Thank you, Mr. Chair.
After that fine introduction of Mr. Ripley, I would like to thank him and all the other department officials who have been with us at each meeting. Even when we don't necessarily agree with their position, they provide sound information and guidance that helps us do the best possible job we can, given our respective knowledge and expertise. I want to thank them. I join you, Mr. Chair, in recognizing the contribution of Mr. Ripley and all the other department officials.
I have a question for Mr. Ripley. One of his previous comments might suggest that my amendment is unnecessary, but as the saying goes, you cannot be too careful.
Bill C‑10 gives rise to questions about freedom of expression. Some think that we are going too far or, at least, that freedom of expression is not really at risk, whereas others believe that the bill is flawed when it comes to freedom of expression. People have said that the CRTC will not use all of the powers it has been granted under the bill, but a number of experts worry that it might.
Why not impose certain obligations on the CRTC from the outset? Once the bill is a done deal, the politicians in power will say the same thing. They will say that the CRTC is an arm's-length organization that makes its own decisions. That's what happens whenever questions on the subject arise. That was the case recently when big and small telecoms imposed user fees for their services. The argument will be that the government no longer has the power to do anything once the CRTC has made a decision, because the CRTC supposedly operates at arm's length.
We experienced the same thing here, on the committee. The committee is supposed to be independent, but the government was able to interfere with the committee's work when it wanted to.
That makes me wonder whether my amendment has anything wrong with it, anything that might be detrimental. I may be asking for more protection than necessary, but in this case, it seems warranted. Once the bill comes into force, the CRTC will have nine months to do its homework and come up with a definition. After that, we will no longer be able to influence the guidelines it adopts or the manner in which it applies them.
My first question for you is this. Is there anything counterproductive in my amendment? Does it run counter to good old common sense? It may be overly protective, but if so, good. It puts additional safeguards in place to ensure freedom of expression is protected in every CRTC decision regulating the new space that is the digital world. Lobby groups and university teachers interested in freedom of expression can assuage our concerns by examining every CRTC decision or amendment, since it will be published on the commission's website and in the Canada Gazette.