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Standing up to foreign influences by Government of Alberta (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/2grfB9N

A CRTC Without the West: Why an MP Is Calling a Broadcast Panel Recommendation “Discriminatory” and Warning it Could Further Alienate Western Canada

The Broadcast and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel report calls for a massive overhaul of Canadian communications law including significant changes to the CRTC that even include a name change to the Canadian Communications Commission. Yet more significant – and seemingly more controversial – is a change to the requirements for commissioners. The current CRTC Act provides for the creation of regional commissioners, who must reside in their region with the expectation that they are better positioned to raise regional concerns. The panel recommends dropping regional commissioners altogether, requiring instead that all commissioners reside in the Ottawa/Gatineau region:

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March 5, 2020 4 comments News
1024px-Saw_VII_filming_Metro_Hall_Toronto by Alan Daly / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saw_VII_filming_Metro_Hall_Toronto.jpg

Ontario’s Record Breaking, Multi-Billion Dollar Film Production Year: “A Healthy Balance Between Domestic and Foreign Production”

The Broadcast and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel report justifies its call for a massive overhaul of Canadian communications law – with increased consumer costs, violation of net neutrality, CRTC intervention into discoverability, and USMCA violations – due in large measure to concerns about support for the creation of Canadian content. I previously blogged about how the panel did not disclose – in either its report or subsequent comments – results of benchmarking research on the Canadian television production sector it commissioned from Nordicity. That report reveals that Canada ranks first among peer countries with respect to television production per capita, domestic television production (ie. Cancon or equivalent domestic production) per capita, hours of television production, and employment.

Last week, Ontario Creates, the Government of Ontario’s agency for cultural creation, released new data that reinforced how the panel’s claims regarding the state of Canadian film and television production are not supported by industry data. Ontario Creates touted a “record breaking year” for Ontario’s film and television production sector, citing more than $2 billion in production spending for 343 productions. Of the $2.1 billion, there was a near-even split between domestic and foreign production: $1.1 billion in foreign production and $1 billion on domestic productions.

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March 4, 2020 2 comments News
GuilbeaultSteven-2 by michael_swan (CC BY-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/HqxSMj

The CUSMA Culture Poison Pill: Why the Broadcast Panel Report Could Lead to Millions in Tariff Retaliation

As Parliament continues its review of legislation designed to implement the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement (CUSMA), I have had the honour to appear before both the International Trade and Industry, Science and Technology committees to discuss the digital implications of the trade agreement. While Members of Parliament have expressed concern with copyright term extension that could cost millions of dollars and restrictions on future privacy safeguards, the issue that has sparked the greatest surprise arises from a provision frequently promoted as a “win” during the negotiations.

My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that the inclusion of a cultural exemption was viewed as an important policy objective for the government, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insisting “defending that cultural exemption is something fundamental to Canadians.” The USMCA does, indeed, feature a broad cultural exemption that covers a wide range of sectors. The exemption means that commitments such as equal treatment for U.S., Mexican and Canadian companies may be limited within the cultural sector.

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March 3, 2020 1 comment Columns
President Donald J. Trump at the G20 Summit by the White House (Public Domain) https://flic.kr/p/2dgdd46

The CUSMA Cost: My Appearances Before the Standing Committees on International Trade and Industry, Science and Technology

Over the past month, I’ve had the opportunity to appear before two House of Commons committees – International Trade and Industry, Science and Technology – to discuss the digital law and policy implications of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement. My opening remarks were nearly identical and focused on four issues: copyright term extension, the cultural exemption, privacy and data protection, and Internet platform liability. The Standing Committee on International Trade yesterday released its report on Bill C-4, the bill implementing CUSMA, with no changes, meaning that lobbying pressure to immediately extend the term of copyright was rejected.

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February 28, 2020 1 comment News
Minneapolis Data Privacy Listening Session by Tony Webster (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/2hUwUZj

“We Don’t Have Any Specific Analysis”: CUSMA Negotiators Surprising Admission On Key Privacy Issues

Earlier this week, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology began hearings on Bill C-4, the bill designed to implement the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement. I appeared before the committee to discuss digital issues (more on the appearance in an upcoming post), but just prior to my panel, the team of lead negotiators from Global Affairs took questions from Members of Parliament.

The questioning opened with a stunning exchange between Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner and chief negotiator Steve Verheul on the privacy analysis (or lack thereof) conducted by Canadian officials:

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February 27, 2020 4 comments News