The federal government has moved to curtail debate in the Senate on the online-streaming bill – in its final hurdle before becoming law – with a motion to halt parliamentary discussion next week.
Senator Marc Gold, the government’s representative in the Red Chamber, signalled on Thursday night that he would try to curb debate to six hours next week, speeding its passage into law.
But the attempt to limit debate provoked dismay from Conservative Senators.
Senator Leo Housakos, chair of the Senate committee that spent months scrutinizing the bill, accused the Prime Minister in a tweet of “shutting down debate after less than 6 hours.”
The bill, which would modernize Canada’s broadcast laws, has been the subject of heated debate, with YouTube warning that ambiguity in its wording could lead to the regulation of people posting amateur videos on the platform.
C-11 will make online-streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify promote and financially support Canadian music, film and TV, alongside traditional broadcasters.
The bill was debated on the floor of the House of Commons and the Senate and studied in the Commons heritage committee, which spent months examining the bill line by line and hearing from a string of interested parties.
The Senate committee on Transport and Communications heard from nearly 140 witnesses in 31 public meetings about the bill.
Marc Gold, the Government Leader in the Senate, tabled a “notice of motion” to curb further debate next week because he said Conservative senators have been trying to delay Bill C-11 from becoming law.
“Considering a clear and transparent campaign of procedural obstruction by Conservative senators under the public instructions of Pierre Poilievre, Senator Gold has given notice of a motion to conclude debate on the message from the House of Commons on Bill C-11,” his office told The Globe and Mail in a statement.
The bill is in its final stage in the parliamentary process before it becomes law.
This week, senators were debating Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez’s decision to both accept and reject particular Senate amendments to the bill.
The Conservative Leader in the Senate, Don Plett, urged senators to dig their heals in and stand by Senate amendments that the minister rejected. But other senators have expressed reluctance to pick a last-ditch fight with the elected House of Commons after making their views on the bill known in previous stages of its passage through Parliament.
Mr. Rodriguez accepted a number of amendments passed by the Senate. He rejected others, including a key amendment clarifying the wording of the bill to make clear that it would not cover user-generated videos posted on YouTube.
“We want to thank senators for their important work studying this bill, and hope it will receive Royal Assent from the Senate as soon as possible,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “Our artists, our creators, our culture are counting on Bill C-11. It’s time to move forward.”
Once the bill is passed, Mr. Rodriguez plans to issue a policy direction to the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission, which would be responsible for regulating streaming platforms. Among his directions will be to modernize the definition of what officially counts as Canadian TV and film.