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View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
I call the meeting to order.
Welcome to meeting number 36 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.
I would like to acknowledge that this meeting is taking place on the unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people.
I also wanted to say that this meeting is pursuant to the order of reference of Thursday, May 12, 2022, and to government motion 16 adopted by the House of Commons on Monday, June 13, 2022. The committee is resuming clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-11, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.
You know everything about how to mute and those on the floor wearing masks, etc., so I will just reiterate that I know you know all of that and you know how to get to interpretation, etc.
(On clause 3)
The Chair:
When we left, we had finished CPC-4, and we were going to go to CPC-5.
Mr. Nater.
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
That's right. He's not moving them. Thank you, Mr. Méla, for that clarification.
We will therefore go straight to CPC-7.
Mr. Viersen.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
Sure. I move that Bill C-11, in clause 3, be amended by adding after line 15 on page 5 the following:
(3.1) Paragraph 3(1)(d) of the act is amended by adding the following after subparagraph (iv):
(v) seek to protect the health and well-being of children by preventing the broadcasting to children of programs that include sexually explicit content, and
(vi) safeguard the human rights of women and marginalized people by preventing the broadcasting of programs that include pornographic material that is produced through sexual exploitation or coercion;
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I'm going to support CPC-7, but I want to be clear as well.
In Bill C-11, there is no provision for censorship and there's no shutting down of freedom of speech. We all know that. There have been certain Conservative MPs, like Mr. Scheer, who've tried to pretend the contrary, but we all know, and anyone who has read the bill knows, that you cannot refer to censorship when it comes to Bill C-11.
This, however, and it's a little ironic, is a Conservative amendment that does introduce an element of censorship. It prevents the broadcasting to children of programs that include sexually explicit content, and it prevents the broadcasting of programs that include pornographic material that is produced through sexual exploitation or coercion.
I want to be clear to committee members. This is the only element of Bill C-11 that introduces censorship. It is ironic that the Conservatives have proposed this amendment, but I support it because, in this case, the censorship, the preventing of broadcasting, is in the public interest.
I want to say that I'll be voting in favour. I believe that the public interest is upheld through this. Committee members, and anyone who is watching this committee through the House of Commons web broadcast, should know that this introduces an element of censorship for the first time to Bill C-11, and it's Conservatives who have introduced this amendment.
I'm supporting it because it is in the public interest, but those who say that Bill C-11 has some censorship in it will finally be right, because if this amendment passes, it does introduce an element of censorship into the bill.
View Michael Coteau Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you so much, Madam Chair. I have a question for Mr. Ripley.
If this passes, would it essentially mean that an online platform like Netflix, for example, which may have a movie that is sexually explicit, would be prevented from providing that type of material if young people have access to Netflix?
Thomas Owen Ripley
View Thomas Owen Ripley Profile
Thomas Owen Ripley
2022-06-14 18:42
Thank you, Madam Chair.
To situate where this amendment is taking place, it would be taking place in the policy objectives of the act, along with other policy objectives that are set out. Then it goes over to the CRTC to operationalize that through various mechanisms.
There is a degree of action already in this space with respect to adult channels that may appear on cable or satellite packages. The CRTC has put in place certain measures with respect to those channels that require certain things of them given the type of explicit content that they are distributing. That is traditionally done in the legacy broadcasting system by working with industry associations to develop broadcast codes and standards.
My expectation in terms of what would happen if these amendments were to pass is that the CRTC would look at them, probably to the extent that those codes already cover these kinds of issues. To the extent that there are gaps, it would probably work through its industry associations to adapt the codes as required. That can include things like user interfaces designed for children, and it includes classification of programming and all those types of measures.
View Michael Coteau Profile
Lib. (ON)
It sounds like what would happen would be Netflix, for example, if it has sexual content on its platform, would just look for ways to prevent access by younger people, of course. There are age restrictions on Prime, for example, so you have to put in a code if it's above a certain level.
Is that the type of stuff we're talking about? Could it actually be interpreted in such a way as to remove that content from an online platform, so no one would have access to it?
Thomas Owen Ripley
View Thomas Owen Ripley Profile
Thomas Owen Ripley
2022-06-14 18:44
We're talking about subparagraph (v), which is about protecting the health and well-being of children by preventing the broadcasting to children of certain programs. Again, I would expect the kind of space we would be in with a service like Netflix would be a discussion around the protections they have to make sure that children cannot stumble onto content that would include sexually explicit material, such as the interface whereby you set your kid up and they click through, for example.
My read is that it does not mandate the CRTC to prohibit, for example, Netflix—
View Michael Coteau Profile
Lib. (ON)
That's right, so we're not talking about censorship overall, for everyone. We're talking about preventative methods to stop children from accessing material.
View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2022-06-14 18:45
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I have the same concern about amendment CPC-7.
I must admit that the proposed subparagraph (vi) suits me. Indeed, one cannot be against this provision, which seeks to prevent pornographic material from being produced under reprehensible conditions.
However, I have a serious problem with the proposed subparagraph (v). Where exactly is this line being drawn? It seeks “to protect the health and well-being of children by preventing the broadcasting to children of programs that include sexually explicit content.” What does that mean? Who determines what constitutes sexually explicit content? Today, around this table, we might determine that this or that content is sexually explicit; another assembly might determine that a mother breastfeeding her child constitutes sexually explicit content. To me, the definition of sexually explicit content is problematic, because that's where opinions are going to differ and it's going to be extremely difficult to draw the line.
In that sense, I would be very much in favour of what CPC-7 suggests if the proposed subparagraph (v) were removed. While I understand that the intent is good, I believe that this provision does not belong in a bill like this one. It is too slippery a slope, closer to censorship, I believe, than to the actual protection of children's health and welfare. I do support proposed subparagraph (vi), however, so I would be quite prepared to support the amendment if, for example, someone would venture to remove proposed subparagraph (v) from the amendment.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I totally agree with what Mr. Champoux just said.
Essentially, I read this, “preventing the broadcasting to children of programs that include sexually explicit content”, in a bill in which we have Conservatives reticent to give powers to the CRTC, as giving unlimited powers to the CRTC to determine what is sexually explicit. How do we stop children from seeing this? Does this mean that a 17-year-old, who is not an adult...is a 17-year-old not allowed to watch Game of Thrones?
I find this to be absolute censorship. I don't agree with it at all, and I don't agree with giving the CRTC those powers. Much as Mr. Ripley may minimize what the CRTC would do, I don't agree with that. I think we're giving it effectively wide open powers to determine what is sexually explicit, which is not its mandate or its role or its expertise, and then to figure out how to somehow stop children from seeing this. Then we're going to restrict adults from seeing materials that are not illegal but are simply sexually explicit.
I don't agree with how this is worded. I also question whether or not the CRTC is the one, because there are other means to stop pornographic material that is produced through sexual exploitation or coercion, which is illegal in Canada. It is an illegal activity. I don't believe the CRTC has the means to know what material was produced that way.
If anything, in a bill where we've been talking about all of the draconian powers we could be giving to the CRTC, this is the first amendment that gives real censorship powers to the CRTC, a body that I don't think is equipped to do this. I think there is an online harms bill that is coming. If stuff like this should be anywhere, it should be in an online harms bill, where you create a regulator that has expertise and knows how to do this. I don't think the CRTC is the right body at all.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
Seeing no further debate on this particular amendment, could we call the question on CPC-7, please?
(Amendment negatived: nays 7; yeas 4)
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair. I won't take a lot of time to talk about this.
Many witnesses came before the committee and were concerned about ensuring that we use “Canadian creative and other resources in the creation, production and presentation of Canadian programming” and that broadcasting undertakings “contribute to the creation, production and presentation of Canadian programming to the greatest extent that is appropriate for the nature of the undertaking”.
I propose this amendment in that spirit, which is to maximize Canadian employment.
View Michael Coteau Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I have a quick question, through you, for Mr. Ripley.
Would something like this even be possible? Is it feasible?
Thomas Owen Ripley
View Thomas Owen Ripley Profile
Thomas Owen Ripley
2022-06-14 19:02
The government's position on this has been that one reason for Bill C-11 is to bring non-Canadian broadcasting services into the system.
Generally speaking, these broadcasting services have global business models whereby they are making productions for global audiences and not exclusively for the Canadian audience.
The issue that this committee and the committee in the previous Parliament have grappled with is how to square the current standard in the current act, which talks about making maximum use, but only applies to Canadian companies whose operations take place in the Canadian context—it makes sense to ask them to make maximum use, no less case predominant use, because the reference point is exclusively Canadian—with the fact that moving forward we will now have non-Canadian services that are expected to contribute to the policy objectives of the act.
The reference point of maximum use in the context where the operations of those businesses are global, from the government's perspective, has been challenging. The government has heard from those companies that they do not think it is a realistic benchmark.
The language that's currently in Bill C-11 is reflective of the work that the committee did in the previous Parliament to set out a “maximum use” standard with respect to Canadian services. With respect to foreign services, it pushes them to make, as the language in the bill says, “the greatest practicable use of Canadian creative and other human resources”. It also clarifies that they should “contribute in an equitable manner”, i.e., in a fair manner. The CRTC has to look at their contributions compared to the contributions of Canadian broadcasters to make sure that the system is fair and everybody is pulling their weight.
The proposal being put forward would create one standard applicable to all and would be that higher maximum use standard. I would also highlight that the language in the current law, i.e., the current Broadcasting Act, has a bit of flexibility in the current standard. It talks about how, “unless the nature of the service provided by the undertaking, such as specialized content or format or the use of languages other than French and English, renders that use impracticable, in which case the undertaking shall make the greatest practicable use of those resources”.
I would just note that the standard being proposed no longer even has that degree of flexibility incorporated, so it is quite a high standard that the committee would be proposing for all broadcasting services.
View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2022-06-14 19:05
From what I understand from the explanations Mr. Ripley has just given us, we are going to listen to the multinationals' complaints rather than to the Canadian industry and producers.
Here, undertakings are being asked to use “Canadian ... resources ... in the creation, production and presentation of their [Canadian] programming,” and not for all of their programming. I obviously don't expect an undertaking to be required to produce a Swedish miniseries in Canada.
In this case, I understand that we are listening to these undertakings' grievances rather than pursuing the objective of Bill C-11, which is to make the market fair, both for Canadian undertakings and for foreign undertakings that benefit from the Canadian market.
I find it hard to justify bending to the arguments of these multinationals, when we want them to invest in production by calling on Canadian talent and creators, who are as capable as foreign talent, if not more so, of producing Canadian programming that tells our stories.
I don't think that's a good argument. Mr. Julian's proposal, which is similar to the Bloc Québécois' proposal, reflects the expectations of the industry, the market, our producers, our talent and our artisans. I therefore think that this amendment is appropriate.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I have some questions for the officials on the trade agreements. When this was actually signed in the eighties, the deputy minister of Canadian heritage, and I forget the person's name, I apologize.... I've read the book. A big component of the agreement back then was where Hollywood and others did not agree with Canadian laws on Canada-U.S. trade agreements. I'm not sure this wouldn't follow the same trait, that we're not going down the same road. It was the deputy minister of Canadian heritage at the time who actually saved the bill, the broadcasting bill.
It went to the U.S. Congress and they intercepted it, and then we worked our way through it.
Here Mr. Julian has brought an amendment to this, but I am very concerned that we're going back to this with the USMCA some 31 years later. You probably read the book, and I wish I had the name of the book, but it was specifically on this issue of Canada-U.S. trade relations dealing with heritage and broadcasting.
Does it change anything, 31 years later?
Thomas Owen Ripley
View Thomas Owen Ripley Profile
Thomas Owen Ripley
2022-06-14 19:10
I'm not entirely sure on the book. Obviously, I would say our trade obligations were certainly kept in mind, as we have crafted this legislation and made efforts to ensure, actually, that it's crafted in such a way as to be non-discriminatory. For example, Canadian online undertakings like Crave, for example, or Club illico would be expected to contribute, just like non-Canadian undertakings. We have certainly kept those considerations in mind.
In response to the committee's debate, the government is seeking to put in place a bill that has a high degree of ambition with respect to seeking contributions from these streaming services, but at the same time we have been mindful about the need to put in place a bill that, at the end of the day, can be operationalized as well. It has to work in practice. I would come back to the reference point with respect to a Canadian broadcaster that is established in Canada, has operations here, and inherently uses only Canadian resources with respect to its operations. It's a different reference point from a global company.
I certainly hear Mr. Champoux's concerns about making sure that we are being very ambitious with respect to the contributions we're seeing from those companies, but we do need to keep in mind that they are a very diverse group of services, potentially, ranging from Netflix to Disney+ to Amazon. The business models are different.
The goal was to ensure that the CRTC has the clear direction to seek from them, to the greatest extent possible, the kinds of contributions they can make to the system.
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Ripley.
Clerk, if no other hands are up, then perhaps we will call the question.
(Amendment negatived: nays 9; yeas 2 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: NDP-3 is not carried. This means, then, that BQ-3 is also not carried.
View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2022-06-14 19:12
I'm glad we can still vote on amendment BQ-6, the purpose of which is to remove paragraph 3(1)(f.1) that Bill C-11 seeks to add to the act. I believe that foreign undertakings should not be given preferential treatment over Canadian undertakings. However, that is precisely what this paragraph gives them: they are encouraged to use Canadian resources, but they are not required to do so. In my opinion, this is a way of maintaining inequity in a market that needs to be rebalanced.
I therefore ask the committee to accept this amendment, which consists of deleting paragraph 3(1)(f.1) that Bill C-11 seeks to add to the act.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I think my friend Mr. Champoux will see that, unfortunately, this amendment is not really desirable in practice. Indeed, if we keep paragraph 3(1)(f), which says “each Canadian broadcasting undertaking shall”, and remove proposed paragraph 3(1)(f.1), then there would be no obligation for foreign online undertakings. This would therefore not be a fair solution.
At least the proposed paragraph 3(1)(f.1) provides some obligation for foreign online undertakings. I don't think it's my colleague's intention to remove that obligation.
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
Does anyone else wish to speak to this?
Hearing none, I will call the question. Shall BQ-6 carry?
(Amendment negatived: nays 11; yeas 0 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: Thank you, Madam Clerk.
Next on the agenda, we have LIB-4. I want to note that if LIB-4 is adopted, BQ-7 on page 36 cannot be moved due to a line conflict.
Go ahead, Mr. Housefather.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
This amendment reflects the very issue that Mr. Champoux and I raised last time. It's about using the words “original programs in French” to ensure that the programs are actually produced in French.
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Housefather. I cannot see the room, so thanks for telling me that.
(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
In case folks around the table wonder about PV, back in the day, when I first started presenting amendments, they didn't want to use “G” for Green because it would have been confused with “Government”, which some day will be the case—you'll have a Green government and there won't be any confusion. However, for now, PV is Parti vert, and I am presenting very succinctly this amendment, which would create new language on page 6, just after line 22.
It comes from evidence that the committee has heard, largely from the community radio, community broadcasting group. I won't read it all out, but they wanted, and this amendment creates, the opportunity for a divergence of opinion and views to be heard on matters of public concern, and specifically—and this is language that I think is so good—“to directly participate in public dialogue on those matters through the community element; and...”
The amendment would inject the notion that our public broadcasters and our community broadcasters and the whole Broadcasting Act would create opportunities for respectful dialogue and to expose people to different views and also create for them not just an observational experience but a participatory experience, to participate directly in public dialogue.
I think if we had this kind of thing, we wouldn't see such low voter turnout, if people were able to engage.
That's my submission. I hope this amendment will find favour with committee members. Thank you.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you so much, Madam Chair.
I don't know why I'm at a loss for words. It's the first time in six years.
We're supportive of the amendment. However, I'm hoping we can make a friendly amendment on the third line, after “matters”, so it would be “on those matters, including through the community element”, just between lines 3 and 4, including the word “including”.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
People are looking to me, Madam Chair, but under the terms of the motion passed by this committee, I am not allowed to have an opinion on whether something is friendly or not, because I'm not the mover. It was deemed moved by the apparatus that was created that brings us here today. If it were up to me, I would say that's friendly, and I like it a lot, but I'm not actually permitted to do that under your rules.
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you for explaining that subamendment.
Is there any discussion?
Seeing none, should the subamendment carry?
An hon. member: There is consent, Madam Chair.
(Subamendment agreed to)
The Chair: Should PV-1 as amended carry?
(Amendment as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: The next one is BQ-8.
Mr. Champoux.
View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2022-06-14 19:25
Madam Chair, this amendment suggests that we “include the greatest possible contribution from the Canadian production sector, whether it is independent or affiliated with or owned by a broadcasting undertaking”.
In fact, with this amendment, we want to make a change to the current act. It's not an amendment to what Bill C-11 proposes. We want to add this wording to correct a situation, so to speak.
When the Broadcasting Act was passed in 1991, independent producers were a developing industry. It was not yet a force in the industry, but it was developing. At that time, the intention was to encourage self-employed people in the production industry by means of a provision in the act that encouraged the greatest possible use of their services.
Today, it is somewhat the opposite. Independent producers and self-employed cultural workers, particularly in the production field, are an important part of the industry and are often the reference and the first resource that broadcasting undertakings call upon for production.
In this context, it is entirely appropriate to amend the wording of the Broadcasting Act, 1991, by adding the following after line 22 on page 6 of the bill:
(5.1) Subparagraph 3(1)(i)(v) of the Act is replaced by the following: (v) include the greatest possible contribution from the Canadian production sector, whether it is independent or affiliated with or owned by a broadcasting undertaking;
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you so much, Madam Chair.
This comes from our earlier arguments with respect to previous amendments brought by the Bloc, and we appreciate where it's coming from. There are foreign players already spending billions in Canada, employing thousands of Canadians across the country, and they are a vital part of our industry. Requiring the greatest possible contribution would challenge the successful business models and could lower activity in Canada. We are committed to ensuring that foreign players make a significant contribution, the most possible, and to incentivizing them to do more.
Unfortunately, therefore, we have to oppose this amendment.
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you. Is there any further discussion? I see none, so I shall go to the question.
Shall BQ-8 carry?
(Amendment agreed to: yeas 6; nays 5)
The Chair: Next is amendment G-3.
That is Tim Louis.
View Tim Louis Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
This is a simple clarifying amendment that harks back to what we said earlier, ensuring that official language minority communities are supported in Bill C-11. It clarifies changing the language from “needs and circumstances” to “needs and interests”.
I believe this is a positive change, not a contentious one, and that it actually will strengthen the agencies of these communities within our broadcasting system.
I hope this one will see support.
Thank you.
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you.
Is there any discussion on this amendment?
(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: Now, on NDP-4, go ahead, Peter.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I have more delightful news.
Really, NDP-4 and NDP-5 were, I think, earlier versions, because we sent in a revised version more recently, a few days ago. They aren't really touching what the NDP amendment is, so it has been distributed under NDP-4, which I will offer instead.
It is that Bill C-11, in clause 3, be amended by replacing lines 37 and 38 on page 6 with the following:
digenous persons—within community elements which are positioned to serve smaller and remote communities and other elements of the Canadian broadcasting system;
This has already been circulated in English and French, and it replaces NDP-4 and NDP-5.
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
All right, seeing no discussion, shall NDP-4 carry? Is there consensus on the floor?
(Amendment agreed to)
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
NDP-5 is no longer on the table. I am now going to move to PV-2.
Ms. May.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
This amendment comes from testimony the committee heard from various organizations representing people with disabilities, and from the community perspective. Concerns were brought forward that services such as closed captioning and described audio and video make our media more accessible to people with disabilities.
In addition to that, this amendment serves a dual purpose, because it also proposes that people with disabilities have the right to self-expression. There should be opportunities for them to express themselves through the community element and other elements in our Canadian broadcasting system, so it is both to be provided with access and to develop their own content and voices.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I certainly agree with the spirit of PV-2, but I would suggest that NDP-7 does a better job of providing the opportunity for people with disabilities to develop their own content and voices, so I will be voting against PV-2, not because I disagree with the spirit of it, but just because NDP-7 is a more effective way of ensuring that people with disabilities, who we know have been profoundly disadvantaged, have the opportunity to develop their own content and their own voices in this country.
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
Is there any further discussion?
I would like to tell everyone that if PV-2 is adopted, NDP-6, which is on page 43, and NDP-7 cannot be moved due to a line conflict.
We'll now put the question.
(Amendment negatived: nays 7; yeas 4 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I did not withdraw NDP-7. Quite the contrary: I'd like to move it so that we give the opportunity for people with disabilities to develop their own content and voices in this country. I think it's a spirit that we all agree with. The wording now, hopefully, will have a consensus around NDP-7.
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
All right. Is there any discussion? Shall NDP-7 carry?
(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: Now we're on CPC-7.1.
View John Nater Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
This would go immediately after the section we just discussed. It gives some form of specificity, for lack of a better word, to some of the options. It's in two parts. The first part would be adding the following:
(p.1) the Canadian broadcasting system should, whenever possible, make available programming services to assist persons living with a hearing impairment, including closed captioning services;
The second part would be adding the following:
(p.2) the Canadian broadcasting system should, whenever possible, make described video services available to assist persons living with a visual impairment;
I think both of those clauses are fairly self-explanatory, so I don't think I need to explain them any further other than to say that it may be assisting those living with a disability here in Canada.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Lisa Hepfner Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Chair.
Maybe I'm confused, but in reading this amendment, it looks like it's actually diminishing the requirements of broadcasters to provide descriptive video and closed captioning services, because right now it's mandatory. This legislation looks like you're making them provide those services whenever possible.
Maybe you can clarify, but to me this looks like it actually takes away from what people with disabilities already enjoy in terms of rights in Canada. I would not support that.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
Through you, Madam Chair, I'd like to ask the officials what the effect of this amendment would be.
Thomas Owen Ripley
View Thomas Owen Ripley Profile
Thomas Owen Ripley
2022-06-14 19:40
Bill C-11 has a policy objective in proposed paragraph 3(1)(p) about providing “programming that is accessible without barriers to persons with disabilities” and that it is to be “provided within the Canadian broadcasting system”.
In the current act, there is language there that talks about “as resources become available for the purpose”, which the government is proposing to strike, so there is no longer a resource qualification, but the aspiration is set very high. To that end, the CRTC already engages with broadcasting services about closed captioning, described video and audio description. There are discussions around trial periods for persons with disabilities.
The comment I would make with respect to Mr. Nater's proposal is that these two elements that he has identified are indeed things that the system can do to support persons with disabilities, but there is a broader range of mechanisms, and we expect that there would continue to be a broader range of mechanisms. We had proposed leaving this level of detail up to the CRTC and providing that flexibility for it to work out what makes sense as technology evolves.
View John Nater Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'd like to clarify a couple of points.
This suggestion comes from a brief we received from the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians. Part of the brief talks about some of the hesitancy of some broadcasters to provide descriptive video, for example. I'll read a very brief part of it:
During a consultation with representatives from Bell Media, Rogers and Corus Entertainment, industry reps indicated that it was not possible to provide DV—
That's descriptive video.
—of game shows as the content would be too difficult to describe. However, recently, we have noticed that the program Family Feud Canada is being aired on CBC TV with DV.
Since the CBC has demonstrated that live sports and game shows can be aired successfully with DV, we believe that exemptions to the provision of DV on any type of program are no longer warranted, and that the existing exemptions to the full provision of DV must be removed.
That's just one example of the efforts that I think we all should make, not only from this angle but more generally, to ensure that all persons living with disabilities are able to fully participate in Canadian life.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2022-06-14 19:43
Madam Chair, I thought it would be difficult to reject an amendment like this one. Indeed, it is obvious to me that this accessibility should be a given. Considering the progress of technology over the years, no one can say that it is not accessible or that we do not have the means to offer this service to the clients who need it.
In fact, I wonder why it says “whenever possible” in the amendment proposed by our Conservative friends, when it should be an obligation. Offering these services should indeed be mandatory.
No matter how the wording turns out at the end of the discussion, I think we need to make sure that it is mandatory. Any undertaking that claims to be serious enough to be in the broadcasting business in Canada must, at the very least, provide that accessibility to the people who need it.
I personally want to support this amendment, but I do want to make sure that the final wording is as strong as possible.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you so much, Madam Chair.
I am also very sympathetic to this amendment, but I see the limitations in the way that it's drafted. I was wondering if Mr. Ripley could advise.
As opposed to the way this amendment is drafted, if in paragraph 3(7)(p) on line 40 you left the wording, “programming that is accessible without barriers to persons with disabilities should be provided within the Canadian broadcasting system” and added “including, without limitation, closed caption services and video services available to assist persons living with a visual impairment”, would that fall within the existing framework to a point that the department would believe it was within the intention of the law?
Thomas Owen Ripley
View Thomas Owen Ripley Profile
Thomas Owen Ripley
2022-06-14 19:45
As a point of clarification, the CRTC is currently engaging with Canadian broadcasters about progressively expanding described video across all their programming. Those conversations between the CRTC and Canadian broadcasters are ongoing.
I believe what you have described, Mr. Housefather, would be consistent with the spirit in which I believe Mr. Nater proposes the amendment, although I look to him in pointing out that these are two very important measures that can be taken to make programming more accessible for persons with disabilities. To that extent, they are illustrative of the kinds of things that would be consistent with the spirit of paragraph 3(7)(p), yes.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
Madam Chair, I think we want to achieve the same thing. The concern is that the way this is drafted may not fall within the framework of something as strong as paragraph 3(7)(p).
If we were to take paragraph 3(7)(p) and add the words to the end of it, “including, without limitation, closed captioning services and video services available to assist persons living with a visual impairment”, I think we've left exactly the wording and have the same strength. It's not limiting it to those two things, but making sure we include those who are concerned that those two things be included.
If Mr. Nater wanted to make the amendment that way, I would certainly support it.
View John Nater Profile
CPC (ON)
I'd be open to that amendment. I've already moved this amendment, so I suppose we'd need unanimous consent to withdraw this amendment. I would then be happy to propose the amendment that Mr. Housefather just mentioned.
View John Nater Profile
CPC (ON)
I will seek unanimous consent to withdraw this amendment, and I will introduce Mr. Housefather's.
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
Is there unanimous consent to withdraw?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(Amendment withdrawn)
The Chair: I think, Mr. Nater, that you may go ahead and put in the other amendment that you're speaking about.
View John Nater Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I will move the amendment that Mr. Housefather kindly read into the record just a couple of moments ago, because I don't have it in front of me.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
What I had suggested was replacing line 41 with the following. It would leave the words “Canadian broadcasting system, including, without limitation, closed captioning services and video services available to assist persons living with a visual impairment”.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Chair, it's a good amendment.
I will say small and medium-sized television stations have a dickens of a time with closed captioning, especially during the holiday season. They just don't have the people available in these markets to provide this service. It's unfortunate.
That could maybe be a study: Out of the 365 days, how many newscasts are closed-captioned in small or medium...? I'm not talking about Toronto. I'm talking about the small or medium.... There would be very few, I would think, and it's an area of concern, but well done, Mr. Housefather, on moving this amendment with Mr. Nater.
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you.
Is that fine with you, Mr. Méla? Did you get that?
Is there any further discussion?
(Amendment agreed to)
The Chair: We're going to go to amendment CPC-7.11.
Before I ask the mover of that amendment to speak, I would like everyone to note that if CPC-7.11 is adopted, then CPC-7.12, BQ-9, Liberal-5, NDP-7.1 and BQ-10 cannot be moved due to line conflicts. Shall I repeat that, or did everyone get it? Was I slow enough?
I see no hands up, so obviously everyone got it. We will turn to Mr. Nater to move CPC-7.11.
View John Nater Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
This is a very simple amendment. It simply deletes a few lines. I'm sure we will pass these slowly on division.
This one deletes line 42 on page 6 all the way to line 14 on page 7. The effect of this removes the discoverability aspects of Bill C-11. We're doing this because we still haven't had a policy directive from the minister to the CRTC in terms of how discoverability will be implemented and how this will come into practice.
We've heard speculation all throughout it, and a lot of this could have been remedied with a simple, clear direction from the minister to the CRTC. Barring that and looking to the future, we are proposing that we remove this from the bill.
Obviously, at some point it's going to pass, and the CRTC will be tasked with implementing this. I recognize where our votes are on this committee, but at the same time, this is something we feel strongly about. We want to see Canadian productions and creations excel and thrive here at home and around the world. I think there's a real concern and hesitancy among many domestic creators on how discoverability gets implemented. It may, in fact, harm some Canadian creators.
In not wanting to see Canadian creators be hurt or harmed in their ability to find success globally, we are proposing that these clauses be removed from the bill.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Tim Louis Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair. Maybe through you I could ask Mr. Ripley a question.
To me, it sounds like this would very much weaken the act and affect artists greatly.
Mr. Ripley, can you explain if would this remove requirements for platforms to showcase any kind of Canadian content?
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