Hon. Dennis Dawson: Honourable senators, I rise today to introduce you to Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts.
As you know, we were not expecting to get to second reading today, and since we are now expecting to sit next week, I hope we can send this bill to the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications as soon as possible. Negotiations are ongoing for when the committee will meet, but for now I will concentrate on having the bill sent to committee.
Bill C-10 deserves much attention and scrutiny, and we need to perform our duties as the chamber of sober second thought. It was never the intention of the government to ram the bill through at the end of the session. I am happy to speak to it today.
I wish to inform honourable senators that the Department of Canadian Heritage will organize briefings on this bill on Monday of next week — you will receive details later today or tomorrow — at 11:30 in French and 11:45 in English. I will be presenting a speech.
In June 2018, the Government of Canada appointed a panel to review the broadcasting and telecommunications legislative framework. They received over 2,000 written submissions and heard directly from many people through conferences across the country. The Yale report was released in January 2020, which made recommendations based on this intensive study and created the framework for Bill C-10 and the modernization of the Broadcasting Act.
Bill C-10 was tabled on November 3, 2020, and spent 112 days at committee stage at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, with over 40 meetings and close to 50 witnesses, not counting departmental briefings. As the bill reaches us, there have been over 100 amendments, with numerous subamendments.
The Bloc and NDP do not hide their contempt for this chamber and they would like us to trust their analysis of the bill and accept it blindly, rubber stamp it and not give it the sober second thought it deserves.
Let us examine the bill, what it aims to do and why this is such important legislation.
Honourable senators, Canada has a long history of supporting Canadian film, music and television. I will read what I said in the other place in 1982:
The policy initiative is designed to give Canadians increased choice in television and radio broadcasting and to develop greater appreciation for Canada’s rich social, historic and cultural heritage.
I emphasized the fact that we have to regularly modernize the Broadcasting Act, which hasn’t been modernized for 30 years. This is long overdue.
Although the Broadcasting Act was originally enacted in 1936, it has not been significantly revised since 1991. Needless to say, this bill has been a long time coming, since the last revision was before everyone had a cell phone in their pocket and the internet was fast enough to stream TV shows.
This bill would expand the legislative and regulatory regime to include online broadcasters by confirming that the CRTC has regulatory jurisdiction and authority over these services.
The bill would also provide for greater diversity and inclusion in the broadcasting sector. More specifically, the bill would specify that online broadcasting falls within the scope of the act.
Broadcasting and regulatory policy will be updated, including better reflections of Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and Canadian diversity.
This bill will provide strong support for original French-language content.
I would now like to talk about the issue of support for francophone creators and French-language content, including content produced by minority francophone communities. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Minister Joly for recognizing Quebec as a French state.
First, it is important to recognize that this is a key issue and that the concerns expressed by stakeholders are entirely legitimate.
We must not forget about the minority status of francophones in North America. It’s safe to assume that in a world dominated by English, online broadcasting giants like Netflix and Spotify won’t necessarily consider the needs of Canada’s francophones, whether they live in Quebec or in a minority community elsewhere in Canada. However, we know that radio and television are vitally important to the language, culture and identity of the only francophone minority in North America.
It goes without saying that measures are needed to support and promote francophone stories and music. I think we’re all agreed on that, especially since the arrival of online broadcasters turned Canada’s broadcasting sector upside down, and the French-language market was no exception.
Online broadcasters present unique challenges regarding the availability and promotion of online French-language content, including content produced by our francophone minority communities.
It’s important to note that 47% of francophones currently watch primarily English content on Netflix. That is a major departure from traditional television, where 92% of the francophone market tunes in to French-language programming.
Similarly, while the average production budget for English-language films and videos has been increasing for many years, as has funding from foreign investors, we note that the average production budget for French-language content has decreased, and funding from foreign investors remains low. On the music and digital platforms front, it is important to note that in 2017, there were just 6 French Canadians in the top 1,000 most popular streaming artists in Canada. I repeat, 6 out of 1,000.
Honourable senators, Bill C-10 will renew Canada’s approach to regulation in order to ensure fair and equitable treatment between online and traditional broadcasters. It will modernize enforcement powers through a new administrative monetary penalty regime.
Bill C-10 will update oversight and information-sharing provisions to reinforce the CRTC’s role as a modern and independent regulator, ready for the 21st century.
Bill C-10 will benefit our Canadian artists and creators across the country. The bill will allow more opportunities for Canadian producers, directors, writers, actors and musicians. They will be empowered to create high-quality audio and audiovisual content, and they will be able to make that content available to Canadian audiences.
The regulatory framework will be both equitable and flexible, and comparable broadcasting services will be subject to similar regulatory requirements. It will also take into account their distinct business models.
Canada’s broadcasting system will be more diverse and inclusive and will be reflective of Canadian society. More importantly, Canadian music and stories will be more available through a variety of services.
Let’s look at some of the technical aspects of the bill. Currently, as a condition of licence, TV programming services are required to spend a percentage of their revenues on Canadian content each year. Cable and satellite companies are required to pay a percentage of their revenues and levies to production funds and contributions to local programming that support the development and production of Canadian content. Commercial radio broadcasters and satellite radio carriers contribute a portion of their revenues to support Canadian content and development initiatives, including musical content. These contributions totalled $3.4 billion in 2019.
However, digital disruption and competition from online broadcasters threaten this support. Increasing competition from online broadcasters is leading to diminishing revenues for traditional services, with traditional broadcasting revenues declining by 1.5% from 2018 to 2019. Ultimately, this will lead to less funding for Canadian music and programming.
The shifting market dominance is illustrated by Netflix, which is now present in most Canadian households — 62% — and generated $1 billion in revenue in Canada in 2019. Internal Canadian Heritage projections find that falling commercial broadcasting revenues are expected to lead to a decline in the production of Canadian television content by 34% between 2018 and 2023.
If the CRTC requires online broadcasters to contribute to Canadian content at a similar rate to traditional broadcasters, online broadcasters’ contributions to Canadian music could amount to as much as $830 million per year by 2023.
Social media services have become an important place for accessing programming, including both music and audiovisual programming. YouTube has become the most widely used music-streaming app across all ages, with weekly active usage highest among 16- to 19-year-olds at 70% of penetration.
Confirming that the act applies to social media platforms will allow the CRTC to ensure that these services contribute to an equilibrium in the distribution system. Social media services have also become a venue for self-expression. Bill C-10, as passed in the House of Commons, includes special safeguards to ensure Canadians’ freedom of expression is secure. Trust me, cat videos will still be permitted, and the CRTC will not stop you from doing them — for those who like that.
For example, users of social media services will not be regulated and shall not be considered broadcasters, contrary to what has been said numerous times over the last few weeks and months.
Moreover, the CRTC will be authorized to gather information about social media services and their users, seek financial contributions from social media services to support the Canadian creative sector and require the social media services to make Canadian creators discoverable online. These regulatory requirements will be imposed on the service itself, not on users of social media services.
The CRTC is required to interpret the Broadcasting Act in a way that is consistent with the freedom of expression and journalistic, creative and programming independence enjoyed by broadcasting undertakings. The Department of Justice reviewed these changes and determined that they support the continued consistency of the bill with the Charter.
Bill C-10 will improve the representation of all Canadians in the programs they watch. When most of the programming available to Canadians does not reflect their actual lived experiences, something needs to change.
That is why Bill C-10 makes advances to ensure that the Broadcasting Act promotes greater diversity. Programming that represents Indigenous peoples, ethnocultural minorities, racialized communities, francophones and anglophones, including those who belong to the LGBTQ+ community — who have been the subject of other speeches today — and people with disabilities will no longer be provided only “as resources become available for the purpose.” The offer and availability of such programming is essential for self-actualization.
The policy objectives set out in the Broadcasting Act will ensure that our broadcasting system reflects Canadian society and that diverse and inclusive programming is available to everyone. That is essential to ensuring that the Canadian broadcasting system can help broaden people’s perspectives, spur empathy and compassion for others and celebrate our differences, while strengthening the common bonds that unite our unique Canadian society.
Colleagues, after we have done our duty and considered Bill C-10, the Minister of Canadian Heritage intends to ask the Governor-in-Council to issue a policy direction to the CRTC to guide its use of the new regulatory tools provided by the bill.
After that, and in consultation with stakeholders, the CRTC will develop and implement new regulations to ensure that both traditional and online broadcasting services offer meaningful levels of Canadian content and contribute to the creation of Canadian content — obviously, in both official languages.
Bill C-10 will benefit our artists and creators across the country. There will be more opportunities for Canadian producers, directors, screenwriters, actors and musicians. They will be empowered to create high-quality audio and audiovisual content and will be able to make it available to Canadian audiences.
The regulatory framework will be both equitable and flexible, because comparable broadcasting services will be subject to similar regulatory requirements. The framework will also take into account their different business models.
Honourable senators, I spoke about these points earlier in my speech, but they bear repeating and must be clear. Right now, in order to obtain a licence, television programming services must spend a percentage of their revenues on Canadian content every year. Cable and satellite companies are required to contribute a percentage of their revenues and levies to production funds and contributions to local programming that support the development and production of Canadian content. Commercial radio broadcasters and satellite radio carriers give a portion of their annual revenues to support Canadian content development initiatives, including music content. These contributions totalled $3.4 billion in 2019.
However, digital disruption and competition from online broadcasters are threatening this support. The growing competition from online broadcasters has resulted in declining revenues for traditional services, with traditional broadcasting revenues dropping by 1.4% between 2018 and 2019. Ultimately, this means less funding for Canadian music and programming.
Netflix is an example of how market dominance is shifting, as the service is now in 62% of Canadian households and generated $1 billion in revenue in 2019. Internal departmental projections show that declining commercial broadcasting revenues are expected to lead to a 34% drop in the production of Canadian television content from 2018 to 2023.
Honourable senators, I want to stress this important point once again. If the CRTC requires that online broadcasters contribute to Canadian content at a rate similar to that of traditional broadcasters, those online broadcasters could contribute as much as $830 million a year to Canadian music and stories by 2023.
Social media services have become an important place for people to access programming, including music and audiovisual programming. YouTube has become the most widely used music streaming app for all ages, with weekly active usage being highest among 16- to 19-year-olds at 70% of penetration.
Esteemed colleagues, as I pointed out earlier, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP are not hiding their disdain for this place and would like us to rely on their analysis of the bill, blindly go along with it and not give this bill the sober second thought it deserves.
I think we have to do it.
In debate at committee in the other place, there has been much raised about the freedom of expression. I want to address this point. The Broadcasting Act includes a specific clause that it must be interpreted in a way that respects freedom of expression, and journalistic and creative independence. This has been there for 30 years. At the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, the government added a further clause that repeats that this protection applies specifically to social media companies.
The Charter Statement and the amendment analysis from the Department of Justice Canada confirms that Bill C-10 does not infringe upon freedom of expression. Bill C-10 levels the playing field and requires web giants to contribute to Canadian shows and music. I repeat again: It does not infringe upon freedom of expression.
Bill C-10 will benefit Canadian artists and creators across the country. This bill will also update oversight and information-sharing provisions to strengthen the role of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the CRTC, as a modern and independent regulator, ready for the 21st century.
The Minister of Canadian Heritage will be setting up an information session next week.
I want to give you a list of some of the organizations that support this legislation, because it does have very wide support from the stakeholders involved in the industry: Peter Grant, counsel and past chair of Technology, Communications and Intellectual Property at McCarthy Tétrault; Janet Yale, Chair of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel; Pierre Trudel, law professor at the University of Montreal and first head of the L. R. Wilson Chair in Information Technology and E-Commerce Law; the Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions; L’Alliance nationale de l’industrie musicale; L’Association des distributeurs de livres en langue française; the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association; and the list goes on.
So I urge you to support sending this to committee so it can be further analyzed and so that we can do the sober second thought revision that I think it deserves.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Dawson, we have a couple of senators who would like to ask questions. Would you take questions?
Senator Dawson: Yes, Your Honour.
Hon. Pamela Wallin: I disagree with many of the things you just said, Senator Dawson.
I want to ask specifically about infringements upon people’s free speech. Can you explain why clause 4.1 was excised deliberately from the bill, despite repeated requests from outside parties and MPs themselves?
This was the clause to exempt user-generated content. By excluding that and refusing to have that protective clause in, tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube posts and all of that is subject to discoverability by big tech.
Why was that section excised?
Senator Dawson: In a minority government and when you’re in a minority situation in a committee, you make compromises. There was a request from several parties, including the Conservative Party, to look at this issue and try to frame it. Along the way, some of the amendments — I think that’s one of the reasons we have to give it sober second thought — came in and came out, and I think they will deserve a new look.
Trust me: It does not apply to people. It applies to organizations. People’s freedom of speech and expression will not be altered by this bill.
We’ve had the same rules. We’re basically applying to social media the same rules we have applied to broadcasting and radio transmissions for the last 50 years. The CRTC has been doing it forever and has never stifled free speech. It’s not because it will now be used by American companies that we should be preoccupied with free speech.
Senator Wallin: I have a supplementary.
I’m afraid that was just not the case. It was the government itself that excised clause 4.1, so I don’t think that’s something you can put on the opposition or the critics.
This was followed very closely, even though many of those hearings were held without notice, amendments were “passed” — and I’m putting that in quotation marks — in secret without even the wording of the amendments being put out.
We’ve just looked at this bill now, but clause 4.1 is not there. You can ask the tech companies to be the ones to monitor user-generated content. It’s still there — the ability for big tech to do that on behalf of the CRTC, on behalf of the government and on behalf of some other special interests — they still have that ability.
I come back to the basic question: If you believe free speech is protected, then why didn’t clause 4.1 remain to protect free speech?
Senator Dawson: Again, I repeat that this was a process of amendments in committee. As you know, the government amended its own bill because it was getting pressure from the outside to clarify certain amendments, and that was one of them.
Again, the CRTC does not get new powers to control the content of free expression. Yes, there is a reestablishment of equality between broadcasters and companies like Netflix and Google. If you’re sending kitten videos on Google, you will not be subject to this control. The companies that do use those things — if they’re making money off of you and those revenues are not being shared by Canadians — the new rules will be applied to them, and they will participate in the financing of — I think it’s quite normal — Canadian artists and producers.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Wallin, there is another senator who wishes to ask a question, and if there’s time, I’ll come back.
Senator Wallin: Thank you.
Hon. Leo Housakos: Thank you, Senator Dawson, for your speech.
There is very little in it that I’m in concurrence with, but I do recognize you’re the sponsor of the bill, not the architect. We will have to address this legislation and, hopefully, try to strengthen it, clean it up and make it achieve its original objective.
Before we get into the actual content of the bill, senator, I want to talk about process. I know you’re a long-time member of this chamber and a former member of the House of Commons as well. I have been very concerned with the process of what has basically become secret lawmaking or legislation-making in the House of Commons. Have we ever seen a House of Commons committee behind closed doors, in camera, propose amendments to legislation that the Speaker of the House of Commons had to rule out of order?
Senator Dawson, I know you appreciate the supremacy of Parliament. Can you comment? Do you share the concerns that I know Senator Wallin, other colleagues and I have about the process that was utilized in the other place to come to the end result, which is that this legislation is crawling to come to a finish line here in the Senate?
Senator Dawson: I have to correct you, Senator Housakos. These amendments were done in public on the broadcast CPAC and in the parliamentary broadcast; they weren’t done in an in camera meeting. Obviously, since the Speaker had to overturn the decision the committee had made to tell the chair to do it that way, obviously the rules were applied. That’s why the Speaker did it, and they reassessed the amendments and passed them again in respect for the structure of amendments in the chamber.
Obviously, since there was time allocation, they weren’t going to debate all of the — they had five hours to debate, I told you before — 100 amendments. There was no way they could debate each one of those and respect the five hours since — and I’m not being partisan — but the Conservatives obviously had the objective of filibustering the adoption of these amendments. They succeeded. The communications were broken between the chair of the committee, who was overturned by the committee, and the Speaker overturned the decision of the committee.
It was not done in secret, and since you’re talking about it, because there was nothing secret about it.
Senator Housakos: Senator Dawson, this is not a question of partisanship. This is a question of how, for the first time in the history of Parliament, we’ve had a Liberal chair of a parliamentary committee overruled by his own members in trying to steamroll, in an in camera process, amendments. You are absolutely right; thank God for a point of order called by the Conservatives. Again, the Speaker of the House did the appropriate thing.
My question, to turn to content, is about the Minister of Canadian Heritage, who has constantly claimed that Bill C-10 will result in $830 million per year in additional investments in Canadian culture. Consistently he has refused to provide any calculations explaining what formula he used to come up with those numbers.
In the House debate this week, the parliamentary secretary claimed that Bill C-10 needed to pass for the government to find out how much money the streaming services are making in Canada. If that’s the case, how do they even know how much money the bill will raise? What are the bases of their promises to the arts sector to come up with figures like that?
Senator Dawson: Obviously, since the streaming services are not subject to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, or the CRTC, disclosure arrangements, some of this is speculation. Again, I will invite you to listen to the briefings on Monday.
More importantly, one of the reasons we’re sending it to committee is so you have the opportunity to ask the minister to clarify how he has come to that number. Basically, one of the reasons the numbers are being contested is that we know how much some of the companies make, but how much of it will be redistributed to Canadian content will depend on how much Canadian content is not being paid for at this time.
Senator Housakos: Senator Dawson, it seems this whole legislation is based on some form of speculation. The numbers don’t seem to jibe, because we don’t know what formula is being used. We have constantly heard, and we heard it again in your speech, to trust you and that freedom of speech will not be at risk.
I also heard in your speech how this bill is going to strengthen diversity in minority groups. I, for one, believe that currently the Broadcasting Act doesn’t do that for minority voices, including multicultural communities. We often hear from the Prime Minister and others in this government that diversity is our strength, and I agree. We keep hearing that this legislation will protect it — Indigenous voices, LGBTQ voices. However, the irony with Bill C-10 is that it will actually attack diversity, in my definition. What is constituted as Canadian content will, therefore, force Indigenous and LGBTQ creators to conform their content to work with whomever the government or the CRTC thinks they should work with.
How is that helping these minority voices, Senator Dawson?
Senator Dawson: The first reality is that much more money will be at everybody’s disposal, and they will be getting an identified fair share of it for the first time. Obviously, a lot of these laws on broadcasting that were written 30 years ago need to be modernized. That’s one of the objectives of this legislation.
I’m trying to find the chapter, but I will be issuing directives to the Privy Council about giving clear mandates to the CRTC on how it will apply, after consultation, to the groups, industries and the people involved, basically the artists.
Senator Wallin: Honourable senators, I want to come back to some of the comments Senator Dawson has made here.
Senator Dawson, you talk about this process in the House of Commons being conducted in public. It was, in fact, true that the committee hearings were broadcast. The problem was that the discussion, the debate and the amendments were secret. They were written on pieces of paper, and you had to vote for amendment one, amendment two or amendment three. Even members of the committee were not allowed to see that. On the whole question of process, it’s nothing short of appalling that we would put forward a piece of legislation that was constructed in that manner.
The minister himself, on occasion, has said that the point of this was for discoverability so we could see — whatever the royal “we” is in that case — the content of online posts, tweets or YouTube videos. They wanted to be able to observe that and make decisions about it. They themselves may not do this directly, but under the auspices of the CRTC or, worse yet, through the streaming services themselves, they could start to censor content that people don’t like.
How can that be preserving, saving or protecting free speech? It just doesn’t make sense.
Senator Dawson: I’m surprised the question would come from someone who was involved in broadcasting for so long.
Senator Wallin: That’s exactly why I’m asking.
Senator Dawson: Could you give me examples of when the CRTC issued you directives on what you were allowed to say or not say? That’s just not what happens.
The only thing the bill will do is to apply the same rules to internet content that they applied to you. It’s not stifling free speech. You will have the same liberties you had when you were a broadcaster broadcasting from home. A good example is your podcast. Nobody will stifle it, but if Canadian podcasts are going to start making money off products that Canadians are producing, the CRTC wants its fair share of the revenue. That’s the only objective of this addition to the bill.
Senator Wallin: There was a much simpler way to do that, and everybody seemed to be in agreement. If you wanted more cash to generate more Canadian content or francophone content — which seemed to be the minister’s priority — then what you have to do is impose a tax on big tech, and then the money is available. You do not have to go through this circuitous route of making user-generated content a possible source of revenue. You have a way to get that revenue.
Senator Dawson: You say many people this and many people that. The reality is this legislation was adopted by the House of Commons, so the majority of parliamentarians in the other place arrived at the conclusion that this was the way.
Everybody has mentioned, since the beginning of this debate, that this is the first step. We have to look at the Telecommunications Act and all other legislation, but this was the first step in modernizing the Broadcasting Act. I repeat that it didn’t have the context of the internet, because it was written before the internet had the power it has today.
Some of that evolution will mean more people will receive revenues because we’ll be getting money from organizations that have not been giving any. Again, this is not just a taxation issue. It’s not giving the money to the Governor-in-Council. It’s to give it to the artists, because they’ll get their fair share when these revenues come in.
Hon. Donna Dasko: Honourable senators, it’s great that we’re going to have another briefing from the government. I did ask the parliamentary secretary back in April about this, before all the amendments had broken out, and she promised that it would happen. I look forward to that.
I have a question for Senator Dawson about Canadian content. One of the things we heard from some of the broadcast representatives who came to speak to the Independent Senators Group and others about this was that they are looking for relief from Canadian content regulations. They were looking to this bill or the process down the road to relieve them of some of their current requirements.
I wonder if you could comment on that. Do you think this is something that will happen? How does that fit with the regulation of the online services with respect to Canadian content? Thank you.
Senator Dawson: Thank you, Senator Dasko. I could continue to list the people who support the bill and don’t agree with you. I don’t know whom you invited to your briefings, because I know I met with a lot of these organizations and everybody recognizes the bill is flawed. Nobody is saying this is a perfect bill. This is a step forward. However, if all of these organizations that survive on the existence of this legislation and if all of these people believe this is the solution and are supporting it, I don’t know why we should be preoccupied. Obviously, there will always be people who have a different opinion.
On the definition of Canadian content, again, it’s a compromise. You’ll have the opportunity on Monday to listen to the briefing. Since you are a member of our Committee on Transport and Communications, I’d be more than happy for you to ask those questions.
First of all, since I’m not a member of your caucus, I was not invited to those briefings, so I don’t know what they said.
Senator Dasko: The things that we heard are not things that are secret. These are positions that have been made public by stakeholders who have come and spoken to us and others, and have spoken publicly and so on.
I’m just asking about their seeking relief from Canadian content regulations as we go forward. That’s all I was looking for. This is not private. These are public positions that they’ve taken.
They’re looking for relief from Canadian content regulations because of, they say, the onerous conditions now, given the economic environment that they’re in and that you articulated in your speech. I’m just asking if you are envisioning this down the road, that’s all.
Senator Dawson: First of all, I’ll be modest and say I’m not part of the government, so I have to limit what I can promise you.
These people who supported it, I can give you a copy of the list. I don’t know who made that statement. I’m not objecting to the fact that you had briefings, obviously. I’m encouraging as many people to know as much as they can about this bill, but I cannot comment on people when I wasn’t there. I know how much effort was made to get consultation on this bill, and I appreciate it. I think we will have an occasion to use all of that consultation in the future, and you will get answers appropriately.
As I mentioned, because it’s true, some of these loopholes were mentioned at the committee in the other place, but in the end, with its flaws, the majority of parliamentarians in three parties out of four in the other place supported the bill and sent it to us for study. I think that there must be something that answers your question, if they accepted it.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Housakos, do you wish to ask another question?
Senator Housakos: Yes. Senator Dawson, I have a couple more questions.
Senator Dawson: Senator Housakos, how can I say no?
Senator Housakos: You’re always benevolent, Senator Dawson.
I don’t want to put blame on you. You’re not the architect of this. I do appreciate you recognize that this is a bill that requires study.
You have pointed out on a number of occasions that we have nothing to worry about regarding freedom of speech, that the CRTC will continue to do what they’ve always done and essentially extend and apply these rules, of course, to other platforms.
The truth of the matter, as you’ve acknowledged, is this is an antiquated Broadcasting Act, and times have changed radically. The approach is very different. It’s not a question of the CRTC regulating traditional, classic broadcasters. It’s regulating new platforms. Twitter is a new platform. YouTube is a new platform. Young Canadians — not our generation, Senator Dawson — have become part and parcel of these platforms, and they are concerned about having their freedoms protected.
I would like to hear your comment about how the CRTC will continue business as usual, and that we just have to trust that they will not infringe upon the freedom of expression of individual use of the various platforms.
Brian Wyllie from Calgary is an expert gamer who has over a million followers on Twitch. Montrealer Kiana Gomes created a whole business using TikTok. Justin Bieber, I think we’ve heard of him, Canadian content but worldwide exposure. Shawn Mendes, Lilly Singh. These are all successful Canadians who gained that success through YouTube, through that new platform of which traditional broadcasters in Canada are so terrified. Today, they likely would not be Canadian enough under this new legislation, and this CanCon attempt to narrow things.
Could I have your comment on those two points, Senator Dawson?
Senator Dawson: First of all, I repeat that modernization does not apply only to new broadcasters. It applies to traditional broadcasters as well. The CRTC will get directives from the minister clarifying these issues. It’s going to be part of a process that’s in the bill of consultation with the players. This will be clarified.
As far as the hypothetical question of who would have won or lost, had they not invented the internet, obviously a lot of these people would not have had the coverage they have had. Had they been involved in the beginning and they had their revenues guaranteed during the years that this law was not applying to the internet, the billions of dollars that were lost in revenues by Canadian broadcasters, Canadian artists and Canadian distributors would not have been sent to American companies, but would have been sent to the artists, the producers and the organizations here in Canada.
Hon. Patricia Bovey: Senator Dawson, I wonder if you could just go back in history for a minute. I happen to have the 1951 Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences in front of me in which they’re saying that television was a dangerous rival to other mass media and voicing the importance it could prove for artists.
I just wonder if you feel that some of the issues being raised today were, in fact, raised with that new technology of television back in the late 1940s.
Senator Dawson: I’ll again quote myself from the 1982 interview on this same issue:
Unless new policy initiatives are introduced, the industry is at risk in the face of new technological and global competition which could destroy the infrastructure of Canadian program production.
This is not the first time that these issues have been brought up. The 1991 modernization was to act on this part. Now, after 30 years, they need to update the regulations. We would not have the cultural industry we have in Canada had both parties that have been in power not used these tools to help the Canadian production industry and the Canadian culture industry.
I hope people will support this going forward because, as we speak, money is going out of Canada that could be used for Canadian artists, producers and distributors.