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

Second reading (Senate), as of June 23, 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

June 21, 2022 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts
June 21, 2022 Failed Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (hoist amendment)
June 20, 2022 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts
June 20, 2022 Passed Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment)
June 20, 2022 Failed Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment)
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

February 16th, 2022 / 6:10 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I share his sense of urgency. A considerable amount of money is being stolen from artists every month and every year. I am not an artist, but I am quite familiar with their situation because my brother is part of the Quebec folk band Le Vent du Nord. Members of the band are paying close attention, and they want the government to act as quickly as possible.

I think we can do that because Bill C-11 is a good foundation on which to build. The last time, the Bloc Québécois made a lot of suggestions and improvements, and the NDP supported most of them. I think that the Bloc did the same for the amendments suggested by the NDP, so I think we will be able to work together because we both have a strong interest in these issues.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

February 16th, 2022 / 6:10 p.m.
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Bloc

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

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite‑Patrie for his excellent speech and comments, which line up with most of our ideas.

I would like his take on the work that was done on the former Bill C‑10. The Bloc Québécois made a lot of suggestions, additions and corrections to improve it. We are now faced with the current Bill C‑11, which I certainly think could easily be passed once it is studied.

The thing that bothers me is the $80 million a month that skips over the creators and goes straight to the broadcasting bigwigs. It makes me so mad. As a singer-songwriter myself, I know that all of my colleagues are up in arms over this.

Does my colleague also believe that we must deal with the bill urgently and efficiently?

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

February 16th, 2022 / 6:10 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, given that we agree with the principle of supporting our cultural community, our artists and our creators, we will definitely push for a bill that does exactly that, with the necessary corrections. I talked about two of them earlier.

The NDP will therefore work constructively at committee to improve Bill C-11 and address the problems. However, I would encourage the federal government to do a much better job defending its bill than the previous heritage minister did. I hope the new Minister of Canadian Heritage does not fall into the traps that the Conservative Party will try to set on the issue of freedom of expression.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

February 16th, 2022 / 5:45 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I am familiar with Bill C‑11, having spent a lot of time working on the previous bill, Bill C‑10, which addressed the same issues but was not passed by the Senate. This is a new version, but it is almost identical to Bill C‑10, with some changes.

To set the stage, I think it is important to talk about tax fairness. Yesterday, I was listening to prominent left-wing economist Thomas Piketty on the radio. He said that getting the ultrarich, the billionaires, the big corporations, the web giants like GAFAM, to pay is key to being able to create societies that are fairer and more egalitarian, societies where we can pay for social programs to take care of our people, our communities and our neighbours.

This bill is a step in that direction. Unfortunately, the federal government, be it Conservative or Liberal, has not yet done anything to make these web giants pay tax in Canada. I can already hear the Minister of Canadian Heritage saying that it is not up to Canadian Heritage, it is up to Finance. He is right. I know that.

I am just saying that we have a major tax fairness problem preventing us from making necessary investments in health care, post-secondary education and infrastructure. Middle-class workers are always the ones who end up paying for those things, while the rich find a way out and go hide their money in tax havens. Big companies like web giants are still not paying tax in Canada. That is absolutely scandalous, and we should all be outraged.

I invite the federal government—I urge it—to heed the demands of those on the left, of progressives and the NDP, among others, and tell these companies that enough is enough. Google, Apple, Facebook and their ilk need to pay tax. They make mind-boggling amounts of money. They are literally stealing our money, and the middle class, the workers, the people we represent in our ridings, are the ones who always end up bearing the tax burden.

We are not talking about taxation in Bill C‑11, but about a certain fairness in financial contributions to support our cultural sector. That is the link between the two. It is a small step, but a significant one for our artists, creators, and national, local or regional productions. It is becoming absolutely essential to be able to make this shift. It is high time that we did so. We are already lagging far behind.

The last version of the Broadcasting Act was enacted in 1991. It is now 2022. Spotify, Netflix and all these online streaming services did not exist in 1991. Fortunately or unfortunately, I remember it as an entirely different era. One thing is certain: we have a regulatory and legislative framework that is outdated and archaic. As the member for Trois-Rivières stated, it is literally from another century and must be adapted for the present day.

Back then, the federal government was able to step in and pass legislation on TV and radio broadcasters because the airwaves had been declared a public good. Since they were a public good, the government could step in to oversee and regulate the use of these airwaves. That is not true of the Internet. The Internet is not considered a public good or even a public service, which is unfortunate. I do think it should be a public service. Back then, the legislation was drafted based on the concept of public airwaves for radio and later for television. We are light years beyond that.

We in the NDP welcome this kind of legislation, which aims to ensure that everyone is treated equally by bringing those who do not currently contribute to funding Quebec and Canadian cultural production in line with those who do. This should have been done a long time ago. We said this last year, before the election. Governments have been dragging their feet on this issue. It is culture, our cultural sector and our artists, who have suffered and unfortunately continue to suffer.

I find it particularly hypocritical that the Liberals argued for urgent action on the former Bill C-10, after introducing it too late in 2021 and then calling an election, knowing full well that this would kill the bill, which would die on the Order Paper in the Senate and therefore not receive royal assent.

The Liberals' political self-interest and the tactical, partisan decisions they made in the hope of gaining a majority led them to knowingly and willingly abandon the cultural sector and our artists. Because of the Liberals, these artists will have to wait months, maybe even a year, before this problem will be solved and the various stakeholders will help fund our cultural productions through the Canada Media Fund or other funds.

This sector has never been more in need of our support. The cultural sector, along with tourism, has probably been hit hardest by the pandemic. This is particularly true for the performing arts, which are not as affected by Bill C‑11 and the Broadcasting Act but still employ a lot of people, who are desperate and struggling. The past two years have been extremely difficult, which is one more reason we need to be diligent and mindful in designing the best bill possible.

If this act is only reviewed every 33 years, it becomes even more important that we do a good job now, since we do not know when we will have the chance to make any changes.

As I was saying, technology has left our current system in the dust. On the one hand, our broadcasters and cable companies pay for arts, TV, film and music productions. On the other, web giants, all the online and streaming broadcasters, do not pay a penny to support the telling of our stories.

This inequality, this inequity, this is what needs fixing and should have been fixed a long time ago. We are ready to work in good faith with our friends in the cultural sector to change this situation and find a solution to this problem.

The NDP supports the bill in principle, just as it supported the old Bill C‑10. We want to work with our cultural sector, not just because we like culture or because it is what defines us as humans, but also because it is an important economic sector with tens of thousands of jobs. Those jobs in turn support cities, towns and regions. Lots of those jobs are in Quebec, in Montreal, and, I am proud to say, in my riding, Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, where I am fortunate to represent a very visible, active and creative artistic community that I am very proud of.

I would like to raise the two questions that we have, and I look forward to hearing what the minister has to say about them and talking about them in committee.

One thing that derailed the debate the last time was the official opposition's very partisan speeches. The Conservative Party was getting a great kick out of raising the doubts and concerns of people who were worried about being regulated and managed by a government body like the CRTC. However, a fair reading of the previous bill showed that such would not have been the case.

It seems the Liberals were worried that the debate would shift or derail like that again, so the new bill seems even more forceful with regard to what we generally refer to as cat or baby videos, which will not be subject to CRTC regulations. Users and user-generated content will be excluded.

That is stated and reiterated in the bill. We could discuss that, but I think we are headed in the right direction. That is not the purpose of the bill. The purpose of the bill is to make individuals and companies that use social media for business purposes and generate a significant amount of revenue contribute.

That is where things are unclear right now. For example, how will we calculate YouTube's contribution if we are making a distinction between commercial and personal or private use? I am saying YouTube, but the same would be true for TikTok, Facebook or Instagram.

These platforms and social media sites are used a lot for professional and business purposes. That is fine, but we need to make sure that we have a mechanism for determining the value of the commercial use of TikTok or YouTube, for example, and excluding private or personal use.

Based on the preliminary discussions we had with officials from Canadian Heritage, the answer is unclear. They seem to be floundering, unsure how they are going to find a solution. I suspect that they will end up negotiating with each of these platforms.

If we do not have transparency tools for obtaining information on the proportion of personal use versus commercial use, information that is held by these social media platforms and online streamers, how does the Liberal government plan to negotiate with these giants to ensure that they are not pulling a fast one?

How do we make sure that they stop failing to contribute their fair share and stop saving money on the backs of workers who actually do contribute by paying taxes in Quebec and Canada?

We need to seek clarification, and I think this is going to be important work to do in committee. The Minister of Canadian Heritage is going to have to explain this to us.

The second thing I wanted to talk about is the concept of discoverability. I have questions about this, and I am not the only one, because I heard my colleagues from the Bloc Québécois, including the former heritage critic, also raise this question. The bill touches on the issue of funding for various cultural activities, and the web giants now have to chip in.

We must ask ourselves one important question: Will consumers see this content? It is all well and good to say that there may be a Quebec film in the Netflix catalogue, but if it never appears on the home page when the app is opened, if people do not even know it exists, they are not going to watch it. The same goes for a TV show or a song.

For our artists and singers, YouTube is a major means of monetizing and selling their work. The Liberal government is telling us that it wants that work to be seen and found by consumers, but it does not want to intervene in the algorithms of these social media platforms and online streamers.

I am scratching my head a little and wondering how this will be verified. The home page and suggestions shown to each consumer may vary based on their streaming history, previous searches, areas of interest and also, I believe, a significant amount of data that these web giants share in order to create customer profiles.

How will we know if Cœur de pirate's latest song is easy for people to find when they are looking for music on YouTube?

I was told that these people will have an obligation to deliver and that they will look at the overall picture. I have no idea how they are going to monitor all that, collect the data and be able to verify whether the discoverability mechanisms are real or just wishful thinking and a declaration of intent.

I understand that algorithms are also a trade secret. This may be a touchy subject, but I have yet to get a clear answer on how we can achieve this from a technical standpoint without tweaking the algorithms. I think these are important questions.

If the bill simply says that it is very important for Quebeckers and Canadians to have access to TV shows, films and songs from Quebec and Canada and that it is important that they be able to find them easily, but, in reality, none of what the bill says is enforced or enforceable, then the bill will fall short of its goal.

There are some worthwhile aspects, such as funding, national production, discoverability and diversity. The bill does take some steps in the right direction. For example, it contains some guarantees in terms of French-language content production.

As a member of Parliament from Quebec, it is obviously very important to me and to the people I represent across Quebec, and to francophones outside of Quebec and to people all across the country, that French-language works can be produced and are discoverable. We must avoid making the same mistakes the Liberals made with their big agreement with Netflix, when they seemed to have completely forgotten French-language or Quebec content. There were no guarantees.

The NDP is very much in favour of focusing on indigenous productions and indigenous-language content creation. That is something that has been neglected over the years, and there is some catching up to do. Investments are required. We are talking about money, about regional and provincial support. I do not know if we are going to want to look at quotas, but the fact that we are even talking about this and making it a priority is a step in the right direction. This is something that the NDP will emphasize strongly when we are studying the bill.

The bill addresses other points worthy of our attention, such as the idea of cultural sovereignty. If we cannot find a way to tell our own stories, the stories of our regions and towns, we will be crushed, completely overtaken. Our identity, be it Canadian, Québécois, indigenous or something else, will suffer. We have to be realistic. We are right next to the United States, the epicentre of global cultural imperialism. We need to make sure we have the tools to protect Quebec and Canadian content and our ability to produce it. We have to protect our content and promote the use of local talent. Quebec and Canadian artists have to be able to participate and be in those productions. They need exposure and recognition. That is crucial.

Bill C‑11 misses the mark in that it fails to mention CBC/Radio-Canada. The government could have gone there. It could have included CBC/Radio-Canada. There is nothing in this bill about the independence of its board of directors or the role of advertising at CBC/Radio-Canada. That is something the NDP would have liked to see.

We have also been anxiously waiting for legislation that was promised by the federal government, including support for newsrooms to deal with the issue of online broadcasters using content created by journalistic sources. Sites like MSN take articles from here, there and everywhere without paying to use or disseminate them. This is a big problem.

Considering the situation in downtown Ottawa right now and the interference of far-right groups in some of the protests, I think a bill on online hate and radicalization would be extremely important. We really want the Liberal government to do something about this. We are still waiting for the Liberal government to take action to support journalism work and newsrooms, and to address online hate.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

February 16th, 2022 / 5:45 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his lyrical musings about his love for Quebec culture, which I share as well.

He made me think of the anthropologist Claude Lévi‑Strauss. In a debate where he was asked whether humans were part of nature or culture, Lévi-Strauss answered that it was in man's nature to be cultural. We are therefore not human if there is no culture.

I believe that the way people discover songs is by seeing them pop up on social media platforms such as YouTube. If we want Quebec or French-language songs to be available and visible to consumers, we have to tweak the algorithms.

However, Bill C‑11 prohibits the CRTC from tweaking algorithms. What does my colleague think of that clause of the bill?

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

February 16th, 2022 / 5:30 p.m.
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Bloc

Denis Trudel Bloc Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased to speak to this issue.

Right now, I am an MP, a politician, but in a former life, I was an actor and an artist. I was involved in quite a few films and TV series. I had theatre companies. I am of course deeply concerned about the fate of culture and artists, and that is exactly what I want to talk about today: culture.

I do not want to get bogged down in the technical details, the algorithms, the streaming services. I am going to try to focus the debate on the substance of Bill C‑11. To me, what is at stake here is Quebec culture.

I apologize in advance to the interpreters. My speech is about Quebec culture, so I think they might have a very hard time interpreting some of the terms. My anglophone colleagues might not understand what I am talking about. However, the salient point is that ours is a minority culture within the greater North American context. We are in the middle of a technological revolution, and Quebec culture is in danger.

Let me begin by quoting one of my very good friends, filmmaker Pierre Falardeau, who had this to say about culture:

For me, that is what Quebec culture is all about. It's a direct, physical, deeply sensual connection with this land of the Americas. Culture is a landscape that grips your heart. It's a mountain, a lake, a valley that wells up from the depths of your youth. Quebec culture is a verse by Gaston Miron, [the images] of Pierre Perrault, the colour of the snow in a painting by Clarence Gagnon. Culture is also the smell of my mother's cooking. It's watching hockey on TV on Saturday nights, freshly bathed, hair perfectly combed, in your flannel PJs that smell of laundry soap and the wind. Quebec culture is also about my aunts being exploited by Imperial Tobacco in Saint-Henri. It's my uncle, a Lithuanian immigrant, who could walk on his hands. [It was wonderful.] Quebec culture is my father, who taught me about justice, solidarity and love for my people. Culture is the back alleys downtown. It is Reggie Chartrand's fists. It's a song from old France that takes you back 400 years, for no apparent reason. It is Champlain. It's the curve of the roof on our houses. Quebec culture is my girlfriend's “spaghatte” sauce, my couscous from “Faubourg à m'lasse” and my children rapping in French. That's what culture is all about. It's a thousand little things that give life its flavour.

Obviously, a great many other things are associated with culture. Quebec culture has a vocabulary all its own. In fact, Quebeckers talk about each season in a way no one anywhere else does. I will start with winter, represented in our national song, “Mon pays, ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver”, or “my country is not a country, it's winter”. Quebec culture is understanding the difference between frais, frisquet, froid and frette—cool, chilly, cold and bloody freezing. Quebec culture is coming out of blowing snow into slush and freezing rain. Quebec culture is the myriad colourful expressions that describe how Quebeckers “attachent leur tuque avec de la broche”, or brace themselves, against the long, cold winter and hang in there, even if “ils en ont ras le pompon”—they are fed up—even if “ils ont peur de péter au frette, de ne pas passer l’hiver”, in other words, even if they fear they will not make it through to spring. “Pas passer l'hiver”, not making it through the winter. Where else in the world would anyone say that?

Quebeckers also have a thousand and one ways to celebrate spring, from marvelling at ice jams and fiddleheads to enjoying the maple sugar season. The word “sugar” evokes a series of images and smells that resonate with Quebeckers, capturing their world and their memories. That one word says so much.

Spring means breaking out the shorts and t-shirts at the first rays of warm sunshine as though dressing for warm weather will make it arrive sooner. However, a day that cool would have us reaching for a sweater in the fall.

Quebeckers also have a thousand and one ways to soak up the summer, from Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day to jam making and corn husking parties. We love getting back to nature and visiting outfitters in controlled harvesting zones, or ZECs. We have to take advantage while we can still have all the windows down.

Naturally, we also have a thousand and one ways to enjoy the fall, from picking cherries to admiring the fall colours. As the days start getting shorter, we quibble with our roommates over the best starting lineup for our beloved hockey team's upcoming season. Even after a miserable season, as soon as they pick up a few wins in a row, we already feel like the cup is within reach. As Quebeckers, we always feel the cup is within reach, even when it is far away, although right now it seems a long way off.

Santa Claus and the tooth fairy may be universal, but Quebec has its very own fictional characters, like Séraphin, Donalda, Ti-Coune, Lyne la pas fine, and Capitaine Bonhomme. Then there are some even more mythical characters, so mythical that they are known by all but have never been seen. There is Roger Bontemps, Madame Blancheville and the guy everyone loves, Joe Bleau, the most famous everyman in all of Quebec. No doubt he comes from Saint-Glinglin.

Saint-Glinglin, now that is interesting. Everyone knows it is far away, but nobody knows where it is. Quebec can be pretty disorienting to outsiders, what with our eastern border being on the north shore and our southern border being in the Eastern Townships. We also have square “arrondissements”, not circular ones, and quiet revolutions. Quebec is the only place where piggybacking on someone else's idea is called “faire le pouce”, and where sacred words can be used in decidedly profane ways, as long as one has the decency to blush.

Quebec culture is all kinds of things. It is images, the luminosity of a Jean-Paul Lemieux, the abandon of a Riopelle, the impetus captured in a Krieghoff, the human form captured in a Corno. It is an aesthetic that does not even define itself as such. It is touchstone tomes that span the gamut from Flore laurentienne to L'Almanach du peuple.

Quebec culture can feel like one big family. Some names speak volumes in a single word. In Quebec, everyone knows who Clémence is. Janette, Dédé, Boucar and Ginette? Sure, we know all about them, and of course we all know Céline.

Unfortunately, Quebec culture also means a lot of political and linguistic misunderstandings with English Canada. When we say “secularism”, the English-language media calls it “racism”. When we say “academic freedom”, it is translated in English Canada as “racism”. When we talk about the survival of the French language, that too is translated as “racism”.

Quebec culture is about expressing modern ideas using new French words: clavardage for chat, courriel for email, pourriel for spam, and balado for podcast, not to mention all the words that were invented at the same time as the object itself. The motoneige, or snowmobile, is a perfect example of a Quebec invention. The snow blower and car mats were invented in Quebec too. Let us not forget poutine, Quebec's national dish. This decadent dish has conquered the world. Quebec culture is about all of those things.

As they say, everything is interconnected, or “tôuttt est dans tôuttt”, as Raôul Duguay put it in his song Tôuttt etô bôuttt. As for Ariane Moffatt, she wants it all, as she says in her song, Je veux tout. That is what is at stake with Bill C-11.

If we allow our media to plunge into even more hardship, if we neglect to support our creators and our platforms, all these great Quebec sayings will gradually get erased, and all these cultural touchpoints that still bring us together today will become foreign to a whole new generation, including my children's generation. This will sever the bond that ties us to our history and to everything that makes us who we are today.

Such is the risk of a people becoming nothing more than one demographic among many. A culture, especially a minority culture like ours, is a precious and delicate garden that could be swept away and destroyed by the fierce winds of technological globalization. If that happens, the world would lose our unique and irreplaceable colour from its spectrum. That would be a tragedy for the entire world, because when a culture dies, it is a loss for all of humanity.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

February 16th, 2022 / 5:30 p.m.
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Bloc

René Villemure Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, yes, I have heard those concerns. In the first bill, I was concerned about possible adverse effects, but quite honestly, I was reassured. My specialty is ethics, and I am quite familiar with issues around freedom of expression.

I currently have no fear for those who want to post a TikTok or share a cat video under Bill C‑11.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

February 16th, 2022 / 5:15 p.m.
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Bloc

René Villemure Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured and humbled to rise today to debate and get down to the brass tacks of a bill that is extremely important to the creators and people of Quebec and Canada. Allow me to digress a little and talk about some conceptual aspects before I offer some more practical recommendations.

It is time for Canada to get out of the stone age and catch up to the rest of the world. Most of us agree that this is essential. We also agree that, in doing so, we must absolutely protect the artists who are the living embodiment of our culture. We must not rush into things. We must take the time to think things through.

When the current Broadcasting Act was drafted in the last century, the world was a very different place. The war had reshaped borders. Radio and television were the only ways to get information.

Certain ancient or classical philosophies postulated that space and time were the only two things without which nothing was possible. An event must take place somewhere and at a given moment. It cannot occur anywhere or at any time because it would not be an event. Nothing can be imagined outside space and time.

In those days, many passed the time wondering how long would it take for a bird flying in the sky to fall to the ground if time did not exist. The answer is that it would take no time at all because it would not fall without time. That is the idea, but that was before the Internet.

The Internet did away with the notions of time and space. It is both nowhere and everywhere and it will be there always. Those of us who are used to the Cartesian way of thinking are sometimes destabilized by the Internet because it has no centre. It is all very well to call it the web, but it has no centre.

It is difficult to frame legislation when we cannot contextualize the subject matter. I will come back to that a little later. If we want to talk about the Internet, which is nowhere and everywhere, we need to change our paradigms and bring in regulations, which are found somewhere by their very nature.

To do that I will propose another philosophical reference, Heraclitus, who gave us the quote, “From all things one and from one all things”. The Internet is bit like that, from all things one. Geography and temporality have no meaning, it is nowhere and everywhere, always and never. How do we regulate that?

In Bill C‑11, we are talking about expanding the CRTC's powers. I wonder if that is the solution. Should we not instead, like other governments, consider creating a separate dedicated agency made up of digital experts?

The Canadian government often needs to be reminded that it is the government that defines the rules, not businesses. The past gives us reasons to doubt. In the case of the digital world, it is time for the state to do more than just survey the damage.

When will we have a new digital agency? Obviously, we would expect transparency, which would instill trust. We must also keep in mind that trust does not exclude control. We should be able to verify what is going on and we must make the businesses in question accountable.

Bill C‑11 will give the government the herculean task of convincing and compelling web giants to agree to a balance between their commercial interests and the public interest. That is no small task. Bill C‑11 covers it in 14 lines, but the actual work remains to be done.

It surprises me that these same web giants keep telling us it is important to innovate and keep up. Innovation does not justify everything. Some innovations should never see the light of day. Innovation does not justify wiping out a language or hiding it behind a skewed algorithm that automatically gives selective results for certain populations. Nobody can do that in the name of innovation. Innovation does not mean it is okay to collect individuals' data without giving them anything in return. That is not okay. Innovation is not an excuse for allowing surveillance capitalism to take root.

Many of the amendments the Bloc Québécois wanted to make to the old Bill C‑10 are in Bill C‑11, and we are very happy about that, but we cannot let our guard down or forget to think critically.

In some cases, the two versions differ by just a few words, yet the fate of the world can hang on a word. A word is a construct of sound and meaning. We need to be careful because sometimes words are stripped of their meaning and become nothing but sound, and then we have a language devoid of meaning.

As Orwell said a long time ago, the fewer the words, the smaller the temptation to think.

As an aside, when the first English-language version of the Bible was drafted, the King James Bible, there were about 6,000 words in that language universe. Shakespeare had 150,000 in his language universe.

These days, we have about 750,000 words with which to compose sentences, poetry, literature and music. Meanwhile, Donald Trump's lexicon was limited to 200 words. Only very crude ideas can be expressed in 200 words or less.

Words are a tool for preserving language, linguistic expression and culture. They also serve to create nuance, give life, and nurture culture. Words must not disappear. They are the tools with which culture and history can be told.

Let us come back down to earth. I realize my thoughts were a bit in the clouds just now. As the world becomes more and more digitized every day, it is unthinkable that the big media players, the web giants, have so few obligations to the citizens and states that make them rich.

In the past, the Government of Canada gave in to web giants. I would like to remind the government that it has the authority to be firm and a duty to ensure that the web giants pay their fair share.

Many people have spoken about that fair share today. However, the fair share is not what the web giants agree to pay. It is not that at all. They must pay their fair share of taxes. They must contribute their fair share to the production of Canadian content. They must pay their fair share in order to compensate content creators. That fair share is not an equal share. It is the amount that each one fairly owes.

It will not be easy. We will have to be careful because web giants became giants for a reason. They are used to deciding for themselves what their fair share is. We will have to be vigilant.

In this world where we have to rethink our references to time and space, the Government of Canada must not think of Bill C-11 in isolation. It will have to harmonize its regulatory instruments with those of our neighbours, the nations around the world. Several jurisdictions, including the European community, have already thought about these elements, as have certain English-speaking countries. I urge the government to at least look at these two sources, because Anglo-Saxon sources are very similar.

I will conclude with this point: We must never give in without a fight. I believe that Bill C‑11 is a good bill, that we must amend it to increase its scope a little and see how we can give it some teeth, and that creating a dedicated agency would be appropriate.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

February 16th, 2022 / 5:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Kody Blois Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his remarks and for speaking in French. It is wonderful to see parliamentarians work on improving their skills in both official languages.

With respect to freedom of expression, the Minister of Canadian Heritage made it clear in his remarks that Bill C‑11, like the bill in the previous Parliament, is designed to make digital giants contribute to Canadian content, not to restrict freedom of expression.

Does the Conservative Party of Canada agree with the idea that broadcasters should support Canadian content?

February 16th, 2022 / 5 p.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

I won't have many turns, so I'm going to take this opportunity, Mr. Péladeau, to ask you what you think of Bill C‑11. The bill is currently being debated in the House of Commons.

Broadcasters and telecommunications companies are much more vocal this year than they were last year, at least as far as my contact with them goes. I'm curious as to how you feel about it. I don't think the legislation will shy away from regulating the web players or making them contribute. You raised a very compelling point, and you made a good case for a more deregulated environment, which you could and should benefit from. You feel the government should ease the burden on traditional broadcasters.

Give me a few examples of ways the government could lighten your load, to help you become more competitive in this new market.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

February 16th, 2022 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to rise in the House as the Conservative critic for Canadian heritage and present the official opposition's response to Bill C-11, the online streaming act.

I want to begin by recognizing and celebrating the contributions made by our creators, including artists, actors, musicians and everyone who works in the Canadian arts, culture and heritage sector. There is no doubt that Canada is home to world-class talent that has found success at home and around the world.

Meanwhile, our young talent continues to develop, which will contribute to our national culture for years to come. This is especially true of the exceptional Quebec and francophone talent that we all want to see flourish.

These creators and artists deserve to be treated fairly and to have the tools they need to succeed. They deserve an economic environment that allows them to be fairly compensated for their work as they tell our stories, whether through music, prose, movies, television or, increasingly, online content.

The Broadcasting Act has not been updated in any meaningful way since 1991. Believe it or not, times have changed a little since that time. When I was a seven-year-old kid in 1991, the phrase “be kind, please rewind” reflected so much of the broadcasting world. Now, three decades later, as a legislator, I can acknowledge that times have changed. Technology has changed, and how Canadians enjoy Canadian stories has changed.

What has not changed, as has been acknowledged, is the legislative and regulatory framework that governs this sector. The Government of Canada and, through the government, the CRTC must update their approach to the treatment of arts, culture and media to reflect the realities of the third decade of the 21st century. As many of colleagues know, my riding is home to some of the great cultural institutions in Canada, including the Stratford Festival, Drayton Entertainment, and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Moreover, our community has a vibrant music scene through events, such as Stratford Summer Music, and it is becoming an destination for television and film production.

When I was asked to serve as the official opposition's shadow minister for Canadian heritage, I was certainly honoured to do so. It has provided me with the remarkable opportunity to meet with so many arts and culture stakeholders from across the country. I have met with many artists, musicians and creators who are deeply invested in the future of the industry and the future of this very particular piece of legislation.

The Conservative opposition agrees that the existing system is outdated. However, we have watched the government fail and waver in its efforts to modernize the Broadcasting Act, adapt to our new digital reality and prepare for future disruptions that we cannot even predict today.

That is what the government and the CRTC ought to be doing. They should be there to ensure they are not in the way of the next disruption or the next innovation. Rather, they should be there to lay out the ground rules to ensure that when that next disruption happens, when that next innovation happens, it happens right here in Canada, and that it allows Canadians and Canadian creators to benefit from and export our top-notch talent around the globe.

In fact, in our 2021 election campaign platform, we committed that a Conservative government would conduct a full review of the CRTC to ensure that it better reflects the needs of Canadians and does not prevent Canadian broadcasters from innovating or adapting to changes in the marketplace. Speaking of election platforms, I want to be clear about where our Conservative opposition stands on updates to the Broadcasting Act related to foreign streaming service.

In our platform, we clearly stated that we would support legislation that updates the Broadcasting Act to deal with the realities of an increasingly online market and the need to provide businesses with certainty and consumers with choice.

We will require large streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime to reinvest a significant portion of their Canadian gross revenue into producing original Canadian programming, of which a mandated proportion must be in French.

If they fail to do so on their own in a given year, they will be required to pay the difference into the Canada Media Fund. The proportion chosen will vary based on the nature of the streaming service and would be determined based on the best practices of other jurisdictions, such as those in Europe and Australia, as well as the nature of the Canadian market.

Content reinvestment requirements will also recognize and incentivize partnerships with Canadian independent media producers.

We were also very clear in our platform that we would do this while ensuring that Canadians who uploaded content to social media platforms continued to enjoy freedom of speech and the ability to express themselves freely within the confines of Canadian law.

Let me be clear. Most Canadians understand and expect that large, foreign-owned streamers ought not to be given advantages over the regulated Canadian broadcasting sector. Large, foreign streamers should pay their fair share. What is more, it is logical to expect that those who benefit from the Canadian regulatory regime should also be expected to contribute to Canadian content. We want to see Canadians telling Canadian stories.

Much has been said about the origins of the current regulatory regime. In reviewing the interventions of past colleagues on this topic, I was drawn to the comments of the then minister of communications, the Hon. Marcel Masse, from November 3, 1989. At page 5,546 of Hansard, Minister Masse states:

...let us retrace the development of our broadcasting system. How did it start? How can we define it? Since its beginning, Canadian broadcasting has had to adjust to Canadian realities: the proximity to the United States, a vast and sparsely populated territory, as well as the existence of two official languages. Every measure taken by public authorities since the turn of the century can be explained by these economic, social and cultural challenges, which lie at the root of the bill before us today.

The minister goes on to state:

What has changed, however, is the technology of communications and the significant evolution of Canadian values.

With the important addition of the consideration of indigenous languages and culture, I would suggest that commentary, provided in the House on that November day in 1989, rings true today as well with the challenges and opportunities faced in today's broadcasting system here in Canada.

While we are going down memory lane, I want to turn back to something not quite as far back as 1989 and look at what happened in the previous Parliament with the former bill, Bill C-10. As all members of the House will remember, and many Canadians watching this debate will remember, in the previous Parliament the iteration of Bill C-10 was one of the most poorly managed and poorly messaged policy proposals that I have seen from the government.

The new bill, Bill C-11 picks up where the old Bill C-10 left off. That flawed bill made headlines for all the wrong reasons. The decisions that were made by the government seemed to fail from drafting to introduction to third reading.

Conservatives were not alone in our concerns with Bill C-10. Many individuals and organizations were concerned about free speech and the implications of government overreach and expressed strong concerns with the former Bill C-10. Professor Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa professor and the Canada research chair in Internet and e-commerce law, called the former Bill C-10, “an exceptionally heavy-handed regulatory approach where a government-appointed regulator decides what individual user generated content is prioritized”.

He further pointed out that “no one—literally no other country—uses broadcast regulation to regulate user [generated] content in this way.” Even the Senate, which is now filled with a plurality of senators who were appointed by the current Liberal Prime Minister and who generally share his agenda and ideology, refused to pass Bill C-10 before the Prime Minister called his unnecessary attempt at a power grab in the summer of 2021 election.

One of the main flaws with the former Bill C-10 related to user-generated content, which we will hear a lot about in my comments and the comments throughout this debate. Under that bill, there was originally an exception, proposed section 4.1, which would have allowed those who generated content on social media sites like YouTube and other content-sharing sites to be excluded. However, at committee, government members removed that exclusion, meaning the CRTC could have regulated the content individual users put up on those social media sites.

Further complicating the matter was the unclear and unaccountable authority Bill C-10 proposed to give the CRTC. Bill C-10 proposed to give the CRTC broad new powers, but not clear direction on what those regulations would be. With little to no government oversight, it was concerning that an unaccountable government agency would be enforcing and controlling what people see and do not see on social media sites, which brings us to the current bill before the House, Bill C-11.

I can appreciate a certain irony that this bill was introduced on February 2, groundhog day, because it certainly feels like we have been here before. When I was first appointed as shadow minister for Canadian heritage, I spoke with and I wrote to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and had wonderful, productive conversations with the minister. There were two things in particular that I urged him to do. First was not to reintroduce the flawed former Bill C-10 in the same form. The second request I thought was important was, should he introduce amendments to the Broadcasting Act, that the government not interfere with the work of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and that we as parliamentarians be given the opportunity to properly study and, if necessary, amend this bill. That is still my hope.

I want to talk a bit about what this bill would not do. It would not reduce the current regulatory burden faced by incumbent Canadian broadcasters, nor would it reduce the costs to Canadian broadcasters. The government could take immediate action today to support Canadian broadcasters by adopting Conservative policies.

As I said in this place and elsewhere, the CRTC part II licence fees should be scrapped. These fees amount to a tax on Canadian broadcasters and do nothing but provide additional revenues to regulators and, by extension, the Government of Canada. In fact, in the 2019-20 fiscal year, these part II licence fees amounted to $116,594,742. In the 2018-19 fiscal year, they were $113 million. In those two years alone, that amounts to a quarter of a billion dollars that went to CRTC coffers, rather than contributing to Canadian programming. This bill, unfortunately, would not scrap part II licence fees.

As I hinted at earlier, we will be talking a fair bit about user-generated content. In the old Bill C-10, there was an exclusion for user-generated content, which was then excluded at committee in the melee that was clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-10. In Bill C-11, the government has reintroduced an exclusion on user-generated content on social media and it is known as proposed section 4.1 of Bill C-11. However, in what can only be considered the ultimate in bureaucratic language, the Liberals added an exclusion to the exclusion as proposed section 4.2. This exclusion to the exclusion is so broad that the government, through the CRTC, could once again regulate wide swathes of content uploaded to social media.

I want to quote from key stakeholders who operate in the field. Matt Hatfield, from Open Media, said this:

Trying to exclude user generated content from CRTC regulation is a good step, and an acknowledgement by the government that last year’s Bill C-10 was a mistake.... The problem is that it isn’t clear if they’ve actually excluded user generated content. They’re working from a foundation of a clean separation of professional and amateur content on the Internet that simply doesn’t exist. Major Canadian Internet productions like podcasts could find themselves in the worst of all worlds—subject to CRTC regulation, while not able to seek CanCon funding.

What concerns me, and what concerns our official opposition, is the impact that this will have on creators, especially digital first creators who have found success in the digital world and should be encouraged rather than hindered.

According to a 2019 report from researchers at Ryerson University, “there are an estimated 160,000 Canadian content creators on YouTube, including 40,000 who have enough of an audience to monetize their channels. These 40,000 creators have in turn sparked the development of nearly 28,000 full-time jobs”. That is 28,000 full-time jobs through this type of digital first Canadian creation. This is just one small aspect, one positive economic part that we could realize through new media.

It is not Conservative politicians alone who are raising concerns about the impact this would have on digital first creators. We are raising these concerns on behalf of creators from across Canada.

Scott Benzie, the managing director of Digital First Canada, shared this about Bill C-11: “Bill C-11 still has many issues for Digital First Creators, the 'sandbox' that is said to be given to the CRTC is too broad and could include every piece of content online. Most concerning though is that there is still room in the bill for the government to force platforms to put 'approved' Canadian content ahead of independent Canadian content and artificially manipulate the algorithms. Even in the best case scenario this bill only has downsides for Digital First Creators while the traditional media industry gets their funding doubled.”

We can go on to Morghan Fortier, CEO of Skyship Entertainment, who shared these comments: “In Canada, digital content creators have built a successful thriving industry on platforms such as YouTube, TikTok and others that export a huge amount of Canadian content to the rest of the world. Creators bring revenue from other countries back home to Canada and use it to hire Canadian workers, and pay Canadian taxes. They've done this through their entrepreneurial spirit, their hard work, and largely without government interference or assistance. This achievement should be supported, celebrated and encouraged.”

I know my time is running short. I do want to offer a few final comments about Bill C-11, including the broad powers that are delivered to the CRTC. We, as parliamentarians, have a duty to examine and review proposals of the government. The challenge with this piece of legislation is the degree to which government envisions delegating its regulatory power to another entity, in this case, the CRTC. This is being done without, as of yet, clear policy direction from the government as to how these regulatory powers would be interpreted.

This “just trust us” approach does not inspire confidence. One example is the concept of discoverability, which could be so broad and vague that Canadians would be rightly concerned about what content the CRTC would have prioritized for Canadian viewing and, by extension, what would be further deprioritized for viewing by Canadians.

Also, Canadians want to know what constitutes Canadian content in the digital world. As I mentioned before, we want to see Canadians telling Canadian stories, but what is not clear is how the CRTC would adjust its criteria to ensure that real Canadian stories are captured within the CanCon rules.

We, as the official opposition, will be clear in our position on this bill. While we will not be supporting this bill at second recording, we will nonetheless fulfill our role as Her Majesty's loyal opposition in proposing reasonable amendments at committee. Our Conservative opposition will be there for Canadian creators, artists and broadcasters in asking the tough questions and raising important concerns here in the House and at committee.

February 16th, 2022 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Thank you.

We have a bill in front of us. In fact, it will be introduced in the House this afternoon, Bill C-11, which will have major ramifications across this country.

Alex Freedman for Community Radio Fund, I notice you worked for CBC for 15 years. Good for you, because CBC is killing local radio stations in this country. They're down in revenue by nearly 40% to 45% coast to coast, yet CBC was just handed $150 million more by this government.

How can local radio stations compete with the public broadcaster? They're getting killed, not only in the last two years, but certainly over the last five to six years.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

February 16th, 2022 / 4:40 p.m.
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NDP

Laurel Collins NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadian cultural workers, our creators and our artists, as well as our broadcasters, have suffered because of the unfair competition from streaming web giants and big corporations such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video.

For years, the NDP has been calling for an end to this unfair system. I support the first steps in Bill C-11 to level the playing field. It is especially important to ensure that these corporations have obligations to fund and ensure discoverability of Canadian cultural content. However, web giants, including some of most profitable corporations like Netflix, Google, Amazon and Facebook, still do not pay their fair share of taxes on the profits they make in Canada.

The government likes to talk about tax fairness, but it continues to protect the profits of these big web giants by delaying the implementation of the digital services tax. Does the minister know how much these web giants have avoided in taxes since 2015?

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

February 16th, 2022 / 4:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and thank the members of the Bloc Québécois for their sincere commitment to culture. I have had a number of discussions with my colleague across the way, the official opposition heritage critic. These have been constructive discussions, since we ultimately have the same goal.

We may have different opinions on how to get there, but we very much agree on the objectives. I would even say that we agree on many aspects of Bill C‑11.

As for my colleague's question, by requiring these online streaming companies to make no more and no less than a fair and equitable contribution to our culture, we will ensure that there is more money for all systems, which includes francophone broadcasters.

February 16th, 2022 / 4:35 p.m.
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Pierre Karl Péladeau President and Chief Executive Officer, Quebecor Media Inc.

Madam Chair, thank you.

My name is Pierre Karl Péladeau, and I am the president and CEO of Quebecor. With me today is Peggy Tabet, vice-president of regulatory and environmental affairs.

A few weeks ago, the CRTC held its hearings on the Rogers–Shaw deal. Quebecor did not participate in the hearings because we believe our issues have more to do with telecommunications than with broadcasting. We did not weigh in on the proposals put forward by Rogers regarding local news; nor will we do so today.

However, what I can tell you is that the CRTC is doing nothing to ease the regulatory burden on Canadian companies operating in an increasingly vulnerable sector. The television and local production sector is being undermined economically and financially, with local news and the entire news industry paying the price. The industry plays an essential role in upholding a strong and vibrant democracy, but it's survival is at stake, unless everyone wants CBC/Radio‑Canada to be the only one fulfilling that mission.

Bill C‑11 must take that into account. The regulatory and financial burden on broadcasting undertakings is no longer sustainable. The regulation of basic services, the requirements to contribute to a range of funds, expensive regulatory fees, broadcasting and spending quotas for Canadian programming, and endless reporting are just some of the conditions we must adhere to.

According to the Académie de la transformation numérique, 2021 marked the first time that more Quebec households had online video service subscriptions than cable TV subscriptions—71% versus 66%. That means less and less funding is available for the Canada media fund, since the web giants—Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Netflix, a.k.a. GAFAN—make no contribution whatsoever to the Canadian production ecosystem. Less funding means less local production, more foreign production and, of course, less local economic activity.

In the face of such worrisome data, how can broadcasting undertakings and local news survive under the weight of so much bureaucracy, while GAFAN operates free and clear of the crippling and outdated regulatory controls? It is high time that we, too, enjoy the same regulatory and commercial freedom.

If you find the broadcasting picture I just painted troubling, I have some more insight to share. I'm referring to the major repercussions of the Rogers–Shaw deal for the entire broadcasting landscape.

Keep in mind that Videotron's entry into the cellular mobile telephone services market, in 2006, had a disruptive effect, and Quebeckers benefited. They were among the first in the country to pay 35% to 40% less for wireless service than consumers in the rest of Canada. In recent years, the company has invested more than $4 billion to build a robust and powerful network, complemented by outstanding customer service. At the same time, Videotron has been a driver of innovation, creating Fizz, Canada's first all-digital mobile and Internet service brand.

Those achievements are all thanks to the measures put in place by the federal government, in 2007, aimed at breaking up the oligopoly of the big three telecommunications companies. Under the measures, Quebecor was able to acquire blocks of spectrum in the last auction with a major investment of nearly $830 million, which will help it expand its wireless offering in Canada. Quebecor will also be actively participating in the next auction and urges the government to keep these pro-competitive measures in place.

The oligopoly of the big three still holds 90% of the wireless market, so whether they like it or not, the policy to set aside wireless spectrum for new competitors is paramount if a strong fourth player is to emerge in every region of Canada.

With the right conditions and a swift decision from the CRTC on the terms for mobile virtual network operators, Videotron is the best player to foster real competition throughout Canada and drive innovation.

Thank you, Dr. Fry.