CRTC Chair Ian Scott returned to the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications last night, presumably hoping that his fourth House and Senate committee appearance involving Bill C-11 might allow him to say what the government clearly would like, namely that the bill will not lead to the regulation of user content. Yet Scott has failed each time, because the bill plainly does contain that power. In this instance, Scott embarrassed himself, the CRTC, and the entire legislative process as he demonstrably failed to defend the independence of the CRTC and zig-zagged between actively promoting the bill, claiming that was not his role, and even bizarrely offering to draft potential amendments.
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Oops, He Did It Again: CRTC Chair Ian Scott Tries to Walk Back Bill C-11 Comments, But Officials Confirm Power to Regulate User Content is in the Bill
In His Own Words: CRTC Chair Ian Scott on Bill C-11
As noted in yesterday’s post on CRTC Chair Ian Scott’s upcoming Bill C-11 appearance before the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications, sources indicate that Scott requested the re-appearance in order to “clarify” his earlier remarks. Since those remarks were themselves a clarification of an earlier clarification, there is seemingly no end to Scott’s willingness to try to downplay the regulating of user content provisions that are plainly included in the bill. While the appearance itself raises concerns about government interference at the Commission, it is worth revisiting again what Scott has told both House and Senate committees with regard to Bill C-11.
Clarifying the Clarification of the Clarification: Why Yet Another Upcoming “Clarification” from CRTC Chair Ian Scott Demonstrates the Risks of Bill C-11 and Government Interference
CRTC Chair Ian Scott returns to the Standing Senate Committee on Transportation and Communications tomorrow for yet another appearance on Bill C-11. According to multiple sources, the appearance came at the Scott’s request, who is seeking yet another chance to “clarify” his earlier remarks. I’m hardly one to criticize multiple committee appearances, but the continued effort to clarify earlier comments smacks of political involvement. Indeed, when combined with the controversial Section 7(7) of the bill, it suggests that the government envisions a permanent erosion of the independence of the broadcast regulator in Canada.
Misleading on Bill C-11: Why Did the CRTC Sit on the Radio-Canada Decision For Nearly Eight Months?
Days after Bill C-11 passed in the House of Commons, the CRTC released its decision involving Radio-Canada and the use of the N-word in a broadcast. The decision sparked an outcry in Quebec and raised concerns that the Commission did not feel constrained by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in its decision. Indeed, given that the majority of the Commission ignored the Charter and freedom of expression altogether, the decision signalled how Bill C-11 could be used to regulate Internet content the CRTC deems contrary to Broadcasting Act policy objectives. Two of the lingering questions with the case involved timing and who had been involved: the complaint had reached the CRTC in 2020, yet the decision was released nearly 18 months later only after Bill C-11 passed the House of Commons. I asked the CRTC for the full commission minutes to better understand who was involved in the case and when the issue was debated and decided. The Commission responded that all of this information was only available through the Access to Information Act. While I find this level of secrecy astonishing – there is no reason for the Commission to not publish who was involved in decisions and to make its minutes publicly available by default – I filed the request.
The Staffieri or Scott Quiz: Can You Tell the Difference Between the Rogers CEO and the CRTC Chair?
The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology hearing into the Rogers outage was notable for how similar Tony Staffieri, the Rogers CEO, and Ian Scott, the Chair of the CRTC, sounded on key issues related to the outage and the state of Canadian telecom regulation. In fact, Conservative MP Tracy Gray noted during the hearing that “listening to the answers from the executives at the CRTC, I felt like I was actually questioning senior telecom executives not the regulator.” Ms. Gray wasn’t wrong. While it is obviously the role of the CRTC to regulate the industry, the two were often indistinguishable, leading me to create this quiz with actual quotes from the hearing from Staffieri and Scott. Can you tell the difference?