IN THE HOUSE - on C-11 online streaming act

44th Parliament, 1st Session 

Government Orders - Online Streaming Act

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.
Madam Speaker, I am saddened by the member's speech. We have seen how disinformation has undermined, in the United States from the Republican Party, the basic principles of democracy. Her comments today are so far from the truth that I find them very disturbing.
For weeks and weeks, the Conservatives filibustered the committee and blocked witnesses from appearing. Even though all the other parties had submitted amendments, the Conservatives refused to move to have amendments discussed to improve the bill. The NDP got almost a dozen amendments through because we believed in working hard to improve the bill.
At the same time, it is important to note that we have a better bill because of the process, but not thanks to the member and not thanks to Conservatives who impeded, at every step, the due consideration of the bill that was so important. We had five weeks of witnesses—

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I will not apologize. We had the equivalent of five weeks of hearings. The member knows that. She should apologize for misleading the House.

Mr. Peter Julian (New Westminster—Burnaby, NDP) 

Madam Speaker, I completely agree with the member for Shefford. The Conservatives have lost it. They spread completely false information. It would seem that they never read the bill. They are making all sorts of accusations. People have to at least try to be realistic when saying things in the House of Commons. Even though we can say anything, the Conservatives should exercise some self-control.

I have a simple question to ask the member for Shefford, who gave an excellent speech. It is now estimated that web giants, who have been profiting for years, will contribute $1 billion, which will be invested in Canadian jobs. What impact will this have in Quebec?

Mr. Peter Julian (New Westminster—Burnaby, NDP) 
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise. I certainly salute the numerous colleagues, such as the member for Shefford and the member for Kingston and the Islands, who have actually addressed the bill. They have obviously read it. This is very important.
What is unbelievable to me is the over-the-top, crazed, Republican-style rhetoric that we have heard from the Conservatives over the last few weeks. This is very simple. There were the equivalent of five weeks of hearings, and the vast majority of witnesses who came forward, as members know, were in favour of the bill but wanted improvements. I will be pleased in a moment to talk about how the NDP was successful in improving the bill, playing our role yet again as the effective opposition party and pushing to make sure that bills are better.
After the equivalent of five weeks of hearings, for two weeks the Conservatives blocked witnesses, refused to let the amendments that had already been submitted be discussed and debated, and blocked everything. They completely filibustered so that nothing could move forward. We have seen the same sad travesty here in the House. The Conservatives, ever since they basically imploded six months ago, have refused to let anything good go through the House for the benefit of Canadians. It is sad. The Conservative Party used to be a respected opposition party, but what it has done over the last few months undermines that.
I will say that there are members of the Conservative caucus whom I have a lot of confidence in, including the member for Perth—Wellington. I wish that his voice was heard more often in the Conservative caucus.
That being said, what did the NDP do? The New Democrats brought forward a series of amendments. We wanted to make sure the bill was stronger. That is our role. As the effective opposition in the House of Commons, we tackled it from five standpoints.
First, when we looked at Bill C-11, we wanted to make sure that we renew broadcasting in Canada and that online companies actually pay their fair share. We are talking about $1 billion in investments. That means tens of thousands of jobs right across the country. This will mean a significant renaissance of the Canadian creative and cultural industries. There is no doubt.
We also wanted to make sure we broke down barriers for marginalized peoples in Canada, so we tabled Bill C-11 and successfully got it through the committee. It is now before the House for consideration at report stage, and hopefully it will get to third reading as well. There are substantial improvements that break down barriers for Black and racialized Canadians in broadcasting, for indigenous peoples, indigenous culture, indigenous voices and indigenous languages, and for people with disabilities. Canadians with disabilities have been excluded from the broadcasting system and from online streaming for far too long. Those are important barriers that the New Democrats broke down, and we are proud of our accomplishments. We want to compliment the members of the heritage committee who voted for those far-reaching amendments.
Second, we wanted to renew community broadcasting. The disinformation and Republican-style rhetoric of the Conservative Party, and the hate we have seen with the “freedom convoy” that many Conservative MPs endorsed, are things that really need a renewal at the community level. Hate and disinformation come from the fact that we do not know our neighbours, and the erosion of community media and community voices has unfortunately contributed to the amplification of the hate and disinformation in our country that we are all seeing.
The NDP tabled this, and again a majority of members of the heritage committee agreed with the idea that we have to reinforce community voices, community media, community broadcasting and community radio. I would like to thank CACTUS and numerous other community organizations that offered important amendments so that we could improve community broadcasting and know our neighbours better. The best antidote to the hate and disinformation we are seeing from the Republicans in the United States and the far right in Canada is to ensure that we know our neighbours and appreciate them. That was an important second series of amendments we brought forward.
Third, we wanted to reinforce freedom of expression. Unanimously, members of the heritage committee agreed, and that means freedom of expression is now paramount in this legislation.
Fourth, we wanted to make sure that Canadian jobs and Canadian broadcasting were enhanced. We have $1 billion now, which is substantial. It is a massive increase in the resources available to Canadian cultural industries. We wanted to make sure it assures there are Canadian jobs, so we tabled with success a number of amendments that enhance the Canadian employment and Canadian jobs component.

Finally, we wanted to ensure more accountability for the CRTC, and we were successful in that endeavour as well.

As a result, what we have is a Bill C-11 that is better and more improved. We are happy that we were able to use our effective opposition voice not to destroy, block or stop any consideration, but to improve this important bill.

[Translation] It is worth mentioning that the vast majority of witnesses who testified before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage were in favour of this bill. Even the Conservatives have to admit that these witnesses said that the bill must be passed. Dozens and dozens of organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Canadians from across the country told us that this bill should be passed, but that it had to be improved.

The NDP proposed amendments to improve accessibility for marginalized people, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples and racialized people in Canada, and these amendments were adopted. These measures will improve the bill overall. We also succeeded in getting the number of local and community programs increased. The fact that the CRTC will now be more accountable to Canadians is another NDP success. Canadian jobs are another very important aspect of the bill. We wanted freedom of expression to come above everything else, and the NDP's amendment in that respect was successful.

The reality is that the equivalent of five weeks of meetings were held with regard to the bill before us, during which we heard from dozens and dozens of witnesses. We can say that we met the expectations of these witnesses by ensuring that the bill is better now than it was when the committee got it.

Even though I am disappointed with the Conservatives for holding up all the work for weeks, refusing to hear from witnesses and consider amendments, and refusing to do everything necessary to improve the bill, I think that what did come out of the committee study was an improved version of Bill C-11. There is more transparency. All of the work that we have done over the past few weeks has resulted in a better bill.

I would like to say one last thing. Bill C‑11 and the fact that we have managed to make more Canadian voices heard are another way to counter disinformation. There is not just disinformation around Bill C‑11. In the United States, Republican disinformation is currently a major issue because it is warping democracy and undermining the very essence of voting. This hate coming out of the United States, this disinformation, must be kept out of Canada as much as possible.

We saw the hate expressed by the so-called “freedom convoy”. At that time, we saw that these people wanted to take down our democracy, take down Canada's Parliament. Some of the Conservative members supported that. The way to counter disinformation is to provide more information. That is also one of the objectives of the improved version of Bill C‑11.

Mr. Peter Julian (New Westminster—Burnaby, NDP) 
Mr. Speaker, this is not only important for us, but it is important for all Canadians. There is no doubt that we have improved the bill. I have some suggestions for the Conservatives, because they have certainly lost their way over the last six months. First off, when a bill comes—
Mr. Speaker, first, I just wanted to suggest that Conservatives actually read legislation. 
Second, they should actually listen to witnesses when they come before committee, rather than blocking them from testifying. 
Third, they should actually offer improvements to legislation. That is the role that we have here. That is why the NDP has been the real effective opposition in the House of Commons. Yes, we are seeking to oppose when it is warranted, but above all we are seeking to make sure that things in the House of Commons are done in the best interests of Canadians. The NDP influence on Bill C-11 has been undeniable, in terms of improving it, including aspects of freedom of expression. That is the kind of work all members of Parliament should be doing.
 
Mr. Peter Julian (New Westminster—Burnaby, NDP) 
Mr. Speaker, this is a disturbing undercurrent that we saw bring the United States right to the edge of having a coup d'état. The kind of disinformation that drives people from the far right, the far-right extremists, is something we have to be very acutely conscious of. The comments from Conservative MPs that, somehow, Bill C-11 is going to allow the government to follow people on cellphones, and the odious comparisons with the murderous dictatorship in North Korea are unbelievably inappropriate comments made on the floor of the House of Commons.
This is very disturbing. We have to push back against Republican-style disinformation from many, but not all, Conservative MPs. Some Conservative MPs still respect Parliament. The ones who do not, though, need to be called out.
That is why we have spoken specifically on the bill and specifically on the provisions that we have improved. It is an effort to get real information out to Canadians. Shame on the Conservatives for what they have said through the course of the last few months.
Mr. Speaker, I will do my best, because my community, as well, of New Westminster—Burnaby, is really known as Hollywood North. There is a real creative energy that is in our communities. We know that $1 billion will be transferred from the web giants, which have basically been taking that money out of the country, and it will be provided to Canadian cultural content and Canadian cultural institutions, broadcasters and Canadians who are creative, both in the online world and the broadcasting world.

What we are going to see is a real renaissance of Canadian content, and that is why I will be supporting the bill.

 

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