4 Sitting Days Left – Guilbeault’s Push to Introduce Bill C-10 to Senate Receives Backlash

The Heritage Minister isn’t giving up his war on free speech. Guilbeault tried “introducing” C-10 into the senate, but senators are calling this “insulting”.

According to the official calendar, there are just 4 sitting days left before the break. This is significant because of how things are going with Bill C-10.

For free speech advocates and innovators, the process of this legislation has been quite taxing. It seemed as though all hope was lost after committee members passed it in a secret rushed process. Even as the bill was brought back to the House of Commons, there were new concerns about the process in which the legislation was moving forward. After holding the bill in secrecy all weekend, the bill was finally made public. At the same time, Guilbeault was pushing for a “gag order” in the house of Commons on top of it all. With the previous efforts to stamp out a democratic process being successful, the situation looked dire.

It was then that things suddenly took a turn for the better. The Speaker of the House of Commons ruled that the Heritage Committee exceeded its authority in limiting debate and holding amendments to a secret vote. As a result, the amendments were slapped down and a new version of the bill without those amendments was ordered to be printed. For creators and innovators, this seemingly hopeless situation suddenly had new found hope. The idea that the bill would time out before the break was now a very real possibility again.

The amendments that were held and voted on in secrecy were then re-introduced including the amendment that would restore Section 4.1. There are at least two implications for all of this:

  1. The fact that these debates will have to actually take place will take time – something this bill may not have much of
  2. It would put MP’s on record as to whether or not they support free speech (a vote for this amendment is a vote for free speech while a vote against means the MP sided with the Heritage Minister)

Regardless, trying to pass the free speech crackdown bill is now increasingly going to be a tall order. In fact, it could be an insurmountable challenge for the Minister. While there was some hope that this would be the moment to finally give up the dreams of ending free speech online, it seems the Minister isn’t giving up. We are learning that the Minister was attempting to introduce the legislation in the senate. That, of course, is news to us given that, according to the Parliamentary website, the bill is still in the House of Commons. A report from the National Psrt is painting a very interesting picture of the situation, though:

The Liberal government’s push to speed up the passage of its controversial broadcasting bill C-10 before Parliament breaks for summer is set to hit a wall at the Senate.

There is no appetite among a majority of senators to fast-track the bill, which they believe needs further study, senators belonging to different groups told the National Post on a background basis.

“There seems to be a broad range of concern with this bill,” Conservative senator Leo Housakos said in an interview, referring to conversations with senators from a variety of Senate caucus groups. “There doesn’t seem to be any momentum to pass this and rubber-stamp this without thorough review.”

Senator Jane Cordy, leader of the Progressive Senate Group, said in an emailed statement that she would “not expect legislation to skip” the study stage, “as it is an important part of the Senate’s work.”

Housakos said the Liberal government, along with the NDP and the Bloc, ignored parliamentary procedures and rules. “They took the rule book of Parliament and they literally threw it in the trash can,” he said.

Camille Gagné-Raynauld, a spokesperson for Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, said following the speaker’s ruling that the government remains “committed to the progress of Bill C-10, and will collaborate with all the opposition parties to have it adopted in the House and the Senate before the end of the parliamentary session.”

Housakos said it was “extremely arrogant on the part of Guilbeault’s office to imply that they’re just going to send this over for a proverbial rubber stamp from the Senate of Canada.

“It’s insulting to the institution, it’s insulting to our Parliament.”

Asked for comment Thursday about the reluctance of senators to fast-track the bill, and about Housakos’ criticism, Gagné-Raynauld said the government would work to have the bill “introduced” in the Senate before the parliamentary session ends.

“We will ensure that the parliamentary process is respected, while ensuring it is done in a timely fashion,” she said.

(Via @Mgeist)

It seems that the Heritage Minister is increasingly desperate to have the entire parliamentary process bend to his will. That effort is rubbing a lot of other lawmakers the wrong way. In doing so, it might actually slow the process down even further. If you’re going to hope that lawmakers will pull some strings for you, the last thing you’d want to be doing is (putting it lightly) annoying them in the process. This effort may prove to be yet another instance of the Minister shooting himself in the foot here.

What’s more is these developments are increasing hope for free speech advocates and innovators online. For every roadblock this legislation gets, there is a new reason to hope that this bill will no longer be a threat to their convictions and livelihoods. At the moment, there seems to be a whole lot more roadblocks being put in the way. With so little time on the clock now, every roadblock – even if small – can be huge here. It is looking like that House of Commons speaker ruling could prove to be the turning point in this whole debate as the situation for the Heritage Minister is continuing to deteriorate.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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