The Senate’s consideration of Bill C-11 was concluded on February 2. Unfortunately, the Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, whose 50 members represent more than 360,000 creators and professionals and 2,900 businesses in the cultural sector, is very disappointed that, contrary to its demands, the Senate did not take this final step to repair a major flaw in the bill, confirming the inclusion of a double standard in favour of foreign online businesses with respect to the creation, production and presentation of Canadian content.
However, the Senate adopted 26 amendments that must now be addressed by the government and the opposition parties. In order to ensure that the Act to amend the Broadcasting Act becomes the framework for true cultural sovereignty in Canada for decades to come, the Coalition urges members of Parliament to pay particular attention to some of these amendments.
First, the Coalition calls for the rejection of a problematic amendment that seeks to limit the scope of the Act with respect to social media. Introduced with the stated purpose of allaying fears and focusing the law’s action on professional music content, the amendment misses its target and, due to a technical error, excludes music videos, which are central to online music viewing on services such as YouTube, from the scope of the law.
Secondly, CDCE calls for the deletion of an amendment that weakens the protection of so-called national interest programs, which include dramas, documentaries, children’s programs and music programs, even though they are the ones that require regulatory support in the first place. She also called for the rejection of an amendment that would weaken the Act’s definition of Canadian programming.
“It would be dramatic to give Royal Assent to a Bill C-11 that would exclude social media, and virtually all of their activities, when some of these companies play a leading role in the dissemination of professional cultural content in Canada. The Coalition is deeply committed to freedom of expression and wants to see Canadian creators succeed. It seems clear that wise regulation of social media will not conflict with these elements, on the contrary, said Hélène Messier, co-chair of the CDCE. It is also essential to maintain the CRTC’s ability to ensure that diverse content is offered by broadcasters. The talent of our creators must be able to continue to express itself through programs that allow them to use their full creative potential and demonstrate the richness of our culture,” she added.
“Bill C-11 has generated heated debate in the Senate, but we call on members of Parliament to focus on the facts: partisan amendments that only seek to reduce the powers of the CRTC and the effectiveness of the legislation must be rejected,” said Bill Skolnik, co-chair of the CDCE.
Finally, the Coalition would like to point out that some of the amendments made by the Senators substantially improve the bill. The provision for public hearings that will allow Canadians to have their say when the CRTC imposes rules on newly regulated players is welcome. The Coalition is also pleased to see that the Senate has acted in favour of Canadian independent production, ensured that the Status of the Artist Act applies to all regulated companies, and improved several amendments affecting communities seeking fairness.
Hélène Messier, CDCE Co-Chair
Marie-Julie Desrochers, Executive Director
438 872-7282 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo @Kelly Kinsman
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