by Rob Morrison
I am very happy to see that we have a re-opening plan for British Columbians. It has been a long road over the past 16 months and I want to thank each of you for your patience and resolve.
We are nearing the end of the health crisis and can now see places around the world re-opening. I have heard from so many who are looking forward to a return to large gatherings for concerts and worship services or a night out with the family at the movies. As health orders recede, I encourage you to consider supporting those local businesses who have been hardest hit by the health crisis.
As we prepare to re-open and return to normal I want to draw your attention to an important issue in Ottawa that impacts the vast majority of Kootenay-Columbians. Bill C-10, An Act to Amend the Broadcasting Act, is currently being debated and amended in the Heritage Committee. A few weeks ago, the Liberals voted against the section of their own bill that would have at least partially exempted individual users who upload videos to social media sites like YouTube and Facebook from CRTC regulation under the bill. The Hon. Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Heritage, mentioned recently that the CRTC could impose discoverability regulations on individuals who have a large-enough following online.
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” When George Orwell wrote those words in the original preface to Animal Farm in the 1940s, the internet did not yet exist. But his powerful message continues to resonate decades later because corrupt and authoritarian regimes have proven his writing was sadly never fantasy. And in the internet age, there are even more opportunities for regimes to monitor and control information, and quiet the voices of the people.
In a democratic society, abuses of power and authority can and should be called out without fear of retribution. Social media has rapidly become the platform for this purpose, from cellphone videos of interactions with police to social media posts from inside protests. Regulating social media, therefore, directly jeopardizes our ability to continue exercising this critical democratic freedom of expression.
While Canadians are stuck at home and relying on social media for information, connectivity, and entertainment more than ever before, the Liberal government is quietly moving to radically change how Canadians use the internet. In a society that values freedom of speech and expression, Bill C-10 leaves the door open for a significant abuse of power on the rights of Canadians. Canada’s Conservatives asked for a Charter review of Bill C-10. The government denied our request and appear ready to make deals with the NDP and Bloc to drive it through.
I support creating a level playing field between large foreign streaming services and Canadian broadcasters and championing Canadian arts and culture. However, that must be done without compromising your fundamental rights and freedoms. Conservatives continue to call on Justin Trudeau to withdraw Bill C-10. If this is not done, a Conservative government will stand up for Canadians and repeal this flawed legislation.
While the NDP and the Bloc may look the other way on the freedom of expression, Canada’s Conservatives will not.
That leads to my question this column: What are your thoughts on government regulating your social media accounts?
I can be reached at Rob.Morrison@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 800-668-5522.