With only eight days left in the Parliamentary schedule until the House of Commons breaks for the summer, Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act, has entered into a strange parallel universe. In one world, the government is moving to end debate on the bill and expedite passage in the House by the end of next week. Assuming it is successful – NDP support suggests it has the votes – the government has set a deadline of Monday, June 13th for amendments, June 14th for voting on all amendments as part of a clause-by-clause review, and then a single day for the last two stages in the House of Commons (report stage and third reading). Put it all together and it wants the bill passed by the House by the end of next week.
The limit on the clause-by-clause review to a single day means that the Heritage committee will likely reprise its approach from Bill C-10 of voting on amendments that the public has never seen, that are not read in committee, and are not subject to any discussion or debate. These secret amendments – they will only be revealed to the public after the entire process is complete and the new, updated bill is made public at the report stage – is particularly egregious.
Given the extremely short time limits established by Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez and the government, many amendments next week will not be publicly disclosed, there will be no opportunity for department officials to comment or answer questions, there will be no debate, and no opportunity for sub-amendment. The amendment will simply raised by number and MPs will be asked to vote on it (the MPs will have a copy of the amendment but it will not be public). 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. It serves as a reminder that the government’s review of the bill has been inadequate as it has missed key voices (indigenous broadcasters, community radio, platforms such as TikTok and Spotify) and will now rush voting on amendments without explanation or debate. If the government succeeds with its legislative plan, it will be up to the Senate to give Bill C-11 a comprehensive and transparent hearing.
Just as the government moves to end Bill C-11 debate, in another world many prominent Youtubers are speaking out against the bill. In videos that have already generated hundreds of thousands of views, Youtubers such as SomeOrdinaryGamers, More Plates than Dates, Chris Hau, J.J. McCullough, Greg Doucette, and Brandon Gomez (with Youtube) are informing their audiences about the risks with the legislation and calling on the government to remove user generated content from the bill. A sampling of the videos are embedded below. This effort comes on the heels of TikTok warning that “any video on TikTok that uses music could be subject to regulation under the Broadcasting Act.”