Thank you, Mr. Chair. I appreciate the opportunity to speak. I want to comment briefly on some of the language I've heard today.
I will admit that I am not a lawyer like Mr. Housefather or Ms. Dabrusin; I'm just an old small-town mayor. One thing I do know is that language matters. Language counts. The way clauses are worded matters and what people say in committee matters.
I would suggest quite strongly, to what Ms. Dabrusin said about aiming to get this right, that it's not good enough to aim to get it right; we have to get this right. The concern that's been raised, and not by me, because I certainly didn't catch it, but by other people who are far smarter and more knowledgeable on this issue than I am, is that taking proposed section 4.1 out opens a window for the potential to regulate individual users' content by regulating the forums they use or the platforms they use to post their content.
Despite Minister Guilbeault's rather fumbling attempt at trying say he didn't want to do that, the intention to not want to do it isn't enough. We have to make sure that this window is not opened in any way. This has to be airtight. This is a fundamental freedom. The freedom of expression has to be protected.
I think Ms. McPherson has proposed an excellent amendment to our motion by proposing some time frames to this. We agree with that. We're not trying to delay things. We're not trying to filibuster, as we've seen go on in so many other committees. This committee has worked really well. I like all of you. Mr. Housefather and I have been on television together, talking about how we can disagree without being disagreeable. We're not trying to be disagreeable. We're trying to make sure we get what all Canadians want, what I think all members of this committee want, which is to make sure that we get this right so that those protections are there and there's no wiggle room anywhere to affect Canadians' rights online.
I recognize the comments that have been made about waiting until the very end and we've done clause-by-clause study, but my concern is that this is fundamental enough in terms of changing the intent of the bill. What we hear from the minister of Justice, the legal decision and the legal opinion on this change, I think is substantive enough. The charter statement may affect some of our decisions going forward on some of these other amendments, so it's well worth taking 10 days to make sure we get it right, because we're not merely “aiming” to protect Canadians' freedoms of expression; it is an absolute. We must do it.
To my friend Mr. Housefather, who suggests that this is a manufactured crisis, respectfully, it's not manufactured. You, as a former mayor.... This is something we do have in common. When you hear concerns raised by your constituents, you don't just dismiss them as manufactured; you address them. That's what we have heard as Conservatives. I've heard over and over again about this, so it's important for us to address those concerns. That's what we're doing. That's my approach to this issue, and I think it's the approach of every other member. I think Ms. McPherson's amendment is a respectful approach to it as well in that it keeps the ball rolling, because we all recognize the importance of getting this done. We all want to level the playing field. We all want to protect that Canadian cultural industry, and not just protect it but enhance it.
I'd love to see the rhetoric toned down a little bit and see us work together. I love Ms. McPherson's very constructive amendment. I think this is the way committees are supposed to work—constructively, across party lines, to make sure we get this right and that we protect Canadians while also ensuring that there is a level playing field and that Canadian culture is not lost in the mix.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.