Comparution au Comité permanent du patrimoine canadien sur le projet de loi C-11, Loi sur la diffusion en ligne

Preliminary remarks by Pierre Trudel to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in the context of the study of Bill C-11 – Online Streaming Act, May 31, 2022


Bill C-11 seeks to ensure that all undertakings engaged in the broadcasting and distribution of programs over the Internet or otherwise operate in harmony with the requirements of Canada’s broadcasting. By proceeding with this long-delayed update of the Broadcasting Act, Parliament will make a necessary catch-up in the establishment of the legislative framework for broadcasting activities of audiovisual creations that are increasingly dependent on online environments.


This upgrade is essential to ensure that our communication system operates in such a way as to provide Canadians with the effective possibility of choosing programs that reflect the richness of Canadian diversity and the existence of official languages ​​in Canada.


Since 1991, the Broadcasting Act has included very clear provisions prohibiting the CRTC from making decisions that violate freedom of expression. It is unfortunate that unsubstantiated allegations about the alleged possibility that the Broadcasting Act as proposed to be amended would interfere with freedom of expression have led to the insertion into the text of the law of all kinds exclusions and clarifications that only make it difficult to read.


We must welcome the proposed addition of paragraphs 3(1) q) and r) proposed by section 4 of PL C-11 in order to explicitly provide for the need to promote the discoverability of Canadian works.


On the other hand, paragraph (8) of section 9.1 of the Broadcasting Act proposed by s. 10 of PL C-11 would introduce an exclusion that is both unnecessary and dangerous. This paragraph excludes the possibility for the CRTC to require the use of a particular computer algorithm or source code.


By removing this ability of the CRTC to impose the use of technological instruments consistent with the operating modes of online environments, we come to paralyze the action of the regulator. He is forced to limit himself to tools of the past to frame technological situations of the future.


There is no rational reason to exclude such a possibility of requiring the use of software tools to help ensure the compliant operation of undertakings covered by the Broadcasting Act. Such restraint of CRTC authority is unnecessary.


Finally, to ensure the transparency that is a strength of the Canadian broadcasting regulatory framework, it should be ensured that the CRTC makes orders following public hearings during which everyone will have the opportunity to be heard. To this end, it is necessary to amend Article 18(1) introduced by Article 16 of the PL. C-11 to add “and the making of an order under subsections 9.1(1) and 12(2).


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