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.