Madam Speaker, one of my colleagues from the Liberal Party earlier talked about how times have changed in Canada and that we have all of these new technologies that, when we originally thought about looking at broadcasting in Canada or content creation in Canada, no one ever really could have thought about. He is right. The problem is that what Bill C-11 does is kind of like trying to play an MP4 on a VHS machine: It is just not going to work.
For someone who is trying to understand what the bill does and has heard a bunch of different sides on the Internet and whatever, I found one really good, succinct explanation of what this does. The real motive of the online streaming act is simple. Streaming platforms, and creators on them, are bringing in more and more revenue, and legacy media wants a piece of the pie. Legacy broadcasting media companies, such as Bell Media, Rogers and Corus Entertainment, have built a comfortable and oligopolistic domestic market in Canada during the broadcast era and dominated the media landscape for many decades. However, the old narrow system is not working any more. Television broadcasts have been on the decline since 2014. People do not use cable TV or listen to radio to the same extent.
Rather than building competing online services on terms that attract people, those legacy media giants want a cut of the profit from streaming services that are increasingly popular in the 21st-century media market. That is really what we have here. Let me be clear: The lobbyists for legacy media are all over this, as are the lobbyists for streaming services. They each want Parliament to do what is in their best interests. It is our job to come up with what is in the best interests of the Canadian public, and the bill does not get it done.
I fully support diverse voices and new emerging artists creating content in Canada and frankly, on many platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, we have content influencers who do not need to get a grant from the government to have a platform. They do not need to break in through the door of Bell Media to get content produced. They can have a massive voice and a massive platform without going through a gatekeeper, and I think that is fantastic. However, what we have in the bill is success by the mainstream media lobbyists in ensuring that a new, emerging, disruptive source of content provision is brought into their old paradigm of operating so that they do not have to compete. At best, if the bill passes, all it does is really kind of sustain their profits in an old operating model for a few more years.
We are going to be back here in a few years anyway with new requests from them, because the pace of change is so fast. Whenever a government has to regulate to keep an oligopoly sustained, it eventually collapses. It eventually fails, or eventually the public says enough, particularly when it starts to detrimentally impact us. There is a considerable risk of detrimental impact on individual Canadians.
The government will say that individual content creators are protected from this, but they are not. My understanding is that any sort of background information, for lack of a better term, that an individual content creator puts on a platform that may be subject to these new rules, under the bill, would then be subject to either regulation or some sort of monetary penalty under the provisions of these bills. Who knows? That just is not acceptable. What we are doing is actually stifling new emerging talents who speak from new emerging voices: It is a new emerging generation, and we are basically saying that we should be propping up the old models of the gatekeepers of the past several decades through restrictive regulation that does not even come close to the universe that we are all operating in.
I am going to date myself by saying this. I grew up with The Racoons and Fraggle Rock. That is my generation. When they were producing Fraggle Rock, I do not even think that Star Trek could have thought about TikTok.
Why are we trying to come up with a regulatory model from my childhood? I would like to think I am young, hip and cool, but that remains a subject for debate that could come up in questions and comments.
In all seriousness, this bill could have been approached in a much better way. How I would have approached it, if I was the minister in charge, is to have understood the bias of the lobbyists who were coming forward to my bureaucrats from both sides of this issue: from streaming platforms and from legacy media. I would have looked beyond the near-term political ramifications of content creators who benefit from the existing system, and asked how we could ensure that those who are on all of those existing platforms are not negatively impacted, but at the same time, ensure that we are not stifling the potential of these disruptive new technologies.
Another recent analogy of this, if we want to see into the future of what this bill really looks like, is Uber. About 10 years ago, everyone was trying to get municipalities and different levels of government to pass regulations to prevent Uber from operating. That did not go so well. We have Uber, and I am glad for it. I use Uber all the time.
The reality is that when we have a disruptive technology that is popular and transforms culture, trying to stifle it with the government propping up an old way of doing things really does not work. I wish the government had gone to the traditional media and said if they felt that they were not able to compete in this environment and that there was a public benefit to us intervening, they should explain that. That is not the debate that we are having here.
The debate this bill puts forward on behalf of the government, the assumption, is that the old way is the only way and that we should be doing everything possible to prop up the old way of doing things without really forcing the old way to innovate. If Canada is supposed to be an innovative nation, the last thing we want to do to new, disruptive technology and innovation is send a signal that this is a hostile environment for new innovations to take root.
I know a lot has been said on this bill. I want to reiterate that I am concerned about the overreach of the CRTC, the main regulator here, in terms of the ability to regulate individual content. The regulator has sort of implied in committee testimony that it already has the ability to do this. It just maybe does not want to right now. That really frightens me.
That said, I also think there is a whole corollary discussion around social media platforms: how those have changed debate in this place and how they have calcified beliefs in this country. At the end of the day, we still have to ensure that Canadians have freedom of speech. How we usually square that circle is through education.
I think this bill is a giant mess. The concept behind it, of how we promote Canadian content and artists, is something that is worthy of study. That is something I am interested in and I am supporting, but on this bill itself, every person in here has said that it needs to go back to the drawing board.
With that, I move, seconded by the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “that” and substituting the following: “Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, be not now read a second time, but that the order be discharged, the bill withdrawn and the subject matter thereof referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.”
Let us go back to the drawing board. Let us take the concept, let us study it, let us work across party lines and come up with something we can all support, rather than ramming something down people's throats. Frankly, this is trying to play an MP4 on a Betamax.