Madam Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to speak again to my Motion No. 168. This motion is aimed at strengthening and protecting an open Internet in Canada by ensuring that net neutrality is a guiding principle in the Government of Canada's upcoming review of the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Acts.
I do want to thank the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, the parliamentary secretary, and the government for their interest in and support for this motion, and once again thank Mr. Andrew Quinn for his work in identifying and doing research on this topic.
We must enshrine in legislation the principles of neutrality in the provision and carriage of all telecommunications services. As we have heard throughout this debate from members on both sides of this place, net neutrality is an issue that is important to Canadians and that it is imperative for the Government of Canada to affirm our commitment to preserving a fair and open Internet for Canadians.
I do want to thank the members who have risen to speak to the motion.
At its core, net neutrality means that all content and applications should be treated equally and that the choices made by users should be free from interference from Internet service providers.
Canada has emerged as a world leader in supporting policies protecting that neutrality. However, policies alone will not guarantee net neutrality. Requiring that net neutrality be a guiding principle in the review and update of these acts signals a clear commitment to placing consumers and content providers first. That is a very important signal to send to the industry.
As our neighbours to the south try to save their own net neutrality regulations, I believe it is time for Canadians to address this issue directly and act to protect our own. This motion would require the government, industry, and Canadians to have a robust conversation about enshrining net neutrality as an essential component in the review of the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Acts.
Two-tiered Internet, or a situation in which an Internet service provider actively discriminates against certain content or services by throttling the speed of delivery to enhance their own private business interests, gets to the heart of what could happen without strong net neutrality regulations in place.
As clearly expressed by Dr. Michael Geist, professor of law at the University of Ottawa, and the Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-commerce law, the average Internet user is not all that concerned about the policies that govern how their Internet is delivered. They just want to ensure that they can uniformly access all of the applications and services they have chosen at the speed they have paid for, and are not restricted in their access to services or content.
I agree with Dr. Geist. While in the past many Canadians probably were not aware of the term “net neutrality” and the majority probably were not interested in the governing policies for ISPs in the Internet, I do not believe that is the case today. Canadians are now very aware of what they do and do not want regarding Internet access. Canadians want to continue to use the services they choose without interference.
While we are leaders when it comes to net neutrality policies, we cannot rest on our laurels. Now is the time to enshrine this concept in legislation. Further, we cannot solve the current telecommunications competition or privacy concerns without a solid foundation of net neutrality.
I will say it again: Canadians expect to choose the applications and services they want to use, and they expect to be able to access them without interference from their Internet service provider.
Let us not forget that when we defend net neutrality, we defend much more than Canadians' ability to access online services. We are defending our democracy. We are preserving principles as fundamental as freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Preserving an open Internet and the free flow of information is vital to diversity, education, entrepreneurship, innovation, and the continued economic and social prosperity of Canadians.
Members must express their firm support for the continued preservation of an open Internet, free from unjust discrimination and interference. This is the critical issue of our generation.
Now is the time to stand up to protect the rights of Canadians. Now is the time to protect one of the pillars of our democracy. I hope every member will join me in voting in support of net neutrality in Motion No. 168.