By Lethbridge Herald Opinion on June 5, 2021.
When the government gets involved in areas where it has no business meddling, calamity ensues.
Bill C-10 is a classic example of nonsensical government over-reach. If this bill passes, Canada will become the very first democratic country to apply its broadcasting act to the Internet and regulate the content posted online by those residing in Canada. In short, Canada will join the likes of China, Turkey, Iran, North Korea, and Russia.
Prime Minister Trudeau is trying to pass it off as a step toward modernization, but to quote former CRTC Commissioner, Peter Menzies, “Bill C-10 is the most regressive piece of legislation” he has ever seen.
The Internet is a vast, infinite, and magical realm of possibility for creators, artists, and the like. It is the new public square where we engage with one another through writing, audio, videos, images, etc. For many Canadians, socializing online is their new normal. It’s the sphere where ideas are exchanged, debate is sparked, discoveries are made, and meaningful connections are formed.
Bill C-10 was first introduced in the House of Commons in November last year, but it did not get much attention until April of this year when the Liberals removed an important clause from the legislation: section 4.1. This section made sure the content posted online by individuals would NOT be subject to the regulatory measures outlined in the bill. Once that clause was removed, it became clear to legal experts that Bill C-10 will trample our Charter rights.
Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter guarantees freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression. To be free to express means the right to speak and the right to be heard. This includes the things you might express verbally, along with the things you might express non-verbally. Bill C-10 will attack this fundamental right by censoring what you post and what you have access to online.
If Bill C-10 goes into effect in its current form, people will no longer see suggestions based on their preferences or what is most relevant, but based on what the government decides is “Canadian.” Through the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the government will score content based on its level of “Canadianness” and determine whether it should be made more or less visible to the public.
This will have a dramatically negative impact on those who create content and the millions of Canadians who view it. Instead of you, the viewer, choosing what content you want to see, the government will curate content for you based on what it wants you to see.
If it is not already obvious, here is the problem: the government should not be choosing what constitutes “Canadian” content and forcing it on viewers.
Canadians know what they want to watch on YouTube and they count on being able to search for and find the things that are most helpful to them. They do not want to be dictated to by the government.
If someone is searching for Canadian content, they will have no problem finding it, but if someone is looking for a how-to video on changing a bicycle chain, does it really matter if it’s Canadian? What happens when a student is searching for information on the American Revolution? Shouldn’t they have access to a myriad of sources, rather than just government-dictated “Canadian” content?
To prove the government should not be dictating what constitutes “Canadian” content, I gave the Liberal Heritage Minister a little quiz at a committee meeting when we were discussing the bill. I asked him if he thought Ultimate Gretzky, a film featuring the life of the great Canadian hockey player, Wayne Gretzky, was Canadian. He refused to answer. Perhaps he knew this film does not meet the government’s approval. It’s bizarre!
This bill is not only an attack against Canadian viewers, but a massive assault on Canadian creators and artists as well. Canadian creators punch above their weight when it comes to filling platforms like YouTube with desired content.
They excel globally without any interference from the government. YouTube personalities such as Aysha Harun, a Muslim beauty vlogger out of Scarborough, or Molly Burke, a blind fashion creator now based in LA, or Lilly Singh, an Indo-Canadian who has risen to international stardom, are finding success because of the openness of the Internet. They are able to thrive on a non-traditional platform and generate an income because of their talent and entrepreneurial intelligence. They are offering something viewers want and they are rewarded for it by gaining an audience and being able to generate revenue. Bill C-10 looks to punish them by making their channels less discoverable, while boosting the content of other artists the government likes more. This is a game of choosing winners and losers.
I have heard from YouTubers, new media experts, and digital-first creators that they do not want the “help” of the government. Quite the opposite: they want the government to get out of the way.
Experts are saying this lousy attempt at “fixing” things is ludicrous. I agree.
The Internet must remain open; creativity must be celebrated; and freedom must be protected. Bill C-10 must be scrapped.
If you agree, please take a moment to check out my Facebook page and share my posts (@RachaelHarderMP). Together, we can make sure the future of the Internet remains vibrant.