The Canadian Government Moves to Crack Down on Internet Dissent

It seems that the Canadian government is looking to suppress what remains of independent journalism in the country by further regulating content on the Internet. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) — which is melded with the CBC in some mysterious fashion — has submitted its recommendations to the government for changes to legislation governing telecommunications and media in Canada.

Ezra Levant thinks they will use it to shut Rebel Media down:

A brief snip from the MobileSyrup report may be found atPuget Sound Radio:

CRTC wants legislation to optimize competition, encourage CanCon, enable affordable access

Canada’s telecom watchdog has filed a preliminary submission to the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel

By Sameer Chhabra, MobileSyrup.com
January 10, 2019

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has formally filed a preliminary submission to the panel responsible for reviewing the country’s broadcasting and telecommunications laws.

The CRTC’s January 10th, 2019 filing comes one day before the January 11th deadline, and urges that any new telecom legislation proposed by the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review panel should focus on “outcomes that will benefit Canadians in an era of hyper-connectivity by optimizing competition, enabling affordable and innovative services and extending these services and the facilities necessary to access them across the country.”

The Commission’s use of the phrase “optimizing” is explained by its belief that “varying degrees of competition” have already been introduced to Canada’s telecom market.

The submission filed by Canada’s telecom watchdog also outlined recommendations for changes to Canada’s broadcasting framework, referencing points raised in the Commission’s May 2018 programming distribution report.

According to the CRTC, new broadcasting legislation should encourage the production and consumption of Canadian content (CanCon), while also ensuring that all participants in the country’s broadcasting industry should “participate in appropriate and equitable—though not necessarily identical—ways to benefit Canadians and Canada.”

A lengthier report was published by The Star. Some excerpts are below:

‘Smarter’ rules would ensure all digital players pay for CanCon, panel told

By Terry Pedwell
The Canadian Press
Friday, January 11, 2019

OTTAWA — Federal lawmakers need to make foreign content providers, such as Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime, pay their fair share into producing Canadian content, Canada’s broadcast regulator and its public broadcaster argued this week.

What that share looks like, however, remains uncertain as the federal government moves to tear down and rebuild the country’s broadcast and telecom regulations.

In written submissions to a seven-member panel, both the CRTC and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation also called on Ottawa to create new rules that encourage news content distributors to deliver accurate and trustworthy information to Canadians.

The submissions, which were due Friday, are part of a wide-scale review of Canada’s Broadcasting Act, Telecommunications Act and Radiocommunication Act that was started last June by a panel of experts chaired by former Telus Corp. executive Janet Yale.

[…]

“What we’re asking for are new and different powers to regulate in a different way,” Scott said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “It doesn’t mean more regulation. It means smarter, better, flexible regulation. A new toolbox.”

The CRTC has asked for explicit statutory authority and flexible mechanisms to regulate audio and video services, both foreign and domestic, including online.

That would help the regulator ensure that any service provider making money from Canadian viewers and listeners also somehow pays toward the creation and distribution of Canadian content, as domestic broadcast companies do now.

Currently, traditional broadcasters in Canada contribute millions of dollars to bodies including the Canada Media Fund and directly pay for original Canadian productions.

But a shift by Canadians to viewing content online has eaten away at funding models that rely on subscriptions and advertising revenue.

Scott said regulators need the authority to reach agreements with new digital platforms to ensure they contribute “equitably” to the creation of that content.

[…]

The CBC’s submission Friday was nearly identical in tone, saying the government needs to ensure that digital companies profiting from the Canadian cultural marketplace also help pay for the creation of Canadian programming.

It also called for mechanisms to ensure Canadians have access to “trusted news and information” through entities including Google and Facebook.

I tracked down the PDF of the “CBC/Radio-Canada submission to the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel” at the CBC website. It’s a monster at 46 pages and 29MB; however, most of that space is taken up by lavish color graphics, so it’s not quite as long as it seems. There’s also a lot of repetition; nevertheless, the core material consists of dense PC/MC bureaucratic bumf that demands a lot of determination and caffeine to slog through.

I’ve only made a preliminary survey of the contents, and will simply present some of the highlights here. First, the Executive Summary:

Canadian culture and democracy are at a crossroads. We have seen how forces in the digital world can undermine Canadian news and information — essential ingredients for a healthy democracy. The dominance of global entertainment threatens to drown out Canadian stories and perspectives. The economics of foreign digital giants make Canadian culture more difficult to fund and sustain. As the public broadcaster, we are very concerned about the health of the broadcasting system and its continued ability to serve the needs of Canadians. We are also concerned about our ability to properly fulfill our responsibility to nurture and promote Canadian culture. We believe that strengthening public broadcasting is critical to ensuring a strong Canadian culture and a vibrant democracy. That is our focus in this submission to the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel.

Our competition is not Canadian companies, but the global digital giants flooding Canada with foreign content.

OK, we’ve got to beware of foreign content; that’s the first point. Based on how repressive the HRCs and the CBC are in Canada, one must assume that a major part of the problem is that Canadians are being exposed to massive quantities of “hate speech”, “xenophobia”, “Islamophobia”, and all those other dangerous forms of expression carried by foreign sources on the Internet.

But it’s also about money. With foreign content burrowing its way into Canadian households, beating out the local competition, the government is missing out on some of the revenue it would normally extract from citizens when they access news and entertainment.

Those two major purposes are wrapped in a suffocating blanket of PC cotton wool, as exemplified by the boilerplate contained in these bullet points:

  • We need to expand our service to local communities, the heart of our mandate;
  • We need to strengthen our commitment to Canadians of all ages, and build a lifelong relationship with them, starting with programming for children that reflects our perspectives and stories;
  • We need to deepen our services to those who depend on us; to Francophone communities outside of Quebec; English communities inside Quebec; to Indigenous communities;
  • We need to invest in the people who reflect the strength and diversity of contemporary Canada;
  • We need to make sure Canada and Canadian creators are heard around the world;
  • We need to ensure Canadians get the best value possible from their investment in public broadcasting, by having the flexibility to generate and manage the resources we have.

The submission’s Recommendations make the CRTC’s purposes more explicit (items of particular interest have been bolded):

A.   Strengthen Public Broadcasting as the cornerstone of Canadian culture
             
    1.   Strengthen and protect the independence and mandate of CBC/Radio-Canada.
    2.   Recognize the importance of innovation to the public broadcaster’s role, and ensure it has the flexibility to determine, over time, the most appropriate platform and delivery mechanisms to serve Canadians.
    3.   Recognize CBC/Radio-Canada’s important role and contribution in reflecting Indigenous people in its programming.
    4.   Strengthen the mandate of CBC/Radio-Canada by recognizing the role of the public broadcaster in projecting Canada to the world.
    5.   Strengthen the role of CBC/Radio-Canada in building a life-long relationship with Canadians of all ages, particularly children and youth.
    6.   Ensure sufficient, predictable levels of funding for the public broadcaster to meet its mandate.
    7.   Ensure greater financial flexibility for the Corporation in the management of its resources.
    8.   Strengthen the governance and independence of the Corporation.
             
B.   Strengthen the quality and access to trusted news and information for all Canadians
             
    9.   Ensure that the news on digital media undertakings is held to the same standards as that of traditional broadcasters.
    10.   Provide support for Canadian local news programming that meets Canadian journalistic standards.
    11.   Identify access to affordable broadband throughout Canada as a policy objective.
    12.   Identify net neutrality as a policy objective.
    13.   Strengthen independence by clarifying that when CBC/Radio-Canada is acting as a broadcaster, its rights, obligations and liabilities are the same as other broadcasters, and not those of a government body.
             
C.   Strengthen Canadian culture by ensuring that all companies who benefit from our market contribute to the sustainability of Canadian culture
             
    14.   Require Internet service providers (ISPs) and wireless providers to contribute equitably to the funding of Canadian programming.
    15.   Clarify that domestic and foreign Over-the-Top (OTT) services are captured in broadcasting legislation.
    16.   Modernize broadcasting regulation to allow the CRTC to determine appropriate obligations by digital media undertakings to
        a.   ensure the availability of high-quality content.
        b.   contribute to the creation of Canadian content.
        c.   ensure the promotion and discoverability of Canadian content.
        d.   provide Canadian rights holders with access to aggregate data about how their content is used.
 

But the devil is in the details. The document utilizes a full palette of those fluffy politically correct words that are so beloved of technocrats in the Modern Multicultural West — “investment”, “equitable”, “flexible”, “sustainable”, etc. Words of fuzzy meaning that Canadian bureaucrats can interpret and reinterpret to meet the needs of the moment — in this case the need to acquire more cash, and the need to exercise greater government control over the Internet, so that Canadian citizens will not inadvertently think forbidden thoughts.

Consider these two paragraphs of detail about the Recommendations, from page 45. First, a requirement that forbidden content be blocked:

Add a section to the Broadcasting Act permitting the CRTC to issue orders requiring Canadian telecommunications carriers and telecommunications service providers, including ISPs to take actions designed to support the implementation of Canadian broadcasting policy objectives such as the blocking of websites used for piracy of programming or content that is manipulated, including news.

Notice the word “manipulated”. That can cover a lot of things — Russian bots, for sure, but also any type of information that has been labeled “fake news”. Any material that the government doesn’t like can be pushed into the “manipulated” pigeonhole and blocked.

Then there’s this:

There are other legal instruments to make sure that Canadians receive news that is accurate and not misleading. For instance, every Canadian citizen can avail itself of either their provincial Defamation Act or general responsibility regime to file defamation lawsuits against false and misleading news or information. The Criminal Code of Canada also has a prohibition against hate speech.

Those two paragraphs, taken together, should suffice. Once the legislation is crafted, government apparatchiks should be able to shut down any forbidden speech at any site on the Canadian internet.

They explicitly intend to target foreign service providers in pursuit of their goals. How well that will work is an open question. They may run into problems trying to regulate ISPs in the USA, at least while Donald Trump is in office.

Given that Justin “Baby Doc” Trudeau now sits on the peacock throne in Ottawa, the proposed legislation should pretty much be a done deal. I assume it will be rubber stamps on Parliament Hill from here on out.

There’s wealth of material in the CRTC submission that readers may data-mine at their leisure. I’m sure y’all can unearth even juicier bits than the ones I’ve presented here.

One final note — the following graphic from page 20 really warmed my heart. It shows a comparative graph of per-capita government expenditures on Public Service Broadcasting in various countries:

The USA comes in dead last. And look how far Canada will have to go to catch up with Switzerland!

You’d better get cracking, Baby Doc.

Hat tip: Vlad Tepes.

19 thoughts on “The Canadian Government Moves to Crack Down on Internet Dissent

  1. As a Canadian it appears to me that the Liberal Federal government wants to increase funding to its personal mouthpiece, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

    It has been a minor but problematic issue for Federal gov’ts for some time; tax payers are tired of throwing money at a broadcaster which increasingly does not serve them or their needs. The Conservatives usually threaten to reduce spending on the CBC then when the Liberals come to power, they want to increase it or restore funding to previous levels.

    The CBC is now far from the voice of Canada it once was. 30 years ago there was much more locally produced content. My city of a population of over 200,000 had its own CBC news, twice a day with a large news crew. There were 2 or 3 other shows produced locally to showcase local culture and interests. Now there are none, zero, in my city.

    Nationally produced shows were centred around Canadian culture including comedy, variety shows and dramas. All were uniquely Canadian in their settings and culture represented. If a show was filmed in Toronto or Edmonton, you knew it and the jokes or topics were directed at local personalities and subject matter.

    The number of uniquely Canadian programs on the CBC has dropped since then. Although there are still programs produced in Canada by the CBC and other broadcasters, most do not reflect Canada or Canadian culture to the same extent, if at all. The settings are more universal and a depicted city in a program may appear as Los Angeles or New York. The fact that it may have been filmed in Vancouver or Toronto may not be obvious. CBC and the gov’t that now controls it, wants to produce more shows that it can market overseas in other markets. This is a money maker. Yes, there are still shows produced that are very uniquely Canadian but not nearly as many as before. The local production has suffered the most.

    So, it appears this new manufactured ‘crisis’ is another cash grab by the Federal gov’t to prop up a failing public broadcaster which is now not much more than the mouthpiece of the Liberals and the socialist NDP.

    Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the gov’t wants to use these new proposed regulations to further suppress independant, conservative broadcasters and internet new providers.

  2. The Mind of the North:

    Control thinking but do not control those doing the thinking—multicultural immigrants.

    Force heterodoxical people to think orthodoxically.

  3. When Putin does this, he’s a dictator.
    When Orban’s friends end up owning media, he’s an authoritarian.

    When Prince Trudeau does it, hardly a murmur is heard…

    • you won’t hear too much complaining from most Canadians.
      We are used to the gov’t controlling things.

      It’s also brilliant that the stated goal is to basically help the profits of the MSM. This completely ensures that the MSM will be completely in support of this and will work closely with the gov’t to help enact this.

  4. Assuming Canadian culture and democracy are at a crossroads (so says the Exec. Summary of the CBC/Radio-Canada testimonial to the BTLR panel), what do Canadians feel about it?
    Reflecting the strength and diversity of contemporary Canada there are multicultural voices that create thoughtful content heard inside and outside the country by means of mass communication. In an effort to strength the quality and access to reliably informed thought for Canadians and CanCon, surely the need for multicultural insights on government policy and individual rights must not be submerged by collectivist culture. A “bilingual” society must needs have a broader perspective on indigenous interests and diverse ethno-cultural views that contribute to modern Canadian insights on human and cultural identity.

    When professor Salim Mansur writes on the Delectable Lie (Mantua Books, Ltd.) regarding multiculturalism, a thoughtful reader may find she or he or other are not being misled.

    • If I understand you correctly, I would say that the Canadian Liberals want to increase the level of all other ethnic voices in the media. This has been ongoing for a while now but I imagine that other groups are demanding more gov’t funding to increse their own media presence. It is difficult for ethnic programs to be produced by the private sector media since the viewership is smaller and there would be little profit. So, they need the public funded media to subsidize them. There is certainly already enough homosexual and growing moslem content on the provincial public media.

  5. Thanks, Baron, for all the time you put into compiling this for us. It would appear that the CBC and the Liberal government are feeling the heat. For several years now there have been calls in Canada to defund the CBC. It’s obvious to most Canadians that the CBC is biased towards Liberals. Not only Ezra Levant, of Rebel Media, but many other conservative Canadians point out daily how the CBC is failing to report objectively on Canadian matters, as well as showing slant in reporting world affairs (Israel and Brexit being two examples). Not only is it biased but it regularly fails to report at all (or at least, not until shamed into doing so) on certain topics (Trudeau’s grope, Tommy Robinson, Muslim rape gangs in the UK, and so on).

    Also, Canadian MSM exhibits full-fledged Trump Derangement Syndrome, reporting excessively on any failing of Trump, while providing a lack of coverage on our own leader, Trudeau. There is a notable lack of any inquiring journalism into Trudeau’s actions, especially his failures. How will this lop-sided coverage of Trump fit in with new requirements for more Canadian content? Has the media thought that one through?

    This all smacks of desperation: the CBC wants to end criticism from those who see the CBC-Liberal lovefest for what it is. What better way than to shut down the recently fledged digital competition under the virtue-signalling guise of “accuracy,” “trustworthiness,” and “appropriateness”?

    Especially noteworthy is the CBC’s stated goal of indoctrinating Canadian children with its perspective so that they will become lifelong CBC supporters.

    This is all very troubling. Thanks again for bringing it to our attention. As Ezra explained, this is another story the CBC failed to cover.

  6. The Canadian MSM is failing. Viewership of CBC and Provincial public TV, and readership of nearly every major Canadian newspaper is plummeting. They want more subsidies. The Liberals want to create a legal framework to provide more subsidies to the MSM to purchase greater control of the content.

    “How will this lop-sided coverage of Trump fit in with new requirements for more Canadian content?”

    Simple. Stand in front of Niagara Falls wearing a Mountie uniform and ask passers-by what they think of Trump. This is the Canadian way. Like a Rick Mercer all-Canadian anti-American rant.

  7. “Especially noteworthy is the CBC’s stated goal of indoctrinating Canadian children with its perspective so that they will become lifelong CBC supporters. ”

    This a strong ideology in Canada’s Liberal and NDP parties.

    15 years or so ago, the Ontario Minister of Education stated openly that he would personally charge any parent preventing their child from attending the mandatory school lessons on sex education. Other politicians and education leaders have openly stated that parents lack the necessary skills to properly educate their children with regards to sexual and social issues.

  8. There seem to be several problems here.

    One problem is that Canadian culture appeals to a relatively small audience compared to the international communications providers, and therefore producers go where the money is. In other words, Canadian audiences are too small to be important.

    Another problem is that whatever specifically Canadian news outlets exist, they are generally hostile to the government holding a monopoly news reporting, and they are also hostile to the government viewpoint, particularly on any politically correct topic. And the cultural Marxists are turning virtually every issue into a politically correct question.

    The third, implicit, problem is that Canadian bureaucrats are not receiving enough money from the government. For bureaucrats, no amount is ever enough, so the regulatory and public entertainment outlets are looking for ways to justify yet more funding be allocated to them through taxes.

    Problems two and three are simply preludes to a totalitarian government. Problem one, the dissolving effects of immense provider companies with respect to any national or regional culture, seems real enough. LeCanadien mentions the increasingly strong tendency of movies to reflect generic location, generic cities, rather than a particular city, Canadian or otherwise. I think the same trend is apparent in the US, where content is increasingly focused on appealing to a world audience, rather than to a US audience. The result is a de-emphasis on local identity and a severe dumbing down of any intellectual content.

    Here’s where I surprise even myself. I was looking at the program of Alexandria Cortez, and saw, among socialist redistributionist inanities, a call for the breakup of large banks. Of course, the very first humongous institution to break up would be the Federal Reserve. But, consistency is not the strong point of socialists.

    But anyway, the surprising conclusion is, there may indeed be a case for the government to break up large companies just because they’re too large. In other words, for example, give a company like Google the option of divesting large parts of their operation, or get out of the US altogether. This includes YouTube, a Google subsidiary.

    Make no mistake. This would affect the quality and availability of services. I use Google Chrome browser, Google mail, YouTube extensively, Google Calendar, Google Maps and Google storage. The story for Amazon is almost parallel: as an Amazon Prime member, I get shipments quickly, for free, have an extensive, very cheap library, use the Amazon Fire as my tablet, and Kindle as my reader.

    But, the prices for all this convenience is a homogeneous approach to services and an extreme vulnerability to the political orientation of the service provider. We see the phenomenon of MasterCard and Visa pressuring new service providers by threatening their cash flows. All Amazon has to do to devastate my library is to electronically withdraw the books I bought through them and refund my money. I’m sure their terms of service contract reserves that right.

    Where I’m going is that the economic model of corporations may tend towards huge consolidations. It used to be that monopolies were the restraint of competition through government regulation. Free market advocates held, with much truth, that open competition was the best way to obtain multiple providers of goods and services.

    But, as with protective tariffs, there may be a point of conflict between the local culture and people, and the most economic provision of goods and services. What local content can complete with behemoth movie companies sinking billions of dollars into a movie with sparkling special effects meant to appeal to a major proportion of all countries?

    Perhaps it’s time to give some consideration to actually limiting the size of any particular company, as a condition for operating within a certain country, the US for example. I guess that’s a populist position, rather than pure free market, but it seems to be making sense to me.

  9. I have one thing to add to my previous post.

    With the onset of totalitarian government in Canada, and the use of criminal penalties for disapproved speech, it might be smart for prospective visitors to Canada to consider whether they are putting themselves at risk for arrest and criminal charges if they have a history of posting material that Canadian censorship boards disapprove of. This holds even if they are not Canadian citizens and posted the material from other countries.

    The US is holding a Chinese national for breaking US export laws. The news articles on the matter are very fuzzy as to just where a foreign-based company, producing and shipping to countries other than the US, comes under US jurisdiction. But, the Chinese national was unlucky enough to be caught on the territory of a US ally, and as the old saying goes, possession is 9 points of the law.

    In other words, it’s a lot easier to avoid going to a totalitarian police state than to extricate yourself from it once they grab you.

    • I wouldn’t be surprised, Ron, if Canada Border Services begin such checks on people. I can tell you from experience that, at the border coming into Canada, Canadian citizens are held under nearly the same scrutiny as foreigners. For now, it seems the Canadian gov’t is still focused on the usual issues at the border: liquor and cigarettes. Two of the most heavily taxed items in Canada. The border guard union will allow their officers to investigate whatever the gov’t demands as long as the gov’t pays extra wages or benefits for the extra work involved.

        • lol.

          I should have been more precise.

          It is a strange phenomenom: if a foreigner crosses at one of the ‘main’ crossing points such as the bridges at Windsor, Sarnia, the guards are stricter. Yet, if an illegal alien goes to one of the ‘minor’ crossings where there is much less security and possibly no actual clearance office, then the foreigners have nearly a free pass.

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