Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault failed to give any concrete answers in an interview with CBC on Friday, as he tried to justify the removal of an exclusion in the increasingly-controversial Bill C-10.
Bill C-10, spearheaded by Guilbeault, would "regulate the internet and social media in the same way that it regulates national broadcasting." When asked what the effects of the bill might look like, he stated that Canadians would see "more "indigenous storytelling" as well as content from "racialized community-owned media." He also said that the enforcement of his internet censorship bill must adhere to "the government's vision."
In the interview, CBC's David Common pressed Guilbeault on the controversial bill, and whether content moderation was one of the intended goals.
"The bill is about ensuring that these platforms that act like broadcasters pay their fair share when it comes to Canadian culture", said Guilbeault. "It's about spending obligations. ... It's not about content moderation."
The original iteration of the bill had an exclusion that stated user generated content would not be subject to CRTC regulation, however that exclusion mysteriously disappeared.
As Canadian law professor Michael Geist puts it, without the exclusion, "the CRTC would have regulatory power over all user uploaded videos as “programs” under the Act." This would essentially make "YouTube, Facebook and any other site with user generated content video subject to CRTC rules."
"It was important enough to put that exclusion there in the first place, now it's gone," asked Common. "Why was it important in the first place to put it there?"
Guilbeault looked flustered, responding: "We came up with what we thought would be the best possible bill, but a bill can always be perfected; they will be amended, and [content regulation] is not the purpose of the bill, so it's not required to be there!"
When asked whether he would like to see the exclusion back in there, Guilbeault said "It's not necessary!"
"This idea that the CRTC would start looking–would start doing content moderation, has no basis in reality", he continued. In its 40 years of existence, it has never done that; it doesn't have the power to do that, Bill C-10 doesn't grant the CRTC the power to do that."
Common then stated that even former CRTC chair Peter Menzies was against the bill, and had said that "Granting a government agency authority over legal, user generated content doesn't just infringe on free expression, it constitutes a full-blown assault on it."
Bill C-10 has drawn criticism from a wide range of Canadians, and as more people realize the consequences such a bill could produce, especially with the exclusion removed, opposition is sure to grow.