08 july 31 by Ann https://flic.kr/p/59ssRm (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

08 july 31 by Ann https://flic.kr/p/59ssRm (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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Secret Law Making: Liberal, Bloc and NDP MPs Unite to Back Undisclosed Bill C-10 Amendments Without Discussion or Debate

The Liberal government’s push to pass Bill C-10 took a disturbing turn at the Canadian Heritage committee yesterday as the Liberal MPs overruled the committee chair to allow for dozens of undisclosed amendments to be voted on without any debate or discussion. While the MPs on the committee have access to the amendments, they are not made available to the public until after the committee completes its review. In normal circumstances, an amendment is introduced by an MP (the amendment may not be posted but it is often read into the record by the MP and its intent is discussed), there is an opportunity to ask questions of department officials on the implications of the amendment, MPs engage in debate and can propose sub-amendments. Once all MPs are satisfied that they understand the implications of the amendment, it comes to a vote. All of this takes place in a transparent, public manner.

Not with Bill C-10, however. For example, yesterday the committee approved amendment LIB-7N. The only thing disclosed during the committee meeting was that it amends something in clause 8 in the bill. The specific amendment was not publicly disclosed, there were no department officials to comment or answer questions, there was no debate, and no opportunity for sub-amendment. The amendment was simply raised by number and MPs were asked to vote on it. The amendment passed with the support of Liberal, Bloc, and NDP MPs. This form of secret law making is shocking and a complete reversal from a government that claimed to prioritize transparency. Indeed, it is hard to think of a more secretive law making process in a democracy than passing amendments to a bill that are not made available to the public prior to the vote nor open for any discussion or debate.

How did it get to this point?

It starts with the gag order approved earlier this week by the Liberals and the Bloc. It limited further Bill C-10 debate to five hours and after which the committee was required to proceed immediately to conclude clause-by-clause review with no further debate permitted. The Liberal, Bloc and NDP then agreed to several meetings without notice to run out the five-hour clock.  Once the five hours concluded, the committee thanked Canadian Heritage officials and proceeded to the final clause-by-clause review.

This led to two issues for committee chair Scott Simms, both related to whether further amendments could be raised for a vote at committee. First, Simms ruled that a series of amendments proposed by the Green Party had already been “moved” (months earlier the committee had agreed to allow for the Green Party, which does not have official party status, to introduce amendments) and were therefore eligible for a vote. Second, he ruled that all other amendments from the Liberals, Bloc, NDP and Conservatives were ineligible to be voted on since they had not yet been moved. This decision was in keeping with the gag order and had the benefit of taking secret law making off the table.

Yet the ruling was immediately challenged by Liberal MP Anthony Housefather. The committee proceeded to a vote on the chair’s ruling, with Liberal MPs Housefather, Julie Dabrusin, Marcie Ien, Lyne Bessette, and Tim Louis all voting to overrule the decision (joined by Bloc MP Martin Champoux and NDP MP Heather McPherson). As a result, the Liberals gave themselves the right to introduce and vote on legislative amendments that have not been publicly disclosed with no debate or discussion.

To see Liberal MPs support this secretive law making approach simply destroys any credibility the MPs or the party has with respect to the commitment to transparent law making (and for the NDP to back this approach is appalling). Yesterday, the committee worked through several secret amendments with enormous implications for the Broadcasting Act. For example, my understanding is that LIB-7N was a Housefather amendment that includes significant changes to how the CRTC determines what constitutes a “Canadian program” for the purposes of the Act. To pass such an amendment without publicly disclosing the proposal, seeking out expertise, and engaging in debate is terrible lawmaking. The same is true for G-12, another Housefather backed amendment that uses net neutrality language such as “unjust discrimination” but in the context of the Broadcasting Act may undermine net neutrality and lead to hundreds of complaints about the content found on streaming services.

And those are just the amendments passed yesterday. There are dozens on the agenda for later today that touch on issues such as contractual negotiations, French language spending, and copyright. How do you pass these amendments without ever publicly disclosing them, consulting experts, inviting sub-amendments or doing anything else consistent with transparent and democratic lawmaking?

For the Liberals, NDP and Bloc to adopt secret new provisions that will not be revealed until after the committee has concluded its work forever taints Bill C-10 as the product of an illegitimate process. If the bill makes its way to the Senate, it will be incumbent on the Senators to conduct the democratic, public hearings that the Liberals rejected and ensure that the dozens of amendments that were never part of a proper Parliamentary process are fully revisited and properly vetted.

21 Comments

  1. I understand the Liberals and the Bloc trying to ram through legislation to protect Canadian corporate interests and media conglomerates.

    But why is the NDP doing this? Why do they feel that bill C-10 is so important, that they’re willing to go against their own base and undermine their own chances of getting elected to pass it? All just to protect CTV and Global and their ilk?

    NDP, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!

    • I agree. Even after several weeks of digesting the news that the NDP has turned it’s back on free speech, I’m still stunned by the NDP’s efforts to support this legislation. It’s like the NDP of the last 15 years has morphed into something that is almost completely unrecognizable. If I went back in time and told myself a year ago that the NDP would back efforts to crack down on free speech, my one year younger self would say that I’m an idiot for even thinking that. I’m speechless with the NDP’s moves here.

      • This Bill is right up the NDPs alley. It’s protectionist, it aims to make big American companies pay, and it’s supported by big unions. That’s the trifecta for thr NDP.

        • i will add no , its meant to screw people like me that can jump into the unreal engine and do cinematics royalty free and then upload to aplace like youtube and maybe gt moentized if i do good stuff with a decent story and get monetized….the fact is I AM EXACTLY WHAT THIS BILL TARGETS and AM A DISABLED PERSON wiht LIMITED FUNDS DURING A PANDEMIC entertaining people AND HAVING HARD TIME GETTING HARDWARE UPGRADES AT DECENT PRICING….yup im being squeezed out so you can watch the next SHE-MAN ( yup no more he man they gender swaping everything and all this garbage they shove out they want you all brainwashed int it) its why i got into thsi i was sick of the garbage.
          guess i wont be able to share what i do …

          thank you NDP and liberals

      • ya back 20 or so years ago when jack layton was alive i was running a 67 nation hacker org with 150 groups and part of it was no members allowed to mess with anyones stuff without permission…and the group i had in canada had over 1000 members ….laytons people gave me a call ona sunday after i gave them a number to call. and we talked for 5 hrs….i can respect him, since that party has gone right to hollywood , and seems more concerned aobut getting a pay check off tax payers and apension then doing anythng worthy

        • Well, as far as I’m concerned, this change on digital rights issues for the NDP happened between the last election call and now. I analyzed the party platforms last election when it was called and everything looked like it checked out. In the last 20 years, I’ve watched Charlie Angus routinely take the Heritage Minister’s (both Liberals and Conservatives) to task for trying to implement a Canadian DMCA. To the best of my knowledge, they were also fiercely opposing Lawful Access legislation. If, in that time, they were changing into the monstrosity they seem to have become today, it wasn’t noticeable to me… or Michael Geist… or Cory Doctorow who endorsed the party on BoingBoing at least once.

          I think the main problem with all of this is who to vote for in the next election to send the message that these types of laws are not what Canadians want. The choice is… quite lacking in that regard thanks to the Pirate Party dying out about two elections ago. I’d so vote for them if that were an option at this point, but sadly, that is not an option.

      • Why be surprised?Socialist generally do not liking democracy. It gets in the way of them implementation their bankrupt failed ideology.

        • You clearly have no idea what the labour movement is even about in that case. Freedom of expression is (or was) a core part of what they are supposed to represent. Purely on ideology reasons, the NDP should be fighting C-10 tooth and nail. Supporting it means they have turned their back on their own core principals, making it unclear what exactly the party stands for.

          Believe me, I’ve followed this debate since 2004 and as a journalist since 2005. I know these things.

    • chronoss chiron says:

      i’ll tell ya its cause hte ndp ;eader is failing and will lose seats and prolly be done after next election and instead they do this bs propping up liberals so they all can get paychecks on our dime…thank them for it next election

  2. The NDP has always been a party driven by its support of big unions – ACTRA supports this Bill and, as a result, so does the NDP. Furthermore, this Bill appeals to the NDP’s anti-American and anti-big business biases by purporting to make those American web giants pay.

    • WRONG it only became that after jack layton died …and you can see it as a certina northern musicn mp suddenly got more mouthy and lippy, the hollywood unions do zero for society but be a tax , copyright is and has been perverted so badly there is no benefit to the public domain or society thus if ndp want to kiss there ass we should all vote accordingly
      remember next election how all hollywood does is remaes and does htem with SJW virtue signalling and politcics in and how htey are trying tobrainwash all the kids.
      REMEMBER THIS
      of course actra supports this bill its cause guys like me that use unreal engine are a real threat to cinematics and games they make . WHY? cause i get a royalty free liscense form unreal for cinematics that means my overhead is zero comapred to the 5000 idiots they need ot make shitty movies.

      see my link and htats done on 10 year old hard ware cept last month or so
      think what i could do if govt a canada helped me instead a fucking hollywood, and to think i gave jack layton hacker support years ago ….they wont ever get it again

  3. Man, this disaster story keeps getting worse and worse. Secret deals behind doors which we can’t see until the thing is already done and over with. Reminds me of TPP all over again.

    One thing for sure. The Libs, NDP et BQ have shown their very ugly stripes on this one and I’ll remember their actions for many elections to come.

    • We still can’t trust the Conservatives beyond this “stopped clock” situation.

      And we need to get at the full “why is this being done?”

      • need to fire 99% of all of them, none of hte mps are doing jack shit for all canada, its a virtue signal or pandering to get paychecks and pensions…we should make a govt make it so they have to server 30 years as mp before they get a pension see if they start doing there job a tiny bit more

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  5. Justa Reader says:

    This is like the post-Snowden American FISA court revelations. They had “secret court” proceedings, making top secret judgements, on secret laws. That’s their business, but let’s not do it too.

    The NDP didn’t need to do this. This isn’t a confidence vote. The NDP is doing this because they want to and it’s who they are. Even when political values allign, personal and moral values still matter!

    This is a betrayal of the actual names of these parties. This is not a “liberal” law, as Liberal Party is legislating illiberally. This is not a “democratic” process the New Democratic Party is enabling and complicit in, as gag orders and secret laws are antidemocratic.

    I’m disgusted.

    • no its whom the ndp have become….
      as to lieberals they are jsut one side of rich people and conservatives the other, i still remember harper trying to ram copyright laws up our butts, hollywood is NOTHING but a tax on society and benfits no one in public domain anymore. i see no reason to give a rats arse about parties that pander to them.

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  7. Renewed my VPN and patched some info leaking browser setting so as far as any internet service knows I’m in Europe. Will VPNs become illegal. The circumvention is so simple. All that’s left is a bloated CRTC and a distaste in the mouths of America Business again.

    • When the government decides to declare war on VPNs, that’s where things will get really messy and, no matter what, the government will lose that fight. Not even China is able to really fully win that war. I don’t expect Canada to ever win a war like that. I just hope we never go down that road in the first place because if that is happening, then freedom in Canada is in much more grave trouble than it is now.

  8. Alan Nichols says:

    Communist Russia and Communist China cannot match the arrogance of Trudeau led Communist Canada. What happened to an “OPEN AND TRANSPARENT GOVERNMENT” promised in 2015? And of course respect for women and ethical government. If Trudeau had a wooden nose it would reach from Gatineau to Ottawa.

    Shame shame on the BLOC and the weasel NDP. We now know what we elected and as pogo said “the enemy is us”. Anyone who supports the Liberals NDP or BLOC in the next election are idiots.

    But for those of you who still don’t realize that Bill C-10 will only allow pro Liberal and possibly pro NDP information to be broadcast on any digital media (since they already have gagged the mainstream subsidized media). The election is already rigged and should be a shoo-in with no opposition platform that will ever be heard by the public.

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