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Dan-in-Ottawa

Solution bad as problem?

I want to share part of a conversation I once had with a now-retired provincial cabinet minister.

The former minister said one of the challenges in government, when attempting to resolve a problem, is the need to ensure the proposed solution does not create newer, unanticipated problems.

I am reminded of this as the Liberal government has tabled, and recently amended, Bill C-10: “An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.”

Few would dispute that in an age of increased digital steaming, and various online media platforms, that the Broadcasting Act and the oversight regulation with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) badly needs updating.

The challenge, as the now retired former cabinet minister would remind us, is to make these much-needed updates without inadvertently creating new problems.

Recently, the Liberal government removed a critical exemption to Bill C-10, that, in my view and the view of many other experts and stakeholders, will create serious setbacks to our Charter protected right of free expression.

When Bill C-10 was first proposed it exempted “unique user generated content” from the bill.

For example, if Canadians created and posted their own video on YouTube, Facebook, Tik Tok or any other online social media platforms, their content would be exempted by the changes proposed in Bill C-10.

However, during clause-by-clause examination of Bill C-10 in the Industry, Science and Technology committee, the Liberals removed this exemption.

Removing this exemption means that the unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats at the CRTC could have the power to regulate, remove and censor what Canadians post to their own social media.

This can also limit what Canadians are able to see online in Canada.

Instead of Canadians having the choice, the choices could be limited based on yet-to-be announced-criteria set and enforced by the CRTC.

The Liberals defend this amendment stating that the intent is to limit the broadcast of unlicensed content online to protect copyright holders, who have lobbied for these changes.

That ultimately is the problem with the Liberal approach in Bill C-10.

Rather than resolving the unlicensed content issue through copyright law, the government proposes to cut it off at the broadcasting level, allowing Canadian's content to be sacrificed in the process.

In a statement on the bill’s Charter compliance, justice officials argued that the original exemption, removed by the Liberals, alleviated potential concerns of breaching section 2 (b) of the Charter on free expression.

With the exemption's removal, many are speculating on what impacts this bill will have.

This approach by the Liberals, according to one of Canada’s foremost law professors, who also holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, is a “shocking and likely unconstitutional speech regulation.”

Prof. Michael Geist further notes:

“We would never think of subjecting the content of the letters, emails or blog posts to CRTC regulation, yet Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault and the Liberal government believe it is appropriate to regulate a new generation’s form of speech – TikTok videos, Instagram posts, Facebook feeds, and YouTube videos – as if they are the equivalent of broadcast programs.”

For the record, I share the concerns of Prof. Geist.

My question this week:

  • Do you support or oppose this amendment to Bill C-10?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

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About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

MP Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.



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