Quebec Ink: With Bill C-10, Quebec sets the Liberal agenda on Big Tech – The Logic

Posted: May 16, 2021 at 12:54 pm

MONTREAL Wearing a headset and a look of practiced indignation, Liberal MP Julie Dabrusin began her media availability Friday trying to convince everyone that her government hadnt just backed down. Despite a deliberate filibuster by our Conservative colleagues, Liberal members of the heritage committee were finally able to share the social media amendments to Bill C-10 while respecting parliamentary privilege, Dabrusin said.

Nevertheless, behind Dabrusins statement was an obvious concession. After weeks on the receiving end of ire from Conservative MPsas well as academics, legal experts, columnists and free-the-internet activiststhe government was making changes to a bill it hoped would update the Canadian Broadcasting Act for a world increasingly dominated by digital platforms.

Bill C-10, the federal Liberals effort to bring Canadas broadcasting rules into the 21st century, has sparked a firestorm of criticism from Conservative MPs, legal scholars and business leaders who see it as an assault on free speech and a travesty of big-government overreach. But those voices are notably English Canadian; in Quebec, it has been much more positively received. The provinces politically influential cultural sector backs the bill, which is in part an expression of the anxiety of a francophone community about an increasingly online world with English as its lingua franca.

Youd think legislation on the countrys broadcasting rules would be about as compelling as a Corner Gas rerun. In the Liberal telling, Bill C-10 seeks simply to promote and make discoverable our artists, our stories and our shared experiences, as Dabrusin put it. The government wants these services to pay into Canadian media funds, as well as make YouTube and other music streaming services to futz with their algorithms in order to up the discoverability of Canadian artists. No, Justin Trudeau doesnt want to regulate your cat videos.

And yet Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has somehow ended up on the wrong end of a debate that has seen the Liberals accused of a full-blown assault on free expression in Canada and of running the most anti-Internet government in Canadian history.

Those accusations have by and large come from English Canada. But to understand how we got here, you have to understand Guilbeaults efforts to address the concerns of the countrys broadcasters and cultural institutionsspecifically those in his home province of Quebec. And, you have to understand Justin Bieber.

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Quebec Ink: With Bill C-10, Quebec sets the Liberal agenda on Big Tech - The Logic

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