With 5 Sitting Days Left, Motion to Protect User Generated Content Tabled for Bill C-10

The house of commons has 5 sitting days left. One motion tabled would re-introduce Section 4.1. It would be the third vote on this critical section.

It’s been an exhausting month covering Bill C-10. When hope seemed to be on the verge of running out, a last minute dramatic plot twist dealt a setback for supporters of speech regulation. The Speaker of the House of Commons ruled that the Heritage Committee exceeded their authority when they shut down debate and passed Bill C-10 under the veil of secrecy. As a result, a vast majority of the amendments that were put into the bill were voided.

The decision, depending on how things play out, could be the critical one that puts a stop to this madness of online speech regulation. Unless there is another underhanded and anti-democratic regulatory manoeuvre that the Liberals can pull still, the motions and amendments will have to be debated and voted on in the public. That will take time. Looking at the sitting calendar, time may not be something that censorship supporters have now. As of now, there are only 5 sitting days left (including today). That really isn’t a lot of time to get this legislation through before the break – especially to get those 22 or so amendments debated and voted on.

The time table can be critical because there is speculation that an election will hit in the Fall. Should that happen, parliament will be dissolved and bills not passed will die on the order paper. If Bill C-10 is not passed before the 23rd, then efforts to push through the speech regulation bill will be left to chance. If an election is called in the Fall, then game over. Otherwise, debate will resume on the 20th of September. Either way, it’s very likely out of the Heritage Minister’s hands at that point.

In the midst of all of this, it appears that there will be a third attempt to protect user generated content in this bill. Section 4.1, which has been removed, is the section that would actually protect user generated content. As we previously explained, the sections removal meant that user generated content would be subject to regulation. So far, MPs have twice voted against protecting user generated content. The first time was when they voted to remove it from the legislation (which sparked all this uproar in the first place). The second time was when a motion was tabled to restore the section only to have the section voted down in committee. It sent the signal that MPs have every intention of regulating user generated content – and that it isn’t just a simple oversight.

Motion 1, as it is now know, is going to be the third attempt at protecting user generated content. From the House of Commons website:

Motion No. 1 — June 15, 2021 — Mr. Rayes (Richmond—Arthabaska) — That Bill C-10 be amended by restoring Clause 3 as follows:

“4.1 (1) This Act does not apply in respect of

(a) programs that are uploaded to an online undertaking that provides a social media service by a user of the service — who is not the provider of the service or the provider’s affiliate, or the agent or mandatary of either of them — for transmission over the Internet and reception by other users of the service; and

(b) online undertakings whose broadcasting consists only of such programs.

(2) For greater certainty, subsection (1) does not exclude the application of this Act in respect of a program that is the same as one referred to in paragraph (1)(a) but that is not uploaded as described in that paragraph.”

Pursuant to Standing Order 76.1(2), notice also received from:

Mr. Richards (Banff—Airdrie) — June 15, 2021

(via @mgeist)

If supporters of this legislation are tired of the controversy and tired of fielding complaints about Bill C-10, this will end many of those complaints. This whole debate is centred around whether user generated content will be regulated by the CRTC. While this is still a bad bill, this solves the single biggest problem within the bill itself. It would relieve much of the anxiety surrounding this legislation. It’s actually this simple. Knowing the voting history, though, it’s likely that MPs, at the behest of corporate lobbyists will vote against it. That would confirm a third time that the intention of this bill is to regulate user generated content. More critically, MPs will be on record on whether they vote for or against this on top of it all.

Knowing that so much attention is focused on this bill, this opens up the possibility that no further movement will happen with this bill. It’s a long shot, but it is a possibility at this stage.

At any rate, this story quickly turned for the positive. Passing this in 5 days is going to take quite a bit of effort. It’s certainly possible that this will the an insurmountable task. Of course, as we found out with the Speaker ruling, nothing is for certain until it’s over. So, we’ll be watching for developments as they unfold.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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