The past few days have been painful to watch as Canadian politicians grapple with the aftermath of recognizing and applauding a Nazi in the House of Commons. The episode and its response brings back memories from last year’s discouraging response to revelations that Canadian Heritage’s anti-hate program had provided funding to Laith Marouf, a known anti-semite. While there are obvious differences, the commonality lies in the pain to the Jewish community and the reticence for full-throated apologies and public engagement, misplaced hope that the issue will just recede from public attention, slow commitments to ensure it does not happen again, and reluctanc
The Need for Truthful Accountability: What ATIP Records Tell Us About Pablo Rodriguez and Canadian Heritage Funding an Anti-Semite
Why Industry Minister Champagne Broke the Bill C-27 Hearings on Privacy and AI Regulation in Only 12 Minutes
More than a year after Bill C-27 was first introduced, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology finally launched its review of the bill yesterday with an opening appearance from ISED Minister François-Philippe Champagne. The delays in Bill C-27 reflect significant concern with both the effectiveness of the privacy provisions and the inclusion of an AI bill that is widely viewed as inadequate. Champagne started with a 12 minute opening statement in which he assured committee members that he had heard the criticisms and that the government had a wide range of amendments planned to address the concerns. While many of the potential amendments sounded quite positive, once MP questions commenced it became clear that the department had yet to actually draft them and has no plans to provide the actual text until the committee starts clause-by-clause review of the bill. In other words, the government has decided how it wants to change Bill C-27 before a single external witness appears before committee, but it will only release the actual amendments after the witness portion of the committee study is over. The end result is that Champagne broke the hearings before they had really begun, with dozens of witnesses ready to testify about a bill that the government plans to change but won’t provide legislative language.
It’s been a dizzying stretch since the launch of Chat GPT, with artificial intelligence regulation and policy bursting forward as top concern in Canada and around the world. From a Canadian perspective, Bill C-27 got most of its initial attention for its privacy provisions, but its inclusion of an AI bill – AIDA – has emerged as a huge issue in its own right. Meanwhile, the government has also quietly been pushing ahead with new generative AI guidelines that may debut this week. Bianca Wylie is a writer and an open government and public technology advocate with a dual background in technology and public engagement. She’s become increasingly uncomfortable with the AI regulatory process in Canada and she joins the Law Bytes podcast to provide her thoughts about AIDA, generative AI regulation, and a process she believes is in dire need of fixing.
The government unveiled Bill C-56 yesterday, legislation it touts as supporting the building of more rental homes (through tax measures) and stabilizing grocery prices (through Competition Act reforms). While the proposed Competition Act changes include increased investigative and merger blocking powers for the Competition Bureau as well as the long overdue elimination of the efficiencies defence, the bill also includes provisions that undermine Competition Bureau independence. The government is not promoting those changes – there is no reference to it in the press release – but bill gives it broad powers to order inquiries into any market or industry and dictate the terms of the inquiry to the Competition Bureau. Those reforms are not subject to any significant limitations and are open to potential abuse.