The battle over Bill C-11 is nearing its conclusion as the government introduced a motion in the House of Commons yesterday that rejects the Senate’s amendment that would ensure that platforms such as Youtube would be caught by the legislation consistent with the government’s stated objective, but that user content would not. As I discussed yesterday, the decision leaves no doubt about the government’s true intent with Bill C-11: retain the power and flexibility to regulate user content. In fact, I noted that Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez wasn’t trying to disguise that objective since the justification for rejecting the change boiled down to the government wanting the power to direct the CRTC on user content today and the power to exert further regulation tomorrow.
Yet moments before the House of Commons would begin debate on the government’s motion, Rodriguez changed course with a series of tweets that included a new justification premised on rejecting “amendments that create loopholes.”
As promised, we are accepting amendments that ensure tech giants pay their fair share toward our culture, and we are declining the amendments that create loopholes. That’s what Canadian artists and creators have asked us to do. (2/4)
— Pablo Rodriguez (@pablorodriguez) March 8, 2023
Rodriguez’s statement suggests that somehow removing digital creators from the ambit of the legislation creates a loophole. From a substantive perspective, this is disinformation. The narrowly crafted amendment by two Trudeau-appointed Senators is specifically designed to meet Rodriguez’s stated objectives. The Internet platforms will still be brought into the Broadcasting Act as the use case Rodriguez often cites – a Weeknd song on Spotify and Youtube should be treated the same by the Act – would be met. The only change is to ensure that user content would be excluded, which Rodriguez insists is the policy objective. This is not a legal loophole.
But more importantly, Canadian digital creators are not loopholes and characterizing efforts to address their concerns as such is a stain on the Heritage Minister. They may not belong to well established lobby groups, make political donations, or hold lavish conferences that provide politicians with big platforms, but their careers and livelihoods are not for this government or this minister to put at risk. For months, they have made their case before MPs and Senators. Many of these creators, participating in a political process for the first time, engaged in the hope that the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the government would demonstrate some concern for their concerns. The Senate took the time to hear them and agreed that this was not about siding with tech companies, but about siding with Canadian creators. For Rodriguez, government MPs, and representatives from the NDP and Bloc to ignore them and reject the Senate fix that would have little negative consequence for anyone else is shameful. And for other creator groups such as the DOC, CMPA, and SOCAN to throw their fellow creators under the bus is unconscionable.
As Rodriguez and Liberal MPs continue to debate the motion on the Senate amendments today, they should know that Oorbee Roy is not a loophole.
This is the Bill C-11 story. @auntyskates fears the bill and CRTC regulation: “I don’t see many faces on the CRTC that look like me. So I don’t have any faith.”
Liberal MPs on the committee today – @AHousefather @Chris_Bittle @TimLouisKitCon – did not ask her a single question. pic.twitter.com/ja7HokN2ff
— Michael Geist (@mgeist) May 31, 2022
Morghan Fortier is not a loophole.
.@FortierMorghan built Canada’s leading online streaming company with millions of subscribers and billions of views. She’s worried about what Bill C-11 will mean for Canada’s digital content creators. Found out why on this week’s @lawbytespod podcast. https://t.co/l0qcHLjpHB pic.twitter.com/G0wu1EVPnR
— Michael Geist (@mgeist) May 30, 2022
Vanessa Brousseau is not a loophole.
1/2 Your office @pablorodriguez . It is the experience shared by almost every Digital Creator that has shared their concerns with your office. The gaslighting and disrespect is noted. You should be ashamed at how your staff has treated Digital Creators of all walks. #billc11 pic.twitter.com/4kpWVsDOJE
— Scott Benzie (@SwBenzie) November 15, 2022
Stewart Reynolds is not a loophole.
"CAT VIDEOS" and BILL C-11 pic.twitter.com/OWU2l98jqN
— Brittlestar (@brittlestar) October 27, 2022
Darcy Michael is not a loophole.
This exchange, without question, has been most enjoyable moment from any #C11 hearing: @theDarcyMichael responds to @Paulatics's question about whether he is 'Canadian Content.'
"I'm a married, gay stoner – you can't get more Canadian. I am the leaf" pic.twitter.com/dpUbGLZidK
— Steve de Eyre (@deEyre) October 20, 2022
Jennifer Valentyne is not a loophole.
Absolutely spectacular Senate panel ongoing on Bill C-11 with @JennValentyne @brittlestar @theDarcyMichael urging the government and CRTC to keep their hands off the algorithms. These are the confident Canadian creators we should be supporting, not placing at risk. pic.twitter.com/eM5u2Pxrp2
— Michael Geist (@mgeist) October 20, 2022
J.J. McCullough is not a loophole.
Hello friends, today I, J.J. McCullough beloved Canadian YouTuber, will be testifying against Bill C-11, the bill that seeks to regulate Canadian Youtube in various bad ways, at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in Ottawa. pic.twitter.com/G9RwEusKCo
— J.J. McCullough (@JJ_McCullough) June 1, 2022
Fred Bastien Forrest is not a loophole.
À voir: témoignage du youtubeur @fred_bf à propos de la découvrabilité des contenus francos sur les plateformes numériques, dans le cadre de l'étude de C-11. Comment défendre et promouvoir la culture francophone tout en respectant les préférences des usagers? #polcan pic.twitter.com/m7JfoMoQ5A
— Julie Miville-Dechêne (@mivillej) October 5, 2022
Justin Tomchuk is not a loophole.
Blunting the global success of Canadian digital creators, as #C11 will do by regulating UGC, is not the magic pill for what ails legacy media. WATCH as one of Canada’s top @youtube stars Justin Tomchuk explains: pic.twitter.com/thd41DqIQk
— Senator Leo Housakos (@SenatorHousakos) September 27, 2022
Hitesh Sharma (Tesher) is not a loophole.
"Bill C-11 threatens that low-barrier path based on talent and audience preference, rather than government-established quotas by subjecting platforms like TikTok and the creators using it to outdated broadcasting and Canadian content rules". –@TesherMusichttps://t.co/9hFrayWtIY
— Digital First Canada (@DigitalFirstCan) September 20, 2022
Scott Benzie is not a loophole.
Last week an 2 members of parliment tried to scare me into not testifying in front of the Senate. Included in that threat was my business and how I put food on the table. It's important to note. It almost worked. As time passes I am actually getting more angry. 1/3 https://t.co/1fZ6Acz7Ni
— Scott Benzie (@SwBenzie) October 1, 2022
These are real people, real creators, real Canadians. They are not loopholes. And they deserve far better from the government, Rodriguez, and MPs.