House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was content.

Topics

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, who always speaks with tremendous passion and a great deal of emotion for the sector that she is part of, the cultural sector.

She asked me to say just one thing to the cultural sector, and that will be easy. I would just tell them that we will never abandon them.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to a bill that is important to me. It is not so much the bill itself, but what it will do and the sector it will affect. This bill could really change things in the future.

Before speaking about the principles and general thrust of Bill C‑10, and as we are officially discussing at this time a supermotion to expedite the business and the course of events in the House, I would like to come back to the question I asked my colleague from Drummond a few minutes ago, that is, how did we get here?

How did we arrive at a bill that nevertheless affects our cultural sovereignty, our ability to produce Quebec and Canadian cultural content, and thus an entire industry representing billions of dollars, thousands of jobs and people affected in every region of Quebec and Canada, such a crucial and important industry that we had failed to address for a very long time?

Not only is the bill behind schedule, but so is the government in its management of government business in the House and in parliamentary committees. We have seen it all with Bill C‑10. I have been doing this work for years, but some of these things are unprecedented, including the twists and turns, bad management, communication problems, breaks, questions, notices and many testimonies. I have seen contradictory things and rather odd processes, including this thing done by the Conservatives, which I have rarely seen: systematic filibustering in order to waste the committee's time, including on Conservative amendments. When a member proposes an amendment they usually want to see it passed because they think it will improve the bill. However, the Conservatives had the nerve to filibuster their own amendments. It is rather odd.

Things are coming to a close. Nobody wants an election, but everyone expects one. That means we need to get a move on because we might be on the campaign trail come August or September. That is up to the Liberals.

We could come back and work on the bill. There is a chance that could happen, but all signs point to the Liberals being in a hurry. Now they want to move so fast that they shut down a parliamentary committee. That is just the fourth time in more than 150 years this has happened. This time, they are not limiting debate to 10 hours but to five.

In order to make the best possible use of those five hours, the NDP and other parties agreed to schedule more meetings so the committee could meet more often than originally planned. Last week, instead of meeting twice, the committee met five times, if memory serves. Even so, here come the Liberals with their supermotion to expedite matters once again.

I can only conclude that the government dragged its feet. It said all kinds of things about how important culture and the cultural sector are, but none of that was true. Bill C‑10 was full of holes, things were not clear, the Minister of Canadian Heritage himself was often unclear, and the government did not put Bill C‑10 on the agenda early enough and often enough for it to make any headway.

It is all well and good to mollify artists and tell them we love them, that we support them, that this is important and the bill must be modernized, but now we have a bunch of amendments at the last minute that we did not have a chance to study, even though some of them would have been relevant and should have been included in Bill C‑10.

This is the reality we often face at the end of a parliamentary session. It is too bad. If the Liberal government had been serious about culture and cultural sovereignty, it would have done this long before now, and not just because the Yale report was released in 2018. Bill C‑10 could have been given more attention during House proceedings, but the Liberals chose not to do so.

Why did the Broadcasting Act need to be overhauled? It is because, over time and with changes and advances in technology, it has become completely outdated and obsolete.

In my opinion, it is important to remember that the traditional broadcasters are required by the CRTC to contribute to the production of cultural content, whether Quebec or Canadian, in French or in English. We will talk again about the importance of having works, films, and programs in French. The ecosystem of broadcasting content has changed a lot over the past few years.

One of the things the member for Drummond talked about was Internet access. Some people will remember that it was much harder to get online 10 or 15 years ago. Today, our system is completely imbalanced and unfair, which means the cultural sector is hitting a wall. This is putting the cultural sector in jeopardy. Year after year, cable companies are losing subscribers. Why? Because the technology has changed and the traditional broadcasters are being overtaken by digital broadcasters, who are becoming more prominent and taking up more space. That was the case before the pandemic, but the pandemic has shown us that platforms like Netflix, Disney+ and Crave have taken over.

Let me be clear: The big digital broadcasters, social medial companies and web giants do not contribute to the collective investment that is needed to create Canadian or Quebec cultural content in French or English. That is the problem. That is what the Conservatives and Liberals have been dragging their feet on for years. The Broadcasting Act should have been amended a long time ago.

The NDP is obviously in favour of making new players contribute. They are not so new anymore, but they are big. Traditional broadcasters contribute money to a fund to create Quebec and Canadian cultural content, but that fund is getting smaller and smaller. These new digital players need to contribute so that the industry gets more resources to create new works that will tell our stories, the stories of what is happening in our communities, cities, regions and our villages.

This is so important to the NDP that it was one of the issues we campaigned. I will read an excerpt from our 2019 platform:

Most Canadians now get their news from Facebook, and Netflix is the largest broadcaster in the country - but these web giants don't pay the same taxes or contribute to funding Canadian content in the same way that traditional media do. Canadian film, television, and media is up against a tidal wave of well-funded American content - and the Liberals have refused to take action to level the playing field [this notion is very important].

That's why...we will step up to make sure that Netflix, Facebook, Google, and other digital media companies play by the same rules as Canadian broadcasters. That means paying taxes [which is not in Bill C‑10. It is in the budget, but it seems we will have to wait until next year], supporting Canadian content in both official languages, and taking responsibility for what appears on their platforms, just like other media outlets....

New Democrats will make sure that Canadian talent can thrive on both digital and traditional platforms - here at home and around the world. We think that artists should be able to earn a decent living from their art, and that government has an important role to play in making sure that a diversity of Canadian voices tell our stories.

As members can see, we already knew that the act had to be modernized. Thirty years after it was passed, the act is outdated.

It is true that there is a real and well-founded appetite for such a long-awaited change in the cultural sector, whether it is television, film or music. YouTube is the platform most used for music, so it is really important to include social media platforms like YouTube on the list of entites that can be monitored and regulated.

However, we should not be regulating users, citizens who post their own videos on this platform. We need to target the professional use of this platform for commercial purposes.

I will come back to the questions that arose in the course of the Bill C-10 saga. To ensure the longevity of our cultural ecosystem, the NDP was obviously prepared to work in good faith to improve and enhance the bill, based on the premise that the old existing act had outlived its usefulness because it is jeopardizing this industry, our capabilities and some jobs.

What was the NDP looking for, exactly? We wanted a broadcasting system that remains essentially Canadian, with Quebec and Canadian ownership. We wanted Quebec and Canadian productions that are easily identifiable and accessible. We wanted local shows and content. That is something that we examined very closely.

We also wanted a broadcasting system that clearly recognizes the importance of the French language in this ecosystem. Unfortunately, the Liberal government had a hard time signing an agreement with Netflix a few years ago. We wanted to prevent that sort of thing from happening again, because we never got any real guarantees about the percentage of French-language content that would be produced under the agreement between the Liberals and Netflix.

We also wanted an equitable system without lowering our standards. Just because Canada is calling on web giants and digital broadcasters to participate financially should not mean that traditional broadcasters get a free pass or we will be no further ahead in terms of increased revenues for our artists and cultural production.

We wanted to ensure that there were indigenous language productions for indigenous peoples and for first nations. That was one thing we were watching for and wanted to find in Bill C‑10. Those are the principles that guided us in this work.

Now we are at the end of the process with a flawed and yet well-intentioned bill. This may create a dilemma for us as members and parliamentarians. We wanted to take our time to do the work properly, plug the holes and ensure that the bill could not be challenged in court.

The government has to accept a lot of responsibility for the misunderstandings and legitimate concerns people had about their freedom of expression, a topic I will now get into.

Is freedom of expression being threatened? There was much talk of that, many people reacted, many people called and wrote in and there were articles and editorials on the topic. Experts are divided on the issue, but one group is smaller than the other. The member for Drummond talked about that earlier. In Quebec, we just have to look at Pierre Trudel and Monique Simard, who are strong voices and feel very strongly about this.

It is also important to know that there are already guarantees in three provisions in the act, in sections 2, 35 and 46, that protect citizens' and ordinary users' capacity to publish and broadcast content on social media.

Obviously, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms still exists. We asked the Minister of Justice for a charter statement on two occasions, first before and then again after the removal of proposed section 4.1. In both cases, we were told that the bill was consistent with the charter.

To make sure that this important issue is properly dealt with and that we have all the possible guarantees, the NDP is also asking the government for a Supreme Court reference. That way, we would ensure our citizens' rights to freedom of expression are protected in the bill.

There are the sections of the bill, the overwhelming expert opinion and the two charter statements from the Minister of Justice. In addition, we are asking for a Supreme Court reference, to make sure that users cannot be regulated by the CRTC. That is very important: The CRTC will regulate broadcasting companies, not individuals.

I believe a member also mentioned it, but if I thought there was any possibility that my children or teenagers would be targeted by the CRTC or restricted in their freedom of expression on social media and online, I would be greatly concerned and I would not let that happen.

Why is it so important to take care of the cultural industry, our artists and our artisans? We may want to do it for economic reasons because this industry represents thousands of jobs and these sectors generally work well. Things were harder during the pandemic and it is more difficult for the cultural industry to get out of the crisis. What is more, things are not consistent across the cultural industry. Some sectors are doing well, while others are struggling. I am thinking of festivals, all the performing arts, the theatres and concerts. These sectors will need a little more time to get back on their feet. With regard to television and movies, activities continued, but we need to ensure that our system is sustainable so that we are able to continue creating our television shows and movies, telling our stories and hiring our local creators, artisans and technicians. There is therefore an economic argument because the cultural industry is an important economic driver.

However, the cultural sector is about more than just economics. It also brings us together as a society. It forges an identity, a vision of the world, and it also brings elements of beauty, tenderness and humanity into our lives. That is what makes the cultural sector different from any other economic sector. It changes who we are as human beings and how we see the world. The art that is produced says a lot about a society, whether we experience it through television, dance, paintings, performances, books or poems. Culture can change the world.

Allow me to read an excerpt of a poem written by Jacques Prévert.The sun shines for all mankind, except of course for prisoners and miners, and also for
those who scale the fish
those who eat the spoiled meat
those who turn out hairpin after hairpin
those who blow the glass bottles that others will drink from
those who slice their bread with pocketknives
those who vacation at their workbenches or their desks
those who never quite know what to say
those who milk your cows yet who never drink their milk
those you won't find anesthetized at the dentist's
those who cough out their lungs in the subway
those who down in various holes turn out the pens with which others
in the open air will write something to the effect that everything turns out for the best
those who have too much to even begin to put into words
those whose labors are never over
those who haven't labors
those who look for labors
those who aren't looking for labors...
those who simply rot
those who enjoy the luxury of eating
those who travel beneath your wheels
those who stare at the Seine flowing by
those whom you hire, to whom you express your deepest thanks, whom you are charitable toward, whom you deprive, whom you manipulate, whom you step on, whom you crush
those from whom even fingerprints are taken...
those who scatter salt on the snow in all directions in order to collect a ridiculous salary
those whose life expectancy is a lot shorter than yours is
those who've never yet knelt down to pick up a dropped hairpin
those who die of boredom on a Sunday afternoon because they see Monday morning coming
and also Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday
and Saturday too
and the next Sunday afternoon as well.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, for many years we have been waiting to modernize the legislation. This act would do a multitude of things, but it would ultimately protect the interests of local artists. At the end of the day, it is the best thing for our identity, for consumers and so forth.

The Conservatives seem to be focused on freedom of speech, which really has nothing to do with it. Their argument is completely bogus. Could my colleague provide his thoughts on why the Conservative Party members seem to be basing their decision on this legislation somehow limiting freedom of speech? Also, if it was up to the Conservatives, does he believe that this legislation would even pass?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his comment and question.

The Conservatives will have to speak for themselves. People have raised legitimate questions. As I said earlier, when the issue is freedom of expression, taking our time, doing the work, checking, listening, talking to experts and getting opinions from the right people is the right thing to do.

However, I have to say that the Minister of Canadian Heritage did such a poor job of justifying and explaining his Bill C‑10 that the Conservatives saw a political weakness they could exploit. They jumped at the chance, hoping to score political points by occasionally manipulating the truth and the facts a little bit. The reason they were so aggressive is that the Liberals were so weak.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member from Quebec was on the committee when this bill was discussed, along with another member from the NDP: the member for Edmonton Strathcona.

This is an important bill. The member mentioned in his speech that there was good intention behind it. As legislators in this country, we all have good intentions, but this is the worst bill that I have seen in six years. I am embarrassed to put my name on the committee report when it is presented to the House. I have been a broadcaster for over 40 years. This bill is despicable, and the gag order put in by the Bloc and the Liberals is utterly ridiculous. We have seen this time and again. This bill should have been debated for over a year. The Conservatives put forward 40 amendments and there was no discussion. There were just the names of the amendments. There was never a discussion on them.

Could the hon. member from Quebec comment on 40 amendments that were never even talked about in committee?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comment and question.

I feel some of his frustration. The government handled the whole thing very poorly. I completely agree with his assertion that we should have spent the past year debating this bill. It is so important that the Liberals should have put it on the agenda much sooner, which would have enabled us to be much more efficient and systematic in our work on this bill.

However, I do not share my colleague's concerns right now. We cannot just ignore the fact that new digital broadcasters are excluded from Canada's and Quebec's cultural content production ecosystem. This is a step forward that takes us in the right direction as a society.

Even so, I think it is a terrible shame that 40 amendments got left on the table because the Liberals were unable to manage their agenda.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2021 / 6:15 p.m.

NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will express a concern similar to the one just raised by my colleague, who has worked tremendously hard fighting for the arts and artists in Quebec and throughout the country. I share his concerns about how the current government prorogued Parliament and scheduled things poorly. Now we are at the eleventh hour and having to debate things, which is placing us in a very bad situation.

In spite of that, I am wondering this: Could the member expand on the importance of having the bill amend the act moving forward? How may it help artists going forward?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her very relevant comment and question.

Web giants do not pay tax in Canada, despite the Liberals' promises. We are told they will as of January, but we shall see. For the time being, they do not pay. Furthermore, they do not contribute to the production of content for television or film, nor to the music industry, which is very important. Having new players at the table and including them in the system so they do contribute would increase our ability to invest in the cultural sector, which will enable us to create and maintain good jobs and support homegrown creators. I think that is a priority.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree with almost everything the member had to say.

I found it quite refreshing to hear the member's assessment of what the Conservatives are up to. He is basically saying that, given how this bill was rolled out, although we might disagree with the minister's approach to it, the Conservatives saw an opportunity to exploit it for political gain.

As I heard the member say that, I could not help but sit here and wonder if that is what we are here for. Is that the role of the opposition? Is the role of the opposition to look for the political opportunity to exploit a weakness so it can gain power? Is it not the role of the opposition to genuinely try to make legislation better for Canadians?

If we agree with the member's assessment of it, could he comment on whether that is the right way for an opposition to be functioning?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. Yes, it is a shame to see these political games, but the reality here is that we have to win our seats and our ridings through elections. Unfortunately, there can be a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it.

Historically, the Conservatives have never been big supporters of the cultural industry or our artists. The cuts made by Stephen Harper's Conservative government in the mid-2000s speak volumes about the Conservative vision of free markets and their laissez-faire attitude towards foreign companies. It is a vision that sees our artists as millionaires who then get no help. We know very well that in small markets like Quebec or Canada, if there are no mechanisms like the Canada Media Fund, it is extremely difficult to protect one's culture, one's cultural sovereignty, and to have cultural content made by local people.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have just one question for my NDP colleague, with whom I once served on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

When a problem crops up, people often argue and point fingers. Earlier I heard the Liberal member try to blame the Conservatives, but he is forgetting to consider the source of the problem. If the problem had been addressed at its source, we would not be seeing any of these further problems.

Does my colleague agree with my interpretation? If the Minister of Canadian Heritage had done his job from the beginning and taken his time introducing this bill, would we be in this position today?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a bit of a softball question. I see exactly where my colleague is going with this. It is a fair question.

The minister mismanaged the bill and explained it poorly. He did not take the time to make the bill watertight. Once the genie of doubt is out of the bottle, it is very difficult to put him back in. This is why the NDP agreed to pause the committee to bring in the heritage and justice ministers and to ask for a second opinion from the Department of Justice.

Yes, the minister himself bears a lot of the responsibility for all of the mixed messages and disasters surrounding Bill C‑10 so far, with the gag orders and today's supermotion.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Saskatoon—Grasswood.

Last week culminated in a devastating assault on democracy as MPs were forced to vote on amendments that were not made public and vote on sections of the bill without any discussion or debate. There was zero openness and zero accountability, and it was absolutely wrong.

How did we get there? Earlier in the spring the Liberals brought forward an amendment to their own bill, which removed a section that originally protected the content that individuals would post online. When that section was removed, of course it caused disarray at committee and a great discussion ensued.

That was the case because Canadians deserve to be protected. They deserve to have their voices contended for and their freedoms established. When that part of the bill was taken out, of course the Conservatives went to bat. The Liberals did not really like that very much, so they moved something called time allocation in the House of Commons, which limited debate at committee to five hours.

This meant that hundreds of pages of material was only given five hours of consideration, after which time members of the committee were forced to vote on the bill, including its amendments and subamendments. Again, those were not made public and no discussion was allowed.

It was not exactly democracy in its finest state. It was a sham, and not how good legislation is meant to be created in Canada. This is not democracy.

Once again, the bill is now in the House. Although the Liberals have not moved time allocation, they have moved to have our debating time restricted again.

From here the bill will go to the Senate where it will be discussed further. My genuine hope is that the Senate will have the opportunity to examine this bill and hear from witnesses. In particular, it is my hope that the witnesses it brings forward include creators from digital first platforms because those individuals have been left out of the conversation despite being impacted to the greatest extent.

Let me back up and explain what this bill does for a moment. There are two things. The first is, as the government argues, it levels the playing field between large streaming companies and traditional broadcasters. The second thing this bill does in fact do, however, is censor the content we place online.

With regard to levelling the playing field, the minister claims this is about getting money from web giants, but if he is concerned about GST being paid, that is already taken care of because there is already an initiative starting in July that will require companies, such as Disney+, Netflix, Spotify, Crave, etc., to start paying GST, which takes care of levelling the playing field.

However, Bill C-10 goes far beyond just levelling the playing field. It is backed up by many lobby groups that are pushing for a 30% Canadian programming expenditure requirement as a share of revenue per year. What this will do is not simply increase the cost to these large streaming companies, it will actually pass that cost down to consumers. According to experts, costs are actually expected to rise by about 50%.

Canadians already pay some of the highest rates in the world, so with Bill C-10, they can expect to be taxed even more. This of course will have a huge impact on them with respect to money coming out of their wallets. Furthermore, the bill will impact the content Canadians can post and access, which brings me to my second point on censorship.

When I talk about censorship, I talk about the government getting involved with respect to what one can and cannot see and post online. I am talking about the government putting an Internet czar in place.

Peter Menzies, the former CRTC vice-chair, stated Bill C-10, “doesn’t just infringe on free expression, it constitutes a full-blown assault upon it and, through it, the foundations of democracy.” That deserves consideration. It is quite the statement.

Bill C-10 is in fact a direct attack on section 2(b) of our charter. Under this section, Canadians have the right to speak and to be heard. Much of that speaking takes place within our new form of the public square, the Internet.

The bill before us would infringe upon the ability Canadians have to post online and to express themselves freely. Furthermore, the bill would infringe upon the rights that viewers have to access that content online, which means that the right to speak and the right to be heard will be infringed upon if the bill passes.

Let us talk about viewers for a moment. Viewers go online in order to access the content they want. They go on YouTube perhaps looking for a video on how to fix a bicycle chain, or they may want to look up information having to do with the war of 1812. They are looking for content that is going to fit their needs.

However, if the bill is passed, they would go on YouTube, and the government would determine what that need might be. The government would dictate the type of material that they would be able to access. The government would dictate this based on how “Canadian” the material is.

The government would curate what we can and cannot see by bumping things up or down in the queue, which means that the content a viewer really needs to access might be pushed back to page 27 of a YouTube search whereas, normally, right now, according to the existing algorithms, that content would probably be found on page one. The government would actually infringe upon a viewer's ability and right to access that information, because it is going to curate and determine that, no, a viewer does not want what is on page 27, but rather what the government is putting on page one. It wrong. It is dictatorial. It is anti-democratic.

Canadians know what they like. They know what they want to watch, and they know how to find it. Platforms such as YouTube are curated in such a way as to point people to more of the content they desire. When a viewer searches for content, YouTube gives it, and then it might suggest more that is similar to it. However, that would not be the case going forward. Instead, the government would steer viewers in the direction that the government wants them to go, and it will do it through the power of its Internet czar.

I will talk about creators for a moment. They are amazing. In Canada, we are punching above our weight in terms of what creators are able to produce, and I am talking about individuals who are using non-traditional platforms in order to gain an audience. They share their talent, skill and ability with the world. Ninety per cent of watch time of Canadian content comes from viewers outside of Canada. That is amazing.

I think about Justin Bieber, and about how much popularity he has gained on the world stage. He started out on YouTube, a non-traditional platform. However, under Bill C-10, Justin Bieber probably would not have risen to the top, because the algorithms that the government would impose through its Internet czar would relegate him to the bottom. Why? Well, it is because his content just would not be Canadian enough to make the cut. Again, it is wrong.

Let us also talk about diversity. This government loves to celebrate diversity, but let us talk about the indigenous digital first creators or those who are members of minority groups. Instead of being able to make a name for themselves and follow the protocols that are already in existence, they would come under government scrutiny and, again, the Internet czar would determine whether or not their content can be accessed.

Now, members might ask who the Internet czar is. It is none other than the CRTC, which is the regulatory arm of the government. Who makes up the CRTC? I can tell members that the leadership of the CRTC is made up of six white men. It would be six white men who would be determining what type of content is Canadian and what content is not.

They would be determining whether or not indigenous first creators can be accessed or not. They would be determining whether visible minority content can be accessed or not. Six white men would be making those decisions on behalf of those individuals who are putting their content out online and on behalf of Canadians who wish to access that content.

I have not seen legislation this dictatorial since my time of first being elected in 2015. It is wrong and anti-democratic, and it is altogether harmful, not only to creators, but also to the millions of viewers who use platforms such as YouTube in order to access information and engage in the public square online.

It is wrong, and I would ask for Bill C-10 to be rescinded, at the bare minimum. When it gets to the Senate, I ask that, please do the due diligence; please research well; and please hear from witnesses who have not yet been heard from, namely the artists.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kenny Chiu Conservative Steveston—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not have as deep of experience as the member for Saskatoon—Grasswood does in media, but in my previous life I debated on ethnic TV and in the media. I actually championed the right for our Bloc Québécois members to be able to debate and articulate why Quebec should be independent, although, of course, I am a federalist.

I would like to hear from the member for Lethbridge what kind of control there could be, should any other province campaign to be independent because, obviously, then it would not be Canadian content.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, at the heart of the issue is censorship. It is the government determining what we can access online and what we cannot access, and what creators can post online and what they cannot post online. For the government to determine this does in fact mean it could swing things in its favour in curating that content, which is wrong. It should be left up to Canadians.

The Internet is this amazing free space where we are supposed to be able to access information, where we are supposed to be able to exchange ideas and where we are supposed to be able to engage in debate. For the government to dictate what can or cannot happen within that public space is a breach of section 2(b) of the charter. It is absolutely wrong and it is harmful.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Liberal

Steven Guilbeault LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I have two questions for the member. I would like to quote from a recent article in Canadian news, where screenwriter and actor Sugith Varughese said, “I’ve gone before the committees in Ottawa speaking on behalf of the writers and the sneering contempt that the Conservative Party members have is insulting.”

In light of this comment and the comment the member made on several occasions, more recently in a local newspaper in her riding but in the House as well, I would like to ask her if her comments in the House and this recent news article could be considered as contempt as well and, if so, if she would like to apologize in the House for having made those comments on numerous occasions.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am so thankful the minister is here today, because unfortunately he has not taken time to listen to digital first creators, but I would like to speak on their behalf.

Ms. Morghan Fortier is the CEO of Skyship Entertainment, an award-winning entertainment company owned and operated in Canada. It is one of Canada's top two YouTube creators. I do hope the minister will stay with me and actually hear this comment rather than leave.

Ms. Fortier wrote, “Despite our prominence we have been given zero opportunity to participate in any discussions regarding this legislation, and neither have any of our digital content contemporaries.” She is the first or second-largest YouTube creator, depending on the day, and she and her company were not consulted by the government. She goes on to say to the minister, so, again, I hope he is listening, “You have an opportunity to raise our traditional media companies to the standard of success our digital producers are experiencing. Instead you are choosing to antiquate digital companies. This is a step back, a step inward, and a step in the wrong direction.”

I hope the minister takes these words to heart.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague from Lethbridge speak for about 10 minutes. I will give her a chance. We can talk about content, but I do not think we will ever agree. As the old saying goes, if a lie is repeated often enough, people start to believe it. However, that is not what I want to talk about.

I want to talk about what she said in an interview she gave to the Lethbridge Herald, in the city she was elected to represent. Her comments were insulting and offensive to people in the cultural industry, who asked the member to apologize, as we have also asked her to do here in the House.

I am reaching out to the member for Lethbridge and giving her the opportunity to apologize to the members of the Quebec and Canadian cultural community for the derogatory comments she made about them.

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6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, again, I would present to the House, and I am so glad the member is listening, that there are a lot of deaf ears in this place and, for whatever reason, a refusal to listen to digital first creators. I am uncertain as to why that is the case, why this cohort has been ignored, has been erased, has had its voice squelched.

Why are we not listening to these individuals who are making a go for themselves on non-traditional platforms? Why are they being punished through Bill C-10 rather than being celebrated for the tremendous contributions they make to Canadian culture? It is as if we are pitting one group of artists against the other, and it is wrong. It is wrong for the government and it is wrong for the minister.

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Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Liberal

Steven Guilbeault LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, with respect to consideration of Government Business No. 10, I wish to give notice that at the next sitting of the House a minister of the Crown shall move, pursuant to Standing Order 57, that debate be not further adjourned.

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Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The House acknowledges the notice that was given.

The hon. member for Saskatoon—Grasswood.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise today to speak to the motion at hand, which concerns the government's desire to force through the disastrous bill, Bill C-10, to modernize the Broadcasting Act.

I will step back 40-plus years, when a young Kevin Waugh got into the broadcasting business. There were a lot of opportunities from coast to coast. I started as a midnight disc jockey in Yorkton. I came to Saskatoon. I worked at a radio station and did the summer news. Then I went over to Melfort to do farm news, which I knew very little about. Then I eventually went into sports and news. I was then hired at CTV Saskatoon where I spent nearly 40 years of my broadcasting career.

When the bill was introduced, I jumped at the chance to get involved. The broadcasting business has been talking about this for the last 30 years. We talked about the CRTC, broadcasters, stations going dark, layoffs in the industry. We talked about this for decades and it finally culminated in about the last five years. All of a sudden stations were going dark. Radio, TV, newspapers, everything in the business was turned upside down.

It was interested in what the Canadian heritage minister said a couple of moments ago when he said that they missed something when they introduced the bill in 1990. For the minister, when we look back at the bill if it does get passed, we will look at you and your ministry and say a lot has been missed.

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Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I ask the hon. member to direct his speech to the Chair and avoid those “you” and “your” references. I am sure he can do that as a capable broadcaster, as he has demonstrated.

The hon. member for Saskatoon—Grasswood.

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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, I should know better, and so should the Minister of Canadian Heritage. He made the statement that they made one mistake back in 1990 or 1991 when there was no Internet, and now 30 years later we have this bill. It is garbage, really. I talked for two full days. We sat the last two days in committee and we did nothing. The committee chair asked if an amendment should pass but no one knew what it was. We did, but we could not share it with people, and people were watching on the Internet.

It is interesting that the minister would quote 1990, because in my era, people will quote 2021, the worst bill that ever came out of the House of Commons, Bill C-10.

I am going to highlight how really deeply disappointed I am in the Bloc members. They went along with the government. It has been talked about in committee, and we did get along. Then, it went off the rails on that Friday when 4.1 was eliminated. It also went off the rails when the minister himself could not articulate the bill on CTV on a Sunday morning with Evan Solomon. He could not articulate his own bill on national TV in a 15-minute interview. If the minister could not articulate it, how could we articulate it?

It was one of the darkest moments of Bill C-10, because the next day the Liberals had to step it back. All the things the minister said Sunday morning were taken back Monday by the government. However, I am disappointed today with the Bloc members because they put a gag on this.

This bill is 30 years overdue. We have talked about that in the House, but it is a huge bill going forward. However, it is not a good bill, and everybody has talked about that in the last two hours. We are going to pass a flawed bill, then what happens? Who did we miss? Who could we have been helped with decent legislation? Some groups out there today are really going to be affected by the bill if and when it gets passed.

We cannot even talk about it properly in this place, and that hurts. As broadcaster for over 40 years, we all had consultations with conventional broadcasters and creators. We all knew the Internet was a big juggernaut, and we have seen it. However, we did not do our due diligence in committee, and we are not doing our due diligence today in the House of Commons, which is sad. When I look at my broadcasting career, today, half of the people are now laid off, and we have not helped them at all with this bill.

I did my consultations, and Bell, Rogers, Corus, Shaw, radio stations are all affected. We buy one radio station, we try to buy another and then we do satellite radio. All that means is that there are fewer people being employed. We really did not peel the onion on this bill, and now it is the worst piece of legislation I have seen in six years.

As I said before in a question to the NDP, I did not want to put my name on this in committee and I do not want it on the bill when it does come out of the House of Commons. I am embarrassed with the bill. I am embarrassed, because I spent 40 years broadcasting, and now I cannot talk about something that my union members want me to talk about. They are losing their jobs every day, and we never talked about that. We got mired in the weeds, if one so calls it, about free speech. We got tangled up in creators. Quebec got tangled up in musicians and actors.

We have had 14 months of hell with COVID. We understand the issues Quebec is having. It is no different than Edmonton—Strathcona or Saskatoon—Grasswood. We also have musicians. We also have actors. We also have people who are starving from day to day, because they cannot perform. That happens.

Here we are with Bill C-10. As I have said time and time again, it was the government's decision to remove 4.1, and then we went at it. The Liberals claimed 2.1 was the key to success over 4.1. That remains to be seen.

We all know, because we had the Minister of Justice at committee, that this bill is going to be challenged in the Supreme Court. Boy have we done our job. All we have done is taken a useless piece of legislation and given it to someone else to determine. Boy have I done my job. All of us should be ashamed of this bill, including the Minister of Canadian Heritage. That is where it starts. He should be embarrassed by this and the gag order from the Bloc to support it.

Therefore, I move, seconded by the member for Lethbridge:

that the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the words “notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practices of the House” and substituting the following:

Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, be referred back to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage for the purpose of reconsidering all its clauses with a view to protect individual users' content from being subject to broad and vague government powers to regulate their use of the internet, including on apps and social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

I never did have a chance to talk about the CRTC, so that will be for another day.