Senator David Adams Richards from the Senate

Senator David Adams Richards from the Senate

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The Senate Bill C-10 Debate Concludes: “I Don’t Think This Bill Needs Amendments. It Needs a Stake Through the Heart.”

The Senate Bill C-10 debate wrapped up yesterday with several speeches and a vote to send the bill to committee for further study. Given that the Senate declined to approve summer hearings for the bill, the earliest possible time for the study to begin is the week of September 20th. If there is a late summer/early fall election as most observers expect, Bill C-10 will die. Without an election, Bill C-10 will be back for Senate hearings in the fall with many Senators emphasizing the need for a comprehensive study that features the myriad of perspectives that were excluded from the failed House review.

While the debate in the Senate was marked by consistent calls for more study (my recap of day one, day two), the final debate was punctuated by a powerful speech from Senator David Adams Richards. One of Canada’s leading authors, Senator Richards has won the Governor General’s Award for both fiction and non-fiction, the Giller Prize, and is a member of the Order of Canada. Senator Richards, appointed by Prime Minister Trudeau to the Senate in 2017, warns against government or cultural decision makers and the parallels to Bill C-10:

The idea that I was ever included in the grand pan-Canadianism that afforded an outlet to Canadian writers was nonsense. That my work was embraced because I was of a certain ethnicity or background was and is entirely bogus. For years, I felt the Canadian literary world and the world promoted by the CBC had little or nothing to do with me or where I lived.

I never finished university, never joined PEN International or The Writers’ Union of Canada. I was invited to one PEN International conference where people – mainly tenured academics from Toronto – sat on stage and shouted at each other about who should be allowed to write what about whom. They were the authoritative, cultural decision makers of Canada, many who had never written a book. I see them somewhat today in the angst over this bill.

In my life, I have edited over 100 writers. They sent me their books. I never asked them their race or creed or where they stood on any subject. It was only the work that mattered. I have read and offered advice to Christians, Muslims, Jews, First Nation men and women, atheists, secularists and hedonists. Only the work mattered. That is the content of the character, not the colour of the skin.

At that PEN International conference awhile back, where they shouted and insulted one another about how inclusive they all were, they had cheapened and reversed Martin Luther King Jr.’s great axiom in the name of freedom.

I’m worried that this bill might do the same.

Richards continued with concern about limits on freedom of expression, closing with perhaps the strongest statement to date about what to do with Bill C-10:

Some years ago, I was at a dinner with some very important, famous people. One academic mentioned that he had given his entire life for Canadian literature. Others there applauded him for doing so. When I was writing my fourth novel, we sold our 20-year-old car to pay the rent; and my wife, to keep us alive, was selling Amway door-to-door in the middle of winter. I believe she gave her life for Canadian literature as well, but she didn’t get to that dinner.

For that reason, in her honour, I will always and forever stand against any bill that subjects freedom of expression to the doldrums of governmental oversight, and I implore others to do the same. I don’t think this bill needs amendments; I think, however, it needs a stake through the heart.

After months of Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault invoking the names of cultural lobby groups as evidence of support for Bill C-10, it took one of Canada’s most celebrated authors to set the record straight and bring the debate to a close.

12 Comments

  1. i cant say it any clearer then senator richards did, and perhaps cause hes done many works , this speech might wake up some peopel to how bad this bill is.

  2. Lisa Macklem says:

    BRAVO!!! I’ve been saying for some time – and shouting since Guilbeault and Champagne oozed onto the scene – that there is no REAL connection to the creators and industry that they are supposedly trying to promote and protect. Senator Richards highlights so many of the issues perfectly.

  3. Karen Siemens says:

    Coming across this was a fantastic way to end Canada Day! Duly shared the joy on Fb.

  4. chas white says:

    For the life of me why does the Canadian gov’t have such a desire to erase freedom of speech?? There is already an anti-hate law. And now they have tabled bill c-36 which is to partly another bills clause which was deleted by the Conservatives. Over and over until we tire of it?

    • Marc Larose says:

      To me the answer is for the great reset. Build back better, Trudeau government doesn’t want anybody to be against their plan.

  5. At the bottom of the transcript of Senator Richards’ speech is a speech by another Senator, Patricia Bovey, who supports the Bill. Senator Povey’s speech highlights everything wrong with the rationale for Bill C10.

    She claims the internet should be regulated because radio and TV are regulated. This is nonsense. You regulate something to address a problem and not because we have historically regulated something similar. If we applied this logic elsewhere then the movie censorship board should not have been eliminated, instead its powers should have been extended to TV and the internet. Furthermore, she ignores the fact that Bill C10 could have an impact on items like books and news that Canada has never regulated.

    Her next claim is that for the creative sector, support for creation and presentation is essential. Reasons for why support is essential are not given. Where is the economic analysis? Where is the discussion of other alternatives? Where is the review of how well the TV regulatory system has met its objectives. (I would argue its given us an expensive, slow to change, and non-innovative TV system)? Where is the analysis of how sites like YouTube have contributed to the success of Canadian creators?

    Finally she makes a number of factually incorrect comments. She said the arts sector is the third largest employer in Canada. It’s not even close to being that large. She says the arts sector is a significant contributor to GDP – per Statcan it contributes .77% of our GDP.

    • she of course is making money from that tv and movies lobby bunch and this needs to end so these non american subsiduaries and other sickly rich companies in canada whom dont want to share and want every penny on earth , need to be stopped.

      im exactly what C-10 would effect being on disability BUT as i make content that wont fit ideology nor use politics they want , in fact ill go out of my way to be non political as i consider entertainment should be free of lecturing…

      As i also can do stuff as good now or even better then the pros with a far cheaper cost , that has them worried …SERIOUSLY SCARED in fact…this law NEEDS to get passed by liberals to protect there lobby money

  6. Because Trudeau and his cronies don’t need more people waking up to the truths regarding covid! Look at what Derek Sloan had to go do with the parliment summit…youtube censorship was silencing doctors like Dr.Bridle and Dr. Philips etc it was about to get WAY worse…the government has sold out our country to the CCP and they need to keep that under wraps

    • What utter stupidity. Bill C 10 has nothing to do with covid and no one is censoring “the truth” about covid. Dr Bridle and Dr Philips aren’t being silenced; their claims were meticulously picked apart by other doctors and scientists. If you want to understand what is wrong with their claims, I suggest you read Science Based Medicine.

  7. Jesse Holmberg says:

    YEAH! I couldn’t agree with Sen Richards more.

  8. Pingback: La censure d'Internet et les projets de loi sur la thérapie de conversion n'avancent pas au Sénat canadien, laissant leur sort incertain  -LIFESITE - NousCitoyens.ca

  9. YEAH! Sen. Richards is correct, and I couldn’t agree with him more.

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