Bill C-10 Passes Committee in Secret Rushed Process – Headed for House of Commons

The legislation has undergone a number of secret amendments not up for debate. Now, Bill C-10 is headed back to the House of Commons.

Things are starting to look back for free speech in Canada. Earlier, the Liberals pushed to implement a “gag order“, shutting down debate as questions continued to be raised about the legislation. Such an order hasn’t been seen in Canada since the 90’s. The move was so anti-democratic, the Green Party and NDP questioned the move despite the NDP’s bizarre support for the legislation. Regardless of utterly destroying the legitimacy of the legislation, the push to shut down debate was successful. As a result, the remaining votes were largely held behind closed doors. Amendments were only referred to by number. The contents of those amendments were not available to the public outside of Michael Geist live-tweeting what was happening.

The current form of the legislation is currently off limits to the public. As a result, the debate about what the legislation is still shut down from the public view. So, we have no idea what is now in the legislation now. For all we know, the amendments made things even more draconian then they already are for Canadian creators. We will never know. Regardless, it compelled me to write to my MP in an effort to stop the legislation. What’s in those amendments, exactly? We don’t know. All we know for sure was that they were voted on in a secret lawmaking process – a process that is an absolute affront to democracy.

What’s more is that Bill C-10 was passed in committee and is now headed back to the House of Commons for a vote. From the Globe:

The minority Liberal government pushed forward a key piece of its legislative agenda Friday, as a House of Commons committee wrapped up clause-by-clause review of a bill to give Canada more regulatory power over digital streaming platforms.

There will likely be more of those tactics as the bill now heads back to the House of Commons for final debate and, eventually, a final vote.

Bill C-10 is one of four priority bills the government wants to pass before the Commons breaks for the summer – and a possible election – on June 23.

While all parties profess not to want an election while the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re all gearing up for one, There is widespread expectation that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will pull the plug on his minority government some time this summer.

At this point, one of the Canadian governments top priority is to ensure that free speech ends when one uses the Internet. Indeed, over the years, I’ve seen Heritage Ministers in past government try to pass draconian copyright and surveillance legislation. An example of this is Bill C-60 and bill C-74 in 2005. Over the years since then, there have been numerous anti-consumer bills that similarly died on the order-paper when an election was called. It’s more than likely that the current Heritage Minister doesn’t want to be yet another minister that failed to get a lobbyist pushed bill passed – and is willing to burn down democratic processes in the process to get the job done.

Another controversial aspect is how corporate lobbyists cheered the government on during the secret lawmaking process. In one tweet, one lobbyist organization cheered over Twitter when one of their secret amendments was passed in the process.

In fact, here’s @The_CMPA tweeting about the content of the amendment yesterday which @AHousefather
retweeted. No one is even trying to hide what is happening: lobbyist access, no public access, no debate. All in plain view.

And thx to the @liberal_party, @NDP & @BlocQuebecois for voting for Lib-7 and to @AHousefather for championing the amendment & Canadian independent production.

The implications here being that not only is corruption of the process palpable here, but also happening in real time in plain public view. It points to the fact that lobbyists control what gets put in the legislation as the legislation has been shrouded in closed door secrecy from the public.

As the process moves ahead, there are expectations that the anti-democractic manoeuvring will continue when the legislation hits the House of Commons:

Bill C-10 passes committee as amended. Tune in next week to actually see what was approved and look for further gag orders in order to get the bill through the House of Commons. By any democratic standard, the Liberal, NDP & Bloc tactics of the past week have been shameful.

Canadians are wondering that, beyond letter writing campaigns, what more can be done to stop this affront to free speech? Apart from a last minute miracle that puts a stop to this legislation, the next best hope is litigation. Someone somewhere has to have the pockets to pay lawyers to take the government to court for passing this blatantly unconstitutional bill. It’s essentially the last resort to protect democracy. Failing that, there is the extreme long shot that another government will repeal the legislation. While the Conservatives promised to repeal the legislation, there is little reason to hope that this would actually happen at this point. At any rate, the tools and options for Canadians to protect democracy are running very short very quickly at this stage.

While we did mention in the past that there is a good chance that the time will run out on this legislation, this speculation didn’t take into consideration that the Liberals would effectively suspend democracy and use these tools in an effectively unprecedented way to pass the legislation. It’s a bad news story for Canadians all around and the odds of it getting worse are, depressingly, increasing.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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