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.