CRTC Chair Vicky Eatrides Faces Her First Big Test: Is the Commission Serious About Public Participation on Bill C-11?
Earlier this month, the CRTC issued the first three of what may become at least nine public consultations on Bill C-11. As I lamented in a post on the consultations, “with short timelines, no resources or support mechanisms for new groups and entities interested in participating, and the absence of the policy direction, this is not a serious attempt to fully engage in Canadians.” A wide range of Canadian cultural, consumer, and independent groups have now escalated the issue by formally asking the CRTC to extend its submission period to late July rather than the current June deadlines. The request, which comes from groups that have both supported and criticized Bill C-11, should be a no-brainer given the absurdly short deadlines that severely limit the ability of many groups to effectively participate in the Bill C-11 consultation process.
Ready, Fire, Aim: Eleven Thoughts on the CRTC’s Bill C-11 Consultations
The CRTC last week released the first three of at least nine planned consultations on the implementation of Bill C-11 (I was out of the country teaching an intensive course so playing catch-up right now). The consultations focus on the broad structure of the regulatory framework, registration requirements, and transitions from the current system of exemptions to one of regulations. The timeline to participate in this consultation is extremely tight with comments due as early as June 12th for two of the consultations and June 27th for the larger regulatory framework one. As the title of this post suggests, the CRTC is adopting an approach of shoot first, aim later. The consultations suggest that there is little interest in hearing from anyone outside of the legacy groups that have long dominated CRTC hearings. Indeed, by moving forward with incredibly tight timelines, without the government’s promised policy directive, and without support for newer groups to back their participation, the documents leave the distinct impression that the Commission had surrendered its independence and already made up its mind on how to implement Bill C-11.
This Must Stop: Government and Liberal Party Go All-In On Speech Regulation With Political Truth Oversight Bodies, Mandated Press Source Tracing, and Disclosure of Critics’ Communications
Earlier today, the Liberal party convention approved (subject to a final vote) two stunning policy resolutions with enormous implications for freedom of expression. First, as discussed yesterday, it approved a resolution that seeks to “hold on-line information services accountable for the veracity of material published on their platforms and to limit publication only to material whose sources can be traced.” If enacted, the policy would undermine freedom of the press and could even spark widespread censorship on Internet platforms. In addition, it passed a resolution to develop “truth in political advertising” legislation to be administered by an oversight body. There are legitimate concerns about the “truthiness” of all political parties communications, but political truth oversight bodies carries great risk and is unlikely to foster enhanced public trust.
Liberal Party Policy Proposal Would Limit Online Publication to Material “Whose Sources Can Be Traced”
The Liberal Party policy convention is underway in Ottawa with delegates preparing to debate a series of policy proposals that could ultimately make their way into their national election platforms. Party members voted on the top 20 proposals for discussion and included one involving the media and online information that seems obviously unconstitutional and a direct threat to a freedom of the press. The proposal, purportedly aimed at addressing misinformation, calls for more government funding for the media and that the government explore options to “hold on-line information services accountable for the veracity of material published on their platforms and to limit publication only to material whose sources can be traced.”