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Online streaming act infringes on free speech: Peterborough—Kawartha MP Michelle Ferreri

Peterborough-Kawartha Conservative MP Michelle Ferreri is unhappy with a new Liberal bill to require big streaming companies to contribute to Canadian content, calling it an impingement on free speech. CPAC

Peterborough-Kawartha MP Michelle Ferreri is unhappy with a new federal bill to require big streaming companies to contribute to Canadian content, calling it an impingement on free speech.

Ferreri stated in a press release Friday — on the eve of the bill’s return to Parliament — that she and the opposition Conservatives will “fight” the Liberal government’s bill.

“The Trudeau government will stop at nothing to control what Canadians see online,” she stated.

Bill C-11 is due to return to Parliament next week after its passage in the Senate.

The bill would update Canada’s broadcasting rules to require companies such as Netflix, YouTube and Spotify to contribute to Canadian content and make it more accessible to Canadians — or face penalties.

But Ferreri said in her release Friday that she sees it as an attempt from the government to prevent Canadians from watching whatever they choose online, leaving “Ottawa bureaucrats” in charge of deciding what content will be accessible in this country.

Some supporters of the bill have said it will protect Canadian content and news from being quashed beneath an onslaught of American streaming.

But Ferreri states that she isn’t buying the argument that the bill would “level the playing field” for Canadian news and content creators — she says it would “do the opposite,” as it stands in the way of free speech.

“This legislation undermines Canadians’ fundamental rights and freedoms and risks their civil liberties,” Ferreri states. “If Bill C-11 passes, it will kick open the door to government censorship, empowering the Liberals to strengthen voices it deems suitable and silence critics.”

If the bill passes into law, she says, it will have serious implications for Canadians’ ability to get out messages online.

“We’ve all seen it happen on our social media: a video is posted in one corner of our country, and within hours it’s being viewed coast to coast — whether it’s supporting a family that needs help, reuniting loved ones, discovering the next talent, or fundraising on issues that matter most,” she states. “This is all at risk of never being seen or promoted under this legislation.”

“One thing is clear: there is no Canadian culture without free speech,” Ferreri goes on in her release, and then urges constituents to email Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez to register opposition to the bill.

“We’ve seen in recent history the Liberals reverse or amend legislation based on public pressure, and we all need to come together to kill Bill C-11.”

— with files from the Toronto Star

joelle.kovach@peterboroughdaily.com