Online Streaming Act

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

Sponsor

Pablo Rodriguez  Liberal

Status

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

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-11.

Elsewhere

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.

Votes

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 / 7:45 p.m.
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Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Senate)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-11, but more importantly to address the fake outrage that continues to ensue as it relates to anything that comes from the other side of the House, such as the fake outrage from the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo just a few moments ago about time allocation. What the member for Hamilton Mountain was trying to say to him was that there have actually been more Conservative speakers speaking to this bill during second reading than every other party combined.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 7:40 p.m.
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Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member spoke about discoverability. This is one of those things that is being left to the CRTC to implement based on a policy directive that the government would send after the bill is passed.

Has the member spoke to the Minister of Canadian Heritage? How would he direct the CRTC to implement discoverability through Bill C-11?

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 7:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Lisa Hepfner Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour once again to rise in the House to talk about Bill C-11, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts. As a former journalist and broadcaster, this bill is close to my heart.

I followed the previous version of this bill as a journalist before I was elected, and I find it very fitting that I now have this new opportunity to contribute to this timely and important legislative measure.

It has been a while since I was lucky enough to give my first speech in the House as a newly elected member of Parliament, but I would like to revisit something I mentioned in my maiden speech. For more than 20 years, I worked on the ground as a journalist, covering local news and community stories. I experienced first-hand how local news impacts people and how individuals rely on updates to stay informed about their communities.

I worked as a journalist in Honduras while doing volunteer work. During journalism school, I worked at the Edmonton Journal for a summer. I was hired at The Hamilton Spectator after finishing my degree and was then lured over to the broadcast side by the astute and enterprising producers at CHCH News. I then spent another 20 years as a daily broadcast journalist. I heard regularly from viewers, and still do, who were thankful for my work in connecting them with their community and informing them of important issues in their city.

This wealth and breadth of experience gives me an unique perspective on how this legislation will directly impact Canadians and how badly this new law is needed in our country.

I am happy to rise again as this bill has made its way to second reading. I am here to remind the constituents of Hamilton Mountain that I remain a steadfast voice for the value of local news in the city of Hamilton and in communities across this country. Local news ensures that we remain connected, that we continue to engage in important conversations and that we are informed about what is happening in our own communities. Local journalism is a pillar of democracy, and local news outlets are struggling to remain open because web giants offer cheap solutions without the burden of paying for content. It is time that changed.

We have been working hard to ensure that web giants pay their fair share, to level the playing field and to protect Canadian culture, creativity and storytelling. Since I last spoke to the online streaming act back in March, I have continued to receive incredible support from my constituents about the passage of the bill. I have also held meetings with stakeholders who, like me, want to see this bill passed as soon as possible.

Although my area of expertise is in news and broadcasting, I have met with a variety of different groups, such as actors, directors, musicians, radio hosts, writers, producers, broadcasters and many more, about how the unfair advantage of foreign platforms must be addressed to ensure that our Canadian artists, creators and stories continue to not only thrive but shine.

We know where we need to begin. Our system needs to be fair and equitable. There needs to be just one set of rules for Canadian broadcasters and for streaming platforms at all times. I have said it before, and I will say it again: Anyone who profits from the system must contribute to it.

Having a fair playing field in place for all players will help ensure that online streamers contribute, help showcase and encourage the creation of Canadian culture. Our local media organizations and stakeholders will lose if this bill does not pass. It is so important that we all work together to see this come to fruition, because this act has not been updated since 1991. Let me say that again: 1991. We know it is time to get this done.

It is hard to even remember back to 1991 before the ease and availability of the Internet. I did not have a cellphone back then. I carried a pocketful of quarters if I needed to make a phone call at the phone booth. If I needed to do research, I went to the library and found the appropriate microfiche.

The landscape has obviously changed significantly since then. We have evolved in how we access music, TV and news. It has all changed. Therefore, our legislation needs to evolve along with the world around us. If foreign streamers are making money off Canadian content and local media outlets continue to lose money to them, we risk a total collapse of journalism in Canada. We need to do what we can now to protect, encourage and promote the immense talent that we have here in our country.

These measures will apply to broadcasters and platforms like YouTube, Netflix and others, not to users or creators.

Canadian stories, Canadian content, Canadian artists, Canadian creators, Canadian companies and local news are all at the heart of this legislation. We are so proud of our Canadian talent and we want to showcase it. We need to support our own industries, to tell our own stories and support our own creators. Bringing everyone into the same ecosystem and having everyone contribute to this ecosystem just makes sense, and that is what we will do with Bill C-11. By requiring online streamers to contribute to the production of Canadian content, it will ensure that more of our artists are showcased. Prioritizing our own creators, including from francophone, indigenous, gender-diverse, racialized and other equity-seeking backgrounds.

The online streaming act will allow for equitable and flexible contributions from online streamers while continuing to promote discoverability. I have heard from a number of stakeholders that it is imperative we continue to do our best to ensure that Canadians can find Canadian content on any platform. We know our productions and content are great. I do not think I need to tell my colleagues about how incredibly talented our Canadian artists are, but we also need to think a bit deeper about behind the scenes, the work that goes into every song, every movie, every TV show, every piece of content that we see, hear and experience. There are writers, producers, broadcasters and all of the magic that happens behind the curtain. We cannot risk even the thought of the collapse of any of these sectors just because streaming platforms like YouTube or Amazon Prime do not have the same requirements as Canadian companies.

I would like to come back to the broadcasters who are affected here.

Canadians rely heavily on Canadian news. It is woven deeply into the fabric of our communities. We saw with the COVID-19 pandemic how our local news stations provided updates on case counts in clinics. We see it today with flood warnings and weather updates, keeping citizens safe and informed of potentially life-saving situations.

I know that at CHCH news during the pandemic viewership increased dramatically. People needed to know what was going on. They needed to connect with their community and get important health and safety information. They tuned in to their trusted news and they have continued to turn on the TV. That said, the broadcasting landscape has changed significantly over the past few decades, as I have already mentioned, with bigger players in the game dramatically affecting our Canadian news market. We need to ensure that our broadcasters can keep up and that they are protected. The rules are outdated and in order to ensure fairness, this bill needs to pass now so we can better support our Canadian broadcasting sector.

I will once again make my pitch to the hon. members of this House to support this bill, please, which, in turn, will support our hard-working broadcasting and creative sectors. We need to make these changes now in order to protect our industries and to set the stage for all the great talent we will be lucky enough to see in the years to come.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 7:30 p.m.
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Bloc

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

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his comment. That is exactly what matters most to me, francophone content.

Had it not been for the Bloc Québécois taking part in the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage when Bill C-10 and Bill C-11 were being studied, the discoverability of francophone content—its presence, and the obligation to promote it, to recognize it, and to showcase it—would not have been nearly as significant as it is now.

We are satisfied with discoverability now. That was a demand from the sector that we responded to and discussed. My colleague from Drummond did the same for Bill C-11. We are satisfied, and we hope that the sector is as well. I think it is, because we are making sure its voice is heard.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 7:30 p.m.
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Bloc

Maxime Blanchette-Joncas Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my colleague on her wonderful speech.

The Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-11. The Broadcasting Act has not been updated since 1991, and that is more than 30 years ago. Obviously, broadcasting on the various platforms has constantly evolved in that 30-plus years.

I would like my colleague to tell me about the importance of francophone content in this bill.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 7:20 p.m.
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Bloc

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

Madam Speaker, I want to begin by sending my regards to all of my friends and associates from the life I led before and sometimes still go back to: the artists, authors, creators and composers. It is a team and a big family that I still belong to, although to a small extent. I send them my sincere regards.

I will begin my speech with a thought, a quote from one of Quebec's great poets, Raymond Lévesque, a friend of mine whom I adored.

Keep running, good people. Don't get involved. At the end of the race, you will find a trash can and death. Tomorrow you will curse those who got you into trouble, and yet you will have let them get away with it.

Let them get away with it. That is what the two main parties that have been taking turns being in government have done over the past 15 years, when broadcasting was revolutionized and digital broadcasters invaded the broadcasting market.

The cultural sector has therefore seen its main sources of revenue swallowed by the digital world. Although it had anticipated this and looked for possible solutions, it came up against outdated federal legislation. Accordingly, as it is capable of doing, it questioned itself, it adapted and tried as best it could to make a place for itself in this miserly and opportunistic monster of a world that values nothing but its own financial interests, without caring too much about what constitutes it, which is content and artistic, cultural, media, literary and visual creation. In short, the gargantuan digital monster is happily helping itself to the buffet, and it has been doing so for a very long time.

The cultural community is losing not only the income from its content, but also the revenue from the sale of traditional media for that content—cassettes, CDs and videocassettes, which we had in my day. In another life, I wrote songs. My songs went from room to room in people's homes on cassettes and CDs. I sold some CDs.

Everyone found their share of income in these media. To keep it simple, let us think of it as a pie, cut into parts proportional to the investment in the production of the work. Copyright revenues and royalties were distributed, as well. There was also an anticipated income from subsequent distribution on social media for creators, writers and composers.

French-language content quotas on the traditional platforms were not perfect, but we managed to hang on by the skin of our teeth. Any success we had on the radio or on television simply gave us a bit of money to invest in the next project. Unfortunately, since the transition to digital, the whole profitability aspect of the exercise has disappeared. People can no longer afford productions, especially independent productions.

Nothing has been done so far to adapt the legislation to this new digital world. Election promises were made in 2015 and again in 2019. A year later, the Yale report backed the government into a corner by making it clear that delaying the exercise any further would be politically disastrous for the government and noting the frustration and desperation of the tourism industry. As a result, the Liberals finally introduced their bill to amend the Broadcasting Act in November 2020.

Better late than never, I guess. We sat down in parliamentary committee, we consulted Quebec's cultural community, and we found several major shortcomings in this bill, including the lack of protections for francophone content; the lack of discoverability, predictability and enhancement of content; and the absence of any obligation for foreign producers to prioritize Canada's cultural potential or to offer compensation if that proved impossible.

The Bloc Québécois has made the priorities of Quebec's cultural community central to its work here. The creators and broadcasters of all manner of cultural expression were pleased to see their needs reflected, first in the original Bill C‑10 and then in the current Bill C‑11. The community is satisfied and, above all, reassured by our work and our signature collaborative spirit, as we seek to come to find the balance that will make a bill the best it can be.

As Bloc members, that is our job. We did it. Eighteen months and a second attempt at the bill later, we ask only one thing, that the House pass that blessed bill.

Right now, the gigantic digital world is still stuffing itself at the all-you-can-eat content buffet. As the former heritage minister from the previous Parliament said during one of his many appearances on a very popular Sunday TV show, the cultural sector has been losing more than $70 million a month since the legislation failed to pass. It has been 18 months since the bill was introduced in November 2020, so that represents $1.26 billion in losses for the creative industry, which equates to $2.33 million a day or $97,222 an hour.

I am part of this cultural sector. I know this community: It is generous, resilient and passionate. It has an ability to bounce back that is absolutely incredible. It possesses the magic of universality and perseverance, and it is used to working hard. We cannot deprive it of the income it is owed. It is unacceptable to keep drawing things out like this.

If I were to walk among my colleagues in the House and take from each of their pockets the amount of money that the cultural community has lost since November 2020, I swear that no one here would like that. That is what we do every day when we postpone passing this bill. We have been dragging our feet since 2020.

My 10‑minute speech will have cost artists and creators $16,203. What are we doing, then? Should I pass the hat?

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 7:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Warren Steinley Conservative Regina—Lewvan, SK

Madam Speaker, we are discussing Bill C-11, and maybe the member did not hear me talk earlier about some of the issues we had specifically with Bill C-11, such as proposed subsection 4.1(2), which talks about an exception to the exception and some of the criteria that the CRTC has laid out on what could be admissible under the new Broadcasting Act and what may not be admissible. There are issues we have with the bill we are talking about right now. I laid that out quite cleanly in my opening remarks, when we were talking about this bill, which is Bill C-11, and we will debate Bill C-18 another time. I look forward to having that discussion with the hon. member, when that is the actual bill we are supposed to be discussing on the floor.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 7:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, I was wondering if the member could tell me how much I have spent on Facebook. I am curious. No, I am just kidding.

Every government bill that is introduced in the House has to be accompanied by a charter statement. That is something our government brought in because we care about charter rights. It was a Liberal government that brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The great democrat, Stephen Harper, did not care to do that. I would remind the member that he would introduce bills that could violate the charter as private members' bills to get around the Department of Justice scrutiny.

Does the member not respect the charter statement on Bill C-11, which says the bill passes muster regarding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? If not, is he impugning the professional integrity of the lawyers who drafted that charter statement?

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 7:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Warren Steinley Conservative Regina—Lewvan, SK

Madam Speaker, this is talking about Facebook, Netflix and the CRTC, so I think this would be something of interest to members.

I will talk about a few of the other bills that have been paid by the taxpayers. For the Prime Minister, $2.8 million has been spent on Facebook advertising from June 25, 2019 to May 9, 2022. Interestingly enough, the member for Kingston and the Islands, who speaks often here and I enjoy his speeches, spent $43,578 on Facebook advertising from June 25, 2019 to May 9, 2022. The member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country spent $23,466 from June 25, 2019 to May 9, 2022. These are all Liberal members. The member for Hamilton Mountain spent $2,787. The Liberal Party of Canada spent $4.2 million on Facebook ads from June 25, 2019 to May 9, 2022.

I can understand why they talk about wanting to get some of the money back from some of these big social media companies: It is because they have given them so much money. It is really quite impressive how much money they have given them over the period of June 25, 2019 to May 9, 2022.

When it comes down to it, we still have a lot of questions and we will not be supporting Bill C-11. When it gets to committee, our members will do their good work and ask some of the questions, especially about proposed subsection 4.1(2) on what the exception to the exception looks like and how the Liberals are really trying to regulate what online users are saying on social media. Those are some of the concerns that our members will bring forward at committee.

When it comes to paying their fair share and whether or not we should make sure that we support our Canadian content creators, we will always do that. I will continue to advertise in my local papers, while the Liberals advertise on Facebook.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 7:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Warren Steinley Conservative Regina—Lewvan, SK

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to join in this debate tonight. I would like to thank the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands for allowing me to change the speaking order today as I have an appointment later this evening. I appreciate that very much, so my thanks to my colleague across the way.

When it comes to the CRTC and Bill C-11, I am not an expert on information, and they are experts on misinformation, or on the Internet and what the CRTC should or should not be doing, so I am going to read a couple of comments from Michael Geist, who is an expert when it comes to information, the Internet, what should be happening with it and how it should be regulated.

One of the problems that Professor Geist has with Bill C-11, which is very, very similar to Bill C-10, is this:

But dig a little deeper and it turns out that the bill is not quite as advertised. While Section 4.1 was restored, the government has added 4.1(2), which creates an exception to the exception. That exception to the exception—in effect a rule that does allow for regulation of content uploaded to a social media service—says that the Act applies to programs as prescribed by regulations that may be created by the CRTC.

It lays out three criteria that this “exception to the exception” may fall under:

The bill continues with a new Section 4.2, which gives the CRTC the instructions for creating those regulations. The result is a legislative pretzel, where the government twists itself around trying to regulate certain content. In particular, it says the CRTC can create regulations that treat content uploaded to social media services as programs by considering three factors: whether the program that is uploaded to a social media service directly or indirectly generates revenue; if the program has been broadcast by a broadcast undertaking that is either licensed or registered with the CRTC; if the program has been assigned a unique identifier under an international standards system. The law does not tell the CRTC how to weigh these factors. Moreover, there is a further exclusion for content in which neither the user nor the copyright owner receives revenue as well as for visual images only.

I think these are some of the biggest issues that we on this side have with Bill C-11. There are some hidden questions within this legislation. The exception to the exception is a big concern, and also that the CRTC has not received all of its marching orders from the Liberal government as yet. We are not quite sure what the mandate for the CRTC is when it comes to online content.

I have received some comments from constituents. Actually, one of them is from country music singer JJ Voss, who just won an award. He is concerned that we would hold this bill up because there are some things in here about Canadian content and supporting Canadian musicians, Canadian culture and Canadians who are really doing great work. That is not our practice at all. What we want to do is make sure that people are protected. Our job as the loyal opposition is to review legislation cautiously to see where there may be some traps, because there are some things in these pieces of legislation that Canadians might not think are good ideas. This, in particular, is one of those situations for sure.

I believe that a lot of people in Regina—Lewvan, the area that I represent in Saskatchewan, are a little unsure of my voting in favour of a piece of legislation if they are not even sure what the mandate to the CRTC is yet or what exactly “an exception to an exception” means. They are really not comfortable with the “just trust us” approach that the Liberal government sometimes takes to legislation. I can understand why. We have gone through a lot of situations over the past two years where “just trust me” has ended up in people not being able to go to weddings or funerals. “Just trust us. We want to have the ability to tax and spend for 18 to 22 months without having any oversight whatsoever”; that is another situation where people do not feel comfortable with the decisions the Liberal government has made.

When it comes to us deciding if this bill is something we can really support, do we not think Canadians have the ability to actually use their own discretion when they are posting online? Why can Canadians not have that freedom of expression or freedom of speech?

When it comes to Bill C-11, those are some of the questions we have had. There is also the fact that, over the last two hours in this building, when we have been talking about Bill C-11, which some people would see as censorship by the government, the Liberals brought in closure on a bill about censorship. One cannot make this up. We had had 30 minutes of questions and answers, when at one point the NDP member for Courtenay—Alberni had the audacity to say that we were holding up legislation just because we asked for a standing vote and did not pass the piece of legislation on division. That is our job. That is why people sent us to this building, to stand up and be counted.

I will not be talked down to by someone from Courtenay—Alberni when the Liberals do not want me to be doing my job. That was an actual conversation during the 30 minutes of questions and answers, when the Liberals once again used closure to try to pass this legislation faster because, quite frankly, I do not think they believe it stands up to the scrutiny that the loyal opposition has been putting it to. It does not pass the smell test. For the constituents who have sent us here, that is really our job.

I think I understand why some of the members across the way say that everyone should pay their fair share, and we agree with them, but why do they really want to get some money back from Facebook and Netflix? I have a list of how much money a few of the Liberal members have spent on advertising on Facebook. The member for Fleetwood—Port Kells, who just spoke about vinyl records, spent almost $5,000 on advertising from June 25, 2019 to May 9, 2022, and that is just coming from his member's office budget. That is $5,000 in taxpayer dollars he spent on advertising on Facebook—

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 7 p.m.
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Conservative

Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Madam Speaker, Bill C-11 proposes to give the CRTC the ability “to make orders imposing conditions on the carrying on of broadcasting undertakings;” in 18 different categories of operations.

We know that it has now been just past two weeks since we hit the 500-day mark from when there was a motion in the House for the government to create a suicide 988 hotline, and it tasked the CRTC with this. It has had consultations, but it has not been able to implement this. I am wondering what kind of confidence the member has in the CRTC to take on this giant new mandate and new project, considering its recent record.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 6:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Raquel Dancho Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Madam Speaker, the Internet is an incredible invention. We have all the information in the world in the palm of our hands. Just as the creation of the printing press in the 1400s changed the course of history forever by allowing information to be disseminated to the masses, rather than just to the elites of society, bringing literacy to millions of people, so too has the Internet revolutionized how we exchange ideas and amplify our voices. It has brought freedom of knowledge and expression to billions of people.

Before the printing press, censorship of dangerous ideas by the elites was easy. All one had to do was round up the heretics who held fringe or unacceptable views, hang them high in town square and burn their handwritten notebooks. With the use of the printing press, dangerous ideas could be shared far and wide, leading to the Protestant Reformation, the scientific revolution, the French Revolution and the age of enlightenment, just to name a few.

Likewise, the Internet and social media have helped spark political revolutions and political movements. They have empowered brave resistance to foreign dictators, like our Ukrainian friends against Vladimir Putin and their courageous fight. Social media has helped empower that and allows for the exchange information at a rapid pace.

We really do live in extraordinary times. This is especially true for our online Canadian content creators. “Influencer” is now a career choice, and Canadian musicians, painters, bakers, commentators and do-it-yourselfers can access billions of people to share their ideas and creations with the click of a button. All one needs is an Internet connection and a smart phone.

Actually, one needs one more thing. They need a government that believes in their freedom to do so. Unfortunately, Canadians are experiencing a government that is trying desperately to control the Internet.

From the very wild and extreme online harms bill, to Bill C-18, the online news act, and now Bill C-11, the online streaming act, which we are debating today, Canada's Liberal government is really butting into every aspect of our online world. It is proclaiming it is here to help and that it will show those big, scary boss streaming services, such as Netflix and Spotify, who the boss is and save us all from the scary, dangerous ideas on the Internet.

In reality, these three Internet bills all have the same aim, which is to regulate what we see when we open our cell phone apps. Canadians may remember how Bill C-10 exploded in controversy last year, but it died on the Order Paper. It is back now in Bill C-11, and while the Liberals claim they have fixed the concerns we had with Bill C-10, Bill C-11 is really just a wolf in sheep's clothing.

The issue with Bill C-10 was its control of user-generated content, the posts and videos that we share and upload on social media. The Liberals say that issue was removed in Bill C-11, but experts do not agree. Notable communications law professor Michael Geist has pointed out that the CRTC has the power, with Bill C-11, to subject user-generated content to regulation, should it so choose.

If folks at home are asking what the CRTC is, it is the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which has heavily controlled what we have seen on TV and heard on the radio over the past 50 years. Bill C-11 essentially expands the CRTC's powers not only to streaming giants such as Netflix and Spotify, but also to the podcasts, audiobooks and news channels we consume online. It will not just control Canadian-produced versions of those things, but anything coming from anywhere in the world that Canadians want to consume online in Canada.

More than that, Bill C-11, in fact, provides the Liberal cabinet the power to tell the CRTC how to regulate streaming platforms, how to define what Canadian content is and the general policy direction of these Internet controls. It is important to note that cabinet does not have this power currently over TV and radio. This will be a new power. Under the existing law, the CRTC is not directed by cabinet. It is independent, so it can be free from political interference, which is very important. However, this will no longer be the case under Bill C-11. Cabinet will have power over what we see on Internet, which represents an unprecedented expansion of government power.

The bottom line is that Canadian creators have more freedom now, before this bill comes in, than they ever did before with TV and radio. One can become a YouTube star. It is far more accessible than trying to break into network television. Why would the Liberals want to impose the same CRTC regulations they have on TV and radio onto our online platforms? It really does not make sense if we are talking about boosting our Canadian content creators. We know that over 90% of those who are watching our Canadian content are from outside of Canada.

The number of influencers online in Canada earning $100,000 a year or more is rapidly increasing every single year. I really do believe the last thing our online content creators need is the Liberal government sticking its fingers into the regulation controls and messing around with the algorithms that have facilitated the ability of our homegrown creators to share their content with the world.

YouTube, in fact, has alerted the online community and has issued strong warnings to the Liberal government about the negative impacts of Bill C-11, warning that it risks downgrading Canadian content in other countries. If we artificially bump up Canadian content here, and if for whatever reason that Canadian content is not catching the interest of Canadians, the algorithm will actually downgrade that content abroad in competing markets, such as the United States, for example, which a lot of influencers in Canada depend upon.

I do feel that Bill C-11 is not the only thing we need to be worried about. It is worrisome, but there are two other bills as well. There is Bill C-18, which is the online news act, and it has some issues. It has been criticized as interfering in the independence of our news media because it controls how we share news articles on platforms such as Facebook by forcing these platforms to pay news agencies every time we share a news article. Lots of people share news on their Facebook platforms. It is odd this bill would be needed, because this practice is great for news agencies. When one shares their content, it takes us right to their website. It is free advertising.

Australia tried to do the same thing as what is proposed in Bill C-18. Facebook played hardball and banned all sharing of news articles on Facebook until it was able to negotiate something with the Australian government. There are serious issues here. Facebook raised in committee that it is not opposed to doing the same thing in Canada.

Bill C-18 is really just more control from government, but it is not even half as bad as the online harms bill. This is a very scary Internet control bill. In the last Parliament it was known as Bill C-36, and it died on the Order Paper when that unnecessary $600-million election was called, but the Liberals are trying to bring it back again.

It is important to say I welcome a conversation on how we can better fight terrorism organizing online and better enforce existing laws concerning things that are considered fraud, libel, inciting violence, and in particular, child pornography or the sharing of intimate images online without consent. Those are all very important conversations and legitimate issues that need to be addressed.

However, the online harms bill would create a government regulator of speech on the Internet that would decide what is harmful and must be removed. It would be very subjective, depending really on who is behind the curtain dictating what is harmful. Andrew Coyne, in the Globe and Mail, said the bill is “direct state regulation of [online] content”. This is pretty significant.

Twitter said this, which is really concerning:

People around the world have been blocked from accessing Twitter and other services in a similar manner as the one proposed by Canada by multiple authoritarian governments (China, North Korea, and Iran for example) under the false guise of ‘online safety,’ impeding peoples’ rights to access information online.

Twitter is literally comparing this online harms bill to China, North Korea and Iran. It is pretty shocking.

The Liberals are throwing around terms like “misinformation” and “disinformation” whenever they do not like something we say, and we know free speech is constantly under attack. Anything one says these days can offend someone. I am concerned about what bills like Bill C-11 and the online harms bill would do to our freedom of expression online.

Although society has evolved, before the creation of the printing press, the establishment would essentially murder heretics with unacceptable views and burn the books later on. We are not immune to authoritarian control of our freedom of expression.

We would also do well to remember rights and freedoms are not always eliminated in one fell swoop. Often governing authorities will just pick at them bit by bit under the guise of it being for our own good, telling us that they know better than us and they will keep us safe. We have seen this happen in China and it is happening in Hong Kong.

Considering that when he was asked which country in the entire world he most admires, our Liberal Prime Minister said China's basic dictatorship because of its ability to get things done, we should listen when the Prime Minister tells us who he really is. With these three Internet control and censorship bills, I do believe he has made his intentions quite clear. We should all be very, very concerned.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 6:45 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to note that I really appreciate my hon. colleague's wonderful radio voice.

I have to pick up on the comment by the previous speaker, my hon. colleague from the Conservative Party. I appreciate much of what was said, but I think the analogy between a radio station in the 1980s is not a completely apt metaphor for the Internet today. The average radio station listener could not add to the content or participate in generating content on the radio station. It was a one-way platform, whereas the Internet is something the public meaningfully participates in.

I am interested in my hon. colleague's comments on that. More particularly, I have constituents who are concerned that there would be an attempt by the government to regulate and cause broadcasters, in this case online providers, to remove content that is deemed hateful: in other words, that requires a subjective determination. They are worried that this may lead to censorship of the Internet. I am curious about my hon. colleague's thoughts on that. Is he concerned that Bill C-11 may lead to that consequence?

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 6:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Madam Speaker, it is kind of a pleasure to speak to Bill C-11. I will offer a few things based on a career, at least my first career, of dealing with the CRTC as a broadcaster, as a person who was on the radio and occasionally on television, and especially as a manager of stations that were required to follow the CRTC regulations.

The concerns that have been expressed about Bill C-11 need to be paid attention to. We should not just dust them off and say there is no problem here. The questions are legitimate, but we also need to drill into the details and see exactly what the implications are. When we do that, we are going to end up feeling a lot more secure and confident that Bill C-11 is going to add significant value to Canada.

First of all, this is the Broadcasting Act that we are talking about. The Broadcasting Act relates to broadcasters. I want to quote a couple of things that kind of settle what we are talking about. The first is:

undertakings for the transmission or retransmission of programs over the Internet as a distinct class of broadcasting undertakings...

In other words, basically we are saying that the web platforms that distribute and carry programming to Canadians will be classed as broadcasters. The legislation also says:

the [Broadcasting] Act does not apply in respect of programs uploaded to an online undertaking that provides a social media service by a user of the service

In other words, cat videos, homegrown YouTube and even the productions that someone may have spent some money to develop will not be covered. They will not be influenced by this.

Further, there is one exception that we need to note in the legislation. It says:

A person who uses a social media service to upload programs for transmission over the Internet and reception by other users of the service—and who is not the provider of the service or the provider’s affiliate...does not, by the fact of that use, carry on a broadcasting undertaking...

I want to go back to my radio days. It was 15 years of misspent youth, but an amazing education in a lot of ways. I got into the radio business just after the initial Canadian content regulations came to radio, and here is how that worked. The original rules said that 30% of the music that we played from 6 a.m. until midnight had to be Canadian content. I will describe what that is in a second. Later, the CRTC and the governments of the day came forward with a formula in which the radio stations had to contribute to a fund. Initially, it was called the Canadian talent development fund. There have been other names and other versions of it.

The two things were that, first of all, we had to profile Canadian content, and then later we had to contribute financially to the creation of Canadian content. What we are doing here now is no different from what was done 50 years ago.

How did we know what Canadian content was? In the radio business, every record had what was called the MAPL logo. It was a system that identified music, artist, production and lyrics of the piece. The rule was that anything produced after 1971 or 1972 had to have two of those categories covered as being Canadian to be classified as a piece of Canadian content. It was tough in the beginning, I have to say. I had grown up listening to radio that was free to play anything it wanted at any time, within reason. I will get to that, but the fact is that all of a sudden we had to play Canadian content. In those days it was scarce; at least, the kind of music we wanted to program on our station was scarce. I still today cannot listen to Snowbird by Anne Murray because we played it to death. It was what we had at the time. That no longer exists, and it is because the Canadian content rules led to the development of a Canadian music industry that punches way above its weight around the world.

There was a unique proposition to those early CanCon days that is totally different from what we face today. Radio, by its nature, is very linear. The listeners listened to the piece of music I had on the air, and got it in the order that I gave it to them. If they were going to listen to our station, they would get that 30% of Canadian content, period.

It is different in this case. We are asking online broadcasters to simply make Canadian content available. The people who use Netflix go in and there are little tiles that show them all of the movies available. What this rule would do is tell Netflix that it has to make sure that Canadian content is represented in those tiles. People do not have to choose it, but they have to know that it is there. That way, we are going to at least give Canadian creators access to audiences who can choose to view or listen to their material, or not.

The actions of the regulator have certainly changed throughout my lifetime. Sometimes, when I talk to kids in schools, they ask me what it was like in the old days when I was a kid: when we would ride our dinosaurs to school and all that good stuff. When I was a kid, Canadian radio stations were not allowed to play commercials on Sundays. If they played a recording, they had to announce that it was a transcription so that people would not think that the performance was live. That was then.

Over the years, the broadcast regulator updated, streamlined and allowed things that were not allowed previously. I remember only two times, or maybe three, when the Canadian regulator stepped in and got in the way of a licensed broadcast undertaking.

One was at one of the first stations I ended up working for: CJOR in Vancouver. The family who put the station on the air was forced to sell it because it lost control of the programming. The programming in the mid-1960s was pretty rough, when we look at the community standards of the day.

Another refers to a general category of radio called radio poubelle: garbage radio or trash radio, which has been a unique property, particularly in the Quebec City area. Station CHOI was forced to be sold, again because it could not control some of its announcers who were doing some hideous things on the air. I could quote them, but will not because members really do not need to hear the sorts of things that were going on there. The CRTC had been more than patient, but it was far beyond what anybody could ever accept.

With respect to the obligations of the broadcaster, there was an article co-written by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin entitled, “Regulate the System, Not the Speech”. When we look at Bill C-11, what it is really going to do is regulate the broadcaster so that it is responsible for the material that is played by it. I could play any record I wanted, but if I did not follow Canadian content rules the broadcaster, i.e. the station I worked for, would get into trouble, but nobody was standing over my shoulder saying that I had to play this song next or that I could not play a record, except if it did not match the format. It is not the content producers, but the platform that provides the content to the public, that the bill will regulate.

By making Canadian content more available to Canadians, we will do something about that cultural, and I use this word advisedly, juggernaut to the south of us, particularly when it comes to French production. One of the most delightful things in my time as a member of Parliament has been that I have a home in Quebec. I love it here. Quebec is such a wonderful, unique thing and we must do everything we can to protect this unique culture in a unique country such as ours.

I will end it there to let us go to questions, but I have to say that although some of the fears may be quite legitimate, they actually do not get borne out when we look at the details behind Bill C-11.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 6:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I remember the discussions we had about Bill C‑10 during the previous Parliament, especially with respect to potential breaches of freedom of expression and concerns about social media users being taxed. These same concerns are being raised again, even though the summary, clause 2 and clause 4.1 clearly state that users will not be taxed and even though there are no clauses that restrict freedom of expression.

I now want to talk about access to culture.

It is not right that it is easier for francophones to access Korean content than it is to access media in their first language on some sites. Out of curiosity, I watched a few of the Korean offerings suggested to me and I enjoyed the production, set design and costume quality.

Bill C‑11 will ensure that francophones have access to content that is just as good a quality in their language and will ensure that non-francophones can do what I did and watch content that is made in Quebec and in Canada. Curiosity is something to be developed.

If we want to encourage curiosity and interest, we need to make it easier to access good-quality content, and that is what Bill C‑11 will do. Some members will tell me that people who want access to francophone culture just need to seek it out like I did, but that is a troubling thought.

Why should I have to go looking for expressions of my culture when others never have to look at all to have access to expressions of their own culture?

Are those who might say such a thing really telling me that the only good culture is culture that is readily accessible, or in other words, American culture?

Could it be that they have no problem with the fact that they have no access to content about their own culture, Canadian content? Could it be that they think Canadian culture and American culture are similar?

I can almost hear those same individuals telling me that those two cultures are not one and the same. In that case, why would they not want more people to have easier access to Canadian culture? Why would they not want francophones and francophiles from Quebec, Canada and elsewhere in the world to have access to Quebec and francophone content just as as easily as they do to American or anglophone cultural content?

Bill C‑11 will allow online streamers to broadcast culture and improve access to the cultures present in Canada.

To sum up, for anyone who cares about their own culture, Bill C‑11 is a good bill that deserves to move through the legislative process in good faith on all sides. It deserves it because we should never have to let our culture be managed by a foreign culture.