A Canadian broadcast legend has thrown her weight behind opposition to a new federal bill that could censor what Canadians see and hear on the Internet.
Sen. Pamela Wallin (Sask.) Thursday said cabinet must seek wide public input on its bill to regulate YouTube, said Blacklock’s Reporter.
Proposed federal controls on the Internet were so far-reaching they “morphed into the possibility of censoring online content,” said Wallin, a Broadcast Hall of Fame recipient.
“The Internet is not only the most powerful space for conducting commerce and for sharing news and information, but it is also the most powerful form of personal communication,” Wallin told the Senate.
“Most governments have taken a hands-off approach to regulating or censoring these exchanges. Speech, dissent, disagreement, criticism, debate are all the basic tenets of a democracy.”
Bill C-10 An Act To Amend The Broadcasting Act would require the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to regulate YouTube videos as programs, with YouTube management being responsible for ensuring videos uploaded comply with federal orders.
Wallin questioned the CRTC’s role in monitoring YouTube content intended for private viewing.
“Use your own judgment,” she said. “If you don’t like what someone has to say, change the channel. Cancel your subscription. You can hit mute if you don’t like my message.”
Canadians clearly called for the feds to engage in widespread and genuine public consultation on this issue and “I add my voice to that call,” said Wallin.
MPs opposed to Bill C-10 yesterday said the CRTC had no business monitoring Internet uploads.
“People’s voices matter and their opinions should not be silenced,” Conservative MP David Yurdiga (Fort McMurray-Cold Lake, Alta.) said in a statement. “I disagree with this bill. I will fight day and night for this bill not to pass.”
Conservative MP Rachael Harder (Lethbridge, Alta.) last night told the Commons heritage committee it must ensure Bill C-10 complies with the Charter Of Rights And Freedoms.
“That’s not a lot to ask,” she said.
“For this committee to continue forward without taking this responsibility is shame on us. To suggest we should just continue ramming this legislation through, that we should just continue considering one clause after another without giving sober second thought to whether or not this legislation does indeed continue to abide by the Charter, is wrong.”
Bill C-10 is the first of two bills to regulate internet content, Cabinet said.
A second bill not yet introduced will target online content deemed to “undermine Canada’s social cohesion or democracy,” according to a December 15 briefing note Regulation Of Social Media Platforms from Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s department.
Guilbeault in a March 31 podcast said regulations should also target hurtful comments against politicians or public agencies.
“I have seen firsthand alongside other Canadians the damaging effects harmful content has on our families, our values and our institutions,” he said.
“Canada has a world-renowned public service and it’s integral that we don’t attack them to try and score political points,” he continued.
“Everybody in this country, and especially elected officials, have I think a responsibility, a duty to ensure that we protect our institutions.”
Mike D’Amour is the British Columbia Bureau Chief for the Western Standard.