Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to articulate our government's position on this important issue. I thank the hon. member for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte for bringing forth this motion. I think the member for Guelph will agree with me when I say that we miss him at the INDU committee.
It is clear that the open Internet is a remarkable platform for economic growth, innovation, and social progress in Canada and around the world. It is essential to a modern digital economy and society. Many activities depend on it, including access to health care, education, employment, entertainment, and more. More broadly, it is vital for freedom of expression, diversity, and our democratic institutions. A flourishing and vibrant democracy is possible only when citizens are able to communicate and access information freely.
The Internet is one of the greatest tools of our lifetime. It is a platform where citizens, consumers, and businesses can exchange ideas, products, and services. It has transformed our economies and our daily lives in unimaginable ways.
Our government supports an open Internet where Canadians have the power to communicate freely and have access to the legal content of their choice. The Internet has been very successful because it is not controlled by any government or private sector entity. The Internet allows innovation without asking permission. This means that no Internet service provider can act as a gatekeeper or discriminate on the basis of the type of user or the content they want to access. Internet service providers cannot arbitrarily block or censor content, either.
Our government's position has remained the same over time. Canada has long excelled as a leader in promoting net neutrality. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the CRTC, was one of the first telecommunications regulators to implement a regulatory framework for net neutrality. This framework is based on the principles underlying the Internet: freedom, openness, transparency and innovation. The CRTC is actively studying issues as they arise, in light of the changing market and technology. For example, in April 2017, the CRTC opposed the practice of exempting certain applications and not others from data fees—a practice known as “tiered pricing”.
This means that Internet service providers cannot favour one application over another. Similarly, in 2015, the CRTC confirmed that telecommunications service providers could not give their own mobile video services an unfair advantage in the market by promoting data traffic on their networks. The principles of net neutrality are enshrined in Canadian law. By law, a company must be neutral and not discriminate against or control content that is communicated or accessed by Canadians.
This long-standing tradition of transport on a common basis, whereby goods and services must be delivered without discrimination, is important, particularly in sectors such as telecommunications where some players can control the flow of information.
I can say that Canada's approach to net neutrality is well regarded, both domestically and abroad. Telecommunications experts have said that Canada has strong net neutrality rules in place and praise the fact that Canada has legislated provisions barring unjust discrimination.
The issue of net neutrality is so important because fundamental freedoms of expression and communication are at stake. This is about making sure that we preserve the Internet as a progressive force for good and an open space without barriers. Just as important is to ensure that we have a fair marketplace, where Internet service providers compete on price, quality, and service rather than by discriminating against certain types of content, applications, or users.
I am pleased to stand here today to express the government's support for this motion. The government firmly believes that the net neutrality principles of openness, transparency, freedom, and innovation are essential to the continued growth of the Internet. As I have mentioned, Canada has strong net neutrality rules in place, which are enforced by the CRTC and based in the core principles of the Telecommunications Act. This has allowed the CRTC to respond nimbly and assertively to concerns as they emerge. The preservation of an open Internet and the free flow of information are vital to the economic and social prosperity of Canada, but this is not something we can take for granted. We must support the continued preservation of an open Internet free from unjust discrimination and interference.
This has been so fundamental to the evolution of the Internet we know today, and we must continue to be advocates for it in the future. That is why I am happy to affirm that net neutrality will be a guiding principle in the upcoming legislative review of Canada's communications legislation.
Canada's communications system is vital to our country's future. New technologies and new business models cause disruptions and, at the same time, create new opportunities. We have seen the growth of wireless technologies, the emergence of sensor networks and self-driving cars, and the Internet of Things. Some experts have estimated that there will be over 30 billion devices connected online by 2020.
Our review will aim to ensure that our legislative frameworks are able to respond to modern technology and needs, as well as future changes. In the review, we will consider net neutrality as an essential principle of our legal framework and how it can be strengthened. We want to ensure that we have a world-class legislative framework so that Canada can thrive in the digital age.
The Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and the Minister of Canadian Heritage worked together on this file, and our government looks forward to announcing further details on the review process shortly.
I would like to reassure the House and all Canadians that our government will continue to be a champion of the open Internet as a progressive force for good. We recognize the tremendous importance of the open Internet as a critical enabler of economic growth, innovation, diversity, and social inclusion.
This goes beyond our simply being able to connect to the Internet. This is about ensuring that Canadian consumers and businesses have access to an open and level playing field so they can unleash their full potential. I think this is something we, as Canadians, can all agree upon.