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)

Bill C-14—Time Allocation MotionPreserving Provincial Representation in the House of Commons ActGovernment Orders

May 17th, 2022 / 6:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, I am flabbergasted by the indignation of the Liberal side on this debate. The member speaks about dysfunction in the House. It is their House, as government, to manage, and it is obvious that they are so dysfunctional in managing the House that they cannot get legislation through.

Last night, the Liberals adjourned the House two and a half hours early, after cancelling committees so that we could have interpretation services available and other House services that were required. They sent those people home early and sent the whole House home two and a half hours early after they had scheduled it to sit until midnight last night.

We have to really question what is behind this determination to serve time allocation notice on the bill before us. What is coming behind it? We have seen previous legislation, such as Bill C-10 now Bill C-11, which will be coming through for debate. Is this an effort to get things out of the way so that they can push that forward through time allocation as well?

I hear NDP members rail against the procedural tools that we have to hold this government accountable. For years, in Parliament after Parliament, they railed against time allocation votes. Here they are, after this marriage of the NDP-Liberal government, now joining in with the Liberals in supporting time allocation votes. I question what really is behind all of this rush to get legislation through and to silence the opposition that we are here to provide, having been elected by the people that we represent.

Preserving Provincial Representation in the House of Commons ActGovernment Orders

May 16th, 2022 / 12:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Denis Trudel Bloc Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, I obviously really enjoyed my colleague's answer.

I am pleased to be discussing this issue. I will start by making a connection with Bill C-14. The connection may be a little hard to understand at first, but my colleagues will see where I am going with this.

I am deeply outraged right now. Usually, when I am outraged, I tend to get excited and raise my voice in the House. I will try to remain calm while discussing a fundamental matter, something that happened this weekend.

I have been a member of the House for two years now, and I have heard many of our Liberal friends tell us that they are aware of the decline of the French language in Quebec and that its survival is a priority for them. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, who was the minister of official languages in the last Parliament, tried to win us over here in the House by saying that French was in danger, that her government was aware of that, and that it was going to do something about it and table a bill with teeth.

Suddenly, the Liberals called an election and everything stopped, even though they had told us that it was a very important issue for them. They called an election, and it cost $600 million to go back to square one.

Now here we are. We have a new Minister of Official Languages who also spoke about how important the issue is and said that her government was aware of that. The Prime Minister and all of the members across the aisle said the same thing. As my colleague mentioned earlier, the vast majority of members in the House even voted to recognize Quebec as a nation whose sole official language is French.

That was a few months before the election. Obviously, they were going after seats in Quebec, in particular those held by the Bloc Québécois. They had to make a show of being interested.

For two years, the government buddied up to us, saying that it understood that French was in decline in Quebec and across Canada, and that it was going to introduce legislation to fix that. However, the federal government is not the only government that can pass legislation on French. Right now, Quebec is preparing to pass legislation on French. Quebec is trying to give teeth to Bill 101, to make French the language of instruction. Bill 101 has been undercut 200 times by the Supreme Court of Canada based on a charter that Quebec never signed.

This weekend, we saw seven Liberal members of the federal government protest in Montreal against Bill 96. By chance, although there is no such thing as chance, the members protesting in Montreal on the weekend were among the nine Liberal members who had abstained from the vote to recognize Quebec as a nation. Most of them represent Montreal ridings.

The hon. member for Vimy even posted the following on Twitter: “Today I stood with my colleagues for the Bill 96 protest.”

That is something. We are working to improve the fate of French, and the government says that it is aware of the problem, but then government members go to Quebec to protest against legislation that would put some teeth back into Bill 101, teeth that it lost because of the charter.

What the member said next is particularly interesting. She said, and I quote, “Students, regardless of their background, should have access to an education in the language of their choice.”

Bill 101 is likely the most important piece of legislation that has ever been voted on in the history of Quebec. The great Camille Laurin, René Lévesque, Jacques Parizeau and all of the MNAs and ministers that made up the first Lévesque government led one of the first reforms to Bill 101, because even René Lévesque had a problem with that. I will explain why. Before Bill 101, 90% of immigrants who came to Quebec went to school in English. People settled here and chose to learn English. We were losing the battle, and so legislation was needed.

Earlier, I mentioned René Lévesque. It was humiliating for him to have to legislate on an issue that is taken for granted everywhere else on earth. If someone goes to Germany, they do not ask whether they need to learn German. If someone goes to Spain, they do not ask whether they need to learn Spanish. If someone goes to Poland, they do not ask whether they need to learn Polish. In Quebec, however, the language issue was a problem, so legislation had to be passed. That is what we did.

Our Liberal friends, those who do not recognize the Quebec nation, those who have a problem with the fact that there is a common language in Quebec, are attacking one of the core principles of Bill 101, after 50 years of struggle of strife.

There are children of Bill 101 everywhere. There have been television shows on the subject. People come from around the world and learn French. Our Liberal friends want to tear that down. Personally, I think it is shameful. I am outraged. The Liberals are talking out both sides of their mouth.

Does the Minister of Official Languages agree? Does she take responsibility for members of her own government going to protest in Montreal against one of the most important laws ever passed by Quebec? I am eager to hear what the hon. Minister of Official Languages has to say.

During the election campaign, the Prime Minister gave speeches with his hand on his heart. He visited my riding, Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, three times. He really wanted the Liberals to win the riding. I took them on, and I am the one proudly representing the riding of Longueuil—Saint-Hubert.

When the Prime Minister came to my riding, he spoke of language and culture. He said that these were two subjects that were important to the Liberals. He said that they were going to protect the language and culture. However, on the weekend, we witnessed an absolutely appalling spectacle. I am totally outraged, but I must contain myself. I am eager to hear what the Minister of Official Languages and the Prime Minister have to say about this.

This brings me to Bill C-14. In fact, the two are connected. What does the bill say? It talks about “minoritizing” Quebec. In fact, Bill C‑14 institutionalizes the minoritization of Quebec.

I am certain my hon. colleague is better at math than I am, since he is an economist, but this equation is easy. Quebec has 78 out of 338 members; with this bill, it would have 78 out of 343. We would have less weight, which means that Quebec would have less clout to defend its language.

The logical corollary is that we should have more members from Quebec. It is obvious that there must be more Bloc Québécois members in the House to stand up for language and culture.

Last week we discussed Bill C-11. We heard our Conservative friends quote one single academic—St. Michael Geist, pray for us—saying that Canada was going to become a dictatorship where freedom of speech would be abolished. That is what they said. Heaven help me. I was so sick of hearing it that I was nearly ready to sign something so that they would stop repeating it. I was very close to saying yes, that is right, I agree.

It is chilling to realize that we have to fight constantly to protect culture in Quebec.

When we spoke about Bill C‑11, we mentioned how Quebec artists are at a disadvantage on the major platforms. Two years ago, at the ADISQ gala, Pierre Lapointe said he had launched a successful song on social media. It was streamed one million times, but he was paid only $500. That is outrageous.

Quebec is home to artists who are known the world over. We have filmmakers, musicians, actors and directors, including Robert Lepage, yet all this culture is wasting away because the web giants are taking up all the space.

In conclusion, Bill C‑14 aims to minoritize Quebec. In its current version, it is difficult to accept. We will see how we are going to fight it.

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.
See context

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.