Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek.
The NDP-Liberal coalition has been as sly as a fox and as slippery as an eel with this piece of legislation known as Bill C-18, the online news act. This is yet another Liberal attempt to control the online content available to the people of Canada. The government will pick winners and losers among our various media outlets with this faulty legislation if it passes.
When this bill was before our House of Commons' standing committee in December, the government cut off hearing from witnesses who wished to voice their concerns about the fairness for media outlets. These witnesses and media stakeholders who wanted to put forward their concerns were simply shut down. After hastily being pushed through the standing committee, Bill C-18 came back to this place, where the censoring Liberals called time allocation after just three hours and 20 minutes of debate. What utter disregard for the many journalists and media outlets whose livelihoods will be weighed in the balance should this law pass.
The NDPs who supported the Liberals, when their blushing brides wanted to rob witnesses of the opportunity to testify at committee, backed them again by shutting debate down and rushing to get this bill passed here and sent off to the Senate. This is what we have seen time and time again with these partners in crime when it comes to legislation that supports their socialist agenda.
Legacy socialist legislation, like Bill C-11, Bill C-21 or Bill C-35, routinely gets pushed through this House with no regard for the views of stakeholders, ordinary Canadians and the opposition party.
What is wrong with Bill C-18, one might ask? Why are we using our resources to oppose this legislation? How is it bad for the Canadian public? How is it bad for small and local and ethnic media? How is it bad for journalists who want to maintain their independence?
I will tell us a little bit about that.
While this bill was in our House standing committee, the Liberals' court jester, the Minister of Heritage, deceived the committee with fake stats. He claimed that news outlets are destined for extinction. He cited a study that showed that 400 news outlets had closed since 2008. The conniving part of this testimony was that he left out a very important piece, also outlined in that same report, which was that hundreds of new outlets had opened during that exact same period, yet the jester claims that this bill is about supporting local media and building a fair news ecosystem. Nothing can be further from the truth.
This bill will favour darlings of the costly coalition like the CBC. The Parliamentary Budget Officer reported that more than 75% of the money generated by this bill will go to large corporations like Bell, Rogers and the CBC, leaving less than 25% for newspapers. Very little of that will be left over for local and ethnic media after big newspaper businesses take the lion's share of that 25%.
According to the PBO, the Liberal claim that this bill will help sustain local newspapers and ethnic media is completely false.
That is why Conservatives tried to fix this grave injustice at committee but the NDP-Liberal coalition, and the Bloc, voted against the amendment.
Conservative senators tried to amend this bill to stop state-backed broadcasters like the CBC from competing with private broadcasters and publications for this limited money when they already receive secure funding from taxpayers' dollars.
According to the PBO, this bill would generate $320 million, and of that amount, $240 million would go to the big broadcasters: CBC, Bell and Rogers. They would be entitled to more resources than they can possibly use, to help them increase their market share, while smaller outlets like the Toronto Star could disappear, heaven forbid.
Bill C-18 is another greasy attempt at online censorship. It walks hand in hand with Bill C-11. The other place sent this bill back to this place with amendments made by its independent senators, while amendments proposed by Conservative senators have been completely disregarded. Witnesses at the Senate committee painted a grim picture for most journalism in Canada, but that testimony was disrespected and trashed, along with the amendments that arose from it. The Liberal government is determined to control what we see online. According to witnesses from The Globe and Mail, News Media Canada, La Presse, Le Devoir, CANADALAND, The Line, and Village Media, this bill would create enormous risk for the independence of the press, for the bottom line of news outlets and for the future of digital media across this country.
The government has disguised its eagerness to control what news can be shared online with its appearance to want to straighten out big tech, like Facebook and Google, and to protect small media. Does that sound familiar? The same Minister of Canadian Heritage used these exact same tactics with Bill C-11 by touting his protection of Canadian content; however, at the same time, he cut small media's global revenue streams.
The government is enlisting the help of the CRTC to determine what is news and what is not. When something is created to share information about something new, otherwise known as “news”, it would be up to the CRTC whether it can be seen online in this country. Who asked for this bill? Legacy media asked for this bill, and the Liberal government has responded. The bunch on that side of the House will make sure that their story, their narrative, their agenda and their propaganda get out, and that opposing viewpoints are silenced. That is what this is all about. The government will use this legislation to choose winners and losers in the information world, and if it does not match its socialist agenda, news will not see the light of day. Good journalists and independent news media risk falling by the wayside if this legislation receives royal assent.
Conservatives will fight censorship and stand up for freedom of the press, which is now much broader than what it once encompassed. This is a new world, and a new approach is required to fight censorship. Censorship can be easily enacted in the online world without anyone ever suspecting it. On this side of the House, we stand for freedom and for protecting the public from legislation which would restrict the news content they would see. This bill to protect legacy broadcasters would drastically impact what news Canadians can see online, and Conservatives will not go on the record as supporting it. Censorship is censorship, however one slices it, and I will not vote for a bill that supports it in any way.
To conclude my remarks, my thoughts are with my colleague from Lethbridge, who, in my opinion and in the opinion of many of my colleagues, has been censored. She has been treated unfairly. It rushed to my mind as I was speaking so much about censorship. Hopefully, my colleague will receive justice.