Scott Simms, a Liberal MP from Newfoundland for 17 years, was long recognized as a leading voice on Parliament Hill on cultural and digital policy. Simms recently served as the chair of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, which conducted the review of Bill C-10 and which placed him at the heart of one of the year’s more controversial pieces of proposed legislation. Simms was not re-elected this past fall and is now well positioned to reflect on policy making in Canada and the issues that arose with Bill C-10. He joins the Law Bytes podcast for a conversation about the bill, his suggestions for how the process can be improved, and his thoughts on the challenges of crafting forward-looking digital policies.
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The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 106: Former Canadian Heritage Committee Chair Scott Simms Goes Behind the Scenes of the Bill C-10 Hearing
Yesterday was not a good day for those who still believe that democratic ideals matter. The day began with an iPolitics-sponsored debate featuring MPs who have played a starring role at the Canadian Heritage committee review of Bill C-10: Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, Conservative MP Rachael Harder, NDP MP Heather McPherson, and Bloc MP Martin Champoux. The substantive discussion largely mirrored the committee debate, but far more dispiriting was Housefather seeking to justify the Bill C-10 gag order by arguing that it was the democratic right of the government to use whatever legislative tools are available to it (even if that tool had not been used for two decades) or Champoux talking about the need to respect democracy while simultaneously supporting the gag order.
While the MPs presumably thought that they would not be meeting again to discuss Bill C-10 until Friday (the usual committee meeting day), hours later they were back in committee for a four hour marathon secretly negotiated by the party whips for the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc. The meeting had so little notice that committee chair Scott Simms opened by making his displeasure with the party whips very clear: