Bill C-10 may be dead for now (Senate discussions on returning during the summer will reportedly not include the bill), but CRTC Chair Ian Scott has signalled a willingness to move ahead with Bill C-10-like policies. In fact, even without legislative reform, the CRTC last week announced that it is re-opening its approach to a digital media survey by seeking to expand it to cover foreign streaming services. The decision is notable for several reasons, not the least of which is that the survey would overlap with the data disclosure provisions in Bill C-10 and Scott had previously indicated that he did not believe he had the legislative tools to require data disclosures.
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Reviving Bill C-10: CRTC Re-Opens Data Gathering Plans To Require Disclosures from Internet Streaming Services
The Senate Bill C-10 Debate Concludes: “I Don’t Think This Bill Needs Amendments. It Needs a Stake Through the Heart.”
The Senate Bill C-10 debate wrapped up yesterday with several speeches and a vote to send the bill to committee for further study. Given that the Senate declined to approve summer hearings for the bill, the earliest possible time for the study to begin is the week of September 20th. If there is a late summer/early fall election as most observers expect, Bill C-10 will die. Without an election, Bill C-10 will be back for Senate hearings in the fall with many Senators emphasizing the need for a comprehensive study that features the myriad of perspectives that were excluded from the failed House review.
While the debate in the Senate was marked by consistent calls for more study (my recap of day one, day two), the final debate was punctuated by a powerful speech from Senator David Adams Richards. One of Canada’s leading authors, Senator Richards has won the Governor General’s Award for both fiction and non-fiction, the Giller Prize, and is a member of the Order of Canada. Senator Richards, appointed by Prime Minister Trudeau to the Senate in 2017, warns against government or cultural decision makers and the parallels to Bill C-10:
In a day that started with Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault urging the Senate to focus on passing Bill C-10, Senators from across the political spectrum again signalled that they believe that Guilbeault’s bill requires extensive hearings given the flawed legislative approach in the House of Commons and a resulting bill that raises a wide range of policy concerns. Concerns with Bill C-10 were raised by virtually every Senator to speak during yesterday’s debate: Senator Donna Dasko noted that “public confidence is lacking at this point in time” in the bill, Senator Colin Deacon argued that the government has failed to address the core concerns involving privacy and competition, and Senator Pamela Wallin called the bill “reckless” and urged the government “to go back to the drawing board.” Those speeches came on top of the first day of Senate debate in which Senator Dennis Dawson admitted that “everybody recognizes the bill is flawed” and Senator Paula Simons said the bill reminded her of the Maginot Line.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 94: Former CRTC Vice Chair Peter Menzies Reflects on the Battle over Bill C-10
The Liberal government strategy to push through Bill C-10 bore fruit last week as the controversial Broadcasting Act reform bill, received House of Commons approval at 1:30 am on Tuesday morning. Bill C-10 proceeded to receive first reading in the Senate later that same day and after a series of Senate maneuvers, received second reading from Senator Dennis Dawson the following day. That sparked Senate debate in which everyone seemed to agree that the bill requires significant study and should not be rubber-stamped. Speeches are likely to continue on this week after which the bill will be sent to committee. Given that the committee does not meet in the summer, an election call in the fall would kill Bill C-10.
Peter Menzies is a former Vice-Chair of the CRTC and one of the most outspoken experts on Bill C-10. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to reflect on the last two months of the Bill C-10 debate, discuss the limits of CRTC regulation, and explore what comes next.
The House of Commons may have adjourned for the summer (and likely longer given speculation about an election call), but the Senate plans to keep meeting until next week as it seeks to wrap up several bills, most notably the government’s budget bill. The ongoing Senate work also means that Bill C-10 is back. The bill received first reading on Tuesday, which meant that it was merely tabled in the Senate. The government asked for it to go to second reading the following day, but some Senators objected, which was supposed to delay the bill’s second reading until next week. To the surprise of many, yesterday there was seemingly a deal struck that allowed the bill to go proceed to second reading immediately. The bottom line on these Senate maneuvers: Bill C-10 received second reading from Senator Dennis Dawson, followed by a pair of speeches on the bill from Senators Tony Loffreda and Paula Simons. Everyone agrees that the bill requires significant study and should not be rubber-stamped. The speeches are likely to continue on Monday, after which the bill will be sent to committee. Given that the committee does not meet in the summer, an election call in the fall would kill Bill C-10.