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I will go through some of the proposed government powers that I find questionable. I question whether ensuring the social cohesion of a country is the right role for the government to be taking on. Our citizens, NGOs and civic organizations do the job of protecting our civic virtues already. It is not the job of the government to be proposing such legislation as I see here.
What I see in Bill C is the government opening the door to state regulation of the Internet. While people define the Internet in different ways, we interact with it every single day, whether by watching steaming services online or interacting with others on different platforms. This is an area that I think the government is erring by getting into. The same minister went on to say that he wanted to prevent media platforms from sowing doubt in the population with regard to public institutions.
I find the government does an excellent job of sowing doubt in public institutions itself. We were told months ago that vaccines were going to be distributed and everybody was going to be vaccinated by September Then we saw an announcement for AstraZeneca vaccines from a facility that is not even built yet. It will be finished in July, and then we are supposed to believe that in two months somehow this facility will save the day, and also that Pfizer vaccines will be available now that its facility has been upgraded.
It sows doubt among people in my riding who trusted the government at the beginning, who had faith in public institutions and public servants and believed that the government had a handle on this. They do not believe that anymore. I had a digital town hall yesterday and the majority of the questions I had to field from over constituents back home, at one point, concerned the government's dribs-and-drabs approach to the travel restrictions that it has introduced, and how confusing they are.
To be honest, I am just as confused as everybody else. The government does enough of a job of undermining public trust in public institutions. When it botches the rollout of the vaccine to the provinces and introduces random restrictions, it does not need legislation like this. I will go into some of the aspects of what this legislation would do that give me concern.
First, I am concerned that the bill chooses to limit the oversight powers of parliamentary committees with respect to directives and regulations that would be adopted by the CRTC. At the end of the amendments to the Broadcasting Act, the bill states that it would go around the powers Parliament rightfully has to oversee what is being done. I get constituents asking me, all the time, to intervene in the actions and regulatory activities of the CRTC.
I have concerns about this. The Broadcasting Act says that broadcasting undertakings include distribution undertakings. The proposed legislation would add online undertakings. About a dozen people in my riding have successful YouTube channels, such as toy channels and travel channels, when travel was easy to do.
YouTube is one of those platforms I think the government is targeting for regulation. YouTube is both a streaming service and a platform. It is sort of a commons area like this chamber, for people to put up videos, whether funny or serious, and share their opinions. Whether or not one likes their opinions is totally secondary. This is an expansion of what the government is trying to do. A lot of independent media are saying they are very concerned that they are going to be regulated directly by the government.
Who gets to decide what is misinformation? What I see happening, mostly from parties on the left but all over the spectrum, is that misinformation is now whatever someone does not like, or whatever opinion one does not agree with.
A lot of Liberal caucus members have opinions I disagree with, but I do not want to censor them. I want to debate them, preferably on the floor of the House. I do not want to do it over Twitter. To me, Twitter is one of the lowest of all platforms. It is where people get attacked, mobbed and treated like second-class citizens. When I talk to constituents about it, I generally refer to Twitter as a sewer with its activities.
Bots are all over the place, and there are vicious attacks on both Liberal and Conservative politicians. I think all members have been victims, at some point, of nasty online commentary, either calling for violence or treating the members very poorly. We can all agree that this is something awful and unique to that particular platform. Another part of the legislation I am worried about would amend a portion of the intention behind the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
I have a hard time believing that a lot of the material being broadcast right now by the CBC, or its online platforms, informs, enlightens or entertains, unless it is a high form of satire it is producing in its news section. Bill C does not achieve the modernization of broadcasting, which was the idea the government had months ago when the bill was tabled.
Generally, many members agree with that idea. In my lifetime, with the advent of the Internet, we have seen a lot of people migrate away from cable providers. I would not know, as I never had cable. My family could not afford it. Everybody has migrated to online services. The government is catching up to regulate these, but it is going way overboard and has missed the mark.
This is not the way we should go about regulating it, nor should we take away from Parliament the ability to question and oversee regulators such as the CRTC. I consistently get complaints about the CRTC and I do not think more government power over what Canadians share online, the discussions they are having at home and online, is an area the government should be getting into. It does not have the wisdom or the ability. It will always be catching up to society and civic institutions not attached to government.
The government is erring, and I will not be supporting this particular legislation. Madam Speaker, I am a bit confused. The member just spoke at length about a bill that has not been tabled, which is an upcoming bill on issues of online harm, child pornography, incitement of violence—. Madam Speaker, on a point of order, the individual was not on the screen. I just realized now he did add himself to the camera, so I appreciate that. The Assistant Deputy Speaker Mrs. Madam Speaker, as I was saying, I am a bit confused.
The member spoke at length about a bill that has not been tabled, which is a bill that will be dealing with online harm, such as child pornography, incitement of violence and terrorism. It seems the member has not read Bill C , which deals with how the government wants to legislate to ensure that online platforms do their fair share when it comes to cultural investments in Canada.
It has nothing to do with online harm, which is a very important subject, and in fact, many members of the opposition have asked us to—. I have to give the hon. The two issues are together. I look forward to seeing this other legislation that the minister proposes to table before the House. I must admit that I am wondering whether my colleague actually read the bill, because there is nothing in there about online hate. However, I was struck by his comment about how people are able to distinguish fact from fiction on their own.
I am wondering if my colleague remembers what happened south of the border on January 6. Does he think that those events could have been the result of the dissemination of misinformation? I would like to know what he thinks about that. I would also like him to tell me what evidence leads him to believe that people can distinguish between accurate information and misinformation.
That being said, this does not pertain directly to Bill C , which is before us today. Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Drummond for his question. In my opinion, the events that occurred in January south of our border, that is in the United States, or more specifically in the capital, Washington, are the result of a misinformation campaign led by the former president of the United States for nearly two months. According to many conservative American newspapers, there is nothing to indicate that President Trump was right in saying what he did.
I believe in Canadians. They know how to distinguish between accurate information and misinformation online. Ultimately, they are able to separate fact from fiction. Madam Speaker, as a member who represents a more rural and remote riding, one of the things I know about the local content makers in my region is that they really tell us about what is happening in our communities. I also know that the larger media platforms, such as Facebook and social media, use a lot of that content without any sort of support to regional content makers.
For example, the North Island Eagle, which represents the northern part of the region that I represent on the island side, does a lot of work to bring forward those stories. Does the member have any feedback on how we can support these folks? I do not think this is an aggressive enough bill to support those small businesses that really keep us connected to our own Canadian story. Madam Speaker, the support should not come through the social media platforms because they are spreading good journalism and good stories.
I will give the member an example. I think we can all agree that the National Observer is mostly independent media of the centre-left. I am a reader. I am a fan of its journalism and work. I would have never found it if it had not been for a social media platform. Madam Speaker, I am pleased today to give an overview of some of the inadequacies of Bill C , an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.
The Liberal government has once again said one thing in its messaging and preamble about what this bill would do, in contrast with what the content of the bill actually enacts. Its message to Canadians is that the bill would ensure online broadcasting is covered under the act. It indicates that the bill updates broadcasting and regulatory policies to better reflect the diversity of Canadian society and that it modernizes and provides the CRTC with new enforcement powers through an administrative monetary penalty scheme.
Updating and modernizing the Broadcasting Act is very important, as it has been almost 30 years since any significant change has been made to Canadian broadcasting regulations. Many of my younger colleagues have commented during their speeches on this topic on how old they were when changes were last made to the Broadcasting Act, even speaking to the fact they were but a glimmer in their parents' eyes.
I cannot say I was there when Maurice Cole was the essence of radio, but I do share a birthday with CKSW, a country music radio station in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, which serves southwestern Saskatchewan and first began broadcasting in Saturday nights we watched Hockey Night in Canada , and on Sunday evenings we had popcorn for supper as we were entertained by Red Skelton and Carol Burnett. Movies filmed a detective as he slowly crept along an entire block, and advertisements for headache relief lasted a full 60 seconds.
We do not know what we have until it is gone. That being said, boy, do I love getting to watch what I want, when I want and as much as I want. That is where we are at today, in the blink of an eye. However, that is enough of precious memories. We will move on to the task at hand. This act provides the guidelines for everything in our media industry.
It is a crucial vehicle for determining fairness in the way the industry is regulated, while ensuring it is vibrant and growing with opportunities for Canadians. The Broadcasting Act covers everything from how our Canadian broadcasters operate to how we support Canadian content and production. The arrival of the Internet and online streaming services has been a reality for a long time now, and they have been competing with Canadian broadcasters on an uneven playing field. Unfortunately, Bill C does not meet the need to set the policies and standards required to level that playing field.
The bill is vague. It does not address important aspects of issues important to industry stakeholders, such as ensuring that the web giants Google and Facebook have to compete under the same rules as Canadian companies. It does not explain how digital platforms and conventional players would compete on an even playing field.
Bill C also does not require broadcasters to contribute to the creation of Canadian content or the Canada Media Fund, as is currently the case for Canadian broadcasters. However, I could not help but notice that this generous contribution was immediately followed by an increase in monthly consumer fees, which smacks of Canadians paying outright for this supposed act of generosity and appreciation for investing in Canadian content.
The issue of proprietary content that is shared on digital platforms is also not addressed. The bill does nothing to address the inequity between digital and conventional media; the regulation of social media, such as Facebook; and the sharing of advertising royalties demanded by traditional media. As well, the absence of language guidelines in the bill disadvantages francophone communities by failing to ensure that online broadcasters create content in both official languages.
There are no guidelines to regulate French content, and the specificity of Quebec culture is not mentioned. This does not better reflect the diversity of Canadian society. It changes it, for sure. However, it is unacceptable and represents a much weaker approach than the act provides for aboriginal, racialized and LGBTQ content. It is important to note I am not saying that their content should be minimized in any way, but simply that there is not an even playing field here, even within the act, for French and English content.
It is important we do this. I have children who home-school, and they watch French-language television to increase their French capabilities, which is something I wish I had had the opportunity to do as I was growing up. It was much more difficult for this lady who shares a birthday with a radio station. The bill also does nothing to modernize the copyright law. With Bill C , the government has introduced a broad delegation of powers to the CRTC, without including clear guidelines, on the percentages of Canadian content required, fees and contributions, expenses, French content and so on.
The CRTC's powers have not even been clearly defined at all. In fact, the bill even chooses to limit the oversight powers of parliamentary committees with respect to the directives and regulations adopted by the CRTC. It also limits broadcasters' ability to appeal a decision. This is not acceptable. The message the government is sending is for us to trust it, and we will see it later. The government will, therefore, wait several months for the CRTC to act, and with very limited parliamentary oversight.
This is very poor governance on behalf of Canadians. Canadians expect and deserve accountability in and oversight over their government, and any and all laws, regulations and public institutions governing their opportunities as individuals and peoples. Taking authority away from committees' capacity for oversight and from the Auditor General, and increasing state control of information and conversation is regressive, not progressive.
It is a serious overreach by the Liberal government. In a minority situation, it would have been much more appropriate to come up with a clear bill, detailing in concrete terms the government's approach to all of these issues, rather than simply giving the CRTC more discretion and telling Canadians to wait and see how it would be exercised.
Stakeholders have outlined the many shortcomings I have mentioned today, and in their defence, Bill C is not supportable without significant amendments in response to those requests. I can only hope that the Liberal government has been listening to our stakeholders. Media has changed forever, and Canadians have changed how they gather information and find entertainment. They have also come to realize that there are no limits on the opportunities to choose where they go for their content.
Apparently I am having trouble with my audio. This is something I deal with all the time, and I apologize. Saskatchewan, for connectivity, comes and goes. I am very frustrated with that. I want what I have to say to be heard. I would just ask the member to verify her microphone.
Please proceed. Madam Speaker, I apologize, especially to those from our Canadian public who are listening in. I wish I had caught that earlier. I will end by saying that Bill C does not succeed in making the changes to our broadcast system that are needed to ensure that who we are, what we say and how we say it within Canada and to the world is going to be available in the way it should be going forward. Betting platforms take a cut of each wager and collect fees from leagues that run tournaments on them.
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