The first 100 days: Major battle over free speech, internet regulation looms when Parliament returns

DM

When Parliament returns this fall, the Liberals have a packed agenda of new COVID policies, housing measures and criminal justice reforms to pass — but it’s their deeply contentious overhaul of internet regulations that could end up dominating the agenda. This session will see the Liberals try to pass a package of proposed regulatory bills touching on everything from Canadian content rules to hate speech to media subsidies. A wide range of experts, as well as the Conservative opposition, has repeatedly warned that some of the proposed policies are a major threat to free expression. One of the measures, the legislation formerly known as Bill C-10, already kicked off a storm of controversy in the spring. The legislation would set up the CRTC to regulate online platforms (such as Netflix) the way it does TV and radio broadcasters. At the committee stage, MPs removed a section that had exempted user-generated content, such as social media posts, leading critics to charge this was a sweeping violation of free speech. Former CRTC commissioner Peter Menzies said the bill “doesn’t just infringe on free expression, it constitutes a full-blown assault upon it and, through it, the foundations of democracy.”

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