The government’s motion to limit the time the Canadian Heritage committee can continue studying Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act, was passed on Monday.
According to Standing Order 78(3), the time-allocation motion for the committee to deal with a bill that’s passed second reading, and is being considered at committee, has only been used three times before. The last time was in 2000, when study of the Youth Criminal Justice Act was reduced to 10 hours. The time-allocation motion for C-10 will limit further consideration by the committee to five hours.
Time allocation is being used “to whip the committee,” and her party wouldn’t support the motion, said Green Party House leader Elizabeth May during debate in the House of Commons.
NDP MP Gord Johns said the government was essentially “muzzling the committee.”
While time allocation should “remain extremely rare,” in this case, “it was necessary,” said Alain Therrien, the Bloc Québécois’ parliamentary leader, after the vote.
“We cannot allow the Conservatives to block this bill when we are jeopardizing the future of our cultural community,” Therrien said in a statement. “Millions of dollars are lost every week; we have to discuss this. The cultural community demands it (and) Quebecers demand it. The bill must be adopted before the end of the session.”
The government’s bill to modernize the Broadcasting Act would subject web-streaming giants to the same regulations as traditional broadcasters by collecting funds to develop and promote Canadian content and producers.
Last week, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet told reporters he wanted to limit debate of the broadcasting act.
“This is the only way to get it adopted before the end of the session,” Blanchet said last Tuesday. Last Friday, Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault introduced the time-allocation motion.
The Conservatives have delayed the legislation at committee because they’re concerned it will limit freedom of expression. They oppose a government amendment of the bill that withdrew the section that protects individual users’ content and subjects their social-media posts to regulation.
“We will continue to fight for the many Canadians who are concerned about this bill’s implication for their social media and internet use,” Conservative Heritage critic Alain Reyes said in a statement after the vote.
Members of the Heritage committee met on Monday to continue their clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-10. They’re scheduled to meet again on Friday.
There are 48 clauses in Bill C-10, and the committee is working on the seventh.
On Monday, NDP MP Heather McPherson introduced a motion for the committee to meet over the summer. Members haven’t voted on it yet.