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 News ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2022 / 1:05 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue for his speech.

As an MP, one of my priorities is to tackle the increase in heinous crimes attributable to social media. That is not included in Bill C-11 or in Bill C-18, but the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP and other organizations have reported that there is a significant increase in crimes motivated by hate, racism and other unacceptable things.

I hope that my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue also has some ideas about how to reduce this threat to our society and our culture or how to put an end to it.

Online News ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2022 / 12:55 p.m.
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Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, when we look at Bill C-18, we see it is very similar to Bill C-11. We know that these are very important pieces of legislation that need to be implemented into law as expeditiously as possible in order to protect, with respect to Bill C-11, Canadian culture and, with respect to Bill C-18, smaller organizations and news outlets.

I am curious if the member can comment on the importance of that and making sure it gets done, and perhaps on the amendment that the Conservatives brought forward. They brought forward an amendment that would basically strip out this entire bill and send the issue to committee. Is that not what we are doing right now? Are we not debating this at second reading to send it to committee anyway?

Online News ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2022 / 12:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Sébastien Lemire Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see more members in the House and I will continue my speech.

In such vast territories, it is hard to cover local news properly. Imagine how much time it takes journalists to travel around, especially when they are alone.

The reality is that local media are not covering all of the news anymore. The media can no longer rely on ad sales, which are plummeting. The share of ad revenue that traditionally went to news organizations is dwindling year after year, and the big print and broadcast ad contracts are no longer going to news organizations, but rather to companies like Google and Facebook. News organizations are losing out on revenue streams, and many have been forced to close.

What is most alarming is that the lack of local news and feedback will hurt society as a whole. Knowing what is going on in the community is a fundamental part of democracy.

I can provide the figures for how advertising money is allocated these days. I will also give some arguments in support of taking a strong stance against giants like GAFAM.

The government has failed to impose regulations for far too long. If it thought that web giants like GAFAM would regulate themselves and be sensitive to our small communities, it was wrong. No matter what the web giants may say or do, their actions are motivated by greed, a bit like the oil companies, who care only about making a profit for their shareholders.

It takes courage to act. We saw what happened in Australia and the consequences of that. These companies have known our perspective on this for a long time, and they are well aware of the path they need to take. They no longer have a choice. There has been a lot of pressure for a long time. If we pass this bill quickly, they will no longer really have a choice. Either they get on board, or the government will get involved.

Why should ordinary people care about the passage of this bill? They should care because it affects them. We first need to realize that journalists make an invaluable contribution. Day after day, they do a tremendous job even though they do not always have proper funding. Their future is uncertain and, for them, every day counts.

Local media is increasingly important to our regional and rural communities. Local media and newspapers are the heart of the regional media ecosystem. Reporting on the stories of local people, or issues that affect them, requires journalists who are present in those communities, who live the community's experiences.

From sports and arts stories to investigative reports and the fight against corruption, local media issues are a particularly important part of the lives of people in these communities. Simply put, if web giants like GAFAM share news on their platforms, it is because they are getting something out of it. They are profiting handsomely, and unfairly, off all the people who write the news. They are shamelessly exploiting the news.

We need to take matters into our own hands, because playtime is over. Web giants do not have the same journalistic rigour. To maintain a healthy environment with a variety of opinions and the ability to distinguish truth from falsehood, we must allow professional journalists to continue to do their work, and give media companies a chance to regularly show us the product of that diligent work. That needs to happen everywhere, not just in major cities.

Facebook and Google are not going to send a reporter to cover a Russell Cup win by the Ville-Marie Pirates or the Temiscaming Titans. They leave that to CKVM, TV Témis, RNC Média and TVA Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

Facebook and Google are not going to send a reporter to ask Rouyn-Noranda municipal authorities about construction delays for the aquatic facility. They leave that to the Rouyn-Noranda paper, Le Citoyen.

Facebook and Google are not going to cover all the Amos festivals. They leave that to MédiAT, CHUN FM, TV Témis and Abitibi-Ouest community television with Gaby Lacasse.

In Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Radio-Canada is the one that gets the local MP on air for an interview to keep him accountable and let people know what he is doing.

The media crisis hit print media in Abitibi-Témiscamingue hard. As recently as 2017, our paper, Le Citoyen, still had 15 or so reporters covering our territory. Now the local weekly has just five of them left, and the content has been affected too.

The 60-page papers that used to be on every doorstep have thinned to 20. The Témiscamingue paper, Le Reflet, stopped printing paper editions because of the drop in ad revenue. Even the Énergie radio station cut two positions; its newsroom now has just two reporters covering Abitibi—Témiscamingue.

Take the RCM of Abitibi-Ouest, for example. A few years ago, there were two reporters permanently based there. Now there is just one. That might not seem like a big deal, but it means that a lot of what goes on in the 3,415 square kilometres and 21 municipalities that make up the RCM just does not get covered for want of time and staff.

Losing one reporter position might not seem like a big deal, but it is a monumental loss for small communities in Quebec. One less member of the media means articles and investigative reports do not get written. Events do not get covered. Voices are not heard. This affects the vitality of our communities.

That is why Bill C-18 is important. It is time for GAFAM to share revenues with local media. This money is important to boosting our regional media. It could help local media keep and perhaps even hire journalists, who can then ask us questions and report on the work we do here in the House of Commons. This is called accountability for all politicians.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage has provided an opt-in mechanism for GAFAM. Either they take a forward-looking approach and immediately begin reaching agreements with the various news companies, or the government will say that it will take care of them. It is up to GAFAM to decide.

I also welcome the fact that, with Bill C‑18, the government wants to leave room for independence and transparency in the agreements. Once this is done, GAFAM will have to file the various agreements with the CRTC. The CRTC will be responsible for confirming that the following conditions are met: the agreements include fair compensation; part of that compensation is used to produce local, regional and national news content; the agreements guarantee freedom of expression; they contribute to the vitality of the Canadian news marketplace; they support independent local news; and they reflect Canadian diversity and hopefully Quebec's cultural and linguistic diversity.

If we look at the eligibility criteria for news businesses, only those designated as qualified Canadian journalism organizations under subsection 248(1) of the Income Tax Act will be able to receive compensation when their news content is lifted. Non-Canadian businesses that meet criteria similar to qualified Canadian journalism organizations will also be eligible.

The requirement to employ two journalists is another obstacle for some of the more remote communities in Quebec. Think about it. Some hyper-local media outlets rely on just one person to produce all the news. These media outlets would not be eligible for this program as it currently stands. This is an obstacle to the development of our local media outlets, which are capable of being nimble and proactive.

Since I have the opportunity to speak to Bill C‑18, I would also like to draw my colleagues' attention to the fact that regional and community media will not see a difference or any clear improvement in their economic condition. I would like to know if the government is planning for additional measures. I would like to have answers to these questions.

News Media Canada, the voice of Canada's news media industry, has already stated that it would like us to review the eligibility criteria so that daily papers employing only one journalist are entitled to receive their share of the pie as well. This is a more accurate reflection of the reality of the media in remote areas such as Abitibi—Témiscamingue.

Let us also look at other provisions of Bill C‑18.

I see that the Minister of Canadian Heritage has included provisions to exempt the parties involved in these negotiations from certain conditions of the Competition Act and to require the parties to negotiate in good faith. The bill prohibits a platform from using such means as reducing or prioritizing access to a platform in retaliation or as a negotiating tactic. It allows news businesses to file complaints against the GAFAM with the CRTC if they notice platforms behaving in such a way. There are penalties and fines for the various entities subject to Bill C‑18.

The Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of this bill.

We had been waiting for Bill C‑18, and the bill to amend the Broadcasting Act, Bill C-11, for several years. When I read Bill C‑18, we still did not know how it would be received by media industry groups. We are continuing our discussions, and we will certainly have ideas about how to improve Bill C‑18.

There are many similarities between the Australian law and the Canadian bill. As in Australia, we expect that web giants like GAFAM will step up their efforts to influence, not to say pressure, parliamentarians and the media. I note that the government has been sensitive to the smaller players by allowing them to band together however they choose in order to negotiate, a provision that has been well received.

In Canada, the CRTC will manage the program. The money will go toward journalism, not the shareholders of a news company. I like that. The Australian law maintains confidential agreements and so does Bill C-18, but the government is giving the CRTC the role of reviewing them and checking whether they meet certain conditions that I mentioned earlier in my speech.

I want to explore some of the arguments I found by doing a little research. Let me begin with the good news. Media companies, at least some of them, are doing well thanks to some business decisions they have made. Some have even been able to hire new journalists and create additional positions. Others have gone ahead and brought in a subscription model, which does bring in some revenue. This is definitely not a cure-all, and it would still take a lot to convince me that media companies are able to keep their heads well above water.

According to a number of reports, roughly 18 Canadian journalism organizations have agreements with Meta that will provide nearly $8 million in revenue over the next three years. However, there is a caveat. Facebook says that it has contributed to Canadian media through its News Innovation Test, and that is true, but all the investments went to major Canadian media organizations. Those funds never made it to the local media in my riding or in many other Quebec ridings. That is another reason this bill is important. Without it, local media will definitely be overlooked by GAFAM. This poses a real danger to our democracy.

I want to come back to the fact that questions are also being raised about the negotiation of agreements between media outlets and web giants like GAFAM. It may be easy for large consortiums to get negotiating power, but it is a whole different story for local media outlets that serve small communities.

That is a concern for François Munger, the founder of MédiAT, who is worried that our local news creators will end up with next to nothing. I would like to remind members that the work of journalists in small communities is essential. I will do so by talking a bit about what makes local news unique and by quoting Mr. Munger, who had the courage to start his media company in 2015 in the midst of a media crisis. He said that he was starting a media company in Abitibi‑Témiscamingue because he believed in it and wanted to keep his community informed.

The local news expresses local colour and culture in the community's language. It addresses issues that get residents thinking and even taking the often necessary action to deal with issues that will affect their quality of life. The local news also reports on accomplishments that deserve to be recognized. Overall, the local news serves as a watchdog for the government and businesses. It also serves as the people's watchdog in their dealings with those entities. The local news provides information about municipal borrowing by-laws and violations and often reports on legal proceedings. We can see how important it is. The local news is who we are.

The government will have to provide immediate financial aid for small media outlets that are struggling to survive right now. The measures in Bill C‑18 will take another few months, and the media will not see one cent for at least a year. One possible solution would be for Ottawa to ensure that its ads are placed in these local media outlets that are struggling to bring in significant revenue.

It makes sense that Facebook needs content for its platform. If all the news content were cut from Facebook, there would be nothing left but viral content and entertainment. Evidently, I am not the biggest fan of influencers. To grow their user base and ad revenues, platforms such as Facebook need news. They have every interest in keeping the journalistic community alive and well.

Facebook needs to offer more engaging content, because the more eyeballs it can attract, the more advertising it can sell and the more revenue it will earn. Almost all of Facebook's revenue comes from advertising. Facebook and Google take in 80% of all online ad spending. That is where the real money is. About $193 million of their Canadian revenue is derived from content that was created by journalists and that does not belong to these companies. That is the kind of money that our news agencies could expect to get back in compensation.

In conclusion, Bill C‑18 is one of three bills from this department on the topic of modernizing our communications, and it is designed to address the dominance of multinationals. It would allow the media industry to get back to its roots and would support the industries that play a fundamental role in our democracy.

Our work is far from over, however, since the government has chosen to take small steps and will continue to do so. My Bloc Québécois colleagues have been keeping a close eye on this, and we are pleased to see that this bill includes the many proposals we made or included in our election platform. I must also say that I made promises to my constituents about these proposals, especially with respect to local and regional news media like TvcTK.

Online News ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2022 / 10:25 a.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was quite sure I was up ahead of the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, but I will not argue the point. That is virtual reality, so here we are.

I am focusing less on what Bill C-18 proposes to do. It has taken the approach of saying, as we have heard, that when information, news articles and content appear in what we might call our conventional media, the social media giants and the tech giants pay for that. However, it does not get to this new problem. Neither Bill C-11 nor Bill C-18 gets to what is now being called by our security experts “IMVE”, ideologically motivated violent extremism, which is spread through social media content. I commend to the hon. parliamentary secretary and other members a recent opinion piece by Beverley McLachlin, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and Taylor Owen, the director of the Centre for Media, Technology and Democracy at McGill University.

We are not addressing the root problem here. It is a dangerous area. People want to back away from this nexus between free speech and protecting people from violent extremism. The solution I would put to the hon. member is to treat these new tech online sources, or whatever we want to call them, not as platforms but as publishers. That is what they are. They publish. We have a vast amount of common-law jurisprudence on what to do with publishing things that are false.

I put it to the hon. member that Bill C-18 and Bill C-11 do not address the threat to Canadian democracy in online disinformation.

Online News ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2022 / 10:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question from the hon. member. We need to start levelling the playing field somewhere. This is an excellent start.

This deal is already in place between major media companies in Canada and Facebook and Google. It is time to ensure that there is more transparency. It is time to ensure that smaller entities will be able to get a fair deal as well. This will help level the playing field. The argument that we are making on Bill C-11 is an important argument that we are making on Bill C-18 as well.

We need to get this bill to committee and through the House as quickly as possibly, because, as we said, more media outlets are closing. We are in a crisis. We need to do what we can, and this is a model that works.

An Act for the Substantive Equality of Canada's Official LanguagesGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2022 / 7:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Denis Trudel Bloc Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, I have been working tirelessly for the past 20 years to achieve one reality: to make sure French survives in Quebec, to make sure it thrives.

The member for La Pointe-de-l'Île has been part of every struggle. I have been at his side for some of them, but he has been doing it a lot longer than I have. He was also far more engaged when he was president of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal. We held countless demonstrations and organized countless shows, all with the goal of keeping French alive.

It is worth noting that there are a few experts who really know the issue, and the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île is certainly one of them. We French speakers make up 3% of the population on this American continent. Right next to us is the United States of America, the most powerful hegemonic culture in human history. We are bombarded with their films, music and culture, and we have to block it out. Unfortunately, Bill C‑13 really does not get the job done.

I say that I am in a strange mood because the member for La Pointe‑de‑l'Île and I have fought and have attended many protests. I remember protesting against English signage on Sainte‑Catherine Street. I even brought my kids with me. My daughter, who is now 18 years old, was three at the time. I have pictures of her in front of the Best Buy on Sainte‑Catherine Street. I was dragging her along. I am surprised no one called child protective services. I have pictures that were taken in front of Payless ShoeSource and other stores that did not provide French versions of their names.

Today, when I talk to my 13-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter about fighting for our language, they look at me like I am fighting for a lost cause, as though the fight were already over, as though everyone has already moved on to something else. They watch YouTube, TikTok and that sort of thing. We were saying yesterday how critical Bill C‑11 is to support our creators. My kids watch videos and consume American culture. My son learned English from TikTok. Being able to speak three, four, five or eight languages is a great thing. That is wonderful. However, in the context in which we live, bilingualism is dangerous.

I was saying that because Mario and I were spokespeople for Mouvement Montréal Français—

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2022 / 3:20 p.m.
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Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

It being 3:20 p.m., pursuant to order made on Thursday, November 25, 2021, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the amendment to the amendment to the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-11.

The question is on the amendment to the amendment. Shall I dispense?

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

May 12th, 2022 / 2:30 p.m.
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Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, leave it to the Liberals to censor Bill C-11. In less than an hour, they forced a bill through the House that negatively impacts each and every Canadian who watches videos or listens to music on the Internet. Making matters worse, the Prime Minister refuses to answer a simple question about how the CRTC will use its new powers to regulate the Internet.

Why is the government ramming through this bill while providing no transparency? What is it trying to hide?

Opposition Motion—Special Committee on Canada-People’s Republic of China RelationshipBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2022 / 1:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I completely agree. I believe that the Bloc Québécois has already stated several times that we will support this motion to create this committee.

However, there is something that I find to be somewhat paradoxical. I draw a parallel with Bill C-11. The Conservatives are arguing that we must not regulate the Internet, and that we must be careful not to put up barriers in the free market of the Internet. However, one of their reasons for creating this committee is to study the concern or fear that the Chinese Communist Party could be meddling with the Canadian population, the Asian population in particular.

I would like my colleague to comment on that. Where exactly is the logic in that? Why can we not regulate the Internet in the case of web giants dominating the broadcasting market, but we could do it to curb possible Chinese interference in Canadian communities?

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

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

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

Madam Speaker, I am not totally sure what the question was, but witnesses appear. One thing I appreciate at the House of Commons and our committees is that we have not only experts with Ph.D.s, but also regular folks who come here to testify. They are just as legitimate as other witnesses, and they are able to speak to some of their concerns around the bill.

Again, Bill C-11's threat is real, and I hope the House will vote against it.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 11:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I really liked my Conservative colleague's speech. I also liked the fact that he quoted experts other than Michael Geist. That was refreshing.

He mentioned Scott Benzie, the director of Digital First Canada, whom I had the opportunity to meet in committee. He appeared before the committee to speak to Bill C-11 when we were talking about something else, so it was not exactly the right place, but I was still curious to meet him.

I asked him to tell me a bit about his organization. He is a very nice man who really had some genuine concerns to share. I asked him how many members his organization had. He said it had none, because he was in the process of creating it. I found that interesting. I asked him if he was registered as a lobbyist as part of our meeting. He said he was not.

More research may be in order before people start citing experts, who are nonetheless very interesting. Mr. Benzie met with people from Quebec's production and cultural sectors and his horizons were certainly broadened. I think that the conversation with him may have been different without such pointed questions to guide the answers.

If we level the playing field by easing the burden for traditional broadcasting companies and by not regulating online undertakings, then how does my Conservative colleague propose that we protect Quebec and Canadian culture from the American giants?

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 11:30 p.m.
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Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the time tonight. For those watching, it is 11:32 p.m. here in Ottawa. The bill that we are debating is Bill C-11, in case folks out there have not picked up on that already.

I think the question that we are really asking tonight is whether we can trust the Prime Minister and the government.

Let us not answer that question quite yet. It seems like the NDP and the Bloc want to completely trust whatever the government is going to do. It is kind of a marked shift from where the NDP used to be. The NDP used to be critics of the government. Now, again, it is carrying the water of the government. It is different. My hope is that it would be a true servant in opposition again.

The question is whether we can trust the Prime Minister and the government. We are talking about Bill C-11, but I will give a bit of preamble.

Everybody remembers the values attestation for the summer jobs program: this is where the Prime Minister said, if one is going to be from a certain faith-based group or has a certain belief, there is no need to sign up for the summer student jobs program.

This is a government that proves that it makes value judgments and decides who the winners and the losers are. Again, my question is: can we trust the government?

How is it relevant to Bill C-11?

For some in the NDP, who said that we had not read the bill, I have it right here. It is marked up quite a bit. I marked up Bill C-10: the previous iteration of the act. I was former chair of the access to information, privacy and ethics committee. We studied these kinds of issues at length.

As to the key section that the member across the way in the Liberal party mentioned, it is kind of interesting. We all heard it. He mentioned different clauses in the bill but he missed the real key one, and that is proposed section 4.2.

He forgot to mention that one, which is a pretty key category, so let me read through it.

4.1(1) This Act does not apply in respect of a program that is uploaded to an online undertaking that provides a social media service by a user of the service for transmission over the Internet and reception by other users of the service.

If it just stopped there, we would probably say that it sounds pretty good, but it goes on.

(2) Despite subsection (1), this Act applies in respect of a program that is uploaded as described in that subsection if the program (a) is uploaded to the social media service by the provider of the service or the provider’s affiliate, or by the agent or mandatary of either of them; or (b) is prescribed by regulations made under section 4.‍2.

What many experts have said about that particular section is that it is an exemption a truck could drive through.

This is the concern for us, and this is why we are debating until 12 o'clock at night. It is because of that particular section. What it essentially does is that that user-content that is supposed to be exempted from this oversight is now included. That is massive.

We talk about TikTok videos. We talk about YouTube videos. They are all now under the purview of the CRTC and the arm of the Prime Minister, of shutting down free debate and free speech in this country. That is the potential that it has. Can we trust him? Can we trust the government? Again, do not answer the question quite yet.

I will go through some quotes because, again, the member across the way has not heard enough quotes tonight, but I will read some out.

These are from some experts who have appeared at committee in the House of Commons and are well-respected witnesses.

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

This is not really a glowing quote on Bill C-11 from a person who has got some pretty good credentials: Dr. Irene S. Berkowitz, senior policy fellow at Ryerson University, who is a pretty significant individual.

It is really hard to hear in here, on both sides, actually. I had to say it.

My next quote is from Scott Benzie, managing director of Digital First Canada:

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.

Now members should listen to this:

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.

Again, that is Scott Benzie, managing director of Digital First Canada.

It is not just Michael Geist who is speaking against this bill. There are many who are concerned about this. It is much broader in the community.

Here is another quote from Scott:

That exemption, clause 4.2(2)(a), is far too vague. It's far too broad. There are no guidelines. It basically includes the entire Internet.

I mentioned that exemption, proposed section 4.2, but the Liberal member failed to mention it.

Again, we wish the NDP down the way would be in opposition with us and fight some of these bills. It would be nice if the NDP members read the bill and actually understood some of the problems with it, and stood with us instead of criticizing us. That is all we have heard tonight, criticism from fellow opposition parties. It is really strange. Anyway, I digress. I know time is a-wasting.

I have one last quote that I will mention tonight. The question that is hanging out there for everybody to answer has not been answered yet. This is from Andrew Coyne, a columnist from The Globe and Mail. I would not say he is a Conservative. He is not Michael Geist either. Michael Geist is very reputable, and I will say I have heard him testify. He is a very reputable individual. For the Liberal Party to completely disparage this witness does not say too much about the party across the way. Here is the final quote:

This bill would assign a wide latitude to regulate, well, the Internet: not just the big audio and video streaming services like Spotify or Netflix, but any number of other services, from podcasts to audiobooks to news channels, and not just those based in Canada but anywhere in the world.

He goes on to say that this is surely the far greater concern. Whether the users of these services are subject to regulation in their capacity as content posters, and insofar as the services are compelled to give greater prominence to certain content, its users can hardly be unaffected.

I do not know if the member across the way heard how significant that one phrase was: “to give greater prominence to certain content”. One thing that we have learned, and I have another former chair of the access to information committee sitting behind me, is that that concerns us greatly. We have seen examples of big tech throttling up and throttling down certain social media accounts. We were the ones who subpoenaed Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg to appear at our committee, because of our concerns around their misuse of personal data.

What the government is now asking is, “Hey, look, big tech, we actually want to take over. We want to do that job.” Again, can it be trusted? Will it be trusted?

I will finish this quote.

To the extent that the services are [compelled] to give greater prominence to certain content, their users can hardly be unaffected. They are [certainly] subject to regulation, as are consumers.

I would just say that our concerns are very warranted. It is not just the Conservative Party across the way. It is the many experts we have heard from tonight. Again, I started with a question: “Can we trust the Prime Minister and the government?” I would say tonight that the answer is a firm “No.” That is why we need to oppose Bill C-11.

I would just commend my colleagues for staying up for hours at night to do the good work of Her Majesty's loyal opposition, holding the government to account.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 11:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Marty Morantz Conservative Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Madam Speaker, the truth of the matter is that the Internet and platforms like YouTube have been a godsend for Canadian artists and creators. There are so many of them who are famous and successful today, and they are doing Canada proud on the national stage. We have Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, Shawn Mendes, Alessia Cara and The Weeknd. I just did a quick Google search. I am sure I could find many others, including many from Quebec.

I am saying, as I said during my speech, Bill C-11 is a solution looking for a problem.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

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

Marty Morantz Conservative Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-11, the online streaming act. This bill seeks to awkwardly apply the same content regulation framework we see for radio and television onto online streaming and video platforms. Last year, the Liberals passed Bill C-10 in the House of Commons without allowing a full debate at the heritage committee to address many outstanding concerns from experts and parliamentarians over how this legislation affects Canadians' rights and freedoms on the Internet.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage claims that the bill's purpose is to target only large online streamers. The problem is this is not what the bill says. In fact, proposed subsection 4.2(2) says that in making regulations, the commission shall consider:

(a) the extent to which a program, uploaded to an online undertaking that provides a social media service, directly or indirectly generates revenues;

To be clear, any content that generates any revenue could be regulated. On this point, Michael Geist said:

The tone for the government’s communication on Bill C-11 was established from the very beginning. In the very first speech from [the minister] in the House of Commons, he stated “the proposed amendments in the online streaming act regarding social media would not apply to content uploaded by users or to the users themselves.”

This is not completely true, though, as content uploaded by users who may benefit commercially from their uploads can be regulated under proposed section 4.2.

Mr. Geist said:

Not only does the law have few limits with respect to which services are regulated, it is similarly over-broad with respect to what is regulated, featuring definitions that loop all audio-visual content into the law by treating all audio-visual content as a “program” subject to potential regulation.

Bill C-11 essentially defines broadcasting as any transmission of programs and audiovisual content for reception by the public. Mr. Geist also said:

[F]or all the talk that user generated content is out, the truth is that everything from podcasts to TikTok videos fit neatly into the new exception that gives the CRTC the power to regulate such content as a “program”.

He also said:

The kind of speech that many Canadians engage in on these platforms is just basic, fundamental freedom of expression that does not require, and should not be subject to, any sort of regulation or regulatory oversight by a broadcast regulator.

The bill would give the CRTC wide latitude to decide how to implement its new powers and there are legitimate concerns about regulatory overreach. One of the fundamental tenets of our free and democratic society is the need to separate political direction from the independence of the media. We see that in oppressive regimes like Russia and others that maintain a firm grip over what people see and do not see.

That is why I am so concerned about this bill and in particular section 7 and how it is expanded under Bill C-11. This section says that cabinet could tell the CRTC how to regulate online platforms. The section modifies cabinet's power to issue directives of general application on broad policy matters. The section would not only allow cabinet to issue general directions on broad policy matters, but would also allow cabinet to direct the CRTC on specifics, such as the definition of a Canadian program. It would shift the final authority for regulation from an independent authority to politicians and cabinet.

Just today in question period the Prime Minister refused to answer what direction the government would in fact give the CRTC for the implementation of this bill. That is a concern in and of itself, given the fact that debate is about to end in a few minutes on this bill and presumably we will be voting on it very shortly. The government says the goal of Bill C-11 is increasing the share of Canadian content consumed online by Canadians, yet the reality is that lots of Canadian content is already uploaded and shared every day, albeit in a disorderly manner. However, most Canadians have come to see social media and the Internet as an inherently disorderly place. In fact, it is what many Canadians appreciate about the Internet and social media. It is the sense of randomness and orderly chaos to the content they consume.

This legislation must be considered very carefully. We live in a society that values freedom of speech, thought and expression. These values are entrenched constitutional rights. By allowing the CRTC to impose a revenue test, any new online creator must now contend with the regulatory quagmire of rules, regulations and whim-of-government regulation for fear of being offside the fiat of the CRTC.

This test alone would have the exact opposite effect of encouraging Canadian content. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it would be a chill on new creators.

Former vice-chair of the CRTC Peter Menzies stated, “Overall, the big problem still is that [the Liberals] continue to believe that the internet is broadcasting, and I don’t think they really understand what it is”. Under the previous bill, Bill C-10, there was originally an exception, in proposed section 4.1, that would have allowed those who generated content on social media sites to be excluded. However, at committee, government members removed that exclusion, opening up user-generated content to regulation.

Further complicating the matter in Bill C-11, the Liberals added an exclusion to the exclusion, in proposed section 4.2, mainly regarding the revenue exception I have already mentioned. This exclusion to the exclusion is so broad that the government, through the CRTC, could once again regulate wide swaths of content uploaded to social media.

Canadians are rightfully concerned that an unaccountable government agency would be enforcing and controlling what people see and do not see on social media sites. Although the goal of promoting Canadian arts and culture is one I believe in, the government will never be able to be an honest broker, as it will always choose to highlight the content and media it subjectively enjoys. The incentive structure will change. The word will get out that if people want to get celebrated and promoted, they will need to share the government's subjective view of what is Canadian. Canada is home to many world-class writers, actors, composers, musicians, artists and creators. Creators need rules that do not hold back their ability to be Canadian and global successes.

Honestly, when it comes to social media and other online platforms, Canadians' main concerns are not about where their content is created; rather, their concerns are more personal. Canadians consistently express frustration that the current regulatory framework allows for the easy and near constant sale of their personal information. What Canadians want is to take back control over their lives and their personal information.

Let me offer a constructive suggestion, if members will entertain a thought experiment. Suppose I am an Uber driver and I have a great reputation as a driver. I want to open an Airbnb apartment, but I have no reviews on that, which means it is going to be hard. What if I could port my reputation from one application to another? If we make reputations portable and free-existing, that would allow me to own my own reputation, instead of some social media giant. It could be regulated in a way similar to how we currently regulate intellectual property.

I know this idea is imperfect; it is more of a rough sketch of a solution. My point is that Canadians are way more concerned about control of their personal information online and reputation portability than they are about the already pleasantly abundant supply of Canadian content. The truth is that Bill C-11 is nothing but a solution looking for a problem. Instead, why not solve real problems? Canadians should control the valuable data they generate, and the government should focus on issues that truly preoccupy everyday Canadians.

For this reason, I cannot support this legislation.

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May 11th, 2022 / 11:15 p.m.
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NDP

Lori Idlout NDP Nunavut, NU

Uqaqtittiji, through you, I would like to ask the member this. Bill C-11 states clearly that both the act and the CRTC shall implement the act, “in a manner consistent with the freedom of expression”.

Does the member not agree that section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides the necessary guidance to allow for Canadian freedom of expression?

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

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Madam Speaker, it is always a privilege to speak in the House. I rise today to add my concerns to those of my colleagues around Bill C-11.

For those who have been following the process closely, Bill C-11 has several working titles around Parliament Hill. To some here in the House, it is just a reintroduced Bill C-10 from the last session of Parliament, with one change and one exception making that change irrelevant. To others, this bill is known as “how to save the future of broadcast” despite the fact that broadcasters such as Rogers and Bell, for example, have never publicly mentioned that their future relies on this act. My colleague for Perth—Wellington would call it the “groundhog day act”, because the challenges that existed in this bill when it was introduced as Bill C-10 are here again in Bill C-11. Let me explain.

Bill C-11 aims to regulate online streaming, online news and online safety. Those are admirable goals, but 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. On the face of it, this bill simply updates regulations in an industry that has moved faster than regulations ever could.

However, if there is one thing that we have learned from the Liberal government, it is that it is never able to resist the allure of power at any cost. It takes power, controls the narrative, silences its opposition and never accounts for its actions. We have seen this before. The Prime Minister just could not resist the urge to silence his opposition, going as far as to use the Emergencies Act, although it was unnecessary, and he and his government are never accountable for their actions. That is why we, as the opposition, need to be extreme in our diligence to ensure that the government cannot be given powers that could be misused.

Why is that necessary? It is because the Liberal government has proved that it has the audacity to use these powers and then not be accountable for their use. With that said, for my colleague across the way, Dr. Michael Geist is a law professor at the University of Ottawa, where he holds the Canada research chair in Internet and e-commerce law and is a member of the Centre for Law, Technology and Society. He is clearly a highly esteemed legal voice on this issue, unlike my colleague across the way, and he has had nothing flattering to say about the government's proposed Bill C-11. As we know, the government does not meet with those who have the courage to hold opposing opinions.

First, there is the question of regulating user-generated content, referred to in this bill as “content uploaded to a social media service”. Have colleagues ever thought about how broad that is: “content uploaded to a social media service”? Based on that definition alone, every member in this House should take pause. By that definition, the Facebook post that I put out this morning puts me within the same regulatory framework as the major players.

The Liberals on the other side have tried to make the argument that there are exclusions in the act, but the devil is always in the details with their legislation, meaning that the exception indicates that users would not be regulated like broadcasters, but their content could be treated as a program subject to CRTC regulation. These regulations include discoverability requirements that would allow the CRTC to require platforms to prioritize certain content and effectively deprioritize other content. The problem is not that they do not have protections looking out for individual users; it is that we know that even in the context that this should protect Canadians, it is not enough to keep the Liberal government from overreaching.

Second, in addition to the continued regulation of some Internet content as programs under CRTC rules, the remarkable scope of the bill also remains unchanged. In fact, there was a 10-page memo that set out what the government could regulate with this new bill: podcasts, audiobooks, sports streaming services and niche video streaming services, just to name a few.

In fact, as Professor Geist explains, and here it comes:

The potential scope for regulation is virtually limitless since any audio-visual service anywhere with Canadian subscribers or users is caught by the rules. Bill C-11 maintains the same approach with no specific thresholds or guidance. In other words, the entire audio-visual world is fair game and it will be up to the CRTC to decide whether to exempt some services from regulation.

Did we just feel a shiver go across this room? Canadians did. Just the thought of having the government-appointed body of Liberal friends in charge of deciding who they want to regulate without legislative guidance, now that is scary.

The uncertainty found in former Bill C-10 is also largely unchanged in Bill C-11. Bill C-11 tries to include some criteria for defining key provisions, such as the user-generated content exception and what constitutes a Canadian creator. How do Canadians feel about vague ways to identify who will be covered under provisions in this bill or what items are left unidentified?

For example, key terms like “social media”, used 12 times in the bill, are undefined. Unfortunately, this is lazy Liberal legislation, or maybe that is what they want us to think. This is their second attempt at this bill and I think they still have it wrong. They have left the door wide open for government regulators to cross lines of government overreach leaving us with only the hope that no government would have the audacity to stoop so low. In thinking that, we are underestimating what the government is willing to do with its power.

When opening the debate on Bill C-11, the minister asked us to “imagine a day without art and culture, no music, no movies, no television or books. It would be really boring.” This bill asks us different questions. It asks us to imagine a day when the Government of Canada decides which music, what television shows or what books are acceptable and how they should be distributed and regulated, with no clear guidelines of what they actually are. It asks us to trust the government by giving them the power to broadly regulate with their word that although they could use it to silence opinions opposed to theirs, they assure us that they would not.

I have considered that world and I have found that the Liberal government needs no extra powers to silence the viewpoints of Canadians.

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May 11th, 2022 / 11 p.m.
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Bloc

Denis Trudel Bloc Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, I give up. I am sick and tired of this. After listening to the Conservatives talk for three hours, I will surrender to their arguments. If Parliament adopts Bill C‑11, Canada will become a dictatorship, the thought police will be out, no one will be able to publish anything, no artists will be able to release their music on Spotify, no filmmakers will be able to get views, we will be terrorized into submission, and freedom of expression will disappear. That will be it. Way to go, the Conservatives got me. I am tired of this.

All of that said, we still need to help artists. We need to protect them.

As I mentioned earlier, Pierre Lapointe was paid $500 for one million plays. That is unacceptable and we must do something about it.

What does my Conservatives colleague suggest we do about this?

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May 11th, 2022 / 10:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to stand in my home to speak tonight to this bill. It pains me to have to do this, as it is another attempt by the Liberals to restrict Canadians’ speech.

I would like to reiterate what so many content creators and their stakeholders have expressed in opposition to Bill C-11 and its predecessor, Bill C-10. No matter what the Liberals claim, this bill is a near carbon copy of Bill C-10 and represents a direct assault on the free speech of every Canadian. That simple fact outweighs any supposed benefit of the legislation, which is why I feel it needs to be stopped.

I had previously spoken on Bill C-10 in the last Parliament. That was before the Liberals decided to vote against aspects of their own legislation in order to target the free expression of average Canadian content creators. At the time, I spoke about the shortcomings of the bill and how it does not succeed in making the changes to our broadcasting system that are needed to ensure that who we are, what we say and how we say it within Canada and to the world are available going forward.

The pandemic amplified that need. We have all spent more time indoors during the pandemic, and without a doubt, more time with family in front of a TV and computer screens cemented the fact that our media landscape has changed forever. Canadians have changed how they gather information and find entertainment. They have also come to realize that there are no limits on the opportunities to choose where they go for their content. Looking at this bill in its present form, I think the Liberals fully understand this new reality. That is why they felt the need to take it in the concerning direction that we see today.

As background, Bill C-11 would give sweeping power to the CRTC to regulate the Internet, with no clear guidelines for how that power will be used. That is significant. Despite claims that this bill exempts user-generated content, the Liberals still plan to allow the CRTC to regulate any content that generates revenue “directly or indirectly”. That means virtually all content would still be regulated, including that of independent content creators earning a living on social media platforms like YouTube and Spotify. In fact, YouTube has been critical of attempts to force-feed Canadian content that Canadians might choose not to watch. Ninety per cent of Canadian YouTubers' revenue comes from beyond Canada. A video’s poor performance within our borders will translate into reduced distribution around the world, threatening an industry that contributes $923 million to Canada's GDP.

This is not a surprising element of the bill. In the last Parliament, the Liberals voted against the section of Bill C-10 that would have at least partially exempted individual users who upload videos to social media sites like YouTube and Facebook from CRTC regulation. They have given the CRTC the power to regulate the content Canadians upload on social media and the social media sites that allow them to publish that content, just like the programming on a licensed television station like CTV or Global.

At the time, the minister also mentioned that the CRTC could impose discoverability regulations on individuals who have a large enough following online. This would put Canadian content at even greater risk, especially the content that the minister or the Prime Minister does not like. The government does not like the fact that Canadians have the freedom to create, criticize and comment online free of government censorship.

The government’s fear of the average content creator is evident through its past actions to curtail debate in the committee. Our Conservative opposition does not oppose elements of legislation without putting forward common-sense amendments. At the heritage committee, members proposed an amendment to Bill C-10 that would have limited regulation to online undertakings with more than $50 million a year in revenue and 250,000 subscribers in Canada. In effect, this amendment would have only applied to large streaming services. This approach was rejected outright, so there is a disconnect here.

Then the Liberals went to the unprecedented length to gag our work in committee. In a move not seen in over 20 years, the Prime Minister and his minister placed time allocation on the work of the committee to properly vet each clause of the bill and hear expert testimony on its effect. This is what they are saying they want in committee now.

Sadly, the Liberals have also shown disrespect for the House and for the fundamental rights and freedoms we have all been elected to defend. The latest motion, Motion No. 11, gives the NDP-Liberal government the power to extend debate daily, without notice, until midnight, while giving it a pass on having to participate and giving the Prime Minister the ability to arbitrarily shut down the House until the fall if he feels that his power is being threatened by the truth revealed in this place.

Over and over again, they have come dangerously close to being exposed for using disinformation to convince Canadians that they have their backs and are motivated by concern for the safety of Canadians, so why would Canadians trust them with this latest version of their anti-speech bill?

On this side of the House, we will not permit them to run roughshod over Canadians’ rights and freedoms without a challenge. I would like to reiterate the concerns of some of Canada’s leading experts on the digital economy and our media landscape, because we want to hear from the people who are the experts, right?

Well, Michael Geist serves as the Canada research chair in Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa. He has said that, despite the government’s claim, it simply is not the case that Internet regulation is off the table with C-11. According to Geist, “everything from podcasts to TikTok videos fit neatly into the new exception that gives the CRTC the power to regulate such content as a ‘program.’”

He has warned that Bill C-11 actually goes beyond Bill C-10 in empowering the CRTC to control user-generated content.

He says, “As Bill C-10 made its way through the legislative process, new provisions were added to limit the scope of CRTC orders and regulations over online undertakings and user generated content.... Those limits have been removed from Bill C-11, which once again opens the door to a far more aggressive CRTC regulatory approach.”

I would also like to reiterate what Mr. Geist said last year. He said, “We would never dream of saying the CRTC would or should regulate things like our own letters or our blog posts, but this is a core expression for millions of Canadians, and we are saying that it is treated as a program like any other, and subject to regulation.”

To Geist, it is clear that Bill C-11 aims to pick winners and losers in the competitive digital marketplace of ideas. No other country in the world regulates content in the way that this bill is proposing. The government missed a golden opportunity to listen to what Canadians had to say. While they could have fully excluded user-generated content and put strict limits on the CRTC’s power, they chose not to, and that is a concern.

Peter Menzies is another expert well known to the government as the former vice-chair of the CRTC. According to Mr. Menzies, the biggest difference between Bill C-11 and last year’s Bill C-10 is the bill number. He says that the Liberals “continue to believe that the internet is broadcasting, and I don’t think they really understand what it is”.

Well, either they do not understand, or maybe they are so concerned that they are trying to limit that. His input on the debate has justified many of the fears that my colleagues and I have with regard to the practical effect of Bill C-11.

As with so many other bills, and this is important, the Liberals are choosing to throw up their hands and empower the unelected CRTC with defining social media and deciding whether uploaded content passes its smell test. That should not be its job.

Canadians could attempt to hold the CRTC accountable for its decisions if there were public records of its meetings, but according to Menzies, no minutes of their meetings are kept. As a former commissioner, Mr. Menzies knows the mandate of the CRTC better than most anyone. The CRTC does manage speech. In his words:

From the moment the Royal Commission on Broadcasting was established...the regulation and licensing of Canada’s publicly-owned radio waves...has been about who owns it and what speech it will approve to be used upon it....

The CRTC governs what type of music is made, and by who, and when it is played, along with how many hours a week must be designated for “spoken word,” news, “deejay banter” and advertising. It decides what is and isn’t a montage, and it makes sure that if you are a religious broadcaster, you have to give 20 hours per week to people who don’t share your faith.

The CRTC is not a transparent body, whose natural instinct is to regulate and shape speech to align with its definition. The CRTC and the Liberals should not be defining what the public wants in this new digital age.

Conservatives support creating a level playing field between large foreign streaming services and Canadian broadcasters and championing Canadian arts and culture. We have made that clear. However, we do so without compromising Canadians’ fundamental rights and freedoms. There is a poison pill here.

This bill is flawed in many ways. It is clear that the Liberals are caught between their own hunger to control thought and speech, and their inability to grasp the sheer scope of the media landscape that grows by the day.

Bill C-11 is clearly an effort to stifle inconvenient speech in a digital world that the Liberals do not control. They do not want Canadians to make informed choices for themselves, and they do not want to protect their freedom to create content that showcases the best our amazing country has to offer—

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May 11th, 2022 / 10:45 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Madam Speaker, I have respect for the member for Provencher, but he has just proven my point. The Conservatives are not debating Bill C-11. In fact, many of the Conservatives who have intervened tonight patently have not read the bill. They do not know what is in the bill, so they are debating everything else. They are debating cellphone technology. Are they kidding me? This is exactly the problem. The Conservatives want to sit until midnight, but they want to talk about cellphones. They want to talk about anything but the bill.

On behalf of Canadian artists from coast to coast to coast, I say this to the member for Provencher and all other Conservative MPs: Let us get the bill to committee. Let us get the legitimate questions answered. Let us stop talking about cellphones and all kinds of other things that have nothing to do with Bill C-11.

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May 11th, 2022 / 10:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, the Conservatives seem to be having a hard time understanding that those who control the distribution network have the opportunity to promote their own product. They do not understand this concept when we talk about culture, but when we talk about oil and pipelines, they understand the distribution system. That speaks volumes.

Does the member not agree that the only thing Bill C‑11 does, in reality, is require online distribution networks to offer a wider range of viewpoints and products and that ultimately, this will improve democracy here in Canada?

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May 11th, 2022 / 10:30 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to start by saying that the cultural aspect of our lives is extremely important. For years, we have had the means to allow Canadians across the country to hear the voices of other Canadians, to listen to music, to watch movies, to watch television and to experience a Canadian culture that is extremely complex and very diversified.

When I think of Quebec culture, for example, I remember the first time I listened to Robert Charlebois, on a Sunday evening, because we could listen to French radio at home, in New Westminster, British Columbia. He was the first Quebec artist who forged my understanding of the diversity of Quebec's cultural life.

What artists are telling us is that there is currently a real imbalance in the system. Consequently, as talented as they may be, artists cannot fully reap the benefits of all their potential, as artists, to create and to promote our cultural life and to make it so complex and so profound.

That is really the message tonight. Our artists across the country are saying there is something wrong with the system. We have web giants, these massive companies, that are foreign-owned and the Conservatives support them to the detriment of Canadians and Canadian artists. These companies make these enormous profits while paying scraps to Canadian artists.

As we know, the reality is when we are talking about the word “censorship”, we are throwing it around so loosely when it comes to Bill C-11, and I will come back to that in just a moment. The reality is the censorship that takes place now with the web giants is the algorithms that withhold Canadian content from Canadians. Even Canadians trying to access that content cannot do it because of the algorithms that are not shared or not transparent that censors what Canadians can see and what Canadians can hear. That is the reality.

As members well know, other countries are putting forward legislation so that these web giants, these massive foreign-owned corporations, that pay no taxes in Canada and do not show the responsibility they should be showing in Canada, actually have to be transparent on the algorithms that control what people see, what people watch and what people can hear.

The idea that we put in place an update to the Broadcasting Act makes sense, because it establishes a level playing field so we do not see the situation we are seeing now. We see that Canadians musicians have lost 80% of their income as more and more of their product goes online and they get paid less and less by the massive web giants that are supported, for reasons I do not understand, by some members of this House.

As that happens, it is important for Canadian MPs to step up and try to level the playing field. Musicians losing 80% of their income should be something that all members of Parliament should be concerned about. About $3 billion has been taken out of musicians' pockets. That should be something that all Canadians are concerned about.

I talked earlier about listening, for the first time, late one evening in New Westminster, British Columbia, to a Quebec artist, Robert Charlebois, and understanding the incredible depth of Québécois culture. When I was growing up, I was able to listen to Rush, Gordon Lightfoot and Bachman-Turner Overdrive and so many other Canadian artists that would not have been able to get into the market if the American record companies and the American broadcasters had told Canadians what they could or could not listen to. That is the reality here.

When we have foreign companies deciding what Canadians can watch and listen to, we need to establish a level playing field so our Canadian artists can shine through.

The Conservatives, who are opposed to this legislation moving forward, even to get answers on it, should understand that not one of them has quoted a Canadian artist or musician tonight. They cannot, because artist associations, everyone from the Canadian Independent Music Association to ACTRA, are all very supportive of the legislation. What, then, should we be doing tonight in this debate?

My Conservative colleagues, and I have respect for them, have said that they simply do not want this legislation to move forward, just as they have been saying for months that they do not want any other legislation to move forward. We have seen it with Bill C-8. Teachers were asking for their tax credit and the Conservatives said they would not pass it. We have seen it with Bill C-19 and dental care, which the NDP pushed forward. For the first time, there was an affordable housing platform, and the Conservatives said they did not want that to move forward either.

On Bill C-11, as we have heard in the debate tonight, the Conservatives have talked about three concerns. First off, they reference a bill that no longer exists and say they did not like it. That is fair enough, but that is not the bill we are debating. Then they talk about a bill that may be coming in a year or so that deals with online harms, and they say they do not like that bill either. Well, that debate will be in a year.

Then they say, about this bill, that they believe in a level playing field, but they have some questions. At the same time, however, they do not want this bill to go to committee, where we can get answers to the questions they have asked. Some of the questions they have asked around the CRTC are legitimate. How it defines its powers is a legitimate question, and I have that question too.

We would love to have the bill come to committee, because the committee, as part of our legislative process, is the place where we get answers to questions. We could sit here to midnight every single night, but we are not going to get the ministry and the CRTC to answer our questions until the bill gets to committee.

This is where it becomes passing strange. We have had debate now for a number of days. We should be referring the bill to committee. If Conservative members do not want to vote for the bill they do not have to vote for it. However, for them to say they are going to stop any member of Parliament from getting the answers they are asking around the bill by refusing to have it go to committee does not make any sense at all.

It is also not respectful to the artists from coast to coast to coast who have been asking for years to have a level playing field. They have been asking for years for us, as members of Parliament, to play our role and establish a level playing field to allow them, finally, to have some presence in the online world so that Canadian content can shine and the web giants will not decide what Canadians get to see and hear.

This is really the challenge this evening. We will be sitting until midnight, but the Conservatives will say they want to keep sitting and sitting and will say the same things. As I mentioned earlier, they have debated a past bill that no longer exists and a future bill that may or may not exist, and on this bill, they say they have questions.

We should all agree that the way to get answers to those questions is to refer the bill to committee and allow the heritage committee to sit down and get answers from the minister and the CRTC. In that way, we could respond to our legislative role, which is to make sure that as we pass this legislation, it is done in the most effective way possible and actually does what it purports to do: level the playing field for Canadian artists so that our musicians, actors and all of the Canadian cultural and artistic sphere can shine.

We know that when there is a level playing field, it is not the web giants deciding what Canadians can see and hear. When there is a level playing field, Canadian artists will shine. My message to the Conservatives is to let Canadian artists shine. Let us get answers to the bill. Let us get this bill to committee.

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May 11th, 2022 / 10:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Madam Speaker, my apologies. “Weeks ago, the Liberals secretly withdrew the section of their own bill that protects individual users' content, resulting in Canadians being subject to broad government powers to regulate their use of social media. The government went even further when it used extreme tactics that have not been used in decades to silence the opposition, keeping Canadians in the dark about their infringement on freedom of speech and ramming the bill through without proper debate.”

At this time, I need to point out the complete hypocrisy of the Liberals and NDP as we are discussing this bill late in the evening, but under time allocation. When the Liberals introduced Motion No. 11, we were told that one of the reasons they were doing so was so that more members could participate in debate on legislation. Why then did the government, with the help of the NDP, pass the time allocation motion on this important bill at second reading, limiting debate and the ability for the remaining opposition parties to hold the government to account? The answer is that this is part of a pattern of behaviour where the Prime Minister and his government run from transparency and accountability.

Here we are: We are debating Bill C-11, which is another encroachment by the Liberals on the fundamental rights of Canadians. It is under time constraints when clearly opposition to the former bill, now packaged as Bill C-11, and its encroachment on freedom of speech, are not partisan matters. It is not just the Conservative Party and its strongest supporters who are opposed to what the Liberals are attempting. Bill C-11 is a mere copy of the Liberals' deeply flawed Bill C-10, and it fails to address the serious concerns raised by experts and Canadians.

I would like to quote from a piece published by Michael Geist on his website on February 3, and I did that just for the member for Kingston and the Islands. It is entitled, “Not ready for prime time: Why Bill C-11 leaves the door open to CRTC regulation of user-generated content”. The opening paragraph reads as follows:

The minister and his department insisted that the new Bill C-11 addressed the concerns raised with Bill C-10 and that Canadians could be assured that regulating user generated content is off the table. Unfortunately, that simply isn’t the case. The new bill, now billed the Online Streaming Act, restores one exception but adds a new one, leaving the door open for CRTC regulation. Indeed, for all the talk that user generated content is out, the truth is that everything from podcasts to TikTok videos fit neatly into the new exception that gives the CRTC the power to regulate such content as a “program”.

He concludes his article on Bill C-11 with the following:

There was an opportunity to use the re-introduction of the bill to fully exclude user generated content (no other country in the world regulates content this way), limit the scope of the bill to a manageable size, and create more certainty and guidance for the CRTC. Instead, the government has left the prospect of treating Internet content as programs subject to regulation in place, envisioned the entire globe as subject to Canadian broadcast jurisdiction, increased the power of the regulator, and done little to answer many of the previously unanswered questions. The bill is not ready for prime time and still requires extensive review and further reform to get it right.

The former commissioner of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Peter Menzies, is quoted by Global News as saying the following:

The biggest difference is that it’s called Bill C-11 instead of Bill C-10.... I think they deserve a little bit of credit for acknowledging that some of the concerns that many people raised last spring did indeed have merit, but their efforts at resolving those, I think, are weak.

The campaigns director for Open Media said of Bill C-11 the following:

Treating the Internet like cable television was a bad idea last year, and it’s a bad idea now. The Online Streaming Act continues to give the CRTC the power to use sorely outdated 1980s ideas about what “Canadian” content is, to control what shows up on our online feeds and what doesn’t.

These quotes by experts give voice and detail to the many, many emails that I have received from constituents and from Canadians who oppose this erosion of their freedoms. Canadians are paying attention.

In closing, I do want to remind my colleagues of two very short quotes by a former prime minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who passionately defended individual liberty. He said, “Canada is free and freedom is its nationality” and “Nothing will prevent me from continuing my task of preserving at all cost our civil liberty.” I agree with the former Liberal prime minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier. I wish the current Liberal Party did as well.

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May 11th, 2022 / 10:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Madam Speaker, discoverability applies to French-language content. My colleague from Beauport—Limoilou pointed out in her speech that she has a hard time finding French-language content on these platforms.

This also applies to our indigenous peoples, who need visibility. Last week we had a debate on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. There are all kinds of stories in the news that show how important it is to be in touch with indigenous peoples and show that they also need to be discovered.

Discoverability is not just for francophones. It is also for indigenous people and many others as well, thanks to Bill C‑11.

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

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Madam Speaker, one of the most concerning parts about Bill C-11 is that the government does not have to release the policy directive to the CRTC on user-generated content, and it does not have to do it while we are debating the bill.

In fact, the expectation is that, once the bill is passed, the policy directive will be shared with the CRTC. In the absence of any knowledge of what that directive may look like, does it not concern the Bloc that this bill does not reflect what that policy directive is as we debate the bill?

We are effectively debating something that we are not sure of, in terms of what is going to happen. Is that not a concern to my hon. colleague?

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May 11th, 2022 / 10 p.m.
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Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Madam Speaker, it is with great interest that I rise today to speak to Bill C-11, the online streaming act, which follows on Bill C‑10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act.

First, as a student of journalism, media arts and technology at the Cégep de Jonquière, which I would like to give a shout-out to, then as a politics and communications student at Université de Sherbrooke and even recently as the critic for seniors, I have heard a lot about what is happening to the media and web giants like GAFAM. That is what my speech will focus on today, because my other colleagues, including the member for Drummond, have spoken at length about the importance of Bill C‑11. In my speech, I will address three points: the link between this bill and local news, the importance to seniors of protecting regional media, and the Bloc's gains in this bill.

The first part of my speech will be a plea to save regional news. For that, I will cite excerpts from Extinction de voix: plaidoyer pour la sauvegarde de l'information régionale, a book on this very subject that was written by a journalist and author from back home, Marie-Ève Martel.

First, by not requiring enough of a contribution from GAFAM and their ilk, we are helping erode regional news content. We can rail against the unfair tax treatment between the news media and the web giants and the federal government's inaction when it comes to remedying the situation. Local news outlets have been part of the socio-cultural landscape in Quebec communities for decades. Many of these outlets played an essential role in their community for years and years before closing up shop.

The uncertain economic outlook for regional news businesses dictates the rules of the game. Economic stability seems unattainable for some. There is a high price to be paid for the dwindling number of journalistic voices out there. It is not uncommon for several small media outlets to be served by a single journalist or a barebones staff. They sometimes get content from national news outlets or other group members to pad the web edition. Televised newscasts are cut down or fleshed out with national news reports on more general topics. In some cases, any white space on the platforms is simply filled with press releases, which means that the message is not subject to a journalist's scrutiny. By using such practices, news outlets can hide the fact that they are producing increasingly less local content, as a result of having insufficient resources to produce as much coverage as they used to.

Journalism is often called the fourth estate, because it is in charge of monitoring the other three, namely the legislative branch, the executive branch and the judiciary, and reminding us of their purpose. We are governed by elected members who advocate for transparency on all fronts, at least in their speeches. In the digital age, they can now communicate with their constituents without an intermediary. Their policies should be available online with just a few clicks. Despite this so‑called transparency, the information is not necessarily more accessible than it was before. There are still many obstacles that will need to disappear before we can be said to have full access to this information.

We have to acknowledge the many barriers making regional journalists' work harder. Although these limitations and barriers are not directly contributing to the disappearance of the media, they prevent the media from fulfilling their mission, so in that sense, they are a threat on the same level as economic uncertainty.

Another equally important role the media plays, regardless of location, is oversight of political power. Elected representatives represent their constituents, so, as officers and administrators of public funds and municipal government, they are accountable for managing them. That watchdog role is one of the main reasons media outlets do what they do. Need I point out that the media took shape as political instruments centuries ago? On behalf of the people, journalists keep representatives accountable and ensure the proper functioning of local governments. That is why they are known as the fourth estate, which some elected representatives sometimes dislike.

Nevertheless, as much as journalists keep an eye on politicians, they also serve them, if only by enabling them to take the pulse of the populace. Many elected representatives rely on local news for information about problems and issues of concern to the people. The media essentially helps build local identities, serves as a catalyst for local unity, and provides a public forum for the exchange of ideas.

Regional media outlets serve as an advertising platform that gives businesses consumer visibility and, as a service, they are a powerful showcase for small and medium-sized businesses.

An American study published in May 2018 found that when local media shuts down, this has a profound impact on the local economy. The study looked at a total of 1,266 counties in the U.S. served by more than 1,500 newspapers, 291 of which disappeared between 1996 and 2015. The authors found that, since the media monitors how contracts are awarded, including by various levels of government, when the media disappears, this has a direct impact. Public spending tends to increase within a three-year period, particularly in the area of long-term borrowing for infrastructure projects.

In the communities that were studied, borrowing costs were on average 0.55% to 1.1% higher in places where there was no longer a newspaper to keep an eye on public spending.

These are just a few examples from the book to illustrate the importance of better protection.

Ms. Martel has recently written another book, Privé de sens: plaidoyer pour un meilleur accès à l'information. It is a plea for better access to information. In it, she explores Quebec's access to information system, which was set up 40 years ago and allows anyone to obtain most documents produced by public organizations. These days, the mechanisms underpinning the system are often outdated. Long wait times, astronomical fees, conflicts of interest, blatant misunderstandings, insufficient resources and redacted documents are some of the numerous and overlapping reasons given for refusing or delaying the provision of information. The book also explores the connection between access to information requests and the democratic foundations of our societies.

We must now remember that in the 20th century, Quebec's and Canada's local broadcasters had two advantages that enabled them to provide free local journalism and increased their revenues.

First, the media could offer a package of products, or a combination of genres and categories, with the profitable parts of the package subsidizing the unprofitable parts, thus ensuring the overall viability of the platform. For example, television stations used to offer all types of programs, including news, sports and others, and they used the profits to subsidize less profitable genres.

Second, radio and television stations and newspapers served as gatekeepers. They provided news that listeners, viewers and readers could not officially or easily have obtained otherwise.

The Internet changed everything. Websites and platforms took off, starting with the classified ads on Craigslist and moving on to international digital platforms, such as Google and Facebook ads, and they were soon able to compete with local media for profits. With targeted print, audio and video media being delivered digitally, the Internet enabled more competition for advertising dollars and for consumers' time and attention, including international competition for these three elements. The competition, especially from global Internet conglomerates, devastated local Canadian media.

The Quebec and Canadian radio and television broadcasting sector is in crisis. An article published by the Canadian Press on August 27, 2020, reported that the short- and medium-term outlook for private radio and television broadcasting in Canada is very bleak. It is high time to subject web giants to the Broadcasting Act by forcing them to contribute financially.

Second, the survival of local media is extremely important for seniors, as this is how they stay connected to their communities. They are worried that the web giants are not paying their fair share, which is jeopardizing the survival of local media. I got a question about this at a debate during the 2019 election campaign. I have also heard from organizations on this issue recently because of my position as critic for seniors.

Third, I have to mention that the Bloc Québécois contributed significantly to the previous version of the bill, the infamous Bill C‑10, and was able to secure the following gains: the protection and promotion of original French-language programs; the discoverability of Canadian programming services and original Canadian content, including French-language original content, in an equitable proportion; the promotion of original Canadian content in both official languages and in indigenous languages; a mandatory contribution to Canada's broadcasting system if a company is unable to make use of Canadian resources as part of its programming; the requirement for first-run French-language content, in order to ensure there are new French-language shows on Netflix, for example, and not old ones; and a sunset clause that would provide for a comprehensive review of the act every five years.

I would like to mention that the Haute‑Yamaska chamber of commerce held its 35th awards gala last weekend, and the daily newspaper La Voix de l'Est won in the category “retail business and services with more than 15 employees”, demonstrating that our local news outlets are an integral part of our economy. Mario Gariépy received the community builder award, notably for his involvement with the committee that turned La Voix de l'Est into a co-operative.

To conclude, this bill is very important to us, because Quebec culture is at the heart of the Bloc Québécois's mission. Broadcasting is undoubtedly the most effective tool for disseminating our culture, and it helps define our national identity. Local artists regularly remind us of this. The Bloc Québécois is obviously in favour of modernizing the Broadcasting Act. We must keep pace, stop the misinformation and move forward. I was barely 10 years old in 1991, the last time this legislation was reviewed.

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May 11th, 2022 / 10 p.m.
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Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Madam Speaker, Canadians from coast to coast to coast sent us here to get work done for their benefit and to move legislation forward. I am very happy to see that the NDP is working constructively with us to do that, whether it is on this bill, Bill C-19 or other pieces of legislation.

We need to bring online streamers within the system. They benefit from access to the Canadian market, but they do not contribute to the creation of Canadian content. We need to change that, and part of Bill C-11 would do that. We also need to level the playing field, which Bill C-11 would do as well.

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May 11th, 2022 / 10 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to ask my colleague for his comments on what the Conservative strategy has been over the last six months. Basically, since the ban on conversion therapy got through the House, the Conservatives have refused to let any legislation through. However, as we have this debate tonight on Bill C-11, we know we have a situation where the web giants have created billions of dollars through record profiteering during the pandemic, and Canadian musicians, artists and actors are finding themselves, particularly in the case of musicians, losing 80% of their income. We have many examples of the web giants using the production and creative knowledge of Canadians to make enormous profits, but they are paying just pennies, just scraps, to Canadian artists.

Why does the member think the Conservatives are objecting so strenuously to having in place a situation where Canadian artists are actually remunerated effectively for their creations? Why are the Conservatives blocking this bill and so many other bills?

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May 11th, 2022 / 9:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Madam Speaker, it is great to be here tonight, late in the night, debating Bill C-11. I asked the member's colleague this question before, and I am going to ask him as well—

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May 11th, 2022 / 9:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Madam Speaker, good evening to all my hon. colleagues this evening as we continue to debate Bill C-11, the online streaming act, which is very important to the modernization and amending of the Broadcasting Act. This evening, I would like to focus my remarks on the bill and what it means for the disability community and accessibility in particular.

So far, our debate on the online streaming act has largely focused on how the bill seeks to expand the legislative and regulatory broadcasting framework to include online broadcasters.

However, we must not forget that it is also about making the broadcasting system more inclusive. Ensuring that the Canadian broadcasting system serves all Canadians is an important goal.

In 2019, our government passed the Accessible Canada Act to make Canada barrier-free by January 1, 2040. This historic legislation allows the Government of Canada to take a proactive approach to the identification, removal and prevention of barriers to accessibility in sectors under federal jurisdiction across Canada, which includes broadcasting. Accessibility is part of our government's progressive digital policy agenda, which aims to create a fairer, safer and more inclusive Internet for all Canadians, including disabled Canadians.

Both the Accessible Canada Act and the Broadcasting Act have a role to play in eliminating barriers to accessibility in the broadcasting sector. They work together to remove the barriers to accessibility that people with disabilities continue to face in society on a daily basis.

With respect to the online streaming act, Bill C‑11 helps make Canada barrier-free by strengthening certain provisions of the Broadcasting Act that are designed to provide rights and protections to people with disabilities.

In this regard, the CRTC already has the power to impose accessibility requirements on traditional broadcasting services. To meet the needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers, broadcasters generally need to caption 100% of their programs and meet various quality standards for captioning, including accuracy. To meet the needs of blind or partially sighted consumers, certain broadcasters are required to provide described video for appropriate programming in prime time.

The CRTC also requires cable companies and satellite services to offer persons with disabilities a trial period of at least 30 days so that they can see if the service and equipment meet their needs.

Lastly, the CRTC requires these same companies to supply their subscribers with set-top boxes and accessible remote controls when available.

The online streaming act updates the key tenets of the Broadcasting Act to strengthen the accessibility of the Canadian broadcasting system. First, it states that the system should include all Canadians, including persons with disabilities.

Second, it states that the Canadian broadcasting system must offer programming that is accessible without barriers to persons with disabilities. I want to make it clear that our bill strengthens this objective by striking “as resources become available” from the Broadcasting Act.

This is so that the availability of financial resources specifically can no longer be used to justify the existence of barriers that prevent the inclusion of persons with disabilities.

Finally, the online streaming act amends the Broadcasting Act to clarify that the CRTC should regulate the Canadian broadcasting system in a manner that “facilitates the provision of programs that are accessible without barriers to persons with disabilities”. The policy direction to the CRTC will reinforce this objective.

In addition to these key principles, our bill gives the CRTC the power to impose conditions of service on traditional broadcasters, such as TVA and CTV, and online broadcasters, such as Netflix and Illico, as well as cable broadcasters, such as Videotron and Rogers, to ensure programming accessibility. The CRTC will have the power to impose conditions of service that relate to the identification, prevention and removal of barriers to programming access.

The bill would also give the CRTC the power to impose monetary penalties on broadcasting services that do not comply with the regulations or orders. Conditions of service would therefore be linked to monetary penalties. As such, the CRTC would be able to impose monetary penalties on broadcasting services that do not comply with the requirement to provide closed captioning or described video.

I said earlier that the Broadcasting Act works hand in hand with the Accessible Canada Act to remove barriers to accessibility in the broadcasting sector.

Under the Accessible Canada Act, broadcasting undertakings would be required to comply with accessibility regulations and prepare and publish accessibility plans describing how they will identify, remove and prevent barriers in their operations. They would also need to prepare and publish progress reports on these plans and establish ongoing feedback processes.

The CRTC and the accessibility commissioner share responsibility for ensuring compliance with and enforcing the Accessible Canada Act in the broadcasting sector. Both bodies can impose financial penalties on broadcasting companies that do not comply with the various provisions of the law.

With the passing of the online streaming act, we have an opportunity to make the Canadian broadcasting system more accessible and inclusive and to better support Canadians who, for too long, have been marginalized because of barriers to accessibility.

To achieve this, our bill will ensure that the Canadian broadcasting system, through its programming and employment opportunities, meets the needs and interests of all Canadians, including those living with disabilities.

I thank my colleagues for their time this evening and for listening to my remarks on Bill C-11. I look forward to questions and comments.

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May 11th, 2022 / 9:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Eric Melillo Conservative Kenora, ON

Madam Speaker, the short answer is that I certainly would not consider that censorship. As I mentioned off the top, there are some very important goals set out in Bill C-11 and some important aspects of it in terms of promoting Canadian content. I know from my constituents, particularly those in the remote northern first nations of my riding, which I know are still further south than the member's, but northern as far as Ontario goes, that culture is so important, especially in the remote, isolated communities, and anything we can do to promote that and to ensure that traditional languages and practices are preserved is definitely very important.

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

Eric Melillo Conservative Kenora, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liberal

Stéphane Lauzon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Rural Economic Development

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us go ahead with Bill C‑11.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 9 p.m.
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Conservative

Dan Mazier Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 9 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

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

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

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

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May 11th, 2022 / 8:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Ryan Turnbull Liberal Whitby, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 11th, 2022 / 8:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Richard Bragdon Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

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

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

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May 11th, 2022 / 8:45 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

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

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

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May 11th, 2022 / 8:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

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

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

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

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

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May 11th, 2022 / 8:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Richard Bragdon Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He stated:

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

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

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May 11th, 2022 / 8:30 p.m.
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Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

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

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

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May 11th, 2022 / 8:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Patrick Weiler Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

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

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May 11th, 2022 / 8:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

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

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

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May 11th, 2022 / 8:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Patrick Weiler Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 11th, 2022 / 8:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Denis Trudel Bloc Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

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

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

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

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May 11th, 2022 / 8 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 11th, 2022 / 7:45 p.m.
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Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

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

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

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

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

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

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

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

Lisa Hepfner Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warren Steinley Conservative Regina—Lewvan, SK

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

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

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

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

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

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

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

Warren Steinley Conservative Regina—Lewvan, SK

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warren Steinley Conservative Regina—Lewvan, SK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

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

Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

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

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

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

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

Raquel Dancho Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter said this, which is really concerning:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

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

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

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

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

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

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

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

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

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

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

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

I now want to talk about access to culture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The House resumed from May 5 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, and of the amendment to the amendment.

Bill C-11—Time Allocation MotionOnline Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 4:50 p.m.
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Bloc

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

Madam Speaker, here is one last little plea on my part. I am always appalled to see how the government ignores the reality of our artists, artisans, content creators and those who revitalize culture in our world, our beautiful world.

Today, we are spending more time debating whether we should take even more time to debate something that already existed and is now back on the table.

In the previous Parliament, we had Bill C-10. Now it is back on the table as Bill C-11. It has been reworked and improved. The Bloc Québécois put a lot of effort into that, and the sector is happy, but here we still are, talking about the time allocated for debate.

I am rather appalled. I would like the House leader to comment on the urgent need to take action on behalf of these people who are losing money—

Bill C-11—Time Allocation MotionOnline Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, what we continue to hear again and again from across the aisle is that there is an agenda that needs to be followed, and therefore there needs to be this push for Bill C-11 to be brought through the House of Commons without proper debate.

That is wrong. That is absolutely anti-democratic. There are 338 elected individuals who were sent to this place to rigorously debate issues. That is our responsibility, and that responsibility is being taken from us right now. That is not just shameful for those who are in this House; it is actually shameful because of what it does to Canadians.

I represent 125,000 people from the riding of Lethbridge. You just squashed their voices.

Bill C-11—Time Allocation MotionOnline Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 4:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois does not support closure motions. We believe that democracy must take precedence over all else.

However, we must deplore the fact that the official opposition does not recognize that the current Bill C‑11 is much better crafted than the former Bill C‑10 and that it could continue to be improved in committee.

Quebec and Canadian artists have been waiting for decades for something to change. The Internet has changed everything. It seems to me that the time has come to pass this bill.

Does the hon. member not deplore the use of closure? It seems to us that the legislative agenda from now until the end of June is not that heavy and that we would have time to continue the debate.

Bill C-11—Time Allocation MotionOnline Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 4:40 p.m.
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Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Madam Speaker, first of all, I find it passing strange that the minister is citing as an excuse for time allocation that there was a lot of time for debating Bill C-10 in the previous Parliament, so I think Canadians would be interested to know that this is truly just a repeat of Bill C-10 from the previous Parliament.

I have a very specific question for the minister. The government is committed to providing a policy directive to the CRTC after Bill C-11 is passed. The government will decide, after this bill is passed, how it will impact things like discoverability, Canadian content and digital-first creators. That impact will happen after Bill C-11 is passed, so we are being told, “Just trust us.”

I have a very simple question to ease the minds of many opposition MPs: Would the government be willing to table the policy directive to the CRTC prior to the passage of Bill C-11?

Bill C-11—Time Allocation MotionOnline Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 4:30 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I am very distressed that we are once again seeing time allocation. I understand the predicament of the House leaders not being able to properly schedule how long it takes to look at a bill.

However, it is not our fault, as opposition members of Parliament, that Bill C-10 was put back to the starting block because of the election, which we as opposition members clearly did not call.

With Bill C-11, we have had very little time in the House to debate it. We do need to have improvements made. That is clear. I do not want to appear to be in any way joining in any overheated rhetoric that the bill is about censorship, but the bill needs work. It does need to go to committee, but we need to discuss it and debate it first because that is what Parliament is for.

I would urge the hon. government House leader to consider that we enforce our own rules. We would have more well-organized debates if we had the discipline to say we would observe the rule that no member can stand up and read a pre-prepared speech. That would reduce the number of members who are truly engaged on a file and who are able to give a speech off the cuff. It should help organize our House time. I would urge the hon. member to think of that, instead of continuing to use the methods that were honed by the previous government of Stephen Harper.

Bill C-11—Time Allocation MotionOnline Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Madam Speaker, it is clear that it is time to act.

A lot of time has gone into this. The member across the way is absolutely right.

Bill C‑11 is very important for the artistic community throughout Quebec and Canada. Artists and people create a heritage and stories that are essential to our country. It is very important to support people like that.

After the last parliamentary session, after much debate, after much time spent at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, after much time spent in the House of Commons, I think it is time to act. That is what people across Canada want us to do.

That is why we will carry on today in order to get to the next stage, which is study in committee.

Bill C-11—Time Allocation MotionOnline Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 4:30 p.m.
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Bloc

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

Madam Speaker, let us remember Bill C‑10 and the work my colleague from Drummond did. I helped him a few times because we were co-critics for arts and culture in the previous Parliament.

Now here we are with Bill C‑11, which covers essentially the same things. The Bloc Québécois has never stopped working with the arts community to make things better.

Here we have a bill that is basically the same and that the community is comfortable with. This is good work that has taken a lot of time and energy, and I think cultural stakeholders in Canada and Quebec are satisfied with it. The Bloc Québécois is very proud of this bill because we were very committed to it and put a lot of energy into it.

I would like to ask the government House leader why he is doing this to us today.

Bill C-11—Time Allocation MotionOnline Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 4:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Madam Speaker, I completely agree with the point the member made. It is passing strange to me that the Conservatives say that they are upset they do not have enough time to speak, yet they move concurrence motions, which block their ability to speak. They did this on Bill C-11 in this Parliament when they cut three hours of debate time and stopped their own members from being able to speak. We have seen this obstruction happening on every level.

This bill, in its previous iteration, had 28 days at committee to hear witness testimony. It had six days previously and four days now. Frankly, based on the experience with Bill C-8, we would have been here for the next four years for them to still have their comments, to stand up and say the things they want to say.

The reality is that we have to move forward. They do not have the ability as one party to obstruct this place and block it from doing its work. It is essential that we move forward.

There will be an opportunity at committee. There will be an opportunity when it comes back to the House again. There were all the opportunities that existed before, and there are still opportunities at committee and when it comes back to the House for a further reading in the future. There is more than enough time to continue having these conversations.

Bill C-11—Time Allocation MotionOnline Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 4:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Madam Speaker, on the first point, on Government Motion No. 11, after almost five months of their delaying the economic and fiscal update, which is from, by the way, last fall, it became very clear that the Conservatives do not have any interest in allowing any government legislation to move forward. We continually asked how many more speakers they had and how much more time was needed, and they would respond, “We will get back to you. We will get back to you.” On and on it went.

The reality is that we had to extend the hours to make up for all of the House time that was burned by their obfuscation and, as well, look to move time allocation. The reality is that there have already been four days debating Bill C-11. There were six days in the previous Parliament, and there were 28 days at committee. We see a continued obfuscation. The reality is that this is an incredibly important bill to promote and support Canadian culture and content providers, so we need to be able to move forward.

I would, of course, remind the Conservatives that they moved time allocation just about every day I was in opposition. It is a quite strange to see their aversion to it now. It was quite dizzying to watch the time allocation motions they would move at that time. Now, suddenly, after they have obfuscated for four months, the tactics they used when they were in government are abhorrent and an affront to democracy, which is curious.

We have to move forward on this. That is enough of the blocking.

Bill C-11—Time Allocation MotionOnline Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2022 / 4:20 p.m.
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Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I see a great deal of excitement for my rising, which I am always happy to see.

I move:

That, in relation to Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the bill; and

That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

May 11th, 2022 / 2:45 p.m.
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Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, for decades, Canadian music has been succeeding, not just in Canada but around the world. One of the reasons is that we had a system in place that made sure Canadian content got played on Canadian radio stations, which allowed extraordinary artists to succeed, not just in Canada but around the world.

The fact is that in a digital world we need to ensure the same opportunity for Canadian creators of content to resonate across Canada and around the world, and that is exactly what Bill C-11 would do. Unfortunately, yet again, we see the Conservative Party standing against artists and creators of content in this country.

Why are Conservatives so scared of Canada's artists? I think we all know.

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

May 11th, 2022 / 2:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, once again, the Prime Minister has proved he is either incompetent or absolutely committed to misleading Canadians every step of the way.

He continues to do this over and over again. The fact of the matter is that Bill C-11 would actually tip the scales in favour of traditional broadcasters by punishing digital-first creators, artists and those who use TikTok, YouTube, Twitch or Spotify in order to get their message out. Somehow, magically, this is supposed to protect Canadian culture. “Punish the little guys; reward the big guys” is the plan here.

Why does the Prime Minister insist on punishing digital-first creators?

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

May 11th, 2022 / 2:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister continues to mislead Canadians.

He tells them that Bill C-11 will level the playing field. What he means by this is actually that digital-first creators, those who produce on YouTube, TikTok or Twitch, are too successful, so they actually need to be held back through more regulation and by putting fees on top of them. Digital-first creators would be forced to subsidize commercial broadcasters.

I will let that sink in for one moment: The government's definition of levelling the playing field looks like punishing those who are successful, so they can be equal with those who are not. How is that fair?

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

May 11th, 2022 / 2:40 p.m.
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Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, in this country, the CRTC has always ensured that we promote Canadian creators creating Canadian content. That is what it has done on the radio waves for decades, ensuring that we have Canadian music played on radio stations. That is what it has done with TV, ensuring that Canadian content gets put on Canadian TV, not just as a way of telling our stories, but also as a way of encouraging creators and producers in Canada.

In a digital world, we need to ensure, in the same way, that Canadian producers of content are protected and upheld, and that is exactly what Bill C-11 would do.

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

May 11th, 2022 / 2:40 p.m.
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Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, will the government commit to releasing its policy directive to the CRTC before voting on Bill C-11?

Bill C-11Statements by Members

May 11th, 2022 / 2:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, excessive control and a distrust of the Canadian people are the trademarks of the Liberal government. The Liberals want to choose what Canadians watch online. This is the latest of their assaults.

They justify this power grab in Bill C-11 by saying they need to “protect Canadian culture”. Not only do the Liberals think that Canadians do not do a good job of promoting themselves and their culture, but they actually laugh, as they are doing right now, or criticize those who suggest that we have the ability to promote our own culture. I thank the minister very much.

Here is the truth: Canadian artists are hitting it out of the park when it comes to growing online audiences and reaching a global market. Government interference, or so-called modernization, is unwelcomed. We do not need it. There is nothing about it that actually promotes Canadian culture.

Here is the thing: Canadian artists do not want their content downgraded just because it does not match the government’s values test, and viewers do not want to be told what needs to be forced in front of their eyeballs simply because the government wants them to watch it.

Instead, Canadians want to stay “true north, strong and free”. Choices matter. Leave them up to the Canadian people.

Bill C-11—Notice of time allocation motionOnline Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 10th, 2022 / 4:25 p.m.
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Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine Québec

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Madam Speaker, since an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) and 78(2) with respect to the second reading stage of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the Crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stage.

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

May 10th, 2022 / 3 p.m.
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Liberal

Patricia Lattanzio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week, the Minister of Canadian Heritage organized a summit on culture in Ottawa. One of the main subjects was the modernization of legislation to support our online culture. Passing Bill C-11 is key to achieving that.

However, the Conservatives would rather play politics and are doing everything they can to block this bill. Can the Minister of Canadian Heritage tell us why the cultural sector strongly supports Bill C-11?

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

May 10th, 2022 / 2:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Heritage keeps assuring Canadians that Bill C-11 will not interfere with their online viewing choices. Sure, perhaps the bill does not dictate which algorithms have to be used, but it does effectively take control of a person's search bar by determining what content that individual can and cannot access online. Say goodbye to consumer choice and say hello to whatever the government wants to force in front of our eyeballs. The minister will say that I am wrong. He will put on a great show.

Why does the minister insist on misleading Canadians?

Online Streaming ActStatements by Members

May 10th, 2022 / 2:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-11 is the latest of the Liberal government's attempts to regulate the Internet and restrict what Canadians can post online.

Bill C-11, which is essentially a carbon copy of last Parliament's Bill C-10, would give sweeping powers to the CRTC to regulate the Internet and limit free expression. To make matters worse, the consequences of this poorly drafted legislation will likely be to weaken consumer choice and hurt the potential of Canadian creators.

There is no doubt that the Broadcasting Act needs to be modernized for the 21st century, but Bill C-11 is not the vehicle to do it. The heritage minister needs to scrap, today, Bill C-11 and go back to the drawing board once and for all.

Freedom of SpeechStatements By Members

May 6th, 2022 / 11:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, without the liberty to speak freely, we cannot profess to be truly free. It is through the use of speech that most of us share our thoughts, our ideas and our beliefs. This propels us forward and facilitates innovation. It is incredible. It also provides us with the means to criticize, to challenge and to correct when we believe someone to be in error. This includes the government of the day, no matter the party at the helm. If we believe progressing as a society is important, then we must contend for free speech. After all, it is the very foundation of democracy.

That is why it is beyond alarming to me that the government is moving forward with legislation that would censor free speech: Bill C-11, Bill C-18 and the upcoming online harms bill. These bills are a concerted effort to take autonomy away from individuals and put more power and more control in the hands of government.

I urge the House, therefore, and all Canadians, to stand on guard and do all they can to contend for and protect free speech, for it is the very foundation upon which all other freedoms in this country are formed.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

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

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-11 the online streaming act.

The last time any changes were made to the Broadcasting Act, I had just met the man who would become my partner and husband, the father of my four children. It was 1991, and I was 14 years old. That is saying something.

Like my colleague from Calgary Nose Hill, I watched Fraggle Rock and I was a big fan. I also grew up with Passe‑Partout and Pop Citrouille, which were outstanding children's programs in terms of their quality and diversity of content.

It is precisely so that young people can have access to content of this quality on the platforms they use today that I am pleased to see Bill C-11 move forward in the legislative process. This will give creators the funding needed to showcase their creativity at home and abroad.

Over an hour ago, I shared an experience I had with a certain streaming service, which, despite my selecting French as my preference, offered me only American, British and Korean productions. In some cases, I could not even get the French translation, even if it was only through subtitles. I had to search for quite a while to get productions from Quebec, France or French-speaking Africa.

By improving the discoverability aspect, Bill C-11 will help ensure that Quebeckers and Canadians have easier access to content from their communities, their creators and their artists.

My colleagues talk about the importance of allowing big foreign companies to play their role and respond to consumer demand. In some aspects of the economy, I would tend to agree with them. However, when it comes to culture, I cannot agree. We must not let a foreign culture decide for our own culture.

In the case of Quebec and Canada's francophone communities, it is totally illogical to let foreign companies with no ties to francophone culture make decisions and act like they know francophone culture better than francophones do. This is modern-day colonialism and imperialism, nothing more and nothing less. The aim is to make an entire population believe that its culture is not important, that it has less value than another.

My colleagues have also compared the current situation with the Internet to the situation 25 or 30 years ago, when the Internet was not as widely available as it is now. My colleague from Edmonton Riverbend was correct in saying that people used to access Canadian productions via the radio and television. Now they go on the Internet. That is true.

I would like to remind everyone that it was the radio that enabled people to discover music of all genres in French, English and, in my case, even Innu. This meant that we had access to a variety of music. It also gave listeners a chance to discover new artists.

Quotas at the time gave people an opportunity to discover Quebec and Canadian artists, which is a great thing. It was not always perfect, of course. I remember at one time, when I was working in radio, we had a Brian Adams record that did not count toward some of the quotas. Those who worked in radio will be familiar with the little circle, and one of the quarters was not filled in because the record was produced abroad. Because of that, it was not considered a 100% Canadian product, so it did not count toward the quotas.

Are there are improvements to be made? Most certainly, but that does not mean we have to slam on the brakes and do nothing. On the contrary, proposals have been made and agreed to. I am sure there are other proposals to be made now and in the future, but we have to make them. Unfortunately I have heard few proposals from the official opposition. I have heard a lot of opposition, but not much in the way of proposals.

Is it right that it is easier for francophones to access Korean content than their own? Let us be clear. Out of curiosity, I went and had a look at some of the things that were recommended to me. I liked the plots, I liked the sets and I liked the costumes. My natural curiosity led me to discover another culture. Why do we not offer that sort of thing here? We should be giving people here a chance to discover homegrown artists, both francophone Quebeckers and anglophone Canadians, and showcasing them around the world. Bill C‑11 would allow that to happen.

Having high-quality content in our language is important. Non‑francophones could probably do what I did with the Korean shows, in other words, watch shows that were made here, discover Quebec artists and become interested. These days, curiosity is cultivated. That is probably what my colleagues feel like telling me. Today, to cultivate curiosity and interest, it needs to be easy to access high-quality shows and content. That is what Bill C‑11 does.

Some will tell me that those who want to access francophone culture just have to do what I did and go look for it. I find that attitude rather alarming. Why should I have to go look for expressions of my culture when others never have to look at all in order to have access to expressions of their own culture? These people who feel like telling me—

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2022 / 5:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Jeremy Patzer Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Madam Speaker, they are trying to censor me already. It has already begun.

Instead, when looking up that video, they are flooded with videos about beavers and maple syrup, while where they really need to be is on page 27 of the search results to find the video of the guy giving the advice they need to build a deck, who is maybe not Canadian. This would all be because the government thinks it knows better.

Again, we do need to support the creators and the content that is made in Canada. Nobody has any issue with them. We do not need a band-aid solution to do it. What is most needed from the government is for it to take advantage of every opportunity to build and support our entertainment industry so it will be competitive and successful in the marketplace. We need more and more talented Canadians who can make it here, and that is what happens when our entertainment industry has a good foundation from a strong economy, but I wish us good luck with that, underneath the current Liberal government.

With Bill C-11, we are talking about government overreach, censorship, higher entertainment costs and half-baked solutions. Most concerning of all, we see the NDP-Liberals would be giving the CRTC power to regulate not only what Canadians can see online, but also what they can say. They could also try to decide what it means to be Canadian in our video searches or elsewhere.

Bill C-11 is dangerous, it is ridiculous and it just does not make any sense. On behalf of my fellow Canadians, I will continue to stand up and I will continue to defend their rights alongside my fellow Conservatives. It is the right thing to do, and we can only hope the NDP and the Liberals on the backbench will stand with us and make sure this bill gets due process and accomplishes what it should actually be trying to accomplish.

Before I finish, I have a subamendment. I would like to move, seconded by the member for Souris—Moose Mountain:

That the amendment be amended by adding the following:

“and that the committee report back no later than 10 sitting days following the adoption of this motion.”

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2022 / 5:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Jeremy Patzer Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House once again on behalf of the great people of Cypress Hills—Grasslands. I will begin my speech in this debate by considering the background of the bill. There is a disturbing trend happening under this NDP-Liberal coalition. They do not seem to respect the democratic process, and they do not seem to be interested in protecting it.

Among many other examples, the most recent is the passing of Motion No. 11 to give themselves the power to prematurely shut down Parliament. They do not even pretend to use COVID as an excuse anymore, but they also do not like it when the Conservatives mention that it is long overdue for them to remove restrictions on members, their staff and regular citizens from entering this place or from travelling within our own country, insinuating that they are supposedly undesirable Canadians.

Leaving those things aside though, we are here to debate yet another attempt by the government to extend its overly controlling approach to online content that people can access or publish. That is the problem with Bill C-11. The vast majority of it is a near carbon copy of its predecessor, Bill C-10, with the exception of some minor changes surrounding user generated content. To debate this legislation properly, we need to fully understand how we got from Bill C-10 to Bill C-11.

Let us refresh a few memories here. Originally, Bill C-10 had a section which excluded user-generated content from its scope. At heritage committee, that was suddenly removed. This threw the door open for the CRTC to regulate nearly anything on the Internet. The government faced severe opposition to this and rightly so. At first, it might appear that the Liberals learned something from all the embarrassment, but sadly, if we dig a little deeper, it is clear that they have not.

What is even more sad is that the NDP has sold out and is going along with it. Section 4.1 is back in Bill C-11, but it is now accompanied by section 4.1(2), which allows for an exemption on the previous exception. This creates a loophole for the CRTC to regulate any content that either directly or indirectly generates revenue. In other words, the CRTC can regulate nearly anything on the Internet.

At the heart of the bill is the lurking threat of expanding censorship. It is only a matter of time, as this new opening moves through the process of bureaucracy. We must carefully consider more than the bill in front of us as it exists on paper, otherwise we will move too close to Big Brother for comfort, and it will turn out to be just as toxic as a reality show, but without any of the entertainment value. I hope bad jokes will remain safe from censorship as well.

Liberal members, along with their neighbours in the NDP, may say that this is not the intention behind the bill. If it is not, I will remind them that good intentions can still pave the road to a very bad place, and that is why Conservatives keep on saying and trying to remind them of. We are doing our job as the official opposition because it is our duty to point out any harmful risks in legislation so Parliament can make better decisions on behalf of Canadians.

This is what every MP should keep in mind. When I took my oath of office as an MP, I swore to defend the Constitution and the fundamental rights of every Canadian. Every single MP did the same thing. We are all under that same obligation. It is entirely possible to fix the problems with the bill while achieving what the NDP-Liberals say it is supposed to do. There should absolutely be a level playing field between smaller Canadian broadcasters and larger streaming services. Canadian content creators have something unique to bring to the table, and we all want to see them in the spotlight. No issues there. We are happy to pass this part of the legislation that supports Canadian producers.

However, where it goes too far is that it is unnecessarily wrong for government to control what people can or cannot access online, and ironically, what type of content Canadians should or should not produce. It is extremely irresponsible to ignore the warnings we have received. Before we know it, it could completely get out of hand. If the NDP-Liberals want to deny it, they should explain to Canadians how they are leaving room for it to happen without closing the obvious loophole.

It is a failure of due diligence and there is no excuse for it. Canada stands in a long tradition of free expression. We are admired and envied around the world for a heritage of free speech among many other freedoms. For centuries and over the years in our lifetime, we have seen it practised in newspapers, letters to the editor, and people just simply writing letters to their elected officials.

Today, we all express ourselves on the Internet as a free space. We can post our opinions. We can access information and engage with other people around the whole world. We have done it as citizens, and we do it as members of Parliament communicating with our fellow Canadians. Right now, it is easy to make posts and videos with our thoughts on all kinds of issues, and it all could be subject to regulations. Bill C-11 fails to provide safeguards for our freedom as we know it.

The government could eventually control what everyday citizens post online. This is what Peter Menzies, the former CRTC vice-chair, had to say about Bill C-10 in the last Parliament: “[It] doesn't just infringe on free expression, it constitutes a full-blown assault upon it and, through it, the foundations of democracy.” That should catch all of our attention. The former CRTC vice-chair warned that this legislation is toying with a fundamental right. He is in a position to understand better than some how necessary freedom of speech is for a democratic process to remain intact.

Citizens must always be able to disagree with their governments openly and strongly. We are eroding this right so the government, through the CRTC, could have the ability to regulate what it does or does not like to hear. Quite frankly, it does not like to hear the dissent from the opposition. That said, Bill C-11 would not only give us a paternalistic government, but it might also create practical problems in the area it claims it would help.

Currently, anyone could pull out their device and head over to YouTube, where they can access any content they would like, whether it is kitchen renos, how to fix car problems or content posted by friends, family or people around the world. It works well enough for now, but with the government involved, the CRTC might decide to dictate what content people should see when they search for something specific. While government mandated algorithms analyze how Canadian the content is, what someone is looking for might get pushed to the back of the queue of their search results, if it simply does not pass the test.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2022 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Brad Redekopp Conservative Saskatoon West, SK

Madam Speaker, sometimes these things are hard to hear, I understand, but what Gerald Butts said is, “If you’re getting your news from outlets whose primary purpose is to divide you from your neighbours, the topic doesn’t matter. It’s long past time we figured this out.”

Is this what we can expect under Bill C-11: big government telling us what news is fact and what is misinformation when it does not match a certain narrative?

It is obvious what voices the government wants to bring to Canadians online and what voices it would like to tune out. The problem with this is that Canada is a free and democratic nation. The foundation behind this trademark of ours is freedom of speech and expression. We all have people we may disagree with, but all voices deserve to be heard, regardless of whether they align with our political views. The moment we push forward with online censorship, divisions rise and Canadian democracy declines.

We need to work on healing these wounds that have developed in our country. Leadership starts at the top. This begins with treating our fellow Canadians and members in the House with the dignity and respect they deserve. Some have lost hope in reuniting our country, but I certainly have not.

Canada is known as one of the friendliest countries in the world. We look out for our allies, neighbours and friends. Back home in Saskatchewan, we always look out for one another no matter how bad our winters are. I am proud to be from a country and a province where we are there for each other. Over the past two years, we seem to have forgotten this trademark that makes us who we are.

Bill C-11 works to divide us rather than bring us together. It would pit certain content providers against other ones. It would force Canadians to watch things they do not really want to see, and make it difficult for them to watch things they do want to see. This is unacceptable. Censoring voices online is wrong and it splits our nation even further. It is time to bring our country back together so that we get back to who we truly are: kind and friendly Canadians who are only known for heated arguments when the Stanley Cup playoffs are on.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2022 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Brad Redekopp Conservative Saskatoon West, SK

Madam Speaker, I am proud to be speaking on behalf of the constituents of Saskatoon West. We are a diverse group of citizens from many backgrounds and with a variety of different views. They have called me and emailed me over the past year, asking about stopping online censorship. They wanted to be free from government overreach back then, and they feel the same way now.

The people of Saskatoon West also want an end to the unscientific, job-killing NDP-Liberal federal mandates. Many have voiced their concerns on social media platforms. They are concerned that the government is going to block their voices.

Speaking of censorship, the current government has quite a history of shutting down opposing voices, even when it comes to members of its own caucus. We remember, of course, Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott.

In the last Parliament, the government introduced its first attempt at regulating the Internet with its Bill C-10 and Bill C-36. These bills generated incredible feedback for me via telephone, written letters, emails and social media. It is safe to say that the overall response was extremely negative and many in the media, many consultants and many ordinary folks were very concerned by this legislation. I had hoped that, after seeing all of the opposition to those bills the last time around, the government would smarten up and rethink this flawed legislation. Unfortunately, smartening up is not in the wheelhouse of the current government, and instead it doubled down and reintroduced essentially the same thing.

Let us dive into Bill C-11. The minister stated that the goal of this bill was to target only big online streamers and exclude day-to-day users. It is supposedly about making Canadian content more accessible. The only problem with this argument is that Canadian content has always been accessible. Canadian producers have been able to jump onto various platforms, such as TikTok, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, and showcase their content without a problem. Why is there the urge to regulate the Internet now?

The current government members think that the content available for users is not Canadian enough for their liking. This is where things start moving toward online censorship. Essentially, any content deemed unworthy by the NDP-Liberals would be bumped out of people's recommended feeds in exchange for government-approved content. Content that is not Canadian enough for the CRTC regulators would be sent to the back of the Internet, which leads to a question: Who reaps the benefits of this? It is the legacy media.

In this new age, where we get most of our information online, broadcasting companies such as the government's beloved taxpayer-funded CBC have been left in the dust. At the end of the day, they want their content promoted over everyone else's. They are the ones scrambling for advertising revenues. This will throw the remaining content, Canadian or not, to the side. Many experts have raised concerns about this bill being very similar to the NDP-Liberal government's original Internet censorship bill, Bill C-10, in the sense that it would still have the power to block Canadian freedom of expression online.

The former vice-chair of the CRTC, Peter Menzies, stated, “The biggest difference is that it is called Bill C-11 instead of Bill C-10.” He added, “It is unfortunate because they are giving the CRTC enormous powers, enormous powers, and it is not in the DNA of any regulatory body to not continue to expand its turf.”

The major criticism of Bill C-10 surrounded the issue of user-generated content: those pictures, audio files and videos that many of us share daily on social media. There was a clause in Bill C-10 that exempted this from regulation, but it was removed at committee, which created a firestorm of concern. At the very least, I had expected the government to address this issue. Instead, it added an exception to allow the CRTC to regulate user content. Michael Geist, the Canada research chair in Internet and e-commerce Law, stated:

...for all the talk that user-generated content is out, the truth is that everything from podcasts to TikTok videos fits neatly into the new exception that gives the CRTC the power to regulate such content as a 'program'.

In other words, user-generated content is not subject to regulation unless the CRTC decides it is subject to regulation, in which case it is subject to regulation. Are members confused yet? The truth is that the vague language in this bill opens the door for the government to abuse its power and regulate user-generated content. The Internet is our main go-to for information, and many Canadians are earning a good living by making entertaining or educational content on various platforms. The way this bill is currently written, it would limit this creativity and possibly censor a wide range of the content produced online.

Twitter issued these scathing words: “People around the world have been blocked from accessing Twitter [and other services] in a similar manner as [the one] proposed by Canada by multiple authoritarian governments (e.g. China, North Korea and Iran) under the false guise of ‘online safety’, impeding people's rights to access...information online.” It goes on to say that Bill C-11 “sacrifices freedom of expression to the creation of a government-run system of surveillance of anyone who uses Twitter.”

Members should think about that. Twitter was comparing this government to North Korea, and that was before Elon Musk bought it.

The NDP-Liberal government is doing what we have seen time and again: dividing Canadians and stripping away our rights and freedoms one by one. Now, the government is creating a three-headed dragon to take away freedom of expression online from Canadians. These three heads are the Internet censorship Bill C-11, the news regulation Bill C-18, and the expected return of Bill C-36, which would block online content that the government does not like.

If members do not think that this government wants to shut them down, they have not been paying attention. We have seen this government target law-abiding firearms owners by seizing firearms from normal, hard-working Canadians and at the same time reduce sentences for criminals who smuggle illegal firearms into Canada. We have seen it target energy workers who work day and night in our natural resource sectors that, by the way, allow the leader of the NDP to fill up his $80,000 BMW with gas every morning. We have seen it target western Canada's entire energy sector by threatening to shut it down, calling our oil and natural gas “dirty” and at the same time importing oil from countries with horrible human rights records and next to no environmental standards. The Prime Minister still cannot figure out why there is so much division in our country. He is creating it.

In February, when the minister tabled the bill before us, he said that cat videos and social media influencers would not be covered by it. However, this week, YouTube warned Canadians that this simply was not true. A Canadian Press story reported the following:

Jeanette Patell, head of government affairs at YouTube Canada, said the draft law’s wording gives the broadcast regulator scope to oversee everyday videos posted for other users to watch. She told the National Culture Summit in Ottawa that the bill’s text appears to contradict [the] Heritage Minister’s public assurances that it does not cover amateur content, such as cat videos.

I have heard back from many people across this country since last year about their concerns, from when the bill was called Bill C-10. Since then, the calls and emails have just amplified about Bill C-11.

I have a very hard time believing that the use of the bill would only target big online streamers, especially when I have seen first-hand how far this government will go to end criticism. If we flash back a few months to the Prime Minister's trip to Europe, many politicians in the EU called out the member for Papineau's actions during the convoy, and I tweeted about this. Gerry Butts, the former chief of staff to the Prime Minister, tried to dismiss it right away. He said, “If you're getting your news from news outlets—

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2022 / 4:50 p.m.
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Bloc

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

Madam Speaker, Bill C‑11 is essential. The report is quite clear. We must require web giants to invest in our news coverage and our fiction and entertainment programming. It is not a question of money, it is a question of culture. I would like to know why the member is disputing these fundamental principles.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2022 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to be in the chamber with my friend and colleague on the other side. I would point him back to what we are hearing from a lot of those within the creative sector. Darcy Michael, comedian and digital content creator, who came to committee just a few weeks ago, said, “Bill C-11 will directly affect my ability to earn an income. That aside, I'm also an ACTRA member, so I do want to say that I'm on both sides: the traditional and the digital media.”

I started my speech by reaching out and sharing my opinions and those of members on this side. We have respect for the creators in our country, and we just ask that at the end of the day, the government treats them fairly.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2022 / 4:45 p.m.
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St. Catharines Ontario

Liberal

Chris Bittle LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, I agreed with the hon. member when he started his speech. He talked about how Canadian artists deserve to be shared on many platforms and need to be heard. That is what the bill does, excluding user-generated content.

He also talked about digital-first creators and how great they are. I hear this from the Conservatives, I have heard it at committee and I am hearing it in the House. We agree that they are doing great things, but in question period, the hon. member for Perth—Wellington mocked them as influencers and was shocked that the government spent money on advertisement through digital-first creators.

Do the Conservatives respect digital-first creators or are they just a rhetorical pawn to try to stall Bill C-11?

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

Extension of Sitting Hours and Conduct of Extended ProceedingsGovernment Orders

May 2nd, 2022 / 6:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, if I am saying something that is unparliamentary or inappropriate, I would expect the Speaker to call me out on that and tell me to discontinue. I did not hear that in what you said. I understood that you are personally concerned about some of the things I was saying, but I do not think I did that.

Nonetheless, I think I am only feeding back what I get. This is the Conservative Party, whose members have called the Prime Minister a trust fund baby in the House. It causes me to be critical, and if they cannot take it, I am sorry, but this is the reality of the situation. They had better learn how to do that.

I will get back to the motion. This motion is about making sure that we have the proper tools in place for legislation to get through. We are talking about the budget. We are also talking about Bill C-11, the modernizing of the Broadcasting Act; Bill C-13, an update to the Official Languages Act; Bill C-14, on electoral representatives; and Bill C-18, enhancing fairness in the Canadian online news marketplace. These are the pieces of legislation this government has deemed to be the priority moving forward. What we are seeing from the other side are Conservatives not wanting to let the legislation go through.

I am sorry if my saying that is offensive to anybody, but the reality is that on Bill C-8 alone, there have been 12 days of debate since report stage was introduced. Two Green Party members have spoken to it. Two NDP members have spoken to it. Three Liberals have spoken to it, and five Bloc members have spoken to it. Does anyone know how many Conservatives have spoken to it?

It is more than four or five. Do members think it is ten? No, it is more. Do members think it is twenty, thirty, or forty? No, it is more. Fifty-one Conservatives have spoken to Bill C-8 since the report stage of that bill was introduced. They cannot tell me that this is not a political game for the Conservatives to be obstructionist. That is exactly what they are doing, and they do it day in and day out.

The NDP has finally seen beyond it. New Democrats do not want anything to do with it, and they want to actually work on behalf of Canadians. Then they get criticized for not following along with the games the Conservatives are playing. That is literally what happens.

When the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman was talking about closure being put on this motion, he said something very interesting, and I would like to read it from the blues. He said, “We [already] just voted on the closure motion to ensure that there is a vote on Motion No. 11. Motion No. 11 is going to be coming into force whether we like it or not. The government, with [their] unholy alliance with the NDP, will get its Motion No. 11 through and we do not feel like it is necessary to sit there and debate this...long, drawn-out process.” Then why are they going to put us through this? They will make every single second of debate go on. They will not let this collapse.

The member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman just said himself that he knows this is going to pass and that debating it is absolutely pointless, yet he wants it to go on. Why is that? It is because he wants to push this on as long as possible, along with the rest of the Conservatives and the Bloc, so that we cannot get legislation debated and ultimately passed. That is not our job here. Our job here is to work on behalf of Canadians. The Conservatives' job is to criticize the legislation, to try to improve the legislation, not to put up roadblock after roadblock at every single opportunity they have, which is what they are doing.

I find it interesting that the Conservatives have on a number of occasions talked about how this government does not want to work. This is not a new motion. The timing of it is slightly earlier than normal, but we always have a motion like this to extend sitting hours. I would like to read some quotes.

The member for Mégantic—L'Érable said, on May 28, 2019, to a similar motion, “We are not opposed to working late every evening. We want to work and make progress on files.” In a similar debate two years earlier, on May 30, he said, “We want to work late, and we are prepared to do that and to collaborate with the government”.

The member for Lethbridge on May 1, 2017, said, “The Liberals would like to stop sitting in the House of Commons on Fridays. They would like to move us to a four-day workweek.... The Liberals want Fridays off. They [want to have] a four-day workweek [and that] is more than enough.”

The then leader of the opposition on May 29, 2017, said, “We know they want Fridays off and we know [that this] is a big deal to them. They do not want to be working Fridays. They do not realize that Canadians work five days a week, and many times [they work] more than five days a week.”

We are asking to work more than five days a week, which is exactly what the then leader of the opposition said in May 2017. That is the interesting part about all of this. One cannot help but wonder why, if they want to speak to all of this legislation at great length, and if they want to put up 51-plus speakers on every piece of legislation, they would not be interested in sitting into the evenings to do that. We certainly are. They accused us of not wanting to do it.

April 26th, 2022 / 12:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Raquel Dancho Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Thank you very much.

My next question is for Facebook.

Thank you, Ms. Curran, for being here today.

I want to talk a bit about what happened in Australia. As you know, the Australian government brought forward legislation that would force Facebook to pay publishers of news media if Facebook hosted, or users shared, news content. As you know, Facebook retaliated and banned news links from being shared by Facebook users in Australia, and shut down Australian news pages hosted on the Facebook platform, in a protest to the Australian law that the government was looking to bring forward. Ultimately, Facebook had cut off the ability to share news publications online from users or otherwise. An agreement was reached shortly afterwards, but it did take this extraordinary step to ban the sharing of news publications.

We know that the Liberal government brought forward a similar bill to what the Australian government did. Bill C-18 has some similarities. It's called, in short, the online news act. You may be familiar with it. There's also Bill C-11, which aims to control what Canadians see when they open their social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter and the like.

Ms. Curran, is it reasonable to believe that Facebook could do the same thing in Canada as it did in Australia and prohibit the sharing of news, should the Liberal government move forward with bills such as Bill C-18 or other iterations of it?

An Act for the Substantive Equality of Canada’s Official LanguagesGovernment Orders

April 6th, 2022 / 5:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, French in North America is under pressure on all sides and especially online, which is why we introduced Bill C‑11.

However, Bill C‑13 gives francophones the right to work in French.

April 4th, 2022 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Awesome. Thank you so much, Chair. I apologize to the committee.

I started out by welcoming the witnesses, and of course thanking them for the good work they're doing.

Thank you for giving us your time today. I also acknowledge the good work that artists have done, not only to keep us entertained throughout the pandemic but long, long before that, and contributing to the arts and culture within Canada.

There are a great variety of artists, and I think those voices deserve to be celebrated across this country, no matter their platform or the artistic expression of their choosing.

We've heard from a variety of artists at this committee, but I don't want to assume that either of you have listened to the different discussions that have gone on here.

Darcy Michael is a comedian and a digital first creator. He offered some really interesting comments that spurred a few questions from me.

Again, coming back to the fact that you probably haven't listened to all of the testimony that has been shared here, I would like to read a quote from his time, and then I have a question for Mr. Beaulieu.

Mr. Michael said the following:

Some of you might not be aware of this, but for some reason that no one has ever been able to explain to me, comedy is not a recognized art form in Canada. As comedy is not recognized as an art form, unlike musicians, actors, dancers and writers, comedians are not eligible for grants in Canada, which meant that the pandemic left no options to help me or my family. So I pivoted. I decided to take the concept of my sitcom to digital platforms like TikTok and Instagram, partially to entertain myself during those early dark days of the pandemic, but also because I wanted to prove the concept of the show—not in hopes of networks changing their minds, but because I'm bitter and I wanted to prove them wrong. I did. Fast-forward to today. Eighteen months after first joining TikTok, across all social media platforms, I have three million followers. Our TikTok channel alone averages 40 million to 60 million views a month. For the first time in my career, I'm reaching Canadian households that I could have only dreamed about before. Not only that, I own 100% of my content. I'm 100% in creative control, and I keep 100% of my profits. With platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram, artists can be in control of their creations, their content and their businesses. Of course, networks and record labels are crying foul, because they can no longer take advantage of the starving artist. Being a content creator online has single-handedly been the best decision I've ever made. [...] Before pivoting to being a digital creator, I was making ends meet as an artist, but just barely.

He went on to say:

Not only has our success benefited us financially, but by my working directly with Canadian brands across our social media platforms, in just the last 12 months, we've helped put over $500,000 in sales back into the Canadian economy. That's from one channel on TikTok.

He further went on to say:

Bill C-11 will directly affect my ability to earn an income. [...]

I just think that we need to make an amendment to that one portion of the bill. I don't want to be included. I don't want to be paying 30% to something that I don't benefit from as a digital creator. I think it's a second tax. I think that by the end of the day I'll be paying 80% tax on my income. That isn't fair.

Mr. Beaulieu, you commented on the taxation scheme within Canada and how greater benefit might be afforded to artists. I didn't hear any specific mention of digital artists. I believe that they need to be considered, because they fit within the grand framework of Canadian artistry in this country.

We've heard from many artists who have succeeded by pivoting to these creative platforms. They already pay an income tax from their income as an individual. Now they're concerned that there's going to be an additional 30% that they'll have to pay with Bill C-11 passing, which causes them to fall under the CRTC and having to contribute to the arts fund.

My question for you is, would a 30% tax on top of the income tax that they already pay help digital first creators to better earn a living?

April 4th, 2022 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Lisa Hepfner Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Thanks very much.

I'll pick up where my colleague Mr. Uppal left off.

First of all, Mr. Ripley, you keep talking about this survey that your department did. I'm wondering if you have some sort of summary or report that came out of that survey. Maybe you can provide it to the committee so that we can have use of it for our study.

I'd like to ask you also about digital creators. This question might be prefaced on whether or not Bill C-11 receives royal assent. I'm wondering if digital producers could be considered producers under the SAA. Could the Status of the Artist Act possibly serve as a model for collective bargaining for digital producers?

March 30th, 2022 / 4:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I want to thank all the witnesses for coming today. All of you are inspiring in terms of the work that you do. Thank you very much.

Given that these hearings are on the Status of the Artist Act, I'm not going to deal with Bill C-11. I'm going to deal with the Status of the Artist Act.

I'm going to start by talking about the FCCF, an incredible organization that I've had the pleasure of working with on several occasions.

Ms. Morin, I know all the work your organization does for the francophonie across Canada, and I thank you for that.

In your speech, you mentioned the essential nature of arts and culture, particularly within the Canadian and Acadian francophonie. What do you mean by “essential”?

March 30th, 2022 / 4:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Gonez, I can appreciate the challenges you faced. You highlighted that it is certainly not a level playing field. The current government is claiming that with Bill C-11 they're going to level the playing field, but under this bill they'll be requiring people such as you, digital-first creators, to contribute to the art fund. Right now under the CRTC, that requirement is 30% of revenue right off the top. That's not 30% of profit; that's 30% of revenue.

They're saying that a measure like this will help to level the playing field, but they haven't clearly said that in the same way you pay into it, you'll be able to pull out of it. Under the current terms, there's actually no allowance for that. So they're happy to take your money, but they won't be happy to give any of it back in the form of grants.

I'm just wondering how something like this might hinder you as a digital-first creator.

March 30th, 2022 / 4:30 p.m.
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Brandon Gonez Chief Executive Officer, Gonez Media Inc.

Thank you so much.

As you heard, my name is Brandon Gonez. My experience is unique. I spent several years in the traditional system, working for all the major networks, including CTV and Global News here in Canada. However, I quickly learned that there were limitations on the types of stories I could tell and the growth opportunities available.

I decided to go out on my own and launch my own digital media company, called Gonez Media Inc. Part of this is The BG Show and News You Can Use, which live primarily on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.

After launching, I immediately saw the huge opportunity that online platforms can provide. Every day, I'm able to export Canadian stories to a worldwide audience at absolutely no cost. Our growth has been remarkable. I started just over a year ago and today, I employ 10 people and run a full studio in Toronto. As an independent creator, I also have the opportunity to tell stories that matter to me to represent local and diverse communities whose stories aren't often shared in legacy media.

This committee undertook the study of the Status of the Artist Act to consider whether there are other mechanisms the federal government should be looking at in order to support artists and creators. What stands out to me about the act is that, like many other regulatory frameworks, it doesn't apply to digital creators like me, because it became law well before the Internet existed as we know it today.

The Internet has fundamentally changed the relationship between creators and audiences—in my opinion, in a very good way. It has given me and so many others the opportunity to build our audiences and our businesses without government assistance. I encourage you to take this into consideration when it comes to your evaluation of the Status of the Artists Act and other legislation, like Bill C-11, which you will eventually be asked to study.

I am here today to advocate for the next generation of creators, who will ultimately be Canada's biggest cultural export.

Thank you for having me today. I look forward to answering any questions you may have about my path from the traditional broadcasting system to where I am today, as the CEO of my own entertainment company, leveraging the power of the open Internet to create Canada's number one online news and entertainment show.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

March 29th, 2022 / 5:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Raquel Dancho Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to get my colleague's thoughts on the concerns being raised by YouTube and Michael Geist, foremost expert in Canada on the Internet and e-commerce, concerning the threat that Bill C-11 would be forcing streaming platforms to push Canadian content. It sounds great, but as a consequence it may actually downgrade that content abroad, which I think would be very concerning to our online content creators.

Can I get the member's thoughts on that?

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March 29th, 2022 / 5:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Corey Tochor Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Mr. Speaker, be it across the floor or at committee, when Bill C-11 gets there, I wonder what the coalition partners are going to ask. How are they actually going to scrutinize the bill when their partner, the Liberal government, is proposing it? In the case of Bill C-10, we did see some questioning from the NDP on that government bill, and ultimately, thankfully, Bill C-10 was defeated. I have less hope for this bill.

I have less hope for the freedoms that Canadians have relied on and expect to have in their country. After the bill passes, we will have an Internet tsar that will tell us what we can and cannot post and what content we can watch. Meanwhile, I have highlighted how problematic it is that through technology we are going to be able to do an end run around that.

What would this bill actually accomplish? I believe that in the end it is going to limit people's choices, not expand them. It will not expand a creator's ability to tell Canadian stories, and that is what needs to happen first. We will see when this bill gets to committee.

I know some members have questions for me and I am going to cede my time and allow them to ask those questions and have a proper debate. I do hope that we have a proper debate at committee, because we have heard from too many Canadians that the bill is wrong.

To the Canadians who are watching, please consider contacting your Liberal or NDP-Liberal government MP at their office and explain why this censorship bill is not right for Canada.

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March 29th, 2022 / 5:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Corey Tochor Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Madam Speaker, it is good to hear the NDP members defending themselves on crossing the floor. I think they are going to have to defend themselves a lot, because I believe history will show the follies in the move they have made to prop up the government.

There were also problems with the last time this bill was before the House as Bill C-10. Now it is Bill C-11, but Bill C-10 was at committee. At that time, the NDP did not cross the floor, but the bill never became law, thankfully.

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March 29th, 2022 / 5:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Corey Tochor Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to take part in this important debate.

Thinking back in history about failed regimes, what did they do? In the dying days of these governments, they censor the public. They take over broadcasters. They print money. They put down protesters and stifle free speech. How that relates to this government, to this failed regime, is that I believe Bill C-11 follows in those dangerous footsteps that we have seen around the world in different parts of history when failed regimes overreach.

We even heard this after the preceding speech by the member for Thornhill. The question was about going onto Netflix and not finding Canadian content. The problem is that with VPN and different technologies, we can pretend that we are anywhere in the world, so we are trying to regulate something that cannot be regulated. Unfortunately, that is going to make an uneven playing field for some.

We all want Canadian content. We all want Canadian content to be produced to tell our stories. It has been pointed out that it is not the creators but the portal or the streaming services, but the bill unfortunately is an analogy with different parts in history when governments burned books or banned books to be sold. Authors could write all the books they wanted, but only government-approved books were sold, and in government-run stores.

This is the problem we have with the government. It is overreach. The Liberals think they can regulate everything in our lives. Many Canadians have reached out to me to say that they disagree with this approach. They disagree that we need the censorship that comes with Bill C-11. They disagree with the CRTC not reporting to Parliament, to all of us, but to the Prime Minister.

It is troubling that an order in council will clarify the instructions on the bill. That is quite frightening. Also, on the backdrop of what the last week and a bit have been, we have had the NDP prop up the government and then literally almost cross the floor to support the Liberals in their endeavours. With the floor-crossing NDP supporting the Liberals, the bill will pass.

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March 29th, 2022 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Melissa Lantsman Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to have the opportunity to rise in this place on behalf of the good people of Thornhill to speak to issues within Bill C-11, the online streaming act. It is a new name. As many will remember, in the previous Parliament my colleagues in this place spoke to the issues in a different bill: That was Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act.

While this new bill has a new title, the very same issues exist in this bill as did in the last. It is almost the same bill, with a different name and the same problems. Those problems were an admission of the former heritage minister: He said it was flawed. It was a flawed bill that nevertheless passed the House only for Canadians to be spared its overreach by an election the Liberals deemed the most important in history. That, of course, brought us to almost the same result, with the same bill by a different name. This bill is a near copy of the government's deeply flawed Bill C-10. It fails to address the serious concerns raised by experts and Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

While we will hear members opposite claim that there is now an exemption for user-generated content, which is one of the major concerns the minister admitted was deeply flawed, the new bill would do the same thing as the old bill and would allow the CRTC to regulate any content that generates revenue, directly or indirectly. That means virtually all content would still be regulated, including independent content creators earning a living from platforms such as YouTube, Spotify or even TikTok, which is a favourite of some members in the new government arrangement.

Let me be absolutely clear. Conservatives support creating a level playing field between large, foreign streaming services and Canadian broadcasters while protecting the individual rights and freedoms of all Canadians. That is fundamental. We also know that Canada is home to many world-class writers, actors, composers, musicians, artists and creators. Creators need rules that do not hold back their ability to be Canadian and global successes. With this all being true, there are those who are rightfully warning that digital creators, those we celebrate as Canadian stars, could lose foreign revenue if the government forces digital platforms to promote Canadian content. That means cutting into revenue that Canadian content creators earn, which is the exact opposite of what we should be doing.

The online streaming act would skew the algorithm our online platforms use to match them with viewers' personal preferences. That force-feeding of Canadian content that the government chooses, rather than what might match the viewers' preferences, is no doubt a problem: When they force people to watch something that they may not want to watch, in an effort to promote it, they might be doing the exact opposite. It would suggest that if they force content on viewers, a conclusion could very well be that the forced content is not actually popular, leading of course to potentially less promotion abroad of what was irreparably deemed unpopular by the government or the CRTC.

This is actually disadvantaging our talent, which is arguably one of our greatest exports. Yes, as many in the House know, videos that few people watch are actually harder to find. They do not pop up. They are not promoted. If people do not select the Canadian content the government decides it wants them to watch or that it has offered them, people click on something else, leading to perhaps the dreaded thumbs-down rating. This, of course, knows no boundaries, and it would be deemed less popular here and abroad. Again, the government will say it is not doing that and that it will not regulate YouTube users and TikTok users who post their content, but that is not what the bill says.

The bill would give the authority to the CRTC to regulate any content. Even if people were to take this at face value and believe it, why would the government not make that scope in the bill more clear? Why would it not make it more prescriptive? If it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck, it is probably a duck. Hiding behind the complexity of legislation, as the minister has, should be a concern to every single Canadian who generates content that this bill would regulate and every single Canadian who watches it.

It should be of great concern that the CRTC is being tasked with administering the act. It is a body already stretched to its limits in this country. A fair question to anyone supporting this bill would simply be that if the CRTC lacks the capacity to carry out its current mandate effectively, how can it be expected to take on the entire, infinite Internet? Knowing all that, the CRTC would be handed the power to develop the rules and regulations. It could make those up as it goes along, because guess what? The bill does not stipulate it.

This act would bestow on the CRTC the ability to determine its own jurisdiction without constraints, again despite it having no capacity to even do it.

Let us put that very serious issue aside for a moment and pretend the government bill does not do what it says it is going to do.

When the government sticks its nose in where it does not belong, we find ourselves up against a difficult reality that has become a recurring theme for the opposition.

If this bill is passed, Canada will become the first democratic country to enforce its Internet regulation law. Canada will also become the first country to regulate online content created by people living in Canada.

We will be in good company with dictators from countries like Iran, Turkey and North Korea when it comes to protecting personal freedoms, because the government is not comfortable with a vast, open communication space that exists outside its control.

That is control the government could potentially exert over the tens of thousands of digital first creators who have found a way to earn a living and export their talent globally. We should be celebrating these accomplishments. We should be encouraging their spirit of entrepreneurship. We absolutely should not be punishing them with the demands of this legislation under the guise of creating a “level playing field”, as the government says, “where web giants will pay their fair share”. What we would actually get is like the disappointment we get in a cereal box: We would get an Internet czar, which sounds alarming because it is alarming.

It is important to remind members of the House that the Broadcasting Act was not meant to regulate the Internet. Many will say that this modernization of an act that was put in place for radio and TV will somehow boost the Canadian arts and culture sector. To that, I say I have a bridge to sell them. It is not going to happen. That is not how it works. More regulation has never, and will never, incentivize more artistic creation, let alone more wealth and success for creators, because one thing is for certain. When the government-instructed bureaucrats pick winners and losers, there are no winners in this realm or in any other in the history of government. Having the government pick winners, based on how Canadian content is viewed or how it decides what we will watch, is an imposition on our freedom to choose what we actually want to watch. It also does not lead to more Canadian content.

Bill C-11 is a solution looking for a problem that does not exist. I hope members of the House will carefully review every aspect of this bill because, as a member before me said, it is going to have grave consequences for generations to come. There is a lack of clarity in this bill on what it is going to do. Instead of promoting our Canadian creators, it actually punishes them.

I hope that members of the House will think of their rights and freedoms on the Internet before they agree with the current government's illogical pursuit to control what we see online.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

March 29th, 2022 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Gerald Soroka Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak on Bill C-11, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.

I have received many concerns about this bill from many of my constituents. They are worried this bill is against the freedoms their ancestors fought and died for. In their view, Bill C-11, which is also known as the online streaming act, is an overreach that would slowly erode their freedoms and eliminate their free speech.

This bill would give the CRTC enormous powers by putting the commission in charge of regulating streaming services and video sharing sites as well as traditional broadcasters. Will the regulator be prepared to handle sweeping jurisdiction over audiovisual services around the world? Where is the evidence the CRTC has the expertise to address these issues?

Matt Hatfield, campaign director of Open Media, stated, “The online streaming act continues to give the CRTC the power to use sorely outdated 1980s ideas about what 'Canadian' content is, to control what shows up on our online feeds and what doesn't.” By making the CRTC the de facto regulator of the Internet, the Liberal government's strategy poses a serious threat to innovation, competition and freedom of expression.

There are still concerns the law could apply to people using and posting content on social media. It is simply a “just trust us” approach. It is all there in the text of the new legislation, which looks remarkably like the old legislation known as Bill C-10.

While the bill numbers have changed, the purpose of Bill C-11 has not. The bill states its purpose is to add online undertakings for the transmission or retransmission of programs over the Internet as a distinct class of broadcasting undertakings. The reason for that is so the CRTC can determine the proportion of programs to be broadcast that shall be Canadian programs.

Canada is home to many world-class writers, actors, composers, musicians, artists and creators who need rules that do not hold back their ability to be a Canadian and a global success. The Liberals claim there is now an exemption for user-generated content, but this legislation would allow the CRTC to regulate any content that generates revenue directly or indirectly. That means virtually all content would still be regulated, including independent content creators earning a living on social media platforms like YouTube or Spotify.

The term “web giants” is frequently used by the Liberal government when talking about Bill C-11 and broadcast reform. According to Facebook's Ad Library, at the time Bill C-11 was tabled, the Liberal Party of Canada's Facebook page spent $4,233,000 on paid ads since June 25, 2019, and the Prime Minister's Facebook page spent $2.8 million on paid ads. How does the Liberal government justify its attack on so-called web giants in speeches while it keeps putting money into Facebook to promote itself?

If this bill passes, Netflix, Prime, Apple Music or Stitcher accounts would be required to ensure the discoverability of Canadian content. What exactly are the details? Public Works and Government Services Canada's own annual report on Government of Canada advertising activities from 2020 to 2021 shows that the Liberal government spent $11.6 million on advertising on Facebook and Instagram, $3.2 million on Twitter, $2.8 million on Snapchat, $1.5 million on Linkedln, $377,000 on TikTok and $265,000 on Pinterest. Why does the Liberal government say one thing and spend taxpayers' money in another way?

Dr. Michael Geist, Canada research chair in Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa said, “for all the talk that user generated content is out, the truth is that everything from podcasts to TikTok videos fit neatly into the new exception that gives the CRTC the power to regulate such content as a 'program'.”

There are many issues with Bill C-11 for digital-first creators that are said to be given to the CRTC. It is too broad and could include every piece of content online. Most alarming 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. This bill only has downsides for digital-first creators. While the traditional media industry gets their funding doubled, the requirement for streamers to pay into the creation of Canadian content could see some services leave Canada.

Digital content creators in Canada have been successful in building platforms such as YouTube, TikTok and others that export Canadian content to the rest of the world, not only bringing revenue from other countries back home to Canada but also hiring local taxpaying Canadian workers. These achievements should be supported, celebrated and encouraged.

Bill C-11 is presented to support the future of the broadcast industry but ignores all the global reach of Canadian digital success stories in favour of an outdated delegated broadcast model. The only thing that Bill C-11 will succeed at is falsely swaying the procedures of social platforms. This could eventually have a negative effect on Canadian content. What it will do is marginalize the people who, through their hard work and dedication, are making an impact by sharing Canadian content worldwide. YouTube's algorithm, which applies across borders, detects whether a video has been watched, ignored or turned off partway through, as well as whether it gets a thumbs-up or it is disliked. This influences how the content is promoted, not just in Canada but beyond its borders.

Bill C-11 subjects streaming companies, such as Netflix, to the same rules as traditional Canadian broadcasters. It would force web firms to offer a set amount of Canadian content and invest heavily in Canada's cultural industries, including film, television and music. Because of our relatively small population, will they make these financial investments to create Canadian content?

The bill will also update the 1991 Broadcasting Act, which predates the Internet revolution that changed the way people watch film and video content and listen to music. The government says the bill would not regulate user-generated material and would give platforms room to decide how they promote Canadian content, yet critics warn this could lead to the regulation of people posting videos on YouTube. In 2020, Oxford Economics calculated that YouTube contributed $923 million to Canada's gross domestic product, including payments from ads alongside YouTube videos and royalty payments to music labels.

I question whether the government should even get involved in determining what constitutes Canadian content. With Bill C-11, it would seem the Liberals don't want to hear from digital-first creators and their thoughts on the destructive impact Bill C-11 will have on them if passed. If passed, Canadians could see fewer services offered, more government regulation of what we can watch or listen to online and a loss of jobs.

Bill C-10 was problematic. Its replacement, Bill C-11, is no better and should be scrapped. We Conservatives support creating a level playing field between large foreign streaming services and Canadian broadcasters, while protecting the individual rights and freedoms of Canadians.

In closing, we Conservatives will continue to bring forward amendments to protect Canadians' free speech and the livelihoods of independent content creators by carefully reviewing every aspect of Bill C-11, and we expect the Liberal government to allow the full study and review it requires.

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March 29th, 2022 / 5 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I know my colleague from Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon has a very large riding that is home to many first nations with a very rich history and culture. My own riding is home to the Coast Salish people, who speak Halkomelem.

I would like to ask the member about the provisions in Bill C-11 that are going to allow first nations and indigenous people across Canada to have the ability to access broadcasting services, and probably do so in their own language, and what that is going to really mean to those individual communities. Would he not agree with me, considering the deep, rich, cultural history of his riding, that this is a very positive aspect to Bill C-11?

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March 29th, 2022 / 4:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Lisa Hepfner Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Madam Speaker, thank you for that reminder.

The hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage said, “once this bill has gone through the parliamentary process and received royal assent, we will make it even more clear to the regulator, through a policy directive, that this legislation does not touch users, only online streaming platforms. Platforms are in; users are out.”

I am a member of the heritage committee, so I have the privilege of speaking one on one to a lot of the stakeholders for Bill C-11. What I am hearing from members opposite is a lot of the YouTube talking points, so I am wondering why the Conservatives are so intent on supporting the web giants and not Canadian arts and culture.

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March 29th, 2022 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Brad Vis Conservative Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, BC

Madam Speaker, today I am so pleased to speak to Bill C-11, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.

This bill is big, and this bill it really big news. When a lot of Canadians where I come from think of what the government does well and does not do well, it often relates to what we might watch on TV or what we might stream on the Internet, so in terms of consequences in our day-to-day lives, what we are talking about today really does matter.

It was in 1932 that the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Act was passed, which recognized the importance of radio broadcasting concerning educational, social and cultural development on a national level. Throughout the years, this act was revised and modernized, with the last update occurring in 1991. The world has changed over the last 30 years, especially with the rise of social media and the Internet.

Today, our current government says it is updating the act for today’s digital world to ensure that Canadian content is reflected in online programming. While there is a need to promote Canadian content and support Canadian creators, is the government truly respecting user choice, or is it trying to control what we see and hear online?

The heavy tone of all the regulations in this bill, in my opinion, is more of government oversight rather than cultural and language promotion. Why is the government telling the subject matter experts how to use their language and what stories they should be telling?

For example, under section 9.1, subsection (1)(d), the CRTC regulates:

the proportion of programs to be broadcast that shall be devoted to specific genres, in order to ensure the diversity of programming;

Is the government trying to tell us how many comedy, drama or horror programs that broadcasters under this act, in the age of social media and the Internet, would have to offer?

Last year, I did a survey on the previous iteration of this bill, Bill C-10. I heard from one elderly gentleman in my riding who was angry because he did not have any say over which channels he could get in a basic TV package. These are covered by the current Broadcasting Act and CRTC regulations, which would be amended by the legislation we are debating today.

In the modern era of broadcasting in Canada, more government oversight has meant fewer options for viewers. People do not want to be told what programs they have to include and pay for in their cable packages. This has led to a domination of traditional media by a few legacy giants, whose viewership continues to decline year over year as many are choosing the Internet and its vastly more diverse range of content and options.

This legislation risks causing the same reality we witnessed with cable TV, but applied to the Internet, including fewer choices, and fewer independent actors and creators. At the end of the day, is this just another attempt by the government to prop up failing legacy media?

Bill C-11 was the government’s opportunity to move into modern day concepts of broadcasting programs. The government claims it wants to modernize the Broadcasting Act of 1991, yet Bill C-11 is basically using the exact same definition of broadcasting, meaning the starting point for regulation in Canada is that all audiovisual content would be cast as programs. Had the government perhaps distinguished between conventional and on-demand broadcasters versus video sharing platforms, like was done in the European Union, there would be no need for exceptions, exemptions and exclusions, which are riddled throughout this legislation.

It is not me saying that. It is Michael Geist, the Canada research chair in Internet and e-commerce law. He explained that, when we start with legislation that includes everything and we try to narrow it down, we simply cannot. We end up with loopholes, undefined services, and plain and simple confusion.

Rather than clearly define what needs to be regulated as broadcasting, this bill would leave much of those decision-making powers up to the CRTC. This limitless reach of the CRTC was even identified in an internal government memo during the committee process of Bill C-10, the last iteration of this legislation. The memo stated that social media services such as YouTube and Facebook greatly expand the number of individuals and other entities than can be said to be transmitting programs over the Internet. It also highlighted the importance of limiting the power of the CRTC to regulate user-generated content.

Despite this, the government removed the exemption for user-generated content in Bill C-10. Now in Bill C-11, the government claims the exemption is back with proposed section 4.1. The government now says it listened and fixed the concerns around social media. However, when we look at proposed subsection 4.1(2), we see there is an exception to the exception, and indeed the government does allow for regulation of content uploaded to social media. How are users and content creators to know if they are the exception or the exception to the exception?

Proposed subsection 4.1(2) states:

(2) Despite subsection (1), this Act applies in respect of a program that is uploaded as described in that subsection if the program

(a) is uploaded to the social media service by the provider of the service or the provider’s affiliate, or by the agent or mandatary of either of them

Subsection 2(1) would define “affiliate” as follows:

in relation to any person, means any other person who controls that first person, or who is controlled by that first person or by a third person who also controls the first person

My tongue is already twisted; this is really complicated stuff. It seems to apply to YouTube creators and other creators, but with the vague definition and really challenging legislation to read and understand, we do not know. It is almost like the government tried to make it as complicated as possible so people would not understand the complexity of what it is trying to achieve, which we still do not know either.

Podcasts, one of the richest spaces for user online expression, would fall within CRTC power to regulate content as a program. This bill is trying to categorize, in very convoluted language, any and all Canadian content on the Internet as broadcasting. It simply is not. Foreign services that carry modest Canadian presence or services might not take so kindly to CRTC oversight. Their first response may very well be to block the Canadian market entirely, leaving many Canadians with less program choice, more expensive services, particularly with respect to access to multicultural programming, and algorithms that do not meet their needs online or respect their choices.

One of the key questions I get from constituents regarding this legislation is “Will I now be subject to CRTC regulations for what I watch and do on the Internet?” Recently, Darcy Michael, a comedian from B.C. with a large following on TikTok, expressed his concern with how the bill will affect artists in the digital space and those consuming culture online. Mr. Michael cautioned that CRTC oversight would limit creativity of independent artists and that the current system of “user-generated content exists because it works”. Algorithms right now, as I understand, reward content that is popular and it is shown to people who are likely to be interested. That is how Mr. Michael has made a lot of money and has done it as an artist. By showing Canadian content to viewers who are less likely to interact with it, we hurt its ability to reach foreign viewers and the creator's ability to make a living in the digital marketplace beyond the limited Canadian media landscape. Therefore, one of the most disconcerting issues is the financial impact this bill will have on Canadian creators, many of whom have large foreign audiences and are the real reason people know about Canadian culture in the first place.

In conclusion, there is so much to cover, but this is not the 1930s, the 1950s or the 1990s, when we would turn to the radio or television to hear the news or watch a local hockey game. This is 2022, and we are constantly facing new media platforms. We need to eliminate the uncertainty this bill creates. We need to avoid the problems this bill will create. We need to define key provisions, decide on what actually constitutes a Canadian creator, fully exclude user-generated content and limit the scope of the bill to a manageable size. It is unrealistic in the 21st century to think the government can regulate the Internet, and the consequences of doing what we are doing here today will be felt for a long time in ways that we do not understand.

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March 29th, 2022 / 4:30 p.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very proud, as always, to rise in the House to speak for the incredible people of Timmins—James Bay.

We are here to talk about Bill C-11. We have to step back into the last Parliament where we had Bill C-10, which this is the update of, and what was then Bill C-11, which was supposed to be about addressing the long outstanding need to bring Canada's laws up to standard in dealing with the tech giants.

This Bill C-11 was the old Bill C-10, which should have been pretty straightforward. Who does not want Facebook to finally start paying tax? This is a company that made $117 billion in profit last year, up $31 billion in a single year, and it is not paying tax. That is what Bill C-10 was supposed to do, but then it was our modern Minister of Environment who was then the minister of heritage who turned it into a total political dumpster fire. It was so bad the Liberals had to call an election, just to get that thing off the table.

Now the Liberals have brought it back. At the time, then Bill C-11 was supposed to be the privacy bill, a pretty straightforward thing. However, that was another dumpster fire, because the Privacy Commissioner had to come out and say that the Liberal plan to update privacy rights would actually undermine basic Canadian privacy in the realm of digital technology. Particularly, the Privacy Commissioner found this American company, Clearview AI, broke Canadian law for their illegal use of images in facial recognition technology. In response, the Liberals were going to rewrite the rules so it would be easier for Clearview AI to break the law, rather than for the Privacy Commissioner to protect Canadians.

The Liberals had to call an election to erase all of that. Now the Liberals have been given, as they have so many times in the past, one more chance. The deus ex machina comes down and gives them a chance to do things all over again.

Now we are looking at this Bill C-11. I can say one thing about this Bill C-11 is that it fixed a lot of the problems with the previous dumpster fire, maybe by moving the minister, although God help the planet now that he is looking after the environment. That is just my own personal thoughts from having read his ridiculous environment plan today. What he was going to do for culture, he is now doing to our environment.

Having said that, I would say that there is a couple of key issues we need to be looking at. We need to be looking at the need for Canada's legislation to actually address the right of artists to get paid in the digital realm. For too long in Canada we sort of pat our artists on the head. We all talked about the favourite TV shows we had growing up. One of the Liberals was talking about the Polkaroo.

Arts policy should not be that we just pat our artists on the head. This is an industry. It is one of our greatest exports. We are not promoting arts as an export or promoting our artists to do the work they need to do. We saw from COVID the devastating impacts on Canada's arts industry, on theatre, on musicians and on the tech people, the highly skilled tech people who went over two years without working. We really need to address this. One of the areas where they have been so undermined is online.

Let us talk about Spotify. It is basically a criminal network in terms of robbing artists blind. The number of sales one needs to have on Spotify to pay a single bill is so ridiculous that no Canadian artist could meet it.

We have streaming services that are making record fortunes. Therefore, it is a reasonable proposition to say that they are making an enormous amount of profit and they have a market where they do not have any real competition, so some of that money, and this was always the Canadian compromise, needs to go back into the development of the arts so that we can continue to build the industry.

The one thing I have also come to realize is that what the digital realm gives us and what streaming services give us is the ability to compete with our arts internationally on a scale that we never had before, if we are actually investing. Let us not look at it in a parochial manner, like what was done with the old broadcasters, where it was one hour on prime time a week they had to have a Canadian show on. Let us actually invest so that we can do the foreign deals. Why is it I can watch an incredible detective show from Iceland on Netflix, yet people in Iceland are not seeing an incredible detective show from Canada?

This is what we need to be doing. This is a reasonable position to take. With the profits that Facebook and Google are making, they can pay into the system. That is simple. They have unprecedented market share.

I will go to the second point, which is dealing with the tech giants. It is something I worked on in 2018. Our all-party parliamentary committee came up with numerous recommendations. I have to speak as a recovering digital utopian because there was a time when I believed that when we let all these platforms come, if we stood back and did not put any regulations on them, they would create some kind of new market promised land, but what we saw was that those dudes from Silicon Valley who were making YouTube in their parents' garage morphed into an industrial power that is bigger than anything we have ever seen.

There is a term, “kill zone of innovation”, where these companies have become so rich, so powerful and have such unprecedented corporate strength that it dwarfs anything we have ever seen in the history of capitalism, companies like Facebook. When Facebook gets a $5-billion fine, it does not even blink. It does not bother it. When the Rohingya are launching 150-billion U.K. pound lawsuit for the mass murder caused because of the exploitation of Facebook's platform, we realize we are dealing with companies that are so much beyond that they do not believe that domestic law applies to them. There has to be some level of obligation. I have worked with international parliamentarians in London, and there were meetings in Washington, trying to see how we can address the unprecedented power.

There is one thing that changed fundamentally when we saw the growth of this power. There used to be a principle that the telecoms would always tell parliamentarians, which was that we should not be blamed for what is in the content because, as they say, the pipes are dumb. We just send out the content and people choose, but people do not choose the content on Facebook and YouTube because of the algorithms. It is the algorithms that make them culpable and responsible.

I refer everyone to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who demanded Facebook explain how many of these stolen bot pages were driving misinformation during the convoy crisis here in Ottawa. Congresswoman Maloney wrote, “Facebook’s history of amplifying toxic content, extremism, and disinformation, including from Russia and other foreign actors” is well known. It is no wonder that some members on the Conservative backbench are so defensive about this bill. My God, this is their main source of news. What are they going to do if we start dealing with bot pages that they think is something that came down from the promised land?

As parliamentarians, we have an obligation to address bot accounts. We have an obligation to hold these companies to account. What does that mean? Number one, it is about algorithm accountability. I do not care what someone watches on Facebook or YouTube, that is their business, but if the algorithm is tweaked to show people what they would not otherwise see, Facebook is making decisions for them.

I would refer my colleagues to Tristan Harris, the great thinker on digital technology. He spoke to the committee in 2018 and said, “Technology is overwriting the limits of the human animal. We have a limited ability to hold a certain amount of information in our head at the same time. We have a limited ability to discern the truth. We rely on shortcuts” like thinking what that person says is true and what that person says is false. However, what he says about the algorithm is that the algorithm has seen two billion other people do the same thing, and it anticipates what they are going to do so it starts to show people content. What they have learned from the business model of Facebook and YouTube is that extremist content causes people to spend more time online. They are not watching cat videos. They are watching more and more extremist content. There is actually an effect on social interaction and on democracy. That is not part of this bill.

What the all-party committee recommended was that we needed to address the issue of algorithmic accountability and we needed to address the issue of the privacy rights of citizens to use online networks without being tracked by surveillance capitalism. With this bill, we need to ensure that these tech giants, which are making unprecedented amounts of money, actually put some money back into the system so that we can create an arts sector that can compete worldwide.

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March 29th, 2022 / 4:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Louise Chabot Bloc Thérèse-De Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, I sincerely hope that Bill C‑11 will be passed as soon as possible.

I applaud the work that our colleague from Drummond did in committee. I am very happy that Bill C‑10, now Bill C‑11, is before the House today.

I do not understand why anyone would oppose this bill. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act is archaic and toothless.

Francophone cultural content is in decline, and all our broadcasters are losing momentum. I believe we must act to resist the web giants of the world. Personally, I find this very important.

My question for the member who spoke is this: If this bill passes, it will go to committee. How much time will it take for the CRTC to implement the changes?

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March 29th, 2022 / 4:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Madam Speaker, I know this hon. member has been quite passionate and quite involved in commenting on Bill C-11 from the onset and even in the prior session of Parliament before the last election. I applaud the hon. member for Lethbridge for their due diligence and work on this issue, because they have been there commenting from the beginning and asking tough questions to our government.

From looking at the research I have done on the bill and from the work that I have done, I know the bill explicitly excludes all user-created content on social media platforms and streaming services, and—

The House resumed 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.

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March 29th, 2022 / 3:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Madam Speaker, if the hon. members wish to do a point of order on relevance, I would encourage them to do so. I will always speak to our government's record and how it is benefiting Canadians.

When I look at Bill C-11, I see the last time changes were made to the Broadcasting Act was in 1991, and I think about where I was as an individual in 1991 and what environment we operated in. I was beginning my first year of undergrad in university at Simon Fraser University. At that time, we did not even have email accounts. We were just given email accounts of some sort and were figuring out what was going on with this new technology. I think print was still pretty big as well. Fast-forward from then, and obviously we see there have been a number of changes in media and in what the Internet has created and we see the obvious metamorphosis that has happened in society. It is great to have been a witness to that and a participant in it.

I see today how that is impacting the lives of Canadian families, including my two older daughters, who are nine and almost 11. They receive their content and watch TV through Disney+, Prime, Netflix and YouTube, and all of their friends and cohorts receive and watch their content through online streaming. If I asked them if they knew the traditional media channels of ABC, CBS or NBC on the U.S. side, or CTV, Global and CBC on the Canadian side, I think my daughters would know the channels of Disney+, Crave and so forth much better because they receive so much content on them.

That is why it is so important that we as a government not only focus on Bill C-11, but, again, focus on achievements like a national early learning and day care plan and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and focus on what I would say is a Broadcasting Act that brings us into the modern age. We know that legislation is always a work in progress and it has to be adaptable, but we also know that in the world we live in, the government tends to be sort of reactive in the sense that technology and changes in the world will move in a much faster fashion than sometimes government can respond to. That is a natural thing. It is a natural thing that we need to now respond to what is happening online.

I want to read one quote about the support this bill has received, because I think it is exciting, it is relevant and it does bring certain aspects of the Broadcasting Act into modernity. It is from eOne Canada:

“We're excited about the Online Streaming Act, which we see as an opportunity to increase investment in Canadian content and in turn help grow Canada's creative sector and domestic talent pool even further. The strength of Canada's film and TV sector today is a direct result of both public supports and private-public partnerships formalized over many decades, and a modernized act is the logical next step. We encourage all parties to collaborate to pass Bill C-11 as soon as possible.”

When we talk about Bill C-11, we are talking about modernization. I have always been a proponent of modernizing, whether it is in our tax structure or our regulatory burdens. I actually called for that in an op-ed a few weeks ago, and this is part of that mantra. This is part of that tangent where we look at whether the acts we utilize are impacting various industries, and the Broadcasting Act is one of them.

I want to take this time to recognize the powerful impact that Canadian cultural policies have had and continue to have on creative content production in Canada and what I would call our cultural sovereignty. We know that Europeans, if I can use them as an example, protect their cultural content. We know how much they revere their cultural content and how proud they are. Bill C-11, which would amend the Broadcasting Act, takes us down that path. It ensures that we put in value, that we march with our heads up and are very proud of what our Canadian creators from coast to coast do and that they receive the support they need.

The digital age has continued to transform Canada and how Canadians share their stories and consume content in an open and dynamic global marketplace, in addition to traditional television and radio. Most Canadians access their favourite songs, films and television shows through online streaming services like Netflix, Spotify, Crave, Disney+ and many others. It is time that these services are required to contribute to Canadian stories in the same way that Canadian broadcasters always have.

Our government is advancing an important digital policy agenda aiming to help create a fairer, safer and more competitive Internet for all Canadians. The online streaming act builds upon the economic and social benefits of the Broadcasting Act. It ensures the sustainability of the Canadian broadcasting system. It continues to support an ecosystem where public, private and community elements work together to contribute to the creation and exhibition of Canadian programming, and it ushers in a new era of broadcasting.

The online streaming act follows on our promise to safeguard our cultural sovereignty and support our creators and creative industries. We want to continue supporting Canadian creators and showcasing their stories on screen and in song. We want to continue supporting their livelihoods and inspiring future Canadians of all backgrounds in this beautiful, diverse and inclusive country we get to call home by allowing them to see themselves reflected on all platforms, including online. Those are some of our objectives with the online streaming act.

We have listened to stakeholders, experts, professionals, parliamentarians and many Canadians and taken note of their needs, interests and preoccupations. Following royal assent of the online streaming act, our government will issue a policy direction to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the CRTC, to indicate our priorities when it comes to putting in place the new regulatory regime. The policy direction has two primary goals. First, it will focus on the importance of consultation and special consideration of the needs of equity-seeking groups. Second, the direction will make clear areas where regulation is needed, as well as areas where flexibility should be exercised. That is very important, as we move forward with Bill C-11, for the primary goals and the focus areas.

We will continue to consult, as the government has done since day one in 2015 when we formed a majority government, and work with all Canadians and all stakeholders. We will also, of course, ensure the regulation is flexible, while meeting the goals of the amendments to the Broadcasting Act that are brought through Bill C-11.

It is my pleasure to speak in more detail about our government’s plan for a policy direction and the steps after the royal assent of the online streaming act.

If Bill C-11 is adopted, the Minister of Canadian Heritage intends to ask the Governor in Council to issue a policy direction to the CRTC to guide its implementation of the online streaming act. A policy direction is an opportunity to clarify the government's policy intent on certain issues regarding social media platforms and digital first creators. It will also provide a level of flexibility that ensures any necessary changes can be made quickly in the future when needed.

It is so important to have legislation and acts in place that react to the changes of the day so that we can look at and make the changes we need to understand the technology and how it is changing, not only in the workplace but in this situation with online media platforms and how they are changing a sector. We can point to how changes have come forth to many industries we operate in. I remember that when I first started working on Wall Street in New York city, we had a thing called a PalmPilot. We had it by our desk and we used to tap it for our schedule. Within a year or so, that became totally irrelevant. Then we would be contacted using a thing called a BlackBerry pager. Again, the technology changed so quickly. Therefore, we, as a government in this realm, are amending this section of the Broadcasting Act of 1991 to bring it up to speed.

It will also provide a level of flexibility that ensures any necessary changes can be made quickly in the future when needed. For instance, a policy direction to the CRTC will make it clear that the content of digital first creators who create content only for social media platforms should be excluded. Of course, individual users of social media will never be treated as broadcasters under the online streaming act, and only some commercial content carried on social media platforms could trigger obligations on that platform. A policy direction will clarify that the content of digital first creators will not be part of the commercial content that can trigger obligations for platforms.

This means that the content of digital first creators will not be included in the calculation of the social media platform's revenues for the purposes of financial contributions. Content from digital first creators will not face any obligations related to showcasing and discoverability. Canada's digital first creators have told us that they do not want to be part of this new regime, and we have listened.

The policy direction will also specify the government's intent when it comes to video games, and gaming is a very big industry in Canada, whether it is in Vancouver, Montreal or here in Ontario. I will repeat again that video games are not to be regulated.

The policy direction will also allow our government to signal important priorities to the CRTC, including with respect to such topics as advancing reconciliation with first nations, Inuit and Métis people; combatting racism; fostering diversity and inclusion; accessibility; official languages; adaptation to our new digital realities; and more.

When I think about diversity and inclusion in my area of York Region, I think about how we have Telelatino, which has been a long-time ethnic broadcaster in Ontario and throughout the country. When I talk to the principals at that entity, which is a mix of Spanish and Italian broadcasting, they are obviously here and doing things in Canada and participating with the government and agencies. I want to give a shout-out to Aldo and the entire team at Telelatino, TLN, for the great work they do in promoting not only Canadian content but content from various parts of the world and bringing it to our homes on a daily basis.

The draft policy direction will be prepared in the months to come and published upon royal assent of the online streaming act. It will reflect relevant legislative amendments adopted during the parliamentary review of Bill C-11 and the important feedback the government continues to receive. In the last session of Parliament, I sat on three committees and I know how important the role of committees is in allowing members the opportunity to provide feedback to strengthen legislation from the government of the day to make it better, more flexible, more efficient and more reflective of industry and stakeholders. “Better is always possible” is what we say at committee. I know all my hon. colleagues do a wonderful job in providing feedback and bringing their views to the legislation that is a brought forth, and that will include Bill C-11.

Once the direction is published, all stakeholders, including members of the public, will have an opportunity to provide additional feedback. A summary of their feedback will be published prior to the issuance of the final direction.

I listened intently to some of my hon. colleagues from the official opposition prior to my opportunity to rise and speak. I listened intently to some conspiracy theories, if I can use that term, being bandied about by some of the official opposition members, and I encourage them to submit this feedback into this feedback loop. A summary of their feedback could be taken in and published. If they would like to say that, it would be great, because I am still scratching my head about where with some of the stuff that is spouted forth comes from. I will try to understand it even better, but I am just not sure if I can.

The policy direction will provide the CRTC with the guidance to move forward quickly on the implementation of the new legislation and may even provide direction on the timelines for implementation of key elements of the regime.

I really need to speak to this point, because inherent in this act is obviously a policy direction or directive that would guide the CRTC in moving forward. The feedback mechanism would be in place to ensure that the online streaming act and the amendments to the Broadcasting Act really hit the nail perfectly and get that right. We are getting this right. We are moving in the right way.

We have listened to concerns of Canadians, we have listened to concerns of stakeholders, and we have listened to the feedback from stakeholders. That is what the right thing to do is as a government. It is to listen, to sit down and to talk to all viewpoints within industry, whether it is directed by ourselves or by the consumers, and we know that changes have to be made. I go back to 1991, the last time changes were brought forward, and I think of how the world has changed since 1991 for all of us, and hopefully in a positive manner.

In my humble conclusion, I want to repeat that the online streaming act would work to ensure that no matter how Canadians access their content, they should be able to see themselves in stories and songs that reflect their experience and their communities. When I think about that, I ask what it is to be Canadian today, as we all come from various backgrounds and various parts of this country. With the cultural content we consume, we need to obviously take a step back and always think about what Canadian content is and how we provide for it and finance it and assist it. We know other countries around the world assist their cultural industries, and the tourism side as well, to a great degree.

Whether it is Spotify, Crave, Disney+, Amazon Prime or Netflix, I think we pay for all of them in my household. We know there has to be a contribution here for the benefit of Canadian content. We know how valuable Canadian content is and we need Canadian content creators to have the opportunity to make sure the stories and histories that everyday Canadians see and hear are told. That is so important.

Before I finish up, I will say that members can rest assured of our commitment to carry out consistent and thorough consultations with everyone who has a stake in the implementation of this bill, including members of the official opposition, whom I have been reading some very interesting things about these days. This commitment will extend to the implementation and the subsequent policy direction to the CRTC.

I wish to thank members for their ears today and for hearing my thoughts on Bill C-11. I would like to say that this is part of our government's record of moving forward on a number of initiatives. That is what governments are elected to do, and it was great to see the national early learning and day care plan come to fruition yesterday. Today it is the emissions reductions plan, which is substantive, and today we are also debating Bill C-11, the modernization of our Broadcasting Act, and bringing over-the-top or online platforms into the modern age here in Canada.

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March 29th, 2022 / 3:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Madam Speaker, before I begin talking about Bill C-11, I note that it is a great day today because we learned the date the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance will be be delivering the budget to the House, which is April 7. I look forward to the next steps in moving our country forward. Not only have we recovered all the jobs we lost and created more than we had prepandemic, but our economy is actually larger than it was prepandemic. We will continue doing what is right for Canadians, not only those lovely Canadians who live in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, but Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

It is always great to rise in the House, and it is a privilege and honour to serve the residents of Vaughan—Woodbridge. It is also great to see a government that is delivering for Canadians, not only here in Bill C-11, the online streaming act, but also with the environment minister, jointly with the Prime Minister, unveiling the emissions reductions plan, in beautiful Vancouver on the west coast, for how we will meet our targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and how we will get to net zero by 2050. I encourage all parties to look at that because it has something to do with the agenda, much like Bill C-11, the online streaming act, is a part of that agenda.

It is also much like yesterday when, joined by the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, our government brought forward a national day care and early learning child care plan. I think that is something to be celebrated. I know that when we enrol my youngest daughter, Leia, in day care in October, we will benefit from it personally. That is real change. That is what we call a promise made, a promise kept.

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March 29th, 2022 / 3:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, I am proud to rise on behalf of the constituents of the beautiful riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke who value freedom and diversity of thought.

Recently, there has been an outbreak of diversity of thought among my Liberal colleagues. I know that can be scary for some of them. To reassure them, I will heed the call to unity and try to lower the temperature on this very important debate about Bill C-11, which is the online streaming act.

This may disappoint my biggest fan, the member for Winnipeg North, but he will be delighted to learn that I have saved a special section just for him. When a similar bill was first introduced last Parliament, I went on my Facebook Live show, The GNN, and described it as a serious threat to freedom of expression. I stood in the House and described it as a serious threat to freedom of expression.

The media, to be fair, and much of the public shrugged off these concerns. As outlined in my first speech, this bill would have little effect on popular mainstream expression, other than to make it more expensive. The threat to freedom of expression with this bill comes from the impact it would have on smaller, less popular minority expressions. It was only when the government members of the committee, in a coalition with the NDP and the Bloc, removed the legislated safeguards on user-generated content that everyone online became aware of the threat this legislation posed.

Fundamentally, Canadians understand that if the government has the power to regulate, promote or demote their online expression, then that expression is no longer free.

My Liberal colleagues will raise a hue and cry, and claim the Prime Minister does not want to censor Canadians' cat videos. That is true. The Prime Minister does not want to censor cat videos; he wants to tax them. The Prime Minister wants to tax Canadian and foreign artists not covered by the current Broadcasting Act. He wants to tax them and give that money to the powerful media and cultural lobbies. Of course, arts groups that profit off this bill support it. It is the artists who do not have a powerful lobby organization who pay this new CanCon levy.

This legislation proposes to take money from digital artists and redistribute it to the government's preferred analog artists. This is just as the government takes income tax dollars from new media journalists and gives them back to the horse-and-buggy media.

The government really wants to tax Netflix, but does not say it wants to tax Netflix. In order to pull off this tax without saying “tax policy”, the government is changing the very meaning of broadcasting. This takes us to the heart of the problem. The Broadcasting Act, by its very nature, places restrictions on Canadians' right to freedom of expression.

I want to repeat this in order to be absolutely clear. The Broadcasting Act is designed to limit and regulate freedom of expression. The reason it has not been struck down for violating the charter is because those limits are reasonable.

My constituents know I will defend their freedom no matter what, but they understand there can be reasonable limits. The Broadcasting Act is an example of this. It places limits on Canadians' freedom to broadcast their expression. The reason for this is the technology. If all Canadians with electricity and an antenna were able to broadcast their individual expression on whichever electromagnetic frequency they chose, everyone would cancel one another out and no one would be heard.

By the nature of the technology, the freedom of one person to use a particular frequency impacts the freedom of everybody else to use that frequency. Broadcasting technology, by its nature, requires broadcasting regulation. Without broadcasting technology using limited public air waves, the federal government has no legal right to regulate the content that carries expression from Canadians or to Canadians.

Our predecessors knew that having control of Canadians' expression over public airwaves was something best kept at arm's length from cabinet, so they set up the CRTC. The Broadcasting Act regulates expression. It is baked into the legislation. It is what the CRTC does. Streaming is not broadcasting. The freedom of one Canadian to stream content does not limit the freedom of any other Canadian to stream other content.

As we much appreciate Canadian authors and Canadian painters, we do not legislate the content of book stores or art galleries to promote their expression over foreign expression. It is not because a foreign author or painter has freedom of expression, but it is because Canadians do.

We cannot pass legislation that limits or restricts Canadians' access to artistic expression. We cannot pass legislation to regulate any expression that does not infringe on the rights of other Canadians' expression. If the House proceeds with this fundamentally flawed legislation, it will be infringing on the rights of Canadians. Most Canadians will not notice the infringement beyond paying higher streaming bills. Netflix and Disney can afford to hire Canadian lawyers and lobbyists and have lunch with the chair of the CRTC. They will be fine.

Majority expression in a democracy is rarely threatened. It is the minority expression that suffers. For example, what about the foreign-language streaming services? Take the streaming service TFC, which is based in the Philippines. It streams thousands of movies and televisions show in Tagalog, and TFC accepts Canadian credit cards. The riding of Winnipeg North has 20,000 people who speak Tagalog at home. The member for Winnipeg North may want to be absolutely certain this legislation will not cause the TFC to block the Canadian Internet from accessing its service. TFC may have no choice.

Under this legislation, TFC would need to either produce Tagalog-language movies and shows in Canada or pay into a fund to support English, French or indigenous movies and shows. Netflix is already producing movies and shows here. Netflix can afford to spread its CanCon levy across five million subscribers. Can TFC afford to spread its CanCon levy across 20,000 constituents in Winnipeg North or, more importantly, can the Tagalog community in Winnipeg North afford the CanCon levy?

That CanCon levy has to come from somewhere. It can come out of the pockets of hard-working immigrants in Liberal ridings, or it can come at the expense of writers, actors, musicians, costumers and set designers in the Philippines. How does this possibly sit well with my colleagues across the aisle? It just cannot be the cultural special interest groups, who do a lot more than just sip champagne at galas in order to keep the Liberals in power at election time, so it must be about the money. It always is.

The fact is that the bill would exempt user-generated content unless it makes money. It strongly suggests that it is just a tax grab, with a side order of censorship, but in the interest of promoting listening among parties, I want to acknowledge that for some of my colleagues, in particular those from Quebec, this bill is about protecting Canadian and Québécois culture. Quebec is an island of French in a sea of North American English. In the age of broadcasting, Canadians mostly tolerated CanCon rules as the bargain for protecting Canadian culture. In the age of the Internet, we do not live next door to the United States. We live next door to everyone online. We have to turn our cultural policy inside out. We have to stop protecting our culture from the world and start promoting it to the world.

My colleagues have not noticed that the world wants more Canada, and I am not just talking about the maple leaf flying in the streets of capitals across the world as a symbol of freedom. While Canadians have been binge-watching Lupin and Squid Game, people from Albania to Zimbabwe have been streaming Kim's Convenience and Schitt's Creek. Canadians are expressing themselves. This legislation threatens that expression. That threat falls primarily on minority expression, and it is what the Broadcasting Act does.

This legislation is regressive protectionism. It looks backward and inward. The members opposite still cannot see the risk this bill poses to their constituents before they vote, so they should go out and speak to them; not to the lobbyists or the special interest groups. They should ask their constituents how much they spend each month and what they would be forced to give up if the price went up by 10% or 20%.

I plan to vote against Bill C-11, because I have listened to what my constituents are saying. I hope my Liberal colleagues will listen to the minority-language voices in their ridings, because they have just as much right to expression in their language as they do.

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March 29th, 2022 / 3:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Denis Trudel Bloc Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to know whether my colleague feels the same way she did when we were studying the previous version of this bill, which she said was designed to help artists that are stuck in the early 1990s because they have not managed to be competitive on new platforms.

I have already mentioned this here, but two days ago, Patrice Vermette, a Quebecker from my riding, won an Oscar for production design for his work on Dune. Denis Villeneuve directed the film, which won six Oscars. There is also Xavier Dolan, a Quebecker who is at Cannes almost every year. The Cirque du Soleil is from Quebec.

There are thousands of artists who represent Canada and Quebec and captivate audiences all over the world. These are the people that Bill C‑11 is designed to protect.

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March 29th, 2022 / 3:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

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

History seems to be repeating itself. Canadians will recall, but here we are again. Having debated Bill C-10 last spring, we are now debating its replacement, Bill C-11. The new heritage minister will try to tell Canadians that he has fixed the problems that existed in the former legislation. However, this is an extremely misleading statement.

My time is short, so I am going to cut to the chase. The government claims that the bill is about support for Canadian culture and levelling the playing field. I would like to see Canadian culture promoted and celebrated, so let us explore that for a moment.

I have two questions. First, is the bill about meeting Canadians where they are at in the 21st century and celebrating the amazing work being done by digital first creators to produce Canadian content and enhance culture in their very own unique way, or is the bill about the government imposing its definition of Canadian content in order to fulfill a government-driven agenda? Second, will the bill truly level the playing field, or will it be used as a cash grab in which those who have worked hard to expand their viewership and generate revenue are forced to subsidize the traditional media industry, which is producing content for which there is little to no demand? I realize that these questions make the government uncomfortable, but they must be asked in order to understand this legislation.

My grandparents were not required to subsidize horse and buggies when cars became an alternative. Society moved forward in an innovative way, because it just made sense.

In effect, Bill C-11 would put in place an Internet czar, the CRTC, which will govern how easily creators, those who post, are able to make their content accessible online to those of us who view it. In other words, it would impact what Canadians can and cannot access. It would be an act of censorship.

The Internet is a vast, infinite and magical space where all Canadians, no matter their background, are able to post and engage. In the new public square where we engage with one another, we do it through writing, audio and visual arts. For many Canadians, socializing online is the new norm. If passed, Bill C-11 will thwart our freedom in this new space.

Again, the minister will try to tell us that all the problems have been fixed. He will point to convoluted parts of the bill in order to try to prove his point, but here is the thing: If the minister is telling the truth and has nothing to hide, why is the bill not crystal clear? Why is the Liberal government choosing to use muddy language by placing exceptions within exceptions in order to confuse people?

There are many flaws in Bill C-11, but I will focus on three of them today: the first is the overabundance of power that it would place in the hands of the CRTC, otherwise known as the “Internet czar”; the second is its negative impact on creators; and the third is how it negatively impacts viewers.

If passed, the bill will give the Internet czar, the CRTC, almost unlimited power in order to regulate the Internet. Talk about an attack on freedom. The CRTC could have been given very specific, very narrow guidelines, but the government chose to give it free rein to amend, to exempt, to include. The Liberals claim that bringing more government intervention, and this is an interesting one, will boost Canadian culture, but that is not true. I mean, tell me a time in history where more red tape and regulation has increased innovation, incentivized artistic creation and brought about prosperity? Members cannot, because it does not, ever.

Let us talk about creators. One of the biggest complaints that we heard from digital first creators last time was that the bill would regulate their content online. Members can think of TikTok, Snapchat, Twitch, podcasts, YouTube and, yes, even cat videos. Now, the minister will claim once again that he fixed it by adding section 4.1(1) back into the bill, but the problem is that section 4.1(1) is immediately followed by subsection 4.1(2), which creates exceptions that nullify 4.1(1). It is pretzel logic. It is confusing and purposefully muddy.

Michael Geist is a law professor at the University of Ottawa where he holds the Canada research chair in Internet and e-commerce law. He seems qualified. He has pointed out that, under the act, digital first creators can be described as broadcasters and therefore forced to comply with the CRTC regulations.

In other words, essentially any audiovisual material could be brought under the scope of this bill, not just large streaming platforms, but even individuals who use music. The member opposite actually even clarified this earlier in her own speech.

This means that TikTok videos, which essentially always use music, and YouTube videos, which mostly use music, will in fact be captured under this legislation. This means creators, right off the top of their revenue, will have to pay 30% into an art fund. They have to pay in, but they do not get to pull out.

It also means that the content of digital first creators will be assessed based on how Canadian it is. The CRTC, the Internet czar, will of course make the conclusion. That material will then be promoted or demoted accordingly. The minister will try to tell Canadians that what I am saying is not true, that only big companies, such as Netflix and Disney, will be caught by this legislation, but if that is the case, I would again ask the government to clarify that and to say it outright. It does not. The bill does not. It is purposefully muddy.

Let me talk about the negative impact that the bill will have on viewers, members, me and Canadians. Imagine going on YouTube to look for videos on Black voices but being shown instead a bunch of videos on hockey in Canada, having never searched for hockey before, and all of a sudden those are the videos that are being fed to you. That would be extremely frustrating.

What we are talking about here is discoverability. It is the use of algorithms to make some content accessible and other content not. It bumps it up or down. Sometimes it can be found on page 1. Sometimes it is found on page 53. Currently YouTube carries material based on a person's individual preference. It bumps it to the top of the page if a person likes it, if maybe they have watched similar videos in the past.

This legislation would force content, so-called Canadian content, in front of the eyeballs of Canadians at the expense of showing them the content they actually really want. It totally disrespects and disregards Canadians' freedom, choice and desire to watch certain things over others, all because the government has an agenda.

Canadians know what they like. They know what they want to watch. That desire, that free will, should be respected. I have not even addressed the problem with the definition of CanCon, which is absolutely ludicrous. Let us talk about that for a moment. CanCon, or Canadian content, is that content that the government would actually be putting at the top of the page.

A bilingual Canadian sitting in his Montreal condo producing YouTube videos about maple syrup and hockey, all while using the Canadian national anthem in the background of his video, would still not get counted as Canadian content. Can members imagine that? In fact, based on the definition of CanCon, the only ones who will receive the government's stamp of approval are members of the traditional media.

The CRTC will define who is in and who is out, who gets noticed and who does not, who gets to be on page one and who has to get bumped to page 53. An individual's preferences are inconsequential, and the government would now decide.

In Canada, we are punching above our weight in what creators are able to produce. It is absolutely jaw-dropping. They literally share their talent with the world. It is incredible. Lilly Singh, a famous YouTuber, has pointed out, “creators who have built their careers on the Internet need to be consulted on these decisions.” She went on to say, “In trying to do what seems like a good thing - highlighting great Canadian-made content - you can unintentionally destroy a thriving creative ecosystem.”

Morghan Fortier of Skyship Entertainment is so eloquent when he put it this way, “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.... 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.”

Bill C-11 is presented as a means to support the future of the broadcast industry, but it completely ignores the global reach of Canada's digital success stories in favour of an antiquated regionalized broadcast model.

Bill C-11 is a direct attack on digital first creators. It is a direct attack on our choice as viewers. It is actually a direct attack on the advancement of arts and culture in Canada in the 21st century. The bill needs to die 1,000 deaths.

The House resumed 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.

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

March 29th, 2022 / 1:55 p.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I appreciated the speech from my colleague, with whom I serve on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

Bill C‑11 corrects a concern that was raised during the study of Bill C‑10, the predecessor of Bill C‑11, which was dropped in the previous Parliament.

Bill C‑11 clearly states that the CRTC will not be able to use algorithms to verify whether digital platforms are meeting the objectives set out in the Broadcasting Act.

I have a question for my colleague. If it turns out that algorithms are the only way to verify whether the objectives are being met, what might the solution be? How will we ensure that the platforms are meeting discoverability and other objectives?

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

March 29th, 2022 / 1:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, the individual across the way made mention in her speech that through Bill C-11, money will be taken from broadcasters and put into an art fund, and artists will then be able to pull from that art fund in order to generate more “Canadian content”.

She said this is an investment in broadcasting of Canadian material. When I look at YouTube, TikTok, Twitch or Snapchat, I see some incredible up-and-coming Canadian artists. We call them digital-first creators, and they will be captured under this piece of legislation. There is good potential that 30% of their revenue will have to be contributed to this art fund.

Can the hon. member help me and those digital creators understand whether they would have the opportunity to also pull from that fund by applying for grants from it, in the same way that they are paying into it?

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

March 29th, 2022 / 1:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I can see that some of my colleagues on the other side of the House still have some things to say.

I thank and commend my colleague from the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage for his speech.

I completely agree with him. Quebec and Canada have had some massive success stories precisely because our broadcasting system promotes content created by Quebeckers and Canadians. Many artists have enjoyed successful careers in Quebec, in Canada and abroad because of the CRTC's broadcasting rules.

There are a lot of benefits, but there are also some pitfalls. One such pitfall that we hear about quite a bit is regulation of social media, and I think this aspect has been adequately addressed in Bill C‑11. The Minister of Canadian Heritage clearly stated that he did not want to regulate content generated by users, by the private individuals who use platforms like YouTube, TikTok and so on. These creators have, however, expressed some concerns about the wording of this bill in its current form.

Does my colleague think that we could review the wording of Bill C‑11 to satisfy and reassure these creators, who are becoming more and more of a presence in our broadcasting system?

The House resumed from February 28 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.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 29th, 2022 / 10:45 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I would like to say that it is a pleasure to rise to address this issue, and to a certain extent it is, but I am somewhat disappointed with the Conservative Party because I believe it is using this issue as a way to frustrate the legislative process, and I do not say that lightly.

All members of the House have been very supportive of the people of Ukraine. They understand the situation and want to do what Canadians as a whole want us to do, and that is to support the Ukrainian people in this time of need. We have seen that in the form of take-note debates. I believe we have had two take-note debates, although maybe one was an emergency debate. I am not 100% clear on that. Members from all sides of the House recognized what is taking place in Ukraine.

It does not take very much to get an appreciation of what is happening. We can go to YouTube or check news channels and see the horrors of war taking place today in Ukraine. Cities are being completely demolished, and people are dying every day by the thousands. In Putin, we see a dictator who has seen fit to destroy the infrastructure of a country, but the people of Ukraine are resisting. That resistance and love for Ukrainian heritage are what are ultimately going to prevail. We know that and we see that.

It was inspiring when President Zelenskyy addressed this chamber virtually and spoke to Canadians through the House of Commons. I believe, as I know my colleagues believe, that the Government of Canada needs to do whatever it can to support Ukraine and the people of Ukraine, and not use the political manoeuvres that I believe we are witnessing today to fit another agenda that is, really and truly, meant to frustrate the government.

If the Conservative Party really wants to have a debate about what is happening in Ukraine today and wants to talk about visitor visas or visa requirements, there are other opportunities. The Conservatives could have approached the government about having another take-note debate. They could have had their own opposition day and a very specific motion to deal with the topic they want to talk about today. They could have done that. There are other ways that the official opposition could have raised this very important issue. There is not one member of the Liberal caucus who would deny the fact that the issue being debated is, indeed, of critical importance. It is the timing of it.

Yesterday, for example, we were looking forward to Bill C-8 passing, but Conservative after Conservative stood and spoke. Bill C-8 is the fall economic statement that would provide pandemic relief and support for Canadians in all regions, but the Conservatives have made the determination that they do not want to see that bill pass.

Today we all know we are supposed to be debating Bill C-11: the modernization of the Broadcasting Act.

A great deal of effort has gone into that bill through input from Canadians, the work of the ministry and its department, and the work of the minister himself. It has been debated quite extensively thus far, and it was supposed to continue to be debated.

Again, we see the Conservatives bringing forward a concurrence motion. To the best of my knowledge, they did not approach the government House leader and ask for a take-note debate. To the best of my knowledge, we did not get to the rest of the orders of the day. Conservatives could have brought in an emergency debate on the issue. If they had waited an extra two minutes during House proceedings, we could have had an emergency debate.

I am sure members in the Conservative Party know that the type of debate they are encouraging right now is, in fact, limited to three hours. An emergency debate would have allowed more people to participate. A take-note debate would have allowed more people to participate. An opposition day motion would have not only allowed more people to participate, but it would have allowed the Conservative Party to frame a question to ultimately be put to the House and see whether that could have been supported.

That is the reason I say to the Conservative Party, and those who might be following this debate, that it is shameful of the official opposition to try to take an issue that is important to all Canadians and politicize it. I say shame on the Conservative Party of Canada for doing what it is doing: using manipulation to try to twist something so it can score some political points, or limit or cause more frustration on another piece of legislation.

For Conservatives to try to give the impression that Liberals do not want to contribute to the issue of refugees in Ukraine is absolutely ridiculous. As a government, we want to do whatever we can to support the people of Ukraine. Almost 3.9 million people have fled Ukraine to date. That is the most recent estimate I have heard. Almost four million people have fled Ukraine.

I talked at the beginning about those horrors. Let us take a look at the track record of this government. I will compare it with the record of Stephen Harper. In 2015, we had the election along with what was taking place in Syria. We had about 25,000 refugees to settle, and the Conservative Party was balking back then and asking how we were going to do that.

The Conservatives seemed to be in opposition to it, because I think their number was around 10,000. Do not quote me on it, but it was substantially less than what we said. Not only did we achieve 25,000, but from what I understand, we actually exceeded 50,000. That does not happen overnight. There is a process. To my friends across the way, I ask them to tell me another country, on a per capita basis in the western world, that had more refugees from Syria than Canada did.

Then we have Afghanistan, where the former foreign affairs minister said we would resettle 20,000 refugees, but then that doubled to 40,000. The Conservatives are already critical of some of the processes regarding processing those refugees. We will eventually get there. We understand the important role that Canada has to play when it comes to refugees.

When I was the critic for the Liberal Party of Canada dealing with immigration matters, we had Stephen Harper and the Conservative minister of immigration cutting back refugee settlement programs.

We do not need to take lessons from the Conservative Party on providing humanitarian support to refugees. I saw it first-hand when I was sitting in opposition and the Conservative Party had no respect for refugees or had minimal respect for providing the supports they required in order to settle in a healthier way here in Canada. Now the Conservative Party members have the tenacity to say that we could be doing better from a government perspective.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

March 24th, 2022 / 3:15 p.m.
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Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I wish a very happy birthday to Mitch. I hope he has the time to celebrate with his family over the weekend.

Tomorrow we will call Bill C-8, the economic and fiscal update, for the third day of debate at report stage, and we will continue on Monday, if that is necessary. Tuesday we will resume debate at second reading of Bill C-11, the online streaming act. Wednesday we will continue with debate on Bill C-5, which is mandatory minimum legislation, at second reading.

I would also inform the House that Thursday, March 31, will be an allotted day and next Friday, a week tomorrow, it is our intention to begin consideration of the second reading of Bill C-13, the official languages bill.

March 23rd, 2022 / 5:15 p.m.
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Executive Director, Digital First Canada

Scott Benzie

Right now, this piece of legislation will have a dramatic effect on almost every creator who earns a living online, so yes, we are absolutely laser-focused on Bill C-11. It is a problem.

By the way, I also have a day job. This is something that I'm doing for passion, and something I believe in, which is why I'm doing it. I don't have lawyers. We don't have lobby groups or associations or paying members. We're just trying to speak up for a bunch of entrepreneurs who have earned their money online and don't want to be regulated by the government.

March 23rd, 2022 / 5:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

—and it's incredible work for only three months in having done that, but again, where is all this advocacy that you're talking about? I can't find online any the work you're doing, the criticisms you have about the inequity that exists.

Even in speaking with Mr. Michael and Ms. Roy, there were significant differences in the compensation models they were experiencing, and you seem silent. Again, it just seems to be an anti-Bill C-11 platform that you're coming here on.

March 23rd, 2022 / 5:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

From some your comments, I guess I'm concerned that your organization is more of an anti-Bill C-10, anti-Bill C-11, organization than a pro-creator artist organization.

My concern is that these platforms have incredible unchecked power over creators. These are some of the largest companies in the world, and in looking at your website and your Twitter account, both for you personally and for your organization, they are absent anything except for C-10.

My question is whether everything is hunky-dory with these major corporations and no changes are required, because that's what's coming through loud and clear from your silence on social media and on the Internet.

March 23rd, 2022 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Benzie, thank you for your answer to that. I want to give you an opportunity to expand on that a bit more.

We have heard from the heritage minister that in no uncertain terms does Bill C-11 include user-generated content, that Bill C-11 has fixed that mistake that was in Bill C-10. I guess I'm just wondering what your response to that would be.

March 23rd, 2022 / 4:50 p.m.
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Executive Director, Digital First Canada

Scott Benzie

Thank you, Mrs. Thomas.

To address the first point, about creators coming to committee, I'd like to thank the committee, actually, for having us involved, finally, in these discussions. Digital first creators don't have lobby groups. We don't have associations.

That's why, Mr. Julian, negotiating with the platforms is just impractical for us. We don't have teams of lawyers and lobby groups who can put all that together.

You know, for those creators to step forward and tell their stories I think is really important, and I think it's important for everybody to hear them. Things are changing in our cultural world. I'm hopeful that they'll come back. I'm hopeful that, going forward, we're treated with the same respect as my other colleagues here on the call. That's all I'll really say about that.

With regard to throwing around terms like “misinformation”, the fact of the matter is that Darcy was absolutely correct. This bill will have a dramatic impact on digital first creators. An argument can be made that user-generated content is absolutely still in this bill. That exemption, clause 4.2(2)(a), is far too vague. It's far too broad. There are no guidelines. It basically includes the entire Internet. I'm hoping that when you guys start to debate Bill C-11, we're welcomed back to this table to have that discussion.

I'll add one last point. I've heard terms like “parroting misinformation” myself in conversations with heritage members and with other MPs—that we just don't understand the bill, or we're not smart enough to understand the bill, or we don't get it, or we're just parroting misinformation. It's condescending and it's not true. Hopefully, you'll listen to us when we're having these conversations going forward.

March 23rd, 2022 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Thank you.

Mr. Benzie, I will direct my questions to you. I want to thank you for being here. I believe it's important for us to hear about digital first creators, because it's something [Technical difficulty—Editor] definitely not given enough space or time to within Parliament. Certainly, these are individuals who are helping to shape the culture of our country.

You outlined in your remarks that of course digital creators are punching above their weight. I think they deserve a great deal of celebration in that regard. At the last committee, we were able to hear from Darcy Michael and Oorbee Roy. They both came forward and shared their success stories, which was very inspiring for us.

During his time, Darcy Michael expressed some concerns with regard to Bill C-11, the streaming act, and if it should pass, the fact that it would have quite detrimental consequences for him. Of course, the same would be true for Ms. Roy and many other digital first creators as well.

Mr. Bittle at that time berated Mr. Michael here at committee. However, he wasn't satisfied, I guess, so he took it to Twitter. On Twitter he accused Darcy of parroting “misinformation” about Bill C-11.

I guess what I'm wondering from you, Mr. Benzie, is this. You're someone who has reviewed Bill C-11 in depth. You're someone who I believe is an authoritative voice—it's quite evident—with regard to digital first creators in Canada. Can you provide some further insight? Will Bill C-11 impact digital first creators or will it not?

March 23rd, 2022 / 4:40 p.m.
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Secretary-Treasurer, Guilde des musiciens et musiciennes du Québec

Éric Lefebvre

I will go back briefly to what I said earlier. It's better to go to arbitration than to have no agreement at all. Our organization is currently in that situation. We have been negotiating with a producer association for more than 20 years, without a collective agreement. Obviously, in such a situation, it's preferable to go to an arbitrator, who will determine the working conditions.

My point was that it's a fairly cumbersome process. However, it's better to have this process in place than to end up with working conditions that are impossible to renew, because the parties remain in their position for years. In general, it's easy for a producer association to stick to its position and not enter into a collective agreement. That doesn't improve the lot of artists and their working conditions.

On the issue of broadcasters and online platforms, right now it's impossible to negotiate with online platforms under the current regime. However, if Bill C‑11 is adopted, it may give us the opportunity to at least engage in some kind of discussion with online platforms on compensation conditions, which are related not only to the use of the works, but also to the performances. This will also allow artists to be remunerated for the use of all the content that ends up on an online platform.

March 23rd, 2022 / 4:40 p.m.
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Secretary-Treasurer, Guilde des musiciens et musiciennes du Québec

Éric Lefebvre

As I understand it, Bill C‑11 will bring online platforms under the authority of the CRTC. This could help the Status of the Artist Act so that online platform operators would become interlocutors. Currently, we cannot send a notice to bargain or ask an online platform operator to come and negotiate with an artists' association. It is currently impossible. We can't establish a legal link.

As you were saying, online platforms have significantly changed the way music and audiovisual works are consumed. In sound recordings, the sale of physical albums has fallen dramatically. A lot of the revenue that was generated by the music industry is now in the pockets of online platform operators outside the country. Just to give you an idea, for every sale of a record costing $25, the producer received $10—

March 23rd, 2022 / 4:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Lefebvre, you mentioned broadcasters. This gives me an opportunity to follow up on one of the comments you made in 2018 about the presence of online broadcasters.

What has been the impact of online broadcasters or streaming companies on your profession or specialty?

How will the passage of Bill C‑11 address these shortcomings?

March 21st, 2022 / 5:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Ms. Roy, do you feel that the government has listened to digital-first creators in its drafting of Bill C-11?

March 21st, 2022 / 5:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Thank you, Chair.

Mr. Michael, I'll come back to you because our time got cut short. I'm fascinated by your story. I'm inspired by your story because what I hear on this in this committee meeting is the juxtaposition between a victim mentality and the mentality of a victor. You chose to overcome obstacles. You chose to overcome the challenges of the pandemic. You chose to not allow the three gatekeepers, as you called them, to hold you back. Rather, you took an opportunity that was in front of you and you seized the day.

Now here's my question for you: Do you need the government to help you by putting in place Bill C-11?

March 21st, 2022 / 5 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

If I tell you that Bill C-11 does not regulate the uploading of videos and does not allow the CRTC to engage in that practice, does that alleviate your concerns?

March 21st, 2022 / 5 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Yes, thank you so much.

I'll go back to what you said earlier in terms of Bill C-11. You were concerned with the CRTC being able to oversee every video uploaded. Is that what your concern was? Please correct me if I have that wrong.

March 21st, 2022 / 4:15 p.m.
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Actor and Creator, As an Individual

Darcy Michael

Okay. I'll try to keep this brief.

Bill C-11 will directly affect my ability to earn an income.

That aside, I'm also an ACTRA member, so I do want to say that I'm on both sides: the traditional and the digital media. The sheer logistics of the CRTC trying to approve Canadian content for every video uploaded to social media is impossible. Across the country, there are thousands of videos uploaded every day. There is simply no way to approve this. You are creating a logistical nightmare, with all due respect to the members, without properly understanding the industry that we're in.

I just think that we need to make an amendment to that one portion of the bill. I don't want to be included. I don't want to be paying 30% to something that I don't benefit from as a digital creator. I think it's a second tax. I think that by the end of the day I'll be paying 80% tax on my income. That isn't fair.

March 21st, 2022 / 4:15 p.m.
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As an Individual

Oorbee Roy

Sure. Thank you, MP Thomas, for your question. I'm comfortable answering the question, but I'll answer by telling a story, because I'm a storyteller.

Picture me back at the beginning of the pandemic. Locally, there was a big drive to make masks for the community. I took some fabric from my last business and donated a bunch of fabric. I donated so much fabric that my name was put on a plaque on a wall in the hospital.

An artist decided to do a small documentary about the story of mask-making, and she took my fabric—because that fabric is gorgeous and it looks great on camera—and showed the lifespan of it: dropping the fabric off, opening the fabric, cutting the fabric, making the fabric into masks, packing the fabric, donating the masks and then giving them to people. You know what? I was cut out of that documentary completely. Somebody else told the story and cut me out. When I asked her why, she said, “Oh my God, it's unconscious bias.” That, in my mind, is kind of racist.

That was one of the backstories, the darker side, of why I started my TikTok channel, because she said, “I took you out of the hero role.” I didn't look at myself as a hero before that, but if I get to tell my own story.... I don't trust that people are going to tell my story properly. It's my story, and if I get to be the hero, I'm going to own that.

Now, over 200,000 people liked my story and are inspired by my story, and I feel that being regulated is going to restrict me. I don't want restrictions put on me. It hasn't worked for me, in my favour, and I don't think it will. For a lot of people who don't fit into these boxes, it's not going to work for us.

I'm very concerned about Bill C-11. I'm very concerned about how this is going to affect all of us artists, especially in the digital space.

I hope that answers your question.

March 21st, 2022 / 4:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

In addition to the tax that would be applied to you, Canadian content will be defined. The CRTC will determine whether or not your content gets defined as such and therefore either promoted or demoted within the virtual spaces that you currently use. Of course, this is very concerning.

I'm wondering, Oorbee, if you would be willing to comment on this or offer your reflections with regard to Bill C-11.

March 21st, 2022 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Thank you.

Every artist has the right to be compensated, according to the act. Within the act, entrepreneurs who “contribute to the creation of any production in the performing arts, music, dance and variety entertainment, film, radio and television, video, sound-recording, dubbing or the recording of commercials, arts and crafts, or visual arts, and fall within a professional category prescribed by regulation” fall under this category.

For those individuals with us today who are virtual creatives, I pose this question. Bill C-11 will have an impact on your ability to make an income. Bill C-11 will force you to pay 30% of your revenue off the top to go into the arts fund, which you will pay into but not have the opportunity to apply for funding from.

The second thing is that the government will regulate through the CRTC what is considered Canadian content and what is—

March 21st, 2022 / 4:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

This is a study on a completely different piece of legislation. I don't understand the relevance of Bill C-11 to the Status of the Artist Act.

March 21st, 2022 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Thank you, Chair.

I want to begin by directing a question to you, Oorbee. At this point in time, having heard from everyone at the table, I've actually lost track of the number of requests that have been made for government support, government funding and government regulation. What I find interesting, though, is that your story and Darcy's story are very different. You're actually telling a story of self-made success. You're telling a story about hard work, innovation, creativity, pivoting and working through difficult circumstances. You're telling a story about overcoming the obstacles put in front of you, in particular the gatekeepers that would try to keep you out of traditional spaces for artists.

I'm hoping you can help answer this question, Oorbee. Bill C-11 is on the table. This will potentially have a big impact on you and your ability to use the virtual platforms that you currently use, namely TikTok, in the same capacity that you do now. Under Bill C-11, you will potentially—

March 21st, 2022 / 11:45 a.m.
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Managing Partner, INQ Law

Carole Piovesan

I would agree on the enforcement point. I think what was interesting under Bill C-11 was that it contemplated a tribunal that would oversee, and potentially have more serious consequences over, specific violations of the act. It's something that I'm hoping we'll continue to see in the next round.

Another point that we saw to an extent in Bill C-11 was a broadening of various elements of consent as a basis for collecting, using and disclosing personal information. Again, we have to be mindful that PIPEDA is a private sector privacy law. We have to be mindful of some of the positive uses of facial recognition technology, which is why I say it has to be regulated using a scalpel, not an axe. There are some very beneficial uses, but we need appropriate safeguards to ensure that those uses are properly controlled and contained and that they feed the public interest and don't subvert our values. It's very important that we see that in whatever new reform to PIPEDA we ultimately get.

March 2nd, 2022 / 5 p.m.
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President, Rogers Sports and Media, Rogers Communications Inc.

Colette Watson

In Bill C-11, yes. I will let Pam talk to you about that.

March 2nd, 2022 / 5 p.m.
See context

President, Rogers Sports and Media, Rogers Communications Inc.

Colette Watson

There are other ways. There's a regulatory framework that outlines and dictates how each television station should spend what we call CPE, Canadian programming expenditure.

It's a really tight sandbox. There are rules for everything. There is an amendment we are proposing on Bill C-11 that would allow those monies to be redirected within the pool of money that we are obliged to commit to the Canadian broadcasting system, and there's a way to change that to have the CRTC allow us to move that money around to bolster local news.

The tax credit is the easiest one to implement right away. The government already allows print broadcasters to access a tax credit. Our journalists on TV stations are just as important as print journalists at local newspapers, so we are asking for that tax credit to be expanded to television stations so that local news, especially in small and medium-sized markets, can access that tax credit.

March 2nd, 2022 / 4:45 p.m.
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President, Rogers Sports and Media, Rogers Communications Inc.

Colette Watson

I think that there is some confusion here.

Concerning local news, we will improve upon the existing service offerings in Montreal. We do not offer cable television services in the province of Quebec. However, by acquiring Shaw, Rogers will become the largest contributor to the Canada Media Fund, or CMF.

Concerning issues related to Bill C‑11, if you wish to ask the CRTC to ensure that competition in television production be developed with the CMF, that's one thing. However, Shaw and Rogers do not currently operate in Quebec, so I don't see how we will be able to add to that effort.

March 2nd, 2022 / 4:20 p.m.
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Colette Watson President, Rogers Sports and Media, Rogers Communications Inc.

Thank you.

Madam Chair and members of the committee, thank you for inviting us here today to discuss the impact that Rogers Communications' acquisition of Shaw Communications will have on local news.

My name is Colette Watson, and I am the president of Rogers Sports and Media. With me is Pam Dinsmore, vice-president, regulatory, Rogers Communications.

Rogers is one of Canada’s leading and most respected sources of local news. Through our 54 radio stations, seven Citytv stations, five Omni Television services and 30 community TV channels, we offer Canadians from coast to coast news and information programming that includes coverage of local events, sports and other issues. We are deeply committed to ensuring that Canadians can continue to access significant amounts of professionally produced local news that meets high journalistic standards.

Our acquisition of Shaw will not change that commitment. Nor will it have a material impact on the quantity or quality of local news that is being made available to Canadians today. Shaw does not own any local television or radio stations, which means the transaction will neither result in any further consolidation within Canada’s television and radio industries, nor reduce competition. The only thing that will change as a result of the transaction is that Corus’s Global TV stations will no longer be vertically integrated with Shaw. As a result of that change in status, Global will become independent and will no longer be able to access local expression funds from its affiliated cable business.

We have listened to the committee’s earlier discussions and share its concern regarding the health of local news. The long-term viability of local news is indeed in question, but this transaction is not responsible for that reality. In fact, the health of local news would likely be much worse without vertical integration.

Contrary to what you have heard from previous witnesses, community‑owned television outlets are not producing local news that meets high journalistic standards. The need for Canada to have professional sources of news produced to these standards becomes more apparent every day. In fact, false and inaccurate reporting is becoming more pervasive in our media.

What this transaction will do is ensure that the funding Shaw directed to local stations will stay in the system and continue to be used to support the production of local news. Global is a top station group in western Canada, and its news budget currently exceeds Citytv's news budget by close to $100 million a year. In addition, it is required by condition of its broadcast licence to provide locally relevant and reflective news programming in all the markets it serves. Redirecting the funding it receives from Shaw will not have a material impact on Global's news operations and should not impact current levels of service.

In contrast, this funding will have a material impact on Rogers' CityNews operations, which will help strengthen our news presence in markets outside of Toronto and offer western Canadians a strong editorial alternative to Global, CTV and CBC.

As part of our CRTC application, Rogers made several commitments to news that would be incremental to our existing investments. We've provided a list of those commitments to the clerk in both official languages to share with you.

All of the commitments we made are significant and incremental, and they would not be implemented absent the Shaw transaction. These commitments will result in a significant number of new programming hours and new journalism jobs in the television industry, most of which will be based in western Canada. None of these commitments will matter, however, if local news is allowed to disappear.

Canada's news industry remains in crisis. Amending the Broadcasting Act and expanding the existing journalism tax credit regime to broadcasters are two measures that are urgently needed to stop its continued decline.

With respect to the Broadcasting Act, we strongly encourage the committee to amend Bill C-11 to ensure a sustainable model for local news can be adopted by the CRTC. The current regulatory framework does not ensure that local news is sufficiently funded. Unfortunately, the CRTC cannot begin to address this systemic issue until new legislation is in place.

A more short-term measure to support local news would be to expand the labour tax credit system that is currently in place for print news to include local television news. The Minister of Heritage said last week that “news is news”, and we couldn't agree more. We believe that addressing this inequity would have an immediate and measurable impact on broadcasters' ability to produce local news that meets the highest journalistic standards.

Thank you for your time. We look forward to your questions.

Opposition Motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of CommonsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2022 / 4:05 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I will take advantage of the fact the member, my colleague and friend, is a Quebec member of Parliament. Yesterday, we had a wonderful debate with respect to the modernization of the Broadcasting Act. I think Bill C-11 is a wonderful piece of legislation that is going to help us see growth in the arts industry, which I know is a very important industry for my colleague.

I wonder if he could provide his thoughts as to why it is important that the national government continue to support our arts community. That is something the bill will do by modernizing the Broadcasting Act.

Opposition Motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of CommonsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2022 / 1:30 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Saint-Laurent.

It is a pleasure to rise to address a number of issues with a focus on what is before us right now. I cannot help but think of what is taking place in Europe. A number of members, when they stood up, started off by commenting on it. I would also like to do that, recognizing that what is happening in Ukraine today is top of mind for millions of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. It is something that will have a profound impact throughout the world. The take-note debate last night had no shortage of members of Parliament wanting to contribute to it.

This is the type of issue that many Canadians would like to see the House possibly spend more time debating. In looking at the motion that the Bloc has brought before us today, we can kind of sense it. When the leader of the Bloc rose to speak, he made reference to Ukraine. I raise it because we should recognize that this is the very first opportunity that the Bloc has had to bring forward an opposition day motion in 2022. What makes it interesting is that the Bloc also has a private member's bill that deals with the same issue, which is also being scheduled for debate.

I am a bit confused as to why they chose this issue: whether it is because of what is happening in the world, with the real threat and possibility of World War III, and the horrendous things taking place in Ukraine today, or whether it is because of local issues. Perhaps it is the pandemic, and providing thoughts and guidance on that. We often hear about the environment. We hear a great deal about housing and so much more, yet the Bloc chose to have this particular debate. I suspect, unfortunately, that it has a lot to do with politics.

Let me provide some thoughts on this issue. Every 10 years, there is a readjustment that takes place. There is legislation that ensures there is an independent review of our boundaries and recommendations that follow. It is based, in part, on population shifts. We all know that populations change within municipalities, provinces and territories, obviously, and with interprovincial migration. That happens every year.

A couple of years back, we released, through Census Canada, a report that clearly showed that with regard to population growth in Canada, whether over the past decade or into the future, immigration had to be taken into consideration. Future population growth is going to very much depend on immigration. Looking at interprovincial immigration, or migration, to immigration, and reflecting on that over the last decade has ultimately brought us to the point where we are today. Back in October, I believe, the recommendation was to reduce a seat in the province of Quebec.

I have said this before in the House. I am very proud of my heritage and lineage that goes back to the province of Quebec. A couple of hundred years ago, my great-grandfathers and grandmothers would have been some of the pioneers in the province of Quebec. We were not the first. As we know, first nations were here before our francophone communities.

Migration, at least in some elements, went out west into the province of Manitoba, where I live today and which I proudly represent.

My passions, in terms of national policies, very much factor in the province of Quebec. I would not want any member to try to give an impression that unless one is a member of Parliament from Quebec, one does not necessarily care for what is happening in Quebec. I care for the province of Quebec in the same manner in which I care for our prairie provinces, the province of Ontario, the Atlantic provinces, our territories or B.C.

We have a lot in common, economically, in terms of things such as the aerospace industry. French is a beautiful language. It is a language that we want to encourage and promote and get more people speaking.

The province of Manitoba, and the St. Boniface community in particular, has a very healthy and growing francophone community. While Manitoba had immigration numbers during the nineties that were probably somewhere in the neighbourhood of about 3,000 to 4,000 annually, we have virtually quadrupled that number through the nominee program. Special attention was given to the francophone factor, which is very important, whether in urban Winnipeg through St. Boniface or in rural communities such as St-Pierre-Jolys, where my great-great-grandfather was born.

For me, it is taking a look at what we are actually doing. A Bloc member said that this is about action. Today, we had the minister bring forward changes that will have a very positive impact on bilingualism here in Canada with our Official Languages Act. Yesterday, we were debating Bill C-11, which deals with updating or modernizing the Broadcasting Act.

Actions do speak louder than words. I think it is important for us to recognize that the province of Quebec is in fact distinct and contributes so much to who we are overall as a nation.

That is why it is important that we support arts and culture, such as we have seen in Bill C-11. That is why, in part, we brought forward the legislation that we introduced for first reading today.

I understand the magic of 78. We see, in our history, when we have given consideration, for example, to the province of P.E.I. Because of the number of senators it has, it has to have an equal number of members of Parliament. I am very familiar with the grandfather clause that was put in in 1985.

I would have welcomed debate on this when the members opposite brought forward the legislation, because we know it is going to be brought in. I question the politics in that they would choose this particular motion when there is so much happening internationally and here in Canada, and that they would use this as the most important public policy issue on their first opposition day.

It is for them to ultimately make that determination, and I look forward to seeing the private member's bill being brought forward that I understand deals with the same issue.

Opposition Motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of CommonsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2022 / 1:10 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from my colleague from Winnipeg North because he mentioned Bill C-11 on broadcasting, which I obviously care a lot about.

Today's motion and Bill C-246, which I think are somewhat related because they are similar in purpose, do not criticize the government's work or the intentions and work of members from other parts of Canada.

Yes, there are some good provisions in Bill C-11 to protect the discoverability, the showcasing and the presence of francophone content but also content from various communities, such as first nations communities, francophone communities outside Quebec and minority language communities. There are a lot of good things in that bill. In any case, it is what we expect from a government. We expect a government to create laws and regulations for the country as a whole, not just for certain parts of the country. This motion is not criticizing the Liberal government or its work, rather, it is a way of ensuring that Quebec maintains the political weight it deserves as a nation in the coming decades, in the future.

Opposition Motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of CommonsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2022 / 1:10 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I indicated earlier, based on what the leader of the Bloc Party has said, how important actions were.

Today we introduced the official languages modernization act. Yesterday we brought forward debate on Bill C-11 in regard to the modernization of the Broadcasting Act. Both of these pieces of legislation, from a national perspective, would ensure the protection of arts and culture. I know that my Quebec colleagues, in fact all of us, see the true value of that industry in the province of Quebec and how it has enhanced the heritage of Quebec.

I am wondering if the member opposite recognizes that one does not necessarily have to be an MP from the province of Quebec, as I am not, as he knows, to advocate for wonderful things for the province of Quebec. I would like to think that members of the Bloc would also advocate for my province when it comes down to the issues.

Opposition Motion—Representation of Quebec in the House of CommonsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2022 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, the member made reference to the importance of action, and action does speak louder than words. Yesterday, we brought in Bill C-11, which would modernize the Canada Broadcasting Act. Part of the argument for it, as the minister responsible, who is an MP from Quebec, said, is the importance of the francophone and French communities, particularly in Quebec and throughout Canada, and ensuring that there is more content and more investment in the arts community. This government has invested hugely in arts programming, because we recognize it in the province of Quebec. Today, we also have the introduction of the languages bill, which will again ensure that French will continue to be spoken across Canada in record numbers.

Could the member provide his thoughts on those actions?

Online Streaming ActGovernment Orders

February 28th, 2022 / 6:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Kitchener—Conestoga for his question. Following our discussion this afternoon, I thought he might ask his question in French, but maybe next time.

Amendments were debated and voted on last year when the House was studying Bill C‑10. I was pleasantly surprised to see those amendments as clauses here in Bill C‑11.

There are indeed provisions designed to promote the use of official languages by broadcasters, online or otherwise. It is indeed very important to promote minority cultural communities and indigenous cultures. In fact, I am absolutely delighted to see that the latter are becoming much easier to discover in various media and it is well worth doing so.

That is yet another example of why it is so important for us to make the rules ourselves and apply them to foreign companies with a digital presence here.