Bill C-10 is a national embarrassment and Canada’s cultural sector needs to do the right thing and step away from it, writes Peter Menzies in the Financial Post. Below is an excerpt from the article, which can be read in full here.
By Peter Menzies, May 5, 2021
Canada’s cultural sector, long a champion of rights and social justice, now finds itself — despite Monday’s government pullback — in the awkward position of having inspired the mugging of free speech and expression on the internet.
To say this is a unique position for this group, which has successfully lobbied the federal government to “get money from web giants,” is an understatement. Whether through courageous historic battles on behalf of artistic freedom or leading the vanguard on behalf of women’s rights, gay rights, trans rights, Indigenous rights, workers’ rights, the battle against racism and more, no single group can claim more success in the virtuous use of its profile to advance progressive causes.
And yet today many wonderful people in the nation’s cultural community stand hand-in-hand with Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, architect of Bill C-10 which will place the internet under the control of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Its nine unelected, unaccountable commissioners will decide if your Facebook post or Youtube video is appropriate internet content. Coming up, Gulbeault has promised more legislation to establish another regulatory panel to oversee what sort of things people may say on social media. All of this constitutes an outrageous abuse of government authority and if not a boot on the neck at least a firm hand on the larynx of Canadians’ right to legal speech and expression.
So, while Guilbeault suggested Monday that he will introduce safeguards, these are safeguards he spent the past week saying are already in place. As he was doing so, our artists and musicians remained silent and in cahoots with Guilbeault’s plans. What turned the sacred into, if you’ll pardon the abuse of a phrase, the profane?