Madam Speaker, how does one follow on the comments made by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands? I congratulate her relative for getting a role in Star Trek: Discovery. I am sure there are a lot of Trekkies out there who appreciate that and will watch with bated breath to see who she is portraying.
It is an honour for me to rise in the House today to join in the discussion of Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.
As the member for Abbotsford put on the table, there are some fundamental flaws with it, one of which relates to the Governor in Council. When we go through the bill, one thing that jumps out right away is the power the Governor in Council will have. There would be a lot of power situated in the minister's office and cabinet when it comes to making decisions regarding Canadian content and broadcasting services, and that is a fundamental flaw in the bill.
What also pops out when reading the bill is the pretty broad definition of “online business”. I think that is what people were looking for.
Another issue my constituents have brought forward to me, which we will have time to talk about more, is the issue of giving more power to the CRTC. When we talk about the availability of online services, broadcasting and the news, most Canadians would like to see less power in the Ottawa bubble and the CRTC and more power throughout the country, as people would like to have more options.
I agree, and I think many members of the House would agree, that waiting 28 years to update a bill is a substantial length of time. The member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry mentioned he was three years old when this act was introduced, and he talked about some of the great music then. Times have changed, and a lot of conversations need to be had now about how we are going to do business using online services with Facebook and Netflix.
What are we going to do? How are we going to do it? The members across the way have talked about what taxes should look like for very big corporations, and the member for Abbotsford brought it up very well when he said that when businesses come to Canada they expect to be treated fairly. That is something we need to keep in mind when we are looking at this legislation.
We talked about having Canadian content and making sure there is a level playing field when it comes to news services. I think the other issue we need to talk about is how smaller online businesses and news services are competing with the bigger online services. That needs to be levelled as well.
Some smaller businesses are trying to compete against taxpayer dollars. The member for Barrie—Innisfil said, very correctly, that some of these small local publications are trying to compete with the CBC online, and the CBC has a good online paper. The member for Saskatoon—Grasswood talked about how it just updated its online presence, which is wonderful, but that online presence is now competing with smaller online papers. It is very hard for them to compete, because they do not have the resources that bigger companies like CBC, CTV or Global have. We need to take that into consideration as well when we are looking at how we will be able to ensure that smaller publications have the ability to compete. A lot of Canadians across the country want to see competition in the online broadcasting field and the ability to have more selection and options when looking at online news and broadcasting.
We also need to have a discussion about how we are going to ensure there is correct information online. That conversation is important in this day and age. Some of the members across the way have brought up fake news, or whatever they like to call it, but I think it is also incumbent upon us to make sure we hold ourselves to a higher level of decorum in the House when debating bills. Let us not bring up issues that are not related to Bill C-10, nor have personal attacks back and forth during these speeches. That is below parliamentarians and below the level that our constituents expect from us. We need a higher level of discourse in this chamber.
I expect that to continue and expect us to raise the bar of decorum in the House to ensure that when we have debates about important legislation, we stick to the facts and the debate at hand. We must leave personal and partisan feelings away from the table when we have these conversations. I will do my best to ensure that there is good decorum in this chamber whenever I am on my feet to talk about important bills.
When we have conversations on Bill C-10, possible situations could arise that are interesting. The long-awaited legislation is the result of the Yale report on the framework for communications in Canada tabled in February 2020. The 97 recommendations of the report deal with social media, copyright, taxation of web giants and advertising fees to ensure the sustainability of traditional media. Bill C-10 is limited to the modernization of the Broadcasting Act, which essentially consists of introducing, as I said earlier, a very broad definition of online business, broadcasting cultural content and giving the CRTC broad discretion to regulate them where it does require a percentage of Canadian content, requires financial contributions and imposes fines to investigate compliance.
There are a lot of recommendations from the Yale report, which Bill C-10 is based on, that have not been implemented, and I think we should take some time to step back. That is why on this side we think Bill C-10 misses the mark in a few areas, especially regarding centralizing the discretion within the CRTC and within the Minister of Canadian Heritage's office, which we think is a big concern. Many of my colleagues have talked about that concern. We need to ensure there are broader consultations about where Canadians would like to see the ability to regulate and where our online business and our broadcasting ideas would come from.
We want more news available, and we want Canadian content within our broadcasting. However, the bill misses the mark on creating some fairness within the broadcasting sector and ensuring that we have space for smaller and start-up publications. There are a couple back home I can think of that would be hurt from not having a level playing field when starting up and competing with the larger companies, such as CBC, Global and CTV. They need to start with an online presence, because that helps.
I know, as do the young staff in my office, that there are not a lot of newspapers in the office anymore. We have our phones and PressReader, and we get much of our information from online sources.
I know the Regina Leader Post and The Star Phoenix have dropping publication numbers in Saskatchewan. They are working hard to make sure they have a large online presence because they realize that more and more people are getting their news from websites and through online services.
We need to allow for room in online businesses so they have the ability to compete. It is not as fair at this point as we would like to see it, and we wish there would have been the ability within Bill C-10 to create a more level playing field.
When it comes to online services, companies such as Netflix and Facebook should pay their fair share, as my colleagues across the way like to say. I think that is a good point, but they need to have certainty so that before they come to Canada, they know what the taxes or fees are going to be when they bring their businesses to Canada. Without certainty, it is very hard to attract new businesses and new tech companies to Canada if they do not know what the fees will be.
Given the uncertainty reasons and the power that is going to be situated within the CRTC and the minister's office, we have issues and concerns. That is why we will not be supporting this piece of legislation at this time.