Despite Liberal protestations to the contrary, user-generated content on social media will fall under CRTC regulations. (Pixabay)

Liberals caught in C-11 ‘disinformation’ web

The federal government’s own bureaucrats have exposed that with Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act, Justin Trudeau’s government has engaged in a “campaign of disinformation.”

So says Peter Menzies, a former vice-chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Menzies is among those who have been contradicted and criticized by Liberal MPs for articulating that Bill C-11 would arm the CRTC with regulatory power over user-generated content.

This revelation arose from a court filing concerning a Google challenge over the fees it and other broadcast undertakings are mandated to pay the commission. Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa academic, explained on his website that “in order to make the case that the advertising backing user-uploaded content is caught by the law, (in their filing) Justice lawyers argue that user uploaded content itself is plainly covered by the legislation. ”

Government counsel stated that “contrary to the Applicant’s position, the Act does allow for the regulation of user-uploaded programs on social media services, so long as certain conditions are met.”

These are outlined in subsection 4.1 and section 4.2 of the legislation that received royal assent on May 3, 2023.

The major takeaway from this turn of events, said Menzies, is that the  government engaged in a “campaign of disinformation now as plain as the nose on Pinocchio’s face.”

Menzies elaborated upon his assertions against the government in a June 17 post on his Substack publication “The Rewrite.”

“The government’s approach, led by then-Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, was to deny that what was clearly there was there (Gaslighting 101),” explained Menzies. “What the government was engaged in was pure propaganda — a textbook example of a campaign of misinformation and disinformation that was tolerated by many (not all) of those reporting on the issue.”

The senior fellow for the MacDonald-Laurier Institute also detailed how in October 2022, then Parliamentary Secretary to the Heritage Minister Chris Bittle went even further by encouraging Lobbying Commissioner Nancy Bélanger to investigate Digital First Canada, an advocacy organization for YouTubers and video creators on other platforms. Scott Benzie represented this group in heritage committee meetings devoted to C-11.

Now that government personnel have clearly authenticated that user-generated audio and video content is within the CRTC’s supervisory talons, what could be the consequences for Catholic creators?

In previous conversations with The Catholic Register, Menzies said “religion has always been a topic of interest within the CRTC,” and expanded on this in a recent interview.

“The CRTC would not license religious channels for years and years,” said Menzies. “There was a cable channel called (Vision TV) that was multi-faith that they finally licensed back in (1987), but still there is strict regulation, and it is something that makes them institutionally nervous.”

In 2024, the schism between the views of many Christians and the secular agenda propagated by the federal government is substantially more apparent. Euthanasia policy, gender and sexual identity, and abortion are among the significant issues of conflict.

Though the CRTC claims on its website that it is an “administrative tribunal that operates at arm’s length from the federal government,” Menzies says “it is not an agency to turn down offers of fresh turf” and Bill C-11 armed it with an even more turf.

CRTC released its first regulatory policy about Bill C-11 on June 4. The commission demanded that any online audio-visual streaming services netting $25 million or more contribute five per cent of that total to certain federal funds. Two of the five per cent would be earmarked for the Canada Media Fund or direct expenditures that finance certified Canadian content (CanCon). Another 1.5 per cent is allotted for the Independent Local News Fund. The remaining 1.5 per cent is divvied up between official language minority community, Indigenous and Black Person and Person of Colour funds.

There are separate contribution stipulations contained in the document for audio online undertakings.

Geist summarized the decisions made as “a perfect illustration of a sector that is too often focused on regulatory payments rather than market-based success with incredible micromanagement of funding in which the CRTC is turned into a policy funding machine of the government.” He added, “Bill C-11 was about ‘making web giants pay’ and that is what the CRTC was determined to do even if it is consumers that will ultimately get the bill.”

Menzies expects larger platforms like Netflix could raise subscription prices in the coming months, while smaller platforms, namely Spotify, might be forced to cease operations in Canada.

It appears that additional CRTC guidance connected to Bill C-11 will be released at a slow burn. Conservative MP and Shadow Minister of Heritage Rachael Thomas urged her committee colleagues to commit to some summer session meetings with CRTC leadership to ascertain why the policy rollout is happening slowly. The Liberal-NDP coalition shut down her suggestion one day before the summer recess started on June 19.

The Catholic Register


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