Evidence of meeting #43 for Canadian Heritage in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was report.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Edward Greenspon  President and Chief Executive Officer, Public Policy Forum
Marion Ménard  Committee Researcher

4:30 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Public Policy Forum

Edward Greenspon

Okay, so I'm happy.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

You might have been there.

We're good. Thank you.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Pierre Nantel

Thank you.

Ms. Dabrusin is next.

January 31st, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

I want to talk to you for a second about the Copyright Act, because that is coming up for review this year.

You made recommendations in respect of fair dealing. I believe there was some discussion. Michael Geist was quite concerned about what you suggested. I wonder if that doesn't hit at the core of what a lot of our discussions are about right now. In your report you describe it as the “vampire economy”, or something like that, in which there are the content producers, and then there's how journalism is consumed at this point. Fair dealing strikes right in between that with regard to how or whether you protect it.

I was wondering what your thoughts are, in light of some of the concerns coming back, about how changing the fair dealing rules could actually be a problem for press freedom.

4:35 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Public Policy Forum

Edward Greenspon

I understand that the act is up for review in 2017. Our recommendation was that we need to look at this seriously in a particular way, and the particular way would be in terms of the rights of creators—I'm sorry, because I'm going to use that verb “monetize”—to monetize their content and to have a level of control over their content. Clearly I'm not talking about being able to take words to do a review of a book or a movie. I'm not talking about....

I'll just go back to a night in 1993, when I think it was CTV News that reported that Prime Minister Mulroney was going to resign the next day. I'm not saying that other people aren't allowed to then report that CTV News says Prime Minister Mulroney is going to resign tomorrow. I'm suggesting that in the very different world that existed before this digital age that taking holus-bolus somebody's content before they could even monetize their content seems to me something for the people who are looking at this act to consider very strongly, in terms of both how the news system is evolving and how technology has evolved.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Van Loan referred to a time when papers may have been very structured by positions, and each party would have its paper. In your report you suggest opening up philanthropic rules so that there could be charitable donations or foundations, different forms, to support media. One of the criticisms that has come back is that you will end up with more pieces that are purely partisan one way or another. I've just been reading the articles reporting on your report. I wonder what you think about that. Is it a problem that we would perhaps end up with more partisan or strongly opinionated papers?

4:35 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Public Policy Forum

Edward Greenspon

I think we are moving towards a culture of greater opinion and perhaps partisanship, as has been described. It's not a culture I feel terribly comfortable in, because I was brought up in a kind of...not what Mr. Van Loan learned in grade 2 about objectivity, but in fairness and balance.

I don't see any association between the recommendation around philanthropy and partisanship, in that the Canada Revenue Agency is reviewing some of these issues now around political activities and the policy role of charities and philanthropies, which in some ways are allowed.... I'm not a lawyer, but if you have a strict look at the law, it appears that they're allowed to alleviate poverty, but not recommend policy. They are allowed to offer relief of poverty, but not recommend policies that would alleviate poverty. That seems somewhat odd and antiquated to me. Nonetheless, I'm certain that what will remain is that they cannot engage in partisan activities. I think that any contributions they make to journalism would not be partisan in any way.

I speak in the report about the dangers of their distorting journalism. It may be best, at a very high level, to give to a news organization like ProPublica in the States, an investigative news organization that is supported by philanthropy, and then they stay out of their hair in the way that good publishers stay out of the hair of good editors. Alternatively, they may support things like the legal advisory service that we are recommending, or the research thing.

I put the caution to them as well that they not try to become editors, because they'll distort the mission of journalism and they'll burn their fingers.

4:40 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Pierre Nantel

Thank you very much, Mr. Greenspon and Mr. Neustaedter.

Thank you to you as well, Ms. Lauziere.

To conclude, I would have a question.

I keep scratching my head about this issue.

Mr. Ménard, when did we start this study?

4:40 p.m.

Marion Ménard Committee Researcher

That was February 16, 2016.

4:40 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Pierre Nantel

It was February 16, 2016.

When were you commissioned to do that study?

4:40 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Public Policy Forum

Edward Greenspon

That was June 2015.

4:40 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Pierre Nantel

Wow. Okay.

There is a lot of information for us to digest. Thank you very much for your time.

We will go in camera for committee business.

[Proceedings continue in camera]