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Previous Sittings
Previous Sittings

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 44th Parliament
Volume 153, Issue 95

Wednesday, February 1, 2023
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker


Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.



Canada-Russia Relations

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Honourable senators, one of the many tragedies that have resulted from this terrible war in Ukraine has been the loss of cooperation between our country and Russia.

I harken back to the years when delegations from Northwest Territories went to Yakutsk, Chukokta and other Arctic regions, visited and exchanged information and insights into Arctic challenges, being well supported by the circumpolar division of then-Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada. We agreed in those exchanges that we are two great Arctic nations. Though our Arctic coast is longer than the Atlantic and Pacific coasts combined, Russia’s is longer.

We have common problems that only we understand and have struggled to address. We learned from the Russians how to build better ice roads and ice bridges in the Arctic. We visited their permafrost institutes and learned that you can use kerosene instead of expensive chemicals to insulate thermal piles in the permafrost. We can learn from their small modular reactors which are powering towns and their fleets of icebreakers.

One of our then-Northwest Territories companies, Ferguson Simek Clark, led by Stefan Simek, built an airport and an entire village in Yakutia, which was modelled after what our Russian visitors had seen in Dene communities along the Mackenzie Valley built by the Government of the Northwest Territories. There were also rich cultural exchanges between the Indigenous peoples of the Soviet and Canadian Arctic fostered by the Inuit Circumpolar Council.

More importantly, there was solid Arctic cooperation on important issues relating to climate change, search and rescue, circumpolar health and economic development through the Arctic Council, a Canadian creation. All this has been lost in the megalomania of a madman who seeks to restore Russia’s greatness on the backs of the innocent people of Ukraine.

How sad that this peaceful cooperation, cultivated by Russia’s enlightened former president Mikhail Gorbachev, has been put on hold by the actions of an evil man I call “Vlad the Impaler.” Let us hope he can be stopped and we can someday reconnect with our circumpolar friends in the Russian North.

Thank you.

Black History Month

Hon. Wanda Elaine Thomas Bernard: Honourable senators, it is my honour to be with you in person today and to deliver a statement for Black History Month on this first day of Black History Month. This year, the national theme is “Ours to tell,” and Nova Scotia’s African Heritage Month theme is “Seas of Struggle.” Both evoke a sense of ancestral, collective remembering. The history and relationship to the sea is our story to tell. The sea is an integral part of African Canadian history, as our ancestors were trafficked across the Middle Passage. Many survived the brutal journey; many did not survive.

I feel a particular affinity to the sea, living in Nova Scotia. Almost every single one of the 48 African-Nova Scotian communities lies where water and land meet, physically pushed to the margins of the province. Nova Scotia has many sea-related industries with very little Black representation. Perhaps it is time for Nova Scotia to create opportunities in fishing and shipbuilding industries for reparations based on the link between African Nova Scotians and the Atlantic Ocean. This could be a three-step process.

First, address racism in the industries as part of an ongoing process of systemic change. Second, offer educational and training opportunities for African Nova Scotians. Third, fill positions in the industries. There are some positive examples of innovative programs that address steps two and three with opportunities for women, Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotians in the shipbuilding industry, for example. There is more work to be done especially with step one, making sure the workplaces are safe as they become more diverse.

These themes help me imagine that future generations of African Nova Scotians have a more impactful and engaging relationship with the sea, moving us from seas of struggle to prosperity. Happy Black History Month to all Canadians, and happy African Heritage Month to Nova Scotians.

Asante, thank you.


Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Ms. Nicole Baptiste, Mr. Allen Alexandre and the artists invited to exhibit their works by the Centre culturel afro-canadien de Montréal and by Mosaïque interculturelle. They are the guests of the Honourable Senator Mégie.

On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Black History Month

Tales Exhibit

Hon. Marie-Françoise Mégie: Honourable senators, it was an honour to see so many of you here at noon today for the opening of the Tales exhibit. This exhibit, which echoes the 2023 Black History Month theme, “Ours to tell,” is produced under the patronage of the African Canadian Senate Group. This Senate group is composed of the honourable senators Wanda Thomas Bernard, Sharon Burey, Bernadette Clement, Amina Gerba, Mobina S. B. Jaffer, Rosemary Moodie, Mohamed-Iqbal Ravalia and myself.


I want to thank my colleagues and their teams for their invaluable support.


Tales is the result of a collaboration between the Centre culturel afro-canadien de Montréal, represented here by its president, Allen Alexandre, and Mosaïque interculturelle in Ottawa, represented by its president, Nicole Baptiste.

These “tales” that the artists are sharing with you in the Senate foyer will be on display throughout the month of February. I admire their talent — and some of you do, too, based on the wonderful comments you shared with me — and I recognize the significant contribution they make to our nation’s culture.


I am proud to introduce them to you. They are Sarah-Mecca Abdourahman, Ojo Agi, Dominique Dennery, Laurena Finéus, Antoine Jeune Dimanche, Helmer Joseph, Komi Seshie, Pascal Smarth, Shanna Strauss, Gloria C. Swain and Stanley Wany.

Their inspiring works tell the stories of artists of African descent through their works on canvas or other mediums. These creators use their work to express their reality and world view, draw on their inner images and pass them on to future generations.

The exhibit curators, Emmanuel St-Juste and Allison Roberts, brought all of these artists together to present their art to us. I sincerely thank them.

The Tales exhibit invites us all to explore and peruse the rich and fascinating history of today’s African-Canadian artists.

Please join me in congratulating all these artists.

I wish all of you here and all Canadians a happy Black History Month.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!


Visitor in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Mr. Joe Lu, President of Canada Hubei Chamber of Commerce. He is the guest of the Honourable Senator Oh.

On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Lunar New Year

Hon. Victor Oh: Honourable senators, it is my honour to rise today to offer my greetings to all those celebrating the Lunar New Year and its annual Spring Festival.

The arrival of 2023 has ushered in the Year of the Rabbit. In Asian traditions, the rabbit is known as a symbol of peace, prosperity and longevity. The rabbit also offers us hope for new opportunities.

Senator McPhedran just told me she’s a rabbit. I’m sure we have more than one in the chamber.

The first day of the Lunar New Year began on January 23 and is a special holiday in my culture. Traditionally, it is an occasion for time spent with family, friends and community. For Chinese Canadians in particular, it is also a time to reconnect with our cultural origins.

Every Lunar New Year, countless Chinese-Canadian community organizations from coast to coast to coast do a wonderful job of promoting our cultural heritage. This year is particularly special as it is the first time since the pandemic that celebrations and gatherings were able to take place in large groups.

Senators, multiculturalism is at the heart of what makes Canada the greatest country in the world. We celebrate diversity and openness, and because of this, celebrations such as the Lunar New Year can take place without the fear of protest or violence.

These cultural holidays should continue to be opportunities for highlighting customs, bridging communities and sharing in long‑standing traditions.

In closing, I would like to wish you and your loved ones a healthy and prosperous Year of the Rabbit.

Thank you, xie xie.

Visitor in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Richard Koo, President of the International Olympic Academy Participants Association. He is the guest of the Honourable Senator Deacon (Ontario).

On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

The Late Constable Grzegorz (Greg) Pierzchala

Hon. Gwen Boniface: Honourable senators, I rise today to honour the life and service of OPP Constable Greg Pierzchala. Greg was killed in the line of duty on December 27 when he responded to a call to assist a vehicle in a ditch near Hagersville in southwestern Ontario. He was 28 years old.

Greg was new to policing and had a full life and career ahead of him. He had previously served in the Canadian Forces and was a Special Constable at Queen’s Park in Toronto. Sadly, he had just learned that he passed his probationary period on the day of the shooting.

Greg grew up in Barrie, Ontario, and was an accomplished student and multi-sport athlete who is remembered for his grit and team spirit. He was also a lover of art. By all accounts, he was an inspiring, determined and compassionate man who always looked for the good in people.

Constable Pierzchala wanted to be a police officer since he was 5 years old and said he had finally found his dream job. He is described by his colleagues as a quiet leader with a strong character who quickly earned the respect of his peers.

On that fateful day, Greg answered a call — amongst many that snowy day — for a stranded vehicle in the ditch. He was shot shortly after his arrival. Despite valiant efforts of first responders and medical personnel, he did not survive.

Constable Pierzchala is the fifth officer killed in Canada since September — a disturbing rise that has rattled the law enforcement community. In early January, a joint statement was released by four of Canada’s police associations, “calling for action to address what they see as a growing wave of violence aimed at police officers and their communities.”

Constable Greg Pierzchala’s colleagues, community and family have been devastated by this senseless act of violence.

For those involved in that call, their lives are forever marked by Greg’s death: the dispatcher who sent him to the call; the first officers on the scene; the paramedics; his shift mates; his coach officer, who spent the last year teaching him how to keep himself safe; and his recruits class, who will always see a hole in their graduation picture.

Most importantly, I ask you to join me in sending our deepest condolences to his family: his parents, Janina and Jan; and his siblings, Chris, Michal and Justyna.

Honourable senators, it is my fervent wish that this will be the last time I have to stand before you to remember an officer killed in the line of duty.

Rest in peace, Constable Pierzchala. Thank you.

Visitor in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Rob “Scratch” Mitchell, former lieutenant-colonel in the RCAF and former Snowbirds team lead. He is the guest of the Honourable Senator Batters.

On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Newfoundland’s “Kitchen Party”

Hon. Fabian Manning: Honourable senators, today I’m pleased to present Chapter 71 of “Telling Our Story.”

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are well known for their friendly and warm hospitality. We are always willing to share the stories and songs that continue to tell of our wonderful part of the world. We equally will share our hearths, homes and a bite to eat with anyone who drops by for a visit.

In days gone by, the only heating source in many Newfoundland homes was the old wood stove located in the kitchen. For many Newfoundlanders, the kitchen became the centre of the home. It was the place where good times were had and treasured memories were created. From these gatherings, a special tradition, fittingly called “the kitchen party,” was created. The kitchen party has grown in immense popularity with people throughout the years, whether one is homegrown or a come from away.

Everyone is always welcome to join in, because in Newfoundland you will not find any strangers — only friends you haven’t yet met. An elderly fisherman from my hometown once said, “If you haven’t experienced a Newfoundland kitchen party, you really haven’t lived a full life.” I would have to agree with him, because there is nothing quite like it.

Most kitchen parties are not planned. People drop by for a visit and maybe a fresh feed of cod tongues with scruncheons, along with a slice of homemade bread, and there’s always a variety of beverages to help wash it all down. A few musicians are always close by, especially one or two with an accordion; and before you realize what is happening, people are singing, dancing and telling stories and the kitchen party is well under way. This is a unique part of our Irish-Newfoundland heritage.


There are very few rules, and no one is looking at the clock. The only requirement is that if you can’t stand the heat in the kitchen, go out in the backyard and cool off for a little while, or go to the fridge where you are bound to find a cool bottle of some remedy to help cure whatever ails you. Guests are always encouraged to share their talents as well. That’s when things can get very interesting.

In 2017, while returning from a golf trip to Florida, Newfoundlanders Sean Sullivan and Sheldon Thornhill, along with a few buddies, had some time to spare while waiting for their delayed flight at Toronto’s international airport. Sheldon decided to take out his accordion and started playing a song, and Sean quickly joined in with his guitar. Within a short time, the crowd around them kept getting larger and all hands were joining in what quickly became a Newfoundland kitchen party, albeit without the cod tongues and the wood stove. The video went viral, and the story was carried on all our national news networks with extensive coverage on social media. I encourage all of you to search for “Newfoundland kitchen party in Toronto airport” on YouTube — and please do so quickly before Bill C-11 passes because the crowd at the CRTC may not consider it Canadian content.

In the meantime, Sean Sullivan has turned the success of the Toronto airport video into a top-quality tourism product called “Sullivan’s Songhouse,” located in the town of Calvert on the Southern Shore. You can easily find out all about the song house on the internet as well, and I extend an invitation today for you to pay a visit and participate in your own old-fashioned kitchen party. To avoid any disappointment, though, I would advise you to book early — it’s a busy place.

While we in Newfoundland and Labrador continue to look to the future, we never forget our past, and, while life brings many challenges, coming together at a Newfoundland kitchen party, surrounded by music and friends, will turn any grey, foggy day into a ray of sunshine and a wonderful and treasured memory.

Thank you.


Online News Bill

Notice of Motion to Declare All Proceedings to Date Null and Void

Hon. Raymonde Gagné (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That all proceedings to date on Bill C-18, An Act respecting online communications platforms that make news content available to persons in Canada, be declared null and void.



Notice of Motion

Hon. Raymonde Gagné (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That, when the Senate next adjourns after the adoption of this motion, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, February 7, 2023, at 2 p.m.



Business of the Senate

Hon. Raymonde Gagné (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 4-13(3), I would like to inform the Senate that as we proceed with Government Business, the Senate will address the items in the following order: consideration of Motion No. 79, consideration of Motion No. 78, followed by all remaining items in the order that they appear on the Order Paper.


The Senate

Motion to Affect Today’s Sitting Adopted

Hon. Raymonde Gagné (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate), pursuant to notice of January 31, 2023, moved:

That, notwithstanding any provision of the Rules, previous order or usual practice, on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, the Senate adjourn at the earlier of the completion of deliberations on Bill C-11 for that day or midnight.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)


Joint Committees Authorized to Hold Hybrid Meetings

Hon. Raymonde Gagné (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate), pursuant to notice of January 31, 2023, moved:

That, notwithstanding any provision of the Rules, previous order, or usual practice, until end of the day on June 23, 2023, any joint committee be authorized to hold hybrid meetings, with the provisions of the order of February 10, 2022, concerning such meetings, having effect; and

That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that house accordingly.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

Online Streaming Bill

Bill to Amend—Third Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Dawson, seconded by the Honourable Senator Bovey, for the third reading of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, as amended.

Hon. Denise Batters: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to the third reading of Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Bill.

After 31 years, it is undoubtedly time to update the Broadcasting Act. Media and technology in Canada have changed significantly throughout that time. But the Trudeau government’s Bill C-11 doesn’t really modernize the Broadcasting Act; it just takes an already outdated framework and transposes it onto the modern digital world where it doesn’t fit. Of course, the Trudeau government has used this opportunity to meddle in the free and democratic flow of information to Canadians online — an opportunity this government could simply never pass up.

In the last parliament, the Liberal government introduced Bill C-10: a bill seen to give the CRTC the power to regulate free expression of content on the internet. That bill died on the Order Paper when the Prime Minister called his unnecessary election in 2021.

But a near carbon copy of it was resurrected as Bill C-11 in this Parliament. I had participated in one of the Senate Transport and Communications Committee marathon three-hour clause‑by-clause meetings on this bill, and witnessed first-hand what a disaster this bill is.

The government claims that Bill C-11 will not regulate everyday use of social media, including amateur content, implying that it will not apply to individual creators. However, the government has inserted clause 4.2(2) of the bill, which allows the CRTC to make regulations regarding any program that “generates revenues” — which effectively can include those individual Canadian YouTube and TikTok creators.

At the same time, delegating the government’s regulation-making authority to the CRTC allows the Trudeau government to once again dodge accountability for its actions and decisions. If controversy arises from any of the “independent” CRTC’s regulations, the government will claim distance. Conveniently, the CRTC itself is not known for its transparency. It shares this trait with the Trudeau government.

One witness, Monica Auer, the Executive Director of the Forum for Research and Policy in Communications, described the CRTC this way at the Senate committee’s pre-study on Bill C-11:

In terms of accountability and transparency, the problem with the CRTC right now is that it is not making its decisions public. Every year, it’s publishing dozens of decisions that you can’t see because there’s no hyperlink and they don’t publish. When we say that the CRTC is transparent, it is simply not. It is holding public hearings without witnesses. . . . when you talk about the transfer of ownership of half of B.C.’s radio stations through an administrative decision and no public hearing, I think I would challenge the notion that the CRTC is (a) transparent, (b) open and (c) accountable. It is not.

If the government wants to regulate Canadian user content on the internet, it should admit to this. Canadians deserve to know what the aim is here, and the government should be held accountable for that policy decision. Hiding behind vaguely worded legislation that delegates decision making to a supposedly “independent” board that holds closed-door meetings and only answers back to the minister is not transparent or accountable.

When Bill C-11 reached the Senate last June, its sponsor, Senator Dawson, didn’t even speak to it for three months. When he finally did speak, he used up all of his 45 minutes of speaking time and, therefore, other senators had minimal chance to ask him questions.

The Leader of the Government in the Senate didn’t even give a speech on the bill at second reading, again denying senators the opportunity to ask the government questions on this legislation.

All this together has to make us stop and wonder, honourable senators: Why is this Trudeau government so deathly afraid of scrutiny?

Ultimately, Bill C-11 is the Trudeau government’s method of achieving indirectly what it does not have the political will to do directly. Currently, diverse Canadian content producers are finding major success online, effectively promoting themselves directly to a global audience without gatekeepers or intermediaries.


With Bill C-11, the Trudeau government seeks to insert itself into the middle of that process and impose regulations. It’s like that old political joke: The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

The government’s Canadian content regulations will have a devastating effect on the very Canadian users the government professes to be seeking to promote. There is a concern that if Canadian content is promoted to Canadian audiences, it will be considered an unfair advantage to Canadian content producers and that platforms like YouTube, for example, will then limit the international exposure of those Canadian accounts out of a desire for fairness to other users.

Similarly, other countries may implement similar content restrictions on their own domestic users in retaliation, thereby lowering potential Canadian audiences.

Another problem is for niche content producers. While the potential audience for a creator may be only a few thousand within Canada, there may be a much larger audience of potentially millions in the U.S. or worldwide. The provisions of Bill C-11 could impede niche content creators from accessing that larger global market.

For Canadian content producers that rely on foreign audiences — those offering tourism content, for example — Bill C-11 may direct content at the wrong target audience. This creates one of the biggest problems with Bill C-11: By pushing Canadian content on Canadian users rather than allowing for organic choice, a mismatch may be created for a social media user, making it more likely that they will ignore, navigate away from or downvote the content. Doing so will negatively affect the algorithm, and that Canadian creator’s video will therefore be less likely to be shown again. In this respect, creating these restrictions around Canadian content to promote Canadian work may end up having the exact opposite effect.

Why is the Trudeau government insisting on limiting Canada’s creators in this way, honourable senators? Canadian content producers have actually been quite successful online. It’s like this government is trying to find answers in search of a problem that doesn’t exist.

Even for Canadian creators with well-established careers, social media platforms offer Canadian artists additional opportunities to market their works long after their initial popularity. For example, platforms like TikTok have created the opportunity for a second comeback for songs by Canadian artists that first topped the charts years ago. The Weeknd’s hit “Die For You” first became a hit in 2016 but has re-emerged in the top 10 currently, thanks to exposure on TikTok. Vancouver rock band Mother Mother found similar success in 2020 with their 2008 hit song “Hayloft” because of the app. Such opportunities can help to sustain Canadian artists in a saturated and competitive market. Most importantly, this success hasn’t come as the result of algorithmic manipulation but, rather, organically.

New and diverse Canadian entertainers and content providers are already finding great success in the democratization of the current online space. The only price of admission is access to an internet connection and an expansive imagination.

Some of the top YouTubers in Canada include such creators as Evan Fong of Toronto, of Asian descent; his channel has more than 25.8 million viewers. Lilly Singh of Punjabi descent from Scarborough was ranked third in the Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid YouTubers; she currently has 14.6 million viewers. Lauren Riihimaki of LaurDIY is of Finnish, Ukrainian and Japanese descent; she has over 8.42 million viewers on her channel. Shina Novalinga, a young throat singer from Nunavik living in Montreal, has more than 4.1 million followers on TikTok. Stef Sanjati — who is trans, has Waardenberg syndrome and is partially deaf — is of Croatian and French background. She has more than half a million subscribers on YouTube.

I could go on and on. Many of Canada’s most successful online creators come from diverse communities and export their unique content around the globe without any assistance or interference from the government. What Canadian creators need, in fact, is for the government to get out of their way.

In my own hometown of Regina, we have the perfect example of a flourishing Canadian success story that might never have happened if these provisions in Bill C-11 were in place. Our own TikTok celebrity, JUNO-nominated musician and creator Hitesh Sharma, better known as Tesher, built his music career online, first as a kid from his parents’ home in Regina. He’s now an international star with his songs viewed hundreds of millions of times on TikTok. Last fall, he wrote a column about how Bill C-11 would have affected the path of his career, and I wanted to read it to you today.

Tesher wrote:

TikTok gave my music a global audience; Bill C-11 threatens that path.

There is a moment during the Junos this year that will stick with me forever.

I was performing Jalebi Baby with Simu Liu, and the crowd was singing along. About a minute into the performance, we exchanged a look, turned to the crowd, and broke into Bhangra dance. The smile on my face said it all: Pure joy.

That joy was tempered when I learned about Bill C-11, which will soon be voted on in the Senate. If passed as is, it could prevent digital-first Canadian artists from achieving that same success — and joy — I felt.

My musical journey started in my hometown of Regina circa 2008, a kid messing around on a computer mixing Bollywood songs with hip-hop tracks. I learned the music industry through trial and error because I didn’t have the money or connections that open doors. What I did have was determination and an Internet connection.

Eventually, I found TikTok. I loved the platform immediately and loved seeing people all over the world sharing, remixing and mashing up content. There are no gatekeepers on TikTok. If your content is good and engaging, it finds an audience.

Not only could I share my music with the world, but I could build a community that could engage with me and with my music. For a self-taught Indian kid from Saskatchewan, with no industry connections, TikTok was a game-changer.

While I’m Canadian, my music first got noticed outside of Canada. My first global hit Jalebi Baby includes the Indian influences of my childhood, but also hints of reggaeton, salsa, Middle Eastern drums and Eastern European synths.

I sing in Hindi, Punjabi and English. My music draws on global influences and musical traditions, so it benefited from being discovered globally.

My journey is less traditional than the typical path into the music industry, and there may have been no path for me at all without the access and freedom that come from being a digital-first creator. Those two things, access and freedom, simply weren’t available to artists like me — who don’t fit a certain mould.

And I’m far from alone. Some of the most exciting voices I’ve discovered in the last couple years, Canadian artists like Jessia and Johnny Orlando, have gained global followings and signed record deals, fuelled by their ability to reach a massive audience through TikTok.

Bill C-11 threatens that low-barrier path — one based on talent and audience preference, rather than government-established quotas — by subjecting platforms like TikTok and the creators using it to outdated broadcasting and Canadian content rules.

I’m building a career and exporting Canadian content globally despite those rules, not because of them. This path is what we should all want for Canadian artists. We want them to have the freedom to showcase globally our diverse, authentic, Canadian culture.

Bill C-11 would limit that reach by requiring creators to prioritize government criteria for domestic distribution over making content optimized for global audiences.

Within a year of being produced, Jalebi Baby was streaming on multiple platforms, including Canadian radio. I collaborated with megastar Jason Derulo on the video, was nominated for breakthrough artist of the year at the Junos and then, there I was, performing live.

The nomination was a huge honour, but to hit a Bhangra dance routine on national TV during Canada’s biggest music night was unforgettable. I could never have imagined seeing someone who looked and sounded like me on stage when I was a kid.

That’s why I’m eager to protect opportunities and offer inspiration to the next generation of Canadians making music or art tutorials or comedy sketches. Aspiring creators should have the same chance I did to live their dream.

This should be what it’s all about, honourable senators — giving Canadian artists and musicians and entertainers and journalists the opportunity to share their gifts with the world. We all want that. The world needs more Canada, but we don’t achieve that by helicopter parenting Canadian talent. We don’t give Canadian content producers the opportunity to thrive by choking them with regulations. Bill C-11 not only puts our Canadian digital content producers at a distinct disadvantage, but it may put a spike through many of their careers. It may prevent young kids like Hitesh Sharma — or Tesher — from messing around with music on their computers in their homes in places like Regina across this country from ever reaching their dreams.

That is why I will be voting against Bill C-11, and I encourage you to vote against it, too. Let’s give our Canadian content producers the freedom to compete, the freedom to achieve and the freedom to excel. Let’s give the world more Canada while also giving Canadians more freedom.

Thank you.


Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, after weeks of committee hearings and hour upon hour of testimony on Bill C-11, I feel as strongly as ever about the extraordinary overreach inherent in this poorly conceived bill. The legislation — the very idea itself — is out of touch with reality and with the people who actually use this technology for learning, teaching, communication, entertainment or for earning a living.

The government insists, despite much evidence to the contrary, that this is simply a modernization of the Broadcasting Act. It is neither simple, nor just an update of the rules. The internet is most definitely not a traditional broadcaster, so trying to impose the broadcasting rules, including content rules, Canadian or otherwise, is a flawed approach and will bring unintended consequences.

The internet and its platforms are global structures and entities — infinite in size and time — and are, therefore, completely unlike a finite, 24-hour, linear radio or TV station where you can actually enforce a percentage requirement or quota for designated content. For example, 30% of 24 hours is measurable and enforceable. How do you impose quotas on a system that crosses all borders, including time and space?

Well, this concept of discoverability is used. It will force platforms to make some content easier to find, or more discoverable, and other materials less discoverable. This is not an update of the broadcasting rules. This is government, through its agencies like the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, or CRTC, deciding what is most important, and then deciding that it is also most important for you and me. I cannot imagine that the global internet audience will be any happier than I am about the domestic content choices selected and promoted by our government overriding their own personal choices.

Our behaviour online is what teaches the algorithms to offer us more of what we like. The platforms track our interests, preferences and browsing habits, and then show us more of what we have chosen — not what the government has chosen. This is at the very heart of this bill — the fundamental issue of algorithmic manipulation. For me, it raises this question: Should any government or organization in a democracy be given the authority to override my choices or the choices of users everywhere?

We know that Bill C-11 gives the CRTC the ability to manipulate algorithms because of the chair’s own admission. Forcing platforms to manipulate algorithms to meet quotas — or to promote some content and obscure other choices — is simply not the business of governments. If you, as a consumer, enjoy country music or podcasts about philosophy, you would want to be able to access it without interference, and this kind of interference goes beyond the socially agreed-upon reasons for censorship, such as cases of hate speech or the incitement of violence or defamation.

There is also a fundamental arrogance with the notion. I ask honourable senators and Canadians listening or watching at home, who is up to the task of being censor-in-chief, deciding what you should see and hear? Would you give this superpower to the government of the day with its own biases and political interests? You might share the views of a certain party, but what if the government changes? Do you want a government you don’t agree with having such power?

In the words of Christopher Hitchens, one of our great writers:

. . . every time you violate or propose to violate the free speech of someone else . . . you’re making a rod for your own back . . . .

This whole concept is the antithesis of free expression. Free speech is not just about your rights; it’s about the rights of others, even those with whom we disagree, to have their say. It’s about my right to disagree with them, engage them or ignore them, but not to deny them the right to express their views. So many of our great thinkers have opined on the fundamental importance of free speech. Linguist Noam Chomsky was crisp: “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”

This bill poses exactly the same issue. Using discoverability to promote some anointed music, art, language or idea, you are silencing others. Let me make my choices about what I want to hear, listen to, debate or disagree with — or even discover. One of the most appealing characteristics of the internet is the serendipitous discovery — by searching for something you like, you stumble upon something unknown or special. Curiosity cannot be legislated or regulated by government.

I gratefully acknowledge the committee’s recognition of the importance of freedom of expression and journalistic independence in section 3.1 by adopting my amendment. It is fundamental, given that this bill gives extraordinary new powers to the CRTC, and to the government itself. At the very least, it must explicitly ensure protection of our right to free and open expression. Let us hope that it is accepted.

As mentioned earlier, the impact of this bill on content producers, particularly on young Canadians building their careers online as part of the digital economy, is very concerning. From TikTok to YouTube to podcasts, there is a thriving digital space that has provided new avenues to share information and ideas, and to carve out a professional future and be paid for it. This bill is truly counterintuitive because by picking favourites, the government is hurting the very people it is purporting to help — this new generation of Canadian content creators and their audiences. Their reach and success will be impacted if platforms, or even countries, decide our rules are unfair.

There has been testimony, supported by direct and strong representations from the U.S. government, that discoverability and the requirements to promote selected Canadian content violates provisions of our trade agreements, and would be seen as interference with the conduct of a domestic business in the free‑trade zone. Our trading partners might seek recourse or retaliation. As a trading nation, do we want to become the protectionists that we decry?

Your committee proposed amendments we hope will help protect content producers and entrepreneurs from the impact of this bill. The amendment to section 4.2 offers some assurances to the small, amateur creators that — with the removal of the revenue test and the narrowing of the definition of a “program” — they will, for now, escape some of the costly bureaucratic burdens imposed on others. If the CRTC does not intend to capture small content creators within its sphere, it still has the power to do so if it chooses or is instructed to do so. Again, the CRTC chair admitted that in testimony.

The committee also voted for the removal of clause 7(7) to try to limit the grip of the government on the CRTC and its policies. This arm’s-length institution was designed to be a regulatory body, not a political body, and any oversight should not be at the whim of political considerations of the day. Now we must wait and see if arm’s length is an irrefutable principle or a matter of convenience. Since this bill gives the government and the government-appointed CRTC new powers, the chair and the minister should be required to appear before parliamentary committees in both places on a regular basis so that we can assess the implementation and the impact of this act.

Ultimately, the folly of this entire endeavour is that our digital world is nothing at all like legacy media, and the space and pace of information sharing and content production is unprecedented. Canadians value free speech. They do not want to be told what they should consume, and they do not need a nanny state to present them with material that they are more than capable of finding on their own, if they wanted to in the first place.

Former U.S. president Harry S. Truman warned of this:

Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures . . . .

That is what I fear with Bill C-11 — more command and control over the flow of information.

I believe that what this bill aims to do is not, and should not be, the business of governments. It inhibits markets, innovation and creativity, and I cannot support it.


For now, we await evidence that the government has heard those witnesses who came before us to offer ideas, to build a way forward in the new digital world. I hope that the government will hear their pleas because the government’s track record on heeding the considered advice of the Senate is not encouraging. We hope this time it will be different, but I’m not optimistic. Thank you, colleagues.

Hon. Andrew Cardozo: Honourable senators, it is indeed a great pleasure to speak here on Bill C-11, the online streaming act, which updates the Broadcasting Act of 1991.

While this is my first speech in the Senate, I hope I will have the opportunity to provide something more like a maiden speech in the near future when we’re not as pressed for time. Indeed, I think we all agree here that it is time to be updating the Broadcasting Act when the technology it regulates has advanced so far in the last 32 years.

I should start by telling you that I had the good fortune to spend six years as a commissioner at the Canadian Radio‑television and Telecommunications Commission, or CRTC, around the turn of the century — that is, the turn of the recent century, not the other one.

During this period, my job was to be working under this act, day in and day out, and I have to say that, even then, it was beginning to be out of date as the internet was just taking hold. Yet, it was a very comprehensive law with flexibility that allowed us to regulate the changing scene.

Now here’s the thing I’ve always found to be so special about the Broadcasting Act: It is uniquely Canadian.


The legislation governs a unique society: Canadian society. There is no other country that has all of our unique qualities. Other countries may share some of our broader characteristics, but we are the only country to have them all. I would say that generally speaking, the Broadcasting Act worked well all these years.


Now, just to age myself, I will note that, in fact, I did appear before the House of Commons committee that was working on the Broadcasting Act during the Mulroney government back in 1991 when I was a very young man. I’m happy to say that some of the changes we advocated back then around the definition of “the Canadian people” were indeed added to the bill at that time. Little did I know that six years later I would be at the CRTC implementing the act, not to mention speaking on the review of that act in the Senate 32 years later.

I would like to focus my comments on section 3 of the act, the unique aspects of the Canadian people that the Broadcasting Act works to enhance. Here are some of the main characteristics that are key to our society.

We have two official languages, and the commission constantly works to ensure that we have a robust broadcasting scene in both languages. While at the CRTC, I was pleased to be part of the decisions to ensure TVA became available across Canada, to ensure that the Société Radio-Canada — TV and radio — was made available in all provincial capitals and to significantly increase the number of specialty channels in French. Indeed, with the advancement of digital technology, the commission has been able to ensure more fulsome broadcasting in both languages with a large number of French channels from coast to coast to coast.

Canada also has a well-developed, multilingual broadcasting scene, which rivals any other in the world, broadcast for the benefit of and produced by a variety of Canadian ethnocultural communities. The first multilingual broadcasting was begun by the legendary Johnny Lombardi in Toronto in the 1960s, and, gradually, programming in radio and television expanded across Canada with the CRTC licensing more multilingual services.

The most recent addition to the television scene was the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, or APTN. Certainly, its licensing in 1999 was one of the most significant hearings during my six years at the CRTC. The hearing was memorable. We heard from some great Indigenous leaders in the field. Abraham Tagalik, from Nunavut, chaired the board of what was then Television Northern Canada. The accomplished grande dame of Indigenous film, Madam Alanis Obomsawin, reminded us of our obligations, and the award-winning actor Adam Beach highlighted the significant talent that exists in Aboriginal culture.

But I remember thinking of the irony at the time that it was the First Peoples who were really the last people to get a television network. Today, 23 years later, APTN continues to grow and expand its services across the country, surpassing all expectations, while there are many other Indigenous radio and television services.

Since around 2000, the CRTC has also focused on ensuring diversity in programming by English and French broadcasters so that what all of us see and hear on mainstream radio and television reflects the Indigenous, cultural and racial diversity that makes up our country.

Now, layer on top of this uniqueness the following. Unlike many other countries, we are located beside the most dominant cultural machine in the world, the American cultural juggernaut. And unlike any other country, even those who consume a lot of Hollywood’s product, we share not only a language, but we share a culture, an accent. We share sports, like football and hockey, and we share expressions. Therefore, distinguishing Canadian music and programming from American content is harder, and Canadian viewers have less reason to be loyal to the Canadian product.

On the French side, French-language broadcasting has unique challenges. While our francophone nation lives in a sea of English-speaking North America, the silver lining is that francophone consumers are uniquely loyal to the French‑language programming produced in Quebec and the rest of Canada. The Quebec star system is vibrant, entrenched and followed widely by fans and viewers. The English Canadian industry can only wish it had the same following in Canada.

However, with the enormous popularity of American music and programs, there is a critical need for the state to help French‑language programming, whether it be the federal government, the Quebec government or any other provincial government. This is why Bill C-11 is so popular in Quebec. It brings more revenue for Canadian-made content in our traditional and online broadcasting.

Now, section 3, especially proposed subparagraph 3(1)(d)(iii) directs the CRTC to regulate and to accommodate this diversity in clear, contemporary ways.

On another matter, various comments have been made recently about the way the CRTC operates, and some of these comments I consider to be a bit gratuitous. I can tell you from my experience that I found it to be one of the most open and transparent agencies in the federal government. Yes, they are not perfect and, occasionally, they are bound by some of the confidentialities they must keep when there are commercial, competitive issues at stake. But I would say to you that it is one of the agencies that works hard to hear from a wide variety of voices and will always work to balance out the powerful corporations from ordinary Canadians.

They were also certainly open to being challenged on how they do hearings and consultations. I would suggest that they do public hearings as good or better than any other federal agency or commission.

There were some comments yesterday about what was termed as “identity politics” which had entered into the affairs of culture. I am a permanent student and teacher of Canadian history and politics, and my reading of Canadian history is that it has always been about identity. Some may call that identity politics. Much of it is positive, some negative.

From the beginning of our history, the First Peoples — Indigenous people — have always been diverse, and they were proud of their diverse identities. Indeed, they have taught us to engage in land recognition where we recognize the history of the territory of the particular peoples on whose traditional lands we find ourselves anywhere across Turtle Island, and we pay respect to them. But with the arrival of the settlers, we should be reminded that they came from England and France, and based on their identities — English versus French — they had a battle back in 1759 on the Plains of Abraham. As they say, the rest is history.


Over many years, the colonizers imposed their identities, languages and religions on this land and spent centuries trying to submerge the identity of Indigenous peoples — sometimes, as we know, using rather unfortunate means.

In a related historical matter, let me talk about the Fathers of Confederation. Yes, it’s the fathers — no mothers. They were just men of British and French origin. Quite pointedly, there were no Indigenous people, even though there had been the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which recognized them and their land rights. Their Indigenous identity was not included in Confederation, certainly not as founders of the Canadian state.

There were also many Black people. They were loyalists who had moved here from the United States — indeed, the ancestors of former senator Don Oliver and Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard — and who had been in Canada for well over a century by then but, again, were not among the Fathers of Confederation.

Let me touch on the British North America Act. Remember that name. What kind of North America? A British one. A foundational document is all about identity. The English and the French had guarantees of Protestant and Catholic schools that were absolutely conditional to the signing of the document. Had those identities not been carved in stone in our Constitution, there would have been no Canada.

Here’s another thing. In the 1800s and early 1900s, when land was being given to English and French settlers and to those from Eastern Europe, the government was specifically taking land away from Indigenous people. The children from one group were being taken by the state and the church and subjugated to horrendous conditions.

So here we are now, and we wonder why some people are rich, and some people are poor; some people have power, and some people don’t. Outside of this chamber, there are people who ask certain groups to just stop going on about their identities, get over it and just be like the rest of us.

So I come to section 3(1)(d)(iii) and want to say that is why it is needed. This is how we’re building the great Canadian nation where we respect Canadians of all identities and origins.

I just want to touch briefly on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 15(1) says we are all equal. Section 15(2) says that government programs that aim to ameliorate inequality are permitted to create equality. Indeed, the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or UNDRIP, also falls directly under the powers of section 15(2) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Now we see that Bill C-11 also will respect UNDRIP.

As I close, I want to say that ameliorating inequality and advancing equality of all Canadians are some of the fundamental reasons for governance, whether it be in matters of cultural, social or economic policy. Bill C-11 aims to do this. It takes us further on the path to advancing this great country. For the future, it enhances the ability for more Canadian-made content in the online media world. The world needs more Canada, and the increased revenue will allow for increased Canadian-made content in the world.


For that reason and for many others that were explained by my colleagues, I would be honoured to vote in favour of Bill C-11.

Thank you.


Hon. Leo Housakos: Would Senator Cardozo be kind enough to take a question?

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Cardozo, we have just over one minute left. Do you want to take a question?

Senator Cardozo: Yes.

Senator Housakos: Senator Cardozo, congratulations. I think that is your maiden speech in the Senate. There’s a lot in your speech that we can dissect, but I’d like to just look at one aspect, where you talked about how popular Bill C-11 is in Quebec. I think Bill C-11 is popular in Quebec among those who are fans of cable and the traditional broadcasting model of doing business. It’s very unpopular among streamers, bloggers, Twitter users and all those young Quebecers living on these new platforms.

The reason those new platforms are so popular among francophones is because they don’t get narrowed into just a few million francophones who listen to their capacity to develop their art and culture. They get to broadcast around the world to millions and hundreds of millions of francophones.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Do you have a question?

Senator Housakos: My question is this: Why do you want to narrowcast francophone culture and have them only provide their services to a few million francophones when they have hundreds of millions around the world?

Senator Cardozo: Thank you, senator, for your question. I would have felt ignored had you not asked a question of me, so I thank you very much.

Indeed, the question you raise is important. I am not using the word “narrowcasting.” I’m using the word “broadcasting.” I think what this bill does is provide more revenue for the creation of Quebec content — of Canadian content — to go across the world. I think this bill is doing exactly what you’d like to see it doing. Certainly, it will provide more revenue that comes from all Canadians for Canadian content and for Quebec content as we want more Canada to go across the world.

Hon. Percy E. Downe: Honourable senators, I would like to congratulate Senator Cardozo on his excellent maiden speech. It’s nice to have that personal milestone behind you, and your speech today was a reflection of your experience not only as a historian but as a former CRTC commissioner. You bring great value to this debate, given your background. Thank you for your speech.

Colleagues, I have an amendment today, which is an attempt to improve Bill C-11 by addressing some of the shortcomings in the Broadcasting Act. For example, the CBC in Prince Edward Island is an essential service that needs to be fully funded and supported, and my amendment will assist to that end. My amendment will also both improve the broadcaster and hold the CBC accountable for cancelling, at the very beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, the CBC TV news in Prince Edward Island.

As you will remember, at the beginning of the pandemic, there was a lack of understanding of COVID — how it was spread and how to protect yourself and your loved ones. In P.E.I., a province with the highest percentage of senior population in the country and one of the worst internet connections, the local CBC TV news program — the only locally produced TV newscast in the province — was an essential service that, on a whim, was cancelled by CBC Toronto management. This was in direct violation of the conditions of their broadcasting licence, when not only did they not give advance notice but they also failed to justify their decision at public hearings. None of this was done, even though it was required by their licence. As well, we found out after the fact that the CRTC had no way to hold CBC accountable for their decisions.

If this ever happens again, the purpose of my amendment is to impose a fine of $2 million per day on the CBC, payable to a local library in the affected community.

Colleagues, as you know, the Senate has three main priorities, one of which is representing the regions of Canada. Thus, the Senate is uniquely qualified to correct this problem by passing this amendment and ensuring that Canadians, regardless of where they live, can expect the same level of service from their national broadcaster. The importance of this amendment to Prince Edward Islanders is reflected in the fact that the other senator from Prince Edward Island, Senator Brian Francis, is seconding this amendment.

The second part of my amendment relates to CBC staff. The Broadcasting Act grants the CBC the right to pay its employees at such rate as the board of directors deems fit. As a taxpayer‑funded public broadcaster, the CBC has a greater obligation than private broadcasters to be open about how it spends money, such as pay for its senior management and on-air personnel. The CBC provides some information about what compensation it pays, but very little and only in the most general terms. Contrast this with the level of transparency provided by the British Broadcasting Corporation. For years, the BBC, like the CBC, resisted any disclosure of salaries, using similar justifications about the competitive environment in which they operate. But since 2017, the BBC has been forced to release the names and salaries of its highest paid on-air talent. Currently, they provide the employee’s name, the program they appear on and the individual’s salary to within £5,000.


By contrast, the CBC merely provides an average salary for all employees within a $50,000 range. So, for example, while we know that Nick Robinson earns between £295,000 and £300,000 to host the BBC “Today” show, we only know that five CBC presenters earn over $300,000, with an average salary of $342,000, but we have no idea as to their names, programs or gender.

This comparison to the BBC is important, and I am not the first to make it. Nine years ago, the Senate Transport and Communications Committee undertook a study of the CBC. In the course of that study, the committee looked at compensation for senior CBC personnel. For the benefit of those senators who were not here then, to say the committee was not impressed by the level of cooperation and transparency on the part of the CBC would be an understatement. When the CBC released salary estimates so low as to be unbelievable, the then chair of the Senate Transport Committee said:

Based on the document, we concluded that Peter Mansbridge makes $88,000. Everyone knows that’s not true. Don’t insult me, as a member of the Senate, as the chair of a committee, by giving me false information.

He went on:

We want a pay scale that shows how much the top earners make. We have that for most public collective agreements and publicly traded corporations. . . . It’s hard to get information from CBC about operations. If I want to find out what any given BBC employee earns, all I have to do is go on the website and the information is there.

He continued:

. . . as my colleagues have said, taxpayers know how much the President of Canada Post makes . . . .

They know what I make as a senator, what an MP or a minister makes, but we can’t get that kind of pay scale from CBC. . . .

This desire for transparency, and disappointment at the CBC’s lack of such transparency, was a view echoed by other members of the Senate Transport Committee, and was reflected in the committee’s report, which recommended that:

CBC/Radio-Canada be more transparent in its operations, specifically with regard to the disclosure of financial information, procurement and contracts, and salaries; and it must make such disclosures easily accessible to the public.

Colleagues, none of that has been done, but this amendment will correct that oversight.

I wish to emphasize that this call for transparency does not arise from simple curiosity. After the BBC was forced to publish the salaries of those earning more than £150,000, it revealed a massive gender gap. I cannot claim the same gender gap exists within the CBC, but nor can I say it does not exist. Without more information from the broadcaster, we simply cannot know.

Frankly, Canadians should know what they are paying the top‑tier employees of a publicly funded organization, if only to ensure they are being paid fairly. There were many stories from the BBC about female on-air personalities being rushed into an office and given an instant raise before the public information of salaries was released. Of course, they found out they were underpaid for a number of years.

I am seeking a level of transparency that the CBC correctly demands of other government departments and Crown organizations and which should also apply to them. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. This amendment follows the request of the Senate Transport Committee.

Motion in Amendment Negatived

Hon. Percy E. Downe: Therefore, honourable senators, in amendment, I move:

That Bill C-11, as amended, be not now read a third time, but that it be further amended

(a) in clause 28,

(i) on page 32, by adding the following after line 1:

(2.1) Despite subsections (1) and (2), in the case of a violation of an obligation requiring the Corporation to broadcast a minimum number of hours of regional or local programming, as the case may be, the Corporation is liable to an administrative monetary penalty of $2 million.”,

(ii) on page 37,

(A) by replacing line 8 with the following:

34.993 (1) An administrative monetary penalty paid or re-”,

(B) by adding the following after line 10:

(2) Despite subsection (1), an administrative monetary penalty paid or recovered in relation to a violation of an obligation requiring the Corporation to broadcast a minimum number of hours of regional or local programming, as the case may be, is payable — and must be paid by the Corporation within 180 days of the penalty being imposed — to a library that

(a) the Commission specifies by order;

(b) serves the public in the region most directly related to the violation by the Corporation; and

(c) received, in the preceding fiscal year, funds from the Government of Canada, the government of a province or a municipal government.”;

(b) on page 41, by adding the following after line 22:

31.01 Subsection 71(3) of the Act is amended by adding the following after paragraph (c):

(c.1) the names and total compensation, including annual salary, of all staff of the Corporation who, during the year to which the report relates, received total compensation, including annual salary, that is greater than the annual sessional allowance of a member of the Senate for that year as determined under section 55.1 of the Parliament of Canada Act,”.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Do we have people who have questions for Senator Downe? We have four minutes.


Senator Miville-Dechêne: Would you take a question, Senator Downe?

Senator Downe: Yes.

Senator Miville-Dechêne: First, as I’m sure most of you know, I was a Radio-Canada journalist for 25 years. I have to say that for transparency’s sake.

Now, here’s my question. You said that Prince Edward Island did not have access to regional television during the crisis, and that’s obviously unacceptable and shouldn’t be tolerated. However, one thing you forgot to mention is that there was still local radio, so people could still get the news on CBC radio during the crisis. That being the case, don’t you think the $2 million fine you’re calling for as a response to this incident is a bit high, considering that Radio-Canada is independent and that CBC/Radio-Canada radio was still on the air?


Senator Downe: Actually, I did forget that. I mentioned in my speech, it was the local TV news. Colleagues, the only locally produced TV news in the province of Prince Edward Island is CBC. CBC cancelled that news, so we were deprived of the TV news. Radio continued as well. Had they cancelled the news in Vancouver, would anybody have noticed? They’re probably fourth or fifth ranked. Had they cancelled the local CBC news in Toronto, would anybody have noticed? No, because there are all kinds of options — Global, CTV, it goes on. In P.E.I., the ratings are 90% plus because there’s no competition. It’s the only news service available.

The significance of it was at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, nobody knew what to do. You bought a green pepper at the grocery store; did you have to put it in your microwave or did you have to scrub it with a hose? How was the disease transmitted? People were desperate for news to protect themselves. CBC TV, at the beginning, when we needed them the most, they left. Why did they leave? Not because the local journalists were concerned about catching COVID. They were quite prepared to do what others did with hockey sticks and microphones. They were cancelled because CBC Toronto cancelled them. The only province in Canada with one newscast — the local TV newscast — was cancelled. Totally unacceptable — at the beginning of a crisis, they abandoned us totally.


What my amendment is trying to do, and what Senator Francis, obviously, understands as well, and what we heard from many Islanders, is that this cannot be repeated when there’s another crisis.

I had the CBC president sitting in my office recently. I mentioned the cancellation. She said, “Oh, it was a disruption. It came back after a few days.” It came back after a few days because the premier and everyone else were in an uproar about what the heck was going on.

That’s the problem. The $2 million a day is a bare minimum because what I found out when I checked into this is the CRTC gives a licence to the CBC. The CBC appears before the CRTC and says, “We will do the following things.” The CRTC may say, “We want you to do this,” and so on, and the licence is offered. None of that is valid because the CBC cannot have their licence cancelled unless they ask the CRTC to cancel it. So there’s no enforcement mechanism. The CRTC wrote back after three or four letters and basically said, “We give the licence, but we can’t do anything to enforce the rules.”

According to the Broadcasting Act, the CBC had to have public hearings and they guaranteed a minimum broadcasting time in P.E.I. They had no public hearings; they didn’t do the minimum broadcasting. They just, on a whim, cancelled the service, leaving the province — as I said in my speech, a high percentage of seniors, some of the worst internet connections — and you had to hope something was on the radio.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Downe, your time for debate is over. There are three more senators who wish to question you. Are you requesting five more minutes?

Senator Downe: If the Senate agrees.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Hon. Leo Housakos: Thank you, Senator Downe, for this important amendment that you’re putting forward. We’ve been asked, with Bill C-11, on countless occasions by the government and others to trust the CRTC going forward in order to set reasonable standards and a framework for Bill C-11. We see now a very blatant example of how the CRTC neglects to enforce licensing obligations on a particular broadcaster.

The question I have for you is the following: Can we have faith, when they do not impose the obligations already — for example, they’ve never fined the CBC when it’s well within their right to do so when they don’t respect licensing; the CBC has never had public hearings in order to justify the reduction of services — can we trust the CRTC to ultimately do the job they’ve been given to do?

Senator Downe: Thank you. If my amendment passes, we really don’t have to trust the CRTC because there’s a penalty in it. There would be a $2 million fine for the CBC, payable to a local library in the region, for every day they cancel the service in direct violation of the Broadcasting Act.

What we found, as I stated earlier — I won’t repeat it — is that all the rules were followed, but there was no enforcement. This brings in a penalty and enforcement.

Hon. David M. Wells: Would Senator Downe take another question?

Thank you for your speech and amendment. You mentioned a couple of times that this would be a daily fine. I don’t see that reflected in the amendment. Could you comment on that, please?

Senator Downe: Yes. Thank you. The amendment does not specify that the $2 million is for each day of the violation. That is because — and I’m reading what the lawyers wrote; these are not my words — the Broadcasting Act already provides the following clause 28, the new subsection 34.4(2):

Continued violation

A violation that is continued on more than one day constitutes a separate violation in respect of each day on which it is continued.

That was the question I had when the amendment came — why it doesn’t say “daily.”

Senator Wells: Thank you, Senator Downe. If you would take another question, I’d be grateful.

A penalty of $2 million a day from what is essentially a taxpayer-owned institution — is that really much of a penalty? To me, it’s the same pair of pants, just a different pocket. Could you comment on that and what kind of penalty that is when the taxpayers are the ultimate bearers of this burden?

Senator Downe: Well, if they pull this stunt again, it would be great for the local libraries that would be flooded with money. That may be a better expenditure than the CBC broadcasting some of their current shows. This is a way of trying to put some pressure on them. If they were off for another seven days again, that would be $14 million.

I want to go back to the point. At the beginning of the pandemic, all Canadians were desperate for information, and we were counting on the CBC. We were counting on the only locally produced TV news, and they weren’t there. It’s totally unacceptable what happened. Hopefully, this amendment will prevent that from ever happening again.


Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Would Senator Downe take another question?

I will be quick. In paragraph (b) of your amendment, you propose to make public the salary of a certain number of people in comparison with the salary of a senator and not that of an MP. If you want the amendment to be accepted by the other place, perhaps you should include the salary of MPs as well.

My question is this. Does this not constitute a violation of privacy under the Privacy Act?


Senator Downe: Actually, no, because as you know, senator, under the Privacy Act, anyone can waive the restrictions. The reason for this is we should not ask others for what we’re not prepared to do ourselves. In this case, our salaries are all disclosed, so it would be whatever the Senate salary is and above that for the CBC employees. It’s not a violation of the Privacy Act because we have all kinds of salaries released publicly across the government.

There’s a clear section in the Privacy Act where the person can waive. I can ask an ambassador, “Who did you have for lunch in Berlin last week?” They can say, “Under the Privacy Act, we are not disclosing,” but they can also waive that and disclose it. That’s the same here.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: We are now resuming debate on the amendment. Senator Dawson, on debate on the amendment.

Hon. Dennis Dawson: Thank you, Your Honour.

First of all, I’ve known Senator Downe for many years in his previous life, so his defence of P.E.I. and P.E.I.’s interests is renowned. I knew him when he was chief of staff for the premier of P.E.I. I’ve known him when he arrived in Ottawa and as a senator for 18 years. That being said, I understand that all politics are local, even for senators.

That being said, the pertinence of this amendment as it relates to Bill C-11 — I understand that even the president of my caucus agrees with him — is not obvious. That being said, I won’t get to debate on it.

The government understands the concerns underlying the proposal to ensure CBC/Radio-Canada offers programming and broadcasting services that all Canadians receive elsewhere in the country. I agree it should not have happened.

It is the government’s view that these issues are best addressed by the CRTC through its own proceedings rather than through legislation. More broadly, this bill does not make significant changes to Part III of the Broadcasting Act, which covers the mandate and operations of the CBC.

As confirmed by the department officials at committee, it falls to the CRTC to engage in matters where the corporation has not respected its licence. I would remind that under Bill C-11, the CRTC can levy administrative penalties against a corporation, just like the private sector.

I further remind senators that the government intends to address the modernization of the CBC in a more holistic manner, not in a piecemeal fashion. The modernization of the CBC remains a key mandate of Minister Rodriguez. Thank you, senator.

Obviously, as far as the salaries are concerned, you did not go through the person who was chairing the committee at that time, but Senator Plett and I remember that I was involved. You were polite not to mention my name. I obviously agree with the comments that I made. They were pertinent then, and they are pertinent today. But you were polite enough not to mention me.

Hon. Paula Simons: Honourable senators, I rise today with great sympathy for what Senator Downe is trying to accomplish. I began my functional career in journalism, working as an associate producer at CBC Radio in Edmonton. I well remember that it was a time when the CBC in Edmonton was under great economic stress.

Not long after I was hired, they brought all of us together in the large TV studio to make a major announcement. I was terrified. I figured last one in, first one out. The ink was not even dry on my contract. Instead, they gathered us in the room to announce that they were shutting down the TV service in Edmonton and that the CBC would serve Edmonton via Calgary.

Now, if you know anything about Edmonton and Calgary and the intense pride and rivalry, you can imagine the fury in Edmonton — where, I believe, at that time the CBC News was the number one supper-hour TV news show — when someone in Toronto announced that Edmonton, a city of a million people, could be served without a CBC TV station.


The experiment was a disaster. Ratings cratered, and the CBC eventually had to acknowledge that they had made a severe blunder — and that it was part of their mandate to serve the regions of Canada, and to give back a TV station to the capital of the province, which was a city of just under a million people back then. So the TV station returned, but they never again regained the trust of the audience or the share of the market.

I understand Senator Downe’s perspective. When you come from a place that is outside the centre of the country, it is intensely frustrating to have an official in Toronto or Montreal decide whether your region is deserving of the kind of attention the rest of Canada views as normative.

But we have to give some consideration to the extraordinary crisis that we faced three years ago. As Senator Downe said, it was a time when we did not know very much about COVID and how dangerous it was, and newsrooms all across the country, both print and broadcast, sent their reporters home and did their best to try to put together makeshift newscasts and makeshift newspapers with staff having as little face-to-face time as possible.

I also have sympathy for the people who made that decision in Prince Edward Island. They did not leave Prince Edward Island without local news, as Senator Miville-Dechêne has pointed out — the radio service was still there and active — nor did they leave the people of Prince Edward Island without access to CBC television, since there was coverage from other CBC stations and affiliates throughout Atlantic Canada.

I understand how bereft people must have felt and how betrayed they were, but I think we have to remember that this did not happen on a whim, as Senator Downe put it. This was an emergency response to an emergent crisis.

That said, it’s also very important to note that Bill C-11 is mindful of the fact that the CBC must be kept to the terms of its licence and to its regional mandate.

When we discussed the first part of this amendment in our committee, we were lucky to have Thomas Owen Ripley, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister at Canadian Heritage, speak to this issue:

The government would agree with Senator Downe’s point that right now the CRTC has very limited tools in the case of violation of a licence. At the end of the day, the primary tool is actually the revocation of the licence, which is, obviously, a big stick. That is why Bill C-11 puts in place an administrative monetary penalties regime, because it allows for a greater calibration of sanctions in the case of a violation where the corporation is actually able to assess what the violation is and what the appropriate sanction is to ensure compliance in that case.

The government had to consider whether CBC/Radio-Canada was going to be subject to that administrative monetary penalties regime. The government’s decision, at the end of the day, was to actually subject CBC/Radio-Canada to that regime. If you look at 34.99 of the bill, you will see that CBC/Radio-Canada can be subject to administrative monetary penalties just like the private sector.

To be precise, if you look at proposed paragraph 34.5(1)(b) of the bill, which I have just done, you will see that the penalty for a first offence may not exceed $10 million. For subsequent offences, the maximum rises to $15 million. So that administrative monetary penalty, or AMP, regime is potentially more crippling than what Senator Downe is proposing. Nor does the money go to local libraries, which is a complicated way to set up and administer an AMP regime, from which libraries benefit; instead, the money goes back to the treasury, and then it can be used as appropriate.

I, therefore, suggest to you that to punish Prince Edward Island’s CBC station for a decision made in a moment of crisis in a time of emergency — to import a spanking for them into this new Broadcasting Act that we may not reopen for another 30 years — is a bit too moment-specific. I think the fact that proposed section 34.99 of the bill does impose a penalty regime on the CBC — and requires them to keep to the terms of their licence or, as I said, face penalties of up to $15 million — is a pretty substantive signal that the government is taking this seriously.

Now we have arrived at the issue of salaries. I have an amusing personal anecdote about this, too: When I first joined the CBC as an associate producer — associate producers were primarily young women in their twenties, and, for many of us, it was our first real, substantive job in journalism — we were not paid very much money; I believe my starting salary may have been $27,000 a year.

One day, all of us girls got together and compared how much we were making, and we realized that one was making more and one was making less. It wasn’t a very fair thing. So all four or five of us marched down to the station manager’s office, and said that we would like a regularization of our pay. The station manager was outraged. He said, “Young ladies, it is not ladylike behaviour to discuss your salaries.”

I mean, I’m old, but I’m not that old. This would have been in the late 1980s or early 1990s.

The idea that the CBC keeps its salaries opaque, and that, even if you belong to a union, you may not know what your colleagues are making are long-standing problems.

I have some sympathy for the efficacy of sunshine lists, because sunshine is a good disinfectant. However, I am mindful of what Senator Wallin said in debate when we discussed this issue at committee. Let it be said that when I left the CBC, I believe I was making the “princessly” salary of $47,000 a year. I was never going to be on the sunshine list; I was always deep in the dark. Senator Wallin had a different career at the CBC where she was like a famous star, whereas it was my job to get people coffee. She knows more about this than I do.

Here is what Senator Wallin told us in committee:

The total compensation packages inside the CBC — and I’m sure others will be able to substantiate this — are broken down. For on-air talent, you would have the union part of your job, for which there would be a fixed rate; you would have the contract part of your job; you would have talent fees; you would have expenses, which might include cars, TV, clothes, surgery, et cetera; and there are performance bonuses, which are not performance in the traditional sense that you might have in the work world — the real work world for dollars earned or contributions made; it’s performance in the more traditional sense.

So working out how much somebody gets paid at the CBC is very complicated. It is certainly much more complicated than it was down at my end of the pay scale.

Again, I appreciate Senator Downe’s concern for transparency, and for the concern that he voiced in our committee about gender equity, because there are long-standing problems in the CBC and, frankly, in the journalism world regarding what men and women are paid. When I became a columnist at the Edmonton Journal, I started my full-time columnist job after working part-time and after having been on maternity leave before that. One day, I came out of the ether, I went to my boss’s office and I said, “Look, I don’t know what any of the male columnists here are making, but I want you to look at their salaries and look at mine, and tell me if you think it’s fair.” The next thing I knew, my salary had effectively doubled. That’s how much less I was earning than the men, and if I had not asked about it, that’s how much less I would have continued earning.

I think there is a legitimate problem in Canadian media that women are traditionally paid less than men for doing the same job — and often for doing a more difficult job. But, as Senator Dawson said, I don’t think that this kind of initiative belongs within Bill C-11.

I would love to see more transparency in how the CBC reports its salaries. We pay those salaries, and we depend upon those journalists to give us the news. Keeping the CBC accountable is in the interests of the whole nation, but this amendment to Bill C-11, to put this in the Broadcasting Act — our late colleague Elaine McCoy used to say we are shooting at the wrong duck. In this case, I think it is shooting at the wrong duck.


Thank you.

Senator Downe: Would Senator Simons take a question?

Senator Simons: Fire away.

Senator Downe: I’m surprised actually, senator, at some of your comments. We’re talking about the Broadcasting Act. As Senator Dawson correctly pointed out, it hasn’t been before Parliament in decades. If you’re not doing compensation in the Broadcasting Act for the CBC, I’m not sure where you would do it. It is the most appropriate place. Where would you do it if it’s not the Broadcasting Act that is before us today?

Senator Simons: Is it the most appropriate place? I would have to question that. I mean, it’s a very fine, granular thing to put in a regulatory framework that is supposed to be broad, general application. I don’t think the place to have this discussion needs to be in legislation. It can be clearly given as a ministerial directive or policy. Frankly, it’s something that the board of the CBC should be pressured to do. To put the micromanagement of the CBC’s pay salary into a broad regulatory framework that may have to last us for another 20 or 30 years is the wrong place for the right message.

Senator Housakos: Senator Simons, I’m a little confused. You’re either for transparency or you’re not. The problem we have had over many decades is that the CBC, when it comes to dealing with certain aspects, is taken away from the realm of good governance and the board, and they are managed directly by the minister’s office and whoever the CEO is, who has been appointed by the minister’s office to begin with. The Broadcasting Act is the exact place to protect taxpayers’ money.

What would be the hesitation, if we believe in transparency, putting it crystal clear in this revamped, modern and renewed Broadcasting Act to make sure that the CBC — which is funded completely by taxpayers’ money — will be transparent like every other government agency?

Senator Simons: Thank you, Senator Housakos. I think I gave the answer to the same question when it was posed to me by Senator Downe, that what you’re asking for is a level of specific granularity that is out of place in a broad, general framework.

Also, if I can quote from what Senator Dawson told us at committee, this is from Senator Dawson’s words:

The CBC currently discloses compensation ranges for on-air talent of senior management. They break it down by position and classification of the role. That is consistent with other organizations in the wider federal public sector. What is being proposed would be inconsistent with standard practice in the federal public sector.

Senator Downe: You’re aware that the Transport Committee recommended this very course of action nine years ago. Senator Dawson was the chair of that committee. Senators at the time recommended this proposal. We are, in effect, doing what the Senate recommended, and for some reason you’re opposed to it. I’m not clear why. I won’t get into the other comments about CBC and Charlottetown being punished and so on. I reject the suggestion, but we don’t have time to carry on.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Any more senators on debate?

An Hon. Senator: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are senators ready for the question?

Some Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: All those in favour of the motion please say “yea.”

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: All those opposed please say “nay.”

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I believe the nays have it.

Senator Dawson: On division.

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is there an agreement on a bell? One-hour bell. The vote will occur at 4:45 p.m. Call in the senators.


Motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Downe negatived on the following division:

The Honourable Senators

Batters McCallum
Boisvenu Oh
Carignan Patterson (Nunavut)
Dagenais Patterson (Ontario)
Downe Plett
Francis Richards
Housakos Seidman
MacDonald Tannas
Manning Wallin
Martin Wells—20

The Honourable Senators

Arnot Gerba
Bellemare Gignac
Bernard Harder
Boehm Jaffer
Boniface Klyne
Bovey Kutcher
Boyer LaBoucane-Benson
Burey Loffreda
Campbell Massicotte
Cardozo Mégie
Clement Miville-Dechêne
Cormier Moncion
Cotter Moodie
Coyle Omidvar
Dalphond Osler
Dasko Pate
Dawson Petitclerc
Deacon (Nova Scotia) Ravalia
Deacon (Ontario) Ringuette
Dean Saint-Germain
Duncan Simons
Forest Sorensen
Gagné Yussuff—46

The Honourable Senators

Audette McPhedran—2

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

(At 4:51 p.m., pursuant to the order adopted by the Senate earlier this day, the Senate adjourned until 2 p.m., tomorrow.)

Appendix—Senators List

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