I call the meeting to order. Hello, everyone. Welcome to what we legendarily call “clause-by-clause” on Bill .
I'm going to go through a few instructions. For those of you who are listening in the virtual world, I'm going to describe how clause-by-clause study is going to operate, in case you're not familiar with it. This is a brief explanation.
We will, for the next three hours, be going through this bill. As the name indicates, this is an examination of all the clauses in the order in which they appear in the bill, each clause successively, and each clause is subject to a debate and a vote. If there are amendments to the clause in question, I will recognize the member who is proposing the amendment, who will explain it. Debate will follow, if there is a debate. When no members wish to further intervene, at that point, when the debate has settled, we will proceed to a vote.
The amendments will be considered in the order in which they appear in the bill package that you all have as members, and they will be numbered as such. If there are amendments that are consequential to each other, they will be voted on together. I'll inform the members when that situation occurs, or the legislative clerk will when need be. Given that we're all in a virtual world, that may happen more often than not. I'll be pleased to accept that interruption should we go awry. Pursuant to the House order of September 23, all questions shall be decided by a recorded vote, except for those decided unanimously or on division. Let me explain this for a moment.
We have three options here. When I say, “Shall the clause carry?” or “Shall the amendment carry?”, if I am greeted with silence, it will be accepted and carried. If you have issues with the clause or the amendment but you don't wish to go to a vote, you can say, “On division”, and it will be carried on division. Just make sure that someone says, “On division” if you wish it to be passed that way. Finally, if we have someone saying, “No”, or if people have big issues, we will go to a recorded vote. I'll ask our clerk to proceed with a recorded vote when necessary.
That said, you have your package of amendments. For those who are listening in the virtual world through the webcast, I will explain how it works.
We have amendments from six different streams, and they will be labelled as such. For example, the first one we will deal with is PV-1. PV is Parti vert. It is the Green Party amendment. The Green Party members are not full-time members of the committee, but they are allowed by law to introduce amendments to this bill. They do not have the ability to vote, but they certainly have the ability to introduce amendments and to debate them. One note about this is that all motions by the Green Party will be deemed moved because of the situation of not being on the committee. All the other amendments have to be moved by the mover when need be. I'll notify that person when their number comes up.
I'll use the example of the first amendments. We have PV-1. We also have LIB-1. These amendments will be coming from the Liberal members on the committee. We have CPC-1, which will be coming from the Conservative members on the committee. We have BQ-1 coming from the Bloc Québécois. We also have NDP-1. These amendments will be coming from the New Democrats. The final category is G, as in amendment G-1. These amendments will be moved by our members from the government, because the government may amend its own bill. Such is the democracy that we have.
Moving on, the other item I would like to bring to everyone's attention is about subamendments. Members are permitted to move subamendments. The subamendments must be submitted in writing, or by email for members participating virtually, as we are, in this world. They do not require the approval of the mover of the original amendment. If you're subamending, the subamendment is voted on first. Another subamendment may be moved, or the committee may consider the main amendment and vote on it. Only one subamendment at a time may be considered. We can't do two subamendments based on the original amendment. We'd have to vote on that and then move another one. I hope I made that somewhat clear.
Once every clause has been voted on, the committee will vote on the title and then on the bill itself. An order to reprint the bill may be required if any amendments are adopted, of course. We send that back to the House for report stage. In fact, the committee orders the chair to report the bill to the House. The report contains only the text of any adopted amendments, as well as an indication of any deleted clauses.
I thank the members for their attention.
Here are a couple of other items.
Yes, folks, I've seen some of your input, and we will be having a health break. Accordingly, some tine between one hour and an hour and a half from now, we'll do so. If I see people fidgeting in their seats, I'll do it right away—forthwith, if need be.
Nevertheless, I also want to say welcome. As we normally do in clause-by-clause examination, we also bring in guests from the department—in this case, of course, the Department of Canadian Heritage. They will be available to us—virtually, of course—for questions, if we have any regarding an amendment, subamendment or the bill itself.
I want to welcome to our virtual world and our world of small squares on the screen Thomas Owen Ripley, the director general, broadcasting, copyright and creative marketplace at the Department of Canadian Heritage. We also have Drew Olsen, senior director, marketplace and legislative policy; and Kathy Tsui, manager, industry and social policy, broadcasting, copyright and creative marketplace. As I've said to her before, that's probably the largest business card I've ever witnessed. We also have Patrick Smith, a senior analyst, marketplace and legislative policy.
Thank you to our guests for being here today.
I need to recognize one member at the very beginning.
Ms. Dabrusin, are you there?
Happy birthday, Ms. Dabrusin.
We're honoured to have you, in that case.
That being said, we're going to move ahead now with clause-by-clause study.
Buckle up, folks. This is the fundamental core of parliamentary democracy at its best. It's going to be an exciting time—so exciting that we'll probably sell the story rights to Netflix.
I'm kidding, just kidding; we're not going to do that. I don't think we can do that to any broadcast undertaking.
Let's get moving, pursuant to the order of reference of Tuesday, February 16, 2021, we are examining Bill .
Pursuant to Standing Order 75(1), consideration of the title is postponed to the end. It's normally the first thing you see in the bill, but we will deal with the title at the end of this clause-by-clause session.
(On clause 1)
We're going to proceed in the first place, as you may have guessed, to clause 1. Since it has already been deemed moved, we will start with amendment PV-1.
I am looking to the side of my screen, where I see all the names. I want you to raise your hand if you want to move or wish to speak to a particular amendment.
That being said, right on cue, Mr. Manly, we welcome you. You, sir, have the honour of going first, with amendment PV-1.
First of all, I thank Ms. Dabrusin and wish her a happy birthday. It's actually my sister Heather's birthday as well, so I wish my sister a happy birthday along with that.
As you mentioned, I'm not an official member of this committee. Despite the fact that the Green Party got 1.2 million votes in the last election, clearly one-fifth of what the Liberals and the Conservatives got but 50 times fewer seats than the Liberals and 40 times fewer seats than Conservatives, because we don't have official party status, I do not have a voice or a vote on committee. However, I have been studying this bill. I've followed the witness testimony in committee and I've had my own meetings with a number of organizations so that I could question them myself.
This amendment adds a definition of “community element” to the act. The broadcasting policy for Canada in the act states that the Canadian broadcasting system comprises “public, private and community elements” and that each element “shall contribute in an appropriate manner to the creation and presentation of Canadian programming”. However, there is no definition of “community element”, nor is there a description of what an “appropriate manner” means.
Community element is needed now more than ever. It's the voice of smaller communities and minority voices. It's a platform for democratic discourse. It's a way for media literacy, a training ground for people in communities who want to learn about broadcasting and television and radio, and it's an incubator for Canadian talent.
I've had some discussion with members of the committee and the word “non-profit” stuck out to them, because the definition in the amendment as written says:
“community element” means the participation of members of the community in the non-profit content production of community media in the language of their choice, as well as in the day-to-day operations and administration of community media;
Many of these community television organizations are connected to major cable companies: Shaw, Rogers, Cogeco, and so on, which are for-profit companies. However, when the cable companies got their monopoly to provide cable in a community, part of that was to provide community television. The intent of community television was for it to be non-commercial. That might be a better word than “non-profit”, but rather than trying to cram a program into 22 minutes so that you could get eight minutes of commercials, there were no constraints on that. There are no commercials on community radio or community television. There are sponsorships from businesses for programming, but it is not the same as the commercial radio or commercial television.
Therefore, I'm hoping that the members of the committee will support this definition and that they see the need for changing the word “non-profit” to “non-commercial”. This might need to be done, but I think it's important to define what the community element is in the act.
The community element is really about community cable and community radio. It's a non-commercial element to broadcasting. Here in my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith, we have CHLY Radio, which is a community college radio station. It's a non-commercial radio station. Students and community members can use it for a learning process. They can pitch shows to the programming committee and then they put together radio shows. They can be talk shows. They can be music shows. There are a series of rules they have to follow in terms of Canadian content for music. With television it's the same thing.
There was a time when you learned about community television through shows like Wayne's World. I started in community television in 1986 at Skyline Cable in Ottawa, before going to school to study broadcasting. That was where I learned about all the different processes for broadcasting. It's what inspired me to go into television.
It's also a place for organizations and community members to be able to have a public discourse to bring their ideas forward. Because it's non-commercial, it's not driven by the element of money and trying to sell eyeballs to advertisers. The purpose is really to bring the community voice into the broadcasting system. It's really important in terms of things like democratic debates. On our community television station here and on community radio, we get debates for city council elections, provincial elections and federal elections. It gives another opportunity for people to hear what's happening in their community.
There are many different ways that community television and community radio are used. The key thing is that it's not a commercial entity, so there isn't an impetus to have to sell eyeball time for commercials. That's a really important element for our democratic system, for open discourse, and as a training ground for people who want to learn about broadcasting and who want to bring their talents forward.
We've seen lots of people who've worked in community television go on to have careers as actors. Tom Green, from Ottawa, is one example. There are lots of examples of people who started their career fooling around on community TV.
Thank you, Mr. Housefather.
I'm kind of loath to make things up as I go along here. I have instruction on three different ways. Given the fact that we're in this new virtual world and this is a new system for us, I'm reticent right now. I'm going to use the same method as before, but during the first health break, I'm going to consult and I'll see, okay?
Normally, I would say no, but I don't want to make this decision right now until I consult with everyone to see how they feel about doing that and whether it's okay with the technical staff to record and so on. I'll leave it for now; I'll deal with it during the health break.
Thank you, Mr. Housefather.
We are now back to BQ-1. I don't see anybody's hand up.
Monsieur Champoux, if you're with us, do you want to go ahead?
Something just happened and I wanted to clarify it to everybody. Because we are in this virtual world, and sometimes Internet connections can drop and come back in and so on and so forth, I'm going to be lenient. If I say that a clause or an amendment is carried and you try to interrupt me within a reasonable amount of time to say that something happened technically, I will, under the chair's prerogative, go back and deal with it again.
However, I won't be in a position for you to say, “Chair, can we go back three pages and an hour ago to this amendment?” For that I'm going to have to rely on the older way of doing things.
I will provide some leniency, given the fact that we are in a virtual world.
Go ahead, Mr. Housefather.
Mr. Chair, I have a question for the department, if you'll permit me.
As I understand it, this is changing the definition of control from juridical control to de facto control and incorporating it. I also understand that you've ruled that it's relevant to Bloc Québécois amendment 24, which has three different parts, (k), (l) and (m).
I'm wondering two things from you, Mr. Chair. The Bloc Québécois amendment, BQ-24, is relevant to this in the sense that if (m) goes through you want a definition of control that you're applying here. Would you be ruling that BQ-24 would thus not be able to be debated for (k) and (l) in the event that this definition were defeated? I ask because (k) and (l) are entirely different from (m).
I would like to ask the department: Because we're changing the definition of control in terms of an affiliate, does this impact other parts of the act? What is that impact, besides the change that would be made in BQ-24?
The current scope of the definition would apply only to the definition of affiliate and then the paragraph in 9.1 that Mr. Olsen spoke about.
If I understand correctly from Mr. Champoux, the amendment being referenced in BQ-24 has a reference, it seems, to Canadian ownership and control. I think the relevant question in that context is whether the definition of control here makes sense in light of that other amendment that he is proposing.
What I would highlight in the case of Canadian ownership and control is that, as the committee is aware, there is a very detailed direction that sits on the books to the CRTC. It actually, in a very prescriptive way, indicates when a Canadian broadcaster, cable or satellite company is under either direct or indirect control and has percentages of voting shares and whatnot.
The only thing the committee may want to consider is whether that would change some of the legal threshold for what constitutes control indirectly, by subjecting it to this definition for control as opposed to leaving it up to the Governor in Council—as is currently the case—to set those thresholds for when something is considered to be under Canadian control or ownership.
We will now proceed to a recorded vote on BQ-1.
(Amendment agreed to: yeas 6; nays 5 [See Minutes of Proceedings] )
The amendment is carried.
As a consequence, as I mentioned earlier, BQ-24 is carried as well.
Folks, we are now on G-1. Before we start debate, just a note of interest: If G-1 is adopted, BQ-2 cannot be moved. It would create two definitions of the same term in the act.
Let's now proceed with G-1.
Ms. Bessette, you have the floor.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm happy to do that. Ms. Dabrusin, thank you for the question.
The first thing I see here is that there's a notion of including retransmission in this. Retransmission is cable companies retransmitting broadcast programs. For example, CTV broadcasts over the air, and then Rogers, Shaw or Videotron retransmits that to consumers, but they don't have any control over the programming that is in the CTV signal.
This definition appears to me to include the retransmission element, which would then give the Shaws, Rogers and Videotrons of the world responsibility, or deem them to be responsible, over the programming. They have the same issue now that we had in the last amendment with proposed paragraph 3(1)(h), and even the new proposed paragraph 3(1)(g) would apply to them, in terms of putting a burden on them for programming being of high standard and their being responsible for the programming. That's the first thing I've noticed.
Obviously, the new words there are also “recommendation or prioritization of programs or programming services”, which don't appear in the current proposed definition in Bill . That would change it, and I am not really sure how that would apply to the retransmission world and I'm not sure how an over-the-air broadcaster does recommendations.
I think that's meant to apply just to online, but I'm not sure how that would apply in the traditional broadcasting space.
Seeing no further discussion, we now go to a vote. Shall PV-4 carry?
Mr. Martin Champoux: No.
The Chair: Madam Clerk, we will have a vote, please.
(Amendment negatived: nays 10; yeas 1 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
Folks, I would ask that we try to get through this as quickly as we can with a simple vote. I appreciate the spirit in which it was done, Ms. McPherson, but for the sake of expediency I'm going to have to remind everyone about the yes and the no and whatever it may be.
Let's move on now. Again, we'll break in about six or seven minutes.
We're now going to LIB-1, and if you are listening from elsewhere, “LIB” means it's a motion put forward for consideration by Liberal members of the committee.
Go ahead, Mr. Housefather.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, colleagues.
I'm going to be relatively brief. This is the first in a number of amendments being brought forward by representatives of all parties to do some things.
The first recognizes that French is a minority language in North America and in nine of the 10 Canadian provinces.
It also recognizes that English is a minority language in Quebec. The amendment states that we have two official languages that we're very proud of in Canada and that we should be promoting them, and that the act should be interpreted and applied in a manner that supports the commitment of the Canadian government to enhance the vitality of both official languages—English and French—throughout Canada, and the official language minority communities in Canada.
We heard from representatives of francophones outside Quebec, francophones in Quebec and anglophones in Quebec. I believe that we must ensure that the act reflects Canada's priority goal of supporting both language communities and both official languages across the country.
I hope that the committee members will support this amendment. I'm ready to support the various amendments regarding the language issue that all parties will be introducing today.
I'll let the officials answer Mr. Champoux's question, since it concerns technical details.
I just want to address Mr. Ripley's first response. The amendment states as follows: “A person does not carry on a broadcasting undertaking...” For example, proposed paragraph (b) would exclude situations where students transmit content over the Internet while doing schoolwork. This amendment specifically focuses on education. It seeks to ensure that a student who must complete an assignment over the Internet isn't subject to the regulations. This situation doesn't involve the student's primary activity or a business that wants to make a profit.
I don't think that the CRTC needs to legislate. It's a no-brainer for us. This falls in line with the access to documents given to universities, primary schools, secondary schools and other institutions. We would like to exclude this group from the entire bill. It's very clear to us.
We aren't talking about an undertaking. We aren't talking about a situation where the CRTC would be asked to legislate and determine whether an undertaking has the right to transmit content. Instead, we're talking about cases that shouldn't be considered activities related to the operation of a business.
Thank you for the question, Mr. Louis.
What I would say is that, as I highlighted at the outset, we have already included under subclause 5(2) an indication that the CRTC should avoid regulating enterprises, businesses, organizations when they not do contribute in a material manner.
That was precisely, I think, to speak to the spirit of what I understand Mr. Rayes' amendment to be, which is that there isn't a reason to subject, for example, educational institutions to being considered a broadcaster. The way Bill currently goes about this is by giving the discretion to the CRTC to work through when certain types of organizations should not be subject to being considered broadcasters for the purposes of the act.
Indeed, I query whether the list is as complete as the committee would want it to be in order to be future-proofed or whether these questions are better left up to being worked out through regulatory proceedings that can evolve as time goes on.
I have one last thing to say, and then, I will trust the committee members to make the right decision as to whether we should adopt the amendment or not.
I appreciate Mr. Housefather bringing up paragraph (c) of the amendment. I had forgotten to read it. Paragraph (c) pertains to concert halls, theatres and other venues for the presentation of live performing arts. It was on my second page, and with all these pages, I skipped right over it.
I want to respond to Mr. Ripley's comment and his Amazon example. Even if Amazon had an ancillary business in the background, I don't think anyone would believe that it was not principally engaged in that activity. The CRTC may have to decide in a case like that.
I think the intent behind my amendment is clear: to ensure that people who transmit content over the Internet and who are not principally engaged in the activity are not deemed to be carrying on a broadcasting undertaking. That would include people who do it recreationally, or students doing it as part of a class or at a teacher's request. It would also include people working in the arts and culture or theatre sector, such as videographers and artists who have podcasts.
That is the intent behind the amendment, and I hope the committee members will support it.
Seeing no call for a recorded vote....
(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])
We now go to amendment BQ-4.
Just for information, by the way, for those of you who are keeping track, amendments BQ-4; NDP-3, which is on page 14 in your package; and G -4, on page 47, all deal with a similar subject, as was noted by the legislative clerks. I just thought I would let you know.
One thing to note, however, is that if amendment BQ-4 is adopted, amendment CPC-0.2 cannot be moved because of a line conflict.
That being said, we now go to amendment BQ-4.
Go ahead, Mr. Champoux.
This amendment deals with the issue of Canadian ownership, which currently appears in paragraph 3(1)(a) of the act. The vast majority of the organizations we met with want the bill to recapture that idea. Basically, we believe it is extremely important to somehow include the participation of online undertakings.
The wording of the amendment was inspired by one of the recommendations in the Yale report. From the current act, we took “the Canadian broadcasting system shall be effectively owned and controlled by Canadians” and we added “foreign online undertakings may also provide programming to Canadians”. Then, we kept the proposed paragraph that begins with the words “each broadcasting undertaking shall contribute to” but renumbered it as new paragraph (a.1).
I just want to make clear that, in light of the discussions we've had, we realize foreign online undertakings could be problematic.
I'll let Ms. Dabrusin talk about that, because I think she was planning to address the subject.
What I would point out to the committee is that the term “undertaking” isn't defined. Indeed, “broadcasting undertaking” is a defined term in the act, and that captures distribution undertakings like cable and satellite companies and online undertakings pursuant to Bill , and programming undertakings, which are how we think of TV channels.
Again, here the concern is, as Mr. Olsen outlined, that right now the way the system works is that the CRTC can authorize cable and satellite companies like Rogers, Bell or Videotron to carry services that aren't Canadian—CNN, Fox, and so on—and they're part of your cable or satellite lineup.
The concern is that if the focus is only on online undertakings, there is a risk that there might be a suggestion that Parliament is trying to indicate to the CRTC that it should no longer authorize the distribution of undertakings except for online undertakings. That's the potential mischief we see here.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
This amendment actually has four parts.
First, we heard from a number of groups about the importance of supporting the production and broadcasting of original programs in French, so we are proposing that the following be added to the act under new subparagraph 3(1)(d)(iii.2).
We are also talking about enhancing the vitality of official language minority communities and their particular needs and interests. That is added in proposed subparagraph 3(1)(d)(iii.3).
Proposed subparagraph 3(1)(d)(iii.4) deals with an issue that has come up many times. It started with Mr. Manly's first amendment, “the importance of supporting community broadcasting”, especially in ethnocultural and indigenous communities. That is included in proposed subparagraph 3(1)(d)(iii.4).
Proposed subparagraph 3(1)(d)(iii.5) addresses the importance of Canadian independent broadcasting undertakings. We've also heard that from a number of groups.
While this probably wasn't worded perfectly, I think it gives voice to a lot of the different groups that we heard and deals with a lot of important issues. I think it reflects a consensus among those groups that this is good wording, and I would naturally appreciate the support of my colleagues on it.
I'd like to address Mr. Champoux's comment.
First of all, the committee just unanimously adopted an amendment I proposed to recognize the difference between French and English in Canada, as well as the importance of taking into account the French reality in the North American context.
Second of all, we also heard from English-speaking groups in Quebec who explained that the proportion of original English-language programming produced in Quebec had dropped. It used to make up nearly a quarter of Canadian content but now accounts for less than 5%, so it's also important to recognize the English-speaking community in Quebec.
We're a minority in Quebec. Francophones are a minority in all the other provinces. Francophones are a minority in Canada. I think this amendment gives voice to that. If you use an amendment to change the wording and it's passed, the wording is there.
I appreciate his comments, but at least in my view, the English-speaking community in Quebec is an official language minority community in Canada, the same as French-language minority communities. We are a million or more people who deserve to be recognized as well in the context of this bill.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I realize it's a sensitive subject, so I want tobe careful what I say. In no way am I standing against Quebec's English-speaking community, quite the contrary. They are full-fledged citizens, but we have to look at the reality. When it comes to the wording in a piece of legislation, it's appropriate to say certain things and unnecessary to say others.
I don't think this wording will provide the CRTC with any more clarity than the act as a whole already does. If the production of English-language programs in Quebec is an issue, the act clearly stipulates that recourse is available and that the necessary adjustments can be made.
We can ask the department officials for clarification. Nevertheless, I don't think we lose anything by simply removing that part. The spirit of the act remains intact.
I'd like to hear what Mr. Olsen or Mr. Ripley has to say on the matter.
Seeing no further discussion, I call for a vote. Shall NDP-6 carry?
Ms. Julie Dabrusin: No.
The Chair: Hearing dissent, we will have a recorded vote.
(Amendment negatived: nays 6; yeas 5 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
Now we are on PV-7.
If PV-7 is adopted, G-2 , NDP-7 and BQ-5 cannot be moved due to line conflicts.
Before we move on, there is something I forgot earlier when we were trying to connect with Ms. Atwin. If Ms. Atwin is unable to connect....
The PV amendments are in a unique situation due to the standing orders adopted in the last few years. In the case of the Green Party, because it is not officially on the committee but has the right to propose amendments and discuss them, any amendment its members want to bring to a bill is deemed moved from the beginning. That takes a bit of pressure off your Internet service, Ms. Atwin, because obviously you could proceed, but if we cannot get a clear connection, the discussion and debate about your amendment will continue.
Ms. Atwin, you have the floor.
I think that this is an amendment that is common in terms of a theme that all parties want to recognize, which is that “each broadcasting undertaking shall make maximum use of Canadian creative and other resources in the creation and presentation of programming”.
What is missing in amendment G-2 that is in the others is the idea of “in no case less than predominant use”.
I would welcome, since I can't move that amendment to my own motion, if somebody else would move something here to introduce the concept of the words “in no case less than predominant” that I see in the NDP motion and the Bloc motion. I'm totally happy to accept that as an amendment and to support it.
Basically, then, it has the exclusion unless the nature of the service provided by the undertaking renders such use impracticable, in which case the undertaking shall make use of those resources to the extent that it can and should.
Again, I appreciate that I think we all agree overall on this, and if somebody would amend this amendment, that would be great.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I know this is getting very procedural, but I just wanted to give my thoughts.
We have three different amendments that all have slightly different wording. In the case of the NDP, there's an additional concept completely in the amendment. I don't necessarily agree with proposed paragraph 3(1)(f.1), the second paragraph in the NDP amendment. That being said, I think there are several ways to do this.
I think we all agree on this subamendment that Ms. McPherson has already proposed. We can vote on that, and then Mr. Champoux or Ms. McPherson can move another subamendment to add whatever it is that they wish to this amendment.
I also believe that Ms. McPherson's proposed paragraph 3(1)(f.1) is an entirely different subject. Even though her existing NDP-7 could not be moved because of a line conflict, you're allowed to move things from the floor. I believe she would be able to move this paragraph from the floor—I'll ask Philippe to confirm—by simply saying that it would follow line 33 of the amended motion that we're now adopting with paragraph 3(1)(f). She could theoretically separately move in the next line that her proposed paragraph 3(1)(f.1) by itself amend the clause. I think that's possible, because once we adopt this and she moves that her amendment follow this one, there would no longer be a line conflict.
I know that's complicated, as a former chair. Maybe I got it wrong. I just wanted to give her that option as well, because it's a different subject than this paragraph.
Of course Philippe and the chair can correct me.
Right now, the way the Broadcasting Act is structured is that basically undertakings have to make maximum use, in no case predominant use, of creative resources, etc., unless the nature of the undertaking renders that impracticable, and then they have to make.... I just don't want to mislead you here. It states, “shall make the greatest practicable use of those resources”.
That's the way the act is currently structured. The clause that begins with “unless” is important in the sense that you then may be holding a company to a standard that it is not able to meet just given the nature of the business. Therefore, there was always that release valve for the CRTC to say, “We understand the nature of the business. It's not possible for you to be held to the maximum, no less than predominant, use standard, and therefore you shall make the greatest practicable use of all resources.”
My understanding is that the way the NDP's proposed amendment is structured, Canadian undertakings would essentially be held to a standard that would no longer have that release valve, for lack of a better term. In some respects, I believe that what's being proposed by the NDP is setting a higher standard for Canadian undertakings and that foreign undertakings are not subject to that same high standard. The inclusion of that clause that begins with “unless” would, again, just ensure that Canadian undertakings benefit from the same treatment as foreign undertakings.
I think the department has already raised that point. I think that you need to have something to say, but there are going to be some cases in which it won't be possible for them to reach that standard. You need to be able to say that certain undertakings are going to have to do their best but that they're not going to be able to rise to this standard.
I think that one of the problems here, honestly, is—we'll have to get to another amendment—the difference between foreign and Canadian ones. In the other one, the Bloc or the G-2 one, we didn't differentiate between Canadian and foreign; we just said that all broadcasting undertakings have the same responsibilities. If this is adopted, or regardless, I would still be moving to change the two-track tier to a one-track tier by removing the word “Canadian” and deleting (f.1), because I don't know how we say that Canadian broadcasters are subject to standards that are higher than and different from the standards for foreign broadcasters.
I am proposing this to be reasonable on both sides. I guess this is a hard one to amend because it has to be done in a two-track system. However, I'm going to be proposing this amendment, and another one afterward.
Thanks, Heather, for giving me the chance to clarify.