The past year has been an incredibly active one for Canadian digital law and policy with legislative battles over Bill C-10, controversial consultations on online harms and copyright, important Supreme Court decisions, new digital taxes, and an emerging trade battle with the United States. For this final Law Bytes podcast of 2021, I go solo without a guest to talk about the most significant trends and developments in Canadian digital policy from the past year and to think a bit about what may lie ahead next year.
Canadian Heritage Memorandum, December 8, 2020, ATIP A-2020-00498
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 108: Scott Benzie on How Bill C-10 Ignored Canada’s Thriving Digital First Creators
The Canadian digital first creator economy isn’t something that politicians or policy makers seem to know much about, but they are quick to propose legislative reforms that directly implicate it, most recently in the form of Bill C-10. Yet the sector is thriving, with Canadian stars earning millions of dollars and attracting global audiences that often exceed Canada’s conventional film and television sector.
Scott Benzie, the CEO of Buffer Festival, started in traditional media but now advocates and works with creators, platforms and industry around online content. He joins me on the podcast to discuss the current state of digital first creators in Canada, their omission from the Bill C-10 process, and the formation of Digital First Canada, a new advocacy group to better represent the needs of the community.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 106: Former Canadian Heritage Committee Chair Scott Simms Goes Behind the Scenes of the Bill C-10 Hearing
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.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 105: NDP MP Charlie Angus on Canada’s Failed Digital Policy and His Hopes for the Next Parliamentary Session
NDP MP Charlie Angus has been a consistent – and persistent – voice on digital policies since his election to the House of Commons in 2004. He was one of the first MPs to seriously consider user rights within Canadian copyright law, a vocal supporter of net neutrality and more affordable wireless services, and a leading advocate for privacy protection and social media regulation.
Last week, Angus called a press conference to unveil his six point plan for digital policy, which emphasized accountability, privacy reform, and algorithmic transparency. Along the way, he derided the government’s Bill C-10 efforts as a political dumpster fire and voiced support for the creation of a new officer of parliament charged with responsibility for social media regulation. Charlie Angus joins the Law Bytes podcast this week to reflect on the failed bill C-10 and C-11, his concerns with the online harms consultation, and his hopes for the coming parliamentary session.
The Liberal party released its election platform yesterday and perhaps everything you need to know can be gleaned from the fact that Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault posted multiple tweets about plans for new cultural spending initiatives and Internet regulations in French without a single English language tweet. This is surely not a coincidence since the government’s digital policies have long been designed to curry favour in Quebec, even at risk of angering voters in the rest of Canada. Based on decision to forge ahead with Internet regulations with enormous implications for freedom of expression, alienating voters in the rest of Canada that have raised concerns with policies such as Bill C-10 is not a worry for the Liberal government.
Neither, it would seem, is the affordability of Internet and wireless services, which do not receive a single mention or direct policy measure. In doing so, the party has seemingly abandoned wireless competitiveness as an issue and unequivocally sided with the big telecom companies despite presiding over some of the world’s most expensive wireless services. The party platform is titled “Forward for Everyone” but not everyone moves forward in quite the same way with big telecom companies moving further ahead than Canadian consumers.