Justice Centre’s Statement on Bill C-11, The Online Streaming Act, receiving Royal Assent

The Justice Centre is disappointed that Bill C-11, introduced to Parliament by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, was approved by the Senate and granted Royal Assent on April 27, 2023. Despite significant concerns from Canadians, content creators, and democratic representatives, the majorities in the Commons and the Senate have chosen to prioritize government control and power over freedom of expression.

The Act will allow the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commissions (CRTC) to extensively regulate streaming platforms such as YouTube and Rumble, and even user generated content that directly or indirectly generates revenues (albeit non-commercial). The CRTC will also have discretion to determine what counts as distinctively Canadian content and to prioritize it, to force platforms to comply with policy objectives promoting, e.g., Indigenous, “racialized” or “ethnocultural” communities, as well as various “sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions”. It will fall under the CRTC’s jurisdiction to penalize any regulated entity found to be spreading misinformation (according to the CRTC’s definition of misinformation), and to impose significant fines (up to $250,000) for any breaches of the Act.

The Government of Canada should not be in the business of regulating political podcasts or determining what counts as Canadian content. It should not have the power to decide what content creators or news organizations can or should create or express or report. That’s for Canadians themselves to decide.

Canadian heritage and culture matter. Open debate and freedom of expression also matter. Bill C-11 puts these important human values into sharp opposition to the detriment of the ability of Canadians, as free agents, to hear, discover, inquire, and know about their country and the world beyond.

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