Lethbridge Herald: No to government control, yes to choice
Updated: Mar 7, 2022
Whenever we see government attempt to exert more control over the lives of Canadians, we should be on high alert.
Many have classified the Internet as the new public square.
A place where people are free to speak, debate, share, listen, critique, and learn from one another.
This space is unique in that it allows for connections to be made irrespective of geographical location. It is truly amazing!
The Internet has given us the opportunity to learn about different cultures, enjoy music from all over the world, find recipes from the 1600s, and learn how to maintain an urban garden, or change a flat tire.
Creators have been empowered to reach a global audience and viewers are able to access pretty much anything they wish.
Who could have predicted, even 30 years ago, the vast reach individuals would have through the Internet, or the success artists would achieve on various digital platforms? It is something remarkable and, I believe, something we should protect.
Why, you might ask, does this new public square need to be protected?
Quite simply, because the Liberal government is not comfortable with this vast space of open communication existing outside of its control.
There are tens of thousands of digital first creators and artists in Canada who have found a way to capitalize on this new system of digital communication.
They have built businesses and exported their art around the globe.
Instead of celebrating these accomplishments and encouraging these entrepreneurs to continue, the government has decided they need to be punished by having the draconian rules of the Broadcasting Act applied to them.
Enter Bill C-11.
Bill C-11 is the new iteration of Bill C-10. Its claimed intent is to level the playing field and make big web giants “pay their fair share.”
With this legislation, Canada will become the very first democratic country to apply its broadcasting act to the Internet.
In effect, Bill C-11 will put in place an “Internet czar”—the CRTC—which will govern how easily creators are able to make their content accessible online, and how easily viewers can access it.
In short, Canada will join the likes of China, Turkey, Iran, North Korea and Russia.
If that sounds alarming, it’s because it is!
It is important to note that the Broadcasting Act was never meant to regulate the Internet, which is infinite.
The Broadcasting Act was written for the purposes of regulating public television and radio programming.
The Liberals claim that bringing more government intervention through bureaucratic regulation will boost the Canadian arts and culture sector, but tell me about a time in history where more red tape and regulation has increased innovation, incentivized artistic creation, or prosperity.
You cannot because it does not.
This legislation sets up the CRTC as an unguided missile. Former CRTC Commissioner, Peter Menzies has warned, “a regulator left without limits will continue to seek to expand them.”
The Liberals assure us that this bill will protect and promote Canadian culture, but in actuality, it will prevent Canadian creatives from being able to organically gain and maintain a following.
The government, through the CRTC, will dictate what is “Canadian” enough to be kept on page one of your YouTube search, and what has to be bumped to page 53.
In other words, the CRTC will choose which creators get to succeed and which do not.
It will be up to government-instructed bureaucrats to pick winners and losers.
In effect, the government will simultaneously act as the arbiter of what you should and should not wish to watch based on a convoluted definition of how “Canadian” the content is.
Talk about a heavy-handed approach and a direct imposition on your freedom to choose.
World renowned Canadian YouTube artist, Lilly Singh said, “creators who have built their careers on the Internet need to be consulted on these decisions.”
“In trying to do what seems like a good thing –highlighting great Canadian-made content –you can unintentionally destroy a thriving creative ecosystem.”
Canadian digital first creators are hitting it out of the park without any intervention, strings-attached support, or regulation from the government.
As Morghan Fortier from Skyship Entertainment so eloquently put it:
“In Canada, digital content creators have built a successful, thriving industry on platforms such as YouTube, TikTok and others that exports a huge amount of Canadian content to the rest of the world…. They’ve done this through their entrepreneurial spirit, their hard work, and largely without government interference or assistance. This achievement should be supported, celebrated and encouraged.”
Bill C-11 is a solution looking for a problem that doesn’t exist.
Digital first creators are against this bill because they do not want the government getting in the way of their potential. Canadian viewers are concerned because they do not want the government to limit their viewing choice.
I am listening, and I could not agree more.
NO to government deciding what is best for Canadians to produce and view, and YES to Canadian artists and Canadian consumers choosing for themselves.
If you agree with me, please take a minute to write a two-word email to the Heritage minister, Mr. Rodriguez: “No C-11!”
He can be emailed here: firstname.lastname@example.org