Canadian News Jul 20, 2021 12:06 AM EST

Bill C-10 ‘caused adverse reactions,’ legislators to use summer recess to amend the controversial legislation

Senator David Richards previously compared Bill C-10 to book burnings, and said it needed a "stake through the heart."

Bill C-10 ‘caused adverse reactions,’ legislators to use summer recess to amend the controversial legislation
Alex Anas Ahmed Calgary, AB
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A Canadian Heritage briefing note acknowledged a bill mandating first-ever internet regulations “has caused adverse reactions” and expect it will be amended in the Senate.

Blacklocks reports that Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez had publicly called Bill C-10 “an absolute priority” for cabinet. “Bill C-10 is an absolute priority for the government,” he told reporters, adding that Opposition to the bill “must end” because “we have very little time.”

Bill C-10 An Act To Amend The Broadcasting Act would see YouTube videos intended for private viewing regulated as public broadcasts by the CRTC subject to compliance orders. It passed the Commons June 22 by a vote of 196-112 and is currently before the Senate communications committee.

The Senate is currently adjourned until September 21, and legislators prior to summer recess said they planned numerous amendments to Bill C-10 as “a rare opportunity to improve the Broadcasting Act,” said Senator Percy Downe.

“I do ask all sides of this aisle to ensure this bill is given a full review by a committee at a bare minimum, and perhaps we bring forward the necessary amendments to fix this bill,” said Senator Leo Housakos.

Senator Pamela Wallin, a Canadian Broadcast Hall of Famer, said hearings on C-10 should include broad discussion with the general public. “Shouldn’t we ask Canadians if they even want the internet regulated in this way?” asked Wallin. “I think it’s clear from the response to Bill C-10 what the answer is, a resounding ‘No, thank you.’”

The June 23 department briefing note “Modernization Of The Broadcasting Act” acknowledged the bill “has caused adverse reactions from the Conservative Party, some online social media platforms as well as some experts and individuals being worried this would impede on freedom of expression.”

“Some senators have expressed concern,” wrote staff, adding: “The Senate may also suggest amendments to the bill.” Staff also noted public protest by the Saskatchewan cabinet.

Saskatchewan Attorney General Gordon Wyant in a May 7 petition said the bill must be amended or withdrawn as “a concerning restraint on individuals’ freedom of expression” guaranteed under the Charter Of Rights And Freedoms.

“All Canadian governments should place a priority on protecting freedom of speech, particularly for individuals,” wrote Attorney General Wyant, but warns Bill C-10 sends the country in the “opposition direction.” He adds: “This legislation has alarmed many Canadians with the prospect the federal government is following a policy of regulating, not promoting, the free exchange of ideas which is so critical to a free and democratic society.”

62 percent of Canadians fear federal regulation of the internet will curb lawful speech, according to a July 5 survey by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority.

“Netflix declined to comment and a spokesperson for TikTok did not reply to a request for comment,” said the memo.

Despite the ardent opposition, Rodriguez made clear the “urgency” of Bill C-10,” stating: “The bill must move ahead.”

Senator David Richards previously compared Bill C-10 to book burnings, saying that the controversial censorship bill didn't just need to be amendments, but that it instead needed a "stake through the heart."

"I was to give a reading for the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia next month until I saw the pledge I must sign about using language that might offend or words that might trigger unwanted emotion in an audience member," Richards explained.

"If I was to use words that might trigger unwanted emotion my reading would be halted and I would be prevented from completing my reading,” he said, adding: “This sanctimony is the hidden foundation of this bill, I think, and the hidden foundation of many bills that have come to this chamber."

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