Madam Speaker, I am glad to be standing up to reiterate what all my colleagues have been saying tonight: It is time to kill Bill C-11.
The legislation is about giving the government more power and making sure that we have extra regulation. If we give the CRTC more regulations, that means more red tape and more gatekeepers telling us what we can and cannot watch; it also equals less opportunity for us, as Canadians, and less opportunity for creators who are using the Internet. We know that it comes with more costs.
We already heard that the government is going to ask content providers to make sure that they have the appropriate broadcast licences to go onto YouTube and other social media platforms and get their creations out there. These creations may be online programming, some of the short films being produced, animation or sharing their music. Now they are actually going to have to pay for a licence to have their own channels on social media.
We have already witnessed how government intervention has cost us as consumers. Canadians already pay the highest Internet service fees in the world. We pay the highest mobile phone bills, more than anywhere else in the developed world. To me, that is extremely disturbing. Canadians continue to pay more and more, while everybody else seems to be getting away with paying less while getting better services than we get from our phone companies or Internet service providers.
We still have lots of Canadians, including in my riding, who do not have access to high-speed broadband. They do not have that opportunity to actually see what we are talking about here on Bill C-11 because they still do not have the ability to hook up online.
As Conservatives, we believe that Canadians should be given more of what they want. However, the Liberal-NDP coalition wants the government to tell Canadians what they can watch or see on YouTube and other social media platforms.
The question here, and we are going to use a little theatre, is 2(b) or not 2(b). Of course, I am talking about section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Under fundamental freedoms in section 2, it says that everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.
If we go to Justice Canada's own website, and we are talking about a department of the federal government, it says:
The protection of freedom of expression is premised upon fundamental principles and values that promote the search for and attainment of truth, participation in social and political decision-making and the opportunity for individual self-fulfilment through expression.... The Supreme Court of Canada has maintained that the connection between freedom of expression and the political process is “perhaps the linchpin” of section 2(b) protection.... Free expression is valued above all as being instrumental to democratic governance. The two other rationales for protecting freedom of expression [are] the search for truth through the open exchange of ideas, and fostering individual self-actualization, thus directly engaging individual human dignity.
Canadians who value their Charter of Rights, who understand the freedom of expression, are all the ones out there denouncing what Bill C-11 could do. That is why we are hearing from social media content creators. A lot of them have their own shows where they share their political views. They share a lot of things, from criticizing what is going on in the film industry to criticizing what is happening here in the House of Commons. They fear, and they have testified at committee, that their ability to share their thoughts online, and the costs that come with it, would undermine their freedom of speech, expression, and opinion and thought. This would happen through the excess licensing that this bill would create.
That is why, as Conservatives, we are standing so strongly in opposition to what is very much a censorship bill that we are seeing from the Liberal-NDP coalition.
We heard through the debate tonight a lot of times from the Liberals asking where the legal expertise was. All we have to do is look at Phil Palmer, who is a constitutional lawyer and former official in the Department of Justice. He argued that Bill C-11 is unconstitutional. He said:
...C-11 lacks a foundation in Canadian constitutional law. Internet streaming services do not transmit to the public by radio waves, nor do they operate telecommunications facilities across provincial boundaries. They and their audiences are the clients of telecommunications common carriers, which are subject to federal regulation. Netflix, for instance, in this case is no more a federal undertaking than a law firm such as McCarthy Tétrault or a chain store like Canadian Tire, both of which rely extensively on telecommunications services.
We are talking about a situation where we have the Government of Canada overstepping its means through Bill C-11 and infringing upon the rights of Canadians, Canadian companies, individuals and our artists. I would make the argument that Bill C-11 would actually penalize content creators, including our artists, whether they are creating music, culture, clothing or any other type of art that is out there on social media.
We already heard from the member for Sarnia—Lambton. She talked about the monetization and the ability of creators who have been able to go online and make a good living selling their music, art and any bit of their creations. Right now, if we regulate the industry, we are talking about $1 billion a year that the arts community is going to be able to earn. Today, without government interference, it is making $5 billion a year. Why would we want to limit the ability of our arts and culture industry to actually make less?
I guess there is the argument out there about having a free market versus government intervention. We know that government intervention always equals more dependency, because people are going to have to rely on grants and subsidization to be able to earn a living. I think the Liberal-NDP coalition, and I think my colleagues will agree with me, actually loves when Canadians become more dependent, because if they are more dependent, the government gets to control them.
A great example of that is the $595-million media bailout and how the government has control of our free press, supposedly.
This is a debate about freedom. This is about the debate to have freedom to create, share and earn a living. This is about freedom of Canadians to view and listen to what we as consumers choose, without the gatekeepers dictating what we see and hear. This is about the freedom to express ourselves and participate in society online without any censorship, but we should not be surprised, since we have a Prime Minister who has said that he admires basic communist dictatorships.
I have heard from hundreds of constituents and Canadians across the country who oppose Bill C-11 as well as the NDP-Liberal coalition. They are worried about censorship. The artists and content providers are worried about the red tape, the extra costs and the limited market opportunities. Matthew Hatfield, who is the campaigns director of OpenMedia, encapsulates this the best. He raises the issue I think most Canadians are concerned about. He says:
...Bill C-11 must not give the CRTC the power to manipulate the results of algorithms on platforms. We would never tolerate the government setting rules specifying which books must be placed in the front window of our bookstores or what kinds of stories must appear on the front pages of our newspapers. But that’s exactly what the discoverability provision in section 9.1(1) currently does. This dictatorial approach is not needed or appropriate.
I can tell Canadians that there is hope out there. A future Conservative government would kill Bill C-11.