Mr. Speaker, I was speaking about Chad, who lives in the Upper Stoney Creek portion of my constituency. Chad is a digital creator who is concerned about the threat Bill C-11 poses to his livelihood. Chad is not alone by any means. We have seen dozens of Canadian content creators testify at the heritage committee to their deep concern with regard to this bill.
Chad told me that Canadian content creators are thriving with open social media platforms and, in fact, 90% of all viewer traffic on Canadian YouTube channels comes from international audiences. Let me put that another way: Canadian content creators export 90% of their product. Every Canadian knows that the world is a consumer of Canadian content. Our talented comedians, musicians and other artists are the content creators, just like Chad, who do a fantastic job of making sure that people from around the world get a glimpse of our great nation. Therefore, why is the government failing Canadian content creators again? Prominent YouTube artist J.J. McCullough, who testified before the heritage committee, said, “I also worry that the dreams of the next generation of Canadian YouTubers will become less achievable once they're forced to navigate intimidating new regulatory hurdles my generation did not.”
It is the same government that is already failing young Canadians in so many ways. As they struggle to fill up their tank to drive to work each week, as they are no longer able to achieve the dream of home ownership, and as they struggle to keep up to the costs of living because of generationally high inflation rates, now the government introduces a bill that would place hurdles on the ability of young Canadians to succeed in one of the few sectors of the economy that has flourished during the last two years. Instead, it is putting big print media companies first. With respect to this bill, if it were really concerned about content creators, then why would it not put content creators first? Why are the Liberals so against it?
I know that Professor Michael Geist was a speaker at one of the committees. He is the University of Ottawa's Canada research chair in Internet and e-commerce law. He expressed this concern and I will quote. He said, “Canada punches above its weight when it comes to the creation of this content, which is worth billions of revenue globally.... We are talking about an enormous potential revenue loss for Canadian content producers.”
The article then states, “Geist says [that] would make platforms including YouTube and TikTok 'force-feed Canadian content' that people might not usually choose to watch, rather than curated content matched to their preferences.” It then continues, “If people do not select Canadian content they are offered, or if they indicate they don’t like it or choose another video instead, it could lead to content that wasn’t chosen, disliked or not watched to the end automatically being downgraded around the world.”
Therefore, why would this bill be placing power in the hands of the government to make these decisions? I might add that this is the government that cannot manage the passport system, as we have seen with the ridiculously long lines at Service Canada offices across the country. Why would we trust the same government to regulate content creation, which is a space which, by its definition, needs to be nimble, flexible and dynamic?
The concerns over Bill C-11 are not limited to detrimental effects on the livelihood of Canadian content creators, but extend to the right of free speech, which is a core identity of Canadians. If the last few years have taught us anything, it is that open social media platforms are vital and crucial for us as we maintain our social connections. Podcasts and the simple joys of sharing videos of puppies and kittens and such with friends could be heavily regulated and restricted if this legislation goes through. These are examples of social media content that have seen great success without government regulation, but that would be controlled by the CRTC, a bureaucracy which would needlessly clamp down on social media platforms.
The government is failing Canadians in the sense that it is introducing legislation that would reduce choices in content that have given Canadians relief over the course of the past number of years. What also gives constituents and I concern is the threat to the ability of Canadians to freely express themselves without government interference.
Poet Maya Angelou once said to watch people's feet, not their lips. The Liberal talking point is that they want free speech and do not want to curtail it. This happens to be the very process to discuss Bill C-11, and it is a sham. We are seeing the Liberals stopping and silencing debate, not just in committee, but also in this chamber. This is ironic, because the Minister of Canadian Heritage was recently reported in the Globe and Mail saying that the Senate is not going to look at this before the summer, and recently the chair of the CRTC, Ian Scott, estimated that it could take two years to implement Bill C-11. What is the rush? Why is there curtailing of debate on this bill in this House? Canadians need to stop watching the Liberals' lips and start watching their feet.
The impact that this legislation would have on freedom of speech is a serious concern for many in Flamborough—Glanbrook, who have sent hundreds of emails and made dozens of calls to my office, and I have to say the overwhelming majority are opposed to Bill C-11. As an example, Christina and Albert from Mount Hope emailed my office to express their concerns about the vagueness of the legislation and how it would allow for almost unhindered regulation of the Internet by the CRTC and, in turn, would influence what social media posts Canadians can see. Christina and Albert were also concerned with the possibility that those views that differ from the government’s might be more readily clamped down on in social media, because the CRTC would have regulatory control over the Internet. There are similar concerns from Harry in Lynden, in my constituency, as well as Arie in Mount Hope. Their overall concern is the limiting of the content they might watch or the content they might create and post.
I share the concerns of my constituents. We are proud as Canadians that Canada is seen internationally as a beacon of democracy, but this legislation and the limitations it would have on free speech are a betrayal of those freedoms that we certainly cherish and promote worldwide.
I know my time is winding down, so let me conclude.
For these reasons, Canadians are rightly concerned about this bill, its contents and the process by which it is being pushed through this chamber. This is why I stand with the people who have contacted my office and taken the time to call or write, with the people of Flamborough—Glanbrook and with my Conservative colleagues and urge everyone to vote against Bill C-11.