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Bill C-11 would make streaming platforms, such as Netflix and Spotify, contribute financially to Canadian cultural industries, including those in Quebec.Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Quebec’s National Assembly has unanimously passed a motion condemning the federal government’s online streaming bill for failing to recognize Quebec’s laws on cultural matters, saying it is up to the province to define its cultural direction.

The federal legislation, known as Bill C-11, is on the brink of becoming law. The eleventh-hour intervention by the Quebec legislature has surprised the federal government, as members of the province’s cultural sector have been enthusiastic backers of the bill.

Bill C-11 would make streaming platforms, such as Netflix and Spotify, contribute financially to Canadian cultural industries, including those in Quebec. The platforms would also be required to promote Canadian films, TV programs and songs, some of them in French.

During Question Period in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez faced a barrage of questions from Quebec Conservative MPs about the motion, which was tabled by Quebec’s Minister of Culture and Communications, Mathieu Lacombe. Mr. Rodriguez argued that the bill has the Quebec cultural sector’s full support.

The Assembly motion says Bill C-11 does not recognize Quebec law on the professional status of artists.

It also says that “as a nation it is up to Quebec itself to define its cultural direction,” and it reminds Parliament “that the distinct linguistic character of Quebec needs to be respected.”

The motion demands that Quebec be “officially consulted” on the content of the Minister’s policy direction to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on how the regulator should interpret and implement the bill. It also calls for “a formal mechanism” for this consultation to be embedded in the text of the bill. The motion notes that the policy direction “will have a significant impact on Quebec’s cultural milieu.”

In the House, Quebec Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus accused Mr. Rodriguez of ignoring an earlier letter from the Quebec government expressing concerns about the bill. Gerard Deltell, another Tory MP from the province, asked the Minister if he would “listen to Quebec’s request” and consider making a change to the bill in a parliamentary committee.

The bill has already passed through the Commons and the Senate after a prolonged examination in a Senate committee.

Mr. Rodriguez, who as Quebec Lieutenant is the federal government’s spokesman on Quebec, told The Globe and Mail it is “late in the process to make new amendments.”

“This bill was introduced over a year ago, and both houses have already spent over 30 hours making amendments,” he said. “That being said, we want to work in collaboration and will consult with all interested stakeholders, including the Government of Quebec, before issuing a policy direction on C-11 to the CRTC.”

Mr. Rodriguez is currently considering Senate amendments. He said recently that he would be willing to accept a number of them, but not those that make substantial changes to the text of the bill.

“We hope the Conservatives aren’t going to continue filibustering this important bill,” Mr. Rodriguez added. “Our artists, our creators, our culture are counting on it. It’s time to move forward.”

But Conservative Senate Leader Don Plett accused the government of delaying the bill, saying it “has taken its foot off the gas pedal.”

“We are now being led to believe that we may not get it back until the end of March,” Mr. Plett said. “Are they having second thoughts? In the past they have come back quickly.”

Mark Holland, the Liberal government’s House Leader, told reporters in Parliament on Wednesday that it was “not clear” how long it would take to consider the Senate amendments, but that he was in talks with his counterpart in the Senate, as well as other parties, about the next steps.

Conservative Senator Leo Housakos raised the National Assembly’s motion in the Senate on Wednesday, and accused the government of ignoring Quebec’s jurisdiction and the wishes of its legislature.

The Professional Music Publishers’ Association is among the Quebec-based cultural bodies pushing for the bill to pass swiftly. “The access to the audience through streaming platforms is crucial for our culture’s future,” said its executive director, Jerome Payette.

The Union des Artistes, which represents Francophone artists, said the bill is “extremely important to artists” and should be passed as soon as possible.

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