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.
Senate Passes Updated Bill C-11 as Heritage Minister Rodriguez Suggests Government Will Reject Any Amendments that Have an Impact
“This Law Will Be One of Scapegoating All Those Who Do Not Fit Into What Our Bureaucrats Think Canada Should Be”: Bill C-11 is Back with Stunning Rebuke From Senator David Adams Richards
Senator David Adams Richards, an acclaimed Canadian author who has won Governor-General Awards for both fiction and non-fiction as well as a Giller Prize, provided the most memorable Senate speech for the ill-fated Bill C-10, stating on the Senate floor in June 2021 that “I don’t think this bill needs amendments; I think, however, it needs a stake through the heart.” Bill C-10 died on the order paper soon thereafter, but its successor, Bill C-11, is in its final stages of debate at the Senate. Yesterday’s first day of third reading debate was notable for several reasons, none more than the re-emergence of Senator Richards, who provided a stunning rebuke of the bill and Canadian cultural policy.
U.S. concerns with Canadian digital policy continues to mount with both the U.S. Administration and Senators from both parties raising fears of discrimination. U.S. pressure seems likely to grow as the issue emerges as a major irritant in the bi-lateral trade relationship with Canada’s most important trading partner. With U.S. President Joe Biden scheduled to visit Ottawa later this winter, it seems likely that digital policy – particularly a proposed digital services tax, Bill C-11, and Bill C-18 – will be on the agenda at the meeting.
The latest signals came last week at a bilateral meeting between U.S. and Canadian trade officials. The U.S. readout of the meeting states:
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 154: The House is Back – A Preview of Canadian Digital Policy as Parliament Resumes
The House of Commons and Senate return from a lengthy break this week and will likely run until late June with the occasional week or two off. Digital policy may not attract top line attention, but it has emerged as one of the government’s most active issues. This week’s Law Bytes podcast provides a preview of the upcoming session, looking at what may lie ahead for issues such as telecom policy, privacy reform, Bills C-11 and C-18, copyright, and trade policy.
The Rogers-Shaw merger saga was always destined to end on the desk of Innovation, Science and Industry Ministry François-Philippe Champagne. The merger has followed a familiar pattern: the companies started with a plan to merge without any divestitures that never stood a serious chance of approval, followed by adopting the Bell-MTS playbook of divesting assets to the weakest possible competitor in Xplorenet. When that didn’t fly, Videotron marched in to scoop up the wireless assets at a discount, complete with a story about exporting Quebec competition to other provinces and a politically attractive narrative for a Quebec-based minister who is reported to harbour future leadership ambitions.