Liberals push to finish Invoice C-10 research amid social media free speech issues – Nationwide

The federal liberals sparked an uproar on Friday morning over an offer to stop the committee’s study on their controversial C-10 bill as experts continue to raise concerns about the impact the legislation could have on online freedom of speech.

The Liberals tabled a time-sharing motion on the bill on Friday morning, a procedural step that cuts the time allotted for debating a bill and is usually used to limit hours of debate in the House of Commons – not in committees.

The bill has stalled before the committee and the government sees the clock ticking down towards the end of the parliamentary session on June 23rd.

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The motion briefly sparked fierce criticism from the opposition parties in the House of Commons on Friday before the deputy spokesman let the MPs make their regularly planned statements before the questioning period.

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But it’s supposed to come back up for discussion later in the day, and if the motion is passed, the committee will be limited to just five hours of discussion of the bill – then they’ll have to postpone it.

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By and large, the bill aims to modernize the Broadcasting Act – which saw its last major reform in 1991, before the internet was widely available – to reflect the fact that Canadians now consume music, movies and news differently, often via streaming services or social media.

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The proposed law hopes to extend Canadian content requirements to these online platforms to ensure that companies fund cultural funds and display a certain amount of Canadian content.

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Bill C-10 became a source of parliamentary discord after Liberals removed a section of the bill that protected and exempted user-generated content. That meant Canadians’ Facebook and Instagram posts could be forced to adhere to certain CRTC rules.

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And while it will be up to the CRTC to design exactly what those regulations might look like, experts have warned that this could allow the CRTC to regulate anything they want on social media.

“Social media company (would be) legally responsible for all of these videos that users post like they’re somehow broadcasting programs,” said Emily Laidlaw, Canada Research Chair in Cybersecurity Law at the University of Calgary, in an interview with Global News in early May.

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A former CRTC Vice-Chair reiterated her concern shortly after Section 4.1 was removed from the bill.

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“It’s your Facebook post. It’s your tweet. It’s your cat videos. It’s your pictures of your children and grandchildren and the like, ”said Peter Menzies, who is also a former newspaper editor.

“What it means is someone is watching this by the government or some state regulatory agency and is able to order the removal if they find it is inappropriate for their purposes.”

The concerns prompted opposition MPs to ask the Justice Department to take a second look at the statutes of the bill. The result of this analysis, which was signed by Justice Secretary David Lametti himself, found that the proposed law does not inappropriately violate the Chartered rights of Canadians.

“We are of the opinion that the proposed law and the proposed changes are compatible with the Charter,” said Lametti at the time before the Canadian Cultural Heritage Committee.

To address concerns about the impact of the law on individual users, the government has also changed it to refine the areas of social media the CRTC is designed to regulate.

The changes left the CRTC with only three areas of regulation:

  • The CRTC will be able to ask a platform how much revenue it is making.
  • The CRTC may request that a percentage of this income be donated to Canadian cultural production funds.
  • Finally, it is empowered to set discoverability requirements for Canadian video artists – which means that the CRTC can make certain rules, e.g. For example, force a certain amount of content from the Arkells, Celine Dion, or other Canadian artists to appear in your recommended videos.

However, some experts were not convinced.

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“The changes introduced as a result only confirmed that user-generated content, i.e. language, is subject to regulation. We are back to where we started, ”said Menzies and reacted to the amendments shortly after they were submitted.

But Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault is behind his bill.

“Bill C-10 respects the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and not only that, but there are mechanisms in place for the CRTC to make sure they do,” he said.

“You have discretionary powers, but those powers are not absolute and must be exercised in the light of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

– With files from Amanda Connolly of Global News

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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