With the constant advancement of technology, lawmakers often find themselves on the back foot when it comes to regulating these new developments. With this, the federal government has been trying to catch up in regards to the Internet with the development of Bill C-11.
“C-11 existed in the last parliament as C-10 and as you will realize, there was 4.2 (the requirement for the Minister of Justice to see how new legislation may affect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms) and that one we had a problem within the sense of people being able to use it without being monitored, algorithms for checking whether it was Canadian enough, or whether it was being censored,” said Martin Shields, Bow River MP. “When Parliament died with the election, that piece of legislation died. They brought it back as C-11 and they brought it back with some of that same language which we had an issue with. Now, one of the things we never had a problem with is that people need to pay their fair share of tax. We’ve always said that the big international (Internet conglomerates) Google, Facebook, things like that — although I’m not sure if getting a link to it makes sense if they have to pay tax on it.”
After giving this introduction of the legislation, Shields shifted gears and began to discuss the elements of the bill that he disagrees with.
“Anyway, that’s sort of taxing and there are some things in there that we would agree with, but the problem comes down to two things. You’ve probably seen me talk about this with weekly newspapers before, that they’re saying that this money should be coming back to support our media, legacy media, our print media — whatever you call it — with the money that’s been lost now goes to advertising, and they’re getting money from all sorts of sources out of our country. The weekly newspapers out of the way that it’s set up are not going to benefit from that in this riding, they’re too small. I have a problem with the federal government taking all their money away from print media like weekly newspapers, putting it on international social media, and not putting their advertising dollars in weekly papers. They are the lifeblood of our communities we just had a discussion — I was at the joint mayor and reeve meeting for southeast and southwest Alberta, and we talked about that. I said, ‘that the weekly’s are important in our communities.’ They are really important and that’s why I have a problem with C-11 — it doesn’t help our weekly papers.”
Shields talked about how this piece of legislation would also bring CanCon to the Internet and how about is a dangerous step towards censorship.
“The other side of it is the CRTC which we are very familiar with — at least with people that are my age in a sense when they said there needs to be so much Canadian content on the radio and television — social media is a different platform. Taking that same idea and applying it to that doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work in our mind. The Justin Bieber’s of the world that were discovered, the TikTok people, we have lots of Canadians when they talk about the percentage. We have a huge number of people who are making it, but if you were going to have an algorithm, and if you have hundreds of CRTC people deciding what is Canadian and what’s going to be discovered, I get really concerned that this is more censorship then rather freedom of what it can do, and what Canadians have found they can be very successful in the social media platforms. That’s the real concern and why I don’t like that particular aspect of applying what was the radio and television mechanism for 30 per cent of your radio playtime with Canadian and TV the same, but trying to apply that to the social media platforms, and trying to decide if you’re Canadian enough that gets into an area where we think it’s just not what CRTC should be doing.”
Ian Croft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Taber Times