April 28, 2021
The federal Liberal minister who says he will censor the Internet, fought back against claims his moves were a Charter violation and defended a move to regulate YouTube, says Blacklock’s Reporter.
Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault on Tuesday defended an abrupt policy change in support of censoring YouTube videos.
The federal cabinet last Friday had MPs on the Commons heritage committee vote to regulate YouTube under the Broadcasting Act – despite an earlier pledge to leave “user-generated content” alone.
“Online platforms that act as broadcasters would be included in the legislation,” Guilbeault told the Commons.
“This is exactly what the amendments that have been debated in committee are trying to do.”
Bill C-10 would regulate YouTube to ensure users’ uploaded content “serves the needs and interests of all Canadians” and “reflect their circumstances and aspirations.”
The government said YouTube management, not individual users, would be subject to CRTC compliance orders under threat of $15 million fines.
The latest Liberal move comes after Guilbeault last November 3 told reporters YouTube content would be exempt from federal censorship.
“User-generated content, news content and video games will not be regulated,” he said at the time.
“Only broadcasters that have a significant impact in Canada will be subject to this regulation.”
Guilbeault on Tuesday did not address the flip-flop in policy.
Opposition MPs called the YouTube bill the beginning of federal control of Internet content.
“In the original bill there were exemptions to protect the freedoms of Canadians posting their online content yet just the other day the Minister ordered the section removed,” said Conservative MP Scott Aitchison (Perry Sound-Muskoka, Ont.).
“The Minister muses about granting himself the power to remove internet content he deems objectionable, and now he is granting authority to the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission to control what Canadians post online.”
Conservative MP Rachael Harder (Lethbridge, Alta.) called the YouTube controls “a complete violation of our Charter rights,” and accused cabinet of misleading Parliament.
“Liberals are now wanting to amend the Broadcasting Act to allow for government censorship of video content on social media,” said Harder.
“According to the Minister it is all about restricting content that ‘undermines social cohesion,’ but what does that even mean?” said Harder.
“Soon they will create a ministry of truth, which just sounds like a weird call, let us be honest.”
The heritage department in a December 10 briefing note said it must “protect Canadians online” by censoring internet posts “that target communities, put people’s safety at risk and undermine Canada’s social cohesion or democracy.”
Guilbeault has said regulations should also target “the damaging effects of harmful content” that ridicules politicians or “diminish” public institutions.