The Federal government has halted the Broadcasting Act Bill known as C-10.
Liberals, along with the support of Bloc and NDP, pushed to rush changes to the bill. They sought to finalize a vote before the summer break when HOC adjourns on June 23rd. Steven Guilbeault moved for a closure motion of Bill C-10 on Monday. Guilbeault’s case maintained that the “cultural community” wants to see the legislation become law. Plans for a pre-summer closure, however, may face more setbacks. The speaker of the house of commons, Anthony Rota, set forth a series of last-minute amendments that will require further discussion and proceedings before a final decision can be made.,
Since the beginning of the bill’s discussions, conservatives have been working to halt what some view as an attack on freedom of speech. After a lengthy line-by-line examination of the bill, Canadian Heritage Committee moved to end the study and quickly process amendments. The committee processed the series of modifications before the MPs had a chance to review and discuss them.
This hurried process by the CHC was called out by Rota, who stated that the committee had “exceeded its authority” since the time limit for further work had expired. Rota ordered that any changes made after the deadline mentioned above be struck from the current version of the bill - except one amendment, which was let stand concerning “previously-adopted change to the wording of the legislation”.
Bill C-10, as initially proposed, seeks to make changes to streaming platforms and social media websites for payments to Canadian artists and creators, ensuring they are held to the same standards as traditional broadcasters. A later amendment removed protection for individual users who upload content; they would also be subjected to CRTC regulations, and freedom of expression protections are potentially affected.
Rota’s ruling on the halt to the bill was backed by challenges to the admissibility of the amendments. The opposition and critical MPs have raised concerns over the rush for the bill’s completion and the hurried revision of over thirty amendments - some being moved without discussion, debate, or disclosure to the committee.
On Monday, NDP MP Heather McPherson proposed an extension to the deadline so more work could be done to understand any critical changes to the bill. “In the end, the Liberals closed the committee debate and we were forced to vote on amendments without even discussing them. It is not my idea of good government.” Other MPs such as Conservative Black Richards and Alain Rayes raised concerns about Liberals, Block, and NDP pushing amendments despite being out of time.
Liberals can now re-introduce the cancelled amendments during the final moments of House of Commons discussion time allotted to the bill or proceed without them.