Madam Speaker, normally, there would not be much debate in the House when we talk about making updates to the Broadcasting Act, which came into effect in 1991. At face value, most Canadians would say that a lot has changed since then. A little thing called the Internet came along, and most would agree.
I have talked about this topic in the House before and I am pretty proud of myself. I am pretty sure that I was the first MP in Canadian history to put Boyz II Men in the parliamentary record, when talking about the legislation before us, because times have changed a little bit. Back in 1991, Boyz II Men, Bryan Adams, MC Hammer and Monty Python were on the charts. I wanted to put that in the record again, and I am glad I have done that.
The goals of the Broadcasting Act have been reasonable: respecting official languages and providing an avenue for Canadian content in the traditional media at the time of TV and radio. Here is the thing I have said in the House, sadly, on many issues over and over again: Only the NDP and the Liberals, working together, can take something so mundane and so innocuous and make a disaster out of it when it comes to policy.
Here is how I know that. Outside of the Ottawa bubble, there are not too many Canadians who know what Bill C-4 or Bill S-252 or Bill C-39 is when it comes to government legislation. We know that the government is in trouble and we know it is on the wrong side of public opinion when a bill title becomes famous. In the last couple of weeks or couple of months, Bill C-21 has become synonymous with an attack on rural Canadians, indigenous communities and hunters, when the government tried to ban commonly used hunting rifles. Here we are now, with the famous term “C-11”, known by millions of Canadians across the country today as the most blatant attempt by the Liberals and the NDP, and bureaucrats in Ottawa, to have control over what Canadians see and what they search on the Internet.
If that was not convincing enough, Bill C-11 being a household name to millions of Canadians, we know we are in trouble when Conservatives and Margaret Atwood are on the same page, pushing back against the government. She is a wonderful Canadian, one of the most regarded and successful Canadian artists and content creators this country has ever seen. Canadians do not have to take my word for it or believe this side of the bench if they do not want to. Canadians will take Margaret Atwood's word on Canadian culture and content any day of the week over that of the Liberals and the NDP.
I want to give members the dictionary version of what she said. She said some pretty harsh things, calling out the government on Bill C-11. When we break it down and use the dictionary to further define what she is calling out the government for, it is creating a centralized and dictator-like system of control that requires complete subservience to the state.
This is bad legislation. They know it. It has been ping-ponged back and forth between the House of Commons and the Senate. It is back in the House of Commons, and it is going to go back to the Senate. Every time there is a committee hearing, every time there are more witnesses testifying, there are more questions than answers about what the government is doing here with this bill. From consumer groups to legal experts to content creators, many, many groups from every walk of life and every angle on this topic are calling out the government's direction and how bad and how flawed the bill is.
I am proud to stand as a Conservative to say that when we form government, we will repeal Bill C-11. We will kill Bill C-11, as simple as that.
Let us get into the weeds and talk about some of these pieces bit by bit. One of the things we hear the Liberals and the NDP say is that we need to support Canadian content more.
When I think about that, I pull up a list and say, sure, let us support Canadian content, things like Deadpool. It was filmed in Vancouver, starring Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds, with a screenplay by Canadian Paul Wernick, based on a Canadian comic book character.
We have Canadian Bacon. Who could forget that? There is John Candy, a legendary Canadian actor, in a story involving Canada.
I talked about Margaret Atwood. We have The Handmaid's Tale, based on her book. When we look at the production, the series was filmed in Mississauga, Toronto, Brantford, Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Cambridge.
I think of Canadian content like All or Nothing, a series on the Toronto Maple Leafs. It is a five-part series that followed the Leafs for months during the 2020-21 season. It is narrated by a Canadian, Will Arnett. It used Canadian crews.
Is this all Canadian content? No, every one of those examples I just cited does not meet the definition and criteria for Canadian content in the definitions that we have.
Bill C-11 is currently 56 pages long, and any Canadian can go online and look at it. They can hit Ctrl+F and search. Nowhere in there does it talk about modernizing and cleaning up that definition. I will argue that this is not about Canadian content, but about something else.
Every time, we put an amendment forward to clarify. If the government wants to debunk a myth and say that what we are saying is not the case, it can clarify it and put in amendments to say what it is not, to exclude certain things. The government refused to do so. It says, “Don't worry. We are not going to determine that. It's going to be the CRTC.”
This brings me to my next point, about another fundamentally flawed part of the legislation. The CRTC is an Ottawa-based acronym. Federal acronyms go left, right and centre around here. It is an agency in Ottawa, and on the Quebec side as well, in the national capital region, full of bureaucrats who, behind closed doors, would not only set the rules for what is Canadian content, but also, through the bill, be directed to start controlling the search results we have on the Internet.
Members heard that right: “behind closed doors”. We have asked repeatedly to put some sunshine, sunlight and transparency on those protocols. There are no criteria in the bill. There is no public formula. There are no clarifications or guardrails on what those protocols are, so for Canadians, when it comes to what they search and what they want to see, whether it is searching on Google, Crave, YouTube or any other platform, as a Canadian here and now, the government will control what goes up in search results and what goes down, and we would not be able to find out the algorithms and calculations it uses, because of CRTC bureaucrats doing it behind closed doors. They never have to share their reasoning, or what I call “showing their homework”. That speaks volumes.
The Prime Minister and the NDP will say not to worry because the CRTC is an arm's-length agency of the federal government. “It is independent,” they say. Let us just debunk that right now. The CRTC reports to the Liberal Minister of Canadian Heritage. Its chair and the commissioners who are working there and leading that organization are appointed directly by the Prime Minister and the Liberal cabinet.
Nobody believes it is arm's-length, and nobody believes the legislation is about Canadian artists and everyday Canadians, because if it were the right thing to do and the popular thing to do, and if there were no problems about it, the government would have made that whole process a lot more public, rather than punting it over behind closed doors.
The bill is not about sunlight. It is not about Canadian artists and content creators. I say the bill is a Trojan horse, because there are some very big cheerleaders for it. The bureaucracy at the CRTC would be exploding in size. The size of the Internet is massive. The amount of content uploaded every single day is huge. It is going to take an administrative swarm of new bureaucrats to go through, and the people who are going to hit the jackpot, the people who are doing cartwheels in downtown Ottawa, are the lobbyists who would be hired by all these groups, associations and artists to try to lobby to get them, when the CRTC goes behind closed doors, to take what is going on.
As I share my time with the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, we will continue the commentary on this and how it works. If someone is a budding content creator in north Winnipeg, a Franco-Ontarian or an indigenous artist in northern Canada, in Nunavut, they can currently upload, and may the best content win. The cream of the crop rises. Canadians will determine what they like and what they want to watch, and that should be the most popular search result. That is the most organic way possible. Trust me, the best way is to let Canadians do their own work and let the organic way go. Good videos go to the top. We have thousands of artists who have made a living by creating content and continue to do so. We do not need to fix what is not broken.
I will wrap up by saying that Bill C-11 is bad. It is online censorship. Ottawa telling 37 million Canadians what they should watch and see is wrong. The Liberals and the NDP have had years to get this right, and now they are just being stubborn.
We oppose this bill now, and as a Conservative government, we would kill Bill C-11.