Canadian Government to Issue Policy Direction Tomorrow

The long wait for a government policy direction might soon be over. Media advisories suggest it’s coming tomorrow.

Two months ago, the government legally abolished freedom of expression when it passed Bill C-11, the now called Online Streaming Act. Now, legally speaking, expression is a privilege where if you produce video content, you have to beg for the governments permission to be heard by your audience. This plainly relegates expression to a privilege, rather than a right.

Now, obviously the actual on the ground changes have yet to happen simply because there is an extremely lengthy one. The CRTC had gone out ahead of the policy direction and released a timeline for their consultation processes. There’s not a lot of hope for those processes as it’s largely expected that the regulator only intends on listening to the cultural elite and ultra wealthy production companies over the voices of Canadians whose livelihoods would be most negatively impacted. Those lobbyists have already called for the regulation of user generated content and the CRTC has already openly suggested that the demand for Cancon quotas are to be pushed globally which raises the risk of streaming platforms pulling out of the country altogether. American sources have also called for the US government to reign in the abuses of the legislation and challenge the law as well.

Of course, lost in all of this is the fabled policy direction of the government. Normally, this would be released to the public before any other steps take place. At minimum, this is to allow for proper consultations to take place. However, this has not happened. As a result, it became a major key reason for why various stakeholders have requested an extension to the hearings. Indeed, there have been calls for months for the policy direction. Those calls reached a fever pitch when both senators and witnesses throughout the Bill C-11 hearings called for the release of the policy direction. The government’s response, however, was to tell the senate and the Canadian public to pound sand. This lead to considerable speculation that there was something rotten in that direction. Why else guard this like nuclear launch codes?

Either way, the wait may soon be over. A media advisory circulating today suggests that the governments policy direction is coming tomorrow. From Yahoo! News:

Canadian Heritage officials will provide information on the proposed directions for implementation of the Online Streaming Act

GATINEAU, QC, June 7, 2023 /CNW/ – Officials from the Department of Canadian Heritage will hold a technical briefing for media on Thursday about the proposed directions for implementation of the Online Streaming Act. This briefing will take place by teleconference. Officials will be available to answer questions from the media following their remarks.

Please note that all details are subject to change. All times are local.

The details are as follows:

Thursday, June 8, 2023

10:00 a.m.

Media can dial in using the numbers below. Media are encouraged to dial in 15 minutes before the start of the press conference.

The timing of all of this has led some to believe that the CRTC is working in close tandem with the government. This is hugely controversial because the regulator is supposed to be an arms length one from the government. University Law Professor, Michael Geist, commented on the move:

Government to release draft Bill C-11 policy direction tomorrow. CRTC almost certainly delayed request for change to consult deadline knowing it was coming. Lost independence of the CRTC is enormously troubling. Barely pretending to be anything other than a branch of Heritage.

The hope in all of this is that some of the long standing blanks in this bill will finally get filled. How many will actually get filled will remain up in the air until it hits. Either way, there will definitely be those bracing for impact.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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