Bill C-11 took a major step forward late last week as the government cut off debate yet again and forced a vote on an amended bill that rejected the Senate’s fix to concerns about user content regulation. The vote has sparked heated debates on social media, including mistaken insistence by some that the bill does not affect user content (it clearly does) or that it will censor what Canadians can say online (it will not). The reality is that Bill C-11 has important freedom of expression implications not because it will limit people’s ability to speak, but because government regulation may affect their ability to be heard. Given those implications – and the government’s inability to cite a credible justification for rejecting an amendment to address the problem by excluding user content from potential regulation – I believe the Senate should send the bill back to the House once more by restoring the amendment.
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Why the Senate Should Restore the User Content Amendment and Send Bill C-11 Back to the House of Commons
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 156: Senator Paula Simons on Why the Government Should Accept the Senate’s Bill C-11 Fix on User Content Regulation
Bill C-11 is in the hands of the government as Canadians await a decision on which Senate amendments it will accept, which might be rejected, and then how the Senate responds. A key question involves a fix to the regulation of user content provision, which provides that sound recordings are in, but user content is out. Senator Paula Simons, an independent Senator from Alberta nominated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the Senate in 2018, co-crafted the compromise amendment and has been one of the most engaged and informed Senators throughout the Bill C-11 legislative process. She joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss the hearings, her amendment, and what may lie ahead for both Bill C-11 and the upcoming Senate review of Bill C-18.
SOCAN Tosses Senators and Digital Creators Under Legislative Bus With New Bill C-11 Misinformation Campaign
SOCAN, a leading Canadian music copyright collective, has launched a misinformation campaign seeking to convince the government to reject a Bill C-11 Senate-backed amendment designed to ensure that the bill covers sound recordings but excludes user content from CRTC regulation. SOCAN has written to all MPs arguing that the amendment should be rejected on the grounds that it could hamper the regulation of “future online services, whose model for delivery of content is not yet known.” In other words, its primary argument is not that the amendment harms its interests today, but rather it is possible that it might restrict some unknown future application. Given its inability to identify a current problem with the amendment, the SOCAN campaign actually serves to confirm that it is consistent with the government’s objectives.
“This Law Will Be One of Scapegoating All Those Who Do Not Fit Into What Our Bureaucrats Think Canada Should Be”: Bill C-11 is Back with Stunning Rebuke From Senator David Adams Richards
Senator David Adams Richards, an acclaimed Canadian author who has won Governor-General Awards for both fiction and non-fiction as well as a Giller Prize, provided the most memorable Senate speech for the ill-fated Bill C-10, stating on the Senate floor in June 2021 that “I don’t think this bill needs amendments; I think, however, it needs a stake through the heart.” Bill C-10 died on the order paper soon thereafter, but its successor, Bill C-11, is in its final stages of debate at the Senate. Yesterday’s first day of third reading debate was notable for several reasons, none more than the re-emergence of Senator Richards, who provided a stunning rebuke of the bill and Canadian cultural policy.