Canada Finally Responds to US: Says Discriminatory Bill C-11 is Not Discriminatory

After the US raised concerns about Bill C-11, the Canadian government has responded by saying that the legislation isn’t discriminatory.

The crazy explanations coming from the Canadian government is continuing to pile up. In fact, it’s so much so, they are starting to sound like Seymour Skinner from the steamed hams skit.

Officials, as well as the NDP, have said that the legislation would generate $1 billion in revenue for creative projects. The government later backtracked when pressed and said that the numbers were “illustrative” before backing off entirely and saying that no one has made such an assertion.

Government officials repeatedly said that the legislation doesn’t regulate user generated content. That was debunked by the CRTC chair.

Government officials also said that the legislation does not manipulate the outcomes of algorithms. That was also debunked by the CRTC chair.

Government officials and supporters have also long said that the CRTC is perfectly well suited to safeguard free speech. A recent ruling by the CRTC proved otherwise.

As the ridiculous lies continue to pile up, the flames within the governments house is continuing to grow higher. The United States last month issued a statement, raising concerns that the legislation is discriminatory. The government, in response, has basically gone into radio silence ever since on the matter.

Well, after being pressed for weeks, the government has finally broken its silence. After all that has happened, the Canadian government responded by saying that Bill C-11 is not discriminatory. From National News Watch:

Ottawa’s public record of the meeting on July 8 with Ng did not mention that her American counterpart raised concerns about the bill

But the U.S. government’s record of the meeting says “Ambassador Tai expressed concern about … pending legislation in the Canadian Parliament that could impact digital streaming services.”

Alice Hansen, a spokeswoman for Ng, said Wednesday: “Ambassador Tai raised Bill C-11, and Minister Ng reiterated that this bill does not institute discriminatory treatment and is in line with Canada’s trade obligations.”

Insert audience laughter here.

The whole legislation was not only set up to be discriminatory, but was also sold to the public as discriminatory. Now, the government is trying to back out of this obvious problem by saying, with a straight face, that the legislation does not discriminate. You really can’t make this up.

In fact, it’s difficult to find an angle where this legislation is not discriminatory. First of all, government officials have been playing up the line that “big tech” must “pay its fair share”. While it’s a talking point that might work for the proposed digital services tax, it doesn’t really make any sense for Bill C-11. Indeed, the fact of the matter is that the government has been telling the public about how it would generate an additional $1 billion from the large platforms. The fact of the matter is that the government has been trying to say that they are going to chisel money out of the platforms over top of the additional taxes. Technically, that is discriminatory.

Secondly, it has been well established that the government fully intends on dictating the outcomes of recommendations of algorithms. If one kind of content is being recommended, that means that other kinds of content is being downgraded. In fact, one supporter responded to all of this by making the laughable assertion that platforms have unlimited recommendations and, therefore, the issue is moot. The fact is, the government is ordering discriminatory practices on the algorithms of platforms in favour of some content over the other. American content producers could see negative repercussions as a result of this.

Thirdly, from a market perspective, the large tech companies are American based. These laws are targeting those platforms. In and of itself, this is discriminatory.

Fourth, the legislation, combined with current regulations surrounding “cancon”, is designed to even discriminate against non-establishment Canadian content. There’s very specific corporations that the government is trying to benefit here and having other Canadian’s be present in the recommendations section gets in the way of that. Therefore, many Canadian’s will be discriminated against as the government stages one of the most massive market interventions on the Internet ever.

At the end of the day, the real question is, how is this legislation not discriminatory in some way? This isn’t even getting in to the obvious international trade violations this legislation represents. In fact, this point was raised by University Law Professor, Michael Geist:

Michael Geist, the University of Ottawa’s Canada Research Chair in internet law, accused the Canadian government of ignoring the “trade risks” linked to its online-streaming bill.

“It is clear the U.S. is paying attention,” Geist said.

“By raising concerns before the bill even passes, there is an unmistakable signal that Canada could face hundreds of millions of dollars of retaliatory tariffs as a consequence of legislation that already faces widespread opposition from Canadian digital-first creators,” he said.

Digital first creators are not stupid. We know the damage this legislation can do not only on a national level, but also on an international level as well. Canadian consumers are not stupid. We know when our freedom of expression and freedom of choice is being threatened. Further, the American government is not stupid. They know when their interests are getting threatened. The fact that the Canadian government is still conducting business as if everyone is an idiot and will believe any insane lie they come up with is insulting to everyone.

At the end of the day, Bill C-11 is a massive market intervention, designed to prop up legacy corporations in Canada at the expense of everyone else. The whole point of the legislation is to be discriminatory on a number of levels. If the consequences weren’t so significant, this would be hilarious. Still, one does wonder if millions of dollars in trade tariffs do come down should this bill become law, what would the ramifications be – at least on the political level. We can only hope we never go down that road.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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