Justin Trudeau’s government is seeking censorship
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No one would trust a real estate agent or a used car dealership with this approach, but this is how the Trudeau government is trying to sell its Internet regulation plan.
The government is trying to rush through new legislation on censorship in parliament at lightning speed. Through Bill C-11, the Trudeau government plans to give the CRTC the power to control the content Canadians can access online. This includes stream filtering on popular apps like Netflix, YouTube, and TikTok.
As if that were not enough, the government deliberately chooses not to disclose the scope of these new regulatory powers until after the bill comes into force.
Such an approach flouts the democratic process.
If the government wants to impose new censorship powers, at the very least we deserve to know how aggressively the CRTC will be charged with regulating what we see and share online.
The government can’t even blackmail bureaucrats from its own hymnal.
Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has promised loud and clear that user-generated content, meaning content that a typical Canadian might upload to YouTube or share on Twitter, will not be regulated by the Bill C-11.
But Ian Scott, the chairman of the CRTC, who will be responsible for enforcing the regulations on behalf of the government, says user-generated content will be fair game.
Who should Canadians believe?
If the CRTC says it will have the power to regulate user-generated content through Bill C-11, and they are the ones responsible for implementing it, Canadians should listen to the CRTC.
As the government tries to give itself sweeping new powers, it’s worth asking why the government wants bureaucrats to have these new powers in the first place.
The government says it wants to ensure that Canadians are exposed to enough Canadian content online. But this raises serious questions.
First, is the government competent to decide what should be considered Canadian content?
Currently, the process used by the CRTC to make this decision is flawed. A biopic about the Trump presidency, titled ‘Gotta Love Trump’, is considered by the CRTC to be Canadian content, while ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, based on the famous novel by legendary Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, is not. .
On the issue of jurisdiction, the answer is clearly no.
Second, what if the government decides it wants to use the CRTC’s new powers to influence what we see and share online based on standards other than Canadian content?
Mission creep is easy to predict. Today, the government wants to promote Canadian content. But tomorrow, with the CRTC’s powerful new tools for regulating the internet, Bill C-11 could easily be repurposed to quell dissent or promote favorable narratives. Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino, for example, has mused about the government pursuing new regulatory measures in the name of “social cohesion.”
With these risks evident, it is worth considering whether this legislation is even necessary, as the government claims, to ensure that Canadian content receives adequate visibility.
The truth is that Canadian content is thriving like never before. In 2020 alone, the Canadian film and television industry received $6 billion in foreign investment, up 5% from the previous year. And Canadian movies and shows are easy to find on streaming services like Netflix.
If the only purpose of Bill C-11 is to make Canadian content thrive and succeed online, then the current data shows that legislation is simply not necessary. The government could simply abandon Bill C-11 and stop there.
The fact that Rodriguez and the Trudeau government continue to aggressively push Bill C-11 in light of these facts demonstrates that the government’s motive is not, as it claims, to promote Canadian content. On the contrary, it’s all about control.