Bill C-11 entered what may be its final phase yesterday with a near split screen: at the Prime Time conference held at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa was Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez telling an industry audience that he would reject any Senate amendments that have an impact, stating “there are amendments that have zero impact on the bill and other that may have some and we will not accept them.” The clear signal was that despite heralding the Senate study of the bill as one of the most extensive ever, he will reject any of their findings that might actually make changes. Meanwhile, across the street, the Senate was in its final third reading debate of Bill C-11, closing the day by passing the bill with 26 amendments that include a change that scopes out user content but leaves professional music intact, consistent with the government’s stated objectives.
Yesterday’s interview between Rodriguez and the excellent Vassy Kapelos was first time the Minister has faced an extended interview on the bill with a tough journalist who raised the right questions. Rodriguez had few answers beyond tired, largely discredited talking points. When pressed on concerns from the production sector about a provision in the bill that treats Canadian and foreign streamers differently (a provision that is largely driven by Canada’s trade obligations), he suggested that the industry should be happy that it is getting something and later implausibly hinted that he could direct the CRTC to address the issue (he plainly cannot use a policy directive to violate CUSMA). When the user content regulations concerns were raised, he went back to denying what the former CRTC chair, multiple independent senators, and thousands of creators have concluded, namely that prior to the Senate amendment the bill would open the door to regulating user content.
But worse than the tired talking points, the Rodriguez interview was simply dripping with hypocrisy:
- How else to explain how a minister could congratulate Senators for an extensive study of a bill that brought out over a hundred witnesses, including indigenous voices who were excluded in the House, but then promise to reject anything that improves the bill?
- How else to explain claims of openness to change, but then likely reject the work of independent Senators who crafted compromise language consistent with the minister’s own stated objectives?
- How else to explain his insistence that he supports creators when his office has intimidated indigenous creators and the concerns of thousands are summarily dismissed as misinformation?
- How else to explain the determination to ignore the words of Senator David Adams Richards, an acclaimed author appointed to the Senate by his own government?
- How else to explain that if he is correct that Bill C-11 does not include user content regulation, then the Simons/Miville-Duchêne amendment does not change anything and it should fall into his category of amendments with zero impact and receive approval?
Bill C-11 now heads back to the House of Commons, where Canadians will await the government’s response to the changes. If it follows through on Rodriguez’s statement that any changes that have an impact on the bill will be rejected and the NDP or Bloc support the approach, it will be up to the Senate to stand its ground and reaffirm the changes it just overwhelmingly supported. For the Senate to simply accept a blanket rejection would be to admit that genuine efforts to improve legislation are just theatre, leaving stakeholders and Senators looking like chumps in the face of government gaslighting with little interest in good governance and improving its demonstrably flawed legislation.
“When pressed on concerns from the production sector about a provision in the bill that treats Canadian and foreign streamers differently (a provision that is largely driven by Canada’s trade obligations)”
Paragraphs 3(1)(f) and (f.1) are not so much driven by Canada’s trade obligations as by the government’s fear of offending the US web giants. As currently worded, these paragraphs formalize a distinction between Canadian broadcasting undertakings and foreign online undertakings that is discriminatory. Instead of treating all broadcasting undertakings equally,as does the existing version of paragraph 3(1)(f),.the two paragraphs create a distinction that could potentially lead to a complaint under CUSMA.
What a sham this entire Liberal government is.
Bill C11 will require American companies to make and promote Canadian content. Doesn’t this mean that Canadian cultural sovereignty will be outsourced to American companies?
It means that the US will levy trade tariffs on Canada because it discriminates against US companies. It’s precisely this point (among others) that the CCIA objected, why US Senators are demanding that the USTR act swiftly to retaliate, and why the US Ambassador to Canada had been warning Canada about trade issues since July of last year. Canada has been ignoring this issue for well over a year, hoping that it will go away on its own.
It was just recently that the US filed a dispute against Canada under CUSMA about dairy products, so they are proving that these trade threats are by no means idle. They are just waiting for all of this to become law so they can start sanctioning Canada.
What’s more is that this doesn’t even get into domestic litigation whether by the platforms themselves, a class action by creators, or who knows from where else.
I fully expect things are going to get very nasty sooner or later on this front and the Canadian government and complicit media outlets are going to be surprised how much pushback they are going to get in all of this.
Silver lining, the drama is going to help keep me employed which is… something, I guess.
Just to further clarify. Here’s CUSMA Article 19.4:
Reference link: https://www.international.gc.ca/trade-commerce/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/cusma-aceum/text-texte/19.aspx?lang=eng
Excellent observation, DB. I think the answer is “yes.”
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How is it that within this “extensive study” conducted by the TRCM senate committee, the word “women” was uttered only TEN TIMES, and never as the subject of discussion. This legislation contradicts our Prime Minister’s official Mandate Letter to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, which stated that:
“We must continue to address the profound systemic inequities and disparities that remain present in the core fabric of our society, including our core institutions. To this effect, it is essential that Canadians in every region of the country see themselves reflected in our Government’s priorities and our work. As Minister, I expect you to include and collaborate with various communities, and actively seek out and incorporate in your work, the diverse views of Canadians. This includes women, Indigenous Peoples, Black and racialized Canadians, newcomers, faith-based communities, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2 Canadians, and, in both official languages.”
However, “women” were the only one of these groups that were NOT included in Bill C-11. Although not mentioned in the Mandate letter, “sexes” were not mentioned either, enabling a permissive and systemic bias against women in the newly regulated online realm in Canada. The exclusion of “women” and “sexes” from policy is regressive and it sets a dangerous precedent for future legislation at every level of government. What is to keep the Canadian Media Fund or the CRTC from following the same format for representation, or lack thereof, as the one in Section 3 of the Online Streaming Act?
What can he do? Bill C-11 now heads back to the House of Commons,
I agree with his comments. I am impressed by these articles. Have fun playing geometry dash lite online, it’s sure to be an addictive futuristic game.
MPs claim censorship is necessary to slow the spread of conspiracy. Quite the opposite is true.
“When civil rights and civil liberties are absent, people lack multiple information sources, and they are more likely to accept conspiracy theories.”
This is why censorship destroys trust and not allowing access to peer reviewed information without restriction and cost.
Are both so damaging giving rise to Conspiracies.
“Censoring miss-information leaving it unrebutted.”
Leaves many believing the taboo miss-information would not be censored and left unrebutted if it was not true
Scandinavian countries have considered access to information a Constitutional right. As a result it is so much easier for people to do their own research.
This openness is a significant factor reducing the long Covid-19 cost in Scandinavian countries.
Open free access to research publications has the added benefit of greatly assisting small business R&D, making Scandinavian countries among the most innovative in the world.
I can talk about many topics, but I think I can best talk about access to information and why we need it.
Democracy requires an informed public voting in fair elections.
C11 should be passed without provisions to protect transparency necessary for public trust. Failing not to include such provisions, the damage C11 will cause will be immediate even though it won’t be immediately evident.
The provisions below should be accepted if the purpose of C11 is to promote Canadian Content producers as claimed and not to promote a political narrative.
The algorithm used by each content distributor must be published and easily accessible for Canadians to have confidence in the distributed content. With AI filtering this is actually useless if access to the anonymised training data is not provided.
Canadians should be given the option to opt in or opt out of algorithm-selected content easily so that they can review multiple news and information perspectives. This is MOST important, because it allows Canadians to enjoy Canadian content without feeling a need to rebel against restrictions.
Bill C11 must provide the CRTC with detailed directions so that it can operate independent of the Government direction with regards to content to be prioritized.
The promoted content should be Canadian independent of political Party ideology.
The prioritized content suggested by the Party in power reflects the Party ideology which is not necessarily the ideology shared by all Canadians.
Greater open free access to research publications which will help Canadians produce better content and has the added benefit of greatly assisting small business R&D.
This is necessary to allow Canadians access to material to rebut Conspiracy Theories.
This government is nothing but a disgrace. There are no positive words s I can say about them.