Over the past several days, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has repeatedly been told that Canadian cultural groups are among the strongest supporters of freedom of expression and would never think of supporting legislation that undermines that foundational democratic principle. Yet the reality is that some of the same cultural groups that now downplay the impact of Bill C-10 on expression, lobbied the government to remove all user generated content safeguards. In other words, rather than support freedom of expression for all Canadians, some envisioned full regulation of both users and their content.
Archive for May, 2021
With yesterday’s Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage meeting with experts on Bill C-10 and its implications for freedom of expression, this is a special Law Bytes episode featuring my opening statement and engagement with Members of Parliament. The discussion canvassed a wide range of issues including how regulating user generated content makes Canada an outlier worldwide, the impact on net neutrality, and why discoverability requirements constitute speech regulation. There is a second post that features my opening statement to the committee.
The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage yesterday held a special hearing with experts to discuss Bill C-10 and concerns about the freedom of expression implications of regulating user generated content. I was pleased to appear before the committee and took questions from MPs from four of the five parties (only the Liberals did not ask me any questions). I have two posts on the appearance: this post features my opening statement and a second post links to a special edition of the Law Bytes podcast with the audio of my appearance.
The full text is posted below. There are at least three points emphasizing. First, no other country in the world uses broadcast regulation in this way, making Canada a true global outlier. Second, there is no evidence of a discoverability problem for user generated content. Third, the issue of excluding Youtube from the scope of the bill is open to considerable debate and was not even raised by CIMA in its written submission to the committee.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 88: Ellen ‘T Hoen on Waiving Patents to Support Global Access to COVID Vaccines
The global struggle for access to COVID-19 vaccines took a dramatic turn recently as the Biden Administration in the United States unexpectedly reversed its longstanding opposition to a patent waiver designed to facilitate access to vaccines in the developing world. The shift seemingly caught many by surprise. Pharmaceutical companies were quick to voice opposition and U.S. allies found themselves being asked to take positions. That was certainly the case in Canada, where the Canadian government has steadfastly refused to support the waiver with repeated claims that it had yet to make a decision.
Ellen ‘t Hoen, is a lawyer and public health advocate with over 30 years of experience working on pharmaceutical and intellectual property policies. From 1999 until 2009 she was the director of policy for Médecins sans Frontières’ Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines. In 2009 she joined UNITAID in Geneva to set up the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). Ellen is currently the director of Medicines Law & Policy and a researcher at the University Medical Centre Groningen. She joins the Lawbytes podcast this week to talk about the fight for a patent waiver and the implications of the Biden decision for global access to COVID vaccines.
Failing Analysis: Why the Department of Justice “Updated” Charter Statement Doesn’t Address Bill C-10’s Free Speech Risks
The Department of Justice yesterday released its updated Charter statement on Bill C-10. To the surprise of absolutely no one, the department argued that the bill is Charter compliant. That conclusion was never in doubt as the statement is quite clearly more a political document than a legal analysis. The only real questions were whether the department would seriously grapple with the freedom of expression implications of treating all user generated content as a “program” subject to regulation by the CRTC and if Minister of Justice David Lametti would come to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to answer questions on the statement. It turns out the answer is no to both questions: the statement glosses over the actual concerns with Bill C-10 and Lametti will be a no-show at the committee hearing.