As noted in last week’s Connecting the Dots column, concern is mounting in Canada over the possible effects Bill C10 might have on free expression in our country. Journalists are the first to notice government actions that might create a barrier to our freedom to express sometimes unpopular opinions. Events this past week have made it clear that public opinion, clearly and forcefully expressed, can still have an effect on government policy.
Throughout the week media outlets, large and small were raising questions and concerns about the scope of the legislation. During clause-by-clause review of the bill by the Heritage Committee one of the changes proposed was to delete a section of the bill that made individuals who post on social media exempt from control by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The removal of this section raised fears that Bill C10 would extend CRTC control to anyone who posted anything on social media.
As the public outcry grew about the implications of this, Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault spoke out. He made it clear that the intent of the bill was not to regulate our cat videos. From its introduction the legislation was meant to support Canadian content producers and businesses from the unfair competition of web giants like Facebook and YouTube.
His reassurance was not enough to satisfy the concerns of opposition members; they have reserved their decision until they see the legislation re-written. The earliest that can happen is this Friday, May 7. Stay tuned.