The government plans to release its final policy direction on Bill C-11 today just days ahead of the start of a weeks-long series of hearings at the CRTC on the Online Streaming Act (I am scheduled to appear in early December). Ahead of the release, Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge tries to re-write history, urging fast enactment of the legislation and blaming the Conservatives for the delays. Yet here is the reality: Bill C-10, the predecessor to Bill C-11, would have become law back in 2021 had the government not opened the door to regulating user content. Instead, the bill rightly became a source of concern, leading to years of legislative delays that virtually guarantees that nothing will take effect until 2025 at the earliest.
Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge’s Tries to Re-Write Bill C-11 History: There Is No Quick Implementation and the Government is to Blame
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 184: Philip Palmer on the Constitutional Doubts About the Government’s Internet Laws
Is the Canadian government’s Internet legislation constitutional? That question arose during the hearings on Bills C-11 and C-18, but has taken on a new urgency given the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision involving an Alberta challenge to federal environmental assessment legislation. With limits on federal powers back in the spotlight, the vulnerability of the legislation requires further examination.
Philip Palmer is a former Justice lawyer who appeared before the House of Commons committee studying Bill C-11 to make the case that the law does not fall within the scope of federal powers. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to explain why and what it might mean for the Internet streaming and online news laws.
Pablo Rodriguez Failed For Weeks to Say Anything About Funding for an Anti-Semite and Then Lied About What He Knew. He Should Resign.
The government’s funding of Laith Marouf, a known anti-semite, sparked anger and condemnation last summer as many wondered how Canadian Heritage failed to conduct the necessary due diligence to weed him out as part of its anti-hate program. While government MPs such as Anthony Housefather urged action, then-Diversity Minister Ahmed Hussein was slow to respond and then-Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez inexplicably remained silent. I posted repeatedly on his silence, leading his Parliamentary Secretary, MP Chris Bittle, to suggest that I was racist and a bully. Yet as we have witnessed in recent days, when it comes to antisemitism, silence is not an option. The threat is literally playing out in our streets and campuses and we need everyone – Jews and non-Jews alike – to speak out against it and take action where necessary.
Even after Housefather pleaded with his fellow MPs to speak out, it still took Rodriguez days to say anything. And when he did, he pointedly did not issue a public statement. In fact, repeated requests for the statement he apparently provided to one news outlet were ignored. The failure to speak out against antisemitism – the notion that it “wasn’t his file” – displayed an utter lack of awareness of the need to counter hate and stand in solidarity with affected communities. That display of weak moral character alone may not be a fireable offence, but lying to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is.
Generative AI raises a host of interesting legal issues, but perhaps none will be more contentious than the intersection between copyright and services such as ChatGPT. The copyright questions apply both the creation of large language models used to train these systems as well as the copyright associated with outputs. These questions have sparked high profile class action lawsuits and government consultations on potential reform.
Andres Guadamuz is a Reader in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Sussex and the Editor in Chief of the Journal of World Intellectual Property. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to explain the copyright implications of generative AI and to unpack the claims found in the copyright class action lawsuits.
“A Lack of Commitment to Transparency and a Failure of Leadership”: Melanie Joly and Global Affairs Ignore Information Commissioner Ruling in My Request for Decades-Old Copyright Records
In 2017, I filed an access to information request with Global Affairs Canada seeking records related to the creation of the WIPO Internet Treaties more than 20 years earlier. The timing of the request was not accidental. The exception for cabinet confidences in the Access to Information Act no longer applies after 20 years and my hope was to gain insights into the government’s thinking during the negotiation process that might have previously been publicly unavailable. The request took a long time to process and the department still withheld many records on a range of grounds. I rarely appeal to the Information Commissioner, but in this case I did. Last week, the Information Commissioner determined that my complaint was well-founded, but Global Affairs and its Minister, Melanie Joly, have thus far refused to abide by the ruling.