“We can’t allow debate, we can’t allow amendments.” That’s a direct quote from Canadian Heritage Committee Chair Scott Simms on Bill C-10.2
That’s how Bill C-10 was passed through the House of Commons.
Under C-10, the CRTC will set rules that promote or bury any video, meme, and podcast we upload online, filling our feeds with its outdated 20th-century vision of what counts as “Canadian” content — whether we want it there or not. And despite over a hundred amendments, the fundamental problem with the Bill remains; it still gives the CRTC huge powers to manipulate what video and audio we see on every app and platform on the Internet.3
But now, thanks to the government’s numerous efforts to bypass democratic procedures, those concerns were not debated or reflected in the final bill that is moving on to the Senate.4
If you’re unfamiliar with the process, here’s a bit of an explainer. When a bill is first proposed, it goes through three “readings” in the House of Commons, including a committee stage where the bill is studied closely by a cross-partisan group of MPs, who hear from expert witnesses, input is gathered, and amendments are made. The House then debates the updated bill and makes final changes accordingly. After the House votes to pass the bill, it goes to the Senate where a similar process is followed before the bill becomes a law.
These procedures ensure that bills are properly debated by all parties, and that the concerns of people in Canada are carefully heard and implemented — AKA democracy. But in the case of C-10, the committee only heard from one side of the debate, and the government manipulated the House of Commons process to silence any debate amongst MPs, block opportunities to amend the bill, and force it to an early vote before Canadians’ voices could be heard.
Let me be clear: Our government essentially suspended democracy to pass Bill C-10. Not only is that an outrage, it’s a dangerous slippery slope; unless the Senate corrects the course by giving C-10 the scrutiny and attention it was denied in the House of Commons, even more dangerous future online censorship legislation could be rammed through in this way without democractic process. That’s a horrifying thought.
We can’t let our government trample democracy! That’s why it’s absolutely critical that the Senate step up to thoroughly and fairly examine Bill C-10 — the way it wasn’t in the House of Commons. Tell the Senate committee studying C-10: don’t let this bill become law without a full democratic process!