The Liberals with the help of the Bloc Quebecois on Monday voted to start the clock to end a parliamentary committee’s study of the controversial Bill C-10, which has been the subject of concerns about free speech and social media regulation.
Government MPs backed a push to impose time allocation on the heritage committee’s study of the bill, meaning the committee will now get no more than five more hours to study the bill before being cut off.
Once that time is up, the bill will be sent back to the House of Commons, where amendments to the bill by the committee can be debated by all members of Parliament. After that, the bill would go to third reading and a final vote before being passed on to the Senate, and then royal assent if it passes.
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Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault defended the time limit as necessary given what he described as attempts by the Conservatives to stall the bill at committee and the few remaining days in the parliamentary calendar before the summer break.
“The circumstances are exceptional and called for an exceptional response,” he said.
Conservatives have argued the bill poses serious problems and goes too far in regulating social media, and say more time is needed to study the effects the bill would have on Canadian content creators.
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Alain Rayes, the Conservative heritage critic, said the move amounts to “ramming the bill through Parliament without proper discussions.”
“This extreme tactic has only been used three times in Canadian history,” he said. “We will continue to fight for the many Canadians who are concerned about this bill’s implication for their social media and internet use.”
NDP finance critic Peter Julian said the government is using time limits on the study to prevent questions being raised about Guilbeault’s handling of criticism of the legislation.
“This has been a communications disaster,” he said on Monday.
Canadian heritage minister won’t say whether Bill C-10 could regulate users’ social media algorithms
The legislation broadly aims to modernize the laws governing broadcasting in Canada to reflect the increased reliance of Canadians on streaming services and social media platforms for access music, movies, news and other cultural content.
The proposed law hopes to extend Canadian content requirements to these online platforms, ensuring the companies pay into cultural funds and display a certain amount of Canadian content.
Bill C-10 became a source of parliamentary discord after the Liberals removed a section of the bill that protected user-generated content and exempted it from regulation. That meant Canadians’ Facebook and Instagram posts could be forced to abide by certain CRTC rules.
And while it’ll be up to the CRTC to draft exactly what those regulations might look like, experts have warned this could allow the CRTC to regulate anything they’d like on social media.
With files from Global’s Rachel Gilmore.
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