Online Streaming Act

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


Pablo Rodriguez  Liberal


In committee (House), as of May 12, 2022

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All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


May 12, 2022 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts
May 12, 2022 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (amendment)
May 12, 2022 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (subamendment)

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 9:30 p.m.
See context


Eric Melillo Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, obviously Bill C-11, the online streaming act, is a very important issue to talk about today, and I look forward to outlining my thoughts about the bill, and more specifically, some of the concerns I personally have with this particular piece of legislation.

However, if the Speaker will permit me, I want to first begin my remarks by addressing a very urgent and rapidly evolving situation in the Kenora riding. There are many floods across the Kenora riding right now. In fact, Highway 105 and Highway 599 are completely closed off, meaning residents of multiple communities have no way of leaving the community for perhaps urgent medical appointments or other essential trips.

There have been multiple states of emergency called by municipalities across my riding, and the Trans-Canada Highway itself, the only corridor east to west through the country, is actually now at risk of being completely blocked. It is “passable” right now, according to the Ministry of Transportation. However, the actual current detour is going over a Bailey bridge, which cannot support the weight of a transport truck. There is certainly a very urgent situation evolving there.

I am pleased to say I did speak with the Minister of Emergency Preparedness today. He is well briefed on the situation and standing by to provide assistance should it be called upon. I want to assure all members of the House and all my constituents back home in the Kenora riding that this is a top priority, and I will continue to stay in touch with the minister on this to ensure the proper supports are in place. I want to thank the Minister of Emergency Preparedness for his work so far. I appreciate the opportunity to make note of that here this evening.

I will get back to the debate we are having on Bill C-11. In general, I certainly would support creating a more even playing field for Canadian content creators, especially up against many large foreign streaming services. However, this bill, as I am sure has been alluded to by many of my colleagues tonight, is almost an exact replica of the previous parliament's Bill C-10.

I am sure the Speaker will remember Bill C-10, and I can see she does remember it quite well. Obviously there has been a lot of criticism, and not only from members of the opposition here in the chamber but also from folks outside of the chamber, such as experts and Canadians from coast to coast to coast. They raised concerns about that bill and are now raising those same concerns about this bill.

I am hearing that at home in the Kenora riding. Given the current situation, it is not necessarily a top-of-mind issue at this very moment, but it is something many people had been raising to me over the last year, particularly since Bill C-11 was brought back in this new Parliament. I share a lot of the concerns my constituents have brought forward, and that is what I would like to outline in my comments today.

As my esteemed colleague from Barrie—Innisfil, who is here on his birthday, noted not too long ago, through the bill, the government would be giving the CRTC more power without telling Canadians exactly what it plans to do with that power. The minister noted he plans to issue a policy directive after the bill becomes law. That is problematic because in the chamber, we need to know what we are voting on. Canadians need to know what this bill is going to be ahead of time. The lack of transparency is certainly a cause for concern for many of us, myself included.

The bill would also give the CRTC the power to regulate any content that generates revenue “directly or indirectly”, which means virtually any content on the Internet could be regulated, despite the government members claiming that the bill would exempt user-generated content.

If we look back to Bill C-10 and the new iteration, Bill C-11, something that is a major cause for concern for a lot of people is that government overreach and the potential censorship that would come into play when the government would potentially be regulating all of that content. We need some transparency from the government on that.

Through this bill, the government would also get the power, if it becomes law, to boost the content it wants Canadians to see. Again, this is a very dangerous precedent to set in government overreach over what Canadians see privately on their social media and on other sites.

Unfortunately, I have a long list of concerns with this bill, but I would like to take a step back and talk about the scope of this bill. The government is talking about supporting Canadian content creators and promoting Canadian culture and heritage, and that is great, but what we are seeing in the bill is a number of measures that seem to be targeted at specific Canadians, and the regulation of what Canadians see and post on social media.

I can assure members that, if it were a Conservative government proposing a bill such as this, the Liberals would have a very different take on this legislation. Frankly, I am sure we would hear some very strong language coming from Liberal members. However, when they are doing it themselves, of course they do not see a problem.

Another question raised to me by many in my riding is, “What is Canadian content?” There is certainly a very important discussion around that, but not a lot of clarity. There are questions of whether it is Canadian content if something is made in Canada, if a Canadian contributed to it, or if a Canadian wrote something but was not actually a part of it after that. There are a lot of questions as to what Canadian content is. The government is planning to put a commission in place to determine that, but without proper debate and discussion around that beforehand, it does remain a major question mark.

Experts have said that this bill has “limitless jurisdictional, overbroad scope, and harmful discoverability provisions.” When we are hearing this type of language, and not from parliamentarians but from experts in the field, it is really important that we pause and take a step back to reflect on that. Above all else, when we are talking about Bill C-11, it is important that we have a wholesome debate on that.

I know we are doing our due diligence as the official opposition to review the bill. Obviously we have some concerns with it. We want to review the bill, and hopefully bring forward some reasonable amendments to improve it. However, my concern is that we saw the government move closure on this legislation, which is quite detrimental to the debate. There are a lot of members who want to be able to speak on this and share their concerns and ideas. Having a limit on debate, moving closure and not allowing members to speak to this does a disservice to all Canadians because their views are not being properly represented in this place.

The member for Barrie—Innisfil, and once again he is being featured in my speech today, noted that this is a bill that has many concerns around the potential censorship of Canadians on social media. Now we have a Liberal government that is actually moving closure and limiting debate on this censorship bill. It cannot get more hypocritical than that.

The last thought I want to leave the House with today is that there are certainly some important measures or goals set out in this bill. There is no doubt that promoting Canadian content and ensuring Canadian communities are represented in our content is important, but Bill C-11, just like the previous Parliament's Bill C-10 does not appear to be much more than the Liberal government single-handedly deciding which content Canadians should or should not see. That is a cause of concern for me and for many in the Kenora riding, and I believe for all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 9:15 p.m.
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Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation Québec


Stéphane Lauzon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Rural Economic Development

Mr. Speaker, I had a few questions for my colleague, and I even had the lyrics of the Pierre Lapointe song, Je déteste ma vie, running through my head, although I do not hate my life today, since we are talking about this bill. It is an honour to talk about it.

Having been a musician, creator and singer myself, I would like to inform my colleague opposite that I have had the opportunity to perform on the Internet without having to pay anything, since anyone can post a video on YouTube, for example. This is not included in the bill, and it allows everyone these days to be creative and share our amateur talents without being mortgaged to the hilt, without having to pay anything.

It is important for me to discuss Bill C-11 and how best to support original French-language content and production.

I respectfully acknowledge the Anishinabe people as I join my colleagues in the national capital region, which is located on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin nation. I realize that we all work in different places and that some people, including those who are watching at home, might therefore be joining us today from the traditional territory of another nation.

As we all know, this bill responds to the urgent need for legislation that updates the Canadian broadcasting system for the era of online streaming. The last major reform of the Broadcasting Act was over three decades ago, which is more than one generation. Simply put, our legislative framework needs to be reviewed because it does not reflect new technologies and the realities of today's digital world.

For decades, only traditional broadcasting services such as radio, television and cable had requirements to meet under our system. We are a far cry from the days of the old CDs and cassettes we listened to in the car. We bought CDs and recorded off them at home, but we paid royalties every time we went to the record store, which meant we were supporting our artists.

In those days, our artists were paid every time we purchased content. Nowadays, they alone are funding Canadian content, even though the world has changed and the industry has evolved a great deal in terms of its product offering and capabilities. We can no longer ignore the reality, and the government cannot sit idly by in this situation.

Our bill will ensure that all broadcasting services, including both the traditional ones and the online ones like Netflix, Crave and Spotify, contribute appropriately to Canada's creative industries. We believe and recognize that the contributions made by these online services will be important for supporting a large number of Canadian creators and artists. Francophones, Canadians from francophone communities and anglophone minority communities will benefit.

This bill is proof of our government's commitment to and support for francophone communities, and this bill's impact will be felt in the arts, culture and innovation sectors. The government plans to continue bolstering French-language productions. The CRTC already has a very strong regulatory framework in place for traditional broadcasters, requiring them to contribute to and promote francophone creators and French-language content.

The government expects online broadcasters to abide by these same requirements, which is what this bill would do. The online streaming act would give the CRTC new powers to more effectively oversee French-language content production and to protect the promotion and availability of this content on these platforms.

In spite of existing safeguards, there is not enough access to content in French through dubbing and subtitles. The content that does exist does not fully meet the needs of francophones who want to see their history, their culture and their identities on the screen. We have francophone talent in Canada and it must be showcased. Producing original French-language content that reflects the realities and needs of francophones should be a priority for all broadcasters, and that applies to online broadcasters as well.

These days, we listen to music using very different platforms from those that existed back when the Broadcasting Act was passed, and then updated in 1991, which is when I got my first car. It had a tape deck.

With the emergence of online streaming services such as Apple Music and Amazon Prime, French-language content is now in a worrisome situation considering the competition from foreign offerings, which are mostly in English. The car I just bought has an interactive display, but nowhere to insert a CD or a cassette. The music I play in my car is provided by network programming. However, francophone Canadian artists are not well represented among the most popular artists in Canada on digital music platforms.

Another reality that should not be ignored is the fact that investments in and budgets for English-language film and video productions have continued to rise in recent years. It is estimated that this year, streaming giants will invest $125 billion in films, series, and dramas worldwide. We must ensure that an appropriate proportion of this spending is allocated to original French-language productions. We must act quickly.

To resolve the problem, we added significant objectives for producing and broadcasting original French-language programming, not just translated content. They must work in French, produce in French and broadcast in French. We also strengthened the mandate of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, or CRTC, to recognize all the needs of Canada's francophone community.

Bill C‑11 expressly states that our broadcasting system must support the production and broadcasting of original programs in French. It also requires the CRTC to facilitate the provision of programs created and produced in French. That will make it clear to all broadcasters operating in Canada that the needs and interests of francophones are of paramount importance in this bill.

To make it even clearer, the bill gives the CRTC the power to impose conditions of service, including conditions respecting the proportion of original French-language programs, especially first-run programs. In addition, the CRTC will have the power to make regulations on expenditures to be made by broadcasters, including online services. In the specific case of broadcasters that offer programs in both French and English, such as Netflix or Crave, the CRTC will be able to prescribe the minimum share of expenditures that are to be allocated to Canadian original French-language programming.

By including these flexible mechanisms in the act, we are ensuring that programming and spending proportions can adjust to a changing society and the needs of francophones now and in the future. This way, we avoid forcing lawmakers to amend a number in the act as well as the possibility that the proportion could soon become a ceiling. In short, the government is taking the initiative to protect original French-language content and production for years to come. With input from public consultations, the CRTC has the resources and expertise to examine and be informed by the research and diverse stakeholder perspectives as it strives to ensure the regulations remain effective and relevant.

In conclusion, hon. colleagues, we all know it is time to restore balance to the broadcasting sector and implement the regulatory mechanisms that will ensure a flexible, diverse and inclusive broadcasting system.

Let us go ahead with Bill C‑11.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 9 p.m.
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Dan Mazier Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-11, the Liberals' Internet regulation bill. This is an important bill, because it could have everlasting impacts on how every Canadian experiences the Internet.

Before we fully examine the details, it is critical to state why we are debating this legislation today. The reality is that I would not be standing here today to debate Bill C-11 if it were not for Bill C-10 in the 43rd Parliament. Canadians may recall that it was just last year when Parliament witnessed one of the most alarming pieces of legislation the Liberals had ever introduced since their election in 2015. Many Canadians viewed Bill C-10 as an attack on our freedom of speech, a measure of government overreach and a new means of censorship. I shared these valid concerns and strongly opposed Bill C-10 until the final hour on the final day.

Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa professor and expert in Internet policy, was one of the most outspoken opponents of Bill C-10. Parliament needs to remember his criticism of the previous legislation. He stated, in referring to Bill C-10, “No one – literally no other country – uses broadcast regulation to regulate user generated content in this way.”

Many members of this House voted against Bill C-10 at one o'clock in the morning, as the Liberals tried to ram it through Parliament with as little debate as possible. This is déjà vu. I was one of them. Thankfully, because of the hard work of Conservatives and Canadians, we defeated Bill C-10, so that it never had a chance to become law.

Bill C-10 died, but it has re-emerged as Bill C-11. When the Liberals introduced Bill C-11, the minister responsible for the legislation stated, “This is about making the Internet a better place for all Canadians.” It sounds grand. That statement should have been a red flag for every Canadian. We have heard this kind of language from the Liberal government before. The Liberals say, “Trust us. Everything will be okay.”

It was former president Ronald Reagan who famously said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are 'I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.'” It would be unwise for any member of this House to trust that the government has the best interests of Canadians top of mind, particularly on the issue of Internet regulation.

Bill C-11 is legislation that proposes to regulate the Internet. The government wants to influence what you see while browsing the web. It wants to push specific content to the top of our screens so we see it first. Consequently, this would move content down our screens, so we would see less of it. This is what the government really means when it says it wants to make content more discoverable.

The details of what content and how much the government will promote are unknown. This is because Bill C-11 would hand over this decision-making power to the government-appointed body called the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, or as most Canadians know it, the CRTC. The government claims that this is a way of promoting Canadian content, but I believe that if Canadians want to watch Canadian content, nothing is stopping them from doing so.

Why does the government need to reach into the Internet to pick and choose what Canadians discover? Canadians do not need assistance from the government in discovering what they see on the Internet. They are totally capable and free to discover the content they want to see.

The Internet is exceptionally vast in content. An immense amount of content is uploaded on the Internet daily. YouTubers alone upload over 700,000 hours of content every single day. I cannot stress how much content and how many content providers exist in Canada. How can a government body like the CRTC monitor all this content to determine if it meets the Liberal government's standards? It is impossible.

I want to discuss some of the technicalities of the legislation. Although clause 2 of the bill mentions who is not subject to the regulation, it does not address what content is subject to the regulation.

The government claims that user-generated content is exempted from this bill through proposed subsection 4.1(1). However, proposed subsection 4.1(2) creates an exemption for the previous exemption in proposed subsection 4.1(1) and allows the CRTC to determine who is subject to these exemptions. The bill is confusing, to say the least, and I sincerely question whether it was intentionally done this way.

OpenMedia, an organization that works to keep the Internet open and free, and an organization that I had the pleasure to work with on my private member's bill in the previous Parliament, has also raised many valid concerns. The bottom line is, as Michael Geist said, “The CRTC is empowered to create regulations applicable to user content uploaded to social media services as programs.”

Canadians will not fully know who or what is exempted from this bill because the Liberals have yet to announce their policy directive for the CRTC. The Liberals have told Canadians that this policy directive will be given to the CRTC after the bill becomes law, not before, which is suspicious. I think that parliamentarians and all Canadians deserve to know what the government is planning to direct the CRTC to regulate before Bill C-11 can become law.

I want to quote Dr. Irene Berkowitz, a senior policy fellow from Ryerson University. She stated:

The idea that the CRTC can – or should – regulate the global internet, in an age when market intervention should be sharply decreasing, is unworkable and counterproductive, falsely pitting the industry against itself.

I agree with her. Canadians do not want their government regulating the Internet. The government regulates and restricts enough as it is, especially the Liberal government.

Bill C-11 is a very concerning piece of legislation that opens the doors to government overreach. It will impact every Canadian who uses the Internet. Canadians expect their elected officials to study it carefully and debate it thoroughly. However, the Liberals are playing the same political games that they did with Bill C-10. They are limiting the time we can spend debating this important bill. Instead of debating this legislation through the standard parliamentary procedure, the Liberals are supporting a procedure called time allocation to stop debate. The fact that the Liberals would move time allocation while dozens of members of Parliament wish to speak on behalf of their constituents is simply unacceptable. How ironic: government overreach on a government overreach bill. It is sad.

Canadians are concerned any time the government wants to create more regulation. Any time the government wants to regulate what Canadians see or hear is even more concerning. The idea that the Liberals want to promote certain content to Canadians who use the Internet is disturbing. My constituents believe in less government, not more.

As I said earlier, Canadians do not need assistance from the government in discovering what they see on the Internet. They are capable and free to do so themselves. I will be opposing Bill C-11, just as I opposed Bill C-10.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 9 p.m.
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Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, the most fundamental piece for me on Bill C-11 is around this whole idea of levelling the playing field. People can post a podcast in about 30 minutes or less; however, if they want to start a radio channel, as several people in my riding would like to do, it typically takes three years. It seems to me that rather than trying to get podcasts to operate like radio channels, how about we try to get radio channels to operate more like podcasts?

In my opinion, if we could get a radio station signed up in about a day, that would be great. Why does all the content the CRTC requires on a radio station have to be a thing? Rather than that, just say, “As long as you are not blowing other people off the air by interfering with the channels, here is your radio station.” That would be a levelling of the playing field.

I am wondering what the member has to say about that.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 8:45 p.m.
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Ryan Turnbull Liberal Whitby, ON

Mr. Speaker, I happily rise to speak to Bill C-11, especially after that display of political theatre that we saw on the other side. It was very entertaining for some but quite frustrating for others, I am sure. Certainly, onlookers in the Canadian public who are watching tonight are probably quite concerned that the Conservative Party of Canada is not even really reading the bills that the government puts forward, and on such a topic that is so important to Canadian creators right across this country.

Despite the Conservative Party of Canada and its members propagating inaccuracies in relation to this bill and trying to make Canadians believe that this is somehow about censoring user-generated content, it clearly is not. That is explicitly stated by the government in many places. I am happy to rise to speak to the merits of this bill and its true intention, which is really to level the playing field and ensure that online streaming platforms are subject to the same rules and regulations as other broadcasters are.

It is about time that we did that because, as members have said, the Broadcasting Act has not been amended in over 30 years. Just for fun, before my speech today, I looked up the hits in 1991. Some of the Canadian hits on the charts were Bryan Adams' (Everything I Do) I Do It for You and Tom Cochrane's Life is a Highway. It was a banner year for Canadian content. Not only that, but there was Glass Tiger, Alanis Morissette, Sarah McLachlan, Crash Test Dummies, Blue Rodeo, and none other than Kingston's The Tragically Hip with Little Bones. What a great tune.

Honestly, the content creators who are musicians that we have had in this country are incredible. There is no doubt we can be very proud.

The overarching goal of the bill is to ensure that online streamers contribute in an equitable but flexible way to the creation of Canadian content, just as our broadcasting system has done for decades. I want to talk about why this bill is fundamentally important when it comes to our music sector. Online streaming services, such as Spotify and Apple Music, have dramatically changed how we listen to music. Today, most Canadians use YouTube as their primary music streaming service: I know I do. I use it all the time for that purpose.

However, these online streamers are not subject to the same rules as traditional broadcasting services, like over-the-air television, cable and radio. Right now, our system is not supporting Canadian musicians and creators the way it really should. If online streaming services are, more and more, the way music lovers like me are accessing music, should they not be subject to the same rules as other broadcasters? That just seems like common sense to me.

The music sector is important to Canadian society. It includes a wide array of artists, including songwriters, composers, performers and arrangers. Let us not forget the people who support them: the agents, producers, record labels and many others. The music production and sound recording industry accounts for over $625 million of Canada's GDP and almost 10,000 jobs. Through their music and lyrics, Canada's musicians help create relationships and memories, initiate important social discussions, forge a collective national identity and promote Canadian values.

Music allows us to share our country, our culture and our ideas throughout the world. The best of what Canada has to offer, I would say, is on stage when our musicians, content creators and artists are successful.

For decades, Canadian broadcasters have given us incredible Canadian content on our televisions and radios, and this is no accident. We choose to be different from the cultural juggernaut of the United States, and we care about our cultural sovereignty. We believe our diversity should be celebrated. Our culture is who we are as Canadians. It is our past, our present and our future. It is how we tell our stories to each other.

As a condition of their licences, radio broadcasters have had to invest in our culture, our artists and musicians. It is why we have all the Canadian content that we love today. Whenever we hear Charlotte Cardin, Joni Mitchell, Drake, Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, Great Big Sea and the Arkells, it makes us proud to be Canadian.

There has been a digital disruption. Since the early 2000s, the music industry has navigated a landscape that has been profoundly changed by new distribution models offered by online platforms.

We have also seen the music industry evolve from selling music on physical media to selling digitally and selling downloads. Most recently, there is the increasing popularity of online streaming.

Online streaming has had positive impacts for Canadian consumers and certainly for artists. Online broadcasters make music readily accessible to Canadians wherever they have an Internet connection available. They can access a variety of music and playlists tailored to their tastes and interests. Streaming has also allowed a number of artists to be discovered, and their careers have been bolstered in other countries as a result.

Ruth B. is just one notable example of a Canadian artist who has achieved great international success after being discovered online. However, the upheaval caused by digital platforms has also had significant consequences for our broadcasters and our musical artists. Currently, online platforms have no regulatory requirements to support Canadian music. As more and more Canadians listen to online platforms and the revenues of traditional broadcasters drop, so does funding and support for Canadian musical artists.

We need to fix this now. That is what this debate is about, and that is what this bill is about: It is about how we fix this problem. The problem is that our online streaming platforms are not contributing to supporting our Canadian artists, musicians and content creators here in Canada. This bill is really about that.

We have heard, loud and clear, from Canadian music producers that passing Bill C-11 is critical to the industry. I want to share a quote from SOCAN, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada:

Canadian creators need support to continue to develop Canadian music in the world of streaming, and Canada must be a place for emerging music creators, where songwriters and composers can create, grow and thrive.... The tabling of the Online Streaming Act on February 2, 2022, is an important first step to make it easier for Canadian audiences to find and engage with Canadian creators, giving our music a place in the world of streaming.

The chair of the board of the Canadian Independent Music Association also told us that:

The most tangible way to get our artists heard in Canada and around the world is to ensure that we have awesome Canadian artists, supported by strong Canadian owned independent music companies that can compete in the global music market....I welcome all initiatives that help make our companies stronger and our artists thrive.

This is why we are here. On this side of the House, we want to see our artists thrive.

The time to act is now. Bill C-11 seeks to update our broadcasting framework so that the online platforms would be required to support Canadian music and artists, just as traditional broadcasters currently do. Why would anyone not want to support our artists and musicians in Canada?

Bill C-11 would ensure that our musical artists would continue to contribute to Canadian culture and be able to make a living from their music. The bill is part of our wider commitment as a government to support artists in Canada, and is part of the strengthening of our arts and culture sector.

In conclusion, this bill realizes the importance of investing in Canadian music. Bill C-11 creates a competitive and sustainable broadcasting system while supporting Canadian music. The modernizing and fair regulatory framework that the bill proposes would support Canadian artists and broadcasters.

I ask the hon. members of the House to support this bill. We owe it to the next generation of musical talent, the Tragically Hips and the Alanis Morissettes of the future. We certainly need to support them now. This bill, I think, has really got intentions built into it that are very promising for the future of our cultural sector here in Canada.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 8:45 p.m.
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Richard Bragdon Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, the incredible blooming and blossoming relationship between the coalition partners is quite a thing to witness. I am glad to see members complement one another in the House so incredibly well.

I can assure members that the role of Her Majesty's loyal opposition is to make sure the legitimate concerns that millions of Canadians have are brought to the floor of the House and discussed thoroughly. Many millions of Canadians have expressed their concerns about this bill's predecessor, Bill C-10, and the current bill, Bill C-11. We will continue to stand up for those Canadians.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 8:45 p.m.
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Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy hearing my colleague, though I must say he was so far removed from the actual bill we are supposed to be discussing tonight that it was unbelievable. Conservatives, for weeks and weeks, have been blocking every single piece of legislation. They have been gumming up the works for Routine Proceedings, stopping members of Parliament from presenting petitions and stopping private members' legislation. The Conservatives have basically tried to shut down the House of Commons.

We are having an evening debate. We are discussing Bill C-11, and the member talks about something crazy that has nothing to do with the bill. If Conservatives do not actually read the legislation before they speak on it, why do they not take the time to read the legislation and address it? It is legislation that I believe needs some improvements, and we are hoping it will get to committee so we can make those improvements. For goodness' sake, speakers in the House should actually address the legislation that is before the House. Why did the member not do that?

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 8:40 p.m.
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Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my Conservative colleague on his very passionate speech. He mentioned that we can have a debate. It would indeed be very interesting to have a debate, if only our Conservative colleagues would drop the ridiculous rhetoric of censorship.

Our colleague spoke earlier about the diversity of cultural expression that we have here, in Quebec and in Canada, and the importance of showcasing that and making room for that diversity. I would like to echo the comments made by my colleague opposite, who said that the purpose of this bill is precisely to create space for Quebec and Canadian creators in a world that is increasingly competitive and increasingly dominated by foreign powers.

My question is this. Do we want to make room for Canadian and Quebec creators or do we want to allow a free market where we will be completely invaded by big foreign players, such as GAFAM, and where we will see our Quebec and Canadian culture and our cultural identity disappear completely because of their arrival? Is that what we want?

What Bill C-11 seeks to do is protect the cultural environment of Quebeckers and Canadians so that we can survive, change with the times, make progress and prosper in this increasingly competitive world.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 8:30 p.m.
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Richard Bragdon Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, there is never a dull moment in this House. Even if we are close to quorum or not, it seems like things just continue to roll along in this House with the diversity of opinions. In fact, we as Conservatives value a diversity of opinions on a variety of subjects and welcome people to have different thoughts and views. In fact, we see that as a strength of our Confederation and not a weakness.

There are concerns many Canadians raise during these times and even during this debate. The concern that is elevating to the forefront is they feel there is a stifling of free expression, of free speech and even of thought, such that if they happen to think contrary to whatever the supposed latest whimsical fad of fanciful group think is, they can be labelled and therefore marginalized, called names and pushed out of the public discourse with ridicule and laughter.

However, in a healthy democracy, diverse opinions and differing points of view are welcome, and we ask them to come to the table and challenge us. An old expression says that iron sharpens iron. I think sometimes when we have differing points of view, it is a strength to the debate in this House and we can, in fact, come to better legislation. We can come to better bills that will get through and get passed and hopefully help all Canadians, as we learn to balance the differing perspectives that are in this House that reflect the viewpoints of all Canadians.

I think the content that is available to Canadians should be as diverse as Canada is. So should be the things they are allowed to view, and so should be the things they are allowed to listen to, produce or create. That is the strength of our democracy and, in fact, a hallmark of it is freedom of speech.

What I find quite contradictory is that during this time when we are talking about Canadian creativity and Canadian content, there is a distinct effort to shut down debate and bring closure. At a time when the Liberals extended the hours of sitting so we could have more transparency, more accountable government, more debate and welcome diverse points of view, they are now expediting the process on a bill that has raised concerns with many Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

This House would be a better reflection of the concerns of Canadians by allowing those concerns to be fully vetted in this the people's House. That diversity of opinions could be welcomed on the floor of this House, but not only on the floor of this House; may it continue to be allowed, or even further allowed, to be expressed across the airwaves, online and through broadcasting.

I think what is happening is that many Canadians feel as though they are not free to express their points of view. They are feeling somewhat suppressed. They feel if they have a certain viewpoint or if they have a certain opinion, they are going to be labelled, disqualified or cancelled. I think it is a slippery slope.

This House needs to think very soberly and take its time in deliberating this piece of legislation. I think Canadians are raising rightful concerns about the fact that, while the Liberals say to trust them and that they are going to make sure it is done right and properly, the government has not instilled the confidence in people to just trust it with these types of matters.

We have seen how the Prime Minister has treated those with whom he disagrees. We have seen the efforts to continually divide, demonize and stigmatize those with whom he does not agree. When they go to express it, he gets angry, petulant and frustrated and then decides to throw the full force and weight of government and the law against those with whom he disagrees, even now as we learned today that at no point did the RCMP ever request or require such drastic measures as the Emergencies Act.

I believe the people of Canada have huge concerns in trusting the government with even more power to regulate what they can post and what they can view. Some would even go so far as to call it censorship of those who would detract from the government message of the day. Whether it is censorship indirect, it could be the back door to censorship, and I think what we need to do is be very careful and cautious.

We all love Canadian content. We want Canadian producers to do well. We, as Conservatives, believe in that.

My family is a big fan of the series Heartland. I must say that my daughters love watching it. It is a beautiful show made here in Canada. I enjoy Hockey Night in Canada. I enjoy Canadian content. I think it is wonderful. We have a great Canadian story to tell and there is nothing that gets any more intense than Canadians watching hockey or watching some of the shows they have come to adore and admire. That is great. However, we do not need some government czar censoring through the back door what content Canadians can produce, put online, listen to or view: “How terrible that someone has a different point of view than the latest fad of the whimsical group think, so let us ban that.” Canadians are genuinely concerned with this rabid push for cancel culture.

What we need to do is allow Canadians the chance to weigh this bill carefully. Let us have the debate. Let us improve the bill. Let us have all viewpoints welcome at the table. Let us stop the stereotyping, stigmatizing and demonizing of Canadians who happen to not share perhaps the priorities of the government of the day.

If it was the reverse situation and this party was on the other side of the House, I guarantee the uproar would be boisterous, loud and overwhelming. The Liberals would be saying that we are stifling debate, ramming through bills, and asking how we could be so draconian. We would hear it day in and day out.

The Liberals want longer hours in the House for debate and then they shut down debate. Why do we not allow the debate to continue? Canadians are not afraid of opposing points of view. They are not afraid of diverse opinions; in fact, they welcome them. That is our strength.

I think it is a great opportunity for us to hear the concerns of our digital producers, those who are making great Canadian content that is original and are doing it well. They have raised very legitimate concerns about this bill. Let us make sure those concerns are heard and addressed. Let us make sure that Canadian content is protected, is welcome and amplified, but at the same time that great Canadian producers can compete, do well and succeed. Canadians are right to have a bit of caution when it comes to entrusting the current government with even more unabated power.

I want to conclude with a quote from a former prime minister of old who was the architect of the Canadian Bill of Rights. The Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker so adequately expressed it this way, and I hope his words echo in this House yet once again and resonate within each of our hearts and minds as we reflect on this bill.

He stated:

I am Canadian, a free Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship God in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, free to choose those who govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.

When it comes to Bill C-11, let us uphold the principles of freedom of thought, expression and belief, first and foremost, and make sure that adequate safeguards are put in place to ensure that protection and to hear the concerns of Canadians from coast to coast.

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May 11th, 2022 / 8:30 p.m.
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Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to hear a little more from my colleague on the benefits that Bill C-11 will have for our artists, musicians, and people who work in television and on our miniseries, which are of exceptional quality, not only in Quebec but also in Canada.

What positive effects or outcomes can we expect? Will our creators benefit in any way?

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May 11th, 2022 / 8:25 p.m.
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Patrick Weiler Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, in fact, when I am talking about some of the very shady things that we are seeing happen that are poisoning discourse, I am not talking about censorship. In fact, I am talking about the exact opposite. We need to have transparency on that, on who is behind these things and why they are doing the things that they are. When we have these types of groups that are leading organized campaigns of misinformation and disinformation, it is something we should all be very concerned about. That is exactly what has been happening in Bill C-11, and that is why we need to keep calling it out.

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May 11th, 2022 / 8:20 p.m.
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Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, further to that point of order, on page 186 of Joseph Maingot's second edition of Parliamentary Privilege in Canada, there is a claim that I will quote, that “the courts might be effective in ensuring the observance of procedural requirements imposed by the constitution with respect to the enactment of legislation.”

Since Bill C-11 is currently being considered without quorum and quorum is a requirement of the Constitution, I trust the courts will take note of my interjection today in the event that Bill C-11 is challenged in a court in our country at some point.

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May 11th, 2022 / 8:15 p.m.
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Patrick Weiler Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this House to speak in favour of Bill C-11, the online streaming act.

This legislation passed through this House just last year after extensive Conservative filibustering, but it had to be reintroduced because it ended up dying in the Senate. I felt it particularly important to speak to this legislation because there has been a coordinated attack of misinformation and disinformation that has confused people as to exactly what this legislation would do. In my brief speech, I will touch on what this bill would do, what it would not do and some of the implications around the some of the misinformation.

Given that the media landscape has changed, our approach to it must also change to bring things into the 21st century. The online streaming bill does just that. Like we have always done for radio and television, now online streaming companies will be there to support and promote Canadian content. The bill does this by bringing online streaming services under the jurisdiction of the Broadcasting Act. This act has not been amended since 1991, and that was a very different time.

The bill would also do this by requiring online streaming services that serve the Canadian market to contribute to the production of Canadian content. In the same way that they benefit from accessing the Canadian market, they should be there to invest back into it. The bill would also ensure that broadcasters would showcase more Canadian content, as well as prioritizing content from Francophone, indigenous, LGBTQ+, racialized and other equity-seeking creators.

We have to ask ourselves why this is important. It is important because we consume media very differently in 2022 from how we did in 1991. If Canadians are anything like me, they do not have cable. If they have cable, they may use it just to watch sports these days. They probably do not listen to the radio much. They may access music through apps like Spotify, Apple Music and others. They may be watching television or movies through Netflix, Prime, YouTube or many of the other streaming services that have absolutely revolutionized the media landscape over the last two decades. In order to have a level playing field, these platforms need to be treated just the same as television and radio have been treated for decades.

Sometimes the question comes up about why we need Canadian content. Quite simply, it is because we are not American. We feel the impact and dominance of the America media and culture, and that is something that every Canadian is familiar with. We are inundated with American news, TV, movies, music and culture. The American media and entertainment industry is very much a juggernaut, with the ability to promote and broadcast its influence far and wide. In Canada, we see that.

The close and familiar nature of our cultures and histories, as well as the vast funding and institutional entrenchment of American media, have allowed it to flourish in our country, and there is no doubt that there is exceptional content coming from south of the border. However, our Canadian content creators are at a disadvantage without the same levels of inertia, funding and entrenchment that the American media have had for decades.

That is why we need to take action to ensure that Canadian culture and Canadian stories are still promoted and told. I think we would all agree that our own culture and history are distinct from those of the U.S. We have stories, ideas and creative expression that are uniquely Canadian, and it is the shared cultural fabric that helps define our national identity.

That, right there, is what this bill is really about. We have our own cultural fabric and our own Canadian identities, and we must work to protect our heritage from the influence of foreign media. It is unfortunate that this bill, which is aimed at protecting and strengthening our cultural heritage by requiring only web giants to pay into creating Canadian content, has been so mired in controversy and misinformation.

I want to take a moment to try to set the record straight on exactly what this bill does not do. This bill does not impose regulations on content that everyday Canadians post on social media. It does not impose regulations on Canadian digital content, creators, influencers or users. It does not censor or mandate specific algorithms or streaming services on social media platforms. It does not limit Canadians' freedom of expression in any way, shape or form, or create the conditions for Internet censorship.

This bill specifically carves out from the bill content created by users on social media platforms, except where that content is commercial content. That is defined by the regulator, which evaluates based on three elements, whether the content is monetized, whether it exists on another non-social media platform, and whether the content has a unique international standard code.

This measure is designed to standardize treatments of commercial content across all platforms. We have to ask ourselves why such an innocuous bill, which would support our Canadian cultural producers, would become so controversial. Who can argue with bringing our regulation into the 21st century? The answer is actually quite simple. It has been a coordinated campaign of misinformation and disinformation.

Members opposite and their party's communication apparatus have peddled misinformation claiming that the bill would silence Canadian online content creators, despite the fact that the bill explicitly excludes content creators. They have claimed that the bill would violate charter rights and limit free speech, despite its direct predecessor's having been through multiple reviews for charter compliance and the fact that the Department of Justice has found it fully compliant. Members claim that the bill would control what people can post on Facebook and Twitter, despite the fact that the bill has absolutely nothing to do with regulating online speech.

The scale of misinformation and disinformation around the bill has been so extreme that one would be hard pressed to believe that it came about organically. If we think that there is no way that this misinformed outrage is organic, we would be right. Rather, far-right organizations like Canada Proud have been working overtime, pushing falsehoods about the bill on Canadians. This of course is the same Canada Proud that was founded by Jeff Ballingall, also known as the digital campaign director of the former leader of the official opposition in the last election, as well as that of the likely future leader of the official opposition.

It is disappointing that the official opposition works with groups such as these, which employ tactics of misinformation and in this case, clear disinformation. In doing so, it actually undermines and compromises the fabric of legitimate political discourse in Canada, while also sowing division for political gain. In this case, it means siding with foreign web giants over the Canadian cultural sector, which is resulting in that sector's being left behind, especially in light of the serious impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the sector. It is bad enough that these tactics are poisoning debate in the House and on topics at the national level, but we know this is not an isolated example.

In the last election, in fact, the Conservative candidate in my riding did a mail drop a couple of days before the election, with a nefarious-looking picture of the Prime Minister saying that we were going to remove the exemption on capital gains for principal residences. I am sure many other folks in the House could give us many other examples.

Unfortunately, I have little confidence that the official opposition is going to cease with these disingenuous tactics. It is their MO, after all, but these insidious approaches are now poisoning debate all the way down to the local level. I bring the example of Squamish Voices. Squamish Voices began as a social media Facebook page and built up a following as a faux community group by promoting themselves on Facebook and asking very innocuous questions like what someone's favourite ice cream was. Having built up a very large following, they switched into launching a very dedicated campaign of attacks and character assassination on progressive elected officials by spreading misinformation. They spent over $25,000—

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May 11th, 2022 / 8:10 p.m.
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Denis Trudel Bloc Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, this evening I rise as an artist. People may not realize this, but in Montreal, 80% of the members of the artists' union earn less than $20,000 per year. That is kind of a big deal.

At one point in her life, a few years ago, Sylvie Drapeau, a hugely famous stage actor in Quebec, was getting cast in all the biggest roles. She played the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, the Théâtre Jean-Duceppe, the Théâtre du Rideau Vert. She played lead roles in the evening and rehearsed during the day. Even when she was playing starring roles in all the top productions, she was earning just $35,000 per year, and she is an outstanding actor, probably one of the greatest actors Canada has ever known. Artists are starving, and the pandemic made things even harder.

What does my colleague think about the fact that we could have passed Bill C‑11 a year ago, which would have helped artists struggling to get by? I used a stage actor as an example, but the pandemic has also been very hard on television actors and musicians. What does my colleague think about the fact that, when the Liberals called an election, they delayed a bill that was needed to help our artists in Quebec and Canada earn a living?

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May 11th, 2022 / 8 p.m.
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Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand virtually to join members this evening to contribute to this debate. I am currently in my home riding and am honoured to recognize and acknowledge the territory of the WSANEC nation. I raise my hands to all of them and say hych'ka siem, which is in the language of the traditional people of this land. I hope that Bill C-11 will actually deliver on some of the ideas to increase the indigenous content in what we see from our broadcast media in this country. We have a lot of work to do.

I want to address the bill. I have thought a lot about it, and in some of the debate, the notion that we need to do more for Canadian content has been somewhat ridiculed because there is Canadian content in things like The Handmaid's Tale. Why would we think that needed more Canadian content?

Just for fun, I looked up some of the things that one could think of as Canadian content that never was, like Dudley Do-Right. I grew up with Dudley Do-Right, the accident-prone Canadian Mountie who of course had nothing to do with Canada. It was produced by the people who did Rocky and Bullwinkle. It was in the 1960s that I used to watch that. In 1999, there was a Hollywood film based on the cartoon, and of course none of the people involved were Canadian, and the indigenous characters, who were played in ways that were racially and culturally inappropriate and offensive, were played by actors who were not themselves indigenous. We can go way back, if we want to look for Mounties, to find Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald from the 1930s, with a score from Oscar Hammerstein, singing Indian Love Call.

It is absurd to think for one minute that a Canadian Mountie makes a show Canadian or that the inclusion of an indigenous character makes it appropriate. It is laughable. We really do have to pay attention to raising up Canadian content.

I can share with colleagues that countries with much smaller populations than Canada has, like Norway or Denmark, have really extraordinary hit programs that people watch even if they have to put up with subtitles. They watch Borgen or watch the Occupied series. Canada has amazing talent, and it is time to make sure that we are not undermined by online streaming.

I am therefore very sympathetic to many of the goals of this bill. It has amendments to the Broadcasting Act, and because the Broadcasting Act protects freedom of expression, we are not going to lose freedom of expression. However, that does not mean I do not have some concerns that I share with other members here.

I want to thank Paul Manly, by the way, the former member of Parliament for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, because he took on all the workload of Bill C-10, which involved a lot of time developing amendments and being stuck in committee, where nothing was moving, and then we had an election. I did want to get out a public thanks to Paul.

I will turn to the things that really need work. The whole piece around the community element needs work. The broadcasters within community radio and community television that take on the role of community really want the community element definition fixed. One of the key concepts that I hope the committee will take on, in listening to community broadcasting, is to make sure that community broadcasting, by its definition in Bill C-11, is understood as fully community run. It is a really important point and we want to take that forward. I will be working in committee as a non-member of committee to get some amendments made so that the act really protects community-run content.

I am also concerned, frankly, about criticisms of the overreach of the CRTC's authority. We should really look at them. I am not sure where I come down on this yet, but Michael Geist, who is a really knowledgeable expert on media, is concerned that there would be an increased and expanded CRTC authority. I did used to practise in public interest law, and I went through some really long, mind-numbing hearings on, for instance, the review of revenue requirements for Bell and the breaking up of Bell, and all the things the CRTC did. It is a very powerful administrative body, and I wanted to mention that to colleagues.

A lot of the councils and advisory bodies to government, like regulatory agencies, generally provide advice to the government. In the case of the CRTC, it has decision-making authority and can only be overturned by a cabinet-level decision, so it is really important that we are careful. This is our one opportunity to really say what the CRTC is supposed to do and what it is not supposed to do. It is what we do when we are legislating, so let us make sure we get that right.

I have to say my confidence in the CRTC was shaken when I realized that it had put Russia Today, RT, on cable networks across Canada. It is a disinformation source that has undermined this country's democracy. I do not know how anyone ever concluded that this was a good idea, but I would like to make sure that we know we have given the CRTC the right instructions by legislation to make sure it is regulating and protecting Canadian content, and ensuring the survival and flourishing of our artistic community, our indigenous community and the French language.

We need to have French broadcasting. That is essential to our multicultural country. I am not convinced that Bill C‑11 has this quite right. It is not perfect, at least not yet.

The other piece I really want to mention is what we do about online content and social media. I know that the hon. member for Fleetwood—Port Kells made reference to this, but I really want to commend the recent work of former chief justice Beverley McLachlin and the quite brilliant academic director of the Centre for Media, Technology and Democracy at McGill, Taylor Owen. They make a very important point: Regulate the system, not the speech.

I really think that our social media approach should not be to look for when there has been a transgression and then go out and punish. I do not think the government or the CRTC should be trying to figure out when speech is hate speech or when it is libellous. We need to create a system where social media enterprises have to themselves take on the responsibility to be fully transparent and accountable.

I am going to read this into the record, before I run out of time. It is from an article by former Supreme Court chief justice Beverley McLachlin and Taylor Owen:

For too long the issue of online harms has been erroneously framed as one of individual bad actors and the regulation of speech, but the problem is one of systemic risk and it must be addressed as such. Canada now has the chance to learn from and build on the policies attempted in other countries and get it right.

That is from the recent May 9 article “Regulate the System, Not the Speech”.

We can do this. Whether it is through this bill or the many others that are looking at social media, we have to fix this. I will close here and just say this. Let us get Bill C-11 to committee. Let us get it right.