Evidence of meeting #36 for Canadian Heritage in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was subamendment.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Thomas Owen Ripley  Director General, Broadcasting, Copyright and Creative Marketplace Branch, Department of Canadian Heritage
Philippe Méla  Legislative Clerk
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Aimée Belmore

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Thank you.

Mr. Shields.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I appreciated the conversation, so let's get it down, for my mind, in the simplest terms. Under the subamendment, we are talking about whether, let's say, a study of the beluga whales in the St. Lawrence is Canadian content versus—with the original motion—whether it's a Canadian in South Africa studying South African penguins. You are talking about the individual in one, and the content in the other.

Is that what we're talking about here in those two, Mr. Ripley?

3:30 p.m.

Director General, Broadcasting, Copyright and Creative Marketplace Branch, Department of Canadian Heritage

Thomas Owen Ripley

Mr. Shields, thank you for that question.

The short form is yes: The difference is between the individual and the program. Again, I think the intention is not to deny the fact that these services are used in a variety of ways. That is what makes them so challenging to deal with from a regulatory perspective. The question that this committee is grappling with is where the appropriate line is, in terms of ensuring that they make a meaningful contribution to the broadcasting system while also recognizing that lots of people post different kinds of content to these services that isn't really cultural content in the purest sense of the word.

Again, I don't want to underplay the work that the CRTC will have to do in giving that effect, but it's also why I would highlight that it's important that it be done in consultation with the folks this is going to impact. It's important that creators have their say in that. It's important—to your point, Mr. Shields—that social media services have their say in that as well, in terms of actually bringing forward a regime that, if the discoverability power remains in it, will work for everybody at the end of the day.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Right. I would probably term it “culture”, in the sense that if you're doing a photographic exposé of beluga whales as content, or you're a Canadian doing one on the penguins in South Africa, it can be very cultural in that sense. That's what I was referring to.

Thanks.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Mr. Champoux.

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I find our discussion very worthwhile. That said, I would like to put the facts in context and make it clear that we aren't talking about individual or user content, but about the broadcasting activities of companies that also run social media.

In my view, when defining social media, the CRTC will have no trouble clearly defining a social media activity as a platform where users post content for other users. These activities are already specified in a few places in the bill. I don't think that the CRTC will have any trouble defining the social media activity on a platform that provides social media services as well as the broadcasting activities on the same platforms.

Whether we're talking about creators, content or programs, discoverability refers to the responsibility of companies that run social media services in which they engage in broadcasting activities. In this respect, the idea here is simply to ensure that the act applies to companies that engage in these specific activities, not to regulate the activities of users who share content with other users.

I find it hard to understand why the term “creators” is used. Everywhere else, broadcasters are being asked to promote Canadian content or Canadian programs and to enhance their visibility and discoverability. We aren't talking about the discoverability of the creators themselves, but the discoverability of the content. That was my concern.

I particularly wanted to draw my colleagues' attention to the component that this subamendment seeks to frame. That's the point that I wanted to make.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Mr. Rayes, you have the floor.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Ripley, as we move forward, new questions come to mind. I'm sorry for dragging out the discussion, Mr. Champoux, but I find that I'm learning almost more today than I've learned since the start of this study.

If we don't pass Mr. Champoux's subamendment and we go back to the government's original amendment, which talks about “the discoverability of Canadian creators of programs,” we won't know what constitutes a Canadian creator. It could be anyone. As you confirmed, Mr. Ripley, it isn't defined. The CRTC will have to define it. There's no mention of professional Canadian creators, for example. If need be, I could create my own program on social media. I'm thinking of a young Quebecker who created his own program, 7 jours sur Terre, and who is followed by thousands of people. He even has his own subscription system. This has become a side gig for him, or maybe it's his main job. I have no idea. Thousands of people follow him in real time.

Since the original proposed section 4.1 was removed from the bill three weeks ago, the government has been telling us that users aren't affected by Bill C-10, even without that section. Over the course of our discussion, questions have been coming to mind. I'm thinking as I'm talking to you. I can see that, in proposed paragraph 9.1(1)(i.1), the government is asking for, “in relation to online undertakings that provide a social media service, the discoverability of Canadian creators of programs.” So, indirectly, if a Canadian were to create their own program on social media for fun, the CRTC would be asked to determine whether to ensure the discoverability of that program and, if so, to establish how to do this. Is that right?

For three weeks now, the minister has been telling everyone that users aren't affected by this bill after the removal of proposed section 4.1. However, I can see the intention to reinstate a provision in the bill that could directly affect users. In any event, I'm raising the issue.

Do I understand this properly?

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Mr. Ripley.

3:40 p.m.

Director General, Broadcasting, Copyright and Creative Marketplace Branch, Department of Canadian Heritage

Thomas Owen Ripley

Thank you for the question, Mr. Rayes.

I'll try to make this clear. Under proposed subsection 2(2.1), a non-affiliated user can never be considered a broadcaster. The user can't suddenly be considered a broadcaster.

You're right that the purpose of the CRTC's discoverability power is to promote individual Canadians. As I'm sure you know, a whole community of creators and artists use social media to share and promote their work. The idea, again, is to give the CRTC the permissive power to create a positive obligation for social media to promote these people. The term “creators” has a creative and cultural connotation. Certainly, the goal isn't to target the social media accounts of every Canadian. It's really the people who fit that identity, who are involved in the creative field and who are sharing their work on social media.

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Monsieur Boulerice, welcome to the committee, sir.

Go ahead. You have the floor.

May 19th, 2021 / 3:40 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'll keep it short.

First, I must say that I'm quite in favour of the subamendment proposed by Mr. Champoux. He tried to remind us of the idea behind the discoverability requirement. We want people to be able to discover productions, programs, films and television series. We want to make sure that our stories, Quebec and Canadian stories, can be easily found online.

Personally, I really like director Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette. However, I would prefer that people discover not Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, but rather her film, Goddess of the Fireflies. Afterwards, they can discover the director. In my opinion, it's important to put things in the right order. We want to highlight Quebec and Canadian productions. I'm therefore quite in favour of Mr. Champoux's subamendment.

Second, I want to go back to the definition of social media. I don't think that we should box ourselves in or limit ourselves. We must give the CRTC the flexibility and freedom to face the future. As Mr. Rayes said, our children are using social media that we don't know about. Honestly, this is also true for me. We need to leave the door open and let the CRTC define social media. If we define it today, in May 2021, the definition will probably be outdated in six months or a year.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Mr. Shields.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'll go one more time at this. Many of us have followed a documentary TV type of show called Island of Bryan, in which a Canadian couple, architecture designers, have rebuilt a resort in the Bahamas over the last two to three years. They're Canadians. That program was available on cable, and it's now available on streaming services.

Words matter. Is it the content or the individuals? That, to me.... We have a challenge here; we really do. This is an incredibly interesting show with a large following. They're a tremendous couple, but they're not in Canada. The resort is not a Canadian resort, but they're Canadian. That's a challenge for me in the discussion.

Thank you.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

We now go to Mr. Champoux.

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Chair, I just want to clarify something regarding Mr. Shields' concern.

Classification systems are already available to the various funds, for example. The CRTC also has a points system to define Canadian content. Since this system already exists, it isn't a new thing to introduce. The definition of Quebec and Canadian content already exists. It isn't an issue here.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Mr. Manly.

3:45 p.m.

Green

Paul Manly Green Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

I wanted to clarify that as well. There is a system within the CRTC. When you're talking about music, there's something called MAPL, which is music, artist, performance and lyrics. It's a scoring system to determine how you figure out whether something is Canadian content or not.

There's a similar set of rules for broadcasting, for documentary production—producers and directors, the actors, the companies involved. The CRTC has already set up these kinds of rules that would determine how we figure out what is Canadian content and what is not Canadian content. That's basically how the system works. The CRTC has been fairly clear about this.

I think it's not going to impinge on people's freedom of speech, because you can still post what you want on your social media channels. It just means that the algorithm that says “If you like that, you might like this” is going to show you something and say, “This is a Canadian program you might be interested in.” Maybe they'd put a little Canadian flag on it or something to indicate that, for discoverability, this is something you might want to watch that is Canadian.

That's just a comment I wanted to make.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Thank you, Mr. Manly.

I see no further conversation.

Just so that we're all clear—it's been a bit of time since it was proposed—we're now working on amendment G-11.1, put forward by Ms. Dabrusin. We're currently voting on the subamendment as proposed by the Bloc, by Mr. Champoux, which simply proposes to take out the words “creators of”. This is the English version, and I'm assuming my interpretation went through.

Has everybody now understood?

Very well, then, we will now proceed to the vote. This is on the subamendment by Mr. Champoux.

(Subamendment negatived: nays 9; yeas 2 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

As we pointed out earlier, Mr. Champoux had two separate subamendments. I'll give him the floor to proceed with number two.

Mr. Champoux.

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My second subamendment concerns paragraph (b) of amendment G-11.1, which proposes to amend clause 7 of Bill C-10 by adding subsection 9.1(3.1) after line 10 on page 8. My subamendment seeks to amend the amendment by adding the following to the end of the proposed text:

Interpretation (3.2) For greater certainty, paragraph (1)(i.1) shall be construed and applied in a manner that is consistent with the freedom of expression enjoyed by users of social media services provided by online undertakings.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

It is my understanding that the wording of this was distributed earlier.

Is that correct, Mr. Champoux?

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Yes, it was sent.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

That's fine. Thank you.

I did ask Ms. Harder earlier if they would like to have some time. I'm going to go back to that point once more.

Ms. Harder, I'm looking to you only because it was requested. I did say that we would have a pause after the first subamendment, and you said yes. Are we in the same situation?

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Chair, I think we would benefit from being able to step out for a few moments.