Liberals Push to Shut Down Dissent and Silence Debate on Bill C-10

The Canadian Liberal party is pushing to shut down debate on Bill C-10, ignoring free speech concerns about the legislation.

It’s safe to conclude at this stage that there is no defense for Bill C-10. The longer debate goes on about the legislation, the stronger the case against the legislation becomes. Supporters of the legislation have been trying to sell the bill on how it’s all about making tech giants pay. The problem is, that completely side steps the problem about the legislation suppressing Canadian voices for “not being Canadian enough”. Another effort to try and sell the legislation revolved around how section 2.1 is enough to protect user generated content. As we found out, this turned out to be misinformation. That is where things ultimately fell apart for those trying to push for the legislation.

To compound the problems with this legislation further, a motion to restore the section that caused all of this uproar in the first place was voted down by the Liberals, the Bloc, and, exasperatingly enough, the NDP. Not only does that make it clear that user generated content would be regulated, but all three parties are now on record explicitly blocking protecting user generated content from regulation. This even after all of the debate took place about the legislation.

So, it is with that effort to block user generated content protections that an even more frustrating move is being made. The Liberal party is trying to, once again, shut down debate on the legislation. No defense of the legislation could be formulated and it is a point of weakness for the party. So, unsurprisingly, they want to end the debate on the legislation and move it forward before more people find out about this plot to crack down on free speech online. From Global:

The federal Liberals sparked an uproar over a bid Friday morning to shut down committee study on its controversial Bill C-10, as experts continue to express concern about the impact the legislation could have on free speech online.

The Liberals moved a time allocation motion for the bill on Friday morning, a procedural move that crunches the time allotted to discussing a bill and is normally used to limit hours of debate in the House of Commons — not at committees.

The bill has been stalled before committee and as the government faces down the ticking clock towards the end of the parliamentary session on June 23.

The motion briefly sparked vocal criticism from opposition parties in the House of Commons Friday before the assistant deputy speaker moved on to let MPs give their regularly scheduled statements ahead of question period.

Notably, Bloc leader, Yves-François Blanchet, called for a “gag order” on the debate. Of course, that is not only a telling turn of phrase, but also signals that the party is continuing to signal that it wants to move forward with regulating Canadian speech online as well. It is troubling because it effectively means that the math will make it impossible to oppose in the House of Commons as well.

The Canadian Heritage Minister, Steven Guilbeault, issued a statement on Twitter saying that regulating free speech respects the Charter’s protection of free speech:

Michael Geist blasted the statement as being full of omissions and inaccuracies:

Guilbeault’s statement in support of the gag order is riddled with inaccuracies and omissions:

  • He claims that lengthy bill study has been the product of “systematic obstruction”, but anyone following committee debate will fairly note the genuine questions and concerns about the proposed legislation, which Guilbeault himself has failed to coherently address in repeated media interviews.
  • He argues that there has been many witnesses, yet does not acknowledge that digital-first Canadian creators were never asked to appear before committee.
  • He makes no mention of the fact that the hearings over the past month have been focused on the implications of changes that the government itself made by moving to regulate user generated content, thereby opening the door to concerns about speech regulation and violations of net neutrality.
  • He does not acknowledge the remarkable uncertainty in the bill with core terms not defined, thresholds not identified, and massive power delegated to the CRTC, which has proven itself unsuitable for such responsibility.
  • He suggests that the bill means lost support of $70 million per month, when the reality is that foreign services are among the largest supporters of film production in Canada and any new revenues from the bill will ultimately be paid by Canadian consumers.
  • His $70 million per month claim is particularly absurd given that the bill envisions months of hearings before the CRTC before anything is finalized. To suggest that debating dozens of amendments – many raised by the government or Liberal MPs – is delaying any payments is plainly false.
  • He speaks of the opposition supporting web giants when Guilbeault’s own department has advised that the bill could regulate everything from podcast apps to home workout videos to audiobook platforms.

For the Minister of Canadian Heritage to respond to legitimate, widely held concerns about the freedom of expression impact of legislation by seeking to cut off debate makes a mockery of our Canadian heritage.

The appropriate response is for the creator lobby groups who claimed to be ardent supporters of free speech to speak out against a legislative gag order, for opposition parties to say no to a process unworthy of a government that proclaimed that better is always possible, and for the government to live up to those ideals by withdrawing the bill and hitting the reset button.

Canadians have also expressed anger and frustration with the Minister over Twitter:

Members of Parliament have no Right to tell Canadians what to enjoy, what to laugh at, where to learn from, how or who to communicate with.

#BillC10 is a gross violation of atleast 4 innate Rights owned by every Canadian & enumerated in the Charter of Rights & CA Bill of Rights

#BillC10 descriminates against visible minorities and new Canadians. Your rules and regulations will make it too onerous for foreign platforms to come serve their expats in Canada.

Wow. What a terrible look from a liberal party who had acknowledged criticism of this bill, then shrugged it off and tried to characterize it as Big Tech. Shameful.

Government acts to destroy that troublesome internet with a scheme for comprehensive expression control. C10, the Gag Order bill. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.

Limiting discussion of a bill about freedom of expression. Man facepalmingMan facepalmingMan facepalming

The irony is not lost. Resign.

This has nothing to do with the conservative party. It’s the people of Canada who don’t want this bill. But you are taking your marching orders from corporate lobbyists.

Shutting down debate is what tyrants do in a failed country where rule of law has collapsed. Canada is supposed to be a democracy where we debate contentious issues. This authoritarian move by the Trudeau Liberal government is troubling on many levels, it is politically motivated

“Government acts to Stop debate on removing Free Speech with C-10”

Your draconian bill borders on criminal over-reach. This is not democracy it’s dictatorship.


Delete your Twitter account

Now, rumours are persistently swirling about how an election could be coming by this fall. A lot of bad legislation surrounding the Internet has died on the order paper because of elections in the past. It is becoming increasingly clear that running out the clock is going to be the next most immediate possibility in stopping this legislation. It’s definitely clear that the Heritage Minister knows this and he doesn’t want to be added to the list of Heritage Minister’s that failed to crack down on the Internet. So, he is trying to push this through and “gag” as much debate about it as possible. With no defence of the legislation being available, the logical thing to do at this point is to scrap the legislation and start over. However, it looks as though free speech isn’t exactly a priority for this minister and those lobbyists are impatiently tapping their feet. As we noted last month, all he seems to care about is ramming the legislation through at this point regardless of consequences.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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