The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage continued its clause-by-clause review of Bill C-10 on Friday. As reported in the National Post and iPolitics, the meeting featured a motion brought by Conservative MP Rachael Harder calling on the committee to suspend review of the bill until an updated review of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms implications can be conducted by the Minister of Justice in light of the removal of Section 4.1, that provided safeguards against regulating user generated content under the Broadcasting Act. The motion also calls on the Ministers of Justice and Canadian Heritage to appear before committee to discuss the issue.
If Bill C-10 isn’t a fireable offence, this interview should be. Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault is simply unable to respond coherently to basic questions about his own legislation and flailing for talking points that seek to blame tech companies or opposition parties for the fact that he introduced legislation that exempted user generated content, removed the exception, and has no answer for why. Watch the interview and decide whether Canadians can trust Guilbeault to defend freedom of expression online.
Why the Government’s Secret Forthcoming Bill C-10 Amendment Confirms Its Plans to Regulate User Generated Content
Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault and the Liberal government’s response to mounting concern over its decision to remove a legal safeguard designed to ensure the CRTC would not regulate user generated content has been denial. The department’s own officials told MPs that all programming on sites like Youtube would be subject to regulation, yet Guilbeault insisted to the House of Commons that user generated content would be excluded from regulation as part of Bill C-10, his Broadcasting Act reform bill.
However, based on new documents I recently obtained, it has become clear that Guilbeault and the government have misled the Canadian public with their response. In fact, the government effectively acknowledges that it is regulating user generated content in a forthcoming, still-secret amendment to Bill C-10. Amendment G-13, submitted by Liberal MP Julie Dabrusin on April 7th and likely to come before the committee studying the bill over the next week, seeks to amend Section 10(1) of the Broadcasting Act which specifies the CRTC’s regulatory powers. It states:
Why Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s Own Department Officials Don’t Support His Claims on Regulating User Generated Content
Days after the government removed legal safeguards designed to ensure the CRTC would not regulate user generated content as part of Bill C-10, its Broadcasting Act reform bill, the public and political world have awoken to the troubling implications for freedom of expression. Political columnists are comparing Canada to China in censoring the Internet and opposition MPs have launched petitions with promises to fight back against the bill. The issue unsurprisingly became a major talking point during Question Period in the House of Commons yesterday. While Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault retreated to his usual talking points, it is notable that his claims are not even supported by his own department officials.
The Liberal government’s stunning, dangerous, and inexcusable decision to rescind legislative safeguards for user generated content in Bill C-10 has rightly sparked media attention, political opposition, and anger from Canadians. The Broadcasting Act reform bill is problematic for many reasons, but last week’s decision to treat all user generated content as a program subject to regulation by the CRTC was a giant step too far. As a result of the decision, the CRTC will determine what terms and conditions will be attached the speech of millions of Canadians on sites like Youtube, Instagram, TikTok, and hundreds of other services should the bill become law.