Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre was ordered by the Commons Speaker to remove part of a video he put out on Twitter on Thursday accusing the Liberals of trying to close down debate on the online streaming bill.
After the Liberals tabled a “closure” motion to curb debate of the bill in the Commons, Mr. Poilievre hurriedly filmed a video, saying there was an “emergency here on Parliament Hill” as the Liberals were “shutting down debate” on Bill C-11.
The government introduced the motion so the bill could clear the Commons and be sent back to the Senate for its final stage before becoming law.
Liberal MPs said the bill had been closely scrutinized and considered in Parliament over many months, including a record number of hours in the Senate. They said members of Canada’s artistic community were eager to see it passed into law.
But in Question Period on Thursday, the Leader of the Opposition asked, “when will the Liberals realize that Orwell’s 1984 was not an instruction manual?”
“If the Prime Minister is not afraid of debate, why is he so determined to shut it down?” he asked.
On Thursday afternoon, Commons Speaker Anthony Rota ruled, after a formal complaint by Liberal MP Mark Gerretsen, that Mr. Poilievre would have to remove a portion of a video showing him leaving the Commons chamber to raise the alarm about the Liberals’ move to shut down debate. Parliamentary rules ban filming or photos of MPs in the chamber.
As the friction in the chamber increased over C-11, Conservative MPs gained the support of the Greens and Bloc Québécois, both supporters of the bill, in voting against the government’s closure motion to halt debate.
Conservative heritage critic Rachael Thomas accused the government of “not only wanting to censor what Canadians see and hear and post online, with Bill C-11, they also want to censor us as opposition members and our ability to speak about this bill.”
Green Leader Elizabeth May said: “Every MP has a right to debate and closure is wrong.” But she said Bill C-11 is not a censorship bill, though it is rather clumsily worded.
NDP heritage critic Peter Julian accused the Conservatives of “throwing wacky conspiracy theories onto the floor of the House of Commons for hour after hour after hour, comparing C-11 to North Korea.”
Mr. Gerretsen read out a list of quotations from Tory MPs he said were examples of disinformation, including claims that the online streaming bill was akin to measures found in Iran and Communist China.
Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez told The Globe and Mail: “Instead of engaging in constructive debate, the Conservatives continue to deliberately misinform Canadians about this bill.”
The online streaming bill updates Canada’s broadcast laws and would make streaming platforms such as Disney Plus and Amazon Prime promote Canadian films and TV, and contribute financially to Canada’s cultural sector.
On Thursday evening, MPs voted on a motion about Senate amendments to the bill, its final stage in the Commons before going back to the Senate for a last debate.
The Senate is not expected to further contest the bill after Mr. Rodriguez accepted a number of senators’ amendments. But individual senators may raise objections to the minster’s rejection of several other Senate changes. The bill could become law within a month, if it can be slotted into the parliamentary timetable.