Mr. Chair, I understand that this committee is doing, I believe, its best to get through this legislation quickly and to move it to a point that it can be voted on in the House of Commons. I believe, however, that there are some things that need to be considered before getting to that point.
As I've outlined previously, clause 3, or proposed section 4.1, was removed from the legislation last week. When that took place, the nature of this bill changed.
There is a charter statement that was provided by the justice department under the name of the justice minister. That charter statement determines whether or not this piece of legislation, Bill C-10, would be in agreement with or within the purview of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
That statement is now null and void, because a significant portion of the bill was removed last week. That being the case, I believe this committee needs to seek another statement with respect to the charter and whether the charter rights of Canadians are in fact being respected within the new outline provided within this bill.
I would draw the committee's attention to a few opinions or viewpoints that have been offered by experts. Most notably, former CRTC commissioner Peter Menzies said that this legislation “doesn't just infringe on free expression; it constitutes a full-blown assault upon it and, through it, the foundations of democracy.”
Mr. Chair, that is an incredibly damning statement in regard to this piece of legislation as it stands now, because that clause was removed last week. That being the case, I believe this committee needs to take the responsibility of seeking another charter statement.
The argument has been made by some members at this table—and by other members of the governing party when this has been raised in the House of Commons during question period—that Canadians shouldn't worry; that there would never be an imposition on their freedom and what they post on social media.
At the end of the day, however, if it's not there, it's not there. In other words, if the protection isn't granted, then there's no protection. It's that simple. If the protection is not outlined in this legislation, then there is no protection for Canadians.
We're talking about a regular component of their daily lives. We're talking about a video they post of their cat, about a video they post of their kids, about a conversation they're having with a friend on a social media platform. This is a new form of public square, and based on the charter, our right to freedom of expression should not be imposed upon.
I would argue, and many other experts have argued, that they are being imposed upon. That being the case, I believe we need to seek a new charter statement based on this legislation as it stands now.
I want to move a motion for this committee's consideration. If I may, I would like to read it into the record.
That, given that the deletion of section 4.1, clause 3 of Bill C-10, would extend the application of the Broadcasting Act to programs uploaded by users of social media services, which in turn could violate paragraph 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
and given that the current “Charter Statement” required under section 4.2 of the Department of Justice Act with respect to the potential effects of Bill C-10 directly states that “users of social media who upload programs for sharing with other users and are not affiliated with the service provider will not be subject to regulation” as part of its argument that Bill C-10 respects section 2(b) of the Charter, the committee:
(a) request that the Minister of Justice 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;
(b) 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
(c) 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).
Mr. Chair, that is the end of my motion. I would reiterate how vitally important it is that this committee composed of legislators do its work responsibly and seek this statement from the justice minister.