Skip to main content
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons, Feb. 3, 2020, in Ottawa. Bill C-10, originally introduced by Mr. Guilbeault in November, 2020, has faced concerns that it will curtail freedom of speech online.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Members of Parliament on the Canadian Heritage committee are suspending their line-by-line review of Bill C-10, which updates the Broadcasting Act, in order to hear new testimony from the Ministers of Justice and Canadian Heritage and other experts in response to concerns the bill will curtail freedom of speech online.

The committee is asking for the ministers and expert witnesses to testify and take questions as soon as possible. During Monday’s meeting, Liberal MPs recommended having the ministers appear on Friday, and the panel of experts at next Monday’s meeting.

The expert panel will be asked how the bill could affect freedom of speech, as well as the impact of the proposed legislation. It will consist of four expert witness, one chosen each by the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Bloc Québécois – the parties with members on the heritage committee.

Story continues below advertisement

Liberals pledge new amendments to broadcasting act to address concerns over social media posts

At Monday’s meeting, Conservative MPs already raised the possibility of inviting University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist as an expert. Mr. Geist has been an outspoken critic of the bill, and his comments on the legislation are often cited by Conservative MPs.

When asked about the request during Question Period on Monday, Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said he would be pleased to appear before the committee, adding that Canada’s cultural sector supports the bill. “We continue to stand with our artists and creators,” he said. “We look forward to the resumption of the committee’s work very soon.”

Conservative MP Rachael Harder responded by saying Mr. Guilbeault “makes things worse” every time he attempts to clarify the intent of the bill. “Why does the government continue to try to defend the indefensible?” she asked.

Bill C-10 was originally introduced by Mr. Guilbeault in November. The government says it’s meant to update the Broadcasting Act and make online streaming companies, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, abide by the same regulations as traditional broadcasters. That would mean they would have to promote and contribute financially to Canadian content.

The bill was amended in April to remove a clause that would have exempted user-generated content from the regulations, prompting concerns that the bill could pave the way for the government to regulate social media posts. The Liberals have since introduced new amendments, with similar wording to what had been removed in April, that they say will put such questions to rest.

“An individual who uses social media will never be considered a broadcaster under this bill. Any obligations will only apply to big streamers, not to Canadians,” said Liberal MP and committee member Julie Dabrusin, speaking to journalists on Monday.

“We remain committed to do everything in our power to level the playing field between creators and web giants, and require big, powerful streamers to provide information on their revenues in Canada, financially contribute to Canadian stories and music, and make it easier for individuals to discover our culture,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

Know what is happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary as selected by Globe editors (subscribers only). Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies