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Results: 1 - 60 of 118359
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
I call the meeting to order.
Welcome back, everybody. Happy Monday to all.
There are a couple of very important points I want to start with before we get into the gist of what we're doing today.
Welcome to meeting number 29 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.
Pursuant to the order of reference of Tuesday, February 16, the committee resumes clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.
Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, which we certainly are used to by now. I guess it's been over a year. I think we can call it that. As you know, there are a couple of rules to point out to everybody. They're not official rules in the book, but nevertheless they help us in our committee.
First, try to avoid talking over each other. If you want to get my attention, you know how to do it on the side here. Just raise your hand electronically. If you're not hearing interpretation or you're not getting the volume or you're not hearing the speaker, you can do that, or just wave your hand to get my attention if something technical goes wrong. If that happens, please get my attention, and obviously we'll try to fix it.
We've had some technical difficulties from the Ottawa side of things. I've had a few difficulties of my own with sound. I don't want to alert the IT people in Ottawa. This is a thing that's originating from my office here in Grand Falls-Windsor in Newfoundland and Labrador.
We have to address something that is extremely important to this committee, and we have to do it, I think, right away. It won't take too long, but we really have to wish a happy birthday to the member for Drummond, Mr. Champoux.
Happy birthday, Mr. Champoux.
View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2021-05-03 11:05
Thank you very much.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
Is it your 35th birthday today, Mr. Champoux? x
View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2021-05-03 11:05
No, it's my 34th.x
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Okay, okay, okay.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
The Chair: Happy birthday again, sir.
(On clause 7)
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Now, on Bill C-10, we last dealt with amendment G-10 and we're now going to deal with amendment G-11. There is just a quick note about G-11 that I want to bring to everybody's attention. If G-11 is adopted, amendment BQ-22 cannot be moved due to a line conflict.
I'll go to the speakers list, starting with Ms. Dabrusin.
View Julie Dabrusin Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am moving amendment G-11. This builds on the ownership clauses that we were working on earlier, and it would allow the CRTC to obtain ownership information from all types of undertakings. Bill C-10 as it was originally drafted didn't account for corporate structures such as co-operative trusts or partnerships, so this would allow for that broader ability to take into account different corporate structures.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Chair.
Chair, I actually want to move a dilatory motion that we would—
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Ms. Harder, I'm sorry to interrupt. I'll be just one second.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
I have to deal with amendment G-11 first because it was just moved by Ms. Dabrusin.
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
However, I'll keep your name up there, because once we deal with G-11, then we can discuss....You're dealing with a motion that has nothing to do with G-11, correct?
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
I understand that, yes. Once G-11 has been dealt with, would you like me to raise my hand again, or would you like to just...?
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
You can raise your hand or I'll circle back to you. Is that okay?
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
On amendment G-11, I'll go to Mr. Rayes.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'd like the experts among us to explain the impact of this amendment.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Drew Olsen
View Drew Olsen Profile
Drew Olsen
2021-05-03 11:07
Thank you. Thank you for the question, Mr. Rayes.
The current wording in Bill C-10 would have allowed the CRTC to obtain ownership information related to corporations that hold licences, but there are some ownership structures out there that are not corporations, such as partnerships and trusts, so we are just trying to make sure this doesn't unintentionally limit the CRTC's ability to get ownership information from licensees that may not be corporations.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Is there any further discussion on G-11?
Seeing none, we'll go to a vote.
(Amendment agreed to: yeas 7; nays 4 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: As G-11 is now adopted, BQ-22 cannot be moved because of a line conflict.
Ms. Harder, you have the floor.
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I appreciate that.
I have a quick question before moving on to the motion that I wish to move.
On Friday, when we were in the midst of debate on the motion that was on the floor at that time, one of the members of the committee, Ms. Dabrusin, raised her hand. She put forward a dilatory motion that brought debate to an end. At that point in time, you said that because it was a dilatory motion, it superseded debate, and all other hands that were raised were not called upon. Just a moment ago I attempted to move another dilatory motion, and I was told the motion at hand needed to be taken care of first.
I'm wondering why on Friday a dilatory motion took precedence, but today it doesn't.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
It's for the simple reason that we had started the debate. Obviously we had commenced debate on that one, so things had to shut down and we had to dispense with it.
Are you saying that you have a dilatory motion now?
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
That's correct. Just a moment ago I indicated to you that I intended to bring forward a dilatory motion.
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
You commented that G-11 needed to be taken care of first before you could hear from me. However, on Friday you gave the dilatory motion precedence, so I'm wondering why those two rulings are incongruent.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
I don't know. That's a good question. I'm going to talk to the clerk about that and see if it was done by mistake.
Nevertheless, you can certainly raise it. Do you want to do your dilatory motion now or do you want a ruling on that?
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
You can confer with the clerk, but I'm happy to move forward with my dilatory motion.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Okay. I'll do the clerk thing first, and then I'll come back to you.
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay. Thank you.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
We'll suspend for a couple minutes. It shouldn't take long.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
We are reconvening.
Ms. Harder, I had a little discussion about this, and you have a good point. You brought up a dilatory motion. I should have heard you out on that point, and I did not. I sincerely apologize for that. I started the other debate and I was focused on that one. It never registered that your motion was dilatory and I should have heard you out.
We dispensed with G-11, so if you wish, go ahead now and move your motion.
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Chair. I do.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
My apologies again for that. You were in the right.
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you for seeking clarification. I very much appreciate that.
Mr. Chair, I wish to return to a motion that was brought forward to the committee on Friday, at the last meeting.
The motion that I moved at that point in time was that we would request the Minister of Justice to produce an updated charter statement under section 4.2 of the Department of Justice Act with respect to the potential effects of Bill C-10, as amended to date, on the rights and freedoms that are guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This motion further said that we would invite the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Justice to appear before the committee to discuss the implications of Bill C-10, as amended to date, for users of social media services, and that we would suspend clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-10, notwithstanding the committee's decision of March 26, 2021, until it has received the updated charter statement requested under paragraph (a) and has heard from the ministers invited under paragraph (b) of this motion.
The reason I moved this motion on Friday was that the bill we are currently debating, Bill C-10, has undergone significant change since it was first brought forward in the fall, and at that point in time, in November, was provided with a charter statement. Of course, that charter statement was up to date at that time. However, because section 4.1 has been removed, and thereby protections for the content that an individual might post to their social media account is now subject to government scrutiny, I do believe that it is in the best interest of this committee to seek another charter statement in order to make sure that it is in compliance.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Sorry, Ms. Harder, I need some clarification. You did say it was a dilatory motion.
Ms. Rachael Harder: Yes.
The Chair: You want to make a motion to resume the debate that commenced on Friday. Is that correct, just so I get that straight?
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
I do.
Chair, I would move that we debate the motion that was originally brought forward on Friday.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Just so that everybody is clear, the dilatory motion is the resumption of debate that took place on Friday. The reason that it's dilatory is for the same reason that a debate should be adjourned, so we have to go to the debate right away.
You've now heard the clarity around the motion. We're going to proceed to the vote on the resumption of the debate on the motion from Ms. Harder.
(Motion agreed to: yeas 6; nays 5 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: We now go to the resumption of debate following that motion.
I have the list here. Ms. Harder, you're up first.
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I appreciate that very much. I also return my thanks to the committee for hearing me out on this.
Mr. Chair, as stated, this piece of legislation, Bill C-10, has undergone significant change with the removal of proposed section 4.1. As a result, it is questioned whether an individual will actually be allowed to put up content of their choice on their social media platform or use apps on their phone, based on Bill C-10. In other words, it is presumed—not just by me but by other experts—that individuals' rights will actually be brought under attack by this legislation.
It seems, then, very important for the members of this committee to receive an updated charter statement. Of course, what this would do is take the bill in front of us—Bill C-10 as it exists now, in its amended form—and put it up against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This charter statement would be delivered by the justice minister and it would state whether or not this bill holds up.
The reason this is so important is that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the supreme law of the land, and paragraph 2(b) protects freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and freedom of belief. When we are at a point in Canadian history where we are using social media platforms as the public square, it is important to protect the voices of Canadians and how they express themselves in those spaces.
The government has gone too far when it imposes itself—or empowers the CRTC, which of course is directed by the government, to impose itself—on people and their freedom of expression, freedom of belief and freedom of opinion and starts regulating what people are saying or posting.
Of course, I am offering my own take on it, as well as the takes of many other experts who have analyzed this piece of legislation. What I am asking is that this committee also request the take of the justice minister. Again, this would be accomplished by a charter statement.
One of the reasons this is so crucial is notwithstanding the most important one, which is to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadians. It's been interesting over the weekend as I watched as the Minister of Heritage responded to the concerns raised around Bill C-10. One of the accusations that was brought out by Minister Guilbeault is that all of the individuals expressing opposition or raising questions or concerns with regard to Bill C-10 are suddenly being called “extremists”. If you disagree with the government, if you have a question about a bill being brought forward by the governing party or are opposed in any way, you are now labelled an “extremist”. If that is happening in this small fraction of time, I can only imagine the types of stipulations that would be put in place by this same minister should the legislation be successful.
If he and his department are responsible for telling Canadians what they can and cannot post, then anything that might be against the ideology of this government would be flagged. Anything that would raise questions with regard to a government decision would be taken down. Any material that an individual posts that would make someone feel uncomfortable or at which someone might choose to take offence would be removed.
It has a silencing effect, and it's wrong. It must be stopped. Canadians must be protected. Their charter rights must be preserved.
I am asking for something that I believe is extremely reasonable, which is that we push the “pause” button on this committee for a very short time and that we seek this statement from the justice department. We would be looking for an opinion as to whether Bill C-10 does, in fact, align itself under the charter. If it does, okay, but if it doesn't, this committee has some work to do in terms of making sure the charter rights of Canadians are indeed protected.
With that, I have put a motion on the table asking for that statement and asking to hear from the Minister of Heritage. I would ask the members of this committee to vote in favour of it.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Go ahead, Monsieur Rayes.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'm pleased that the committee agreed to take the time today to continue to debate the motion put forward by my colleague, Ms. Harder. Her proposal is based on the main reason why we work here in Canada's Parliament, which is to defend the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Just over a week ago, at the meeting held on Friday, April 23, the government decided without any advance notice to do away with an entire clause in the bill...
View Scott Aitchison Profile
CPC (ON)
I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
One moment, Monsieur Rayes.
I think I know what you're getting at, Mr. Aitchison. It's that we're not hearing the interpretation right now. Is that it?
Yes, it is. We're not hearing the interpretation right now.
Let's do a test.
Hello, everyone. My name is Scott Simms, the chair of the committee.
How are we doing?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Would you like me to speak in French to see if the interpretation is working?
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Are we okay now? No, we're not. I'm sorry, folks.
I'll give you the floor again, Mr. Rayes, once we get this fixed. Just hang in there one moment. Actually, tell us about your wonderful riding.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Gladly, Mr. Chair. I hope one day to have the opportunity to welcome you to my magnificent riding. It's very close to Mr. Champoux's riding, I should point out. Our two ridings are engaged in a battle that will never end, about the origins of poutine.
View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2021-05-03 11:25
Okay, now we're raising the high-stake issues.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Okay, look what I've started. Thank you for that.
It seems we are now back. I've just heard the interpretation, so we'll go back to Mr. Rayes.
You have the floor. Go ahead, sir.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I will now set aside the debate over poutine and return to Bill C-10. I'll start over more or less from the beginning because I don't know at what point the interpretation stopped.
First of all, I'd like to thank all the committee members for having agreed to continue to debate the motion put forward by my colleague, Ms. Harder. The principle she is defending in her motion—freedom of expression—underpins the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I believe that it is an issue that all members of Parliament, whatever their political party may be, should take into consideration in any future plans.
Some people listening in may not know it, but for every bill, the Minister of Justice has to table recommendations, or at least an opinion, to ensure that the bill complies with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and freedom of expression.
That being the case, I would ask all committee members and those who are listening to consult the public statement published by the Minister of Justice on November 18, 2020, concerning BillC-10. He had done an analysis of the bill's proposed clause 4.1. However, now that the Liberals decided just over a week ago to delete this proposed clause, the minister's analysis of issues pertaining to freedom of expression and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms can no longer be applied in the same manner.
Last weekend, in the media and on social networks, the Liberals, in this instance Minister Guilbeault and his friends tried to convince Canadians and Quebeckers that the Conservatives were against culture, did not want to defend culture and were opposed to the bill to amend the Broadcasting Act. I want to emphasize that this is not at all the case. That's not what the debate is about.
On the contrary, from the very outset, I think everyone would agree that all members of the committee showed a genuine desire to move this admittedly imperfect bill forward. This is demonstrated by the fact that after various consultations, 118 amendments were put forward, including 27 by the government itself and by Liberal MPs on the committee. This shows just how poorly the bill had been cobbled together from the getgo.
According to our analysis, by deleting this clause from the bill without prior notice just over a week ago, the government gave the CRTC the power to regulate social network users who stream content, instead of going after the major players, the GAFAs of the world, as it claims to be doing. Basically, we agree that regulation is needed to make online undertakings subject to the Broadcasting Act, on the same basis as conventional broadcasters.
We're not at war against culture; the motion we're debating today has nothing to do with that. By deleting clause 4.1 as proposed in clause 3 of the bill, the government itself is in violation. We can now no longer continue our work without obtaining a new opinion from the Minister of Justice who, in passing, is a Liberal. I therefore have trouble understanding why my Liberal colleagues and the department are opposed to our request, which is that we obtain a new opinion from the Minister of Justice. We would like him to appear before our committee to clarify the matter and tell us whether the deletion of this clause from the bill constitutes a violation of freedom of expression
Furthermore, it's worrisome to see that the minister, while taking part in a broadcast over the weekend, was unable to explain why the bill had proposed the addition of this clause to the act initially, nor why he had afterwards decided to completely delete it without providing any other information or context.
If the opposition parties, namely the Conservative party, the NDP, the Bloc Québécois and the Green party, were the only ones to ask questions about it, then the people listening to us might think that they are only doing so on a partisan basis. However, numerous experts on freedom of expression or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including university professors and former CRTC commissioners and administrators, raised a red flag to say that a genuine violation had been created by the government itself.
Some previous quotes from the Prime Minister and the minister himself indicated that they were in favour of Internet regulation and Internet content. That, believe me, is scary. So when that in last Friday's debate on freedom of expression, the government tried to muzzle us by putting an end to the debate, it became even scarier.
We need to take the time to do things properly. Even if, in order to protect freedom of expression, we have to prolong our study of Bill C-10 by a week or two weeks or even three weeks, then we will be able to feel very proud of having done so.
We are not challenging culture. We want to protect our culture and our broadcasters. We all want to make sure that regulation is fair and equitable for online undertakings and conventional broadcasters. At the moment, a violation has occurred in the process through which we are ruling on amendments clause by clause. We will not be able to continue our work until we have received an answer on this matter.
As I said earlier, former CRTC commissioner Peter Menzies said in an interview that Bill C-10 not only contravened freedom of expression, but was also an all out attack on it, and consequently on the very foundations of democracy.
We also heard from Michael Geist, emeritus professor of law at the University of Ottawa. He is so well known in his field that the government funds his projects. He is anything but a Conservative or a Liberal; he is completely non-partisan. He was even very critical of the former Conservative government. Anyone who has done their homework properly and checked his comments on Google will know this. He said that he had never, in the history of Canada, seen a government that was so anti-Internet.
There were also all the other witnesses and groups that defend rights and freedoms that made public statements, including the director of OpenMedia.
I'm also thinking of James Turk, the director of Ryerson University's Centre for Free Expression, who said that the Trudeau government, by amending Bill C-10, was planning to give the CRTC the power to regulate content generated by users of websites like YouTube. He believed that this was dangerous, that the government was going too far, and that it had to be stopped.
I'm not making any of this up. I'm not even citing all the policy analysts who deal in such issues. Unfortunately, I must say that we're not hearing much about this in Quebec yet. The idea is only beginning to percolate. However, I believe that analysts in English-speaking Canada have understood what the Liberal government tried to do.
I hope that my colleagues will be able to set partisan considerations aside. God knows that there ought not to be any when it's a matter of freedom of expression. We need to wait until we have a clear opinion on this matter before we can continue to do a clause-by-clause study of the bill.
If anyone should feel responsible for the fact that the process is taking a long time, it's the Minister of Canadian Heritage himself. To begin with, his government prorogued Parliament. Secondly, this government, which has been in power for almost six years now, spent all this time introducing a bill to enact broadcasting legislation. Thirdly, it decided on its own to delete an entire clause from the bill, the end result of which was an attack on freedom of expression.
For all these reasons, we need to take the time required to do things properly. The minister can attack us all he wants, but at least I'll be able to sleep at night because I know that I'll be working to protect the rights and freedoms of Canadians and Quebeckers. I can rest easy for having done so when faced with a government that is trying to attack these freedoms.
I hope that my colleagues will support us so that we can ask the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Justice for clarification, on the one hand, and also ask the Minister of Justice for a new legal opinion so that we can continue to do our work as the Parliament of Canada's legislators.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Go ahead, Ms. McPherson.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you to my colleagues for bringing forward this conversation.
Obviously, for me as well the charter is one of the most important things to ensure that we are in alignment with and are supporting. The NDP has always fought for freedom of expression. It's very, very important that we protect that and work on that. I think it's also very important that we get this right. This is very important to broadcasters across the country. This is very important to all Canadians.
I agree very much with some of the things I've heard my colleague Mr. Rayes say today. I'd like to propose a subamendment to Ms. Harder's amendment. I think one of the things we need to ensure as a committee is that we are trying to move this bill forward as rapidly as we can, that we are doing our due diligence and that we are doing what we need to do to ensure that we have the best legislation coming forward. This is—
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you, Ms. McPherson. I'm sorry to interrupt. I apologize.
Before you start, just as a matter of clarification, it's an amendment to a motion. You don't have to subamend, because we're not dealing with an amendment. It's Ms. Harder's motion, of course.
When you do the amendment, do you have a copy to send to the clerk?
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
I do. Would you like me to send it to the entire committee or just to the clerk, who will then forward it?
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
How about to the clerk, and then we'll distribute it through the entire committee?
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
I can describe it to everyone. It is not terribly complicated.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Please do. The only thing I ask—and again I'm sorry for the interruptions—is that you do it very slowly so it gives us time to write it down and take notes.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
Mr. Simms, you wouldn't be saying that I speak too fast on a regular basis, would you?
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
I'm from Newfoundland and Labrador. You all speak too slowly, so my apologies.
That said, if you could take your time with it, that would be great. Thank you.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
Really all that I am looking at is imposing a bit of a time constraint on the request to the Minister of Justice to produce the charter statement so that the committee can continue to work once we have received the information back from the minister.
I would be proposing that we would request to have that information back within the next 10 days.
In paragraph (a) of Ms. Harder's motion, it would say: request that the Minister of Justice produce an updated “Charter Statement” in the next 10 days, under section 4.2 of the Department of Justice Act
In section (b), the addition would be:
invite the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Justice to appear before the Committee to discuss the implications of Bill C-10, as amended to date, for users of social media services, in the next 10 days
In section (c), I would be including:
suspend clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-10 for a maximum of 10 days, notwithstanding the Committee's decision of March 26, 2021, provided that it has received the updated “Charter Statement”
It's simply adding a time constraint, because I know everybody on this committee is very keen to get back to work to make sure that we are doing the job that our constituents have sent us to Ottawa to do and that we are in fact improving what I think we can all agree is a very imperfect bill that does need, as Mr. Rayes pointed out, almost 120 amendments from various parties.
That would be my recommendation. I certainly hope that we can move forward and continue to work.
I struggle, of course. I'm a new parliamentarian, Mr. Chair, and I struggle when I see filibustering within committees. Unfortunately, I've experienced it in a number of committees I sit on, so I would hope that we could move forward and make a decision on this and continue our work for the people of Canada.
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