Adrian Wyld Archives The Canadian Press The Senate voted in December on a series amendments to Bill C-11, including one that limits its scope to professional music when it comes to regulating content on social media like YouTube.
Senators who have done everything to “clarify” Liberal Bill C-11 on broadcasting expect that the Senate will now bow to the will of elected officials, and approve the government text which is causing some controversy in the English Canada.
“I believe a lot in what I do, I go to the end of my convictions, but I know very well where I am in the political universe. I'm in the Upper House,” dropped Independent Quebec Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne.
She says she is “disappointed” that a compromise she co-wrote with fellow Albertan Paula Simons was rejected out of hand by the Trudeau government. Despite everything, she still believes that C-11 is “important” for French culture. “I don't have the feeling that this bill is threatened” in the Senate, she told Devoir.
She criticizes the Minister of Heritage, Pablo Rodriguez, who according to her did not consider the work of senators at its fair value. The Senate passed a series of amendments to Bill C-11 in December, including one that limits its scope to professional music when it comes to regulating content on social media like YouTube. p>
It's not the Senate's job to say no all the time, even if you don't like a bill.
The government rejected the idea, arguing that the Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) should be given full leeway to “adapt to technological changes over time”. Other, more technical amendments were however accepted.
Criticized, especially in English
Bill C-11 was tabled in February 2022 by Minister Rodriguez, and aims above all to oblige the financing and promotion of Canadian content by platforms such as Netflix, Spotify or YouTube. The Minister explicitly stated that this would not change anything for ordinary Internet users who broadcast content online.
Its many detractors read the text of the law in reverse. They worry that the goal of prioritizing Canadian content on the Internet will hurt its visibility on screens in other countries. The leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Poilievre, squarely interprets the bill as “internet censorship”. He suggests never adopting it.
“There have been more fears in English Canada,” remarked Senator Miville-Dechêne, who precisely wanted to add details to the text to calm the critics. Cultural industry groups, such as ADISQ, opposed the original version of section 4.2, its most controversial part.
C-11 has yet to receive final approval from elected officials in the next weeks. Then, it must return to the Senate, which theoretically has the power to modify it again, at the risk of causing the text to move back and forth between the two chambers, like a ping-pong match.
< p>A scenario in which Senator Paula Simons, also in the Independent Senators Group, does not believe and who is very critical of the bill as drafted. “It will be difficult to agree [to C-11] without the amendments. But I think there are enough votes to pass the bill, even if I say no,” she said in French.
According to her, C-11 is an “incomplete” bill, but does not violate the constitution, one of the situations that could justify blocking by the Upper House. “It's not the job of the Senate to say no all the time, even if you don't like a bill. »
After a long study of almost eight months by the Senate, the amended version of C-11 was adopted in February by a large majority of senators, at 43 against 15. The representative of the government in the Upper House, the senator Marc Gold, is “very optimistic” that enough of his colleagues are now getting behind the version sent back by the government.
“If a majority of MPs disagree with some of our recommendations, in my humble opinion, we must accept their verdict. Particularly in a minority [government] context.
Senator Gold points out that this reform of the Broadcasting Act was promised by the Liberal Party of Canada, but also by the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Bloc Québécois.
The office of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Don Plett, did not wish to reveal the intentions of the group of conservative senators before obtaining a final version of C-11 returned by the House.
The Bloc Québécois, for example, tried to modify the text at the very last minute, last Thursday, by adding a paragraph to require consultation with Quebec and a reference to the status of the artist, as requested by the government. Legault. The subamendment was ruled inadmissible, based on procedure.