New CRTC Chair Says She Wants Public Input for Bill C-11

The new CRTC Chair, Vicky Eatrides, says she is going to want input from the public about Bill C-11.

The Bill C-11 debate has led to many sleepless nights for those trying to make a living off of online video’s and streaming. About 100,000 online creators faced the prospect of having their video’s downranked and, subsequently, faced the prospect of audiences and revenue disappearing faster than the Heritage Ministry’s credibility. Though a number of creators have stepped forward to fight for their livelihoods, the Canadian governments responded by demanding sham investigations and launching harassment campaigns for anyone committing the crime of daring to criticize the legislation. As a result, it was made crystal clear that the government views online creators as public enemy number one and the top priority was to destroy their lives for daring to resist the government.

Canadian regulator, the CRTC, was also playing accomplice in all of this, building building regulatory hit lists for platforms they were all too eager to crack down on. For the CRTC at the time, the lack of passage of the legislation was no obstacle to building up schemes to crack down on the open internet. While it was initially what the CRTC was trying to do quietly, eventually, the CRTC was basically saying the quiet part loud and fully admitting publicly that Bill C-11 regulates user generated content, confirming to pretty much everyone that the critics were right all along and that there was no misunderstanding about exactly what was happening. It was also a move that frustrated Bill C-11 proponents who were, from that point on, just wishing that the CRTC would just shut up and let them continue the quiet quest to crack down on internet speech.

One thing that is worth noting in all of this is the fact that the CRTC Chair’s term was also coming to an end. Ian Scott, the chair that managed to piss off pretty much everyone in the debate, would soon be out and a new chair would soon be taking his place. For a lot of observers, Scott’s departure will no doubt be met with relief after basically doing almost anything and everything to serve the big telecom monopolies, only stopping short of letting Telus charge customers for the onerous activity of paying bills with a credit card. Virtually every other decision, however, was met with anger and frustration from almost everyone except the biggest players in the telecom sector.

According to reports, Eatrides term began earlier this month:

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has appointed Vicky Eatrides the next head of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

She will serve as the broadcasting regulator’s chair and CEO for a five-year term starting on Jan. 5.

Eatrides was most recently an assistant deputy minister at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, a role she took on in 2019 after serving in several senior roles at the Competition Bureau.

While many were expressing optimism over the thought of a new Chair being a new direction, we were holding judgment over the possibility of finding ourselves in the situation of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”. Recent reports, however, suggest that Eatrides is actually wanting to consult with the public at large about Bill C-11. From the National Post:

The CRTC will consider Canadians’ views on how it should implement the Liberal government’s contentious online streaming legislation, according to the broadcast and telecom regulator’s new chairperson.

“What I would say is, we want to hear from you,” Vicky Eatrides said.

She told the National Post in an interview Friday that a “broad consultation” will take place. “That is without a doubt.”

The messaging appears to be a departure from Scotts efforts to push forward with implementing this bill as quickly as possible. While consultations were actively floated, the promise was that those consultations for implementing the law would be only among “stakeholders” (which can be taken to mean only people supporting the legislation). Eatrides response is different in that, rather than acting as cheerleader for Bill C-11, the new Chair is keeping a much more neutral tone if this report is any indication. So far, we haven’t seen her shouting to the rooftops that Bill C-11 is badly needed, so, so far, that’s a positive sign.

Another positive sign is the fact that she says that she has concerns about consumer prices in the telecom sector as well. This is a longstanding more than decades old problem. The first step in fixing a problem is admitting there actually is a problem. So, that’s another positive sign.

We are, of course, in the earliest days of Eatrides tenure as Chair. Time will tell if she will finally take the regulator in a positive direction. So far, though, the earliest possible signs seem to be positive. As far as the debates surrounding telecom competition and Bill C-11, small amounts of hope is few and far between. We’ll take what we can get.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.


  • DB says:

    To protect Canadian culture, Bill C11 will force American companies to produce and promote Canadian content because the Canadian networks have done such an abysmal job in producing Canadian content that Canadians want to watch. Does this make any sense to you? It doesn’t to me.

    • Drew Wilson says:

      Indeed. Most, if not, all talking points supporting Bill C-11 I’ve seen have been utter nonsense. To directly undercut the biggest Canadian growth sectors (i.e. online content creators) to support a sector that is unable or unwilling to adapt or create content worth consuming (i.e. mainstream television) is not a policy that is meant to promote culture. It’s a policy that rejects the modern world to protect legacy corporations and suppresses cultural innovation in the process.

      I’m personally also on board with what Open Media (Matt Hatfield in particular) has said during the Bill C-11 hearings in the Senate. Canada should be looking at policy that directly supports people like online creators that have successfully harnessed the power of the internet so they can not only be successful individual streamers, but also move forward and become successful online content production companies similar to other countries like France. I would also be supportive of incentives that help legacy corporation bridge technological gaps and become a strong online presence like the BBC. I don’t think any of that is even remotely controversial, yet it’s precisely those positions that the current government has openly rejected. The government has taken the position that online creators and innovators are a “problem” that needs “solving” in that their career paths are somehow invalid. As such, they have openly attacked such producers either by declaring their work as “not art” or not worthy of support of any kind.

      I honestly hope some day that online Canadian creators will succeed because of the government. For now, sadly, Canadian creators are succeeding – to varying degrees – in spite of the government. I don’t see that changing in the near future, unfortunately.

2 Trackbacks and Pingbacks

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: