free speech parklet podium by Liz Henry (CC BY-ND 2.0)

free speech parklet podium by Liz Henry (CC BY-ND 2.0)


Why Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s Own Department Officials Don’t Support His Claims on Regulating User Generated Content

Days after the government removed legal safeguards designed to ensure the CRTC would not regulate user generated content as part of Bill C-10, its Broadcasting Act reform bill, the public and political world have awoken to the troubling implications for freedom of expression. Political columnists are comparing Canada to China in censoring the Internet and opposition MPs have launched petitions with promises to fight back against the bill. The issue unsurprisingly became a major talking point during Question Period in the House of Commons yesterday. While Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault retreated to his usual talking points, it is notable that his claims are not even supported by his own department officials.

Here is what Guilbeault told the House of Commons yesterday in response to a barrage of questions from opposition MPs on Bill C-10 and its implications for free speech:

We have said from the beginning, when we introduced Bill C-10, that user-generated content would be excluded, but that online platforms that act as broadcasters would be included in the legislation. This is exactly what the amendments that have been debated in committee try do, and that is what we will do.

While Guilbeault wants Canadians to believe that user generated content is excluded from the bill, his own department disagrees. Owen Ripley, Canadian Heritage’s Director General of Broadcasting, Copyright and Creative Marketplace, described the implications to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage minutes before it voted to remove Section 4.1, the provision excluding user generated content as a program subject to CRTC regulation:

Ms. Dabrusin has signalled the government intends to repeal, or suggest a repeal, of Section 4.1 altogether, meaning that there would no longer be any exclusion for social media services at all. For the benefit of the committee, in our previous sessions, the committee upheld the exclusion for users of social media companies. In other words, when you or I upload something to YouTube or some other sharing service, we will not be considered broadcasters for the purposes of the Act. The CRTC couldn’t call us before them and we couldn’t be subject to CRTC hearings.

But if the exclusion is removed – if 4.1 is struck down – the programming we upload to Youtube, that programming that we place on that service would be subject to regulation moving forward, but would be the responsibility of Youtube or whatever the sharing service is. The programming that is uploaded could be subject to discoverability requirements or certain obligations like that.

If the way forward to is maintain the exclusion for individual users but to strike down the exclusion for social media companies, that means that all the programming that is on those services would be subject to the Act regardless of whether it was put there by an affiliate or a mandatary of the company.

This isn’t complicated. The Liberals established exceptions for users and their content in Bill C-10. In fact, on the day he introduced the legislation, Guilbeault told the House of Commons that “user generated content will not be regulated.” With last week’s change, his own department acknowledges that the content will be regulated. No amount of spin will change the reality that Guilbeault committed to exclude user generated content, but caved to pressure from music industry lobbyists instead, tossing out freedom of expression in the process.


  1. This is not acceptable. Yes, I am an owner or a co-owner of several intellectual properties as a part-time cartoonist and occasional writer. So are most of us as private citizens. But there should still be limits on what we can do to protect our own individual commercial interests, for the sake of larger democratic principles.

  2. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is SNC Lavalin all over again and the only way we are going to find out is through a public inquiry.

  3. Tyler Vincent says:

    The greatest threat against the Canadian people, world peace, and of media since the second world war when military censors reviewed every news paper in the country before publishing; Heritage minister Steven Guilbeault’s pending regulations may include an internet “kill switch” to block websites deemed “hurtful” to politicians and called it a “nuclear” option…

    Intriguing. I’ll bet Guilbeault, who was a career environmentalist before entering politics in 2019, was vehemently against nuclear bombs for national defense. Yet he seems perfectly OK with them for defending politicians from criticism. ~ Says Toronto Sun

    Make no mistake, Bill C-10 is a declaration of war. While our government is actively financing regime change on Russia’s boarder in Belarus, overthrew Ukraine, lead the bombing campaign that completely destroyed Libya, they want to stop you from saying ‘mean words’.

    As a result of the planned destruction of the middle class and non corporate business thanks to illegal nation destroying lock-downs, and the west’s suicidal push for World War 3 with Russia, China and Iran, Guilbeault wants his paymasters to write the history books in the aftermath, in the unfortunate off chance they are lucky enough to survive it.

    The question I am wondering if they are planning this zero sum war game to be fought with bombs, or with mRNA vaccines, or both.

    As states like Texas, Mississippi and Florida experienced up to a 40% reduction in cases after lifting ALL covid mandates, the Liberals continue destroying Canada, refusing to reverse course as deaths plummet. Illegal lockdown’s, masks, and experimental mRNA vaccines all increase cases.

    As a result of illegal measures, threats, and fines, 7 out of 10 Canadian businesses are now in debt of an average of $170,000. 300,000 businesses are gone. Medical experts around the world are warning experimental mRNA vaccines could wipe out mankind…

    Politicization of medical establishment threatens the lives of every man woman and child in Canada, and Guilbeault wants to ban “mean words” to politicians?

    This is why guns and the laws to own them exist.

  4. Jeffrey Brooman says:

    I love Steven Guilbeault. Please Steven, sensor us all. We deserve it for being dumb ed down into the idiots that we are. Hark Steven. All hail Steven.

    Canadians are experiencing world government racing to take control for the first time and are like deer in headlights.

    People are lining up for the third jab before taking the first jab.

    Such is the fear mongering.

    But it’s not just fear mongering. It’s also dropping arisol disease on India so that young people die who have not been vaccinated which has never happened before with COVID so why is it happening now?

    Hydroxycloroqine works in the first couple of days, it is an off the shelf pill; yet it is banned everywhere. GP doctor’s should be prescribing this along with antibiotics, vitamin D3, Zinc, and others. But no mention. Doctor’s holding onto their jobs by not going against their College of Physicians. But once the third jab is administered do these doctors think they will be paid anymore after all their clients are dead? The chance of dying en masse increases per jab…. The science says so ….

    Advisory boards directly linked with Bill Gates and the WHO. You can’t make this stuff up. It’s too insane. And now, we have Steven. All hail Steven, who will shut down all ability to research rational thought.

    Congratulations World Government – Great Job – All Hail World Government – All Hail World Government …

  5. Dean Barnes says:

    I have much respect for Mr Geist. However, I have a different take on this bill, and these changes. I think that where all users could be recognized as producers, subject to regulation by CRTC may actually be a good thing. It may finally put power in the hands of common user/uploader that forces the big name commercial interests to treat average users as the same. Some people may be uncomfortable with the concept of regulation, sure, but free speech has never protected anyone from damages caused by free speech, only that everyone is allowed to express that speech. There are people who hide behind this little guy is “sancro sanct” to do much damage to others. Finally, as slippery a slope as regulation can be, making people understand that they are producers, may in the end mean they become more responsible for what they produce. Just a different take, do not claim to be right, just different.