February 1, 2022
Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez is set to re-table the federal government’s legislation amending Canada’s broadcasting laws to impose regulations on social media companies and streaming giants, similar to those that traditional television and radio broadcasters are subjected to.
The legislation has been put on notice overnight, meaning it could be tabled as early as Wednesday.
Bill C-10, as it was known in the last Parliament, stalled out and died in the Senate when the 2021 federal election was called. In its platform, the Liberal Party promised to revive the bill within 100 days, a target it will likely meet if the bill is presented in the next few days.
In the last Parliament the legislation faced considerable public backlash stemming in part from then-minister Steven Guilbeault’ s mixed messaging when it comes to regulating user-generated content.
The legislation is aimed at web giants and regulating Canadian content, but became embroiled in questions over free speech and the regulation of users’ content, further fuelled by a series of opaque amendments that were made last-minute.
In a statement the Conservatives called for the government to halt its plans to re-introduce the legislation, pointing to concerns about certain provisions.
“Canadians, parliamentarians, and experts raised serious concerns over Bill C-10 that were never fully, or properly addressed by the Liberal government… it would not be in the interests of Canadians to reintroduce it,” said Conservative MP and heritage critic John Nater in a statement.
Throughout the contentious legislative fight over the Broadcasting Act updates, the Liberals, and at times other parties, pushed back on the Conservatives’ framing of the bill as an issue of free speech as oversimplified and disingenuous.
It’s possible that the coming bill could be an amended version of what the original draft contained, to address some of the lingering concerns. Asked late last year whether he planned on re-working the legislation, Rodriguez said he was looking into it but made no commitment one way or the other.
As it was previously drafted, the government was seeking to make changes aimed at ensuring major social media platforms and streaming services such as Netflix, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Spotify promote and pay their fair share towards Canadian artists and are held to similar standards as regular broadcasters.
This bill is one of a few that the Liberals have said will be priorities to move through the House in the coming weeks, with separate promised online harm reforms set to be presented after the considerable stakeholder feedback was factored into their drafting of the bill.