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View Julie Dabrusin Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
What I absolutely disagree with is the premise underlying the motion, about Netflix facing exclusions. I think most people who are Netflix subscribers have probably received a notice, in fact, of the company's intention to be contributing towards Canadian taxes. Regardless of that part, I actually think that in the interests of transparency, I would support this motion, but I disagree with the premise and think that there are some inaccuracies that would need to be addressed. Perhaps when everyone takes a good look at C-10, as well as their Netflix notifications and the actual budget implementation act, that might be clarified.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
That was very generous of you.
I'm not moving off of the issue about sports; I will get back to that in just a few moments. Right now, though, I will give you the broad context of what we're looking at over the next little while, upcoming studies or ones already before the committee.
The supplementary estimates (A) are to be considered, as we normally do. The seventh allotted day, Thursday, June 19, is really our deadline for reporting them back. It's too late to do votes on supplementary estimates (A), as Bill C-10 took a big chunk of the time, but we can study the estimates as subject matter. I'll just leave that right there, that we can do that if you so desire.
Let's get into the motion on anti-Asian racism that was adopted on March 26. I don't have to go through the whole motion. It was just talked about. I will say, however, that there was one stipulation in it that said, “no later than 180 calendar days from the adoption of this motion; and that, pursuant to Standing Order 109, the government table a comprehensive response.” Now, 180 calendar days from the adoption of the motion on March 26 is Tuesday, September 21. Please bear that in mind. That's basically when we come back. I forget the actual date.
On to the next one, which was adopted on April 12:
That the Committee devote at least one meeting before the summer recess to hear from witnesses on the continuing challenges for publishers, creators and artists as it pertains to fair compensation for their work in...educational publishing in Canada.
That's number three.
We also have this motion, which was adopted on June 11. It reads, in part, as follows:
That the Committee invite officials from the Department of Canadian Heritage to testify about the funding for the discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops....
That was from Mr. Waugh.
We also have the ongoing issue of Facebook, and the correspondence we've had since our summons to Mr. Zuckerberg, about his appearing before committee. I can brief you on that so far, and perhaps Mr. Housefather can as well, as he's been involved. There is that issue.
View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2021-06-14 11:27
You look happy to be giving the floor to someone, Mr. Chair!
I have some questions and proposals that could be discussed.
My first question is about the study on anti-Asian racism. I remember very well the context in which we passed the motion on this issue. Obviously, we're all very committed to completing the study, but didn't think at the time it was proposed that Bill C‑10 would take us so long.
On the one hand, I'd like to know what will happen if we don't meet the September 21 deadline. Since we aren't likely to be in session this summer and we don't really know what will happen this fall, what would the consequences of not meeting that deadline be?
At the same time, can we commit to giving this study priority upon returning to the House and request an extension on the deadline, given the circumstances and the fact that Bill C‑10 took longer to complete?
My second question is actually a proposal, and it has to do with Mr. Rayes and his expectations regarding copyright. Copyright is very important to me as well. We had made a promise to Mr. Rayes and to ourselves that we would deal with this issue, because it is urgent and needs to be addressed.
With respect to the issue of harassment and abuse in high-performance sport, I propose that we begin the study on Friday. We could call in officials and one to three representatives from sports federations that we would like to hear from as part of the study. On Monday, we could do the study we promised Mr. Rayes we would do on copyright.
This would make for a busy end to the committee's session, but an extremely efficient one as well.
I am throwing the proposal out there and comments are welcome.
We are also left with the September 21 deadline that we are unlikely to meet.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
Certainly this is a topic that is very important to me, and it's very important to all members on this committee, I am sure, that we examine this. Unfortunately, as many have said, the work on Bill C-10 took much longer than we anticipated, and we have not been able to get to our other pieces of work.
The only thing I want to raise, which I think is important, is the motion Mr. Waugh brought forward regarding the minister visiting or the officials visiting with regard to the children who were found in Kamloops.
I say that because, of course, it's urgent; it's timely, and it's something we need to look at. I would not want the committee to let that fall off either, though I recognize that we are looking down the barrel of three meetings and that is all we have left together.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Okay. If we need to discuss it on Friday at the end, I'll clear a few minutes for that as well. Friday and Monday, I have specific deadlines, and obviously Wednesday. Honestly, if you have someone in mind, please send it to us as soon as possible, given the tight time frame we are under.
That being said, is there anything further?
On these two meetings, do you want to do the format that we ended with before Bill C-10, which was a two-hour meeting with no break, and let's say we have...? Well, it doesn't matter how many witnesses we have.
Would you rather do the two hours with all witnesses, or would you rather break it up, hour to hour, and then have different witnesses?
Mr. Champoux.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Welcome back, everyone, to clause-by-clause on Bill C-10 at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.
To people listening to us, viewing us from afar on the web, on the Internet, you have my apologies. We had a technical problem there at the beginning. We are now overdue, obviously, but nevertheless here we are.
We're going to resume our consideration of clause-by-clause, under what we have received from the House of Commons and the procedure that we are going through.
Before I get into that, however, I want to address something that was raised by Mr. Waugh about a motion of his. I seemed to indicate on Friday that it would be okay. Unfortunately, in this case we cannot deal this since we are now under the ruling that came from the House. We're proceeding with the debate and the clause-by-clause consideration.
However, that being said, I just wanted to bring it up, because I wanted to assure you. Obviously, it fits within the confines of the 48 hours' rule. Therefore, when we finish with Bill C-10, and we have time left over, why doesn't the first order of business be your motion, once we are done?
Just to give everyone a heads-up, when we end we will go to Mr. Waugh's motion. You have received the motion. Please give it your due consideration before that meeting arrives. Following the finish of this particular bill, we'll go into Mr. Waugh's motion.
I think that's about it before we start.
I just also wanted to remind everyone about some of the rules we have here.
We cannot engage in debate. As we go through this there can be no amendments or subamendments, as directed by the majority of the House of Commons on a ruling that took place last week on time allocation.
The only time you will hear me talk more than perhaps you desire, nevertheless, is when I make a ruling on a particular amendment. All the amendments you received in your package will be discussed. If I need to make a ruling I will do so, and I will explain to the best of my ability as to why it is inadmissible.
I promise you, since there is no opportunity to talk about the particular motion by the person who moved it, I will pause—hopefully there will not be an awkward silence—and give time for all of you to consider, because you do have the option to appeal. You can challenge the chair's ruling.
We've already done that once, but I felt at the time I was probably moving a little bit too quickly, and for that I apologize. What I will do, if I have to make a ruling on inadmissibility, is that I will take a pause and you can decide whether you want to appeal that ruling.
Let's go back to where we were.
We are now moving—
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
The first one we are dealing with is PV-24. This is the first of the PV amendments. As I ruled earlier, the amendments from the Green Party are automatically deemed moved due to an order that we decided upon at the beginning of this Parliament.
I wish to discuss it.
PV-24 attempts to remove the discretionary power of the CRTC to make regulations when needed, to force the CRTC to make them in all cases referred to in proposed subsection 11.1(1) of the act. As a result, this power was not originally envisioned in Bill C-10 itself.
That being said, according to page 770 of [Technical difficulty—Editor] goes beyond the principle and scope of the bill.
I'll repeat how that works. This bill has been accepted at second reading, which means we accept the principle and the scope that the bill puts out there. This particular amendment goes beyond the principle and scope of the bill, which we've already voted on. Therefore, it exceeds the will of the House in this particular case.
I have to make a ruling that PV-24 is inadmissible.
I'll give you a moment to reflect. I hope everybody's well.
Now, if you go back to your hymn books, we'll move on to LIB-8, moved by Mr. Housefather.
(Amendment agreed to: yeas 7; nays 4 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you.
We are now going to CPC-11.1.
In CPC-11.1, we had a great deal of conversation about it. It does amend the Broadcasting Act in many ways. The amendment proposes to amend part of the act related to licences. In this particular case they were talking about amendments to licences [Technical difficulty—Editor] they rendered necessary by other adopted amendments. I just want to read you something that is on page 771 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice. It says:
…an amendment is inadmissible if it proposes to amend a statute that is not before the committee or a section of the parent Act, unless the latter is specifically amended by a clause of the bill.
What we're doing here is talking about the parent act in the case of the Broadcasting Act, but in C-10 it doesn't discuss this particular way of amending. Therefore, I have to rule it inadmissible as it goes beyond the principle and scope of the bill that we agreed to on Bill C-10, which was accepted in the House at second reading.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you very much.
We are on amendment CPC-11.2. This may sound eerily familiar. It proposes to amend the part of the act related to licences yet again. In the House of Commons Procedure and Practice—it's the third edition I'm speaking of, from page 771—it says:
...an amendment is inadmissible if it proposes to amend a statute that is not before the committee or a section of the parent Act, unless the latter is specifically amended by a clause in the bill.
I mentioned this was eerily familiar because it is the same as before. However, since it is before us, I am compelled to do it.
Since the part is related to licences, we're talking about section 22 of the Broadcasting Act, which is not being amended by C-10. As I mentioned earlier with the same genuine understanding, it was not touched upon in C-10. We voted that on principle. Therefore, the committee would be exceeding the scope of the bill if we amended something in the act that was not addressed by C-10, and here we are doing an amendment that wasn't.
I really hope that was clear enough for everybody. I'm not sure it was but nevertheless—
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Welcome back, everybody.
(On clause 18)
The Chair: We left off at clause 18, so we're starting with PV-26.
I need to say this about PV-26 before we proceed any further.
Bill C-10 amends the Broadcasting Act to provide for the Governor in Council to be able to review a decision made by the CRTC under section 9 of the act. The amendment expands this power to the orders that the CRTC may make under proposed section 9.1 of the act, which is not envisioned in the bill. Again, we go back to page 770 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, regarding an amendment being beyond the scope of a bill.
PV-26 expands the power of the Governor in Council to cabinet and that is beyond the scope of the bill. Therefore, I have to rule that PV-26 is inadmissible.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
If you'll look at your hymn book, you'll see that G-16 is listed, but that was already carried. It was consequential to G-9. Therefore, we're going to just move on from there, because we're [Technical difficulty—Editor] the consequences of the G-9 vote to G-16, so you can take that one out.
That brings us to BQ-35(N). This amends the Broadcasting Act. It provides for a specific regime for the commission to impose a penalty to the corporation, CBC, under the proposed section 34.99. The circumstances cannot be done without holding a public hearing. That's basically what the amendment's saying.
The amendment aims at applying the same unique regime to a person carrying on a broadcasting undertaking, even though it's a different regime, and it does not contemplate a public hearing as proposed in the bill under proposed section 34.92, and I'm afraid that this goes beyond the principle and scope of the bill.
We are applying one to one, and you want to expand it to apply to the other. It's not envisioned within C-10. Therefore, I have to rule that it is, according to page 770 of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, inadmissible for the purposes of the principle and scope of Bill C-10.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
We're on amendment PV-26.1.
For those watching us at home, PV is Parti vert, the Green Party. This has been submitted by the Green Party, by Mr. Manly.
Shall PV 26.1 carry?
(Amendment negatived: nays 9; yeas 2 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: That brings me to amendment CPC-12.
In Bill C-10, it amends section 46 of the Broadcasting—
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Next is the proposal for new clause 26.1, in amendment CPC-13.
The amendment amends subsection 71(3) of the act, which is not amended by the bill. In particular, we're talking about the corporation, CBC/Radio-Canada, and whether or not it is compelled to provide new information to its report to Parliament.
House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, on page 771, states, “an amendment is inadmissible if it proposes to amend a statute that is not before the committee or a section of the parent Act”—the Broadcasting Act—“unless the latter is specifically amended by a clause of the bill”.
The bill goes slightly beyond its reach, meaning that by saying yes at second reading to Bill C-10, we've accepted its principle, but we've also accepted the scope of the bill. This particular measure does go beyond the scope of the bill. Therefore, I have to rule that CPC-13 is inadmissible.
That brings us to clause 27.
(Clauses 27 and 28 agreed to: yeas 7; nays 4)
The Chair: Folks, could I just get everyone's attention for a moment? One of the things we tend to do in clause-by-clause, similar to this, is that if we have several clauses in a row, we can lump them together into one vote.
Right now, I have clause 29, 30, 31 and 32 with no proposed amendments from our amendment package or from PV either. We can lump them together into one vote, but to do that I would need unanimous consent. This will also come up again later on in the bill. I have not done it yet, but it just occurred to me that it can be done. I will put it in front of the committee. Clauses 29 to 32 would be voted on at once.
Do I have unanimous consent to proceed that way?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
(Clauses 29 to 32 inclusive agreed to: yeas 7, nays 4)
(On clause 33)
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
You may be on the right path, Mr. Aitchison.
Let me just ask the question again.
Shall the title carry?
(Title agreed to: yeas 7; nays 4)
The Chair: Shall the bill, as amended, carry?
(Bill C-10 as amended agreed to: yeas 7; nays 4)
Philippe Méla
View Philippe Méla Profile
Philippe Méla
2021-06-11 15:16
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As you know, Mr. Champoux, there are a number of committees working on bills right now, and many of them are at the reprint stage. So all these bills end up in the same place for reprinting. That's why the process takes a little longer than usual.
In the case of Bill C‑10, a lot of amendments and subamendments have been passed, so it's going to take a little bit longer still. However, we will try to produce the report by Monday or Tuesday at the latest. We will do our best at the end of the week.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
That's, of course, what I meant by short order. They should have that done by then, and then it goes back to the order of the House.
By the way, we have a meeting on Monday. I'll update you at the very beginning of the meeting as to the progress of the reprint and report of Bill C-10 back to the House for report stage.
Go ahead, Ms. McPherson.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Welcome, everyone, to C-10's clause-by-clause consideration. Welcome back.
Before I get to resuming the debate we had, which was on CPC-9.5, I just wanted to let everybody know that there's been an addition. I think it's in your an inbox. A new amendment has been proposed that comes from Mr. Housefather.
If you look at the reference number, the last three numbers are 710. It's going to be labelled as LIB-9.1.
Now, where does that go? I'm glad you asked. I hope I get the page number right. It's going to be after CPC-11.2 and before the next clause, which is PV-26. I think that would now be page 106.
Mr. Maziade, did I get the page number right?
View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2021-06-10 15:55
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I will take a few moments to offer my opinion on this amendment. We are indeed discussing an amendment.
I'm going to have a question or two for our friends in the department, particularly Mr. Ripley.
First of all, I want to commend the member for Lethbridge for listening to the artists. We can see that she's sensitive to the artists' cause.
However, when she says that we haven't listened to the artists, that we haven't heard them, I'd like to point out that the artists we're talking to are represented by associations such as the Union des artistes, the Association québécoise de l'industrie du disque and the Association des professionnels de l'édition musicale. These are recognized and important associations. They are not lobbies; they are also unions and groups representing artists.
She talks about artists who, in her view, are in niches and stuck in the nineties. Yet the vast majority of these artists are using electronic platforms to distribute their art. So these artists are not so out of touch, these artists are not so far removed from the ones she's talking about, who she feels we should have listened to.
Furthermore, the artists she's talking about who she feels we should have listened to are often YouTubers, people who have platforms or channels on which they post content. Yet, these folks are not subject to the regulation proposed in Bill C‑10. That's one of the questions Mr. Ripley has answered a number of times.
It's easy to build a series of arguments out of falsehoods, to spin it all out of proportion and make a big deal of it. You have to be careful, you have to say real things too, and you have to speak to the real world.
We're talking about 200,000 artists represented by associations like the ones I just mentioned. These 200,000 artists do not have niches and are not stuck in the nineties. These are artists who would have deserved a much more heartfelt apology than what we just heard from the member for Lethbridge, based on the comments.
Having said that, I'd like to once again ask Mr. Ripley about the amendment we're talking about here.
Isn't this request that we would make in adopting CPC‑9.5 simply a way to make the CRTC's job much more cumbersome? Won't this amendment only complicate things, when they are already pretty clear in the bill we're in the process of passing?
View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2021-06-10 16:02
You have raised a good point: if someone feels that the CRTC has misinterpreted the act, they have recourse.
I don't want you to think that I'm making you repeat yourself, Mr. Ripley. In fact, I've been listening to you very carefully over the past few weeks. I'd like you to tell us whether you feel there is any cause for concern that the current wording of Bill C‑10 could allow the CRTC to misinterpret the act and violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in its regulations. Based on your interpretation of Bill C‑10 and the Broadcasting Act, do you see any cause for concern?
View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2021-06-10 16:10
Let me summarize how we interpret Bill C‑10 and the measures we want to put in place. I agree with my colleagues that we should not presume how the CRTC will interpret the act on which it will have to base its regulations. However, the current version of the bill doesn't raise concerns for users of online platforms, contrary to what some experts have suggested. According to several other experts, it doesn't represent an infringement of freedom of expression or of other principles in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in general.
Furthermore, if by any chance people we did not have the opportunity to hear from are concerned and want to give their opinion, they could participate in the CRTC public hearing process.
Ultimately, if a decision made by the CRTC violates the principles of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including freedom of expression, there is recourse to the courts.
So there are several layers of protection, in my view.
Actually, this is not a question for you, Mr. Ripley. Rather, it is the conclusion I draw from the many responses you just gave me, for which I thank you very much.
I will try to stick to the amendment that we're talking about, Mr. Chair. I want to avoid doing what some of my colleagues seem to be doing, as you like to say, venturing off the playing field. We're talking about freedom of expression and adherence to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the tools we put in place to do that.
I believe we have listened carefully to everyone and we haven't muzzled anyone. I don't think we have censored anyone in the last six weeks. We've clearly heard the concerns of our Conservative colleagues. In fact, I think it's very unfortunate that we've come to a process like the one in place. Ultimately, we urgently need regulations to level the playing field in the Canadian broadcasting system.
We have artists in Quebec and in Canada who are anxiously awaiting this bill. It's urgent that it be passed. All these individuals are also eager to take advantage of the digital world, just as much as those who are already there or who have been discovered through digital media.
I very much hope that we will conclude this debate in a cordial and productive manner, and that we will all move forward with the best will in the world. As I said earlier, more than 200,000 artists, creators, craftspeople, technicians and authors, to name but a few, are represented by the handful of associations we've been in contact with over the past few months. They are imploring us to pass this bill before the end of the session.
I'm going to stop there, Mr. Chair. I know those individuals are listening. I just want to tell them that we stand firmly with them and we sincerely hope that we can deliver Bill C‑10, for which they have been waiting far too long.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, thank you for allowing me to speak to my amendment once again.
Let me go back to what my colleague Mr. Champoux from the Bloc Québécois said: all's well with the world as long as there are no problems. I know that Mr. Ripley says that freedom of expression is protected; he's giving us the department's take on it. However, as Mr. Champoux has correctly pointed out, there are many voices in this country, including credible experts, who are expressing an opinion that is completely opposite to the department's vision.
At the heart of this issue is the CRTC, an agency whose approach is, in some respects, challenged by a number of people, including former senior CRTC officials. They are strongly questioning this bill.
I want to make something clear: I am not trying to digress from the subject, but I want to talk about an article that was published this week in La Presse, which is one of the most credible media outlets in the country. The reporter Philippe Mercure wrote this piece about a decision the CRTC made on Internet rates. Some may say that this is not relevant to the topic, but I simply want to illustrate how the CRTC works. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had clearly said in 2015 that he wanted to lower people's Internet bills. Despite clear government directives, the CRTC went back on its 2018 calculation and made a decision that helped the big players, to the detriment of the public.
According to the reporter who is an expert on this issue, the CRTC made “a 180‑degree about‑face, which the federal agency explains... by 'errors' made in 2019” in its own calculations. As a result of this decision, people's future Internet bills will more than double, because of an error that the CRTC apparently made in 2019. The reporter adds: “They ask us to just believe them. Except that the CRTC refuses to present a new calculation to justify its pro‑industry shift.”
Toward the end of the article, he writes: “So the regulator is simply choosing to cancel the rate cuts and keep the current ones in place. In a stunningly casual manner, it states that, in any event, the new calculations would 'probably' arrive at rates that 'might approach' those currently in use.” The CRTC decides of its own accord to say that it will not even do the rigorous, scientific exercise that is required.
When I see such things happening with respect to people's Internet costs, I am led to wonder. What does this have to do with Bill C‑10, you might ask? Well, I'm talking about the organization that will be given all these powers tomorrow morning, when we don't even know how the CRTC will read the bill, as Mr. Champoux pointed out. The CRTC has nine months to tell us how it will read the bill and how it will apply it, because there are no guidelines. All of us on the committee, not just the Conservatives, added guidelines to the bill for francophone content, Canadian content, and so on, because none of those things were there initially.
It is all very well to say that, based on how the bill reads, freedom of expression is protected. However, it seems to me that amendment CPC‑9.5 that I am proposing provides an additional safeguard to ensure that the CRTC respects freedom of expression, which is fundamental and which many experts have called for. I am not just talking about regular Canadians, but also about recognized experts from various universities and the legal field across the country.
My amendment simply requires that the CRTC publish the legal opinion on its website confirming that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is respected, and that this opinion be published in the Canada Gazette.
My colleague Mr. Waugh was saying that he had never read the Canada Gazette, and that's why we want the legal opinion to be published on the CRTC website as well. I understand not wanting to add unnecessary paperwork, but this is not too complicated. It would just take a fairly simple little 101 course. We can all relay the information afterwards on our web pages and social media.
Given the CRTC's track record, this requirement is just one more protective measure we are taking as a country, as Canadians. This will be good for artists, both those in associations and those who are independent and work from home.
Honestly, I do not believe that amendment CPC‑9.5 is asking for anything excessive at all. With respect, even if it required a little more paperwork, as Mr. Ripley said in response to a question from Mr. Champoux, would that be too high a price to pay to protect our freedom of expression? I'm sorry, but freedom of expression is priceless.
I move this amendment with all due respect to my colleagues, to the officials who are here and to all those who have worked on this issue. Regardless of the expertise of each of us, we are all human beings. We have tried as best we can to improve the bill. It was not perfect at the outset, which explains the multitude of amendments that have been introduced. In fact, many of them are going to be squeezed through without our having had a chance to discuss them.
One way or another, the bill will be challenged in court. It is actually not true that things will go smoothly tomorrow morning, despite what people would have us believe. The Conservatives will not be the ones responsible for blocking the bill, the courts will provide us with justice. In this case, law professors or those in this specific area will challenge aspects of Bill C‑10. I think that they too are entitled to have their expertise recognized whenever and wherever they comment.
I don't want to go any further, because I really want to see the vote on amendment CPC‑9.5. I would also like to have the opportunity to introduce amendment CPC‑9.6 afterwards, if we are not yet at the end of the five‑hour period we have.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
I will be as fast as I can. Thank you.
I just want to respond and say that I think this is a good amendment. I'm happy to support this extra oversight. I think that's great and I'm very thankful to Mr. Rayes for bringing this amendment forward.
However, I want to also just bring up the idea and to flag that when Mr. Shields spoke about legal opinions, and the legal opinions being those of the ministry or the government or of those who are contracted by the CRTC, it's important that we recognize that there was a letter sent to the Prime Minister by 14 of Canada's pre-eminent broadcasting, telecommunications and entertainment lawyers, with decades of experience, who spoke very clearly about the concerns that have been raised by some of the Conservatives.
They made it very clear that the commission is not being given any powers to infringe on Canadians' charter rights, that this is clearly outlined in the Department of Justice's update to the charter statement and that these lawyers agree with the conclusion. They say:
Bill C‑10 would restrict the powers the Commission would have over social media services to: mandating financial contributions to support Canadian programming or the recovery of regulatory costs; discoverability, so Canadian creators can be more easily discovered and promoted online; registration, so the Commission knows which services are operating in Canada; and audit powers, to ensure compliance with all of these powers....
They also said it is simply false and completely ignores that:
Users who upload content to these social media services would not be subject to the Act, as specified in proposed Section 2.1. Moreover, the Commission would not have the power to constrain the content on social media services, set program standards for these services or the proportion of programs on these services that must be Canadian.
Also some very smart legal opinion around this country has come forward and said some of the concerns that are being raised by certain members of this committee are completely unfounded. I think it's important that we get that on the record.
I realize I'm at the very last and at the tail end here, but I do want to make sure that that gets put into the record.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Welcome back, everybody.
As you know, we are now within the confines of Bill C-10, clause by clause.
What I am going to do right now is explain the process in relation to the order that we received from the House of Commons. It goes like this:
That, in relation to Bill C–10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration of the committee stage of the bill....
That is what we have just completed. It continues:
That, at the expiry of the time provided in this order...any proceedings before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on the said bill shall be interrupted—
We've just done that:
—if required for the purpose of this order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.
What we're going to do is go through this clause by clause. There are three things to remember. Because of the orders from the House of Commons, voted on by a majority of the members, for these clauses there can be no debates, no amendments from the floor or subamendments pertaining to any amendment that is possible. This is a voting exercise that I am sure you have done before, and I don't need to explain how that goes.
Here is an important part. I have two rulings to make regarding the package of amendments that we have. For those folks who are listening at home, we as members propose amendments in advance to be studied and distributed amongst committee members, but they are not officially moved. We have gone through several. We still have several on the schedule here, but I have to get to two rulings before discussing any further.
Before I do the rulings, remember, whenever this chair makes any ruling, there is no debate on that ruling, but there is a process of appeal in a challenge. It has to be done following the ruling that is made. Again, I have two rulings, so let me deal with number one first.
Pursuant to the routine motion adopted by the committee, I have an obligation to put to a vote amendments from any member who is not a member of a caucus represented on the committee left to deal with in the package of amendments. These amendments will be deemed moved.
What I am saying to you is this: Orders that were adopted a few years ago—and I mentioned this during the committee—deem that motions by any unrecognized party on the committee are deemed to have been moved. In this particular case, it comes from one source, which would be the Green Party. These are all the amendments that say PV, Parti vert, so they are PV-26 and PV-27.
According to the routine motions that we have adopted, those motions made by Mr. Manly, PV, have been deemed moved. That means we will be voting on Parti vert, Green Party amendments that were proposed, because they have been deemed moved. This is a rule in place.
Now, again, Mr. Manly does not have the right to vote, but he does have the right to propose amendments, and once those are in our packages, those are deemed moved. Therefore, we will be voting on those.
That is the first ruling.
By the way, there's something else I should mention. I'm going to go very slowly with this, because I want everyone to understand what we're doing and I want to make sure that everyone is aware of how the process goes. I'll probably go at the pace of the heartbeat of a hibernating bear, and I apologize if you find that frustrating, but I truly want everyone to understand.
Mr. Rayes, I see your hand up.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
I don't mean to prejudge what you're about to ask. It's just that I think I might be able to answer your question.
Right now I'm still dealing with the first ruling, so now that is done.
That brings me to my second ruling.
All the rest of the amendments here have not been moved. Therefore, under the guidance—and in this case it's fairly strict guidance—of the standing orders, we will not be able to vote on the amendments by the parties.
Does everybody now understand why? It's because they're not moved. I am under strict orders to look at clause-by-clause on Bill C-10. These amendments have not been moved, and we cannot vote on something that has not been moved.
Mr. Housefather.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Welcome back, everybody. Once again, this is clause-by-clause on Bill C-10.
I'm going to clarify once more what we're doing right now. The ruling was such that—
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Before I go to the next one, when we do the voting, folks, I just want to be clear that when I call “shall it carry”, there are a couple of options that we've worked out. You can say “no”; however, if you agree with it, you don't have to say anything.
If nobody says anything, I'm going to let it carry. If you say “no”, I will go to a vote. If you wish to suggest that it carry on division or be defeated on division, you can make that suggestion at the same time. I can go back to the committee to find out if that is the way you wish to proceed.
Okay? If you agree with it, you don't have to say anything.
This brings us to CPC-9.6, and I have something a little different.
In reviewing CPC-9.6, it says it would add, in proposed section 9.2, in clause 7, after line 19 on page 8: “The Auditor General of Canada shall annually audit all the orders, conditions, regulations and decisions of the Commission”—meaning the CRTC—“with respect to the discoverability of programs”.
I don't need to proceed any further.
The reason I say that is that, if you look to page 770 in the third edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, it talks about “beyond the scope and principle of the bill”. In second reading, the House passed the bill, which means we accepted it in principle and scope, or at least the House did. I understand that not all of you do, but the majority of the House accepts the principle of it.
If we propose things that go beyond the scope of the bill, then it's my responsibility, as chair, to deem it inadmissible. What is going on here is that this particular amendment, CPC-9.6, calls on the Auditor General to do the work, but nowhere in Bill C-10 does it call on the Auditor General to do that. Not only that, it doesn't even require in the Broadcasting Act for the Auditor General to do that.
I'm not ruling on the intent of the amendment. In other words, I'm not saying I don't like the Auditor General. I'm saying that because Bill C-10 does not specify any function for the Auditor General to be involved, I have to rule it to be inadmissible. That's the ruling.
Mr. Rayes.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Welcome back, everybody. Welcome to clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-10.
We are in the middle now of a five-hour debate, as was voted on by the House. We have just over two hours left, and we're going to jump right into that.
(On clause 7)
The Chair: We left off with Conservative amendment 9.3. Just so you are aware, you did not get CPC-9.3 in your original package. The last three digits in your reference number are 641. That takes care of the hymn book.
Last time, Mr. Genuis had the floor. He is not here with us now, but I don't see anyone who wishes to speak to CPC-9.3. We will proceed to a vote.
(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: This is a viciously efficient start we have going here. I'm just saying that for the record. Since I'm on record for many other things, I might as well be on it for that too.
There was a CPC-9.4, but as you know, that falls later. No, I'm sorry, that's not right. We're going to CPC-9.5. Is that right? I'm going to check with the legislative clerk for just a moment.
Go ahead, Mr. Méla.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
With amendment CPC‑9.5, I am proposing that Bill C-10, in clause 7, be amended by adding after line 19 on page 8 the following:
9.2 (1) The Commission shall, for each regulation or order made, or condition imposed, under this Act in relation to an online undertaking, obtain an independent legal opinion as to whether any of the provisions of the regulation, order or condition are inconsistent with the protections provided to Canadians by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, particularly those relating to freedom of speech under paragraph 2(b).
(2) The Commission shall publish the independent legal opinion on its website within 10 days after obtaining it and shall cause it to be published in the Canada Gazette.
I want to make clear that subsection 9.2(1), as proposed in the amendment, applies to online undertakings.
I'll explain the rationale behind the amendment.
Actually, before I do that, I want to thank everyone for adopting amendment CPC‑9.3, which the committee debated yesterday and voted on at the beginning of today's meeting. I had forgotten to thank my fellow members for their support.
Amendment CPC‑9.5 isn't very complicated, so everyone should find it quite straightforward. In light of all the concerns raised vis-à-vis the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the amendment would require the CRTC to publish an independent legal opinion relating to the charter when it makes a decision or a new regulation regarding online content. The idea is simply to ensure that the rights guaranteed by the charter are protected.
Under the proposed procedure, the opinion would be published on the CRTC's website and in the Canada Gazette, to let all partners, traditional digital broadcasters and Canadians know that the regulation in question was consistent with the charter.
By adopting amendment CPC‑9.5, the legislator, the Parliament of Canada, would be ensuring that the freedom of speech of all Canadians was protected. We know that freedom of speech is at issue and that the bill will most likely be challenged by lawyers, lobby groups and special interest groups. We sense that many university teachers and lawyers have doubts about the work we are doing and the direction in which the bill is going. Accordingly, this amendment gives us another opportunity to ever so slightly improve the iteration of the bill currently before us.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thomas Owen Ripley
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Thomas Owen Ripley
2021-06-10 11:32
Thank you for that question.
There are a couple of things. One would be just to stress off the top—and again, this perhaps picks up on some of the committee's debate from yesterday—that the effect of proposed section 2.1 would mean that any individual who is unaffiliated with a social media company, no matter how big their following is or how much money they make, is not to be considered a broadcaster for the purpose of the act.
Again, even if you have millions and millions of followers, that provision means it's not a question of your being considered a broadcaster. Again, for the most part, individuals will not be participating in CRTC proceedings because the act will not apply to their activities on social media services, for example.
What we see in this space, Mr. Aitchison, is that you have individuals or organizations coming to the table to represent the public interest that may not be sophisticated corporations able to hire legal teams to represent them. A good example in this space is an organization called the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, which raises many of these issues on behalf of organizations or individuals.
One of the things the government is proposing in Bill C-10 is to actually ensure there is better support for public interest representation in CRTC proceedings. Right now, the CRTC really has no formal mechanism to ensure the activities of these organizations can be funded.
If you look at Bill C-10, the CRTC can seek contributions to support the participation of public interest organizations in CRTC proceedings. The government is doing that very intentionally, recognizing that, obviously, organizations and voices are needed at the table. The goal in that is to secure more long-term, sustainable support for those organizations so that they remain viable and can continue to bring those issues to the table and to CRTC proceedings.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
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.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
We'll continue with clause-by-clause consideration of BIll C-10. When we left off we left off with CPC-9.5. I have Mr. Rayes who was about to ask a question.
You have the floor, sir, go ahead.
Thomas Owen Ripley
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Thomas Owen Ripley
2021-06-10 12:31
Thank you for the question, Mr. Rayes.
I would like to clarify the government's position. The issue here is not whether the CRTC is complying with the charter. As I mentioned, the charter applies to the CRTC, and mechanisms are already in place for people if they feel that the CRTC is not complying with the charter. For example, they can challenge a CRTC decision in federal court.
To answer your question, I should say that Bill C‑10 does propose to add paragraph 11.1(1)(c) to the Broadcasting Act, which gives the CRTC the power to make regulations respecting:
c) supporting participation by persons, groups of 10 persons or organizations representing the public interest in proceedings before the Commission under this Act.
Once again, the bill includes measures to ensure the sustainability of funding for public interest groups by providing funding for those groups, as required.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
That's fine.
Throughout the consultations that we held during the consideration of the bill, we heard from many witnesses, but no one representing individuals who use social networks came to speak. We did not invite them because it was not part of the initial version of Bill C‑10. The bill took a different turn only afterwards, when we started looking at the amendments. So the people who felt aggrieved by the bill along the way have not had an opportunity to speak out on this.
Let me ask you my question. This will be my last question, because I want to give the floor to my colleagues on the committee who would like to speak to this amendment.
Could an ordinary citizen, who is not a representative of an organization, have access to this fund to participate in public hearings?
Thomas Owen Ripley
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Thomas Owen Ripley
2021-06-10 12:49
Thank you, Mr. Waugh.
I might make a couple of introductory points and then suggest that my colleague Mr. Olsen jump in, who is very well versed in CRTC processes.
Bill C-10 certainly envisions a transparent process when it comes to questions of regulations or orders. The intention is certainly that anybody who wants to participate in those proceedings would have an opportunity to do so.
Mr. Chair, if you'll permit me, perhaps Mr. Olsen can just quickly jump in and explain how this would work in a typical CRTC process, the kinds of things that would be naturally published on the CRTC's website and the materials that would be made available.
Drew Olsen
View Drew Olsen Profile
Drew Olsen
2021-06-10 12:53
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for the question, Mr. Waugh.
Those commercials you refer to are part of the licence renewal process. They are an obligation that the CRTC imposes on licencees to make public the notion that the licence is being renewed and that people can make comments on the conditions of licence.
The situation in Bill C-10 is that the proposal is to move away from a conditions of licence model and towards a conditions of service model. The clause that this committee is currently debating—clause 7 of the bill, which would include proposed section 9.1—does give the CRTC the powers to make orders with respect to conditions of service that would need to be put on. The CRTC would, under the sort of umbrella, or the chapeau if you like, of proposed section 9.1, have the ability to make requirements related to CRTC proceedings, such as advertisements of various CRTC proceedings, if it chose to.
That, of course, also depends on what this committee and this Parliament ultimately decide to do on whether conditions of service will have a seven-year maximum duration or whether those will be subject to different periods of review.
Bill C-10 does give the CRTC the power to require, at any time that significant conditions of service are being looked at by the commission, that messages be broadcast by licencees to that effect.
Thomas Owen Ripley
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Thomas Owen Ripley
2021-06-10 13:06
The government's position is that the CRTC is bound by the charter. It needs to respect the charter, and its independent legal counsel will help it do that. If ever there is a question about its not having respected the charter, there are meaningful avenues of recourse available where individuals or organizations can have oversight from the federal court system.
As I indicated to Mr. Rayes, if the objective is to make sure that there's a way that third parties can put legal opinions on record, have them made public and have them considered by the CRTC, the government's position is that this is already able to happen under the framework in Bill C-10, as Mr. Olsen outlined. There is a process whereby anybody can make a submission to any kind of CRTC proceeding. Therefore, if there are individuals or organizations wanting to put on record a legal opinion that speaks to the issue of charter and have that be part of the public record, part of the proceedings that the CRTC must consider, then there is already a way for them to do that under Bill C-10.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Welcome back, everyone. This is clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-10.
I just want to point out to everybody in this room that I know the bells are ringing and that I'll be seeking unanimous consent in just a few moments.
Okay, I know I said some time ago that I would try to give you as ample notice as I could about a meeting, and when I seek out meetings, I will do just that. I will be cognizant of the time. I'll be cognizant of your situation.
The whips amongst our parties—again, I am not specifically pointing out any particular whip of any recognized party, and there are four groups in question—decided that they would put this meeting together. I received notice shortly before you did.
Now, because we passed a motion on March 26 that states that we will seek out meetings—and it didn't say anything about notice—we must have this meeting as of right now.
That being said, I'm going to say this publicly. I'm going to say this in front of you, my colleagues. I'm going to say this while we're in session. As chair, I have the floor, so I'm going to say it.
This is a message for the benefit of my colleagues, the staff, the analysts, the clerks, the interpreters, the technical staff, and everyone involved. I ask you to please consider the fact that these people have families, that these people live in rural areas like me. We are not emergency workers. We're not paramedics. We're not firefighters. We're not on call like that. These are planned meetings—normally.
So, to the four represented whips at this meeting—and I know you're on this call—please consider this when we do this again. I'm asking this not just as a chair but as a human being. Thank you.
That being said, do I have unanimous consent to continue?
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Welcome, everyone, to clause-by-clause on Bill C-10. This is the resumption of the meeting. Welcome back.
We are going to pick up where we left off the last time, if you want to get out your song sheets once more.
Some hands are up.
Mr. Shields, do you want to move a motion? Go ahead; you have the floor.
Thomas Owen Ripley
View Thomas Owen Ripley Profile
Thomas Owen Ripley
2021-06-09 18:00
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for the question, Mr. Shields.
The point I was trying to make during our last meeting was that Bill C-10, as tabled, does not have thresholds in the legislation, in terms of determining whether an online undertaking should be regulated by the CRTC and should be required to contribute. The test, as articulated in the bill as it was tabled, was a determination of the CRTC's part with regard to whether that online undertaking is well positioned to make a material contribution to the policy objectives.
One reason it was done in that way was to recognize that there is a very wide diversity of online business models out there. It is difficult to be categorical with where that material contribution threshold kicks in. The reason I referenced CBC/Radio-Canada was to give an example of how, as the committee knows, CBC's conventional services are licensed and overseen by the CRTC right now, just like TVA or CTV. The expectation is certainly that the CRTC would have jurisdiction over its online undertakings of TOU.TV and CBC Gem, just as the CRTC will have jurisdiction over Bell Canada's equivalent Crave TV service, Club illico, and those types of services.
The point I was trying to make was that based on the data we have, the threshold that's being put forward in this amendment may be so high as to exclude CBC/Radio-Canada's online undertakings, for example. The position of the government would be that CBC/Radio-Canada is very well positioned to make a contribution to achieving the policy objectives of the act. That was the point I was trying to make, Mr. Shields.
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Chair, and also for welcoming me to the heritage committee.
I've been following the procedure of this bill through various stages for some time now and I am concerned about the broadness of scope and the serious concerns that many well-placed advisers have brought up. I could speak to that at length. I will start by speaking to the amendment that my colleague brought forward.
On this bill, I just don't understand why the government and members on this committee aren't supportive of putting some restrictions and limitations on who this impacts. Again, some of the amendments that have been defeated at this committee would, I think, take away some of the fears of Canadians who are rightly asking questions about what this means for them.
Some of us have served longer than others here in the House and in Parliament, so I'll just speak to my experience. When I started my public service, social media was really still in its infancy in terms of its transformation of how we consume information, but today, the reality is that traditional broadcasting and traditional ways of creating Canadian content have been disrupted, much like Uber disrupted the taxi industry.
As parliamentarians, I think we have a responsibility to ask ourselves if putting in place certain government regulations benefits the country and creators as that disruption comes through, or if it's actually hindering the emergence of new voices, new content and Canadians actually engaging in cultural activities.
I do think this amendment that my colleague has put forward actually would benefit many Canadians and I want to explain why.
My colleague Ms. McPherson raised the issue of consulting with Quebec cultural influencers. I can name one off the top off my head: Cynthia Dulude. She has over 600,000 YouTube subscribers. I'm sure she has been able to monetize her account. This is a voice that wouldn't necessarily be eligible for the current structure of proceeding that we have. Rather than supporting her, this bill would allow the CRTC in many ways to essentially deem her to be a broadcaster. That's why I think amendments like this are beneficial to enshrining the rights of women especially, who have been typically excluded from the way we've done things in Canada for a long period of time.
When you look at the progression of legislation and regulations over the years, I fully support the strides that were taken to ensure that Canadian culture, content and heritage were promoted, but this bill doesn't work with the disruption that has been created in the industry. It just seeks to enshrine an old way of doing things, and in doing so, it marginalizes Canadian voices when we're looking at where the football is going to be10 or 20 years from now.
In a lot of ways, the way that social media has disrupted the development of Canadian content has really democratized the creation of content. It's a really exciting thing. There are voices that never had a platform before that now do have a platform and don't have to go through gatekeepers. I think that's a very positive thing for Canada, not a negative thing for Canada.
I understand why the gatekeepers want to gatekeep. I understand why the gatekeepers, the incumbent telco companies, those who have a stake in making money off grants and contributions without really promoting the advancement of heritage activities, want to protect the status quo, because they profit off it. Why can't we do both?
The amendments that my colleagues have been suggesting would allow us to support influencers, support those who have found platforms on social media, and protect them but also allow the current way of doing things to exist.
I guess, maybe, this is a different a way of looking at things. I'm glad we're having this debate, but I don't think that government should exist to regulate away disruptive influences in the marketplace that actually benefit Canadians.
We often see this. When I was vice-chair of the industry committee, I made some pretty bold statements about how we need to potentially look at disrupting the way that Internet is provide in Canada in order to address rural broadband issues, even access within urban centres.
You see those incumbents that benefit from the monopolistic structure that government protects. They are going to push back at that because their profit models are dependant on it. Again, I almost feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone here because we have the left arguing for the propping up of a monopolistic structure that doesn't benefit the people in any way, shape or form. I think it just benefits large companies that, arguably, I'm not sure have done the best job of promoting Canadian content and culture.
We have the opportunity here in Parliament to rethink how government interacts with content creators. Instead, we get this bill that seeks to enshrine the status quo. I don't know why we couldn't be looking at taking the best of the status quo, like supporting.... Ms. McPherson brought up the issue of Quebec content creators. I don't understand why we can't be looking at regulations and laws that support those content creators but at the same time acknowledging that disruption has occurred and ensuring that we're protecting those new voices and those new ways of doing things. I really think that's what is at the heart of the amendment that has been put forward today.
There was an assertion made that there was no research done on this particular amendment. I know that to be false. There have been white papers drafted around the world. I'm thinking of one. I can't remember the reference off the top of my head because, much like my colleague, Alain, I'm jumping into this meeting at the last minute, but it's important for me to be here on behalf of my constituents. I know that there was a white paper done out of Australia that did look at certain threshold limits based on the disruption that had occurred in their national market and a desire to protect those voices.
The account that I mentioned out of Quebec.... They're not a broadcaster; they're creating videos and giving a voice that is unique to their lens and their perspective on certain issues. For the government to try to come in and use a.... Frankly, we could have a whole other discussion about the CRTC's being an outdated institution that is desperately in need of reform. However, this amendment would actually limit the scope of what that outdated institution could do to the benefit of intersectional voices that all of a sudden have a platform in Canada.
I really think that if we don't put amendments like this in place, we're going to look back 10 years from now.... I think that Canadians will look back at this debate by parliamentarians and these types of amendments, and the parliamentarian who don't support these amendments and say, “Why were they supporting the old way of doing things? Why weren't they supporting my voice? Why did they regulate speech?”
Why should the CRTC have a say over individual YouTube accounts? Why wouldn't you put clarity to this? If the government is true when it says there is no intention to regulate individual social media accounts, why wouldn't we put those safeguards in there?
This isn't the Criminal Code. This is policy that influences how business will be undertaken, and it's the right to freedom of speech.
I'm going to reference another example that I've been deeply uncomfortable with: the subsidies for print media in Canada. I believe it's very important for our country to have a strong journalistic culture that holds all of us to account, regardless of political stripe. However, when the government puts in place a fund to support media and then it picks the recipients of funds, there's a direct linkage there. A direct bias is created and you no longer have independence in journalism. That's wrong. We can sit here and vociferously disagree on policy and politics, but we should be agreeing that we need independence of media. There needs to be a separation—a clear delineation—between media, the speech of Canadians and government.
There has been a lot of discussion about how the government should regulate hate speech. That's another thorny area because there is a lot of hate, even today. As a parliamentarian, I have received a lot of hate in the last 24 hours for statements I've made that I strongly believe in. That doesn't mean I should be taking away the right of people to make those statements, unless they fall under existing Criminal Code provisions related to libel or hate speech. We already have the Criminal Code for this.
If you port that concept over to Bill C-10,, why would the regulator be seeking to limit the activities of individual voices and Canadians? That's why I think Bill C-10 is a flawed piece of legislation. I don't support it in general, but at least the amendments that my colleagues are putting forward seek to separate this concept out.
Honestly, the point I want to make at this committee on behalf of my constituents is that you have this nexus right now where historically over time our country and the government have sought ways to promote Canadian content. However, we've had such a disruption in how that content is produced and consumed that porting the old style of supporting content creation onto a disrupted model is opening the door for government abuses on freedom of speech.
That's why it is so important for us to pass these amendments. There needs to be more structure. There needs to be more clarity. Even for user accounts that.... Consider the Quebec account that I mentioned earlier. I am sure she has a good business from that. I'm sure she is making money off of it. Good for her. That's awesome; that's fantastic. Why would the government seek to limit her voice?
These amendments give clarity and certainty for an emerging area of business that most Canadians are just waking up to. For us, it's about understanding that putting “influencer” on a CV is a thing. Influencing is a thing. People make money off of it. It's a new way of advertising. Yet, I feel like we are sitting here as legislators looking at this with a lens that is 30 years old. That's a huge problem.
I understand that there might be some really rote, basic politics. There might be a polarization here to score quick political wins one way or the other. However, I encourage colleagues on this call, from the bottom of my heart, to look past that and ask, what's in the best interest of this country? We should be seeking to support Canadian content creation, definitely ensuring that we are supporting French-language content creation as well. It should be all content creation, including marginalized voices that typically have not had platforms because of the gatekeepers. We should be seeking to do that while ensuring that we are acknowledging the fact that the structure of how we create content has fundamentally changed.
The amendment at hand that my colleague proposed puts clear limitations on and structure around intent. If the government's intent is X, Y or Z, this amendment makes sense, as did the one that was defeated in this committee. I was so disappointed. I honestly thought that the government was going to put this debate to bed by proposing the amendment that was defeated earlier that was in the media. I was shocked. My colleagues on here who have known me for a while, from all political stripes, know that it takes a lot to shock me. I was actually shocked.
Again, there are winners and losers with Bill C-10, and why would we be doing that? Why would we be picking winners and losers? Why would we be picking voices?
What I worry about is that groups who seek to promote the status quo have a very well-funded lobby. I know they have been in front of many of you. They seek meetings. They seek to spin their position.
The people who are emerging in this market disruption—the voices such as the account I mentioned—don't have a lobby. They don't have a well-funded group that's coming in and talking about how they're going to influence votes in our ridings. That is why I'm here at the heritage committee today. I'm trying to cut beyond the political bluster to try and honestly, from a place of reason, say, “Look to 10 years from now. Look 10 years from now and understand that if we put this legislation in place without some definitions...”.
. They're not coming in and talking about the polling based on the popularity of a spun question within our ridings. They're just doing their thing. They're new content creators. They don't have that lobby, but that doesn't mean we don't have an obligation to protect them.
The amendments that are being put forward here are designed to protect those people. They are people who haven't had a voice in our previous iterations of cultural content creation, and they don't have a voice with these big lobby groups right now either. Why wouldn't we be protecting them? Why wouldn't we add this in? It makes so much sense.
I really think we should go back to the drawing board. I get that parties are set in here. However, if we don't get this right, now, I really think we have opened up Canadian influencers to a chill on freedom of speech. I think that is absolutely possible. We have not done our jobs as legislators here to tell the regulator what they can and can't do. We haven't done the systemic reform of the regulator that's necessary. That's a problem as well. We also haven't.... We are trying to impose the regulatory structure of a system that was put in place before cellphones existed on to a disrupted system of how we create content. That is why these amendments are being put forward.
I would just say this to colleagues: If you don't like the amendments, if you don't like the set thresholds of subscribers or the advertising thresholds, then propose a subamendment. Bring forward other research. But this bill, as it is right now, is bunk. It needs to be fixed. It can't pass without this happening.
What I'm hearing, from watching the media coverage of this, is that there is a desire among all parties to ensure that Canadian content is created, is funded, is supported, particularly French-language content creation, which needs to be shared across the country.
I think there's a shared desire here.... I also hope that there's a shared understanding that we shouldn't be rushing to put in place systems that could inadvertently put a chill on our freedom of speech.
I'll put it this way, and I've said this to people: For those of you who were in Parliament under Prime Minister Stephen Harper and vociferously railed against him, if you would be uncomfortable with Stephen Harper having the power to regulate individual social media content, then you should also be deeply uncomfortable with Justin Trudeau being able to do that. No person, no government, should have the right to regulate freedom of speech in the way that this does.
At the same time, we should also be understanding that regular content creators have a right to proceed through this disruption. Canada went through a very sort of unsettled period of time—three to four years—when Uber disrupted the market.
There was a lot of back and forth, admittedly at the municipal level, about what bylaws should be put in place to regulate Uber and how taxi drivers were affected through that disruption, but at no time during that debate were higher-level issues like freedom of speech threatened. That's really what we have here with this bill.
I implore my colleagues here to really think about passing smart amendments. Again, if there's a problem with the amendment, propose a subamendment rather than just dismissing it outright.
I understand that people like Michael Geist and the former CRTC commissioner might be irritants to the government right now, but I know these people. They're not partisans by any stretch. These are informed people who have been working in the space for a long period of time and genuinely care about the flaws in this legislation, because they're coming from a place of academic understanding that this is flawed, deeply flawed, to the point where it is detrimental to the country. They're not doing this from a place of partisanship or politicking; they are genuinely concerned. We have a job as legislators to listen to those concerns in this period of time.
I know that my colleague Mr. Arnold wants to get on. This rant has been brewing for some time for me. It is so crucial that we get this right.
I would put this on the record. Colleagues, I'm sure many of you watched the American Senate committee hearings, over a couple of years ago now, when Mark Zuckerberg appeared before a Senate committee and the questions that he was asked were so pedantic. You could see him trying to explain to legislators what an email was. I'm being slightly facetious, but not that much.
I just feel as though we are here right now and the debate that we're having is so mired in a lack of understanding of this space, as opposed to really thinking about what the role of government is in the broader discussion of the disruption that has happened in media, in how we consume information and how we create information. I implore you that rather than just importing a regulatory structure that is 40 years old onto a beautiful new way of doing things, in a way that could put a serious chill on it, that silences voices of Canadians who have finally found a platform—
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Chair.
Mr. Champoux, I had said I was wrapping up, but now I feel like I need to explain a few more things, unfortunately. If you had given me another 10 seconds, I would have closed. I was on the grand finale, but perhaps now I will take a few more minutes to discuss the motion at hand.
Again, to colleagues who are looking at the amendment, it reads:
9.2 (1) This Act does not apply in respect of online undertakings that have fewer than 500,000 subscribers in Canada or receive less than $80 million per year in advertising, subscription, usage or membership revenues in Canada from the transmission or retransmission of programs over the Internet.(2) Every two years after the day on which subsection (1) comes into force, the Commission must, with the approval of the Governor in Council, review the subscriber and revenue thresholds and may make regulations to increase them as required.
This is smart because it actually puts in place form and substance in a bill where these did not exist before. This amendment talks about what the materiality principle is in relation to the regulator, and that has not been described anywhere else in this law. Again, there are bodies of knowledge and work that have been undertaken, I think, to support that as a starting point.
What I like about the structure of this amendment is that it says, here's a starting point, but on a biannual basis there's a requirement for the commission to review whether or not that's adequate in terms of how Canadian content creators are actually growing. It has this built-in review process, and that's why it's elegant.
I know that some colleagues have asked—I believe it was Ms. McPherson—how he came up with this threshold. I believe that my colleague came up with it based on white papers that have been produced around the world. He has also built in this mechanism here to say that we will have a review process to ensure that it is adequate over a period of time.
I'm not going to propose a subamendment, but if I were to change it, I think that review process should also take into consideration the impact that the current incumbents and current system have. Why should we just give them a free pass here too? Why shouldn't we be talking about their actual views? The elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about is how many views CBC News actually gets on any evening, or how many views CTV News gets on an actual evening, yet we are moving heck and high water, Chair, to protect them.
Perhaps that's something the committee could discuss as well. How are we putting checks and balances on the incumbents that would benefit from our maintaining the status quo? I do think that the review process that's built in here is elegant—it's nice—and it recognizes that this is an emerging field of regulation.
The need for a review process that's built into the amendment acknowledges that Bill C-10 is coming in almost ham-fisted, this very “bull in a china shop” approach to ramming through regulatory process that doesn't really reflect the reality of new content creation.
Again, I know that my colleagues are going to propose other amendments to try to do what we've been talking about, which is recognize that we shouldn't be putting a chill on freedom of speech and shouldn't be unduly burdening a new source of economic revenue for Canadians, but this is an excellent amendment.
I hope that my colleagues approach our amendments, not from that blind partisan perspective but more from the perspective of getting this right on behalf of Canadians—Canadian women, indigenous voices, Black voices, persons of colour and members of the LGBTQ+ community, who traditionally haven't had voices and now have voices and platforms. Put amendments in place to protect them, and be clear on what the role of the regulator is.
To my colleague, Mr. Rayes: good work, excellent, well done. You have served your constituents well.
I implore my colleagues on this committee to really think about this so that when we are looking back in 10 years time to these committee hearings, which will undoubtedly be referenced in numerous challenges, we're on the right side of history and the right side of the disruption that happened.
Thank you, Chair.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. chair.
It won't take that long. I don't think there are any more questions on the amendment I proposed, but I want to take one last little moment to remind all members of the committee that the ultimate goal is to set guidelines. We believe that the powers of the CRTC must be circumscribed. We all know how frustrating the deletion of clause 4.1 originally proposed in Bill C-10 as well as the changes made to that bill throughout the process have been.
I invite the committee to consider this request, which I repeat is quite reasonable, in my opinion. The thresholds we're proposing are below those recommended by Australia. They would provide a minimum level of protection for users and small players on social networks, so that they're not controlled and aren't subjected to additional regulations and paperwork. These people are asking for nothing more than the freedom to express their art, and not just at home but around the world.
I think that, as Quebeckers and as Canadians, we're proud to see artists succeed outside the country. In Quebec, we have Cirque du Soleil, which everyone knows and which has performed all over the world. If it had been restricted to Canada because other countries had prevented it from performing on their territory, I'm not sure it would have had the opportunity to enjoy the success it has.
The idea is not to close in on ourselves. We must instead show that we are proud and strong, and that there is talent here. We should be proud to see our home‑grown talent exported around the world and let everyone's creativity shine on social networks.
The game has changed. Digital players like Netflix and Disney+ have joined the so‑called closed broadcasting system. There is also the open system, where broadcasters use certain algorithms and let users choose the content they want to download.
As legislators, we have a responsibility to protect users and the content they broadcast. The proposed amendment to add section 9.2 to the Broadcasting Act does not amend Bill C‑10 perfectly, I agree. Personally, I would have liked there to be no standard. At least this amendment protects a certain number of users.
Also, as you know, under proposed subsections 9.2(2) and 9.2(3), the CRTC will have the opportunity to review these thresholds every two years, if I'm not mistaken. I'm going from memory, since the short notice we had for this meeting didn't give me a chance to get my notes from home.
I implore the members of the committee to consider this in their thinking before voting. I also ask them to rise above the direction they've received from their strategists. We now know that they have a kind of hold over the committee. We only have to look at what they did: the gag order was imposed on us and then, as a result of corridor discussions between the whips, this meeting was set up without all of us knowing about it.
I'm asking you to allow us to do our job and make sure we protect all Canadians and Quebeckers who use social networks to post content. We're not just talking about videos of dogs and cats, as some would have you believe, in an attempt to simplify the situation. We're also talking about artists who produce quality content, content aimed at informing people, such as documentaries. They create this content without a budget, using simple tools and democratized technology. Now, people can create high‑quality things just from their phones, thanks to a few low‑cost apps. These digital tools make it possible to democratize information and create content.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
Orwell said, Mr. Chair, that if freedom of speech means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. Obviously, government members on this committee do not want to hear what I have to say, but I still have the right to say it. Regulators do not want to hear what Canadians have to say. They still have the right to say it.
If we have to stand alone as Conservatives in this fight for freedom of expression, so we will do. We will stand for the right of people to say what they like and express themselves freely without interference and coercion by the state. That is why we're here with such contention today. It's why we have fought so hard on the floor of the House of Commons and why we have committed, very proudly, to be the only party that will repeal Bill C-10 and restore free speech online for all Canadians.
Numerous senior ministers, including the Prime Minister, have said they see COVID as an opportunity for them to expand the power and scope of the state—to make people like them more powerful. That is why they have attempted to take over large parts of the economy, massively increase government spending, limit freedom of choice for parents in how they raise their kids, and now censor what people say online.
If members of the government think we're going to sit by and allow that to happen, then they've ignored 800 years of parliamentary history, where commoners have routinely stood up to defend their freedom through the system of Parliament that we have inherited through so many generations.
I am not surprised to hear that the Liberals want the federal government to have more power and that federal officials should control people's speech. However, I am surprised to learn that the Bloc Québécois, which claims to want to separate itself from Canada, and therefore from the authority of the Canadian state, is supporting a bill giving federal officials the power to control the speech and words of Quebeckers. The Bloc Québécois should be called the centralizing Bloc, since it now wants to give the federal government in Ottawa the power to control what Quebeckers say. How is this consistent with the independence of the Quebec nation?
We, the Conservatives, are the only party standing up for the freedom of expression of Quebeckers. Apparently, we are the only party that understands that people's speech, people's words are not under federal or provincial jurisdiction, but under individual jurisdiction. Everyone has the freedom to express themselves without interference from the state. We believe that all Quebeckers should be able to decide what to say, when to say it and how to say it.
I am shocked that a sovereignist party would give the Canadian state the power to control the way Quebeckers express themselves. It is ironic. Most Quebeckers would be really surprised to hear that this party, supposedly the Bloc Québécois, is in favour of giving the federal government much more power on this issue.
We, the Conservatives, are proud to defend the autonomy of Quebeckers. Everyone is free to say what they want and to choose how they express themselves on the Internet and elsewhere. Although the Conservatives seem to be the only ones willing to protect these freedoms, I am proud that we do. At the same time, I must admit that it is disappointing and surprising that no other party is willing to do the same.
From what I can see, the Bloc Québécois and the Liberals are listening to the lobbyists, the officials and the politicians in Ottawa, who simply want to protect their interests by excluding people and controlling content. The Liberals and the Bloc are attacking Quebec artists. Those artists will have the opportunity to choose the only party that supports freedom of expression, the Conservative Party.
Such is the nature of the debate we are having. However, there is still time. The Bloc Québécois may still have the opportunity to see that Quebeckers do not want the federal government to decide for them, and to understand that everyone, including Quebeckers, must have the freedom to express themselves.
That's really the choice. All of the other parties want to give more power to bureaucrats, lobbyists and politicians, and one party wants to give power back to the people. That's the Conservative Party. We're standing up all by ourselves to defend the principle that people should be able to express themselves even if the government and the political establishment close to the government disagree. Quite frankly, I'm proud that we're taking this principled stand, that we are speaking our mind and defending the millions of Canadians who are going to be voiceless if this bill passes.
What we've seen from the other parties is a desire to massively increase the power of the state at the expense of the people. When the state becomes more powerful, the people become weaker and smaller. That, of course, is the goal, the purpose of this bill and so many other power grabs that we have witnessed over the last year.
Remember, when this pandemic began, the first thing the Prime Minister did was try to pass a law empowering him to raise any tax to any level for any reason, without even holding a vote, for two years. He wanted to have that power locked in until the year 2022, the ability to just raise any tax with an executive order. That has never been done in our parliamentary system. The basic principle of no taxation without representation means that the government can't tax what Parliament doesn't approve. He tried to take that power away and impose higher taxes on the Canadian people.
Instead, we fought back, and to the credit of the Canadian people who joined us in the backlash, he backed down. We hope that he will back down again before this censorship bill becomes law. As you all know, there has been a massive outcry against this bill. You've heard it. Your leader has heard it. Unfortunately, here's the problem: Instead of recognizing the opposition, this Prime Minister has been threatened by it. He said the last thing we need is more dissent and debate in this country, because then people won't agree with him. Therefore, he needs to pass a law to shut them down, silence their voices and prevent them from speaking up in the future. That is exactly what this bill does.
The bill needs to be repealed in its entirety, every single word of it. Not only that, it's interesting that my original suspicions about this bill were fulfilled. I said on the floor of the House of Commons last year, before the bill got much notice, that it would lead to Internet censorship. However, the government had put in a proposed section saying that user-generated content would be excluded, user-generated content being the material that everyday Canadians post online. They were able to use that as a fig leaf to cover up their true censorship intentions, but then the fig leaf dropped about a month and a half ago when the government, with the backing of other opposition parties, removed that one protection that was supposed to let everyday Canadians continue to post what they wanted online.
They just eliminated that altogether, even though the department's own charter analysis had shown that the bill relied on that protection in order to keep the bill constitutionally viable. They said, “Don't worry, this bill won't touch freedom of speech—it's got this one key exclusion.” Then they took that exclusion out, and here we are with a bill that will control online content and allow government to dictate what people see and say online.
We're going to continue to fight this bill right through all the stages in our efforts to defeat it. I think the Prime Minister is in a mad rush to get it through so that he can have it in place and locked in before the next election. Perhaps he thinks that some of the censorship elements in the bill will help him to win the election, will help suppress criticism of him while he's on the campaign trail so that nobody can expose the corruption of his government, the mismanagement of the pandemic and his horrendous failures at the early stages of the outbreak. All of these things can be suppressed by preventing what people say online.
Then we'll be stuck, of course, with the model of a very small group of liberals in the press gallery dictating the narrative and campaigning for the Prime Minister, without Canadians having the release valve to speak out and spread information and thoughts of their own online. That is, I think, the model that the Prime Minister feels most comfortable with: where you have 30 or 40 liberal press gallery types who go around spreading his message and attacking his enemies and no one is allowed to speak up to the contrary because there's a government regulation to prevent their voices being heard.
I think a lot of liberals have been bewildered by this new social media environment that they can't control. For so long, of course, they had such an iron grip on the discourse, when a small oligopoly of media enterprises could dominate political press coverage. In that environment, liberals thrive, because a small group of elites tells everyone else what to think, and those who dissent are left in the wilderness. They want to bring back that model—a model that is threatened by open free speech and the free expression and circulation of ideas.
You can't maintain a small oligopoly of media voices when everyday people are able to compete in a free market. Trudeau needs to abolish the free market of ideas and bring back a small group of media sycophants and give them the exclusive ability to dominate the discourse. Then, when he gets back to that position, no one will be able to contradict him or the overall party line.
Rest assured that we as Conservatives will fight back against this, and in the end, we will win. We will win this debate. We will overturn this bill. Whether we do it before the election or after, this bill will be defeated and freedom of speech will be restored.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I welcome everyone to committee here once again.
I want to thank the member for Carleton and the member for Calgary Nose Hill, because both of them have huge followings on Facebook. This is the concern that we have at committee. When you get to 500,000-plus subscribers, the government or the CRTC will start looking into your activities.
We got rushed into this committee meeting today. I think the chair duly noted his disappointment with that here today, because we were scheduled for Friday morning. Now I see that we're also going to meet tomorrow morning, Thursday morning, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. We're rushing through this bill, as we all know. It is flawed, and this has been talked about for quite some time.
This amendment by Mr. Rayes I've talked to before, and I like it—no “fewer than 500,000 subscribers in Canada or receive less than $80 million per year in advertising”. We have used those numbers because they equal what they have in Australia more or less. When Mr. Rayes brought forward this amendment, this was well thought out. We had some information from Australia that he certainly followed.
That's why we put forward this amendment. It's a very good one.
I'm going to read its second proposed subsection:
(2) Every two years after the day on which subsection (1) comes into force, the Commission must, with the approval of the Governor in Council, review the subscriber and revenue thresholds and may make regulations to increase them as required.
We even talked about this earlier, Mr. Chair, because the commission might want to decrease them as required, per the regulations on the CRTC's part.
I think the member from Carleton brought up a very good point. We had not heard a lot from the CRTC until the chair was here. We all know this bill will have major ramifications for the CRTC's workload. You will have listened to me for months about the concern I have about the CRTC. I understand, with the recent changes on licensing, that some want the seven-year licences because they will keep everyone in check. Others don't because, to be quite honest, when and if this bill does get passed, we will put strenuous time restraints on the CRTC, the chair, Ian Scott, along with members. We all know, sitting around this table, that we're concerned about the CRTC's involvement with this bill.
I've seen it as a conventional broadcaster. I've seen it for four decades, where they hand off the licence, then don't return for another six and a half years, when the conventional broadcasters in this country have violated their agreement with the CRTC almost the first week into the seven-year contract. If you're going to give conventional broadcasters the white flag and say we're going to do away with the seven-year contract on a licence, that opens up another can of worms. I think, in this country, we all have concerns about this.
The National Post has a big base in this country. It was interesting that on the front page of the National Post today—and the Windsor Star, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, all the newspapers that the Post owns in this country—they have a message to the Prime Minister. There are not as many Canadians today subscribing to our newspapers as they did in the past. We all know that story, but it was an interesting read by the publisher of the National Post, the owners, signalling that their business is in trouble. They are worried about Google and Facebook like the rest of us are.
I really question the timing of the front page article today in the National Post. Knowing that we have less than five hours to go through Bill C-10, as a former broadcaster, I really do question why today? Why June 9? You have a full-page editorial in all the newspapers that the National Post owns in this country—many of them—to give a signal to the Prime Minister to deal with Facebook, with Google and all the other social media.
It was strange timing. I am reading between the lines on it. They have had their hands out, as we know. They are part of the $600 million already guaranteed to many in this country for the newspaper industry, which the Liberals have given many owners of newspapers. Yet today, Wednesday, June 9, two days before we're going to shut down debate and the gag order on Bill C-10, here we have a full-page editorial in every newspaper owned by the National Post in this country.
I agree with the amendment. It was interesting today...and I'm glad that the members for Calgary Nose Hill and Carleton were on, because they are going to be targeted. They will easily have 500,000 subscribers. They will easily be in line with the CRTC's—they will be flagged. They may not have the $80 million per year in advertising, but they will have millions of followers on Facebook. To me, they are going to be flagged.
Mr. Chair, I really appreciate both the members coming forward this late in committee, because they are concerned. They are concerned about free speech—their free speech—as we don't really know what is going to happen after this bill.
How involved will the CRTC be? I think they're going to be heavily involved in social media, more so than conventional TV, conventional radio, which we really even haven't talked about a lot in Bill C-10. I've had many radio owners in this country who are concerned because this bill got off the rails. We were trying to save radio and television stations in the country, and then, thanks to proposed section 4.1, we got derailed into the social media. In talking to many radio and TV owners, I know they're concerned that this bill does nothing for them and does everything for social media.
Now the CRTC is directing all of their attention towards Google, Facebook and so on—Netflix, Disney and the rest of them. They are very concerned that going forward, if this bill does pass before we rise, and also in the Senate, that their concerns.... Their concerns have been talked about long ago. We all had lobbyists knocking on our door when we came back in the fall and we started this Bill C-10. It seems like a long time ago that we opened the doors to radio stations across this country, conventional networks, left and right. To me, they've been forgotten now.
We barely remember who came to committee on their behalf with their concerns, as we've been absorbed by the free speech debate we are having as a result of Bill C-10.
Proposed subsection 9.2(3) of the amendment is interesting, because it says:
The Minister must prepare a report on the Commission's review under subsection (2) and submit the report to the standing committee of each House of Parliament that normally considers matters relating to broadcasting.
In conclusion, Mr. Chair, I want to to thank you for your words when we reconvened today, on a Wednesday instead of Friday. Your comments we're well observed from coast to coast, as I'm seeing from social media. I, too, was surprised that we got called back early for this. I think we all agreed that we were going to do the five hours, which would have been two on Friday, two on Monday and maybe one more next week, and we knew that we could have extended meetings.
Having said that, I like this amendment. I like what Mr. Rayes has brought forward in proposed section 9.2, subsections (1), (2) and (3).
As we move forward on this, let's not forget the conventional television stations, the networks. My fear with this bill, if it does pass, is that we're going to see more carnage in that business, television and radio.
We've seen enough in the last year or two, but my fear now is that we have forgotten about those that we were to deal with first of all in this bill. The carnage with layoffs could be tremendous in the fall once this bill does pass.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Chair, thank you for allowing me to introduce amendment CPC‑9.3.
I apologize for earlier. In addition to voting, I made a gesture. As you all know, the lights in the committee room are automatic. Our meeting is long, the lights went out suddenly, and I am slightly claustrophobic.
Having said that, I'd like to introduce amendment CPC‑9.3 right away. It proposes that Bill C‑10, in clause 7, be amended by adding after line 19 on page 8 the following:
9.2 An online undertaking that provides a social media service is deemed not to exercise programming control over programs uploaded by any user of the social media service who is not the provider of the service or the provider’s affiliate, or the agent or mandatary of either of them.
We are therefore proposing to add a new section to the Broadcasting Act.
I'd like to exercise my right to explain this amendment, as we may not all have had a chance to chat about it. It is quite consistent with what we are trying to do, which is to improve the bill as a result of the withdrawal of section 4.1 originally proposed in the bill, and the refusal to reinstate similar provisions through our amendment CPC‑9.1.
Earlier, the conversation was about protecting users or small players on social networks who are not part of the so‑called closed broadcasting system. The original intent of this bill was to regulate broadcasting companies like Netflix and Disney+. However, as we all know, it has taken a completely different turn since the beginning of the debate. So we see a loophole there.
According to the definition proposed in the bill, “programming control” means control over the selection of programs for transmission, but does not include control over the selection of programming services for retransmission. We believe that the CRTC should not consider that social media sites must exercise programming control over the content that users upload. The CRTC would be over‑regulating, which would make it extremely difficult for those users. It would increase the bureaucracy and cause some stress to those people who use social networks in a completely free way.
Not everyone sees this, but again, there is a real difference compared to a broadcaster in the so‑called closed system. Everyone has used Netflix before. When you log on to Netflix, you see the programming. In terms of discoverability, we can assume that it must be quite simple to access so‑called Canadian programming, or more specifically, French‑language or Quebec programs among all the programs that are offered.
When we think of Netflix, we think of a program in a specific setting. I'm thinking of the French series Lupin, whose second season we're all waiting for, which will be released on June 11. It will be in the programming, it's settled, it's clear to everyone. The programming can't change at any time. When one season is over, we wait for the release of the second season, which takes some time to be produced. All the better if it's done with artists from our country, whether they are Quebeckers, Canadians, francophones, anglophones, indigenous or anyone else.
Then we have the broadcasters of the so‑called open system, which includes social networks in some cases. It can involve everyone. I'm not a company like Netflix, but I can post things on social media. My colleague Mr. Poilievre, who spoke earlier, has many more followers than I do. I'm sure he doesn't want a federal agency to have a say in what he wants to post.
In a recent decision, a judge brought the CBC to heel over its criticism of the Conservative Party for posting a video with excerpts from public broadcasts. The last thing we want is for users, whether they are politicians, the public or artists, to be regulated in this way.
The purpose of the amendment is to remove the notion that social media sites have control over programming. The approach we are proposing today, in practical terms, is in line with that of the European Union in its Audiovisual Media Services Directive. It's important to say that we are not reinventing the wheel. This would allow us to conform to the international practices of countries that are trying to find a fair and equitable way to include social networks. What I am proposing in amendment CPC‑9.3 is nothing out of the ordinary. It is perfectly aligned with current practices in the European Union.
The European Union uses the concept of editorial responsibility, which roughly corresponds to our concept of programming control, to differentiate services like YouTube from other players in the so‑called closed broadcasting system and platforms like Netflix or Disney+. The European Union makes a distinction in this regard, which the current Liberal government and Minister Guilbeault do not. Perhaps that's why he has been so confused in the various interviews he has given. Not only the Conservatives and the opposition parties, but all Canadians, experts and political analysts could see his failure to understand the issue, which is extremely complex. This is something new; it didn't exist 30 or 40 years ago. With our proposal, we are trying to strike the right balance, or at least improve the bill as introduced.
So I was saying that the idea is to differentiate services like YouTube from other players in the so‑called closed broadcasting system and other platforms.
According to the European Union directive, editorial responsibility for programming means exercising effective control over both the selection of programs and how they are organized, chronologically, for example.
As I explained earlier, on Netflix, there is a set schedule. There is no to‑ing and fro‑ing programming, no algorithms that mean that all the content can change in real time. That simply makes it impossible to apply measures to control discoverability without penalizing certain artists and certain Canadians and Quebeckers who use social networks to make their voices heard.
We are therefore talking about control over the way television programs are scheduled or, in the case of on‑demand audiovisual media, listed. It is a way of providing service.
We believe it is necessary to make a distinction to include video sharing services.
The European Union has expressly recognized that a video sharing platform that uses algorithms and automatic means to organize content does not necessarily have editorial responsibility for it. This is extremely important. I want everyone to understand what I'm saying. It is not we who are saying this, it is the European Union. If these platforms do not have editorial responsibility for the content, how can they be forced to ensure discoverability?
It is important to note that some 500 hours of video are uploaded on YouTube every minute worldwide. I repeat: on YouTube, 500 hours of videos are uploaded every minute. We often use YouTube as an example because it is one of the biggest players, but there are all the other platforms that we can't name. We, as politicians, officials and the like, are sometimes in a bubble and we don't even know all the other platforms that young people are using right now, or all the ones that will be created in the future and used by the generations that will follow us. Technology is changing so fast. Five years ago, nobody knew about TikTok. Today, even politicians are pressured to use that platform and post videos of themselves dancing or singing on it. Some people do it; personally, I'm not there yet.
The YouTube model presents videos to users based on their search criteria. YouTube doesn't decide what content to suggest, the user requests do. If I want to see Canadian content or a Canadian artist, if I want to listen to a Céline Dion song and send it to someone afterwards, I do my own search. If I want to see Canadian content, I'll type “Canadian singer” into Google and, believe me, the answer will come up. People know how to program keywords to be discovered. We don't need to ask YouTube to do it for us. We are all capable of doing it. I can do it, the members of this committee can do it, everyone can do it.
People will make their own requests according to their preferences. In some cases, YouTube will recommend content based on users' search histories or the content that they have already listened to, among other things.
I personally subscribe to Spotify. I always have five lists available to me based on the type of music that I listen to. When I'm tired of listening to the playlist that my children prepared for me, because I'm unable to create one myself, I can choose another one from the five suggested to me. The suggested content varies. This gives me the chance to listen to something new.
Given the type of music that I listen to, especially music from Quebec, I discovered a young up‑and‑coming artist. You may not believe me, but he's the son of one of my wife's best friends. This friend lives a three‑hour drive from us. Coincidentally, Spotify introduced me to this young artist through my playlist, when I didn't even know that he was on the platform. I was very proud to call and tell him that Spotify introduced me to him and that my children were listening to him through my playlists, and so on. He's a young artist making his mark. His music is now being heard by people all over the French‑speaking world, not just in Quebec and Canada. You can imagine the boost that this can give to his budding career.
A social media outlet with an almost infinite supply of content can't be treated in the same manner as a platform that orders and acquires specific content, such as Netflix. It's impossible, even utopian, to imagine that, through Bill C‑10, we can ask the CRTC to manage players in the closed broadcasting system, platforms such as Netflix and Disney+, and social networks in the same way.
The CRTC hasn't even been able to establish clear rules between the big and small players in telecommunications with regard to competitive rates. We all know that. We're currently talking about this matter in the House of Commons. The CRTC found it too complex to strike a balance between the big players and the small companies, which drive down prices for all consumers.
We're now asking them to find a way to play within the algorithms of platforms where 500 hours of videos are uploaded every minute.
It makes sense to impose standards and obligations on the content controllers when the content is ordered and the controls can be implemented effectively. I want to say that to the people who are tuning in.
We can't consider that services with search engine‑like functions, which help users find content, contain organized content. This simply isn't possible. We can't consider that they selected content for their users either.
The European Union has acknowledged this difference in nature between open and closed platforms. How can the European Union understand this, but not the Liberal government and its minister? I can't believe it when I see this.
If we were to move forward, if Canada were to apply the same broadcasting standards and obligations to user‑generated content, whether we're talking about an open platform such as YouTube or a platform such as Disney+, we would be the only country in the world to do so. I repeat: we would be the only country in the world to do so.
After hearing the explanations provided by the minister in his various interviews, it worries me that we're the only country in the world to implement these types of regulations, especially when we don't have a good understanding of the technical details being discussed. We aren't experts. The experts came to talk to us about the topic.
I didn't speak extensively about freedom of expression or discoverability. I discussed a situation that's currently an issue. We must find a way to improve this flawed bill, despite the fact that a gag order has been imposed on us. In any case, the Liberals can do as they please, with the help of the Bloc Québécois and the NDP. The NDP expressed outrage and said that imposing the gag order made no sense. However, they took part in the discussions to sneak in today's meeting, which we were called to without notice.
Yet, when the bill arrives in the Senate, do you think that the senators won't try to address the flaws? They're smart as well. Moreover, we won't even have finished dealing with all the amendments before us. Senators certainly won't want to vote without having done the thorough work or without having studied all these amendments.
We have a week and a half left before the House of Commons draws to a close. We already know that the Liberal government is recruiting for the election that should be called as soon as the summer break is over. In other words, the cart is being put before the horse. There will inevitably be a hurdle when the bill reaches the Senate. Even if, through various tactics, the Liberals manage to speed up the process, there will be a challenge.
Some people may think that, with the passage of this bill, we can provide support for Canada's cultural infrastructure starting tomorrow morning. The minister is trying to make everyone believe that we're currently losing $70 million each month that could be reinvested in culture. In any case, when it comes to releasing funds, the Liberals have no problem. They print money. For them, money grows on trees. If there's an emergency and support is needed, they have no issue finding money. They come up with indirect ways to do so.
Today, through amendment CPC‑9.3, I'm proposing another attempt. Earlier, amendment CPC‑9.2 was rejected. Yet we proposed thresholds that were below those of Australia, supposedly the current model in this area. I chose lower thresholds, thinking that perhaps I would convince my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois, the NDP and the Liberal Party that basic guidelines were absolutely necessary and that we couldn't leave this completely in the hands of the CRTC without drawing any lines. We saw what happened in the case of French‑language content.
I'm thinking of my colleague, Martin Champoux. He knows how much I appreciate him.
By the way, Mr. Champoux, I have some muffins for you in my car. I thought that I would be seeing you. However, since I'm leaving after the meeting to pick up my daughter in Montreal, I won't be able to give them to you today. That said, I hope to see you again before June 23.
I can't understand why the Bloc Québécois would agree to give more powers to a Canadian organization that has difficulty managing these things, even though they wanted to prioritize francophone and Quebec culture. The current situation is completely illogical.
We're told to support the content. We'll do so. We want the legislation to apply to digital broadcasters in a fair manner, compared to traditional broadcasters. However, we're now in a completely different realm, since we're talking about all social media.
The open letters floating around are calling for the sharing of advertising revenue as a way to help our print media. This bill doesn't provide any support measures. There's a reason why all these publishers are saying loud and clear that the government hasn't done anything. It hasn't done anything in this bill to regulate the role of CBC/Radio‑Canada. It hasn't done anything for the writers, who are saying that nothing has been done for them.
Former commissioners and senior CRTC officials now represent several groups, including Timothy Denton, Konrad von Finckenstein, Peter Menzies, Michel Morin and Philip Palmer, who was legal counsel at the Department of Justice and, I believe, general counsel at the Department of Communications. All these people, who know the structure of the CRTC because they worked there, are saying that this must be stopped, that it simply doesn't make sense.
This is on top of the comments made by all the law professors. It isn't just Michael Geist. Many others have stood up. These people know that this bill, if passed, will be challenged immediately.
At this point, we can't play our role as legislators to help the cultural community at all. A gag order has been imposed on parliamentarians who are trying to correct and improve the current bill.
I'll stop here for now. I may have more comments to make later, since I'm sure that some people will be asking officials about the potential impact of our proposals.
I just want to remind people that, when considering this bill, they should take into account the difference between digital media or broadcasters that generate content within a defined structure, and social networks, which are platforms that generate so‑called open content. These are two completely different things. Netflix can't be treated the same as a social network. People can't upload content to Netflix, but they can upload content to YouTube. This platform can serve as a launch pad for artists to promote themselves to other users around the world. Afterwards, the Netflixes of the world or traditional broadcasters can raise the profile of these artists through documentaries or new shows. All this helps to increase the number of success stories and the discoverability of our Quebec, Canadian, francophone, anglophone and indigenous artists, or our artists of any origin.
I hope that you'll consider my recommendation through amendment CPC‑9.3.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
That is not a point of order. It is a very good point of generosity, but I'm afraid I'll have to rule it out of order.
Now we're all on a culinary track, so let's move off it for a moment and go back to Bill C-10.
Before I go any further, I see Ms. Dabrusin and Mr. Genuis. However, I think, Mr. Genuis, I referred to you earlier, so I'm going to put you first. Then I'll have Ms. Dabrusin follow.
Go ahead, Mr. Genuis.
Thomas Owen Ripley
View Thomas Owen Ripley Profile
Thomas Owen Ripley
2021-06-09 20:15
As the committee is aware, Bill C-10 as tabled includes a definition of “programming control”. That term is used in a few places in Bill C-10. You will see a couple of references to it throughout the policy objectives section. With respect to regulatory powers, you will see it referenced in one place, in proposed paragraph 10(1)(c), with a discussion of programming standards.
The definition was included in Bill C-10 to recognize the fact that there are different business models out there. For some of those business models you have the distribution of content, but the entity distributing that content isn't exercising any control over the selection of those programs. Perhaps one of the most simple examples to understand is that in a conventional system, you have cable and satellite companies that transmit the TV channels of others. The TV channel exercises control over the programming that's included on their channel, but Rogers Cable or Bell or Vidéotron do not. This definition was included to make the distinction, again, between those business models where a company does and does not have control. This was intended to be a determination in fact that would be made about any given situation.
The amendment proposed by Mr. Rayes would essentially have the committee clarifying or making it “deemed”—I think that's the word used in Mr. Rayes' amendment—that in terms of content that is uploaded to social media services by unaffiliated users, that social media service is deemed not to have programming control over it.
With respect to the regulatory powers of the CRTC, it would only be a question of whether or not proposed paragraph 10(1)(c) would apply to social media companies. I know we haven't gotten there yet, but to my recollection from a few committee meetings ago, government members did indicate that the intention is to limit those powers as well and their application to social media services. That would be the point at which this amendment would come into play. It's not really directly relevant to proposed subsection 2(2.1).
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thomas Owen Ripley
View Thomas Owen Ripley Profile
Thomas Owen Ripley
2021-06-09 20:37
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I never want to presume.
When you look at online services like Spotify, the reality is that you do see less Canadian, francophone artists, for example, surface in search results. Indeed, the reason that discoverability powers were included in Bill C-10 from the get-go was to recognize that if we want to make sure that our Canadian artists and creators are being surfaced on these platforms, the CRTC needs the tools to do that.
To your point, we expect that the impacted social media service or the impacted online undertaking would obviously still have control over how they did that, in a way that would continue to jive with their business model.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Welcome back, everyone, to clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-10. This is meeting number 40.
(On clause 7)
The Chair: As you know from the last meeting, we left off with amendment PV-21.1.
Ms. McPherson, you have your hand up. Is there something I can address?
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I brought forward a motion last week for this committee because I am quite concerned that we are not progressing through Bill C-10 at the rate that I think we all want to. I hope that everybody on this committee is interested in making sure that we get the very best piece of legislation that we possibly can at the end of this clause-by-clause process, and that we are all being very propositional to add amendments to try to make this the very best legislation we can, which will protect the Canadian broadcasting landscape, protect Canadian artists and our cultural sector, which is vitally important, and also ensure that Canadians' freedom of expression is protected.
I want to be as propositional as I can. I want to work with all committee members to make this happen. I know it's extremely important legislation. As we know, it has not been updated in 30 years and it's well overdue.
I know there are times during July and August that we are unable to sit, and I do also realize that this would mean we would be sitting, in person, in Ottawa, but I would like to propose that the committee take the decision to sit into July and August to ensure that we have time to complete this work. I think that allocating to stop the debate and to stop the conversation on Bill C-10 would cause a lot of problems, because we won't have had time to go through the important amendments that I know all parties are putting forward.
That said, I also think that filibustering and not letting us get this work done is also a mistake. This gives us a little bit more space, a little bit more runway to get a good piece of legislation.
View Julie Dabrusin Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
I agree with Ms. McPherson that extra time would have helped, certainly at the beginning, to try to move this forward. In fact, several times at the beginning of the study of Bill C-10, I tried to get extra time for extra meetings so that we could move through this quickly.
We have now reached a point where, in the last meeting, we did not vote on a single amendment. Adding extra meetings during the summer isn't going to help us get to where we need to be because at this point, we have just reached a standstill. Quite frankly, Ms. McPherson is well aware that there is a motion for time allocation and I would hope she would support that so that we can put this important bill forward and make sure that we are doing what we need to have web giants pay their fair share and to support Canadian artists.
I would point out that the Conservatives have been filibustering here at committee, as is their right to do by parliamentary procedure, the same as it is our right to bring forward a motion for time allocation.
I would like to point out to Ms. McPherson that I think it's been laid bare at this point, when I am looking at statements that have been made by the Conservatives, that the issue here isn't about freedom of expression that they are really pushing for. In fact, I would just point out what Ms. Harder stated to her local press about Bill C-10 specifically, and what is trying to be done. The quote I have is:
These artists are not able to make a living off of what they are producing, so they require grants that are given to them by the government. And so these little, niche lobby groups composed of outdated artists are going to the Liberal government and asking them to charge these large streaming companies in order to bring about more money to put into these grant funds so these outdated artists can then apply for that money so they can continue to create material Canadians don’t want to watch.
That's the fight we're in about Bill C-10 right now. That is saying that artists like the Arkells or shows like Heartland are not things that Canadian want to watch, and that we shouldn't be supporting, as a government. I don't believe that's true.
My question for Ms. McPherson is, is she going to support time allocation so that we can move forward to support artists, or is she going to take the position that these are outdated artists whom we don't need to be providing support for?
View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2021-06-07 11:17
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I support and applaud what my fellow member Ms. Dabrusin just said in relation to the Conservative member's recent comments in the Lethbridge Herald about her party's position on the situation of artists. Frankly, I was very concerned by the party's view of the cultural sector as well as its read on Bill C‑10, which I think is completely wrong. No doubt, we'll have a chance to revisit the matter later.
I want to speak to Ms. McPherson's motion. As everyone knows, the party leaders are in the midst of negotiating next steps regarding a summer schedule. The committee can't decide to sit in hybrid format until the powers that be have come to an agreement.
In light of that, I think we would do well to propose an amendment to Ms. McPherson's motion, specifying that the motion is conditional on the outcome of the discussions between the party leaders.
I am not suggesting Ms. McPherson's motion has no merit, but I do think we should take into account the talks under way, which will certainly override some of the committee's decisions.
I therefore move that the motion be amended by adding wording to the effect that it is conditional on the outcome of the discussions between the party leaders.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
That's fine.
Ms. McPherson, I think what you're trying to do is very noble. We, on our side, have no problem continuing the discussion on Bill C‑10. As we have repeatedly pointed out, the bill has numerous flaws. It's a complex piece of legislation that was poorly thought‑out from the get‑go; it has undergone all kinds of amendments, with more on the way—very significant ones, I might add. I do not see how we can pass this bill without having had the time to take a comprehensive look at it.
Ms. Dabrusin said it was a bit late. Personally, I find it a bit early since we are expecting a time allocation motion to be put forward today. That would bring the committee's work to an end. With a time allocation motion, the Liberals are choosing to put an end to the work before the committee, even though we are constantly told that committees are independent.
I don't necessarily want to propose an amendment to your motion, Ms. McPherson, but I do have something to suggest, ever so politely, of course. Should we not put off consideration of your motion until Friday, to see whether the Liberals follow through on their ultimatum and move a time allocation motion? If they do, it will render your motion unnecessary. If they do not, your motion will be entirely appropriate.
That is my humble suggestion.
View Julie Dabrusin Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, I want to revisit the point that there's absolutely a need to move to time allocation, because we could sit all summer. We are going through entire meetings without voting on a single amendment. For the past several meetings, even when we do vote on an amendment, it's one or two a meeting. At that pace, we will not complete the study of Bill C-10 . We will just keep going for months and months and months.
I do believe there's a bit of a disconnect, if anything, on that, to say that if we just add in a few more meetings this summer we'll be able to complete it. That's clearly not what's been shown over the past weeks and even, I would say, months.
View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2021-06-07 11:33
When someone moves an amendment to a motion, a debate is obviously supposed to follow.
Fundamentally, I'm somewhat resistant to the idea of doing things out of order. I am of the mind that we should discuss Bill C‑10 as long as possible because I firmly believe that we should pass it. Obviously, my first choice is not to extend into the summer, but if we must, let's do it.
I put forward an amendment to ensure that, if Ms. McPherson's motion was adopted, the discussions under way between the party leaders would not interfere with the decisions we made here, in committee. I simply wanted to make sure we were going to do things in an orderly way.
That said, as was pointed out earlier, there is no point holding additional meetings if we are going to spend them dragging things out, filibustering and preventing Bill C‑10 from ever seeing the light of day, because there are groups who are strongly opposed.
I wanted to make clear my intention, which is essentially to give us some peace of mind in light of the discussions between the party leaders, should Ms. McPherson's motion be adopted.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
No, we adjourn the debate. It's as simple as that. We then go on to what we were dealing with earlier, which was clause-by-clause on Bill C-10.
Is everybody okay?
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
We're back.
First of all, I want to say a huge thank you to our technical staff for all of these breaks, suspensions and so on. Our technical staff handled it masterfully, I might add. We don't say that enough, but we thank you so much.
Let's get back to the amendments at hand. These are amendments regarding clause 7 that just came to us from the Conservative Party.
Mr. Rayes, I want to point something out before we go any further. I feel it's only necessary I do this in the course of debate.
We have from 9.2 up to 9.6 regarding clause 7, and they follow in succession. However, I would like you to have a look at CPC-9.4. The last three reference numbers are 725. I want you to have a look at that for a moment. There is a problem here in the sense that, as you know, we propose these amendments in the order in which they come in the bill itself, which is C-10.
What you're aiming to do in this case, by adding after line 2 on page 8 of clause 7, should have been moved before PV-21.1, which we debated at the last meeting and voted on at this meeting. It should have been done just before that. So CPC-9.4, 725, is not in its right order. The others are. I'm bringing this to your attention now in case you were hoping to incorporate that into your overall debate. Normally, I'd get to it and make a ruling, but I thought maybe you should know now before you proceed any further.
With that in mind, we return to our clause-by-clause consideration.
Right now, we are on amendment CPC-9.2. Again, the last three numbers of the reference number are 583.
Mr. Rayes, I'm going to give you the floor. If you need any points of clarification on the ruling I just made about 9.4, by all means, ask. In the meantime, you can proceed with CPC-9.2. We're still on clause 7.
Go ahead, sir, you have floor.
Sorry, sir, you're on mute. It's still Monday.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
All right. I will move it in due course. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I imagine it's time for me to move amendment CPC‑9.2.
The committee is at an impasse given the disagreement over the various parties who post content on social media. As we understand Bill C‑10, the CRTC—
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'm not surprised by the outcome. As has been explained so well, we have to proceed in order.
Setting amendment CPC‑9.4 aside, I am coming back to amendment CPC‑9.4. I will read it and, then, explain it. The amendment states that Bill C‑10, in Clause 7, be amended by adding after line 19 on page 8 the following:
9.2 (1) This Act does not apply in respect of online undertakings that have fewer than 500,000 subscribers in Canada or receive less than $80 million per year in advertising, subscription, usage or membership revenues in Canada from the transmission or retransmission of programs over the Internet.(2) Every two years after the day on which subsection (1) comes into force, the Commission must, with the approval of the Governor in Council, review the subscriber and revenue thresholds and may make regulations to increase them as required.…
The amendment addresses the disagreement the committee is having over users who are not professional broadcasters in the digital space. We are in serious disagreement regarding the power to be given to the CRTC to regulate not only users, but also the content they post.
The committee heard from experts on both sides, so I will not rehash the great debate. Ensuring the bill sets out parameters for the CRTC is the lesser of two evils. That way, local artists with fewer than 500,000 YouTube subscribers will not be regulated by the CRTC and can continue to showcase their craft to people all over the world without leaving their homes. These artists who work for themselves online are not asking for any government help, and they do not comprehend why the government is interfering in these platforms.
Despite what some may think, some artists are outside the so‑called conventional system, the one we all know and support when we go to concert halls and buy tickets for performances. When the artists in question create content, we want to make sure they are not subject to Bill C‑10.
That is the purpose of amendment CPC‑9.2. I look forward to hearing the views of my fellow members, in both my party and the other parties, as well as the experts with us today.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you for that clarification, Mr. Chair, but it's always a pleasure for me. I never try to shy away when I am asked questions, whether they come from a reporter or a colleague in everyday life. I try to answer them to the best of my ability and, if I am wrong, I apologize.
To answer your question, Ms. McPherson, I should say that I have consulted with over 40 organizations in the cultural community since we began our study of Bill C‑10. This is not to say that all cultural organizations agreed with us during these exchanges. However, for all of the amendments that we put forward, or almost—I just want to protect myself, because I don't have all of my data—we made it a guideline to make sure that they represented more than one entity, so that they were not too specific. I don't have the list at hand, because God knows how much documentation I have from all my meetings, but we based it on the concerns of some groups that weren't necessarily against this idea.
That being said, the bill changed along the way, and I apologize for that. If we had known that social networks were going to be included, as a party, we would have invited witnesses who represent those who were left out and whom we did not hear from in committee in the first place. So with this amendment, people that we never had a chance to hear from will now be able to come and talk to us about their concerns. We were surprised, as everyone else was, by what happened.
I repeat, this amendment is perfectly aligned with what Australia is doing. Moreover, the thresholds it proposes, which were recommended by former CRTC experts, are below those of Australia. So I find these thresholds to be legitimate.
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