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OTTAWA, Ontario, May 5, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Canada’s Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault struggled to give a clear answer to justify why a committee chaired by him moved to have personal social media posts placed under government oversight.
In an interview on the CBC show Power & Politics last Friday, Guilbeault claimed that his internet regulation Bill C-10, is about “ensuring that these platforms that act like broadcasters pay their fair share when it comes to Canadian culture….It's not about content moderation.”
When the CBC interviewer asked Guilbeault why an original exemption in the bill for user-generated content on social media sites such as YouTube and Facebook were removed, he bumbled and fumbled his answer.
“We're, we're, not interested. I mean, it's not, it's not what I mean, I….,” said Guilbeault.
— Pundit Class (@punditclass) April 30, 2021
The interviewer, not satisfied with his answer, interjected to challenge Guilbeault, “but there literally was an exclusion that was put in the original iteration of that bill, the thing that was reviewed and then it got to committee and bingo, bango, bongo, the exclusion is gone. So why was it important to put it there in the first place such that now the committee has removed it?”
To this question, Guilbeault answered, “the committee decides what they want in the bill.”
“First of all, the committee hasn't even finished doing it, doing its work in terms of, of the amendments. So, we don't have a full picture of what the bill will look like when it comes back, when it comes back to the to the to the House of Commons for, for third reading,” said Guilbeault.
Last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government introduced Guilbeault’s Bill C-10, which would regulate certain online media services through the creation of a new class of broadcaster called “online undertakings.” The new regulations would be done through amendments to Canada’s Broadcasting Act.
The original draft of Bill C-10 had an exemption clause called “Section 4.1” for “user content” posted on social media by individuals, meaning such posts would originally have not fallen under Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) regulations.
The CRTC is the federal body tasked with regulating TV and radio in Canada, but up until Bill C-10 has kept a hands-off approach to regulating the internet.
However, a recent amendment to Bill C-10 done through the Heritage Committee last Friday removed the “Section 4.1” provision, which in theory means the federal government would be able to regulate what people post online.
The legislation, if passed, would force companies such as YouTube, Twitter, or Instagram to remove content deemed harmful within 24 hours. In essence, it would let the CRTC regulate the internet along with social media in line with their regulations for broadcasting services.
In his Friday CBC interview, Guilbeault said that it's “not necessary” to add back the exclusion for user-generated content, and that the bill can always be “perfected” or “amended.”
“So, it's not required to be there because I mean, this again, this idea that the CRTC would start looking, would start doing content moderation is, has no basis in reality. 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, so this whole conversation makes no sense,” said Guilbeault.
Recently, a former head of the CRTC blasted the amendment to Bill C-10, saying that the removal of the original protection for user-generated content on sites such as Facebook and YouTube is something that is not “going to end well.”
“Putting the CRTC in charge of the entire internet, I mean, that’s like putting a logging company in charge of the Great Bear Rainforest…it’s not going to end well,” said Peter Menzies, former head of the CRTC in regards to Bill C-10 in a Global News report.
During the Heritage Committee meeting last Friday regarding Bill C-10, Conservative Party MP Rachael Harder called upon her colleagues to look at whether the removal of “Section 4.1” from the Bill C-10 “fundamentally changes the legislation and dissolves the ground on which the charter statement stood to justify charter compliance.”
However, Liberal MPs quickly voted down Harder’s motion and all debate on the bill was stopped.
Yesterday, Harder was attacked by Guilbeault for her pro-life views in the House of Commons after she asked him if his bill would be able to stand up to a charter of rights review.
Guilbeault said that he found Harder’s intervention “incredibly hypocritical” on the grounds that, “given the opportunity [Harder] would not hesitate one minute to remove women's right to choose.” Guilbeault described the so-called “right to choose” abortion as a “right protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms” and said that Harder was being hypocritical because she would “like us and Canadians to believe that all of the sudden, she cares deeply about said Charter.”
CPC MP Pierre Poilievre, an outspoken critic of the Trudeau government, has launched a petition against Bill C-10 called “Stop the Censorship Bill & Protect Free Speech.” The petition calls on the Trudeau government to “immediately withdraw the censorship bill and respect free speech.”
In a statement yesterday, the Federal NDP Party said that they will be voting in favor of a motion that puts “Bill C-10 on hold while the Department of Justice conducts a new Charter compliance analysis and calls on the Minister to appear in committee.”
The NDP statement means Bill C-10 could face an uphill battle, as Trudeau Liberals need NDP support if the bill is to pass.