Senate Hearings on Bill C-11 – A Look at the Ninth Hearing (First Segment)

We are continuing our special coverage of the Bill C-11 senate hearings. This covers the first part of hearing number nine.

We have entered the 4th week of the hearings. At this point, it seems like positions are beginning to solidify, but the hearings are continuing. So, there’s still a possibility that another angle on this to be uncovered.

For those of you are curious about our coverage of previous hearings, here are the older ones:

Hearing 1 – Privacy Commissioner and Global Affairs/Justice Department
Hearing 2 – Digital rights organizations and lobby groups (1)
Hearing 3 – Lobby groups (2) and platforms (1)
Hearing 4 – Lobby groups (3) and lobby groups (4)
Hearing 5 – Lobby groups (5) and lobby groups (6)
Hearing 6 – Music Canada / platforms (2) and lobby groups (7)
Hearing 7 – Scholars/researhers and digital first creators

The eighth hearing, of course, had quite a bit of fireworks. Following the massive scandal of witness intimidation (video version). The hearing itself hit on that controversy, but also delved into the affects of what Bill C-11 would have on creators. The conclusion was that they would be forced to either rely on a VPN or move out of the country. So, a stark response really highlighting the serious nature of Sections 4.1 and 4.2 of the legislation.

Meanwhile, the second segment of the eighth hearing was comparatively sleepy. One witness suggested that, while acknowledging the existence of digital first creators, suggested that it’s the multi-million dollar productions people want to watch. So, there were some head shaking assertions, but other witnesses also said that the controversy surrounding 4.1 and 4.2 wasn’t really what they are there for and said that more Canadian content is always better. Some testy parts as well as some graceful parts.

We did briefly get the chance to look ahead to this hearing. There is definitely going to be some interesting statements we are looking forward to. At the same time, there was also some question marks for some witnesses. So, we are, naturally, curious to see how this week is going to ultimately shake out.

The video itself of the hearing has been posted online. While we are providing a summary and analysis, as usual, we will point out that nothing will beat an official transcript or the original video in terms of thoroughness. Still, we are happy to do our best to offer a take on what was said and analysis anyway. So, enjoy.

Opening Remarks

Michael MacMillan of Blue Ant Media opened with his remarks. He called for the approval of Bill C-11. He says that the goal isn’t about keeping international players such as broadcasters and streamers out, but to bring everyone in. MacMillan comments that there has been a lot of conversation of what is an eligible Canadian program in recent weeks. He responds that, in his view, it’s whoever produces the program that makes it Canadian – and who owns the program (he’s dead wrong on that, the rules are much more archaic then that). Further, he urged the Senate to not be confused by sidebar conversations about Canadian programming being based on specific subject matter (it’s a valid concern).

From there, he comments that the CRTC is well positioned to work out the nuances of this (they are not well positioned to regulate the internet, sorry.) He says that in terms of eligibility, every Canadian should be eligible as long as it’s produced and owned by a Canadian (doesn’t work that way, as I found out the hard way).

Frédéric Bastien Forrest then opened with his remarks. He spoke about how he always has one foot in traditional broadcasting and one foot in digital production. THen, he noted that 90% of Canadians in their 20s are watching YouTube and a lot of them are watching Canadian creators. He comments how he watched a Quebec artist’s music video which had over 100,000 views. This, he says, is our living francophone culture that is exported. His YouTube channel is in French and is followed by over 30,000 people. A vast majority of his views come from Quebec and French speaking Canada. About 20% of his views are from Europe – France and Belgium. Every day on his YouTube channel, a European consumes Quebec culture.

For him, he says, he gets anywhere between 4,000 and 100,000 views. This may be minimal for some, but for those in Quebec, it’s enough to make it a profession. Like many of his colleagues, he tries to give back to Canadian culture. For every video that goes “viral”, a piece of Canadian culture gets exported. This culture was something he thought about, produced, and exported himself.

He says that he is far from alone. Thousands of Canadians are inspired. He lists several Francophone creators and says that all Quebec digital pioneers deserved to be named here.

These web platforms – those that allow users to create content, has allowed them to emancipate themselves creatively to reach an audience, he notes. This without having to wait for a producer to say “yes”. Sometimes, it is healthy to create without gatekeepers. It allows them to be themselves regardless of their differences. It allows them to reach an audience of their own.

He says that all of these victories take nothing away from the traditional media. He cherishes all the times he gets to work in a bigger team like in radio or television. Alone, they go faster, together, they go further.

From there, he says that he would love to work with a team on YouTube. For that, we need to fund digital culture – the kind of content Canadians actually consume on platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Twitch, and others (what a world of difference a cash infusion on this site and YouTube channel would do for us). Lets tax these platforms and subsidize these creators. That’s what we already do for other industries. Let’s tax these platforms so we can set up parabolic structures to allow digital creators to go even further.

He calls it absurd that a YouTube creator has to pay out of his own pocket for a camera person 30% more than the neighbouring TV station for the same service. This is what happens today because these digital creators do not have the same access to subsidies as they do for traditional broadcasters. This is hampering the Canadian economy because rather than subsidizing creators who understand the codes of internet creation, we are funding traditional broadcasters that are slowing down.

After that, he says he has heard colleagues from the traditional cultural sector question whether it is a good idea to involve public opinion in the debates of Bill C-11. If necessary, ‘just watch me’ they say. He calls to all politicians from Vancouver to Saskatchewan to other provinces, ‘please help us empower digital creatives’ because a creator is a small business. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. Internet platforms allow small creators to try out. So, if we are to tax the web giants, let’s make sure we subsidize internet creators with that money. Let’s not miss this opportunity for stronger creators and a stronger economy.

More specifically, he says, lets fix 4.2 and keep user generated content out of discoverability enforcement.

Questioning the Witnesses

Senator Leo Housakos commented that if we are producing a film or TV program that has been written by a Canadian, tells a Canadian story, set in a Canadian town, using Canadian directors, and Canadian actors and artists, but if that program is owned by a foreigner, it doesn’t fit into our definition of cancon. Yet, if we have an American writer telling an American story, shot in an American town, using American directors, using American actors, but is owned by a Canadian financier out of Toronto, then that qualifies as Canadian content. Don’t you find that a bit difficult to comprehend if we are trying to promote Canadian culture?

MacMillan responded that he does, but that’s not what he is saying at all. If it’s made by American’s, it’s not a Canadian project. He did not say that and if he did, he should re-state it (no, it’s the current rules, it has nothing to do with what you think). A Canadian program is one that is made by a Canadian and owned by a Canadian. If it was created by a Canadian, but owned by an American, we run the risk of being (wasn’t sure what he said) that has bedevilled other industries for much of our history.

Senator Housakos commented that in the world we live in today, where investment is very important to support our arts and culture, shouldn’t we broaden the definition to give creators the leeway to reach their maximum potential. Shouldn’t this bill feature more flexibility to allow more creators to benefit from Canadian investment?

MacMillan responded that he disagrees profoundly. He says that it’s important that economic ownership and control should be in Canadian hands and there should be an advantage for being a Canadian broadcaster or producer involved in the project and owning it. He then cites the Service Tax Credit as an enormous subsidy for content that doesn’t qualify as Canadian content. He says that he wants to see an advantage given to Canadian broadcasting to allow them to have a better chance at surviving and growing.

Senator Housakos asked if he would agree if more artists and creators could flourish and be more successful if they had more access to capital.

MacMillan responded that it’s probably true of many industries. He says that one of the most logical places for capital is Canadian producers and Canadian production companies. One of the says is to make sure that they own the IP of the content they are creating.

Senator Rene Cormier said that he is very pleased to discuss with a francophone YouTuber. He says he made a very eloquent plea with the importance of platforms. He asked how artists feel about the exception found in section 4.2 and how they would suffer from this. He asked if he could tell him what he thinks of it and where he stands on it.

Forrest responded that it’s really interesting for users because the platforms is us. If we want to regulate the platform like YouTube, for example, that will have an effect on broadcasters, but that would affect his ability to put content up on the platform and how they will be reacted to. This is because he sees his work as a creator to make the best video possible and he sees YouTube as reaching the people who want to listen to it. So, that is an incentive that works very well for both YouTube and himself.

He says that if we change that relationship, that has a potential negative impact on his ability to reach francophone’s who are already listening to him. If we concentrate on 4.2, he has had the pleasure of discussing this with Rodriguez a few months ago with some other YouTuber’s. Rodriguez was telling them that in the spirit of the law, users creations would be excluded. However, in 4.2, it talks about applying this to all people who have direct or indirect income. So, that means everybody online.

Senator Cormier said that there are three criteria. There is not just content with direct or indirect revenue. There is also content that is on other platforms that is subject to the law, and it is related to a source code – that is an official recording (this is in reference to the “unique identifier under an international standards system” language which is actually a bit more vague then that. This could also mean a URL). The business has to be subject under those three criteria (the language in the bill does not specify that it has to be all three criteria. It can actually be any one). He says he understands the concerns of artists when they talk about the three criteria.

Forrest responded that he is also talking about his fears as well because he hopes that this legislation will be long lasting and that it will help promote both the traditional industry and the new digital industry. The fears of creators is that they have rarely been listened to by the government and, indeed, they are trying to get better organized and be inspired by the video industry in the 1980’s. So, they want to unite as Youtubers so we can have a better impact on politicians, but also when they talk to the CRTC.

He says that historically, even though he recognized the importance of the CRTC, he doesn’t believe it is an institution that is for new entities and he doesn’t think they understand these new platforms and the positive aspects that they find in them. So, yes, there are other provisions, and yes, under the spirit of the law that some users will be exempt from it, but creators will sleep better knowing that this was clear and in the mandate of the law before it even gets to the CRTC. At any case, they will have to relaunch the process when it gets to the CRTC because they are the ones that are going to enforce it. So, he hopes that this enlightens the senators on their hesitations. Not all of their fears are rational, but it is worthwhile to take them under consideration.

Senator Julie Miville-Dechene noted that it is the first time they’ve had a francophone YouTube creator at the senate. She says that she does not have any doubts on his success has he seems to be on the rise.

Forrest commented that it has been slowing down a little.

Senator Miville-Dechene asked if he knows where the 30 million people that listen to him are at. Additionally, she said that she’d like to think beyond his YouTube channel as Forrest is a part of that, since he is part of French culture, how would he qualify that? She acknowledged that he listed a number of Quebec creators, but they are in a North American market and in a minority. So, there is a notion that, not him specifically, that we should recommend to listeners to more francophone culture. Is that a negative for him? She asked that he take a broader perspective from his own experience and tell her where his audience comes from.

Forrest responded that, in general, about 80% of his viewings come from fancophone Canada. He’s guessing that it is largely Quebec because he can’t really know, but he knows they are francophone Canadians. He is very happy about that because there are people in New Brunswick that listen to him as well and he is very pleased by that. About 20%-30% comes from European audiences, so France and Belgium like he mentioned. There’s also a few percentage points from elsewhere, perhaps people who are travelling. Of course, some video’s are different. Some video’s go well beyond his own audience.

He then says that in terms of francophone culture, he feels he has no choice but to talk about the concept of discoverability. When we ask a radio station to play more French content, it’s easy because there are 24 hours in a day and there is a limited number of songs you can play. So, you can say 20% of more local culture.

However, he comments, this is how YouTube works: often, as a reflex, we, even as creators, want to make a video and it’s up to Youtube to find us eyeballs – that it’s their job to show it. However, it is the other way around. YouTube thinks about the customer first. They think what piece of content are they going to present to the user today and they click on one of the proposed items. For the robot that is YouTube, for every minute, there are hundreds of millions of hours put up on the net. There are other entities, but he knows YouTube the best.

Senator Miville-Dechene interrupted and asked if he is happy with the robot YouTube algorithms with everything in terms of discoverability.

Forrest responded yes. He then returned to his previous point. He truly believes that we can better mutually understand these YouTube functions. There is something in the impact of that. So, the robot that receives several million hours every minute needs to find out what is interesting because some content is not. So, what’s interesting to whom? So, what we have to understand is how much time the person spends in front of the video.

He says that, so yes, he is a very proud producer of Quebec culture and people who stop him on the street to talk about the video’s look a lot like me. They are wearing jeans, they like Star Wars and superheroes, they are between 18 and 40 years old, and if we propose to YouTube to artificially show his content to francophones who aren’t interested like those that he just mentioned, the algorithm is going to see that his content is proposed, but people aren’t looking at it or they look at it for 2 seconds and leave. So, YouTube concludes that his content is not interesting. This as opposed to if we show his videos to people who would find his content interesting, as is the case currently – which is an incentive for both the creators and the platforms at the same time – he has a much greater chance at reaching the public without his views being negatively impacted by people who you might think are interested in his video, but aren’t necessarily.

Senator Housakos commented that he also likes Star Wars, but he is dressed like this (suit and tie) because that’s the rule here. He would be much happier to be dressed the way Forrest is.

Senator Fabian Manning commented that in a brief that was provided by YouTube to Committee for Canadian Heritage, they argued that Bill C-11, as currently drafted, would put the lives of tens of thousands of creators on YouTube at risk. Other creators that appeared before them last week argues that Bill C-11 risks putting them out of business. He asked to get both witnesses responses to those concerns about risking putting thousands of livelihoods out of work.

Forrest responded that we could talk about doomsday scenarios all day, but he’d like to focus on solutions on a potential win-win. So, his take on this is that it’s scary and they have the feeling that the politicians behind the law are good intentioned and they want to promote their culture, which is great, but the side effects of the law could break stuff. That is what is so scary about the business model that they have already. It is the fact that a lot of people assume that digital media works just like traditional media – a top down approach. However, it is more of a grass roots thing. So, we need separate ways to address these two industries.

MacMillan responded that they also participate in the ecosystem of YouTube and Snapchat. He says that his impression is that, as drafted, the bill does not intend on capturing individual creators on YouTube and similar platforms. He doesn’t believe that it does. When it comes to the direction that the government will issue, the CRTC, they can ensure that this is the case. His perception is that he’s not terribly concerned that the bill does, in fact, overreach as commented as some. He’s content with the way it is drafted. (Of course, as a traditional broadcaster, you have an endless supply of cash flowing your way regardless if your content succeeds or fails, so why would you be concerned about other people going out of business? Less competition for you in many of the lobbyists view.)

Senator Manning asked that, with relationship to Section 4.2, does he think that further clarification is needed to exclude user generated content?

MacMillan responded that it all depends on how that content is collaborated together. It could be presented in a so-called professional way and be part of a larger offering, so, it depends. However, he says he’s not terribly worried about that drafting (he was clearly having a hard time answering that.)

Forrest asked if he could add something. To him, it’s different to ask Netflix to produce more Canadian content and to play with the discoverability of YouTubers. This is because, for Netflix, it’s people with suits that decides what everybody watches. So, this mimics a traditional model more than user generated content. So, absolutely, in very simple terms, specify that user generated content is out of this law.

Senator Manning commented that people in suits determining this law, well, that can be scary too. He then wondered about the concern of other jurisdictions such as the United States and other countries in Europe has decided to bring in laws in their countries similar to what they are bringing in here like C-11, does that concern either one of them in relation to what the future holds.

MacMillan responded that it doesn’t concern him because they are used to this. They are used to other countries having extensive creative supports in their own industries. They see it in France, they see it in the UK, they see it in the EU (he lists off other countries). He says that Canada is lucky to have co-production treaties with many countries. This where people from different countries can come together, collaborate to create something and have it count as local in each of the originating countries. So, he encourages other countries because its an act of courage to support their own creators (pro-tip, C-11 is a whole different and unprecedented beast. You are not “used to it”.) So, he’s not concerned.

He also commented that he should also note that licensing deals with players outside of the country is more revenue than the licensing deals he makes within Canada. So, he’s not worried for other countries to similarly support their own creators.

Forrest commented that it could happen that other jurisdictions could imitate us. Also, Canada is very digital and is held up as an example in digital and technological trends. So, the whole world is watching.

Senator Paula Simons commented that Blue Ant’s motto is that nothing connects like a good story. Senators have been told over and over again that we need C-11 to encourage Canadian stories. However, as she looks through Blue Ant’s portfolio, she sees a number of different products that is not Canadian in its topic matter. So, she’s trying to understand that you shouldn’t deem a show just because it has Canadian content, but he has an entire portfolio of content that is deemed Canadian content because of funding and production, but do nothing to tell Canadian stories. So, she’s confused. Is he advocating for a regulatory regime that encourages Canadian business or that supports Canadian culture? (excellent question in my view. Nicely researched and nicely busted.)

MacMillan responded that she is incorrect citing programs as qualifying them as Canadian content. He says that they also make programs that aren’t Canadian content. Some of which qualify as Canadian, many of which don’t. So, he says he is not even remotely suggesting that shows that they shoot such as in southeast Asia would qualify as Canadian.

Senator Simons clarified even if it is Canadian owned.

MacMillan responded, ‘that is correct’. He said that it is Canadian owned, but it isn’t Canadian content, they don’t seek to qualify it as Canadian. It doesn’t pass that test. They produce more than just Canadian content. That content doesn’t receive subsidies, only when they produce content that does qualify.

Senator Simons commented about a show she has been quite enjoying (couldn’t quite catch the name. Canadian Drag Race?), if you transpose those roles in that American artifact with Canadians, does that count as Canadian content?

MacMillan responded that it does. It’s obvious that it wasn’t invented by them, but it would qualify.

Senator Simons commented that her and Housakos don’t agree on a whole lot, but on this point, they do agree. It seems to her that the definition of Canadian content, and the imperative to tell Canadian stories, which, as a writer herself, she supports, is getting confused with Canadian industrial production. She takes the point that we don’t want to become a service industry where they are just making Hallmark and Disney movies. However, it does seem to say that when one says that the content of the show should have no relevance to whether it is Canadian or not, then we are doing nothing to encourage the telling of Canadian stories. She certainly doesn’t want to be supporting companies that tell American stories with Canadian (didn’t catch that last word).

MacMillan responded that he is also saying that it’s a really slippery slope for a government agency to be involved in the precise prescription of what is Canadian. It would, for instance, presumably mean where a documentary made by a Canadian filmmaker about climate change outside of Canada would not qualify as a Canadian point of view or that most sci-fi or animation shows would not qualify because they aren’t set in any particular time or space. There are many productions that are hard, in fact, that speak to the Canadianness, Frenchness, or the Germanness. It’s especially true because Canada shares the language and culture with the US. So, he encouraged not to go down that difficult path because it could end up in places we don’t want.

Senator Simons then thanked Forrest for the wonderful explanation of how the algorithm works.

Senator Marty Klyne commented that MacMillan seems to have a long line of success on the traditional broadcasting world as well as some success online as well. He then asked if it makes sense to bring online streaming under the purview of the act? Will it make Canadian content more discoverable and sought after then it is now? Will the revenue result in higher funding that would help realize higher potential? Also, will it empower digital creators or hinder them?

Macmillan responded that he thinks it will result in more funding and lead to better discoverability of Canadian programming. Therefor, it will create more creative employment opportunities for Canadian creators. He says that there is overwhelmingly a benefit to this bill. He says that it’s not a great ask that if companies contribute in the economy that they pay income tax or HST and the funding to help with the continued production of Canadian products. He thinks it will benefit Canadian producers and viewers and users. He thinks it will also benefit greatly digital creators as well as the consumption of digital content.

Senator Klyne then asked Forrest if he thinks that updating the broadcasting act to include streamers will be beneficial to Canadian broadcasting, digital creators, and online streamers or will it hinder and create problems for digital creators and streamers.

Forrest responded by saying that he things it would create a lot of challenges for both industries. The ideal scenario, to promote both their culture, focus on financing supply. So, he thinks we should tax the platforms, but use a lot of that money to subsidize the small time creators. In Quebec, they have a lot of that. Their theatres are subsidized, their movie industry is subsidized, their music industry is subsidized, and all for good reason. The demography of France and American allows them to scale their operations.

He says he met with (probably will never be able to spell that name out correctly) of France and he’s a huge YouTuber. He’s making plenty of video’s just like him. After talking to him for a bit, he realized he had 80 employees and he has one, himself. So, France has a demography that allows him to scale a lot faster than him. Also, France is a lot friendlier to YouTubers in their public programs. So, the best thing we could do while taxing these platforms is making sure that a huge portion of the pie goes to the users of these platforms to create the content that Canadian’s are watching.

MacMillan responded that he agrees with that. This is consistent with channelling tax credits from distributors into the hands of creators. You can define them as individual creators or production companies. In both cases, it’s the same notion. He agrees with that completely.

Senator Klyne mentioned that Forrest said ‘fix 4.2’. He asked what that means.

Forrest responded that, as he mentioned earlier, a lot of creators he knows are scared at the 4.2 clause because the spirit of the bill is that user generated content is out, yet 4.2 seems to include anything and anyone that gets direct or indirect revenue from the internet. So, if he sells shirts, he’s back in. If he has a little payment from YouTube, he’s back in. So, it would reassure creators if the statement was made clear; in simple terms that user generated content, like YouTubers and TikTokers, is definitely out of discoverablility enforcement.

Senator Jim Quinn noted the comment about him being a bridge. He says he very much appreciates that. He said that they’ve heard different things from different people of different points of view. One is that content platforms and user generated content users are out, the algorithms won’t be tampered with by the CRTC, but maybe the platforms have to do something with their algorithms. For him, there’s a lot of confusion about who is unheard in all of this. So, the question is, in a country like Canada, shouldn’t we be introducing laws that have some clarity so those that make the regulations are so that there’s less interpretation between what the law says vs what their powers are. Shouldn’t we be supportive of making changes to this piece of legislation to achieve that result?

Forrest responded that he is always for less legalese. The fact that there is this law, then there is the CRTC, then there is the application, makes a lot of layers to go through. If we are talking about simplifying the text, and ensuring that digital creators have a say in how this will play out, he thinks it’s a win for all Canadians.

MacMillan commented that the current drafting seems clear to him. However, if it’s not clear to some, then make it clear.

Senator Quinn asked if he would support amendments to achieve that.

MacMillan responded with ‘yes’ if the goal is achieved. This as long as there isn’t a red herring that undermines the purpose of the bill. One of his concerns is that if it’s simply to clarify as they are discussing now, it’s not trying to capture an individual Youtuber or something like that, like if it’s someone just selling t-shirts, then, great, make that clear. The risk here, though, is that there are currently platforms that currently deliver user generated content that are also getting in to a professional delivery of a whole library of programming with advertising. You can see where that can get into a blurry or grey space. If it’s simply to clarify that it’s not the t-shirt sellers and not the individual creators, then make that clear.

Senator Bernadette Clement said she wanted to explore the answer given to Senator Miville-Dechene. He said in his comments that the people who follow him are like you. She says she doesn’t look like him, but she is a fan of everything that’s Marvel – not a super geek, but someone who knows music plus. So, she’s not of his generation. However, she would like to be able to discover his content and she doesn’t necessarily have confidence in YouTube algorithms. So, she wants to know what the solution is, because he is seeking solutions. What is the solution to getting Canadian’s out of their lanes? Also, to have more confidence in the CRTC. He relies on those algorithms, she doesn’t understand them. She says she doesn’t have enough information on how it works.

Forrest responded that in this specific case of discoverability of content, users- yes, he has more faith in the algorithms than the CRTC. This is because, in his experience, and in the creators he has known for 10 or 15 years in Quebec who are working on the internet, if they have a product that is unique, that they are putting in a constant effort, they are going to reach people. So, when he says that a lot of people listening to him look like him, he’s not speaking just physically, but also culturally such as people who are into the same kind of news, movies, or sports.

So, he says, she is quite welcome on his channel, quite obviously. Also, how to get Canadian’s out of their ruts, if you will, he thinks you have to fund the supply. It’s about supply and demand. It’s not by legislation or rules and regulations and hoops people have to jump through, that we will allow other Quebeckers to discover him. It’s by giving him the means to challenge (French Youtuber) in France who has 80 employees or others who have even less than him. So, if we really want to promote Quebec or Canadian culture, he would concentrate on those who already know how to use these platforms to become better to have that higher production value.

He comments that it is hard to get people out of the pathways that they are in.

Senator Clement asked if it would be cool that more English Canadians listen to more French YouTubers.

Forrest responded that, yes, he would dream about that. Everywhere in Canada there are Radio-Quebec stations and few anglophones listen to them. The point is the following: it’s not in copying the models of the past that we are going to solve today’s problems. He thinks that it’s up to creators to create these bridges. He just met J.J. McCullough who is from Western Canada and he was very critical of Quebeckers, but he has very set, but fascinating perspectives. They had some very good discussions together. He got the impression that he understood francophone culture a little bit better and he understood western Canadian culture a little bit better as well.

So, there is no agency or law that forces to reach out to each other, but he gives that example but there is also another Quebecker creator who has a much bigger following then him and he has a huge audience in Europe. He has a huge audience in Europe and his audience is the reverse of his. He has already invited McCullough to his channel and vice-versa so they could do a collaboration as frenemies. So, friends and enemies. Once again, this came about because they found each other on YouTube. So, they’re both creating videos, but they are also watching them. That’s where they discovered each other and that’s how they began to collaborate. So, personally, he hopes to lead by example and he hopes that the rest of Canada gets interest in them. The best thing they can do is empower people with that mentality rather than putting up more barriers.

Senator Housakos commented that he agrees. There are a lot of people who are looking backwards and who are looking back to when the Canadians used to win the Stanley cup. They had wonderful parades on Montreal. With time, things change. They will remain faithful to the Habs, of course, but they are looking to the future, not to the past.

With that, the hearing then adjourned.

Concluding Thoughts

One of the long-running things I’ve seen throughout the hearings so far is this hand-wringing that Quebec voices are being shut out and that francophone culture is being strangled and squeezed completely out of the market. When a number of creators and Digital First Canada stepped forward to point out that this is not actually the case, I could get that sense of reservation as if the evidence presented was suspect.

So, when I saw a Quebec creator appear and basically say basically the same things as his English counterparts, my reaction was basically the famed WWE yes guy meme. For one, he was proving otherwise that French culture is somehow dying out because of platforms. For another, he was basically living proof that this is not the case. So, it was beautiful to see and, at least for that hearing, it seemed to temper down these panicked comments. No, they are doing well and they are, indeed, being heard and succeeding on these platforms.

Another observation was that this really is the first time I’ve seen such difference of perspective. Everything else, up to this point, has been either a panel of just lobbyists saying that culture is dying and this bill needs to be passed quickly or a panel of critics who are saying that there should be some fixes implemented before moving forward.

There was, of course, the funding aspect that really was one of the big themes. This has actually been brought up before by both the panel with OpenMedia and the panel with YouTube. The only thing that enters my mind that causes me a little apprehension is the tendency to say that these funds are creators, but then to erect all these barriers to ensure that only the biggest players or traditional companies can even hope to qualify. That is certainly the case with a lot of these media funds now and, as many creators have pointed out, they don’t even qualify for these funds. So, that is my only worry that it would become too exclusive.

So, for instance, there would be a huge difference for such a fund if the barrier to entry is, say, 10,000 subscribers of followers vs someone who has maybe 3 followers, but has idea’s for something that could have potential. After all, the goal is to foster smaller creators who could become the next PewDiePie or MrBeast. Funding only the already hugely successful isn’t really doing to do a whole lot to spur growth.

It wasn’t brought up directly in the hearing, but passively brought up in the past is how big of a bang for the governments buck such a fund could mean. There are funds that have billions in the pool. So, for a creator such as myself, something like a $10,000 cash infusion would be absolutely massive and a significant game changer. I could afford proper camera equipment, maybe start creating a set, get a video editing rig, hire a number of professional services, and even contract out some additional help to get more content out the door. For a fund that has billions, $10,000 would be 30 seconds of rummaging through a couch worth of funding. As platforms have pointed out multiple times now, the barrier for entry is incredibly low compared to, say, a traditional TV broadcaster.

From the governments perspective, a great question would be, if you had $100,000 to give out, would you rather give it to an under-performing TV station that might need more cash infusions in a couple of months, or would you rather give it to 10 creators who could very easily expand their operations and maybe even start small businesses that could very easily blow up into something amazing in a few months? I mean, there is such a huge incentive by the numbers alone.

Of course, as pointed out, this isn’t about choosing between traditional broadcasters and creators. After all, what we are talking about here is platforms giving money to these funds destined for creators. There are already funds destined to these traditional broadcasters and no one is actually saying to choose one over the other (and you wouldn’t have to, obviously). The comparison there is to show potential for smaller creators is all.

Naturally, the discussion also hit on 4.2. As expected, Forrest called for changes to it to make it clear. What I did find interesting is how MacMillan started off the panel by saying that there is no confusion, user generated content is out of the bill and more or less suggested that it was a waste of time even talking about it. By the end of it, even he was open to the idea of having clarification to the bill. I found that to be interesting.

One final point on this one is that it was always more than possible to have this bill where the interest of broadcaster and the interest of digital first creators co-existed and mingled happily. When digital first creators hit the panic button over the text of the bill, I thought it was uncalled for for the lobbyists to hammer creators with hit pieces, calling us liars, cat videos, and pawns of big platforms. Because of those attacks for nearly two years, they created the situation where digital first creators are upset at them. None of this was necessary. What you could really get a sense by the end is that common ground of you are free to stay in your lane and we are free to stay in ours. It would be nice that we see the debate head in this direction, so, hopefully, this doesn’t end up being a rare blip. I can’t say I am holding my breath for that, but there’s always hope.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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