IN THE HOUSE - Questions and Comments – Bill C-11 Online Streaming Act

44th Parliament, 1st Session

Mr. Peter Julian (New Westminster—Burnaby, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy hearing my colleague, though I must say he was so far removed from the actual bill we are supposed to be discussing tonight that it was unbelievable. Conservatives, for weeks and weeks, have been blocking every single piece of legislation. They have been gumming up the works for Routine Proceedings, stopping members of Parliament from presenting petitions and stopping private members' legislation. The Conservatives have basically tried to shut down the House of Commons.

    We are having an evening debate, we are discussing Bill C-11 and the member talks about something crazy that has nothing to do with the bill. If Conservatives do not actually read the legislation before they speak on it, why do they not take the time to read the legislation and address it? It is legislation I believe needs some improvements, and we are hoping it will get to committee so we can make those improvements. For goodness sake, speakers in the House should actually address the legislation that is before the House. Why did the member not do that?

Context: Questions and Comments

    Mr. Peter Julian (New Westminster—Burnaby, NDP): Mr. Speaker, first off, I would like to wish the House leader of the official opposition a very happy birthday and we are glad that he is with us today in this debate right until midnight. It is quite a way to celebrate a birthday for sure.

    Je voulais poser une question à mon collègue.

    Quand on regarde les géants du Web, on voit qu'ils font des profits records, voire énormes. Quand on regarde les musiciens, par exemple, on voit qu'ils ont perdu 3 milliards de dollars pendant la pandémie. En général, les musiciens canadiens ont perdu presque 80 % de leur revenu. D'une part, les géants du Web font effectivement d'énormes profits et d'autre part, les musiciens et d'autres artistes canadiens qui créaient du contenu reçoivent des miettes.

    Comment est-ce que le projet de loi s'attaque à cette question pour équilibrer la situation?

Context: Questions and Comments

    Mr. Peter Julian (New Westminster—Burnaby, NDP): Madam Speaker, I want to ask my colleague for his comments on what the Conservative strategy has been over the last six months. Basically, since the ban on conversion therapy got through the House, the Conservatives have refused to let any legislation through and, yet, when we have this debate tonight on Bill C-11, we know we have a situation where the web giants have created billions of dollars in record profiteering during the pandemic and Canadian musicians, artists and actors are finding themselves, in the case of musicians, losing 80% of their income.

     We have many examples of the web giants using the production and the creative knowledge of Canadians to make enormous profits but are paying just pennies, just scraps, to Canadian artists. Why are Conservatives objecting so strenuously to having in place a situation where Canadian artists are actually remunerated effectively for their creations? Why are Conservatives blocking this and so many other bills?

Context: Debate

  1. Peter Julian (New Westminster—Burnaby, NPD): Madame la Présidente, en commençant, j'aimerais dire que l'aspect de notre vie culturelle est extrêmement important. Depuis des années, nous avons eu des mesures qui font en sorte que les Canadiens et les Canadiennes, à travers le pays, peuvent entendre les voix des autres Canadiens, peuvent écouter de la musique, peuvent regarder des films et la télévision et peuvent vivre une culture canadienne qui est extrêmement complexe et qui a beaucoup de diversité.

    Quand je regarde la culture québécoise, par exemple, je me souviens de la première fois où, un dimanche soir, j'ai écouté Robert Charlebois chez moi à New Westminster parce que j'avais la capacité d'écouter la radio en français à New Westminster en Colombie-Britannique. C'est cet artiste québécois qui m'a amené à comprendre toute la diversité de la vie culturelle québécoise.

    Alors, quand on écoute ce que les artistes nous disent, ils nous disent qu'on a vraiment un déséquilibre présentement dans le système qui fait en sorte que les artistes, aussi talentueux qu'ils le soient, ne pourraient pas vraiment pleinement profiter de toute leur efficacité comme artiste à créer, promouvoir et faire en sorte que notre vie culturelle soit si complexe et si profonde.

Context: Debate

    That is really the message tonight. Our artists across the country are saying there is something wrong with the system. We have web giants, these massive companies, that are foreign-owned and the Conservatives support them to the detriment of Canadians and Canadian artists. These companies make these enormous profits while paying scraps to Canadian artists.

    As we know, the reality is when we are talking about the word “censorship”, we are just throwing it around so loosely when it comes to Bill C-11, and I will come back to that in just a moment. The reality is the censorship that takes place now with the web giants is the algorithms that withhold Canadian content from Canadians. Even Canadians going on and trying to access that content cannot do it because of the algorithms that are not shared or not transparent that censors what Canadians can see and what Canadians can hear.

    That is the reality. As members well know, other countries are putting forward legislation so these web giants, massive foreign-owned corporations, that pay no taxes in Canada and do not show the responsibility they should be showing in Canada, that they actually have to be transparent on the algorithms that control what people see, what people watch and what people can hear.

    The idea that we put in place an update to the Broadcasting Act makes sense because it establishes a level playing field so we do not see the situation we are seeing now. We see that Canadians musicians have lost 80% of their income as more of their product goes online and they get paid less by the massive web giants that are supported, for reasons I do not understand, by some members of this House.

    As that happens, it is important for Canadian MPs to step up and try to level the playing field. Musicians losing 80% of their income should be something that all members of Parliament should be considered about. About $3 billion has been taken out of musicians' pockets and that should be something that all Canadians are concerned about.

    I talked earlier about listening to, for the first time, one late evening in New Westminster, British Columbia, a Quebec artist, Robert Charlebois, and understanding the incredible depth of Québécois culture. It is also important that we talk about, and I was able to listen to them growing up, Rush, Gordon Lightfoot and Bachman-Turner Overdrive and so many other Canadian artists that would not have been able to get into the market if the American record companies and the American broadcasters had told Canadians what they could or could not listen to. That is the reality here.

    When we have foreign companies deciding what Canadians can watch and listen to, we need to establish a level playing field so our Canadian artists can shine through.

Context: Questions and Comments

  1. Peter Julian: Madame la Présidente, je remercie mon collègue de sa question.

    Je pense que cela fait en sorte qu'on a plus d'équilibre dans le réseau de distribution. On a plus de capacités pour que les Canadiens entendent et qu'ils voient les artistes canadiens. C'est pour cela que tout le milieu artistique au Canada dit qu'il faut faire avancer ce projet de loi.

    Jusqu'à maintenant, j'ai reçu environ 8 000 lettres en faveur de ce projet de loi et une couple de douzaines contre. La couple de douzaines contre venait de gens qui parlaient encore d'un projet de loi de l'avenir, un peu comme les conservateurs ce soir qui disent que dans un an ou deux peut-être qu'il va y avoir un autre projet de loi. À ce moment, il sera temps d'avoir un autre débat.

    Pour l'instant, les artistes canadiens veulent qu'on mette en place un système qui, pour une fois, arrête de les défavoriser. Je pense qu'il faut les écouter et il faut faire avancer ce projet de loi en comité.

Context: Debate

    Conservatives who are opposed to this legislation moving forward, even to get answers on the legislation, should understand that not one of them has quoted a Canadian artist or musician tonight. They cannot, because artist associations, everyone from the Canadian Independent Music Association to ACTRA, are all very supportive of the legislation.

    What then should we be doing tonight on this debate? My Conservative colleagues, and I have respect for them, have said that they simply do not want this legislation to move forward, just like they have been saying for months they do not want any other legislation to move forward.

    We have seen it with Bill C-8, where teachers were asking for their tax credit and Conservatives said they would not pass it. We have seen it with Bill C-19 and with dental care, which the NDP pushed forward. For the first time, there was an affordable housing platform and Conservatives said they did not want that to move forward either.

    On Bill C-11, we heard the debate tonight, and Conservatives have talked about three concerns. First off, they reference a bill that no longer exists and say they did not like that bill. Fair enough, but that is not the bill we are debating. Then they talk about the bill that may be coming in a year or so that deals with online harms and say that they do not like that bill either. That debate will be in a year. Then they say, about this bill, that they believe in a level playing field but that they have some questions.

    At the same time, Conservatives do not want this bill to go to committee, where we can get the answers to the questions they have asked. Some of the questions they have asked are legitimate around the CRTC and how it defines its powers. It is a legitimate question and I have that question too. We would love to have this come to committee. At committee, as part of our legislative process, is the place where we get answers to those questions.

    We could sit here to midnight every single night, but we are not going to be able to get the ministry and the CRTC to actually answer those questions until it gets to committee.

    This is where it becomes passing strange. We have had debate now for a number of days. We should be referring to committee. If Conservative members do not want to vote the bill they do not have to vote for the bill. For them to say they are going to stop any member of Parliament from getting the answers they are asking around the bill by refusing to have this to go committee does not make any sense at all.

    As well, it is not respectful for the artists from coast to coast to coast who have been asking for years to have a level playing field. They have been asking for years for us, as members of Parliament, to play our role and establish a level playing field for them and allow them to finally be able to have some presence in the online world so Canadian content can shine and not have the web giants decide what Canadians get to see or hear.

    This is really the challenge of this evening. We will be sitting until midnight. Conservatives will say that they just want to keep sitting, sitting and sitting and saying the same things. As I mentioned earlier, they debated a past bill that no longer exists and a future bill that may or may not exist, and on the bill itself, they say they have questions.

    We should all agree the way to get answers to those questions is to refer the bill to committee and allow the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to sit down and get the answers from those minister and the CRTC. In that way, we could respond to what our legislative role is, which is to make sure that as we pass this legislation it is done in the most effective way possible and actually does what it purports to do: Level the playing field for Canadian artists so our musicians, actors and all of the Canadian cultural and artistic sphere can shine.

    We know that when there is a playing field, it is not the web giants deciding what Canadians can see and hear. When there is a level playing field, Canadian artists will shine. My message to the Conservatives is to let Canadian artists shine. Let us get the answers in the bill. Let us get this bill to committee.

Context: Questions and Comments

    Mr. Peter Julian: Madam Speaker, I have respect for the member for Provencher, but he has just proven my point. The Conservatives are not debating Bill C-11. In fact, many of the Conservatives who have intervened tonight patently have not read the bill. They do not know what is in the bill, so they are debating everything else. They are debating cellphone technology. Are they kidding me? This is exactly the problem. The Conservatives want to sit until midnight but they want to talk about cellphones. They want to talk about anything but the bill.

     On behalf of Canadian artists from coast to coast to coast, I say for the member for Provencher and all other Conservative MPs, let us get the bill to committee. Let us get the legitimate questions answered. Let us stop talking about cellphones and all kinds of other things that have nothing to do with Bill C-11.

Context: Questions and Comments

  1. Peter Julian (New Westminster—Burnaby, NPD): Madame la Présidente, je remercie ma collègue de son discours. Je connais bien le coin de Shefford, et je félicite La Voix de l'Est pour son Prix du mérite. C'est un prix bien mérité.

    En ce qui concerne le projet de loi C‑11, elle a vraiment apporté de bonnes choses sur la table, comme l'importance d'appuyer les artistes. Il est aussi important de répondre à d'autres questions, comme la possibilité que le projet de loi soit envoyé en comité parlementaire dans le but de poser ces questions. Par exemple, demander au CRTC de clarifier sa façon d'interpréter les règles. Tout cela se passera en comité, mais les conservateurs refusent systématiquement que le projet de loi aille en comité pour qu'on puisse avoir des réponses.

    Sur l'obstruction systématique des conservateurs à cet égard, c'est-à-dire leur refus qu'on ait ces réponses en comité parlementaire, quelles sont les impressions de ma collègue?

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