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Online Regulation Bill C-11 to Become Law After Senate Vote

The Liberal government’s Bill C-11 to revamp the Broadcasting Act and put online content under the government regulator has finally passed the Senate.

Senator’s passed the motion clearing the bill by a wide majority of 52 to 16 on April 27.

“Great news!” reacted Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez on Twitter. Rodriguez had sponsored the bill.

“Our stories matter, and with C11, we are supporting our artists and creators so they can continue sharing their stories with the world.”

The Senate had worked on the bill and sent it back to the House of Commons with amendments. It then returned to the Senate with some of the amendments rejected.

An amendment to exempt individual content creators was defeated by all parties except the Conservatives.

The motion that was adopted by the Senate states that it agrees with the amendments made by the Commons and does not “insist on its amendments to which the House of Commons disagrees.”

The motion further states that “the Senate take note of the Government of Canada’s public assurance that Bill C-11 will not apply to user-generated digital content and its commitment to issue policy direction to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission [CRTC] accordingly.”

This issue has been at the centre of the debate around the bill, with the Liberals saying it doesn’t cover used-generated content but the CRTC chair and other critics saying that it does.

Conservative Sen. Denise Batters said in proceedings before the vote on the motion that public assurances are not enough.

“Honourable senators, I wasn’t born yesterday,” she said. “There’s no reason to think this Liberal promise will hold up any better than any of the many, many other broken Liberal promises.”

Batters said the government side was censoring debate around the bill in the Senate by imposing a time allocation.

With Bill-C11, online streaming platforms will fall under the regulatory power of the CRTC. The bill will also require those platforms to invest in creating Canadian content.

A summary of the bill states that the CRTC should be provided with the “power to require that persons carrying on broadcasting undertakings make expenditures to support the Canadian broadcasting system.”

The bill also provides a progressive slant to the Broadcasting Act by adding multiple identity politics provisions.

It replaces that the broadcasting system should serve the needs of “Canadian men, women, and children” by serving all “sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions.”

Peter Wilson contributed to this report.

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