, the ones who introduced the bill in the first place. The government owes it to Canadians to explain why so many amendments were introduced after the fact and why it is pulling every trick in the book to try to push legislation through without proper debate and while ignoring legitimate concerns.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage is using tactics to make people believe that Conservatives are anticulture and standing in the way of Bill C-10, when in fact, many experts who testified at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage agree this bill is flawed and needs further review.

Protecting Canadian content is important for Canadians, but what good do rules around Canadian content do, if Canadian content is not properly defined. The minister recently demonstrated in committee that even he does not know what classic Canadian movies actually count as protected Canadian content under this legislation.

Over the past month I have received countless emails and phone calls from constituents in fear of the government's legislation. They want to know what they can do to stop it. One man even said to me that this legislation embodies the same police-state-like control he emigrated to Canada to escape.

The question I get most often is, “Why?” Why does this legislation contain an amendment giving the CRTC this much power. Why is the government trying to push this through so quickly? Why does the government think it has a mandate to police the Internet?

Conservatives recognize that the Broadcasting Act is in need of updates. No one is arguing against that. When Conservatives raise legitimate questions about user-generated content being affected by this legislation, instead of providing answers, the minister diminishes our concern and proceeds with his carefully scripted paragraph about why the Broadcasting Act needs to be updated, even though we are already agreeing that it needs to be done.

I have to point out the irony in the fact that we are being censored here in the House of Commons on a debate regarding censorship. Instead of allowing Bill C-10 to go through full and proper review, the Liberals moved a time allocation motion to shut down debate on Bill C-10 early, and effectively censored our debate on censorship.

Here we are, around midnight, mid-June, speaking for the last time to a bill that would have the power to limit our freedoms and could change the way Canadians are able to use the Internet. The government imposing time allocation on this bill, which is fundamentally flawed, is wrong because it attacks freedom of expression. The minister is attacking our freedom of expression as parliamentarians, who are just trying to do their jobs. Instead of telling us Conservatives that we are preventing work from moving forward and that we are anticulture, the government members should be explaining to Canadians how they can possibly justify this time allocation motion, when the committee still has many amendments to review. This is deeply concerning to not only me, but also to many Canadians.

I also want to talk about the precedent legislation like this could create for the future. In a society that values freedom of speech and freedom of expression, Bill C-10 would leave the door open to a massive abuse of power concerning the rights of Canadians.

It is not enough for the minister to stand in the House of Commons and claim this bill is not meant to target ordinary Canadians. Words spoken by the minister mean nothing if they do not coincide with the wording of the actual legislation.

The amendment regarding user-generated content aside, Bill C-10 creates a regulatory mess of a streaming and broadcasting industry in Canada. There are real harms that could come with this legislation as it currently stands. This bill is far broader than many Canadians realize, and certainly broader than the minister has claimed. This has led to a lack of understanding of the consequences of the bill as it relates to the general public.

With so many amendments being brought forward in such a short timeframe, it is hard for the public to keep up and stay informed. One thing we must always remember as parliamentarians is that we work for the people. It is our duty to keep our constituents informed and to seek their input on legislative matters. With this amendment being added, and this legislation being rushed through the legislative process so quickly, I fear many members will not have adequate time to properly inform and consult their constituents on this issue.

It is with extreme disappointment that I am speaking on this legislation tonight, knowing that so many voices have been silenced and important dialogue on this bill will not be heard. The government claims that limitations are integrated into this bill, so that it is not too overreaching.

The minister said in the House of Commons, “user-generated content, news content and video games would not be subject to the new regulations. Furthermore, entities would need to reach a significant economic threshold before any regulation could be imposed.”

This claim made by the minister is false, as there is no specific economic threshold that is established by the bill, which means that all Internet streaming services carried in Canada, whether domestic or foreign owned, are subject to Canadian regulation. That would mean if someone has Canadian subscribers, this law would, regardless of where the service provider is located, apply to them.

The limitations the minister is referring to are that the bill gives the CRTC the power to exempt services from regulation. It also leaves it entirely up to the CRTC to establish thresholds for regulations once the bill is enacted. This is dangerous, and while I have confidence in the work that the good people working for the CRTC do, it is our duty to legislate, not the CRTC's, and that means properly defining the term “significant economic threshold”.

Bill C-10 now has over 120 amendments, of which about a quarter were put forward by the government itself, even though it wrote the bill. My Conservative colleagues at the heritage committee did everything they could to fix the problems with Bill C-10 in the time they had. My colleagues say that in review stage, the work at committee was going well and progress was being made. That is until the Liberals decided to bring forward an amendment to include social media.

This amendment was so large it changed the scope of the bill entirely. It was at that point people, including experts, former CRTC commissioners and thousands of Canadians across the country, starting raising objections.

As I wrap up my speech, I am thinking of all the flaws contained in this bill and worry for the future of freedom of expression. While I do not suspect this bill was brought forward with malicious intentions, the wording in this legislation could set a terrible precedent.

It is okay for the government to admit when it is wrong and when it has gone too far. Now is the time for the government to acknowledge that it needs to take a step back, re-evaluate and correct the course.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 15th, 2021 / 12:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Warren Steinley Conservative Regina—Lewvan, SK

Madam Speaker, it is with a heavy heart that I stand today, and I hope my colleagues will indulge me for a moment.

This is the first time I have been on my feet in this place since a tragic accident in Saskatchewan where we lost a member of the RCMP, Constable Shelby Patton, who was killed in the line of duty. I send my deepest sympathies to his family, friends, colleagues and all of his brothers and sisters in the RCMP. Our hearts are with them at this very difficult time.

Constable Patton was killed in the line of duty at a traffic stop at Wolseley, Saskatchewan, and the people who committed this crime have been captured. Our hearts go out to the family of the slain hero and RCMP officer. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved.

Moving on to Bill C-10, I think about everyone who enforces the rule of law in Canada and how everyone is able to express their opinions and say what they want. The member for Calgary Skyview just said that a lot of people from around the world see Canada as a beacon: A place where they can come without fear of censorship or of not being able to express themselves. I think this country should always be known as a beacon of that light and freedom. This is why we on the Conservative side are trying to fight so hard to make sure that Bill C-10 is right.

My colleague and friend for Yellowhead talked about some of the things in the bill that need to be reviewed. The Broadcasting Act has not been reviewed in 30 years, and a lot has changed in this country over that time. Conservatives are not disagreeing with renewing and reviewing legislation to make sure that it is up to date and current with the times—

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 15th, 2021 / 12:10 a.m.
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Conservative

Warren Steinley Conservative Regina—Lewvan, SK

Madam Speaker, I will start from the beginning because I do not think we can pay honour to our fallen RCMP officer enough. For colleagues who missed it, this is the first time I have been on my feet since an RCMP officer in Saskatchewan was run over and killed in the line of duty. My thoughts and prayers are with Constable Shelby Patton's family.

I know his brothers and sisters are thinking about him. When one member is lost, the whole team is affected across the country. On behalf of the constituents of Regina—Lewvan, all Conservatives and all members in the House, our thoughts and prayers are with the Patton family. God bless them, and hopefully they can get through this very difficult time.

Moving on to Bill C-10, the bill talks about how we have to really make sure the rule of law is in place in our country. The member for Calgary Skyview brought up some very good points when asking the member for Yellowhead a question. There is a very diverse community in Calgary Skyview and the member talked about how many people have come to Canada because they see it as a beacon of light, a beacon of freedom, where people are not afraid to express themselves. They are not afraid to get in trouble with their government if they say something. We should always strive to be that beacon of freedom in Canada, where people are allowed to express themselves and have the freedom to put whatever they want online, where people can have independent thoughts without fear of government reprisal. A lot of the speeches on this side of the House have covered that topic again and again.

Our colleagues on the opposition and on the government side have asked why we are so against this bill. One of the fundamental beliefs in the Conservative Party of Canada is the belief in the freedom of speech. I have given a first reading speech on Bill C-10 as well. It is a 30-year-old piece of legislation, so there are some things that need to be renewed. Members on all sides of the House agree legislation does have to be renewed and reviewed in a timely manner. There are some areas where we agree.

One of the things that just came forward is that in the updated legislation, the Liberals have taken out the part that would regulate individual content and now the CRTC would have the power to take down content from individuals. We have no way of knowing if any of the amendments that were passed address this issue because there was a gag order put on the amendments and we do not know what is involved with them all.

Like my colleague, the member for Yellowhead, said, there are 120 amendments to this piece of legislation and a quarter of those were brought forward by the government that introduced the bill in the first place.

We are rushing through this and the government has brought in time allocation so we cannot study this bill to its final conclusion. I was in the legislature of Saskatchewan for eight years and have been here for two years. I do not remember seeing any piece of legislation in my 10 years that had 120 amendments to it. On its own, that shows there were some issues early and often with this piece of legislation.

Talking about time allocation and the duty of this House, I know my colleagues and friends from across the way, as well as the member for Kingston and the Islands and a few other of my Liberal colleagues, talk about us playing political games. They say that Conservatives are trying to waste time and are using stall tactics.

As this bill has to do with freedom of speech, we did a little run down of what has been going on in a few of the other committees lately. At the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, the Liberals have been filibustering for 73 hours and for more than four months. At the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, the Liberals have been filibustering for 43 hours. That is a long time. At the Standing Committee on Finance, the Liberals have been filibustering for 35 hours. At the Standing Committee on National Defence, in its study looking into sexual misconduct in the military, the Liberals have filibustered for more than 16 hours and the Chair suspended unilaterally more than 23 times. That is impressive.

I know my colleagues in the Bloc bring up Mr. Harper and the disdain for Parliament. I do not know if Mr. Harper's government had a chair who unilaterally closed down debate 23 times.

The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs was filibustered for 10 hours over three months, February, March and April, to prevent a study into Canada taking from the COVAX vaccine supplies.

This august House is where we are supposed to have debate and be able to talk about different ideas, whether it be Liberal, Conservative, Bloc, NDP. Right now, we are going through a time when the government continues to say the opposition is holding up debate, when we can clearly see, in committees, that the Liberals are trying to stifle any dissent among opposition parties on what kind of bills they are trying to bring forward. I have not even mentioned that the government prorogued Parliament for months because of the WE scandal.

Now, we are here talking about Bill C-10, about stifling debate, and I have given 12 examples of how the government has stifled discussion and debate in committees and in the House of Commons, in Parliament.

When we talk about this, why are Conservatives so against Bill C-10? It is because we are hearing it from our constituents. People are scared. They see Bill C-10 as a very slippery slope of what could be in the future. Many people have come to my office wondering what their kids are going to be able to put on the Internet to express themselves in five years. Are they going to be able to have any free, independent thoughts? Are they going to be able to criticize the government, or is someone in the CRTC, the czar, going to be watching content on YouTube or Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or TikTok? Are they going to get a knock on the door or a call to take down their content because it does not agree with the government's position? That is what people are actually calling about and what their concern is.

People can groan and say, “Oh my, how is that possible?” We are here to represent the people of our ridings, not to carry the water for the government. That is another thing. The government members are acting like it is up to the opposition side to pass bills. We listen to the Minister of Finance saying it is time for the opposition to help them pass bills. When has it been the government asking this and saying it is the fault of the opposition that it is not getting its legislation through? That is like a teenager who went out partying the night before blaming her friends for not getting her homework done. It is not our responsibility to make sure that the government implements its agenda. It has never been the opposition's responsibility and it never will be. It is time that the government took responsibility for its own actions.

Possibly, the Liberals are not getting their legislative agenda through because they prorogued Parliament, because they filibustered committees again and again, and that is why legislation never got to third reading and never got to this House. At some point in time, a member of the government will have to stand up and say that maybe they are responsible for the games they are playing now with time allocation, especially in committee, where it has not been done in 20 years. That could be a fact as to why the Liberals are not getting their agenda through.

Finally, one other thing that makes people concerned about Liberals bringing forward legislation that would regulate their free speech is the fact that even if it is not going to be this bill, people just do not trust the current government. Members may not believe this, and I was shocked myself when I found out, but since 2015 there have been over 35 failed Liberal promises. If they wonder why people do not trust the government, it is because it does not keep its word.

This is from a long-serving Liberal in Saskatchewan, and this is really when we get into the psyche of a Liberal politician. I will never forget this. He said, “You know what it means when you break your promise? It means you won.” That is unbelievable, because if they win they are able to break their promises. It is something that will stick with me for as long as I serve in this chamber.

When it comes to Bill C-10, the Conservatives will continue to stand up for the average Canadians to make sure their voices are heard.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 15th, 2021 / 12:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Nelly Shin Conservative Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.

I would like to present today's speech based on the perspective I bring from my previous profession as an artist.

Being a professional artist, whether a composer or writer, is an extremely difficult vocation to pursue, attain and sustain. There is a huge gap between those who have talent but have not been able to get their big break, and those who have found stardom. Secure gigs as staff writers or contracts to long-term projects are limited and competitive, and most artists pursue other careers to pay their bills.

As a composer, I have been around creative people most of my life. Artists are dreamers with a lot of discipline with their art and tireless hope to find their rainbow's end. They give their best performances whether for a three-member audience at an open mike or at an outdoor concert with hundreds of listeners. Artists do not tire of doing their best and following their dreams, because they are driven by the love of creating and the dream of sharing their work with a captive audience. For most artists, it is a labour of love.

A talented artist gets their big break when they are discovered by a large enough following that will help their career become sustainable. That is why songwriters want their music to eventually make its way to radio, television and film, and writers want their stories on TV and the big screen. However, anyone who has navigated the entertainment industry knows that there are gatekeepers who ensure media platforms give precedence to major players and minimal opportunity to the small players. They also base their content on market reach and capital.

At the end of the day, we call them the arts, but they are a business that uses the arts for capital. I am speaking neither for nor against this. There is room for commerce and art to contribute to economic prosperity together. What I am concerned about is the inequity of opportunity when industry gatekeepers determine the culture of a nation because of their mass reach. It is not a level playing field for artists who have a lot of talent and simply want to express themselves without having to succumb to the matrix for marketability that large corporations define.

Broadcasters and artists continue to have a symbiotic relationship, but not all artists are welcome to participate in this symbiotic relationship. Having CanCon regulation is a good thing to the extent that it safeguards Canadian content, but in practice CanCon is applied by corporations to Canadians who have already found their success to a large degree and who fit the marketability matrix. Fortunately, with or without CanCon, Canadians artists are still rising to the top and I am pleased by the diversity of content that broadcasters are tapping into today. There has been progress.

The digital world turned the entertainment industry upside down. It allowed independents to enter the arena without having to pass through gatekeepers. With fewer CD and DVD sales, big-name entertainment corporations and independents turned to download sales, but download sales were hurt by pirated content. With the shift to online streaming, the revenue source for creative content producers has become fluid with the prominence of Internet usage. Now Canadian broadcasters are also threatened by foreign players, as foreign content enters the Canadian digital market.

In response, the government may have thought to update the Broadcasting Act by increasing discoverability for artists and levelling the competition for broadcasters, and voila: here is Bill C-10. Originally, Bill C-10 was supposed to level the playing field by regulating large online streaming services, such as Disney+, Netflix and Amazon, to meet Canadian content requirements, just as for Canadian radio and television stations.

Through the Broadcasting Act, the CRTC is given power to issue broadcast licences to allow radio and TV stations to operate, and to regulate broadcasting while meeting conditions on the kinds of programming they can air and community standards. A portion of their programs, often 20% to 40%, is allotted to be Canadian content, and broadcasters can also be mandated to pay licence fees and contributions to the Canada media fund: a federal agency that subsidizes Canadian television and film.

The update that Bill C-10 proposes is a new category of web media called “online undertakings”, which would give the CRTC the same power to regulate the web that it has for traditional TV and radio stations without having to apply for licences. It seems simple and straightforward, but there is a glitch that could turn this seemingly benevolent piece of legislation into a Trojan horse.

Bill C-10 defines web media as “an undertaking for the transmission or retransmission of programs over the Internet for reception by the public by means of broadcasting receiving apparatus”. This definition is so vague that it could include everything from Amazon Prime to anyone with a website or a podcast. Programs under the Broadcasting Act are defined to include images, audio or a combination, of which written text is not predominant. This would refer to podcasts, photos, videos and memes, but not the written content on news articles and posts. It could include everything from a multimillion dollar film produced for Netflix to a 15-second pet video on TikTok.

I was shocked to learn that, while Conservative heritage committee members proposed an amendment to Bill C-10 to set some safeguards to limit regulations to online undertakings with more than $50 million a year in revenue and 250,000 subscribers in Canada, which would apply only to large streaming services, the Liberals rejected it. That means that not only was the government aiming at big companies but also that broadcasting is now being used to control everyday Canadians.

Section 2.1 and section 4.1 were two exemptions in Bill C-10 for social media. Section 2.1 refers to users who upload onto social media platforms. Thus, the user would not be subject to conditions like Canadian content requirements or contributions to the Canada Media Fund, which the CRTC would impose.

That exemption remains on Bill C-10, but section 4.1 was taken out of the bill. It dealt with the programs that users upload on social media, indicating that the CRTC and the Broadcasting Act could not regulate programs that only consist of user-uploaded programs, but the Liberals removed that section in the bill.

In summary, section 2.1 regulates speakers, while section 4.1 regulates speech. With the deletion of 4.1, the CRTC can regulate the content uploaded on social media and also regulate the social media platforms that allow users to publish content, just as it regulates content licensed on regular traditional stations.

The Liberals keep telling Conservatives that 2.1 will safeguard users, but the absence of 4.1 removes a safeguard from content. Bill C-10 has expanded the powers of the CRTC and the Broadcasting Act to provide grounds for the CRTC to adopt regulations requiring social media sites such as YouTube to remove content it considers offensive and discoverability regulations that would make them alter the algorithms to determine which videos are seen, more or less. Violations for these regulations could be very high for the individual and the corporation. These are the details of concern. I take issue on the infringement of personal freedoms and freedom of expression of Canadians. Even the B.C. Library Trustees Association is saying it needs clause 4.1 back. These are librarians and libraries.

As I mentioned earlier in my speech, the gap between artists and their audience is discoverability, but if the discoverability is regulated through controlled algorithms, then it creates yet another barrier for artists. Why should the CRTC define what listeners should discover instead of allowing audiences to determine that for themselves? Why is the government trying to bring a barrier between artists and their audiences?

The minister keeps saying they want Canadians to tell their stories, but why is there a gap in the bill that would allow someone or an entity to determine which stories are to be discoverable? Artists have already faced an industry that was dominated by large companies to determine what was worthy of discovering and promoting through broadcasting giants, so why should the CRTC be given access to gatekeep discoverability?

The minister says he wants to protect the languages of minorities, but the minister should know that much of ethnic programming is created by underfunded, independent producers who never see any advertising money because it goes straight to the network. Where is the support these independent grassroots producers need? Again, the small players are left behind.

The minister says artists have said Conservatives are not supportive of them, but who is the minister speaking with? I do not think he has the numbers of small players on speed dial. Were they consulted for this bill? If any artist thinks that Conservatives are not supportive of artists, it is because the Liberals have created this wedge by refusing to reinstate 4.1. They are forcing Conservatives to bow for democracy, and we are the only ones who seem to be doing that. The Liberals have created a custody battle that I do not want to be a part of.

I want to support content, and I want to support our broadcasters, but why does it have to be a battle between choosing between them and democracy? We put forward a motion at committee calling for new charter statements to be provided, but the Liberals voted to shut it down.

I cannot help but wonder if the Liberals have an agenda for omitting 4.1. Artists who are still striving to find a rainbow are discriminated against and exploited. They face financial instability for following their hearts. Most will never get fully compensated for the investments they have made in their careers.

If the Liberals had simply fixed 4.1, I would not have my suspicions. The fact that they have not done something so simple with something that was originally there, makes me come to the conclusion that they are playing political games against Conservatives, at the expense of struggling artists.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 15th, 2021 / 12:40 a.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, how is this possible?

At the beginning of her speech, my colleague said that she was an artist, a composer, so how can she not automatically be excited about the idea of promoting the talents of Canadian and Quebec artists? That is the purpose of Bill C‑10. The bill is designed to ensure that multinational digital corporations, the web giants, are subject to the same regulations that the traditional Canadian broadcasters have almost always been subject to. Bill C‑10 is good for artists and good for the cultural community.

I sincerely wonder why my hon. colleague does not support and embrace this bill, like the majority of Canadian artists do.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 16th, 2021 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy with the outcome of the two motions adopted earlier. If you seek it, you will find unanimous consent of the House:

That, notwithstanding any standing or special order or usual practice of the House, the amendment to the second reading motion of Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, standing in the name of the member for Regina—Wascana, be withdrawn; and that the motion for second reading of Bill C-10 be deemed adopted on division and that the bill be referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 10:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be joining the debate on Bill C-10. There is a Yiddish proverb that says when one sweeps the house, one finds everything. I am not sweeping this House, as I am sure it is the cleanest house in Canada right now. I am sure the staff is doing amazing work.

In reading the legislation now before the House, I had to sweep over articles of what the minister and the government believe Bill C-10 would achieve, especially as conditions have changed over the past four weeks. I hope to demonstrate to the House that the intent of the government, with Bill C-10 and what it hopes to achieve, is confounding two different issues.

There is a role for the government to play in ensuring that regulations and laws are in place to offset disinformation and attempts by foreign governments, or entities with a nefarious purpose, to spread disinformation with the objective of achieving discord or chaos in our country, or causing economic harm.

I do not think there is as much of a place for the government to deal with misinformation, because Canadians are excellent at dealing with it themselves. A headline about an interview the Minister of Canadian Heritage gave states, “Regulation of online hate speech coming soon, says minister”. This is regarding Bill C-10, the legislation that was suggested. Hate speech is already banned by the Criminal Code. There is a way for police to monitor and go after individuals who spread hate speech. Nobody on this side of the House, or any side of the House, agrees with hate speech. I do my best to make sure that when I see it online I address it, whether it is directed at ethnicities or religions, and whatever the purpose is behind it.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage also said that the government wants to block messages on the Internet and social media that might undermine Canada's social cohesion. It is a lofty goal for the government to want to do these things with legislation like Bill C-10 and the vast extension of government powers that it is allowing. I will go through some of the proposed government powers that I find questionable.

I question whether ensuring the social cohesion of a country is the right role for the government to be taking on. Our citizens, NGOs and civic organizations do the job of protecting our civic virtues already. It is not the job of the government to be proposing such legislation as I see here. What I see in Bill C-10 is the government opening the door to state regulation of the Internet. While people define the Internet in different ways, we interact with it every single day, whether by watching steaming services online or interacting with others on different platforms. This is an area that I think the government is erring by getting into.

The same minister went on to say that he wanted to prevent media platforms from sowing doubt in the population with regard to public institutions. I find the government does an excellent job of sowing doubt in public institutions itself. We were told months ago that vaccines were going to be distributed and everybody was going to be vaccinated by September 2021. Then we saw an announcement for AstraZeneca vaccines from a facility that is not even built yet. It will be finished in July, and then we are supposed to believe that in two months somehow this facility will save the day, and also that Pfizer vaccines will be available now that its facility has been upgraded.

It sows doubt among people in my riding who trusted the government at the beginning, who had faith in public institutions and public servants and believed that the government had a handle on this. They do not believe that anymore. I had a digital town hall yesterday and the majority of the questions I had to field from over 600 constituents back home, at one point, concerned the government's dribs-and-drabs approach to the travel restrictions that it has introduced, and how confusing they are. To be honest, I am just as confused as everybody else.

The government does enough of a job of undermining public trust in public institutions. When it botches the rollout of the vaccine to the provinces and introduces random restrictions, it does not need legislation like this. I will go into some of the aspects of what this legislation would do that give me concern.

First, I am concerned that the bill chooses to limit the oversight powers of parliamentary committees with respect to directives and regulations that would be adopted by the CRTC. At the end of the amendments to the Broadcasting Act, the bill states that it would go around the powers Parliament rightfully has to oversee what is being done. I get constituents asking me, all the time, to intervene in the actions and regulatory activities of the CRTC. I have concerns about this.

The Broadcasting Act says that broadcasting undertakings include distribution undertakings. The proposed legislation would add online undertakings. About a dozen people in my riding have successful YouTube channels, such as toy channels and travel channels, when travel was easy to do. YouTube is one of those platforms I think the government is targeting for regulation. YouTube is both a streaming service and a platform. It is sort of a commons area like this chamber, for people to put up videos, whether funny or serious, and share their opinions. Whether or not one likes their opinions is totally secondary.

This is an expansion of what the government is trying to do. A lot of independent media are saying they are very concerned that they are going to be regulated directly by the government. Who gets to decide what is misinformation? What I see happening, mostly from parties on the left but all over the spectrum, is that misinformation is now whatever someone does not like, or whatever opinion one does not agree with.

A lot of Liberal caucus members have opinions I disagree with, but I do not want to censor them. I want to debate them, preferably on the floor of the House. I do not want to do it over Twitter. To me, Twitter is one of the lowest of all platforms. It is where people get attacked, mobbed and treated like second-class citizens. When I talk to constituents about it, I generally refer to Twitter as a sewer with its activities. Bots are all over the place, and there are vicious attacks on both Liberal and Conservative politicians. I think all members have been victims, at some point, of nasty online commentary, either calling for violence or treating the members very poorly. We can all agree that this is something awful and unique to that particular platform.

Another part of the legislation I am worried about would amend a portion of the intention behind the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It reads, “the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as the national public broadcaster, should provide broadcasting,” which is the new amendment, “services incorporating a wide range of programming that informs, enlightens and entertains”. I have a hard time believing that a lot of the material being broadcast right now by the CBC, or its online platforms, informs, enlightens or entertains, unless it is a high form of satire it is producing in its news section.

Bill C-10 does not achieve the modernization of broadcasting, which was the idea the government had months ago when the bill was tabled. Generally, many members agree with that idea. In my lifetime, with the advent of the Internet, we have seen a lot of people migrate away from cable providers. Cable used to be the “it” thing in the 1990s. I would not know, as I never had cable. My family could not afford it.

Everybody has migrated to online services. The government is catching up to regulate these, but it is going way overboard and has missed the mark. This is not the way we should go about regulating it, nor should we take away from Parliament the ability to question and oversee regulators such as the CRTC.

I consistently get complaints about the CRTC and I do not think more government power over what Canadians share online, the discussions they are having at home and online, is an area the government should be getting into. It does not have the wisdom or the ability. It will always be catching up to society and civic institutions not attached to government. The government is erring, and I will not be supporting this particular legislation.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 10:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, as I was saying, I am a bit confused. The member spoke at length about a bill that has not been tabled, which is a bill that will be dealing with online harm, such as child pornography, incitement of violence and terrorism. It seems the member has not read Bill C-10, which deals with how the government wants to legislate to ensure that online platforms do their fair share when it comes to cultural investments in Canada. It has nothing to do with online harm, which is a very important subject, and in fact, many members of the opposition have asked us to—

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 10:15 a.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

I must admit that I am wondering whether my colleague actually read the bill, because there is nothing in there about online hate. However, I was struck by his comment about how people are able to distinguish fact from fiction on their own.

I am wondering if my colleague remembers what happened south of the border on January 6. Does he think that those events could have been the result of the dissemination of misinformation? I would like to know what he thinks about that. I would also like him to tell me what evidence leads him to believe that people can distinguish between accurate information and misinformation. That being said, this does not pertain directly to Bill C-10, which is before us today.

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February 5th, 2021 / 10:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, I am pleased today to give an overview of some of the inadequacies of Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.

The Liberal government has once again said one thing in its messaging and preamble about what this bill would do, in contrast with what the content of the bill actually enacts. Its message to Canadians is that the bill would ensure online broadcasting is covered under the act. It indicates that the bill updates broadcasting and regulatory policies to better reflect the diversity of Canadian society and that it modernizes and provides the CRTC with new enforcement powers through an administrative monetary penalty scheme.

Updating and modernizing the Broadcasting Act is very important, as it has been almost 30 years since any significant change has been made to Canadian broadcasting regulations. Many of my younger colleagues have commented during their speeches on this topic on how old they were when changes were last made to the Broadcasting Act, even speaking to the fact they were but a glimmer in their parents' eyes.

I cannot say I was there when Maurice Cole was the essence of radio, but I do share a birthday with CKSW, a country music radio station in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, which serves southwestern Saskatchewan and first began broadcasting in 1956.

I grew up enjoying Saturday morning cartoons with the Flintstones, the Road Runner and Bugs Bunny. Saturday nights we watched Hockey Night in Canada, and on Sunday evenings we had popcorn for supper as we were entertained by Red Skelton and Carol Burnett. Movies filmed a detective as he slowly crept along an entire block, and advertisements for headache relief lasted a full 60 seconds. We do not know what we have until it is gone.

That being said, boy, do I love getting to watch what I want, when I want and as much as I want. That is where we are at today, in the blink of an eye. However, that is enough of precious memories. We will move on to the task at hand.

This act provides the guidelines for everything in our media industry. It is a crucial vehicle for determining fairness in the way the industry is regulated, while ensuring it is vibrant and growing with opportunities for Canadians. The Broadcasting Act covers everything from how our Canadian broadcasters operate to how we support Canadian content and production.

The arrival of the Internet and online streaming services has been a reality for a long time now, and they have been competing with Canadian broadcasters on an uneven playing field. Unfortunately, Bill C-10 does not meet the need to set the policies and standards required to level that playing field. The bill is vague. It does not address important aspects of issues important to industry stakeholders, such as ensuring that the web giants Google and Facebook have to compete under the same rules as Canadian companies. It does not explain how digital platforms and conventional players would compete on an even playing field.

Bill C-10 also does not require broadcasters to contribute to the creation of Canadian content or the Canada Media Fund, as is currently the case for Canadian broadcasters.

In the previous majority Liberal government, the then minister of heritage championed the decision of Netflix to support Canadian content with a $5-million commitment. However, I could not help but notice that this generous contribution was immediately followed by an increase in monthly consumer fees, which smacks of Canadians paying outright for this supposed act of generosity and appreciation for investing in Canadian content.

The issue of proprietary content that is shared on digital platforms is also not addressed. The bill does nothing to address the inequity between digital and conventional media; the regulation of social media, such as Facebook; and the sharing of advertising royalties demanded by traditional media.

As well, the absence of language guidelines in the bill disadvantages francophone communities by failing to ensure that online broadcasters create content in both official languages. There are no guidelines to regulate French content, and the specificity of Quebec culture is not mentioned.

The one and only measure to increase the place of French language is the reference in paragraph 3(1)(k) of the act, which states, “a range of broadcasting services in English and in French shall be extended to all Canadians as...[means] become available”.

This is to be replaced by simply removing that last part so that it will now read, “a range of broadcasting services in English and in French shall be progressively extended to all Canadians”.

This does not better reflect the diversity of Canadian society. It changes it, for sure. However, it is unacceptable and represents a much weaker approach than the act provides for aboriginal, racialized and LGBTQ content. It is important to note I am not saying that their content should be minimized in any way, but simply that there is not an even playing field here, even within the act, for French and English content. It is important we do this.

I have children who home-school, and they watch French-language television to increase their French capabilities, which is something I wish I had had the opportunity to do as I was growing up. It was much more difficult for this lady who shares a birthday with a radio station.

The bill also does nothing to modernize the copyright law. With Bill C-10, the government has introduced a broad delegation of powers to the CRTC, without including clear guidelines, on the percentages of Canadian content required, fees and contributions, expenses, French content and so on.

The CRTC's powers have not even been clearly defined at all. In fact, the bill even chooses to limit the oversight powers of parliamentary committees with respect to the directives and regulations adopted by the CRTC. It also limits broadcasters' ability to appeal a decision. This is not acceptable. The message the government is sending is for us to trust it, and we will see it later. The government will, therefore, wait several months for the CRTC to act, and with very limited parliamentary oversight.

This is very poor governance on behalf of Canadians. Canadians expect and deserve accountability in and oversight over their government, and any and all laws, regulations and public institutions governing their opportunities as individuals and peoples. Taking authority away from committees' capacity for oversight and from the Auditor General, and increasing state control of information and conversation is regressive, not progressive. It is a serious overreach by the Liberal government.

In a minority situation, it would have been much more appropriate to come up with a clear bill, detailing in concrete terms the government's approach to all of these issues, rather than simply giving the CRTC more discretion and telling Canadians to wait and see how it would be exercised.

Stakeholders have outlined the many shortcomings I have mentioned today, and in their defence, Bill C-10 is not supportable without significant amendments in response to those requests. I can only hope that the Liberal government has been listening to our stakeholders.

Media has changed forever, and Canadians have changed how they gather information and find entertainment. They have also come to realize that there are no limits on the opportunities to choose where they go for their content.

Apparently I am having trouble with my audio. This is something I deal with all the time, and I apologize. Saskatchewan, for connectivity, comes and goes. I am very frustrated with that. I want what I have to say to be heard.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 10:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Gerald Soroka Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise today to address Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts. In short, Bill C-10 would create a regulatory mess of our streaming and broadcasting industry in Canada.

I understand that one of the main reasons the bill is being brought forward is because it has been so long since our broadcasting regulations have been updated and our current policies are extremely out of date. Therefore, we need to update the Broadcasting Act. However, Bill C-10 as it currently stands is a regulatory mess. Real harms could come from the legislation, and I will use my time today to focus on how the bill is far broader than many realize and certainly broader than the minister has claimed. This has led to a lack of understanding of the consequences of the bill as it relates to the general public.

I will start with addressing the limitations that the government claims are integrated into the bill so that it is not too overreaching.

The minister said in the House of Commons, “user-generated content, new content and video games would not be subject to the new regulations. Furthermore, entities would need to reach a significant economic threshold before any regulation can be imposed." This claim by the minister is false, as no specific economic threshold would be established by the bill, which means that all internet streaming services carried in Canada, domestically and foreign-owned, would be subject to Canadian regulation. This means that if someone has Canadian subscribers, this law would apply, regardless of where the service provider is located.

The limitations the minister is referring to are that the bill would give the CRTC the power to exempt services from regulation. It would also leave it entirely up to the CRTC to establish thresholds and regulations once the bill is enacted. However, members should make no mistake; handing this half-baked legislation to the CRTC is not a fix or the same as claiming that the bill contains significant economic thresholds.

It is probably fair to say that the CRTC will not limit its regulatory approach to companies that generate large revenues in Canada as they will want to generate more tax revenue in order for the CRTC to determine who might be exempt. It is only likely to require that smaller foreign service providers register with the CRTC and provide it with confidential subscriber information, revenue data and whatever else the CRTC may ask for.

This policy could have unintended consequences and internet streaming services thinking about entering the Canadian marketplace could put their plans on hold until the legislation has been implemented for some time and until they have a better understanding of what they will face from the regulatory perspective. This could lead to less competition, less choice and an oligopoly market where Canadian consumers are overcharged.

Further on this economic threshold, the bill would leave the CRTC open to establish its own thresholds. Then what happens if they establish a high threshold that limits it to targeting a handful of large companies like Netflix, Prime Video, etc.? These are American companies, and the policy then would invite a trade challenge.

As I quoted earlier, the minister said that there would be exemptions for user-generated content, news content and video games and that none of those would be subject to new regulations. There is a reference to the user-generated content in the bill, but it covers the individuals, not necessarily the sites themselves.

YouTube, as an example, is only exempt if it limits itself to user-generated content. Once it moves outside that realm and has subscription services, as the site currently does, then it would be caught by this legislation. Therefore, there would not be as many sites and services that are 100% completely excluded from this legislation.

Maybe now members can see what I am getting at when I say the bill is a regulatory mess.

Continuing to the video game side, there is no reference in the legislation, just an assurance by the government that video games will be exempt. However, we have heard assurances from the Liberal government before and know its assurances do not carry much weight.

On the issue of news content, the minister said that would be excluded too, but once again that is not the case.

Online sites that offer news in video and audio format fall into this grey area, where they could be interpreted to fall under the bill. The language surrounding news content in the bill is confusing to say the least.

For example, it says that news sites that do not predominantly display text are not captured by the act. What it does not say is that those same news sites that rely on audio and video would be regulated by the act. The potential scope of news site regulation under the bill is wide-ranging as it covers everything from small local media sites to podcasts. Therefore, when the minister said that news content was excluded, that is just not true.

Whether we are talking about Rebel News, PressProgress or anything in between, it is important that online news not be affected by regulatory burdens intended to target large companies. That would be doing the exact opposite of levelling the playing field as the government claims this bill is supposed to do. Regulating Internet content in any way sets a dangerous precedent and is a threat to the freedom of expression. We must ensure the bill would not do that.

I have only a few minutes left and I have not even begun to address the massive costs associated with the implementation and enforcement of Bill C-10. I am sure some of my colleagues will go into further detail on the costs, so I will leave it with them. However, the massive cost of this program will no doubt be passed along to the consumers.

Since the legislation was introduced to the House, several of my constituents have emailed my office expressing their concerns with the legislation. Constituents fear that in attempting to level the playing field, the government would only make things worse. They say, “All [Bill] C-10 will accomplish is further entrenching the power of the legacy media companies who already benefit from today's rigid CanCon/Canada Media-Fund structure, while leaving small and indie new media Canadian creators without meaningful government support.”

I absolutely agree that it is important we level the playing field. I think most members have the same sentiment. However, how we do that is where the Conservatives differ from the Liberals. As always, the Liberals want to bring in more taxes and punish ordinary Canadians who like to unwind and watch TV and movies. The Conservatives, on the other hand, have a leader who is committed to levelling the playing field, but to do so by eliminating the goods and services taxes on subscriptions to Canadian digital platforms.

The government needs to step up and make clarifications in some of the areas I have outlined. As I have said, it seems we are trying to achieve the same goal here, but have different ideological approaches on how we get there. It is important that the legislation define the term “significant economic threshold”, and stop passing the buck to the CRTC.

I welcome questions and comments from my colleagues, and hope we can work together to pass a bill that would benefit the majority of Canadians and does not have unintended consequences.

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February 5th, 2021 / 10:45 a.m.
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Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Liberal

Steven Guilbeault LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, there seems to be a confusion. The broadcasting bill deals with cultural issues and has nothing to do with issues such as online harm or disinformation. The member for Yellowhead talked about the increase in cost. Netflix has increased its subscription in 20 different countries. Does the member think that increases in subscriptions in those 20 countries are a result of Bill C-10?

The previous Conservative member spoke at great length about how the Conservatives really liked the Australian model. Believe it or not, the Australian model has regulators to enforce the legislation. I have in fact spoken with those regulators. I would like the member to tell me the difference between what Australia is doing, by using regulators, and what Canada is proposing. How is that different?

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Madam Speaker, this is one of my first times speaking over Zoom, so it is a new experience for me. I appreciate much more being able speaking physically from the House, but given the pandemic, that is not possible, so here I am speaking in the House in the Commons from northern Alberta. It is kind of a weird thing. Nonetheless, I have seen many of my friends on Zoom, who are all smiling, so I know they must be doing okay around the world.

Bill C-10, I must admit, is a tough bill to get through given that it amends a whole bunch of other pieces of legislation. It always drives me a little crazy when we are dealing with stuff like this, because there are all of these little chunks of law in the bill that amend this act and that act. It takes a long time to pull it all together and get a full picture of what we are all trying to achieve. What is clear is that it is giving the CRTC new powers and new responsibilities.

I do hear a lot of frustration about the CRTC, about its not doing what it is supposed to be doing and doing other things that people do not appreciate. This is going to be interesting one way or the other. I know that with Internet installation and whoever is bringing the Internet to certain communities, the CRTC gets involved and many times whenever that is happening, there is paperwork to be filled out, phone calls to be made and folks get frustrated with how the CRTC responds, like they do with many other government organizations, such as the CRA. Folks end up in my office saying that the government is not doing what it is supposed to be doing. I have to sort all of that out. Regardless of where this bill goes and how it ends up, there will be more folks showing up in my office complaining about the CRTC's doing something or not doing something when it is supposed to be doing something else. I know that will be a challenge going forward.

Bringing Canadian content to Canadians has been an ongoing challenge. We live next door to a media giant, the United States, which has the budget, the population and Hollywood. They are able to bring content to the world. I do not think this is a unique problem to Canada. Although we are very close to the United States and our culture is similar to theirs, I would imagine that the entire English-speaking world is dominated by American media. We often end up with American content on our local channels, because it is easy and we can get it for a relatively low price.

What is interesting about this is that we do have a national broadcaster dedicated to Canada, paid for by our taxpayer dollars. Over a billion dollars a year goes to the CBC. Canadian content sometimes is very minimal. I never watch the CBC, but I do listen to it on the radio in my pickup. Often, American politics and American stories take up the majority of the news cycle on our national broadcaster. I always find that fascinating. Nevertheless, I do listen to the CBC in my pickup. I have to admit that. I am Dutch. I know that I am paying lots of money to fund the CBC, so for as long as I can stomach it, I listen to the CBC because I think I should get something for all of that money we are paying for the CBC. The CBC comes up in this bill from time to time and I hope that it will be a part of it as well.

The bill talks about the CBC, our national broadcaster, playing a role in our Canadian content. I know that is an important piece of what the national broadcaster is there for and I hope that we start to see a culture change at the CBC so that Canadian content, Canadian topics and Canadian interests are covered and that 75% of the news cycle is not American stories. That drives me a little nuts, to be sure.

I am a unique member of Parliament in the fact that I live hundreds of kilometres from the American border. Many Canadians live within 100 kilometres of the American border and I live nearly 1,000 kilometres from the border, so I do not necessarily have as much to do with Americans every day life as maybe other Canadians do. I am not sure how much interaction the rest of Canada has with the United States, but I know that when I went to university in B.C., in the Fraser Valley, when I lived in Abbotsford, people could spit and hit the American border, as I would always says. We could see it. On the weekends, there would be a long line-up to buy milk and gas just up the road from where I lived, as it went across to the United States. For those living in the Lower Mainland of B.C., interacting with the United States was a common occurrence.

Where I live, the interactions with the United States probably come in the form of Amazon and the things we order having to come across the border. Every now and then we have to pay a little more money because something happened to the package at the border, such as agents opening the package, having a look at it and then charging $12 when we picked it up. That is more typical of the interactions we have due to our relationship with the United States.

I do see a need for local content. The billion dollars we spend on the CBC could definitely be put toward that. The CBC infrastructure where I live, in many cases, is the only radio station people can pick up. That is the repeater infrastructure across northern Alberta. I value that. People do not have cell service for stretches when driving, but they do have CBC radio. It could be that we would have more regional content.

We talk a lot about the Laurentian elite. The CBC is very good and very representative of eastern Canada. It tells the stories in the voice of a central Canadian. Even when they are telling the story of the perspective of northern Alberta or the territories, it is always in the voice of a central Canadian. I do not think it is necessarily intentional, but that is the way it is. There is a central Canadian feel about it. Ironically, I do not think central Canadians even understand what that is, in the same way I do not necessarily know what a western Canadian is or does and an eastern Canadian does not necessarily know what an eastern Canadian says or does from the other perspective. I would love to see the CBC definitely speak with a western voice.

It comes down to the way that we talk and think about things. We see that often. I do not know if it is because the journalism schools are located out east or what the deal is, but we get the general sense that even when our stories from northern Alberta, northern Canada or the territories are being told, it is told in an eastern voice, if that is even a thing. I am not sure an eastern voice is a thing, but it is a term I am going to use that I like.

I am excited to see that the government is going to try to encourage national content. I am always concerned, however, when the Liberals get involved in trying to encourage or discourage anything. That usually means taxing and subsidizing something, which is always a fascinating thing. I think there is something to the effect that if there is a successful company, it should be taxed, but when it is struggling, it should be subsidized. There is a story about that. We have watched that over and over again. The oil sector here in Alberta was doing great—

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 12:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Peace River—Westlock for his speech, in which he spoke about the importance of local content and a strong regional press.

During the pandemic, my colleague from Drummond and I have met with local media representatives and representatives from a co-operative radio station. They shared their concerns with us, including concerns about community media.

Although Bill C-10 has its flaws, we look forward to it being studied and worked on in committee. We want this to move forward because the concerns remain.

I just had a request for another meeting, along with my colleague from Drummond, because representatives from local media have some suggestions for us.

How can the GAFAM of the world pay their fair share and how can local media get adequate funding?

We all recognize that local media is essential. It is important to move forward and send Bill C-10 to committee. I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on that.

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February 5th, 2021 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Madam Speaker, I am proud to speak today on Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act.

While this bill has some serious technical aspects, which I will get into in a moment, I would like to begin by highlighting the fact that at the end of the day, even though we are talking about regulations and broadcasting rules, we are ultimately talking about Canadian jobs. Today we can even look at some of the job losses. This morning we heard of the additional 213,000 job losses in Canada in the month of January, which once again has increased our unemployment rate, so while we are having this discussion we have to also focus on what this is all about, which ultimately is about people working here in Canada.

I also want to look back for a moment at what we have seen here in my own riding of Elgin—Middlesex—London and highlight some of the work that was being done here prior to the pandemic.

I remember the excitement in the community of St. Thomas when it was announced that Jason Momoa—and I probably said that wrong, as I am one of the few people who has not watched Aquaman—was coming to our area and that Apple TV was going to produce a show right in our own backyard at the psychiatric hospital here in St. Thomas, or actually in central Elgin, for those who are from here.

These are really important things to our community. Sean Dyke, who is our economic development agent for the City of St. Thomas, had talked about other companies coming to our area. Most recently, the Amazon movie The Boys was being filmed here, and Guillermo del Toro did Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Many people are choosing locations right here in our own backyard in the City of St. Thomas, and also in the community of Port Stanley. I know the village of Port Stanley has been used for sites, and I can think of Bayham in the Port Burwell area as well.

These are really important parts when we talk about productions. We have to look at what is being done in our communities and how talent is being drawn to our communities, whether through production or acting, and how that is highlighting some of the great things we have in our own communities.

I talk about this with a lot of excitement because my son, who is an actor, has been part of multiple productions for Netflix, and this is an opportunity for actors to get their foot in the door. Many other companies are now coming in and producing well-connected dramas and shows in our areas, and we are receiving economic development from them.

I am not going to speak specifically on the infrastructure of the bill and what that looks like. The reason I am not is basically because of its lack of clarity. I am finding it very difficult to understand, so I have to just look at the impacts of Bill C-10 here in Elgin—Middlesex—London and how we can move forward from this.

I know that conversations about economic growth have unfortunately been falling on the deaf ears of the government for a while, and we know that many of these productions will not be able to get back in order until there are rapid tests, vaccines and the tools needed to get people back to work so they can resume the great work that is being done.

I am not trying to advertise for any of these movies or shows, but Bill C-10 will have a tangible impact on how the content will be classified. Filming movies and TV shows in the heart of my riding, within the Canadian economy and with Canadian actors, actresses and crew members, cannot be classified as Canadian content, because all of the financing and production is handled by American companies. That is why I talk about the clarity of this bill, the idea of Canadian content and what CanCon actually looks like. I will tell members that every single cheque my son brought home in 2020 was from an American company, yet he was a Canadian actor acting in Toronto, so what is happening in our own communities has to be looked at as well.

These massive companies are also not contributing back into the Canada Media Fund and are not being taxed in the same way as Canadian corporations. This is inherently unfair for local producers, small papers and broadcasters working to highlight Canadian content and provide reliable content for Canadians.

I want clarity in this bill so that I can read it and understand the impacts of what the Liberals are putting forward. There have been barriers in the past, and this is why it is really important to have this conversation.

While it is definitely important that we modernize the Broadcasting Act and introduce some fairness to the industry, including requiring web giants and social media to pay their fair share, we have to remember that getting this wrong can directly impact Canadian jobs and that over-regulation or lack of clarity in the rules will ultimately lead companies to film elsewhere, causing Canadians to lose out on these new opportunities. The more barriers we have, the more likely it is that people will wonder if it is worth doing in Canada.

I am not saying that there should not be some fair ground here; I absolutely believe that there needs to be, but I do want to put into this debate today the fact that the clarity just is not there.

Another worry I have from Bill C-10 is that it has placed limited abilities on parliamentary committees to oversee the directives and regulations that are being adopted by the CRTC. I do not have to remind everyone of the government's dismal record on accountability. I know I speak for many of my colleagues when I say that it seems that the government's overwhelming priority, even in the middle of this pandemic, is to avoid accountability.

Without even getting into the political reasons for its completely unnecessary prorogation, we have seen by time and time again the government running from accountability, filibustering committees, covering its tracks on things such as the WE Charity and covering for a Prime Minister who would rather hide at Rideau Cottage than face the music. The fact that there is not going to be accountability here in Parliament for these powers being given to the CRTC is an issue. We do not want to see the unintended consequences without a thorough debate.

The government has not earned the trust of Canadians when it comes to broadcasting. Let us not forget that this is the same heritage minister who seems to have no problem in demanding that news organizations be licensed. I want to talk about that because I can share my own concerns on this issue.

There was a situation that happened here in Elgin—Middlesex—London with a person I know who is a journalist in our region. His concern is whether putting online publishers under the same type of broadcast regulations lays the groundwork to regulate online news content in the same way that television and radio content is being governed by broadcast regulations.

The government says news publishers will not be affected by these changes, but the problem is that the government has a limited definition of who qualifies as news and as media. According to the legislation, paragraph (i) specifies 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.” Once again we are establishing so many unknowns, and once again we need clarity on this aspect.

Just prior to when this legislation came out, Andrew Coyne, a writer with The Globe and Mail, wrote:

If that sounds paranoid, consider the weight the government puts on its assurances that online broadcasters would not have to be “licensed”. That's true, as far as it goes. They would just be obliged to “register” with the CRTC, subject to certain “conditions of service,” enforced by “fines.”

We can talk about the fact that there will not be these limitations, but we have to look at some of the other language being used. This is very concerning, because at this time right now, it is really important that we have proper news agencies and proper news reporting and that we are ensuring that we are getting all sides of the story.

Finally, the bill does not provide any benchmarks to legislate the percentage of French content. We have heard from many of our members today, specifically from Quebec. I have been working on my French recently and I hope to one day enjoy the bounty of wonderful content filmed and produced in Quebec in French, but this bill does nothing to help French language content.

I know some serious modernizations are needed to help our Broadcasting Act here in Canada, but I do not believe that the bill exactly does this. I am very concerned with the bill, as I said, and I hope there will be much more clarity in it. I believe we do need to find a balance between our big corporations and our smaller corporations, the new players on the field and the players that have been there for years, but let us make sure that we are doing it with all players on board, because I believe we are missing out.

I am now happy to take any questions.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Nelly Shin Conservative Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, in my past life before politics, I was an independent recording artist. I was inspired by the music of Dan Hill, Anne Murray, David Foster, Céline Dion and Shania Twain. I discovered them on radio and television. I do not think it is a coincidence that most of my favourite musicians are Canadian; we have a lot of talent here, but the stars whom I mentioned found their big break in the U.S. instead of Canada. I shared this story because I want to affirm the symbiosis of Canadian content creators and Canadian broadcasters in the lives of Canadians and the value of protecting these institutions to allow Canada's cultural and artistic identity to thrive.

Bill C-10 is important in spirit because it seeks to modernize a 28-year-old law that does not take into account diversified broadcasting platforms with the arrival of the digital world, including Internet, social media and streaming. It is critical to acknowledge the reality of new and growing digital platforms and the implications of a global market and of foreign players entering our system, and we must do so with consideration for the long-term sustainability of Canadian content and Canadian broadcasting platforms. This requires adapting the CRTC's mandates to maximize the success of Canadian entities in the broadcasting ecosystem for the furtherance of Canada's heritage and economic prosperity.

We cannot ignore the impact of the broadcasting, film and music sectors on the Canadian economy. Based on a November 2020 report on Canadian Heritage's website, the GDP impact of broadcasting was $9.1 billion, with $16.9 billion in revenues and 41,901 jobs; the GDP impact of film and video was $4.3 billion, with $13.39 billion in revenues and 71,027 jobs; and the GDP impact of music and sound recording was $637 million, with $577 million in revenues and 8,986 jobs.

The trend is also clear. Over the last 10 years, Canadians have increasingly moved toward Internet streaming services for programs, while moving away from paid-subscription TV. These are both viable avenues for viewers today. The implications of these trends plead for a modernized Broadcasting Act. That is the intent of Bill C-10, but I am not fully convinced that the proposed amendments would accomplish what the bill purports to do. I hope to address these issues today.

Canadian content producers and broadcasters have a vital role in the production of quality Canadian drama, reality shows and news. Property Brothers, Schitt's Creek, Kim's Convenience and Wall of Chefs are top-notch Canadian shows that have garnered global attention. We are living in an exciting time for Canadian content, but content requires funding.

Canadian content creators have expressed concern that the proposed amendment to paragraph 3(1)(f) of the Broadcasting Act reflects a weakening of the crucial position of Canadian creative resources in the act. As the act currently stands without amendments, it does so under the assumption of a closed system wherein Canadian controlled and owned broadcasters hold a monopoly. Paragraph 3(1)(f) currently reads:

(f) each broadcasting undertaking shall make maximum use, and in no case less than predominant use, of Canadian creative and other resources in the creation and presentation of programming,

Bill C-10 excludes the phrase “maximum use, and in no case less than predominant” and other conditions. The amendment reads:

(f) each broadcasting undertaking shall make use of Canadian creative and other resources in the creation and presentation of programming to the extent that is appropriate for the nature of the undertaking;

Canadian content creators are concerned that this amendment would diminish the critical position of Canadian creators in the Broadcasting Act. My concern about proposed amendment to paragraph 3(1)(f) is its overall lack of clarity and accountability on the role of all broadcasters, whether traditional or modern, in contributing to the creation and presentation of Canadian content. I agree with Canadian creators that the amendment would undermine the value of Canadian content in the Broadcasting Act. In a time when Canadian stories are beginning to find larger audiences and are defining our artistic identity, the amendment to paragraph 3(1)(f) is a little disappointing.

I would like to add that the lack of copyright and intellectual property safeguards in the amendments in the midst of the current international environment does not reflect modernization. Writers, composers, publishers and other copyright holders depend on royalties for their livelihoods. It is already difficult for Canadians with artistic vocations to make ends meet. Many domestic talents move to the U.S., Europe or Asia to find a viable path. The lack of intellectual property protection in the growing and complex digital world and globalized markets is unacceptable in this age. The Broadcasting Act needs to include a modernized copyright law. If Canada does not work toward optimizing the environment for creators to thrive, our cultural identity suffers. Canadian content is not just a means to help Canadian works to reach audiences; Canadian content should be protected and supported to help our arts and culture sectors help establish our heritage and Canadian identity.

Bill C-10 is important in spirit because it seeks to safeguard equitable programming. Bill C-10 amends the Broadcasting Act to, among other things, update the Canadian broadcasting policies set out in sections throughout the act by providing, among other things, that the Canadian broadcasting system should provide opportunities for aboriginal peoples to provide programming in aboriginal languages that reflect aboriginal cultures, and to provide programming that is accessible to persons with disabilities and free of barriers while serving the needs and the interests of Canadians, including Canadians from racialized communities and ethno culturally diverse backgrounds.

The bill amends the CRTC's mandate to require more content in aboriginal, disabled, racialized and LGBTQ2 people. However, the bill does not address any guidelines to regulate French content. There is no provision of a benchmark to legislate the percentage of French language content. Equitable programming needs to also modernize the Broadcasting Act to ensure that French and Quebec culture content are given adequate opportunities to thrive.

Broadcasters are critical to fostering Canadian identity in the role they have with Canadian content. Whether they deliver Canadian news, reality shows and drama, or contribute to the Canada Media Fund to produce Canadian content, they are critical to our cultural identity, everyday life and our economy. However, in the current Broadcasting Act there are obligations and content regulations that mean well to safeguard Canadian content creators, but inadvertently put them at risk of losing in their competition with foreign digital players who have access to Canadian consumers with little regulation at this time. If Canadian broadcasters fall down, then their support for Canadian content also falters.

The broadcasting system is a delicate realm that requires a delicate balance for all to thrive. Providing an even playing field with foreign Internet broadcasters like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney, Apple TV+ will certainly help alleviate the unfair competition. Foreign companies should also contribute to Canadian content, but with that should also come the right balance of regulations so that all players, domestic and foreign, can flourish. If they thrive, their investment in Canadian content creation and presentation will inadvertently benefit the fostering of Canada's cultural identity and economy.

In an age when many entities are competing for audiences in the digital world, Canadian news broadcasters are suffering from the added drop in ad sales caused by the economic downturn from COVID-19. A fair and modernized Broadcasting Act would benefit Canada's broadcasting sector. However, Bill C-10 is too vague and does not ensure that web giants like Google and Facebook are obligated to compete under the same rules as Canadian companies. That does not explain how digital platforms and conventional players will compete on an even playing field. It does not explain the guidelines that will be put in place for the production of Canadian content and contributions to the Canada Media Fund.

It would be incumbent on the CRTC to enforce regulations to reflect a modernized act. However, the role of the CRTC is vague. The lack of clarity raises concerns for all stakeholders as to how the CRTC will interpret its role. Will the CRTC over-regulate and stifle Canadian broadcasters among foreign digital counterparts? Will it over-regulate foreign players and shut them out of the system and thereby lessen opportunities for the relaying of Canadian content?

Based on the way the bill is written, it feels like the Liberal government is passing the buck to the CRTC for all decisions. They will then need at least nine months to undertake the first regulatory phase. In this COVID environment we need broadcasters and Canadian creators to have an assurance that they will survive and hope to thrive among international players.

I would like to refer to a conversation I had with one of my constituents, Rob, who owns Gearforce, a pro audio company that supports live concerts. He said that many of his technician friends in the entertainment industry are struggling not only because they are financially hurting because of shutdowns, but also because they are not putting their skills to work. They are afraid they will lose all of the skills they honed over their lifetime. There is a certain standard of excellence that circulates in the arts and culture sector, whether among writers, composers, artists, artisans or technical workers, who have had to work hard to get where they are in a sector where opportunities are very competitive.

A Broadcasting Act that is modernized with the right amendments is a small step forward to helping Canadian arts and culture sector workers and artists find their place in life. However, an ambiguous bill can be more damaging because of potential misinterpretations. If Bill C-10 passes second reading, I hope there will be fulsome discussions at committee to amend the bill.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Chris d'Entremont Conservative West Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise virtually today to speak to Bill C-10.

Like many of my colleagues, I appreciate this opportunity to speak to this bill. I am an Acadian, and this bill will have a profound effect on the survival of our wonderful Acadian culture and community, which is very important to me. It deserves being promoted and protected.

Digital media is bigger than ever, and the 28-year-old Broadcasting Act is in urgent need of modernization to address the evolution of the Internet and the overwhelming emergence of social networks and online services like Facebook, Google, Netflix, Crave and Spotify, among others.

Modernizing the act does not necessarily mean erasing the past, forgetting how it has shaped our history to this day or failing to take it into account in the future. We need to ensure the continuity of our past and our Acadian culture and preserve them for always.

In its brief to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission during the CBC/Radio-Canada licence renewal process, the Société nationale de l'Acadie, the SNA, noted that it has had to intervene repeatedly to get Radio-Canada to support Acadian culture and to remind the broadcaster about the obligations in its mandate.

As a proud Acadian, and on behalf of all Acadians, I want to point out that all Acadians, just like all Canadians, help fund CBC/Radio-Canada. That funding, together with the broadcaster's mandate, are all that guarantee these services, which must be not only preserved at all costs but also respected. To make that happen, we need effective enforcement measures to be very clearly indicated in Bill C-10, which is not the case.

The SNA is the official representative of all Acadian people. It promotes the rights and interests of Atlantic Acadians. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the SNA for its hard work and its efforts to preserve our magnificent Acadian culture.

The bill seeks to amend the Broadcasting Act in several ways, such as by adding websites that broadcast or rebroadcast programs as a separate category of broadcasting undertaking. It also seeks to update Canada's broadcasting policy set out in section 3 to, for example, provide indigenous-language programming for indigenous people that reflects their culture.

I believe that Bill C-10 needs to go even further to ensure the presence and preservation of certain cultures, such as Acadian culture. I absolutely agree that the act needs to be modernized, just as the Official Languages Act needs to be modernized. On this side of the House, we want to be able to vote on a bill that will be fair for Canadian producers and broadcasters.

For several years now, Canadians have been expressing concerns about how unfair it is that Netflix does not pay any taxes in Canada. The goal is to find a balance between conventional media and digital media, as well as with content.

I completely agree with that goal. The francophone population of Nova Scotia, which listens to the Radio-Canada station out of Halifax, is upset about the fact that they hear more updates on traffic jams in Montreal and on the Samuel de Champlain Bridge than they do content from Nova Scotia artists.

It is important to point out that the case of the Atlantic provinces is unique. There is only one television production centre, supported by three radio production centres, to serve the four provinces. We want more local content to reflect the unique nature of Acadia and to promote and protect Acadian culture.

Unfortunately, when the CBC does not keep its commitments, even when complaints are filed with the CRTC, it is generally not penalized because it is not subject to the same rules as other Canadian broadcasters.

In 2021, it is unacceptable that this exemption still exists. It needs to be removed through Bill C-10. It is vital that the percentage of Canadian content is respected to the letter and that each region of Canada can enforce its local cultural content quotas.

The Conservatives want an equitable regulatory framework for digital media and conventional broadcasters. My Conservative colleagues and I will only be able to support the modernization of the Broadcasting Act if it includes additional, clear, non-negotiable francophone content requirements.

During the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's licence renewal process, the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse noted in its brief presented on January 13 to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission that Acadians in Nova Scotia did not get access to a French-language elementary school education until 1981. It took a legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada for them to finally, in 2003, get access to a French-language education in a system of homogenous secondary schools. Without that education in French, Acadians in Nova Scotia became assimilated at an alarming rate. Between 1981 and 1996, the number of French-speaking Acadians in Nova Scotia went from 80,000 to 42,000,

In the spring and fall of 2019, the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse consulted extensively throughout the province on linguistic insecurity. Participants all reported experiencing language insecurity, discomfort or reluctance to express themselves in French, or even a feeling of inadequacy in French. I am quite saddened by these results. The lack of familiarity on the part of the broader Canadian public when it comes to Nova Scotia's Acadian community contributes to this linguistic insecurity.

Local content must be created so people can see themselves reflected in the media. The one and only measure to improve the place of French is to replace the reference in section 3 that weakens it further. This step backwards is completely unacceptable. It represents a much more vague and, more importantly, a much weaker approach than the act provides for indigenous content, for example.

This is another example of the Liberal government's contradictions. The government is further weakening an essential piece of legislation that is already weak, while making francophone communities across Canada believe that it will introduce a bill to modernize the Official Languages Act, which would focus on the promotion and protection of the French language for all minority francophone communities. That is nonsense.

In light of all these points, there is no way I can vote in favour of this bill without a firm commitment from the government to thoroughly review all the amendments needed to improve it in order to ensure that Acadian and francophone Canadian content has the kind of future it deserves.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

February 5th, 2021 / 1:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Kram Conservative Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure today to speak to Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.

This has to be one of the most enjoyable debates I have had the opportunity to participate in this chamber. With such a vast and diverse country like ours, it is interesting to see the different local content from the far corners of our country.

This is near and dear to my heart, not just because of the content on the screen but because of the experiences of the persons who are involved in creating the content. That includes the background extras.

I had the very good fortune of being a background extra in several productions in my hometown in Regina, in the surrounding area. It all came about by chance, but it really did open my eyes to the so-called gig economy that has been in the news much more lately during the pandemic.

I was walking through the mall one day in Regina and I saw a guy, who has since become a good friend of mine, sitting at a table and a sign that said, “Sign up here to be in TV shows”. I asked him what it was all about. He was the casting director for a local company called Partners in Motion, which makes movies and TV shows in Regina and in southern Saskatchewan. He told me that I looked like a police officer and he had a spot for me in the documentary series called Crime Stories. They needed background extras to re-enact these crimes and they could cast me in the role of a police officer to arrest some criminal for the documentary series. It sounded like fun and a good way to make minimum wage on the side, so that is what I did. It really opened my eyes to how many people in my community had hobbies or gig jobs being background extras in TV shows.

Over the course of the following months and years, I arrested many different people in that crime series. I got to be a soldier in war. In a particularly memorable experience, I got to be a background extra in Corner Gas: The Movie. People tend to talk about Corner Gas, the TV show, but there was a major motion picture a few years ago, based on all the characters in Dog River, Corner Gas. It was certainly very memorable to walk up and down Main Street in Rouleau, Saskatchewan. I played towns person number seven in that movie. Much to my dismay, I was not nominated for an Oscar that year, but in the sequel perhaps my name will come up.

I have not seen anything in the bill to address the gig economy and people who work in the industry on a casual basis. I strongly suspect that this is something not specific to Regina, Saskatchewan, but specific to people who work in the industry all across our great country.

I think we could do Canadians a lot of good by withdrawing this bill and rewriting it from scratch to ensure that everyone is included in it and to ensure we have the best legislation we can for Canadians.

Therefore, I would like to move the following amendment. I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That'"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 not now read a second time but that the order be discharged, the bill withdrawn and the subject matter thereof referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.”

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

December 11th, 2020 / 10:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, we are debating Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act.

I want to wish everyone in the House and those watching a very merry Christmas.

The bill that we are debating today is a potential gift for all Canadians, something we all hold dear, and there needs to be a timely change to the Broadcasting Act. Things have changed so much in the last few years with digital content that change is something I think we can all get behind.

Being as it is a potential gift for all Canadians, I tried to consult the expert on gifts for all Canadians at Christmastime. Who did I try to get in touch with? It was Santa Claus. I have to say that it was a little more difficult this year. I want Santa to know that I tried to get in touch. I am wearing my favourite Christmas tie that he gave me and I want to thank him very much. It reminds me of Christmas. I wanted to get Santa's opinion on this bill, because this is a potential gift for all Canadians.

As kids around Canada are watching this debate intently, I want them to know that Santa is working hard this year. He is making sure the elves in the factory are kept very safe. He is following all of the protocols. He wants people to remember the Christmas message of being kind to our neighbours, to reach out to somebody who may be in need, and that this is a time about love and community. This year has certainly been a tough year, so I think all parliamentarians can get behind that statement.

Because I could not get in touch with Santa, I have to give my own opinion on this bill we are debating today. As I said, I would love to be able to support it because it is a great gift, but I think I am going to have to give it a lump of coal, unfortunately, that might increase greenhouse gases too. Because there are so many faults in this bill, it really is very difficult for me to figure out where exactly I can start.

Maybe I will start with last night. Like many Canadians, my wife and I were at home doing things that Canadians do. We were not drinking Sortilège and eating tourtière. I think everybody would like to be doing that, but we were streaming a series that my wife likes. We were bingeing on a series called Virgin River. It is a very interesting romantic drama series, a series I would normally not want to watch, but when wives say they want to watch a romantic drama series, it is really important that their husbands pay attention to that.

I was watching the show and I suddenly realized I knew actors and actresses. It was set in northern California, but it was beautiful.

As we were sitting around binge-watching, I thought I recognized what I was seeing. I googled it and I found out this show Virgin River actually has numerous Canadian actors and actresses in it and takes place in British Columbia. I thought how appropriate it is we are actually debating this bill, because Netflix is a company that already knows the quality of Canadian actors, sets and scenery. As far as it doing business in this country, there are not a lot of rules.

I have listened to some of the debates, and some of the parliamentarians here feel that big giants like Netflix are actually the bad guys. I actually think it is a great business. If someone had asked me a few years ago how I would watch TV, this was not the way I thought we would be doing it. It is the new way. If we can attract more of its investment in this community to take Canadian scenery and Canadian actors and actresses and spread it out around the world, would it not be wonderful for Canadian culture?

In this House, I think most of us disagree with the Prime Minister when he said that Canadians have no core identity, we have no distinct culture, we want to be the first post-national state. We are proud of our culture and we want to make sure going forward in this new technology, this new digital format, we will be winning in the world and not being set behind.

For companies like Netflix, one of the reasons I cannot support this is because this bill is not clear on the rules. We know Canadian providers need to have 25% to 40% Canadian content and participate with 5% of their profits into the Media Fund, but new technologies need new rules and this legislation falls short.

I want to talk about the vagueness of this bill. It is really important to have fairness and equity put into our system, but this bill would not ensure web giants such as Google and Facebook, for example, would have to compete on the same playing field as Canadian companies. Because it does nothing to address the inequity between digital and conventional forums, it is very difficult to support this bill.

On decision-making, while other countries have an arbitration board, decisions would be made with orders in council. In other words, the Prime Minister and his cabinet would be making decisions on this bill. Right now, Canadians are a bit edgy about the government making all these decisions.

This bill would also allow the CRTC new broad powers, with no clear guidelines, which increases the uncertainty. Like I said, for Canadians to flourish in this new environment, they need certainty. Investors need certainty. When we are competing around the world, if Australia has its system figured out but Canada does not, where do we think these large international platforms are going to be doing their work?

I want to talk about fairness. In the last couple of weeks I was contacted by the local newspapers in my riding. There are two really great local newspapers in Oshawa. One is The Oshawa Express, run by sisters Kim Boatman and Sandy McDowell. It is a great entrepreneurial business run by women. The other one is Oshawa This Week, and I was contacted by Barb Yezik.

They were talking to me about this legislation and how important it is to get it right. Right now with COVID, these businesses are struggling. We need to make sure when we implement a new piece of legislation we get it right, but also that it is done in a very timely fashion. They explained to me that the primary issue is how their business model is disrupted by the web giants like Facebook and Google.

For example, Oshawa This Week and The Oshawa Express are not paid for their content. As far as the process of which they are a part, it really is not transparent on revenue sharing and advertising splits. A statistic that really concerned me when I heard it, and I think it concerns all of us in here, is that Facebook and Google pocket up to 80% of the ad revenue in Canada. Think about that. That is a huge amount of money that goes outside of this country. It is huge, and especially during this time of COVID, it is affecting them more severely.

The Oshawa Express and Oshawa This Week basically have their bricks and mortar in my community of Oshawa. They pay their local taxes, pay their national taxes and pay reporters to go out and get these stories.

It is so important that we support these small businesses, these entrepreneurs. Right now we are stuck with so much uncertainty and lack of traditional income. I am really happy we are acting on this, but again, this bill does not provide a framework or certainty as to how these businesses are going to be able to continue. We need to make sure they are viable, because it is local media that really tells the truth about our communities. They come out to our events. They support Canada and Canadians in everything we do in our communities.

I only have one minute left, but I want to mention that I think yesterday Australia passed its legislation. That has given businesses that operate in Australia clear guidelines and a way to arrange their competitiveness not only in Australia, but to get an idea of how they will be able to compete around the world, because the world is getting smaller every single year.

We wanted this bill to talk about fairness, competitiveness and how it would ensure content producers are treated fairly. Unfortunately, we do not have that.

Madam Speaker, I would love to talk a bit longer, with a bit of time to talk about Santa Claus, but with that, I wish a merry Christmas to you and all of my colleagues in the House.

I am available for questions.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

December 11th, 2020 / 10:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Kenny Chiu Conservative Steveston—Richmond East, BC

Madam Speaker, I am glad the government has finally brought this long-awaited modernization of the Broadcasting Act, also known as Bill C-10. Too often government regulations have fallen far behind human innovations and progress, such as those for unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, and various forms of the sharing economy, and it is definitely encouraging to see, 15 years after its founding and 10 years after YouTube reached one billion views, that the act is being updated for social media platforms. However, my initial excitement was doused with a bucket of cold water when I saw some of the half-hearted measures and the complete abdication of responsibility. We missed a great opportunity to genuinely reform the act for the 21st century, and I therefore find it challenging to cast my support for it.

Let me explain. In my research preparing for this speech, I came across Dr. Michael Geist's criticism of the faults of the proposed changes in Bill C-10. In fact, there are so many problems, he has a daily blog called “The Broadcasting Act Blunder”. Allow me to mention a few highlights from this blog.

First, Bill C-10, as a broadcast reform bill, could spell the end of Canadian ownership requirements by removing Canadian ownership and control requirements from the Broadcasting Act, yet the heritage minister says the bill would safeguard cultural sovereignty. Second, the bill in no way prevents online streaming services from operating in Canada or requires them to be licensed. It instead requires registration, which may result in nondescript additional regulations and conditions that are “virtually indistinguishable from licensing requirements”.

When the Liberals claim it ensures that online broadcasting is covered under the act, why is it covered in such indecisive terms? The bill creates uncertainty, increases consumer costs and creates a risk for tariffs and blocking content from Canada. However, the government calls the bill a matter of fairness.

Michael Geist is not one of those regular Canadians who the elitist government looks down upon. He is a Canadian academic. In fact, he is the Canada research chair in Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa and a member of the Centre for Law, Technology and Society. He holds multiple law degrees from prestigious institutions and has taught around the world. It would be fair to take his misgivings on the bill seriously.

Let us take a closer look at fairness. The Liberals say they are updating broadcasting and regulatory policies to better reflect the diversity of Canadian society. How is it fair to virtual signal with much empty aspirations about gender equality, LGBTQ2+ people, racialized communities, persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples without specifying how the changes will help them? Is it fair to arm the CRTC with new enforcement powers through an administrative monetary penalty scheme that, when translated into English, means government's overreach could potentially end in a windfall of cold hard cash?

Speaking of cash, is it fair that the government has used the pandemic to repeatedly seek more unchecked power for itself, all the while drowning Canadians in a projected $1.2 trillion in national debt? That is a credit card debt of more than $63,000 for each of Facebook Canada's alleged 19 million registered users in this country. Estimates indicate that if online broadcasters are taxed for Canadian content at a rate similar to that of traditional broadcasting, the new framework would create an $830 million government windfall in three years, by 2023.

In addition to power grabs, the government also wants a cash grab, but the obvious other side to this is increased costs. When someone is going to pays for fees that are projected to run into hundreds of millions of dollars, it is only obvious the burden will fall on Canadian consumers. None of this is fair to Canadians, and Bill C-10 follows a pattern we have become all too familiar with this year: bold intentions, little clarity, empty promises and a failure to deliver meaningful changes.

I, for one, am tired of seeing our government feeding Canadians word salad for every meal. It is past time for a meaty and substantial policy to be put forward.

Bill C-10 would hand massive new powers to the CRTC, Canada's telecommunications and broadcast regulator, to regulate online streaming services, opening the door to mandated Canadian content, also known as CanCon, payments; discoverability requirements, even though we have no issue discovering Canadian content on any capable search engine today without it; and confidential information disclosures, all backed by new fining powers.

Many of the details will be sorted out by the beefed-up CRTC bureaucracy long after the legislation is gone. The specifics will take years to unfold, meanwhile leaving Canadians in uncertainty and insecurity. Some are estimating it will take nine months alone to undertake the very first regulatory phase.

Thankfully, from where I am sitting, it appears that Canadians are not being fooled this time. They are calling for beneficial legislation that would tax multi-billion dollar foreign corporations such as Google and Facebook. They realize the bill would kick the legs out from under small content creators. They know the bill would be the surrender of any meaningful priority.

My office has been receiving notices from online campaigners asking to compel the CRTC to regulate online broadcasters, update the CBC mandate and governance structure and make sure social media companies are responsible for the illegal content they broadcast. They say, “Any updated Broadcasting Act that doesn't tackle these key issues isn't doing enough to defend Canadian broadcasting, culture and journalism.”

The bill also lacks definitions to clarify applications for social media services and user-generated content. For example, if a friend of mine sets up a subscriber-funded online broadcasting app to live-stream programs of Canadian current affairs and commentaries, unlike the author of this act seems to assume, he is doing this on his own and not relying on any of the big box social media platforms. His single-operator platform would be subjected to CRTC's mercy to allow his exercise in freedom of expression and speech, at best, or it would get buried out of business under the mounds of bureaucratic red tape, at worst. It is clear Bill C-10 does not meet the concerns of regular people.

I believe government control should be adequate and not overarching. As Andrew Coyne writes in The Globe and Mail, “But just how far the state's regulatory tentacles will now extend will depend in large part on how the CRTC interprets its new powers—and the bill's language gives plenty of room to worry.” I agree.

He is not alone in holding this view, though. Laura Tribe, executive director of OpenMedia, an Internet watchdog group, has issued an urgent warning, saying, “[The minister] has created an artificial sense of crisis around Canadian cultural content—content that is surviving and flourishing in the 21st century.” Amid all the other crises we have experienced this year, I hardly think now is the time or place to be manufacturing a new one to hive that policy.

When it comes to bills, like Bill C-10, that make claims as bold as they do, I agree with Andrew Coyne when he says, “You can lead a horse to culture, but you can't make it watch.”

On the last sitting day of the House, I wish you, Madam Speaker, and every member of the House of Commons a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah and happy holidays.

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

Denis Trudel Bloc Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments.

There is one rather important aspect that is not addressed in Bill C-10.

The current crisis has been particularly hard on artists. Quebec has a fairly large dubbing industry that provides a living for artists, and I spoke with someone from that sector. She was telling me that if all the taxpayer-funded, English-language productions, like the ones produced in Toronto and Vancouver, were dubbed in Quebec, that would provide artists with work for years to come, and we would not even need American films. It is incredible.

However, that is not happening. Films and TV series that we pay for ourselves are dubbed in France. That makes absolutely no sense.

Does my colleague not think that, any time Canadian taxpayers' money is being invested, films should be dubbed in Quebec to provide work for our own people?

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

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.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

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.