As anyone watching the House of Commons this week knows, it is Small Business Week. Each day, Liberal MPs have stood in the House to proclaim their support for small business. The speeches are supplemented by tweets, such as this one by Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez. The professed admiration for small business came to mind last night during a spectacular Senate hearing on Bill C-11 featuring Jennifer Valentyne, Stewart Reynolds (aka Brittlestar), and Darcy Michael. The three witnesses, who were bursting with energy and confidence, came with simple message: fix Bill C-11 by keeping the government and CRTC away from the platform algorithms. It is a message that Rodriguez has ignored for months, despite the fact that these are precisely the creators one would think the Minister of Canadian Heritage would want to support.
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Small Business Weak: Why Bills C-11 and C-18 Undermine the Government’s Claims of Small Business Support
Broadcast Bonanza: PBO Says Bill C-18 Would Give a Quarter Billion to Broadcasters Such as Bell and the CBC, Less Than 25% of Payments to Canadian Newspapers
As the witness portion of the Canadian Heritage committee hearing into the Online News Act (Bill C-18) comes to a premature end later this week (a hearing is planned with Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez and the CRTC, but remarkably Facebook, the CBC, and many experts will be blocked from appearing), new data from the Parliamentary Budget Office calls into question the claims of big benefits for Canadian newspapers. In fact, while the government has been anxious to cite the (questionable) PBO estimate that the bill will generate $329 million per year for Canadian news organizations, last week the PBO quietly released supplementary data that suggested it believes the vast majority of the money will actually go to the CBC, Bell, and other broadcasters. In fact, the supplementary data – posted with a link after the release of the PBO’s report – concludes that newspapers will receive less than 25% of the funding or about $81 million to split among hundreds of news outlets.
The Laith Marouf/CMAC incident took another turn today as Globe and Mail has a report that the Prime Minister’s Office knew for a month that the government was funding an anti-semite as part of its anti-hate program. And it did nothing.
I have written previously about how calling out government ministerial silence on this issue led Liberal MP Chris Bittle to suggest I am racist and a bully. I have written about the shameful silence from virtually all but Jewish MPs, leading MP Anthony Housefather to call on all to speak out (I also discussed this with Housefather on a Law Bytes podcast). I have written about the embarrassing solitary Canadian Heritage hearing, in which Minister Ahmed Hussen was evasive in answering questions and the time for discussion with department officials was lost over an unnecessary hour-long debate over whether to call Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez to committee.
Survey Says: Why the Government Reacted With Alarm to a Critical Opinion Poll on the Online News Act
On the very first day of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage’s hearings on the Online News Act last month, News Media Canada, the lead lobbyist for Bill C-18, was asked about a poll it commissioned this year which found 79% support requiring Google and Facebook to share revenue with Canadian news outlets. When Bloc MP Martin Champoux asked whether respondents were well informed, President and CEO Paul Deegen assured him “they were very well informed”. Deegan had a different response yesterday to another poll – this one commissioned by Google – as he took issue with the poll and warned that Google must provide “an honest presentation of the facts.” I have never thought any of these corporate-commissioned polls were of significant value and I’m not going to start now, whether it is News Media Canada or Google that is doing the commissioning. However, I think what makes the Google poll notable is the response to it, rather than the actual data.
Why the Canadian Film and TV Production Sector’s Bill C-11 Expectations Are Wildly Out of Touch With Global Standards
Last week, the ongoing Senate hearings into Bill C-11 featured an appearance from the Canadian Association of Film Distributors and Exporters, who spelled out its expectations for Bill C-11, particularly the contributions from streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime. While much of the Bill C-11 debate has focused on the regulation of user content, the bill’s supposed intent is to bring large streaming services into the Canadian broadcasting system. Fuelled by the government’s dubious claim that the bill could generated a billion dollars per year (even government officials now admit that the number is an estimate based not based on actual data), the Canadian sector came sporting demands wildly out of touch with international standards. Indeed, when compared to European regulation, which is often touted as the global leader, Canada would strongly discourage market entry for streaming services and likely result in reduced libraries of content in order to meet the government and CRTC’s regulatory requirements.