Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez took the stage at the Prime Time Conference in Ottawa on February 2nd prepared to take a victory lap on Bill C-11 before the industry crowd. Suggesting that royal assent was only days away, Rodriguez brushed aside Senate amendments to address user content regulation concerns and stated that he would not accept material changes to the bill. Yet within days, the Quebec government altered those plans, indicating that it was unhappy with the bill and demanding changes. The most notable change – reiterated in a motion passed in the National Assembly – would be mandated consultation with Quebec on policy directions from the government directed to the CRTC. Providing any province with a near-veto over federal communications policy should be a non-starter, meaning that Rodriguez risks going from culture hero in Quebec to the person who threatens its regulatory power over culture.
Archive for February, 2023
Why Quebec’s Demand for Changes to Bill C-11 Are A Product of Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez’s Risky Policy Choices
Quebec Demands Changes to Bill C-11 as it Wakes Up to the Implications of Losing Control over Digital Culture Regulation
Bill C-11 – and its predecessor Bill C-10 – have long been driven by the government’s view that the bill was a winner in Quebec. Bill C-10 was headed for easy passage in 2021, but was derailed by the government’s decision to remove safeguards over regulating user generated content that came largely from the Quebec-based music lobby. Nearly two years later, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez and his staff have ignored the concerns of thousands of digital creators, disrespected indigenous creators, and indicated that he will likely reject Senate amendments designed to craft a compromise solution, all in the name of keeping Quebec lobby interests satisfied. Yet as the government considers the Senate amendments, the Quebec legislative assembly this week passed a last minute motion calling for further changes to the bill, including scope to enact its own rules and mandatory consultations with the province on the contents of a policy direction to the CRTC that Rodriguez has insisted on keeping secret until after the bill receives royal assent (a full copy of the motion is contained at the bottom of this post). The Conservatives have been calling for the Quebec motion and the Senate amendments to be sent back to committee for further study, which the Globe reports may delay the government’s response to the Senate amendments.
Apologies Without Accountability: Canadian Heritage Committee Seeks Answers on Government Funding an Anti-Semite
The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage conducted a long-overdue hearing yesterday on the department’s funding of Laith Marouf, a known antisemite, as part of its anti-hate program. The hearing, which was held almost seven months after the issue began to attract to public attention, featured departmental officials answering questions from MPs seeking to understand how this could have occurred. While most of the discussion emphasized fixing the grant approval process to ensure this doesn’t happen again, that framing misses that there were at least two failures: a process failure that led to the approval and a response failure once officials knew or ought to have known about the process failure. The process failure, including the lack of due diligence, can be addressed by fixing the systems and engaging in greater antisemitism education. But response failure is harder to address since it requires accountability from the department and its ministers that has thus far been absent.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 156: Senator Paula Simons on Why the Government Should Accept the Senate’s Bill C-11 Fix on User Content Regulation
Bill C-11 is in the hands of the government as Canadians await a decision on which Senate amendments it will accept, which might be rejected, and then how the Senate responds. A key question involves a fix to the regulation of user content provision, which provides that sound recordings are in, but user content is out. Senator Paula Simons, an independent Senator from Alberta nominated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the Senate in 2018, co-crafted the compromise amendment and has been one of the most engaged and informed Senators throughout the Bill C-11 legislative process. She joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss the hearings, her amendment, and what may lie ahead for both Bill C-11 and the upcoming Senate review of Bill C-18.
SOCAN Tosses Senators and Digital Creators Under Legislative Bus With New Bill C-11 Misinformation Campaign
SOCAN, a leading Canadian music copyright collective, has launched a misinformation campaign seeking to convince the government to reject a Bill C-11 Senate-backed amendment designed to ensure that the bill covers sound recordings but excludes user content from CRTC regulation. SOCAN has written to all MPs arguing that the amendment should be rejected on the grounds that it could hamper the regulation of “future online services, whose model for delivery of content is not yet known.” In other words, its primary argument is not that the amendment harms its interests today, but rather it is possible that it might restrict some unknown future application. Given its inability to identify a current problem with the amendment, the SOCAN campaign actually serves to confirm that it is consistent with the government’s objectives.