Feds Pass Controversial Bill C-11 with Support from NDP, Bloc Québécois

The House of Commons on Tuesday passed the Liberals’ controversial Online Streaming Act. Conservatives and Green Party MP Morrice Mike voted against the motion, but the Liberals were joined by the NDP and Bloc Québécois in favouring it.

The legislation still needs to pass through the Senate before it can be introduced into Canadian law. Canada’s upper house has called for a review of the Online Streaming Act in the fall.

“Given the multiple efforts to cut off debate and limit discussion of amendments, not a surprise,” said Professor Michael Geist (@mgeist), Canada Research Chair in internet and eCommerce law at the University of Ottawa.

The Online Streaming Act, also known as Bill C-11, aims to give the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) authority over online streaming companies in a similar way to which the watchdog regulates traditional broadcasters.

It was tabled by Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez in February as an amendment to the Broadcasting Act. While the bill has now been passed by the House of Commons, it was arguably rushed through the lower floor of the Canadian parliament.

There has been significant public and commercial pushback against Bill C-11. Canadian residents, businesses, and online platforms are all concerned the bill might give the CRTC the power to regulate user-generated content on the internet.

What’s more, CRTC chair Ian Scott has lent credence to these concerns by admitting the legislation could bring user-generated content into the regulator’s purview in hearings with the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

Scott previously told MPs that Bill C-11 would give the CRTC “some authority” over user-generated content. Section 4.2 of the bill “allows the CRTC to prescribe by regulation user uploaded content subject to very explicit criteria,” he said.

However, the Liberals insist there is no threat of regulation to users, even digital-first creators with millions of subscribers. Liberal MP Tim Louis, a member of the Standing Committee, also branded criticism of Bill C-11 as mere “misinformation.”

16 of 48 witnesses who testified before the Standing Committee in a recent hearing raised concerns over the possibility of the CRTC being able to regulate user-generated content. That amounts to 1/3 of the people who spoke at the hearing challenging the government’s claims about Bill C-11.

Unfortunately, the feds have chosen to ignore the concerns raised so far, not answer critics’ questions to satisfaction, and steamroll proposals and discussions regarding amendments to Bill C-11

In addition to CRTC regulation, Bill C-11 also seeks to push taxes onto online streaming platforms.

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