Bill C-11 becomes Law after years of pushback

After facing resistance and extensive scrutiny in parliament, the federal Liberal government’s Online Streaming Act, also known as Bill C-11, has finally passed in the Senate and become law. On Thursday evening, the Senate gave its approval to the bill, with Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez accepting some amendments proposed by the upper chamber. This development clears the way for the bill, which seeks to substantially reform the Broadcasting Act to include online content, to be enforced. The Senate’s vote of 52 to 16 on a motion informing the House of Commons of their agreement with the version of Bill C-11 passed by the majority of MPs last month enabled the bill’s passing. Subsequently, the House was notified of the Senate’s decision, and royal assent was granted by 6:55 p.m. ET.

The main objective of Bill C-11 is to ensure that social media platforms and streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube, are subject to Canadian content requirements and regulations comparable to traditional broadcasters. This policy change comes with a requirement for these platforms to invest millions in Canadian content and creators. While the NDP and Bloc Quebecois, as well as many in the “CanCon” music, film, and television industries, have supported the bill, critics have raised concerns that the legislation could have knock-on effects for content creators and what everyday users see online due to provisions that would require platforms to promote Canadian content.

Tech companies, including YouTube, have lobbied against the bill, warning users who earn money from making videos about how the legislation could impact their livelihoods. The Conservatives have also opposed the legislation, arguing that it will lead to censorship of online content. As a result of this divide, the bill has been under parliamentary scrutiny in both the House and Senate for over a year.

The bill went through more than 100 amendments in the House of Commons, and the longest-ever study was conducted by a Senate committee. The minister responsible for Bill C-11 has emphasized the contributions of parliamentarians to the final wording of the legislation and stated that the time had come to “move on.” Reacting to the bill’s passage, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said that the bill would allow Canadians to see themselves in what they watch and listen to, emphasizing the importance of promoting Canadian stories, artists, producers, and creators.

“With this legislation, we are ensuring that Canada’s incredible talent has a bigger and brighter stage online. They tell our stories, they make our voices heard, they contribute to our economy, and they make our culture what it is: strong, diverse and unique,” the minister said.

The Senate and upper chamber had different perspectives on the amendments to Bill C-11. While the Senate sought to provide additional protections for individual content creators, the government maintained that the existing safeguards in the bill were sufficient. As a result, the Senate’s attempts to assert itself and insist on the substantive amendments were largely unsuccessful. However, the passed motion was amended to acknowledge that the bill would not apply to user-generated digital content, which was a point of concern for some stakeholders. The government also stated that it would consult with the CRTC on the regulation of social media services, which was another point of contention during the debate over the bill.

It’s worth noting that the implementation of Bill C-11 will not happen overnight. The CRTC will need to undertake a thorough and transparent consultation process before developing the policy framework that will guide how it enforces the new legislation. This process will involve multiple public proceedings and will take some time to complete.

Once the policy framework has been developed, the CRTC will be responsible for enforcing the new rules. The specific enforcement mechanisms that will be used will depend on the nature of the violation and the severity of the harm caused.

Overall, the passage of Bill C-11 represents a significant milestone in the ongoing debate around online content regulation in Canada. While the legislation has its critics, many believe that it will help to provide greater protections for Canadians’ personal information and ensure a level playing field for content creators and broadcasters alike.


“Make no mistake: the fight isn’t over yet. While legal protection of our content was the best option, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez can still issue a clear policy direction to the CRTC that tells them our user content should not be regulated in practice, and our choices must be respected. That’s where the fight will go next,” said OpenMedia campaigns director Matt Hatfield.

“While we wholeheartedly applaud the House and the Senate for the leading roles they have played in this suspense-filled drama, there is still work to be done before the credits roll on Bill C-11,” said FRIENDS executive director Marla Boltman in a statement.

CMPA’s president and CEO Reynolds Mastin said “We are on the precipice of a pivotal moment in Canadian broadcasting history. It took 30 years before the Broadcasting Act was updated. Since we don’t know when this opportunity will present itself again, it’s important that we get it right,”.


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