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 5th, 2022 / 4:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Madam Speaker, I am happy to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-11, an almost carbon copy of Bill C-10, which the Minister of Canadian Heritage himself, to his credit, admitted was deeply flawed.

Let me start by first acknowledging the creators, artists, musicians and all those who work so hard to bring Canada’s arts and culture to the world. They undoubtedly deserve to be highlighted and given the opportunity to share our history and stories on the many platforms available in today’s world. Many of my colleagues and I have experienced their work first-hand and have met with many talented individuals across our country. The Conservative Party knows the importance of ensuring that Canadian artists are heard, appreciated and given the ability to share their art not just with Canadians but the world. Creators need rules that do not hold back their ability to be Canadian and global successes.

There is absolutely no doubt that after 30 years, the Broadcasting Act should be updated. Technology has evolved, and the ways in which Canadians create and consume stories have changed. Thirty years ago, the Internet was not what it is today, and people relied on radio, cable television and newspapers to consume content. That is what the Broadcasting Act was designed to regulate. Today, most Canadians consume content on the Internet, from streaming services to social media platforms. We live in a world where digital information is accessible to everyone in this country at any time.

I will first take the opportunity to highlight what Bill C-11 is proposing.

The bill proposes to expand the Broadcasting Act beyond the current platforms to include large foreign and domestic streaming services such as Netflix, Prime and Disney+. It also includes user-generated content created on social media sites such as YouTube and TikTok. This means that newer forms of media previously subjected to little or no government oversight will be brought under the authority of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the CRTC.

Many Canadians and I know that Bill C-10 contained similar content and raised concerns regarding free speech, not only from opposition members but from many organizations. The inclusion of user-generated content in Bill C-10 meant that anything Canadians chose to upload or post on social media or on any creative content-sharing platform would fall under the authority of the Broadcasting Act and be regulated by the CRTC. Why was that an issue? There was very little accountability, and it was unclear what authority was being given to the CRTC. There was no indication of what any of the regulations would be, and there would be little to no parliamentary oversight, meaning that a government agency would be controlling what content Canadians see.

Coming back to the bill we are debating today, in Bill C-11 the government has included an exclusion on user-generated content on social media. However, upon reading the bill, there seems to be an exclusion to this exclusion. What does that mean? It means that once again, the government, through the CRTC, could regulate user-generated content.

As Matt Hatfield from OpenMedia stated:

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.

While we can acknowledge an attempt by the government to fix its admitted error within Bill C-10, there is still too much uncertainty about the impact Bill C-11 could have on digital first creators.

According to a summary of the 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”. These are positive economic impacts that should be encouraged and praised rather than hindered and targeted. While the intent of the bill may be to support Canada’s broadcasting industries, it marginalizes Canadian digital content creators who are successfully sharing Canadian stories across the globe.

We on this side of the House believe that large foreign streaming services and social media platforms should not be given unfair advantages over the regulated Canadian broadcasting sector. They should be expected to contribute to and create Canadian content and have Canadians tell Canadian stories. Foreign streamers should pay their fair share.

We all agree that large streaming providers should feature more Canadian content, but what is Canadian content?

Recently, I watched the Disney film Turning Red with my kids. It is set in Toronto and tells the story of what it is like growing up as a Chinese Canadian teenager. The film stars Canadian actors, yet under the current rules, this movie is not considered Canadian content.

A series based entirely on the Toronto Maple Leafs being streamed on Amazon is not considered Canadian Content. The Handmaid's Tale, based on a novel written by a Canadian author and filmed in Canadian cities, is not considered Canadian content. The movie Deadpool, based on a Canadian comic book character, starring a Canadian actor, co-written by a Canadian and filmed in Vancouver, is not considered Canadian content.

This bill would require streaming services to invest in and create more Canadian content. However, these films, biographies and TV show adaptations that most of us would consider Canadian content simply are not. This definition must be broadened so that these large streaming services want to invest in our great Canadian talent and tell Canadian stories.

I want to turn more broadly to the CRTC because I think a large part of the criticism of this bill is about a lack of clarity and the amount of control and regulatory power that would be given to the CRTC.

It will be up to the CRTC to administer this act, and I think there is reason to be concerned. The CRTC is already spread thin and lacks the capacity to carry out the current mandate effectively. How exactly can Canadians have faith in the CRTC’s ability to regulate the Internet and redefine what is Canadian content when it is already struggling to cope with the 4,000 or 5,000 entities in the broadcasting sector? What tools will have to be provided to the CRTC and how much money will this cost taxpayers? My colleague, the member for Saskatoon-Grasswood, asked the CRTC chairman how the CRTC was ever going to pay for this. His response was that it would go directly through the Treasury Board, meaning that Canadians would be on the hook for more regulations and rules, with no oversight or accountability.

The government has proposed Bill C-11 with a “just trust us” approach and has failed to provide clear policy direction on how the CRTC’s regulatory powers would be interpreted. It is unclear whether the CRTC even has the capacity or, to be frank, the competency to actually successfully execute what the government is proposing through Bill C-11.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2022 / 4:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Sylvie Bérubé Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

He spoke about how important this is in our society, and everyone knows that Quebec's and Canada's cultural sectors have been waiting for decades for updates to this legislation.

Just a few days after Bill C‑11 was introduced, the cultural sector made a very simple request, that we adopt this bill as quickly as possible. I think those in that sector have waited long enough.

What does my colleague think is needed to pass Bill C‑11?

Why do you not want to pass it as is?

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2022 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Madam Speaker, the broadcasting and communications industry has changed dramatically, and COVID-19 has shown us that it is incredibly important in today's day and age to have access to unfettered news and unfettered communication. Many of us were locked down in our houses for months at a time, and in many cases our sole form of communication was through the Internet. That is the way we communicated with the outside world.

The great news is that Canada is no longer restricted to a few channels. I can remember when I was younger that we had three, four or five channels, and that was it. That was the maximum number of channels. I lived out in rural Canada, so we used to have to move the antenna to get CBC, and that was our one communication around there. Now, we have Twitter, Facebook, TikTok and Reddit, among many other platforms.

I will actually discuss one great communicator. He is from my riding and lives about five minutes from my house. His name is Mr. Wyatt Sharpe. Wyatt is a young man of about 13 years of age, who is one of the leading voices in Canadian politics today. He is leading the discourse on many important issues at 13 years of age.

How did he do it? He started working at the Orono Weekly Times, writing for the paper. Then he moved on to social media. If it had not been for the great access to social media, Wyatt's voice would have been limited to the wonderful but relatively small community of Orono. As it is now, he goes from coast to coast to coast, and if members have not been on the Wyatt Sharpe Show or listened to his podcast, I highly recommend it.

When we look at social media, this bill casts it as another CBC, NBC or broadcasting network. I do not think that is accurate, with respect. I believe the Internet is closer to the public square, where we go out as Canadians and share our views and visions. We might be miles apart, but it is so critical that we have those discourses. It is so critical that we go out on the battlefield of ideas and discuss them. Some of those ideas will fall by the wayside in favour of better ones, yet other ones will be improved and get better. Having that unfettered access to that public square that we call the Internet is so incredibly important.

Canadians have always had the ability to communicate completely unfettered and to share their ideas and visions, and what alarms me about this legislation is the fact that we are moving away from freedom of speech and starting to restrict it. I dare say I am perhaps going a bit too far, but we really do not have to look too far in history or even around the world to look at examples of what happens when the government goes too far in restricting freedom of speech.

We can go back in time and look at the Soviet Union as it pushed out its propaganda and told lies to its people. This held people behind for years and years, sitting in bread lines. Meanwhile, they were being fed that they were actually ahead of the western world, which we all knew was false. We see the modern-day incarnation of that in Vladimir Putin restricting freedom of speech and restricting the Internet as Russians are unable to hear about or listen to the atrocities that are happening in Ukraine.

Freedom of speech is a pillar of western democracy. It really supports many of the other freedoms and rights we all share. It is based on that. It is foundational to our country and many around the world, so when we mess with that foundation, we must do so with the greatest of care. We must use a scalpel, not a sledgehammer.

There are some out there who agree that this is going on, and that content is being curated right now by large multinational multi-billion dollar corporations, so why is the government not in a better position?

The challenge is that there is no one watching the government. When we look at companies that have stepped offside, the government has a rightful obligation to ask for greater accountability and transparency when it comes to sorting, curating and ensuring there are appropriate algorithms. We must do that carefully, and as legislators it is our role to provide that oversight. However, when we have the government watching the government, we have the fox watching the henhouse, and that should be troublesome for all Canadians.

The reality is that when we look at the Internet right now, there are certainly challenges, as I said. Greater transparency with respect to algorithms and otherwise is critically important, but there has been a tremendous growth in Canadian content. The Canadian Media Producers Association suggested that the industry has grown by a record amount and that there have been record investments in film and television, almost doubling in the last decade.

I am inspired by what is going on in my own riding of Northumberland—Peterborough South with Albert Botha, Heather Haldane and the South Eastern Ontario Production Accelerator Fund. This initiative is making southeastern Ontario the next hot spot for a bustling film and TV industry, and I am very proud of what they are accomplishing. On that note, certified Canadian content has grown in recent years. The highest growth for certified Canadian content television has occurred over the past three years.

My fear is that when we change this very foundation, this freedom of speech and freedom of expression, we could do more harm than good, not only by restricting people's ability to express themselves, but in terms of the production of Canadian content itself. While there is no doubt that traditional broadcasters may benefit from the restriction of this content and bringing others into this content, it will almost certainly inhibit the amount of content that is produced when we start to regulate user-controlled content.

The other hallmark, sometimes, of poor legislation is a lack of clarity. Quite frankly, this legislation is replete with a lack of clarity. The hon. minister claims that the legislation features guardrails against overly broad regulation, to keep the nature of the Internet as it is, but there is no specific eligibility. In fact, many of the decisions are pushed onto the bureaucracy, and as much as I respect it and our public service often does a great job out there, it is not ultimately accountable to the people, like parliamentarians are. When we push our decisions onto the bureaucracy, we lose accountability as a government.

Bill C-11 includes many terms that it simply does not define. “User-generated content” is not defined, and “social media” is not defined, yet these words are used repeatedly. One of the troubling sections is the user-generated content. It was excluded and then brought back in, and that is troublesome. We have user-generated content that people are creating from all around Canada and, instead of treating these folks as I think they should be properly viewed, as the public square, as the sharing of discourse, as the battlefield of ideas, allowing all entrants onto the field, it restricts them and starts to treat individuals as it would the CBC and other major broadcasters, making them pay fees and making them subject to content restrictions and algorithm restrictions.

I believe that Canada is best when we let Canadians decide and, unfortunately, this legislation puts the government in the driver's seat, allowing it to make decisions that Canadians should be allowed to make.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2022 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Madam Speaker, it is always an honour to speak in the House, but particularly on an issue as important as Bill C-10, or rather, Bill C-11. I apologize. I am in the last Parliament.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2022 / 4:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Luc Desilets Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent for his speech. I have a lot of respect for him.

The Bloc Québécois will be happy to support this bill. The amendments we put forward for Bill C‑10 are included in Bill C‑11, which has to do with the Broadcasting Act.

My colleague has experience as a journalist, and an excellent one, I would add, so I would like to hear what is holding him back from supporting Bill C‑11.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2022 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Madam Speaker, one of my colleagues from the Liberal Party earlier talked about how times have changed in Canada and that we have all of these new technologies that, when we originally thought about looking at broadcasting in Canada or content creation in Canada, no one ever really could have thought about. He is right. The problem is that what Bill C-11 does is kind of like trying to play an MP4 on a VHS machine: It is just not going to work.

For someone who is trying to understand what the bill does and has heard a bunch of different sides on the Internet and whatever, I found one really good, succinct explanation of what this does. The real motive of the online streaming act is simple. Streaming platforms, and creators on them, are bringing in more and more revenue, and legacy media wants a piece of the pie. Legacy broadcasting media companies, such as Bell Media, Rogers and Corus Entertainment, have built a comfortable and oligopolistic domestic market in Canada during the broadcast era and dominated the media landscape for many decades. However, the old narrow system is not working any more. Television broadcasts have been on the decline since 2014. People do not use cable TV or listen to radio to the same extent.

Rather than building competing online services on terms that attract people, those legacy media giants want a cut of the profit from streaming services that are increasingly popular in the 21st-century media market. That is really what we have here. Let me be clear: The lobbyists for legacy media are all over this, as are the lobbyists for streaming services. They each want Parliament to do what is in their best interests. It is our job to come up with what is in the best interests of the Canadian public, and the bill does not get it done.

I fully support diverse voices and new emerging artists creating content in Canada and frankly, on many platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, we have content influencers who do not need to get a grant from the government to have a platform. They do not need to break in through the door of Bell Media to get content produced. They can have a massive voice and a massive platform without going through a gatekeeper, and I think that is fantastic. However, what we have in the bill is success by the mainstream media lobbyists in ensuring that a new, emerging, disruptive source of content provision is brought into their old paradigm of operating so that they do not have to compete. At best, if the bill passes, all it does is really kind of sustain their profits in an old operating model for a few more years.

We are going to be back here in a few years anyway with new requests from them, because the pace of change is so fast. Whenever a government has to regulate to keep an oligopoly sustained, it eventually collapses. It eventually fails, or eventually the public says enough, particularly when it starts to detrimentally impact us. There is a considerable risk of detrimental impact on individual Canadians.

The government will say that individual content creators are protected from this, but they are not. My understanding is that any sort of background information, for lack of a better term, that an individual content creator puts on a platform that may be subject to these new rules, under the bill, would then be subject to either regulation or some sort of monetary penalty under the provisions of these bills. Who knows? That just is not acceptable. What we are doing is actually stifling new emerging talents who speak from new emerging voices: It is a new emerging generation, and we are basically saying that we should be propping up the old models of the gatekeepers of the past several decades through restrictive regulation that does not even come close to the universe that we are all operating in.

I am going to date myself by saying this. I grew up with The Racoons and Fraggle Rock. That is my generation. When they were producing Fraggle Rock, I do not even think that Star Trek could have thought about TikTok.

Why are we trying to come up with a regulatory model from my childhood? I would like to think I am young, hip and cool, but that remains a subject for debate that could come up in questions and comments.

In all seriousness, this bill could have been approached in a much better way. How I would have approached it, if I was the minister in charge, is to have understood the bias of the lobbyists who were coming forward to my bureaucrats from both sides of this issue: from streaming platforms and from legacy media. I would have looked beyond the near-term political ramifications of content creators who benefit from the existing system, and asked how we could ensure that those who are on all of those existing platforms are not negatively impacted, but at the same time, ensure that we are not stifling the potential of these disruptive new technologies.

Another recent analogy of this, if we want to see into the future of what this bill really looks like, is Uber. About 10 years ago, everyone was trying to get municipalities and different levels of government to pass regulations to prevent Uber from operating. That did not go so well. We have Uber, and I am glad for it. I use Uber all the time.

The reality is that when we have a disruptive technology that is popular and transforms culture, trying to stifle it with the government propping up an old way of doing things really does not work. I wish the government had gone to the traditional media and said if they felt that they were not able to compete in this environment and that there was a public benefit to us intervening, they should explain that. That is not the debate that we are having here.

The debate this bill puts forward on behalf of the government, the assumption, is that the old way is the only way and that we should be doing everything possible to prop up the old way of doing things without really forcing the old way to innovate. If Canada is supposed to be an innovative nation, the last thing we want to do to new, disruptive technology and innovation is send a signal that this is a hostile environment for new innovations to take root.

I know a lot has been said on this bill. I want to reiterate that I am concerned about the overreach of the CRTC, the main regulator here, in terms of the ability to regulate individual content. The regulator has sort of implied in committee testimony that it already has the ability to do this. It just maybe does not want to right now. That really frightens me.

That said, I also think there is a whole corollary discussion around social media platforms: how those have changed debate in this place and how they have calcified beliefs in this country. At the end of the day, we still have to ensure that Canadians have freedom of speech. How we usually square that circle is through education.

I think this bill is a giant mess. The concept behind it, of how we promote Canadian content and artists, is something that is worthy of study. That is something I am interested in and I am supporting, but on this bill itself, every person in here has said that it needs to go back to the drawing board.

With that, I move, seconded by the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “that” and substituting the following: “Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, be not now read a second time, but that the order be discharged, the bill withdrawn and the subject matter thereof referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.”

Let us go back to the drawing board. Let us take the concept, let us study it, let us work across party lines and come up with something we can all support, rather than ramming something down people's throats. Frankly, this is trying to play an MP4 on a Betamax.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2022 / 3:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Sébastien Lemire Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to discuss Bill C-11 on online streaming. This is a modest beginning that will address certain aspects of what I call “living with the digital giants”.

I would like to give a shout out to the artisans in Abitibi—Témiscamingue, in particular Rosalie Chartier-Lacombe’s team at the Petit Théâtre du Vieux Noranda, who is currently hosting the Avantage Numérique forum with a view to positioning the croissant boréal, a broad area of francophone identity and culture, as a centre of excellence for creative energy, expertise and talent.

Today’s new bill acknowledges that the growth of streaming services has radically transformed our way of watching television series and films and listening to music. It also acknowledges that certain foreign companies stream in Canada with no regulations or obligation to contribute to Canadian and Quebec stories and music. They distribute them with impunity without paying royalties.

Like many Bloc Québécois members who have spoken about this bill, the Bloc Québécois is in favour of Bill C-11. We have been discussing the reform of the Broadcasting Act in Ottawa for more than 30 years.

I want to mention the Yale report, which was produced by the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel. Bill C-11 is a first response to this report. The Yale report was very well received by Quebec’s cultural community, which wanted measures to be adopted quickly.

If someone says that the fox has gotten into the henhouse, it is obvious that the warning should be taken seriously. For more than 20 years, the web giants have been slowly choking the life out of Canadian and Quebec productions, as well as our written and visual media. We will agree that it is high time we did something and responded in such a way as to give Quebec and Canadian companies some elbow room.

The airwaves are a public good that must serve the people. In the coming decades, we will have to be able to recognize ourselves on these airwaves.

We know that the issues go far beyond financial considerations. The funding will have to be increased to ensure that Quebeckers and francophones in other provinces are better served in terms of less tangible aspects that are just as important, such as the protection of the French language and, of course, Quebec culture. Indigenous peoples are also facing similar challenges to their culture and language.

In Quebec, this raises quite a few questions, which is why we need to be vigilant and thorough in order to protect and better serve the Quebec nation. Bill C-11 addresses the question of Canadian ownership in a very different way than did the Yale report in its recommendations 52 and 53.

For more than 90 years, successive governments have always been in favour of Canadian control over communications, and the Yale report supports that position.

The space we are officially giving to foreign companies right now must also be regulated so that they do not have an advantage over our own companies, which have served us well over the years. This is a risk, and I want to stress that it must be controlled, monitored and handled very thoroughly.

To date, there have been numerous reports in the media, and several groups expressed they would like to see this bill pass.

Bill C-11 improves funding for new Quebec productions, and the industry desperately needs such funding. No one is questioning the benefits for producers in Quebec’s cultural sector, and I, too, am very pleased. That was the main component of the Bloc Québécois’s platform for the arts and culture sector.

In this context, Bill C-11 is the first in a series of three bills that will pave the way for the long-awaited reform, with rules that will regulate the business models of online streaming companies.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage recently tabled a second bill, Bill C-18. This bill will enshrine principles that will guarantee the newspaper industry sources of revenue based on the reuse of the news items they produce and ensure compliance with the principles of Quebec’s cultural sovereignty in the dissemination of information. I hope that Bill C-18 will be passed quickly and that there will be a place for regional media.

It will be hard work to analyze all the repercussions of the changes proposed by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, for the simple reason that we will have to know the government’s broader intentions, which we do not. Right now, the government has decided to separate the elements of this reform into several bills. There is therefore no overall vision, and we are taking small steps forward. This creates expectations in the industries affected by changes that are not all being introduced at the same time. We do not know what is in the other bills.

Are we pitting Quebec and Canadian companies against each other at the expense of the development of essentially American companies? The devil is often in the details.

At the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology, we have been hearing testimony for several years about how we have to give businesses the tools they need to have free rein within the same ecosystem. The Yale report recognized that vertically integrated Canadian businesses have very specific needs and that those needs will have to be carefully studied so that we can understand them and give Quebec and Canadian broadcasters a leg up.

One thing that keeps coming up when we talk to Quebec and Canadian broadcasters is the regulatory burden and the costs that broadcasters have to bear.

It is important to understand that Canadian broadcasters are not opposed to the broadcast policy per se; they have been clear on that. What they pay goes into the public coffers and does not necessarily support broadcasters.

For example, it was recommended that we review the licensing fees imposed on Canadian broadcasters under Part II of the act. Imagine if Canadian businesses had access to that $110 million paid annually to the federal government to produce first-run content. Let us therefore hold foreign broadcasters to account.

There have been a multitude of mistakes made over the past 30 years, and the successive governments let their guard down with respect to the fundamental issue of cultural sovereignty, which essentially makes us who we are.

Like many players in this sector of the economy, we should have no doubt or hesitation when it comes to setting a higher bar for foreign corporations. It is high time to have another look at the weight of the regulatory burden borne by Quebec and Canadian corporations.

I would like to quote Alain Saulnier, journalist and former director of French information programming at Radio‑Canada. He said, “I am not convinced that everyone has grasped the significance of this domination, the extent to which we have allowed the invasion and destruction of part of our way of life, our democracy, our economy, our culture and our language in the case of Quebec. My plea is to resist.” I had the opportunity to serve with him on the board of Juripop, and I would like to take this opportunity to send him my regards.

I will now talk about the transparency of the CRTC and about representation. That is another problem.

The CRTC has come under fire for the lack of transparency in its decision-making process. The guidelines that the government will issue to the CRTC for monitoring new foreign broadcasters must be made available to the public. Any challenges they launch must be made public. We must also take advantage of this reflection process to ensure that Quebeckers who are familiar with Quebec culture and the traditional Quebec news industry are involved.

The same would hold true for indigenous culture. If it can be done for the Supreme Court, I do not see why it cannot be done in this context. This is about having a safety net for Canada's and Quebec's cultural sovereignty.

To conclude, I would like to say that protecting Quebec culture is at the very core of my commitment as a member of the Bloc Québécois.

Broadcasting is undoubtedly the most effective tool for dissemination and helps define our national identity. Technology is evolving, and the rapid adoption of online content by a greater number of consumers means we need to reflect on rules that allow players in the production industry to operate freely and ensure that creating Quebec content in French remains viable.

We cannot afford to not overhaul the rules governing this digital space. As with other bills that affect Quebec culture, our study of the Broadcasting Act reform needs to be done with Quebec in mind.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2022 / 3:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, indeed, we also see problems with discoverability. In this respect, however, an amendment proposed by the Bloc Québécois to the former Bill C-10 was incorporated into Bill C-11, and it addressed more than just discoverability.

That is why I commend the collaborative work we did with the government in this regard. Everything proposed by the Bloc, including discoverability, was added to the bill. That is why we are eager to support it.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2022 / 3:35 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Repentigny for her speech and for her passion for Quebec culture in particular and cultural diversity in general.

I think we are at a point where the web giants have to participate in the cultural funding and production ecosystem, especially the francophone one. For years now, these digital broadcasters have been left alone, and it is as if we gifted them billions of dollars.

We agree that Bill C-11 is an improved version of Bill C-10. However, does my colleague not see a problem with the discoverability of content? You can have the best Quebec, French, Italian or Spanish films, but if only American productions are streamed and people cannot find Quebec songs, there is a problem.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2022 / 3:30 p.m.
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Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is quite the question. We very much want this to be unanimous. It seems there are still items where the text is not yet definitive. We know that words have meaning and that they can sometimes lead to something other than what was intended.

If the text of certain sections is problematic, let us debate it and make it clear in committee. That is all we ask. I think that the official opposition party should agree, without unreasonably prolonging debate.

The Bloc Québécois was never very happy with the idea of time allocation, even though we found it was necessary in the case of former Bill C-10. However, since certain sections of the former bill were corrected in this version, I would really like the official opposition to provide positive and constructive comments so that we can send Bill C-11 to committee and study it properly.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2022 / 3:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, it will come as no surprise if I begin my speech by saying that standing up for Quebec culture is at the heart of the Bloc Québécois's mission. It is the focus of every MP sitting with me who belongs to our party. Our culture, our history and the French language, the only official language of Quebec, make us stand out in the broader North American communications landscape.

It was therefore natural that the Bloc Québécois should work to improve Bill C‑10 in the previous Parliament. We were very disappointed that it fell by the wayside when the election was called, but I am pleased that it was re-introduced in its new iteration as Bill C-11. These provisions are important to us. Several recommendations that our party made in committee were favourably received by the government before the bill was re-introduced. We salute this spirit of co-operation.

Broadcasting legislation has not been touched since 1991, so updating this legislation now is not repressive, nor will it jeopardize any freedoms. Legislation is undoubtedly the most effective way to ensure that there is more equity when it comes to accessing and broadcasting Quebec and Canadian productions. Essentially, this is a way to spotlight Quebec, Canadian, indigenous, regional and other identities.

Quebec's and Canada's cultural communities have been waiting for decades for the government to update this legislation. The clock is ticking. The first thing the cultural sector called for was for Parliament to adopt the bill as quickly as possible. I was set to give my speech in February. The Yale report was released two years ago. Things are certainly not moving quickly.

The Bloc Québécois has what I would consider an objective view of the 21st century. I often talk about environmental issues. Our positions are based on following the science, taking bold action, implementing strong legislation and so on. Our position on cultural matters is similar, in the sense that we will listen to what sector stakeholders tell us. We need to keep up with the times. The new 21st-century platforms have changed how we interact with the cultural sector as a whole. We therefore need to take bold action and implement strong legislation.

Whichever way we look at our culture and its distinctive colour, which is sometimes loud, sometimes muted, this aspect of our existence in society needs to be viewed through the prism of its fragility. Fragility, not weakness.

Given the startling evolution of information and communication technologies, only someone who is willfully blind could deny the influences of our neighbours to the south. I said influences, but I sometimes feel like calling them imperialist effects. The questions that came up during the study of this bill would never be asked in the United States. The big U.S. conglomerates and other broadcasting platforms with global reach and territory are not so concerned about fragile cultures like ours, which we would like to be protected.

Cultural sovereignty is not an abstract concept. It should never be trivialized. Let us remember part of a speech by my fellow member for Longueuil—Saint-Hubert on the importance of this bill:

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.

That would be infinitely sad.

Imagine taking a trip, hoping to explore new horizons, learn new things and get better acquainted with a culture, only to wind up hearing the same music everywhere, seeing the same values and the same social mores. That would be really horrible. That is precisely why this law is needed, so that we can continue to produce our stories, convey our realities in music or on screen, and, above all, promote them around the world. If this possibility disappears, an entire culture will suffer the consequences.

Culture is the heart of a nation. When culture is eroded, the nation is affected. Quebec is a nation, Canada is a nation, and our first nations, Métis and Inuit communities are nations.

Does anyone here really want to see all that disappear?

Content producers want to see this bill passed. The growing cultural sector in Quebec enthusiastically supports the Bloc’s requests, which seek to enhance the bill.

The Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc supported Bill C-10 and made an effort to improve it during the session, but the Conservatives were against the bill from the start.

The Conservative Party wants the government to intervene as little as possible, and it sees privacy issues everywhere. That is why there has been a major smear campaign. They tried to find all sorts of flaws in the bill, but they were often grasping at straws. The Conservatives used a whole lot of parliamentary manoeuvres to slow down the process. The same thing happened in committee, in both the House and the Senate, despite the fact that the Department of Justice did a legal analysis that stated that there was no impact on freedom of expression. I hope that people believe in the department.

The Conservatives, short on arguments, went even lower.

The hon. member for Lethbridge talked about Quebec culture as being outdated. That hurt us, heart and soul. We do not necessarily want to listen to American hip hop or Nashville's top 10 country pop hits.

Of course, Bill C-11 is garnering considerable interest because all Canadian cultural sectors will benefit from this legislative review. The objective of the new bill is substantially the same. Indeed, Bill C-11 has the same objective as Bill C-10, namely to subject web giants to the Broadcasting Act by forcing them to contribute financially to the creation and discoverability of Canadian cultural content.

Why would we stand idly by and do nothing about what is happening right now?

The major broadcasters and their web giant partners will have to respond to the Canadian government’s legislative expectations. I am thinking about Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and music streaming services like Spotify, YouTube Music and Apple Music.

Our American neighbours sometimes have a chuckle about Canadian culture. They joke about the RCMP’s uniforms, the way we say “eh?” and even poutine and Tim Hortons. They find it all a bit ridiculous. I will bet that the elected members that are fighting the bill tooth and nail do not really see a difference between Canadian and American artistic content. We do see a difference. If we asked these same elected members about Canadian content from emerging artists, they would be surprised to hear that these same artists are in favour of such a law. Once we have clarified the question of the freedom of web users, every Quebec and Canadian cultural sector will benefit.

Under the new version of the bill, creators, users and influencers are exempt from the law. Perhaps this was not clear in Bill C-10, but it is in Bill C-11. Canadian and Quebec artistic talent has merit. Just because the dominant language in the rest of Canada is English does not mean that we should bend over backwards and make concessions that go against our cultural identity.

To conclude, I will say that being mindful of the identity of peoples and their ways of expressing their culture and sense of belonging is in no way trivial or irrelevant.

This is what the Bloc Québécois wants to know: Are we going to govern our digital economy according to our own democratically established laws and regulations, or are we going to keep allowing foreign giants like Google and Facebook impose their rules, mores and standards on us?

I would like to believe that it is still possible for all the elected members of the House to listen to reason so that the bill can be unanimously referred to committee for study.

The Bloc Québécois is proud to stand strong and defend our culture.

The House resumed from March 29 consideration of the motion that Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

May 5th, 2022 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I understand my hon. colleague has a birthday coming up next week, so I wish him a very happy birthday between now and the next Thursday question.

On the question with respect to the ministers the member is requesting be present in the committee of the whole, I will be happy to get back to him on that.

With respect to extending sitting hours, I request that the ordinary hour of daily adjournment of the sitting on Wednesday, May 11, 2022, be 12 o'clock midnight, pursuant to an order made Monday, May 2, 2022. I am learning that this is the member's birthday, so he gets an opportunity to celebrate in this august place.

This afternoon, we will resume second reading debate on Bill C-11 on broadcasting. Tomorrow and Monday, we will be continuing second reading debate of Bill C-19, the budget implementation act. Next Tuesday and Thursday will be opposition days, and we will return to the second reading of Bill C-11 on Wednesday.

Extension of Sitting Hours and Conduct of Extended ProceedingsGovernment Orders

May 2nd, 2022 / 7:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to participate in this debate, which I have been following carefully for the past few hours.

Human memory is a curious thing. I am not a psychologist, but I have noticed that humans have a tendency to forget the most painful memories, the difficult and distressing moments of the past, and this can sometimes condemn us to repeat the same mistakes. I think others would agree with me.

At a certain point, people often decide to focus on the positive and forget the negative. When I say “the negative”, I am talking about the crisis we just went through, and are still going through, but it was worse in 2020-21. Life has been completely turned upside down since March 2020, including our personal, family and work lives, and our work in this Parliament, in the House of Commons.

If we go back a bit, we will recall that the House of Commons did not sit for weeks. At the very beginning of the pandemic, it was extremely important to practise social distancing. There were perhaps a few hours once every two weeks where a handful of MPs could come to the House of Commons to adopt measures for Canadians and businesses. Apart from that, we lost a tremendous amount of time before setting up the hybrid Parliament.

Some may say that it is true that we lost time, but they will also accuse us of calling an election and losing even more time. Those who say that are not providing the full picture of what happens in a Parliament with a minority government, which has a very specific dynamic.

If we look at the history of minority governments in Canada, they do not last much more than 18 months. After that, the opposition likes to spin a narrative that the government is not working very well, and it repeats that story out loud day after day during question period. The government then starts to drag its feet for real. The opposition points the finger at the government, claiming that it is not accomplishing anything, that it is getting nowhere and that a new government is needed. That is how it plays out; that is how it has always played out.

I have been an MP under several minority governments, more so than under majority governments. This is the dynamic that usually takes hold, especially after an opposition party elects a new leader and a minority government has been in place for 18 to 24 months. People start thinking about triggering an election.

Our government was operating in a crisis, and it had to go back to voters for a reset, if you will, and a renewed mandate. When the government was elected in 2019, there was no crisis. Later on, it had to implement health measures, and strengthening and extending those measures required a mandate from Canadians. We lost time because of the pandemic, and we were unable to move forward on certain files.

The House has spent a very long time on Bill C‑8, a major bill that is crucial to helping Canada recover from the pandemic crisis. The bill is supposed to implement the fall economic update, but we have not yet passed it, and summer is just around the corner.

Why is it important?

Bill C‑8 provides essential support to workers and businesses to fight COVID‑19 and will continue to support the provincial and territorial health care systems with supplies of vaccines and rapid tests. The more information Canadians have about their health, the easier it will be for them to make decisions that enable them to keep the most vulnerable people—such as seniors and immunocompromised people—healthy, to keep themselves healthy and to keep others safe in the face of this pandemic. Canadians need assurances that they will not get sick when they go to work and that they will not make their loved ones sick with COVID‑19.

Bill C‑8 will also protect children by ensuring that schools have adequate ventilation. We must do everything in our power to prevent outbreaks in schools. This bill would implement a number of tax measures, such as tax credits for businesses that purchase ventilation equipment and for teachers who buy school supplies to facilitate virtual learning.

The safe return to class fund originally provided $2 billion to the provinces and territories to help cover a variety of investments to protect students and staff. The addition of $100 million to the fund is intended to support projects with the primary objective of increasing outdoor air intake or increasing air cleaning to help reduce transmission of COVID‑19.

I would also like to take the time to recognize the great work being done by teachers across the country. They are doing the most important job: taking care of our next generation.

Bill C‑8 is very important for recovering from the pandemic and avoiding a setback. We do not need any setbacks at this point. Things are hard enough, and we are already facing enough challenges, so this is an important bill in that sense. However, it is also a bill that is dragging on. What the opposition does from time to time is drag its feet in an attempt to show that the government does not have the competence to achieve its objectives.

There are other very important bills to be passed as well. I am referring in particular to Bill C-13, which deals with official languages. I represent a community that is predominantly made up of a linguistic minority in Canada, and Bill C‑13 will help better support this linguistic minority. It will enshrine the court challenges program in law, in a way. This program helps official language minority groups defend themselves in court when they are faced with actions such as the Harris government's move to close the Montfort Hospital, or the Harper government's move to cancel the court challenges program. This is therefore a very important bill for the anglophone minority in Quebec, but also for the francophone minority outside Quebec, as well as for promoting the French language and francophone culture in Quebec and across the country.

Bill C-11 is just as vital to promoting Canadian culture, including Quebec culture and French-Canadian culture. Let us take a look back and think about Bill C-10 in the previous Parliament. That was another bill on which the opposition was dragging its feet and filibustering in committee and in the House. They seemed to support the bill initially, but once the Conservatives saw the winds changing, especially among certain segments of the voting public, they changed their tune. This example illustrates how the official opposition decided to drag its feet and create obstacles. Let us get rid of those obstacles and move forward.

Extension of Sitting Hours and Conduct of Extended ProceedingsGovernment Orders

May 2nd, 2022 / 7:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Madam Speaker, it is great to be here this evening as we enter week two of the four weeks in this part of our sittings. I am thankful for the opportunity to speak today to the government's proposal to extend the proceedings in the House of Commons for the remainder of the session.

I will be splitting my time with the member for Lac-Saint-Louis.

This Parliament was elected to get things done. As we have seen over the previous months, our government has an ambitious legislative agenda and we have a lot to accomplish in the weeks ahead.

In the last election, the wonderful residents of Vaughan—Woodbridge elected me for the third time because I ran on a platform that promised to grow the economy, fight climate change, make housing more affordable and protect our country's most vulnerable. Now that we are here today, Canadians expect their parliamentarians to deliver on those promises. This means the House of Commons needs to find a way to continue its important work and drive legislation in a timely and judicious manner. That is what the proposal we are discussing today sets out to do.

Over the last few months, we have seen an ambitious legislative agenda put forward by our government, but we have also seen a concerted effort by the Conservatives to obstruct the work of other MPs in the House of Commons. The Conservatives have shown a pattern of obstruction of legislation, including on Bill C-8. They have debated it for 10 days in the House of Commons and continue to block it, denying Canadians the support they need as our economy continues to recover as we exit the COVID pandemic and as we continue to fight to create good middle-class jobs from coast to coast to coast, which we are doing. We need to get Bill C-8 across the finish line and get it done.

Bill C-8 implements critical components of the fall economic and fiscal update tabled by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance on December 14, 2021. The bill includes critical supports for workers and businesses needed to help tackle COVID-19, and support for territorial and provincial health care systems on vaccines, ventilation in schools and rapid tests. It also implements several tax measures, including tax credits for businesses purchasing ventilation supplies and for teachers who purchase school supplies to assist with virtual learning.

Since the start of the pandemic, our government has put in place unprecedented measures to support people and businesses across the country, to support our friends, our neighbours and our family members. Since day one, our government has had the backs of Canadians.

In Bill C-8, our government has outlined our plan to procure millions of rapid tests free to provinces, territories and indigenous communities. Bill C-8 includes support for workers and businesses, with changes to CEBA and El. We have proposed to create a host of tax credits, which would benefit Canadians, including a ventilation improvement tax credit for small businesses, tax deductions for residents of northern Canada, supporting our rural communities from coast to coast to coast, and support for farmers by returning fuel charges in involuntary backstop jurisdictions. Bill C-8 also proposes to implement a national tax on the value of non-resident, non-Canadian-owned residential real estate in Canada that is considered to be vacant or underutilized.

Here is the thing: Our plan is working. We have now surpassed our target of creating a million jobs. By delivering significant fiscal support to the economy and avoiding the harmful Conservative austerity policies that followed 2008, our Liberal government has supported a rapid and resilient recovery. We know that there are challenges ahead and the future remains uncertain, but we also know that we need to reinforce the importance of passing this legislation so that we can focus our attention on the future.

As we finish the fight against COVID-19, we will turn our resolve toward fighting climate change, addressing housing affordability, advancing reconciliation with indigenous people and building an economy that is stronger, fairer, more competitive and more prosperous for all Canadians. If the Conservatives are opposed to those measures to support Canadians, that is their prerogative; that is their choice. However, one party should not get to obstruct the work of other MPs in the House of Commons.

That is not the only bill that I would like to see moved forward before the end of the session. We know that the budget implementation act will be debated soon. On April 7, 2022, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance introduced “Budget 2022: A Plan to Grow Our Economy and Make Life More Affordable”. It is a plan that invests in Canadians and a plan that will help build a Canada where no one is left behind. The BIA will put those priorities into action.

Budget 2022 invests in three main things: people, economic growth and a clean future for everyone. Through targeted and responsible investments, our government will help make life more affordable, create jobs and prosperity today, and build a stronger economic future for all Canadians tomorrow.

We know from the budget that we are making it easier for Canadians to buy a home. We are moving forward on dental care. We are investing to help businesses scale up and grow. In the budget, we are making wealthy corporations pay their fair share. We are investing in a clean future and helping Canada become a world leader in producing electric vehicles. I know that everyone in the House and all Canadians are very happy to see the $3.6-billion investment that was made by Stellantis, in partnership and collaboration with the federal government and the provincial government. It means, here in Ontario, thousands of direct jobs and tens of thousands of jobs indirectly. It is a great day for the auto sector, a great day for this province and a great day for hard-working middle-class Canadians.

We have all seen the recent statistics. Canada has the strongest jobs recovery in the G7, having recouped 112%, and I think up to 150%, of jobs lost since the peak of the pandemic. Our unemployment rate is down to just 5.5%, close to the 5.4% low in 2019, the lowest rate on record for five decades. Also, throughout the pandemic, we maintained a strong fiscal anchor and fiscal footprint, with the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio relative to our G7 peers.

Now, as we emerge from the pandemic, our government is focused on the priorities that Canadians expect us to deliver on: making life more affordable, creating jobs, growing the economy and ensuring a clean future for everyone. We need a healthy environment.

We will also need to move forward with Bill C-11, on online streaming. For decades, our system has guaranteed the creation of Canadian movies, TV shows and music that make us proud to be Canadian. Today, streaming platforms benefit from access to the Canadian market but have zero responsibility toward Canadian artists and creators. With our online streaming bill, we are asking online streamers to showcase and contribute to the creation of Canadian culture. Canadian broadcasters play by one set of rules and streaming platforms play by another. There should be one set of rules for everyone. We have been clear since the beginning: Those who benefit from the system should contribute to it. That is exactly what we need to see, so we need Bill C-11 to move forward.

To come back to our discussion about the motion for a moment, the motion would allow for extended time to debate bills, which is a good thing. We have heard from members of the opposition that they want more time to debate significant legislation. This motion allows for that to happen in the evenings when the government and one other party, which represent a majority in the House, request it. We believe that it is important for MPs to have the opportunity to debate legislation, and the motion facilitates this.

Let us think of the other pieces of legislation that could benefit from the additional time for debate.

I think of, for example, Bill C-18. We all know that a free and independent press is essential to Canadian democracy, and the work of our journalists has value. That is why we introduced Bill C-18, the online news act. It would require the tech giants to fairly compensate publishers and journalists for the content shared on their platforms. We are creating a framework to ensure that Canadian publishers, big and small, can negotiate fair deals on more equal terms with the tech giants, the most powerful companies in the world. The Europeans are doing it. We are going to do it as well. We will always support quality, fact-based and local Canadian journalism in a fair digital marketplace. I think all members of the House would agree with that, and that is why we should see this bill passed.

We also have Bill C-5, which deals with mandatory minimum sentences. A justice system that jails too many indigenous people, Black people and marginalized Canadians is not effective. That does not keep us safe and it must be changed.

With Bill C-5, we are turning the page on the failed policies of the Harper Conservatives. We are removing mandatory minimum penalties that target lower-risk and first-time offenders that have been shown to increase the over-incarceration of racialized and marginalized groups. We will also provide police and prosecutors with the tools and guidance they need to treat addiction and simple drug possession as a health issue, not a criminal justice issue. My brother is a first responder in the police force so I know he appreciates this.

Bill C-5 represents an important step forward. These changes will ensure that our criminal justice system is fair and effective and will keep Canadians from all communities safe.

To finish, these extended sittings will allow us to debate these bills and will provide more time for MPs to share their thoughts with constituents back home, be their strong local voice here in Ottawa and represent their constituents' views.