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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:02
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I call the meeting to order.
Good afternoon, everyone.
I'm filling in for our chair, Dr. Fry, who is not with us this Friday. For the next two hours, you're stuck with me as the vice-chair. Thank you very much, everyone.
Welcome to meeting number 56 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. First off, I would like to acknowledge that this meeting is, in fact, taking place on the unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people.
Pursuant to the order of reference adopted by the House on Tuesday, May 31, 2022, the committee is resuming clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-18, an act respecting online communications platforms that make news content available to persons in Canada. Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House order of Thursday, June 23, 2022. Members are attending in person in the room and remotely, as we see them on the Zoom application.
I would like to make a few comments for the benefit of witnesses and members. Please wait until I recognize you by name before speaking if you can. For those participating by video conference here this afternoon, as you know, click on the microphone icon to activate your mike, and please mute yourself when you're not speaking.
Interpretation is available for those on Zoom. You have the choice, at the bottom of your screen, of either “floor”, “English” or “French”. For those in the room, you can use the earpiece and select the desired channel.
I remind everyone that all comments should be addressed through the chair.
In accordance with our routine motion, I am informing the committee that all witnesses are present here this afternoon; therefore, no connection tests in advance of the meeting were required.
I would now like to welcome the witnesses, who are present to answer any technical questions we have about our Bill C-18 today.
I'd like to welcome, from the Department of Canadian Heritage, as always, Owen Ripley; Joelle Paré, acting director; and Pierre-Marc Lauzon. Thank you very much for joining us.
With us, as usual, is the committee clerk, Ms. Belmore. We also have the legislative clerks today. They are Philippe Méla and Jean-François Pagé.
That's everyone in the room.
Marion, you're at the back there. Thank you for also joining us here today.
We were waiting for Mr. Shields. He is on now.
We'll start where we left off on Tuesday, which was at amendment CPC-12. That's by Mrs. Thomas. Perhaps she could lead us. That's on page 18 for everybody. It's clause 7 on page 4.
Mrs. Thomas, lead us off on amendment CPC-12.
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:05
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I'm sorry, Mr. Chair, but I need just one moment here.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:05
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While you're taking a moment, is there French translation? We've had some issues in the past. Are we okay on the French translation? Is everybody good if I keep talking? In some of our meetings, we have started and then we have had an issue. I just want to make sure.
Go ahead, Mr. Champoux.
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View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2022-11-25 13:06
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We need to ask our interpreters to ensure that the equipment and sound quality are adequate. I can hear the interpretation right now, so I assume everything is working.
The interpreters are signalling to us that everything is in order.
Thank you.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:06
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Yes, that's good.
Mrs. Thomas, are you ready for amendment CPC-12?
Go ahead.
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:06
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Sure. Thank you for giving me a moment, Mr. Chair.
With regard to amendment CPC-12, really what we're trying to do here is to ensure that individual privacy is respected.
A DNI—a digital news intermediary—such as Facebook, for example, collects individual user data, and that is used and held within the confines of existing legislation within the jurisdiction in which they operate.
This amendment, CPC-12, would simply be asking for further clarification with respect to privacy protection. It's basically making sure that when a DNI has to provide information to the commission, that information will be disclosed with the exception of individual information. In other words, privacy will still be respected. Data ownership will still be protected in accordance with any other act of Parliament or any other law. It's simply for the sake of further clarity and protection for everyday online users. That's ultimately what we're going for there.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:07
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Mr. Bittle, go ahead.
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View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2022-11-25 13:07
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Thank you so much, Mr. Chair.
Ultimately, restricting the ability of the CRTC to collect information only benefits the platforms and foreign technology giants. They could easily withhold necessary information. That's with regard to the purposes of the legislative objectives.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:08
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Go ahead, Mrs. Thomas.
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:08
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Thank you.
I would ask the officials for some further information.
The legislation as it's currently written doesn't offer this confinement as to what information could be demanded of these DNIs.
In your estimation, then, is that quite a wide berth? Is there anything in there that would protect the privacy rights of individuals and make sure the information of an individual user—let's say, of Facebook—would in fact be protected and not called for by the commission?
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Thomas Owen Ripley
View Thomas Owen Ripley Profile
Thomas Owen Ripley
2022-11-25 13:09
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Thank you for the question and the comments, MP Thomas.
I have a couple of observations.
With respect to the first part of your question, the CRTC has the authority to ask for information it requires in the administration of the act. Its authority is bound by information that it needs to administer the act. The CRTC would be acting outside of its authority if it tried to request information not related to the administration of the act.
There are, indeed, other federal frameworks governing privacy—the PIPEDA legislation, and the Privacy Act with respect to the public sector—so the CRTC remains bound by those frameworks and those obligations.
With respect to what would be characterized as more confidential business information, as you may know, the act does provide for an opportunity at clause 55 for information that is submitted to the commission to be classified as confidential. There's a framework in place for how that information could be managed.
From my perspective, that's the lay of the land with respect to privacy.
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:10
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Thank you. I appreciate that.
My follow-up question would be this: Currently, as it stands, are there limitations as to what the CRTC can request? If it considers information to be pertinent to this act, can it ask for it, or are there any limitations on the request that can be made?
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Thomas Owen Ripley
View Thomas Owen Ripley Profile
Thomas Owen Ripley
2022-11-25 13:10
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Again, it's as long as the CRTC is of the opinion that it is necessary for the administration of the act.
A reasonable hypothetical in this kind of situation might be about the number of Canadian users that a digital news intermediary has in Canada. The digital news intermediary remains bound by PIPEDA and any obligations in that respect, and then the CRTC would remain bound by the legislation governing the public sector. In that instance, for example, I would see no reason that you would have individual personal information submitted to the CRTC. Maybe you would at the aggregate level, but regardless, the CRTC remains bound by the broader framework governing privacy.
The department did have the opportunity to do some consultations on the privacy questions. The assessment was that there were minimal implications with respect to personal information.
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:12
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You used the phrase “minimal implications”, which means there are still some. Can you expand on that? What are the privacy infringements within this?
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Thomas Owen Ripley
View Thomas Owen Ripley Profile
Thomas Owen Ripley
2022-11-25 13:12
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Again, Mrs. Thomas, for the purposes of administering the act, from where we sit, the information that would be provided to the CRTC would be in the aggregate. I see no reason that there would be the submission of personal information.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:13
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Ms. Gladu, go ahead, please.
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View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2022-11-25 13:13
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Thank you, Chair. I'm not sure if our witnesses can answer this question.
I haven't had a lot of involvement with the CRTC. Do they have any history of data privacy breaches? I know there have been thousands of them in government, but I don't know anything about the CRTC. Are they fairly secure?
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Thomas Owen Ripley
View Thomas Owen Ripley Profile
Thomas Owen Ripley
2022-11-25 13:13
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Thank you, Ms. Gladu.
Offhand, I am not aware. That would be a question you would have to ask the CRTC in particular.
What I would say is that the mechanism that's provided for in this piece of legislation is modelled on existing mechanisms in the Broadcasting Act as well as the Telecommunications Act, in which it is recognized that sensitive information is sometimes provided to the CRTC as the regulator to enable it to carry out its functions, and that this information should be protected accordingly. Only in very limited situations should there be any kind of public disclosure about it, subject to a public interest test.
Again, it's clause 55 of this bill. You see that framework set out, which again is modelled on existing frameworks under the Broadcasting Act as well as the Telecommunications Act.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:14
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Are there any other questions?
Seeing no other hands, can we proceed to the vote?
Shall CPC-12 carry?
(Amendment negatived: nays 7; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Kevin Waugh): Shall clause 7 carry?
(Clause 7 agreed to: yeas 7; nays 3)
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Kevin Waugh): Shall clause 8 carry?
(Clause 8 agreed to: yeas 7; nays 3)
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Kevin Waugh): Shall clause 9 carry?
(Clause 9 agreed to: yeas 7; nays 3)
Shall clause 10 carry?
An hon. member: On division.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Kevin Waugh):: Could we have another recorded vote, please?
(Clause 10 agreed to: yeas 7; nays 3)
(On clause 11)
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Kevin Waugh):: We'll move now to amendment CPC-12.1.
Go ahead, Mrs. Thomas.
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:20
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Thank you so much, Chair.
Essentially what amendment CPC-12.1 attempts to do is bring about some further clarification or simplification within the definition. Clause 11, of course, has to do with the exemption order. It's essentially trying to—
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View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2022-11-25 13:21
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On a point of order, Mr. Chair, I apologize to Mrs. Thomas, but is amendment CPC-12.1 before clause 11?
We just passed clause 10.
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Philippe Méla
View Philippe Méla Profile
Philippe Méla
2022-11-25 13:21
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We're on amendment CPC-12.1 to clause 11.
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View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2022-11-25 13:21
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It's clause 11. My apologies.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:21
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Okay.
Continue, Mrs. Thomas.
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:21
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Thank you.
All right. We are on clause 11, to be clear. Clause 11 has to do with granting an exemption order. It establishes criteria that have to be met by the DNIs in order to be exempt from having this legislation further apply to them. Here we see a number of criteria established. Our attempt here, then, is to clarify and simplify. It is also to, I suppose you could say, set some parameters with regard to this exemption order or these criteria.
I'll draw people's attention particularly to paragraph (b), which is to delete lines 16 and 17 on page 5. Those lines were about any condition being set out in regulations made by the Governor in Council. As Mr. Ripley pointed out a number of meetings ago, the Governor in Council essentially refers to cabinet, so what this is saying is that if there are any conditions whatsoever that are set out by cabinet in regulation, then those can be used in order to grant an exemption.
Stakeholders have said that this is quite vague. It's leaving them with significant uncertainty. There are concerns on both sides, from DNIs and from eligible news businesses. They want to know those terms up front. Obviously news businesses are interested because they want to make sure that they get a fair shake. DNIs are interested because they want to know to what extent they have to bargain and at what point they can reasonably apply for an exemption.
There's clarity desired on all fronts. Further, from us, clarity is desired just because we believe it's good public policy.
To leave this so vague with regard to any condition set out in regulation made by the Governor in Council just seems far too open-ended and therefore problematic for stakeholders. It's very difficult then for them to form a business model or any sort of anticipation with regard to this legislation and what it would fully mean for them.
We are looking to bring about further clarity there. I can probably leave that there for now.
Thank you, Chair.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:24
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Go ahead, Mr. Bittle.
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View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2022-11-25 13:24
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I'll pass it over to Mr. Housefather.
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View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2022-11-25 13:24
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Thank you so much, Mr. Bittle.
I have just a couple of questions. I'm having a bit of trouble following this. As I read the amendment, it says:
(a) by replacing lines 22 to 24 on page 4 with the following:
“requests the exemption and the operator has entered into agreements with”
and it basically changes the words “and the following conditions are met” to be “and the operator has entered into agreements with”, but then the rest remains the same. There's nothing I see that says they're deleting line 25 and what follows. I'm just a bit confused as to how that actually works.
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:25
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Is it okay if I respond?
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View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2022-11-25 13:25
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Of course. I just want to understand how you see the wording actually working and flowing from one to the other.
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:25
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You're right in pointing out the first change there, to lines 22 to 24. We've made a small change there. Then if you keep going, it's on the next page—page 5—in the legislation. There's paragraph 11(1)(b) under clause 11. That paragraph 11(1)(b) is the one that allows for any condition to be set out by the Governor in Council. We're striking that.
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View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2022-11-25 13:26
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I'm sorry for the back-and-forth. I understand that. I'm just wondering how the words flow from one to the other.
Does “(a) the operator has entered into agreements with” stay, or does paragraph (a) in the amendment somehow takes part of that first line? That's what I don't understand.
The way it is worded now, we're taking away the words “and the following conditions are met”, so in paragraph 11(1)(a), subparagraphs (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) and (vi) would stay. Now, as I understand it—but I'm probably wrong—it would say “requests the exemption and the operator has entered into agreements with” and then “(a) the operator has entered into agreements”. That's what I don't understand. How do they flow together?
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:26
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I don't know if I understood your question.
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View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2022-11-25 13:26
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That's what I don't understand, if you look at it.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:26
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Our legislative clerk, Mr. Méla—
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View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2022-11-25 13:27
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No worries. I just don't know.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:27
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—maybe could address some of the concerns we have with amendment CPC-12.1.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:27
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I think I understand what you're saying, Mr. Housefather. It's more a drafting question than a legislative clerking question, so to speak.
There is the end of the top part of subclause 11(1), which says, “the following conditions are met”, and there's a colon there, and then there are paragraphs 11(1)(a) and 11(1)(b). Those would disappear.
It would then read, “if its operator requests the exemption and the operator has entered into agreements with news businesses”, and then it would go on. So the paragraph 11(1)(a) disappears completely there—the colon and the “met”. There's no paragraph 11(1)(a) and 11(1)(b) anymore. It would be just one full paragraph.
I'm not sure if that was your question.
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View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2022-11-25 13:28
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If that's how it would be worded, I understand it better. Thank you. I still don't think it's good, but I understand it better.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:28
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Mr. Housefather, you still have the floor.
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View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2022-11-25 13:28
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I'm good.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:28
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Okay. We'll move to Mr. Bittle.
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View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2022-11-25 13:28
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Thank you so much, Mr. Chair.
We heard from experts like Professor Owen that the exemption criteria set out in the bill are the primary policy tools in play for Bill C-18. They ensure that smaller players would benefit and they ensure that the deals would not allow corporate influence over news coverage.
This amendment takes away from that, and once again we see the Conservatives presenting what seems like a reasonable amendment but one that again takes the side of big tech over Canadian news organizations.
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:28
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Mr. Chair, I'm sorry, but I couldn't make out the very first premise of Mr. Bittle's statement, so I lost the context for the entire thing.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:29
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Okay. Go ahead, Mrs. Thomas. Then we'll go to Ms. Gladu.
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:29
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Can he just clarify? He said that the entire legislation was subject to something and therefore....
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View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2022-11-25 13:29
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I did not say that.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:29
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Do you want to repeat what you said, Mr. Bittle?
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View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2022-11-25 13:29
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I do not really, but to help with the Conservative filibuster, I guess I'll....
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:29
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There's no filibuster.
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View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2022-11-25 13:29
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I am put on the spot.
I was just quoting from Professor Taylor Owen about how the exemption criteria are—
I'm sorry. I'm just seeing the lights flash.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:29
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They are.
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View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2022-11-25 13:29
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The exemption criteria set out in the bill are some of the primary tools of Bill C-18. That's the premise.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:29
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Okay. I want to go to Ms. Gladu and then Mrs. Thomas.
Ms. Gladu, your hand was up first.
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View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2022-11-25 13:29
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Thank you, Chair.
I just want to say that I support this amendment because I think people do not want the government, after the fact and with no parliamentary oversight, deciding what to put in the regulations to exempt people from this framework. I think we need to have transparency about it.
Taking out paragraph 11(1)(b) leaves the rest of it really clear about what the terms are.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:30
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Thank you.
We'll go to Mrs. Thomas.
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:30
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Thank you.
Let's be really clear here. I recognize that the members opposite enjoy launching baseless attacks against this side of the table. Allowing for paragraph 11(1)(b) to remain in there, such that it would be up to the cabinet to determine “any condition” to be applied with regard to an exemption, would actually put news businesses in danger, because they wouldn't know under what conditions DNIs could move forward with an exemption.
Those conditions could be, for example, that the CBC had entered into a negotiation or Bell had entered into a negotiation or any of these big companies had entered into negotiations, so therefore an exemption would be granted. How would that help ethnic media? How would that help our local newspapers? Allowing this paragraph to stay in there and allowing for such vague criteria to be implemented by cabinet actually puts the little guys in danger.
Let's be really clear about what's going on here. It allows for this government to show favouritism towards the big media companies that push out their story and it puts the little guys in danger, because they could be prevented from entering into negotiations with DNIs because DNIs could be granted the exemption.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:31
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Are there any other comments?
Seeing none, we'll proceed with the vote on amendment CPC-12.1.
(Amendment negatived: nays 7; yeas 3)
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Kevin Waugh): Thank you. Amendment CPC-12.1 is defeated.
We will move to amendment NDP-4.
Mr. Julian, before you get started, I'll say that if amendment NDP-4 is adopted, amendment CPC-13 cannot be moved due to a line conflict.
The floor is yours, Mr. Julian.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. It's good to see you in the chair with us.
I disagreed with the form, the content, of the CPC amendment. I did agree with the thrust of Mrs. Thomas's argument, which is that we need to make sure there are very clear criteria in terms of granting exemptions.
On amendment NDP-4, you'll recall that our testimony with respect to any independent online news publishers of Canada was very clear in this respect. The current criteria for laying out exemptions are too vague and really leave the door open for big tech to push hard for an exemption when they haven't completed negotiations.
What amendment NDP-4 proposes is that clause 11 would be amended to ensure that deals must be made with all eligible news organizations before the platforms would be granted an exemption. That would ensure, with the window of opportunity that's provided, that eligible news organizations can identify themselves and that big tech does have to make that negotiation.
Then Mrs. Thomas asked the rhetorical questions about ethnic media, small media and those that big tech may not choose to negotiate with. Amendment NDP-4 resolves that question by ensuring that all of the eligible news organizations need to have those agreements before big tech can apply for the exemption. Hopefully it will receive support from all four corners of this committee and it will help to tighten the rules around exemptions.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:35
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Go ahead, Mr. Bittle.
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View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2022-11-25 13:35
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Thank you so much, Mr. Chair.
With respect to my friend Mr. Julian, I appreciate what he's trying to do. However, I worry that this may undermine the bill. Given the tactics of foreign tech giants, they will look for any way in which to avoid the requirements. If there is just one hold-out media outlet.... We've seen some media outlets that don't agree with this and may not even bother applying.
On the exemption itself, the purpose of the bill is to have platforms reach deals with news organizations themselves—
Mrs. Rachael Thomas: [Inaudible—Editor]
Mr. Chris Bittle: Pardon me?
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:36
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It's an internal thought.
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View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2022-11-25 13:36
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It's internal thought.
Here's the ironic thing, to anyone listening. Mrs. Thomas just engaged in a heckle. She likes to attack everyone's credibility and then cry foul when there's a perceived attack on her credibility, which there never is. There's a high amount of respect on this committee, except for one member of this committee who continuously engages in personal attacks.
That said, some parties already have deals and don't want to renegotiate or go through arbitration. However, this amendment would undermine the exemption mechanism by removing the initiatives for platforms to seek an exemption. It instead would incentivize platforms to go through the bargaining process, through which they would likely delay for as long as possible through legal challenges and procedural methods. While we understand the intent, it will only benefit the tech platforms with money and resources to drag this process out as long as possible.
Exemptions were a key element of the Australian law. In Australia the addition of the exemptions process addressed the concern about platforms that would remove or threaten to remove news content. By undermining it, as I said, we jeopardize the bill. A better outcome could be achieved through collective bargaining. I know that Mr. Julian is a big champion of that in this bill and in other fora as well. That is the way to get as many outlets together as possible.
We've heard from the major players that they are willing to collectively bargain with smaller players, and that is the best way to get as many deals as possible. In the end, my worry is that requiring all of them is a loophole that will serve the foreign tech giants.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:37
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Thank you, Mr. Bittle.
We'll go to Mrs. Thomas and then Mr. Housefather.
Go ahead, Mrs. Thomas.
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:38
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Thank you.
I support this amendment in principle. I will offer a subamendment, though.
Essentially, this bill is that DNIs have to enter into negotiations with eligible news businesses. This amendment makes sure that if there are 20 lined up to bargain with the DNIs, all 20 have to be bargained with before an exemption can be granted.
I fail to understand how that is benefiting big tech. Everyone lined up and everyone wanting to enter into negotiations gets to enter into negotiations. That's favouring the little guy. That's advocating for them.
I guess I'll ask Mr. Ripley a question for clarification.
Is allowing all eligible news media sources to enter into negotiations with DNIs before an exemption can be granted leaving some eligible news businesses out of the picture?
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Thomas Owen Ripley
View Thomas Owen Ripley Profile
Thomas Owen Ripley
2022-11-25 13:39
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Thank you for the question, MP Thomas.
If this amendment were to be adopted, it would in essence require platforms, as you indicate, to come to an agreement with all eligible news businesses prior to getting an exemption. It would be a major departure from the way the bill is currently structured. The bill right now is intended to put in place a bargaining framework, and through the exemption criteria indicate that a certain threshold must be met in order for DNIs to get an exemption.
The intention behind that was to put in place an incentive for DNIs to want to get an exemption. That was very much modelled on the Australian experience, where the goal is not to actually rely on the back end of this bill in terms of mandatory bargaining and final offer arbitration. In that context, in the context of a bargaining framework, it is understood that there could be news businesses that do not have an agreement in place with a DNI, because the exemption criteria could be met.
One observation is that if you go the route of requiring an agreement with every single news business in order to have an exemption, it is unclear to us whether any DNI would actually pursue an exemption at that point, because it's not clear whether there's really an incentive structure to do so: Why not simply rely on the mandatory bargaining framework at the back of the bill?
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:41
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I have a further question, Mr. Ripley, in terms of the exemption order.
If our goal is ultimately to allow these smaller entities—local newspaper entities, ethnic media entities, etc.—the opportunity to enter into negotiation, what benefit does the exemption order have to the news businesses?
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Thomas Owen Ripley
View Thomas Owen Ripley Profile
Thomas Owen Ripley
2022-11-25 13:41
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The government shares that objective in that a DNI should not be able to get an exemption without having agreements in place with small independent players.
In terms of the government's position, if you look at the exemption criteria, you will see that there are strong markers put there about the importance, under subparagraph 11(1)(a)(ii), of supporting the production of local news content. Subparagraph 11(1)(a)(v) is really a critical one for independent local news businesses in that “a significant portion” of them have to benefit from the agreements and that the benefits have to “contribute to the sustainability of those businesses”. Then, in subparagraph 11(1)(a)(vi), again, you see reference to “a range of news outlets”, including local news and different kinds of business models.
All of this is to say that the government does share that objective. These agreements need to be diverse. They cannot be simply with a small group of consolidated players but have to be put in place with independent local news businesses.
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:42
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Thank you, Mr. Ripley, but my question was this: How does the exemption benefit these smaller news outlets? How does it defend their ability to enter into negotiations?
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Thomas Owen Ripley
View Thomas Owen Ripley Profile
Thomas Owen Ripley
2022-11-25 13:43
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In short, the bill is about putting that obligation on platforms to bargain. Then the exemption criteria benefit independent local news businesses by saying that in the context of that bargaining obligation, some of that bargaining has to be with them. When the CRTC looks at all of the agreements that are being brought forward to justify an exemption, again, they have to see that “a significant portion of independent local news businesses benefit from” those agreements, and that it contributes to their sustainability.
Again, the intention behind the exemption process was not that every news business be entitled to an agreement but that there be certain discretion left to the free market for the DNIs and the news businesses to determine that. At the end of the day, the CRTC assesses whether enough has been done in relation to these criteria.
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:44
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I would put forward a subamendment to my colleague's amendment. I wonder if he would accept this.
I move that we take paragraph (b) from CPC-13, which replaces line 32 on page 4 to line 17 on page 5 with the text outlined in CPC-13, and add it in with NDP-4.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Chair, I'm a little lost here.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:45
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Do you have that in writing, Mrs. Thomas?
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 13:45
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I believe the legislative clerk and the officials should have CPC-13 in front of them.
What I'm asking is that we take paragraph (b) from CPC-13 and add it to the latter part of NDP-4.
It's of course up to you, Chair, but if it's of benefit, I would entertain a quick suspension and have a quick conversation with my NDP colleague.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:45
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We'll suspend for a couple minutes, then. Is that fine?
Mrs. Rachael Thomas: Yes.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Kevin Waugh): Good.
We'll suspend.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:52
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I will resume the meeting.
I will ask Mr. Méla, the legislative clerk, to go over the subamendment.
Mr. Méla, can you inform us of the new text?
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Philippe Méla
View Philippe Méla Profile
Philippe Méla
2022-11-25 13:52
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As Mrs. Thomas was explaining, the subamendment would simply add paragraph (b), located in CPC-13, which contains the instruction to replace line 32 on page 4 to line 17 on page 5 with the text that's provided in CPC-13.
That comes with the following consequence. If NDP-4 is adopted, then CPC-13, G-1, NDP-5, CPC-13.1, NDP-6, NDP-7, PV-2, NDP-8 and CPC-13.2 could not be moved due to line conflicts.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:53
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Is there any discussion on the subamendment?
I see no other hands up.
Shall the subamendment proposed by Mrs. Thomas carry?
(Subamendment negatived: nays 7; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Kevin Waugh): Thank you.
We will go back to NDP-4.
On the speaking list we have Mr. Housefather.
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View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2022-11-25 13:55
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Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I hope I will have the opportunity to convince my dear friend Mr. Julian that this is not the best-advised amendment. I think it comes from a very good place, in the same way that I think CPC-12.1 came from a good place. I was actually more inclined to support CPC-12.1 than I am to support this one. I think both, in a certain way, would have caused problems with respect to the regime, but this would cause many, many more problems.
We have to look at this holistically. What is the definition of “eligible”? In relation to a news business, “eligible” means that the business is designated under subclause 27(1). A “news business” means an individual or entity that operates a news outlet.
Let me just move to subclause 27(1), Mr. Chair, which states:
At the request of a news business, the Commission must, by order, designate the business as eligible if
Then it comes out with various criteria.
If we pass amendment NDP‑4, it's tantamount to saying that all businesses must enter into agreements with platforms. However, for whatever reason, a business might be reluctant to do that. A business might decide not to negotiate an agreement. Businesses could object to doing it, but use subsection 27(1) to be recognized as eligible, then say they won't bargain.
A business owner acting in bad faith could take advantage of all this and asked that their business be recognized as eligible, but then block everyone from entering into agreements or from being recognized because they won't bargain in good faith.
I don't believe we can pass amendment NDP‑4 if we don't substantially amend the act to ask or require that everyone bargain in good faith, and that no business may ask to be recognized under subsection 27(1) unless they intend to enter into agreements that currently do not exist.
Legally or judicially speaking, I'm not even sure we can say there will be businesses recognized in the
tax act or the Canada Revenue Agency Act as a non-profit or journalistic body that would not fall there. Then you would be saying that they would have to also get an agreement, even though they never voiced their intention to get an agreement.
The word “all” scares me a lot. I don't know how that could be modified or whatever, but I think it would require many other modifications to make it work with the regime in the form that it is now, because we certainly don't want one bad actor to block the desire of the platform from reaching agreements with everybody at the DNI and have everybody negotiating in good faith. If they come to terms with 90%, well, they should be recognized, I think, because it probably means that the other 10% weren't negotiating on fair terms or in good faith, so that scares me.
I understand the desire to have all small businesses captured and taken care of, but I don't think that saying “all” is the way to go.
I'm hoping that perhaps I convinced my friend Mr. Julian.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:58
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Thank you, Mr. Housefather.
Go ahead, Mr. Champoux.
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View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2022-11-25 13:59
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I already got the answers I needed, Mr. Chair.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:59
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Ms. Gladu, you have the floor.
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View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2022-11-25 13:59
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Thank you, Chair.
Respecting what Mr. Housefather just said, I'd like to propose a subamendment so that NDP-4 would be “all eligible news businesses that want to negotiate in good faith and operate news outlets that....”
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 13:59
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Okay, we'll just check with Mr. Méla here as he's writing it down.
Do you want to repeat that again, please, Ms. Gladu?
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View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2022-11-25 13:59
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Yes.
NDP-4 would become, “all eligible news businesses that,” and we would add in the words, “want to negotiate in good faith and,” and then continue with NDP-4, “operate news outlets that....”
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 14:00
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Is there any discussion on the subamendment?
Go ahead, Mr. Housefather.
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View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2022-11-25 14:00
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I see the good place that my dear friend Ms. Gladu is coming from on that, because she's trying to fix a problem in the section.
I'm not sure that the fact that they just want to negotiate in good faith.... They would have to negotiate in good faith, but even then I'm not sure, because it would have to be fixed in other places in the bill too. I haven't had a chance to look at it to see where else it would need to be fixed, so I don't think that solves it by itself, but I appreciate the attempt, because it certainly would make it better. I just don't think it solves the problem.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 14:00
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Go ahead, Mr. Julian.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
I'm not speaking specifically to the subamendment; I'm coming back to the amendment itself. I have enormous respect for Mr. Housefather. I feel he's a tremendously learned member of the committee, but I do not buy his argument, despite that it is very effectively put forward.
In the examples we've seen—for example, in the Australian example—you don't have news organizations working in bad faith. What we do see is a real attempt by big tech to look for exemptions.
I don't want to filibuster this. We have so many other amendments to work through that I'm not going to intervene again on this one, but I would say that the amendment that was proposed in the testimony from the independent online news publishers of Canada is an effective amendment. I do not buy the argument that somehow news organizations will operate in bad faith. That's certainly not the track record we've seen from the Australian model.
I think the online news publishers of Canada are making a huge difference in my community. I'll just mention this, Mr. Chair. We went from four community newspapers to two, devastated by the amount of ad revenue that was taken by Facebook and other digital news intermediaries. The independent online news publishers of Canada have re-established two of those, so we've seen a doubling of the local news that is produced.
I'll give a shout-out to the Burnaby Beacon and the New Westminster Anchor, two publications that are making a difference in our community.
I think that the idea that big tech has an incentive to negotiate with all eligible news businesses is a good one. There are a wide variety of subamendments we could propose to solve a problem that I don't believe is a legitimate one, certainly based on the Australian model. I think this is a legitimate amendment, but we will see how the committee feels, and I think we should move fairly rapidly to a vote.
I did not intend at all that this become an amendment that we would spend a lot of time on. I think the positions of each of the parties is already well known.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 14:03
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Is there any other discussion on the subamendment by Ms. Gladu?
Seeing none, I would like to call the vote.
(Subamendment negatived: nays 7; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Kevin Waugh): Thank you.
We will go back to the main amendment, which is NDP-4. I will give Mr. Julian the final word.
Again, if we adopt NDP-4, CPC-13 cannot be moved due to a line conflict.
Mr. Julian, go ahead and address NDP-4.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I have a couple of times, Mr. Chair. I don't intend to do it a third time.
I do want to thank the independent online news publishers of Canada for their valuable input in the testimony they gave to this committee.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 14:05
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Thank you very much.
Shall NDP-4 carry?
(Amendment negatived: nays 6; yeas 4 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Kevin Waugh): Thank you.
We'll move on to CPC-13. Before we get to Mrs. Thomas, I will inform you that if CPC-13 is adopted here, G-1, NDP-5, CPC-13.1, NDP-6, NDP-7, PV-2, NDP-8 and CPC-13.2 cannot be moved due to line conflicts.
The floor is yours, Mrs. Thomas, on CPC-13.
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View Rachael Thomas Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Thomas Profile
2022-11-25 14:07
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Thank you.
Essentially, CPC-13 tries to take NDP-4 and combine it with a few other things. Basically, the deal is that clause 11 deals with exemption orders. With this amendment, we're wanting to ensure that digital news intermediaries have to enter into negotiation with those who wish to without certain eligible news businesses being left out.
Basically, it's a mechanism of inclusion and wanting to ensure that those smaller entities that were left out by legislation such as Australia's are not left out by Canada's legislation. Essentially, it's fighting for a fair playing field for all news outlets.
That is it.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 14:08
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Thank you, Mrs. Thomas.
Mr. Julian, the floor is yours.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As you mentioned, since a number of amendments would fall if this amendment is passed, because it is so comprehensive, I'll be voting against it. I think we have to address a number of other critical issues in clause 11.
This particular amendment, though authored in good faith, is so comprehensive that it limits the scope of the eligibility that is required, I think, at the same time that it stops a number of other important amendments from being adopted. Therefore, I'll be voting against it.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 14:09
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Go ahead, Mr. Bittle.
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View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2022-11-25 14:09
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I think Mr. Julian covered it well. This really upends the structure of the bill. We're opposed to it.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 14:09
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Is there any other discussion on CPC-13?
Seeing no hands, we'll ask for the vote.
(Amendment negatived: nays 7; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Kevin Waugh): Thank you.
We'll move on to G-1 with Mr. Bittle.
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View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2022-11-25 14:10
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If I may, Mr. Chair, we'd like to withdraw amendment G-1. We prefer NDP-7. We will withdraw G-1 and speed things along.
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2022-11-25 14:10
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Okay. Thank you.
We can then move on to NDP-5. If NDP-5 is adopted, CPC-13.1 cannot be moved because of a line conflict.
Mr. Julian, the floor is yours.
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