Mr. Speaker, as I was just saying, when I heard the comments made by my colleague from suggesting that the artists would not benefit from the reform of the Broadcasting Act, I made a few phone calls. I contacted a few of my artist friends to ensure that the bill would benefit the cultural associations and businesses and not just the broadcasters. They all told me that artists and creators have been awaiting the bill just as eagerly as cultural businesses have.
In all humility, I have to say that I am not the most artistic member of the Bloc caucus. The member for , Caroline Desbiens, had a brilliant career in television and theatre. There is also the extraordinary artist we call “La Marsouine”, the member for . She is a songwriter whose work is well known among the international francophonie. There are people in the Bloc Québécois caucus who know what they are talking about.
We were inspired by these people and we fought for this bill on behalf of our colleagues who were themselves part of the arts scene. They can tell us how regulating the broadcasting sector benefits our artists.
Here we find ourselves at another stage of Bill . This may be the last step; we hope it is. As we have seen, our Conservative colleagues are once again trying to kill this bill.
After finding some particularly creative ways to delay its study in committee, yesterday they even brought forward an amendment to completely gut the bill. All this after accusing the Bloc Québécois of failing to stand up for the demands of the Quebec National Assembly.
Let us talk about the demands of the Quebec National Assembly. I found it quite rich to hear the Conservatives say that the National Assembly opposed the passage of Bill C-11 as is when, in June 2022, the National Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution that stated the following:
Whereas the federal government is under pressure from multiple sources to ensure social media is not subject to Bill C-11, while many companies commercially stream musical and audiovisual content;
THAT the National Assembly recall that Québec’s cultural production and its uniqueness are strongly disadvantaged by the lack of regulation of online streaming platforms and social media;
THAT it affirm that it is essential that all online streaming platforms, including social media, be subject to federal and provincial laws, such as C-11, so that all digital broadcasters, whether Canadian or foreign, contribute to the creation, production, broadcasting, promotion and discoverability of Québec content;
I will spare members a reading of the full text of the resolution. It concludes as follows:
THAT, lastly, it urge the federal government to include social media governance in Bill C-11 to amend the Broadcasting Act.
Obviously, that does not align with the Conservative position.
I want to talk about Quebec's Minister of Culture and Communications, Mathieu Lacombe, who did a bunch of interviews recently, answering journalists' questions about the mandate he took on last fall. When asked, “Should streaming platforms be forced to highlight homegrown content?”, he instantly replied “Yes, this is about Quebec's distinct culture”. Speaking to various media outlets, Minister Lacombe emphasized the importance of discoverability for francophone content from Quebec, meaning how easy it should be to access homegrown content on major digital platforms like Netflix and Spotify, for example. That is what Minister Lacombe said. The National Assembly is hoping for a speedy passage of Bill C‑11.
Certainly, Quebec had demands, legitimate demands, such as being consulted on regulations that will impact broadcasting in Quebec and Quebec culture. The unanimous National Assembly motion that set tongues wagging recently reads as follows:
THAT the National Assembly acknowledge that the federal government could soon pass Bill C‑11, which aims to amend the Broadcasting Act;
THAT it underline that this bill does not recognize the application of Québec laws regarding the status of artists;
THAT it recognize that this bill, as it is currently written, grants Québec no rights of inspection on the directions that will be given to the CRTC, and that those directions will have a significant impact on Québec’s cultural community;
THAT it remind the federal government that Québec’s linguistic specificity must be respected;
THAT it highlight for the federal government that as a nation, it is up to Québec to define its cultural orientations;
THAT it demand that Québec be officially consulted on the directions that will be given to the CRTC regarding the bill and that, for this purpose, a formal mechanism be added to the bill;
THAT it affirm that Québec will continue to apply, in its areas of jurisdiction, the laws democratically passed by the National Assembly;
THAT, lastly, the National Assembly inform the federal government that Québec will use all the tools at its disposal to continue protecting its language, culture and identity.
The minister has the means and the tools needed to respond to these demands from Quebec. The real question is whether he will do the right thing through ministerial directives to the CRTC. We will see over the next few days, but I really hope he does. We in the Bloc Québécois will continue to properly and faithfully stand up for Quebec's demands to ensure the protection of its culture and broadcasting sector.
Recently, my colleagues and I have all been getting a rather impressive number of emails from people who are opposed to Bill . Oddly enough, they are not well-crafted emails written by an organization representative like the ones we received in previous weeks and months. They are very short emails that are more focused on the issue of censorship and control over what Quebeckers and Canadians will be able to watch online once Bill C-11 is passed.
I have no qualms about saying that this is blatant misinformation. However, I want to talk about it a little and explain to the millions of Quebeckers and Canadians who are watching right now what these scare tactics are all about. The word “censorship” is one that has been coming up a lot. People are talking about a law that is going to censor Quebeckers and Canadians and undermine their freedom of speech.
If we stop for a second and think about this, we realize that a person would have to be totally disingenuous or a complete conspiracy theorist to believe that, here in Canada, in our current system, a government could impose censorship with impunity like they do in totalitarian states. Feeding that fear is an act of bad faith and intellectual dishonesty. I am not sure that that is very healthy. It may be politically advantageous, but that is another issue.
People wrote to us with concerns about the control the government will have over what we can see online and what it wants to ban from being seen online.
Bill C‑11 does not say that the government will be able to force people to binge Les filles de Caleb on the weekend. Bill C‑11 seeks to have content produced by creators from here, to showcase stories from here, that our culture and the talent of our creators have their place on streaming platforms. No one is saying that people have the right to watch or not watch this or that. No one is preventing any content from being streamed.
I have lost track of how many times I have heard about the manipulation of algorithms. Web giants talked about it at committee meetings. It was like we were asking those companies for the recipe to build a nuclear bomb. It was a bit excessive. I do not think that anyone at the CRTC is going to tell Spotify to open its code so they can mess with it. That is just silly.
However, we need to give the CRTC the latitude and the tools it needs to ensure that the objectives are met.
Traditional radio used what were known as logger tapes. For younger folks, such as the member for , these were reels that turned at very slow speed and recorded 24‑7. It was easy because radio programming was a continuous broadcast on a single frequency. Obviously, the same mechanism cannot be used with online platforms. However, it is important that the regulator responsible for verifying that the objectives are being met actually has the means to verify that they are, in fact, being met. Algorithm manipulation should therefore not be permitted. It is essential to keep the door open to allow future verifications, if this is how verifications must be done.
Then, there is the age-old issue of infringement on freedom of expression. I do not understand how anyone could believe that we could pass laws that literally infringe on freedom of expression. For some, any attempt to address disinformation and ensure that people have access to reliable, verified information amounts to an infringement on freedom of expression. We are certainly going to hear about it at length when we debate Bill , but freedom of expression will not be violated by Bill . In any case, a law passed by the government that would infringe on freedom of expression obviously would not stand up in court and would be quashed very quickly.
I do not see a problem with imposing discoverability obligations, obligations to promote Quebec, Canadian, French-language and indigenous content, and to showcase the distinct nature of the Quebec nation and of Canada on the online platforms of digital giants. I came up with what I thought was a useful analogy. For those opposed to regulating GAFAM, the major online broadcasting companies, I will present the following analogy.
Imagine if, instead of offering cultural content, these businesses were serving food. Would there be any objection to these food service companies being subject to the same health regulations that traditional restaurants are? I doubt it. I doubt there would be any objection if the rules set by MAPAQ, Quebec's department of agriculture, fisheries and food, which apply to restaurants, were also applied to any business that serves food. Even though we talk about a free market on the Internet, there are limits that must be applied there as well. I thought that was an interesting analogy for illustrating the importance or relevance of regulating online businesses as well.
I do not want to spend all day debating this. We have debated it extensively, and we are at the stage where we want to come to an agreement as quickly as possible and return this bill to the Senate so that it ultimately gets approval. Then we can move on to the much-anticipated implementation stage of this bill, which is eagerly awaited by the entire cultural community and by broadcasters. However, I am going to move an amendment in closing. It is an amendment to the amendment moved yesterday by the member for .
My amendment to the amendment is as follows: that the amendment by the member for Lethbridge be amended by replacing all the words after the word “that”; the motion be amended by adding to the last paragraph “further calls on the government to establish a process for consultation with the Quebec government so that Quebec's specificity and the unique reality of the francophone market are adequately considered by the CRTC” and recalls that the federal Status of the Artist Act respects Quebec's jurisdiction and is consistent with Quebec legislation on the status of the artist.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak on Bill , which, of course, the NDP supports.
Sending the bill back to the Senate seems quite logical to us. Indeed, the Senate's motion is just common sense. The vast majority of amendments proposed by the Senate have been accepted, while some unnecessary or unamenable amendments to Bill C‑11 were rejected. It seems to me, then, that the Senate, in good faith, should look at what we are passing as parliamentarians and then ensure the passage of Bill C‑11.
What is the point of Bill C‑11? As everyone has said, this is a necessary bill. We saw our artists' incomes collapse, particularly prior to the pandemic, but even more so after it. We saw resources available to our artists collapse. At the same time, we saw the alarming increase in big tech profits. There needs to be a balance. As my colleagues from and just said, big tech must contribute to Canadian culture.
We did not just agree to Bill C‑11 blindly. The NDP made more amendments than any other party. We ensured freedom of speech and transparency. The amendments that the NDP moved in committee were adopted in the House of Commons. We ensured that indigenous peoples would receive their fair share.
When we look at the Broadcasting Act, it is very clear that indigenous peoples have been left out for years. Now they need to be at the very centre of this cultural renaissance. By making these amendments, the NDP has ensured that indigenous peoples will be able to benefit from the resources that large foreign tech companies will finally pour into Canadian culture and Canadian artists. Racialized Canadians also benefited from the NDP's amendments. All of these things were intended to improve Bill .
We are happy that the Bill C‑11 that we worked on in committee and that passed third reading in the House is a marked improvement over the bill that was introduced by the .
Do we need Bill C‑11? Yes, we do. We are all aware of what our artists have been going through for years, especially since the pandemic began. Therefore, it is important that we put policies in place to ensure that the people who benefited the most during the pandemic are at least forced to contribute a little bit.
We will be supporting Bill , like so many of the artist groups across the country. As I mentioned, the NDP brought a wide range of amendments, more than any other party, and succeeded in getting them adopted at committee and in having those same amendments adopted by the House of Commons. That is our role.
People often call NDP members the worker bees of Parliament, and we are proud of that. We are there working hard to get legislation improved. The need for Bill is very clear when we see how artists and creators across the country have seen their income collapse, and there is no other way to put it. This has happened particularly since the pandemic, but it was a trend we were seeing prior to the pandemic as well.
The companies, such as the big technology companies and the foreign technology companies, the giants that have benefited over the course of the last few years, have not contributed to Canadian culture in any way. We saw the need for Bill . We saw the need to improve Bill C-11, and we brought forward amendments that were very important for indigenous peoples to finally be recognized in the Broadcasting Act in a way that artists and creators in indigenous communities could actually benefit from, as well as racialized Canadians. This included increasing the transparency of Bill C-11 and ensuring freedom of expression at all times.
Those are all the amendments the NDP brought forward and successfully passed at committee and in the House. I know, Mr. Speaker, that you are very excited about this. I can see it on your face, that the NDP amendments made a real difference in how you perceive the bill as well. This is why I am so surprised and disappointed by the reaction from the Conservative Party.
This should not be surprising. Although, Mr. Speaker, you look young, I know you are a student of history and will recall, looking back to the 1970s, that Conservative MPs at that time sided with the massive American music industry and music giants, which were basically starving Canadian artists. There were no Canadian content rules, encouragement or policies, so the American music giants dumped whatever they wanted into the Canadian market. The reason why parliamentarians at that time, despite the opposition of the Conservatives, adopted putting into place these Canadian content rules was to ensure that Canadians could thrive in our cultural industries. They were being shut out. What we did, as a nation, was ensure that the door was open to Canadian content creators. What happened, as members know, was an unbelievable revolution of Canadian content right around the world.
I could literally filibuster this House for hours naming all the artists who have benefited from those Canadian content regulations. We can name any artist, singer or band in Canada. We had put in place a requirement that the American music giants had to consider Canadian content and that Canadian stations, often owned abroad, had to broadcast Canadian content. As a result, we saw the incredible talent of Canadian artists and creators and the unbelievable ability of Canadians to contribute. This was something that was opposed by the Conservatives. Quite frankly, they were wrong at that time, and they are wrong again now.
Some of their comments have been absolutely over the top. Bill would ensure that our creators get some of the massive pie that big tech makes in Canada and sucks out of the country like a vacuum hose, often without paying taxes, as members well know. Now we are saying they have to put some money back into the country. Instead of saying that this makes sense, the Conservatives are on this wacky tangent that is unbelievable. We have had Conservative members in the House stand up and say that Bill would mean that people can actually be followed by the government on their cell phones. It is unbelievable. Obviously, they did not read Bill , but they stood up and made comments about it.
Where I come from, New Westminster—Burnaby, people expect me to actually read and know the legislation before I stand up and speak to it, and I know it is the same where you come from, Mr. Speaker. That is my humble advice to the Conservative members who are speaking to the bill, which includes the , to read the legislation first before they speak to it.
We have also had Conservatives stand up and compare Bill to North Korea. What is happening in North Korea is devastating. A totalitarian government has imprisoned its population and subjected it to forced starvation—
Mr. Speaker, as the member well knows, I never refer to any member in the House in a derogatory way, but I do criticize their comments. They were wacky comments and Conservatives should be ashamed of themselves for making those comments in this place without having read the legislation. All members are honourable. I never criticize Conservatives personally, but their comments have been beyond belief. They are wacky and Conservatives should retract them if they do not want me to call their comments “wacky”. Making a connection between Bill and the despicable, totalitarian government in North Korea that is killing its citizens is unbelievably wacky and crazy. Conservatives, instead of standing up on points of order trying to shut down my freedom to criticize their comments, should be standing up and apologizing to this House for having made the comments in the first place.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Apologize and resign.
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, I very rarely agree with the member for , and I do not in this case either.
This is what we have had from the Conservatives in this debate. Their comments have been crazy. It is absolutely inappropriate that they made those comments in this place. I am hoping that if the member for comes forward, unlike what he did around the Conservatives' meeting with that despicable neo-Nazi, for which he never apologized, he will apologize for the comments the Conservatives have made in this House about Bill .
There has been one comment that is less wacky but is nonetheless disinformation. That is the issue around saying that somehow Bill would take this untrammelled Internet and big technology companies that in no way provide any sort of guidance around algorithms, so it is a “what you see is what you get” kind of thing, and that it would in some way have an impact on those algorithms. This misconception that somehow algorithms are innocent needs to be questioned.
The whole issue around Bill is about having in place a transparent process that makes sense and that actually provides support for creators and artists who have been struggling to make a living, in the same way we did 50 years ago with the Broadcasting Act. It was a revolutionary idea that Conservatives opposed at the time, but that time has subsequently proven to have been the best possible decision for our artists and for the expansion of Canadian culture throughout the world. Back in the 1970s, the idea was to say to the big, American-owned music giants that they would have to start including Canadian content. They would have to take these great Canadian artists they had been shoving out and bring them in.
We saw an unbelievable renaissance of Canadian culture, as members know, literally dozens and hundreds of Canadian artists showing Canada and the world how skilled they were. All of them had a start because Canadian parliamentarians, back in the 1970s, actually took that step to ensure that Canadians could speak to Canadians, that Canadian content could actually be shown to Canadians. American music giants said, “No, no, we've given you a few; that's all we're going to give you”, kind of like big tech today. However, Canadian parliamentarians at that time had the maturity and the understanding that we had to move forward as a country. They put in place those Canadian content rules to ensure that Canadians would not be hidden anymore by foreign companies. We saw the results: Canadian music, Canadian films, Canadian television. We have seen the incredible ability of Canadians to show the world how effective, how incredibly imaginative and how wonderful our Canadian artists, actors, writers, directors, producers and all Canadians are when it comes to culture.
We now fast-forward to Bill , and big tech has been doing the same thing, for those who somehow doubt that they would see big tech in the same way. I know Conservatives love big tech, big banks and big tax evaders; they love them all. They gave $160 billion to banks 15 years ago. The Harper regime just poured on the spigot for big banks. As we know from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, we lost $30 billion a year to overseas tax havens. For the big tax evaders, the Harper regime just opened the door.
To our chagrin, and to the chagrin of Canadians, unfortunately, the Liberals have not closed that open door, so we are still losing $30 billion a year. That is a conservative figure from the Parliamentary Budget Officer. I may well be, and I believe it to be, much higher than that. If we take that, over the last decade, that is $300 billion. Over the last 15 years, since the Harper regime opened the spigot to give big tax evaders money, that is half a trillion dollars. It is unbelievable.
It is no surprise that they side with big tech when big tech says it is innocent and all it wants is to do business. The Wall Street Journal looked into algorithms to see if what big tech says is true, that big tech is innocent and that what it does is in the best interest of the community. The Wall Street Journal, in this case, analyzed Google, but this applies to all the big tech companies. Its findings “undercut one of Google’s core defences against global regulators worried about how it wields its immense power—that the company doesn't exert editorial control over what it shows users. Regulators' areas of concern include anticompetitive practices, political bias and online misinformation.”
The algorithms are already biased. They are already ensuring that fewer Canadians can actually benefit from the incredible talent and imagination they have, in the same way that 50 years ago we saw, unfortunately, American music giants say they were going to give us a couple of artists and then Canadians could just go into our corner and be quiet, because they were going to dump foreign artists on the Canadian market and it is their market. Parliamentarians, at that time, said no, and parliamentarians were right to say no. As a result of that, we have a culture that has thrived, until big tech started doing the same thing.
What has big tech been doing? Where are its bias and emphasis? I think it is important to note what we have seen from the District of Columbia's top attorney and what he brought forward in the United States to the National Association of Attorneys General. In talking about big tech, he said they “host, facilitate and accept money from hate organizations and individuals who literally are spewing their toxic hate”. I am quoting from Politico, about the Washington D.C. attorney general Karl Racine: “Among the changes he’d like to see are...detail[s] [about] how much money they make from hate speech and more information on what is taken down and when.”
This is an issue that has been raised by the Stop Hate for Profit campaign in the United States, the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center and a whole range of other very credible organizations. They have all spoken out against algorithms that exist now in big tech that bring people into what has been described by those organizations as a “pipeline of hate”. The algorithms exist already. The algorithms have a bias, as The Wall Street Journal pointed out.
What this bill does, Bill , is actually ensure that Canadians now have a way to get into big tech's boycott of much Canadian talent. Conservatives might say that some Canadians still succeed despite all of this.
The reality is that more Canadians will succeed because of Bill , in the same way that, 50 years ago, we had a Parliament that was imaginative enough to understand that we had to stand up against the American music giants, that we had to stand up and ensure Canadian content, and by standing up, we had more Canadians benefit. This is really my message to my Conservative colleagues: More Canadians will benefit, more artists will benefit and more Canadian creation will happen as a result, which means more jobs in Canada.
I hope Conservatives will stand with every other member of Parliament here who understands that Bill essentially opens the door to more Canadians. It would ensure that all that money being vacuumed out of this country right now by big tech will actually be put back in to create jobs here in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to this important legislation, legislation that has been in the works for a number of years. The government has continued to persist in getting it through the House as quickly as we can even in recognition of the opposition we have received from the Conservative Party.
This is excellent legislation. It clearly demonstrates what the , different ministers and the Liberal Party have been advocating for legislation in general. When we bring forward legislation, the government is very much open to ways in which it can possibly be improved. I and my colleague from Kingston often talk about how important it is to get legislation to the committee stage. Bill is a good example of that.
After a healthy debate at second reading, we were finally able to get the bill to the committee stage, and we saw a number of amendments. Unlike the former Stephen Harper regime, this is a government that actually listens to what other members have to say, whether they are members of the Conservatives, the NDP, Green or members of the Liberal caucus. At committee, where ideas surface, a number of amendments were proposed and actually adopted, all with the thought of making the legislation stronger for Canadians. We were able to get the bill through the committee, then third reading and it went over to the Senate.
I really want to emphasize that I appreciate the degree to which the Senate its invested time, resources and energy into ensuring the bill was thoroughly reviewed. That is in good part why it has come back: There were a number of amendments that the Senate believed would enhance the legislation and make it that much stronger.
The minister responsible for Bill and the fine civil servants working with that minister were able to look at the amendments and, in most part, accepted of them. We do have some concerns with some of the amendments and we will not support those. I would invite members of the Senate or others, if they have some specific questions in regard to those amendments, even amendments that we are not passing, to reach out to the minister's office. At the end of the day, we have not seen a modernization of this legislation since the 1990s.
The other day, we were speaking to other digital-type legislation with respect to cybersecurity and so forth, and I drew a comparison of the past and the present. It is long overdue. This is an initiative that the government has now been working on for a number of years.
There have been thorough consultations in every region of the country. The department has done a fantastic job of bringing forward the legislation, responding to the requests, thoughts and expressions from the many different stakeholders. As I pointed out, it listened to what opposition members were saying and it adopted amendments from opposition members.
We have before us a returned Bill , on which the minister has given a very clear indication of where we are as a government with respect to wanting to see the legislation pass, and it is time. There is no need to see a filibuster of any sort. Members on all sides have had ample opportunity to express their thoughts.
I share many of the concerns that the NDP and the Bloc member have raised. I, too, have received emails that paint a very clear picture of misinformation. There is an incredible amount of misinformations out there, and sadly there are political entities in the House that are promoting and encouraging that misinformation.
I had an email earlier today from someone who said that a vote for Bill would take away his rights. Politicians in the chamber who are trying to support that information are being intellectually dishonest. Nowhere in the legislation would the rights of an individual be taken away. Nowhere in the legislation would freedoms of expression be limited or taken away.
A select group within the Conservatives are espousing false information with respect to the content of Bill , or they are at least supporting the misinformation that is being spread in our communities. Bill C-11 is all about putting an industry on a level playing field with another industry that has been there for many years. It in essence is saying that in the digital world, the big companies such as Crave, YouTube, Spotify and Netflix need to be put on the same playing field as CBC, CTV and others.
The CRTC plays a critical role in who we are as a nation and amplifies that. For many years, we have seen the CRTC and its decisions and actions that it has taken on behalf of governments of all political stripes enhance our heritage from coast to coast to coast. I think the promotions and the advancement of so many careers in the arts are a direct result of the promotion of Canadian content.
My colleague just made reference to a very famous band, and I am not really up on music, The Tragically Hip.
Mr. Mark Gerretsen: I will share some of those CDs with you.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, he said he will share some of their music with me, and no doubt I will enjoy them.
Whether it is music or film, there are incredible talents in every region of our country. When I think of the Prairies and out west, I think of Corner Gas. We get a high sense of pride that it is a production that takes place in the province of Saskatchewan. North of 60 took place both in Alberta and Manitoba. We can even go way back to something like The Beachcombers. All of those, in good part, had a type of advocacy because of Canadian content requirements.
When I think of today, I think of things like Kim's Convenience. A couple of years ago, Schitt's Creek received a number of Emmy Awards. I had no idea about it until it received all those awards. It is an incredible comedy.
The advancements of some of the actors, actresses and musicians who we have seen could be rooted back to Canadian content policies and the promotion of Canadian heritage. We underestimate that industry. It is a substantial industry in virtually every jurisdiction and all the different regions of Canada. It provides jobs and amazing opportunities for talent.
We can look at the city of Winnipeg and how it has benefited from the type of talent found there. We can go to many festivals, especially during the summertime but not only limited to the summertime. One I often make reference to is Folklorama. If members want to get a sense of the potential of that industry, they should tour some of the facilities and the pavilions of Folklorama. They will witness first-hand amateurs singing, performing all forms of dance and sharing amazing talents with thousands of people. Some of those who actually participate in Folklorama go on to participate at Rainbow Stage or other theatre-type operations.
There are so many opportunities if we think of the bigger, holistic picture of it. When there is a young person getting involved, for example, in a showpiece at a pavilion, it takes a great deal of time and energy throughout the year for that young person. It instills skill sets, discipline and so much more. The benefit of seeing that sort of growth at the ground level and how that ground level works its way to the top is important.
We should be supporting that, whether it is in Winnipeg, Montreal or in our smaller communities throughout the country. One of the ways we could do that is by supporting Bill , legislation that would modernize our broadcasting. It would ensure that Canadian content is not only important to CBC but that it is important in the digital world also.
That is why we will find every member of Liberal caucus supporting Bill and voting for it. We recognize and value the industry, the jobs that it creates and the enhancement of our heritage to our country. It helps identify who we are as a nation. We get a sense of pride, much like we do when an athlete wins a gold medal for Canada, when we see an actor in a major movie production or in a sitcom. We can relate to that because it is in our community.
These are some of the reasons why Bill should be universally supported on all sides of the House. Sadly, that is not the case.
Briefly, the bill would bring online streaming services under the jurisdiction of the Broadcasting Act. It would require online streaming services that serve Canadian markets to contribute to the production of Canadian content and ensure online broadcasters showcase more Canadian content. In essence, it modernizes the outdated legislation.
What would the bill not do? I say this for my Conservative friends. The bill would not impose regulations on the content that everyday Canadians post on social media. It would not impose regulations on Canadian digital content creators, influencers or users. It would not censor content or mandate specific algorithms on streaming services or social media platforms. It would not limit Canadians' freedom of expression in any way, shape or form. This is so upsetting, and I made reference to it at the beginning.
What is interesting in the comments thus far is that the Bloc members, the NDP members and now myself have talked about the misinformation. It is one thing when, through the Internet and other forms of media, misinformation is being espoused and commented on.
However, as legislators, as leaders within our community, we have a responsibility to be more transparent and honest with Canadians in regard to legislation we are passing.
I find it despicable that there are those who are actually assisting in validating misinformation. To try to give the false impression that this legislation would be taking away the rights of people in Canada is just wrong.
To try to say that this would somehow be telling Canadians what it is that they can and cannot watch through the Internet, through streaming, is just wrong. To try to tell Canadians that this has something to do with their freedoms and rights is wrong.
Any member who has had the opportunity to participate and engage, whether by listening or standing up and speaking on the legislation, knows that. All political parties know that.
Those who are going out promoting and encouraging that misinformation, I believe, as the NDP House leader has said, should really reflect on what it is that they are doing and give serious consideration to apologizing for spreading such false information. There is a segment in society that is believing it, unfortunately.
As I have clearly indicated in my comments, I like to think that, at the end of the day, this legislation is all about ensuring a level playing field. It is all about an industry that is so critically important to Canada. It helps identify our identity, who we are. It ensures opportunities for people, for Canadians, into the future, in an area in which we know Canadians can excel. Our arts community is a community we need to support, as we have in the past. This is a continuation. It is a modernization of the legislation. That is what it is.
I would ask for all members not only to support it but also to do what they can in terms of dispelling the misinformation that is out in our communities.
Mr. Speaker, once upon a time there was a group of candle makers who had concerns about the competition they were facing. They said, “We are suffering from the unfair competition of a foreign rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light that he is flooding the domestic market with it at an incredibly low price.”
Who was that competitor? It was the sun. The sun was firing beams right through the windows of homes. It was providing competition to the candle makers. Their solution was to call for a law that would force people to close “all windows, dormers, skylights, inside and outside shutters, curtains, casements, bull's-eyes, deadlights, and blinds—in short, all openings, holes, chinks, and fissures through which the light of the sun is wont to enter houses”.
The candle makers' solution to too much competition was to ban windows to keep the sun out and force people to buy their products. That is exactly what we are getting from the large corporations that want more profit and less competition.
Since the inception of the Internet, the big companies that once dominated the news, the arts and other cultural industries have had to become more competitive because other people have been able to enter their field. Previously, this was impossible. An individual in a basement could not produce music and make it available to listeners, because it had to pass through a government-regulated broadcasting system. Now, competition is wide open and people can produce their own products without having to go through big companies like Bell, Corus, Rogers or CBC/Radio-Canada, which dominated the market when it was regulated by the CRTC.
We are now seeing an amazing reduction in the costs associated with culture and news. Usually, when industries say they are experiencing problems, it is because costs have increased, yet today, costs have decreased significantly, by almost 100%. It used to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce an ad for a movie. Now, a teenager with a small computer can produce the same movie ad at no cost.
This also applies to the news. We are hearing that the media is in trouble, but why is that? Production costs have dropped dramatically. Distribution costs are almost zero because there is no need for printing or for all the infrastructure required to physically distribute a publication. It is now automatic thanks to the Internet. The cost of marketing has plummeted because consumers can get the news or learn about a cultural product automatically, without any advertising, just by going on the Internet.
With costs having come down so much, news agencies should be celebrating, so why are they so angry at the status quo? It is not because their costs have gone up. It is because competition has increased.
The windows are open, and now sunlight is pouring into the houses. Fresh air can come in. It is not just a small group of privileged gatekeepers who get to control what Canadians and others see and hear. The people can decide for themselves.
We are hearing that the other parties are against the web giants. Bill does nothing about the web giants. Once this bill passes, all cultural products will still be offered by the web giants. They will not be affected. It is simply the type of products offered on those same platforms that will be affected.
Instead of algorithms giving the audience what they want to see, that audience will see what the government wants them to see. This is not about taking profits away from the web giants. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and the other platforms will continue to dominate. Instead, the rules by which these platforms operate will simply change to favour content chosen by the government.
Web giants are totally fine with that. They are happy. Now the big broadcasting and culture corporations will join them and reap the benefits. They will use their political weight to get preferential treatment in government-manipulated algorithms.
If we give that power to a government instead of leaving it in the hands of consumers, where it is now, what are the consequences of that? Those with political power will have more say over cultural and news content. Why? According to Bill C‑11, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the CRTC, a state body, will decide how the algorithms suggest content to Canadians.
Accordingly, people who influence this government agency will have a greater say over their Internet presence. Who are these people? The rich, obviously, the very rich, because poor people cannot hire lobbyists.
To be discovered on the Internet today, creators need to produce content that people want to see. Then, when people see it, the algorithm will recommend it to others. With Bill C-11, however, in order to get discovered, creators will need to have a lobbyist who can go to the CRTC to convince it to promote their content. A 14-year-old girl who plays guitar in her basement and makes fantastic music will not get discovered, because she does not have a lobbyist. She will not able to get her content on every phone and computer in Canada because she has no influence over the CRTC. Her content, by law, is not Canadian, because “Canadian” means being registered with interest groups recognized as Canadian productions.
Bill C-11 does not define Canadian content. The content produced by the girl playing the guitar in her basement will not be considered Canadian content. In contrast, CBC content that is copied and pasted from a CNN story in Washington focused exclusively on American politics and produced in the United States will be considered Canadian content, because the CBC, a large corporation, produced it.
Those with political power will have a greater voice on the Internet, which will obviously reduce diversity. The Internet has given us access to enormous diversity. Before the Internet, if artists wanted to sell their music, they had to have space in a store. That space was limited, and it was only accessible to the most popular groups in North America. Now physical space is no longer necessary, since the Internet is not a physical place. On the Internet, there is unlimited room for everyone.
Let us imagine we feel like listening to something unique, like klezmer, which is Jewish jazz. In any given city, there may be only about a hundred people who like klezmer. Before the Internet, this type of music was not popular enough to be available locally. Now it is available online.
What the government is proposing is a system in which public servants will determine what is Canadian enough, and, once again, that will be what comes out of large corporations that will have had the opportunity to lobby the government. That will reduce the diversity of voices and concentrate power among oligopolies. If members do not believe me when I say that lobbyists will take control, I will prove it.
When a government grows, more and more money is spent on lobbying. There is one thing I agree on with the New Democrats: businesses and corporations like to make money. When the government controls the economy, corporations invest in their ability to influence the government so they can benefit. I will give members a few figures.
Since this government took power, government spending has risen by 55%. That is a huge increase. What does this mean in terms of lobbying? There has been an increase of over 100% in lobbying-related communications.
According to a study done by a U.S. firm, the more the government in Washington spends, the more corporations spend on lobbying. If the money and economic power lie with the government, lobbyists are a good return on investment.
When companies realize that earning money on the Internet depends on CRTC support, there will be a huge increase in the number of lobbyists paid hundreds of dollars an hour to control what Canadians can watch and listen to. Politicians will set the criteria for what Canadians can watch and listen to. Decisions will be based on a consensus within the government. Instead of Canadians deciding what to watch and what to say, politicians and public servants will manipulate the algorithms to their advantage.
It is incredible that the Bloc Québécois supports giving this power to a federal agency in Ottawa. It is a woke agency, here in Ottawa, that will determine what Quebeckers can watch and listen to. The Bloc Québécois is not a pro-independence party but a pro-dependence party. It is not a sovereignist party, it is a centralist party.
We, the Conservatives, will never force Quebeckers to listen to the words of a federal government in Ottawa or to submit to its dictates. We will give Quebeckers the freedom to have their own voice. When I am prime minister, Quebeckers will be masters in their own house by making their own cultural choices. We will never force Quebeckers to listen to a woke bureaucracy in Ottawa, which knows nothing about Quebec culture or Quebeckers.
We believe that freedom should be paramount. I will stand for the position of prime minister to ensure that Canada becomes the freest country in the world by giving back to Canadians, including artists, control over their lives. There can be no freedom without freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Our Conservative government will scrap this bill so that Canadians can choose their own path, guaranteeing that our system will be one of the freest in the world, instead of trying to replicate the Chinese dictatorship that the Prime Minister has said he admires so much.
We will continue to fight to prevent this bill from passing. The Conservative government will repeal it as soon as possible. The Conservative Party is the only party in the House of Commons to defend Canadians' freedoms and their culture by making it possible for them to create it. It will be the Conservative Party that will restore common sense in Canada.
Once upon a time there was a group of candle-makers who talked about a grave threat to their industry. They said we were “suffering from the ruinous competition of a rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light that he is flooding the domestic market with it at an incredibly low price”, to quote Frederic Bastiat.
Who was that competitor? It was the sun. The sun was firing beams right through the windows of homes in French villages across the countryside, which was providing daytime competition to the candle-makers, who therefore did not have as much in profit as they would have otherwise had absent this competition. Their solution was to ban windows to keep the light out. That way they could sell more candles for use throughout the day with less competition coming in from the outside world.
That is exactly what we are getting from the large broadcasting and entertainment corporations, the oligopoly that dominated the voice of Canadians for far too long until the windows opened and we got the Internet. The Internet opened up competition. This is ironic because we hear today that the news media is in trouble. They are hemorrhaging jobs and opportunities. They say that the cultural sector is suffering. What do they say is the cause of the suffering? It is that the cost of marketing, production and distribution has plummeted. Colleagues heard that right. Because costs have gone down, the industry is suddenly suffering. Actually, it is not suffering.
News media has never been more vibrant and more alive than it is today, but it is not the establishment, oligopolistic media that dominates the voices around Parliament Hill. Those voices are suffering. They are losing audiences because Canadians have a choice, for a change. For the longest time, the oligopoly in this country, which is controlled by Bell, Rogers, Shaw, now Corus, and a few other powerful corporate players, was able to use its might with the regulator to ensure its dominance across the air waves and into the homes of Canadians. It was able to use a large moat. That is to say that the difficulty of getting into the market comes from the fact that they used to have to produce paper and ink to send their product into homes, but now all of those things have been knocked down. The windows have been opened.
People can enter the marketplace with very few barriers, so those powerful oligopolistic corporations are trying to reinstate the barriers. In other words, they are trying to block the windows to keep the light and the fresh air out so they can dominate the candle-making or, in their case, the news and culture-making business. They do not want more Canadian culture. What they want is more control over Canadian culture.
On one side are the corporations that want economic control over news and culture, and on the other side, the government wants political control over news and culture. Therefore, we have this alliance of big government and big business ganging up on the customer, forcing, through this legislation, the customer to consume content they would not otherwise be interested in.
Right now, the big tech platforms' interest is very simple. They are interested in making money. Let us be blunt about it. How do they do that? They feed people the content they want to see. That keeps people on the platform longer. When this bill passes, those platforms will still be interested in making money. They will make just as much money because nothing this bill does would shut down Netflix, YouTube, Facebook or anything else. They will still be the dominant platforms.
What would change is that instead of having algorithms that give people things they want to see, algorithms would give people things the government wants them to see. The government would operate through the CRTC, a large, woke government agency that would then manipulate algorithms to promote so-called Canadian content.
What is Canadian content? The government cannot tell us. It suggests, for example, that Canadian content is a CBC article that is plagiarized in Washington about American politics. That would be an American-made story about American politics, but it would be Canadian content because it would be provided by the state broadcaster in Canada.
A single mother who produces a video about raising funds for her kid's local sports team would not be Canadian content because it would not be on the approved list established by the CRTC. In other words, a local Canadian story by a Canadian about local Canadians would not be considered Canadian content because the mother is not a news agency or registered with any of these so-called cultural bodies. Therefore, she will be pushed down the algorithm and given a smaller voice while more powerful corporate voices gain predominance.
We know that this is public choice theory. Those with money turn that money into influence, which they turn into more money, more influence, and so on and so forth. If people do not believe me, look at the amount that companies are spending on lobbying right now. Government spending is up 55% since the government took office. That is correlated to a nearly 100% increase in the number of paid lobbying interactions that have happened here in Ottawa as recorded by the lobbyist registry.
A company out of the United States did a similar study in Washington showing that the bigger the government spending there, the more corporations spend on lobbying the U.S. capital; there is nearly a perfect correlation between those two things. Why is this the case? It is because if we have a bigger and more powerful government in the economy, then those seeking profit will invest in influencing that government in order to turn that influence into more money. That is exactly what would happen here.
A small group of broadcasting corporations would have all the influence, as they had in the writing of this bill. They would be in the CRTC office every day asking for the algorithm to be tweaked a little bit more so they can end up in the newsfeeds or YouTube streams of Canadians more than their competitors do. It would be a race for political power rather than a race for better cultural products.
In other words, instead of pleasing the audience, they would get ahead by pleasing politicians and bureaucrats. That is what happens. The privileged elite would have more control and a greater voice, and the people on the ground would have less control.
Ironically, this would run against everything that the parties across the way claim they want. They claim they are for diversity. “Diversity is our strength,” says the . However, by giving a small oligopoly control over what Canadians see on the Internet, the bill would obviously mean less diversity because it would be only the programming that they favour.
Do members think the ethnocultural publications would get the same deal from the CRTC that the CBC, Bell Canada, Rogers and other telecommunications behemoths would get? Of course they would not. The small Punjabi paper in Surrey does not have a lobbyist in Ottawa that can work on the CRTC.
Those in a Jewish community may like klezmer, which is wonderful Jewish jazz music. Specialty cultural products like that might not have a big enough audience to generate political power at the CRTC. Under the current situation, at least through the tap of their thumb, they can get the music they want. However, that music would not be considered Canadian enough by the corporations who would generate the algorithm with the CRTC, and therefore, those more diverse and unique voices would be shut out and deprived of online oxygen. Thus, there would be less diversity.
They claim they want to take power away from big corporations, and yet this bill would do precisely the opposite. It would concentrate power in the hands of a small number of broadcasting and telecommunications behemoths: the ones who have been lobbying so hard for so long to get this bill passed.
They claim that they want more artistic expression, and yet the artistic expression of people who are not part of the established cultural scene would be snuffed out altogether. Even great Canadian artists who have never been associated with conservativism have spoken up against this bill. Let us look at the words of Margaret Atwood, who actually said that this bill represents “creeping totalitarianism”. That is exactly what it is.
When the government decides what the people can see and say, freedom of expression will not have long to live in this country. In this party, we believe in subsection 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: “2(b), or not 2(b)? That is the question”, and Conservatives have an answer. We will repeal this antispeech censorship law and restore freedom of expression on the Internet right across Canada.
Inherent in this bill is the same old elitist mentality of the ruling class, that they know better: If Canadians are left to their own devices, they will consume the wrong kind of culture. Our Liberal friends would tell us that Canadians are just not sophisticated enough to make their own decisions about what to see and hear. There is a smarter class of more cultured, cosmopolitan types who understand culture in a way that the 37 million Canadians who do the work of the nation do not; therefore, we should have this cultural elite embedded in our bureaucracy, interlinked with our large corporations who would decide on their behalf. The assumption is that somehow these elites are more virtuous. What is more virtuous about them? What makes them so special? If they are the ones watching over the system of culture, who watches the watchmen? Who controls the controllers? These rules are made for the rulers and not for the common people. Canadian culture comes from the bottom up, not the top down.
To the suggestion that Canadians are not sophisticated or cultured enough to decide for themselves, what evidence is there that the groups of politicians in this chamber, bureaucrats over at the CRTC or lobbyists in the broadcasting corporations who would make the rules under this law are more sophisticated, culturally advanced and smarter?
I, for one, believe that if we want smarts and sophistication, we should look to the mechanic who can take apart and put back together an engine block; the electrician whose meticulous fingers send lightning through copper wires to illuminate our homes; or the farmer who is able to read the weather, soil and commodity prices to bring food from his field to our fork. Their minds are ever more advanced and capable of deciding what is and what is not good culture.
We in this House of Commons are servants and not masters. It is not our role to dictate from above what the people think, see and hear, but the contrary. They have the org chart upside-down. They think it is , then House of Commons and then the people on the bottom. Actually, it is the other way around. It is the people; then the members in this House; and then the Prime Minister, which means “first servant”. That is how our system was designed. Therefore, Conservatives will always stand for the common sense of the common people and united for our common home. Let us bring it home: their home, my home, our home. Let us bring home freedom of speech for all Canadians.
Madam Speaker, I will share my time with my colleague, the member for .
Bill is part of this government's efforts to advance Canadian interests through a forward-thinking digital policy agenda. It improves fairness in our broadcasting system. It creates stable funding for our cultural industries. It continues to support platforms where Canadian artists and creators can make their mark and enrich Canadians' lives.
Movies, TV shows and music create associations with times in the lives of young and old alike because we recognize ourselves in these works, and we are more likely to recognize ourselves in homegrown creations. That is why we have to strengthen our support for Canadian creators.
This bill would improve fairness in our broadcasting system.
This bill would address an important regulatory imbalance by requiring online audio and video broadcasting services to contribute to the achievement of important cultural policy objectives in the same way that traditional broadcasters always have.
As early as the 1990s, concerns were raised about the potential for online streaming to disrupt the broadcasting sector. Early on, a decision was made not to place requirements on online streaming services so as to avoid stifling innovation, given the relatively limited impact of those services at that time. We need to keep in mind that broadcasting regulation only applies where there is a material impact on the broadcasting sector. Today, the situation is untenable, and the rationale to exempt online broadcasters no longer stands.
Over the past decade, subscribers to online broadcasters have grown from 6% to 78% of Canadians. In the last few years alone, the revenues of online video services have seen fast and substantial growth, while over the same period of time traditional broadcasters have seen steadily shrinking revenues. The reason I bring this evidence to members' attention is to make it clear that the world of broadcasting has changed. We all know this. We regularly turn to online streaming services such as Netflix, Spotify, Crave, Club illico and others to access our music and television. Times have changed. In the past 20 years, online streaming services have become the method through which a growing majority of Canadians access their content.
There has been a drastic shift in Canada's broadcasting sector that has directly impacted the level of support for Canadian programming and talent. Jobs are threatened. Continuing to treat online and traditional broadcasters differently is not fair, and it is not sustainable. It is putting the support system for Canadian stories and music at risk. The bill would create sustainable funding for our cultural industries.
To explain how modernizing the act would create sustainable funding for our cultural industries, it is important to look back at the proven track record of innovation in our cultural sector and recall how transformative digital disruption has been for broadcasting in Canada. This support system has cultivated Canadian cultural works and has supported innovation and talent in our audiovisual, music and sound recording sectors, and it is one we intentionally developed through policies, programs and legislation.
Let me remind members how things were in the beginning for Canadian broadcasting. Radio and TV channels, as well as cable and satellite distribution companies, had to be Canadian owned and hold licences. They were allowed, and still are of course, to show foreign programs or carry American channels. In return for participating in Canada's broadcasting system and accessing our domestic market, they were required to fund, acquire and broadcast Canadian programs.
They were also required to make programs accessible to Canadians and contribute to the creation of Canadian programming, including in French. Over time, the demand for Canadian programming has increased. The system was working as intended and domestic creative industries flourished. Thousands of Canadians found careers in broadcasting as producers, actors, screenwriters, directors, singers, lighting designers, makeup artists, set designers and so much more. The Canadian cultural industry became more skilled and sophisticated and we saw investments in production clusters. We became famous for our creative and technical talent.
Broadcasting plays a key role in supporting the Canadian creative industry and developing our cultural identity. The Canadian broadcasting, film, video, music and sound recording industries are also important economic drivers. They contribute about $14 billion to Canada’s GDP and accounted for more than 160,000 jobs in 2019.
These figures point to a sector we can be proud of and not one we can take for granted. We knew the day would come when the 1991 Broadcasting Act would no longer be sufficient. Unfortunately, that day has come and is long past.
We are fighting for the recognition and support that the cultural sector needs, not only to survive, but to thrive. Time is running out.
The online streaming act is about ensuring the sustainability of the Canadian broadcasting system. It is also about ensuring our cultural sovereignty. Canada is a hotbed of continuous innovation and an incubator for emerging cultural talent. We must support our creators and our creative industries. This requires that all broadcasters in Canada compete on a level playing field.
We need to integrate online broadcasting services into regulation. Because of outdated legislation, online broadcasters are not required to support Canadian music and content, or any other important broadcasting objective. As revenues for traditional broadcasters stagnate and decline, the level of support for Canadian music and content, and the creative professionals who create it, will also decline.
The implications for the broadcasting system are serious. Canadian broadcasters have responded by cutting costs, which has had a real impact on the service they provide to Canadians, their contribution to Canadian culture, and middle-class jobs.
As Canadians, we will be the poorer for not seeing homegrown talent supported and having more diversity on screen and in song.
Previous generations enjoyed Canadian programs knowing that others across the country were sharing a similar experience. These experiences are important for our culture and our cultural industries.
What matters most and what matters now is that Canadian voices, perspectives and stories remain relevant, heard and groundbreaking.
The online streaming act is needed to achieve greater diversity in the broadcasting system and ensure the long-term viability of our broadcasting sector.
As a proud Quebecker, I know that Bill C‑11 will strengthen Quebec's cultural sector. French is a minority language in the greater North American landscape and we are taking measures to protect and promote francophone creators and artists.
These measures are part of the framework of broader commitments by the Government of Canada to ensure the vitality of French-language and minority-language communities in the country. Thanks to this bill, there will be more Quebec and francophone content on online streaming platforms. We can be proud of that.
In conclusion, this bill seeks to ensure that the creative sector continues to grow. Regardless of how Canadians access their content, they should be able to recognize themselves in the stories and music that reflect their experience and their community.
The Broadcasting Act of 1991 has brought us to this point. The online streaming act will bring us further. We cannot wait any longer. We must act now.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased today to rise in support of Bill , the online streaming act. I spent 20 years as a broadcaster, following a short career as a newspaper reporter. I saw first-hand the impact on Canadian storytellers once online streaming companies entered the fray and altered the way we and people around the world consume news and entertainment. I am so thrilled that now, as a member of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, I can play a role in helping level the playing field for Canadian content creators, with the passage of Bill C-11, an update to the Broadcasting Act.
This was the first big piece of legislation that I had the privilege to work on.
The Broadcasting Act, as we have heard, was introduced in 1991.
That was before I was a journalist, when I had just come back to Canada after spending a year in France. I had started studying political science at the University of Calgary. It was a different time. Times have changed.
Throughout the study of Bill , the heritage committee heard from artists, creators and broadcasters about how much the Broadcasting Act has helped Canadians appreciate our own unique culture.
We heard from Gord Sinclair, of The Tragically Hip, that the little band from Kingston would not have been able to reach across the country from coast to coast to coast, and have such an impact on so many Canadians with their music, if it had not been for the Broadcasting Act, which has ensured that Canadian artists are heard, seen and appreciated by Canadians all across the country, that our artists do not have to go overseas or across the border in order to have successful careers. This is about seeing Canadian artists and creators succeed, and be supported and appreciated right here at home.
For decades, broadcasters in Canada have given us incredible Canadian content on our televisions and radios. We made a conscious decision to support our fellow Canadians, to help them share their talents and their stories with the rest of world. As a condition of their licences, TV and radio broadcasters have had to invest in our culture and our artists. It is why we have all the Canadian content we love. Whenever we are watching Schitt’s Creek or Orphan Black, or listening to Hamilton’s own Arkells or a classic like Stompin’ Tom Connors, it makes us proud to be Canadian, to support and encourage our Canadian talent.
Our culture is who we are. It is our past, our present and our future. Now that Canadians consume their media from a bigger variety of platforms, it is time to update the Broadcasting Act and protect our culture for generations to come.
I remember 1991, when we were listening to local radio to learn about the newest music and artists. When we found something good, we would head to the mall and buy the cassette tape at the music store. Today, most Canadians get their music on YouTube. We want to make sure they can still find and identify Canadian content from their streaming services.
Bill ensures that big players like YouTube and TikTok start contributing to the system, like our traditional broadcasters have been doing for decades now. Back in 1991, we knew which TV shows played on which night and we made plans to get home in time so we would not miss anything. If we wanted to watch a movie, our options were either a Blockbuster rental or the theatre.
Today our streaming services have usurped cable services. I still have cable, I still like to watch my local news, but I understand that today, most Canadians stream their content. People can stream pretty much anywhere they can get a signal, through their TV, phone or car. The technological advances many of us in this room have lived through since the 90s are extraordinary.
How wonderful and amazing to be able to watch our favourite shows and movies whenever and wherever we want. We can even binge an entire season of say, Canada’s Drag Race and not have to wait with anxious anticipation week after week to find out what happens at the end.
However, streaming platforms like Amazon Prime and YouTube broadcast to Canadians without the same requirements that traditional broadcasters adhere to, including supports to the industry and its players that helped build Canada’s culture. These companies absolutely invest in our economy in other ways, and we are fortunate to have such a bounty of entertainment to consume. We can proudly point to many productions made on our shores and in our streets, with our people telling our stories.
Streaming services do not have to produce and share content that reflects our Canadian story and shared identity. They do not have to protect Canadian rights of content ownership. They do not have to pay into the system that nurtures young talent and gives it space to grow and be seen and heard. Until Bill is passed into law, our culture will be in danger of being lost in the noise of all the content available to Canadians online.
Asking the streaming companies to make Canadian content more fundable does not in any way limit Canadians' ability to watch what they want, or produce the content they want or post the content they produce. All regulatory requirements and obligations in the online streaming act only affect the broadcaster and the platforms, never the user or the creator.
This bill does not limit Canadian freedom of expression in any way, shape or form. We are not telling streamers how to do their business or construct their algorithms. We are just saying that they benefit from our country and our stories and our creators. They have to contribute. They have to let Canadians see through the clutter and identify their own music and artists, storytellers and other creators.
This legislation will provide real opportunities for Canadians, including community media, local news, French-language productions, racialized communities, third-language programming and so much more. This legislation is incredibly important to ensure space within our broadcasting system for indigenous storytelling and indigenous languages.
When it comes to Canadian stories and storytelling, I would be remiss if I did not mention the news, community news and hard-working journalists. The broadcasting landscape has changed since I was in journalism, with bigger players impacting the Canadian news market. We need to ensure that our broadcasters can keep up and are protected, and that Canadian journalists continue to tell the stories of our Canadian communities.
The 1991 Broadcasting Act has run its course. It is now undeniably out of date, but its principles of fairness to Canadian creators remain crucial to this country. We need this legislation now so that we can better support our Canadian broadcasting sector. Canadian organizations and creators will continue to lose ground if this bill does not pass. We must all work together to see this come to fruition.
I would like to express my thanks to the Senate for its exhaustive study of this bill, which included the longest clause-by-clause consideration of a bill in Senate history. This has been about teamwork, about getting this bill to its best form. Although the Conservatives have been working against the team, spouting misinformation and raising unfounded fears on what this bill is really about, spending more time filibustering than working collaboratively, we got there.
We agree with many of the Senate amendments. As my colleague, the , mentioned yesterday, this government is fully supporting 18 of the 26 amendments brought about in the clause-by-clause study of Bill . We also accept another two amendments with modifications, so all of the changes that adhere to the spirit of the legislation. This is another testament to the truly collaborative work that has gone on.
It is time that we pass this bill, that we show our support to Canadian artists and creators. I truly hope that all my colleagues will join me in supporting Bill . It is time to bring our broadcasting system into the 21st century and do what is right for this country and our culture.
Madam Speaker, can members imagine going to a restaurant and ordering a burger, but instead of a burger, they are served a salad, and when the server is asked why a salad was received, they say it is because of a new government rule that salads need to account for a certain percentage of meals eaten in Canada? That would be ridiculous, one might say, and if one wants a burger, one should get a burger. Nobody would accept something like this when they went to a restaurant, so why would they accept it when they browse the Internet?
That is the essence of Bill , a solution looking for a problem that does not exist and the latest attempt from the Liberals to stick their nose in where it does not belong to limit the freedoms of Canadians.
Madam Speaker, I hope the member for would share a burger with me because I will be sharing my time with him.
Right now, Canadians get to pick the things they see online through their very own viewing habits, searches and choices. If Bill passes, the videos they watch on YouTube, the movies they stream on Netflix and the podcasts they listen to on Spotify would all be subject to government regulations requiring the promotion of certain content. It would deem the content we can and cannot watch. Of course, the government cannot explain what that content is. It has not answered that question.
By putting the rules for what this bill is calling “Canadian content” in the hands of government and unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats, the Liberals would be free to amplify the voices they like and silence the ones they do not like. Do we know why this would be? It is because they appoint the body that does that and the head of the CRTC, and they do so without telling us what kind of content, of course.
Let us face that Bill is just another attempt to drastically expand the size and scope of government, to control what Canadians think and to limit their fundamental rights and freedoms of what they get to see online. No government should ever be given the additional powers to censor and regulate what Canadians say and see, especially of the entire, infinite and unending Internet.
The bill states that any content that generates revenue, yes, even cat videos, would be subject to regulation that would be under the control of the CRTC. It lays out the very path for hiring the Internet czar who would do that, who would give the purview of that to somebody else, an unelected bureaucrat appointed, of course, by a government that wants the control.
This is a debate about amendments, specifically on the issue of censoring user-generated content. That is what regular people put online. The government was really never going to consider that amendment because it took it out of the bill to begin with. I will tell the House why.
Here is the response to trying to get user-generated content out of the mix. It is in amendment 3, and it is part of what we are discussing here. The government states it:
...respectfully disagrees with amendment 3 because this would affect the Governor in Council’s ability to publicly consult on, and issue, a policy direction to the CRTC to appropriately scope the regulation of social media services with respect to their distribution of commercial programs, as well as prevent the broadcasting system from adapting to technological changes over time....
That is the government's response. The rationale behind the rejection for content creators finally says the quiet part out loud. It finally said it. It is right here. For a government that claims user-generated content was never going to be part of the bill, it took out that amendment and then rejected the fact that the amendment would have been put back in the bill. It says the opposite right in the rationale. The government wants the power to direct the CRTC on user content today, and it wants the power to do it in the future.
Regulatory power over user content is confirmed in that explanation. It covers YouTube videos, podcasts and any other content on platforms we do not even know exist yet, because that is what “adapting to technological changes” means. The government has regulated something that does not even exist yet.
There we have it. A statement we heard from the on this point is the exact opposite of his response in the House, his response in committee and his response on television, which makes it the opposite of the truth. He will also ensure that we are the only country, the only democratic country in the world, where this is a thing. We are the only country to engage in this form of regulation of things we would put on the Internet. It leaves absolutely no doubt in the minds of anybody who has read this legislation. For people like Margaret Atwood, Senator David Adams Richards and purveyors of cat videos from coast to coast, there is absolutely no doubt that this is the government's plan. The government just said the quiet part out loud: Platforms are in, and user-generated content is in. Anything else is simply untrue.
We have so many philosophical issues with this bill. I could stand here all day talking about them, but I want to touch on some very practical ones, such as the mandate of the CRTC. There are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data added to the Internet every single day. Do people really believe that the Liberal government or that any bureaucracy, especially a bureaucracy within the government, could handle the responsibility of regulating that? The Liberals cannot get us passports in a reasonable amount of time. They cannot do what they are saying they can do.
What about the idea that the government needs to save the industry? Of course, that is ludicrous. The says that the investments in Canadian production that would further our culture are somehow in need of his rescue. Again, that is the opposite of an actual fact. My colleagues will tell me that I am engaging in disinformation, but that is just not true.
Huge investments are being made, and if we looked a little further than traditional broadcasters, or where they have traditionally been made, or if we talked to anyone else other than the unions that will lose control over that funding, we would know that statement is not true.
The Motion Picture Association of Canada told a committee in the Senate that it spent over $5 billion in 2021 on investments in just one year. That is more than the $1 billion the is talking about when he talks about what Bill would bring in. That $5 billion is more than $1 billion, and that is in a single year by a single industry association.
What about the fact that Canadian creators have not asked for this? In fact, many of them have spoken out against it. Those are the ones that have had tremendous success, the ones that will be held back by this bill. Creators in this country who, without the government, have reached unimaginable heights, both within Canada and especially outside of Canada. They have been ignored.
It is not about culture, and it certainly is not about funding. It is about control. It is about doing anything possible to increase the size of the Canadian government and reduce the freedoms of what we see online, of what ordinary Canadians see and put online. These are ordinary Canadian citizens, and the government will stop at nothing to do more of that no matter how much the facts do not line up, how much it cannot answer questions about what Canadian content is and who will regulate it, or how it simply misleads the House in telling us that the CRTC has no role in this.
The Liberals jammed this bill through the House of Commons once already, but the Senate found so many issues with it that it conducted the longest committee study ever on a piece of legislation and proposed 26 amendments. That is, of course, after the Liberals took out the amendment that would leave out user-generated content, while telling the Canadian public that was not true.
Just like putting lipstick on a pig, it leaves us with a pig. Putting amendments into Bill just leaves us with Bill , a bill that, at its core, restricts, infringes and penalizes. It is a bill that can only be fixed by voting it down and making sure that it never sees the light of day. A Conservative government in this country would have never introduced it, and if members of the House make the mistake of passing it, we will repeal it.
We do not need a government deciding what we can and cannot watch. We do not need a government to pick the winners and the losers. We do not need a government to get more involved in the lives of Canadians. It is involved enough, and we see how that is going in this country. We need a small government that makes room for bigger citizens where government is the servant and we, Canadians, are the masters.
We are upholding the heritage that Canadians have given the world, that successful creators have put out there. We are here today to stand against Bill , a bill that goes against the principles of freedom, the values that have been the bedrock of our country for 150 years, and the heritage that the should be protecting.
Freedom is the very opposite of this bill. He should not be focusing on arbitrary roles. If he did, he should be able to at least explain them in the House, in committee or on television. He should instead be focused on growing the power of people right here in Canada and letting them decide what they can see on the Internet.
Madam Speaker, I am very happy to take part in this debate about how the Liberal government is taking excessive control over Canadians' choices.
Let us not fool ourselves. This bill gives way, way too much power to the federal government, which wants to impose its vision on the choices Canadians make when they use the Internet to watch movies and documentaries and enjoy Canadian culture.
The government wants to direct Canadians' choices by issuing orders to the CRTC. That is why we are fiercely opposed to this bill, which is a direct attack on people's freedom to choose whatever they want to see on digital platforms. We are not the only ones concerned about this. Many people who work in the industry are sounding the alarm. I will say more about that in a bit.
For now, let us concentrate on what has happened in recent years. We have been talking about this bill for years. Some people keep saying that this needs to get done fast, it is urgent, people want this bill and it is taking too long to pass it. We have been accused of filibustering.
The reality is that this bill has been delayed the most by the Liberal government itself. Previously, this bill was known as Bill , and it was introduced before the unnecessary election that cost $620 million in taxpayers' money. We had to carry out the study all over again.
I am prepared to listen to the comments of those accusing us of talking for the sake of talking and other such things. That is political rhetoric. However, the reality is that those who have delayed the debate and passage of this bill the most are not the Conservative members. It is the Liberal government, which triggered an election and even prorogued Parliament to avoid the WE Charity scandal. The election essentially changed nothing. The government spent $620 million of public money to change absolutely nothing, and this delayed debate of the bill, which, at the time, was known as Bill C‑10, and which is now Bill .
We are not the only ones in Quebec to have reservations about this bill. Indeed, the Quebec government wants to have its say on the bill. This is nothing new. Almost 11 months ago, on April 24, the Quebec government sent a letter to the informing him of Quebec's major concern about the unprecedented power that the federal government was giving itself under clause 7. This clause gives the executive branch, meaning government and cabinet, the power to give the CRTC directions to dictate what Canadians will be able to watch, by creating algorithms for browsing online platforms.
That is why the Quebec minister of culture and communications, Mathieu Lacombe, repeated that on February 4 in a letter in which he stated that it was “essential...that Quebec's cultural specificity and the unique reality of the French language market be adequately considered”, that “Quebec was the homeland of the French language and francophone culture in the Americas”, it was essential that it be heard. He also said that it was essential “to ensure that Quebec's legislative powers were recognized but that these conditions have not yet been met”.
The Quebec government raised its concerns last April. Following that letter, the National Assembly adopted a unanimous motion asking the federal government to let the Quebec government have its say in committee. The federal government did absolutely nothing. The minister received the letter and could barely be bothered to send an acknowledgment of receipt. After that, as I said last week in the House, he stuck it on his bedside table, under a pile of other papers, and did nothing about it for an entire year.
On February 4, 2023, Minister Lacombe got angry and sent the federal government another request, saying that time was up and that the Quebec government demanded to be heard. The Minister of Canadian Heritage did absolutely nothing.
It is not for lack of trying on our part. The hon. member for , our political lieutenant for Quebec, and I asked not two, not three, not four, but 20 questions to make it clear that Quebec wanted to be heard on the matter of this bill.
We asked 20 questions, and what did the do each time? He resorted to theatrics. He bragged and blustered, he gave a grandstanding response, but he offered nothing for Quebec.
It is scarcely surprising that the centralizing Liberal government should take this approach. I could spend days and days reminiscing about how this government and all previous Liberal governments were eager to commandeer the provinces' political powers. In fact, we are currently seeing how the government has made a specialty of sticking its big fat nose into provincial jurisidictions, where it does not belong.
It is not surprising that the government is doing that. However, it is disappointing to see the Bloc Québécois abetting this usurpation of ministerial responsibility and especially of Quebec's jurisdictions. These people get elected by saying that they speak for Quebec in the House of Commons and that they express the unanimous opinion of Quebeckers. They play up how important that is.
Mrs. Dominique Vien: When it benefits them.
Mr. Gérard Deltell: Madam Speaker, when it benefits them, as my colleague so aptly pointed out.
What is really going on? While we, the Conservatives, stood up 20 times to ask the government to accommodate Quebec's request, the Bloc Québécois maintained radio silence. It is a fitting metaphor, since we are talking about the CRTC. It was radio silence, not a word. They were missing in action, nowhere to be found.
Where is the Bloc when it is time to defend Quebec and speak for Quebec's National Assembly? They drop out of sight.
Speaking of the Quebec National Assembly, do members know that, about a month ago, on February 5 and 6, the Quebec National Assembly unanimously adopted three motions condemning the federal government's action? Do members know that those three motions were directly related to positions defended by the Bloc Québécois in the House on Bill , Bill and the immigrants at Roxham Road? The last motion severely condemned the use of the term “all-inclusive”, which was said in the House by a member of the Bloc Québécois. We know that Bloc members recognized that it was not the best idea. They said it in the House. The Quebec National Assembly did not like that and adopted a motion condemning that statement.
I was a member of the Quebec National Assembly. I, too, have had occasion, several times, to vote in favour of motions unanimously condemning an act of the federal government. This time, there were three motions in 20 hours, over two days, unanimously condemning the action taken by the federal government with the support of the Bloc Québécois. When the Bloc Québécois says that it is there to defend Quebec, defend the Quebec consensus and speak on behalf of the Quebec National Assembly in the House, it is not true.
That is why we keep saying that it is very important to know how to protect the choice of jurisdictions. Why does Quebec stand up and want to be heard on this bill? This is essential in our debate: Clause 7 states that the government grants itself the power to give directives to the CRTC, which in turn will be responsible for the government's directives to then rework and give directives on the algorithms that will have to be processed by the public. This has many people concerned.
That is why the Financial Post said in an editorial that if the government's bureaucrats were given the right to decide what content is imposed on Canadians there is a real risk that the government will be tempted to use its screening power to silence its critics. That is not good.
Former CRTC chair Ian Scott said that he did not want to manipulate the algorithms. Rather, he wanted the platforms to do that so as to “produce particular outcomes”. That is how an expert sees it. A former head of the CRTC said that.
That is why, as long as this government wants to give itself excessive powers to control what Quebeckers and Canadians have access to, we will be against this bill.
Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House to speak on behalf of the people of Chilliwack—Hope. I want to indicate that I will be sharing my time with the member for .
What we have seen throughout the debate today is the concept of what the government is trying to do through Bill . The Liberals are trying to give more control to the government and its well-connected friends and provide less freedom for Canadians.
We saw this in how the debate on Bill unfolded in the House. The government, with its enablers in the NDP, rammed this bill through the House by invoking time allocation and limiting the ability of the representatives of the Canadian people to speak to this bill. The Liberals shut down debate throughout the entire process to ram this bill through the House.
It is kind of indicative of their approach with Internet regulation. They want fewer people who disagree with them to have the freedom to express themselves. They want to control the House of Commons and they want to control the message that comes out of the House of Commons by shutting down Conservative members who want to speak.
We saw that mainly at the committee as well. We had dozens and dozens of content creators from across the country come to appear before a House of Commons committee for the first time because they were alarmed at what this bill proposed to do and the limits it would place on their ability to get their messages out to their consumers, which is anyone who can access the Internet. The government's problem is that it did not have control. It could not get between those content creators and their audiences. That is what the government wants to do here. It is what the members of the government are insisting upon doing here with Bill . They need that control. They crave that control and now they are going to try to force that control through this law.
Those were individuals who had never engaged in the political process before, including YouTubers and TikTokers, people who post videos and have become popular in their own right not because the government has done anything for them, but because they actually produce content that Canadians and others around the world want to watch. However, that is not good enough for the government members. They need to get in between and ensure consumers are consuming the right content. Even if it is from Canadians, if it does not go through a particular process, then it does not count as being Canadian content.
Creators from across the country who had never lobbied the government, had never been members of a political party and had never come to a parliamentary committee tried to have their voices heard at that committee, but the government could not control them so it shut that down too. There were dozens of witnesses who applied and wanted to come and share their experiences. It was not just Bell, Rogers, Shaw and Corus. Those were always heard. Those have highly paid lawyers and lobbyists who have privileged access to the Prime Minister's Office and every member of the Liberal cabinet.
They were heard, but the content creators who came to Ottawa to be part of that process were shut down by the Liberals and their NDP enablers. They shut down that process and they shut down the process as well when amendments were proposed when we consulted with those content creators. Hundreds of amendments were not even allowed to be raised at the House committee. They were simply voted on without debate and without context because the government could not control that process, so the Liberals shut it down.
Then, after they shut down debate in the House at second reading, shut down debate at the House committee and shut down debate at third reading, the bill went to the Senate where the government does not have control. It had a very lengthy review, the most comprehensive legislative review ever conducted by the Senate.
What happened when the Senate, led by Senator Housakos, Senator Manning, Senator Batters and others, stood up to the government and stood up for Canadian content creators? The Senate came back to the House with amendments from Liberal appointees who said that the government claims that this does not affect user-generated content and that it is just for the big companies. Liberal-appointed senators put forward amendments that were accepted by the Senate, which said that, if that is what the government said, it would take it at its word.
That was a huge mistake, by the way, but they said they would take the government at its word and would narrowly focus an amendment that excludes user-generated content from the bill. The Senate was taking the government at its word that it was not intended for them.
The and the Liberal government have rejected that Liberal amendment because it would take away their ability to control. The government could not abide even Liberal amendments that would have focused this bill on what it said it was supposed to be focused on.
Michael Geist is a professor whom the Liberals used to like to quote when they were in opposition. Now, I am sure, they wish did not have his words being read in the House, though they are about to be. He said:
...the Senate passed compromise language to ensure that platforms such as YouTube would be caught by the legislation consistent with the government's stated objective, but that user content would not. Last night, [the Minister of Canadian Heritage] rejected the compromise amendment, turning his back on digital creators and a Senate process lauded as one of the most comprehensive ever. In doing so, he has left no doubt about the government's true intent with Bill C-11: retain power and flexibility to regulate user content.
That is what this is all about. The government has left no doubt it wants to regulate that user content.
Michael Geist, when he appeared at the House committee, said, “To be clear, the risk with these rules is not that the government will restrict the ability for Canadians to speak, but rather that the bill could impact their ability to be heard.”
That is exactly what the government is insisting on. It is insisting on the fact that it has the power, that it retains the power, to direct the CRTC to determine what Canadians can or cannot see, to filter it, to adjust the algorithm, to direct people away from the content they want to see to the content the government wants them to see.
Every single time the government has had an opportunity to do the right thing, which is to let content creators thrive, to let them reach out to their audiences without interference from the government, it has not been able to handle the lack of control. The loss of control is just too much for it, which is why it has rejected the Senate amendments.
The Senate amendments, by the way, only made a bad bill slightly less bad. Let us be clear that the amendments were an improvement to a terrible piece of legislation. That is why, quite clearly, the has made it clear that a future Conservative government would kill Bill , would repeal it, because we believe in content creators. We believe in the ability of Canadian content creators to engage, not only with Canadians but with the world. The government simply needs to get out of the way and let them do what they are already doing so successfully.
We do not need the Liberal government acting as an intermediary and putting its fingers on the scales of the Internet, putting its fingers on the algorithm to direct Canadians to viewing things that they want to see. They are already doing that quite successfully. They do not want this bill. In fact, they have said that the rejection of the amendment to exempt user-generated content from this bill is like being spit in the face. These are people, again, who are not professional lobbyists. They do not have great connections inside the PMO. They do not have expensive lawyers to make their case and buy the Liberals fancy dinners. They do not have that ability.
They simply are creating the content, doing the things that make them happy and doing the things, quite frankly, that make them money. They are allowed to do this. They do this without any interference from the government, but now the government is set to interfere, to affect their livelihoods. Again, they engaged in that process in good faith. They engaged in the Senate process in good faith. They believed, after they had convinced the Senate to do the work that the government refused to do, that there was hope, that they would be exempted from this bill. The government just could not handle it. Conservatives reject the government's rejection of these amendments. We reject Bill , and a Conservative government would repeal it.